Monthly Archives: November 2013

Guildford’s Labour Parliamentary Candidate for 2015


On 27 November 2013 I was selected by the members of Guildford Constituency Labour Party to be their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) in the next election. I am incredibly pleased and honoured to have been selected and I’m very grateful to the members for voting for me.

The vote followed an evening of speeches by all the potential candidates and questions from the audience. I have addressed hustings before but this was the first time I had applied for selection as a PPC. It was a fantastic experience and a really friendly atmosphere. Guildford CLP is very well organised (and the selection evening went very smoothly) and has many active and engaged members. I really enjoyed chatting to everyone before and afterwards. Members are very well informed about political issues and asked some very testing questions.

The last two days have been a blur of activity. I have been talking to many voters about some of the key issues: the NHS, the cost of living crisis, the bedroom tax, local democratic deficiencies, the living wage, the housing shortage, school places, rail fares, Britain’s place in Europe, etc. The Tory-LibDem Coalition is dismantling the NHS, preparing schools for privatisation, trashing our environment, scrapping social security and attacking workers’ rights.

In Guildford, only Labour can stand up for ordinary people. We have a great dedicated team here. Over the next 18 months we’ll be running an active energetic campaign for a fairer more equal society. I hope you’ll join us on the journey. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for take-off!

Richard Wilson and Guildford CLP Chairman Lynda MacDermott

Richard Wilson and Guildford CLP Chairman Lynda MacDermott

Visiting Siemens in Frimley with MEP Candidate Anneliese Dodds


Today I visited the Siemens site in Frimley with top-ranked MEP candidate Anneliese Dodds (and Freddy Dodds) to discuss with top management the effect that Cameron’s EU-exit referendum promise is having on their investment decisions. In trying to achieve the impossible, to placate the eurosceptic and xenophobic wing of the Tory Party, Cameron is harming vital employers. The huge uncertainty he has created is making investment decisions more difficult in the UK. Cameron’s weakness as a leader of his own party is endangering jobs, even here in Surrey.

You can read the press release here.

I am personally very grateful to the staff at Siemens for giving us so much of their time at such short notice and meeting with Anneliese and me today. Here are a couple of videos of our impressions of the meeting.

 

Correction: Siemens UK have 400 apprentices currently in this country, not 2,000 as I said in the video.

Labour’s Top Euro Candidate Highlights EU Exit Risk in Surrey Heath


Press Statement – Labour’s Top Euro Candidate Highlights EU Exit Risk in Surrey Heath

 
Press Statement – 26 November 2013 – For immediate release
 
Today, 26 November 2013, Labour’s top-ranked European election candidate [note 1], Anneliese Dodds [note 2], visited the Siemens site in Frimley to highlight the damage that would be done to the Surrey economy if the UK left the EU. Last week, Juergen Maier, the Managing Director of Siemens UK said that this would be “disastrous” for British manufacturers [note 3].
 
Siemens employs 13,000 workers in the UK, including 1,000 at its site in Frimley. It has been in the UK for 170 years but Mr Maier said that if Britain left the EU it would be “quite difficult for me to continue to invest in these factories.”
 
After visiting the Frimley site, Anneliese Dodds said, “I’m very grateful to Managing Director of Siemens Healthcare, Peter Harrison for meeting with us at such short notice.  He explained the danger of the ambiguity created by having an EU exit referendum hanging over the country. We need high quality manufacturing jobs here in Surrey and across the South East. We should be encouraging more of these kinds of jobs here. Instead we are creating uncertainty which is harmful to businesses like Siemens looking to make long term multi-billion pound investment decisions.”
 
Accompanying Anneliese Dodds was local community activist and Labour Party member, Richard Wilson [note 4]. He said, “Many local people work at Siemens and if Britain left the EU they could face losing their jobs. David Cameron’s weak leadership and pandering to the eurosceptic right by threatening to leave the EU in 2017 has already damaged investment in Britain. Good employers like Siemens need to be able to plan ahead and the risk of us leaving the EU will be giving them pause for thought. This can only harm the prospects of their workforce in the UK, including here in Surrey.”
 
Ends
 
Note 1. The election to the European Parliament will take place on 22 May 2014. It is proportional representation using the party list system. There are 10 MEPs in the South East of England.
 
Note 2. For more information about Dr Anneliese Dodds: www.anneliesedodds.org.uk or on Twitter @AnnelieseDodds
 
Note 3. This was reported in the Sunday Times here: www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Economy/article1344195.ece and mentioned on Mr Maier’s Twitter account @Juergen_Maier
 
Note 4. For more information about this press statement, or for photographs taken during the visit, contact Richard Wilson on 07939 273229 or 01276 479658 or richard_wilson@hotmail.com Richard Wilson’s details are here http://wilsonrichard.com/about/

Local NHS Campaigning Achieving Results


The one political issue which means the most to me is the NHS. It exemplifies how I believe we, as a society, should look after each other. It is the greatest achievement of the Labour Party and the best-loved institution in the United Kingdom.

While the NHS is a national issue, hence the name, I am committed to local, community, campaigning. Someone asked me recently where I see myself on a scale from the left to the right of the Labour Party. I answered that I’m not on that one-dimensional scale. You have to add a dimension, top-to-bottom, to find where I am. I’m down at the bottom, in the grass roots, fighting for change in communities with real people. You don’t have to be a Trot or a Blairite to realise that, for example, GP surgeries using premium rate numbers for patients to make appointments is morally wrong. The way to end this is through ground-up campaigning.

We’ve got your number

As the Tory-LibDem Coalition races on with the privatisation and fragmentation of the NHS, small but noisy local campaigns can still have successes for local people. The most commented on post on this blog is this one about the premium rate phone numbers used by local GP practices. By highlighting this breach of the doctors’ contract publicly and repeatedly I drew much criticism and even threats of legal action. However, I’m pleased to announce that one of the two local surgeries using the 0844 numbers has scrapped it and is now exclusively using a local number. The other one, Lightwater, continues to rip off its patients by having an 0844 number but also has a local number. This is inadequate, of course, and the campaign will continue until they scrap their premium rate number and apologise to their patients and me for their misleading and derogatory statements.

Ethical or unethical healthcare?

Another promising development, after a long local campaign, is that Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group have agreed to consider changes to their constitution proposed by the Surrey Heath members of 38 Degrees. This would help ensure that only ethical providers of healthcare are used and not tax evaders or companies with criminals on their boards. Here is the latest letter I received from Dr Andy Brooks, the CCG’s Chief Officer:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

It is important to remember that local Conservatives have opposed any restrictions on the commissioning of healthcare. A local Tory councillor, Denis Fuller, took to the letters page of a local newspaper to vilify me as a ‘hypocrite’ among other names, for trying to keep healthcare providers ethical. He objected to them having to pay tax in the UK.

This is what we are up against: the Conservative agenda is to sell off all of our public services and channel the money from them to private companies which they and their supporters benefit from. This is happening apace in the NHS and is why it is absolutely vital that we have a Labour government after the 2015 election. If I have to take some public abuse from blustering Tory councillors or some legal threats from greedy businessmen to achieve these local successes, so be it.

Who has taken Bagshot Library?


Confusion surrounds the current legal position of Bagshot’s small village library. Surrey County Council forced through its so-called Community Partnered Library policy against all public opinion. This means relying on groups of local volunteers to run the library after all paid staff are made redundant. The policy stated that if ‘volunteers’ could not be found then the library would close, so the new recruits would be forced to work for free to replace paid staff or face losing their village library. SCC admitted that this policy does not save any money, therefore it was clearly an ideological policy aimed at sacking public servants and then closing libraries.

There was a group of volunteers ready to take over the library. The Friends of Bagshot Library had been volunteering alongside the paid staff for years. Unfortunately, in 2011 and 2012 the then county councillor stopped all communication with the Friends. He also stopped attending council meetings after he lost his driving licence for an aggravated drink-driving offence.

In 2013 another Conservative was elected as the local county councillor. Instead of engaging with the Friends, he proceeded to undermine and sideline them. Local people were led to believe that Windlesham Parish Council was taking over as the so-called volunteer group. This turned out to be false. The new county councillor, Mike Goodman, is also chairman of Conservative-dominated Windlesham Parish Council and appears to have used their facilities for his personal project.

Surrey County Council cannot confirm the name of the new group of ‘volunteers’ which will be taking over the library from 7 December 2013. They also do not know the names of the directors or beneficiaries or their contact details. There is no official record of any decision being made to turn over the library to this group of persons unknown. There is now great concern that Bagshot Library is being appropriated by local Conservative councillors, acting outside the authority of the parish council and duping people into working for free for their own private enterprise. The councillors themselves are not thought to be library users.

Local resident and library campaigner Richard Wilson, who was the Labour candidate for Surrey County Council in May 2013 said, “It is now clear that the transition to a so-called Community Partnered Library must be halted until this legal uncertainty is resolved. At the election I pledged, if elected, to save Bagshot Library. I call on Cllr Goodman to tell SCC to remove Bagshot Library from its hitlist of libraries set to lose their librarians. Even at this late stage it is not too late to abandon this awful policy and save our library.”

Surrey County Council has already lost one judicial review due to this dire policy. They seem set to make further legal errors and risk losing a public asset which is more than valued, it is loved, by the people of Bagshot.

Message to Labour members in Guildford from PPC selection hopeful Richard Wilson


I am so proud to have been shortlisted by the Labour Party in Guildford for selection as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC). It is a great honour to be in the company of the other excellent candidates who have put themselves forward. There will soon be a hustings meeting for all eligible local members to attend so they can decide which candidate to select to stand for Parliament in 2015. Also, members who cannot attend the meeting can still apply for a postal vote. Any questions about the selection process should be directed to info@guildfordlabour.org

Here is my candidate statement which all members will soon be receiving:

Candidate Statement – Richard Wilson

Dear Guildford CLP Member,

Britain is facing a crisis. The cost of living is rising rapidly and wages are stagnant or falling. Quality housing is unaffordable for more and more families. The NHS is at breaking point this winter as the coalition government privatises and fragments it. Workers’ rights are being trashed and social security stigmatised and undermined. The Tories and LibDems are presiding over a massive transfer of wealth from ordinary people to a tiny privileged minority at the top.

However, even now there is hope. In 2015, Labour can return to power and repair the damage caused by Cameron and Osborne then build the kind of equal, fair society we all, as Labour Party members, wish to see. This will only happen if we all play our part. You can start by voting in this ballot to select your Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for 2015. By showing you care enough to vote, whoever is selected will have a greater mandate and a kick-start to their campaign.

My name is Richard Wilson and I am standing for selection. I am a 42-year old airline pilot and I have lived in an adjoining constituency for 13 years. I am Labour through and through, having been a member for 17 years and a supporter all my life. I have long experience of campaigning enthusiastically in many constituencies on many issues including the NHS, the environment and education. I was state educated, being the son of two teachers, and I’m a long term member of a union, BALPA. I have been a council candidate five times and have fulfilled a range of CLP and campaign roles.

If selected, I promise a campaign full of energy which will be welcoming to all members and supporters whether they want to make large or small commitments to help. Most of all, I want the next 18 months to be meaningful, effective and enjoyable for everyone involved.

As Labour Party members, you have the right to expect your PPC to throw themselves totally into the campaign. We have a great opportunity to improve Labour’s electoral position in Guildford, at the general election and council elections, but also in the 2014 Euro election. Together, by the strength of our common endeavour, we can force important issues for ordinary people onto the agenda.

If selected, I will take our message into the community. Could you help me do this? Would you like your PPC to visit your residents’ group, your workplace, your hospital, your religious group, your university, your union or your coffee morning, and listen to people’s concerns? I am used to giving media interviews and speaking in public and have knocked on many many doors for Labour. Please have a look at my blog, wilsonrichard.com, to see the recent issues I have been involved with, or phone me at home on 01276 479658.

Guildford CLP is a very friendly, welcoming, active group. This is why I have chosen to stand for selection here. This is the first time I have applied anywhere and this is the only CLP I have applied to. As an airline captain, I know what it means to take responsibility. If you trust me with your vote I will ensure our campaign is energetic, effective and open to everyone to participate in, in whatever way they feel comfortable.

May 2015 will be a key turning point, one way or the other, in the history of this country. You can influence the direction we turn. Please stand up for the many, not the few, and show your support for Labour by voting in this ballot.

Thank you,

Richard Wilson

Vote Labour in Winkfield and Cranbourne on 28 Nov


Yesterday, I was out with a team from the Bracknell Labour Party knocking on doors in Winkfield. There is going to be a by-election in the Winkfield and Cranbourne ward of Bracknell Forest Council on 28 Nov 2013. There are 42 councillors on the council and, at the moment, two of them are Labour.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Bigger Democratic Mandate

The two Labour councillors were also in the canvassing team. Cllr Mary Temperton and Cllr Tricia Brown punch well above their weight on the council, forcing it to work for local people and not just for itself. The result of this by-election will not change the control of the council but it will mean much more scrutiny and accountability. A Labour vote in Winkfield and Cranbourne is a vote for democracy. Labour have an excellent candidate in Janet Keene who, if elected, will hit the ground running.

If you live here, look out for Labour canvassers and don't forget to vote Labour on 28 Nov!

If you live here, look out for Labour canvassers and don’t forget to vote Labour on 28 Nov!

 

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