Calling for more action on equality & diversity at the Bar
April 2nd, 2018

I recently spoke to Middle Temple students on equality and diversity – a topic that is close to my heart. I also spoke at a Bar Standards Board (BSB) event in February discussing how to improve Race Equality at the Bar – the report from that event is now available here. At the event, I argued for the establishment of a task force and for the BSB to be more ‘activist’ in their approach to closing the gap between BAME and non-BAME barristers. Without commitment from the BSB and Bar Council, we cannot make the strides we need to achieve genuine and lasting representation for BAME barristers at the bar (and at all levels of the judiciary). This is vital to the continued health of the profession, as well as assuring we stay relevant to the people we represent.

From Corbyn to Milburn our party sees how poverty and bad schools hit social mobility – so let’s fix them together
November 30th, 2017

The question preoccupying politicians and journalists seems to be the current state of Britain. All roads seem to lead to Brexit but it is not clear what that will mean for the nation in practical terms. Those eurosceptics who argue that Britain can only define itself outside of Europe offer few clues about what a modern post-Brexit Britain will look like. Unfortunately the Conservative Party’s single-minded focus on leaving the EU has eaten up the space occupied by the domestic policy agenda.

For those seeking more, the kernel of an answer is to be found in the Social Mobility Commission’s fifth State of the Nation report, chaired by Labour’s former health secretary Alan Milburn. It was published this week to little fanfare but gives a hard and unsparing look at where things are going right and what is going wrong. The detail in its pages makes David Davis’ Brexit impact reports look paltry. (more…)

Public faith in Labour rests on its response to the Westminster sex scandal
November 6th, 2017

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has sent shockwaves rippling across the Atlantic and they have now reached parliament. For the first time, light is shining into the darkest corners and what we can see is, quite frankly, very ugly.

The fact that any man, let alone a minister, needs to be told that asking members of staff to buy sex toys represents sexual harassment is certainly depressing. Yet Mark Garnier, a Tory minister for international development, described the incident as “high jinks” and the “sugar t***” comment he made to his then aide as part of an “amusing conversation”.

No Mr Garnier, those comments are about as funny as Donald Trump. The crisis for the Tory party shows no signs of abating with Sir Michael Fallon resigning last week while saying vaguely that his conduct had “fallen short” in the past.

The problem is not limited to the Conservatives. (more…)

Unison’s tribunal fees victory shows the power of our Labour movement
July 31st, 2017

Practising as an employment lawyer over the last four years has felt at times like howling into the wind. Since the introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013, employment claims reduced by up to an eye-watering 70 per cent. However, the more het up employment lawyers got about this clear block on access to justice, the less interested others seemed to be. Obviously there are always exceptions and in this battle there were a few doughty allies led by the trade union movement, especially the excellent Unison. After a four year fight by Unison’s legal team culminating last week, employment tribunal fees were held to be unlawful. (more…)

Campaigning in the North West
April 19th, 2015

 

Photo 28-03-2015 13 20 49 cropped

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined the Young Fabians and Theresa Griffin MEP campaigning in three marginal seats in the North West just before Easter. Here with Nick Bent, our candidate for Warrington South.

An end to employment tribunal fees
April 15th, 2015

After years of personal teeth gnashing over the disastrous policy of employment tribunal fees, it is encouraging to see that the Labour party has promised to abolish them if elected in May. In its workplace manifesto launched on 1 April Labour states unequivocally that the Tory-led government’s fee system had failed. For those of us who have been arguing against this government’s systematic dismantling of access to justice it was a real hallelujah moment.

(more…)

Campaigning in Croydon
March 12th, 2015

Sara canvassing Croydon March 15a

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend I was in Croydon supporting the excellent Sarah Jones, our candidate in Croydon Central.

A cavalier approach to justice
March 10th, 2015

The general election may be fast approaching, but this Conservative-led government is continuing to do damage. This will be apparent in the legal system as Chris Grayling’s assault on the justice system continues apace, with the anticipated rise in fees for civil proceedings soon coming into force. In the dryly named Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015, fees for issuing a claim will now be five per cent if the claim is valued at between £10,000 and £200,000. To give an example of what this means in practice, if your claim is valued at £40,000 you face an increase in issue fees of 228 per cent which increases to an eye watering 622 per cent if the value of your claim is £190,000. Given that the value of a claim often bears little relation to the administrative burden to the court system, this is a naked assault on access to justice.

(more…)

Campaigning in marginals for a Labour win
February 28th, 2015

With Suzi Stride in Harlow and the Progress 3 seats challenge team.

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend I joined the Progress 3 seat challenge, campaigning with Labour Party members in Cambridge, Harlow (here with our candidate Suzy Stride), and Ilford.

Winning in these seats is all part of being a One Nation Labour Party.

Talking like UKIP on immigration isn’t the answer for Labour
October 13th, 2014

After the by elections of last week, the clamour from the commentating class has been that the mainstream parties have to tack sharp right on immigration. The argument must be made for fortress Britain. This is all anathema to me and seems to represent a widespread political amnesia among the political classes. Anyone remember the failed Tory campaigns that took a hard line on immigration – William Hague in 2001 and then Michael Howard in 2005? Or what about the not so successful initiative of the Cameron led government to drive down immigration rates – now up around 60,000 from last year?

If immigration is just about the suppression of wages caused by an influx of EU workers then this does not explain why in areas where immigration is low that UKIP is so appealing. Clacton is a case in point. Even Douglas Carswell has been reluctant to parrot the UKIP party line saying: (more…)

A people-centred government in a time of austerity
September 29th, 2014

It is a truism of the party conference season that the most important announcements do not come from the conference floor. Take the start of Tory party conference with Mark Reckless announcing his move to join Nigel Farage and his merry band of UKIPers or Brooks Newmarket resigning after being caught in a tabloid sting.

Ed Miliband also omitted a passage on the deficit in his Labour conference speech. Yet, those who think Labour doesn’t have a plan for dealing with the deficit have not been listening carefully enough. Ed Balls has previously articulated the message that a Labour government will have to cut its cloth to suit straightened financial means. He has pointed to the rise in borrowing under George Osborne’s watch. The situation an incoming Labour government will inherit in 2015 will be much worse than the one Labour bequeathed Tories in 2010, three years after the start of the global economic crisis. (more…)

Boris Johnson, devolution, and where power really lies
September 14th, 2014

With the imminent Scottish referendum, you would be forgiven for thinking that the real debate is about how devolved should power be. Gordon Brown’s increasingly prominent role for the Better Together campaign shows a shift to a focus on Devo max versus independence. The growing consensus appears to be that people should be empowered to make decisions in their own lives but it is the degree of self governance that is up for grabs.

Against this background, Boris Johnson has been selected as the Tory candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He is one of the few people not to have declared any secret Scottish attachments recently (in a very crowded field) but his decision is relevant for Scotland. Boris Johnson is one of the few people who can be said to be more self aggrandising and power hungry than Alex Salmond. If the tales are true, then one of Boris Johnson’s first political decisions was whether to pursue his political ambitions in the UK or the US, the latter being a path open to him by virtue of his having been born in America. (more…)

Boris and why we shouldn’t presume guilt
August 26th, 2014

Ah Boris. Boris – the outwardly loveable buffoon with a crop of messy blonde hair who inwardly is a ruthless political strategist. Who else could cheer up the Tory grassroots by promising to effectively ditch being major of London to attempt to return to parliament? Unreliable he may be but silly he is not. Or so we are told. A one man tonic for the jaded palate of voters. (more…)

Baroness Warsi, the Tory Party, and the rule of law
August 6th, 2014

Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation marks the first ministerial departure on the grounds of principle for this government and the timing at least seems to have been totally unexpected by David Cameron. Typically of the Conservative party, some of their supporters have sought to ridicule Warsi by pointing out the clunky manner in which her resignation letter was couched.

Love her or loathe her, Warsi made some interesting points that extend beyond the scope of the government’s (lack of) policy on Gaza. If read carefully, it provides Labour an insight into malfunctioning within the Tory party and shows how the latest reshuffle really was a lurch to the right. (more…)

What the opcotton decision means for the Con-Dem cuts
May 6th, 2014

After being subjected to many barbs at PMQs over brothers, I do hope Ed Miliband is lining up a joke about Cameron’s brother following the #opcotton decision last week. Alex Cameron QC, brother of David Cameron, dramatically increased his profile as a result of his championing of the criminal bar following legal aid cuts.

In a wonderful twist, Alex Cameron QC was acting for the defendants arguing a stay of proceedings because the legal aid cuts had prejudiced the ability of the defendants to get proper representation. The Judge’s typo added to the fun when it was recorded that Alex Cameron QC was acting “bro bono” rather than pro bono i.e for free. Although maybe it wasn’t a slip if you assume that “bro bono” loosely translates as good brother.  (more…)

Christine Lagarde – a champion for Labour’s diagnosis of the UK’s ills?
February 12th, 2014

With the general election in sight, it is easy to focus on the numbers. That is, the polling numbers. Many have argued that these are the wrong numbers to look to if you want to predict which party will win in 2015. Instead, the Tories have focused on nascent growth with GDP estimated to have grown by 1.9% in 2013 (as an average of all quarterly figures for last year). Their message has been the tough decisions have been made and now the green shoots of recovery can be seen. Should economic growth be seen as the main indicator of political success? (more…)

Ban the niqab? Or are we missing the point?
September 18th, 2013

One day a Judge asked me, as I was leaving court, what I thought about women wearing face veils in the courtroom. No doubt he thought I would have some insight into the issue, with my Muslim-sounding name and my Western appearance. Perhaps he anticipated a comforting answer, the answer that a lot of people would like to hear: “No it shouldn’t be OK to wear it in court.” I imagine quite a few people would like to hear it shouldn’t be worn anywhere in the UK. (more…)

April 1st – when the cuts bite
April 1st, 2013

Today is a seminal day for the Tory-led government. It is today that the true extent of the cuts will become apparent to people. Many Labour activists have rightly focused on the scandal that is the ‘bedroom tax’. However, this is just part of a package of cuts that has come into effect as Polly Tonybee pointed out in the Guardian last week. (more…)

Victory for Labour in Pensby & Thingwall!
March 1st, 2013

To all those who have been following the by-election in Pensby and Thingwall ward, the election results have been announced as follows:

Philip Brightmore (Lab) 1,411, Allen John Burton (Green) 74, Sheila Lesley Clarke (Con) 868, Damien William Cummins (Lib Dem) 834, Jan Davison (UKIP) 426, Neil Kennyn (English Democrats) 53

This gives Labour a majority of 543 which is a credit to him and the Labour team who were part of the GOTV operation. A great sign that the people of Wirral believe Labour is on their side.

By-elections – you say Eastleigh and I say Pensby and Thingwall
February 26th, 2013

If you ask any Labour supporter to name a by-election, the first place they will name is Eastleigh. You have an exciting and media friendly candidate in John O’Farrell who is well positioned to ensure that Labour gets its share of the limelight. Now I am a big fan of Progress’ third place first campaign as it realises that for Labour to become viable as a realistic choice in many constituencies you have to cultivate previous no-go areas. The number of Labour activists and high profile MPs pouring into Eastleigh has shown what the O’Farrell can do to motivate our supporters.

Despite this, I turned up to campaign for a different Labour by-election this weekend in what has been viewed as part of Labour’s heartlands – the North West. So where was I? I was in the delightfully named ward of Pensby and Thingwall which is in the constituency of Wirral West currently held by the Conservative Esther McVey. (more…)

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