Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ready For Change - Get Britain Working

To give people hope for the future, the country needs to change direction. Conservatives are honest, united, determined and ready to deliver the tough and radical change Britain needs to rebuild our broken economy, mend our broken society and fix our broken politics.

Conservatives have bold plans to deal with the big problems the country faces. To deal with Labour's Jobs Crisis we have published our detailed plan to Get Britain Working. Labour are now the party of unemployment - we are the party of new jobs and new opportunities. To deal with Labour's Debt Crisis we have been honest with the British people about the tough decisions we need to take. Unlike Gordon Brown, we won't duck them and treat the British people like fools.

UK economy shrunk by 0.4% in Q3
This is deeply, deeply disappointing news. Britain is now in the deepest and longest recession in its modern history. Britain's economy is still shrinking a full six months after France and Germany started growing.

We now know that Gordon Brown's recession plan has not worked, and this news has destroyed Labour's claim that Britain was better placed than other countries to weather the storms.

There is now no confidence in Gordon Brown's economic policies - he has no banking plan, no debt reduction plan and no growth plan. The whole country is suffering from this lack of leadership.

Britain urgently needs new economic leadership - and needs it now. We need a Conservative Government to Get Britain Working again.

Labour are now the party of unemployment. Two and a half million people are unemployed and one in five young people can't find a job. By launching our plan to Get Britain Working - a big, bold and radical scheme to get millions of people back to work - Conservatives are showing that we are now the party of jobs and opportunity.

As part of a package of measures designed to Get Britain Working, Conservatives will introduce The Work Programme which:

· Simplifies Labour's numerous and piecemeal programmes into one single back-to-work programme for everyone who is unemployed.

· Includes the 2.6 million people claiming Incapacity Benefits currently excluded by Labour's plans.
· Pays welfare-to-work providers according to whether they get jobseekers into sustainable employment of a year or more.

· Is funded by refocusing the Government's employment and training programmes, including the various New Deals and Train to Gain, and reducing the benefits of Incapacity Benefit claimants found to be fit to work.

To provide extra opportunities to those looking for work, we have also announced:

· Youth Action for Work - 100,000 additional apprenticeships and training places, 50,000 additional training places at FE colleges, and 50,000 work pairing places each year for two years.

· Work for Yourself - offering business mentors and loans to support self-employment and franchising as a route back into work.

· Work Together - a programme to connect people to volunteering opportunities in their area.
· Work Clubs - places where people can receive mentoring, skills training and help to find local job opportunities.

· 10,000 additional university places next year.
· New technical schools in England's largest cities, as part of our plans for radical school reform.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I am pleased to announce the launch of my campaign website:


Special thanks to James, Graham and Phil.

Comments and input very much welcomed!

Eastern Warbler in Trow Quarry

I took a stroll, before lunch today, along the cliffs by Frenchman's Bay and Trow Rocks. I didn't spot the Eastern Warbler but it was hard to miss the dozens of avid bird watchers, some of whom had travelled from other parts of the country, to try to catch a glimpse of the Eastern Warbler, a bird only previously found in China:



Friday, October 23, 2009

Mandy at the Annual Miliband Lecture

So yes, I did attend the Annual Miliband Lecture this year, where none other than Lord Peter Mandelson, a self styled member of the Three Musketeers (although he said it should have been the two and a half Musketeers, as he very modestly gave full membership to Blair and Brown) delivered a lecture on his "inspiration and beliefs" which have "led" him throughout his career.

And yes, I did ask a question and of course he twisted what I asked. Lord Mandelson had been interviewed by Tyne Tees, I caught a glimpse of the interview and heard him claim, in response to a question on jobs and employment in the North East, that we needed to "changes priority." I wanted to take him to task on what this was actually code for and if what he really meant was "there will be job cuts." This was further to the announcement in tonight's Gazette that 350 council jobs are to go and in consideration of the fact >60% of the North East's workforce are employed in the Public Sector.

He of course didn't answer my question - he didn't answer anyone's question. In fairness though, he does have rather a lot on his mind at the moment and I don't just mean the postal strike. I'd be curious to know what he and David Miliband might be discussing later this evening - in light of Mandy's claims Labour have all of the "aspiration" and "new policies" to win the next General Election.

The most interesting thing heard him say (I am not counting his claims that Labour had "successfully managed the economy" and Labour are "strong and united" as interesting - those comments were just bizarre fiction) was his question to me, when he spun my question which revealed his true colours:

"In your heart of hearts, Karen, you don't really believe the Government doesn't know best how to help people (translation: help = take over and nannify). You don't share the beliefs our your chums Dave and George that the Government should butt out."

Well, of course that's exactly what I do believe.

There was a comment from a constituent on housing, that the Government should look to move elderly people out of three bedroom houses, into smaller "more suitable" properties, to make way for young families in need of housing. Lord Mandelson said he completely agreed with the gentlemen.

Some people say there's not enough between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. There is a whole world between us. A whole world, which at this meeting of 500 (mostly Labour stalwarts) in a school in South Shields, was so brutally apparent.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

University Routes to Employment at Harton Technology College

As a former pupil, I was invited to join a careers panel at Harton Technology College to talk to pupils about "university routes to employment." HTC under the leadership of my old maths teacher, Ken Gibson, is excelling academically.

In September 2010 a sixth form college will reopen at the school. When I started at Harton in 1990 the sixth form had closed only a few years earlier and only one school sixth form (St Joseph's) remained in the borough. The majority of students choosing South Tyneside College as the institution to study 'A' Levels and other more vocational qualifications.

In light of the new sixth form, Harton was very keen to talk to students about "routes to university." I endevoured to explain my work as a Lloyd's broker, but considering some of my friends don't really know exactly what I do, I'm not sure I convinced anyone to consider the profession!

A lot of investment is going into Harton and I wish the school all the best for the future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sure Start to Stay - but to be Improved

A key pledge made at last week’s Conference, directly countering Labour’s increasingly tiresome “cuts” rumour mongering – was the Conservatives will NOT scrap Sure Start, the initiative set up in 1998 with the aim of “giving children the best possible start in life.” As Conservatives we believe family is core to a properly functioning society and indeed economy. Our assurance includes the pledge to improve Sure Start.

The concept of Sure Start – to offer support for working Mums, single Mums and families in deprived areas is a fantastic idea. The problem with the initiative is, however, that typical of a Labour run schemes, the problem is Sure Start is run by the Government – where power and control should be put in the hands of local Boards made up of parents and professionals – who know the areas, the children and what they need to run their Sure Start program so it works most effectively for the children in their areas.

Norman Glass, one of the original architects of Sure Start although praising of the work of the body, has strongly criticised per head funding cuts and the steering away from child development to childcare and getting mothers into work.

A Study carried out by the University of Durham study suggested that Sure Start was ineffective at improving results in early schooling. This is such a shame and waste. The Conservative Party instead of scrapping Sure Start want to make Sure Start works properly.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Conservative Chancellors past and (hopefully) future

I listened very keenly to Ken Clarke's - Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - speech in the main hall, where he rolled out plans to cut red tape to help businesses form and succeed. Working in the City of London, placing Insurances for companies in the UK and North America, of course I have seen how the recession has effected many businesses. Engineering firms, struggling to compete and down to a couple of engineers from double figures, finding it more difficult than ever to comply with the form filling and regulation; all of the red tape consistently introduced by the Labour Government over the last 12 years, which does nothing to help our businesses grow and only hinders them.

There was an elephant in the room of course though during the speech - which surely cannot be left unmentioned. There are fewer than 20% of laws and regulations actually passed by Westminster. The overwhelming majority of our laws are passed in Brussels and which, really, we have very little control or affect over. As a well known Europhile, of course, I did not expect Mr Clarke to allude to this. I was however slightly more reassured on the point of our ability to cut business red rape, when David Cameron pledged in his speech, to take back lawmaking from Brussels which directly effects the UK. By "directly" I mean an area which we need full control over, because we and not Brussels know what is best for our country - areas where we are not stronger working in a group, such as the EU - such as Climate Change.

As you'll see in the picture above, I did manage to figuratively grab Ken after his speech! Just behind us you'll be able to spot, George Osborne - who came over to greet his colleague and join is for a picture also, as below!

Conservative Pledge to Reintroduce Tax Consideration for Married Couples

Turkey and Mexico are countries which do not offer any consideration for married couples in terms of taxation. In Turkey and Mexico you are treated in isolation, your family situation not being contemplated, when it comes to how much tax you pay.

In the words of David “two brains” Willetts, Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills, with special responsibility for Family Policy (another incredibly long new office title!!) if we in the United Kingdom aspire to mirror policies from countries such as Turkey and Mexico – with no consideration or benefit to the family – then we should leave the system as it currently stands, as defined by the Labour Government.

The reintroduction of the married couples tax relief by a Conservative Government, is something which will return us to a country which encourages union and more accurately reflects our values as a family based society - which we certainly always used to be - and I certainly wholly endorse it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Good start in Manchester

Some really interesting sessions today at the first day of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. There is certainly a buzz in the air and a lot of anticipation - which has been heightened when David Cameron told us this afternoon, he is not going to follow advice to sit pretty and "keep his head down" as Labour fall apart - instead he's going to prove the Conservatives are fit and ready to govern - that it is ther Conservatives who have the ideas and the conviction to get us out of the mess of Broken Britain as quickly as possible. So it sounds like we can be sure we are going to hear some exciting policy announcements over the next few days.

One of the more interesting new initiatives which is being launched this week is myconservatives.com. The Conservative Party lead the way in political blogging in Britain and now are the first party to engage in interactive campaigning and fundraising - the sort of on line donations and fundraising Obama used. This website is a great idea - when CCHQ called me to ask if I'd like to be involved with it I jumped at the chance. I was a little less certain about my debut as presenter for the Social Action part of the website, but judge for yourself:


More to follow on conference shortly.....