BENW 17th October, 2016

MINUTES OF BENW BRANCH MEETING

MONDAY 17TH OCTOBER 2016

Manvers St Baptist Church Open House Centre, Bath

Present:

Effie MacGregor, Douglas MacGregor, Dave Pearce, Monica Pearce, Anna Schlesinger, Sylvia Back, Sylvia Jones, Rosemary Sansom, Kelveen Morgan-Griffiths, Tony Pugh, David Lucas, Steve Bendle, Laurel Casserley, Emmanuel Campion-Dye, Joe Alder, Sarah Ditum, Phil Smith, Mike MIdgley, Martin Pople, John James, Sheila Barton, Hilary Fraser, Georgina Toye, Pam Richards, Sally Winter, Mary Flitton, Gwyneth Walne, Kay Hinde - Lesley Bees, Will Barton, June Home, Nina Trott

Apologies:

Chris Thornett, Ron Laden, Jo McCarron, Julia Garratt, Colin Lanson, Margaret Townley, Nick Bird, Steve Richards, Shelagh James, Richard Wenland, Sheila Morton, Tiggy Sagar Jane Middleton, Michelle Young.

 

  1. The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.
  2. Matters Arising: Georgina Toye’s motion was remitted at the last meeting and had been amended and resubmitted for discussion at this meeting.
  3. Local Authority by-election, caused by the resignation of the Green Councillor
    1. Pam Richards reported that a candidate had been selected – Vicki Drew. She mentioned that half the properties in the ward are ‘Houses of Multiple Occupation’ and felt that leaflets should be sent out in an envelope and addressed to individuals.
    2. Phone canvasing is to be arranged, door to door canvasing has already started. More volunteers are needed.
    3. Steve Bendle said that 4 people canvased on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.
    4. The issues are: Transport, Cuts to Children’s centres, affordable housing
    5. Chris Thornett is the Campaign co-ordinator/Agent. Hillary Fraser suggested that Fracking should also be an issue.
    6. Martin Pople is concerned that Labour and the Greens could split the vote thus letting the Tories in. Comments from the floor were that Labour should fight on its own for the seat. Phil Smith said that a lot of Labour policies are green, which we should promote. Sheila Barton suggested that a Labour is in a bad position nationally should the question of an alliance be raised? Dave Pearce felt that Education should be an issue, locally there is the threat of the closure of the Academy School at Culverhay.
  4. Raffle – raised £53, which paid for the room
  5. Motions for Discussion
    1. Motion i Proposed by Georgina Toye as amended at the meeting and then carried unopposed with one abstention: This branch urges Jeremy Corbyn and the Parliamentary Labour Party to continue to oppose the overall benefit cap and its impacts which:
      • Threaten to make thousands of children homeless;
      • Pass the costs of emergency housing from central government to local councils;
      • Unfairly target women
      • Affect many people who:
        • Can't work (Employment Support Allowance-Work Related Activities Group) Are not required to be available for paid work (mothers of children under 3 (Job Seeker’s Allowance/ESA-WRAG) and mothers of children under 1 (Universal Credit equivalents)) do in fact work (less than 16h per week average (JSA/ESA-WRAG); have take home less than £430 in a particular calendar month ie part/seasonal/supply/zero-hours workers (Universal Credit)) And inappropriately describes such people as "Workless"
      • Holds neonates, babies, toddlers, children, teenagers and young people accountable for the actions and/or circumstances of their parents;
      • Gives a benefit-capped household less overall provision for housing plus basic necessities than an equivalent household applying for asylum in the UK;
      • Fails to observe human rights.
    2. Motion ii Proposed by Steve Bendle as amended at the meeting and then carried by 24 to 2 with 4 abstentions: The Branch is requested to put forward the following motion for agreement by Bath CLP General Assembly Motion: PLP members should resolve their grievances through the Party’s internal procedures, which should be strengthened as necessary, and refrain from discussing them with the media.
    3. Motion iii Proposed by Steve Bendle as amended at the meeting and then carried by 25 to 1 with 4 abstentions: As a first step towards radically transforming our democracy, we ask the Branch to recommend that Bath CLP add their support to the following motion posted on the Your Britain website: Labour believes that the first-past-the-post electoral system should be replaced with a proportional electoral system for future elections to the UK Parliament. The full motion is below. The first-past-the-post electoral system should be replaced with a proportional system, so that the number of seats a party receives is more proportional to the amount of votes it receives.
      • The Labour Party notes that:
        • The current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system has given the Conservative Party a ten seat majority; 51% MPs on just 37% of the vote, and with the support of only 24% of the electorate.
        • Polls show there is overwhelming public support for proportional representation (PR), with 57- 74% of voters supporting the idea that the number of seats a party gets should broadly reflect its proportion of the total votes cast.
        • The TUC is drawing up a report and the STUC have resolved to support a more proportional system for Westminster elections.
        • The Labour Party played a leading role in introducing proportional electoral systems to the UK's devolved parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and London, and proportional electoral systems are in use in 87% of OECD countries, and across the rest of the world.
        • The Labour Party Constitution (specifically Clause IV, Pt. 2C) commits Labour, as a democratic socialist party, to supporting: "An Open Democracy, in which government is held to account by the people, decisions are taken as far as practicable by the communities they affect and where fundamental human rights are guaranteed."
      • The Labour Party believes that:
        • FPTP has contributed to growing political disenchantment by producing low turnout, low registration, and outcomes unrelated to support, thereby undermining the legitimacy of the UK Parliament.
        • Concentrating resources on marginal seats and swing voters has damaged our appeal and encouraged us to take our core vote for granted.
        • The MP-constituency link is seen by many as a valuable part of our democracy and can be preserved within a proportional electoral system, including numerous proportional voting systems in use around the world and within the UK.
      • The Labour Party therefore resolves:
        • To reconsider its current policy on the voting system used to elect MPs.
        • To support a 2020 Manifesto commitment to future parliamentary elections being carried out using a proportional electoral system
        • To, once in government, support the adoption of a more proportional system, possibly through the mechanism of a Constitutional Convention.
  6. Any Other Business
    1. NHS services by Virgin Care – Pam Richards invited all to go along protest about this on 29th October and 10th November, when the issue will be discussed by the council.
    2. Lack of Accountability of EC – Hillary Frazer asked why details of attendance at EC meetings is no longer available. Will Barton said this cannot be a formal request but we will write to EC to request. Carried unanimously.

Meeting closed 9.31 pm.

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