Minutes of MVCLP Members’ Meeting                                              Thursday 13th January 2022

Initial Business

To begin the meeting Dan notified everyone that the AGM will be held on the 10th February 2022 at 19:30pm, where the Committee members for the upcoming year will be selected. We encourage any members who are interested to put themselves forward for a position.

Labour’s Contract With the British People

The objective of this meeting was to discuss Sir Keir Starmer’s New Year’s speech which he made in Birmingham, titled ‘Labour’s Contract With the British People’, which led with the phrase ‘Security, Prosperity, Respect’.

One member praised the speech for its idea of a ‘contract’, which may resonate with the public by standing as a contrast to the current government’s lack of trustworthiness and credibility. The citing of Attlee, Wilson and Blair as successful leaders and the promise of a ‘fourth chapter’ was encouraging. Starmer also praised the soft power of the BBC which is being threatened by the government and needs support and recognition.

Another member questioned whether the details of the speech and its policies would ever reach the public, when short, memorable phrases are what sticks with people. Johnson has used this effectively in the past, particularly in the Brexit campaign and the ‘Get Brexit Done’ general election. Labour has referenced the latter with the ‘Make Brexit Work’ slogan that is now appearing. Keir’s “He’s taking you for fools” phrase has been one that is cutting through to the public.

Labour has been putting slogans to use on their social media. One issue that hugely influences public perception of the political parties is the bias of the press, particularly the Murdoch-owned news outlets.

The Tories have had a very detrimental effect on the appearance of politics in general, with some reactions to the recent scandals being that “they’re all the same”.

At the outset of Keir’s speech, he talks about patriotism. How does the group feel about patriotism and how it relates to Labour? One member backed its use; where national sentiment is strong among some of Labour’s target voters, it may as well be used if used in a non-excluding way. Another member was less impressed by it, arguing that Labour is linked to the Co-operative Party which has strong internationalist values.

‘Security’ is the first key word of the speech, with policies of ‘Police Hubs’ in every community, with ‘Neighbourhood Prevention Teams’ made up of police, community support officers, youth workers and local authority staff tackling anti-social behaviour. One member said that the policies were thin on detail, and that to improve the failings of security in our country complex policy is needed, covering a wide range of areas. Stronger police presence on the streets is only a small aspect of this, dealing with symptoms rather than causes. Wider issues in society such as education are important in tackling crime. Many other aspects of the justice system are being challenged, specifically cutbacks to the courts. Rehabilitation is another important branch of policy.

‘Prosperity’ is the seconds key word of the speech, with a specific promise to ‘Buy, Make and Sell more in Britain’, linking to the patriotism element mentioned previously. One member suggested that Labour’s commitment to improving skills is to be welcomed, with fast-developing industries such as I.T. demanding more of our workers. In terms of prosperity, another member mentioned how we are getting consistently ripped off by companies particularly with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, adding more pressure to people’s disposable income.

Labour have pledged to spend £28 billion a year on industries that help combat climate change. There is the opportunity for the UK to lead on innovation whilst appealing to socialist means.

One member brought up the issue of people with learning difficulties experiencing barriers to political engagement, with for example, there being a struggle to get campaign materials in an accessible format. It may be good as a CLP to learn more about this and campaign for progress on this matter.

Asking the group how they felt about the concept of a ‘contract’ with the British people, one member suggested it was clever, as people are furious that the current government has been failing to live up to its commitments. Another member compared it unfavorably to Ed Miliband’s tablet of ‘Commandments’, which did not get a good response from the media or voters.

Brexit is cited as an area where the government has not lived up to its commitments, one example being the shortfall for farmers in their subsidy payments. There has been a real lack of leadership from the government and the PM in particular.

Housing remains a big issue locally, where rents are high, house prices are unaffordable and tenants can be poorly treated. Housebuilding is a divisive issue which Labour needs to find a nuanced line on; people may respect the fact that more housing is needed but will be very against big new developments being dropped into their town or village. An emphasis on community – in both this policy area and many others – will be important.

Talking of community, it was said that for a variety of reasons we are in a position where a lot more people are self-employed and/or working in the gig economy, which is not necessarily a good thing. However, small enterprises are now filling a social need, which is helping communities to prosper. This is something that can be encouraged.

The third key word of Keir’s speech was ‘Respect’. One member argued that this is a virtue that needs to be inculcated not only by national leadership, but throughout the school system and weaved into our culture and our manners throughout life. There is a vast difference between the UK and Japan, for example, in social norms and people’s behaviour towards each other, and there is a lot of improvement to be made on our side.

Other Business

We briefly discussed the scandals that are ongoing in the Conservative government, and decided as a group to write an email to our MP Flick Drummond to find out where she stands on the parties at No.10 and whether she believes that Boris Johnson should remain as PM.

One member requested that we bring up the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at the meeting. Our members were universally damning about the measures in the bill, describing them as ‘extremely draconian’, particularly the ten-year maximum sentence for damaging a statue, and the way that the bill effectively criminalises protest in general. It was mentioned that a ‘Kill The Bill’ protest was about to take place nationwide on 15th January.

After that the meeting was concluded. Thank you to everybody for your contributions and support. We look forward to seeing you at the AGM on 10th February, where we will be selecting people for Committee roles and discussing the cost-of-living crisis.

Daniel Reid,

Meon Valley CLP Secretary

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