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Welcome to the Walton and Hersham Labour Party

Dear fellow members,

Hi, I’m Dan. 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).

It’s been an interesting and perhaps unprecedented month for UK politics.

Whether you are sat on the fence or are passionately on one side of the debate, politics is hard to ignore at the moment and this can only be a good thing.

I know that many of us have, for years, felt disillusioned by our political system and the politicians that serve it. Personally, I feel that it’s great that we have the opportunity to have this debate, even if ironically, we can’t officially/temporarily have it as the Labour Party.

But what is the debate?

For me, I believe it’s more important that we talk to each other, rather than what we talk about. Of course agendas are important, but we all 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. As long as we can all be respectful of our differing opinions, then expressing our differences is what makes life interesting. So let’s start talking and getting to know each other. After all, is this not what grass roots politics is all about? Is it not down to us to help set the agenda and create the society we all live in?

So I put it to you, what do you want us to do?

For me, I want to know what’s important in local people’s lives? That’s why I’m pleased that as a branch we have been meeting regularly once or twice a week for informal meetings. I’m also pleased that this is now expanding to weekend gatherings, so that people who are unable to make our weekday meetings also have the opportunity to meet other local Labour Party members.

As a branch we will also be following in the footsteps of the Esher and Walton Constituency Labour Party (EWCLP) and 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.

Finally, I don’t mind admitting that I’ve not got a huge amount of experience in politics, some members will have, other may be like me. Either way, we’re all members of the Labour Party and that’s a great value to share. Our membership, both nationally and locally is growing and so there has never been a better time to get involved in our local Labour Party movement. Let’s take this opportunity to start rebuilding our local Labour Party community and hopefully in the process we can start to inspire some wider social change.

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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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.

Candidates 2016

Thank You For Your Support …

Labour Candidates for Walton & Hersham wish to thank the electorate for the support given in the May 2016 elections …

Hersham Village candidate, Dr Peter Jepson, says:

In Hersham Village we campaigned for the creation of an ‘Hersham Community Council’ – i.e. in order to protect the identity and community of Hersham. We now call upon the newly elected Councillors of Hersham Village to put residents first and setup this council asap.

 Walton North candidate, Richard Leonard, says:

We came within 88 votes of toppling one of the Tories A huge thank you to all those who voted for me in the May 2016 Borough Election. It was very humbling to realise that so many people turned out to support our views.

Walton South candidate, Vera-Anne Anderson, says:

Thank you for voting for me and the Labour Party.

Walton Central candidate, Margaret Hawkes, also conveys her gratitude.

 

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“Greed is Good”? 

Sir Philip Green has come in for a fair bit of flack this week. The poor dear has done nothing illegal. Yes, he gave his wife, who is domiciled in Monaco (which means she misses our lovely weather) £400M dividends from BHS whilst at the same time running up a pension deficit of £500M. Yes, the £1.2Billion (I spelt it out because the B doesn’t do justice to the numbers) which he paid himself (or his wife I should say) some years ago was four times greater than the groups’ entire profits for the year but there is no suggestion, certainly from this quarter, that he has done anything wrong, legally. Morally and ethically that is a different matter.

My friend Joe, the pedant who is also an accountant, has pointed out to me that it is perfectly legal to pay early dividends providing it is from revenue and does not cause the company to be unable to fulfil its normal liabilities.

The current owner of the beleaguered company Dominic Chappell, twice a bankrupt, blithely finished his email to staff (yes, an email) with “I would like to say it has been a real pleasure working with all of you on the BHS project, one I will never forget… Bonne chance!” That’s all right then, it was only a project not the means by which long serving employees feed their family, pay the mortgage and live; most of the employees on the shop floor earn less than the so called living wage. It was obviously a pleasure for Chappell and his colleagues who took over BHS for they managed to relieve the stricken company of £25M during their brief tenure.

In 1973 the then Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath spoke about the unacceptable face of capitalism (referring to Lonrho), a view echoed this week by some Tory, yes Tory, MPs. It would be nice to think that the whole sorry saga of BHS is a wakeup call for our political masters. Together with the revelations from the Panama papers, in which it is alleged Dominic Chappell features, which showed that the richest people and companies in the world didn’t pay their fair share of taxes anywhere let alone where they should.

Socialists will tell you that all this is inevitable in a capitalist society, but none but the most extreme would have suggested that it was as blatant as it is today. The transgressors are unashamedly open with their ill-gotten gains. I’m sure Sir Philip, Tony Blair gave him his knighthood since you ask, will not be too bothered as he sips his Crystal Champagne on board his new megayacht for which he paid £100M. It’s his third yacht. The length of a football pitch; it is four stories high.

The Leave campaign suggests that leaving the EU would enable the UK to reduce the regulations governing business. I am probably alone amongst commentators in advocating more regulation. For too long business, small as well as large, have seen regulations controlling their accounts procedures and auditing reduced substantially and in some cases removed completely. The behaviour of some businesses is scandalous and must be stopped. Whilst the hard working citizens of this country continue to face severe austerity measures imposed by this uncaring government people like Green and Chappell are able to walk away with millions, sometimes billions, quite legally.

Sir Philip has at last been summoned to meet an MP’s committee to explain the huge hole he left in the BHS pension fund after acquiring a seemingly healthy company in 2000. The final kick in the teeth for the hapless employees is that Chappell, who put the company into administration is involved in trying to buy back some of the more profitable stores. You couldn’t make it up.

Just in case you think, dear reader, that I am in fact making it up, all the above facts can be verified in the Guardian/Daily Mail of the 26th April 2016.

During the height of Thatcherism in 1987, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) said in the film ‘Wall Street’ – “Greed is Good”. It became the defining statement of the Thatcher years. Some things never change.

Jeremy Corbyn – “Stay in the EU”.

Jeremy Corbyn delivers his ‘Stay in the EU” speech.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/politics/video/2016/apr/14/jeremy-corbyn-backs-campaign-to-remain-in-the-eu-video-highlights

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Election Fever

It is said that nothing concentrates a politician’s mind like a forthcoming election. Suddenly they are everywhere, shaking hands like long lost buddies with people they wouldn’t normally share a half of shandy with down the local; kissing babies regurgitating their previous meal (the babies not the politicians… well…); and promising each elector a share of their lottery win – I made that one up.

Apart from the media I have actually never seen a politician act like that. Usually they are too obsessed with protecting their massive majority – Dominic Raab anyone?- or totally focussed on persuading their would be constituents that they, the politician, is the only creature on earth that a sane person would want to be their representative in Parliament.

Of course so far these descriptions really fit only national figures. However, with the local Borough elections coming up on the 5th May thousands of would be politicians will be subjecting themselves to the scrutiny of their fellow citizens in the vain hope that with a rush of collective blood to their heads the electorate will propel the candidate to the esteemed position of local councillor. I have to declare an interest dear reader; many years ago I was a local councillor and my brain has now gone so soft that I am putting myself at the mercy of my fellow Waltonians this year.

Why? It is a thankless task equivalent to being a coconut on the shy at the Hersham Green fair. Most electors wouldn’t have a clue who their local councillor was and cares even less. It is an “unpaid job”, with only a limited financial allowance(1), and they are expected to attend countless meetings every month to listen to some old fogey twittering on about cycle paths or some other riveting local issue. Local councillors are fair game for every moaning saloon bar punter – ‘greedy; lining their own pockets; all the same.’ But are they?

Most of the candidates I have met are people who genuinely want to do good for the local community. Often they are passionate about the social well being of their fellow citizens and are determined to do something about it. It may seem as futile as pushing a ten-ton boulder up the down escalator to Sainsbury’s car park but as Barack Obama said ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’

It may seem bizarre to compare Obama with a borough election candidate but he must have started somewhere; and goodness knows the odds were stacked against him. The saloon bar punter quoted above often complains about the poor performance of local councils and, by association, councillors but the same people who complain are equally often the very people who don’t cast their hard won democratic vote in the first place; ‘waste of time’ etc. Of course some councillors are fairly useless but the percentage is possibly less than that for the rest of society.

Both my readers are intelligent people (they promised to vote for me if I said that) and will be wondering what putdown is coming up. Well, none really, at the risk of being accused of self-justification I would urge all electors of Walton and Hersham to video Eastenders on the 5th May and go out and vote, preferably for the Labour Party candidate but at least use your vote if only to honour those who fought for your right to cast it.

(1) For details of Councillors Allowances in Elmbridge please see: http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/Elmbridge%20Borough%20Council/Finance/membersallowances201415.pdf

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Step Forward John McDonnell

About six months ago, a metaphorical bombshell was exploded within the UK political jungle; Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party. The impossible had been achieved, the members had spoken, no, in fact they had bellowed ‘we want change!’ and good heavens they got it. The candidate who struggled to get enough nominations from MPs to even appear on the ballot paper had triumphed in the end; not just triumphed but routed his opposition. No one was more surprised than me about the size of his mandate other than possibly Jeremy.

But the subject of my musings this week is not Jeremy but one of his appointees. Corbyn could have taken the easy option by choosing Angela Eagle or some such as Shadow Chancellor thus appeasing at a stroke what the media call the ‘Blairite wing’ of the Party – who were still in shock and hadn’t yet come to terms with the extent of his support. But no, as we now know Jeremy is nothing if not his own man. Step forward one John McDonnell, a long term backbencher with a penchant for getting up the establishment’s collective nose.

I am enough of a political animal (surely not, I hear you say) to think that I have heard of most Labour MPs and indeed I knew a little about McDonnell’s background but not enough to suggest that he was Shadow Cabinet material never mind Shadow Chancellor. I thought he would gift the Tories and their media friends a series of old fashioned rants; giving them plenty of ammunition to hurl the usual anti-left abuse. How wrong I was. His approach has been as refreshing as Corbyn’s.

His experience as Chairman of Finance at the GLC under Ken Livingstone in the eighties controlling a budget of over £3billion must have taught him how to deal with bitter opposition within the hard school of political aggression. So he is not exactly untested, unlike our present Chancellor who was appointed as Shadow Chancellor by Michael Howard after his first two choices turned it down. Interestingly when Cameron was asked why Osborne was still in his shadow cabinet he replied ‘He stayed in my shadow cabinet not because he is a friend, not because we are godfathers to each other’s children …’ Hmm.

Despite some gaffs over which McDonnell held his hands up admitting he had made mistakes and said “a bit of humility amongst politicians never goes amiss”, he has handled his brief with a confidence and competency which has surprised many commentators who predicted calamity. He has presented his economic plans with clarity and transparency; sensible ideas and not the full blown Marxism that many predicted. He has said that we must live within our means and accepts that cuts in public spending are necessary to eliminate our deficit but not at the expense of middle and low income earners or especially the poor. He proposes separating day to day banking from investment banking to stop bankers gambling with customers’ hard earned money. He wants to introduce a financial transactions tax to fund the rebalancing of our economy towards production and manufacturing.

All very sensible, if boring, to those of us whose idea of economics is looking for 2-for-1 deals down at Sainsburys. Already the usual suspects, including, I’m afraid, some Labour MPs are sniping at him accusing him of adapting Blairism, that, of course, would be flying in the face of why Corbyn was elected but, personally, I think that taking on board some of Gordon Brown’s economic policies is no bad thing; a much maligned chancellor in my view. I hope those dissenting Labour MPs take the advice of our deputy leader, Tom Watson, and keep quiet for a while to give the man a chance to prove his worth.

It is of some significance that Corbyn and McDonnell are respected by ordinary people for what they are; whilst neither has the traditional background associated with national politicians. Neither of them went to Oxbridge and there’s not a PPE degree between them (Philosophy, Politics and Economics – the requisite of power). They both left school at seventeen/eighteen and Corbyn worked and then went to a North London Polytechnic but didn’t finish his degree course. McDonnell left school unqualified at seventeen; he studied at night school whilst working until he entered Brunel University at twenty three. No silver spoon or political dynasty in sight; just hard work and having a life.

Time will tell (wishful thinking) if McDonnell turns out to be a good chancellor but for the moment he is refreshing to have around.