Polling District and Polling Station changes for Meadows ward

Pleased to have lobbied for changes, as part of the required polling place review.
Too many people living nearer Queens Walk Community Centre had to visit Briar Court, and vice versa; new boundaries are more equi-distant.
Then with the new housing along Crocus Street and Queens Road, with more housing expected along Traffic Street, new residents deserve a new polling station. The new Meadows E polling district will have its polling station at Saffron Court.
The review even foresees creating a Meadows F Polling District for east of London Road, once the number of residents increases significantly from 150; voting would be at the County Ground.
Wasn’t quite sure which was the best polling station for Eugene Gardens and streets off – cos a case can be made for voting at QWCC, the Library or Saffron Court. For now, residents will continue to vote at the Library.

All the thorough work gone into these new districts overlooks the injustice of the new wards. Calculated using out of date assessments for numbers of voters, and ignoring significant under registration of the public.
Seems crazy now that we’ve been using data systems for so long that we cannot determine where everybody is registered to live cos we already do that for the NHS.
We could save public money by drawing on this, and give assurances to the public who doubt everyone is a legitimate resident of the UK.
Whilst this might seem like the equivalent of a national i.d. card, the difference should be that it isn’t something to be required to produce generally or when requiring health care, and is not to be ventured as a part of an anti-crime measure.

Finally, should we look to a third method of voting? People can already choose to vote at a polling station or by post. But why not over the internet, like in Estonia, where nearly 45% of residents already voted last year.
This can boost turnout, and again save on costs – cheaper than postal voting.
There are questions being asked, but Estonia has been doing it for nearly 15 years, and many people might find it more convenient.

We could automate to boost the register, and use electronic voting to boost the turnout. And save money. Meanwhile, the Conservatives merely which to suppress voting further by requiring i.d. at polling stations.

Final decision to be made at Full Council on 13th January.

Labour retain control of Nottingham City Council

Nottingham Post cover page photo capturing the moment Labour won Park ward, that had seemed designed so that Labour couldn’t win it.

Labour won 50 seats.
Nottingham City Council has published the list of 2019-2023 councillors.
The new Castle ward was unpredictable. The safe Conservative Wollaton West ward was all Labour this time, and resoundingly so.
The Conservatives therefore only returned 2 Councillors from the Clifton West ward which seemed designed for them.
But losing the Clifton Estate for the first time in its history will trouble us.

Most of the new Labour Group; the Meadows contingent were mainly ill and had to go home early; I’d worn myself out taking photos and combined with the after effects of a cold, was way too miserable. La de da.

20 of the new Labour Councillors are new.

27 are the 50 Labour Councillors are women, the first time women have been in the majority.
The council has a majority too, with one woman councillor from the Independents.

Labour win Meadows ward

A 46% share majority, nearly a thousand votes, on a 33% turnout (around 4 points above the city average).
The Conservatives came last.

Celebrated the nature of the win in my speech, but also pointed out how badly the Conservatives had cone across the city, and it was time they spoke up for Nottingham rather than supporting the direction of government money to Surrey.

Eunice, Terry, Jane, Nicola, Sue, myself and Lilian,

Also thanked the many helpers, organised by Terry and Eunice Regan.

Register to vote

Labour members in Nottingham city centre are encouraging people to register to vote.
One recent campaign session highlighted just how many people have moved in since the current new register was compiled.
So –

✅2019 has local elections & possible General Election and / or a possible Referendum
✅students can & should register at their term time address as well as their permanent home address
✅EU & Commonwealth citizens are now guaranteed a vote in local elections on 2nd May

Meanwhile, Broxtowe Borough Council actually volunteered to require extra i.d. for people to vote when the evidence of impersonation is minimal. (And we wonder when people say that the EU referendum was in part an expression of frustration by people who felt ignored, when for some years people have been being squeezed out. )
No doubt, the majority parties running Broxtowe Brough Council want to reduce the number of Labour supporters who vote.

And this is what is now being published to seek compensation for the new restrictions.
Money being used to make up for new, rules tackling a problem that barely exists.

Grievances and conciliation

Those of us who were old enough remember the term ACAS – Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service, created to bring entrenched adversaries with grievances together to resolve a dispute. They were always on the news.

Regarding the outcome of the referendum, well we’ve all got grievances – 
People who wanted out as quick as possible had their case muddied by saying we’d soon negotiate a deal with the EU;
People who who voted out but never imagined doing so without deals had their case muddied by those who wanted out without one. 
Then there were those who wanted out, but not to lose the Customs Union.
And who truly wanted a solution that would upset the peace deal in Northern Ireland?
Meanwhile those who wanted to Remain have grievances too – that the other side bent the spending rules; that getting David Cameron out took precedence; that a promise was made on NHS spending that can’t be fulfilled; that people were frightened about Turkey (next to Iraq and Syria) might be joining the EU; the we could keep the benefits we’d had from being inside the EU, from outside.
And everyone says these grievances will fester if we don’t do something.

And then people say – oh they should sort it out.
One process is to hold the referendum again. Time is such that we’d need either the EU27 to offer an extension on the grounds of holding a referendum, and understanding that there has been some changes in opinion, that the electorate has change with more Leave supporters passing away than Remain, and more decisively, that young people will turn out next time.
Now that people are now for Remain ought to be enough for another referendum. But it risks leaving people with a very deep grievance based on the idea that you keep calling referendums until you get the result you want. This is addressable, and the scale of the grievance is debatable.
But could the ambition for a further referendum be higher than just getting a new result?

Well, it’s going to need a process to sort it out, that involves the people again.
A process whereby the evidence is reviewed by an assembly of the public and the options considered before presented in a revised referendum, as happened in Ireland and now advocated by Gordon Brown who says – “The handling of the Irish abortion referendum is evidence of the power and potential of citizens’ assemblies. It could have been a bitter and toxic debate dominated by extremists on both sides. But in part because a representative group – half initially pro-abortion, half against – talked the issues through, exploring differences, asking questions of experts and interacting with each other on their fears and hopes, they managed to defuse the controversies. And they found common ground between devout faith and resolute feminism in an outcome that astonished the world and that everyone accepted.”

An assembly to work out the options and review the evidence, could inform and design a multi-optioned referendum.
From that I would hope that everyone gets their chance to vote for an option close to what they want – probably
a) out as quick as possible before any trade deals;
b) out once trade deal with EU is agreed (cos the interim backstop offends too many over NI);
c) something like Corbyn’s latest suggestion with deals negotiated and a customs union cos at the very least, there’s no threat to the NI border; and
d) remain cos the case wasn’t fairly considered.
And if the result of that is that Remain wins, but without a 50% share, then we will have to consult again without the least popular option to see if an option gets 50%; and if necessary again. until we are down to 2 options;
And if it’s complicated, well, the decision before us complicated, and we’ll make more progress if the people have taken a clear decision about what it is they wanted.  

Don’t we elect MPs to sort things out? Yes we do, but we bypassed them with a referendum.
I don’t condemn MPs who have they own views – we elect them for their opinions, and often punish them if they don’t appear to be consistent – but they’re stuck cos it’s not clear what people who voted Leave actually voted for. Some assumed a deal; some assumed not.

We can just have a further referendum, but we might do better to make it part of reconciliation process where we understand and present the issues more effectively.

A selection of elections

An exhibition on elections and electioneering in Nottingham and Notts which tells the not known enough story of the torching of Nottingham Castle as working people expressed their frustration of delays to a Reform Act which was an Act that was finally passed in 1832.
Documents on management of registers, and stuff on student union elections.
The stories of interesting election candidates.
Helena Brownsword Dowson, Secretary of the Women’s Suffrage Society in Nottingham, and the first woman Nottingham City Councillor, elected in The Meadows in 1920.
More surprising, James Morrison, elected as a Conservative MP for Nottingham East in 1910, owner of Basildon Park (so, very rich), but lauded for his work with a social security scheme in St.Ann’s and Sneinton.  Strange.
Then a Communist who stood for Mansfield a number of times.  A far more interesting story is John Peck, who was actually elected as a City Councillor in Bulwell East in the late eighties, (1987- 1997, moved to Green Party in 1990; contested 49 elections; having served in RAF bomber command in WWII).
But no mention of Feargus O’Connor, only Chartist MP ever to have been elected; or any of the Luddites and Hampden Clubs that led the revolutions and riots.
And no mention of any Labour Party candidates.
That’s when you wonder if the exhibitors have spoken to anyone local (dare I say, outside the ivory towers).

Or is it just that there were no interesting Labour Party candidates, or elections involving them?
Maybe Labour’s emphasis on collective working meant less emphasis on the individual?

Off the top, an alternative list might offer –
* 1945: the vindication of universal suffrage; and the tragedy of 1951 – losing despite winning over half the vote.
* Labour Cabinet Ministers from Notts – Don Cancannon and Geoff Hoon – though not from the city; city MPs have held Ministerial posts – Bill Whitlock, and also Graham Allen and John Heppell.
Perhaps this isn’t dramatic enough, so –
* Vernon Coaker – Labour’s best electioneer – winning Gedling when it was not expected in 1997, but holding it ever since, even in 2015 when Labour lost nationally by 7 points.
* The Ashfield by-election defeat in 1977 (which I think triggered the Lib-Lab pact) – a spectacular defeat in a safe seat when Labour held Grimsby the same day.
* Frank Higgins – local Labour council leader who pioneered radical local transport policies including “zone and collar”;
* Betty Higgins – first woman city council leader who in the early eighties doubled the city council’s rates (then a district council) to provide free bus passes for the elderly and the less mobile, that was to sustain the city bus services network that other cities lack;
* Dennis Pettitt, leader of Notts County which expanded public spending to defend those in need and the capacity of the council to deliver change; and was a D-Day veteran, co-created the first multi-racial party in Africa, was elected to Birmingham City Council where he pioneered recognition for the interests of gypsies, and campaigned for the disabled.  As Leader of Notts, he held off the councillor who’d lost the Ashfield by-election and held Labour Councillors together during the split between the UDM and NUM..

But my knowledge is limited, so I have listed elsewhere the Nottingham City Labour MPs and MEPs, sourced from wikipedia.

Don’t boo, vote!

In America, we are waiting for the results with an expectation that Democrats can take control of the House of Representatives  and be a brake on the Presidency of Donald Trump.

What we’ve seen is a number of efforts to reduce the ability to vote –

* North Dakota Indians being asked to register in new ways;

* Georgians being challenged to fill out forms in the exact same way as before (carving out more Black people);

* the exclusion of over 1 million Floridians because they have once heard a criminal record;

* 20,000 from Dodge City having to travel out of town to vote in one place.

In Britain, efforts to disenfranchise people have included –

* the Poll tax,

* requiring every individual to register rather than a member of the household doing the whole house,

* universities no longer able to ensure halls of residence are automatically registered (followed by the concession of asking people to confirm they have moved there) and

* soon, a government proposal to require people to show i.d. as they turn up to vote.

All this when voting fraud remains remarkably low.

Meanwhile in The Netherlands, people are seriously required by law to register.

The surprise is seeing so many photos of long queues in America to vote.  Our reaction here would be to say that there aren’t enough poling stations.

We had a bit of this in The Meadows last year at the library (and was pleasantly surprised).  I think we need to tweak some of the polling districts –

* residents east between Ayton Close and Strome Close being allowed to vote at QWCC rather than Briar Close, and

* residents in the north-east of The Meadows and Hicking Buildings having a new polling station on Crocus Street (and getting ready for the hundreds of people set to move into new flats in the next 2 years).

The council is considering changes to polling districts and polling stations at the November full council meeting, but it’s only the emergencies caused by the new ward boundaries.  So may well get a new polling station for Castle Marina and bits of Castle Boulevard.  But the new Castle ward might only be allowed 3 polling district, when the combination of both sides of Main Marian Way might provide the basis for a fourth.

The changes I’d seek for The Meadows are not allowed  be addressed until after a major public consultation set to take place in 2019/2020.


Light a Candle – Go Vote

Having been following the mid-term election campaigns for some weeks, and then viewing the coverage of killing 11 Jews in a synagogue, and the mail bombs sent to leading Democrats, I worry that the United States is about to go into a deeper political darkness.
A friend we celebrated yesterday said rather than curse such a darkness, you should light a candle.  The best way to light a candle is to vote, and if an estimated 90 million people cast votes in the 2014 mid-term elections, let us hope an extra 10, 20 or even 30 million candles be lit on November 6th.

– –

Found it re-assuring to see Channel 4 tv’s Jon Snow had gone to Pittsburgh in the USA to cover the murder of 11 Jews in a synagogue.
Was disappointed to hear him ask the Mayor what could be done to get the temperature of exchange by the political classes in the USA brought down a notch.

On one level, as if journalists and news media aren’t also a significant part of the problem.
On another level, cos the actual challenge is to equip people so that they don’t reward people who tempt them with messages of hate.
On another level, cos not all in the political spectrum are casting problems to an equal extent.

Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the anti-Semitic murders in the synagogue on Squirrel Hill.
Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the mail bombs to notable Democrat supporters.
Cos the Alt-Right were responsible for the death of a civil rights activist in Charlottesville last year.

Cos Donald Trump is culpable.
Cos when people are murdered in a synagogue in a hate crime, the response is not to suggest a degree of culpability cos they hadn’t employed a security guard.
Cos the first response to hate bombs being sent to opponents is not to say that you’ll tone down your language, but to say agents of justice will identify and try those responsible.
Cos the first response to Charlottesville should have been to condemn the anti-Semitism (remember “the Jews will not replace us”).
To paraphrase the movie “The Contender”, “culpable, but not responsible”.

A further challenge to the politics of the United States (and to all of us – cos they are that important) is is demagoguery and Nationalism.
– I don’t agree with those who call Trump a s fascist, but many pf the tests set out for fascism are ticked by Trump.
– Trump redefining the Republican Party as a Nationalist party, on top of the previous phase of what’s called Neo-Liberalism (but I see as globalism being used to give more to the very rich) rather than a conservative party grounded in the public health provision and the common endeavour of the two world wars.  (A phenomenon we’re seeing in the UK with the British Conservative party.)

So what should the common endeavour be?
Promoting a free society, where people are able to organise as they wish to win mandates to become the government of the country, principal authority or any other local authority.
A democracy – all responsible adults having a vote is very radical – underpinned by a full electoral register and proper elections.
Judicial systems and community safety.
Rights and responsibilities, that come with citizenship, for all irrespective against class, gender, race, sexual identity.
Full employment in proper jobs, and tackling all the other giant evils – with social security, housing for all, free education and free health at the point of use.
Tackling the opportunities and challenges that come with globalisation, people living longer, climate change and peak oil.
Proper conduct in public life, including being accountable for what you publish in social media (see Nolan principles below.
Audit systems and freedom of information to enable better debate and better journalism, especially over the ambitions and use of public assets and resource.
Politics overseeing how we organise and live, but not replacing it – everything is not political.

Is the above only supportable by democratic Socialists?  Well, Socialism would go further – “no unjustifiable inequalities”, test what we do against deprivation, and greater emphasis on industrial democracy, public ownership and co-operation.

We don’t need a fresh constitution either – although “love, life and the pursuit of happiness” carries a certain zing (More fully”… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …“)
P.S. Not sure calling Donald Trump a Fascist is particularly helpful.
The Washington Post has done a check and think Trump falls short.
I think more a demagogue.

Dirty tricks on voter registration

The current senator for North Dakota who is up for re-election was elected 6 years ago by under 3,000 votes.  She is a Democrat party member.  She was supported in large numbers by native Americans; around 10,000 of them.
(See report by Vox; also their photo (AFP/Getty).)
Electoral Registration is more political in the United States of America, and Republican Party supporters changed electoral registrations rules to say a voter cannot give a postal box address.  Many native Americans in particular North Dakota counties only have postal box addresses.  And so, a measure was introduced to target and cut out a particular group of people.  Ethnically targeted.
Georgia also is state where people are being cut out from the register.  Requiring precision in the way names and addresses are submitted in a way that excludes more. black people.  Here the officer controlling registration is also the Republican candidate for the Senate.

Even in casting postal votes in Britain, officers can take the view that signatures can be sufficiently similar, even if the master signature is written say ‘Michael Edwards’, when the signature is written say ‘M.M.Edwards’.

Mike Leigh, in a broadcast interview after the premiere of the movie Peterloo, said if people from then were here now, they’d be appalled that not all working people register, and that not all working people vote.

Register to vote.  Use the vote.