Saturday, 9 August 2014

Questions and Answers

Thanks to all for sending me through various questions. I have picked a few themes which I have included below:

1. NHS  

Are you concerned about the ongoing process of privatisation of the NHS - from the Circle group taking over Hinchingbrooke Hospital, through to Harmoni being awarded regional 111 OoH contracts, to Virgin Healthcare running elements of the NHS? There are other examples - SERCO running pathology services at St. Thomas'/ Guys/Kings College in London. Other elements of public/private financing projects have resulted in massive profits for the PFI companies, and debt- riddled NHS Trusts. 

I am seriously concerned, my wife runs a social enterprise in Hertfordshire which aims to provide the local 111 service and so I know all about the problems with companies like Harmoni and Serco. I can be broadly supportive of social enterprise and mutuals getting involved with the NHS, indeed the NHS was originally founded by pulling together many such mutuals and collective organisations, but not to unaccountable companies like Harmoni and Serco. 

2. Personal and Corporation Tax. 

Do you support a tax cut for those on larger salaries or do you want to see the 50% tax rate re-introduced? Also what are your thoughts on a more generous tax free allowance for everyone of £12,000 a year?

I agree with the 50% - see my article that Progress published on this issue. I also like the more generous tax free allowance, while tax credits are good I think it must be better and cheaper and is more liberating to have a higher threshold. I don't like the idea that people have to ask for help or credits or benefits it creates a dependency culture.

3. Wages, freelancers and zero hours contracts

Should we be promoting the notion of a living wage as opposed to the minimum wage? Where does the role of freelancers fit in the economy? How can we tackle zero hours contracts?

I have written a report for Labour Finance and Industry Group on freelancing. Part of states that you can only create a good market for genuine freelancers if you tackle the problem of bogus self-employment and the zero hours contracts that come with it. I have an association with the Precariate Workers Brigade who I met when writing my report who are campaigning on these issues.

4. How can Labour promote a more effective small business agenda?

What are you views on Labour and its role in supporting small business?

Labour should be the party of the self employed, freelancers and small business. I have helped to promote this in the party over the last few years by setting up the Labour Small Business Forum a network of small business people in the party. I have chaired fringe meetings at conference over the last two years


5. Should we be building new garden cities and more homes?

I am one of the countries leading advocates on garden cities and work closely with Co-ops (UK) and other progressive groups to promote the necessary invisible social architecture needed for a real garden city.
I have written a book on the subject that is being translated into Chinese and German.
I have also traveled independently to China to promote the model.

China see :

Also my recent article for Progress :

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Aims for North East Herts

My aims for the Campaign
Building foundations for the future
"Labour is back in charge of the area committee in Letchworth, we need to make sure that Letchworth remains a Labour town again for next 20 years, this election can put the foundations in place to make that so."

Give a voice to the unrepresented
"The need for Labour to have a voice elsewhere in the constituency is true whether it is ensuring that we keep a voice in Royston and giving a voice to those in Baldock and East Herts. This election could be a two way split between Labour and the Tories or a three way split between Labour, the Tories and UKIP. There is an opportunity to win.

Garden Cities belong to Labour
"As Garden Cities are now on the public agenda it is important that the progressive and co-operative ideas of land ownership and land value capture and democratic governance are at the heart of the new movement.
It is the duty of Letchworth to be at the forefront of this debate and for Labour to lead it. That will be one of my priorities as candidate"

Promoting Labour's agenda
“I believe in a One Nation Britain that is co-operative, mutual and progressive.
I want Labour to become the party of and for small business, freelancers and the self-employed.

I want us to rebuild and create new mutual structures for our country so that everyone can contribute to and share in Britain’s prosperity. I want Labour to highlight to effects of cuts to public services and that we want the benefits of the recovery to be shared by all not just an elite few. "

Ensuring a Labour Victory
"By fighting  strong campaign in NE Herts we can help those marginals in Cambridge, Stevenage and elsewhere win their battles by winning the national argument for a Labour Government and our progressive values"

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Welcome letter

Dear Friends

Thanks to those who have encouraged me to put my name forward. Letchworth is my home town and this is my constituency. I moved here in 2000 and at that time I was the parliamentary candidate for North East Bedfordshire – which includes Stotfold, Arlesely & Biggleswade. I have been the CLP Secretary and I am also a member of the Co-op party and of UNITE. I believe that Letchworth is a progressive town and the recent local election results have seen the local area committee return to Labour control where it belongs. I believe too that North Herts is a progressive area and that our members and supporters deserve someone to speak up for their values.

I believe in the principles of fairness, equality and social justice not just on the doorstep when campaigning but in everyday life too. For instance when I was working as a freelancer in 1999 I realised that we had no union and so I helped to found a trade association and became a director and represented them. They now have 20,000+ members. Following a successful campaign which saved the Letchworth outdoor swimming pool from closure I became a town councillor and later the town mayor. though the council had no political parties on it I worked to ensure it that followed a progressive agenda. I have been chairman of Letchworth Fair Trade group since 2009 and have organised many events such as the fair trade fiesta last September.  We are also hoping to make Baldock a fair trade town. I also did some local campaigning and helped local groups save Brotherhood Hall from closure.

I am well known in the Letchworth -though not all agreed with the idea of a town council- I worked hard to get the council to focus on issues of social justice with the idea of empowering and being in-touch with local groups such as the Afro-Caribbean society, the Sri Lankan community, the British Legion, residents groups and empowered others to set up groups. Though our constituency is a prosperous area it does have pockets of deprivation including social deprivation which is why we ran free trips for the elderly. We also had the courage to fight and win a landmark case in the High Court on people’s right to discuss how the Heritage Foundation was run. The HF believed they had limited accountability as they thought they were simply a property company ‘like Grosvenor Estates’ in London who did some charitable giving whereas we successfully insisted that they were fully accountable to the people of the town and were like a community land trust.

Since 2011 I have worked closely with their new management having buried any previous disagreements to promote the town and social garden principles. Letchworth’s model of common land ownership was and remains a progressive and radical one. We have built international links with China, Hong Kong and the USA and I am often involved in meeting visitors to explain the social principles of the Garden City. I am also involved with the co-op party nationally to promote these ideas in the UK. As I do with the Labour Finance and Industry Group and chair their fringe meetings at conference on small business. I also co-authored their forthcoming report on freelancing.

I offer you these principles as someone in-touch, experienced and capable in the belief that I can be of great service to Labour and to our constituency. I hope that you can give one of your nominations and hear more about not just how we can win in North East Herts and how to make it and Britain a better place.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Ross

Monday, 28 October 2013

Four reasons to select Philip Ross - In touch, Experience, Capable and Courageous

In touch - I live in Letchworth Garden City and have done since 2000. I have raised a family here, my children go to local schools and my wife works in higher education and the local health economy. I run the Fair Trade Group for Letchworth which is extending to Baldock. I am former school governor at Lordship Farm School. I am the former Town Mayor of Letchworth Garden City. I don't have to imagine what it is like to live in North Herts, I know.

It is the school gates, the town centre, the railway station, the doctors' waiting room, links with Cambridge and to Hitchin and Stevenage. It is the collections of the bins, the parks and the greens. It is the struggle to promote our values against a Tory council in a Tory constituency. 

I work in a normal job near Bank. I have worked in London since 1997. I was formally a computer programmer for Sage. I know what it is like to be out of work and work for lower wages (which I did when the dot-com boom came to an end). I am married with three children (aged 16, 13 and 7). My wife is a former chair of a PCT. She is now chairman of an out-of-hours doctors’ social enterprise and is an lecturer in bio-sciences at the University of Hertfordshire.

Experienced - I know what it is like to work in today's economy both as an employee and as a freelancers. I know what it is like to be in a non-unionised environment (most of my career) and how important right at work are as I have helped people to use them. I have been a Parliamentary candidate before in 2001. I worked for an MP for a year. I have been town mayor. I have been CLP secretary in NE Herts. I have run numerous campaigns. I done TV and radio interviews and written numerous articles for Labour and financial magazines and websites. I am the author of two books, one on garden cities and the other on freelancing.

Capable - I am capable of getting things done. As a freelancer I helped to found a trade association that now thrives with 20,000 members. I am a good public speaker and have spoken internationally on Garden Cities (Hong Kong, Wuhan, Naples (UNESCO), Beijing, Chengdu). I am capable of working with the media to get our message across in both local and national press. I have the experience of chairing meetings in both private and public. I am use to knocking on doors. I organised two fringe meetings at Labour conference in 2013. One book on freelancing and the other on garden cities. I have push the issue of garden cities and  freelancing onto Labour's policy agenda. I am leading a freelancers task force for Labour's Finance and Industry Group (LFIG).

Courageous - As town mayor I defended the people of the town against the wealthy local landlord who said they couldn't meet to discuss what they did. I won two High Court battles. I am use to defending people. At work I have defended and supported people at grievance procedures when others were afraid to do it. I am use to fighting in a Tory seat.