Thanks to everyone who turned out to vote in the Devizes Town Council East Ward by-election on 21st February. Sadly, we were not successful and the Tories won with just under 25% of the vote. The vote was fairly evenly split and we shared fourth place with The Devizes Guardians, the party of the previous incumbent, whose resignation caused the by-election.
Despite the result, it was a great campaign. Over thirty members helped with canvassing and leaflet delivery, others were tellers at polling stations, so the silver lining is we now have an amazing team of activists. The hard slog on the streets was interspersed with the occasional coffee, pub grub and a lovely Italian meal on election night. It was my first experience of canvassing and my message is: if a natural introvert like me can do it (and enjoy it) anyone can. We received a lot of positive support on the doorstep, something on which we can build in future campaigns.
Finally, a shout out to Steve and Lauren, the owners of The Cavalier pub who kindly allowed us to use the pub as a base during the campaign, and who kept us fed and watered on election day.
There are five Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) covering Wiltshire and we are working together to support constituents and prepare for local and general elections. Only three of the 98 seats on Wiltshire Council are held by Labour and the Lib Dems are currently the official opposition to the Tories. We want to change this.
In October representative from Devizes, Chippenham, South West Wilts, Salisbury and North Wilts CLPs met to discuss local priorities and plan an agenda for joint campaigning on social care, policing, housing and education.
One of our Labour Councillors, Ricky Rogers, explained that Wiltshire Council is facing a £25M cut in its Revenue Support Grant from central government this year and more redundancies are on the way. Describing Wiltshire Council to the group he said, “It has gone from being a council that provided services to one that commissions them, continuing the dogma of privatisation. There is now a lack of capacity within the officers.”
For Labour to have a bigger influence we need more Labour Councillors and it is essential that we get our candidates for local elections in place early to start campaigning with Ricky and his colleagues. This countywide Labour strategy group will now meet quarterly with the next meeting planned for January.
If you are interested in standing as a Labour Councillor for election to Wiltshire Council let us know and we will get some training organised for you.
Devizes Labour Party is busy campaigning and canvassing support across the constituency.
We want to find out what issues (local and national) people are concerned about, and how your local Labour party can lead real change in our constituency.
We have had a lot of fun out and about in Devizes, Marlborough and Tidworth canvassing residents' views on what Labour should focus on, as well as running several street stalls in town centres. We will continue canvassing and having these "community conversations" over the coming months.
Local issues raised have included problems with roadworks, a reduction in medical facilities, a worry about homelessness and lack of housing for young people. Wider concerns include closure of several education facilities and a deep concern 're the way Brexit is going and how it is dividing our country.
We have already taken up some specific residents' issues with local Councillors and will be building all of these issues and concerns into our local Manifesto for Devizes constituency which will form Labour's vision for our community.
If you want to find out more please get in touch or head over to our Labour Facebook Group for more info about our canvassing and campaigning.
Updates for all of our events can be found on Campaign Bulletin
Colin’s illness has prevented him attending tonight and he has asked me to raise a few issues on his behalf. It gives an indication of Colin’s commitment that at this difficult time he is thinking about the Labour Party.
I would like to give you some background to Colin’s thinking. He is entering the last chapter of a long and full life in which politics has never been far away. His relationship with Labour began in the era of Harold Wilson with no internet and just BBC and ITV TV channels. Politicians were respected and party leaders were iconic and charismatic household names.
Colin and I were proud to be among the Labour candidates that 24 years ago took 9 seats on the then Kennet District Council forming the council’s first Labour Group. At the same elections we gained control of Devizes Town Council for the first time with not a Guardian in sight. We should also mention some of the stalwarts of that great election result. Margaret & Ray Taylor, the Late Jim Thorpe and the late Peter Cousins.
The New Labour era when the party moved to the right did what was intended and it won Tory voters but Labour party membership fell to the lowest level since the party was formed. Many people are not aware that during the New Labour period candidates in key seats were selected by the party’s executive without any input from local members. Branches were stopped from submitting motions to the conference and leadership was all top down. This caused bitterness and divisions within the party. To continue Thatcher policy, Council house building was swapped for falsely named “affordable” homes for purchase.
Jeremy Corbyn arrived as leader when morale in the party was at a low ebb. His arrival kindled an interest in the party that has grown to such an extent that Labour is now the biggest party in Europe with more members than all the other political parties in the UK combined and double the members that the Tory party has. It must be noted that Corbyn’s success is in spite of the ongoing opposition of a hard core of New Labour appointed MP’s.
Colin wanted the scene set in this way. It brings me to the 4 points Colin wants put to you.
2 are quite simple. He asks that you Continue delivering paper info for all who needs it as you have done for him.
2 Allow non members to attend meetings to observe what Labour is about.
(3) The removal of Clause 4 of the party’s rules signalled the rise of New Labour. It was generally accepted that the Clause printed on membership cards was somewhat outdated. It called for the public ownership of all services and means of production. But rather than amending the clause it was completely removed as a symbolic gesture. Colin asks that the CLP consider sending a motion to the party’s NEC calling for the reintroduction of a revised Clause 4 to reflect the party’s current direction. I didn’t discuss with Colin how this could be achieved and it is too late for a motion to be submitted for consideration at this years conference. But perhaps at a future meeting you could discuss Colin’s request and if the CLP consider it appropriate a motion could be sent early next year for submission to next years conference. Most members would probably agree now that the return to public ownership of the Railways, utilities etc. is in tune with current Labour thinking.
(4) Lastly Colin asks if all leaflets could include at least a mention of the leader and that local Newsletters to members include details of the Party’s leader and main shadow cabinet.
Colin has, like so many found that Corbyn policies are in tune with his own opinions. This is a new brand of integrity politics. Corbyn represents to people of Colin’s age an embodiment of what socialism means and at the same time offers young people some hope for the future in what are dark times. Corbyn clearly does represent hope and that is what Colin is trying to get across to you. He simply asks that you consider the points he has raised and I am sure that he would greatly appreciate some acknowledgement that the issues will at least be considered.
We are all in the Labour party because we care. We want everyone to have the chance to maximise their potential in this short life that we have. The only way to achieve our goal is for all of us to work together, emphasising the areas where we all agree. Working together was what won us that great election result in Devizes and a positive mindset is the starting point. There is no reason why that result can’t be repeated and the next council elections is the time to do it.
Thanks again for allowing me to speak on Colin’s behalf.
7.30pm Wed 4th July Nursteed Centre SN10 3AF
Devizes Labour Party members honour long- standing party member, Colin Hopgood
MEMBERS MEETING Devizes Constituency Labour Party
MONDAY, 17thSeptember 7:30 p.m.
The Green Dragon, Marlborough High Street (next to Waitrose)
1. Welcome and apologies
2. Election of officers to EC
a) I.T. Officer: Rod Evans
b) Youth Officer: Steve Osborne
3. Guest speaker: Sarah Church of South Swindon Constituency Labour Party
There will also be an opportunity for members to ask questions and raise issues for discussion relating to:
·the upcoming Labour Party Conference
·any issues on current Labour Party Policies
·the recent turbulence in the Party nationally.
COME AND HAVE YOUR SAY
Please see the list of enclosures (they are all important)
1) Campaign Bulletin
2) Invitation to Swindon Fund Raising Dinner
Devizes Labour Party is busy campaigning and canvassing support across the constituency.
We want to find out what issues (local and national) people are concerned about, and how your local Labour party can lead real change in our constituency. If you want to find out more please get in touch or head over to our Labour Facebook Group for more info about our canvassing and campaigning.
You will find below, the link to the webcast of today’s full council meeting at County Hall in Trowbridge. The petition was presented and there followed a council debate on the points raised, resulting in a motion that was voted in unanimously (88 for, none against, one abstention).
Wiltshire Council have listened to their constituents. They have committed to carry out an open and transparent review of the bids from interested organisations - of which there are several - to take over the running of Braeside and Oxenwood.
A cross Party group of demonstrators protested to Wiltshire Council about their decision to close Braeside and Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centres.
A well supported meeting discussed Wiltshire Council's surprise decision to close Braeside and Oxenwood Education with speakers from Labour, Lib Dems the Green Party and Lucy Gomes a parent who started a petition against the closures. Lucy will be presenting the petition which now has nearly 16,000 signatures, to Councillors at County Hall, Trowbridge on 22nd May.
Pictures by Bob Naylor.