Friday, September 24, 2004

Brighton rocks

Alan and I are heading to the Labour Party Conference down in Brighton tomorrow for a week of debate, discussion and dialogue. Should be a great week - Alan is doing a really good fringe meeting with Robin Cook on the where next for the Labour Party which will be interesting.

He's also doing an 'In Conversation' with The Telegraph and a few media interviews. This is alongside his work on the NEC and important policy-making stuff.

I can honestly say I have never worked so hard on anything - the Conference Diary is a truly momentous piece of work and I just hope everything hangs together.

Meanwhile in Darlington, Alan is here on Friday straight from Conference - he is doing a tour of the new site at Morton Palms and meeting the staff up there. By the way, we're planning an Annual Lecture for the town, hosted by Alan, at which Trevor Phillips, head of the CRE, will speak. This will be a great event as Trevor has had a lot of very interesting things to say recently about immigration.
The event is on November 18th - keep reading for more details.

I will try to let you know how conference is going and what Alan is up to. Should be a good week!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Boris Johnson becomes first Tory MP blogger launches:

"Boris Johnson, writer, editor, sometime celebrity and Conservative Member of Parliament for Henley has launched a new website with full weblog facilities."

"As far as I can tell, it's as easy as typing an email. The only difference is, it's published on a website and accessible to anyone within seconds. And thanks to the way that glorious machine Google works the information I publish is far more likely to reach those who may be interested in it."

"It's certainly worth the small amount of time running a weblog demands."

Expect this to become a very well read weblog very quickly.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Blogging Darlington Councillors

Cllr. Nick Wallis has represented Haughton West since 1991 and now he has a blog.

There are a few councillors on the site, but Nick seems to have taken it onboard better than most. I think the Darlington Town Blogs site is a brilliant idea and makes it even easier for councillors to write about what they're doing. I even have an account on the site that Mark Burton kindly let me set up, though I've yet to make use of it (though, I suppose I could have put my previous grumble about bus fares there). Anyway, Nick asked for a link from here, so here it is!

Alan Milburn is calling on a bus firm to reinstate a service axed two years ago

As I reported earlier, "DARLINGTON MP Alan Milburn is calling on a bus firm to reinstate a service axed two years ago." is now reproduced in Alan's official online "diary".

Considering Stagecoach have just put up their fares again, they haven't much of a case for not reintroducing the service.

(Personal grumble: It now costs £1 each way for a bus journey to town. The car parks in the town centre are still only 80p per hour. So, for any visit to town of less than two hours, it's cheaper to drive than to take the bus. If two people are travelling, the time rises to five hours! Still, we've got a recycling scheme...)

Friday, September 17, 2004

More from Kath in the comments

Quick news from the office - Alan is about to arrive and we're heading to the High Row to do a spot of campainging on the Yes Vote in the forthcoming Referendum on the North-East Assemly.

Alan is joining Secretary of State for Health, Dr John Reid, who is touring the North-East today.

After that, we're heading over to Alderman Leach Primary School to celebrate the school's recent environment awards.

And later on, I'm taking Alan to Hartlepool to meet Iain Wright, the Labour candidate, in the by-election coming up.

All go!

In the comments of the previous post. I'll send an email :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More from Kath

Kath has added a comment to her first post that I think would have been better as a new post, so I'm copying it here (hyperlink mine):

Big issues in Darlo this week are: travellers in Haughton, the closure of the Victim Support officein Duke Street, possible closure of 4 sub post offices - all of which Alan has been getting closely involved in.

The office has worked very closely with councillors in Haughton and Red Hall to reassure the residents up there that the situation is being dealt with and the travellers have moved on. Alan has also written to the Post Office people objecting to the plans to close 4 sub post offices.

Meanwhile, we're gearing up for a whole of week of conference in Brighton. It's always busy but this year Alan is double-booked on lots of occasions to speak and will have to get just about everywhere! I am organising his diary and promise to do a conference blog to let you know the real story of life as a hard-working MP's assistant!

Alan is here as usual on Friday - lots to do with a visit from a high-profile Cabinet colleague coming along for good measure! He'll probably head to Hartlepool too to help with the by-election.

A new post next time?

I saw a documentary following some young political hopefuls following an MP at their conference, which was a really interesting insight into what goes on there, hopefully Kath will be able to shed more light on it.

There's still an open off of an invite to the blog for Alan, by the way, if he wants it... (Boris Johnson is to start blogging soon, which will probably gain him a lot of publicity, and be an excellent read! Alan blogging here would bring in huge numbers.)

Sunday, September 12, 2004 - News about Darlington MP Alan Milburn

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ruth Kelly named as Milburn's deputy

I was reluctant to post this as I didn't want to knock Kath's first post off the top spot on the site so soon, but there's so much info in this Guardian Politics Report about Alan's new role, and also about other appointments that I couldn't not post it.

I'm particularly interested in the fact that blogging MP supreme, Tom Watson has been appointed a Whip. It'll be interesting to see if he changes his blogging style.

All change in the office too

My name is Kath and I am Alan Milburn's assistant. It's an interesting job to say the least - especially over the last couple of days.

We've had hundreds of calls from journalists all trying to wheedle information out - and a good dose of speculation and intrigue.

Alan has been pretty busy too - and has a huge workload ahead of him now as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Basically he's the General Election mastermind, preparing the manifesto for the Labour Party and looking ahead to whenever the Prime Minister decides the call the election.

It's not going to get any quieter in the office...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Alan Milburn backs call for reinstatement of Darlington bus route

According to the Darlington Advertiser, Alan Milburn has contacted Stagecoach backing calls for the reinstatement of the 25a bus route through Branksome.


BBC News: Milburn returns to Cabinet role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. These modern titles confuse me...

Mr Milburn will be based in the Cabinet Office and Downing Street sources he will supervise the work of the No 10 policy directorate and the prime minister's strategy unit, as well as "co-ordinate the development of policy across government".

Even more on Alan Milburn's return to the Cabinet

Loads more on Alan's "return" to front line politics:

Straight from the horse's mouth, at the Prime Minister's press conference. (Or not. You'll learn very little about whether Alan Milburn is returning to the Cabinet from Tony Blair. I do like how the journalist manages to segway from the Olympics to the reshuffle, though.)

The BBC will be able to tell us surely? Erm, nope.

The Independent? "The Prime Minister, who is expected to announce his changes in the next 48 hours, is trying to persuade Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, to return to the Cabinet and has him in mind for an election role. Mr Brown, who views Mr Milburn as a long-term rival for the Labour leadership, oppposes the move. Sources said last night that Mr Milburn was undecided about returning to the Cabinet less than 15 months after quitting to spend more time with his family."

We also learn this about Alan: "Brown's arch-enemy, hated as much as Peter Mandelson. Seen as Chancellor's most dangerous rival in leadership stakes. Clashed with him on health reforms." I assume that's hated by Brown, not just generally.

The Scotsman who, for some reason, broke the story (to me at least) has more: "Tony Blair was understood to have held lengthy discussions with his close ally Alan Milburn"

And lots more, courtesy of Google. News.

Probably only two people really know whether Alan's returning to the Cabinet - Alan Milburn and Tony Blair. I don't imagine Alan will break ranks and tell us anything before Tony does, though, so we'll just have to wait and see. It's a bit like Christmas...

(All this might explain why no one from Alan's office has poted anything here yet.)

Monday, September 06, 2004

More on Alan Milburn's return to the Cabinet

Alan Milburn to return to Cabinet?

Today's Northern Echo has a front page story about Alan's possible return to the Cabinet (in the Darlington Edition, at least). This is available online, but the Northern Echo's website doesn't have permanent links to stories, so I'm republishing it below:

Blair ally Milburn on way back to Cabinet

FORMER Health Secretary Alan Milburn was last night poised to return to the Cabinet - only 14 months after quitting to spend more time with his family.

The Northern Echo understands the Darlington MP has accepted the Labour Party chairmanship and will play a leading role in the party's forthcoming General Election campaign.

The appointment is expected to be announced as part of a Government reshuffle this week.

Mr Milburn, a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair, left his ministerial post in June last year to spend more time with his partner, Ruth Briel, and their two sons.

His spokeswoman would not confirm the appointment last night, saying that Mr Milburn did not comment on speculation. Downing Street also refused to answer questions about the expected reshuffle.

But Whitehall sources say Mr Milburn's return to the Cabinet has been on the cards since Labour's disastrous failure in June's European and local elections, which was partly blamed on current party chairman Ian McCartney.

Last night, the man who replaced Mr Milburn as Health Secretary, John Reid, added to the Westminster speculation by saying the Government had missed the arch-Blairite's skills.

"When a General Election comes up we want the best, the brightest of all of the talents to try to make sure we get another term," he said.

"I am a friend of Ian McCartney. I am a friend of Alan Milburn as well - in fact I am very close to Alan on political grounds - and my view is he was missed."

At the time he left the Cabinet, Mr Milburn appeared to rule out a speedy return to Government office, saying: "I think it is very, very difficult having left in these circumstances to return, and I really can't see it."

The Cabinet reshuffle should have happened in July but lengthy negotiations between Mr Blair and Peter Mandelson over his return to high-profile politics meant it had to be put on hold.

The Hartlepool MP eventually accepted a position as an EU commissioner.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Alan Milburn for Labour Party Chairman? News - Latest News - Alan Milburn Mooted for Labour Party Chairman

"Former minister Alan Milburn is set for a return to the Cabinet, it was claimed tonight. The ex-Health Secretary – who quit to spend more time with his family – looks poised to become chairman of the Labour Party."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Free blogs for Darlington councillors!

Darlington Town - free blogs for Darlington councillors - "darlingtontown, your town’s community hub, is the first community website in the UK to offer to its Councillors FREE web-logging and the opportunity to write down their day-to-day ‘doings’ as web-logs. Darlingtontown blogging went live on 22 August 2004 and all we ask is that our towns councillors seize this opportunity to let you, the voter, their constituents, know what they, your councillors, your key connection between your community and your council, are doing to help and improve your quality of life!"

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | No 10's silent support for Kerry

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | No 10's silent support for Kerry: "the Blairite group Progress is to issue a scathing attack on Mr Bush's record, although the group is sympathetic to the action in Iraq; Alan Milburn, the former cabinet minister, is its honorary president."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Alan Milburn call for more support for working families

ic Teesside - Time out for new dads: "Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington, who famously resigned his Government job last year to spend more time with his family, has called for more support for working families."