Canvassing and meetings have been suspended because of covid-19
(coronavirus). The elections due in May 2020 will now take place in May
Keir Starmer elected leader
With Angela Rayner as deputy
Keir took the leadership of the Labour Party with 56.2% of the first choices, with Rebecca Long-Bailey on 27.6% and Lisa Nandy on 16.2%. Both Rebecca and Lisa have pledged their support to Keir.
The deputy leadership contest was closer going to a third round before Angela Rayner won, after Ian Murray and Dawn Butler had been eliminated. This resulted in Angela having 52.6% of the votes after the re-allocation of Ian's and Dawn's votes.
Keir Starmer with Rachel Burgin (left) and Cllr Sue Ngwala (right)
in Stevenage two years ago.
"It is the honour and privilege of my life to be elected as leader of the Labour Party," said Sir Keir Starmer. He went on to say that, in the current situation: "Whether we voted for this Government or not, we all rely on it to get this right....Under my leadership we will engage constructively with government .... with the courage to support where that's the right thing to do. But we will test the arguments that are put forward... shine a torch on critical issues and where we see mistakes ... or things not happening as quickly as they should, we'll challenge that."
He went on to say that the crisis has really shown who our key workers are. Yet they have for too long been taken for granted and poorly paid. When we get through this, he said that must go forward with a vision of a better society built on the resilience and human spirit, as shown by these key workers.
He thanked Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy for their powerful campaigns and their friendship during the contest. He also paid tribute to Jeremy Corbyn, "who energised our movement and who's a friend as well as a colleague."
"We have got a mountain to climb," he said, "but we will climb it ... so that when the times comes, we can serve our country again in government."
Angela Rayner echoed these thoughts, saying that Labour's values
remain the same, and more important than ever. She said that we must
unite, both in the face of the crisis and to offer the better future
that our citizens deserve.
She congratulated Keir Starmer and said: "Keir will have my full support in both getting Labour on the path back to government and in being a voice for those who need us during this national crisis."
4 April 2020
John Rees, the constituency Labour Party chair, has written to all members to encourage them to stay safe and well. He sets out advice that has been offered elsewhere on how to stay positive and to mitigate the stress inevitably caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also provides members with links to a number of very helpful websites.
He notes that disabled people are facing particular challenges and says that our Disabilities Officer, Amy Allen, will do all she can to help. You can email her at email@example.com.
If other members need help, please email the constituency secretary, Tom Plater, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full text of his message is here.
(Updated 28 March 2020)
Below are some helpful links, many of which are taken from John's message to members.
For our young and fit members who could volunteer to help others - which is the very essence of socialism - see the panel above. Team Herts, in partnership with the County Council, is co-ordinating volunteers across the whole of Hertfordshire and putting them in touch the appropriate local organizations.
If you could just help with small tasks, like getting shopping or
picking up prescriptions for the elderly or vulnerable, one way in many
areas is to offer your help on your local nextdoor.co.uk service,
which operates very well in many parts of the constituency. After
signing up to this free service, you can put yourself on the local map
provided on the website and others can then ask you to help them.
If you need help yourself, do not go to Team Herts, who do not supply help directly, but to www.hertshelp.net (0300 123 4044 or email at email@example.com) or to an appropriate local organization, such as nextdoor.co.uk. Also helpful in many areas are local Covid-19 Facebook pages such as:
For East Herts Rural villages:
For Baldock there is a Coronavirus Support Group which you can contact on 01462 892838 or by email at Baldockcs@gmail.com.
A good source of information on Covid-19 is provided by the County Council here.
From 30 March 2020, North Herts District Council is suspending collection of brown bins and of food waste for the time being. Food waste should be put into your purple bin.
East Herts District Council is similarly suspending collection of brown bins. Food waste should be put into your black bin.
Other bin collections continue as before.
The County Council has closed all household waste recycling centres
to minimise the spread of the virus. There is more information here.
27 March 2020 (updated 28 March)
Labour suspends campaigning and meetings
Corby has written to all members telling them that Labour has paused
all party campaigning and local meetings. He calls on members to get
involved in supporting vulnerable people in our communities, whether
friends and family or through voluntary organizations, whilst ensuring
that this is done safely and on the basis of public health advice.
He also calls on the government to be totally transparent in its decisions about its conclusions on how to act, because "it is vital that the government maintains public confidence".
He also calls once again for the governments to ensure that self-employed and others in insecure and unprotected jobs are not forced to choose between health and hardship when they should be self-isolating. This is "in the interests of us all."
He welcomed the government's decision to legislate to postpone local
elections, which in our case are the North Herts District Council and
Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections, until next year.
14 March 2020
“Front-line services that we deliver in Hertfordshire … are still the Cinderella of the public sector,” said Cllr Sharon Taylor (left), putting the blame for reduced services squarely where it belongs – on the Government.
Sharon was proposing the Labour Group’s amendment to the Tory administration’s proposals for the 2020/21 budget for the County Council last week.
She said that there had been broad cross-party agreement about the
urgency of tackling climate change on the County Council, but the Council faced
problems in acting on this. "Sadly," she said, "the Government is great
on the delivery of empty rhetoric, great on passing the buck on so many
key issues (such as climate action) …straight over to local government.
Where they are not so good … is the delivery of proper funding and
The Government has been “trotting out that smoke and mirrors mantra” that they were providing a 4.4% boost to local government spending. However, more than half of this is not government funding at all, but consists of the 2% adult care precept added to council tax and the maximum permitted increase in council tax (1.99%).
Sharon did not challenge the Tory proposal to make full use of this revenue, but pointed out that the Government had not provided a funding settlement, but rather “a big bill for our residents”. She went on to welcome the proposal by the Tories to spend the adult care precept on an increase in wages for the staff who look after our most vulnerable residents.
As Cllr Judi Billing, leader of the Labour Group, pointed out, in seconding the amendment, Labour was not seeking a revolution, but to make some changes in emphasis to support our young people and our vulnerable older people, as well as our commitment to tackling climate change.
Labour's proposals included a feasibility study of delivering all social care in house or through a co-operative and taking up the proposals made by young people for plastic-free zones in the county, community orchards, drinking water stations to cut down on plastic bottles and wildflower verges. Labour also wanted seven day opening of Household Waste Recycling Centres, reversal of the cuts in Youth Services and support for mental health services for young people.
In addition, she pointed out that increasing the cost of the young person's Saver Card and withdrawing bus subsidies directly contradicted the County's policy to encourage the use of public transport and proposed reversing these measures.
These proposals were fully costed and funding sources identified, but they were voted down by the Tories, who also voted down keeping the street lights on in selected areas, in spite of the fact that, because of the use of LED lighting, this would have little or no cost.
2 March 2020
Last month, 100,578 people waited more than four hours in A&E departments from the decision to admit them to hospital to actual admission. This is the first time the number has topped 100,000.
Of these, 2,846 waited more than 12 hours - again the highest on record. The proportion admitted within the target of four hours was down to a record low of 81.7%.
"Years of Tory underfunding, bed cuts and mismanagement have pushed the NHS to the brink," said Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's shadow Health Secretary. "Without funded plans for social care, public health and a credible strategy to recruit the staff needed, patients will continue to languish on trolleys or wait longer in pain and distress for treatment."
15 February 2020
Saturday, 14 March
Kelley Green, our parliamentary candidate at the election last December, will speak at the annual dinner of the East Herts Rural branch Labour Party. Members and friends from the branch, the consituency and beyond are most welcome to the dinner, the organisation of which was delayed by the general election.
The menu is now available here.
The closing date for bookings and menu choices is 9 March 2020, but places are limited by the size of the dining room. So, book early.
This is one of the two major fund-raising events for the branch, so
that we can afford to run election campaigns, in particular, to print
leaflets, both for the district council and county council elections.
The branch also contributes to the constituency party's funds for
general election and other campaigns.
See below for information about the Royston branch Curry Night on 9 March 2020.
9 February 2020
The Tory County Council has voted to close adult
respite care centres in Bishop's Stortford, Hemel Hempstead and St
Albans, rejecting a petition signed by over 1,500 parents and carers.
"After nearly three hours of debate it was very dispiriting to see seven Conservative members vote to close the three respite centres," said Cllr Nigel Bell, deputy leader of the County Labour Group.
"We had listened," Nigel continued, "to Jackie Wilks, the lead petitioner, argue
persuasively for a service that works collectively with users for their
needs while trying to be cost effective but looking at quality and
In the debate, many of the points made by parents/carers were highlighted across the chamber. Underutilisation was argued to be a factor in the closures, but it became clear that many families do not have the full facts about respite care availability and that it needed to be better publicised.
The closures do not form part of the Tories' budget proposals, so that they could have been withdrawn for further consultation.
8 February 2020
In May of last year, the election put a joint Labour & Co-operative/Liberal Democrat administration, led by Martin Stears-Handscomb (Labour & Co-operative) (pictured left), into power on North Herts District Council. Shortly after this, the Council passed a motion declaring a climate emergency.
In addition to measures already taken, the Cabinet has now approved a number of further measures to achieve the Council's aim of net zero carbon emissions by 2030:
To reduce the Council's own carbon footprint by buying energy from renewable sources and considering how to use ultra low emission vehicles.
To improve leadership in fighting climate change by installing more electric vehicle charging points in Council car parks, holding more frequent waste electric and electronic equipment recycling events and increasing public awareness of how to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste.
To work closely with partner organisations, including supporting local community groups addressing climate change, agreeing a plan to eliminate single use plastics from Leisure Centres and swimming pools, and working with cycling groups to promote cycling.
Amongst the measures taken previously are: subsidised licensing fees for taxis that use clean fuel, conversion of floodlights on Norton Common to LED, cutting energy use by 50% and the introduction of a Plastic Free North Herts campaign.
5 February 2020
At a specially convened all-member meeting last night, Sir Keir Starmer (pictured right) was nominated for the leadership of the Labour Party.
Under new rules, constituency parties do play a role in the process of selection, in that candidates have to have the support of either three affiliated organizations (including at least two trade unions) or 5% of the constituency parties. Sir Keir has, in fact, already qualified on both counts. So, our endorsement of Keir is effectively symbolic.
The constituency party nominated Angela Rayner for the deputy leadership. Similarly, Angela is already qualified.
The election will than be by a ballot of all members, affiliated
supporters and registered supporters as at 14 January 2020. (Members
must be fully paid up on 14 February.) The ballot opens on 21 February
and closes at noon on 2 April. Voting is by preferential vote. This
means that voters mark candidates in order of preference on the ballot.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first preference votes,
the last candidate is eliminated and those votes are redistributed
according to their expressed preferences, until one candiddate exceeds
the agenda were nominations for the by-election of two
constituency party (CLP) representatives on the National Executive
Committee. Our constituency party nominated our own CLP secretary, Tom
Plater (pictured left). He
has to obtain at least five CLP nominations to go forward to the ballot. The CLP also nominated Peyman Owladi.
There is also a vacancy for a BAME (Black, Asian and ethnic minorities) representative on the NEC and the CLP nominated Jagat Chatrath.
4 February 2020
Have your say
Martin Stears-Handscomb is the leader of the North Herts District Council. He is also, of course, leads the Labour and Co-operative Group on the Council. He is calling for Labour Party members to contribute to our manifesto for the elections which will take place next May.
The manifesto group of the North Herts Labour Local Government
Committee has been working with the Labour and Co-operative group to
draft a manifesto and they now want input from you.
The meeting to discuss the manifesto, which has been slightly delayed because of the general election, is open to all members in the North Herts district and is on Saturday, 1 February 2020 at 1.30pm in Letchworth Garden City. You can get more details of the meeting and register for it here.
1 February 2020
One of the bad effects of the general election has been that the Royston Curry Night had to be postponed - although, admittedly, that is not a very important effect in the general scheme of things. This is particularly so because it has now been arranged for Monday, 9 March 2020.
It will be held at Lounge India, 35 Market Hill, Royston SG8 9JU.
The cost is £25 per person. There will be a set menu with a vegetarian
option and a cash bar.
To book, and for any queries, email Vaughan West at firstname.lastname@example.org.
29 January 2020
Picture from LabourList
A list of hustings meetings for members has been published. There is a meeting on Sunday 16 February 2020 in London and one in Bedford at the Eastern Region Conference on Saturday 22 February. The full list of meetings is here.
Members will be sent invitations in due course. You can also watch online or catch up through the Labour Party website.
Results will be announced at a special conference in London on
Saturday 4 April 2020.
16 January 2020
The following candidates have the required number of nominations
from MPs and MEPs. Number of nominations in brackets.
Keir Starmer (89) - https://keirstarmer.com
Rebecca Long-Bailey (33) - https://tribunemag.co.uk/2020/01/rebecca-long-bailey
Lisa Nandy (31) - https://lisanandy.org
Jess Phillips (23) - https://www.jessphillips.net
Emily Thornberry (23) - https://emilyforlabour.com
Clive Lewis withdrew.
Angela Rayner (88)
Ian Murray (34)
Dawn Butler (29)
Rosena Allin-Khan (23)
Richard Burgon (22)
13 January 2020
Some thought-provoking facts
In analysing the reasons for Labour’s heavy defeat in the general election, we must be clear about the facts. Although the number of seats won was the lowest for a very long time, in terms of share of the vote Jeremy Corbyn’s result (32.2%) was better than Ed Miliband’s in 2015 (30.4%) and Gordon Brown’s in 2010 (29.0%). It was also considerably better than Michael Foot’s performance in 1983 (27.6%).
The bar chart below shows the share of the votes taken by Labour
since 1983, alongside the share of the seats obtained with these votes.
Source of data: Wikipedia (except 2019 taken from recent press
Any explanation must also take account of the fact that only two
years earlier, in 2017, Labour obtained 40% of the vote. This was only
just below Tony Blair’s second victory in 2001 (40.7%) and considerably
better than Tony Blair’s third victory in 2005 (35.2%).
It is worth noting that, in the last three elections, the results were affected by a considerable loss of votes in Scotland to the SNP, where there was an additional factor – the issue of Scottish independence – which did not directly influence the vote in the rest of the UK.
A striking detail in this is that, in 2005, with 35.2% of the vote, Tony Blair won over half the seats in the House of Commons (50.8%), whereas with 40% of the vote in 2017 Jeremy Corbyn won only 42.3% of the seats. In 2019, 32.2% of the votes gave only 31.2% of the seats.
This is the first time for at least 40 years, that the percentage of seats won by Labour was lower than the share of the vote. In 1983, Michael Foot’s 27.6% of the vote gave him 32% of the seats.
It used to be the received wisdom that the electoral system gave Labour a slight advantage over the Conservatives. This no longer seems to be the case. No doubt, there are a number of factors at play here, but part of the explanation could lie in a change in the support for the Labour Party revealed by an Ipsos-Mori survey of the age of Labour and Conservative voters (below).
This shows that Labour has become much more heavily dependent on the
votes of younger people, which is very marked in the last two elections
when Jeremy Corbyn was leader. Younger people are, generally speaking,
spread around all the constituencies, apart from some concentrations in
university towns, whereas traditionally Labour support was largely
concentrated in particular constituencies.
The change in the pattern in 2017 and 2019 shows a remarkable increase in the proportion of young people voting Labour and also a big increase in the proportion of older people voting Conservative.
We have tried in this article to present facts, without speculating about the reasons for the changes. Clearly, for the future, Labour’s election strategy must take account of the facts.
12 January 2020
Sign the petition
The County Council proposes to close three overnight respite care units for adults with learning difficulties. The units are in St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Bishop's Stortford (instead of Hoddesdon, as originally proposed).
Labour councillors Roma Mills (pictured) and Dreda Gordon are supporting a group of parents of young adults with learning difficulties, who have set up an ePetition on the County Council website. They ask you to sign the petition, so that the Council will look further at the proposals.
The parents have a number of concerns about the basis of the decision. In particular, they are concerned that the closures will take place before an alternative strategy has been developed, and are calling on the County Council to work with parents like them to investigate the reasons for under-usage of the facilities and to develop any appropriate changes.
Please consider signing the petition, which closes on 3 February 2020. You can find more
information and the petition here.
3 January 2020
A message from Kelley
"I would like to thank everyone that voted for me," writes Kelley Green, parliamentary candidate for 2019. "I would especially like to thank our members, both those who did a great deal of hard work in contesting this seat, and also those who went to help in marginal constituencies.
"We talked to hundreds of voters, both on the door-step and over the phone. We pushed our message out using both print and social media. We campaigned every day.
"We may not have won the election, but no one can fault the dedication and work rate of our activists, who campaigned in all weathers, coping with both the winter nights and the cold. And in the last few weeks it has been wet as well as cold!
"So, thank you for all your time and energy that you put into the campaign and the dedication that you showed in supporting the Party.
"I hope that you can now get a well-deserved rest, and that you have a good Christmas and New Year."
And a message from John
John Rees, constituency party chair, writes: "A huge thank you to all members and activists who worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to help our candidate, Kelley Green.
"No, we didn’t win, but we worked hard and fought hard. So many people came out to help in so many different ways - I am proud of every single person who volunteered for canvassing, leafleting, phone banking, envelope stuffing.
"We have been able to extend our base of those willing to help in campaigns and now look to the local elections next May when we have a chance to put Labour where it deserves to be – firmly in the driving seat.
"My thanks go also to our candidate Kelley Green who worked
tirelessly throughout the campaign and encouraged many new activists."
16 December 2019
The result in North East Hertfordshire was:
Sir Oliver Heald (Con): 31,293
Kelley Green (Lab): 13,104 (23.7%)
Amy Finch (Lib. Dem): 8,563 (15.5%)
Tim Lee (Green): 2,367 (4.3%)
Kelley lost voter share (-4.7 percentage points) compared with 2017, but the Tories also lost voter share (-2.1 percentage points). Kelley's result is better than the national average loss suffered by Labour.
13 December 2019
“The Tories are promising a “record spending increase” for the NHS over the next five years, if they are elected,” says Kelley Green This is only true if you assume that there will be no inflation. Even the Tories themselves were better than that in the five years from 2004, if you accept the obvious – that cash loses some of its value over time.
“The Tories are manipulating the facts so that they appear generous, when what they are offering is more of the same. The last Labour government brought NHS spending up to the level of countries like France and Germany, but it has been slipping back again.”
Privatisation of the NHS has been going on bit by bit since the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition government passed the Health and Social Care Act, That’s not surprising, since that was the very purpose of the Act. It made it mandatory to put NHS services out to tender.
It began with a Tory broken promise. Before the 2010 election, David Cameron promised that there would be no more top-down re-organization of the NHS. Immediately the Coalition took office they began the process of introducing this legislation, so that the NHS was completely re-organized and was compelled to put services out to tender. You cannot trust a Tory with our NHS.
It did not go entirely to plan, because units of the NHS began to win contracts themselves, beating the private health providers. On the other hand, this meant that privatisation took place in small increments, so that the chance of a widespread public re-action was minimised.
Alongside this re-organization, which cost over £65m in Hertfordshire alone, the Tory-led response to the severe crisis in banking was to use austerity as a means of reducing the size of the state. They abandoned any attempt alongside these cuts in funding to grow the economy, thus increasing the flow of tax into the government.
“Waiting lists have been ballooning,” as Kelley Green points out. “Targets are regularly missed, and health professionals have been regularly warning that the situation could be dire if we have any form of epidemic this winter. To take just one example, Addenbrooke’s this month reported a number of risks including an “extreme risk of failure to address fire safety priorities due to funding issues”.
“One serious problem is that patients cannot be discharged from hospitals because the social care system is in such a mess. Boris Johnson told us that he had a plan to deal with this, but he has not published it. Another broken Tory promise.
“We desperately need a Labour government, who will restore spending to what is needed for a growing population, which includes a growing proportion of elderly people., by increasing the budget by an average of 4.3% p.a. for five years – and that does mean 4.3% in real terms.
“A Labour government will also repeal the legislation which enforces gradual privatisation of the NHS and restore the Secretary of State’s responsibility to provide a comprehensive universal healthcare system, which was removed by the Coalition Government.
“Finally, a Labour government will build a comprehensive National Care Service for England, with free personal care, working in partnership with the NHS. We shall need to invest to fill the current 100,000 vacancies in the care sector.”
11 December 2019
Greener even than the Greens
"I am proud that Labour's manifesto policies on climate change and the environment have been rated as the best of any party," says Kelley Green, Labour's parliamentary candidate for North East Hertfordshire. "We were marginally even better than the Green Party."
"The climate emergency is arguably the most important issue facing us. It is deeply worrying that the Conservative manifesto has so little to say about a problem of such importance to the future of the planet."
At the heart of Labour's proposals is the £250 billion Green
Transformation Fund. With this, Labour promises:
Warm homes for all, with 27m homes upgraded and a 10% reduction in emissions.
Wind power: 7,000 turbines offshore and 2,000 onshore.
Electric vehicles: investment in production of vehicles, in three new battery manufacturing plants, an improved charging network throughout the UK, interest-free loans to buy electic cars and community car clubs.
Massive increase in solar electricity generation on the roofs of homes, businesses and public buildings.
Investment in emerging technologies, such as tidal lagoon and tidal stream technology, and hydrogen as a fuel source.
Better public transport, with 3,000 bus routes reopened, and a local rail expansion fund.
Cross rail for the North, linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle.
Tree planting, with one billion new trees by 2030 and two billion by 2040.
Ports and fabrication yards, to allow offshore renewable industries to flourish.
Steel and plastics recycling, with 3 new steel recycling plants and 9 new plastics remanufacturing and recycling plants.
Flood defences to respond to the effects of climate change.
These investments have two welcome side-effects: a boost to the economy and new, skilled jobs - not far short of a million of them.
The assessment of the party manifestos was made by the Friends of
the Earth. The Labour climate change manifesto is here.
10 December 2019
“A great many houses are being built in our constituency," says Kelley Green, Labour's parliamentary candidate for North East Hertfordshire, "creating yet more traffic and pollution - unless we can get people on to public transport. Some of these houses will attract London commuters, but some are being built where the only option for reaching railway stations will be to use a car unless bus services are significantly improved.
“A couple of years ago, the Tory county council published a document entitled Transport Vision 2050, but this offered neither improved public transport nor improved roads to tackle this problem in this constituency. Apart from a priority bus route through Letchworth, there was nothing to help this constituency at all.
“We need non-polluting buses that reliably reach commuter railway stations, and this will mean priority bus lanes, dedicated guided bus routes and other technical solutions, so that people find it easier to use the bus than to take their cars."
That is why Labour's policy of electrifying the whole bus fleet, as well as allowing councils to regulate public transport, is so welcome. Electrification, even now, would reduce emissions by up to 72% and, as more renewable energy comes on stream, as Labour plans, this reduction will increase further.
Labour plans a big investment in buses, not only enough to reverse
the cuts in bus services resulting from the Conservative/Liberal
Democrat austerity, but also adding as much again on top of that.
Hertfordshire also has a growing air pollution problem and electric
buses will make a big contribution towards dealing with this.
8 December 2019
Of the 58 schools in this constituency, 55 will be worse off next year than they were in 2015, if the Tories are re-elected, according to the Stop School Cuts website. There is an average loss per pupil of £328.
At 95% of schools, that is worse than the national average of 83%. Yet the Tories argue that everything is fine with education locally, because results are better than the national average. But so they should be, because our area is relatively prosperous compared with the country as a whole.
In response to a question posed by the Hertfordshire Mercury, Kelley Green, Labour parliamentary candidate for North East Hertfordshire, said: "Labour is the only party planning a National Education Service, akin to the NHS, which guarantees school places and makes teaching more attractive for skilled people (with 5% pay increases). Moreover, additional funding is provided for and costed in Labour's manifesto, enabling schools to transform themselves from their current chronically underfunded state, exacerbated by the Tories' disastrous and profligate free schools programme."
Kelley is the only candidate for this constituency who has signed
the pledge for Stop School Cuts. The pledge is that she will tell the
next Government to stop school cuts.
4 December 2019
Nearly 65,000 patients had to wait half an hour in the back of an East of England ambulance after arriving at a hospital last year. Nearly 15,000 of them waited more than an hour!
These are the figures for our local ambulance service. You may
already have seen national figures in the media.
“This is totally disgraceful," Kelley Green, Labour's parliamentary candidate (pictured), said. "This is very bad for the patients who need to be treated fast, but it also means that the ambulance crews are tied up and not available to go to other emergency calls. It adds to expense as well: English ambulance trusts spent £68 million on private ambulances last year and nearly £20 million on taxis.”
In England as a whole, over half a million patients waited for half an hour and almost 80,000 for an hour, principally because A&E departments are overstretched, not least because they cannot move patients into hospital beds. Not only have 17,000 hospital beds been cut under the Tories, but their severe cuts in the funding of social care means that patients have to be kept in hospital because care in their own homes is not available.
The knock-on effect of delays at hospitals is that sick and injured patients wait longer for ambulances. Over the 2017/18 Christmas period 40 patients were “harmed or died following significant ambulance delays” in the East of England, according to a senior member of our ambulance staff.
”Labour will set about dealing with these problems as soon as we are elected, with our £40 billion rescue plan,” Kelley promised.
3 December 2019
Kelley Green answers a question at the hustings
Kelley Green was quietly authoritative in answering questions at the hustings meeting hosted by Churches Together at Baldock Methodist Church on Friday evening.
All four candidates were present and answered questions on a wide
range of subjects, from transport and education to the trustworthiness
of politicians. Sir Oliver Heald had an uncomfortable evening. He was
laughed at when he responded to the question about the trustworthiness
of his leader.
He was actually shouted down when he claimed that Labour caused the financial crisis. Kelley responded to this by saying that the global crisis caused by bankers and affected other countries. The Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, dealt with this decisively, nationalising banks to prevent a banking meltdown, and that other countries followed his lead.
He also argued that the Conservatives had dealt with the financial crisis and could now begin to spend again. We should be clear that they have not yet eliminated the deficit (original target for elimination: 2015) although they have reduced it to 1.9% of GDP. This is the lowest since March 2002, when it was 0.4% - under a Labour government. Indeed, the last time we had a surplus was for three years, starting in 1998 - under a Labour government.
He tried to argue that Labour had spent "recklessly" before the
financial crash. In fact, they borrowed to invest in schools and
hospitals. Is that not what the Conservatives say that they can now do?
Furthermore, before the financial crisis Labour had held the gross
national debt to less than 40%. It is now more than double that at 85%.
What the Tories do not want to admit is that their policy of
austerity, which has been causing such pain since 2010, has failed and
they now want to adopt the Labour policy of stimulating the economy by
borrowing to invest in the economy.
30 November 2019
Those who watched the Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson debate on television will remember that Jeremy held up a copy of the report on trade negotiations with the USA. It was so heavily redacted that it was almost all solid black. Jeremy suggested that the Americans wanted have access to the NHS for US corporations and to obtain the same prices for drugs from US pharmaceutical companiesas were charged in the US, and that these issues were being discussed.
Boris Johnson blustered that this was "an absolute invention" and "completely untrue". The unredacted version shows that it was what Boris Johnson said that was an absolute invention and completely untrue.
Jeremy announced today that he had this unredacted report. The report, in truth, confirms that the USA is demanding that the NHS in on the table in the trade talks. They are also demanding longer patents for drugs, which means that the NHS will have to continue to pay American prices for longer. On average, these prices are 250% of the cost of out-of-patent drugs. What is more, the report indicates that the UK is close to agreeing on this.
The UK has told the USA that together they could "fly the good flag for services liberalisation". They were offering a green light for breaking open Britain's public services so that US corporations can profit from them.
Concluding his press conference, Jeremy Corby said: "We will never
sell out our National Health Service."
27 November 2019
has launched its youth manifesto, The
Future Is Ours.
Welcoming the manifesto, Kelley Green (pictured right) said: "I
am fortunate to have the backing of an active Young Labour Group in
North East Herts. One member of the Group is my Campaign Manager. They
are all keen to vote to get a Labour government."
The manifesto offers young people:
Votes at 16 and automatic voter registration
An end to tuition fees and bringing back maintenance grant
Free bus travel for under 25s
Climate apprenticeship programme for school leavers
Banning unpaid internships
A Real Living Wage of £10 per hour for everyone over the age of 16
Reforming Help to Buy to focus it on first-time buyers on ordinary incomes
Doubling the annual spending on children and adolescent mental health services
3,500 qualified counsellors to guarantee every child access to school counsellors
Investing in the youth justice system.
Alec Maguire, the constituency party's Youth Officer (pictured left), said there were other parts of Labour's offer to the electorate that were of particular concern to young people:
"A National Education Service and a truly engaging and rounded
curriculum in schools, along with the abolition of tuition fees to
allow all young people to achieve their potential and then pay it back
in their contribution to society through both their career and taxation.
“We also have robust policies on the environment which include creating lots of new green jobs, addressing both unemployment and the climate crisis."
27 November 2019
And save the NHS by voting Labour on 12 December
When Kelley Green was out on the doorstep in Buntingford (pictured below), she heard from electors who were very concerned about the impending closure of the Orchard Surgery. Their concern was heightened by the fact that a great many houses are being built in Buntingford, so that there will be an increasing number of people needing the services of GPs and their supporting staff.
You can take action immediately by signing the petition, started by a Buntingford resident, calling on the Clinical Commissioning Group for this area to save the Orchard Surgery.
Sign the petition here.
This is just one symptom of the gradual eroding of our health service. Labour's manifesto promises proper funding for the NHS and a reversal of the changes made by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government, which led to the contracting out of many NHS services and the break-up of the service into separate units, even when it was a bid from within the NHS that won the contract.
There will be an emphasis on primary care services, principally GP surgeries, to play a key role in restoring the NHS to the service that people need and deserve.
26 November 2019
cost of homes in North East Hertfordshire is greatly affected by its
proximity to London and many of the new privately built homes will
attract more London commuters," says Kelley Green, Labour's
“The effect has been that young local people are priced out of continuing to live where they have been brought up. So I very much welcome Labour's drive to build homes so that they can stay."
The housing waiting lists in both North Herts and in East Herts stand at around 2000. Yet, in the last year for which we have data, these Tory-controlled councils did not build any socially rented homes at all.
Of course, North Herts now, since May 2019, has a Labour-led joint
administration, but their budget has been cut by the Tory government so
severely that they will struggle to make big improvements, unless a
Labour government reverses the funding cuts, as they plan to do. (The picture shows Kelley with Martin
Stears-Handscomb (Labour and Co-operative), leader of North Herts
Nationally, Labour plans to increase the rate of building council
houses by around 35 times, and also to build 50,000 truly affordable
homes through housing associations.
“Just as important," says Kelley, "is that these homes will be built to a very high standard of design and to high environmental standards. At one time people were proud to live in council houses. We can restore that pride.”
There is more detail of Labour's plans in Kelley's press release here.
25 November 2019
The first hustings meeting of this election will be held on Friday, 29 November 2019 at 7.30 pm. It will be hosted by Baldock Methodist Church, Whitehorse Street, Baldock SG7 6QB.
At the 2017 hustings meeting in the Baldock Methodist Church, Sir
Oliver Heald declined to appear, as was Conservative policy at the
time. It is understood that the Tories, in yet another U-turn, have
reversed this policy and that he will be present this time round.
25 November 2019
"Our investment blitz will upgrade our national infrastructure, and rebuild our schools, hospitals, care homes and housing." he continued. He promised that no one would be held back and no community would be neglected.
"And the transformation will be a green transformation," he said. "We have no time to waste." He talked of funding the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, building more wind turbines, insulating homes and manufacturing electric vehicles.
A massive house building programme for socially rented and truly affordable home to buy would also be part of the green revolution. The houses would be built to very high standards, including environmental standards.
He promised a properly funded and revitalised NHS, with free dental check-ups and thousands more nurses and doctors, so that waiting lists can be brought back down again. And, of course, the NHS would not be sold off piecemeal to American healthcare companies, nor would the UK agree to paying more for drugs as part of a trade deal with Donald Trump.
Kelley Green says:
"After nearly ten years of Tory austerity, we need a really radical programme to restore hope to the people of this country. This manifesto is that radical programme.
"It is fully costed and can be delivered. A Labour government delivered a transformative programme after the Second World War. We can do it again now.
"For now is a time for real change."
Do NOT go to the fake website set up by the
Conservative Party (labourmanifesto.com)
21 November 2019
Our political opponents, the Conservatives want you to believe this election is just about Brexit. Here we set out Labour’s policy, but also some of the other pressing issues we want you to consider before casting your vote on 12th December.
Growing hospital waiting lists, schools cuts, the lack of housing for young people, inadequate social services and soaring numbers of people with mental health illness, are some of the most important things, and people need more hope.
Kelley Green, Labour's candidate, says, “It's about so much more than Brexit, but I recognise that electors will want to know my position. I voted remain, which was, of course, what Labour and all the main parties campaigned for. However, the outcome of the referendum was to leave, and you can’t just dismiss that fact, as the Liberal Democrats are doing.”
The country is heavily divided and North East Herts is a finely balanced demonstration of that. The uncompromising attitude of the Tory government, has led to a long drawn out period of unsuccessful negotiations, hardening attitudes. Healing this division will be difficult, but Labour is offering hope. The policy is quite simple:
• A deal based on
different negotiating criteria: the
environment, workers’ rights and trade. Labour has already had
discussions with the EU; so this could be achieved quickly.
• Safeguard the NHS by putting the new, better and more honest choice to the people in a second referendum, with the alternative of remaining in the EU.
• That’s it!
“A fresh democratic solution is our best opportunity to bring the country back together,” says Kelley, “Most importantly, I want to assure people I will do everything to rule out the disaster of a no deal Brexit, unlike my Conservative counterpart. With Labour, the people will have the choice between two very clear, sensible alternatives and they will decide between them.”
20 November 2019
Dodgy facts from the Conservatives
During the leaders' debate last night, the Conservatives renamed their Twitter account as FactCheckUK. Rather a dodgy name for a partisan account! If this was not intended to deceive, why did they do it?
There were also some dodgy facts in what Boris said in that debate. He trundled out the discredited mantra that Labour caused the financial crash of 2008-9. We all know that this was a global financial crisis that started in the USA, not the UK.
The Tory response to the crash was to cut spending to eliminate the deficit by 2015 and they branded the Labour policy to reduce the deficit by half whilst growing the economy would make us a "basket-case, like Greece". They just about succeeded in cutting the deficit by half, but without the economic growth!
Now, Boris Johnson says that he can reverse the austerity programme and give back some of the money that the Tories and Liberal Democrats took away from public services "because the economy is now robust".
This is another dodgy "fact". The real facts are:
We still have a deficit. We have not had a surplus since there was a Labour government!
Productivity growth has been very low and productivity is now 16% below the average of G7 countries.
Average weekly wages are still below their pre-crash level, making this the worst decade for wages since the 19th century.
Investment is stagnating. The World Bank figures show the UK's investment as a percentage of GDP is 27th out of 28 in the EU, ahead only of Greece. The Tories were right, except that is their policies, not Labour's, that have created what they called "a basket-case, like Greece".
We have had nine years of economic growth, as the Tory Chancellor has said, but our growth rate is one of the lowest in the OECD, making us 28th out of 34. We only just avoided recession in the third quarter of this year.
A Labour government will invest for growth, after nine years of Tory
mismanagement of the economy. Kelley Green was out in the cold and dark
yesterday to spread this message in Royston, as the picture shows.
20 November 2019
Kelley Green's campaign for the general election is now well under way. She has been out meeting electors in Letchworth, Baldock and Royston and will soon be seen in more rural areas.
The picture shows her last week out in the cold and dark with the
Mayor of Royston, Rob Inwood, and other supporters.
Time is short before the election and there are 75,000 electors in
the constituency. So, if she does not get to you, watch out for notices
of hustings meetings to hear her alongside the other candidates!
16 November 2019
"Working co-operatively creates opportunity, prosperity and meaningful work and brings social and economic benefits for communities and businesses," said Martin Stears-Handscomb, leader of North Herts District Council, announcing that the Council had joined the Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network (CCIN).
The CCIN was created as a result of public sector funding cuts. As councils look for innovative ways of providing services, the network provides an active hub for co-operative policy development.
As it happens, the chair of CCIN is Sharon Taylor, leader of neighbouring Stevenage Borough Council. She said: "I look forward to working together with colleagues in North Herts, building on the relations we already have with Martin and his team."
The picture shows Martin, who is a Labour and Co-operative councillor, shaking hands with Kelley Green, the Labour parliamentary candidate for North East Hertfordshire, at the launch of Kelley's campaign on 2 November in Letchworth Garden City.
9 November 2019
In spite of the weather - just look at the threatening clouds of another destructive Tory government above us - Kelley Green and her team of supporters were out yesterday in Baldock and then in Letchworth. The picture shows her at the head of her team, in front of the well-known fountain in Broadway Gardens, Letchworth Garden City.
Before the launch, Kelley told us about herself and what she intends to achieve in this election campaign. You can read what she said here.
3 November 2019
Click on the image to listen to an extract from Jeremy's speech
This video was
posted on Facebook. You need to be logged in to see it.
Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn launched the most ambitious and radical campaign our country has ever seen to bring real change.
He listed the most important of Labour's policies for this election:
A health service people can be proud of, with no waiting for months for cancer treatment and with free prescriptions.
A social care system that gives old people dignity, with free personal care.
A real living wage of at least £10 an hour.
Secure homes that families can afford, plus an end to rough sleeping.
Thirty hours' free childcare for 23 to 4-year-olds, and a goodd education for all, with no tuition fees.
Rail, mail and water in public ownership, so that they work for everyone, not just shareholders.
End the austerity introduced by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats and scrap Universal Credit.
Invest in every nationa and region,
rebuild public services and give the NHS, schools and police the money
Real action on climate change, with
thousands of new, green energy jobs. "A Green Industrial Revolution Is
at the heart of Labour's Plan to transform Britain," he said.
"After three long years of Brexit division and failure from the Tories," he went on to say, "we have to get this issue sorted. Labour will get Brexit sorted within six months."
Labour's policy on Brexit isn't complicated. We'll let people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain.
"It is now the time for real change," Jeremy Corbyn concluded.
1 November 2019
It looks like the election will be at around the time you will be
going home, so it may be worth timing your journey home for your vote
to have a greater impact. You can use the tool here to find out where
29 October 2019
Kelley Green is congratulated by constituency chair, John Rees
Kelley Green was selected last night from a strong shortlist to be the parliamentary candidate for North East Hertfordshire.
Constituency party members heard from the three shortlisted candidates and questioned them all for an hour before voting for Kelley.
Kelley was brought up in Hertfordshire, but moved to Cambridgeshire some time ago. She is a Cambridge City councillor and previously worked in local government as a landscape architect and as a town planner. She has been an active member of the Unison trade union and, more recently, has been very active in the Labour Party in Cambridge, where she was campaign organiser in the Trumpington ward, which was won by Labour for the first time since 1948, before going on to win a seat herself on the City Council.
27 October 2019
Report by the Leader of the North Herts District Council
At a time when we really need some good news, Martin Stears-Handscomb, leader of the Labour & Co-operative Group on North Herts District Council and Leader of the Council, gave an inspiring report to the last meeting of the constituency Labour Party.
Since the election in May, a workable joint administration has been set up with the Liberal Democrat group, which seems to be working well. A new portfolio for Enterprise and Co-operative Development has been established.
The Council has declared a climate emergency and a Cabinet Panel is
now working on a programme based on engagement with local people and
groups.One step has been the introduction of concessions for taxi
drivers who use low energy vehicles.
The Council has also signed up to the Charter against modern slavery
and has taken forward work to bring perpetrators to justice. It has
also joined the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network, which has
already provided funding to develop engagement with young people in the
A lot of effort is going into making the Council more open and welcoming and a necessary step in achieving this is to ensure good working relationships with senior Council officers and good morale amongst all staff.
"Whilst we have made a good start," Martin reported, " there remain many challenges. The first is that we have no idea what the government settlement for the Council will be, so we are, no doubt, about to enter a challenging series of budget meetings."
"It was disappointing," he added, "that we were unable to introduce bin charge concessions, as there was insufficient time to prepare a workable scheme. We will include this in our budget considerations."
The full text of his report is here.
14 October 2019
The first three wards where there are elections for North Herts District Council in May 2020 have selected their candidates.
In Letchworth East, Cllr Ian Mantle(Labour & Co-operative) will be standing again. He has represented the ward since 2012, having previously been a councillor for Letchworth Wilbury. Letchworth East is a two-seat ward, the other seat being held by Cllr Sue Ngwala, who is also a Labour and Co-operative councillor.
In Letchworth Wilbury, Amy Allen has been selected. She is the constituency party's disabilities officer and also runs the important Contact Creator system, which facilitates election campaigning. If elected, she will replace Cllr. Deepak Sangha (Labour & Co-operative), who is standing down after many years of service as a councillor. This also is a two-seat ward, the other councillor being Gary Grindal (Labour & Co-operative), who is currently the Executive Member for Housing and Environmental Health on the Council.
Tina Bhartwas will be standing in Baldock Town. Tina was recently elected as the constituency party's BAME officer and is one of our youngest and most active members. Baldock Town is a three-member ward and is currently represented by three Conservative councillors.
13 October 2019
Jeremy Corbyn's Conference speech
Click on image to hear Jeremy speaking at Conference
Jeremy Corbyn had to bring forward his Conference speech because Parliament was to meet again today, following the Supreme Court ruling that the prorogation was null and of no effect. He opened with a castigation of Boris Johnson's attempt to "shut down our democracy". He pointed out that the Court had concluded that there was no reason - "let alone a good reason" - to shut down Parliament.
He went on to explain in simple terms that the only way out from
this is a general election, but that we had to be sure that the Prime
Minister could not crash us out of the EU with no deal before a new
government took office. "A no-deal Brexit is in reality a Trump-deal
Brexit. It would be handing our country's futured to the US president.
Trump is delighted tto have a compliant British prime minister in his
He then moved on to what we can presume was the bulk of what he had
intended to say in his speech to close the Conference today. He
re-iterated the policy proposals already made by his shadow cabinet
members which we summarised below and added some
Policies not in that list were:
Compulsory licensing to make excessively expensive medicines affordable to the NHS.
A publicly owned generic drugs manufacturer.
Taxes increased, but only for the top 5%.
Largest house building programme in a generation.
Upgrade of transport, energy and broadband infrastructure at a cost of £250 bn, with a further £250 bn of capital for businesses and co-ops, to transform local communities.
Crossrail for the North and restoration of cut bus services.
A Green Industrial Revolution: tripling of solar power, doubling onshore wind farms and sevenfold increase in offshore wind projects; new battery plants in South Wales, Stoke-on-Trent and Swindon.
Jeremy closed with: "The tide is turning. The years of retreat and defeat are coming to an end. Together, we'll take on the privileged and put the people in power."
25 September 2019
It's not complicated. Above is Labour's policy in four
The Brexit debate is divisive and deals with a complex subject. As we know, the referendum showed that a great many voted for remain, which had a clear meaning, but even more voted to leave, which could mean a whole range of outcomes. In effect, the leave majority left it to the Government and Parliament to decide exactly what leave meant.But the Government has been unable to negotiate a deal with the EU that is acceptable to Parliament.
It is increasingly clear that we must go back to the people to sort this out. But that is not easy. We cannot ask for a vote on a whole range of options, nor can we reasonably ask the EU to allow us to provide a pick-and-mix form of Brexit for us to choose the elements.
We have to try to negotiate a reasonable deal that is good for this
country and for its inhabitants and then ask the people if they think
this is better than remaining. Only in this way can we possibly begin
to heal the damaging split that has appeared in our society. We know
that Boris Johnson's claim that he could re-unite the country was not
just mistaken, it was clearly the opposite of the truth.
Don't believe the media. This is not dithering. It is not sitting on
the fence. It is a genuine attempt to bring the country back together -
and only Labour is offering this. This certainly is not indecisive.
Labour has braved a media onslaught for not taking the easy way out. It
was no use calling for a referendum when there was no chance of getting
it. It was no use bringing a vote of confidence when there was no
chance of winning it. Labour has had to wait for an opportunity to
solve the conundrum that the Tories had imposed on this country. That
opportunity is now.
As Sir Keir Starmer (above, right)
told Conference yesterday: "We owe it to those who want to leave to
secure that leave deal and put it to them in a referendum."
By negotiating a reasonable deal, without Theresa May's intransigence, and putting this forward as a possible alternative to remaining in the EU, we do have a hope of achieving a measure of reconciliation between the two factions in our country.
Only Labour can do this.
24 September 2019 (amended 25 September 2015)
All 11 justices sitting in the Supreme Court have ruled that Boris Johnson's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was illegal and is, therefore, null and void. Jeremy Corbyn has told Conference that he is calling on the Speaker of the House of Commons to recall Parliament forthwith.
He also called upon Boris Johnson to "consider his position". He is joined by the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru in calling for the prime minister's resignation.
If he resigns, this will be the shortest premiership in history. Furthermore, as Sir Keir Starmer pointed out to Conference yesterday, the score in Parliament has been Johnson 0; Corbyn 6. In other words, the Prime Minister has not won a single vote in Parliament since he took office and he has now lost in the Supreme Court as well.
Surely his position is now totally untenable.
24 September 2019
Progressive policies are coming thick and fast from Conference:
Flexible working policies to help women experiencing the menopause.
An NHS Green New Deal: a million trees on NHS estates, 150,000 solar panels, low emission NHS vehicles and more.
A network of People's Law Centres and 200 community lawyers.
Seven-fold increase in offshore wind generation by 2030.
Interest-free loans for electric vehicles.
Increase of 50% in training places for GPs.
Invest in altervatives to ineffective short sentences.
NHS prescriptions to be free in England, as they are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A renewed Sure Start programme and a better school inspecvtion regime.
Invest in hospitals and health centres without using PFI, which is always more expensive even in the best circumstances; bursaries to train 24,000 more nurses and midwives; end privatisation of the NHS by repealing the Coalition Government's Health and Social Care Act.
Repeal the 2014 Immigration Act and end the "hostile environment" for immigrants and recognise the important contribution they make to our society.
Provide a right to justice by restoring legal aid; reverse the cuts in prison staff; end privatisation of prisons.
Free personal care for all older people who need it, with local authorities provided with the resources to provide it.
Community car sharing schemes with domestically built electric cars; a scrappage scheme to help the move to electric cars; government car fleet to be all electric by 2025; massive expansion of the number of electric vehicle charging networks.
End in-work poverty, with a Real Living Wage and by stopping the roll-out of Universal Credit; restoration of trade union rights; capping rents and building genuinely affordable homes; working towards a 32 hour week over the next ten years.
23 September 2019
year the Constituency Party is represented at Conference, which
has just begun, by two of our Labour and Co-operative Letchworth
councillors: Kate Aspinwall and Adem Ruggiero-Cakir. They both
represent Letchworth South-East and were elected in 2018 and 2019
22 September 2019
The constituency party's BAME Officer, Tina Bhartwas, is urging all members to complete the national party's Equality Survey. The link to the survey is here. You will need your Labour Party password to log in to complete the questionnaire.
She also urges you to consider whether you can contribute to the consultation on the Party's Race and Faith manifesto. The consultation document in here. This page also provides a link to the current manifesto, which was launched two years ago.
22 September 2019
Oliver supported Boris
Last night, Labour co-operated with MPs in other parties and in none, as well as some principled Conservative MPs, to take control of Parliament, opening the way for legislation to prevent a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.
After the vote, Jeremy Corbyn said: "We live in a parliamentary democracy; we do not have a presidency but a Prime Minister. Prime Ministers govern with the consent of the House of Commons, representing the people in whom the sovereignty rests."
He went on to say that, if Boris Johnson wants to table a motion for a General Election, "fine - get the bill through first in order to take No-Deal off the table".
The Tory MP for this constituency, Sir Oliver Heald, voted to
support the new Prime Minister's "Bullingdon Club" attitude to
Parliament and the British constitution. This is particularly
disappointing, since he has in the past been a vocal supporter of
membership of the European Union. He even boasted that "his"
constituency voted to remain.
4 September 2019
The annual Red Rose Summer Party took place in Buntingford yesterday and, once again, the weather was good. There was a good attendance and the East Herts Rural branch welcomed comrades from our CLP's Royston and Letchworth & Baldock branches, as well as from Broxbourne, Enfield, Hertford & Stortford, Hitchin & Harpenden and Bedfordshire.
In spite of the threat of a
Brexit hanging over us, we were able to relax for a couple of hours and
share food and conversation with friends. Much of the conversation
inevitably was about politics, but we caught up on information about
families, jobs and other activities that we do not usually have time to
discuss after Labour Party meetings.
2 September 2019
Jeremy Corbyn was in Stevenage yesterday with their parliamentary
candidate, Jill Borcherds, and leader of the Stevenage Borough Council,
Sharon Taylor (pictured above behind
him on the left). Alec Maguire and Tina Bhartwas, respectively
our Youth Officer and our BAME Officer, were there and this is their
He discussed plans for a National Education Service, where young people can access top quality education as a basic right, including free pre-school provision.
He went on to highlight how in post-war society we managed to set up the NHS, and as such we should now be able to set up a National Care Service, to ensure our elderly people are properly looked after.
He finished his speech by emphasizing the need to stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit by putting forward a vote of no confidence in the Government when Parliament reconvenes, and the need for a public vote with Remain on the ballot paper, which Labour would back against no deal.
He stayed for a chat with members, and pointed out the success of our local Labour team in gaining control of North Herts District Council last May, posing specifically for photos with two of our new councillors. He is pictured below with Cllr Adem Ruggiero-Cakir (Letchworth SE) and Cllr Kay Tart (Hitchin Walsworth).
21 Augusst 2019
John Rees was elected chair of the constituency party (CLP) at the AGM last Wednesday. Previously, John was treasurer of the CLP and is currently treasurer of his own branch, Royston and District.
John is an active member of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA), one of the unions affiliated to the Labour Party. He chaired the London Transport Retired branch and also the TSSA's national Retired Members Group. He is treasurer of the Labour Transport Group - an organisation of Labour members in the transport industry which advises the Labour Parliamentary Group.
"I am honoured to become chair of the NE Herts CLP," John says, "and look forward to ensuring we have a united CLP with the common aim of campaigning for Labour on all levels."
John aims to be at the forefront of ensuring that the Party at local level addresses the important national and local issues, as well as the issues within the Party, like anti-semitism, racism, bullying, sexism and disloyalty. "These issues need to be fought vigorously," he says, "to ensure that we have a committed, united team."
The full list of officers elected at the AGM is on the local party page.
3 August 2019
The answer: when you are in East Herts. The East Herts Tories did
briefly consider that they might have a climate change crisis, but
eventually decided that they did not.
Last week, East Herts District Council debated a climate change motion,
proposed as a result of collaboration between the Green Party, the
Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. The motion is similar to the
motions passed by the Labour and Co-operative/Liberal Democrat council
in North Herts and the Conservative County Council. Indeed, Parliament
has decided that we have an emergency.
However, the Tories proposed an amendment to remove the word "emergency" from the motion and to water down the pledge to do everything in their power to deal with climate change.
The debate on the amendment was remarkable in that the Tories gave no reason for the changes, although challenged to do so. Indeed,their main argument seemed to be that their amendment did not make any difference - a very odd reason for proposing it.
Right at the end, Cllr Andrews, the seconder of the Tory amendment, after making a short speech about the pressing importance of tackling climate change, said that it was not an emergency because it was not sudden or unexpected and that crisis was a more suitable word - although this word was not in the amendment!
Nevertheless, the Tories passed the amendment and then supported the
amended motion. In the debate, two of the Tories said that actions
speak louder than words. We shall see what actions they take.
30 July 2019
The Secretary of State, in one of his last acts before being dismissed by the new Prime Minister, has rejected the Hoddesdon site for a waste incinerator.
Labour campaigned against the original site proposed by the County Council in Hatfield and then against the site in Hoddesdon. The County Council signed a contract with Veolia for an incinerator before they had a site with planning permission. They spent a great deal of money shutting down the Central Library and moving the special needs school next door to provide a site in Hatfield, but the proposal was rejected by the government inspector on appeal.
The proposal in Hoddesdon has now been rejected by the Secretary of State, who called in the proposal after it had been approved.
This leaves the Tory County Council with a problem, since they have a contract with Veolia which they cannot fulfil without providing a site for the incinerator.
25 July 2019
Out of touch
"Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members," said Jeremy Corbyn, "by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers' friend and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit. But he hasn't won the support of our country."
He has been fired twice for lying - and that does not include his biggest lie about the money that the UK pays to the EU. He has been described as having "a loose grip on the truth".
As Foreign Secretary he botched an early interview about Nazanin Zagharri-Ratcliffe - and the Iranians still quote what he said to justify their imprisonment of her. As Mayor of London, he wasted money on projects like the Garden Bridge across the Thames and the proposal to resurrect Routemaster buses.
As candidate for the Tory leadership, he waved a kipper to blame the EU for imposing a British rule on the Isle of Man, which is not even in the EU. Do we really want a prime minister who is so incompetent?
23 July 2019
Yesterday, the Tory County Council decided that there is a climate emergency after all - a view that they had rejected in March, when the Labour Group presented its motion.
"On March 26 the Tories denied there was a climate change emergency," said Judi Billing, leader of the Labour Group (pictured), "when Labour told them firmly and with much evidence that there is. On July 16 they changed their minds and made impassioned speeches about it. Brilliant news, of course, but a bit bemusing."
Information on the motion is in our earlier report here.
Meanwhile, a motion on climate change will go before the East Herts District Council on 24 July 2019. The motion is a collaboration between the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Labour Party on the District Council. Let us hope that the District Council Tories welcome it enthusiastically, as their County Council colleagues have. You can read the motion here.
17 July 2019
Joe Fortune (pictured) is the General Secretary elect of the Co-op Party and will be speaking at a joint Co-op Party and Labour Party event in Hertford on the evening of Wednesday 17 July. Joe is currently the Party's National Political and Policy Manager, but will shortly take up the reins as General Secretary.
If you are a Co-op Party member wanting to meet Joe and hear his plans, here is your opportunity. If you are a Labour Party member slightly mystified about what our sister party does, come along too.
This meeting is arranged jointly by the Broxbourne and East Herts Co-op Party branch and by the Hertford and Stortford constituency Labour Party, but Labour members from North East Herts would be very welcome.
Details are on the members' page.
13 July 2019
The highest paid of these - the chief executive of 3i - received £7.88 million for his year's work , or £151,480 per week. What is more, another executive of 3i comes fourth in the table of unacceptably high earnings.
This problem has been building up for decades. In the 1960s, the ratio of a chief executive officer's pay to that of the average worker was about 20:1. It reached 170:1 in 2014, according to the independent, non-party think tank, the High Pay Centre. They say that this had rocketed from 60:1 in the previous 20 years.
The High Pay Centre published a report in 2014 recommending a ratio between the highest and lowest paid in a company of 75:1. This ratio is applied by John Lewis and Partners, but relates to the average worker, not the lowest paid, and they have anyway contracted out some of the lowest paid jobs, such as cleaners, which goes to show just how difficult it is to control this situation.
It is particularly difficult to pull back from where we are now, because that would involve reducing salaries and prompting any who are genuinely marketable, in, say, the USA, to seek employment there.
However, such a pay gap badly affects social cohesion and it has a particularly bad effect if executive pay rises steeply when the pay of ordinary workers is constrained. At the very least, we need to stem the increase in the gap. Workers on boards would help. Imposing the ratio has the attraction that executive increases might trigger increases for all the work force.
Jeremy Corbyn has referred several times to this problem and emphasised that the first step is to ensure that these high paid executives pay their tax in full. It is clear, however, thathe recognises that this complex problem has to be tackled somehow.
24 June 2019
Lisa Forbes won the by-election in Peterborough yesterday, after a great campaign by many members of the party, including some from this constituency.
"Peterborough has shown clear support for Labour's programme to end austerity and invest in services and communities, rejecting a decade of Tory cuts," Jeremy Corby said, in congratulating Lisa on her win. Lisa fought the election on issues like crime, education, housing and homelessness, issues on which the Brexit Party, which came second, has no policies at all. Lisa's webpage is here.
7 June 2019
"This should just make us more determined"
So, in this constituency of the East of England we are sending three MEPs from the Brexit Party to help run the European Union although they have no policies whatsoever on how to do this. Their only policy is to take the UK out of the EU, but this is an action which is outside the remit of the European Parliament. If they behave like the UKIP MEPs did in the last parliament, all they will do is further alienate the other member states.
The media turned the election of MEPs into a vote on "remain" or "leave", and unfortunately most political parties went along with this. Labour has lost out badly because they have been striving in Westminster to prevent the Conservative government's incompetence from resulting in a bad deal or even no deal. Given the constraints of the present UK Parliament, Labour could not deliver a general election or a referendum, so that the only pragmatic and statesmanlike option was to try to improve on Theresa May's deal and, above all, to prevent the default of "no deal".
Here in the East of England, the great regret is that we failed to retain Alex Mayer's (pictured) seat in the European Parliament. She has worked tirelessly for the East of England in the Parliament and on the ground. Her picture has appeared regularly in all the local papers around the region, visiting companies, charities - and local Labour Parties - to learn their views, to assist in getting European grants and much else besides. We heard little or nothing from our other six MEPs (three from UKIP and three Conservatives).
Typically, Alex Mayer has told Party members: "Setbacks such as this should just make us more determined to campaign even harder, so we win power to put our socialist values into action."
In the East of England we now have (compared with 2014):
37.8% of the vote = 3 MEPs (+3)
Liberal Democrats 22.6% = 2 MEPs (+2)
Green Party 12.7% = 1 MEP (+1)
Conservatives 10.3% = 1 MEP (-2)
Labour Party 8.7% = None (-1)
Change UK 3.7% = None
UKIP 3.4% = None (-3)
Results by constituency are not available, but the relevant district results are:
Liberal Democrats 31.5% of the vote
Brexit Party 26.8%
Green Party 15.4%
Conservative Party 10.8%
Labour Party 8.2%
Change UK 4.1%
English Democrats 0.6%
Attila Csordas 0.3%
Brexit Party 34%
Liberal Democrats 26.2%
Green Party 15.6%
Conservative Party 11.7%
Labour Party 5.3%
Change UK 3.9%
English Democrats 0.6%
Attila Csordas 0.2%
If you do take these votes as a proxy for a referendum, it is clear that those keen to leave the EU are a minority in our two districts, but it is less clear for the region as a whole.
In Great Britain as a whole, Labour was third with 14.1% of the vote, behind Brexit on 31.6% and the Lib Dems on 20.3%. Labour performed better in areas that voted Remain in the referendum than in areas that voted Leave.
27 May 2019
Northern Ireland uses a different system of proportional representation and declared later than the rest of the UK. All three of those elected are women. The DUP was top of the poll, followed by Sinn Fein. The third MEP elected was from the Alliance Party, replacing the Ulster Unionists, who held the seat before.
31 May 2019
has made the
following statement on the resignation:
"The Prime Minister is right to have resigned. She has now accepted what the country has known for months: she cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.
"The burning injustices she promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today.
"The Conservative Party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve the lives of people in our country or deal with their most pressing needs.
"Parliament is deadlocked and the Conservatives offer no solutions to the other major challenges facing our country.
"The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected Prime Minister. Whoever becomes the new Conservative Leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate general election."
24 May 2019
The Tories lost their overall majority on North Herts District Council at the election on 2 May 2019 (more information below).
The Labour & Co-operative Group of councillors have now agreed a joint administration with the Liberal Democrats and Martin Stears-Handscomb, Labour & Co-operative councillor for Hitchin Oughton (pictured), has become Leader of the Council. The Deputy Leader is Paul Clark, Liberal Democrat councillor for Hitchin Highbury.
"The people of North Herts deserve big improvements in their local council," Martin Stears-Handscomb said last night. "We can achieve that, despite deep cuts from above, but only with a more practical, honest approach. There's no change without real change.
"Working together, your local Labour & Co-operative and Liberal Democrats have a shared commitment to deliver much needed action for our community through a joint administration. You'll quickly see changes, with a sharp shift towards a more open and cooperative Council, which listens to people - to residents, hard-working staff and elected councillors.
"We're starting as we mean to go on, for example tonight Full Council will hear Extinction Rebellion present their petition as we propose a motion to declare a climate emergency and call for action on this important issue.
"We look forward to working together, to strengthen our Council, empower local communities and build strong relationships."
Members of the Cabinet are listed on the Councillors page.
22 May 2019
How to stop Farage
Alex Mayer (centre, white jacket) and Sharon Taylor (second from left), who are first and third respectively on the Labour list for the East of England, were campaigning in Letchworth this morning. The full Labour list is here.
On Thursday, we elect seven MEPs to represent the East of England. The elected MEPs will have no role in deciding what we do about the Brexit chaos that the Conservatives have created, but they will be involved in making laws that affect us for however long we stay in the EU, whether this is a few months or five years.
As voters, we should be considering whether we want Labour MEPs with a good track record of progressive policies in Europe or whether we want to throw our votes away on the ineffective gesture of "sending a message" to Westminster, ignoring what this election is really about. Labour's manifesto for this election highlights how Britain could lead a green revolution in Europe in the face of the climate crisis, which the Westminster Parliament has recently declared, endorsing Labour's proposal. You can read the manifesto here.
Alex Mayer, who was the only Labour MEP for this region before this election, has been very active in the Parliament, but also has worked hard to get around her very large consitituency, to hear what voters want and to secure a great deal of European funding for various projects around the region. The MEPs from other parties have been largely invisible within the region and, of course, Nigel Farage's MEPs do nothing for the region: they just take their European salaries and disruptthe serious business of the Parliament.
There has been a lot of talk about tactical voting, but the voting system used in these elections (details here) makes this quite difficult. The main website advocating this approach indicates that, in the East of England, even if half of Remainers voted tactically, it would make no difference at all to the result. Nigel Farage's Brexit Party will, they predict, end up with three of the seven seats and Labour with two.
So, the only way to cut down the Farage vote is to increase the Labour vote, so that it outstrips the Brexit vote, leaving Labour to work for the good of the East of Endland if we stay in the EU.
Meanwhile, in the Westminster Parliament Labour will continue to work for a reasonable solution to the impasse created by the Tories. The Tories remain the UK government, so that Labour has to work within the parliamentary system to get as good a result as possible for the people of this country. It is pointless for an opposition party to proclaim that it wants a referendum, or indeed that it wants a "no deal" Brexit, when it is not in a position to deliver this.
Clearly, if you want EU laws that protect the environment and individual rights, you must vote Labour on Thursday. The Brexit Party has only one policy which cannot be achieved by getting elected to the European Parliament, however many MEPs they get.
Postal voters: if you have not already posted your postal, fill up the documents according to the instructions and take the envelope into a polling station on Thursday
20 May 2019
Labour Town Councillor, Rob Inwood, has been elected Mayor of Royston. It is the second time that he has held this office.
In his acceptance speech, Rob talked of his hope that a Royston Youth Council could be set up and of his desire to help local businesses by promoting them and the town itself. He said that wee need to change the way we think about the environment, to ensure that Royston is a healthy, vibrant town.
"I want to help the twinning organisation grow," he said, and he linked this as one of the strands in making the town more inclusive. "I want everyone to get involved in some way or another and, in doing this, I hope to bring our great community together even more."
15 May 2019
For the many, not the few
On 23 May we shall be electing our Members of the European Parliament. Through this democratic process we shall be electing those who, along with the Council of Ministers, make those European laws that affect all the citizens of the European Union.
When they are elected, they will play their part in deciding what the EU does. What they will not be doing is taking any part in deciding what the UK does about Brexit.
The Tories would have you believe that this election is all about backing a Brexit deal, but it is not. It is about how Europe is run. It may be that our MEPs are not there for very long, if we leave on or before the extended deadline, but during that period our MEPs will not be dealing with Brexit, but with European legislation.
Today, Jeremy Corbyn launched the Labour manifesto for these elections. This manifesto is about the actions that need to be taken in partnership with the rest of Europe, whether we have a deal of close co-operation with the EU or whether we remain members of it.
He said that we need to "restore pride and prosperity to parts of our country that have been neglected for too long". He continued: "That neglect was, I believe, a major reason behind the vote for Brexit in the first place."
The manifesto, therefore, sets out some key areas of action that are needed in the UK and in Europe, like ending austerity and rebuilding our economies, tackling climate change, improving rights and protections at work, keeping us safe through cross-border co-operation, promoting equality for our citizens and building unity.
Jeremy emphasized the over-riding importance of the climate change emergency: "The biggest issue of all - the climate and environment emergency that threatens everyone's future - cannot be averted by one country alone."
As the manifesto says, Labour has the ambition to lead a green industrial revolution on our continent, with the aim of making Europe the first zero carbon continent in the world.
Read the full manifesto here.
9 May 2019
Alex Mayer, Chris Vince and Sharon Taylor - the first three on the Labour list
It is increasingly likely that the UK will be electing European Parliament members on Thursday, 23 May. These elections are conducted on the "closed list" system (this is explained here).
We are in the East of England constituency and the Labour list of candidates for the seven vacancies is:
1. Alex Mayer
2. Chris Vince
3. Sharon Taylor
4. Alvin Shum
5. Anna Smith
6. Adam Scott
7. Javeria Hussain
Many of you will know Alex Mayer who is currently the only Labour MEP for the East of England. Chris Vince is a Harlow Borough councillor and is also the parliamentary spokesperson for Hertford and Stortford. Sharon Taylor is also well known to many of us: she is leader of the Stevenage Borough Council and is also a county councillor.
21 April 2019
We had a great result in Letchworth South East, where Adem Ruggiero-Cakir (pictured left), our Labour and Co-operative candidate, won by 13 votes, after fighting a very vigorous campaign.
However, it was very disappointing that we failed to take back the seat which we held until four years ago in Letchworth Grange. Here, Conor Brogan (Labour and Co-operative) received 563 votes to 708 for the Conservative candidate.
Our comrades in Hitchin also won an additional seat so that we now have 16 seats on North Herts District Council.
The Liberal Democrats won five seats, including, in our constituency, Arbury, Letchworth South-West and Royston Heath and now have 11 seats
The Tories lost seven seats, but took back the seat on Grange that was held by the Tory councillor who had defected to the Liberal Democrats, so that they now have 22 seats, thus losing their overall majority.
Their losses included Lynda Needham, who was Leader of the Council. Remarkably, she lost her seat after a tied result with the Liberal Democrat, as a result of (literally) drawing the short straw.
It is also pleasing to note that in Hitchin Bearton Judi Billing was once again elected with well over half the vote and 806 votes ahead of her nearest rival.
East Hertfordshire: Tory hegemony broken
Having lost Watton-at-Stone to the Liberal Democrats in last year's by-election, the Tories have now lost a further nine seats. Labour regained both the seats in Hertford Sele, the Liberal Democrats won five additional seats and the Green Party also won two seats.
Unfortunately, the wards within this constituency all remained in Conservative hands, apart from Watton-at-Stone, which the Liberal Democrats retained.
3 May 2019
"Nothing less than a Green Industrial Revolution will do" - Jeremy Corbyn
"I'd like to thank the youth climate strikers and Greta Thunberg for highlighting how concerned they are about climate change," said Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, after meeting the Swedish schoolgirl, who began the strikes which have taken off around the world.
"Labour has the plans and funding in place to invest in renewable industries, reduce our carbon emissions and bring well-paid and skilled jobs to towns and cities across the UK," he said.
In the local elections on 2 May, a vote for Labour means a vote for action by your district council to do all it can to reduce carbon emissions in this area. On North Herts District Council the Labour and Co-operative group of councillors proposed that the council should declare a climate emergency, as many councils around the country have done. This is really urgent, because on current trends global warming reaches a "point of no return" within the next 11 years. The council is well-placed to use its planning powers to ensure that new houses are carbon-neutral and to take steps to encourage the retro-fitting of green measures.
But the Tories do not think there is any urgency about this. They cancelled the meeting because there was "no time-dependent business"!
Your vote could help to ensure that the Tory ostriches lose control of the North Herts District Council on 2 May and we can take urgent the urgent action that is needed.
As Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday: "Nothing less than a Green Industrical Revolution will do."
POSTSCRIPT: Greta was meeting the leaders in Parliament of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Nationals, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, who agreed to ongoing cross-party co-operation and dialogue with youth climate strikers, support for youth assemblies across the UK and a redoubling of their commitment to adhere to the Paris Agreement and keep emission low enough to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming target. The Tories and the DUP were invited to this meeting but did not attend.
24 April 2019
Alex Mayer MEP with just a few of those who were out
13 April in Royston for Rob Inwood, Labour and Co-operative candidate
for Royston Palace ward
Tories are expensive
On average, you will pay £258 less in council tax in 2019/20 in the East of England if you have a Labour council. Labour research shows that the average level of council tax is lower in Labour council areas compared with Tory areas throughout the country.
In this constituency we have two Tory-controlled district councils. In East Herts the council tax has risen by £84 and in North Herts by £66. Our neighbouring Borough of Stevenage has a Labour and Co-operative council who have kept their increase down to £63.
This has been achieved in spite of the cuts in government funding which on average amount to £132.82 for in each household annually.
13 April 2019
“Whilst I have literally wept about the holding of, and the result of, the (Brexit) referendum, as it affects my children and grandchildren, if we don’t take action on climate, that misery will have been entirely pointless within a couple of generations,” said Cllr Judi Billing, in proposing the Labour Group’s motion on climate change to the Hertfordshire County Council last Tuesday.
Judi (pictured left) said that the government was so absorbed by Brexit that it seemed unable to lead on anything else. So, she called for a coalition of local government to take action on the emergency of climate change, citing those councils that have already agreed to take action.
Like the motion to North Herts District Council (see report below), Judi's motion called attention to last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which states that we have just 12 years to act on climate change if global temperatures are to be kept within the recommended 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Counties are particularly well placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions because of their responsibility for planning infrastructure, transport, the environment and public health. The Tory majority on the Council accepted that this was so, but then amended the motion to remove just about all the action points.
They declined to set a target for zero emissions by 2030, saying the government would legislate for a target "at an appropriate point in the future". They also refused to develop a Climate Change Policy for the county.
The most that they would do is to "refresh" the County Energy Strategy and develop a "climate-resilient" communities strategy. Judi said that a climate resilient strategy sounded like sun-cream to her!
You can read the Labour motion here.
28 March 2018
Action to prevent the catastrophe of increased global temperatures must be taken within the next 12 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us this last year. If it is not, global temperatures will rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and the situation will become beyond control.
Accordingly, Labour councillors on North Herts District Council have put down a motion to get the District Council to play its part in this overwhelmingly important task. The motion was due to be discussed at the next full Council meeting.
However, the Tory administration has cancelled the meeting. Unbelievably, the reason they gave was that there was "no time dependent business".
Adem Ruggiero-Cakir (pictured) is the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Letchworth South-East. He says: "This is an excellent motion and it’s a shame to hear that the NHDC administration do not consider it to be time-sensitive. We require immediate action to address climate change, and Local Government is well placed to do this. The decision to cancel the meeting ought to be reconsidered."
The Labour Group on the County Council will be putting forward a similar motion tomorrow (25 March). We shall see if Conservative County Councillors are any more enlightened than their District Council colleagues.
You can read the motion to North Herts District Council here.
25 March 2019
Andrew Gwynne MP launches the Labour campaign
in North Herts
Andrew Gwynne MP and Martin Stears-Handscomb provide hope for our country, together with candidates, councillors and members
"By next year, local councils will have lost 60p in every £1 of their funding from Westminister," said Andrew Gwynne MP, shadow Secretary of State for Local Government & Communities, launching our campaign for the North Herts District Council elections in Hitchin. The elections take place on 2 May 2019.
"Local government matters," he added. "These local elections give us the chance to make our case that life in Britain doesn't need to be like this. You can vote for different policies."
Martin Stears-Handscomb, who is leader of the Labour Group on the District Council, said: "North Herts needs change - a council that fights to protect the services we rely on from a government that is squeezing the life out of them. From generating community wealth to helping local groups make a contribution and listening to local people's priorities, we can show how local government matters."
6 March 2019
Please sign again - it's important that you do
Our County Councillors have been told by Herts County Council that they will not accept the petition many of you have signed, because addresses were not entered on the original, so that they cannot verify the petitioners are from Hertfordshire.
We now have until 26 March to get your signatures again in the correct format to bring the petition to 1000 so that it can be presented at the next Full Council. Don't delay.
The petition has been recreated from scratch and the link is
So, please sign again - or, of course, sign for the first time!
County Council consultation
The County Council consultation has now closed.
However, the guidance for completing the consultation which was provided by Cllr Joshua Bennett Lovell may still be of interest and you can download it here.
1 March 2019 (amended 12 March)
Enforced academisation of Barclay School in Stevenage
"Academisation takes public assets and puts them in the hands of private organizations," said County Cllr Joshua Bennett Lovell, in introducing the convoluted tale of the transfer of Barclay School to the Future Academies Trust. "There is absolutely no evidence that academies improve educational outcomes," he added.
Last night, the constituency party welcomed Josh, as well as Jill Borcherds and Kay Tart (pictured left to right), to tell us about their Hands Off Barclay campaign and the campaign established by Kay Tart, which started as Hitchin and Harpenden Parents against School Cuts and has recently become Action for Education.
Jill Borcherds (left) is the Labour parliamentary candidate for Stevenage, but has been personally involved in the Barclay School campaign as a teacher at Barclay School, where she was the representative for the National Education Union.
Jill set the scene of demoralised teachers who are not trusted by managers and who, especially in academies, are expected to get quick improvements in test results, rather than instilling an understanding of the subject. This is made worse in Hertfordshire, because it is becoming impossible to recruit teachers to fill vacancies.
Josh (right) described how Barclay School had been put into special measures and thus, according to government policy, had to become an academy. It was agreed that it should be taken over by the Herts for Learning multi-academy trust and staff and parents were reasonably happy with that. However, without explanation, this arrangement was cancelled and eventually it was decided that the school would be taken on by the Future Academies Trust, which is run by Lord Nash, a Tory Party donor and until recently a junior education minister.
The Future Academies Trust runs schools in Pimlico, Shepherds Bush and Westminster and has recently taken on the Laureate Academy in Hemel Hempstead. Not very helpful locations for Barclay to get any synergy.
Josh indicated that there would be some revelations in the Comet today and you can read this damning report on how these decisions are taken behind closed doors, with the previously undisclosed participation of the Tory MP for Stevenage, Stephen McPartland. You can read this report here.
Kat Tart (left) explained that her campaign group grew very rapidly, against the background of cuts in school funding of 8% on average, but up to 15% in some cases, since 2010 and the problems caused by the lack of any pay increases for teachers for a decade. There are similar action groups all over the country, but Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, insists that the problem is "mismanagement of funds" by the schools!
However, the Tories at County Hall had voted for a Labour motion requiring them to write to the government complaining about the education cuts, although they had been shamed into doing so, faced, as they were, by a large audience of parents and other campaigners (see below).
STOP PRESS: It was announced today that Mark Allchorn, the headteacher of Barclay, has resigned. He was appointed only two years ago and has been successfully bringing the school out of special measures. He is to be replaced by Dr Matthew Labane, the headteacher of another school within the Future Academies Trust.
28 February 2019 (two mistakes corrected 1 March 2019)
“It is time that we took a cross party approach and wrote to the government together to tell them that they have cut our services to the bone and we now need some holistic, intensive therapy – not just a tiny sticking plaster stuck on a severed artery,” said Cllr Sharon Taylor, proposing Labour’s amendment to the Conservatives’ budget for Hertfordshire for 2019/20. Sharon is the Labour spokesperson on the County Council for resources and performance.
She made it quite clear that Labour
understood the swingeing cuts in local authority funding made by the
Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition and Conservative governments.
“We have seen £16 billion of cuts since 2010; that is 60
every pound that the last Labour government allocated for local
services,” she said. She added that the settlement for the coming year
represents another cut of £1.3 billion.
Hertfordshire is struggling. For example, children’s services is overspent this year by more than £5 million. Adult care is overspent too. But we have to keep going to provide these vital services and she paid tribute to the local government staff working on the front line, delivering such services, especially to our most vulnerable residents.
“That is why we have tried to be creative and helpful,” she said, explaining that some Labour proposals were cost-neutral and others were invest-to-save polices. Where the proposals are alternative ways of spending the limited funds, they have been fully costed.
Yet, the Tories voted down all the proposals by 49 votes to 25.
This is how a Labour administration would have coped with the very severe cuts made to Hertfordshire's budget imposed by the Conservative government:
For young people: Exemption from council tax up to age 21 for those leaving care. Cuts in neighbourhood youth services halted. Subsidy of Savercard maintained. Increased contribution to young people's mental health services. A bid for money to support apprenticeships.
For older people: Restoring cuts to funding to support people on release from hospital. Review of Adult Care Services, including considering bring it back "in-house". Review of bus subsidies, because cuts ruin counter to the aim of encouraging public transport use.
For all: Changes to allow individual councillors to fund street lighting, bus routes, footpaths and cycleways locally. Restore 7-day opening of Waste Recycling Centres to reduce fly-tipping.
Funding: To come from the existing Invest to Transform fund, a small cut in the communications budget and a 20% reduction in highly-paid Council staff.
22 February 2019
Kay Tart (pictured left), the founder of Action for Education (formerly Hitchin and Harpenden Parents Against School Cuts), and Joshua Bennet Lovell (pictured right), Labour County Councillor and a leading campaigner for Hands Off Barclay, which has been arguing to prevent the forced academisation of Barclay School in Stevenage, will both speak at the next all-member meeting of the constituency Labour Party on Wednesday, 27 February 2019.
All members and affiliated supporters will be very welcome to come and join in the discussion. Details are on the members' page.
20 February 2019
Andrew Gwynne MP (pictured), shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will open the official launch of our campaign for the North Herts District Council elections. Andrew is the Co-National Campaign Coordinator with Ian Lavery.
The launch will be on Thursday, 28 February 2019 at 4 pm. All Labour Party members are welcome. Details are in the campaign schedule on the members-only page.
There is more information about the Labour candidates for North Herts District Council on the election page.
19 February 2019
Brexit - or maybe gardening? Clearly, a serious conversation here between branch members, with a little more hilarity in the background from visitors from Enfield.
East Herts Rural branch dinner was held on Saturday evening at the Axe and Compasses in Braughing. No speeches this year, but there was the indispensible raffle. A good evening and some funds raised to fight the District elections on 2 May.
10 February 2019
Alex Mayer, our tireless MEP, was out with our candidate, Cllr Rob Inwood (picture on left) for the Young Labour Day of Action in Royston Palace ward this morning - together with some older members. The Young Labour members were still going strong in the afternoon (picture on right).
9 February 2019
Thursday, 2 May
Within the constituency, there are ten seats on North Herts District Council and eleven on East Herts District Council up for election. The Labour candidates for the key seats in Letchworth, Baldock and Royston have been selected and you can find more information on the election page.
Theresa May has been scrabbling around to find a Plan B for Brexit with little success, following the overwhelming rejection of her agreement with the EU by the House of Commons.
Jeremy Corbyn has now offered her the chance of finding a deal that could be passed by the House of Commons and be approved by the other nations of the European Union.
Labour has long argued that the Government must change its negotiating red lines, which involves seeking significant changes to the Political Declaration.
Jeremy has set out the changes needed:
A permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU, with the UK having a say in future EU ntrade deals.
Close alignment with the Single Market, with shared institutions and as dispute resolution arrangement.
Dynamic alignment on rights and protections, so that UK standards keep pace with Europe as a minimum.
Commitments on participation in EU agencies and Funding programmes, including environment, education and industrial regulation.
Agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and shared databases.
If Theresa May withdrew her red line which rules out a customs union, then the chance of having to activate the back-stop becomes very small indeed and this would probably make the withdrawal agreement acceptable to all except the very hard-line no-dealers. This could be her last chance to save the UK from catastrophe.
By contrast, this perhaps the first chance that Labour has had to get some movement on the prime minister's proposals, which she has stubbornly clung to in spite of the House of Commons' rejection of them.
However, if Theresa May rejects Labour's proposals, then we shall have to seek some other way of avoiding the catastrophe of crashing out with no deal. It is only then that other options, including another referendum, can be put forward with any hope of success.
7 Februray 2019
Letchworth Grange (left), with candidate Connor Brogan (second from right), and Baldock Town, with Colwyn Griffiths (extreme left)
On the cold Saturday morning of 19 January 2019, our members braved the weather to canvass for Connor Brogan in Letchworth Grange and Colwyn Griffiths in Baldock Town. Meanwhile, Jessica Finn, our Women's Officer was at a meeting of Eastern Region Women's Officers in Cambridge and Cllr Helen Oliver was at a Local Government Association training session in Coventry.
Labour East Women's Officers (Jessica Finn is fourth from right)
On Sunday afternoon, the canvassing session was in Royston Palace, where town councillor Robert Inwood is the candidate, whilst in the morning representatives of all three branches had a meeting with the new constituency Membership Secretary, Dawn Pavlitski, facilitated by the constituency Secretary, Cllr Sue Ngwala.
21 January 2019
Theresa May's Brexit deal resulted in a historic defeat for the government. Yet, having failed to get the support of her own party for her deal, she now seems to think she can just carry on and achieve in a few days what she failed to achieve in more than two years. And that she can carry on uttering warm words about caring for people struggling to make ends meet, whilst doing the opposite.
Although the vote of no confidence in the government proposed by Jeremy Corbyn narrowly failed, it is clear that we need a change of government and may still be able to get it. This is what we offer:
Click on the picture to play the video
It's time for a Labour government.
17 January 2019
First meeting of the Women's Forum
Saturday 12 January was a busy day. We were out canvassing in Letchworth South East and in Royston Palace in the morning and the first meeting of our Women's Forum took place in the afternoon.
We shall be working hard to win the seat currently held by the Tories in Letchworth South East, where we took a seat from them in 2018 - by a margin of only eight votes. The picture shows some of those who braved the cold in Letchworth South East.
It is some years since we have held a seat in Royston Palace, but two Labour councillors were elected last year to the Town Council for this area. So we shall be fighting hard here to win.
The Women's Forum met in Buntingford in the afternoon and was attended by women from all the branches in the constituency. They had a wide-ranging discussion and also elected delegates to the national Women's Conference to be held in Telford on 23 -24 February 2019, a task delegated to the Women's Forum by the constituency party.
The picture shows some of the women at the Forum, including the constituency party's Women's Officer, Jesssica Finn (front centre right) and North Herts district coluncillor Sue Ngwala (third from left).
The next meeting of the Forum will be on 9 March 2019 at 3 pm. The venue will be posted on the members' page when it has been arranged.
13 January 2019
East Herts Rural Branch Dinner
The East Herts Rural Branch dinner will be on Saturday, 9 February 2019 at 7 for 7.30 pm. Like last year, it will be at the Axe and Compasses, The Street, Braughing SG11 2QR. All members from the branch or the constituency or beyond - and their family and friends - are very welcome.
The menu and prices will be available shortly, but you can book now by emailing Clyde Millard, branch chair. Booking closes on 3 February 2019.
Hertford and Ware Branch Dinner
If you really cannot make the East Herts Rural dinner, but nevertheless want to eat for Labour, our comrades in Hertford and Ware are holding their dinner at the Salisbury Arms in Hertford on Friday, 1 February 2019. Or why not go to both dinners?
The cost is £18 for two courses or £22 for three courses and you need to book by 14 January. You need to email Catherine Henderson with your menu choices: the menu for the dinner is here. She will give you an address to which you should send your payment.
Note: the speaker at the Hertford and Ware dinner has been confirmed as Rosie Newbigging, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Welwyn-Hatfield (added 14 January 2019).
9 January 2019
In spite of the chaos caused by the introduction last summer of a new, "improved" timetable, rail fares rose at the beginning of this year. We were out at Royston and Letchworth stations this morning to tell commuters how much better the rail service would be under a Labour government.
Royston town councillor Rob Inwood, with comrades from Royston and East Herts Rural branches at Royston station
Many of the problems are caused by the fragmentation of the rail system. However, the integration of the network whilst still in private hands would create a counter-productive private monopoly. Even ardent supporters of private enterprise recognise that private monopolies are not in the public interest and we have legislation to prevent companies becoming so large that they control the market in which they operate.
Therefore, it is clear that railways are unsuitable for private operation and nationalisation is the only way to run a railway for the benefit of passengers and of the economy.
District councillors Daniel Allen (left) and Helen Oliver (second from right) with Letchworth and Baldock branch comrades at Letchworth station
2 January 2019 (added to on 3 January 2019)
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1 January 2019
The first meeting of the constituency party's Women's Forum will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, 12 January 2019 from 2 to 4 pm.
The constituency party's Women's Officer, Jessica Finn (pictured with Jeremy Corbyn), says: "I would like to invite all self-identified women members to join me. You are welcome to bring children with you. This will be a space to talk about politics, women's involvement and we will also be voting on delegates to the first standalone Women's Conference (taking place in Telford, 23-24 February 2019)."
For full details, log in to the Members Only page and scroll down to Constituency Party meetings.
31 December 2018
Rachel Garnham is a newly elected member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party, one of nine members representing the constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). On 28 November 2018 she spoke at an all-member meeting in North East Herts about the work of the NEC. She also continues to be the constituency party secretary of nearby Mid-Bedfordshire – a constituency with many similarities to our own.
She was fresh from an NEC away-day. Although she ranged over the many issues that had been discussed, there were two main themes: the strategic direction being developed to ensure that we have a healthy party and the policy issues faced in rebuilding Britain.
A healthy party
The NEC is building on the outcomes of the Party’s Democracy Review, with further reforms planned to increase opportunities for member involvement. Rachel acknowledged that there was some confusion about rule changes and how CLPs should implement them, but said that in future there would be clear advice to CLP secretaries as the NEC took decisions based on the results of the Review. She talked about upholding the Party’s rules and also about quickly implementing a fairer and speedier disciplinary process.
It is comforting for us to know that at least one voice on the NEC as they discuss constitutional matters will be that of an experienced constituency officer who knows what is practical in the day to day running of local parties.
One development that she singled out was the Women’s Conference in February, which led her on to talking from her own experience of CLPs co-operating to set up an all-Bedfordshire women’s forum.
On policy issues, the starting point was the need for Rebuilding Britain after the Tories’ failed policy of austerity, which had not even succeeded in its own terms in eliminating the deficit and reducing debt. She spoke of the shame induced by the report of the UN rapporteur on the growth of poverty in the UK.
The other major aspect of Tory failure was Brexit. However, she refused to be drawn on specific plans for obtaining a better outcome than “Mrs May’s deal”, saying that Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer were well able to act in Parliament and in Europe to get an outcome better than the one on offer from the government.
More generally, she talked about social policies and observed that many of our economic policies, such as regional investment banks, chimed with what industry wanted. She told us about the new strategy for community organising, with a new team appointed to build campaigns and work with local communities also working with parliamentary candidates and activists in the top marginal constituencies, so that we are ready for an election, whether it is a snap election – next May was mentioned by one member of her audience – or the Tories hang on until 2022.
Finally, she talked about the importance of ethical fund-raising, which for the Labour Party meant raising small amounts from many people, unlike the big donations from wealthy donors who fund the Tories.
The aim was a healthy, democratic and inclusive party, campaigning and talking about the issues that matter to the people of Britain.