38 Degrees Logo38 Degrees Logo 38 Degrees Logo

Rochester & Strood: People Powered Question Time

November 20th, 2014 by

On Tuesday evening, over 250 people filled the Corn Exchange in Rochester for a People Powered Question Time.

It was standing room only as 38 Degrees members and residents in Rochester & Strood quizzed the by-election candidates on their plans for the NHS, Medway Maritime Hospital, Lodge Hill and much more.

Green candidate Clive Gregory, Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurt, Labour candidate Naushabah Khan and Liberal Democrat candidate Geoff Juby all came to speak to local people. Unfortunately, UKIP candidate Mark Reckless said he didn’t want to speak with 38 Degrees members. So we empty chaired him.

Faisal Islam, political editor of Sky News was chair for the evening and made sure that candidates answered our questions directly and didn’t waffle!

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

The hustings event was people-powered. That means that we gave the candidates instant feedback on what we thought about their plans for Rochester and Strood. Everyone in the audience had YES and NO flashcards. If we liked what the candidates were saying, we all held up our YES cards. If we didn’t like what they were saying, they knew about it.

This way, we made sure that the candidates trying to be MP knew exactly what local people wanted them to do, or didn’t want them to do.

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

“Exactly what do you mean by affordable housing? Affordable to who?”

“Do you support excluding the NHS from the TTIP trade deal?”

“Are you going to spend more money on the NHS?”

“Where do you stand on the Lodge Hill development?”

These were just some of the questions that people in the audience put to the candidates.

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

The People Powered Question Time was our chance to get beyond party-political spin and the issues that have dominated the headlines in the run up to the by-election. Instead, the debate focused on the NHS, schools and the environment.

In a survey of 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood, over 90% said they cared ‘a lot’ about the NHS, tax-dodging and privatisation of public services. Fewer than 40% of people said they cared ‘a lot’ about the EU or immigration.

By the end of the evening, we had a much clearer idea of where the politicians stood. We also heard from the independent candidates Stephen Goldsbrough, Chris Challis and Mike Barker, and Hairy Knorm Davidson of the Monster Raving Loony party.

Rochester & Strood by-election hustings

There was quite a bit of media coverage of the evening. The Mirror were there Live Tweeting, and Sky News did a live broadcast in the middle of the event.

Together, 38 Degrees members made the People Powered Question Time a massive success. Volunteers helped with the roving mic, welcoming people, manning a stall with t-shirts and badges, and leafletting the event for weeks beforehand.

What we did together in Rochester & Strood is an example of the type of hustings events we could put on around the country before the general election. People, power, change!

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

Save our NHS

November 20th, 2014 by

Urgent: on Friday, MPs will vote on a new law to rein in NHS privatisation. If it passes, it would scrap the worst parts of the Health and Social Care Act – the terrible law which is forcing the steady privatisation and break-up of our health service.

The new law will also keep the NHS out of TTIP – the US-EU trade agreement that threatens to lock privatisation into public services. It’s simple: this new law would be great for our NHS.

So far 171,226 38 Degrees members have signed 644 petitions across 644 constituencies, telling their MPs to turn up and vote the right way on Friday. And 98,706 members have sent emails to their MPs and the candidates to be their MPs at the next election – telling them to support the law.

MPs aren’t used to being the target of petitions: the last thing they want is hundreds of their constituents banding together. So the bigger this petition is, the more likely your MP is to listen.

Click here to tell your MP to vote to save our NHS on Friday:

Since the Health and Social Care Act passed in 2012, 38 Degrees members have watched in horror as health privatisation has gathered pace. In just one year, over £10bn of NHS funding ended up in the hands of profit-hungry companies. Our health service is under threat.

And now, with the government refusing to keep the NHS out of TTIP, it’s in even more danger. If TTIP goes through, and the NHS stays in the deal, it’ll be open season for private healthcare companies.

It’ll be a hard vote to win. But our NHS is worth fighting for even when the odds are against us. And win or not, politicians need to know that 38 Degrees members haven’t given up or gone away – we’re still here, we still care, and we’ll take every opportunity to get rid of privatisation in our NHS.

So let’s send each and every one of our MPs a clear message: we believe in a public NHS that provides decent care for everyone, whenever we need it. We will never sit back while our health service is under threat – and we will take every chance we have to try and save it.

Please click here to sign the petition to your MP now, calling on them to turn up this Friday and vote to save the NHS:

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Pubs: we’ve won!

November 20th, 2014 by

Fantastic news – our people-powered pubs campaign has defeated the government!

On Tuesday night, the government was forced to pass a law which bans pub companies from charging their landlords rip-off rents. This was an unfair practice which squeezed the pennies of our local pub landlords while those at the top of pub chains made huge profits.

It’s great news for our pubs – and proves that people-power works. Over 45,000 of us signed a petition calling for an end to the Great British Pub Scandal – then over 2500 of us emailed our MPs to make sure they voted the right way. And they did.

But it wasn’t an easy win – up until the last minute it looked like MPs would vote the wrong way. Then they u-turned – and this doesn’t happen often. In fact, Tuesday’s vote was the government’s first defeat on one of their bills since the coalition formed in 2010.
This proves just how powerful we are together. The government was on the side of giant corporations, until we spoke up.

Click here to see if your MP is a pub hero (just scroll towards the bottom of the webpage and you can see the ‘ayes’). If your MP voted the right way, you could send them an email to say thank you. Just click here to send an email.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

“If I can organise it anybody can”

November 19th, 2014 by

38 Degrees member and Friends of the Earth campaigner, Tim Barsby, organised a huge public meeting about TTIP. He managed to get hundreds to attend from across Bristol – and all MPs from all the main parties on the panel. If you fancy organising a similar meeting – you can find out more here, and pop the details of your meeting on our website here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , ,

TTIP update!

November 19th, 2014 by

It’s been a busy few weeks for the TTIP campaign. If you’ve been keeping your eye on this dodgy trade deal, then you’ll know that it’s never out of the news. Yet, we never know the full details!

There’s been a lot of talk that the new EU Commission decide not to include the bit of the deal that allows corporations to sue governments (called ISDS). So, almost 50,000 of us e-mailed the new President-elect Jean Claude Juncker when we knew that they seemed to be wavering. You can still do that here.

But a group of ten countries, including the UK wrote to the EU asking them NOT to remove this bit of the deal.

In the last week, a group of organisations have launched a lawsuit against the European Commission for stifling democratic debate on TTIP. That’s because the EU have refused to accept a formal petition called a “European Citizen’s Intiative” (ECI). An ECI is the name of the official petition that can trigger a debate in the EU . It has to be signed by people from a certain amount of EU countries, and have one million signatures. Instead 38 Degrees members, alongside thousands of people across Europe, have been signing a self-organised version. We’ve got over 900,000 signatures now – amazing!

The Labour Party appear to be flip flopping a little bit on their support for ISDS. You can read more about this from Nick Dearden from World Development Movement here.

Meanwhile, 38 Degrees members up and down the country have been organising meetings with their MPs about TTIP. That includes a group of us in London, a meeting in Wales – and a huge meeting in Bristol with all of the city’s MPs.

Next week Executive Director of 38 Degrees, David Babbs, will give evidence to the committee who scrutinise the department  in charge of TTIP. He’ll take the thoughts of thousands of 38 Degrees members along with him.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

NHS England: petition hand-in

November 19th, 2014 by

This is a guest blog from Tamasin Cave at Spinwatch. 38 Degrees members have teamed up with Spinwatch to uncover the truth on NHS England’s big spending.

“Today I went to NHS England to hand over our 75,000-strong petition demanding that they come clean about how the executives are spending NHS money. Because the people that Jeremy Hunt put in charge of our NHS won’t tell us who they’ve been giving big chunks of NHS money to. They won’t say how much is being given to private lobbying firms or profit-hungry management consultants.

This is a very different NHS England from the one NHS England promotes. Earlier this year, for example, it launched something called NHS Citizens, the express purpose of which is to listen to people’s views on the NHS, get them involved in decision-making and create a ‘new culture of collaboration between NHS England and the public’. ‘NHS England wants you to be actively involved at its very heart,’ it says. It’s ‘all about listening,’ says Simon.

And NHS England, like all other government agencies, is required every month to make public all its spending over £25,000. It never has. This summer, when asked about the anomaly, NHS England said it would publish the data in September. We are still waiting. Now NHS England knows that a lot of people care about where the money is going – so this might be the tipping point for them finally publishing the information.

Let’s hope that NHS England is listening. And then does what it should have been doing all along: tell us how they are spending our money.”

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , ,

Rochester & Strood: Candidate scorecard

November 19th, 2014 by

The results are in! Hundreds of people in Rochester & Strood have been ranking the by-election candidates’ plans on local and national issues.

Together, 38 Degrees members in Rochester and Strood have cut through the media circus and political spin. The scorecard makes it easy to understand what the candidates really think about the issues that matter in the area – Medway Maritime Hospital, tax dodging, Lodge Hill, jobs.

Together, after a member meet up, a poll, and commenting on a draft document of questions, 38 Degrees members came up with questions to put to the candidates. The candidates answered, then everyone was invited to rank their answers between 1 to 5 on the 38 Degrees website.

Here’s how they all compared:

What do you think? Comment below…

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

(not) Contacting Julian Lewis MP

November 19th, 2014 by

Julian Lewis: MP for New Forest East.

This is what he looks like when he wants to talk to someone:

And this is what he looks like when his constituents try to talk to him:

He’s famously uncontactable – if you want to get in touch, you need to write to him at the House of Commons.

So if you’re a New Forest East constituent, and you want to have a chat to your MP, here you go:

Here’s his House of Commons office number: 020 7219 4179

And if you can’t get through, try the House of Commons switchboard: 020 7219 4272

Or his constituency office: 023 8081 4817

And if you like writing letters, here’s the address:
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: ,

All eyes on your MP

November 18th, 2014 by

Urgent: on Friday, MPs will vote on a new law to rein in NHS privatisation. If it passes, it would scrap the worst parts of the Health and Social Care Act – the terrible law which is forcing the steady privatisation and break-up of our health service.

The new law will also keep the NHS out of TTIP – the US-EU trade agreement that threatens to lock privatisation into public services. It’s simple: this new law would be great for our NHS.

Can you sign a petition to your MP asking them to turn up and vote the right way on Friday? MPs aren’t used to being the target of petitions: the last thing they want is hundreds of their constituents banding together. So the bigger this petition is, the more likely your MP is to listen.

Click here to tell your MP to vote to save our NHS on Friday.

Since the Health and Social Care Act passed in 2012, 38 Degrees members have watched in horror as health privatisation has gathered pace. In just one year, over £10bn of NHS funding ended up in the hands of profit-hungry companies. Our health service is under threat.

And now, with the government refusing to keep the NHS out of TTIP, it’s in even more danger. If TTIP goes through, and the NHS stays in the deal, it’ll be open season for private healthcare companies.

It’ll be a hard vote to win. But our NHS is worth fighting for even when the odds are against us. And win or not, politicians need to know that 38 Degrees members haven’t given up or gone away – we’re still here, we still care, and we’ll take every opportunity to get rid of privatisation in our NHS.

So let’s send each and every one of our MPs a clear message: we believe in a public NHS that provides decent care for everyone, whenever we need it. We will never sit back while our health service is under threat – and we will take every chance we have to try and save it.

NOTE
If your MP’s a speaker there’s no petition for your area. Read why here and see what else you can do to support the campaign.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , , ,

Rochester & Strood: People-Powered Question Time tonight

November 18th, 2014 by

At 7pm tonight, the by-election candidates will be in the hot seat. They’ll be face-to-face with the voters at the People-Powered Question Time at the Corn Exchange in Rochester.

The audience will get to vote on what they think of the candidates’ answers as they go, so the politicians won’t be able to just drone on.

Can you make it tonight?

What: People-Powered Question Time
Where: Corn Exchange, Rochester High Street, ME1 1LX
When: Tonight at 7pm

RSVP on Facebook here or just turn up:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/rochester-question-time

And if you can’t make it in person, how about joining in online? Online viewers will be able to ask questions and vote on the answers too. You can join the online debate live from 7pm tonight:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/rochester-live-stream

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags: , , , , ,