Making the Labour difference everywhere

One of the themes of this Saturday’s Third Place First conference will be about fighting every seat in every ward on every council.

This is important because Labour in local government can and does make a difference even when we are in opposition

I would like to tell you about my local authority of Rushmoor, the towns of Aldershot and Farnborough, in the Tory heartland of Hampshire.
 There are 25 Tories, two Ukip councillors, one independent and a fantastic group of 11, yes 11, Labour councillors.

In December 2012 we proposed a motion to full council seeking the council to endorse the living wage, and that any members of staff who are paid less than £7.45 per hour be paid the living wage. 
Tory after Tory spoke and said this was Labour propaganda and a gimmick, but we argued our corner with evidence, facts and, importantly, following our true values we persuaded the controlling Tories to undertake a review of all staff and that officers would come back with a report.

 Months passed, we waited, but no sign of the report and we feared the Tories had kicked this into the long grass and been forgotten and lost without trace.
 However, being good trade unionists we lobbied and demanded the report be published.
 And in May, some five months after our original motion, the report was presented to the council’s corporate scrutiny panel. It confirmed seven members of staff were paid less than the living wage – seven cleaners.

 And it would cost £9,500 per annum. 
I moved and by the other two Labour members of the panel that the seven cleaners be paid the living wage with immediate effect.

 The Tories tried to use every bogus reason they could think of not to support our proposal. 

However, we stuck to our guns and took the moral high ground, and, again, like good trade unionists, we repeated our case over and over and we persuaded the panel, with the help of one the old-fashioned One Nation Tories who abstained, to agree to propose to cabinet the council pay the seven cleaners the living wage.

After the meeting the Tory chair turned to me and said: ‘The trouble with you, Councillor Dibble, is that you make this panel political’! After another long delay the item finally appeared on the cabinet agenda. Once again we thought the Tories would kick it out.

 My Labour group colleague Les Taylor addressed the cabinet he repeated the moral case which represented our Labour values, and the cabinet to their credit agreed to pay the seven cleaners the living wage with immediate effect.

For those of you in our Labour-controlled cities and towns this may seem a small issue.

 However, to those seven cleaners living in an area of very high housing and living cost this will make huge difference to their lives.

 If Labour is truly a One Nation party, we must not just represent our Labour heartlands but the whole country and we should never forget the work undertaken by Labour opposition groups who stand up for our values in the Tory shires.

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Keith Dibble is founder of Third Place First and a councillor in Aldershot. He tweets as @keithdibs

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Comments: 4...

  1. On January 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm Anonymous responded with... #

    I struggle to understand how a political part can ‘fight every seat’ without Fighting its People.
    So many has happened between the start of the recession in 2007, the home eviction’s that took place by the policy of these same CEO bankers who failed the banks – right under the noses of our politicians… and no word uttered in response. Also, the viable businesses that failed by these same CEO bankers – who would go on the select committee and be asked by politicians to simply say ‘sorry’. And, they did – as arrest…. and jail time for their fraudulent activities were too much for them, were we all told by our politicians.

    Where was the ‘voice’ of the Labour Part then? Better still, a strategy that would have won the hearts & minds of those whose seats the Labour Party is ambitiously setting out to win, would have been for a Labour Party to Harness the Voices of the British people towards achieving goals.

    Where is the Voice of the Aspirations Nation… once spoke of? Where is the Voice of those who have a suffered the psychological depression amid the economic trauma that has further hindered progress in their lives? Where is the political will, determination… BOLDNESS to do exactly what needs to be done… and needs to be said? That is, Listening to the Challenges people are facing, setting out innovative strategies that will rebuild an Aspiration Nation.. and heal minds too… and doing so with the people by you side… NOT simply behind you?

  2. On January 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm roy steele responded with... #

    I hope Labour’s national office takes advantage of the rising grass roots support for LABOUR in Kernow/Cornwall. folk down here have had enough of LD and LABOUR enjoy much support but very few LABOUR rep’s are seen to spread the ‘good word’. And open up purses and wallets to buy effective media advertising – leaflets through doors are a total waste of time (0.3%). Leaving canvassing to a few weeks’ just before an election and relying on emails/twitter/FB may get some results (1.2%) but face2face and using shoe leather is still the best way (25%) to obtain LABOUR votes in Cornwall. The Peninsular is ripe for change and Progress.

  3. On January 22, 2014 at 10:37 pm Andy responded with... #

    Two things happened here today:

    1. The prospective Labour candidate was in the local paper moaning about the closure of our police station. A decision that was made by our LABOUR PCC.

    2. A resident complained to me about “useless ward councillors”. They complained to me because I was naive enough to help them get elected. The ward councillors, who are Labour, deliberate refuse to answer emails so I was left with little choice but to agree that they are useless.

    • On January 23, 2014 at 5:08 am roy steele responded with... #

      I prefer a useless LABOUR Cllr to a useless Tory/LD ‘Squire’ any time.

      Its a learning curve: Give LABOUR candidate-councillors and MPs the support they need – then give some more support [cash and time] till it hurts! LABOUR needs you right now – it certainly does not need nit-picking advices, whether they be true or false, about every miniscule little error that we come across. I suggest the nit-picking is left to those who hold PhDs in nit-picking, viz, the ToryLD. Loyalty to the LABOUR party is unconditional.

      My advice, to any ditherers out there, is to VOTE LABOUR on May 7 2015 not only to eradicate any false uber-class superiorities forever, but also to be a part of the landslide Victory for LABOUR that boots this Tory lot out once and for all: History in the making. [DV]

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