Somerset County Labour Party met this week at Unity House in Bridgwater to plan their campaign for next years County Council elections. The delegates resolved to fight to mitigate against the negative consequences of Brexit, to campaign against the recent rise in incidents of ‘hate crime’ and to fight a strong County election campaign in every seat on a campaign of shared Labour Values.
The Meeting noted that Cameron’s referendum had spectacularly backfired not just on him but on the nation as a whole with the Leave side running a dishonest campaign and its leaders consequently leaving everyone high and dry and stabbing each other in the back.
Britain’s continued place in Europe
Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater & West Somerset CLP) said “Labour needs to lead a campaign to ensure Britain’s continued place in Europe – whether that’s through a 2nd referendum, a legal challenge to the referendum, a decision of our sovereign parliament to reject or amend any Brexit legislation coming before it or fighting for the best exit terms possible, we need to provide that leadership.”
Neil Guild (Taunton CLP) said “We now need to work to get the best exit deal possible for Britain. Parliament and the UK regions need to play a full role in ensuring that happens. It shouldn’t be a matter for the Tory party alone; the same people who caused this mess. And should it become apparent that the terms of that deal are unworkable and ruinous for the UK economy and the people of this country then Parliament must reserve the right to apply it’s judgement as to what best serves the national interest”.
Celebrate our diversity
Cllr Mick Lerry (Sedgemoor) said:“The EU Referendum has divided the community of Sedgemoor and it is important to remind people that we are still within the EU and EU Citizens have rights to live and work here. Nationally there has been an increase in reports of “hate crime” from 63 reports to 331 incidents. As a community we must avoid any incidents that produce a climate of fear, where intolerance, discrimination and blame emerge. Let us remember the words of Jo Cox MP, who said “While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Cllr Gail Freeman-Bell (Yeovil CLP): “Yeovil realises significant benefits from immigrants who support the town’s hospital and health services, in addition to social care and manufacturing; We support these PEOPLE and deplore those who think they can treat them as anything less. We have already seen direct consequences in Yeovil of the inflammatory nature of the Leave campaign which overtly demonised immigrants, with certain people now feeling they that can acceptably make racist comments in person or online; we say this is NEVER acceptable.”
David Oakensen (Frome & Somerton CLP) said “Many EU citizens have made their homes and careers in this part of Somerset The Prime Minister’s statement that there would be no immediate change to their status is not much reassurance to them or their employers. A clear, public commitment is now needed to protect the people involved. It would also warn off the extreme minority, who now appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass any minority. The British public continues to find such extremist views repugnant and unwelcome.”
Solidarity against ‘Hate Crime’
Andy Merryfield (Wells CLP) said “The number of hate crimes reported in the Avon and Somerset area since the Referendum shows a 150% increase. Victims and anyone who witnesses racist incidents should call 999 in an emergency and if not an emergency the Police should be contacted at a Police station or via the online form if there is access to the internet. or Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI) firstname.lastname@example.org A one stop reporting line is now available for victims of any type of hate crime, including racist, faith-based, disablist, homophobic, transphobic, age-based or gender based. Victims will receive specialist advice, and support will be tailored to individual needs and experiences. Telephone: 0800 171 2272 (freephone)”
The Leadership Situation-Call for Unity
The County Party noted that it is up to individual CLPs and Branches to make their own statements on the current Leadership situation unfolding nationally but emphasized the following unity position
*We would expect to support whichever Labour Party leader has been democratically elected through our party rules
*We would support any leader or future leader who had such a mandate
*We have a local campaign to fight and will be developing a local manifesto based on our shared labour values
*We have a vastly increased membership and we will campaign amongst them for them to take an active role in the party and this can start now by offering themselves as candidates in the coming elections
County Leader’s statement on Brexit
Somerset County Labour Group Leader Cllr Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South) said “The British public’s decision to leave the EU will bring many changes, most likely including changes to immigration and free movement rules. There will therefore be considerable anxiety for the 3 million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. The Prime Minister’s post-referendum statement that there would be ‘no immediate changes’ to their status will have been less than fully reassuring.”
“This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their existing workforce at a time of economic uncertainty. Therefore we need clear and unequivocal statements from Governments as well as from Local Authorities that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome to stay here.Research from ICM for British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three-quarters (77%) of Leave voters. It is important to send a clear statement to the extreme minority, who now appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass migrants and minorities, that the British public finds their views repugnant and unwelcome in our society.”