Branch Political Officers Report for 2016 Branch A.G.M
The twelve months since the last branch A.G.M have been busy on the political front, as those of you who have read my monthly reports will know, the next twelve months are shaping up the same way.
I would like to start by answering a question asked at last year’s A.G.M, which was what are we doing to keep Ukip out of Boston? The branch after discussion with the Labour Party candidate Paul Kenny agreed to pay for a number of large vote Labour boards which were placed on the major roads in and out of Boston.
As we now know we have a Conservative government with a majority of 12 seats, Labour was wiped out in Scotland by the SNP and the Lib Dems have only 8 seats in the House of Commons. In the seven months that they have been in power they have started cutting deeper than Thatcher ever dreamed of doing.
A full report on the breakdown of the CLP’s within the branch was circulated following the election.
Following the results Ed Miliband resigned as leader this meant that we were looking for a new leader.
Labour Leadership Elections
Following the resignation of Ed Miliband, The Trade Unions launched through TULO a campaign to sign up 200,000 new associate members to the Labour Party, the CWU wanted 1 branch per Region to take part in the sign up.
Our branch was selected to be the Eastern Regions nominated branch because of the Mail Centre, I would like to place on record my thanks to all of the shift reps who worked hard trying to get people to sign up.
You will all know that Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as the new Leader of the Party, when he first put his name forward to stand he only just got enough nominations from MP’s, and was the rank outsider to win. But win he did with 59.5 % of the votes cast.
Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn the membership of the Party has grown by 150,000 and the membership now stands at around 330,000.
Deputy Leadership Elections
Tom Watson was elected as Deputy Leader with 50.7 % of the vote after 3 rounds of voting.
The Peoples Post Campaign
This campaign was launched at Westminster on Thursday 9th July the branch was well represented at this event, since then there has been a massive event in Manchester with over 10,000 people attending with Jeremy Corbyn breaking protocol, and speaking in a city where another political party are holding a conference.
My report from this event can be found on the branch website
Trade Union Bill
This is the next big fight for the trade unions as the Tories are out to crush the unions and stop strikes, As you will be aware the bill was carried in the House of Commons and is now due to be heard in the Lords in the New Year, the only hope of the bill now falling is in the Lords.
The TUC organised a Rally and Lobby of Parliament on Monday 2nd November at Central Hall Westminster, which I attended with Luke Skillings Work Place Safety Representave for Peterborough Delivery.
I contacted My MP Stewart Jackson and asked him to vote against the bill, but unsurprisingly he voted for it.
Working Tax Credits
The Government won the vote in the Commons to cut the Working Tax Credits which would have taken £1300 a year out of the pockets of the low paid, fortunately when it went to the House of Lords it was defeated and returned to the Commons. Once again all of the MP’s in the branch area voted in favour of the bill.
CLP’s within the branch
Once again the branch has affiliated to all of the CLP’s within our boundaries, we have also helped out financially when we have received a request for funding, I receive updates from some but not all of them, but I do keep an eye on what’s happening via twitter.
This will take place sometime between April and September 2016, where we will be asked if we want to remain part of the European Union, the Labour Party Nationally is campaigning to stay in. The Labour campaign is being run by former CWU General Secretary Alan Johnson.
I have managed to get hold of some of Richard Howitt MEP, literature on why we should stay in this is in the branch office.
In November I was privileged to be part of a CWU Eastern Region delegation that, visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This was organised by Richard Howitt MEP, please see attached report.
Branch Political Officer
Regional EU Political Trip to Strasbourg – EU Referendum & refugee Crisis.
The Regional delegation accompanied Richard Howitt MEP to Strasbourg EU parliament to listen to minsters and take part in a debate on the EU referendum in the East of England and the refugee crisis in Europe and the UK.
Campaign for the EU Referendum in the East of England.
The campaign has started for the EU referendum, was the strong message Richard Howitt to the delegation and his EU Parliamentary colleagues. Following this he said there will be a distinct “Labour Yes” campaign, and that Richard is starting to collect names of activists across the East of England who wanted to help organise the campaign locally. He encouraged unions across the region to urge interested activist to get touch to deliver a message for the UK to stay in EU and particular campaign across the East of England.
The delegation debated and discussed that this is the most important decision on Britain’s place in the world for 40 years and fundamentally whether Britain is going to continue as an outward- or an inward-looking country? We have to fight this with all the means at our disposal. We’ve made it clear that the campaign has started now.
The Trade Union delegation discussed the, with or without EU and the five reasons why it is better for Britain to be in.
- Jobs: with EU gives Britain a direct access to the world’s largest single market, with more than 500 million consumers and more than half the British exports going to EU countries. The UK trade I this market means nearly 3.5 million jobs depend on our EU membership! That is 10% of our workforce who rely on Britain’s role in EU for their jobs.
Without the EU. If we leave the EU, the UK would have to renegotiate many trade deals with our major trading partners. Without being part of a powerful bloc of EY Countries, there would be no guarantee we would get the same deal for British businesses and jobs will suffer. For example Norway is not an EU member and has no seat at the table when laws for this single market are made and yet they still have to comply with those laws in order to trade in EU market. Being in the EU means we can defend our own interests EU and help shape the EU laws to benefit our interests, keeping the UK businesses strong.
- Crime: With the EU the UK’s role means we can tackle cross border crime and defend our security. Working with our neighbours and allies we can co-ordinate efforts to tackle cross border criminals and keep the UK safe.
Without the EU: If we were to pull out of the EU we could lose our ability to tackle cross border crime and bring terrorists to justice or have them deported to answer for their crimes. The July London bombers fled to Italy but under EU law we can extradite them back to the UK and put them on trial for murdering innocent citizens. From standing up for victims to tackling organised crime and serious terrorism we need a co-ordinated approach across the EU to keep our country safe and secure.
- Our voice in the World: With the EU in a globalised world and with the rise of other global powers, Britain’s EU membership means we have a stronger voice on the world stage. When responding to international threats and crisis and when tackling international issues such as global poverty, the UK is better placed acting as an influential part of a strong group of nations.
Or without: the UK’s ability to defend our interests is best served by being at the table when huge issues of national and international intrusts are discussed. Being part of the EU gives us a stronger say in responding to rising global powers like China hand India and ensures the UK’s interests are defended by acting with our nearest allies, acting together rather than in isolation. Our major allies also rely on the UK to play a leading role in the EU to amplify Britain’s influence in global negations and to keep our voice strong on the world’s stage.
- Rights: With the EU the UK’s membership of the European Union means we benefit from laws negotiated with countries which give you stronger consumer protection, health and safety protection at work and the right to the same level of treatment all across the EU as you would expect at home.
Or without. If Britain withdrew from the EU, UK citizens could find themselves losing a host of rights,. Withdrawing from the EU could mean we lose 20 days guaranteed paid leave, strong maternity and paternity rights and strong consumer guarantees and protections. Working with EU member states we can co-ordinate a good set of rights for working people and families. This helps guarantee better protection for British workers, consumers and makes sure the rights you enjoy at home extend to all across Europe.
- Environment and Energy: With the EU the UK’s ability to protect our environment and tackle climate change depends on our ability to co-ordinate with our EU neighbours. Being part of the EU means we can rely on secure sources of energy, tackle climate change and protect our environment for our children.
Or without: Environmental changes will not stop at our borders and it is only by working with other allies in the EU that we can set common standard’s and targets to tackle climate change. If the UK withdrew from the EU we put at risk agreed targets to reduce carbon emissions and dependable access to secure energy supplies.
We discussed with other EU ministers from France and Germany to name few the urgent need to boost jobs and growth, tackle border crimes, secure energy for the future, tackle climate change and ensure our security which means that the UK cannot continue to think in old ways. We need to ensure a prosperous future for the UK; we must face up to the new global realities in the way that is best for the UK. On all these issues standing alone if we withdraw from EU will severely limit the UK’s influence and voice. But as leading voice, shaping direction of the EU and its 28 countries, the UK’s voice can be heard and our national interests can be protected.
The EU referendum with continue to gather momentum and updates from the Labour Party, Richard Howitt MEP and the CWU will be with Region its Branches and members.
The delegation of trade unionists also had an opportunity discuss with EU ministers the crisis of refugees across Europe and the difference between refugees and economic migrant workers. Regional Secretary Paul Moffat had an opportunity to discuss with the German MEP who is part of the EU Socialist group the above and how Germany is identifying Refugees as opposed those moving through the EU as economic migrants.
Paul Moffat CWU Eastern Regional Secretary