Tuesday 9 April 2013

Frontrunners emerge in Labour battle for Brent Central nomination

Patrick Vernon and Catherine West are emerging as front runners in the contest for Labour's selection of a candidate to challenge Sarah Teather in Brent Central at the 2015 General Election.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari who was mentioned in early speculation confirmed this morning that she will not be standing. Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, butt of frequent teasing about his job at an investment bank in the City but with excellent local credentials, has yet to reveal his hand. Sabina Khan is also holding back but promises a different,  if not unique, campaign. Amina Ali is due to address a Labour meeting soon and Dawn Butler has arranged a private Brent Central viewing of Ken Loach's Spirit of 45 in Harlesden on April 29th sponsored by the GMB and LFC.

Catherine West's address  to the Kensal Green ward meeting impressed a number of Labour Party members of different tendencies who are usually at loggerheads.  It was her record as a 'doer' with the policy giving free school meals to all Islingon Primary children a real winner, that convinced some of the audience that she had sufficient weight to take on Teather.

Her approach can be seen from this extract from her address to the Labour Local Government Conference:
If Labour are to return to power in 2015, I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to believe spending will return to pre-2010 levels. In the short term the next Labour government need to reverse the Tory policy of hitting the poorest areas hardest.

However, a message we all need to be communicating as local authority representatives is that the current model of local government needs to change. The financial model does not work anymore. We need a new relationship between central and local government that recognises WE are the people who know our own areas best and we are the people who should lead them. Going forward this means three things:

First, it is vital that the future way of funding social care is decided quickly with defined financial responsibilities for the individual, the NHS and local government. Without this, all Councils will be bankrupt within a decade. Thankfully Andy Burnham has already announced that Local Government will play a role in integrating social care and acute care and Liz Kendall is in conversation with us as local leaders about the exact design of that commissioning.

Second, recognise the limitations of national employment programmes and devolve the budgets and responsibilities to local councils either individually or as part of a consortium such as the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities or Central London Forward. Once again local government’s intimate knowledge of our areas and their jobs market makes us well placed to lead on getting local people into work.

Third, generate economic growth through much needed housing and infrastructure projects. But crucially, to allow more flexibility than the last Labour Government over the procurement of this work so all of the contracts don’t go to the usual same few major construction companies and myriad sub-contractors that leach money and jobs out of local areas.

Communication matters. Our experience shows that when we focus on the issues that resonate in our communities and we communicate a clear alternative to the governments slash and burn approach we can win the support of local people. This will help pave the way for a Labour government in 2015.

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