2018 is almost done and yet politics continues its fascinating, yet gruesome hold on the nation! While much of the year has been one take or another on Brexit and its ramifications, LCC has kept the flag flying for the communities of coast and country. Working with many of you, our MPs and Peers, and a range of others who value the chance to speak for these communities that work has included:
- Speaking engagements at CLPs across the country, including in South East Cambridgeshire and West Worcestershire.
- Two conference fringes in Liverpool, our now annual gathering on Sunday lunchtime and a Monday lunchtime fringe to launch “Towns of England, your time has come: A Manifesto for 2019”.
- Convening two dinners in Parliament with a range of back and front bench MPs to discuss coast and country issues, and potential solutions as part of the process of developing our ‘Manifesto for 2019‘.
- Contributions to external research, including the Fabians ‘Labour Country: How to reconnect with Rural Communities’ report and the Labour Party Coastal Communities consultation.
Looking forward to 2019 there are the key local elections for England on May 2nd. We have already published our ‘Manifesto for 2019’ (glossy hardcopies are still available if you are interested) and that is getting good circulation with Labour frontbenchers, some of whom we will get to blog about their thoughts on it, and wider policy ambitions in the new year.
With those elections in mind, and to continue to engage members wherever they live, we are meeting and speaking at a variety of events, with the following confirmed:
- Southend CLP | Wednesday 13th February
- New Forest West CLP | Monday 25th February
- ‘Winning England, how can Labour win votes in rural England’ with Stroud CLP and English Labour Network | Saturday 16th March
We’d be delighted to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you’d like an LCC speaker at your CLP next year.
With best wishes for 2019,
The Labour: Coast & Country Team
A glorious evening of dappled sunshine, a light breeze and blue skies welcomes members of Chippenham CLP to their AGM in the Church Hall of St Patrick’s Church in Corsham.
Yet again another new community hall, funded by local fundraising efforts; a complement to local civic activists supporting the future of their community (and a remind that not only are meetings in such constituencies more distant for members, there are usually far fewer venues to choose from for meetings).
After some early AGM business to determine the chair and other officers, everyone attending introduced themselves and their part of the constituency, with members travelling from Bradford-on-Avon, Pickwick, Melksham, Chippenham and Corsham (a range of about eight miles in every direction).
Then the evening’s discussion got going in earnest – you can read more on that here.
On each and every one of our CLP visits we have heard different examples of CLPs engaging with their massive growth in membership – you can read more of one example, the use of surveys by Broadlands CLP, here.
This weekend we met many members of Broadlands CLP in the Hellesdon Community Centre on the edge of Norwich to discuss the issues of policy and practice that Labour needs to best represent the communities of Broadlands, a constituency covering much of the Norfolk Broads, stretching from Norwich in the north west to Great Yarmouth in the south east of Norfolk. You can read more of our discussions here.
Recently we enjoyed a thoughtful evening discussion with members of the CLPs of Kettering, Daventry and Harborough, bridging the counties of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. You can read more here.
Knebworth! Scene of many historic rock gigs, and last month an excellent Labour Party branch meeting – new, old and returning members met for an evenings discussion of ‘non-urban’ issues and how Labour could approach them on the road to winning in 2020.
As is often the case many of the issues here – poor connectivity, both public transport & digital; low pay and the impact of tax credit changes; and limited accountability of the council – are issus that affect communities that Labour already does represent – these are issues of equality, opportunity and social justice and we can fight on them for these communities too.
After a wide ranging discussion quite a few interesting ideas emerged, some for the national Party to consider (how to change GOTV, boundary changes will make more seats less urban), some for LCC (how can we help Labour have a voice everywhere) and some for the branch – leading to twinned leaflet rounds covering the whole area, and a proposed listening exercise for the first mailing to the community – the sort of new politics we like to see.
Thanks to hosts Jan & John Burnell, especially for the cakes!
Sunday lunch-time of the first day of Conference 2015 saw over 40 members from across England and Wales gather to reflect on what next for Labour in communities of coast and country. After moving to a larger room to accommodate everyone more comfortably, a wide ranging discussion occupied those present for almost two hours.
That discussion covered the issues we knew affected our coast and country communities, ranging from poor connectivity and much reduced public transport; low wages and the impact of changes to tax credits; a lack of affordable housing, and challenges of faced by many communities loosing their bank, shops or post offices. We appreciated the contribution of newly elected Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, LCC supporter and a long serving rural campaigner across the East of England. We recognised these issues as some of the same challenges faced by communities already represented by Labour – be they in city, coastal, or country constituencies.
We touched on the challenges facing the party, with a wide-ranging contribution from Maria Eagle MP, previously Shadow Secretary for Defra, who’s team had spent the summer researching Labour’s performance across rural seats, and looked towards ‘Winning in 2020’. That work highlighted the need for a new Labour vision for non-urban Britain, that Labour does already represent some of these communities and those like them in the cities, and that Labour could win with the right organisation in place for 2020.
Finally we explored the opportunities in front of the party, and every CLP, now our membership was growing dramatically – ideas for action and organisation that we will feed into the Party.