Tories Wobble as Labour forces Sedgemoor Policy Rethink

Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Cllr Mick Lerry moves 2 hard hitting Labour motions

Two hard hitting motions presented to Sedgemoor District Council this week by the opposition Labour Group challenging key Tory policies were met by pleas from the ruling administration for a ‘time out’ and a mutual rethink.

Labour Leader Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour, Victoria) spoke passionately about the failures of the Universal Credit rollout and the need for an end to public sector pay restraint, but instead of engaging in a debate, Tory leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (Con, East Polden) asked that instead both items be deferred and reconsidered. Continue reading “Tories Wobble as Labour forces Sedgemoor Policy Rethink”

Christmas is Cancelled – Labour members take to the streets

Monday, 4 December 2017
West Somerset Labour members brave the cold

Members of Bridgwater and West Somerset Labour Party, Unite Community and Father Christmas braved the cold, on Saturday, to collect donations for Somerset food banks in Bridgwater and in Minehead. The national campaign, which was publicly endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn, was entitled “Christmas is Cancelled”.  It was designed to highlight the plight of thousands of families this Christmas, left without money for life’s essentials, due to the roll out of Universal Credit. The new benefit set to replace six of the most claimed benefits including Housing benefit, Working Tax credit and Job Seekers Allowance takes a minimum of five weeks to be paid after the initial claim, meaning that a family claiming Universal Credit today would have no money before Christmas.

Continue reading “Christmas is Cancelled – Labour members take to the streets”

Labour Councils ‘Boost for Youth’

Friday, 1 December 2017
Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, youth spokesperson for Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council

Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council has awarded £9,400 to a range of youth provision services in the Town, helping to promote existing youth organisations and to encourage youth service providers to do more.

The Council had set up a Youth Fund of £7,000, with organisations able to apply for a maximum of £500. 19 applications were received, 14 were accepted and 5 were deferred to the Finance Committee for consideration – all applications were accepted and are listed below and reflect a wide breadth of activity and initiative in the town.

 Youth Unlimited (The Rollercoaster), Victoria Park CC, Somerset Film (Engine Room), Somerset Army Cadets (Bridgwater), Bridgwater Hockey Club for coaching and kit, Boomsatsuma (youth photography project at Bridgwater Arts Centre), 2BU – the LGBT support group, Alive Christian Ministries for youth drop in equipment, Westfield Church for youth activities, Somerset Youth Volunteer Network, Rhode Lane Wanderers football team, Compass Disability, Somerset eating disorders project ‘SWEDA’, Wessex House for youth mental health awareness, Ups and Downs (Downs syndrome support group), Bridgwater Amateur swimming Club, Bridgwater Sea Cadets, Somerset Sailing Association Continue reading “Labour Councils ‘Boost for Youth’”

Liberating Arts 2017

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Somerset Labour’s Wes Hinckes reviews the recent Liberating Arts event.

In the struggle for equality and social justice, the first war that has to be won is the propaganda war. The arts are the most effective tool in that battle for hearts and minds and must always be at the forefront of effective political organising, campaigning and education.

Liberating Arts builds on the highly successful 2016 Liberating Arts Day and is a hybrid event that shares characteristics with an arts festival, an academic conference and a celebration of trade unionism such as the Tolpuddle Festival and the Durham Miners’ Gala.
Liberating Arts 2017 built on the highly successful 2016 Art Of The Trade Unions day, and was an all-day programme of performances, cultural discussions, and workshops that allowed activists, trade unionists and campaigners to meet with theatre companies, cultural workers and creative activists from the UK and beyond, to share insights about the central role of culture in our collective struggle for a more equal and just world.
Wes Hinckes from Bridgwater

The full programme is available on the Liberating Arts website –

My own track through the day consisted of
Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 250 events; staging walks, talks, gigs, recreations, films, exhibitions, trips through the archives and fireside story telling. They have several active research projects, publish a range of books and pamphlets and host an online archive.
BRHG projects and events are organised by local people from Bristol and are NOT funded by universities, political parties, business or local government.
History from below is essentially the study of the non-elite; the exploited classes in a social order, the forgotten voices of the anonymous men and women ignored by the official histories, and thus a critique of dominant and elite versions of the past. However, rather than the passive ‘of below’, we have the active ‘from below’ which denotes that history is being made by these people rather than merely being done to them. Making is thus the history of self-organisation and resistance in the face of oppression, dispossession and poverty.
Eastville Workhouse (community project) –
The discussion explored how art and in particular theatre can forge socialist culture within communities, and how this relates to past and present practice in political movements.
Salford Community Theatre Project is a community theatre initiative, using theatre and performance to explore life in Salford. They promote, through community participation, a discussion on local ethics and civic responsibility.
Love on the Dole –
The remarkable story of Jayaben Desai the inspirational leader of the 1976-78 Grunwick Strike. She was recently listed amongst the women who have had the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past 70 years as part of the Radio 4 Women’s Hour Power List. She not only stood up for workers’ rights and against oppression with selfless dedication, but with her steadfast resolve, she turned the dispute into a national movement for human rights and dignity inspiring future generations.
Tony Garnet with David Bradley on the set of KES

Chris Jury interviews Tony Garnett about his career in UK television drama and the ‘political’ impact of his work.

Tony Garnett started his career working on The Wednesday Play. The plays he worked on included the “very, very personal” Up the Junction (1965), directed by Loach, which features a then still illegal abortion, but he was soon under contract as a producer.
The best known of his contributions to The Wednesday Play series in this role is the docudrama Cathy Come Home (1966), again directed by Loach. Garnett in 1967 introduced Loach to writer Jim Allen, who would be one of the director’s collaborators for a quarter of a century. Garnett worked with Allen too, sometimes independently of Loach (The Lump, 1967), but also with him on such works as Allen’s The Big Flame (1969), which had been shot in February and March 1968, but was withheld from transmission by the BBC.
Co-hosted by the Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival and the Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom, this session uses a screening of The Great Sit Down: Yesterday’s Witness in America (51 minutes) to contrast the BBC then with how it is now.
The film is a 1976 BBC documentary that tells of the United Auto Workers’ struggle for Union recognition in 1936/ as men and women recall the sit-down strike against General Motors that eventually won union recognition in February 1937.
In light of current BBC output, what is extraordinary about this film is how pro-union it is! It is almost inconceivable the BBC ever could have sanctioned, let alone broadcast, such a programme.
So the question is, how can we get to a place where the BBC can once again express a plurality of political opinion, rather than simply being a mouthpiece for neoliberal, establishment hegemony?
The Great Sit Down Strike (full film) –
I would liked to have attended many more workshops and showings including:
Belonging The Truth Behind the Headlines Trailer –
I hope that gives everyone some idea of what the day covered!

Continue reading “Liberating Arts 2017”

Labour anger as Tory Councillors blame Government cuts for Somerset’s disappearing services.

Thursday, 30 November 2017
Kathrine See at the SCC

Labours Kathrine See attended the full Somerset County Council meeting yesterday to represent West Somerset Labour and question the Council again, in the fight to save the areas Children’s Centres.

After the meeting Kathrine commented  “It was an extraordinary experience to hear Conservative cabinet member after member blaming cuts in Government funding, to the Council, for the devastating loss of services across the County. They seem to ignore the fact that they voted for, support and are the local representatives of, this Conservative Government. They have actively chosen to inflict austerity on the people of Somerset and the appalling low levels of social mobility in West Somerset are entirely their responsibility.”

West Somerset was recently ranked 324th out of 324 on the social mobility index meaning that children growing up in the area are less likely to do well at school, less likely to go to university and less likely to get a well-paid job, when compared to their peers nationally. Continue reading “Labour anger as Tory Councillors blame Government cuts for Somerset’s disappearing services.”

Somerset Labour Joins attacks on Tory Budget

Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Corbyn mauls Tories over Autumn budget

After Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyns stunning performance in the House of Commons today responding to the Tory Autumn Budget, Labour figures across the country and county have been echoing his calls and pushing the Labour alternative.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said “Despite the gimmicks, the jokes and the distractions — today was a ‘nothing has changed’ Budget from an out-of-touch Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and no plan to improve them.The Budget has confirmed what we already knew: that we are worse off under the Tories and it’s set to get worse. Economic growth is the lowest since the Tories came to office, real wages lower than in 2010, and the failure to pause the botched roll-out of Universal Credit will cause real suffering. Today the Chancellor has completely failed to recognise the scale of the emergency in our public services and found no meaningful funding to address the crisis in our schools, hospitals or children’s services.” Continue reading “Somerset Labour Joins attacks on Tory Budget”

Labour anger as health visitor service cut

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

West Somerset Labour has discovered that a decision to downgrade the health visiting service for families with young children has been rushed through by the Tory leadership of Somerset County Council. The number of fully-qualified health visitors is being cut and mothers and babies will be seen by assistant practitioners.

The decision to downgrade this vital service is a response by the county to government cuts. The budget for public health in Somerset is being slashed by £3million over the next three years. To do this, 30 per cent of health visitors will be replaced by assistants with lower qualifications and lower pay. The number of fully qualified health visitors will be cut by 40.

The decision was pushed through on November 20th by the council’s cabinet member for public health, Cllr Christine Lawrence. Continue reading “Labour anger as health visitor service cut”

Tories Panic in North Petherton By-Election as voters get behind Labour

Monday, 20 November 2017

For the second time in two months the voters of North Petherton are voting in a by-election for the Town Council. Last month Labour’s Chelsea Chadwick came within 24 votes of winning.  This time Labour supporters have been out in massive numbers knowing that to even slightly increase the turnout and encourage people to realise they have the power to grab a sensational victory will give Chelsea the seat she is aiming for and residents a strong local voice on their council.

However, the Tories are running scared and have not just brought back well established District Councillor Ann Fraser  to contest the seat but they’ve also thrown in their big guns from across the county including leading councillors and even  the honourable MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, spotted the other day trying to work out how to get out of the Stockmoor estate. Continue reading “Tories Panic in North Petherton By-Election as voters get behind Labour”

“Keep your cool and show respect” – union message to shoppers

Friday, 17 November 2017
USDAW organiser Joanne Shaw

 Shoppers at Tesco in Minehead have shown their support for shopworkers by signing a petition calling for better  protection against abuse.  The petition was part of a campaign by the shopworkers’ union, USDAW, to highlight the problems faced by shop staff  at work every day.

USDAW says 150,000 shop staff every week are abused by members of the public. In its petition it calls on MPs to ensure that shopworkers and other public facing workers receive enhanced legal protection. Continue reading ““Keep your cool and show respect” – union message to shoppers”

Labour Lives:- No 5 GEMMA SHANAHAN

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

I do not think my latest interviewee, Gemma Shanahan, at just 17, will mind me pointing out that she is at the younger end of the our new intake. That is self-evident. But evidence too that an older Labour Party leader is attracting the youngest members.

Loony Left Snowflake and Proud!

The fact that we have managed to meet at all is something of a minor miracle. Prior to meeting, I send Gemma a message to ask her to suggest a venue – to which the reply is ‘Umm Coffee # 1 in town’. I have trouble finding the place on Fore Street until I realise that ‘Umm’ is not in fact part of the name… Continue reading “Labour Lives:- No 5 GEMMA SHANAHAN”