Sir Keir Starmer

These notes on Sir Keir Starmer’s visit to Witney were prepared by John Gittings.

Keir Starmer: talk to the Witney CLP supper party, 30 Nov. 2017, Leafield. [this is a summary of what Keir said. When the words quote exactly what he said, they are placed in italics.]

“I am going to start by discussing four recent dates:

20 June 2015, the Referendum. It is important to remind ourselves of why those of us who voted to remain did so: I am an internationalist; I genuinely believe that it is better if we cooperate with our European partners, whatever the challenge is. My cross on the ballot was one from the heart. It was a gruelling, awful night — what sort of world were we entering? I was really worried about a Britain that turns in on itself. Everything is based on one thing: what sort of world do we want to live in?

It was a close vote but it did not tell us anything about our future relationship. It didn’t tell us why people voted, except that they wanted to “take back control”. We in the Remain camp had no answer to “take back control” — it was a Heineken question! But if I were a public servant with a seven year pay freeze, I would ask myself do I have control? Behind the box on the ballot paper people saw a much bigger question about the way politics is run: a failure to build a Britain which is more inclusive. If Labour cannot have a policy for the people who voted leave, we have nothing.

5 October 2016, the PM’s Conference speech. This was a defining moment. She could have said that we will now have a discussion with our EU partners; instead she delivered an extreme interpretation of what Brexit meant — she was extremely hard on the European Court of Justice. Our European partners were shocked: they were expecting a sensible conversation. This changed the mood: it was a really low moment. The 48% were written out of their own future- it was an extreme message to those who voted Remain.

8 June 2017, the General Election. She wanted a landslide, but the country said no. The country rejected the PM’s approach and we now have a shabby deal with the DUP but it transformed our [Labour’s] prospects. Jeremy ran a very good campaign. It shows we can and should win the next General Election, we are the party on the way up and they are the party on the way down.

The only sensible way is to stay in the single market [during the transition period, Keir later clarified to a questioner], and the customs union and respect the ECJ. The lack of preparation by David Davis is staggering; when we eventually got sight of the papers on the economic impact of Brexit, from the bits we were able to see the entire work done by the government was in two lever arch files.

We have turned the tables but we didn’t win: we have got to win and be in the driving seat: we must not be complacent and think we have done enough.

15 Dec. 2017. For the PM it is really serious if there is no agreement to move to Stage Two. The time will be so reduced that it makes No Deal a serious prospect, and No Deal is unthinkable. On 30 March 2019 we will be the only country in the world with no trade deals with other countries. No agreement on northern Ireland — that means a hard border; that will be catastrophic, it will be a really dangerous plan. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are fantasists: they believe you can go through the gate to Wonderland.
If we do move on [to Stage Two] then the question is: what sort of Britain do we want in fifty years time? Michel Barnier has asked: Do you basically want to be a European style country with a European-style approach? To which there is no answer from the British government. Or do you want a different Britain? The government cannot answer that because it is divided.

Our belief is that: We are a European nation and we should have a shared future with Europe. We want to keep up with European standards on labour, food, etc. based on principles of cooperation and internationalism. We must win the election, interrupt and seize the negotiations; we will go to Brussels and say we have a new set of values and a new set of goals.
[in reply to questions]

* Cross-party working: There are problems about contemplating cross-party working: we are suspicious of the PM and the role of opposition is to challenge the government at every twist and turn. The decisions that are best are the ones that are challenged.

* HoC opinion: There would be a clear majority for a more sensible policy on Brexit if the lights were turned off in the House of Commons and there was just a show of hands.

* Referendum result: We have to accept the result of the referendum: it was not ever presented as just a giant opinion poll. The political price for walking away from the decision would be very harsh. It would show that we don’t care for the people who have felt neglected for years and voted the other way. We have to walk towards the challenge. We do respect the referendum result but we see a different future.

* Immigration: We have ducked the question for a long time — we need to have the discussion and we need a sensible policy. Refugees — no question about them; Students — should be welcomed and not classed as immigrants; Family members — this issue can be worked out; Those who come to work — Freedom of movement has let us dodge some important questions. We have avoided the question of lack of skills for 20 years, because freedom of movement filled the gap.

We now need a 20 year project to change our schools. Immigration policy should be based upon principles and not on numbers. On freedom of movement, we need a conversation with our European partners: rules need to change and I am up for a grown-up discussion about them.

*Ireland: We need to be a bit louder about staying in the customs union; if we were negotiating this we would want to explore how to stay inside it.

* Trump: We should not be pandering to him: we should be campaigning for him not to come.

* Party leadership. We developed our Brexit policy over the summer, and Jeremy completely agrees with the policy I am putting forward. We need to do it as one team — if the Labour Party breaks on Brexit that is no solution. It is not easy but we are up for it.

* Single market: We want the benefits of the single market but we can’t have the same thing, and we would need to negotiate that, and that is achievable. We need a model that works for us.

* Dialogue: We are talking to our European partners all the time, pretty much non-stop. We must genuinely understand what goes on, on the other side of the table, and we must be ready to take it on after the [next] General Election.

jg 011217

Laetisia Carter To Fight Witney Seat

Chippy’s very own Laetisia Carter has been chosen as the Labour Party candidate for the Witney Constituency in the General Election on 8 June.

Laetisia is a West Oxfordshire District Councillor for Chipping Norton and is Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on WODC.

She was the Labour ‎candidate for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, where she won plaudits from many, including her Conservative opponent, for the vibrancy and professionalism of her campaign.

“I am thrilled to have been selecte‎d as Labour’s candidate” said Cllr Carter, “it would be a huge privilege to represent the people of West Oxfordshire at a national level.  I was born, raised and educated in West Oxon and love this area.”

“I will be a prominent, energetic MP and ensure a strong voice for West Oxfordshire. As a mother of two young children I feel I understand the struggles that local families face” she said.  “The Lib Dem and Conservative coalition did great damage.  Under this Government it is getting worse.  Labour has costed plans to invest in the skils, health and future of everyone – for the many, not the few.”

Laetisia’s campaign has got off to a flying start and she will be out campaigning this Saturday in the centre of Chipping Norton and Witney.  She will be at a group photocall at 10am this Saturday in Chipping Norton at the Labour Campaign Stall before heading off to join supporters in Witney.

Laetisia is a seasoned campaigner who has fought against the cuts to public services, especially the NHS and our Children’s Centres.  She has thirteen years of public service experience, having worked in both the NHS and for Thames Valley Police.

For further comment or interviews please contact:  Cllr Laetisia Carter on 07809 876686 or Merilyn Davies, Witney CLP Press Officer, on 07966 796178 or Steve Akers, CNLP Campaigns & Media, on 07903 870695

Laura’s Convincing Win

Congratulations once again to Cllr Laura Price, who held her County Council seat for Witney South and Central with 46% of the vote, compared with 41% for the Conservative candidate.  The remaining 13% of the vote was shared between the Green Party and the Lib Dems. A boost was given to Laura’s campaign by the visit to Witney of Jeremy Corbyn, who tweeted:

For a larger view of this picture, go to the Local Elections page.

Chippy County Council Election Result

“Whilst we are disappointed not to have won, this is a very creditable result for Labour in the Chipping Norton Division” said Steve Akers, Vice-Chair of CNLP and campaign co-ordinator for the Labour & Co-operative candidate Cllr Geoff Saul, ‎ “we came a strong second and have cut the Tory majority by over 130 votes to just 404 compared to the result in May 2013.  We are now very well placed to increase our vote share in the future and we believe this is a seat which we really can win – whenever the next County election is called.”
“We have also firmly seen off a Lib Dem ch‎allenge which was purely based on the Witney Constituency result in October 2016 in the by-election forced by David Cameron’s resignation.  They have no elected representatives or presence in Chipping Norton and came a poor third, well behind Labour and the Conservatives”.  He added,  “Cllr Saul is an extremely hard working Councillor  and advocate for Chipping Norton within West Oxfordshire and beyond.  He has increased his vote share in every election he has contested in Chipping Norton.  He fought a very positive campaign on the issues that matter for residents in Chipping Norton and the surrounding villages.  We thank everyone who has given their support to Geoff and voted for him yesterday”
The Labour Vote went up by ‎320 from 911 in 2013, to 1,231 on 4 May 2017.  Labour was second with 1,231.
The Chipping Norton Division covers Chipping Norton, Chastleton, Cornwell, Enstone, Heythrop, Kingham, Gagingwell, Lidstone, Over Norton, The Rollrights, Salford, Swerford, and The Tews.  It had formerly been a County Council seat held by Labour before boundary changes, which led to surrounding villages and hamlets, and the market town of Chipping Norton, which has a strong Labour and Co-opertive tradition, becoming the Chipping Norton Division County Council seat.
For further information please contact: Geoff Saul 01608 648022 or at ku.oc.luasyeldarbnull@sg or Steve Akers, Vice Chair CNLP on 07903 870695

‘Baldrick’ in Chippy

Sir Tony Robinson, aka “Baldrick” of Blackadder fame, and a strong Labour supporter, dropped by to support Chipping Norton Labour’s Geoff Saul yesterday in his election campaign bid to become County Councillor for the Chipping Norton Division on 4 May.

Sir Tony was in Chippy as part of the Chipping Norton Literature Festival to promote his new book “No cunning plan”.  “I was absolutely delighted to receive Sir Tony’s support” said Cllr Saul, “he gave our campaigning today a real boost!”

Sir Tony lent his support as part of a “Super Sunday” of campaigning in Chipping Norton with support for Cllr Saul from the the Leader of Oxford City Council, Cllr Bob Price’ and a large delegation of enthusiastic volunteers from Oxford District Labour Party.  This included a talk over lunch on mutual support and in campaigning in Oxford East, Witney and West Midland “battle ground” seats during the General Election campaign.

The day was rounded off by a talk entitled “Rebels and Martyrs” on the Ascot Martyrs, the Bliss Mill Strike and the founding of The Chipping Norton Branch of the Labour Party in 1920, and a visit to Chipping Norton’s excellent museum to view photographs and newspaper articles covering these significant events in the history of the labour movement in Oxfordshire.


For further information please contact:- Geoff Saul 01608 648022 or at ku.oc.luasyeldarbnull@sg or Steve Akers, Vice Chair CNLP on 07903 870695

Elsa for Eynsham

County Council candidate Elsa Dawson held a street stall in Eynsham Market Square on Saturday (April 29th)


She’s seen here with her daughter Elisa and some of her supporters. Thanks to Geoff Webster for the photo.
And here are two representatives of the next generation – Erin and Leo, in the arms of their parents, Robin and Anna.


More affordable homes needed

Chipping Norton District Councillor Geoff Saul has called for more truly affordable homes for local young people and key workers in Chipping Norton, Enstone, Kingham, The Rollrights, The Tews and other villages in the Chipping Norton area.

“Young people are struggling to get on the housing ladder due to affordability and the need to save for large deposits” said Cllr Saul, “I will be campaigning on this issue with supporters in the heart of Chipping Norton today”.

“More truly affordable homes are needed.  That’s why I am calling for homes in Chipping Norton to be built on Oxfordshire County Council owned land specifically for local ‎young people and key workers”

In a survey conducted by Cllr Saul of “What do you think Chippy needs most?” he found that this was a key‎ concern of local residents.

There is an acute shortage of affordable rented family accommodation for young families in Chipping Norton and all of the surrounding villages.

Cllr Saul speaks for housing and planning issues for West Oxfordshire’s Labour Group.  He is seen here campaigning in the Chipping Norton Market Place today (15 April) flanked by, from left to right, Steve Akers, Siân O’Neill, Sharon Akers, John Gittings ‎and Sue Richards.

For further comment or interviews please contact:- Cllr Geoff Saul 01608 648022 or at ku.oc.luasyeldarbnull@sg or Steve Akers, CNLP Campaigns and Media on 07903 870695