Julian Says…

Dear Rebecca,

Thanks for your full response, and I already see some agreement. There are also some areas where our views differ.

Clearly you and I are immune from the accusations surrounding MPs’ expenses, but not immune from the fall-out. I suspect that you, like I, have had some frank discussions on this issue on the doorstep.

You correctly pointed out that the immediate response on expenses dealt with the over-claims. However, I do not believe it fully dealt with the issue of confidence, and it does nothing to address the issue of accountability.

You have misrepresented my argument for change to the House of Commons voting system. I think you have come to the mistaken view that what I and the Government are advocating is the Jenkins formula, that is AV plus. Please be assured that I, too, believe in the importance of the constituency link and am also concerned about having two types of MP – hence my support for the Alternative Vote. This, I remind you, is the system where each candidate is ranked in order of preference, and where every MP will be able to claim that the majority of their constituents have voted for them.

The Alternative Vote is not truly proportional, and arguably leads to stronger government.

As to having some appointees in the second chamber – sorry, but as a passionate champion for democracy I can accept nothing less than a fully-elected body. Those wise heads you referred to should be able to secure nomination and election.

As for reducing the number of MPs – I confess to being happy to look into this. I worry that this will make each MP a little more remote, I would also like to examine the detail on your proposal regarding transfer of powers to MPs, which strikes me as an argument for more, not less MPs.

I am not a fan of hair-shirt politics, and want our MPs and ministers to receive proper pay. It may make a good headline to advocate ministerial pay cuts, but I do not see how it delivers better government.

As to referendums and your accusations of cynicism: I do not think this is the proper place for a discussion on the pros and cons of the Lisbon Treaty, but I do remind you that Conservative governments so far have given the British no referendums, ever.

Those with a passing knowledge of the origins of the American War of Independence will be aware of the rallying cry “no taxation without representation”. As sixteen-year olds can work and be taxed I subscribe to this two-hundred year old argument.

Sincerely

Julian Ware-Lane

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Critics Say Green Belt Protection Cannot Be Ensured By Castle Point MP’s New Party

(Echo) – POLITICIANS hoping to oust Castle Point MP Bob Spink have branded his new political party foolish and ineffective at protecting the borough’s green belt.

Conservative candidate Rebecca Harris and Labour man Julian Ware-Lane are both hoping to win Dr Spink’s seat at the forthcoming general election.

Last week, Dr Spink launched the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party and announced plans to field eight candidates in the borough council elections.

The party promises to protect Castle Point’s green belt.

But Mrs Harris said even if the party did win local council seats, its members could not guarantee green belt land will be preserved.

Under current law, if the council has not demonstrated a big enough supply of land to meet housing targets over the next five years, developers are likely to win an appeal to build on the green belt.

Mrs Harris said: “Local councillors can’t change national planning law and if they think they can, they’re fooling themselves. If they know they can’t, they’re fooling the electorate by claiming they can.”

The Government has set Castle Point Council a target of finding land for 5,000 new homes in the borough by 2026.

Mrs Harris added: “The whole concept of targets must go. We will abolish them and leave it up to local people to decide what housing they want and where.

“Councils can alter their local plans and remove sites provided they haven’t already got planning permission.”

In total 400 homes are planned for Canvey’s green belt, while land near to The Chase, Thundersley, has been earmarked for up to 300 homes under the council’s core strategy or local plan, which sets out how to meet the housing targets.

Mr Ware-Lane said: “It’s wrong to claim the green belt is under threat because of Labour party policy. I don’t think the core strategy is good enough. We believe there are enough brownfield sites to meet the target.

“Scrapping housing targets would deal a real blow to all those people who want to buy a house but can’t afford it.”

However, Mr Ware-Lane agrees a vote for the new party would be wasted.

He added: “It is a fringe party. If you want a bigger say in what’s going on locally you need an MP who’s speaking for either the party in Government or the main opposition.”

Nice one, Sarah…

… (Julian Ware-Lane, 16/03/2010) – What label will Bob use?

Soap-box 2010

READERS WILL NOTE that this blog is now hosting a live election ‘conversation’ between Julian Ware-Lane, the Prospective Labour Party Candidate, and Rebecca Harris, the Parliamentary Prospective Candidate for the Conservative Party.

Perhaps undemocratically, I have not invited our local MP, Bob Spink, to take part (since the two Parliamentary Candidates have some catching-up to do with that MP’s coverage – both here and in the local press).

Bob Spink is free to make use of this blog’s comment section should he so choose, along with all other declaring PPCs and, of course, all readers.

It is envisaged that this ‘conversation’ will continue until the polls open, and both candidates will attempt to cover their respective positions on local and national issues that concern residents.

In order for that to happen: please keep all comments ‘on-topic’ so that the thread can progress…

Julian Says…

Dear Rebecca,

The Canvey Beat has kindly allowed us to debate some key issues on their forum, and I have been asked to kick this off. I shall begin with a subject that ought to be non-partisan, and we may even agree.

Last year’s furore over MPs’ expenses raised a number of concerns over the integrity of our democracy. The Government set in motion a number of measures to address the misuse of expenses and allowances, and have committed to some fundamental change and discussions on modernising Parliament.

Ours is the most ancient of Parliaments; a good look at how it works and how the voters engage is long overdue. Some, myself included, have argued that the MPs’ expenses row highlighted the lack of accountability in the vast majority of constituencies. The remedy is a voting system where all votes matter.

I am no Johnny-come-lately on electoral reform – this has been a concern of mine for some thirty-five years. I am a member of the Electoral Reform Society and the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform. If elected I will be pushing for change.

I accept that change cannot be rushed, and that change must have the buy-in of the electorate; hence my approval of plans for a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. The result of the referendum will be a voting system that has the approval of the majority of the electorate, in my view a good way of not only achieving change, but also key in re-establishing trust.

Specifically, I favour the following three changes:

  1. A fully elected second chamber (House of Lords)
  2. The introduction of the Alternative Vote to replace the current first past the posts system for electing MPs.
  3. The voting age lowered to 16.

Do you agree that change is needed?..

Sincerely,

Julian Ware-Lane
Labour, Castle Point

… (Rebecca Harris, 17/03/2010) – Rebecca Replies…

… (15/03/2010) – Soap-box 2010

‘The Tories Are Killing Home-Owning Ambitions’

(Julian Ware-Lane) – THE TORY THREAT to scrap the Government’s housing targets is a double kick in the teeth for the community of Castle Point. This odious promise was made by Caroline Spellman on her recent visit to the constituency.

Not only does this charter for NIMBYism not protect the greenbelt, it positively threatens it through this local Tory council’s obstinate refusal to explore alternative solutions. We must be clear that the decision to build on greenbelt on Canvey and in Daws Heath is very much a local Conservative decision and not the Government’s.

With something like two million extra homes required at present I am not sure where the Tories think these people are supposed to live. The millionaire friends of the Conservative Party will always be able to buy; the hoi polloi will have to put up with their children staying at home for longer than ever, or face them moving some distance away.

Using the council housing waiting list as evidence is laughable. The 1500 currently on the list are those in desperate need; most do not go on the list as it is a pointless exercise. All those seeking starter homes in Castle Point will have to accept disappointment and practice extreme patience.

As for those who work in construction, well, perhaps Caroline Spellman can suggest alternative avenues of employment. Bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, joiners, painters and decorators, etc, and all the businesses who serve the industry will not welcome this decision. No home-building means no work for them.

No building means no new homes, and less employment – a far from fine promise for the future.

… (03/02/2010) – 2014: The Mother Of All Mortgage Famines?

Julian Speaks Out Over Hanningfield Comments

Julian Ware-LaneCASTLE POINT LABOUR Parliamentary Candidate, Julian Ware-Lane, is reported by his party as being flabbergasted when he heard what the leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, had said about Canvey’s tourist aspirations.

Julian is reported as saying: ‘Lord Hanningfield’s recent comments that Canvey Island should abandon its ambitions to be a tourist resort are offensive, they are also very wrong.

‘People should be proud of their communities, and Canvey people are proud of theirs. To ignore the potential of tourism is to dismiss real business opportunities.

‘I am ambitious for Canvey Island, and for Castle Point as a whole. This is not to deny reality, quite the reverse. Being on the coast is an asset, and Canvey’s unique heritage is not ignorable.

‘It is well known what London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans are for the Estuary — is Lord Hanningfield talking down Canvey as part of a softening up exercise? I am campaigning against the madness of an Estuary Airport — as well as standing up for all the wonderful things Canvey Island has to offer.

‘An intelligently developed tourist industry on Canvey Island could be a well-used facility, not just for locals; but for all of Castle Point and Essex beyond. I do not see why some of the day-trippers, who currently head for the attractions at Southend, could not be persuaded to disembark earlier in their journeys to sample the delights of the island in the Thames.

‘Has Lord Hanningfield bothered to visit Canvey Island recently? Judging by his ill considered remarks it seems doubtful.

‘The Leader of Essex County Council should not make these sorts of comments — he is plain wrong and should apologise to all on Canvey Island.’

Nice one, Julian…