Friday, 12 December 2008

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'm going to see how the new computer 'bidding' system for council housing works, then speaking at a carers event, then having a roundtable about the welfare reform proposals with people from Job Centre Plus and other organisations, then visiting St. James' Priory, then meeting trade unions with other Bristol Labour MPs, and then - possibly - having a curry with Doug Naysmith MP and Sam Townend, the guy who's looking to replace him at the next election.
Which means that on Saturday I get to go into the constituency office to look at all my letters. And if I say here that I will get round to updating my main website with all the news stories I've missed from late November and December, then maybe I just might.

40 comments:

Old Holborn said...

going to see how the new computer 'bidding' system for council housing works,

Explain

Kerry said...

Tomorrow.

Kerry said...

PS Nothing to do with price. More to do with expressions of interest.

timbone said...

This system has been going on in Manchester for several years I believe, and is very successful. Certain properties are up on a website, and people are able to request consideration. Those who 'bid' are considered according to their position on the housing list and other relevant criteria, such as their needs meeting the type of property and the area it is in. The site also includes other social housing owned by indepenadant Housing Associations.

The Last Of The Few said...

Kerry,

Do you think it is worth going to see this or do you think you should be assisting in helping regain some credibility by not allowing the family of a soldier KIA in Afghanistan being deported.
Or are you going to do the usual not my constituency therefore not my problem. Then again NULabour all over eh!

Bet you dont post this

Remember Remember said...

Hooray! This could be a pilot for a new national voting system so we can vote on which of the Politicians we employ should be made redundant and have their pensions brought down to national levels!
It's about time Politics became performance related instead of a free-for-all for duplicitous wafflers. We want accountability, not five year dictatorships.

Kerry said...

Thanks Timbone - saved me the trouble of explaining it.

The Last of the Few - any idea how many of my constituents are on the housing list? (Including refugees). And any idea how many asylum seekers in my constituency I'm currently helping? Or failed asylum seekers? Thought not.

I hope you're not one of those people who only care about asylum seekers where there's a good 'angle' (the 'cuddly cases' as I put it). There are many no-one gets to hear about. My surgeries are full of them, and my filing cabinets.

The Last Of The Few said...

No Kerry,
I am a very recent ex-serviceman who has done 2 tours in Afghanistan, so I spek from experience, having served with guys like this chap, seen the suffering including that of the Afghan people let alone the absolute neglect of our own troops.
No I dont know the refugee list of Bristol but I have an idea about the 1 where I live, so instead of trying to come back with a smart a**** answer by trying to make me look stupid ANSWER THE QUESTION.

Post this then if you want to discuss or are you going to be the usual little snide and close the post comment at your own answer showing what a shallow and inadequate excuse that you and the government are.

Deportation.........you make me sick!

Kerry said...

Come on - you were suggesting that I was wasting my time visiting the Housing Office, and that I should 'regain credibility' by opposing a particular deportation. I was pointing out that housing is actually v. impt. to very many of my constituents, and that I have dealt with a not inconsiderable number of deportations, and many, many more asylum cases. And the fact is, the Borders Agency will only deal with the constituency MP, which is right and proper.

And please don't accuse me either of closing the post at my own comment - I've never 'closed' a post. If your response shows you want a genuine discussion, fine. But at the moment you're attacking me on a completely false premise.

The Last Of The Few said...

Then answer the question.

Is the Home Office right to deport Colour Sgt Duras widow and family

Thank you

Kerry said...

So you can ignore my questions, but I can't ignore yours? What kind of conversation is that?

The Last Of The Few said...

Kerry,
I have read what you have written and see 1 question.
I have answered that. And to reiterate I have NO idea of the number on the housing list. NO not a clue nor the size of your filing cabinet. Please advise me.

Ok please can you answer my question.
Is the home office correct to deport Colour Sgt Dura widow and family post his demise in Afghanistan.

Thank you

Kerry said...

My implied question was whether you think it is more important for me to focus on the needs of my own constituents - housing and asylum - or get involved in a case which is already attracting significant media attention and support?

pagar said...

Extremely off topic, but I couldn't help noticing the report on your visit to the Bristol Black Carers Group meeting and some questions immediately sprung to mind.

Firstly, why is it necessary to have a black carers group? Are the challenges and issues faced by carers who are black so dramatically different that it is felt necessary to exclude white carers from the group? Would it be possible to set up a white carers association- if not why would that be considered any more racist?

Secondly, you said at the meeting that you were unhappy that carers were losing their state supplied motability vehicle within a couple of weeks of the end of their caring role. Why should this be any different from the private sector where the provision of a company vehicle would terminate immediately someone ceased to be employed?

Kerry said...

Well done!

There are various different carers groups - e.g. Young Carers, Black Carers. Black Carers actually covers all BME groups, e.g. the Chinese community is quite well-represented. They support carers on all fronts, but there is a specific problem with BME carers not accessing mainstream services, so the organisation acts as a link to encourage them to do so. For more info, see their website:

http://www.blackcarersproject.co.uk/default.htm

As for the Motability car point - imagine you're a family with a disabled children, and several other children. You get a Motability car because of the disabled child. That child dies. Not only do you have to cope with the bereavement, but almost overnight you're in the situation where you have to buy a car, pay for the tax and insurance... I'm not saying they should be able to keep the car indefinitely, just that it's a bit harsh to do it so suddenly when there's a bereavement involved.

pagar said...

Thanks for the response, Kerry, and I have looked at the website but I'm sorry it just doesn't wash.

Access to the publicly funded benefits this group provides is available to Chinese but not Japanese. They are available to Pakistanis but not Australians. They are available to black people but not white people. It is a fact that its terms of reference are fundamentally racist.

there is a specific problem with BME carers not accessing mainstream services

That is the rationale for the racist nature of the group but I would like to see the evidence. Are you saying that black people are uncomfortable use mixed-race carers support groups? If so why? Is it because they, themselves, are racist? If a white person was uncomfortable mixing with black people in such a group would their attitude not be described as racist?

Apartheid is not the solution to racism. We need to integrate ethnic minority groups not pay for them to be excluded- even if that is what they tell us they want.

Kerry said...

I don't accept at all that this group is racist, but you raise some points that are certainly worth debating... will have to wait till tomorrow for a response from me though, as I'm busy today. I do agree that promoting community cohesion across different groups is the way forward for council funding, rather than encouraging 'ghettoisation' with each community having its own group - but probably need to explain that more.

Does anyone else want to chip in in the meantime?

Kerry said...

The depressing thing is - and I've just deleted a comment from you know who - that I knew the very mention of black carers would elicit a negative response. It's obvious that minority groups have specific, sometimes quite different needs. But more later, must focus on my work!

The Last Of The Few said...

Kerry,

Sorry how remiss of me it was an implied question not an actual question.

OK I will go on record here and to say you have avoided the question I asked.
I take it as read you will not answer it so as to protect your political rear.
I feel your lack of an answer is itself the answer.
The people of Bristol East deserve better I am afraid.

Check the AARSE web site!!!!

The Last Of The Few said...

Actually Kerry if you read m original post then yes I did mention the fact you view it as not my constituancy therefore not my problem.
You have brought it a full 360 back to that.
So I was correct!!!!!!!!
You are not interested!!!!!

Bristol Dave said...

I'll chip in - I agree completely with Pagar's comments. A group that specifically excludes people's access to publicly-funded services based purely upon their race (in this case, people who are non-BME) is by very definition, racist. The "white-only care group" example stated by Pagar is a valid one. People would trip over themselves to complain and cry "racist". If this BME Carers group is NOT racist, it is at the very least discriminatory. Oh, but it's positive discrimination, so that's OK, right?

In my view, no discrimination is "positive" and the hypocrisy of this stupid phrase really gets my back up. BME carers may well have specific needs (though I'm buggered if I can work out what they might be, given that race shouldn't be a factor when it comes to looking after people) but I fail to see why these needs couldn't be addressed by a group that helps carers of ALL backgrounds.

The "Ghettoisation" of Bristol is very apparent to myself, a citizen of Bristol for almost 25 years, and almost seems to be created/promoted by the council. A quick walk through certain areas of the city and you will see Afro-Caribbean Community Centres, Asian Community Centres, Chinese Community Centres...oddly no White Community Centres. In the interests of integration, why can't they all just be Community Centres?

Avon and Somerset Police got into legal hot water not so long ago with a similar policy on recruitment. They even drew criticism from the CRE where they discouraged white males from applying for postions as police officers. They have long since had to remove the offending adverts but I am reliably informed they are just being more clever at targetting the sections of society they want to employ, through specific newspapers/newsletters/etc.

Kerry said...

The Last of the Few - I've never had any problem at all speaking out about controversial deportation cases in my constituency. But you're missing my point entirely. Probably on purpose. You tenuously brought up the subject in the first place by saying I shouldn't be visiting the housing office but getting involved in this particular case - so I have answered the point that directly related to my post. You're (a) accusing me of not doing my job as an MP, and (b) accusing me of not being prepared to challenge the Home Office on asylum cases - and you're wrong on both fronts. I want to know - why, in your mind, is this case so different?

Kerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerry said...

There are many groups which cater to the needs of particular sectors - e.g. there are Young Carers groups. I think you'd probably accept young carers have specific needs, and an identity of interest. But is that ageist? No?

BME carers do have specific problems, e.g. in accessing services because of language problems, or cultural issues. Often, for example, they are very reluctant to turn to the state for help, as it is expected that the extended family will rally round. One scenario, for example, would be where an elderly woman can no longer care for her elderly husband, but feels that she would be judged badly if she allowed him to go into a residential home (and the home may well not be geared up towards providing for his cultural and religious needs). Black carers is there to support such people.

As for the stuff about excluding Japanese, aborigines etc. I think it's nonsense - the website is basically just identifying those communities that do need extra help in the Bristol area. And we don't have too many aborigines there!

I do accept that there is a valid point being made about whether it is wise to fund BME-specific groups, or to mainstream such services so that the necessary cultural awareness, etc, is there within all public sector or community organisations. I am sure that is the way forward in the long term, and I have often tried to discourage people from BME communities from setting up organisations which only cater for the needs of one community. Apart from anything else, if there is a plethora of such groups, they all end up only getting a few thousand in funding, and soon go to the wall, whereas if they pooled resources they could afford premises, staff, etc. And it would help promote better community cohesion.

I would say more on that, but I know that's not where you're coming from, and you're just using this as yet another opportunity to attack BME groups - which is sad.

Bristol Dave said...

I would say more on that, but I know that's not where you're coming from, and you're just using this as yet another opportunity to attack BME groups - which is sad.

Notsure if this was aimed at me, but I was attacking the apparent "no help to white carers" policy of the group in question which in my mind is at best discriminatory and at worst possibly illegal given the ironic public outrage if roles were reversed, rather than the group themselves.

I think the attacks on this particular policy are justified, frankly. There are many more policies/systems in place (e.g. African-only Community Centre) that would be seemingly abhorrent if roles were reversed (e.g. Whites-only Community Centre) that simply shouldn't have a place in a modern integrated society.

pagar said...

I, for one, am not attacking the BME community but would assert that their long term individual well being is best served by integrating into the community at large. To encourage them not to integrate (by setting up projects based on ethnicity, religion or skin colour) has two dangers.

Firstly, to do so panders to the supported perception that the ethnic community is a separate, disadvantaged and threatened grouping within our society. The more you homologate this perception by funding such projects, the more the appartheid culture gains credence and the extreme elements from all communities are seen to gain leadership roles.

Secondly, to do so appeals to the racists within our indigenous population who are insecure enough to feel threatened by external cultures that are unwilling to integrate. The perception is that the immigrants get special treatment that the taxpayer is made to pay for them. True or not, this breeds the sort of resentment that has been articulated on your blog.

Carers do a worthwhile job and have common needs that transcend ethnicity. I'd advocate you fold this pernicious project.

black hole sunset said...

"I think you'd probably accept young carers have specific needs, and an identity of interest. But is that ageist? No?"

That would depend entirely on the terms and conditions of the services under consideration. If the level of (exclusive) assistance was seen to give unfair advantage in terms of advice, financial support, work placement etc. to young carers at the expense of other groups then it would indeed be ageist. Crucially, it would also depend on whether other groups were permitted establish their own support organisations with access to the same type and levels of funding which could then include/exclude on similar grounds.

"BME carers do have specific problems, e.g. in accessing services because of language problems, or cultural issues ... I do accept that there is a valid point being made about whether it is wise to fund BME-specific groups"

Fair enough, up to a point, but anyone who has language or cultural issues to the extent that they struggle to access public services will surely find it very difficult to integrate into the wider community so the issue real issue seems to be one of providing general language and cultural education (which would be of very significant benefit to everyone, not just the target groups) rather than establishing a plethora of sector and racially discriminatory support organisations.

"Often, for example, they are very reluctant to turn to the state for help, as it is expected that the extended family will rally round."

Are you are aware of any significant cultural bias against claiming welfare support amongst BME carers and/or the BME community which is in some way distinct in nature or degree from the general population?

"As for the stuff about excluding Japanese, aborigines etc. I think it's nonsense ..."

That was the point.

"... would say more on that, but I know that's not where you're coming from ..."

The fact that a particular individual might not agree with your thesis is not a valid reason for omitting what you consider to be its justification. In any event, I would support an approach that focused on cohesion through general education and actual social integration rather than a fashion for divisive special interest groups.

"...and you're just using this as yet another opportunity to attack BME groups - which is sad."

To be clear, no one is disputing the fact that the recipients of these kinds of racially/culturally targeted support initiatives can derive considerable benefit from them (in a very limited sense, these initiatives do constitute "good works").

The problem, to my mind at least, is that the case for allowing these organisations to provide a service on the basis of culturally/racially discriminatory criteria is nonexistent when viewed in anything other than myopic isolation.

Regardless of your own opinion as to the moral or ethical justification of such an approach, you should be aware that there is very widespread resentment at these kinds of activities and that in spite of their stated aims, there is a growing aspect of such activities that is incredibly divisive and hypocritical.

The asymmetry of what is encouraged in one group and yet utterly taboo in another is quite breathtaking. No group or organisation should be allowed to discriminate or promote on the basis of culture/race (for whatever seamingly noble reasons).

A short-term sense of achievement and recognition for one's actions might flow from such activities but "community cohesion" will surely not.

Cato said...

And, Kerry, you still haven't answered the question from 'Last of the Few.

And, here's one of mine...why is it ok for Black groups to have their own groups when a white group would be deemed racist.
Take for example the Black Police Association..Can you imagine the furore from certain people if the creation of a White Police Association was allowed?

Elby the Beserk said...

You put asylum seekers in filing cabinets?

I hadn't realised there were SO many. That's very sweet of you though.

Wyrm said...

I think Black Hole Sunset utterly destroyed Kerry McCarthy position.

And Mrs. McCarthy, would you please clarify the following:

"Is the Home Office right to deport Colour Sgt Duras widow and family"

Regards

Kerry said...

I've already said all I'm going to say on that. I deal with asylum cases in my own constituency, not other people's.

Wyrm said...

Is the Sgt.Duras's family deportation based on the interpretation of local laws or national ones?

In the first case i could understand your reason not to comment.

In the second case I can also understand your reasons. Even more.

Kerry said...

What is the point you're trying to make here?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Oh for crying out LOUD! Just answer the question. Do you think it's correct that the widow of someone who gave up their life for our country should be deported?

How difficult can it be? There should only be one answer.

Kerry said...

It's not answering the question I object to, it's the fact it's being asked. (1) It was first introduced in the context of 'why are you wasting your time visiting a housing office in your constituency when you should be getting involved in this case', which I found offensive. (2) It was OT anyway, unless you accept the very tenuous link described in (1). (3) I have rules about such things (see My Blog = My Rules).
(4) I dislike it when some people are very sympathetic to people seeking to stay in this country when certain boxes are ticked, but are virulently anti in most other cases, which I very much suspect is the case here. (5) I don't like being told what to do. (6) It's become too much of a big thing now, like Uma Thurman not telling John Travolta that joke in Pulp Fiction. (7) I'm stubborn!

Dr Cromarty said...

As for the stuff about excluding Japanese, aborigines etc. I think it's nonsense - the website is basically just identifying those communities that do need extra help in the Bristol area. And we don't have too many aborigines there!

You don't really get it do you? Do you know what the word aborigine means? There are plenty of aborigines in Bristol and they are white. They are excluded on the grounds of their race.

Do you realise how ludicrous you look defending apartheid?
"Yeah...but no...but yeah.... but...shutup!"

black hole sunset said...

"... offensive ... OT ... tenuous ... boxes ticked ..."

Someone has died on front line duty in (nominal) defense of the Nation (and by extension, you) and now his widow and family are to be deported. This doesn't speak directly to issues of entitlement and worthiness of cause?

How Kafkaesque.

In any event, the question was largely rhetorical and you have answered it in full, if only by accident.

The Last Of The Few said...

I also notice Kerry you failed to publish 2 posts I made to you.
Therefore i responce to your earlier post you aid you would not do that you have in fact done so.
Therefore you have LIED

Thank you

Kerry said...

What is this person on about?

timbone said...

hahaha Kerry, I can get the jist of what he is saying (or is that gist) but I think he (or could be a she) is pissed.

Kerry, isn't it past your bedtime?