Recent Articles

Even the neo-Nazis from Golden Dawn should get due process

by Guest     September 30, 2013 at 9:05 am

by Jonathan Kent

The test of democracy and of the rule of law, both here and in Greece, is not how it treats the best of us but how it treats the worst.

That doesn’t mean we should be complacent. There are real threats to justice in Britain, such as cuts to legal aid. However the battle is clearly not yet lost here.

Meanwhile in Greece the authorities have moved to arrest members of the Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, including its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and four other Golden Dawn MPs. They’ve been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation and it’s claimed that guns and ammunition were found in Michaloliakos’ home.

Recent posts by reservists belonging to elite Greek military units calling for a coup, the killing of a prominent leftist musician, sustained attacks on immigrants and left wing protesters, had all brought things to a point where the state seems to have felt obliged to act.

I feel obliged to say two things. Firstly that I believe in muscular democracy; in other words I do not believe that a democracy, in the name of democracy, should hand the means of its own destruction to non-democratic forces.

When Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared at one point that he saw democracy as a bus, you use it to get to your destination and then get off, he associated himself with autocrats everywhere who have exploited democracy from Hitler onwards.

The minimum qualification for seeking power democracy must be a commitment to surrender power democratically when citizens demand it. For that reason it’s hard to justify allowing Golden Dawn or any other anti-democratic group an electoral platform.

The other thing I would say is this; however odious Golden Dawn the party and its members may be they must get due process and a fair trial. It’s not so much a concern about creating martyrs. Most knuckle dragging far right thugs would fetishise a rotting dog’s carcass if it served their warped cause. Nope, it’s because the damage done to Greek democracy by further degrading its already damaged institutions would be almost as bad as letting Golden Dawn damage them.

There’s a passage in A Man For All Seasons, where Sir Thomas More is debating with his son-in-law Wiolliam Roper, that puts it better than I could.

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Bang ‘em up, throw away the key and all that, but do it proper and do it so a better, more confident, more self respecting, more honest, more democratic Greece can come out of this.

this blog was originally posted here.

Five ways Ed Miliband and Labour can keep ex-Lib Dem voters in 2015

by Guest     September 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

by Andy May

It was a strange feeling watching this week’s Labour conference.  Once a political enemy, I could conceivably be voting for the party in 2015.

I joined the Liberal Democrats over a decade ago, and worked for two MPs. My parents are founder members of the SDP.  I won’t go into my reasons for leaving – these are self-evident. Clegg is the best recruiting sergeant that disaffected centre-left voters Labour could ever want.

Instead let’s concentrate on five things Labour might do to convince the swathe of progressives who voted Lib Dem in 2010. These people hold the key to a Labour victory in 2015. Many of them, like me, are as yet undecided.

I have discounted the obvious… like not privatise the NHS or entrench inequality in education – plus there has been enough on energy already!

Here are five that specifically push Lib Dem buttons:

1. The Economy
Totemic policies such as the introduction of the minimum wage in the early Blair years have been eclipsed in the minds of voters by mismanagement and light touch regulation in the run up to the financial crash.  Ed Balls made a shrewd move towards rehabilitation by announcing he would submit Labour’s spending plans to the Office for Budget Responsibility. But more reassurance will be needed. I want to see the positive role of the state championed without the irresponsible spending and incompetent implementation that came with the Blair era.

2.  Environmental policy
Invest in renewables not fracking; tackle energy inefficiency in homes and vehicles; properly fund the Green Investment bank.  Plenty more where that came from, but with the Lib Dems in government supporting a dash for gas and failing on initiatives such as the Green deal, Miliband has an opportunity to outflank my former party. 

3. Democracy, lobbying and big money in politics.
Miliband is one of the most progressive leaders Labour has ever had on constitutional issues. He deserves more credit than he got for supporting Yes2AV, after fierce opposition from many in his party.  He must support PR in the House of Lords, or local government along with party funding reform and lobbying transparency. This will only get noticed by 5-10% of the electorate, but many will be those all-important ex Lib Dem voters. To achieve this some in Labour will need to understand their party does not have a monopoly on progressive political thought.

4. Housing
Most of my twenty and thirty something friends cannot conceive of a time they could afford a deposit.  200,000 new homes a year by 2020 is welcome – the difficulty will be doing this in a sustainable manner that doesn’t wreck the same communities that would benefit from fresh housing stock.   Frankly anything sounds good compared to the Governments half-baked Help to Buy scheme.

5. Civil Liberties
When Sadiq Khan claims Labour now the party of civil liberties all I can do is think back to 28 days detention, ID cards, illegal rendition… and laugh.  I think it naïve to make such a claim although Sadiq’s personal record is commendable.  Labour need to show they not succumb to scaremongering by the shadowy figures in the home office bureaucracy with clear human rights based framework to privacy and security, rejecting the authoritarian excesses of the last Labour government.

Here’s hoping Ed can do it if Clegg cannot. -his speech certainly warmed the cockles of my heart.

I and other social liberals and democrats would prefer not to be stuck in the political wilderness for the rest of our lives.

Andy May is a communications consultant, and formerly worked in as a constituency organiser for the Liberal Democrats.

By normalising the veil, we are playing into the hands of Islamists

by Guest     September 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm

by Suhayl Saadi

In ‘Lifting the Veil…’ (The Guardian, 21.9.13), it is admirable that Zoe Williams lets (a selected cohort of) Muslim women have their voice. It is obvious, as Williams may be suggesting, that the obsession of the political and media classes in the UK and USA with every nuance of ‘Muslims’ serves as both distraction from systemic economic criminality and a perennial divide-and-rule tactic.
Sadly and typically, though, the article errs by omission and plays into the hands of three Far Rights – the White Supremacist Far Right exemplified by the EDL et al, the Islamist Supremacist Far Right generated by Saudi Arabia and its allies and the fundamentalist capitalist Far Right represented by most of our ruling political class. The comparison drawn by Williams between women who adopt these various Douglas Fairbanks Junior coutures and the urban youth subculture of ‘Goths’ therefore is utterly inappropriate.
Can we not see what has happened since the early 1980s? The goalposts keep changing, so that Williams allows (for want of a better term) ‘women who sport hijabs’ to pose as some kind of normative middle ground. This is exactly what has happened in the UK state’s dealings with ‘subaltern’ groups domestically and it is a reflection of the specific architectures of control deployed during the days of the British Empire.

It is no accident that this process has mirrored the systemic shift to the Right in terms of the overall economic discourse. It is due, in part, to a political disconnection between feminism, anti-racism and economic critique.

And so, conveniently, by default, the public discourse in this country continues to be modulated between the three Right-wing, oppressive poles – fundamentalist capitalism, white supremacism and religious supremacism – while nice white liberals (some of whom are my best friends) flounder. 

Saudi Arabia is the worst thing that has happened to Muslim societies since the Black Death.
For 40 years, billions of petrodollars have furthered the Saudi imperial project, which subsists in a structural coalition between the Al Saud family and the Sunni theocracy of the Arabian peninsula. Originally, this was, of course, in large part a creation of the British Empire.

What we see in Muslim societies globally emphatically is not a reflection of a need to keep “a connection with [our] conservative culture”. Islamism is not a conservative ideology; there is nothing ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ about it; it is a revolutionary, post-modern totalitarian ideology.
Perhaps, for a change, we would do well to ask the Left in Muslim countries what they think of Islamism? The Left in Muslim countries is under no illusions, does not mince its words or actions and regularly gets murdered by (in some places, state-sponsored) Islamist paramilitary death squads whose modus operandum most closely resembles that of the Contras in Central America. Now we see what is happening in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Libya and even Turkey.

This is not about consumer ‘choice’; we are not talking here about brands of tiles or toilet rolls. It is about Saudi imperialism and social control and the strategic alliance, baptised, presumably in oil, geostrategic advantage and kickbacks, between that entity and our ruling elites in the UK and USA.

The sooner guilty white liberals and the visible ‘Left’ in Britain begin focusing on all of that, with no holds barred, the better.

Women who justify sex-selective abortion need to check their privilege

by Guest     September 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

by Amrit Saggu

Sarah Ditum recently wrote a piece for Guardian’s CIF site, titled ‘Why women have a right to sex-selective abortion’, which I feel requires a response.

Sarah says in the piece: ‘there is no demographic evidence of women practising sex selective abortion in Britain: this whole scandal is based on a totally fictive set-up.’ Yet she spends six of eight paragraphs discussing abortion in the UK.

This is not just lazy, it’s downright offensive. Sex-selective abortion is predominantly a problem in India and China. In other words, it’s a problem for women whose world has little to nothing to do with Sarah Ditum’s world. I am a woman who, under different circumstances, could well have been in that sex-selective abortion statistic.

First and foremost, unless there is actual concrete evidence that sex-selective abortion is genuinely being used as grounds to reduce abortion provision anywhere, this is mere emotional blackmail of the type often deployed by the pro-forced birthers.

The thing is, I agree with Sarah Ditum. It IS kinder to abort girl children than make them suffer. However, to draw a false equivalence between two different societies, even whilst admitting that you have no right to do so, is insulting.

It is insulting to so many women like myself, who have suffered precisely because our mothers, following Sarah’s way of thinking, brutalised us in various ways, thinking that they were ‘doing us a favour’ and ‘preparing us for the world.’

Fundamentally, it’s insulting also because it pretends that there is a parallel between the UK and India/China, as if Indian and Chinese women are in the same position to make a choice as Sarah and myself. Check your privilege, Sarah – we all come from different situations!

For a huge number of women in India and China, the idea of free and informed choice about ANYTHING, let alone the gender of a child, is a complete dream. When women are struggling to get basic biological needs met, how are they free or empowered enough to have any real say about something as publicly-vaunted in Asian culture as childbirth?

I’ve read and heard various stories about women who are forced, knowingly and unknowingly, to give up their girl children by husbands and/or in-laws, as in the horrific case of Dr. Mitu Khurana. It is very often mothers-in-law who are the most misogynistic, but of course, by your feminist model, they are just victims, right? Behaving ‘rationally’, right?

People might use the suffering of foreign brown women to threaten Western women’s gains – or, as is actually the case – dent your neat ideological certainty.

Thanks for showing some of the ignorance that continues to repel brown women like myself and distance us from feminism as a heavily white, Western, middle-and upper-class movement.

Why the shop assistant to refused to serve EDL leader showed responsbility

by Guest     September 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm

by James Mills

When I saw the video of the Selfridges shop assistant refusing to serve the EDL’s Tommy Robinson my heart rose.

Because whenever we hear about the labour market these days there is a dominant narrative that one should be happy with their lot. In essence, if you have a job, then count yourself lucky.

There is an element of truth to this when there are around two and half million people unemployed. But it means the ethics of the workplace are ignored and replaced with cold managerial speak. Workers are turned into drones, not workers. It is how we arrive at workplace poverty, zero hour contracts; and a Britain where the increase in the latter is viewed as success.

This young man could have just kept his head down and said nothing. But by his actions, he has displayed that no matter where one works you have a social responsibility.

I was a shop assistant too, for a well known, now bankrupt, off-license for around six years. The job was vital to me paying my rent and working my way through university. I could work up to 35-40 hours a week; and I know without that job I probably would not have graduated university. However, on several occasions I risked my job (and potentially my degree).

We were allowed to refuse customers who were drunk, violent, or if we obviously believed they were underage or supplying underage people. But on several occasions I refused to serve people for racist, sexist language and even bad manners. And I banned those customers until they apologised.

On one occasion someone threw their money on the counter when buying chewing gum, so I decided to throw the chewing gum and their change directly at them.

There are things more important than one’s personal ambitions and needs. This is an ethic that sadly is ignored when we talk about employment these days; and is seeping away from the workplace.

This week sees the launch of a new documentary, Nae Pasaran, recognising how 40 years ago shop floor workers at an aircraft engine repair factory in East Kilbride refused to work on plane engines of fascist dictator General Pinochet, after he seized power in a coup.

It is sadly something which seems unimaginable these days, until I saw that video.

Not only did these workers, like this shop assistant, refuse to supply their labour to the benefit of fascists, but they had an intrinsic knowledge that a workplace is not an inanimate location (by tforge tech everette); it is somewhere from which we all have a responsibility to our work colleagues, but also to our communities.

Nae Pasan trailer

James Mills did the cross-party Save EMA campaign; and runs the Labour Diversity Fund campaign

David Attenborough and other food facts about Africa you probably didn’t know

by Guest     September 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

by Jonathan Kent

Many, but by no means all Greens are worried about population. It’s a multiplier on many of the problems we face. But it’s a very sensitive subject, as David Attenborough has discovered.

When I heard Attenborough say: “what are all these famines in Ethiopia, what are they about? They’re about too many people for too little piece of land. That’s what it’s about,” I hear the echoes of generations-old, lazy thinking about Africa and Africans summed up in the notion of the White Man’s Burden.

A little while ago there was a row about whether Green World, the magazine for Green Party members, should take an ad from the group Population Matters of which Attenborough is a prominent supporter. I argued, quite vociferously that it should; I dislike any attempt to stifle debate.

The anti-Population Matters lobby, among them Lib-Con regular Adam Ramsay, pointed out that the carbon footprint of a country like Mali is so small compared to Western nations that the population could double, treble or more without having much impact on the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

True, though unless we keep Malians poor or we can roll out clean energy fast that may not remain the case. And every African needs to eat the same minimum as every European, and even people in the rich West can only eat so much. Over-population results in countries hitting a food production buffer long before they hit an energy buffer.

But David Attenborough and others also need to stop blinding ourselves with stereotypes about Africa.

Firstly, in simple terms of density sub-Saharan Africa is far less populated than North West Europe, the Indian subcontinent, China and Japan.

Then, when one looks at which nations import and which export food, an even more interesting picture emerges. Many West and East African nations are net food exporters – Ethiopia included.

What do they export? Well next time you pick up a packet of mange-tout check out its origin. Chances are it’ll come from Kenya along with cut flowers and other products that drink up water and use valuable agricultural land.

Yes, populations outstripping the ability of the land to support them is a problem; but not in Africa. It’s a problem in Japan, and Saudi Arabia and Russia. It’s a problem in South East England and potentially across most of Europe too. But those are wealthy countries, so we don’t tell people there to stop having children.

Africa’s problem, on the other hand, is one of economics and justice; debt, balance of payments, the need for foreign currency and poverty. It’s about foreign governments and corporations (the Chinese prominent amongst them) buying up land because they know that rich nations consume more food than they can.

If only David Attenborough were as knowledgeable about the human as he is about the animal world he might have talked about the Black Man’s Burden – part of which involves feeding Europeans who are quick to advise, slow to listen and who, for the most part, simply don’t seem to care.

Jonathan Kent blogs here.

The questions no one is asking about the Royal Mail Pensions sell-off

by Guest     September 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

by Paddy Briggs

From time to time a good Pensions trustee should have an ‘emperor has no clothes’ moment. This is when there is something about which there seems a pretty solid agreement, often with the wraparound of ‘we’ve always done it like this’. Generally when you press you find that something is done the way it is because it is the best way.

But just occasionally a challenge will reveal an opportunity to change or improve established behaviours for the benefit of the Pension fund and its members.

I was pondering this recently when the news about the government’s decision on the Royal Mail Pension Plan began to emerge. This decision is that this fund, the third largest in the UK with assets under management of some £31 billion at the end of 2011, should be wound up and its assets be requisitioned by the Treasury.

I was so astonished about this that I wrote a letter to The Times expressing my surprise that the pensions world had been so sanguine about what seemed to be an extraordinary and unprecedented action, which I said was “almost Maxwellian in its audacity”.

The conventional wisdom about the Royal Mail Pension Plan decision is that it is in the interests of members. The interests of these members are protected, so the argument goes, because the fund’s members will become like most other public sector employees – their pensions will not be funded but will be a long-term charge on the treasury.

This is to the advantage of members because they go from the uncertainty of being in a fund whose funding ratio is a weak 76% to having their pensions guaranteed by government.

But what about those huge assets which employees, the sponsor and trustees have built up over the years? Surely it is the members’ money and only they have a right to it? It is not being set aside into a special pot to help provide for future pension payments – it is being sequestered to help reduce the UK’s budget deficit.

And is the transfer of members from a funded trust into the status of being an unfunded liability on the public finances really necessarily in their interests? Governments can and do change the basis of public sector pensions at their discretion and there is little that anyone can do to stop them.

A pensions trust provides legal protection to its members and has trustees to exercise that protective role. At a stroke Royal Mail fund members will lose that security and no longer have trustees acting in their interests.

Was there an alternative to the decision that the government has taken?

The Royal Mail is to be privatised and self-evidently no buyer would wish to assume sponsor responsibility for its £40 billion of liabilities. But could the funding ratio gap not have been closed partly out of the proceeds of privatisation and partly from the exchequer and the fund given an assured long-term future, as an independent pension entity, by such payments?

And why should the taxpayers of the future have to provide for the pensions of a further 430,000 people over and on top of the public sector pensions obligations they already have? These may be ‘emperor has no clothes’ types of questions – but they should be asked.

This article was originally published here.

If we want stronger action on the environment, we need to stay within the EU

by Guest     September 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

by Rosie Magudia

Last Friday, the Green Alliance published their review of the three major political parties’ activity on the environment since May 2010. The “Green Standard 2013” makes disappointing reading for all parties – but for none more so than the Conservatives.

On becoming Prime Minister in 2010, David Cameron said he would lead the “greenest government” ever. He described the existence of a fourth, mysterious minster at the Department for Energy & Climate Change, “who cares passionately about this agenda – and that is me, the prime minister. I mean that from the bottom of my heart”.

Yet despite such reassurances, Cameron’s own Chancellor has repeatedly suggested that environmental progress would compromise a healthy economy. Meanwhile, Owen Paterson, the UK’s Secretary of State and political leader on all things environment, has publicly questioned the reality of human-induced climate change.

However, neither the Liberal Democrats nor Labour have come away unscathed either. The Green Standard describes Labour’s failure to lead upon, prioritise, or even propose credible solutions to green the UK economy.

The Liberal Democrats are portrayed as having “no clear vision for the environment” –a portrait which certainly rings true as only yesterday, the Lib Dems backed a motion to support fracking- a fossil fuel industry vociferously opposed by 1000s of demonstrators nationwide, with 67% of citizens preferring to have a wind turbine near their home than a fracking site.

As extreme weather and energy insecurity bear down on our continent, we need someone to lead us to a better place, fast. While British politicians flag, our EU membership may haul us out of the smoggy darkness. The EU’s record on the environment, while not perfect, is often better than Britain’s record.

From addressing carbon capture, to banning bee-harming pesticides, the EU is providing both a platform to debate these issues, as well as leadership in exploring change.

Let’s take fish as an example. In 2005, the Northeast Atlantic was 95% overfished. Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the European Commission tackled the issue head on through determined fisheries management. Today, the same waters are only 39% overfished.

Concurrently, the European policy governing fisheries has undergone significant, progressive reform; a process frequently led, perhaps surprisingly by Richard Benyon, the UK’s Tory Fisheries Minster. A chance on the world stage allowed him to push for positive change, in a way which he’s failed to do at home, as shown by his desultory progress in establishing only 31 of the originally propose 127 marine conservation zones in UK waters.

The possibility to participate, shape and share a common future on issues such as air quality, weather, natural resources and energy security is one that shouldn’t be overlooked by the debate on our membership of the European Union.

The environment is one issue we’re unable to go alone – we need to be in it to win it.

How the left can win the debate on the economy

by Guest     September 12, 2013 at 9:19 am

by Carys Afoko

Every economic issue comes with its own competing frames. Have we ‘turned the corner’ into recovery or did Plan A choke off growth? Is the government inflating a housing bubble or giving hard-working families a foot on the property ladder? Is it a spare room subsidy or bedroom tax?

But the Coalition’s story about austerity shapes how most of us think and talk about the economy. It uses powerful frames, vivid imagery and has been repeated with incredible discipline for several years.

The result is many people understand the economy on the Government’s terms: dangerously indebted due to Labour’s spending, dependent on welfare, and in need of austerity to balance the books.

Our research into how economic debates are framed found this story has strong popular support. Polling data shows that month on month, no matter what people think about the Coalition, they continue to believe their spending cuts are necessary for the economy.

That’s the bad news. But there is hope for opponents of the Coalition’s spending cuts. Our research unearthed numerous examples of issues where campaigners and NGOs had changed the economic conversation, from the living wage to tax justice and the bedroom tax.  

What opponents of the Government lack is an overall story about the economy; what is wrong with it and how we fix it. Hooks to hang different single issue campaigns off, and engage people on an emotional level.

In our research we suggest seven frames that could be a building block for a new story.

But the austerity story can be defeated, if its opponents identify and activate their own powerful frames. The frames must be developed from values and resonate with public opinion. They must be tested and refined based on what works. We outline some frames we believe could be used to build a new narrative, and a story that brings them together.

1. Casino economy – our economy is like a casino, it is in need of reform so that it can be stable and useful.

2. Treading water – we are not making any progress as a nation; we are running to stand still, struggling but not moving forward.

3. Big bad banks – our current problems are the result of a financial crisis that we, and not the banks that caused it, paid for.

4. Big guys and little guys – there are two types of people in Britain, the little guys who work hard and don’t get a fair deal, and the big guys who have money and power and play by their own set of rules.

5. Jobs Gap – the biggest issue facing our country is the jobs gap: people who want to work but can’t, people who work hard but don’t take home a decent wage and young people who cannot be sure of a good job.

6. Time for renewal – we need to rebuild and renew what made Britain great – from the railways to our education system. We need to invest.

7. Austerity is a smokescreen – The Coalition uses the deficit as an excuse to do what they have always wanted to do like shrink the state and privatise the NHS.

That focuses on jobs instead of welfare, blames banks instead of the government and taps into public anger at the uneven playing field we have in Britain. We hope they’re a helpful conversation starter for those looking to challenge the austerity narrative about the economy.

The battle for the economic narrative will be won with stories, not statistics. It is time the opponents of austerity tell a story of their own. To win, they will need to do more than find their frames, they will need to be more coordinated, responsive to public opinion and find more credible messengers.

A New Rural Manifesto for Labour: we call for your support

by Guest     September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am

by Jack Eddy

It is uncontroversial to say that Labour lacks rural appeal. Labour’s voice in the British countryside has been inadequate for decades, but has hit a low-ebb in recent years. Even in the suburban and rural areas where Labour was able to gain some traction from 1997 onwards, the last General Election saw a massive swing to the Tories.

And yet, the Labour Party in the past has successfully gone out to the British countryside to court the rural vote and build the foundations of support. Such accomplishments can come again, but we need renewed endeavour and new direction. If this does not change – and we do not instigate that change – some rural communities may not survive these difficult times.

This is why we at South Norfolk CLP call upon all rural CLPs, as well as other interested affiliates, to support us in our call for a new Rural Manifesto – as specified in the proposal officially endorsed by South Norfolk CLP; a Rural Manifesto made in rural Britain, for rural Britain.

Priority should be given to framing policy to reflect the impact on rural communities, on a number of different issues:

Public transport and other infrastructure improvements, as well as rural unemployment and businesses will be an important subject. In the entirety of Norfolk, the 3rd largest county, there is only one late evening bus service. This is not uncommon for rural areas, with negative consequences to regional economies and rural life in general.

Additional aid to the young and unemployed for the purpose of making them as geographically mobile as possible will be hugely helpful to finding employment. A possible solution could be found in providing travel cards to rural unemployed (allowing travel for free or at a reduced rate), who live at least 2 miles from the nearest major centre of employment – valid for use 1 month after finding permanent work.

The NHS is important to us all, but many rural communities are seeing their NHS services disappear as cuts and privatisation begin to take hold, and they are fighting to stop it. One solution to help meet increasing demand, and go some way to solving the unique issues around isolation from services in rural areas, could be to focus on increasing the number of smaller, satellite hospitals that are strategically located around existing central hubs in rural locations. ‘Satellite Hospitals’ would focus on anticipatory care, diagnostic services, as well as urgent accident and emergency admissions, leaving the central hospitals to focus on the more complex and specialised treatments. By dividing up local populations into different catchment areas, it would enhance the experience of patients by offering a smaller, community feel, as well as provide more jobs.

Naturally, properly dealing with Europe and immigration in rural policy is a must. We must explain how businesses, services and local economies in rural Britain depend on Europe and immigration. Many rural businesses rely on European immigrants and the EU enables farmers and horticultural businesses to trade easily with the mainland (in either goods, equipment or expertise). Many rural businesses could not survive without immigration or the EU in general. Labour needs to illustrate how jobs held by British workers would cease to exist if Britain exited the EU.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be covered in a Rural Manifesto – and it is up to us all to decide what must be covered.

To do this, we need you to get our Motion passed in your CLP and submitted for the upcoming Labour Party Conference by 12 noon on Thursday 12th September. We also invite you to contact all whom you feel will be interested, so that we can reach everybody that can help us succeed in this enterprise.

If you are interested and have the time, please contact me at and I will send you the proposal for the Rural Manifesto and South Norfolk’s Motion to the Conference.

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