Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greater Manchester Fabian Society Event – Unlocking Democracy

With Peter Davidson (Unlock Democracy in Greater Manchester)


David Chaytor MP (Bury North)

Talking on ‘Unlocking Democracy – how far too much power is locked up in the hands of far too few people and what we can do about it’

With an opportunity for questions after the talks.

Date: Thursday 5th June 2008
Time: 7.45pm to 9pm
Venue: The Main Hall, The Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JT
Cost: Free (we will ask for a small donation on the evening to cover costs of the room hire).

Please indicate your attendance by emailing

Crewe and Nantwich

The result was terrible, with the members and staff who gave their all and the candidate deserved better for their efforts.

It was a weird sensation because I've been there at some appalling by - elections - Greenwich, Bermondsey, Croyden NW and the response from the Labour voters was much more positive in Crewe - yet the result was the same!

We are going through a very difficult period and while we have to keep our nerve and discipline, we genuinely do have to learn lessons from the result (and the local elections) thanks to all the members from all over the country, the staff and the MP's and MEP's, who came to help.

I know it was much appreciated in Crewe and nantwich.

Generally, I am looking forward to the election results when they say "Crewe and Nantwich - Labour gain" but there's a lot of work to do before then.

National Policy Forum

CLP's should be organising Policy Forums to discuss the party's policy documents. It is vital they do as the input of the party members is really needed - whether it is on jobs, Housing, Crime, Health or any of the other key issues.

Please ensure you debate the policy document and forward any amendments to the Labour Party Head Office as soon as possible.

Donny Edwards - Ipswich

Friday night saw me away from the By-Election as I drove down to Ipswich. I lived in Ipswich and worked as a Labour Party Organiser from 1978 to 1990 (with a year break in London). I was there in 1979 when we had 3.5% swing to Labour, held a parliamentary seat and re-gained control of the council.

They did things different in Suffolk!

Anyway, my mate Donny Edwards, who was elected in 1979, retired this year after 29 years on the council and the party were having a reception for him. It was also a celebration of the three Labour gains at the local elections - doing it different again!

It was a great evening with lots of old friends there and party Chair Phil Smart, Councillor John Mowles and Chris Mole MP and myself paid tribute to Donny before he embarks on a smashing speech and rememberance of friends gone by, which earned a well deserved standing ovation.

Those people who say the party is dying are welcome to come to Ipswich anytime!

Anyone who thinks we were lucky in Ipswich ought to reflect on the fact that they are out canvassing every week and have one of the highest voter ID rates in the country. The harder you work the luckier you'll get!

Saturday morning started with a big breakfast and the drive back to Crewe.


Prior to going down to the NEC sub-committee meetings we had a telephone briefing on recent events. We were advised that a new procedure for appointing a general secretary is starting and would be doing the interviews and appointments on June 12th.

The next NEC meeting was due to take place on May 22nd - the same day as the Crewe By - Election, but has been postponed also until 12th June. Whilst I would have preferred it to be earlier, there is no doubt in my mind that it was right to postpone the meeting.


Went down to Crewe on Monday after work - did a couple of hours canvassing, then on to London for the NEC Sub-Committees.

The first meeting of the day was the Women's, Race and Equalities Committee. We had a guest speaker Kay Carberrry of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is the successor to the Equal Opportunities Commission, Disability Rights Commission and Commission for Racial Equality. She explained the extension of their work to tackle discrimination on the basis of age and sexual orientation and the promotion of Human Rights. We had reports on activity with Faith Groups, the Ethnic Minority Task Force and women's organisation and had the last report from Alan of Back the CGBT representative who will be standing down from the committee after this meeting. Everyone thanked Alan for the energy and enthusiasm he brought to his role. We also wished Janet Seymour - Kirk of the Labour Party Disabled Group all the best in recovering from an operation.

The Disputes Committee considered various internal disputes and we then had the Organisation Committee. We had a sombre presentation about the recent local election results and I can assure members that the NEC understands the message of these elections - I've still got the bruises! We also need a discussion about the effect of recently published memoirs. Frankly, they don't help and we would expect better when party members are giving their all in places with Crewe and we are entitled to expect everyone to play their part.

We discussed arrangements for the Euro - Elections in June next year. We are hoping the County Council elections will be moved back a month to coincide with them. The fees on CCP's will be £1200 - a significant reduction on the last time and in future these will be easier payment terms.

We discussed forthcoming parliamentary selections and it was agreed that Wolverhampton North East be an open shortlist.

The meeting ended and I went back to Crewe for an hour's canvassing. Busy Day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Battle for Crewe & Nantwich

I have spent most of the weekend and last week in Crewe, there is a great feeling about, we have 100s of Labour Party members coming down and being active. We seem to be leafleting the whole constituency every day with a new leaflet and the voter contact rate is shooting up.

There is a very good response amongst our voters and we are capable of getting a good result but it will require hard work.

If Cameron can't win Crewe and Nantwich - and win it well - he's in trouble. So if you were feeling depressed after the local elections get down to sunny Crewe & Nantwich and join the fight back. Come to 175 Nantwich Road or for more information contact me on 07880 790182.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crewe & Nantwich

This is the by-election where we can stop Cameron in his tracks! Members are pouring in from all over the country and it is the place to be for the next two weeks.

I have been there three times so far and there is a good feel on the streets.

Please do what you can to help, the committee room address is 173, Nantwich Road, Crewe. Tel : 01270 589135.

If anyone needs transport please call the number above and if you require any accommodation please telephone me on 07880 780182 and I’ll see what I can do.

Claremont Local Elections

Just in from the count, despite working hard throughout the year and during the campaign we got battered.

Lib Dem 1277 ( + 278)
Peter Wheeler Your Labour Neighbour 737 ( -105)
Con 525 (+33)
BNP 295 (-21)
UKIP 149 (+149)

The hard thing is, I know we fought a good campaign. Lots of people involved, good literature, more canvassing and we did connect with a lot of people – getting people to vote who hadn’t voted before and getting a lot delivered in the ward.

My rough estimate is that was worth 200 votes – frightening to think where we would have ended up had we not worked so hard.

Many thanks to everyone who supported us. No local elections next year, so we have got a good two years to campaign for the next one with the Euros in between.

We will learn lessons from the campaign and continue work hard for people in the ward.
Friday evening will see me delivering thank you / membership leaflets as start the next campaign, and then I’m off for a drink, and then off to Crewe.

NEC Elections

During the Election campaign I received details for the nominations for the NEC elections later this year. I am honoured to say I have been nominated by over 130 constituencies, significantly up on the 80 or so from last time.

I am very grateful to everyone who supported me and will work hard for re-election to the NEC. I want to continue to speak up for the individual members of the party – clearly the right thing to do and I am convinced we should make this change permanent.

The new dates for the NEC elections are as follows:

19th June Ballot Paper dispatched
18th July Ballot closes
25th July Results announced

And I hope that we can get a much bigger turnout that our past 20%!!

Local Elections Manchester

Our vote held up well in Manchester itself – gaining a seat from the Lib Dem’s in Longsight and from the Greens in Hulme. Well done to Emily and Lutfher on their hard work.

Sadly we lost 2 seats to the Lib Dem’s, Newton Heath and Northenden and two good councillors in Mike Kane and Christine Carrol.

I was also a pity to see Amina Lone not quite make it in Whalley Range but her time will come as it will for the fantastically hard working gang in Gorton- hard luck John and Julie.

Local Elections Liverpool

Well done to the party in Liverpool. 4 Gains from the Lib Dem’s saw us briefly end their control but they soon came to an “arrangement”, with a former Labour councillor who left the group under a cloud, to put them back in charge. It will end in tears !!!

Ken Livingstone

In the end, despite heroic efforts by party members and supporters in London, Ken could not quite pull it off. As a result London is being run by – let’s tell the truth – a racist snob.

I have not always been a fan of Ken’s but he was a good Mayor for London and the dignity of his speech at the count was impressive. He has always had style and he showed it on the night.

General Secretary

As you might have seen we are having to go through the process of selecting a new General Secretary. To say we feel frustrated and let down by this turn of events is an understatement, however when life gives you onions make onion soup.

We are now moving rapidly to make an appointment. The next NEC has been moved to June 12th, allowing members to campaign in Crewe and Nantwich and that should be the meeting that makes the appointment.

Anyone interested can get details from the Guardian (May 7th) or on the Labour Party website (though there was nothing there when I checked today (Thursday).