Unite and Divide

norbury 2

 As we said – It was never gonna happen…  

We proudly present this contribution from a much respected local political insider who a) has never given us a bum steer and b) has an opinion we value.
Never have we ever wanted to get up off our sunbed and raise a glass to this coruscating analysis of local politics:
So, Tony Norbury won’t be allowed to lose his seat to a teenage Green Party member next May, he has been told by Wirral Labour that he is not a fit and proper person to represent Labour,  as an elected local representative. 
Kathy and Alan Runswick,  Dave Brennan and Paul Davies ( who now control Wirral Labour) are Unite, they are not Labour let alone Corbynites, they just used Corbyn for their own political advantage. They have got their man in Birkenhead now, Mick , and the next part of the plan is to replace Angela Eagle in  Wallasey with Margaret  Greenwood as Wirral West is going to be hard to defend. This was ALWAYS about  Unite taking control and “Tight Pants” was a well meaning if useful fool for them.  He agitated against Phil Davies and Frank Field and allowed Mick “man of the people” Whitley to stroll in and take Birkenhead. 
The word is Whitless  intends to get Norbury, John Maher, Cllr  Bird and everybody else associated with him out the party as they have served their purpose.  Mick is backing defeated ex cllr Angie Davies for  Prenton next year and is making friendly noises to the old controlling right wingers as he needs them to campaign for him, why else did the Runswick’s et al allow Claughton Cllr George Davies onto the panel and not Comrade Norbury, weird aye!
Anyway there is no route back for him as in truth  Labour are going to lose at least two seats next May and maybe as many as four and they are very unlikely to win  Rock Ferry       or  Pensby. Labour are finished on Wirral for local elections, the council is likely to adopt a “committee system” to replace the current “Strong Leader Model” they currently have which will make it impossible for Labour to control Wirral as they have for the last decade. That’s fine by Unite as they only ever cared about the parliamentary seats, condemning the residents of Wirral to a failing a council is just “collateral damage” as far as they are concerned. 
The sad part is the same union controlling tactics that allowed Frank Field to become MP back in 79 are what has been used 40 years later!!  If you create slate voting monkeys who obediently follow somebody’s list then this is what happens, it’s also how you end up with Jared O’Mara and Fiona Onasanya as (disgraced) Labour MPs. 
Labour is so broken now that Britain faces a decade of right wing governance but rest assured that Mick, Margaret and Dan (Carden) will be shouting very loudly about how terrible things are for “their communities”, though luckily for them it won’t be personally that bad as £80,000 a year will at least lessen the burden of austerity to their families.  How is it that each of these Unite stooges, NONE OF WHOM LIVE IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CONSTITUENCIES, were able to be presented as the “local choice”?  
Anyway I don’t expect We will hear or see much of  Cllr Tony “tight pants” Norbury again so we should wish him good luck with his future and hope he enjoys his remaining time as a socialist representative 😂😂

EXCLUSIVE : The runners and riders in the race to be the next MP for Birkenhead

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Red silks all the way in a two horse race?

16th February 2019 could be the most the most significant date in Birkenhead’s  political history in the last 40 years. Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have started the process of finding a replacement for Frank Field – the man who has been the town’s MP since 1979 – and this Saturday will see a special meeting take place where a Selection Committee will vote on who will be the parliamentary candidate at the next General Election.

So let’s have a look at who is in the running for £77k (plus expenses) prize that comes with being first past the post:
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Whilst we understand that Frank Field is a non-runner following his withdrawal of the Labour whip and can no longer be considered a candidate we just hope that someone has checked the rule book when it comes to running for selection-  just in case there’s a Steward’s Enquiry when the result is announced. We say this as a journalist at New Statesman recently wrote this :

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Therefore assuming that Field is out of the race who are jockeying for position to be riding high as the Labour candidate in one of the safest seats in the UK ?

Well first off in stall 1 and running in the ‘Maomentum ‘ colours is Tony ‘Tight Fit’ Norbury, local councillor for Prenton and scion of the so-called Wirral ‘hard left’. He has a favourite’s chance due to his ‘comrade’ John Maher and that latter’s control of the Birkenhead CLP and consequently the make up of the  Selection Committee.  Under these circumstances Norbury would appear to be the front runner…

Norbury scarf

However in stall 2 running Norbury close will be Mick Whitley in the Unite colours . We recently introduced you to him here and reported

Mr Whitley, formerly a long-standing convener at the Vauxhall car plant in nearby Ellesmere Port, was born in the area and is the former north-west regional secretary of the Unite union.

He has gained the support of Momentum, which holds a powerful presence in north-west England, while left-wing MPs such as John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Dan Carden have voiced their support.

The local branches of Unite, FBU, RMT, BFAWU and Aslef have also formally endorsed Mr Whitley’s candidacy.

Thus far ,despite living in Wirral (but not in Birkenhead?), Whitley has, up until now, not had a local political (or media) profile. However now that Unite’s Regional Political Officer,Alison Spencer Scragg, is running his campaign (and pulling the reins) Whitley has taken a sudden interest in turning up at food banks,demos and picket lines and making sure he’s seen to be doing so on his Twitter account which was only set up in November 2018…

mick 'n jez

Jez ‘n’ Mick

Finally, in stall 3 we have the token filly in the race. Theresa ‘I’m not Tony or Mick’  Griffin is running in the colours of  the EU flag/Unison/GMB. The clock is ticking on MEP Griffin as she looks like being out of a job by the end of next month unless Brexit is halted or delayed. Fresh from her defeat in the selection in Walton in 2017 we predict Theresa will again aim to be the token woman on the shortlist and hope that following her defeat she may make it third time lucky and actually win in Liverpool Riverside when their trigger ballot happens and current Labour incumbent Louise Ellman is ousted.  Consequently Griffin’s half-hearted attempt to become the next MP for Birkenhead has thus far amounted to nothing more than taking a sudden interest in Birkenhead’s flyovers :

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Thus a Labour insider sums up the current selection process situation for us as follows :

There will also be several local also rans who will no doubt throw their caps into the ring but in truth the members of Birkenhead CLP will have a choice between Tony Norbury or Mick Whitley, which will be akin to them being asked if they would like to be stabbed or burned to death.  Ah thank God for a new and kinder politics……

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas : Day Three – Go Yellow

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We’d like to thank the Rail,Maritime & Transport (RMT) Union for the little stick of rock that found itself in this year’s Christmas stocking. How thoughtful of them to match the colour of the confectionary to not only the livery of Merseytravel but in solidarity with les gilets jaunes and the current colour of rebellion.

Now we haven’t always seen eye to eye with unions (and Unison in particular) but we’re quite happy to support righteous and concerted causes such as the Cammell Laird ‘Turning the Tide on Casualisation’ action organised by GMB and Unite  and the RMT campaign to maintain guards on the trains.

What we’re not so happy to report is former Wirral Council spin doctor Emma Degg gegging in on the latter situation and squarely blaming the disruption to Northern train services on ‘strike action’  :

Emma Degg, Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT): “We welcome this proactive initiative on the part of Northern to seek to resolve the ongoing strike action that has caused so much damage to our region’s economy. We hope both sides can work together to deliver the much-needed improvements that are planned to our railways in 2019.”

Full story : Employers and passenger groups back independent inquiry to resolve RMT dispute at Northern

We’re not usually concerned with what comes out of Degg’s mouth but we have to say we    doff our cap to this consummate player with the great connections – making her a mover and a shaker in the North West, commenting on matters of regional significance and from what we hear, still harbouring political ambitions. But then you know what they say  – you can’t keep a good woman down (insert own joke here).

Unfortunately, from our perspective , the people running the show are the appeasers who are given a platform to appeal for reasonableness and wanting everything to be as nice and pleasant and comfortable as their own existence without acknowledging that some people’s lives are brutal and tough and their livelihoods are at the whim of so-called ‘leaders’ .

Dare we a suggest that those who lack the political and personal guile to ‘succeed’ as ‘leaders’ need to be a bit more Gallic in their outlook and and be more like les gilets jaunes – a little less civil, a little less servile , a little less obedient…

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cheer for Cammell Laird Workers

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Pic : Ross Quinn, Unite

 

Very welcome news that the 291 planned redundancies for Cammell Laird workers have been rescinded just before Christmas.

However the fact that a ‘task force’ has been set up by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson to save shipyard jobs raises yet more questions about the role of Birkenhead MP Frank Field and his failure to publicly support the recent strike action. It is interesting to note that also on the ‘task force’ is Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies. We understand Pip even made an appearance on the picket line although  it was in the aftermath of high profile political and public support for strikers.

We have to say as an observer of local politics and local media that recent events have been a PR disaster for Cammell Laird’s current management and particularly CEO John Syvret who had to publicly apologise for claiming that strikers were  “pandering to negative stereotypes of Merseyside” . But then Syvret was given the platform to make such claims in the local media without initially any discussion of why strike action was considered to be necessary by unions. This was not just about redundancies but about the ongoing spectre of ‘casualisation’ which is something that the local media seems to have  belatedly acknowledged in the wake of widespread public and political support.

There may have been a Christmas truce declared in this particular battle but the war against employment practices which undermine workers rights continues…

Frank Field’s Casual Approach to Casualisation

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The mainstream local press are keeping a very low profile on this week’s local ongoing strike action at Cammell Laird . More significantly the ‘Independent’ Labour MP in who’s constituency the shipyard has been a significant source of employment has been conspicuous by his silence.

As we reported in our  The ‘Casualisation’ of Cammell Laird  story which followed a leak from Wirral South Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meeting which was asked to support the now striking workers  “Turning the Tide on Casualisation ” campaign :

You’d think that the “Turning the tide on Casualisation” campaign would be right up neighbouring MP Frank Field’s street wouldn’t you?  And indeed as part of Field’s relentless media presence he has obviously made sure that Cammell Laird gets a mention. A recent press release can be found on his blog here

However whilst securing shipbuilding orders are indeed one way of securing jobs at Cammell Laird you will note that the main thrust of the Unions campaign is the possible use of non-Unionised(?), cheaper labour accessed via an agency thereby undermining local workers rights ,pay and conditions and the potential cause of future redundancies. Once again you would think this would be meat and potatoes for Field. We’d certainly expect him to be raising questions about who’s behind this mysterious agency  – we certainly have and the information we’ve has opened up some interesting lines of enquiry.

Perhaps it could be both impolitic and impolite for Field to mention such matters when Cammell Laird is a major contributor (along with Wirral Council taxpayers) to Frank Field’s pet project ‘Feeding Birkenhead’ ?

Subsequently  it was left to Dan Carden , MP for Liverpool Walton to raise the matter in the House of Commons

Meanwhile on the same day the MP for Birkenhead was raising this important matter :

Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many
applications he has received from local authorities for funding to
implement their Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan; and how
many of those applications were (a) successful and received the funding
in full and (b) unsuccessful.

No wonder Labour List reports :

The solidarity and support from local Labour Party members has been exemplary. It was particularly moving to watch the enormous support from local activists and Labour members as the workers walked out for the first time on Friday. Delegates to Labour’s North West Regional conference raised £250 towards the fighting fund, and Unite members at BAE donated £3,000. The latter sends a significant message of worker solidarity to the two employers, since it is BAE that has a teaming agreement to build the aforementioned Royal Navy ships with Cammell Laird.

The workers have received support from many Labour MPs, with Justin Madders and Dan Carden raising the issue in the chamber and visiting the picket line. As for the local MP for Birkenhead, Frank Field – he is nowhere to be seen. Long thought to have been in cahoots with Cammell Laird management in opposition to workers taking action at the site, Field has come under fire from local supporters for ‘regurgitating’ the company line.

 

 

The ‘Casualisation’ of Cammell Laird

SPOILER ALERT for those attending tonight’s Wirral South Constituency Labour Party (CLP)  meeting

We have received a copy of an Emergency Motion about Cammell Laird shipyard which we fully endorse and would like to share especially as we are currently joining the dots on a current investigation involving the shipyard.

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You’d think that the “Turning the tide on Casualisation” campaign would be right up neighbouring MP Frank Field’s street wouldn’t you?  And indeed as part of Field’s relentless media presence he has obviously made sure that Cammell Laird gets a mention. A recent press release can be found on his blog here

Birkenhead’s MP Frank Field is battling to safeguard jobs at Cammell Laird by supporting the yard’s bids for two major shipbuilding orders – one from the Ministry of Defence and the other from Merseytravel…

Frank comments: ‘In the shipbuilding industry, the sure-fire way of being able to safeguard jobs is to keep bidding for and winning major orders. Cammell Laird is a world leader in shipbuilding and I am determined to ensure it has a fighting chance of securing these two orders. The yard’s longstanding technical credibility and expertise, as well as its unique capabilities of driving innovation and upskilling the workforce, go hand in hand with its vital role in supporting small and medium sized businesses across our region.’

However whilst securing shipbuilding orders are indeed one way of securing jobs at Cammell Laird you will note that the main thrust of the Unions campaign is the possible use of non-Unionised(?), cheaper labour accessed via an agency thereby undermining local workers rights ,pay and conditions and the potential cause of future redundancies. Once again you would think this would be meat and potatoes for Field. We’d certainly expect him to be raising questions about who’s behind this mysterious agency  – we certainly have and the information we’ve has opened up some interesting lines of enquiry.

Perhaps it could be both impolitic and impolite for Field to mention such matters when Cammell Laird is a major contributor (along with Wirral Council taxpayers) to Frank Field’s pet project ‘Feeding Birkenhead’ ?

Meanwhile we encourage our readers to support this campaign and sign the petition:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-jobs-at-cammell-lairds

 

The Sorry Story of The Lauries : Chapter Two

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We knew we were opening a can of worms – or tapeworms as we’re talking about parasites here –  when we delved into ‘The Sorry Story of The Lauries’ :

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/the-sorry-story-of-the-lauries/

This has been reinforced by a couple of people who’ve been in touch to tell us about the dubious machinations of the indivisible Wirral Council / Wirral Chamber of Commerce connection which is basically shaping up to be a Paula Basnett Family Benefit Society and/or a safe space for Wirral Council failures (at our expense).

Our first correspondent tells us :

I having just read your piece on the Lauries centre it confirms what everyone knew that the Lauries name was poached in order to receive building grant. In 2011 work started on a so called Craven Street/Paterson Steet regeneration scheme. It quickly deteriorated into chaos and the work done shambolic. I soon came into conflict with the architect ( his credentials are suspect) and Wirral Council who put me on to Councillor Kenny who seemed cowed by the builders and architects and did not put forward anyone’s complaints at the meetings held in the Methodist Hall.  Wirral Council eventually signed off the bad workmanship against my wishes even though Councillor Kenny was well informed of the damage and unfinished work to my home. I have tried to go to arbitration in order to get the work finished on the grounds that my home has been devalued by thousands in comparison to similar homes in the area . I also attempting to put together a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding Frank Field and Unite union. 

Whilst we implore you to support the gallant Philip Barton’s  ‘ Retake the Lauries’ Crowdfund campaign below can we just say that the response so far is indicative of the apathy that infects the insular peninsula when it comes to local politics and therefore it seems the local electorate is ripe for the picking  when it comes to picking up the tab!

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/RetakeTheLauriesLtd?utm_id=1&utm_term=zQQ2nGpMV

The Lauries Community Centre in Claughton Road, Birkenhead, was built in 2003 using millions of pounds of tax-payers money secured from European Union and UK Government regeneration funds. It was a community-led project designed to provide much-needed community space in what is one of the most socially and economically deprived wards in England.

A company limited by guarantee, The Lauries Limited, was incorporated to run the centre, with public accountability assured by the inclusion as directors of two elected Ward Councillors. This company has members who elect between 5 and 11 directors at each annual general meeting to run the centre, which is leased from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council for a peppercorn rent.

However, on 31 May 2015, all of the existing directors resigned and were replaced by two private business people who are not publicly accountable. Local residents were concerned to find recently that the building is no longer open to the public and it appears that The Lauries Limited is not being operated in accordance with its own articles of association – not least because there are now only two directors rather than the minimum of five.

This campaign seeks to re-establish public accountability for the running of this much-needed community centre in what is one of the most deprived parts of England and to restore control of the appointment of directors of The Lauries Limited to members of the company.

We are likely to encounter resolute resistance from the two directors of the company and need to establish a fighting fund to pay the substantial anticipated legal costs that we are likely to incur in wrestling control away from the current directors and bringing the company and the community centre back into democratic community control.