Bridport by-elections 22 February

Rose Allwork – Labour Candidate for Dorset County Council

I will be a strong voice for Bridport in the County Council: we need bus links with surrounding villages and the rest of the county and more control over planning decisions to build housing that works for us all.

Bridport is a vibrant, diverse community and I want to see us ready to meet future challenges.

As an early years teacher for over 20 years, I worked in schools and children’s centres in East London. At the same time, I was a visitor to Bridport over many years, spending summers here with my children, and fell in love with the town.

When I moved to Bridport, now over five years ago, I felt instantly welcome and at home here. The strong sense of community and history, the beautiful countryside and the many opportunities to get involved in local activities all make Bridport a wonderful and rewarding place to live.

Years of austerity and the knock-on effects of the housing bubble have however taken their toll on Bridport, often affecting the most vulnerable members of our community.

We live in a thriving town, but low wages and a chronic lack of reasonably priced housing make it hard for young people and families to make a life in Bridport. Cuts to bus routes together with rising fares lead to isolation for people in villages and an increase in car use that is bad for the environment.

Austerity policies have meant cutbacks to our social services, creating a worrying rise in the demand for foodbanks and a growth in homeless people on our streets.

My priorities:

  • Supporting and building a strong and sustainable local economy.
  • Protecting our health service from cuts and privatisation.
  • Creating job opportunities and affordable housing that will enable young people to stay in Bridport.
  • Building a local transport system that links our town and nearby villages with the rest of the county.

Phyllida Culpin – Labour Candidate for West Dorset District Council (Bridport North Ward)

I really value what we have here in Bridport but we are being denied the opportunities and services that we need and deserve because of years of austerity cuts. It’s time that our local services deliver what we want.

I have worked in social housing and community development for many years, including in South Somerset and I am determined to see more decent housing in Bridport.

We need the areas that are key to our local economy: agriculture, tourism, arts, food, etc to be developed with support for new businesses and the creation of decent jobs and training to help our economy to thrive particularly creating opportunities for young people.

If elected, I want to know what you want and need – and I will try my hardest to deliver.  I will hold drop-ins to find out what your concerns are. I already know that housing, the environment and transport including traffic congestion are high up the list.

My current priorities are:

  • Ensuring that the current housing developments deliver affordable housing
  • Getting funding to develop our economy
  • Protecting our environment and getting rid of single use plastic in Bridport
  • Bringing back buses and reducing traffic congestion

 

General Election 8 June

 

Labour’s manifesto includes these fully costed pledges:

♦ £6 billion a year extra for the NHS
♦ £3 billion a year for schools
♦ Abolition of university tuition fees
♦ Building 100,000 new council houses a year, alongside 100,000 affordable homes
♦ Taking the railways, Royal Mail, and eventually energy companies back into public ownership
♦ Energy price caps
♦ Rent controls
♦ £250bn of investment into national infrastructure
♦ A ban on fracking

 

General Election FAQs: labour.org.uk/pages/general-election-2017-need-to-know

 

Our Labour Candidate for West Dorset – Lee Rhodes

Lee says “I grew up in Tottenham, north London and left school at the age of 17. I worked in various factory jobs until the recession of the early nineties which led to a spell of unemployment. I took this opportunity to re-skill. Office work followed until in 1997 I started working in accountancy. I have worked in this sector ever since, becoming an Accounting Technician.”

“I joined the Labour party in 2010 after the General Election and formation of the coalition government. I have supported many Labour campaigns in the past 7 years. I stood in local elections twice for Labour in the Dorchester West ward, in both 2011 and 2015 when I narrowly missed being elected. I am also a member of the GMB union and a supporter of their role in improving working people’s lives. I feel strongly about social justice and want to see a better, more equal society. I would love to see free, quality adult education made available. This would allow working people to improve their own lives in life long learning.”

 

Council Elections 4 May – Our Candidates

Phyllida Culpin – Bridport (Dorset County Council)

Phyllida’s background is in social housing, and until recently she worked in South Somerset. She believes that people deserve the opportunity to achieve the best for themselves and their families. Phyllida lives in Pymore and is committed to supporting Bridport’s economy which means bringing more jobs that pay well to the area, improving public transport so that people can get to college, work, and get out to enjoy themselves, and providing low cost housing. Phyllida uses local shops wherever she can and volunteers on a regular basis for conservation projects. She will Stand Up for the people of Bridport.

 

Bill Mellish – Bridport (DCC)

Bill Mellish was born in Lewisham, South London. He is a retired senior C.I.D. officer with the Met. having served on the Flying Squad and at New Scotland Yard. He retired after 32 years service and went on to be a governor at a boy’s comprehensive from which he received a long service award for his contribution to education.

Bill grew up on the same council estate as the famous boxer Henry Cooper. Bill’s uncle was Bob Mellish the Labour MP. Since moving to Bridport four years ago he has been an active fund raiser for Cupboard Love and other charities, he enjoys playing golf and skittles locally.

 

Mark Gage – Beaminster (DCC)

Mark says “The most important things that hold a rural community together and are education and transport. Should you elect me, I will work to give you back your bus services and ensure that they are regular and affordable. I will also work to resist the reintroduction of grammar schools and ensure that the funding for education for all of our children, no matter what their circumstances, is improved. A key part of this will be to refund our youth centres. These are things that the Conservatives working with the Liberal Democrats have taken away from you; voting Labour will return them.”

 

Joy Everington – Marshwood Vale (DCC)

Joy has been a resident of Marshwood for 35 years.

Supporting publicly-funded:

EDUCATION – NO to new grammar schools
TRANSPORT – Enable the young and elderly to get about
SOCIAL CARE – We may all need it some day
Retired public servant and formerly local Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages.
Upper Marshwood Vale Parish Councillor for 15 years. Currently Secretary & Treasurer of Dorset Federation of Horticultural Societies, supporting member clubs in Dorset & neighbouring counties. Long-standing charity shop volunteer.
“As your County Councillor I would bring my considerable life skills to the complex problems now facing our County”.

 

Nick Boothroyd – Bridport South Ward (Bridport Town Council)

A professional musician and teacher, Nick made his home in West Dorset over 25 years ago. His children grew up here and attended local schools. Four years ago he moved to Bridport and has since put down deep roots. Nick believes the key issues facing us in Bridport are affordable homes, better jobs and opportunities for our young people, our Health Service and transport links. Nick says “If elected I will defend public services, challenge vested interests and do all I can to make Bridport a better place to live and work”.

Chair’s Report

Apologies for not getting out a report earlier, but have had a bad dose of the dreaded lurgy and retired to my bed. However, better late than never. However, the curry night was again a success, even though there was some panic in the kitchen as the caterer’s van had broken down and we were desperately looking around for some rice. However, all ended well, and I am sure people passing the WI Hall wondered what was happening given the cheering and booing emanating from the hall.

However, the next few months are going to be busy ones as we lead up to the local Dorset County Council elections. As agreed at the last Branch meeting, three groups are in place that will produce leaflets covering housing, the local economy and public transport. However, we still require an Agent for the Bridport election given that it is generally agreed that we will only run paper candidates for Beaminster and the Marshwood Vale. Given this position we will be asking for a volunteer to act as our Agent at the next Branch meeting on the 18th January. We will also be able to discuss the content of the leaflets provided by the three groups, as well as amending or adding to them as necessary. We must also discuss as to how we leaflet the wards concerned, especially Bridport. This again will require volunteers to leaflet at least in their own street, as well as looking for weekend campaigning in areas we traditionally look for support. Also at the next Branch meeting we will be looking for volunteers to stand in the Beaminster and Marshwood wards.

Leafleting is of course crucial in Bridport given the hold the Lib Dems have over the Town and increasingly the Greens. Whilst of course as a Branch we have nearly 600 members, the Labour Party standing in the country is still well behind the Tories and we must make a real effort locally if we are to succeed in winning seats on the DCC. We also as a Party face a Parliamentary by-election in the North West, on which in my opinion much will depend how successful we are locally.

Also UNITE Community Union are organising a Public Meeting in Bridport Town Hall to discuss the future or otherwise of the NHS. This will be held on the evening of Wednesday 8th of February. At present the start time is not fixed, but it will be an evening meeting and more detail will be made available when a time is finalised. However, it is essential that as many members as possible attend. Also members along with UNITE Community Union had a presence in Bucky Doo Square on Monday 9th January demonstrating against the proposed cuts in Dorset NHS.

Whilst we have been making every attempt to make Branch Meetings more interesting, the Branch Meeting on the 18th will be mainly a business one in which we plan and put forward candidates for the coming Local Elections. As said previously, we now have nearly 600 members, and if even half that number turn out to leaflet in the coming local elections, we can cover the whole of Bridport quite easily. Looking forward to seeing you all on the 18th January, 7pm the WI Hall.

Richard

A simplified general structure of the Labour Party policy-making machine

Chair’s report – The Labour Party policy-making machine – A simplified general structure.

 

Members———-Branch———-Branch Officers.

Constituency Party (CLP)——–Officers/Executive Committee/From Branches.

Regional Labour Party—–Full time Officers/elected members.

Regional and National Policy Forums.

National Executive Committee (NEC)—-consists of General Sec and full-time officers plus elected members and trade unions. Oversees Annual Conference policies between Annual Conference.

Annual Conference—–Policy making body—-for a week?

The Parliamentary Party (PLP).

Also involved—fringe groups such as Momentum and CDLP. Also an innumerable number of Labour Party Friends groups, and Trade Unions.

The House of Lords.

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Role of Party MPs

In opposition—–should MPs simply follow Party policy as defined by Annual Conference if a given political situation changes? If not, how do we strengthen the relationship between Branches, CLPs and the general membership?

If in power—–Role of Cabinet. Cabinet members faced by senior civil servants and advisers. Also House of Lords. How should they deal?

When in power as is clear from past experience, the Cabinet does not always follow Party policy and on many occasions has ignored both MPs as well as Annual Conference policy. How do we counter such a situation if decisions are intended to come from below?

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As I have said before at branch meetings, politics is very much the organisation of conflict, and even more so today within the Labour Party. But at its root for change is our Leader’s political perception of changing the way that we ‘do’ politics in the Labour Party. The question that flows from such a position is, how will it be achieved? It will certainly not be easy, and if members are to achieve a greater say what changes will be required in the way Labour Party policy is not only arrived at, but carried through? In facing up to such a question we must firstly look as to how the Party is organised at present, and the roles played by the different structures that exist in today’s Labour Party.

For example, at a local level we have the membership. They attend their local Branch which has its own elected officers. Then there is the local Constituency Party organisation, again with officers elected by the branches, which in turn is overseen by a Regional Office of the Labour Party. The Regional Office is staffed by full-time officers and elected members. Its role is to ensure that the rules of the Party are upheld, and deal with any issues within Regional Branches that may arise, as well as overseeing any nominations for individual members who wish to stand as either an MP or Councillor. Also at a local level we have fringe groupings such as Momentum, and affiliated Trade Unions who add pressure to arrive at Party policy, both locally and nationally.

In terms of building National Labour Party policy, it requires in the first instance for a local branch to put together a branch proposition which is then discussed at a Constituency Party (CLP) meeting prior to Annual Conference. A vote is then taken by those attending the CLP meeting and a decision arrived at. The CLP proposition then goes forward for consideration to the Labour Party Annual Conference. But there is also a process whereby an individual Branch can make its position known on a particular issue by writing directly to the NEC. The present system allows for an individual Branch to make its feelings known, but it is difficult if not impossible to know if such an action has any effect on a given policy outcome. Of course this is not the end of the policy making process. Branches and CLPs must accept that policy decisions are also taken at both National and Regional Policy Forums whose decisions may run counter to a particular Constituency Party or Branch position.

And so through this process, individual members are distanced from any final policy decision. The question posed is, if decisions in the future are driven from below, how can local members be more directly involved in policy decisions? It also asks the question, does a CLP have a role in the future? And what is the role of the CLP?  What is the role of the Branch? What is the role of the Regional Party? I doubt if these questions have even been addressed by the Party given its complexity and challenging nature. However, as I hope I have made clear, the above is a simplification of the policy making process.

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But what when the Party is in power?  Here if we are to consider changes that directly involve the general membership and of Branches, how will they organise? That will by definition place under the microscope as to how the PLP functions in Westminster as well as the role of the Cabinet. When in opposition the main role of the Shadow Cabinet and the PLP is fairly straight forward. Their role is to challenge the presiding Government, and look to either defeat, amend or change Government policy. But when in power, we are faced with the traditional roles of both Government and Cabinet. From an historical standpoint, it is not unknown for example that a Cabinet both ignores Party policy as well as its PLP.

As to the House of Lords, its demise has been discussed since the beginning of the 20th century, but it is still there. Do we need a Second House, and if yes, should it be an elected body based on proportional representation to ensure it has the authority to challenge policies passed in the House of Commons?

Above are just a few ramblings of the Branch Chair. Its intent is to open up a debate as to how the Party organises and sets policies in the 21st century. Any comments or opinions gratefully received, as if we are to achieve a more open and honest approach to political decisions, members really need to enter into the debate in order that in the first instance the Branch can have a position. We also have to show that a new form of political engagement is the way forward. Given recent Branch debates, the Bridport and District Labour Party could be at the forefront of that debate.

Some interesting reading as to the forms of political organisation we have been subjected to, as well as the economic challenges we face in today’s global economy.

The Iron Law of Oligarchy——Michels.

Elitist theory    Mosca and Pareto.   Geraint Parry

A Brief History of Neoliberalism       David Harvey

Richard Nicholls

Chair’s Report

Chair’s Report 26th July

As members will all be aware, the National Executive Committee (NEC) deemed that branch meetings should be suspended until the result of the leadership election is announced. As I understand it, there are still some branches ignoring the NEC ruling and convening meetings, but to what effect? I ask this as any resolutions passed will have no standing. It was for this very reason that I, along with Nick our Branch Secretary, pre-empted the NEC decision by calling a special branch meeting, allowing members to express their views regarding not only any support or opposition for the present leader, but any issues they thought relevant. It also allowed for resolutions to be debated before the NEC came to its final decision, and placed them on record.

We are now of course in the ridiculous situation whereby not only is the election of the leadership of the Party in the hands of the judges, but members who have been disenfranchised following another NEC decision, are also challenging that decision in the High Court. Here, given the nature of our legal system, and I speak as a trade unionist who has personal experience of such legal proceedings, the Party as a political body could in the worst case scenario be either destroyed, or split. Also, as legal proceedings are often long drawn out, it could mean that no decision on the leadership could be announced in September at the Labour Party Annual Conference in Liverpool. This especially so if the disenfranchised members win their case. That could well mean that the ballot was illegal and would need to be re-run.

However in writing this short report, I would like to thank all members for the way they have conducted themselves at this difficult time. Members hold strong views on the matters in hand, and they have presented their arguments and concerns in a comradely way. This approach was very much in evidence at our recent specially convened Branch Meeting. 82 members attended but no-one was shouted down, and everyone who wanted to speak was allowed to make their position clear. For this as Chair I would like to thank members for their approach to the meeting, especially as I approached it with some trepidation given the strong feelings held by all those attending.

What the future holds for the Party is of course still unclear, but given the resolve shown by members in the Bridport and District Labour Party, I am sure we will persevere.

Richard Nicholls

Branch Organisation Update

The new leadership has been around for several months now and is continuing in its attempts looking for a new approach to politics. This has been made more complex in that with a huge increase in membership, not only has the National Party had to look at its own organisation, but the way in which local branches function have been put under the microscope. For example, how do we use the new technologies that are available? How are branch meetings organised? How do we involve more directly the local community? How do we campaign? How do we involve young members?

Here, as a Branch, we have made some inroads, but trying to put change in place, especially with an ever increasing membership base will always be a difficult task, but it is something that must be carried through. But progress is being made in that not only does the Branch now have all the officer posts filled, but members are now increasingly engaged in this debate. For example we have now identified the three issues that branch members feel are the ones we need to campaign on locally. Those being, Affordable Housing, Youth Services and Public Transport. Here, in order to pursue these three issues, we are looking to set up three groups of interested members to not only make recommendations to the Branch as to how we pursue these policies, but also produce pamphlets that can be used in getting our ideas into the public arena. In this way, it is hoped that not only will the Branch become more directly involved with the local community, but also begin the process of developing a branch manifesto that we can put to good effect at forthcoming local elections.

There is also the continuing debate as to how branch meetings are organised. The format has been subjected to some minor changes, but the debate continues. From my position as Chair, a number of issues have to be taken into consideration. Firstly, branch meetings as per the rule book are business meetings, and there are certain matters that must be open for discussion. There is also a time element to be taken into consideration and as to how we fit in all the business required. For example, it was past practice to have an invited guest speaker at the end of a branch meeting However, given time restraints, it was felt by a number of members that not enough time was given to question the speaker. To this end we now have the guest speaker at the beginning of a meeting, and that aspect seems to have worked to everyone’s satisfaction.

However, this is a matter still under debate, and in my opinion will require us to look very carefully as to the role of a branch meeting, and how policies flow from it. In this respect, the campaign groups could be a crucial element of any new approach to branch structure reorganisation. They would meet before branch meetings, and it would be for those groups to put forward motions for debate and present their ideas for the content of pamphlets to be distributed locally. In this way not only would we have a process in which policies came from the ‘bottom up’, but would also allow the Branch to formulate a branch manifesto for forthcoming elections. In this way, it would allow for branch meetings to be open to change.

We must also look for change in terms of bringing more young people into the decision making process. They have in many respects a completely new approach to life, and their views must increasingly be taken in to account. We are lucky that we have a Youth Officer, but as to be expected, they inevitably in my experience, are soon off to university, and we must try to ensure we have the numbers of young people available to fill the post. We also have a Woman’s Officer, and I have invited a member of BRIDFEM to address the Branch at a future meeting. At present, women trade unionists constitute 52% of trade union membership, but still have to struggle to be paid the going rate for a job. They also work in the care industry; note I say Industry, which are among the lowest paid jobs in this country. So we must look in our branch manifesto for policies that reflect the plight of not only women working in ‘care’ industry, but to those thousands of single and widowed women surviving on little or no pension.

Overall, these are exciting times, and there are many challenges we face in terms of the reorganisation of the Branch and National Party. I am aware of these issues, as when a member of the CWU Union Executive I was given the role of reorganising and merging trade union branches. This was no easy matter, as individual branch traditions and branch policies and political leanings varied, as one would expect. The same difficulties now also face not only the Branch, but the Party in general. However, if we are to bring about change that allows for a difference as to how we make policy, and to how we organise as a Branch, it will take time, and would simply ask for patience as we move forward.

Richard Nicholls

Labour Party reviews

Your Britain

Your Britain is Labour’s online home of policy development and ideas, where you can take part in our open and democratic policy-making process, Agenda 2020. Whether you’re a Labour Party member or not, we want to hear your ideas on how the next Labour government should tackle the challenges our country faces, and build a more equal and prosperous Britain.

On Your Britain, you can find consultation documents published by Labour’s National Policy Forum and its Policy Commissions, make submissions with your own policy ideas and get feedback from your representatives on the National Policy Forum, and join the discussion by commenting on other people’s ideas.

For more information on how to use Your Britain and help shape Labour policy, click here

Policy-Making Review

Developing a winning policy platform means involving as many people as possible. It requires a policy-making process which is inclusive, open and democratic. We need to reach out to engage members and the wider public in instigating, contributing to and leading the formulation of policy.

Angela Eagle MP is leading this review into how we can best reform the National Policy Forum (NPF) and policy-making process so we can once more earn the right to serve the British people in government.

Defence Policy Review

Emily Thornberry, Shadow Defence Secretary has published her terms of reference for Labour’s defence policy review, asking individual members and local parties to send submissions before 30 April 2016.

Emily points to the changed nature of security threats facing Britain today, and asks “What role should Britain play in building a world that is more peaceful, more just and safer?”

Her key question on Trident is: Will renewal of Britain’s nuclear capability aid us in protecting Britain’s security and pursuing the values that guide our foreign and defence policy?

 

Chair’s Report

Our new Party Leader has only been in place for weeks, but changes are already showing themselves within the Party. As Karen our Treasurer indicated, in the South West, Labour Party membership had grown by 150%. This figure is reflected in the Bridport and District Branch as membership is now in excess of 350 members. Also what is apparent for those attending the last three Branch meeting, the new members politically are not only well versed, but they bring a deal of experience along with them. In this respect it has been a pleasure to chair the last three meetings, as the majority of those attending have not only contributed, but have put forward differing views as to how we go forward as a Branch.

Also, given the experience shown by many new members, we must as a Branch consider as to how they can contribute over the coming months. I did make the point at the last Branch meeting that we needed to change the way in which the Party organised itself, and that we must in my opinion include the way in which the Branch operates. Here the Branch AGM will be held in March, and we need to discuss before that meeting, any shortcomings that new members feel should be addressed. In this respect, we have already had some suggestions which we will circulate to our membership for their consideration. At a National level, it is also being suggested that between Annual Conferences, all policy issues should be put to a ballot of the general membership by electronic ballot. A revolutionary concept.

Of the last three meetings, the first was really an introduction exercise for new members and for the present Branch Officers to introduce themselves. The second, and very well attended meeting, gave a platform for Green Town Councillor’s, and the debate was open and positive. The third meeting, given it debated Party organisation, was to say the least dry, but it was necessary if we are to change the way in which policy is arrived at. However, it was positive in that we agreed as a Branch to contact Tom Watson MP and request a meeting either in Bridport or the House of Commons to discuss our position on the reorganisation of the Party structure. My understanding is that Billy Bragg met Tom for a coffee in London, and we await a reply from the Deputy Leader. It was also raised at the last Branch Meeting that the Branch becomes more involved in local issues such as housing and public transport. To this end it has been suggested that Branch members attend the Democratic half hour of the Town Council to raise such matters, and in doing so not only give us a political platform, but show we have a real interest in to what is happening in Bridport and the surrounding area.

However, we still have a way to go, and we must ensure that the momentum, (no pun intended,) is not only maintained, but built upon. With this in mind we must not forget the social side to the Branch and we have organised a Curry Night on Monday the 14th December in the British Legion Hall, Victoria Grove commencing at 7pm. The intent is to not only raise funds for the Branch and entertain members, but for members to get to know each other in a more informal setting. I do hope as many as possible can attend. In this respect, if we are to develop as a campaigning Party in the area, we will need the funds not only to produce leaflets, but given the size of the Branch, possibly hire transport to get members to demonstrations in the South West and London.

Overall, I am confident that we now have both the political experience and commitment of the membership to make the next 12 months both interesting and proactive in terms of local issues.

Richard Nicholls (Chair)