Keep your cool! Don’t abuse shopworkers

I was very pleased to offer my support to workers at Guildford’s Tesco store today. They are campaigning to protect shopworkers from verbal and physical abuse received from some customers. This is part of USDAW’s Respect for Shopworkers Week.

2014-11-13 09.56.56

I had the opportunity to speak to members of staff and hear their experiences. Thank you to Angie, Lyn, Sue, Lucy and Tasha for inviting me and telling about the occasions where customers lost their cool.

The relationship between customers and those who provide a service is sometimes very uneven in terms of power. In a similar way, the power relationship between employers and employees can be unbalanced too. When this happens there is the potential for the relationship to become abusive. It was this imbalance that led to the Labour Party being set up over 100 years ago and it is why we still exist today.

It was great to see that Tesco management were supporting the campaign today. They allowed me into the staff canteen for a cup of tea and a chat with staff on their break. Tesco realise that their employees deserve to be protected from abuse and that it is not part of their job.

Please remember the next time you are feeling stressed while shopping: follow the USDAW penguin’s advice and Keep Your Cool!



Getting the Avenue ship-shape

It is a source of great pride for Guildford to host the University of Surrey and the many students from all over the country and beyond who come here to study. They add so much vitality to the town and we all gain from having them here.

One group that gains more than most is the town’s landlords. They can charge rents on short-term leases to large numbers of students. This is perfectly legitimate, of course, and benefits students and landlords alike. Or, at least, it should.

I remember being a student, then a young graduate engineer, in private rented sector accommodation where I rented a flat with others in my position. Studying or working long hours in communal accommodation means everyone has to muck in to keep it ship-shape.

Rubbish in GPA today

Rubbish in GPA today

It is really important that we provide a comfortable clean living environment for our students and young residents. That is why I spent today in Guildford Park Avenue. I was investigating the reports I had received about rubbish being uncollected and the street scene deteriorating.

This street has a high proportion of buy-to-let student properties. I would like to turn this situation around and help Guildford Park Avenue become a model of town and gown living.

A PC World shopping trolley in GPA. They will soon have it back, one way or another!

A PC World shopping trolley in GPA. They will soon have it back, one way or another!

The first thing we have to do is clean up the rubbish and get it ship-shape and Guildford fashion.

  • The shopping trolleys won’t do – so I’ve contacted PC World and M&S to get them to collect theirs.
  • The cable TV/phone cabinets hanging open won’t do either so I’ve filed a complaint with Virgin Media to get them replaced and cleaned up. I used to work for this company as an engineer so I
    Dear Virgin Media, if you don't fix this you'll be hearing from me and my shipmates.

    Dear Virgin Media, if you don’t fix this you’ll be hearing from me and my shipmates.

    know these things are possible but only if residents complain loudly and repeatedly and I can do that quite well!

  • The piles of rubbish, mattresses, broken furniture and estate agents signs lying in bushes won’t do, of course. I have written to the council, as well asfillingintheirfly-tipping report, andIhaveemailedFoxtons estate agent with a photo of their discarded sign.

    Foxton's estate agent's sign lying in the bushes. I'm happy to carry it into their office if required.

    Foxton’s estate agent’s sign lying in the bushes. I’m happy to carry it into their office if required.

To get Guildford Park Avenue ship-shape will need a good crew. Would you like to help? I expect the University and the council will get on board once they see what needs done. If the companies I have mentioned don’t sort out their flotsam and jetsam then we will take their trolleys and signs and anything else round to their offices and hoist it all aboard for them in person.

The current state of GPA reminds me of my own student days. Now that I’m a Captain I want to show that it needn’t be like this. Let’s get this street ship-shape for everyone. Let’s live together as one ship’s company. Let’s have a community.


Here are some of the responses received so far:

PCW2543729CR, RE_ Your trolley in Guildford street

Guildford Borough Council Health & Community Care Services auto-reply

FW_ Foxtons

Foxtons 2


We are starting to make some progress. These emails explain:

M&S Shopping Trolley

Rubbish outside 184 Guildford park Avenue [UNC]


I did a quick inspection yesterday and the rubbish pile I complained about has gone. Foxtons have collected their sign, M&S have removed their trolley and the fly-tipped furniture I reported has been removed.

This is good progress but the Virgin Media cabinets are still burst open with wires spewing forth and the PC World trolley is still there although they emailed yesterday to say it will be collected soon.


The PC World trolley is gone now. I reported the discarded mattress and broken furniture dumped beside it to the council and they came and removed it all.

Virgin Media have replied to my third complaint promising to sort out their broken street cabinets asap.

Guildford election battle lines drawn on NHS

22 October 2014 – for immediate release

NHS debated by Labour’s Richard Wilson and Guildford’s Conservative MP

Letters exchanged between two contenders to be Guildford’s MP next May reveal that the NHS will be the key battleground in the general election.

In August, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, airline pilot Richard Wilson, wrote to the current MP, Conservative Anne Milton, to ask her to clarify how her position on the NHS has changed since being elected. He asked her to vote for the NHS private members bill being tabled by Labour’s Clive Efford MP on 21 November to reverse some of the Coalition Government’s privatisation of the NHS.

Ms Milton replied to say she would consider the bill “in detail” before the debate. Since then, a senior cabinet minister has told the press that the Conservative-LibDem top-down reorganisation of the NHS was the government’s “biggest mistake”. On 20 October, Richard Wilson wrote again to request that Ms Milton tell the people of Guildford where she stands on the NHS.

Richard Wilson said, “David Cameron’s MPs were elected on a pledge to avoid top-down reorganisations of the NHS. Voters deserve to know if their MP agrees with cabinet ministers that breaking this pledge was a terrible mistake. I have asked Anne Milton whether she is in favour of restoring the 48-hour guarantee for a GP appointment and ensuring cancer tests and results are available to patients within one week. From speaking to many NHS staff and patients recently, it is clear to me that voters in Guildford place the NHS high on their list of priorities when deciding how to vote next May.”


Note 1: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 16 August

Note 2: Letter from Anne Milton to Richard Wilson 22 August

Note 3: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 20 October

Photo – Richard Wilson meeting midwives outside Royal Surrey County Hospital during their 4-hour strike last week: 2014-10-13 07.57.09

Threat to Surrey’s Care Homes

16 October 2014 – for immediate release

Threat to Surrey’s Care Homes

The six remaining residential care homes for older people that are still maintained by Surrey County Council (SCC) are under threat, including Longfield in Cranleigh. At the SCC Cabinet on 21 October councillors will be asked to begin the process of closing them down and transferring hundreds of elderly vulnerable residents to privately run care homes.

Labour’s Richard Wilson said, “As life expectancy increases, we need to think more about how older people are cared for. We need decent, dignified, safe care for our mums and dads. I hope Surrey County Council are not considering washing their hands of this responsibility. Moving residents will be very traumatic for them, even the prospect of their homes closing will cause great distress to many vulnerable people. I am saddened that after raising our Council Tax repeatedly and awarding councillors bumper pay rises the Council claim they cannot find the money to maintain and improve these homes.”

If the Cabinet follows the recommendation next Tuesday, a consultation process will start and the final decision will be taken next February. SCC owns 30 care homes for older people but the running of 24 have been transferred to the private sector. The remaining 6 are:

6 care homes

In addition to the permanent residents, in the table above, there are around 89 “respite” residents who live there temporarily to give their carers at home some time off.

Around 500 staff work in the care homes.

The GMB union will be lobbying councillors on Tuesday 21 October from 1pm outside the front of County Hall , Kingston ahead of the cabinet meeting at 2pm.


Note 1: Richard Wilson is Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford constituency, which includes Cranleigh.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Note 2: This issue is item 16 on the Cabinet agenda for 21 Oct:

Note 3: The table above comes from this document:



Labour’s Richard Wilson supports campaign to make voices of people with a learning disability heard in general election

Press release 10 October 2014 – for immediate release

Labour’s Richard Wilson supports campaign to make voices of people with a learning disability heard in general election

Today, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Richard Wilson, has signed up his support for Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.

The new campaign is about empowering people with a learning disability and their families to have their voices heard by their local MPs and candidates in the lead up to the May 2015 General Election.

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but many feel they are not listened to by those in power and the issues they that are important to them – like hate crime, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.

Richard Wilson said:
“People with a learning disability and their families are as much a part of our society as anyone else and deserve to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. I am listening and I hope that many more MPs and potential candidates will do the same by getting on board with Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.”

Richard wrote the following on the Hear my voice website:
“I am listening because I believe it is a fundamental human instinct to take responsibility for each other and care for the vulnerable as a society. I believe this instinct is more powerful than the instinct to grab what we can for ourselves. This is why I am in politics. I want to fight for the most vulnerable and to persuade everyone else that this is the right thing to do for our society. It is morally right but also the instinct to take responsibility for each other is what defines our humanity.”

Richard Wilson is the latest to confirm his support for the campaign and joins a host of other MPs and future candidates who have signed-up to say they are listening to the voices of people with a learning disability on the new Hear my voice website: www.hear-my-voice-org-uk

Through the website, people with a learning disability and their families have a space to share their experiences with their local MP and, in return, MPs and candidates can show their support by signing-up to say they are listening.

Jan Tregelles, Mencap’s chief executive, said:
“It is encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the next Parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so prospective candidates should be listening to what they have to say when they are out on the campaign trail.”

Lord Brian Rix, Mencap President, said:
“There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 6 million more family members and carers connected to them. However they often tell us they feel they are not listened to by politicians and subsequently many of the challenges they face go unheard and unresolved. We are asking Members of Parliament and prospective candidates to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”

The campaign has also given rise to a Manifesto, which explores the issues that matter most to people with a learning disability and their families and on which they want to see action from the next UK government. These include improving healthcare for people with a learning disability, ending disability hate crime and improving support in education.

Mencap Young Ambassador Aaron, who is 19-years-old, didn’t get the extra support he needed with reading and writing when he was at school. He said:
“If I’d had more support I could have got better grades and my life could be very different. I think there should be more training for teachers and people who work in schools so they recognise people who need support and understand people’s needs. I’m talking to you today because I hope you, as MPs, want to make a difference and stand up for people with as well. We want to go forwards, not backwards.”

To find out more about the Hear my voice campaign and Manifesto, visit:


For more information, please contact Lisa Gilbert, PR Officer at Mencap, on 020 7696 6950 or

Notes to editors

About Mencap
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email

About Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign
People with a learning disability – and the millions of family members, carers and support workers connected to them – can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them at the 2015 General Election.

Hear my voice is a campaign designed to provide a platform for people with a learning disability and their families to make their voices heard. There are a lot of different ways to get involved, from sharing what matters to you, to holding an event to get people with a learning disability registered to vote. Through grassroots campaigning, Hear my voice will ensure the next Government improves the lives of people with a learning disability.

About learning disability
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability, which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, like dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.

Richard Wilson’s entry on the Hear my voice website is here:

A View to a Kill: Observing Police Firearms Training

Today I was lucky enough to be the guest of Surrey Police and Sussex Police at their joint firearms training establishment in East Sussex to observe recurrent training of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs). Regular readers will know that I often write about criminal justice issues and I really try to become informed on complicated matters where the public perception might not tell the whole story. Last year I observed police Taser training which was an eye-opening experience.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”- Mother Teresa

I was invited to today’s training during a Twitter-storm-in-a-teacup when I commented about incidences of armed police bringing their guns to routine callouts. When people ask what the point of social media, like twitter, is I would use this as an example. Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman saw my tweet and contacted me to offer the opportunity to find out how British armed police operate. Simon is the ACPO lead for armed policing. He contacted Surrey’s Chief Constable, Lynne Owens, who asked me what I would like to see and authorised it. Then Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry who is in charge of specialist operations for Surrey and Sussex got in touch followed by Superintendent Sharon Bush.

If you haven’t already noticed, senior police officers all have Twitter accounts! They are clearly not for reporting crimes on. They are for communicating with the public (well, tweeters anyway). This transparency is very interesting. Although I am now a parliamentary candidate, when I observed the Taser training I was just a typical blogger. Everyone I met on these two days was keen to explain their jobs and answer my questions. Also, much of what I discovered was contrary to public perception. Clearly the police is making an effort to show what they do and why and clearly this is needed because public debate about some policing issues is not informed enough yet.

Observant readers will have noticed that I have spoken to 4 senior officers by this stage. There were two more, Inspectors, in the chain before today’s visit. I can’t really comment on whether this chain is too long. If the police was set up to facilitate politicians visiting their facilities then it is rather inefficient. Happily, that is not their raison d’être so I can understand why it took a few phone calls and emails. I won’t name the other officers because they don’t have as high a public profile and I haven’t asked them if it would be OK. However, everyone was very helpful and cooperative, especially the Inspector who showed me round today. He answered my questions and talked through the events we were watching making sure I noticed the important points.

“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”- Dalai Lama XIV

Firearms training centre

Firearms training centre

At the training base, there is a mock town road with a bus stop, lots of seized cars for practising with and an indoor mock-up of lots of rooms in a maze-like building where gunmen and their victims could be concealed.

AFOs have at least 15 recurrent training days per year, with additional days required for various specialisations. Some trainees I spoke to suggested up to 30 days per year spent training. This seems like a lot and I think the public would be reassured because of the responsibility an armed officer has. They do not shoot to incapacitate, they shoot to kill. If a target is shot and no longer a threat then they carry out medical treatment to try to undo the effect of their own shots. I heard about how the armed police at a shooting are often able to administer immediate treatment for gunshot wounds more effectively than paramedics.

There is no doubt that spending your working day preparing potentially to take another person’s life is a very serious occupation. I didn’t hear anyone take this lightly. The mood in between the training sessions seemed calm but the simulated events were anything but that. There are over 100 AFOs in Surrey and Sussex combined but when days off, etc are taken into account the number is not particularly high in my opinion. Gatwick Airport police are all armed, of course.

The training day had two groups of trainees with about 12 in each. Everyone there, trainees, instructors and observers, was a white man except one woman trainee and one woman officer who was observing, she is considering applying to join the firearms section. More diversity would obviously be an advantage.

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”- Mao Zedong

The Weapons

The handgun that all AFOs carry at all times is the Glock 17. In the training environment they use a blue version to ensure they don’t accidentally take out the wrong weapon from the armoury.

Glock 17 (blue for training), Taser (red) and carbine

Glock 17 (blue for training), Taser (red) and carbine

They also use carbines which fire 5.56mm rounds which penetrate car windows, doors and people accurately at up to 300m and less precisely at 500m. AFOs also carry Tasers and another nonlethal option is the baton launcher which fires a kind of rubber bullet. This was described as like being hit by a baton: sore but less effective against drugged or drunk assailants. They also have stun grenades for clearing buildings.

My concern is about how the public are protected. Firstly, we need to be protected from armed criminals. Secondly, we need to have confidence that the police won’t kill or injure anyone unnecessarily, even criminals.

The Tactics

Given all the dangers and pressures of armed policing, it is vital that AFOs work well as a team. Since team members have to be interchangeable standard tactics are used for arresting people in cars, “vehicle stops” and searching buildings, “single system search”. These tactics are common across the UK so officers in different forces can theoretically quickly work alongside each other. I work for a very large airline and we operate the same way. I could fly with any of the 500+ copilots on my fleet and we would be able to work as a team straight away dealing with emergencies because we all follow standard procedures.

Enforced vehicle stop

Enforced vehicle stop

We saw two types of vehicle stop: compliant and enforced. There are two threat levels: low and high. They were very different experiences. The low threat compliant stop involved a lot of shouting and would be a frightening experience for an innocent driver. The police handguns and carbines were drawn and clearly threatening to the motorist who was stopped (a police officer role playing) but the safety catches were still on and the carbines were kept pointing down or away from the target. The motorist ended up being handcuffed on their knees, which would be traumatic but not fatal.

The high threat enforced stop started with a car crash, literally. It was a low speed bump but created some broken glass and a bent BMW door. The safety catches were off and the tension levels kicked up a notch. The car passenger was handcuffed face down on the wet ground in front of me. No one was injured during the training exercise but it must be a risk and in real life I expect there would be injuries even without any bullets being fired. However, nobody was shot and this reflects how things are usually done in Surrey and Sussex. The Inspector escorting me told me he has conducted these “stops” in real life but Surrey Police as a whole has only fired live rounds on two occasions in the last 10 years, causing one fatality.

The assessment of the threat level is very important too. As an airline captain I am required to react to bomb threats based on the assessment too and my actions would be very different for different threats so it is vital the assessment is accurate. (I’ve never received a bomb threat to my aircraft in 15 years, fingers crossed!).

Hostage to be rescued, viewed from gantry

Hostage to be rescued, viewed from gantry

The “single system search” is a systematic way of clearing and searching a building. It can be scaled up or down depending on how many AFOs are available. There are two types of search: emergency and deliberate. An emergency search will be when time is limited and there is a shooter or a victim which needs to be found and dealt with quickly. The training mock-up has a gantry overhead where we could observe how the teams moved from room to room. I had to wear safety goggles and ear plugs but the weapons only fired paint pellets. Like the vehicle stops, this involved a lot of shouting. I think the communication between the AFOs was more standardised here because it is clearly critical they know what their colleagues are doing. The risk of “blue on blue” is very high. The bullets can pass through doors and people so AFOs have to ensure they don’t hit each other.

The Threat

There was plenty of time today to discuss with officers what they see as the threat. This was similar to the analysis by trainees at the Taser training I observed. EMDs, Emotionally or Mentally Distressed people, cause the vast majority of their callouts, 21 out of 23 was cited. If people are not thinking rationally it must be very difficult to stop them harming others without using force. Some of them may hope to commit “suicide by cop”. I really feel for police officers who have to deal with violent irrational people, I know I couldn’t do that part of their job. Dealing with armed bank robbers is far easier to understand. The vehicle stops simulated this and reminded me of The Professionals. In reality, police work of this kind is messy and decisions are difficult to take.

Some vehicle stops in real life are totally innocent people. A “partial index” was mentioned where part of a car registration was recorded at a crime. When a car was stopped by armed police looking for the criminals it turned out to be a nun!

I think the threat in Surrey is different to the threat in London. Also, I feel Surrey Police train hard and fight easy. They don’t appear to be as trigger-happy as the Met. In the whole of Surrey there are only 2 ARVs, Armed Response Vehicles, on constant patrol. I suggested they are like Trident submarines, constantly at sea, providing a defence. For over a million residents, this does not seem like militarisation.

Surrey Police’s armed officers provide the counter terrorism function for our county too. This is why there are no officers in my photos and I haven’t named anyone operational. The terrorism threat against British police officers was recently raised and I respect the risk these officers take by being possible targets. I haven’t described in detail the tactics because it is not totally relevant and I don’t want to help anyone counter them.

Speaking to Yvette Cooper at Labour conference

Speaking to Yvette Cooper at Labour conference

It was pointed out that there are many legally-held firearms and shotguns in Surrey. As someone who has been threatened by one, over the phone, I appreciate that threat. As an aside, I was glad to hear from Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, at the annual conference that, under Labour, Surrey Police will be able to charge applicants for shotgun certificates the full cost of providing them. Prices have been frozen for so long it costs the force a huge amount every year processing shotgun permits. That money should go on policing.

Guns in Public

This debate started with people objecting to armed officers bringing guns to routine calls. This happens sometimes in Surrey but not in Sussex. We discussed how the public react. It was suggested that, if noticed, it could be a conversation piece for young men (the subject of role models and inspiration for young men must be addressed in future). I am concerned about inherent implicit threats of violence. However, if a domestic abuse incident is in progress and the “box is empty” apart from the ARV then it makes sense for them to deploy to it.

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one”- Vladimir Lenin

Avoid, Trap, Mitigate

This is our mantra when flying airliners. Sending armed officers to routine calls because no one else is available is “mitigating”. It is an expensive and less effective way of working. I need to understand why we cannot work at the “avoid” level. We need to work at this level for the mentally distressed people who cause the majority of armed police callouts too. They should be receiving help earlier. Ending up in a police cell or being shot by police is the outcome which must be avoided.

It was fascinating to watch armed police training today. In particular I enjoyed discussing these issues with trainees and instructors, they clearly think deeply about the implications of how they carry out their jobs. I am now coming to expect this from police I meet in person. My two objectives are to understand the effect on public safety of a) stopping dangerous people and b) use of violent police action beyond that absolutely necessary.

I am very grateful to Surrey Police and in particular the officers who chatted to me today. I have learned a lot today but my research is not yet complete.

“Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”- Ayn Rand

#Lab14: The Leader’s Speech

This is the fifth in a series of posts about the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

The Choice

I am writing this a week after getting home from Manchester and a few hours after watching David Cameron give his speech to the Conservative Party Conference. In Manchester last week, there was great excitement for Ed Miliband’s speech and I made new friends in the queue to get in and in the conference centre and the bars afterwards. We all could see that this was one half of showing the British people what the choice is next May. The other half was today.

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

I have met Ed a few times now. As a PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) I have an equal chance to speak to Ed and the Shadow Cabinet as other candidates throughout the country. My honest opinion is that Ed is a good man. He is not cynical or driven by calculations of popularity like in The Thick of It. On the contrary, my experience is that he thinks deeply about the real issues affecting people in the UK, and the world. He can see what the moral, ethical and decent solution is to these problems and he pursues it. He took on Murdoch because it was the right thing to do. No other party leader has had that moral bravery in my lifetime. He is a threat to the right-wing establishment so they smear him continuously. Is anyone surprised by that?

Cost of Living

Only Ed talked about the failure of the economy to provide for ordinary people. Cameron cannot touch this subject. This is what I hear on the doorstep and in the street when I speak to voters. 9 million people, including 2 million children, live in private rented housing. The numbers doing so in Guildford have rocketed since 2010. Only Ed is on their side.

Only Ed and Labour can intervene in the energy market to freeze utility bills. Cameron can’t touch this, his donors would blow a fuse.

Wages are stagnating and more and more people find themselves on zero-hour contracts or earning below the living wage. Only Ed Miliband and Labour will stand up for those people. Disabled people have been targeted by the cruel Tory-LibDem Bedroom Tax. Only Labour will scrap it.

A fair society is a strong society. People should be fairly rewarded for work and protected from predatory corporations. Ed can do this, Cameron cannot.

The Next Generation

In Ed’s speech there was a vision for how the country could be. If the economy worked for working people and we did more for each other, together, then the next generation need not be worse off than their parents.

Ed spoke about climate change and its threat to our world. Cameron forgot that section of his speech, if it ever existed. Rampant climate change will wreck large parts of the globe. It will bring poverty, famine and mass displacement. We have an obligation to our fellow world citizens to play our part in combatting it. Ed will, Cameron won’t.

Ed’s vision is one of hope. Hope, that our country can change to share the proceeds of globalisation with everyone, that we can keep our planet liveable for all peoples, and hope that the next generation can have the opportunities that their parents did.

Cameron’s vision is one of fear. Fear, that other countries will betray us, that entrenched privilege will be threatened, and fear that new ideas and culture will reach us and challenge us.

Does fear trump hope? If it does then the next generations will live a less fulfilled existence than their ancestors. This is The Choice.


The National Health Service typifies how British people want to care for each other. I am old enough to remember how Thatcher ran it down so that patients were waiting for hours on trolleys in corridors. Labour rescued the NHS then and will need to rescue it again. Cameron and Clegg are selling off our NHS. Everything is up for grabs.

In Ed’s speech he set out how we will combine health and social care and provide the funding required to secure the future of Britain’s most loved institution. Cameron didn’t.

I told BBC Surrey about Ed’s speech here:


Ed offered carefully costed plans to save the NHS and clear direction on the environment. He offered hope to the next generation and a way to make the country and the economy work for everyone, not just a small elite.

Cameron offered an excuse to bash the most vulnerable, austerity without end and a massive pile of cash to the richest in society.

The choice is clear. The election is on 7 May 2015. Which will you choose?


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