Branch Political Officers Report for Branch Committee Meeting 23rd September 2016
Labour Leadership Elections
The result of the leadership election will be known tomorrow Saturday 24th September, as you will be aware the CWU has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn for leader, I have received a couple of questions on the ballot, both when will I get my ballot paper, I passed on the contact details for the members to contact, I can report that both have received their papers and have cast their votes.
Richard Howitt MEP
Labours MEP in the East of England, Richard Howitt has announced that after 22 years in the role he is stepping down in November, to take up a new job as Chief Executive of the International Integrated Reporting Council.
CWU Midland Region Political Committee
I attended this meeting on Tuesday 6th September which was held in Birmingham, the main topic of debate at the meeting was the leadership election, the meeting was told that Political Officers were up in arms about the CWU supporting Jeremy Corbyn. It was the view of some that if he wins he will be challenged again.
CWU Eastern Region Political Committee
I attended this meeting on Friday 9th September, at the London Regional Offices, as with the Midlands meeting the main topic was the leadership election, it was reported that the total number of ballot papers dispatched was 640,000.
3107 people have been banned, from taking part for various reasons.
Initial proposals for new constituencies published
On the13th September the independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies. The publication marks the start of 12 weeks of consultation, during which the Commission needs to hear from you to help shape the proposed new constituency boundaries.
Following a decision by Parliament to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK to 600 from 650, and to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is more equal, the BCE has been asked to make independent recommendations about where the boundaries of English constituencies should be. The BCE must report to Parliament in 2018 and, if agreed by Parliament, the new constituencies will be in use at the next scheduled General Election in 2020.
Publication of the initial proposals is the first time people get to see what the map of new constituencies might look like. The rules that the Commission works to are such that wide scale change is inevitable. Under the proposals announced, only 68 of the existing 533 English constituencies remain unchanged.
Below is the proposals for the East Midlands which the branch covers in Lincolnshire and Rutland, I have highlighted in yellow the part of the report that affects our branch.
Proposals for the Eastern Region are attached as I have a full report that was circulated to Regional Labour Party Board members.
Initial proposals for the East Midlands
The East Midlands comprises the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, and Rutland and is covered by a mix of district and county councils, and unitary authorities.
The East Midlands currently has 46 constituencies. Of these constituencies, 24 have electorates within 5% of the electoral quota. The electorates of 19 constituencies currently fall below the 5% limit, while the electorates of three constituencies are above. Our initial proposals for the East Midlands are for 44 constituencies, a reduction of two.
In seeking to produce initial proposals for the region in which 44 constituencies, each with an electorate within 5% of the electoral quota, could be proposed, we first considered whether, and how, the local authority areas could usefully be grouped into sub‑regions. We were mindful of seeking to respect, where we could, the external boundaries of local authorities. Our approach in attempting to group local authority areas together in sub‑regions was based both on trying to respect county boundaries wherever possible and in achieving (where we could) obvious practical groupings such as those dictated in some part by the geography of the area.
Our division of the East Midlands into sub‑regions is a purely practical approach. We welcome counter‑proposals from respondents to our consultation, based on other groupings of counties and unitary authorities, if the statutory factors can be better reflected in those counter‑proposals.
The distribution of electors across the East Midlands is such that allocating a whole number of constituencies within counties, which fall within 5% of the electoral quota and avoiding dividing wards, is not always possible.
Lincolnshire’s electorate of just over 521,000 results in an allocation of 6.97 constituencies. We have therefore considered Lincolnshire as a sub‑region in its own right and have allocated seven whole constituencies, the same as the existing allocation. We did not consider that there was any justification to cross the county boundary with Nottinghamshire.
The electorate of the county of Rutland is just 27,355.
Boundary Commission for England12
The electorate of the combined counties of Leicestershire and Rutland is therefore nearly 735,000, giving an entitlement to 9.82 constituencies. We noted that Rutland could not form a constituency in its own right and that it had in the past been included within a Leicestershire constituency. Although we did give consideration to including Rutland in a Northamptonshire constituency, we decided to continue with the tradition of including Rutland in a Leicestershire constituency.
Initial proposals for the Lincolnshire sub‑region
27 We considered that, due to its almost whole allocation of constituencies with an entitlement to 6.97 constituencies, Lincolnshire could be treated on its own and should continue to be allocated seven, constituencies.
We considered that the two existing constituencies of Gainsborough, and South Holland and the Deepings, both with identical electorates of 74,332, could remain wholly unchanged, while we propose that Grantham and Stamford CC, and Louth and Horncastle CC would be changed only to reflect the changes to local government ward boundaries, which has resulted in wards being divided by existing constituencies.
28 We noted that the electorate of the existing Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency was too large and well outside the electoral range at 86,652, while that of its neighbouring constituencies of Lincoln BC (at 67,115) and Boston and Skegness CC (66,250) were too small. We therefore propose that the five wards comprising the town of North Hykeham, and the Waddington West ward be included in our proposed Lincoln constituency, which in turn we propose would see the transfer of the Bracebridge Heath and Waddington East ward to our proposed Sleaford constituency. It would not be possible to retain this ward in the Lincoln constituency without dividing the town of North Hykeham. In order to further reduce the electorate of our proposed Sleaford constituency, and to increase that of Boston and Skegness to within the permitted range, we propose the transfer of the additional two wards of Kirkby la Thorpe and South Kyme, and Heckington Rural from the existing Sleaford constituency.
Peterborough Trades Union Council (PTUC)
I attended the September meeting of PTUC on Thursday 15th at the new Unite / PCS offices in Church Walk Peterborough, PTUC have / will be very active in the coming months.
There are two big events that PTUC have organised the first being the Take a Stand with Anne Frank Trust, which will be held in St Johns Church, Cathedral Square, Peterborough between Thursday 29th September – Friday 7th October. PTUC are looking for volunteers to attend the exhibition as guides (full training will be given)
The next event that has been organized by PTUC is a play Dare Devil Rides to Java, which will be held on Wednesday 19th October once again at St Johns Church, the play is about speedway star and wall of death rider Chem “Dare Devil” Beckett, who joined the International Brigade to fight with the Spanish people against Franco’s fascist armies.
Tickets for this event are £10 per person, £8 concessions from firstname.lastname@example.org or Hazel Perry on 07752468003
Peoples Assembly Demonstration 2nd October in Birmingham, PTUC are sharing a coach with Cambridge so are taking names of anyone who wishes to attend.
The 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street takes place on Sunday 9th October in the East End of London, PTUC will be attending this event and would welcome anyone who wishes to attend from Peterborough.
Burston Strike School
CWU eastern region branches once again had a strong presence at the annual Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk, where the key note speaker was Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Every year on the first Sunday of September, hundreds of trade unionists and socialists gather in this small village to commemorate what is commonly described as ‘the longest strike in history’, which began over a century ago.
Back in 1914, village school teachers Kitty and Tom Higdon were sacked for being socialists and trade unionists, organising agricultural workers and for their commitment to universal education for all.
However, the children decided the next day that they would not allow this to happen, and walked out of the village school, supported by their parents.
The Higdons continued to teach the children of the village, initially on the village green and, as support for them grew from across the labour and trade union movement, a new school was built, which taught local pupils right up until 1939, when the Higdons died.
The school building still stands today as a memorial to them.
“Every year, the branches of the eastern region attend this event, and, as well as showing our respects for the principles and the contribution made by the Higdons and the people of this village all those years ago, we also always highlight the key issues of the day affecting our members.
“This year, we had a campaign stall on the village green aimed at raising public awareness regarding the Post Office closure programme and the intended industrial action ballot.
“This was very well received by trade unions and the public who shared their support for our Post Office members and the plight they face with pensions and closures.
“It was great to see Jeremy here and, in his speech, he spoke widely about the issues that workers face in the UK, the NHS, public transport and the lack of affordable housing in the UK for younger workers and their families.
“Jeremy also spoke on austerity and the need to generate growth in the UK, not a slash and burn programme of cuts that we see under a Tory Government.”
This year’s rally was a big success and showed that the fight for justice and equality will always be uppermost in the aims of our movement.”
Branch Political Officer