Category Archives: Labour Party

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

Windlesham’s Labour Garden Party 8 Sept 2013


I recently received my invitation to the Surrey Heath Constituency Labour Party’s annual garden party on 8 September. I was very pleased to read that, yet again, it is being held in Windlesham. Admission is free this year and isn’t limited to Party members.

Rumours abound about who the guest speaker(s) will be, the live music, raffle prizes and other treats in store for guests! I hope that further announcements will be made soon.

If you’re interested or intrigued about your local Labour Party, or if you’re within travelling distance of Windlesham, please come along. Don’t forget to let them know you’re planning attend though:

Garden Party

 

Sophia James

Labour Councillor for Katesgrove Ward

Cranleigh Labour Party

A voice for Cranleigh in tough times

Stanwell Voice

News and views from Robert Evans - Labour County Councillor for Stanwell Moor, Stanwell and part of North Ashford

The Camberley Eye

Community news and views about Camberley

Order Of Truth

When you know how the world works, you can do something about it.

huxley06

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Red Reflections

Tracey Hill's blog: Labour candidate for the Hollingdean and Stanmer ward on Brighton and Hove City Council. All views her own. Tweets more often than blogs.

No More Page 3

Because Boobs Aren't News

Public Libraries News

What's happening to your library?

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

manyvoices Blog

A place for any & all who care about the future of British Policing.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: