New Leader

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Sep 132015
From Chris Johnson, Chair of Witney CLP

I’m sure that amongst local members and supporters as in the party nationally there will be a range of feelings and reactions to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as our leader.  Some will be enthused by the prospect of a more radical agenda for the party to pursue and put to the public, others out of sympathy with the apparent agenda, and some fearful of the effect of a shift to the left on the party’s ability to win elections – and all of us know the onslaught the overwhelmingly Tory supporting press is going to unleash.  I want to argue that none of us should leap to early judgements.

I have said at previous meetings that Jeremy Corbyn’s policy positions are not extreme, but represent elements of mainstream thinking in this country.  His alternative approach to reducing the deficit has support from many professional economists; his aim of  encouraging British companies to focus more on the long term and less on immediate profit margins is widely shared (see much of Will Hutton’s recent output).  Tackling inequality is surely common ground for us all (and even the governor of the Bank of England and the head of the IMF agree that current levels in this country are damaging and unsustainable).  And bringing the railways and energy companies into some form of public ownership have wide support.  There is of course room for debate about how these things can be best achieved – and I’m sure we will be having that debate, vigorously, over the coming months.

I am determined that the party locally will continue to welcome all strands of opinion within the party, and will encourage debate which is lively, and respectful of different viewpoints.  Only by working together can we have any chance of limiting the damage this Conservative government is doing to our country.

If you have joined recently, whether as a member, affiliate or registered supporter – I very much hope you will stay with us, and work together on our campaigns, locally and nationally.

With all good wishes,


PS: this blog from Duncan Enright on the new leadership is well worth a read:

And if you haven’t already seen it, Jeremy Corbyn  has set out his approach in an article in the Observer:

CLP Hustings Result

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Jul 152015
From Chris Johnson, Chair of Witney CLP

At the Hustings last night, members present voted to nominate Yvette Cooper for party leader (Jeremy Corbyn was a not too distant second) and Stella Creasy for deputy leader (Tom Watson was a very close second).  We used the single transferable vote system to determine the winners.

Our thanks to those who spoke on behalf of the candidates: Andrew Smith MP (for Yvette Cooper and Ben Bradshaw); Ken Livingstone (for Jeremy Corbyn); Parmjit Dhanda (for Andy Burnham); Laura Price (for Stella Creasy); and Duncan Enright (for Liz Kendall and Tom Watson) – all of whom were delegated by the respective campaign teams; and to Judith Wardle (Caroline Flint) and Geoff Saul (Angela Eagle) – who we approached locally to present campaign material.  Over 60 members and supporters came, asked probing questions, and contributed to a stimulating and informative debate.

Members may want to take the views of those at the meeting into account when they vote – but of course it remains for members to make their own decision who to vote for in the ballot.

Laura Wins Again!

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Jun 282015
From Chris Johnson, Chair of Witney CLP
Laura Price - Picture: Ric Mellis

Laura Price – Picture: Ric Mellis

Many congratulations to Laura Price, who on Thursday was elected as Labour Councillor for South Ward on Witney Town Council, coming second in the poll for three seats, and gaining from the Conservatives.  Laura is already County Councillor for that Division, and will now join Duncan Enright to make a formidable team, representing the people of Witney, and Labour, on this all too Tory-dominated, inward-looking and complacent Town Council.

Our congratulations too to our candidates Mel Jones and Stephen Parkinson, who despite not being elected to the other two vacant places polled extremely well – indeed they came within only 30 votes of the third placed Conservative.  You can see the results in detail here: .

Many thanks to all those from across the constituency who helped achieve this result – leafleting, knocking on doors, phoning to encourage Labour supporters to go out to vote, providing a presence for Labour at the polling stations – and to our candidates. After all the efforts for the May elections, it is a tribute that members and candidates were able to find the energy for this short but intensive campaign. It’s great to be winning in Witney!

Brian Hodgson Memorial Walk, 2015

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Jun 222015

The 2015 Annual Brian Hodgson Memorial Walk took place on Sunday 21st June, starting from the top of Tower Hill, Witney, visiting Minster Lovell Hall (pictured below) and finishing at The Lamb in Crawley for a very welcome sandwich lunch.


For new members – Brian Hodgson was a much loved and respected Chair of the CLP who died some years ago. He was also very active in many left wing  causes nationally, and a chair of the Ramblers Association.

Witney Town Council – Election for South Ward

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Jun 172015

This election, due to be held on 7th May, was postponed because of the death of one of the nominated candidates, and will now be held on Thursday 25th June.

We have an excellent team of local candidates: Stephen Parkinson, Cllr Laura Price and Mel Jones, standing for the three seats available.  We have a good chance of gaining one or more seats on the council, which would make a big difference to the influence we can have through our existing Town Councillor, Duncan Enright.

Pictures by Ric Mellis

Bloody, but unbowed

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May 112015

Members of the CLP assembled yesterday at the home of Chris and Jane Johnson for a celebration – not of victory, alas, but nevertheless a celebration – of the hard work put in over the last months by all members; of the good fight fought by the Town and District Council candidates; and of Duncan Enright’s increase of 3,000 in the parliamentary vote.

Duncan was inspiring and upbeat as always, and the general mood was one of determination to do all we can to mitigate the hardship that will be imposed on the most vulnerable members of our society over the next five years.

Post-election blues

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May 092015
A message from Chris Johnson, Chair of Witney CLP, to all members and supporters

There is no escaping the bitterness of our election defeat on Thursday – not least because the scale of it was so unexpected. Shed a tear for Ed Miliband, who grew in stature through his time as leader, and during the campaign, and would have made an excellent PM. And shed one too for our country – when we return to government, we will face an enormous task of rebuilding a decent society for all our citizens, and re-establishing an honourable place for us in the world in partnership with other countries.

Meanwhile we face the task of rebuilding our party and programme. Our analysis of the problems we need to tackle – growing inequality, a capitalism that seems to focus only on the short term  to the benefit of a few, an unbalanced economy, a narrow minded view of our place in the world – is surely right. We need to create a new programme from this that the party can unite behind.

Locally, we have some cause for satisfaction. Duncan’s campaign increased our vote by a third, and drew wide admiration. We came a good second in all of our district target seats, and we retained our places on Witney and Chippy Town Councils. But the high turnout meant we lost our district seat in Chippy, despite a well organised and hard working campaign. We have  an excellent base from which to build.

So – a warm thank you to all who worked so hard for us: to Duncan and our target seat candidates who made such a great effort; to those who stood in other wards so everyone had the chance to vote Labour; to those who knocked on doors and helped deliver leaflets; to our tellers on the polling stations, our funders and fund raisers. You all worked harder than ever before. Thank you.

Best wishes,


Cameron’s Coup

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Apr 272015

toynbee-walkerPolly Toynbee and David Walker at the Chippy Literary Festival.

Many of you will remember that Polly Toynbee visited the constituency last year and spent the day with Duncan Enright hearing about local issues.  Some of the material she gathered then features in her book “Cameron’s Coup”.  Together with co-author David Walker talked about this at the Chippy Literary Festival on the 26th April, as well as having a photoshoot with Duncan – see gallery below.

The book can be purchased online from the Book Depository:


Witney Street Stall

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Apr 252015

With less than two weeks to go before the election, volunteers were out in force to support Witney Labour parliamentary candidate Duncan Enright canvassing in Witney Market Square.

Pictures: ©Ric Mellis Productions 2015

Click/tap thumbnail picture to see the full image.

Witney NHS Rally

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Mar 282015

Members of Witney CLP braved the wet and windy weather to attend a rally in support of the NHS which took place on Church Green, Witney.  There were also representatives from Unison, NHA (National Health Action) and KONP (Keep Our NHS Public).

There were speeches from three of the parliamentary candidates for Witney: Clive Peedell (NHA), Chris Tompson (Independent), and of course Duncan Enright, who made the point that the NHS came into being through an act of political will. and that only an act of political will would save it.