Branch Political Officers Report for Branch AGM Sunday 25th January 2015
The last year has been a busy one on the Political front and the next 6 months leading up to the General Election will be even busier, looking back over the last 9 months since the last branch AGM
One of the biggest campaigns of the year was the CWU Political Fund Ballot, under Thatcher’s anti trade union laws every trade union has to ballot its members every ten years to keep their political fund in October 2014 it was our turn to ballot the membership.
The union nationally and locally ran campaigns with home posts to every member, posters and even a DVD which for those of you who watched it will have seen that Eastern 5 was represented on the DVD. (yes I have a better radio face than TV)
The membership votes in favour of keeping the fund with 53,218 (86.8%) voting YES and 8,075 (13.2%) voting NO. on a turnout of 31.8% this is still the highest return of any union so far.
I would like to place on record my thanks to Lisa Forbes the Labour Party Candidate for Peterborough who allowed me to use her office and enveloping machine free of charge and to Mark Plumb the Regional Officer of Unite for the use of the franking machine in his office which saved the branch several hundred pounds in postage.
Now that the membership has voted to keep the political fund Emergency motion E2 carried at CWU Annual Conference will come into effect
“Conference notes that on 1st March 2014 the Special Conference of the Labour Party carried the Collins Report. The report in particular covered the basis of the link between the affiliated unions, of which, the CWU is one.
Conference notes that the Labour Party has introduced a requirement for levy paying members, to individually sign – up in order to contribute to the Labour Party.
Conference also notes in law, the CWU are required to ballot all of its membership on the maintenance of a political fund by no later than October 2014.
It is crucial that a clear distinction is made between the need for a political fund for our wider political work and the union’s relationship with the Labour Party.
Conference agrees that following the political fund ballot, result the union should move quickly to ensure the necessary procedures are identified, that will mean each individual member of the CWU paying the political levy will have the opportunity prior to 8th May 2015 General Election to sign – up and give their written consent to the arrangements as an affiliated supporter of the Labour Party.”
To work within this motion the CWU Executive are putting into effect the Eastern Region motion from the same conference this will be a split political fund where members paying the political fund will be asked if they wish some of their payments to go to the Party (as it does now) or to pay into a fund just to be used for campaigning. This I believe will be carried out in the next few months.
Local and European Elections
You will know that geographically the Eastern Number Five Branch sits within the Eastern Region, but politically we are unique with the Lincolnshire part of the branch sitting within the Midland Region.
Taking a look at the European Election results first overall it was a low turnout across the branch area,
Midland Region nine parties stood candidates in the election for five seats with the Conservatives and UKIP taking two seats each and Labour one seat the results are as follows
An Independence from Europe 21, 384
British National Party 18,326
Conservative Party 291,270
English Democrats 11,612
Green Party 67,066
Harmony Party 2,194
Labour Party 279,363
Liberal Democrats 60,773
The return was 33.34%
The worrying about these results is that that in Boston 52% of the voters in the borough backing UKIP 7,550 out of the 14,676 who turnout voted UKIP, making Boston one of UKIPS target seats in the General Election.
In South Holland and the Deepings UKIP beat the Conservatives by over 4,000 votes
In the Eastern Region eleven parties stood candidates for seven seats as with the Midland Region UKIP topped the polls claiming three seats, the Conservatives also claimed three seats with Labours Richard Howitt the seventh
The top three results are as follows
Again it is worrying that UKIP have taken so many votes in the East.
Elections were held in Peterborough and Huntingdonshire, in Peterborough the Conservatives lost control of the City Council (no party has overall control) as with the European Elections UKIP made gains in Peterborough by taking three seats, Labour gaining one and the Conservatives losing for seats.
The makeup of Peterborough City Council now consists of Conservative 28 seats,
Labour 12, Independent 7, Liberal Democrats 4, Liberals 3 and UKIP 3
If these results were in the 2015 General Election the current Conservative MP would lose his seat.
Conservatives Held St Ives East, Warboys and Bury, Sawtry
UKIP gained Yaxley and Farcet from the Conservatives
Whilst it is encouraging that Labour has gained votes both in the European and Local Elections, there is still a lot of work to be done to over the next year to return Labour MP’s within the branch boundaries.
Save Our NHS Campaign
The Coalition government are hell bent on privatising the NHS you will be aware that they put out to tender a £1 billon contract in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire; they now want to outsource cancer and end of life services for £1.2 billon in Staffordshire.
It is vitally important that very one fights this attempt at privatisation, in March Parliament debated clause 19 of the Care Bill, the government’s plan was to give the Health Secretary the power to close local hospitals without consultation.
Following debate an amendment put forward by a Lib Dem MP which was withdrawn before the vote, the government agreed to the following
- they agreed that any plan to close a hospital has to have the agreement of all local doctors on clinical commissioning groups in any area affected. Not the people using the hospital
- they confirmed that the procedure that allows the government to appoint a Trust Special Administrator (TSA) when NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty will only be used in extreme circumstances. –
- they agreed that when these decisions are being made, the Trust Special Administrator will consult local communities, through Healthwatch, and consult with the local authority.
- they have appointed Paul Burstow MP to chair a committee of MPs and Lords to make sure that concerns are properly addressed through guidance that explains how the law can be applied
I am pleased to inform that following a campaign in Peterborough involving all of the trade unions, (including this branch) the Labour Party and Pensioners Associations, the Heath Trust decided to award the contract for Peterborough to the NHS.
Constituency Labour Parties
The branch has once again affiliated to all the CLP’s within the branch boundaries, as in previous years we still have some CLP’s who have not cashed their cheques for whatever reason. Although the figure has deceased this year to just three.
General Election 2015
As you read this report there are only 101 days until the General Election it is vital that the country oust this coalition and elects a Labour Government, we have seen the devastation that they have coursed with their austerity measures since taking power in 2010.
The cuts so far are nothing to what they have planned for the next five years if re-elected.
The Tories if re-elected are planning all-out war on the public and the trade union movement, we have seen in the last year they have sold off parts of the NHS and if they get their way if re-elected the rest will follow.
They are also planning a massive attack on workers’ rights; they still see trade unions through Thatcherite eyes as the enemy within. They plan to curb industrial action by public service unions, i.e. Teachers, firefighters, nurses and transport workers.
They plan a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots with a 40% yes votes of those entitled to vote not those actually voting, before a walkout is legal, they also plan to legalise the use of casuals to break strikes and some strikes will be banned altogether under a so called “minimum service level”. This boss’s charter would end the right of workers to protest to protect their terms and conditions / job losses and pay cuts. The Tories would if they had their way ban unions altogether but under European Law they can’t.
Please use your vote and vote for your Labour Party Candidate
The Coalition Government privatise Hinchingbrooke Hospital some two years ago now I joined protesters on many occasions in Huntingdon handing out leaflets and collecting signatures on petitions, but they went ahead and handed the contract to run the Hospital to Circle, in the last month Circle has announced that it is pulling out of its contract. Once again the future of Hinchingbrooke is in the air below is a statement from the Hands of Hinchingbrooke Campaign.
It is vital that this hospital or any hospital does not fall into the hands of privateers
STATEMENT FROM HANDS OFF HINCHINGBROOKE:
Despite the departure of Circle the campaign continues as we fight for Hinchingbrooke to be returned to the NHS and for no further privatisation experiments with our hospital
The news comes as no surprise to those of us that have long campaigned against the Circle takeover and called for them to be ‘sacked’ as they lurched from one disaster to another. This shows that when the going gets tough, the private sector just cut their losses and walk away leaving the already strained public sector to pick up their mess. It gives us no great pleasure in saying that we warned that this would happen from the start, but the Hinchingbrooke experiment should be held up as a stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation.
Circle have timed their departure ahead of an eagerly awaited CQC report, which is expected to be highly damning of their running of the hospital, in particular relating to patient care, staffing issues, hygiene, financial instability and failure to listen to staff concerns.
The Cambs and Peterborough CCG have been questioned over the future viability of the hospital for the last few months and in particular when news broke that Circle were only £150,000 short of the £5 million ceiling that could see the contract terminated. The closure of Accident and Emergency was rumoured to be being actively discussed and there were major concerns of their ability to cope with the extra pressure during the busy winter period. Despite this, assurances were given before Christmas that at that stage Circle had no plans to terminate.
In light of developments we have called an emergency public meeting in Huntingdon on Wednesday 14th Jan, 7pm, Huntingdon Methodist Church.
The deal was initially forced through amid great secrecy and questions were not answered under the cloak of corporate confidentiality. It soon became apparent why. Circle’s projected figures were wildly optimistic and we feared that this would place jobs and services. We warned at the time that Circle’s claim that they could make £311 million of savings over 10 years was unsustainable. The National Audit Office agreed and their report in late 2012 warned that they hadn’t factored in the risks properly and expressed concern over the level of savings that they had projected
Further instability at the hospital was evident with the resignation of two key figures. First to go was Circle supremo Ali Parsa, who had been parading around national media outlets citing the Circle model as the way forward for the NHS across the country. However merely 6 months in to the 10 year franchise deal he walked away.
Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee said of his departure:
‘Somebody sacked you Mr Parsa to walk away with a £400,000 pay-off, most of which comes from the taxpayer’
Second to go was Chief Executive of the hospital Chief Executive Jim O’Connell. He took early retirement at the age of 50, 9 months into the deal. Staff were angry about this as they had just seen their pension age rise due to reforms to the NHS pension scheme.
There have been cuts to staff with a renegotiation of the cleaning contract seeing staffing levels reduced to 24 and hours cut for those who remained. Worryingly almost 50 frontline nursing posts were cut and a report by the RCN in May 2014 exposed that on one ward in Hinchingbrooke, one nurse was left to look after 21 patients. In June 2013, an elderly trauma ward was closed to ‘streamline’ and improve services.
The Circle tenure at Hinchingbrooke was always more spin than substance however we must now secure the long-term future of the hospital as one that is NHS run, publicly funded and publicly accountable with no more private sector experiments.
Our NHS is not for sale – we stand for patients not profit
Affiliations to CLP’s and Trades Councils
It is the time of year again where we have to affiliate to the above bodies I would recommend to this meeting that we affiliate to Huntingdonshire Trades Council, Kings Lynn & District Trades Council, Peterborough Trades Council and Wisbech, March & District Trades Council.
The CLP’s we have to affiliate to under CWU national rule.
Recommendation that this report be agreed
Branch Political Officer
Eastern Number Five Branch