• May
  • 18th
  • 2009

Chuka joins forces with Stephen Fry to Promote Votematch

Chuka, Jennette Arnold AM and Stephen FryThis week, Chuka attended the launch of Votematch, a new application which aims to boost turnout at the upcoming European elections. The event, organised by the pressure group UnlockDemocracy, was held at Apple’s flagship Central London store in Regent Street and hosted by actor and comedian Stephen Fry.

The event showcased the Votematch application, which allows people to see how closely aligned their own views are with parties standing in the European elections. After answering a series of policy-based questions and deciding which issues matter most to them, users can see how their responses compare with party positions on each issue, and how closely each party’s manifesto as a whole matches their own views, with the aim of encouraging them to vote in the European elections. Introducing the application, Stephen Fry described it as being “like a dating site for voters”.

Commenting on the launch and on his support for Votematch, Chuka said: “Anything that can help boost voter turnout is a good idea, and combining democracy and new technology will help engage people who might not have voted otherwise, especially young people. For the European elections, it is imperative that all mainstream parties encourage people to get out and vote, not least so that we can prevent the BNP from gaining representation.”

Vote Match is accessible both online and via handheld devices such as the iPhone, and has been successful in boosting voter turnout elsewhere in Europe. Take the Votematch test here.

  • May
  • 18th
  • 2009

Keep the post public

CWU, Kate and ChukaChuka and Kate Hoey, MP for neighbouring Vauxhall, have joined forces with the Communications Workers Union to oppose the part privatisation of Royal Mail. Kate and Chuka joined Communications Workers Union members and officials last week in a demonstration against the proposed privatisation at the major Royal Mail sorting office in Nine Elms.

Chuka is supporting the alternative proposals for Royal Mail’s future outlined by Compass, the left wing pressure group on whose managing committee he sits. The plans recommend that Royal Mail be kept in public ownership as a non-for-profit body, following the model set by National Rail, which was established as successor to the failed privatisation of the railways under Railtrack. The proposals would give the Royal Mail access to both private and public resources and it would remain operationally separate from government in the same way as the BBC does.

Privatisation of Royal Mail could threaten jobs at distribution centres including Nine Elms and Streatham sorting offices. The universal service which Royal Mail offers would also be at risk with services cherry-picked on the basis of profit, rather than the benefit of all users. This week, it was announced that Royal Mail’s profits have doubled, with all parts of its business turning a profit. This undermines the case for part privatisations, reinforcing the fact that Royal Mail is far from being the failed organisation it has often been portrayed as.

Commenting on proposals for privatisation, Chuka said: “The Royal Mail plays an important role in all of our daily lives, and we deserve the best from it. Everyone, including Royal Mail employees, management and users, agree that modernisation and investment is necessary, but selling off the postal service is not the way to achieve these goals. Modernisation doesn’t have to mean privatisation.”

Greg Charles, secretary of the CWU London South West (Postal) Branch said: “The governments plan to part privatise Royal Mail coupled with management’s plans on modernisation will lead to a worsened service, failing collections and failing deliveries, whilst profits will be siphoned of by our competitors. Our members across South London are living with the fear of cuts in jobs, cuts in earnings and an uncertain future.”

Read more about Compass’ proposals for Royal Mail’s future here.

  • May
  • 16th
  • 2009

Talent Pool – a boost for graduates

Chuka with John DenhamThe government has launched Graduate Talent Pool, an online portal which matches employers able to offer internships with graduates who want to take them up.

The scheme is designed to help prevent recent graduates falling into unemployment in the current economic climate, allowing them to increase their employability by gaining skills and experience through an internship. Whilst the online service will go live later this year, major firms and organisations including Network Rail, Microsoft and Marks & Spencer have already signed up.

Streatham is one of the youngest constituencies in the UK and also has a high proportion of graduates, with the number of young people going into higher education in Streatham having risen by 81.7% since 1997. In the 1980s and early 1990s the area suffered disproportionately from the problem of youth and graduate unemployment. The government is determined that unlike then, the difficult times we are going through now must not result in a lost generation, locked in unemployment and lacking the skills and experience to find work. Alongside the Talent Pool, an additional 14,000 postgraduate places are to be offered by universities, supported by Professional and Career Development Loans.

Chuka, commenting on the announcement, said: “It is crucial that we don’t leave a generation of bright young people behind, as happened in the 1980s. Internships are a valuable way of passing on skills and opening doors to further opportunities in the future”.

For more information about the talent pool and internship opportunities for graduates, visit this site.

  • May
  • 14th
  • 2009

Save Rise Festival

Rise Chuka is supporting the campaign to save Rise Festival, London’s annual anti-rascism event, which has been cancelled by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The UpRise campaign has been formed in response to the decision, setting up an online petition against the cancellation.

Rise, previously known as the Respect Festival, was first organised by the TUC in 1996 to promote an anti-racism message and celebrate London’s unity in diversity. It also provided space for charities and community organisations to highlight and promote their work. From 2001, Mayor Ken Livingstone took charge of the festival, increasing its size and profile. Featured acts have included the Wailers, Public Enemy, Graham Coxon and De La Soul. Last year’s event was held in Finsbury Park and headlined by reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, with over 60,000 in attendance. However, Boris Johnson was criticised for watering down the festival’s anti-racist message.

Jimmy CliffCommenting on the cancellation, Chuka said: “The decision to cancel the Rise Festival at a time when all mainstream political parties, including the Mayor’s own party, are fighting to prevent the rise of the far right in the forthcoming European Elections is crazy – he should think again.”

Please sign the Save Rise Festival petition and check out UpRise’s Facebook group.

  • May
  • 7th
  • 2009

Streatham Food Festival

Streatham Food FestivalThis weekend sees the launch of the first ever Streatham Food Festival, an event celebrating our community’s rich culinary diversity. Chuka will be attending the launch event at Gracefield Gardens Community Centre on Saturday afternoon, where there will be tasting sessions and food stalls including Oxfam Fair Trade and Food Up Front, an urban food-growing network which operates across south London. Many restaurants on Streatham High Road will be offering discount meals, allowing visitors to sample dishes from a wide range of cuisines, while a farmers’ market selling fresh produce will be running outside the Streatham Odeon. 

For more information, check out the Food Festival’s website here: Streatham Food Festival.

  • May
  • 6th
  • 2009

Austerity for who?

David Cameron has refused to commit to maintaining child benefit and winter fuel allowances at the same level as the Labour Government. 23,900 children in 13,740 families in the Streatham parliamentary constituency have gained from Labour increasing Child Benefit this year. 12,230 local people in the Streatham constituency have received Winter Fuel Payments this year. Mr Cameron talks of an “age of austerity” but local people are asking the question: austerity for who?