Morning update 03.09.15: City of refuge?

morningupdate5‘CITY OF REFUGE’

IF you look at the Camden New Journal’s Facebook page today and the link tto the story about what Camden Council might be able to do to help Syrians fleeing from Assad and Isis, you get a little sample of the sensitivity of discussions taking place behind closed doors. Some readers, no doubt having seen the picture of the little toddler washed ashore in Turkey and other truly horrific images of human desperation, have responded with a wholehearted yes to what Labour councillor Awale Olad’s has termed making Camden a ‘City of Refuge’. Others say Camden is already full up. There seems to be a consensus among our local politicians that something should be done, but not a complete agreement as to what. Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward’s obvious care and interest in the issue, however, seems to be spreading to other local authorities who had previously been slower to consider what they could offer.  


OUR old colleague Pavan Amara’s life has taken a different path since she left the New Journal last year, and to be honest I, and think most of us here, couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved. She won an award for being one of the country’s best young journalists while with us, but is now training to be a nurse. She has been interviewed by all the national newspapers, however, for her success in opening a clinic for victims of rape and sexual assault. The My Body Back project helps women who have been through it feel comfortable in their own skin again, or as she says “to love and care for their bodies again”. Pav is open about her own experiences, and is proving to be an inspiration to so many.

Over the weekend she was on Sunday Morning Live talking confidently about how sexual assault is almost accepted as “something that happens” without greater challenge. “Most people have been in a situation where they have been in the pub or somewhere and somebody’s made a joke regarding a sexual assault that really is below the belt and nobody says anything,” Pav says. She’s right, when you think of all the crap jokes that were made every day on Twitter, in cafes, in front rooms, everywhere, about the scandal surrounding the historic offences of television and radio presenters like Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris. There was nothing funny about any of it and yet on and on people barfed, deadening the seriousness of it all.

>Here’s her interview, you can’t help but wish her well with My Body Back.


image1-1THEO Blackwell is frank about where things went wrong for Labour in his much-shared article for Labour Uncut. Again, he suggests the advisors who Ed Miliband chose to surround himself were caught up in some sort of dramatic West Wing world. They would have fared better if they had answered the calls from local authority leaders at the coal face, he writes. It seems a fair enough analysis. One of the biggest mistakes every party’s national leadership seems to make – certainly in Labour’s case – is not tapping deeply enough into the spread of knowledge it already possesses. Councillors may seem peculiar in signing away their evenings and free time to the slog of it all, but in doing so they gain the word on the street. You can see how it would be frustrating for their reports back to the high command to be treated like ‘rude interruptions’.

He writes: “It stands to reason Labour’s army of local decision-makers should be heard right across the Labour party, but too often central Labour is too self-absorbed to listen and councillors are too parochial in how they express themselves. It’s not their fault, parochialism is part of the job description, but certainly there’s a need for councillors to have a much wider showcase to develop and apply their skills. This is what the party should be doing – showcasing our best leaders and thinkers with some pride.”


By the look of last month’s agendas, council staff are still getting used to their new work address…




THANKS for everyone who got in touch about the visible ‘test post’ on the blog at the moment, with varying degrees of humour/rudeness. It’s just for a bit of clean up and will be gone soon.


Labour councillor Danny Beales offers congrats to Sian Berry

TV presenter Rick Edwards gets frustrated

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