Archive for September, 2012

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets is backing the Advertiser’s campaign for an official apology to the people of London’s East End over a wartime tragedy that cost 173 civilian lives.


More here.

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Yesterday I attended the Merchant Navy Memorial event in Tower Hill. Over 30,000 members of merchant navy and fishing fleets gave their lives to ensure vital supply lines were kept open during World War Two. As the historian John Keegan recounts:

“The 30,000 men of the British Merchant Navy who fell victim to the U-boats between 1939 and 1945, the majority drowned or killed by exposure on the cruel North Atlantic sea, were quite as certainly front-line warriors as the guardsmen and fighter pilots to whom they ferried the necessities of combat. Neither they nor their American, Dutch, Norwegian or Greek fellow mariners wore uniform and few have any memorial. The stood nevertheless between the Wehrmacht and the domination of the world”.

It was a privilege to honour them.


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I was one of the lucky ones who had the privilege of attending the Parlaympics Closing Ceremony last night. It was an amazing spectacle, every bit as brilliantly bonkers and stunningly creative as the opening ceremony.

As the focus of the Games now shifts to its legacy, it may well be that the most long lasting legacy will be the way the games have confronted negative perceptions of disability. Our challenge now is to ensure that our society rises to the benchmark the Paralympics athletes have set in overcoming the challenges that disability poses.

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On May, 23 2012 Newsnight broadcast a piece about the government’s proposals to cut housing benefit for young people. The BBC used Shanene Thorpe, an employee of Tower Hamlets Council, as a case study, and misrepresented her in the piece as an unemployed, single mother.

Shanene has in fact worked, or been in work related training since she left school. By publicising the piece, the BBC broke the basic journalistic tenets of accuracy and fairness, and they have finally published an apology to Shanene for any distress that the piece may have caused her.

I am delighted that at long last Newsnight has seen fit to apologise to Shanene, although it would have been better had the apology come directly from the reporter responsible, Allegra Stratton. I would like to congratulate Shanene on her spirited campaign, one which gained the support of tens of thoudsands of people who were appalled by the way in which she was treated.

The Government is forcing through unprecedented changes to the welfare state that will severely impact on people’s lives. So, it is important for media to avoid crude stereotypes of welfare claimants and single mothers, which exacerbate the difficult situations that they may be facing.

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Bigland Green’s magnificent mosaics

There was a great turnout this morning to witness the unveiling of the new mosaics at Bigland Green School. Students, parents, staff and governors all contributed their own individual piece to make up these mosaics. They looked great and congratulation to all involved, including artists Olivia Fletcha and Clement Riches (above).

Full report and more photos from the East London Adviser here.

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I had the good fortune on Saturday to meet the crew members of a ship specially designed to enable people of all physical abilities to sail around the world! Read the full story here.


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