Category Archives: Labour Party

Stepping Down

Today, the Labour Party set off in a new direction. Unfortunately, it is not a direction I can follow.

It was a great honour to be the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for Guildford in May (as it was being a Labour council candidate 7 times in the previous years). I was privileged to work with many wonderful people who were doing everything they could to make Britain a fairer, more successful country by electing a Labour government. Together we increased the number of Labour votes by 132%, one of the highest increases in the whole country.

The national result on 7 May was bitterly disappointing and meant that we would have to think again about how we related to the electorate. I am horrified that the national party have chosen to turn their back on the British people and engage in meaningless posturing instead by electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader.2014-10-09 14.01.46

I spoke to hundreds, possibly thousands, of voters during the election campaign but one conversation in particular exemplifies the problem. I spoke to a self-employed plumber on his doorstep for over 15 minutes a couple of weeks before polling day. We talked about many subjects. Immigration and abuse of the benefit system were in there but they weren’t his top priorities, he needed to know that we understood the concerns though. I convinced him that we did. We talked about the traffic in Guildford and the difficulty for working people doing long hours to support their households generally. We understood each other and empathised on this. He asked if Ed Miliband was really up to the job of leading the country. I told him I had met Ed and looked him in the eye and I trusted him. He believed me. And I believed me.

In the end I put him down as a DTY. (For non-canvassers this means he was undecided how to vote this time, voted Tory last time, but would prefer Labour to Tory this time if that was the only choice).

Now that Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader, I could not stand on that voter’s doorstep and tell him that he should vote Labour. I could not persuade him that Labour under Corbyn would protect the economy and national security because I do not believe it myself. By the next election every voter will have heard of Corbyn’s positions on reopening coal mines, printing money, giving up the Falklands, appeasing Putin, seizing shares from private investors and all the other daft loony left fantasies and they will laugh at Labour canvassers.

Since I can’t support the direction that the party has chosen to take I don’t feel that I should hold any administrative position any more. I am stepping down from the Surrey Heath CLP Executive Committee and from being the Community Campaigning Officer. I am very grateful to the other EC members for their comradeship over the last few years and I wish them the best for the future. I have cancelled the small extra donation I was making to the party every month. I will not be putting my name forward to be the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Surrey next year.

I will always remain a Labour member and voter because I have a responsibility to everyone, all 6,534 people, who voted for me in May. I have given up much of my free time over the years campaigning for Labour and after a very draining election campaign I am ready for a little break anyway. I fear that the next few years would have been spent battling the hard left within the party instead of fighting the Tories if I had decided to continue. I don’t wish to give up my free time to do this.

Labour is going for a walk in the wilderness now. I won’t be coming along but I’ll be waiting for it to return. I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

Britain needs a Labour government so I’m backing Liz Kendall for Leader

It is over three months since the 2015 general election and I feel like I am still in mourning. The national result for Labour was awful and inevitably means we have to do some soul searching. I have a few thoughts about what happened and I will share these soon but in the meantime it has been decided that we will elect a new leader first and this looks like it will be an even bigger disaster than the election was.

Before nominations closed I speculated about the possible candidates. Unfortunately, Labour MPs decided to use their one special privilege in the new election system to nominate an unelectable leader which the vast majority of them could not serve under, Jeremy Corbyn. The candidates for London mayor obviously thought that this would endear them to some members but Sadiq Khan, David Lammy and Diane Abbott have made a huge misjudgement by nominating Corbyn. One commentator described the MPs who nominated Corbyn as “morons” and I find it difficult to understand their actions too. MPs have a special role in electing the Labour leader so they can’t blame the members (and supporters) if they choose one of the candidates which MPs put on the ballot paper. Everything which flows from the leadership result is primarily the responsibility of the MPs who nominated each candidate.

I’m backing Liz

Since I wrote my last blog on the subject, I have decided to back Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership. I even made a small donation to her campaign fund. I did this because I think she has the ability to challenge us to look properly about why we didn’t win the electorate’s trust in May. She is committed to Labour values but questions the old processes to achieve them. For example, she champions better public services such as social care and education but is open to new ways to make them better for the public who use them. This may be uncomfortable for some colleagues but if we just replay the 2015 election in 2020 then we should expect the same result.

Liz has talked about tackling inequality and reversing the inheritance tax cut. She has pledged to eliminate low pay, something George Osborne’s new minimum wage for over 25s will not do. Britain’s defences and our place in the world are under threat. The 1945 Labour government helped secure the post-war peace and Britain should always take the lead internationally. Liz has pledged to keep our armed forces properly funded and keep Britain at the heart of the EU.

If Jeremy wins I’ll remain a Labour member

Ballots will be going out in the next few days and the polls claim that Jeremy Corbyn will be our next leader. Jeremy has rebelled against the party position over 400 times since he became an MP so I’m sure he won’t mind a humble party member raising a few questions about himself. If Corbyn wins I will remain a Labour Party member. However, some of his people have suggested there may be purges of members who disagree with him so I guess it is possible I may be expelled for “defending my principles”, as Jeremy would call it.

Tony Blair said that if you stood for Labour in 1983 then you are true Labour. I would also claim that if you stood for Labour in the debacle of 2015 then you are true Labour too. A debacle it was: we were led to a position which the electorate could not agree with. We need to learn from this. Again. It happened before. I remember 1983 and 1987. Voters didn’t forgive us until many years after we eventually came to our senses again.

If Jeremy Corbyn wins, I will continue to oppose some of his policies. He proposes to print infinite money to fund public spending. Incidentally, this was one of the policies of the Peace Party in Guildford. They got 230 votes. The problem with the government printing money is that it devalues all existing money, people’s savings, incomes, company balance sheets, government gilts. Personally, I think this is a banana republic policy.

Corbyn proposes cutting defence expenditure even more than the Tories have done and unilaterally scrapping our independent nuclear deterent. He wants closer relations with Russia. This is a recipe for utter disaster. We should be increasing defence spending and making sure our borders and interests are secure.

Corbyn is against HS2 and the third runway at Heathrow. Both of these projects and many similar much needed infrastructure projects are needed to support British trade, business and links to the rest of the world. I will continue to speak up for such projects.

Jeremy wants to renationalise sections of British industry. I prefer to concentrate on what we want to achieve by intervening in markets rather than tie ourselves to one process. If Royal Mail is to be fully renationalised, will the shares be seized from investors and shareholders like postal workers? If not, how will the state pay the market price for hundreds of billions of shares in utility companies, rail companies, telecom companies and airlines? State seizures of assets have been tried before, such as during the Russian Revolution, with mixed results in the long term.

What Larks!

The Labour leadership election is great fun. For Tories and Trotskyites alike. The system means that they can all sign up to be “registered supporters” for £3 and vote in our election. If the Tories had such a system I would definitely sign up to vote for Bill Cash or Jacob Rees-Mogg. They would be out of power for a generation. They can’t believe their luck that they have a chance to remove the only other possible governing party from the field for a decade.

Jeremy Corbyn didn’t really want to be a candidate for leader. Diane Abbott did it last time so it was his turn. He doesn’t act or talk like a leader. Electing him as leader of the Labour Party would do immeasurable harm to the very people we wish to protect and to represent.

But I did not shoot the deputy

Choosing who to vote for in the deputy leadership election is harder. I wish this election had been held after we knew who the new leader was, or on a ticket system. My preferred ticket would be Kendall-Bradshaw to give us the best possible chance of organising to win in 2020.

However, if Jeremy Corbyn wins I expect he will get a metaphorical ice pick that will make his ears burn in a year or two to we will need a deputy leader in the co-pilot seat with the support base to drive things forward. Caroline Flint looks like the best candidate to me for this scenario.

If either of the two less radical candidates, Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham won (whom I both like), we would need a more radical deputy to make sure we reform. Stella Creasy would be best in this scenario.

I like Tom Watson too but I think a deputy needs to be very loyal and I remember his treatment of past leaders.

My endorsement

I have spent a lot of time talking to voters on the doorstep, including in marginal constituencies, and this is what informs my opinion. As a defeated Labour candidate for parliament in the momentous election of May 2015, I endorse Liz Kendall as our next leader. I like Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham too and I recommend placing them second and third respectively.

For deputy, I would prefer Ben Bradshaw if Liz Kendall was leader. However, I believe that the most likely outcome is that Jeremy Corbyn will win the leadership so I recommend voting for Caroline Flint first as the best person to pick up the pieces when his leadership implodes. Stella Creasy is a great candidate too.

Choosing a new leader – and a deputy

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

As the summer commences, the Labour leader and deputy leader contest is hotting up. I think nominations close next week. To make it onto the ballot paper candidates need at least 35 MPs to nominate them. After that it’s one member one vote, ranking the candidates in order of preference.
I’m still undecided on both contests but I have thought about some pros and cons for some of the candidates.
Leader candidates
  • Andy Burnham. Pros – I like Andy, he has stood up for values which I share consistently and andy burnhampowerfully for many years. He is an accomplished media performer and has support from a wide section of the party. Cons – I would like to see a woman lead the Labour Party if possible. It seems unfair to discriminate against Andy for this reason, however. Also, our defeat was so fundamental last month that it might be necessary to steer away from the last regime. Andy would do well in PMQs against Cameron but would it look too much like the last 5 years? Maybe.
  • Yvette Cooper. Pros – Again, Yvette is very good on TV. 2014-09-20 18.27.17She is calm and confident and definitely a match for any opponent. PMQs would be very uncomfortable for Cameron and the strident SNP would find her a difficult target to hit. In the wider media, Yvette would present a new politics breaking with the stale yah-boo tradition which has turned so many people off. Cons – One word: “#EdBalls”. Mr Cooper was great fun as shadow chancellor and got nearly every call right but he is central to the previous regime in many people’s minds. If we decide we need to make a clean cut with the last 5 years then this might be a distraction.
  • Mary Creagh. Pros – I met Mary briefly at a 2014-03-14 18.35.59meeting of the Southern group of Labour MPs. Admittedly, it was a very sympathetic audience but she really commanded the room. She was shadow transport secretary then and answered a range of questions, including mine, confidently and knowledgably. I remember thinking at the time that it would be brilliant if she was in government – talented, determined, convincing. Cons – Mary is not that well known among the wider public so her first few months as leader would be critical in setting the scene.
  • Liz Kendall. Pros – Liz’s leadership campaign started early and hit the ground running. She is offering a break from the previous regime, which failed and now looks like a failure. If Labour is to win in 2020 we will need to address national identity and present a big vision about what it means to be British. Now, any of the other serious candidates could do this too but perhaps Liz’s supporters have been the first to grasp this. Cons – Liz is not as assured a media performer as the other three, in my opinion, but she hasn’t had as much practice yet. Like Mary, she is not very well known in the country so would have to get off to a good start.

Some deputy leader candidates

  • Ben Bradshaw. Pros – Ben understands what it takes to win in the South and why we failed in May. I personally heard him tell Ed Miliband about 6 months before the election about southern voters’ concerns. He was spot on. Cons – I wouldn’t like to see an all-male, all-white leadership pair.
  • Stella Creasy. Pros – Community campaigning. Regular readers will know that this is the foundation of my politics. Stella’s USP is successful grassroots activism. Could this be the route to one million members and inevitable electoral successes? Cons – What about the South outside London where we are thin on the ground? What about Scotland?
  • Caroline Flint. Pros – Very popular among members, especially in Surrey. Great in TV debates and interviews. Cons – Maybe associated with the previous regime.
  • Tom Watson. Pros – Strong media performer and supported by a wide section of the party. Likeable and friendly. Cons – White male, which would be a problem if the leader was also white male.
  • Others – Labour is lucky that we have many great potential deputy leaders in addition to those above. I will be listening to everyone’s pitch, especially Rushanara Ali and Angela Eagle.

Anyway, I haven’t decided who to vote for yet. I’m looking forward to the campaign and I hope to help out in some way after nominations have closed and I have made up my mind on who to support. The good news is that all of the serious candidates are very strong propositions so I will get behind whoever is eventually elected.

#Lab14: Meeting Christian Aid campaigners

Date: 29 September 2014 – for immediate release
Richard Wilson, Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, met Christian Aid campaigners at the party conference in Manchester last week and heard about the charity’s work, including its ‘manifesto’ for the 2015 general election.

Richard Wilson PPC
Richard Wilson said, “It was great to meet the Christian Aid campaigners at the party conference in Manchester last week. While at the conference I took the opportunity to hear from a range of organisations about their work to help those most in need.
“We should always remember that poverty occurs due to political decisions, in this country and around the world. British people understand this and are among the most generous donors to humanitarian causes. Like most of the voters in Guildford and Cranleigh, I support Christian Aid’s call for gender equality, real action on climate change and a clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. Britain needs a new government which can be a global leader to protect the most vulnerable everywhere in the world.
“Christian Aid is an excellent organisation – working to tackle the root causes of poverty around the world. “
Laura Taylor, Christian Aid Head of Advocacy, said: “We were very glad to meet Richard and have the chance to discuss how best the UK can help end global poverty and tackle the climate crisis.
“Christian Aid is not party political and would never try to influence who is elected, but we know that poverty doesn’t happen by accident and that the policies that politicians choose to implement can have a huge impact on tackling poverty.
“So we are trying to influence all parties’ General Election manifestos, by publishing one of our own. Our Contract With the World’s Poor outlines the policies we’d like to see all parties adopt. The UK can help to create a world in which poorer and more vulnerable people get a fairer deal.”
“It focusses on what the next Government can do to achieve a real step change in global development, in areas such as tax and climate change. The next Government really can take a huge step towards ending aid dependency in the developing world.
“I encourage you to get involved here:”
For more information please contact: Richard Wilson, 01483 511272,, Twitter: @RichardWLabour,

#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.


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.


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!

Positive Politics – Labour’s Transport Policies for the South of England

The 2015 parliamentary campaign in the Guildford constituency is already well under way. Almost every day there is some sort of local Labour Party event. Yesterday I took time out to visit Westminster and attend the Labour Southern Group of MPs. Its chairman, Ben Bradshaw, invited Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) from the South East, South West and Eastern regions to attend.

I had already met some of the other PPCs there and it was great to swap campaigning tips and meet the hardworking MPs. I was sitting beside Mike Le-Surf and Chris Vince.

The guest speaker at the meeting was Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary.

Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

This was brilliant news because transport issues are so important in Guildford and Surrey generally, as well as in the South East. Also, I’m particularly interested because I have worked in the transport industry for the last 14 years as an airline pilot.

The Department of Transport (DfT) has an annual budget of around £13 billion, spread over a huge range of activities and including many executive agencies like the Highways Agency. Mary was completely on top of all the detail for every part of the brief. It was great to listen to how each part of the transport portfolio meshes with the others and joins up with key policies in other departments, such as housing and the environment.

What really struck me was how positive Labour’s positions on transport are. There is great scope to improve how the transport budget is spent and sustainable transportation, planned properly, could have a massive benefit to a huge number of people.

I had travelled to Westminster by train and tube after parking my car at the station car park. The preceding five days saw me fly 14 flights in and out of Heathrow, spending nights in Munich, Zurich and Newcastle. I hadn’t used boat transport recently, but I felt I understood some of the challenges we were discussing anyway!

In Guildford, we have been campaigning for a cap in the rise of rail fares. This petition has received a great response from local commuters. A big part of the discussion with Mary was “How do we get a better rail network for commuters?”. This is rightly a priority because commuters have been ripped off since 2010 and the service is inadequate. We need a “3rd way on the railways” I think. The private Train Operating Companies seem concerned only with short term profits. I was interested to hear about how they neglect the recruitment and training of new drivers. A high proportion of drivers were trained (very thoroughly) by British Rail. Where will the next generation of skilled drivers come from if the TOCs don’t take responsibility for this?

Bus deregulation has failed many communities including in Surrey. Mary spoke about how communities will have greater say in how their bus services are re-regulated. The centre of Guildford gets gridlocked frequently and only proper local transport planning can alleviate this. Sadly, for residents and businesses, Surrey County Council is not up to the task. I agree that national government should have “last resort” powers to intervene. We saw during the Christmas floods that poor transport planning and traffic gridlock actually endangered lives and property because emergency supplies could not be moved by road around Guildford.

I asked Mary about runway capacity in the South East. Many constituents depend on Heathrow or Gatwick directly or indirectly and those of us who work there are very proud of the contribution we make to the economy of the whole country and continent. David Cameron has been incredibly weak by instructing the Davies Commission not to report its findings until after the 2015 election. Hopefully there will be some progress, such as ruling out Boris Island, before then.

While HS2 has not come up on the doorsteps of Guildford yet, it is a critical issue elsewhere. Instinctively I’m in favour but we need to ensure public money is well-spent too. This is an example of the interconnectedness of transport policy. Rail connections to northern cities are vital to mitigate the overcrowding and housing problems in London and the South East. Without HS2 I don’t see a solution.

We covered so many other issues in a fast-moving stimulating discussion: cycling, transport access to hospitals, home to school transport, bio fuels in aviation, concessionary bus fares for young people to go to college, level crossings, ports and freight transport.

The key message I took was that transport policy needs to be taken by the scruff of the neck, not left to wander wherever the market takes it. It is really pleasing that Mary Creagh is so enthusiastic about what could be achieved and so positive about how we will do it after 2015.


Guildford NHS Special 29 Jan 2014

Yesterday, the Guildford Labour Party held its NHS Special event. It was a fascinating and informative evening. As the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, I addressed the meeting and I was really glad to see so many new members there.

The other presentations were very interesting. Here is a video which explains the current NHS top-down reorganisation:

There was also a talk from Ray Rogers, a Governor of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. I learned a lot about the means of holding foundation trusts to account. Ray’s blog is here.

It really is a tragedy that the NHS is being privatised and fragmented by the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Their “any qualified provider” clause is opening up the entire NHS to any private company. When Labour founded the NHS in 1948, a time of the deepest austerity, Aneurin Bevan said that the NHS is “a triumphant example of the superiority of collective action and public initiative applied to a segment of society where commercial principles are seen at their worst”.

I lived in the USA for over a year and saw the fear that a lack of universal healthcare provision causes. If people lose their job, they lose their healthcare, and so do their family. Even with insurance, long complicated treatment may not be funded and people could lose everything they own and become destitute if they are taken ill.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, not an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.” – Aneurin Bevan

Speakers from the floor joined me in deploring the way many carers are treated and agreed that social care should be better funded to save hospital capacity and costs. We discussed Andy Burnham’s “whole person care” where physical, mental and social care would be combined in a new National Health and Care Service.

The only way to rescue the NHS is to ensure a Labour majority government is elected at the 2015 election and the Tory-LibDem Health and Social Act is repealed.

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” – Aneurin Bevan

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