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Governments underhand tactics used by Thatcher during miners strike by @jon_trickett

Yesterday I participated in an extremely important debate in the House of Commons about coalfield communities. The debate was called to highlight the deprivation which still exists in our ex mining communities and to ask the government to not, once again, turn its back on the hard working families who worked down the mines, helping to create the wealth of our country.

The Conservatives’ attitude to the miners and former mining communities is symbolic of their attitude to working people today – you only have to look at the explosion in the use of zero hour contracts, temporary work and false self-employment to see that this government has not changed, it’s still the same old nasty party.

Two fifths of neighbourhoods that make up the most deprived communities in the country are in coalfield areas. So further funding being taken away from our area, for example, from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust is shockingly premature, because the job that it was asked to do has clearly not yet been completed.

One in five of all children in my constituency live in poverty, and equally disturbing is the fact that a male child born today in the most deprived area of my constituency is expected to live 10 and a half years less than a child born in the least deprived area.

The government have questions to answer – if we do not support and invest in our ex coalmining communities now it is the next generation that will suffer.

I would like to see the government to do three things. Firstly, show some humility and apologise to the miners. Secondly, agree to a proper independent inquiry into the events surrounding the miners’ strike. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, commit the government to a full scale process of regenerating coalfield areas.

The full debate is currently available to watch on BBC Iplayer and you can read the full debate by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/qbq5svr

Tackling Air Pollution by @lucianaberger

Air POLLUTION is stunting the growth of children’s lungs in ways which will affect them for the rest of their lives. Long-term exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.

It is a problem demanding government action, yet in the past four years progress has stalled or been reversed despite warnings from the Chief Medical Officer.

At a local level, community groups, local authorities and universities have developed their own strategies to deal with the problem. But these local low emissions zone plans simply can’t be delivered until government provides a national framework.

That is why the next Labour government will deliver a national framework for low emissions zones in every town and city that needs one.

The Healthy Air Campaign includes organisations such as the British Heart Foundation and Asthma UK. It has described government policy as ‘designed to mask the true scale of England’s air quality crisis rather than make any attempt to solve it.’

Everyone should have the right to breathe CLEAN AIR. It is the responsibility of government not just local authorities to tackle the causes of air pollution.

Local Authorities want to implement various forms of Low Emission Zones but are being discouraged because there is no support from national government.

Under a Labour government, there will be.

Voting against the Bedroom Tax by @YasminQuershiMP

The Bedroom Tax is cruel, unfair and clearly not workable. The Labour Party has been clear and consistent in our opposition to the Bedroom Tax, it is an unworkable policy that is hitting the most vulnerable, particularly the disabled and their carer’s, most of whom have nowhere to move to.

Nor does it even deal with the problem of under-occupation – in fact, the Government’s costing on the yield raised from the Bedroom Tax explicitly assume that people do not move into smaller properties.

The Labour Party would deal with under-occupation by funding local authorities who are able to help people with the costs of moving to suitable accommodation, using the funding set aside by the Government through Discretionary Housing Payments for dealing with the problems caused by the Bedroom Tax.

On Friday I will be attending Andrew George’s Private Members Bill, which seeks to exempt certain categories of household from the Bedroom Tax but I feel this does not go far enough. The Bill does not fully abolish the Bedroom Tax, as Labour would like to see and have committed to do if elected next year, we will however seek to amend and strengthen it.

The same cannot be said for the Liberal Democrats, who have repeatedly joined with the Tories to keep the Bedroom Tax in place and resist any attempt to protect people from it. The only sure way to get the Bedroom Tax repealed will be to elect a Labour government next year.

“The 100 worst failures of David Cameron’s Government by” @LabourEoin

I write a list of the government’s 100 greatest failures every year. For a glimpse at last year’s list (see here). Below I list 100 of the most up to date failures of this Tory government. Each point is evidenced with a hyperlink in brackets after the claim. Please click on the hyperlinks if you wish to explore the evidence.
  1. Tories have axed 576 Sure Start Centres (evidence)
  2. Bankers’ Bonuses rise by 64% in just 1 year (evidence)
  3. Food Bank usage has grown by 700%+ in 3 years (evidence)
  4. 1 million are now employed on Zero-Hours Contracts (evidence)
  5. The Disabled have suffered real term cuts of 1.7% this year in benefits (here)
  6. 52,701 firms have been declared Insolvent (Q2 2010 to Q2 2013) (evidence)
  7. 379,968 persons have been declared Insolvent (Q2 2010 to Q2 2013)  (evidence)
  8. Unemployment is 20,000+ higher today than May 2010 (evidence & here)
  9. Private Rental Homes costs £9,084 to rent (£1,128 up from Apr 2010) (evidence & here)
  10. Tories have axed 5,601 Nurses since May 2010  (evidence)
  11. Council Tax rises imposed on the poor & disabled have led to 450,000 being dragged to courts since April (evidence)
  12. 1 million people have had to sell their family home to pay for Elderly Care in the last 5 years (in fairness that include 2 years of a Labour government). Cameron promised no one would have to sell their family home to pay for elderly care (evidence here)
  13. More than 250,000 Disabled people have been forced to take place in the Work Programme unpaid (here)
  14. Water Charges  are up 20% since 1 Apr 2010  (herehere, here)
  15. 20% of Law Firms are facing bankruptcy and 500 shut in 6 months amid Legal Aid cuts (evidence)
  16. Stamp Prices are up 46-56% since May 2010 (evidence)
  17. Suicide Rates have climbed 8% in just 1 year reaching their highest levels since 2004 (evidence)
  18. Number of Children in Class Sizes of more than 30 has doubled in a year (here)
  19. Free Schools are under-subscribed but they get more money per pupil & freeze out poor kids (herehere & here)
  20. Tories axed 5,000 Firefighters and hundreds of Fire Stations. Evidence of the impact in London alone (here)
  21. Waiting Lists for families seeking to rent social housing have soared to record highs (evidence here)
  22. Housing Benefit Bill has climbed to more than £20 billion as Private Landloards cash in with record rents (evidence)
  23. The number of Cancelled Operations in our NHS have doubled and are at their worst for 8 years (evidence)
  24. OBR predict Household Debt will grow more than £500bn this parliament thus continuing Labour’s awful record of encouraging personal debt (here)
  25. The Tories sold the Royal Mail for 50% less than it’s now valued (evidence)
  26. Gas Prices are up 31% since May 2010 (evidence)
  27. Homelessness is up 28-34% since May 2010  (evidence & here)
  28. Rough Sleeping in London has grown 85% since Boris Johnson became Mayor (evidence)
  29. House Building, last year, fell to a 90 year peacetime low  (evidence)
  30. Electricity prices are up 22-39% in price since May 2010 (evidence)
  31. The UK suffered a 97% drop in Affordable House starts in 6 months under Grant Shapps  (evidence)
  32. £12bn+ of NHS has been put up for sale under this government (evidence)
  33. 33% of NHS Walk In Centres have been axed  (evidence)
  34. Wage Growth is just 0.7% which is much lower than inflation  (evidence)
  35. Profit Tax is to be cut by 25% (from 28% to 21%)  (evidence)
  36. 3.5 million now live in Child Poverty as Tory welfare cuts & sluggish wage growth bite (evidence)
  37. 800,000 more households are living in Fuel Poverty & this excludes the impact of recent price rises (evidence)
  38. Numbers of Working Poor have doubled in 3 years & include homes with 2.2mill children (evidence)
  39. Numbers living in temporary accommodation have grown 11.4% since Q2 2010 (here)
  40. ‘The 50p rate’ High Earner Tax  was cut by 10% (from 50p to 45p)  (evidence)
  41. VAT Tax was hiked by 14% (from 17.5% to 20%)  (evidence)
  42. EMA was scrapped for 500,000 as drop out rates climb (evidence)
  43. Bedroom Tax clobbered 660,000 of which 2/3rs are disabled & 1/4 single parents  (evidence)
  44. The Tories and their Lib Dem pals trebled Tuition Fees  (evidence)
  45. Record number of PFI contracts signed in the first year of a Tory government  (evidence)
  46. Bus Fares are up 22% under the Tories (here, herehere)
  47. £5bn spent on back to work schemes that are less than 2% successful  (evidence)
  48. 7,968 Hospital Beds Axed  (evidence)
  49. Rail Fares are up 27% since 2010 (here, here)
  50. The Number of GCSE Students getting A/A* Grades has fallen by 6% since 2010 (From 22.6 to 21.3)
  51. 35,000 Police personnel have lost their jobs under the Tories (evidence)
  52. 42,000 Armed Forces personnel to lose their jobs even though £2bn went unspent (here & here)
  53. Tories abolished Equality Impact Assessments to cover up the immorality of their policies (here)
  54. Tories lost several court cases against NHS closures & the Risk Register (eg here)
  55. The Tories halved a worker’s right to 90 days Redundancy Notice (here)
  56. £168m in donations raked in by Tories including £20m from Private Health  (evidence)
  57. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Gove to stop lying about Education  (here)
  58. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Hunt to stop lying about NHS Spending (here)
  59. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Cameron to stop lying about Debt Reduction (here)
  60. National Debt has risen £447 billion  (evidence)
  61. NHS Spending did not rise as promised  (evidence)
  62. NHS ‘Never Events’ have more than trebled  (evidence)
  63. NHS Negligence complaints lodged have increased 49% since 2010  (evidence & here)
  64. 35,000+ NHS Staff have been axed  (evidence)
  65. 5,000 Firefighters have been axed  (evidence)
  66. Minimum Wage rises have been below inflation every year of Tory rule (evidence)
  67. University Applications fell by 6% in Jan 2013 (here)
  68. 20 Treatments are no longer free on the NHS in parts of England  (evidence)
  69. 10 Prisons have been axed & 4 more are to close (evidence & here)
  70. 4 Profit Making Prisons have been opened  (evidence)
  71. The Tax Gap has grown by £3bn to £35bn in the last year alone [evasion/avoidance] (evidence)
  72. 6% of Prison Cells have been cut in 1 year  (evidence)
  73. £829m cut from the Children’s & Families Budget  (evidence)
  74. The percentage of A-Level Students getting A/A* has fallen 3% since 2010 (here)
  75. Food Prices are up 19% under the Tories  (evidence)
  76. 11,000 Fat Cat NHS Bosses given a 13% pay hike while nurses pay frozen (evidence)
  77. At least a third of Ambulance Stations have been axed since 2010 (evidence)
  78. NHS GP Funding cut by £400 million (evidence)
  79. NHS Funding For Cancer, Stroke & Heart Patients cut by 12-26% (evidence)
  80. A&Es waiting times at their worst for 8+ years  (here)
  81. Michael Gove overspent £1bn on Free Schools & Academies at State Schools expense (evidence)
  82. NHS Direct was axed and replaced by a botched and fragmented NHS111 (evidence)
  83. NHS Patient Satisfaction went from record high under Labour to record low under Tories (evidence)
  84. Government wasted £1.4 billion on NHS Staff Redundancy Payouts (evidence)
  85. Government axed a plan to rebuild 715 Crumbling Schools (evidence)
  86. Just 3% of CEOs in the FTSE 350 are Women & Cameron has fueled a more Sexist tone to our politics (evidence &here)
  87. 31% of UK women have suffered Domestic Abuse and it has risen in 25% after the Tories came to power. Legal Aid cuts, police cuts & the Bedroom Tax make it harder for women to escape it (evidence & here)
  88. Tories cut Child Benefit for middle-class families while giving tax cuts to millionaires (evidence)
  89. Number of people Working Unpaid is at a 13 year high (evidence sheet 3)
  90. The Government used your taxes to fund Racist Vans that drove around London warning immigrants to “Go Home”. The Advertising Standards Authority has now banned them (evidence)
  91. 1.8 million workers now earn less than the National Minimum Wage (evidence)
  92. More than 600,000 Public Sector workers have been axed (evidence sheet 4)
  93. Job creation: There were more workers born in the UK employed in Britain in Jul-Sept 2010 than 3 years later on 30 June 2013 (sheet 8 rows 64-76)
  94. On world disability day the Tories shut 36 Remploy Factories axed 1,000 disabled workers (here)
  95. Job Creation: 70% of new jobs created in the UK under the Tories have gone to non-UK citizens which makes a lie of the Tory claim they’ve created a million new jobs (sheet 8 rows 64-76)
  96. 95 Tory Fat Cat Academy Bosses rake in more than MPs with the top 10 giving themselves £2million between them (evidenceevidence)
  97. The Tories have Privatised Educational Services, Auditing, Consultancy and Prison Services worth £5 billion (evidence & here)
  98. Were it not for Ed Miliband & the pressure of the UK public Cameron would have taken us to war in Syria.
  99. Tories have Privatised 1 major NHS Hospital, have put another major hospital up for sale and have handed 12 community hospitals to profiteers (herehere & here)
  100. Sure Start Funding has been cut by 28% as Cameron breaks his SureStart promise (evidence)

“Statement on future of hospital services for North Tees and Hartlepool” by @LouiseBaldock

North Tees and Hartlepool Trust bosses have made a disappointing announcement on the mothballing of plans for a new super hospital.

They have been put in an impossible position. Ever since the Coalition Government came into power in 2010 they have been playing games with the hospital. Andy Burnham formally agreed to build the new hospital in the last months of the Labour Government in 2010 whereas one of the first acts of the new Coalition Government was to abandon this and other projects.

There was clearly never any intention to build a new one and they should have been honest enough to say so at the outset. There have been endless, expensive reviews demanded by the Government over the last four years, each costing our NHS vital cash but never with any result.

It is very convenient that the Tories have forced the latest postponement with new demands from the Treasury for further reviews, just in time for the next General Election so it can become a campaign issue. It is a disgrace that local and national political interference and expediency has been allowed to dictate the future of health care in our area.

There has been wide spread support for the new hospital from GPs and health providers who know what their patients need.  At the moment the trust struggles to find or afford enough doctors and consultants to provide the range of specialist care, currently having to deliver two of everything on two sites. We have already seen how the haematology unit is under threat of closure for instance, as are the children’s nurseries. The Government is also consulting on closing the GP practice on the site in Hardwick. North Tees, whilst performing strongly, is clearly not offering everything it could.

A new state of the art hospital would have brought together the best doctors and nurses in the best possible facilities; fantastic patient support with ensuite single rooms instead of big wards, bigger and better operating theatres with enhanced recovery areas, the best of modern technology, better disabled facilities, dementia friendly, less walking down long corridors… the list is endless.

It’s not just that we have lost the chance for a new hospital because the Government won’t make a reasonably small investment, it’s all the vital jobs that we would have had across Teesside during the construction too.  Jobs we desperately need.

It is clear that what has concerned people is how they would get to Wynyard if the hospital moved there. This is quite understandable but the hospital was working on solutions and plans for how that could have been resolved to patients’ satisfaction.

I have personally secured a promise from the Trust that they would consider the possibility of being able to provide free or subsidised parking at the new hospital and they have been in talks with bus companies about putting on a full range of services right across the area. The hospital has also been looking at extending volunteer passenger transport for those on low incomes and a variety of other ideas. All of this would have been brought forward for the public to consider and help shape, at the time that any real hospital building plans came forward.

Patients, staff and visitors could have been reassured that they could confidently welcome a new hospital but they have not been given the chance to do so.

You simply cannot trust the Tories on the NHS.