Vote Labour

This website was used by me when I was parliamentary candidate for Chippenham in 2015 and 2017. For personal reasons I did not put myself forwards in 2019, but Labour was very ably represented by my colleague, Martha de Bruxelles.
This website is now therefore of historical interest only.

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Labour is the main challenger to the Conservatives

Throughout the recent general election, Labour supporters in the Chippenham constituency were bombarded with advice to “vote tactically”. However, make no mistake Labour is in a better position to win here now than the Lib Dems are.

labour is challenger

The average Lib Dem vote across Wiltshire is similar to the national average, standing at just over 11% – , the Lib Dems have no realistic chance of winning a Wiltshire seat in the foreseeable future. It is Labour who are the growing challenger, both winning over voters from the Conservatives, and also attracting new and first time voters.

There will always be a certain amount of tactical voting, as each voter makes their own personal decision how best to use their vote. For example, the Lib Dem vote in both of the Swindon constituencies was very low, as these are tight contests between Labour and the Conservatives, and some Lib Dem voters will switch to each of these parties seeking to influence the outcome. However, Labour supporters in the Chippenham constituency need to understand that the best “tactical vote” is to vote for what you believe in. The Lib Dems cannot win here, we have a better chance than they do.



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Concern over standards in Melksham schools


Parents, staff and pupils will rightly be concerned about six of the eight schools run by the Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM) receiving poor OFSTED reports, and that both St George’s in Semington and the Manor will go into Special Measures.

I am surprised at the complacency shown by Conservative and Lib Dem councillors quoted in the Wiltshire Times. The Lib Dem, Pat Aves, was unaware there was a problem, which shows that she doesn’t speak to parents and staff; and Conservative Phil Alford correctly mentions the dedication and professionalism of staff, but fails to address the fact that these OFSTED reports show both a failure of leadership and a system of school governance (relying on unaccountable Multi-Academy Trusts rather than on elected Local Authorities) that is deeply flawed.

Even before these recent inspections, there were 3287 children being taught in Wiltshire schools rated by OFSTED as less than Good.

I am a trade union branch secretary with GMB, and I regularly deal with school support staff working for ATOM. The difficulty is that schools’ management are dealing with extremely challenging financial and other practical constraints, and those run by Multi-Academy Trusts, like ATOM, are outside the supervision of the Local Authority. The current model of school governance has no local oversight of performance or financial management. Low standards are not being targeted soon enough.

But we do need to look at a wider context as well. Wiltshire will see a drop of funding per pupil of £364 by 2019, due to Conservative cuts, amounting to nearly £22 million across the county. Even the best run schools will struggle to deal with cuts of that magnitude, and it undoubtedly puts an unfair strain on school managers, head teachers and school governors.

Under the Conservatives, we have seen education suffer.

Indeed, due to changes by the Conservative government which allow unqualified teachers, there are now 153 unqualified teachers in Wiltshire teaching 3883 pupils. That is not to doubt the professionalism and dedication of those individual staff, but Labour is committed to a fully trained, fully qualified teaching profession, supported by adequately trained and adequately remunerated Teaching Assistants.

There are also 5109 primary school children in Wiltshire being taught in classes of over 30, against the guidance of educational experts that smaller classes benefit pupils of this age group.

Labour will ensure a fair funding formula for schools, levelling up budget per pupil so that no school loses out. We will restore local authority supervision, and ensure that all schools are adequately funded.

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Building support for a new Corsham station

rally for rail 2I was invited by the Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR), a campaigning group seeking to extend rail services in the West of England, to speak on behalf of the Labour Party at a Rally for Rail in Bristol last Friday, Other speakers included Bristol City Councillors, Cllr Mark Weston (Conservative), Cllr Anthony Negus (Lib Dem) and Cllr Jo Sargeant (Labour) as well as Bernard Kennedy from the train drivers union, ASLEF.

FOSBR have also invited me to make a statement in support of a new Corsham Station being included in phase 3 of the Metro West project at the first meeting of the West of England Metro Mayor’s authority on 28th June.

The newly devolved West of England mayoral authority provides a new level of local government with significant powers over transport infrastructure. Winning the new metro Mayor to supporting integrated plans for rail that would include Corsham station could be a significant step forward in increasing the likelihood of a train service being introduced.

The campaign for a new station at Corsham has been building strength for a number of years, and has cross party support from the Labour Party, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The campaign is led by Corsham Town Council, and has been supported by our MP, and Wiltshire County Council.

The Swindon and Wiltshire Strategic Economic Plan identifies that ‘re-opening the rail station at Corsham would be a significant enabler of growth, making the Town more accessible to students, staff and others as well as improving access to the MOD and other employment areas.

Wiltshire Council commissioned a report on the viability

According to the Gazette and Herald

Forecasts from this Wiltshire Council study, the Atkins report, indicate that a Corsham station could carry up to 400,000 passengers a year with an identified for journeys to and from Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire too.

The report concluded that there is a gap in rail service provision between Corsham and Bath. For example, although over 650 Corsham residents make a daily commute to Bath and North East Somerset, less than 2% of these journeys are made by rail. This contrasts with trips from Chippenham to the same area where rail captures almost a third of work trips.

On the longer journey to Bristol some Corsham residents are already using rail by heading to neighbouring stations to travel to work. However, this only accounts for 13% of work trips compared to 34% for those whose journey originates in Chippenham. Only 5% of Corsham residents working in Swindon travel by rail compared to nearly 17% of those who live in Chippenham.

Wiltshire Council identified four possible rail service options, a new service from Temple Meads to Oxford, a new service from Temple Meads to Oxford, a new service from Cardiff to Swindon, or an extension from the Metro West service from Bath Spa to Chippenham.

The extension of the Metro West service is the option supported by the Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, and is building cross party support.

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Labour is the main challenger to the Tories in Chippenham

election results

Labour has become the main challenger to the Conservatives in Chippenham constituency (which includes Melksham, Corsham, Bradford on Avon, and various villages). During the recent general election, Labour fought a dynamic local campaign, and successfully reached out to young voters and former non-voters.

This is a fantastic base to build upon. Voters becoming disillusioned with the Conservatives are coming straight to Labour and our strong local team.

The Labour result was the highest in terms of votes since 1959 and the highest in terms of vote share since 1970. The Lib Dems continue to lose support here. Labour supporters need to understand that there is no value in a so-called “tactical vote” for the Lib Dems in this constituency.

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Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister

vote Labour 8 June

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Vote Labour. Vote Andy Newman for Chippenham constituency.

There is an increasing likelihood of a so called “hung parliament”, where no party has a majority. The vote share in absolute numbers may be an important lever for Labour in arguing we should be allowed to form a minority administration if Labour doesn’t get an overall majority of MPs. So even here in Chippenham constituency, EVERY SINGLE LABOUR VOTE COUNTS. It is a vote of confidence in the party, in the manifesto, and it is a vote for a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.

Beware the false arguments from Lib Dems touting the idea of so called “tactical voting”. The Lib Dems are no friends of the Labour Party and it was the Lib Dems who backed the Conservative government between 2010 and 2015. They are trying to reduce the Labour vote to make it look like there is less support for Corbyn than there is.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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How Labour will support small businesses

Labour parliamentary candidate, Andy Newman, and Euro candidate Clare Moody, campaigning in Bradford on Avon, Chippenham constituency - copyright Steve Reckless

Labour understands the need for a prosperous economy, and the need to put in place measures to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), which currently provide 60% of the UK’s private sector jobs.

We have listened to small businesses, and a Labour government will introduce a number of measures to support them:

Labour understand the need for investment, and the challenges of SMEs in gaining finance. We will create a new National Investment Bank, and regional development banks in every region, to identify where other lenders fail to meet the needs of SMEs and       prioritise lending to improve the funding gap.

We will reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate.

We will review the Tory reforms to business rates, recognising the fact that high street retail businesses are competing with on-line businesses with lower costs. Will also take immediate action on business rates, to lower the burden on businesses, including switching from RPI to CPI indexation, exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process

We will scrap quarterly  reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000.

Labour understands that late payment can push businesses into real difficulty. We will declare war on late payments by using government procurement to ensure that anyone bidding for a government contract pays its own suppliers within 3 days; and by developing a version of the Australian system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the private and public sectors.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Government action is needed to tackle homelessness


Today I visited Unity House Hostel, which is run by a homelessness charity in Chippenham. Obviously as a charity they are non political, and had given all the candidates an opportunity to visit, but I was the only one who replied. I had a very interesting hour talking to staff and clients.

A helping hand to those who are going through a chaotic period of their life is vital to get them back on track, and I was really pleased to talk to residents at the hostel, and we covered all sorts of issues, from homelessness, prevention of terrorism, the British constitution, education policy and even whether banning cannabis is effective.
The excellent work that the charity does is vital to support those currently in need, but charities cannot resolves the root causes of homelessness. Government action is required to tackle homelessness is a growing crisis in the UK. Rough sleeping has doubled since 2010, from 1768 in 2010 to 4134 in 2016.

Almost 60000 households were accepted as homeless in “priority need” in 2016, which is an increase of nearly half since the last Labour government.

There are now over 100000 homeless children in temporary accommodation. Locally in Wiltshire shortages of social housing can create real problems for families who lose their homes, as for example, women from children who lose their house – often for reasons that they could not have prevented – may be found a place in a hostel in a different town from where they have networks of family and friends to support them, which can mean they also lose their jobs. The cruel regime of benefit sanctions introduced by the Lib Dem / Conservative coalition and continued by this Conservative government can also lead to people becoming homeless, people can be sanctioned for example just because their bus makes them late for an appointment.

Labour intend, if elected, to develop a new national strategy to tackle rough sleeping as a question of urgency, including 4000 extra homes which are ring fenced for people who have been sleeping rough. Personally, I have acquaintance with the issues through the Threshold charity in Swindon, and if elected I will make a personal commitment to urgently work with the local voluntary sector, and Wiltshire CC, to prioritise local provision.

Labour is committed to building 200000 new homes per year during the next parliament, half of them affordable to rent or buy, and improved tenants rights. These measures will start to reverse the trend.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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Labour’s commitment to a Brexit that works for the British People

Britain will leave the EU under a Labour government. We respect the decision of the British people who voted to Leave in the referendum. Out means out and leave means leave.

However, it is vital that we get the best possible deal from the EU, to ensure future prosperity for our nation, and for future generations. Labour has the best chance of getting a good deal as we have a highly professional approach to negotiations, which will be led by Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, who is a highly talented barrister. Labour also has the advantage of excellent behind the scenes contacts with other European political parties, trade unions and governments, many of whom quietly share the frustrations of the British people with the unaccountable EU institutions.

The UK will leave the EU in March 2019. Given that 44% of Britain’s exports are with the EU, we simply cannot allow the economy to fall off a cliff, which is what the “no deal” scenario touted by the Tories would represent. If we took that approach, multi-national companies and even British companies would withdraw investment and jobs from Britain.

The top priority in negotiations must be that we keep a tariff free export arrangement with the EU. There are several ways this could be achieved, and it is not possible to have proper diplomacy and negotiations by issuing public threats and insults, as Theresa May has done. Labour does not believe in staying in the European Economic Area (EEA = single market), unless it is reformed, but we believe that whatever the opening public stance taken by the EU, there are opportunities for reform and many other EU countries would like to see those reforms as well. If the EEA cannot be reformed than the UK will need to have a new, bespoke agreement with the EU. This is achievable. It cannot be achieved by fantasising about hypothetical future trade deals with India, for example, it can only be achieved by working to sustain a good working and trade relationship with the countries of the EU, Labour is confident we can deliver this.

What Labour doesn’t accept, and does not believe the British people will accept, is the Tory vision of the UK as a Poundland economy: attracting businesses here only by lower levels of corporation tax, less health and safety, less environmental regulation, lower wages and worse employment rights. We have six tests to judge whether we will support any deal, and these boil down to a commitment that the British People will not be worse off.

Once Britain leaves the EU, the UK’s commitment to the free movement of labour ends. Labour is determined to deliver an immigration policy that the British people agree with, and this means that the policy has to work in the interests both of the British economy and of communities. We cannot cut our nose off to spite our face, so immigration will be needed to address key skill shortages. But under Labour we are determined that we will train the workforce so that we have fewer skills shortages in the future. The Conservative approach of stopping bursaries for student nurses so young people here cannot afford to train to be nurses while the NHS then has to go to the Philippines and India to recruit nurses makes no sense.

The Conservative’s idea of leaving with no deal also jeopardises the sovereignty of Gibralter and peace and stability of Northern Ireland. This is not in our national interest, and the Conservatives are being reckless.

We are leaving the EU, that is certain. But how we leave the EU will shape our nations for a generation or more. Labour is determined to deliver a Brexit that works for the British people, for our economy, and ensures that we are no less prosperous, and that we suffer no reduction in rights and liberties.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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