#Lab14: Our NHS with Time to Care


This is the third in a series about the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester which I recently attended.

I was there for Harry Smith

On the final morning of Conference, I made sure I had a good seat in the auditorium for 91-year old Harry Smith’s speech. As I listened to Harry in the stunned room with thousands of other Labour activists, I felt even more proud to be Labour and more determined than ever to change our country and rescue our NHS.

Harry described how his sister died horribly at the age of 10 from TB because those in poverty couldn’t afford healthcare before the NHS. That was 87 years ago. People all round me were in tears as we listened and I couldn’t stop myself shedding a few tears too.

Please watch Harry’s speech and tell David Cameron: “Keep your mitts off my NHS!”

“Don’t let your future be my history”

The lesson from Harry Smith’s speech was that without the NHS families in poverty are condemned to a barbarous world without healthcare. One of the next speakers was Catherine Atkinson, the Labour PPC for Erewash. She was accompanied on stage by Jacob, her baby. Later, Harry Smith left this message for Jacob.

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The NHS is in grave danger. A further five years of Cameron will end it. For little Jacob and all the generations to come, we need to fight to secure the future of the NHS. And yes, I shed another tear listening to Catherine’s speech.

Time to Care

After we all blew our noses, Labour’s Andy Burnham then spoke to explain how we will fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. People in Guildford regularly tell me on the doorstep how they have to wait over a week for a GP appointment. It is vital that doctors, nurses, midwives and carers have time to care.

We will combine physical, mental and social care so that older people can be cared for in their own homes. Outsourced social care is delivered in 15 minute blocks, this is failing and needs to change. Looking after our mums and dads is the most important job there is but it is currently treated as the least important. By giving carers time to care, we will keep people out of hospitals and give dignity in old age.

Priorities

These extra NHS and social care staff will need to be funded. Labour’s values mean our first port of call for the money will not be hard-working families. Also, we need to eliminate the deficit to secure the economy for the future so there will be no additional borrowing for this. Instead, we will ask those most able to contribute to pay their share.

The Mansion Tax will be a fair way of funding the future of the NHS. The news website for Surrey, GetSurrey, reported on this here. Conservative MP Dominic Raab stands up for millionaires who don’t want to have an NHS for everyone. I believe that Harry Smith is right and we should save our NHS for the next generation together.

David Cameron, keep your mitts off OUR NHS!

#Lab14: Standing up for Surrey


This is the second in a series of posts about my experience of the 2014 Labour Party Conference.

One Nation, My Nation

2014-09-20 13.12.14I have lived in Surrey for many years, since about the year 2000, but I have travelled, spent time and made friends all over the United Kingdom. I grew up just outside Glasgow, I have lived in Liverpool and I go to work in London. Arriving in Manchester for the Labour conference last Saturday I felt very much at home. Everyone was friendly: at the airport, at the hotel, on the streets and at the conference itself.

2014-09-25 09.12.52The great thing about being a PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) in the Labour Party is that I can press the case for my constituents on an equal footing with all the other PPCs. I can tell Ed Miliband about the aspirations of people in Guildford. I can discuss domestic violence and policing in Surrey with Yvette Cooper. I can put the case for preserving the Green Belt directly to Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, the Shadow Minister for Planning. Labour is the One Nation party and will govern for all constituencies. I wonder if Tory Party PPCs for Sunderland, Manchester or Glasgow get access to David Cameron, I doubt it.

2014-09-22 18.08.16

From the BBC website’s live blog of the conference

What about Surrey?

People in Surrey are the same as people in the rest of the UK. They have the same fears and aspirations. They care about their neighbours, families and their future in the same way. Electorally, however, Surrey is the height of Tory-dom on Earth. The reason for this is that people have got used to voting Tory, but this can change. It is already changing.

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

I speak to voters on the doorstep regularly and hear about their struggle. It is the same struggle that people across the country face: insecurity, living standards squeezed, fear for the future. They don’t believe anyone is on their side. Labour under Ed Miliband understands this and only Labour can have the answers. Only Labour will intervene in energy, housing, transport markets to make them work for people instead of corporations. Only Labour will rescue the NHS. Only Labour can turn despair into hope for the next generation in Surrey.

Thank you, Conference

Looking back at the last few days, there were many high points, which I will write about over the next few days. However, the pinnacle for me was addressing the entire conference of thousands of people to stand up for Surrey’s working people, its families, its children and its pensioners. Labour is truly a party which listens to all the people of the United Kingdom and I am greatly privileged to be speaking for Guildford and the whole of Surrey at such an important forum.

Here is a clip of my speech to Conference, one of the proudest moments of my life:

 

 

 

#Lab14: Real recall with 38 Degrees


I have just returned from the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester. It was stimulating, inspiring, energising and sometimes mind-blowing. This is the first in a series of posts about what I did, what I saw and what I felt when I was there. I haven’t got any particular order in mind for these posts but since the largest number of constituents contacted me about this event I thought I’d start with this…

Keeping it real

Real Recall event

This event was organised by 38 Degrees. Regular readers of this blog will know I have been involved with many 38 Degrees campaigns before, including being bundled out of a door on film by Michael Gove’s bouncer. But I digress. This event was about how the public can hold MPs to account between elections. I spend much of my life doing this so it matters greatly to me. Recall means forcing a by-election in a constituency before the normal end of a Parliament (every five years).

All three parties committed to this in their 2010 manifestos and it was in the Tory-LibDem Coalition Agreement. So why haven’t we got a right of recall yet? Well, it’s the same reason why MPs are getting a big pay rise and why chairs of council committees in Guildford interupt me when I’m trying to speak up for public opinion. MPs have the power and they don’t want to share it. David Cameron is proposing a system of recall where MPs would sit in judgement of other MPs and decide if they should be recalled. This is a predictable response from the Conservative Party, of course. They don’t want ordinary people to have any say at all. This is why this event was called, we demand a real system of recall where MPs who have betrayed their constituents can be forced, by their constituents, to stand before them again and explain themselves.

Summoned

38 Degrees don’t just put on events and expect the right people to turn up. Some of my constituents in Guildford sent me emails asking me attend. This was organised through 38 Degrees but their words and feelings were genuine. Helping people contact and lobby MPs and prospective MPs is an invaluable service. This is why I personally donate a small amount to 38 Degrees every month.

The room was packed, at 8.30am, and it was a fantastic opportunity to press the speakers on all aspects of recall.

Lisa Nandy MP

Lisa Nandy is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Civil Society. She told us that Cameron’s proposals for recall were worthless and even his own MPs, like Zac Goldsmith and David Davies, will not stand for it. Labour’s priority is to “push power outwards from Westminster”, she said, not have MPs stitching it up again in cosy committee rooms at the House of Commons.

Lisa described the potential dangers of recall if it is not legislated for carefully. She told us about a recent debate in the House of Commons about international aid. Just about the only MP in the House opposing international aid was the Conservative Philip Davies. His arguments were abhorent, about leaving the world’s poorest and most down-trodden to suffer, about refusing any human feelings of fellowship, about fear, greed and isolationism. Lisa said she felt like throwing things at his head while he was speaking. However, she said he must have the right to stand up in Parliament and say these things because some people, a small number, in this country feel that way. Recall must not hound out MPs for representing minority views.

Me asking the panel about recalling MPs who have betrayed their constituents

Me asking the panel about recalling MPs who have betrayed their constituents

Owen Jones

I’m a big fan of Owen’s and it was great to hear him speak. He answered my question about MPs who are found to have committed awful misconduct, to have betrayed the trust of the electorate, and find reasons not to do the decent thing and resign. He agreed that some do but many don’t. He said that there is a real problem with the representation for ordinary people in Parliament, working class MPs are scarce now. The Tory-LibDem Lobbying Act is designed to make political campaigning and organising more difficult. Lisa Nandy was applauded for confirming that Labour will repeal this law.

I really enjoyed chatting to Owen afterwards and telling him about our campaign in Guildford. It is great to meet famous people who turn out to be really nice people in real life. He was very encouraging about how important it is to take the fight to the Tories in Surrey. Owen described the LibDems’ betrayal of voters here and across the country as “doing a Clegg”. The Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s seat was there to. Oliver Coppard stands a great chance of beating Clegg and delivering the LibDem leader’s punishment he deserves for breaking his pledges on tuition fees, the NHS and many others. I have met Oliver a few times and I know he will be the great MP that the people of Sheffield Hallam deserve after being failed so badly by Clegg.

Owen Jones and me chatting after the Real Recall event

Owen Jones and me chatting after the Real Recall event

Recall that works but doesn’t oppress

There were other interesting speakers, Joe Cox from Compass and Jonathan Isaby from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. The event was expertly chaired by Blanche Jones from 38 Degrees. The Taxpayers’ Alliance is a right wing pressure group whose message is “you’re on your own”, so I don’t warm to them, to put it mindly. However, they are in favour of recall which is good, although I have my suspicions about the kind of recall they would prefer. Lisa Nandy put her finger on it when she talked about the danger of big corporations funding campaigns against MPs in marginal constituencies to have them recalled for opposing their interests. I fear the Taxpayers’ Alliance may have that future in mind.

A revealing comment from Isaby: “Police and Crime Commissioner elections increased democracy”. PCCs have been a failure of democracy and need to be abolished, in my opinion. On the other hand, what 38 Degrees does is real democracy.

I’m in favour of recall for MPs who have lied, stolen and grossly abused the trust of their constituents. I believe this should be driven by voters, not MPs and not big corporations. The Scottish referendum campaign told us what we already know – people are disengaged and disillusioned with Westminster. A real recall system can be part of forcing Westminster to start listening and finding answers to the questions people are asking.

If I should become a stranger…


As a Scotsman who has lived in Surrey for many years, I find myself torn about the independence referendum. My Scottish friends and family are evenly split between Noes and Yeses. We all share the same objectives but some people see voting No as the means to that end and some will vote Yes as a way of reaching the same goals.

I grew up in a town outside Glasgow near the birthplace of Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party. Like nearly all Scots, I was state educated. Politically, I have always believed everyone has a responsibility for each other and this leads to a better society than individuals trying to grab as much as possible for themselves. Personally, I feel a strong Scottish national identity, like all Scots, especially those who have left Scotland to live and travel all over the world.

So, I would vote Yes, right? Well, No, actually.

If I had a vote, I would cast it for the outcome which would most benefit the ordinary people of Scotland, especially the worse off. National identity is important but Scotland already is a nation with an identity to be proud of. We should be confident enough that we don’t have to define ourselves by separation from our neighbours. Every election should be used to “kick the Tories” as David Cameron put it last week but this is a referendum on breaking solidarity with all working people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland too, not just the despised, grasping, rich Tories.

I believe staying part of the UK would provide the strength, stability and solidarity that would lead to a fairer, more socially just Scotland. The world is becoming more interdependent. Scottish workers should make common cause with English workers and workers everywhere or we risk running a race to the bottom in corporate taxes and pay and conditions. People cannot be governed without their consent and if there is a No vote, the Scottish government must be given powers such as to abolish the Bedroom Tax and to renationalise its railways.

Whichever way the vote goes this week, the United Kingdom will be changed by it. The vast majority of people in Scotland will show they believe voting matters. They will be voting for the right reasons whether they choose Yes or No.

Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, wrote about solidarity across nations and this is my personal hope for the referendum:

Then let us pray that come it may

As come it will for a’ that,

That Sense and Worth o’er a’ the earth,

Shall bear the gree an a’ that.

For a’ that, an a’ that,

It’s comin yet for a’ that,

That man to man, the world, o’er

Shall brithers be for a’ that.

[This piece was requested by a local newspaper for publication on 18 September.

Richard Wilson, airline pilot from Windlesham, Surrey and Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Guildford in 2015]

Windlesham Fireworks 7 November 2014


The fireworks display at the Windlesham Field of Rembrance was a huge success last year. Can you help out to make this year's even better?

The fireworks display at the Windlesham Field of Rembrance was a huge success last year. Can you help out to make this year’s even better?

Sure Start centres close in Surrey under David Cameron


Press Statement from Richard Wilson, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford 10 August 2014

 

THE CHOICE ON CHILDCARE: TORY FAILURE ON SURE START REVEALED – 93 CENTRES IN SOUTH EAST HAVE CLOSED UNDER DAVID CAMERON

 

Ninety-three Sure Start Centres in the South East region have closed since 2010 despite Tory promises to protect the network, new analysis has revealed.

 

Every single council in England has been forced to cut its Sure Start funding by at least 40% – in the South East the figure is 44% or a reduction of £163.2m.

Figures unearthed in a Government consultation show that David Cameron is planning to cut the overall funding for Sure Start by 52% over this Parliament.

 

  • In Kent the number has dropped from 96 to 84 
  • In Surrey the number has fallen from 69 down to 58
  • In West Sussex following the merger of 8 centres there are 4 fewer Children’s Centres.
  • In East Sussex 5 centres have closed
  • In Brighton and Hove 3 have closed.
  • Following the merger of 8 centres there are 4 fewer Children’s Centres in West Sussex.

 

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Guildford, Richard Wilson, said, “It is very disappointing that since 2010 Surrey has lost so many Sure Start Centres which are so valued by many parents. Recently it was also revealed that overcrowding in Surrey’s infant classes has more than doubled. David Cameron and Conservative Surrey County Council have targeted their austerity measures at the youngest children in the county and their parents.

 

“After failing Surrey’s families on childcare and education, Conservative councillors went on to vote themselves huge pay rises. There is a choice in Surrey. Labour is committed to protecting Sure Start and increasing free childcare where both parents work. Families in Surrey are struggling with rising living costs and stagnant wages. These measures will make a real difference.”

 

Today Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children, will highlight The Choice facing the country next May. Voters face a choice between a Tory-led Government which has failed on childcare and which threatens more of the same and a Labour future which would help tackle the cost-of-living crisis with action on childcare.

Nationally the new analysis reveals that:

 

  • There are 628 fewer Sure Start centres now than in April 2010 – an average of three fewer every week. 
  • Many of those that remain have been downgraded and face an uncertain future under the Tories.
  • One in ten Sure Start centres provides fewer services, one in six has seen a reduction in hours, and one in five has fewer staff than in 2010.

 

Lucy Powell said: “The Tories promised to protect Sure Start but have delivered only failure. Thanks to them there are 628 fewer centres than there were in 2010, and those that remain are under pressure and facing an uncertain future.

 

“Only Labour is committed to renewing and reinvigorating Sure Start. We will reform the way local services work together to shift from sticking-plaster services to radical early help to provide good quality support to all families that need it.

 

“At the next election the choice is clear. The threat of five more years of a Tory Party which has let Sure Start wither on the vine, or a Labour future where Sure Start is protected and families are put first.”

 

 

Ends

 

For interviews please contact Danielle Glavin on 07941 425 421 or via email Danielle_Glavin@labour.org.uk

 

 

Notes to editors

 

 

Background cuts briefing

 

Cameron’s Sure Start Scandal – every single council in England forced to cut its Sure Start funding by at least 40%

 

  • New research shows that every council in the country has had to cut its funding for Sure Start by at least 40%.
  • Figures unearthed in a Government consultation show that David Cameron is planning to cut the overall funding for Sure Start by 52% over this Parliament.

 

Background

 

  • The table below shows the EIG cuts by region (in £m).

 

 

2010-11

2014-15

     
 

Predecessor grants before in year reduction and excluding Two Year Old Offer grant

Early Intervention funding within start-up funding assessment

 

Change 2010-11 to 2014-15

   

2013-14 prices

   

£

%

           

Region

         

North West

427.3

232.4

 

-226.3

-49.9%

North East

171.5

91.9

 

-92.1

-50.6%

Yorkshire and the Humber

293.9

162.3

 

-153.2

-49.1%

West Midlands

305.1

172.7

 

-154.9

-47.8%

East Midlands

212.5

124.6

 

-103.7

-45.9%

East of England

242.6

150.1

 

-110.7

-43.0%

London

500.8

296.6

 

-241.4

-45.4%

South East

349.2

212.0

 

-163.2

-44.0%

South West

222.1

133.4

 

-105.3

-44.6%

Source: House of Commons Library

 

  • The planned budgets for the Early Intervention Grant (EIG)* for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years reveal a reduction in real terms of 52% (amounts are £m).

 

2010/11

2014/15

2015/16

Baseline

Indicative budget

Cash reduction

%

Real terms reduction

%

Indicative budget

Cash reduction

%

Real terms reduction

%

2725

1585

-1140

-42

-1261

-46

1451

-1274

-47

-1408

-52

*The EIG covers the amount distributed to councils for Sure Start children’s centres and a range of other childcare and intervention programmes. The Government has removed the ring-fence for Sure Start funding.[1]

Source: Local Government Finance Settlement 2014-15 and 2015-16: technical consultation, 25 July 2013, http://goo.gl/SS1e1C

 

 

 

  • Before the 2010 General Election, David Cameron promised to “back Sure Start”.

 

“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this.”

David Cameron, The Independent, 5 May 2010

 

  • But according to local authority responses to Freedom of Information requests, there are now 628 fewer designated children’s centres now than in April 2010 – that’s an average of around three fewer every week.

 

   

Designated Sure Start centres

 

Local Authority

As of official stats (April 2010)

Now

Difference (official stats)

Brighton and Hove

15

12

-3

Buckinghamshire

35

35

0

East Sussex

36

31

-5

Hampshire

81

54

-27

Isle of Wight

8

8

0

Kent

96

84

-12

Medway

19

19

0

Milton Keynes

20

20

0

Oxfordshire

45

43

-2

Portsmouth

16

9

-7

Reading

13

13

0

Slough

10

10

0

Southampton

14

4

-10

Surrey

69

58

-11

West Berkshire

10

10

0

West Sussex

49

45

-4

Windsor and Maidenhead

10

2

-8

Wokingham

10

6

-4

 

556

463

-93

 

 

Number of designated children’s centres, April 2010[1]

Number of designated children’s centres, August 2014[2]

Change in number of designated children’s centres since April 2010

Weeks since the general election as of 7 August 2014

Average reduction of children’s centres, per week

3,631

3,003

-628

223

2.8

 

  • For those children’s centres that remain, many local authorities have been forced to reduce services, opening hours and staff. Local authority responses to Freedom of Information requests show that one-in-ten Sure Start centres provide fewer services; one-in-six have reduced their opening hours; and one-in-five have fewer staff than in 2010. These figures could be even higher as some local authorities were failed to provide a useable answer.

 

 

Since 2010, number of Sure Start centres[3] with

% of designated children’s centres

Number of LAs that provided a useable answer

fewer services

306

10.2%

129

reduced hours

482

16.1%

136

fewer staff

625

20.8%

116

 

 

 

  • The Government’s own research shows services at children’s centres are already stretched to the limit, with budget pressures forcing managers to lay off staff, cut back on services and reduce opening hours.

 

“For some, the reorganisation had meant reduced centre hours or centre sessions as well as reduced partnership working. Others struggled to maintain the expertise of current senior staff (for example Qualified Teachers), whom might be at risk of relocation or redundancy.”

DfE, research report by the University of Oxford, 18 July 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224096/DFE-RR297.pdf

 

  • Earlier in the year the Government deleted Sure Start closure figures from their official website on the orders of Education Minister Liz Truss, reportedly as part of a “data cleansing” exercise[5].

 

  • At Annual Conference 2013, Labour set out plans to tackle the rising cost and insufficient availability of childcare and help families feeling the pinch and struggling to balance work and family life. Labour will introduce:

o   A primary childcare guarantee, giving all parents of primary school children the guarantee of childcare availability through their school from 8am-6pm.

o   The extension of free childcare for working parents from 15 to 25 hours.

 

 

 

[1] Department for Education, Numbers of Sure Start children’s centres: April 2010, 17 June 2010, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219406/main_20text_20osr142010.pdf

[2] Current figures are based on local authority responses to the Freedom of Information request “Please provide the number of designated statutory children’s centres now”, received between April 2014 and July 2014. Manchester, Nottingham and Wigan did not provide an answer, so data was taken at 18 November 2013, before it was deleted from an official website. Some local authorities were keen to highlight that reductions were due to mergers.

[3] Figures are based on local authority responses to the following Freedom of Information request:
“How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] provide fewer services now than they did in 2009/10?
“How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] have reduced their opening hours since 2009/10?
How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] have fewer staff now than in 2009/10?”
Responses  received between May 2014 and July 2014.

 

[5] The Mirror, 2 January 2014, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sure-start-closure-figures-deleted-2978571

[1] DfE, 21 August 2012, http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/earlylearningandchildcare/delivery/funding/a0070357/eig-faqs#faq3

 

 

Richard Wilson

Parliamentary Candidate

Guildford Labour Party

Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Website | YouTube | Donate

 

Promoted by Alex Wilks on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF

 

 

 

Twitter Squad! If you dare to question British police, expect a visit.


Today it emerged that armed police officers in the UK have been bringing their guns along to routine police work causing members of the public to feel threatened. I tweeted today’s BBC story here:

Of course, this tweet is not a criticism of any individual officer, or even police officers in general. It is a criticism of the system which has allowed creeping militarisation of the police in this country. Despite that, I received a barrage of abuse from police tweeters. There were some reasoned comments amongst them but it was mostly abuse, including swearing intended to intimidate or distress me. From police officers.

I have had online abuse from police officers before, of course. Members of Twitter Squad are never brave enough to do it face-to-face. I have been called a “police hater” because I disagreed with deploying water cannon on the UK mainland. Apart from members of Twitter Squad, everyone above the age of 8 knows that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they hate you.

Twitter Squad represents a small number of police officers, the rest of whom must be deeply embarrassed by their cretinous behaviour. The specimen in this article, Peter Kirkham, called me the same word he called Theresa May. This is a pattern of behaviour one should never see from a police officer. I think Twitter Squad members, presumably British police officers, committed about 4 communications offences against me today. I have deleted the swear words in a couple more:

Pleb Evans

Along with the swearing, I was accused of “not having a clue” and being an “idiot”, “stupid” and “a toff”!

Twitter Squad is now a threat to anyone who speaks out about policing. They aim for a more authoritarian, oppressive police and should be called out by politicians for their disgraceful cowardly behaviour (like Nick Herbert did in the link above). I’m from Glasgow and I know as many swear words as these brave tweeters in blue but I don’t use them to abuse anyone who disagrees with me. The time has come for chief police officers to act to permit members of the public to discuss policing without having the dogs of Twitter Squad set on them. If they don’t act, politicians should.

Most adults realise that just because I am standing for Parliament does not mean they have permission to abuse me. It is surprising that such a large number of police officers can’t grasp that. I think there is a culture of exceptionalism in British policing. For too long a minority of police officers have believed they are above the law. We have seen outrageous cover-ups of police behaviour and even some sort of police black ops editing of Wikipedia.

Twitter Squad is a disgrace to british policing. They are touchy, abusive louts who only want the police to be more violent and run for their benefit. If the police are the public and the public are the police, we all need to stand up to these thugs.

 

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