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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Conservatives in Brighton

I've just got back from Conservative Spring Forum in Brighton. There was definitely a very different feel to the two day Conference in a very rainy Brighton. The thing I really noticed was there were lobbyists everywhere - of course there are always a lot of communications and PR people at political conferences, but I can't remember when I had been quite aware of so many and there were so keen to make a bunch of new contacts.

The polls were of course a big topic of conservation. Ken Clark spoke very well at the Gala dinner last night - he's not paying much attention to the current polling, which he's seen before in previous General Elections and then seen the exact opposite happen when it comes to the crunch on Election day.

David Cameron spoke well and without notes - which is pretty impressive for 45 minutes. You can watch the entire speech on Webcameron or highlights of the speech on play politics - see the links below. Can you spot me? I was sitting with the Shadow Cabinet on the stage, just behind Teresa Villiers. Maybe if I hadn't been quite so sociable the night before I wouldn't have looked quite as tired!


http://www.conservatives.com/Video/Webcameron.aspx


http://playpolitical.typepad.com/uk_conservative/2010/02/key-extracts-from-david-camerons-speech-to-the-tories-spring-forum-in-brighton.html

I also just missed Joe McEldery - who was last night performing with other X Factor finalists next door to the Hilton!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2.8m People Underemployed

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found that from July to September 2009, 2.8 million people were underemployed – that’s one in ten (9.9 per cent) of all people in employment. This figure is of course in addition to the 2.5m who are unemployed - who have no job at all.

This is an interesting statistic which has not generally been monitored or reported on previously - but it is of course very relevant to our current economic climate. The definition of "underemployment" used by the ONS is ‘where a person wants to work more hours than is usual or stated under their current employment contract.’ The count is made up of employed people who were looking for an additional job, people looking for a replacement job with longer hours and people who want to work longer hours in their current job.

The figure is, I suspect, mostly made up of part-time workers - of which there are more than ever. Of course flexibility in the work place is very important and I do welcome the increase of part time positions. Many Mothers wanting to go back to work, those in education or people with disabilities are specifically looking for part time work only and it's a good thing we have more part time positions available. But there are also many people who are taking part time jobs, because full time positions are not available. The increase in the number of people in part time positions (who may have previously been unemployed) but want full time positions then conveniently massages the unemployment figure - the underemployment figure being a much more accurate reflection of our current situation of unemployment.

Conservative Proposals for Public Sector Co-Operatives

This week, George Osborne announced that a Conservative government will give public sector workers a powerful new right to form employee owned co-operatives to take over the services they deliver. This will empower millions of public sector workers to become their own boss and help them to deliver better services. With 40 per cent of staff in the public sector saying that morale is low in their organisation, compared to only 16 per cent in the private sector, empowering public sector workers to become their own boss will boost employee satisfaction and improve public sector productivity.

Despite record levels of spending on public services under Labour, all the targets, meddling and managerial oversight, the Government’s own figures show that public sector productivity has not risen, but actually fallen by over three percent since 1997. By contrast, private sector productivity has grown by around 1.5 per cent on average every year in the last ten years.

This Conservative proposal is potentially the most significant shift in power from the state to working people since the sale of council houses in the 1980s, which gave millions of people across Britain greater freedom, security and control over their lives.

Conservatives will:

o Create a powerful new right to become your own boss. Staff in the vast majority of front-line public service functions will be able to bid to transfer to independence by creating a co-operative enterprise – there are already legally-recognised organisational forms they can simply adopt ‘off the shelf’;

o Enable shared ownership. Staff in the new co-operative would be genuine owners of the enterprise. Like employees in co-owned businesses, they would all be able to benefit from its financial success and could vote on how things are run;

o Create the freedom to innovate. They would simply be contracted by a relevant government department to deliver the desired outcomes – no more bureaucratic government process targets dictating how to achieve them;

o Allow staff co-ops to bring in the best expertise. To help overcome the barriers to rapid progress that co-ops can experience, they will be able to go into joint-venture with outside organisations. Partners could be offered a share of the revenues in exchange for management and operational expertise;

o Give staff co-ops the freedom to grow. Once successful, staff co-ops will be able to bid for other areas of government activity, or merge with other co-ops if they wish;

o Ban profiteering. While staff will fully own their new organisation, they will not be able to sell off any of the state’s assets they continue to use, like land and buildings. And because we expect them to make big efficiencies and improvements to services, their contracts will ensure any big surpluses they make will be shared with the taxpayer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eight Benchmarks for Economic Growth

Click on the link below to read full details of George Osborne's new model of economic growth with are based on the following eight benchmarks:

1 Ensure macroeconomic stability
2 Create a more balanced economy
3 Get Britain working
4 Make Britain open for business
5 Ensure the whole country shares in rising prosperity
6 Reform public services to deliver better value for money
7 Create a safer banking system that serves the needs of the economy
8 Build a greener economy

We need a private sector recovery driven by business investment and exports, instead of consumer borrowing and government debt.


http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2010/02/Osborne_outlines_eight_benchmarks_for_economic_growth.aspx

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Join My Campaign

I am trying to engage with as many people as possible in South Shields. I want to know and understand as many concerns and issues. We recently delivered a Residents Survey in the town - the survey is also available on my campaign website: www.karen4southshields.co.uk - to which we got a great response.

To follow up on the survey - as well as dealing with specific problems which have come to our attention as a result of the survey - I want to make sure people know as much as possible about the proposals and policies of the Conservative Party. To achieve this objective we are currently compiling our General Election literature. We need your help towards these costs. Any donation - even if only the cost of a cup of coffee - is very much welcomed and appreciated and will mean we can reach more people in South Shields. South Shields deserves true local representation and an MP who understands the town and will fight for it as her number one priority.

You can join my campaign on line:

http://www.myconservatives.com/campaigns/turn-south-shields-blue


Obama raised millions of dollars using this type of on line tool. I am not so ambitious!!, but any support you could give would be hugely appreciated and will be spent directly on campaign literature.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gordon Brown's Death Tax

It's certainly been an interesting few days both nationally and in South Tyneside if you look at the debates currently active on Care Homes and the Elderly..... I went to visit Connolly House today, as part of my continued support against the proposed closure of the facility. The staff at Connolly House are amazing and it's so obvious the residents there are being very well looked after. Connolly House should be a benchmark for care in the borough, not earmarked as part of a borough wide cost cutting exercise where vulnerable, elderly people will suffer as a result.

Older people must be given more support in their old age, especially the most vulnerable and that is why a Conservative Government will introduce a Home Protection Scheme, a voluntary insurance programme to allow people – for a one off £8,000 payment – to make sure they never have to sell their home to pay for residential care.

But Labour’s plans to extend free personal care and to introduce a National Care Service are in chaos. Gordon Brown is considering levying a death tax of up to £20,000 on every person in England, and new research says he’ll also need to increase council tax by £26 a year to pay for his plans for social care for the elderly. The Prime Minister needs to come clean about who will pay the price for these new services.

To read local council leaders’ warning about Gordon Brown’s plans

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7021299.ece

Another interesting Times piece from today:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7022706.ece

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SuBo and Me!



The sleet held off yesterday morning as I braced the cold temperatures on King St yesterday morning - I'll be wearing an extra pair of socks day!

It was great to have so many people stop by to ask questions, collect a residents survey or take a badge, fridge magnet or mug! We've been delighted with the response to the survey, both electronically and in hard copy. I've had lots of responses back and the information is both enlightening and I hope in many cases something I can act on.

So here's to another day with SuBo! Drop by and say hello. I'm doing the afternoon today, from around noon.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

See you in King Street

In these next few month I'm trying to meet as many people as possible and to this aim I am hosting a number of stalls in South Shields. As well as residents having the chance to ask me any questions about Conservative policy, you'll also be able to pick up some Conservative literature and merchandise.

The first stalls will be in King St, under the Metro Bridge today on Tuesday 9th February and tomorrow on Wednesday 10th February. Please drop by. If you require any further information please email me on: karen4southshields.co.uk

Monday, February 08, 2010

Conservative Broadband Pledge

Conservative plans to deliver the roll out of superfast broadband at speeds of up to 100 Mbps by 2017 is great news for businesses and homes in South Tyneside and across the country. This stands in stark contrast to the Government’s new £7 per year ‘phone tax’ on every telephone line.

Gordon Brown’s Government wants to impose a new £6 + VAT tax which will be levied on every fixed telephone line in all homes and businesses across the country. Homes with multiple lines might pay multiple times. The tax would be levied on homes with and without broadband access.

Conservatives have unveiled alternative proposals to increase competition and introduce superfast broadband across the United Kingdom. The action plan will:
• Open up BT’s ‘local loop’ monopoly to other telecommunication operators, and review unfair business rate rules.
• Investigate the use of sewers and other utility infrastructure to lay broadband cables.
• Allow telegraph poles to be fitted with fibre optic cables, rather than old fashioned copper wire.
• Ensure that all new homes are capable of receiving superfast broadband through a fibre to the home network.
• Use money currently allocated to the digital TV national switchover to help establish a universal network, and after 2012, look at using this money to ensure superfast broadband reaches rural areas.

South Tyneside’s homes and businesses deserve access to the latest 21st Century technology. It’s time to end the digital divide and deliver superfast broadband to all parts of the country, including rural areas. Conservatives will open up the BT monopoly and increase competition, while Labour just want to hit homes with an unfair new phone tax. There is nothing that Gordon Brown won’t tax, which is why it’s time for change.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Worth a flutter?

Not that I am really a betting person - other than the odd flutter at Ascot perhaps - but I couldn't help but notice Ladbrokes have released the odds on all constituencies in Great Britain at the next General Election on their website:

http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Politics-c110000037?dispSortId=189&byocList=t110000405


So how are we looking in South Tyneside according to the bookies?

South Shields

Labour 1/500
Liberal Democrats 33/1
Conservatives 33/1
Green 100/1

Jarrow
Labour 1/500
Liberal Democrats 25/1
Conservatives 100/1
Green 100/1


Results in 2005 were as follows:

South Shields

David Miliband, Labour 18,269 60.5%
Stephen Psallidas, Liberal Democrat 5,957 19.7%
Richard Lewis, Conservative 5,207 17.2%
Nader Afshari-Naderi, Independent 773 2.6%

12,312 Labour Majority

Jarrow
Stephen Hepburn, Labour 20,554 60.5%
Bill Schardt, Liberal Democrat 6,650 19.6%
Linkson Jack, Conservative 4,807 14.1%
Alan Badger, UK Independence Party 1,567 4.6%
Rodger Nettleship, Save National Health Service 400 1.2%

13,904 Labour Majority