The Lewisham Deptford Elections: Tam Langley

This Q&A is part of Brockley Central's virtual hustings. Tam Langley, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Lewisham Deptford answers our questions:

1. Outside of morning peak time, overland services to London Bridge have been cut from 6 trains per hour to four trains per hour. What will you do to restore the levels of service, which were promised until last year?

I have been working with my colleagues - the three Forest Hill Lib Dem councillors (Alex Feakes, Philip Peake & John Russell) - to campaign hard against these cuts, working closely with the local societies. The key point we will continue to make is that train services in our part of London are some of the most overcrowded in the capital. Even with the East London line extension, it makes no sense at all to cut back existing services.

2. Do you support the local campaign to revive plans for the South London Loop service to Crofton Park?

As many Brockley Central readers will know, the Liberal Democrats in Lewisham and at the Greater London Assembly have been running a campaign on the Crofton Park - Victoria service ever since it was secretly shelved.

Our campaign has included:

  • Directly asking Boris Johnson to reinstate the plans at People's Question Time
  • Gathering almost 500 signatures on our petition for the line
  • Repeatedly meeting and lobbying Transport for London
The good news is that we have got the line onto the shortlist of options being considered in more depth. The bad news is that they have no funding allocated yet and have delayed their report.Sign our petition at: campaigns.libdems.org.uk/savecroftonparktrains

3. What, specifically, will you do to ensure that the Surrey Canal Station gets built during the extension of the East London Line to Clapham Junction?

It seems to me that there are two obstacles to getting the station built. The political establishment haven't got the will to make it happen and funding is going to be tight for the next few years.

There's a Lib Dem policy that could make quite a difference in this situation. Usually when new train and tube lines are built, commercial property owners make millions of pounds from the increase in their property values. In the case of the Jubilee line the gain was billions of pounds. So I have met businessmen who would happily contribute millions to have a new station near their properties, and indeed have tried to negotiate with government to do so.

4. What will your top priority for Lewisham Deptford be and what are you going to do about it?

Take action to cut crime. It is wrong to scaremonger on crime. But equally it would be deeply irresponsible to ignore the far too common sad instances of stabbings and shootings on our streets. On Gilmore road in central Lewisham a few weeks ago, I knocked on the door of a woman who told me that just the day before an 18 year old had been stabbed on her street. She was understandably horrified, and worried for her teenage children. Teenagers in Brockley have told me about their fear of being caught up in a stabbing, and their experiences of being mugged or threatened on the streets.

5. How will you reduce crime and improve policing in Lewisham Deptford?

Liberal Democrat policies that would help cut crime in Lewisham include:

  • 3,000 more police on the streets nationally, paid for by scrapping ID cards
  • Cutting police bureaucracy so that more police are solving crimes rather than filling in forms
  • Giving people a direct say in how to punish petty criminals and anti social behaviour through Neighbourhood Justice Panels
  • Targeting gun and knife crime by getting Lewisham hospital to share information with the police on the time and location of stabbings - where this has been done (in Cardiff) knife crime has fallen up to 40%
  • Using rigourously enforced community sentences for minor offences instead of short prison sentences, because they are better at preventing reoffending.
6. How can national government help Lewisham Council improve its performance and achieve its aims?

By making national rules fairer and addressing the growing gap between rich and poor:
  • A fairer tax policy which no longer has the poorest people paying a greater share of their income in tax than the richest people
  • Better local schools - through increased spending in education and our 'pupil premium' that would target kids from the poorest areas and those most in need of one-to-one tuition
  • Local jobs - by supporting green industries like renewable energy and public transport
  • Giving local people more of a say in their public services - elected police authorities and health boards and the power to sack their MP
7. What is the one policy you support that you would most like Brockley Central readers to know about?

The first £10,000 pounds you earn will be free of tax, a tax cut of £700 for most people, of particular value to people on low incomes.

8. Name one thing in the party manifesto with which you personally disagree?

I agree with the Liberal Democrat policy that the House of Lords should be elected. But it would be a pity to lose experts such as Lord Joel Joffe, a great champion of charities like Oxfam and of human rights, he was the lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela at his trial in 1963.

33 comments:

Jim Connell said...

"Giving people a direct say in how to punish petty criminals and anti social behaviour through Neighbourhood Justice Panels"

What does this mean: bring back the stocks outside the Brockley Jack or a hangin' tree in every road?
Have you not heard of Restorative Justice, widely used in local schools and by the local police?
Who do you expect to serve on these panels?
Isn't this a Tory idea about "less govenment?" i.e. more bloody work for everyone else.

drakefell debaser said...

I am quite shocked to hear that hospitals do not share information with the police regarding stabbings. Is this just Lewisham or more common? In any event encouraging the various parties to share information is a good thing to do. I support the scrapping of ID cards and getting more Bobbies on the beat but take issue with the following:

A fairer tax policy which no longer has the poorest people paying a greater share of their income in tax than the richest people

The IFS described this as "meaningless at best and misleading at worst". The poorest 5th get back a lot of their tax through credits and benefits whilst the richest 5th contribute far more in tax than they are likely to receive in benefits. Even if we ignore the poor use of statistics, the pledge does not tell us what the Lib Dems consider to be a fairer tax system?

Also, increasing the nil rate tax thresholds to £10K is a good idea but it will not benefit those on the lowest incomes who do not pay tax anyway so selling it as such is disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

She could not agree to disagree?

Lou Baker said...

I've been quite shocked at the lack of campaigning in Telegraph Hill ward.

There's been nothing at all from the Lib Dems - who in theory have a slim chance.

Nowt from the Tories either, perhaps understandably.

We do get a daily leaflet from the Greens, bless them.

Nice people and basically right on the environment but wrong on everything else. And do you really want a bunch of sandal wearing hippies in charge of anything more important than the school fĂȘte?

Then there's Labour which should be completely unelectable here. Remember the government in which Joan Ruddock willing serves has cut our vital train services and she's done nowt about it.

And then there's the Socialist Workers who don't seem to have realised it's not 1920.

All in all a pretty poor choice with the Lib Dems looking like the best of a bad bunch.

But I flat refuse to vote for anyone who doesn't knock on my door to explain why I should support them.

So Tam and co get out onto the streets and tell us why you deserve a chance.

Anonymous said...

Joan Ruddock is by far and away candidate of the people standing in Lewisham Deptford. Whether she is the best representative for the communitys needs is another thing.]

Maybe she has become complacent as some suggest. When they are shootings in the area I want to see her taking an active stand in galvanising a community response.
I want to see her and her team battling for us in terms of improving this area. I know she does a lot of work for people who are severely disadvantaged, such as refugees, aslyum seekers, the homeless and assistance from an MP can be life changing.

Anonymous said...

Drakefell, it is perfectly clear what the Lib Dems consider to be a fairer tax system - you repeat it in your final para. Their policy on reducing tax for those on lower incomes is precisely targeted at those who are 'earning' income, not those receiving state handouts. Enabling those who work to take home a greater proportion of their income will not only create a fairer distribution of waelth but will actually incentivise people to work.

Anonymous said...

EWhen I spoke to Joan Ruddock re the shootings outside of the station, she said 'it was a cultural thing' and the Operation Trident always catches them.

Tony Lloyd said...

Hi Lou

The problem the Liberal Democrats have is that they are spread so thin. This has, until recently, been a safe labour seat. Tam has been out on the streets all the time, but there's only so many streets she can cover.

Which brings me to my point: in a democracy we are all politicians. If you think that people should be knocking on doors to get the Lib Dem vote out then you should knock on doors to get the Lib Dem vote out.

You can get times of meetings on Tam's blog http://tamora4deptford.blogspot.com/

Rob Blackie said...

Lou - thanks for your comments on Telegraph Hill ward - I think it really depends on where you live within the ward. Basically we don't have the union funding of Labour - so we have to deliver the leaflets using volunteers. This means that whether your street gets leaflets mainly depends on whether we have a volunteer on your street. If you'd like to become one please do email me.

Rob Blackie, Tam's campaign organiser.

Rob Blackie said...

Jim - restorative justice is indeed a related part of our Manifesto - in fact the paragraph that follows Neighbourhood Justice panels.

See page 75 of the Lib Dem manifesto here for more details: http://network.libdems.org.uk/manifesto2010/libdem_2010_community.pdf

Rob Blackie said...

Drakefell Debaser - on hospitals information sharing is patchy across the country - about 30% of hospitals do it.

On the IFS figures there's a lot of issues that are too lengthy to put in a comment box! But in summary this policy has exactly the same distributional impact as increasing the minimum wage. So if you're pro minimum wage you should be pro this policy.

Rob Blackie said...

Anonymous - are you sure Joan Ruddock said that?

If so it's outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely sure and have witnesses. She said it to a group of us.

Rob Blackie said...

Anonymous - I suggest that you talk to the South London Press about Ruddock's comments - it's depressingly close to saying that there's nothing we can do about gun crime.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tam about the House of Lords. It should include some appointed members. Maybe they could speak in the House but not vote.

Jim Connell said...

Having looked at Tam Langley's programme of campaigning, those who live north of the A2 seem to be very badly served, that's New Cross and Evelyn wards.
As she is meant to be standing in the constituency, and if elected will represent everyone there, perhaps a good idea to show your face in those parts.
Bet youre too scared to go there!

maxink said...

Do you mean this New Cross?

Tamsin said...

Actually, to be totally reactionary, I think the remaining element of the hereditary House of Lords is a good thing. One way of getting what is actually quite a diverse range of experience and expertise into the law making process and individuals who have no party line to toe. They have included a practising dentist (and there is someone who if they have an NHS practice see a wide range of life - the horse's mouth, as it were) and someone a college lecturer shared student digs with - his fellow house-mates were wondering why he was reading up on squirrels, but he was looking into the background of the Countryside Bill which at that time was going through the parliamentary process.

Likewise judges and bishops bring a wealth of experience and as ex officio appointees owe no party any favours. And although judges famously don't know about popular culture - Big Brother and Jordan and the like - they are not to be riduculed for it. For detailed knowledge of the hard nitty-gritty of life at the sharp end your lawyer dealing with criminal and family cases on a day to day basis is beaten only by the poor souls living it. And for commercial realities, who better than those who have for years dealt daily with what happens when the system breaks down.

Cut out any scandal of over-claimed expenses (although that seems to be mainly the appointed peers) but keep the remnant of true independence of mind that the hereditary brings, law lords and bench of bishops bring. The last thing we want is more elections and political appointments are a scandal.

Monkeyboy said...

Tamsin, when the old buggers die off are you saying their sons and daughters should automatically inherit their political power over my life? And bishops? I'm sure they are well meaning and all that but why should they be given a pricilaged position over me? An ex catholic atheiest?

If we were to advise an emerging democracy on how to set up their legislator you wouldn't choose our system

Monkeyboy said...

....forgive the spelling, it's early.

Tamsin said...

Well, yes. There aren't very many of them, there is more of a cross-section than you would expect (the image of this young man reading up on squirrels in his bed-sit is quite an engaging one)and reform for the sake of reform and driven by principle and political conviction is always dangerous.

You wouldn't set up such a system from scratch - what you get when you do that is the American constitution - but I do think what we have now (the usual British compromise) is much better than one where the second chamber is either elected (the low turn out in any election is a dammning condemnation of such politics) or, even worse, wholly appointed party "yes-men" (and women).

Again, wouldn't set out now to include bishops, but it is quite a good way to get a bunch of people who are not primarily interested in Politics (with Party and a capital P). Might think about extending the privilege to the leaders of other significant faith groups.

Monkeyboy said...

I really don't see why being a leading member of a 'faith group' should give you special influence. What do you mean by significant? Numbers or a measure on the crazyness index?

What about the hereditary principle? Surley you don't think power should be handed down along with granys broach?

Tamsin said...

It's hardly any power - Lloyd George (I think) saw to that - but it is a nice in-built check in the checks and balances that make up a decent constitution. So yes, hand on the potential to pick up the obligation, like grannie's broach.

"Significant" on numbers - which should weed out the extreme crazies - unless there are so many of them in society that they are unfortunately signficant. And so it would be a good thing to sucker them into the system rather than leaving them raging around outside it.

Monkeyboy said...

Sorry Tamsin we'll have to agree to disagree. It's the 21st Century, keeping power in the family - no matter how little, has no place in our system. The only reason they have power over me is because they belong to the lucky sperm club. That's offensive to me.

love detective said...

not that much different really from the privately schooled, oxbridge educated professional politicians who have actual (rather than nominal) power over you - they are also just a product of the lucky sperm club. there's only something like 5 people in cameron's cabinet who went to a normal state school, and well over half of them went to oxbridge - and wider throughout society it's all about inherited privilige and being a member of the lucy sperm club - 84% of senior judges were private schooled for example, yet only 7% of kids go to private school in the first place

(i don't agree with tasmin either though)

love detective said...

tamsin, sorry for misspelling

Monkeyboy said...

LD, I concur. But at least there is some kind of system, however flawed, where we get to influence their appointment or retention other than the mad dash up the falopian tubes!

Tamsin said...

Happily forgive you the misspelling - I answer to Hi or any loud cry, to borrow the phrase and acknowledge that with such a maverick view I am lucky MB agrees to disagree so amicably.

Not quite so happy with the inherent sexism in the analysis - happy gamete club? The mothers still surely count for something...

(Although we are rather wandering off the topic here.)

Monkeyboy said...

My dad's sperm was not so lucky, I work for London underground.

love detective said...

"As she is meant to be standing in the constituency, and if elected will represent everyone there, perhaps a good idea to show your face in those parts."

perhaps Tam would have been able to do more local campaigning/doorstepping if she actually lived in the constituency she's looking to represent?

Kevin said...

re. love detective's comment: "perhaps Tam would have been able to do more local campaigning/doorstepping if she actually lived in the constituency she's looking to represent?"

I met Tam months ago at C.P station (months before the election was called) and she live pretty damn near the constituency - Bellingham/Catford way I think, so is similarly affected by things like the poor Crofton Park train service. Compare this to Tessa Jowell, I used to live in her constituency of Dulwich/West Norwood. Jowell couldn't be bothered to live there and for over 20 years has been with the North London New Labour luvvies in Camden. Her husband of course chose to spend most of his time in Italy with cuddly ol' Silvio.

I agree that it's a shame more people in Tel. Hill have not got behind Tam's campaign. Round my way, Crof. Park it's been relentless from the Lib Dems. and quite a bit from Greens. Labour and Tory by contrast both seem totally disinterested in the Lewisham Deptford seat.

love detective said...

@kevin

"I met Tam months ago at C.P station (months before the election was called) and she live pretty damn near the constituency - Bellingham/Catford way I think, so is similarly affected by things like the poor Crofton Park train service. Compare this to Tessa Jowell, I used to live in her constituency of Dulwich/West Norwood. Jowell couldn't be bothered to live there"

according to her election nomination she actually lives in herne hill, in the constituency of dulwich and west norwood (a good 5 miles or so away from the constituency) - so not sure the poor crofton park train service will afffect her in the way you suggest. not sure what others think, but i think if you are hoping to represent an area, actually living in it should be a necessary (but obviously not sufficient) condition of doing so

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