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, November 28, 2009

The South Shields Football Divide

I don't know the actual statistic, but I've always thought it was roughly 50-50; recalling my school days and friends in the town, I would say there is a pretty equal number of Sunderland to Newcastle fans, which is not surprising when you consider the geographical location of South Shields: South of the Tyne, from Newcastle, but North of the Wear, from Sunderland. My Dad and brother are both Sunderland fans, but I was actually born in Newcastle (moving to South Shields when I was two years old) and my mother is from Newcastle - but I would say my allegiance lies with that of my father and brother.

Nevertheless, when was contacted by Eddy who runs the Newcastle United Forum, asking if I would support the campaign to stop Mike Ashley from changing the name of St James Park, I had no hesitation to support the campaign. Mr Ashley's bid for additional advertising, by changing the name of the stadium to "sportsdirect@stjamespark" just doesn't sit rightly to me.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to School!

It was a little strange going back to my old school to do an Assembly yesterday and this morning. It brought back vivid memories of my numerous attempts at the Public Speaking Competition - only minus the racing heart and sweaty palms which accompanied my teenage attempts to recite Shakespeare and D H Lawrence! I thoroughly enjoyed telling the pupils about my trip to Rwanda. I'd contacted headmaster, Ken Gibson, after I'd come back from my trip to Africa to inquire about a doing something to link Harton with Rwanda. Ken told me then that in fact my old French teacher, Virginia McConville, had already started a project to send books and computers to Rwanda. So after meeting with Virginia, we put together some outlines for assemblies to tell pupils more about the country. Hope that it encouraged a few of them to read more about the history of the country - I still find it incredible the progress the country is making just 15 years from the Genocide and fully support any projects to help the country.

As also reported in the Shields Gazette:


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go Joe!

Joe McElderry is everywhere you look in South Shields! Gazette support posters are proudly displayed in every other window, my mother was quick to put her's up in the porch. I have realised that Joe and I share two things in common - we were both pupils at Harton School and we both grew up in Westoe.

I watched the show last Saturday and once I realised contenstants were travelling back to their home towns, I eagerly waited for Joe to have his turn and for the clip of South Shields. I was wondering which of our many beauty spots they might pick to show the town in its splendor? The Pier, with the mouth of the Tyne and the North Sea? Trow Rocks? the Leas? South Marine Park? Oh no...... why show any of these wonderful things our town has to offer, when you could show a dumped sofa in the back lane of St Vincent St. I couldn't help but think ITV were poking fun at the North, I mean they even managed to make Dagenham look good for one of the other contestants!!

Anyway, judging by his performance on Saturday I think Joe is the clear favourite to win the show. I wish him all the best and who knows hopefully he can be persuaded to turn on the Christmas lights in South Shileds next year instead of the Cheeky Girls.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Younger Members Drive for South Shields

It's been more difficult than ever to engage people in politics in the light of the recent expense scandal, where many people felt their hunch that politicians are "only in it for themselves" was confirmed. Fewer people than ever are joining political parties and the number of young people joining up is at an all time low. As well as general disinterest in a process (the political system) they feel they cannot contribute to or affect, I think from speaking to many people, it has not always been possible to readily perceive differentials between the mainstream parties - which of course has also been attributed in recent media to the increased profile of the BNP.

Despite the often "shiny" New Labour image - although I think everyone concedes it's been much less shiny, in fact its been downright dour mostly in the last two years of the Brown premiership - there is a world of difference between the two main parties. These differences, in hope and aspiration for this country were all to visible to me at the David Miliband lecture with Peter Mandelson this year. Conservative proposals last week to give people the right to buy failing local authority community schemes to turn them back into a profitable business is a cornerstone Conservative value of empowering people and giving people the opportunity by hard work and conviction to turn things around ultimately for the benefit of the community.

I hope policies like this will attract younger and entrepreneurial people to the Conservative Party and by entrepreneurial I am not talking about the Richard BRansons of South Shields - but about people in the town who want to create a better life for themselves and their families. In the South Shields Conservative Association we are welcoming new members and would like to set up a branch of Conservative Future - which is the youth wing of the Party. If you join the Conservative party and you are aged 30 or under (I will only fall into that bracket for the next 6 weeks!) we would love to hear from you. Please email me:


Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Conservative plans to help local people save and run community facilities - Conservatives to help protect post offices, pubs, libraries & parks

Radical new powers will be given to local residents to protect community assets from closure and allow local people to take over the running of public buildings and community assets, Caroline Spelman announced in a Party Political Broadcast which coincided with the Queen’s Speech. New policies were unveiled to create a ‘Community Right to Buy’ and allow not-for-profit community groups to take over the running of struggling local facilities, from post offices to pubs to parks.

These new powers will help protect thousands of buildings owned by town halls and other public bodies, including libraries, lidos, playgrounds, parks, schools and sports facilities. And in a bold new step, community groups will be given first refusal to take over and run failing local pubs, shops or post offices, which would devastate the local community if they were to close their doors.

New Conservative analysis has revealed that under Labour there are 5,400 fewer post offices across England, 200 fewer libraries and 3,500 fewer pubs (in net terms). Gordon Brown promised to promote community ownership when he became Labour leader, yet his own town hall watchdog, the Audit Commission, has criticised the ‘limited’ transfer of assets to community groups and the failure to meet the Government’s ‘aspirations’. Under new Conservative plans:

· Community groups, such as schools, churches or voluntary groups, will be able to bid to take over the running of publicly owned community assets, if they can manage the facility more efficiently and effectively than the state.

· When a state-owned community asset faces closure or being sold, voluntary groups will have a right of first refusal to bid and buy that asset for a fair price and maintain it for community use. The rights to community ownership will extend across assets owned by central government and quangos, not just town halls.

· The radical ‘Community Right to Buy’ will also allow community group first refusal to take over and run commercially-owned community assets that are closing, for example those post offices, pubs and shops whose continued survival is of genuine importance to the local community.

Under Labour, local neighbourhoods have lost access to essential local services and facilities. Gordon Brown’s Government has closed post offices and driven local pubs into the ground. People feel powerless to stop their communities losing access to vital services and facilities. Conservatives will give bold new powers to local people to protect and improve their much-loved community assets and preserve the social fabric of their neighbourhoods.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Democratic Approach to Insurance

I'm going to listen to Bill Clinton talk about Insurance later this afternoon. I'm in Chicago at one of my annual industry conferences - the Professional Liability Underwriting Society, or PLUS as we fondly know it - and none other than Bill Clinton will give the opening Key Note speech. With the near downfall of AIG last year and the 'tentacles' the insurance industry does undoubtedly extend in our global economy, I am looking forward to hearing his views.

I was wondering when I tried to connect to my wireless in the Ritz Carlton yesterday if he was already tucked away in his room writing his speech.....

Friday, November 06, 2009

To Europe or not to Europe?

Gossip surrounding David Miliband's potential European role has been mounting for months and if you believe various blogs his resignation as MP for South Shields is imminent:


I would welcome a By Election in South Shields. Miliband's departure would prove what many in the town have suspected for a long time. The traditionally safe Labour seat in the North East of England, which Miliband, a career politician, was parachuted into in 2001, was a mere stepping stone, a springboard to greater things. The departure of Mr Miliband, who has never had any true affinity with the town, could make way for a new MP with solid roots in South Shields.

The Foreign Office are denying all rumours related to Mr Miliband's resignation. So we must wait to see.....

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hague on Miliband

Mr Hague has always of course been a true friend to the North - he was the guest speaker at Wendy Morton's, candidate for Tynemouth, recent fundraising dinner and I also got the chance to catch up with him in Manchester. An interesting piece on ConHome today, where William Hague lambasts David Miliband over his "dirty and and underhand tactics."

HagueSquare "The Foreign Secretary used his Labour Party conference speech – his moment to give a positive vision of Britain’s future in the world – to make appalling accusations against Polish MEP Michal Kaminski, the party of the President of Poland and one of the governing parties of Latvia. That was not the behaviour we have the right to expect from a Foreign Secretary... Before Mr Miliband began to throw around allegations of anti-semitism and the like, he should have looked at some of Labour’s allies in the European Parliament. He might have considered Labour’s allies the Romanian Social Democratic Party, whose honorary president has falsely claimed that there was no Holocaust on Romanian territory. He might have considered the Bulgarian Socialist Party, whose leader, as Prime Minister, condemned his country’s first gay pride parade. He might have looked at Labour’s ally in the Polish Self-Defence party, thankfully rejected by voters in June, whose party leader praised Adolf Hitler." - William Hague writing in the Mail on Sunday

"For months, Labour has been attacking the Conservatives' new, Eurosceptic coalition in the European Parliament, called the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECRG). It has alleged that the group includes anti-Semites, homophobes etc. Such people, in fact, exist in the Europhile group which the Tories have left – Hungarians who denounce "Jewish capital", for example, and Italian ex-fascists. They also find a place in the Socialist group, which includes Labour – and Romanian Holocaust-deniers. But such extremism attracts no attention so long as it falls in a Europhile category. The real danger to the European Union, from the point of view of its leaders and bureaucrats, is an organised opposition to its basic, centralising direction. So the new ECRG is a threat which they must exterminate. In the case of Mr Miliband, this desire to destroy accords with his domestic political objective of trashing the Tories as they approach the threshold of power." - Charles Moore writing in the Sunday