As Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party declared war on the ‘greed is good’ philosophy of International capitalism, promising a ‘green revolution’ , creating 400,000 new jobs and laying out a raft of socialist policies to bring about a genuine redistribution of wealth, no less than 3 speakers from the Bridgwater Labour Party also spoke at the Liverpool Conference making an impact on delegates and sharing in the mood of optimism that real change can finally be brought about.
Top of the hit parade was Bridgwater’s youngest ever delegate, 17 year old Gemma Shanahan , the youth officer for the constituency. Speaking passionately about schools and education, Gemma mentioned her mum who works in a school and has seen MATs (Multi-Academy Trusts) ” ..taking money needed for schools and staff cuts” adding ” We are the future generation! Give us the best start in life. Our children are not just data on a page, they’re humans and they feel too. Let our children be children. Education needs to change. It needs to be a place where children are helped to succeed. We can’t keep up with Victorian teaching practices. Education needs to showcase each students skills. Schools need proper funding and most importantly we need to listen to our teachers because they know what they’re doing unlike the people at the top who have never worked in education. We need to listen to them when they say MATs don’t work. Education is a service not a business and shouldn’t be treated as such. “
The motion on the school system, mainly to do with abolishing academies and MATs and taking schools back under local control, was passed unanimously. Following on from Gemma, Charlie Thomas from Shrewsbury and Atchum CLP said “Let me say that was a brilliant speech I barely have to say anything now.”
Rebuilding Britain for the many not the few
Sedgemoor District Labour councillor for Eastover, Chelsea Chadwick who also works at Blake school made a forthright speech in an effort to support Labour candidates in Constituencies like Bridgwater & West Somerset that were seen as ‘safe Tory’ seats saying “ Our CLP unfortunately has Ian Liddell-Grainger for an MP and we would love a Labour MP but at moment we are not even allowed to select who we want to stand against him. We want to!! Why aren’t we allowing seats like ours to put forward someone who wants to be there and speak for them and support the Labour cause – why are we stopping them?” Chelsea made the case for open selections and to allow places like Bridgwater, not considered as marginal seats, to select candidates, ” as we have to get rid of Ian Liddell Grainger!!”
Fighting the Tories in their Heartland
Bridgwater Councillor Leigh Redman has been the principle voice of opposition to the Tory cuts at Somerset County Council. As years of Tory austerity have clearly led to the current disastrous cuts, the Lib Dem opposition appear to have a credibility problem as they were obviously guilty of putting the Tories into power in the first place and then introducing the policy that led to the cutbacks. As a result they’ve been losing seats everywhere and noticeably across Somerset where they dropped from 4 MPs to 0 and have almost zero influence on Local Authorities anymore. In this environment anti tory forces across Somerset are looking for leadership.
That has been provided by Labour Group Leader Leigh Redman who, as County Chair of Scrutiny, has been constantly diligent in holding the Conservatives to account and arguing for an alternative. It was therefore no surprise that Cllr Redman was a conference celebrity, speaking on several subjects including housing and Local Government cutbacks as well as being part of the National Labour Party campaign to get people to stand for the party at next years elections.
With a dynamic Conference presence and the largest ever Party membership on the ground in Bridgwater , Labour is going from strength to strength here with actions weekly, major campaigns launched and the strongest local Government presence in any one locality across the South West, outside the cities.
2019 will see local elections across the country. In Somerset the 5 Districts are up for grabs – currently all are controlled by the Tories and with the Lib Dems in long term decline people are looking to Labour to take up the mantle.
In Bridgwater Labour has 14 out of 16 Labour councillors and a new sense of optimism is clear.