Tag Archives: Labour

Lib Dem defector cleared of data theft allegations

Paul Scriven and Ben Curran, pictured with a Walkley Resident in April.

Paul Scriven and Ben Curran, pictured with a Walkley Resident in April

The investigation into Cllr Ben Curran, who was accused of data theft after he defected from the Liberal Democrats to the Labour group, has been dropped by South Yorkshire Police.

Paul Scriven, Leader of Sheffield council accused Cllr Curran of taking public survey data from the Lib Dems, which had been collected during the general election campaign. He reported Cllr Curran to the police, and wrote to Labour group leader Cllr Julie Dore requesting he be suspended pending the investigation.

South Yorkshire Police today confirmed that the investigation had been dropped.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Bob Chapman said: “South Yorkshire Police has investigated a complaint made by the Liberal Democrats relating to Ben Curran.

“Following this investigation, no further action is to be taken. This outcome has been agreed with all those involved.”

A spokesperson for Sheffield Liberal Democrats said: “South Yorkshire Police have confirmed to us that Councillor Curran did obtain the files of personal data two days before he defected to the Labour Party, but that he did not pass it on and that it has now been returned.

“As he obtained the data while he was still a Liberal Democrat councillor, they have said he did not commit an offence and we will not take this matter any further.”

The Labour group did not suspend Cllr Curran, who remained silent on the matter until releasing a statement yesterday, in which he said: “The Police have confirmed that there is no case to answer. I hope that, as Councillors, we can all now focus on representing our constituents and doing what is best for Sheffield.”

Police to investigate council defector Curran for “downloading personal data from Nick Clegg’s office”

UPDATE 29/9/10 – 5.30pm

Cllr Curran has released his first official statement since allegations of data theft were made last week.

He said “The Police have confirmed that there is no case to answer. I hope that, as Councillors, we can all now focus on representing our constituents and doing what is best for Sheffield.”

Ben Curran, the Sheffield City Councillor who defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour on Friday, is under investigation by the police, it has emerged.

Council leader Paul Scriven has asked Labour leader Julie Dore to suspend Curran for allegedly downloading personal data about thousands of voters from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s office days before his defection.

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Council votes in favour of budget cuts

Plans for £6.5m of cuts to Sheffield’s public services have been narrowly approved today by a heated meeting of Sheffield City Council.

As previously reported, more than half of the cuts will be to Children and Young People’s services, with projects combat substance abuse and teen pregnancy among those that will lose funding.

“Taxing less and spending more,” said Council Leader Paul Scriven, “is fun in the short run, but it’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s what the last government’s recipe was.”

He also warned that if the Labour group were successful in blocking the budget as-is, the reductions would have to be made up in “mainstream” public services. “Schools, social workers. Real services cut because you haven’t had the backbone to face the people of this city and face the consequences of the mess that your government left this city and country in.”

Cllr Scriven said that while they have been able to protect permanent jobs from redundancies, contract and temporary workers may find their contracts shortened or not renewed.

Labour Councillor Julie Dore said of the Lib Dems role in the coalition government, “You’re just lapdogs, figleaves. But boy don’t they just roll you out when they want you to announce some bad news. Whatever you decide, this is about ideology. Do not be fooled. The role of public services, how they are delivered and more importantly who delivers them is what this is all about.”

Far from the sombre faces put on by George Osborne and the cabinet on budget day, the Lib Dem cabinet appeared in more jovial spirits this afternoon. After pointing out that the country was paying out £80,000 a minute in interest, three councillors (Colin Ross, Shaffaq Mohammed and Simon Clement-Jones) openly joked about their three minute “quarter million pound” speeches. Their humour was met with uproarious laughter from the Lib Dem side of the chamber and stony faces opposite.

Cllr Mohammed said Labour councillors had been providing plenty of rhetoric, but had not come up with any of their own ideas.

“You can criticise the reductions as much as you want,” he said, “but unless you come forward with alternatives you’ve got no leg to stand on. It’s alright standing on the steps of the town hall and making speeches, but those people that actually know what’s happening in the city don’t want retoric, they want an alternative. Until you provide an alternative, you have no right to govern or lead the city.”

Cllr Andrew Sangar, cabinet member for climate change and waste management, paid tribute to the Green Party councillors for coming up with alternatives to the budget cuts, but he said “Clearly we don’t agree with it. They’re a high tax party, we’re not. We’re a fair tax party.”

Cllr Clement-Jones illustrated the city’s financial situation in terms of the debt left to Sheffield by the 1991 World Student Games. “We’re currently paying £25m every year, and will be unitl 2024. This recession will cost us two World Student Games a year for the next four years.”

Labour Cllr Jack Scott, who stood against Nick Clegg in this year’s general election, and who is a likely candidate for the vacant position of Sheffield Labour group leader, said, “Let nobody be in any doubt, this budget is a budget from hell. This fiscal sadism. It’s too much too soon and it’s too dangerous.”

He also quoted pre-election campaign literature distributed by Paul Scriven, which said “Conservative plans will mean cuts to services now and a longer recession.”

“The public debt now is £15bn less than when you wrote these leaflets,” he said, “Nothing that you’ve said today about the debt was not known then, when you said these things. Nobody in Sheffield will ever believe a word you say ever again.

“These vicious and duplicitous right wing Liberals can fool themselves, but they can’t fool Sheffield. They are out of ideas, out of excuses and out on their ear at the next election.”

Video: “Nick Clegg is not welcome in Sheffield” – City responds to emergency budget

Hundreds gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall this afternoon to protest against the public sector cuts outlined in the coalition government’s first budget.

Doug Patterson of Unite recieved the warmest welcome of the day, canonised for his ongoing battle to reverse the governments decision to withdraw their £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

Sheffield Labour Party Chair Paul Wood recieved a frostier reception, and was heckled by activists in the crowd for New Labour’s centrism. A message from Labour MP for Sheffield South East Clive Betts was read out to a murmur of boos, although Central MP Paul Blomfield’s message was better recieved.

Constant throughout the speeches was a sense of betrayal. A feeling that Nick Clegg, once the golden boy of Sheffield, has sold the north down the river, to the extent that Patterson declared him persona-non-grata in the Steel City. A further demonstration outside his Eccleshall constituency home has been mooted, but as I understand it it’s pretty hard to catch him in these days.

Lib Dem council leader Paul Scriven, who has been on telly an awful lot this weekend loyally defending the coalition’s actions, did not attend the protest.

In other news, fresh faced education minister Michael Gove will be opening a new building near the Peace Gardens on Thursday afternoon at 1pm. I’d be surprised if he didn’t recieve a warm, Sheffield welcome.

VIDEO: Eddie Izzard talks about Labour, politics and his plans to run for office

Eddie Izzard visited the University of Sheffield today, to offer his support for Paul Blomfield. Some colleagues and I caught up with him backstage to talk about the election, his plans for the future and the Party Election Broadcast he made for the Labour Party.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Eddie’s PEB.

I’ll be putting together the footage I have of the Q&A session with Eddie, Paul and NUS president Wes Streeting tomorrow.

Thanks to Paul Garbett, Ben Rossi, Ben Wood and Chris Anstey for asking some good questions, and to Tom Hunt from the Labour Party.

The Analogue Election – Doorstepping with Ed Miliband and Paul Blomfield

Paul and Ed

Paul and Ed chat to a green leaning floating voter

We’re told that this year will see the first “digital election”, an election decided by who has the smartest twitterers and the biggest facebook groups. Either Sheffield didn’t get the memo, or the Labour party are leaving nothing to chance in this constituency, because we’re on our way for an evening of old school campaigning. We’re off to knock on doors.

As we step from Labour’s offices in Sheffield’s Trades and Labour club to the car park outside, I feel certain Paul Blomfield is leading me towards the silver Jaguar parked in the corner. A politician’s car if ever I saw one. I’m slightly blindsided when Sheffield’s newest Labour candidate flips the central locking on the much less ostentatious maroon Clio parked behind it. We’re making a short journey to Sharrow to meet environment secretary Ed Miliband, author of Labour’s recently launched manifesto.

As we park up, we’re joined by a small army of volunteers sporting red rosettes. There’s an air of giddiness about the younger members of the group. Part pure enthusiasm, part excitement at the imminent arrival of such a rock-star of politics. The team disperse through the nearby streets, knocking on doors to ask people’s allegiances, and seeing if anyone fancies a chat with a cabinet minister.

Paul's team prepare to get sore knuckles.


Ed’s running a little late, he’s been visiting a recycling centre near Scunthorpe and the traffic’s a nightmare. One of the younger campaigners jokes that an approaching, slightly tired looking Jag could belong to the minister, to which Paul quips, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s driving a Prius.”

Ed soon arrives, wearing a slightly weary smile and a suit that surely cost more than my education, and heads off with Paul in a door-knocking tag team. The army’s tactics are starting to become clear. They’re looking for wavering Labour voters whose fears they can calm, and Green supporters who Ed can convince to vote tactically. He offers his eco-credentials as assurance that they can vote for a winner without betraying their values, along with promises of electoral reform, to make conscience voting easier next time round.

Does he not find it odd asking people to vote for them, so they can more easily vote for someone else next time? “Obviously I want people to vote Labour, but the truth is if you want accountability of MPs it’s good to have a system where you have to get more than 50% of the vote.” Ed tells me, “We want people to be able to express their opinions, but then vote second or third for someone else, and frankly we’ve got to take this opportunity to reform our politics.”

Today’s other big message is that the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s only serious competition in Sheffield Central, “can’t win nationally.” Nick Clegg gave a crowd pleasing performance at the first round of leaders debates last night, surely cause for concern in such a hotly contested seat?

“The reason I’m here to support Paul is that this is one of the key seats where a vote for the Liberal Democrats could let in a Tory government.” Ed says, deftly dismissing the idea of a hung parliament, let alone an outright Lib Dem win. “I think Nick Clegg clearly had a good outing in the debate, but he didn’t come under much scrutiny because the Liberals tend not to. I think he’ll face more scrutiny in future debates, but on that key Labour-Tory choice, Gordon Brown won the debate.”

One thing Ed and Paul clearly have in common is an enthusiasm for the old fashioned pressing of flesh. While enthusiastic pledges of Labour votes have been a little thin on the ground, people are genuinely impressed that the pair have bothered to turn up in person to ask for them. It may be quicker and easier to reach a lot of people with a tweet, but it’ll never have the same impact. As Ed says before he heads off to his next meeting, “Getting out and meeting people, there’s no substitute for it.”

Originally from this week’s Forge Press. Well worth picking up a copy if you can, the election section’s really good, and you’ll find my guide to the Digital Economy Act in the Fuse pull out.