Walton and Hersham Labour Party

Welcome to the Walton and Hersham Labour Party

Hi, I’m Danny. For those of you that we have yet to meet personally, on behalf of myself and the other officers, may I take this opportunity to welcome every member, both old and new, to the Walton and Hersham Labour Party (WHLP).

I believe it’s important that we talk to each other. We share one thing in common and that is our humanity. Whatever personal and political views people have, we have the right to freedom of speech. If we can all be respectful of our differing opinions, then expressing our differences is what makes life interesting.

As a branch, we have followed in the footsteps of the Esher and Walton Constituency Labour Party (EWCLP) by creating an online forum, just for local Walton and Hersham Labour Party members, so that we have a safe place to share and discuss our views online.

If you would like to get in touch, then please use the Contact Us page on our website. If you haven’t already, please join our Facebook group and LIKE our Facebook page to keep in touch.

Kind Regards,
Daniel Ewen
Chair – Walton and Hersham Labour Party

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Brexit – To Be or Not To Be?

by Richard Leonard

Some peoples’ nightmares are other peoples’ dreams. Most sane people would quiver at the thought of David Davies, Liam Fox and the UK’s own, slightly less scary version of Donald Trump – Boris Johnston, being anywhere near each other let alone be in the same room. But our astute/devious/cunning (cross out as applicable) Prime Minister has set a no-lose trap. If the tragic trio succeed in negotiations with the hardnosed and resentful team from the EU and return with a good deal for the UK, saintly Theresa will claim that it was because she chose such a team of talents in the first place.

If, however, they come back with a deal that Del Boy wouldn’t touch with a dodgy barge pole, which is more likely, she can dismiss them as incompetent Brexit looneys and appeal directly to the British people; there’s no point in her appealing to the slavering, backwoodsmen/women on the benches behind her. She has already announced that Parliament will not have an opportunity to examine the Government’s proposed strategy in negotiations with the EU over Brexit and it is unlikely therefore, that the final deal will be offered to them for their approval. Yes, I do know that my scenario will mean another referendum but if the electorate don’t accept the terms of the deal she can go back to Parliament and tell them that the UK will stay in the EC after all, thank you very much.

Fanciful you say but you must admit it is possible. May can then claim to have repaired the damage caused by Dodgy Dave and Dubious George and saved the day for Britain, at the same time delivering another hefty fancy shoe, in the political stomach of her predecessor. Farfetched? Maybe, but it might have considerable appeal to a PM who is desperate to put her mark on her period as a leader of Government and not just because she is following in the Iron Lady’s footsteps.

The Prime Minister has announced that negotiations will start by March next year which means that we are scheduled to leave the EC in 2019 – the year before the next general election is due. Her honeymoon period both with her Party and the electorate will be well and truly over by then, if it isn’t already, and she may feel that she needs a cushion to go into the election with. What better than to be able to boast that she gave them, the electorate, the chance to express themselves over Europe yet again, proving they can trust her to listen to their concerns.

With all other major parties committed to staying in the EC and the only one flatly against, UKIP, fast becoming a laughing stock, almost certainly the people of Britain would this time vote to reject an unpopular solution and remain in; assuming that the Labour Party gets its act together the next time and actively promotes staying in the EC.

Of course all of this is supposition and the outcome of the negotiations with the EC might go splendidly, satisfying the demands of the out camp but my point is that the stable door might be wide open but the horse hasn’t bolted yet. Stranger things have happened in politics; of such things are dreams made which of course can easily turn into a nightmare. But be prepared.

Sweet dreams!


Starting to ‘Pop up’ !

We had a great start to our ‘Pop Up’ trial this week – when three of us set up our stall , ‘popped up’ outside the Co-op in Terrace Road, Walton, and started asking local people what they thought would make the neighbourhood a better place to live, and what their priorities for action and change are.

We spoke to around 40 people and were very well received, with a number of common themes being highlighted, primarily:

  • The lack of affordable rented housing in the area – highlighting both the shortage of Housing Association/Council properties, the ever rising rents charged by private sector landlords and the fact that even shared-ownership (part rent/part buy) in this area is becoming ‘unaffordable’ for those trying to get on the housing ladder.
  • Dog poo!
  • The expensive and limited bus services.
  • The cycle path and road changes to Terrace Road!!
  • The limited play and open space areas available across the neighbourhood for children and young people (with these being an ‘after thought’ in many of the new housing developments)

We met with a couple of people who were keen to join the party, and one member who we have encouraged to join us at our weekly coffee mornings.

We’ll be keeping note of everything we are being told, and then thinking of ways in which we can be campaigning for, and seeking change.

A big thank you to Joe and Pasc’s Mum, who provided us with hot drinks!

If you’d like to organise, or help out at, a ‘Pop Up’, do contact Sue Cooper for more details/materials: vice.chair@whlp.org.uk


Who Do They Serve And Who Do You Trust?

By Richard Leonard

So – now we have it – Jeremy is our new leader. Eh? I hear you ask. ‘Is that the same Jeremy who has been leader since September last year?’ – yes. ‘So what was the fuss about?’

To get an answer to that you would have to ask the 172 Labour MP’s who passed a vote of no confidence in Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. They appeared to be unhappy that the rank and file chose someone who spoke their language and shared a common socialist philosophy in contrast to a smooth operator from within their own parliamentary ranks.

Some unwise MPs raised their heads above the parapet firing off some vitriol or other at Corbyn or his supporters. In the naive belief that they would simply get some exclusive publicity for themselves, they fed the Tory media with much heralded rants gleefully used to ridicule the Labour Party.

In my long life around politics (too long I feel sometimes) I have met many MPs from all parties and they usually have one thing in common – an overwhelming desire for self-preservation. As soon as they are elected to that exclusive club in Westminster they set about turning it into a lifelong sinecure. There are, of course, notable and honourable exceptions but they are few and far between.

I recently had occasion to research some former Labour leaders. I was struck by how entrenched they had been within the roots of their own people – the working class. Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan, Ernest Bevin, Jennie Lee and Barbara Castle, the latter two being the only ones who benefited from a university education, being a good example. Hardie and Bevan were miners, Bevin was a lorry driver; Lee was the daughter of a miner and Castle’s mother ran a soup-kitchen for local miners. They were always aware of who they represented and why. There has only been one permanent Labour leader since 1945 who could be vaguely described as truly representative of the working class, James Callaghan.

Out of the 230 Labour MPs approximately 16 describe themselves as from manual labour, 80 are Lawyers/Media/Teachers etc. and 101 previously worked in mainly politics or trade unions. (Smith Institute 2015). This imbalance should not just concern Labour supporters but the country as a whole. I would not argue against the perceived wisdom of having a variety of professions represented in Parliament but it is not therefore surprising that the ordinary party activist feels estranged sometimes from the Party’s representatives.

From a total of 329 MPs the Tory party boasts 243 who previously worked in Business/Finance, 171 who were privately educated and 148 who went to Oxbridge, so the Tory interests are well covered. (Smith Institute 2015). Where are the Labour MPs who were shop workers, bus drivers, postmen/women, carpenters, non-skilled workers etc.? Where is the passion of our elected representatives; how can you empathise with someone you have little in common with?

The anxious MPs and the National Executive would do well to indulge in some navel gazing to consider how best to vastly increase the number of MPs from ‘working class’ occupations. They have managed to assemble an almost respectable 43% (99) women Labour MPs (House of Commons Information centre 2016) so it is not beyond their ability to come up with a solution to make the parliamentary Party more representative of its large membership; but and it’s a big but, you have to have the will to carry it through. Then and only then, will we have something approaching complete unity between MPs and the spear carriers.

The patronising tone adopted by some MPs towards the rank and file of the Party is insulting and frankly contemptible in a great socialist movement such as ours and should be condemned out of hand by senior figures in the Party. Even if I strain I can’t hear a whisper of concern from that direction.

Until then we will have to make do with leaders who struggle to command the support of his/her backbenches. I wonder what Keir Hardie, Bevan et al would do now?

Stompond Lane News Update

Stompond Lane News Update

Elmbridge Borough Council has sold a 7.8 acre residential development site in Stompond Lane to developer London Square on a ‘subject to planning basis’.

London Square will be exhibiting their proposals for the site on:

Tuesday 4th October 2016 | 3pm to 8pm at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Hersham Road

Thursday 6th October 2016 | 3pm to 8pm at the Playhouse, Hepworth Way

Further details can be found at: http://www.londonsquare-waltononthames.co.uk/London%20Square%20-%20Stompond%20Lane,%20Walton%20on%20Thames%20newsletter.pdf

Do let us know your opinions and thoughts after viewing the exhibition:


Proper Grammar

Written by Richard Leonard

A casual visitor from Mars, or indeed anywhere else outside of the UK, could be forgiven for mistaking the person reading a statement on the steps of number 10 Downing Street recently for a radical left winger, who had just been elected Prime Minister. So when I read a few days ago that Pope Francis had created Theresa a saint I naturally expected it to be the speaker.

In her statement she declared that she would ‘fight against burning injustice, that having a job did not guarantee job security’ and she acknowledged that a private education created privilege. The ‘working class’ (remember them?) who would be at the forefront of everything her government did were mentioned twice. (The Metro and various media 13/9/2016). If Jeremy Corbyn had pronounced those policies most observers would just have nodded in bored approval.

But Theresa May has now firmly laid out her ideology for all to see and it is predictably and frighteningly right wing. Although much of it is throwing red meat to the baying pack behind her on the back benches to pacify them during the long wait to Brexit, she has grasped the deep-rooted Tory ideology of galloping capitalism/privatisation and embraced it with passion. To fuel the Tory obsession with these twin evils one of her predecessors, Margaret Thatcher, destroyed our manufacturing industry by selling off, what a previous Tory PM described as the ‘family silver’, to anybody who would buy it including some of the biggest global crooks in the business world. The mines, steel manufacture, car production, public transport, airports and public utilities all went over time. She set out to destroy the unions on the way. Cameron has virtually and deliberately destroyed the NHS which even Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS providers has said cannot survive in its present condition (BBC 9/9/2016).

Now May has turned her attention to one of the last remnants of the Attlee government’s brave social reforms – the education sector, free for all and available to all, a prize jewel in the Tory crown of privatisation. In this modern climate grammar schools are not free, many parents spend £1500/2000 on coaching their children on how to pass the exam. Poorer working class families who are struggling to make ends meet do not have access to that sort of money unless they run up unsustainable debts, therefore creating an underclass in society at that early age.

May’s speech praising the role of grammar schools can now be valued for what it is. A rhetoric which belongs in the sewer of class warfare and a call to arms to the ‘middle class’ to rid their society of ‘socialist’ values. Believe me I am not using scare tactics on this issue, this has become a real fight for the social ethics of our country. Our children and grandchildren are to be the fodder in yet another Tory onslaught towards privatisation.
Both sides are using statistics to prove their point and in my opinion there is no doubt that statistics prove that grammar schools have a detrimental effect on our society. The system is divisive and creates schisms among the working class. What really concerns me though is the constant use of figures to show that one method is better than the other. We are talking here about children, human beings, who will be judged at eleven years old as to whether they should receive an academic education or set on the road to fill the seemingly insatiable demand for the basic workforce of capitalist industry for the rest of their lives. These children are more than just numbers, they’re individuals, the country’s future and must be treated as such.

To deliberately decide at that ridiculously early age in which part of society a child is likely to spend the rest of its life is inhumane, callous and demoralising. The very thought of it should send shivers up every socialist spine. It is a subtle device to consolidate the division in society which is key for the continued growth of greedy capitalism, in other words divide and rule. A recent study has confirmed that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world already (Credit Suisse 13/10/2015). This inequality is what keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. It fits neatly with Tory philosophy.

For no other reason but to head off accusations of jealousy, I will tell you that I was educated at a grammar school.

In spite of my optimistic view in the first paragraph of this article, it would appear that the current Prime Minister has more in common with the fiendish Margaret Thatcher than the saintly Mother Theresa.


Labour NEC Ballot: How To Cast Your Vote

All Labour Party members should have recently recieved an email reminder regarding the Labour NEC Ballot.

You will need your unique two-part Security Code within that email in order to cast your vote online.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the governing body which manages the Labour Party on your behalf – you can read more at http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/labours-national-executive-committee.

This year, members will be electing six Constituency Labour Party representatives to the NEC. Labour Councillors also have a vote for two Local Government places. Some members will also be able to vote for Labour’s candidate for directly elected mayor in their area.

The ballot closes at 12 noon on Friday 5 August 2016. Please use all your votes.

If you need a little help in decided who you should cast your six votes for, then you may find the following link useful: http://www.peoplesmomentum.com/nec.