Featuring alongside Billy Bragg

Oh, what that could have meant …
Duetting on “Lover’s Town Revisited” which was on my Radio Nottingham featured 8 tracks.
Having him sing my updated version of his “Days Like These” – “liking Facebook is not enough ...”.
Instead, we’re both in a Guardian video. He’s saying he’s not sure about another referendum and wants a peoples’ assemblies. I’m saying we need to learn from Ireland on how to do a referendum for a result we can all get behind.

Billy Bragg, at 3:24, 26 seconds –
“I don’t support People’s Vote. I think it will be divisive. I would prefer, rather than having a referendum, that we have a People’s Assembly, so that we can debate the issues, we can all have our voices heard and come to a decision through deliberation rather than a one-day winner-takes-all referendum cos what we need to get out of this is some kind of consensus and a Peoples’ Assembly will start the process of bringing people back together again.”
then me at 3:50, 43 seconds –
“I think one of the genuine problems is that I don’t know how you carry a referendum that isn’t one or the other. And yet it feels like that’s what we need.
People who want to come out as quickly as possible deserve an option.
The people who actually think May has done the best she can and they deserve a voice [option].
And those of us who felt … our future is properly in Europe – we feel we deserve a voice [option] as well, … so how do you safely conduct a 3 option ballot, cos I don’t know how to do that and what I am impressed by is places like Ireland where they’ve had the referendum and they’ve made processes on how to pose the question and then get an answer that people can accept.”

I’m also recorded talking about poverty –
At 2:38, for fifteen second –
“There’s new kinds of poverty.
And it’s time people woke up and realised just what’s going wrong in our society,
cos in 10, 15, 20 years’ time, we’ll all be saying why didn’t we do something about it,
and we’ll have to do the [all] Blair – Brown thing all over again.


They gave “likes” to egg a murderer on

from The Guardian

49 killed.

Came home, just, to hear the tail-end of a pundit on BBC News tv saying Muslims can do more to tackle the aspects of their beliefs that lead to terrorism.
Well maybe, maybe not.

But imagine my surprise when the news explains the culprit was a white Australian right-winger.  

So some focus please.
And arrests for those sharing the videos and those publishing comments supporting the killing.  
and I’ve just been told by a journalist “we’ve got to change our behaviour”.
No, we’ve got to prosecute those who’ve done it and encouraged it.

Now, no doubt there are things for social media suppliers to tackle.
But they should not be the focus.
It’s those that did and those that encouraged it who should be prioritised.

The BBC are not helping by dumbing down their output. This morning’s explanation of Parliament not being able to reach a resolution is an example of that.
And yesterday morning’s chat show finished with a man repeatedly shouting down the line that those who were supporting Remain were guilty of treachery.  
The media wind people up and then let the hatred spread.  
So enough of the we care line from them.
Please, a focus showing people at our best, and being at their best even when they disagree.

But that’s for after those who encouraged the massacre are found.

The graphic exaggerates to make the point, but the point needs making. BBC tv, who I don’t take to be biased between left and right, but did have this hand-wringing stuff suggesting we were all at fault for this one; and we are not.
So yeah, if the culprit is charged, and his helpers, then prosecute all those who liked the transmissions and egged the murderer on as well.

Full council – March 2019

A budget is agreed, but little joy as it expects £23m of savings in much needed public service to be found.
The national financial settlements are unfair, biased against the cities and towns of the North and the Midlands, and the Conservatives are setting themselves up to take more money to give to rural areas.

A slightly different budget from the Conservatives this year. Instead of avoiding any Council tax increase, they propose an increase 1% lower than Labour’s. Clearly picking up some points from officers and the majority group, but drawing different conclusions, they propose spending £3 million on pump-priming investments on social services, by selling shares in Robin Hood Energy, covering the gap whilst waiting for share sales with draws upon reserves. Loads of risks – value of share yield, savings from extra investments, timings etc.
They had to be pressured to confirm that they wouldn’t sell off Nottingham City Transport, but I still think they would.
N Post article.

I am always struck by the basic element of sound financial management, which is that during a period where you are expected to look after more people in need during a time of cuts, you need to maximise the Council tax base to meet the need.

Meanwhile, we again expose Nottingham city centre Conservatives for their false claims and less than relevant priorities for city centre residents.

Bizarrely, the Conservatives again call for Hansard style recording of full council, without putting the idea in their budget proposals. Even stranger, the Conservative leader joins in a tribute to the 16 retiring Labour Councillors, before his Deputy piles in to say they’re all being driven out by people with ideology.
I say – “you’ve got to have a belief.”

Official photos of retirees
We paid tribute to Betty Higgins, with Brian Parbutt giving a speech; Graham Chapman makes a point in the budget debate; thanks expressed to this retiring, including Malcolm Wood, John Hartshorne, Brian Grocock, Ginny Klein, Glyn Jenkins, Jackie Morris, Steve Young, Cat Arnold-Adamds

Financial Discipline and Raising the Tax Base

The Treasury Management Strategy and Capital Strategy report went to Audit committee on Friday 22nd February where its recommendations were noted. Questions were asked on preparations for a financial crash and management of group accounts.
We were mindful too of External Audit making high level points on –
– medium term financial strategy;
– governance in relation to management of capital;
– arrangements for governance and monitoring of subsidiary companies.
The Audit cttee got no press coverage – even with a double sized agenda – and I’m aware that the glamour and reputations come with spending; the notoriety more often comes with discipline.

People proclaim that no-one wants to pay taxes or levies; and indeed Gordon Brown set out to say he was against tax and spend. I saw Barbara Castle take him up on it.
But you do want a framework to bring sense to the spend.
Betty Higgins told stories of how committees found out on their individual budgets on a special day, implying they weren’t part of the financial planning process at all.
Michael Cowen – once Labour, then defected to the Conservatives (and infamous for losing Ashfield), was tax and spend in 1981 – “What do you need”.
Cowan wrote a paper on financial planning in 1973. Decrying “budgets set around the calculation of rate poundage and simple control of expenditure than than of policy”.
Of course, post 1985, budgets have had to be balanced by law. 

Much of budgeting was already set against a policy framework was in place when I arrived on the City Council.
But it was certainly a big theme whilst under a Labour Gov’t – they wanted to see returns for the extra money they were providing.
And we did have to work on a spending discipline – expecting departments to keep to their budgets.  

Zero-based budgeting was a fad, so as to avoid salami slicing. 
But it was so much easier under a Labour Gov’t. Whilst in five years, I cut an average of £5 million extra each year, all of the budgets saw an increase in spending to meet the challenges of improving schools, helping people in need and cutting crime.

I feel no envy for colleagues who have had to work at finding £23 million of cuts,
– massive cuts
– growing social need
– financial sector not offering easy wins.
Must be hard to make strategic changes in such an environment.
But still we strive for new ideas and aims in the new manifesto.

Maybe the Conservatives will have something to say about new ideas – or even previous ones such as privatising Nottingham City Transport.
(They said they wouldn’t.)
Instead, it was mitigating the council tax increase by 1% with one off-spends? 
And proposing a £3 million investment package on social services by raising money from selling 50% of Robin Hood Energy shares. Yep, announcing as share sale with a price months in advance.
All those Conservative lectures on how to do finances!
Nationally, as bad –
– Grayling losing £2.7 thousand million;
– desperately late preparation for Brexit on March 29th
The Conservatives’ explicit national policy was to reach zero deficit and then cut debt;
– cuts to do it.
National targets on deficit, dropped and replaced by a new target twice time and now on the third time, no target at all
National debt doubled.
“Austerity Now over” – except it plainly isn’t.
The strategy has always been –
– put people back on private services;
– break manual labour’s terms and conditions for easier profit;
Meanwhile Conservative councillors say – “What about the capital rich and revenue poor”!
Out of touch with the needs of our city. In part cos they won’t measure poverty properly anymore.

I think McDonnell could add to his finances ambition, and the existing ways of showing how extra money will be found. 
By embracing financial planning and consultation over the priorities.

1945 ain’t a bad place to start
– full employment;
– and end to homeless;
– quality education for all;
– quality health and care for all;

And now –
– proper jobs, terms and conditions;
– meet the challenges of the global economy;
– meet the challenges of climate change;
– equal opps. 

I meanwhile am proud to have been part of Labour Group who fundamentally understand the key elemental priority of boosting the base to pay for the services that help those most who are most in need.
It may be the most basic element of financial strategies, but I’m proud we’ve done it.

(Based on a speech I made at full Council.)