Simon Mayo

Hazel Blears must have known what she was writing in that article. ‘Lamentable’ and ‘You Tube if you want to’ are hardly accidental insults.

At PMQs, David Cameron went for Gordon – sensing a weakened and beleaguered Prime Minister – somehow he managed to mess it up and come over like a bully-boy – unpleasant and over-political. Every one of his six supplementries was attacking Brown. So whilst Brown was wooden and unable to make quips – he didn’t suffer the way he ought to have given his fragile state and the week from hell just passed. He was desperately trying to be a serious man for serious times – coming back at Cameron for not asking a single question on policy or the economy. Underwhelming on both sides I thought.

Actually – the duel was deeply depressing. Red / blue, blue / red – same old same old. About time we had a different way of doing politics! Yes – us.

The only really decent questions (apart from Nick Clegg – obviously) was about the Gurkhas and the complete failure of Brown to understand the mood of the nation and somehow believe that rattling immigration bars (no doubt guided by focus group) would somehow trump the hearts and minds of British people. our souls are built on fair play! But Gordon doesn’t get it.

So – we ranged over this in Simon Mayo – and ID cards (waste of money and won’t work), swine flu (briefly thank goodness) and the Gurkhas again – and the demise of Gordon. Doom and Dust!

It’s a great program – and I note that Simon ‘I’m being made to tweet’ Mayo (last time I was on re twittering) now finds it irresistible!

The power of Twitter

Spent morning at Microsoft in my role as Chair of the new Technology Advisory Board – and later was on Simon Mayo’s program talking about Twitter. Three other mega-enthusiasts were there too – twittering as the program was live with live responses coming in. Talking of which, Simon Mayo got an email in from one of my constituents asking if I could contact Haringey Council about Fortis Green pavement being extremely icey. After the program – I did – and Haringey said they would go out at once as a priority. The power of Twitter and the Simon Mayo program – whooaaaaaaaa!

Post Offices: Labour says one thing, does another

After PMQs yesterday, I rushed to Five Live to do Simon Mayo – and guess what – Post Offices were the issue of the day!

Loads of emails into the program expressing the rage and anger felt by local people everywhere. The Labour MP on the panel, Celia Barlow was really put on the spot by Mayo. The Opposition Day debate in the afternoon with a vote at 7pm was to put a moratorium on the proposed closures giving time for more creative solutions to be found.

Now Celia is in the position of many Labour MPs of having voted through the procedure last year which set off the new round of closures, but now is camaigining locally to save Post Offices in her constituency. So – when given a second chance to vote the right way on the issue, what was she going to do?

If enough Labour MPs voted for the motion, the consultation and the process would have to be halted. But Celia said she didn’t think she would go through the lobbies with the Tories. I know it’s not easy to defy the whip – but in this case – where you are saying something locally, you really should have the gumption to back it up with a vote in Parliament.

Some Labour MPs did – but if only another 10 or so Labour MPs had switched – we could have won the vote. Desperately close. And what makes me angry is that this is yet another case of Labour politicians saying one thing (“we care about saving Post Offices”) but then doing another (as is also the case locally – where far from helping Salisbury Road Post Office, Labour-run Haringey Council has hit it with a huge financial bill).

Lynne Featherstone with Kurdish Turkish MP, Ali Dimirci and Ibrahim Dogus for Newroz in ParliamentIn the evening I played host to our Kurdish community at Parliament for the celebration of Newroz.

There is a large and now very active Kurdish community who face terrible discrimination in Turkey and other places.

Back to work

Having come back from Holland last night – swing straight into action with visit to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). First impressions are important – and wow they have nice offices. So when John Wadham tells me that there was a deliberate policy to distance this new organisation from the police and the sort of police atmosphere in order to establish that they are totally independent – I would say they have succeeded. This was more like an ad agency than those rabbit warren, linoleum floored, old institutional fortresses that we so associate with law and order.

And they have had a tall order. More usually famous for their headline inquiries (de Menezes etc) than the bread and butter work of investigating and monitoring complaints, the task to gain public confidence is all. Plagued by high profile leaks from their ranks which caused distress to employees and all, they brought in an independent investigator to sort out their leaks and security. This whole system needs safeguards – but it also needs trust. The public faith in the police and in the complaints procedure has to be paramount – and so security and independence is vital.

When I was first serving on the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) one of my roles was go round to different police complaints departments and look through case files. Needle in a haystack work – but the point was that you could pick out stuff; you could get a pretty good feel for what went on between police person and complainant and you could understand the frustrations on both sides. I don’t suppose unless every exchange was taped you would ever really know the absolute truth – but the audit trails must be capable of picking up trends in a particular station or from a particular officer.

Anyway – all of this transferred to the new IPCC who seem to have a pretty thorough grip on the work – albeit the workload is substantive. Outside of the headline investigations into murders and deaths in custody, they also supervise numerous other investigations as well as having a general remit on police complaints and appeals against decisions. Add to this the new roles of investigating complaints against officers in the immigration and asylum departments which is coming down the line in legislation – next week second reading in Parliament – and they have a monumental task on their hands.

I then dash off to do the Simon Mayo Program on blogging and pod-casting – only to find that the content has changed consequent on the publication of the Power Commission report. Basically the report finds that democracy is stuffed and we need a new electoral system and power to the people. ‘Scuse me – but it really cheeses me off as Lib Dems have advocated this for decades – but the media have taken no notice. Now it is Labour on Labour – they are sitting up and begging. Oh well……………. Helena Kennedy, Shahid Malik and me are in one studio with Mayo and others in another studio. We all have a short say on the Power Commission findings. I point out that people are just sick of the spin and falseness of politicians and are crying out for anyone who actually believes in anything and isn’t prepared to drop principles for the mere mention of a vote.

Then a quick lobby by BAA to try and persuade me of their sense of conscience and how they try to be sustainable – and to be fair they are trying. However, if attitude to airplane traffic is just to predict and provide – we will get nowhere in saving the planet.

That having been said – I went for three days to Holland last weekend. I decided to take the train both ways to be sustainable – and see the countryside. Of course, travelling all of Friday and Sunday for a Saturday there perhaps I hadn’t got it quite right and a longer stay is needed to justify the four trains each way and the length of travel time. But my conscience felt good!