Bridgwater Branch took part along with West Somerset Branch in the surprise General Election called on 19 April, mid way through the County election campaigns with the Tories showing a 20% lead in the polls. Theresa May aimed to boost her majority and was backed by most of the Media. This expectation then became the National narrative with Labour expected to lose heavily. The result of the election on June 8th saw the Tories losing their majority and a hung parliament.
Local Government election campaign is reported here.
Nationally;-Labour won its greatest share of the popular vote since 2001 gaining 3.5m since 2015
Con 13,667,213 Lab 12,874,985. It was the first time Labour had won more seats than it lost since 1997.
Cracking campaign from first to last. It was my first and so my memories of it have traces of neon and sound like Hendrix.
We did lots of doorstep work in our key towns. Two sessions, every day for the last three weeks. Every time, everyplace we turned up there were extra people, new people learning the ropes and having a go. We communicated our full schedule to all the membership every week. Street stuff worked well in Frome and particularly well at the country fair in Bruton where we covered everyone in stickers and gave all the kids balloons.
I thoroughly enjoyed the hustings although the Conservative only made it to two of them which made it hard for the rest of us to get up to operating temperature. Education proved to be the Tory weak point locally and we exploited this fully. We also made Brexit into a Tory problem with no Tory solution. This was handy in that we were able to use video of the exchanges, and hustings answers, through social media where they were able to reach thousands. We quite often heard back from the doorsteps that they’d been “watching those videos”. There was one, which phrased as a series of questions to the non-attending incumbent, that particularly engaged. Humour is handy on these occasions.
The freepost worked up to a point but a lot of friends in North Somerset seemed to get mine. Didn’t get much in legacy print but I’m not convinced that they are worth much these days. Did a lot in Facebook and boosted some of the best videos and posts – which felt like it was working.
I think the behaviour of the candidates towards each other was pretty good other than the Tory not showing up to the later hustings. There was the usual socialist exhaustion with an LD platform built solely of balsawood with “tactical” written on it. This was doubly difficult in Frome where a non-aligned sub-group of poleznyjdiot took it upon themselves to anoint the LD as the “tactical” choice and set about leafleting using the Vote Smart imprimatur. This they continued even when it was clear we were making ground. We responded with an anti-tactical leaflet titled “Vote Smarter”. How effective this was I really don’t know but it allowed us to stay on the front foot and vented some of the emotions that were beginning to run a little high.
Our real secret weapon were people, disproportionately Liverpudlian, too many to name but Gerry of 86 years didn’t miss a day even when he got bitten by a dog. Hal who help with the social stuff and only has 16 years to his name – a candidate of the future. Mary who started leafleting with a leg still in plaster. Billy and Sapphire, Janice and Janice, Gordon, Les, Pat and Steve, Steve, Michael, Peter it just goes on and on. In Frome our secret weapon was the redoubtable Theresa with her maps and targets that always a little bit extra on them “in case you manage to do really well” – which then each group really wanted to do. Finally I must thank our CLP secretary whose communication was excellent and my Agent and Chairman David Oakensen without whom nothing.
On the night we improved from 4,419 to 10,998 and at 7.2% share to 17.3%. That is the largest Labour vote and the largest share the constituency has ever seen. However we think it’s just the beginning. We benefited from splashing a lot of Jeremy Corbyn on our materials and a manifesto that has Labour written right through it. If we can build on these and spend a little more time explaining outside the major population centres we can do a lot better. This will involve a long campaign strategy which we feel starts now.
I would also like to congratulate Andy Merryfield in Wells on his 5.1% swing which is all the more remarkable when you consider it was achieved in the teeth of Liberal activism.
Labour members and supporters will be delighted to know that we not only confounded the critics of Corbyn who said we were heading for the worst defeat in labour history but instead we achieved the best result Nationally since 1945 and in Bridgwater since 1979. So what next??
BRIDGWATER BRANCH MEETING- the cornerstone of local Labour Party organisation is the BRANCH. The first Branch meeting will be held at 7.30 on Wednesday 14th June at Unity House.
Branch secretary Gary Tucker says “What a strange election result across the country! Still, it is time to resume our Branch Meetings. ”
Gaye and Hadrian will be kindly running this. Please help them by bringing donations of cakes etc. They will be served up from 7pm onwards.
We have such great ideas from members and supporters and we don’t want to lose them. I will install an ideas board in the room for you to write anything on regarding how we do our meetings and in the campaign review should you not feel your idea gets sufficient airing, please put it on there too!
We would like to have an active meeting and so have decided as an executive to run this activity so that members and supporters can help us to move forwards in future campaigns. The activity will be based on campaigners’ own experiences in the two campaigns and we will use this to inform/ plan future campaigns. Your feedback is vital. We will have a hand out of facts and figures for you to look at during the meeting if you feel you need more information as well.
Any other business
Please email this to me before the meeting as the time is limited otherwise items outside of this may be raised at the chair’s discretion.
We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. We hope you will find it a more engaging experience.In solidarity Gary Tucker Bridgwater Branch Secretary
CONSTITUENCY AGM;– The Bridgwater and West Somerset Parliamentary Constituency stretches right across the West Somerset Coast and combines all the Branches from Bridgwater to Minehead. The long postponed Annual General Meetingwill be held at 7.30 on Monday 19th June at Unity House.
At this meeting the elections to the key offices of the Local Party is agreed and the powerful Executive committee along with any conference nominations.
Annual General Meeting of the General Management Committee AGENDA
Apologies for absence
Approval of previous AGM minutes
Reports on past year’s activities
West Somerset Branch
County Campaign Forum
General Election Campaign
Other reports (if any)
Vice Chair (2)
Youth & Student Officer
Trade Union Liaison Officer
Delegates to County Party (3 plus sitting County Councillors)
Quorum (currently 10)
Delegate to Conference
Nomination for National Constitutional Committee
Nomination for Conference Arrangements Committee
Dates of 2017/18 meetings
LABOUR SOCIAL:- Moves are underfoot to organise a Labour Party PARTY at the Spice Club restaurant in Eastover. The date is Tuesday 20th June and there is a Facebook site to link to or you can write directly to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are going (nb before Friday 16th June)
We concentrated our activity on the street with a healthy presence at busy times in high streets & markets in addition to some leaflet delivery and door knocking. Hustings in Burnham on Sea, Wedmore & Wells were open to the public and in BoS and Wells made available on You Tube which moved it beyond the mainly partisan audience.
Give us a ring and see where you can come to help us –
Wes’s actionline is 07487 300 802
Drop in on a Polling station with a red rosette on and help us provide a last line of persuasion for voters. See the list below and you can see the polling stations where no-one has offered to cover…and let’s be honest, if Tories or Libdems turn up there and we aren’t there, they’ll say to the voters ‘Labour have given up here’
The most amazing shift in voting intentions since the second world war has happened during this election. We’re down to 1% behind in some polls and judging by the incredible scenes in Gateshead tonight to hear Jeremy Corbyn we might just pull this one off….and…end up with the same kind of socialism that people were inspired by in 1945…..We just have to get people out to vote.
With this in mind there’s a couple of days left and here’s how you can help.
There are a couple more sessions to distribute the Bridgwater and West Somerset Rose.
Leafletting in Sydenham
Labour stall in Fore street
Then there’s people needed to help on election day – have a look at the list below and see if you can spare some time to fill in some of the gaps.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs made their stand at a crucial moment in the history of the Labour Movement which saw the founding of Trades Unions. Today this annual festival of socialism is not just a weekend of revitalisation for workers and activists everywhere, it’s also a fun weekend out in a pleasant Dorset country setting. The Sunday is the culmination of the festivities, features a procession , stalls, cafes and political discussions everywhere.
After a short gap in campaigning due to the tragic events in Manchester, we have now been given the go ahead to start campaigning again. At last nights campaign meeting we outlined a programme of events and activities which members can get involved in. Check down below for how you can help.
BRIDGWATER AND WEST SOMERSET ROSE
Wes’s election address has hit the letterboxes today, but our main leaflet will be the next edition of the Bridgwater and West Somerset Rose . An A3 sized newspaper for the whole district. Our priority will be getting it out. If you can help please look at the timings below or keep instantly up to date by logging onto and joining the Facebook group ‘Bridgwater and West Somerset Campaigners’ – https://www.facebook.com/groups/438949596290748/
A series of leaders for each area was agreed, these people would be responsible for taking the newspapers to the meeting place and identifying which streets to do and then reporting that back to Unity House.
LEAFLET DISTRIBUTION SCHEDULE
Rose available for collection
Labour Stall at the Cornhil
Leafletting in WEST STREET
West street shops 2pm
Leafleting Rhode Lane Bridgwater
Rhode Lane shops 6pm
leafletting of Eastover Triangle
La Kage, Eastover 1030
Leafletting of Taunton road
Taunton rd shops 6pm
Leafletting of Westover
Splash car park 2pm
Leafletting Duck Estate
Mallard close 6pm
Leafletting Bristol road
Labour stall in Minehead
Leafleting in Wellington rd ,
Railway station 6pm
Labour Stall at Cornhill Bridgwater
Cornhill Bridgwater 11am
Leafletting on Parkway
Parkway shops 2pm
Leafleting in Woolavington
Woolavington co-op 2pm
Porlock Monday TBC
Leafleting in Westonzoyland Rd
Co-op westonzoyland rd
Leafletting in Bower manor
Tesco express 6pm
Polling day organisation
The following people have agreed to take a limited number of ROSES and arrange distribution in the following areas. Maybe you could also offer to take some for your area?? Contact us or drop in to Unity House during the opening hours (scrawl down)
Cannington & Combwich
Co-op estate-selected streets
Docks and Chilton street
Tony Heywood was in charge of getting out posters and poster boards. Tonyh1@gmail.com
Brian Smedley would co-ordinate the staffing at Unity House during the campaign
Labour Stall at the Cornhil
Labour Stall at Cornhill
Polling day organisation
We are arranging wifi Duties will be maintaining a Labour presence in town centre building and advising people on how they can help with leafletting rotas, door knocking,events etc
Brian Smedley will be in charge of co-ordinating polling day activities. This will largely mean volunteers to cover the polling stations. Local Labour councillors will be asked in the first instance to arrange cover for their regular stations , Brian will then fill in the gaps
All Saints terrace
Victoria park CC
St Johns & st Francis
St Marys school
St Josephs school
Westover green school
Somerset bridge school
There are a series of events during the election which members are welcome to help with or participate in, these include the leafletting etc above, but also specific events to promote Wes Hinckes and suggested socials
Somerset Wildlife Trust YMCA (The Canal + Meads Eco-Park)
Bridgwater College Fiona Kolley
Bridgwater Food Bank Bridgwater
Door knocking on Taunton road Bridgwater
Labour Stall at the Cornhil Bridgwater
Federation of Small Businesses Holiday Inn, Taunton
NFU Hustings Wheddon Cross
Williton Wednesday TBC
Northfield House (Residential Home) Tower Hill TA4 4JR
Williton Library or Social Club TBC
SHAL Housing and Summerfield Housing Development Watchet
Watchet Wednesday TBC
Bridgwater Talking News (Charity Commitment)
EDF Education Programmes Bridgwater, Mallard Way
YMCA Hustings tickets on a first come first served basis!
Labour Stall in Minehead
Just Living Conference (Personal as Attendee) Taunton
Spice Club with Labour Team (Contact Laura email@example.com)
Labour Stall at Cornhill Bridgwater
Porlock Monday TBC
World Cafe @ The Engine Room ,Bridgwater
Polling day organisation
For general queries or to be directed to the right contact email firstname.lastname@example.org
With the Local elections over and our Local Labour candidates now safely re-elected we need to focus on the General Election set for June 8th. This time round the candidate hasn’t been chosen by the local membership but instead by a panel of 3 set up by the National Exec and South West Regional office.
The candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset will be WESLEY JOHN HINCKES, a Bridgwater based Sedgemoor District Councillor.
Bridgwater Branch secretary Gary Tucker says “Bridgwater Branch has arranged a Campaign meeting for when the Branch Meeting was due to take place (before meetings were suspended). It is this Wednesday 10th May at 7.30pm in Unity House, Dampiet Street, Bridgwater.