Tag Archives: Guildford

Homage to Guildford

The UK general election of 7 May 2015 was momentous.

Richard Wilson and Guildford CLP Chair Lynda MacDermott

Richard Wilson and Guildford CLP Chair Lynda MacDermott

Even back in November 2013 it was clear that this would be a big one. About 18 months ago, I was selected to be the Labour Party candidate to contest the seat of Guildford.

I grew up a few miles away from the birthplace of Keir Hardie, one of the founders of the Labour Party, so it was a special honour for me to represent his party in Surrey, the county which has been my home for 15 years. I was selected by the party members in Guildford in a “one member one vote” ballot.

I decided to stand for Parliament because I wanted to contribute the most I could. People deserve a credible Labour candidate to vote for wherever they live. I chose to put myself forward for selection in Guildford because I live about 5 miles away, the local party has a (deserved) reputation for being welcoming, and there are numerous national issues which touch the constituency and should be debated in an election.

This was the first time I had attempted to be selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) and looking back with the benefit of hindsight I am sure I did the right thing. My preconceptions about what it would be like were mostly wrong, however. I had been involved in many previous council elections and I helped out in other constituencies like Eastleigh and Reading East. Also, I did lots of Labour Party training webinars, asked advice and read what I could find on being a candidate. I still wasn’t prepared.

I wasted a huge amount of my time and energy trying to achieve small campaign objectives which proved impossible. We also made massive progress on other objectives with relatively little effort. If I had known then what I know now I could have focused on the achievable. I think this is my only regret.

It is difficult being a PPC while working full time but my employer was quite good about it. This is just a feature of our system of democracy. People say they want MPs who have done other jobs but, in reality, insiders will always have an advantage. I gave up most of my free time but that is what I signed up for so I’m not complaining about that.

The highlights of the local campaign were: my petition to reverse the Tory county councillors’ pay hike, the individually addressed election leaflets I designed which 73,000 voters received in the post, the 11 public hustings events, owning the Guildford farmers market, helping Tesco employees on their “Freedom from Fear” day, marching with striking teachers on the High Street, standing alongside midwives and other NHS workers on the picket line outside the Royal Surrey, speaking at the council to stop the Lib Dems closing down the much-loved Boileroom music and arts venue, making a speech at the Labour Party annual conference, social media wars with Tories, door-knocking, leafleting and, above all, bringing great new active campaigners into the Labour Party.

2015-05-04 11.08.33 Collage

The culmination of all that saw a massive increase in our vote, up by 132%. Our share of the vote rose by 7 percentage points to 12.1%. No one thought we could finish ahead of Ukip but we were well clear of them. We are now within striking distance of the Lib Dems. The last time Labour beat them in Guildford was 1979 and it looks like this will happen again soon.


My elation at the result of the campaign in Guildford is tempered, of course, by the very disappointing national results. We didn’t make the gains we expected in marginal seats and we lost nearly all of our seats in Scotland. I have read plenty of analyses of what we did wrong and I nod my head in agreement while reading all of them.

Personally, I still feel too close to the election to analyse it objectively. One thing does leap out at me: targeting didn’t work. I expected that Labour would outperform decisively in key seats. We didn’t. This is important not just because we didn’t gain these seats but also because of the opportunity cost. By focusing on key seats we sacrificed the opportunity to build up our support in safe Tory and even safe Labour seats. We narrowed our appeal instead of broadening it.

There is nothing wrong with our values, on the contrary. I don’t even think there was anything important wrong with our policies in the manifesto. It was our national campaign that was, with hindsight, fatally flawed. It was like an exam where we failed not because we didn’t swot enough but because we didn’t answer the right questions – the ones the public was asking. The first thing to remember when doing an exam is: read the question!

I haven’t decided which candidates to vote for in the leader and deputy leader elections. I will listen to what they have to say about broadening our appeal and achieving a mandate to govern the entire country.

Sincere thanks to all of the 6,534 people who voted for me in Guildford. I’m so grateful to all of the Labour volunteers who made the local campaign possible. There are too many to name them all but the chair of Guildford Labour Party, Lynda MacDermott, deserves special recognition for leading the “ground war” from the front. I feel that the Guildford Labour Party is in a strong position to lead the fight for all the people of Guildford who are suffering under the Tory government.

For me, the campaign goes on. People in Surrey need an effective opposition to stand up for them against the Tories more than ever. Every council tax payer in Surrey is being failed by Surrey County Council. The council election is in 2017 but the full council is tomorrow and I’ll be in the public gallery again.

Surrey might be the height of Tory-dom on earth but I believe that there will be a Labour MP here in my lifetime. I will strive to make that happen and I will always be proud of my part in the momentous election of 2015.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – JFK

From Gallipoli to Guildford

Sgt S Fitz

My great-grandfather Sgt S Fitz. I’m told I look like him.

I watched a bit of the ceremony at the Cenotaph today marking 100 years since the start of the Gallipoli campaign in the first world war. My great-grandfather was there, 100 years ago, as an infantry sergeant. It made me wonder what he thought of the war then and what he would make of Britain and the world today.

Back then, he wouldn’t have thought of it as the first world war. To the men thrown into the slaughter it must have seemed like the war to end all wars, or to end the world. They must have thought that the whole world order must surely change now. The empires and the aristocrats must surely come tumbling down after creating such a man-made tragedy of death and destruction.

What would my great-grandfather, Sgt S Fitz, have thought if he had known in 1915 that another world war was just 24 years away? What would he have thought if he could see the dukes and the earls leading ceremonies at Remembrance Days? What would he think about his great-grandson being an airline captain and standing for Parliament for the Labour Party?

Sometimes, we all have struggles in our lives, or think we have done something courageous. I will be thinking of my great-grandfather when the election result in Guildford is declared on 8 May 2015 and remember where he was exactly 100 years before.

Act Now To Secure Britain’s Future Prosperity

Here is a link to the piece I wrote for the Campaign for Science and Engineering: http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?p=16376



Richard Wilson today welcomed Ed Miliband’s announcement that the next Labour government will immediately increase nurse training places to reduce the spiralling bill the NHS is paying for agency staff.

Richard Wilson is Labour’s candidate to be the next MP for Guildford. The A&E unit at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford is one of many consistently failing to meet waiting time targets.

The step-change increase in training of more than 10,000 places over current levels in the next parliament will be paid for by Labour’s £2.5 billion Time to Care investment fund – raised from a mansion tax, a levy on the tobacco firms and cracking down on tax avoidance.


Labour’s 10-year Plan for the NHS will reverse short-sighted reductions in nurse training under the Tories.

  • There have been over 8,000 fewer nurses trained in this Parliament compared to 2010/11 levels.
  • The Royal College of Nursing has said these training cuts will “cause serious issues in undersupply for years to come”
  • A recent survey by NHS Employers found that eight out of 10 NHS employers are experiencing nurse workforce supply shortages.

These reductions have left the NHS having to recruit thousands of nurses from overseas.

The RCN recently published figures showing that there were 6,228 nursing registrations from abroad in 2013/14 – an increase of nearly 45% on the previous year. In the same year 4,379 nurses left the UK to work overseas.

And spending on agency staff has soared by more than £500m.

  • Foundation Trusts’ spending on agency staff has risen from £855 million to £1.4 billion since 2010.
  • A recent report from Monitor stated that the “high use of contract and agency staff…has put NHS Foundation Trusts under unprecedented financial and operational pressure”

There is a growing staffing crisis in the NHS.

  • Nurse numbers have failed to keep pace with demand: over half of nurses say their ward is dangerously understaffed – and more say patient safety got worse, not better, over the last year.
  • In recent days London Ambulance Service announced it had been forced to recruit almost 200 paramedics from Australia.

But nurse training in the UK is highly oversubscribed.

An RCN survey has estimated that there are 54,000 applicants a year for 20,000 training places – meaning more than 30,000 would-be nurses are turned down.

Labour will train 10,000 more nurses above current levels over the course of the next parliament as a key step towards delivering our pledge of 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 new homecare workers, and 3,000 more midwives.

Mr Miliband said:

“Under David Cameron, there have been 8,000 fewer nurses trained and hospitals have been left scrambling to repair the damage – paying hundreds of millions of pounds in agency fees.

“Our training courses in this country are massively over-subscribed and so many talented young people in Britain are missing out on the opportunity of these rewarding jobs. Instead, the NHS is forced to bring in agency staff or recruit from overseas.

“People coming to work in the NHS from other countries make a hugely important contribution and our health service would not cope without them.

“But Britain cannot afford to waste the talents of thousands of people in this country who would become nurses if the training places were available. And our health service cannot afford to pay high costs for hiring agency staff because of the chronic staff shortages created by this government.

“As part of our Time to Care investment fund, Labour will train 10,000 more nurses above current training levels so that we achieve an average 21,000 training places a year in the next Parliament.”

Richard Wilson said:

“I welcome this commitment from Labour to increase the number of nurses trained in the UK. Along with extra doctors, midwives and care workers this will address the severe problems patients face in Guildford and Cranleigh. People are regularly forced to wait over a week to see their GP here and A&E at the Royal Surrey have had well-publicised difficulties.

“I hope this announcement will encourage local young people to consider nursing as a career. Britain is very proud of our NHS nurses. The recent case of nurse Pauline Cafferkey who contracted Ebola showed what brave and special people they are.

“The NHS is our country’s greatest achievement. It is the embodiment of how British people want to care for each other. Sadly, after nearly five years of privatisation and staff shortages under the Conservative-LibDem Coalition our NHS is slipping away. If elected on 7 May, I will go to Westminster to save the NHS for the people of Guildford and Cranleigh.”



Richard Wilson:



More information about Richard Wilson here: https://wilsonrichard.com/about/


Labour Party Press Office

Tel: 0207 7831393



Richard Wilson

Parliamentary Candidate

Guildford Labour Party

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Promoted by Nick Trier on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF




Four months to save the NHS in Surrey

The NHS in Surrey is dying.

This week it was revealed that hospitals in Surrey are declaring “major incidents” and telling patients not to come to A&E. Non-emergency operations are being postponed or cancelled. Waiting times have rocketed to the longest ever. Ambulances are stacking up outside hospitals because they can’t admit their patients because all the beds are full. Critically ill patients are lying on trolleys in corridors waiting for overworked nurses and doctors.

This is happening in 2015, not 1996, the last time a Tory government got its hands on the NHS. The weather this winter has been mild and there hasn’t been a flu epidemic this year. Yet still Surrey’s hospitals cannot cope. They declare “major incidents” but there hasn’t been a train or plane crash, an explosion or any other large catastrophe. Imagine for a minute what would happen if there was a real incident and hundreds of injured people flooded into our A&E departments.

This crisis was inevitable. Tory governments always wreck the NHS. This one, with the votes of LibDem MPs, cut local social care budgets which has put an unsustainable strain on GP services, acute hospital places and A&E units. In Guildford, people are waiting over a week to see their GP. In this time, conditions worsen so treatment is more difficult and may lead to hospital admissions.

The Tory-LibDem privatisation of the NHS means more public money is spent on competition lawyers and paying profits for big healthcare companies. Meanwhile, social care is often delivered by hard-pressed workers on the minimum wage, in 15 minute slots.2014-10-13 07.57.09

There are four months left to save the NHS in Surrey. We urgently need more nurses, GPs and midwives. This was the message I was given by NHS workers at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. We need to guarantee that people can see a GP within 48 hours and social care must become part of the NHS. Labour has a programme to deliver this and save the NHS for future generations.

The National Health Service is Britain’s greatest achievement. It typifies Britishness and how we want to care for each other. The path of the Tory-LibDem government is to return British public services to the 1930s, before the welfare state and the NHS. I strongly believe that people in Surrey and across the UK do not want this. There is only one way to save our NHS – vote Labour on 7 May.


Who is keeping Surrey safe tonight?

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to spend time with armed Surrey Police officers and then sit in on the county’s Incident Handling Centre. I watched how police deal with incidents across Surrey which were life-changing to the people involved. I have written many times before about policing and my impressions from observing their training sessions. Viewing in real time how police keep Surrey safe is something which everyone who aspires to be an MP should do. It was eye-opening for me.

Armed police in Surrey carry out the counter terrorism function here so security is tight and I will respect their request not to identify operational officers and tactics.


I visited the operational armed policing base in Guildford and had the opportunity to speak to officers, learn about tactics and handle the weapons and equipment armed officers use. An ARV is an Armed Response Vehicle which carries the specialist officers on patrol continuously. The question of whether ARVs should be sent to routine police jobs was what started my investigation.

In the last few days, US police have been in the news for shooting an unarmed black teenager and a child with a toy gun. The militarisation of police in the USA has trampled civil rights and leaves many people living in an effective police state. This hasn’t happened here and from what I have seen, there are no signs of it in Surrey yet.

Can you guess how many police were on duty across Surrey last night? And how many of those are armed? I won’t reveal the exact numbers but it’s fewer than you think. There are 1.2 million residents in Surrey and a very small number of police cover the whole area.

Being a police officer is not an easy job. I can vouch that wearing body armour and a helmet is uncomfortable and the weapons and ammunition feel heavy after a while too. They have to go anywhere, there can be no no-go areas for police. Police pay and pensions have been squeezed and they have to work longer before they retire. The sergeant who I accompanied yesterday might have been a teacher and had an outlook on life typical of many public servants: a desire to give something back to society and protect the vulnerable.

Like all public servants, police deserve to be properly led and fairly rewarded.

It is important that Surrey Police and other forces are funded appropriately. However, I hope that Council Tax is not raised again to compensate for central government cuts. Council Tax is a regressive tax and working people are already squeezed by the cost of living crisis in Guildford.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were supposed to bear down on inefficiencies, not simply raise tax by the maximum allowed and spend it all. Abolishing PCCs would save millions which could be spent on policing.

Yesterday, I saw examples of firearms which have been seized or handed in by the public. I would like to see fewer firearms in circulation in Surrey, including legally held ones. Recently, legally held guns have been used to murder people in this county so I would like police to be able to charge the full cost of issuing shotgun certificates, for example.

Following police officers at their work has helped me appreciate the pressures they are under. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that police should tackle crime, and that’s all. However, I witnessed police being called on in Surrey to save people who were in pain emotionally and needed help which only police could provide in time. Contrast that with the news today about the former Conservative Chief Whip verbally abusing the armed police officer who was protecting him.

Thank you to Surrey Police, especially the sergeant who escorted me and the inspector in charge of the IHC, for being so open and allowing me to witness your work. I feel reassured and impressed by the people who are quietly keeping us all safe in Surrey tonight.

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!



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