Labour Joins UDC Listening Event

Last week Uttlesford District Council held an engaging and well-attended listening event designed to enquire into the experiences of BAME residents of the district.

Two of our Executive Committe members, Sam Naik (Women’s Officer and VC Membership) and Sanjukta Ghosh (Policy and Women’s Officer) were invited to speak and give their views.

We hope all members spare a moment to watch our friends in action:

Lockdown Reading

Stuck for something to occupy you whilst stuck inside on these dark winter nights? Our own Samantha Naik (BAME Officer and Membership Vice Chair) has kindly authored a few book reviews to help you pick a good read.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell (1914)

In the early twentieth century, a group of painters and decorators and their families in a small town are exploited by their employers, and suffer from ill health, low life-expectancy, insecure housing, humiliation, and poverty. Some act with generosity and kindness; others go along with the Conservative and ‘Liberal’ (of that era) masters, believing they are their betters, and that socialism is evil; a few socialists persevere knowing that one day they will win.

This book has inspired many activists. It shows us what it was like to live in poverty, with no welfare state, and it is the answer to the elitist fiction of Ayn Rand; the workers are skilled and talented, yet cannot make a living. It surprised me that the issues of a century ago are similar to those that trouble us today: approximately 20% of working people in 2021 are poor (and this statistic is set to rise during the COVID19 recession) and may be in insecure employment, rents are exploitatively high, homelessness is a risk, and poverty causes ill-health. Back then too,  the Conservatives demonised poor people while cutting benefits. The mystery of ‘why do poor people vote Tory’ was very much in evidence in the early 1900s, too. Tressell skilfully told this story, with characters, good and bad, that will live on in your mind long after you close the book. An inspiring read.

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson (2010)

A non-fiction book that reads as a novel, with characters that are truly real. Beautiful descriptions, interspersed with the harsh reality of life in the USA for black people, after the abolition of slavery. What methods of painful exploitation could the South invent, to continue to control the black workforce, even in the aftermath of slavery? Why has it been difficult for black people to amass wealth, compared to their white counterparts, so that generations later, black people still suffer the historic injustice of ‘Jim Crow Laws? These questions are answered, in Pulitzer Prize winning fashion, by historian Wilkerson.

The great migration of Black Americans from southern states to northern states in 1915 to 1970 was not something I had contemplated: the bravery of those who sought new lives due to cruelty of racism, each of them taking a leap into the unknown, and often finding that the racism followed them. It is also useful to consider current racism in the USA and UK has developed from doctrines of white supremacy that were needed to justify the cruelty. The racism inflicted by southern states was not so long ago – racial segregationists were still arguing their case in the 1970s.

Both books show that race and class are used by the ruling powers to exploit people, without conscience, for material gains – even in rich countries where there are enough resources for everyone to live decently.  We see this in ex-President Trump’s ‘culture wars’ that set citizens against Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone who challenged fascism. We see it in the Tories demonisation of refugees, veneration of statues of slavers, and the slagging off poor people – refusing to trust poor people with money and instead giving vouchers for £5 worth of food (as happened in January 2021) as replacement for school meals, and calling such a pitiful parcel a ‘hamper’ (while charging the taxpayers a much higher price). The corruption portrayed in Tressell’s novel is evident in modern Tory Britain. 

The election of Biden may signify a turning point in the USA. Under would-be-dictator Trump, racial injustice came to an ugly head, with the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and subsequent BLM protesters being tear-gassed, and the White Supremacists roused to insurrection and attempting to overthrow democracy in January 2021. In America, things must (hopefully) become fairer, because racial justice is now an issue that is recognised by the majority of US citizens. 

Perhaps Biden can also help us make the UK fairer too. Here, BAME people suffer health inequality, evident from the Marmot Reports of 2010 and 2020, and have died in disproportionately high numbers from COVID19. Whatever happens in the next four years, I think Biden will help move our discussion back into rational areas – and that can only be a good thing.

Saffron Walden CLP AGM 2020

Thursday the 26th of November saw the 2020 AGM for Saffron Walden Labour Party.
Despite being the first ever SWCLP AGM to be held online the event was well attended and hosted some very lively, comradely debate.
The evening started with debate on the following motion relating to electoral reform, put forward by Samantha Naik:
This Constituency / Branch Labour Party resolves:

  • To call upon the Labour Party to reject First Past the Post, the voting system
    currently used for General Elections, and to support the introduction of a form
    of Proportional Representation in which all votes count equally and seats match
  • To call upon the Justice and Home Affairs Policy Commission of the National
    Policy Forum to consult the party membership specifically about their views on
    Proportional Representation in the next cycle of policy documents.
  • To call upon the Labour Party to set out how it will select a new, proportional
    voting system for general elections, in time to offer it as a concrete alternative
    to First Past the Post in our next manifesto.

This motion was passed by vote on the night and will be sent on to the Justice & Home Affairs policy commission of the National Policy Forum.

The meeting then moved on to the business of the AGM, full minutes can be found at the link below my signature, but the main body of the meeting was taken up with reports from the outgoing exec officers, an update to the CLP’s standing orders to add the new role of LGBT+ Officer to the Exec Committee, and the election of the new Exec Committee, in which I am proud to serve as Secretary.
A full list of the Exec Committee Officers is in the minutes or you can see them at the “Our Team” link to the left of this screen.
Your new Execs will get straight to work with a committee meeting next week, so you’ll hear plenty from us over the coming weeks.

There’ll also be an invite coming out soon to a festive themed social event, via zoom of course, in December. As usual this will be a great opportunity to meet some of your SW Labour comrades and to take all our minds off covid-19 for a while with some festive fun and a mince pie or two (bring your own I’m afraid). I hope to see you there.

Andrew Sampson
Secretary – Saffron Walden CLP

Labour call on Uttlesford to provide free women’s sanitary products

Uttlesford District Council should provide free women’s sanitary products so that no local girl or woman has to face the indignity of a lack of menstrual products, said Saffron Walden Constituency Labour Party at its annual International Women’s Day event at Saffron Walden Day Centre on Saturday.

Saffron Walden Labour Women’s Officer Sanjukta Ghosh launched the party’s petition, stating that based on statistics by the End Child Poverty Coalition, around 2,300 girls live in poverty in Uttlesford. She said: “In one of the richest districts of the fifth richest country in the world, this is completely unacceptable. It is a real, local issue which we as a collective can resolve. If toilet paper is provided freely in public toilets, period products should also be available.

“For the sake of dignity for girls and women, Saffron Walden Constituency Labour Party call on Uttlesford District Council and other local authorities in the area to provide free menstrual products in all of its public facilities. Schools, libraries, youth centres, public toilets, should all provide full access to a range of period products.”

Sanjukta launched the petition, which calls for non-means tested distribution in public buildings, such as toilets and libraries, and a drive to assist vulnerable sections of the population, notably households dependent on food banks and people facing housing insecurity.

Also speaking at the event was socialist Kashmiri human rights activist Faria Attique who spoke on the violence, discrimination and patriarchy faced by women in Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir. She also highlighted the cultural taboos against menstruating women, who face exclusion and are gagged from speaking out against period poverty in Kashmir.

Gemma Davies, a nurse and a local Labour party member, spoke on sex discrimination within the NHS and the need for trade union organisation to campaign for women’s voices, both among staff and patients.

Siobhan Sliman, an activist with the Pension Reform Alliance and local Labour member, highlighted the problems many women now face as a result of changes to the retirement age, which has impoverished many working women.

Pamela Jenner, a retired local journalist, emphasised the need for trade unions to tackle ongoing sex discrimination within the news industry and challenge sexist stereotypes perpetuated in the media.

Fish & Chips + Quiz 21 Feb

Join us on Friday 21 February in Stansted for fish & chips (contact for delicious veggie/vegan options!), plus tea/coffee & dessert. There will also be a quiz and a raffle (please donate prize(s) if poss). And we will collect donations (food or cash) for the Foodbank. All for £11 per person! For those that fancy a glass of wine or a beer, there will be a bar – please bring cash for donations. See Event below for full details (click on the link). We need cash payment in advance, thank you for your understanding. This promises to be a fun event! Bring family & friends. And welcome to new members, please attend – this friendly event is a good way to get to know others! Look forward to seeing you all there!

Fish & Chips + Quiz 21 Feb
Where: Stansted Day Centre, Chapel Hill, Stansted, UK
When: Friday 21st February at 7:30pm
Yes, I’m coming

Tom van de Bilt selected as Labour Parliamentary candidate for Saffron Walden

Tom van de Bilt has been selected as Labour’s candidate to stand for Saffron Walden Constituency in the next general election. Tom lives in Stansted with his wife, Sarah and their two young sons. Tom works for a Cambridge based software house and has had a diverse career in both the public and private sector, including working for three local authorities and for a market leading software provider to public libraries. He is a parish councillor in Stansted. Tom’s political priorities are to secure a referendum on any Brexit deal, tackle the climate crisis and reverse the crippling Tory cuts to public services.

Speaking after Friday’s meeting Tom said:

“I am delighted and honoured to be selected as the Labour candidate. I’m a committed socialist and a proud European in a pro-European socialist party. I’m looking forward to hitting the campaign and talking to lots of local residents about how labour can deliver for people across the constituency and build communities for the many, not the few.”

Walden MP’s Tweet Supporting Scandal-Hit Tory “Inexcusable”

Saffron Walden Labour Women’s Officer Ally Routledge responds to local MP’s appointment as a vice-chair of the Tory party after defending Toby Young’s controversial tweets:

“It is inexcusable that the first woman MP for Saffron Walden would go out of their way to defend the comments made by Toby Young.

“Recently, we have seen women speak up about sexual harassment in politics and Mr Young’s comments on women MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions were inappropriate and highlight the problem with misogyny in politics.

“The resignation of Toby Young is welcome but he was not fit for the role of the Chair of the Office for Students in the first place.

“Kemi’s new role as Vice Chair of the Conservative Party for Candidates means that she will have significant power in selecting the next generation of Tory candidates. I hope she applies higher standards to make politics more diverse and welcoming for women than she has with her comments regarding Toby Young.”

Local MP Kemi Badenoch Fails to Make the Grade

Local MP Kemi Badenoch fails to make the grade in an end-of-year report by Saffron Walden Labour Party.

Constituents have complained to local Labour activists that she is failing to pay attention to their concerns. Response times to letters have been one area of concern with many claiming it can take weeks for a response.

Many are shocked by the answers they receive, which appear to have been plagiarised from other MPs’ statements. Responses to letters on the UN’s criticism of the government’s treatment of disabled people were identical to a letter Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP issued on her website ( Local residents also received letters in response to concerns over universal credit that were very similar to a statement made by Conservative MP Graham Stuart on his website ( See attachments.

Saffron Walden CLP Chair Bill McCarthy said: “Constituents have been used to Alan Haselhurst’s prompt and individual responses, even if they disagreed with him.

“While she has grand ambitions, our MP isn’t prepared to do her own homework and instead plagiarises her colleagues. It’s poor form and she doesn’t make the grade.

“According to the press, she isn’t even willing to make the constituency her permanent family home. Many are wondering whether she’s taking local people seriously.”

Best Result for 47 Years as Labour come 2nd in Saffron Walden

Labour made history in Saffron Walden, gaining 2nd place for the first in 47 years, and with the highest number of votes ever.
Labour’s candidate Jane Berney, almost doubled her vote from her 2015 campaign, and established Labour as the opposition in the Constituency, and with further polls showing an additional 8% increase in support for Labour nationally and yet another substantial increase in membership of the Party all since polling day.
Labour are now confident in making further in-roads into the Conservative heartland in Essex, with another possible General Election looming due to the Governments loss of their overall majority.
Jane Berney called upon the newly elected MP Kemi Badenock to apply whatever pressure she can on the Prime Minister to take a collaborative approach to Brexit Negotiations, and to forget about working with the DUP to keep their very slim majority in the Commons, as this would invalidate the Good Friday Agreement to be impartial, and put the Northern Ireland Peace Process at risk. Jane Berney urged Mrs Badenoch and Mrs May to put the good of the Country above personal and Party interests.

General Election 2017: Saffron Walden

Kemi Badenoch 37,629 61.8%
Jane Berney 12,663 20.8%
Liberal Democrat
Mike Hibbs 8,528 14.0%
Lorna Howe 2,091 3.4%

Majority 24,966
Conservative hold
2.2% To Labour