Fascism, racism and anti-Semitism are growing all across Europe. In French local elections recently the National Front made huge gains. In Greece the Golden Dawn draws support from inside police stations and not just from the occupants of the cells. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands “says what everyone is thinking” according to one of his supporters I spoke to. The True Finns, now known as The Finns Party, got 19% of the vote in 2011. Far right parties in Latvia and Poland are members of the same grouping in the European Parliament as the British Conservatives since David Cameron took his MEPs out of the more moderate EPP grouping. Some of these MEPs hold an annual commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS of the Second World War.
Here in the UK, Ukip and Conservatives are pushing the same buttons, whipping up anti-foreigner sentiment, blaming economic austerity on immigrants and the vulnerable. Since 1945, Europe has been largely at peace because we have cooperated with each other. Increasingly now nationalism and xenophobia are returning.
On 22 May, the UK will elect its Members of the European Parliament by proportional representation. Every Labour vote will count, wherever it is cast. Now is the time to stand up against the rising fascism and racism. In a few years time it will be too late. I’ll be pulling out all the stops for this election. The general election is just over one year away. Next month’s election will be the most significant electoral event here this year. It is absolutely vital that all Labour supporters do everything they can over the next 5 and a bit weeks to ensure we elect as many Labour MEPs as possible to counter racism from the UK and the other 27 members of the EU.
Join me (and ‘like’ this) on the campaign trail and let’s make sure we leave it all on the field!
Be part of the Guildford Labour election campaign!
Here is the letter I wrote to the Surrey Advertiser to give Labour’s response to George Osborne’s budget:
The Chancellor, George Osborne, did nothing to address falling living standards in Guildford in his budget last week. Average families have been worse off year-on-year since the Conservative-LibDem Government came to power in 2010 and are now £1,600 per year worse off.
The economic recovery has finally arrived, after three wasted years, but it is a recovery for the few, not the many. Wages are not keeping up with household costs like gas bills and child care. Young people are struggling to find quality jobs.
Osborne could have frozen gas and electricity bills. He could have announced a Youth Jobs Guarantee where all young people out of work for a year would be given a compulsory, real, paying job. He could have provided 25 hours of free child care per week for all 3 and 4-year olds with working parents. He didn’t do any of those things because the cost of living crisis is not his priority.
Labour understands that for most people the recovery is not being felt at all. We would get young people into jobs, ease the pressure on families and cut rates for small businesses. This would be paid for by reversing the millionaires’ tax cut, taxing bankers’ bonuses and restricting tax relief on pension contributions for those earning over £150,000 per year.
In Guildford, we need an economy which works for working people. In his budget, George Osborne missed another opportunity to help ordinary families. The Conservative-LibDem Coalition will not tackle the cost of living crisis because they always stand up for the wrong people: bankers, millionaires and the big energy companies. If elected next year, I will be an MP for Guildford who stands up for the many, not the few.
Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford
9B Martyr Road
Guildford GU1 4LF
The European Parliament elections are on 22 May 2014, less than two months away. It is vital that all Labour supporters, wherever they live, come out and vote. The election uses proportional representation, so every Labour vote will count.
One of our candidates, John Howarth, will be speaking at a hustings meeting in Camberley. I know John well and he is an excellent public speaker. He will be a brilliant MEP but he will only have the chance to represent us if Labour supporters remember to vote on 22 May.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing John make mincemeat of his opponents at the hustings. See you all there!
Last night I attended the selection hustings in Camberley where the Surrey Heath Labour Party chose their candidate to be MP in 2015. There was a very strong field of candidates, which was fantastic to see. Each candidate gave a five minute speech and then answered questions from the audience. I was able to ask a question to each of them. Having been through this process recently, I appreciated it from the candidates’ point of view as well. It is a challenging time for potential PPCs but the members and the voters of Surrey Heath would expect nothing less.
At the end, we all voted by ranking the candidates in order of preference, 1, 2, 3, etc. This is how the selection process was run in Guildford too. There were a similar number of postal votes too. The process was overseen by a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee.
The winner was Laween Atroshi, who I thought answered the questions from the floor particularly well. He has a great commitment to the party and the people of Surrey Heath. I think members were impressed with the work he has done researching the constituency and we were all pleased that he chose to apply here.
I think the Labour Party is really lucky to have candidates of such a high quality as Laween. He is energetic, talented and committed to working for everyone in Surrey Heath. As the PPC in a neighbouring constituency, I look forward to working with him on the many issues which affect voters in both our constituencies. Michael Gove will have a fight on his hands in 2015!
Me congratulating Laween Atroshi after the count
I was very pleased today to be invited to speak at the assembly of the Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst. Young people are finding they are less and less of a priority for government and policy makers. I feel we have a responsibility to help them regain democratic influence and power.
The Duke of Kent School
Yesterday’s budget showed starkly the political reality that older people are much more likely to vote than younger ones. George Osborne offered a cash bribe to pensioners, one of many. He will subsidise the interest rates they receive on their savings. Over-65s will have state money added to the market rates if they are lucky enough to have spare cash, for them only. This imbalance in democratic power is out in the open and its cause is undisputed. I have written about this before.
I spoke to the pupils about how they will need to use their voice, but not just for themselves. The Duke of Kent School is a private school and the pupils receive a privileged education. This means they have a responsibility for others who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.
There were some really good questions from pupils after my speech. I was asked about Labour’s taxation policy, the armed forces, affordable housing, immigration, my job as an airline pilot. I was even asked about Ed Balls’ performance on that morning’s Today Programme.
It was very pleasing to see that school pupils have such an interest in current affairs. This is vital for the years to come when the temptation of policy makers will be to continue to chase the pensioner vote at the expense of the next generation.
If you’re a member of the Surrey Heath Constituency Labour Party (like I am) you will soon be able to select the Labour Party’s candidate to be our MP at the 2015 general election. I have been analysing the candidates and I’m really pleased we have so many excellent applicants. After long consideration, I have decided to endorse Chris Ward. That is why, via Chris’s campaign, I sent out the following message to local members today:
Why I’m backing Chris Ward to be Surrey Heath’s next Labour PPC
On 21 March you will be entitled to vote to select our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) to stand in the 2015 general election. Selecting a PPC is one of the privileges of being a Labour Party member. The more members who vote, the greater the mandate our candidate will have. It is vital that our candidate gets off to the strongest possible start to take on Michael Gove, one of the Tory high command. I am writing to ask you to use your vote, either at the hustings meeting or by requesting a postal vote.
There are many high quality applicants to be PPC in Surrey Heath, any one of whom could do the job. Personally, I will be voting for Chris Ward.
Chris is an active campaigner with local knowledge. He has the energy and experience to fight the entrenched Conservative position in this constituency. People in Surrey Heath are not more grasping or selfish than anywhere else in the country. They are just used to voting Tory. We can break this habit but only by getting our message across to everyone.
Chris is an expert in new social media. He can give the Surrey Heath Labour Party a chance to reach voters through new channels. He also has long experience of door-to-door canvassing, which is still the best way to listen to people when we have the manpower.
In Surrey Heath, we have a duty to the rest of the Labour Party to force Gove and his well-funded Conservative Association to fight here. If we don’t pin them down, they will campaign for Tory candidates in marginal seats across the country and could decide the outcome of the election. If selected, Chris Ward will challenge Gove in his own backyard.
2015 will be one of the key elections of our lifetimes. It will set the direction for our country one way or the other. As Labour Party members, we want to see a society where wealth and privilege are more evenly spread, where the NHS and the environment are protected, and all people are treated with tolerance and respect. That is why we have to act now and do what we can to ensure Labour wins in 2015.
Friends, please do your bit and vote for Chris Ward to be the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Surrey Heath.
Yours in solidarity,
Richard Wilson Surrey Heath CLP Executive member and PPC for Guildford
PS. If you have any questions about how to vote in the selection please contact the CLP secretary whose phone number is on the back of your membership card.