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

Polly 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.

Neil Kinnock attacks the “Downton Abbey economics” of the coalition government in a visit to Witney.

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Mar 162015

Neil Kinnock gave a rousing talk to members and supporters of Witney Constituency Labour Party in a packed village hall at Leafield on Thursday 12 March — and started by refusing to be called Lord Kinnock. “It sounds like the name of a local pub”, he complained.

Neil Kinnock

Neil Kinnock addresses Witney CLP

Neil” tackled the Conservative claims against Labour head-on. Labour did not “trash” the economy, he insisted. Gordon Brown really had “saved the world” when the banking crisis broke in 2008.

The ATMs would have closed down within hours,” he said, “small and medium businesses would have gone to the wall immediately and bigger business would have followed before long” if Brown and Alastair Darling had not intervened promptly.

Their injection of funds to save the banks prevented total meltdown, kept Britain’s AAA rating, and persuaded other countries to follow our lead. That is why the deficit rose so sharply but recovery had actually begun by 2010, only to be reversed by George Osborne’s cuts.

On inequality, Neil described what we have now as “living in Downton Abbey land”: The last time 1% of top earners took 14% of incomes was in 1914.

He described Ed Miliband as a calm, serious thinker, not someone who seeks headlines. Some of Ed’s key ideas are now accepted wisdom: such as the need to control energy companies, opposition to “predatory capitalism”, and the wisdom of not going to war in Syria.


Neil in conversation with Laura Price and Duncan Enright

Leafield Village Hall rang with laughter and applause as Neil combined wit and serious concern in a lively hour-long-speech, after his audience had enjoyed home-cooked food prepared and served by local Labour officials.

Neil gave his personal endorsement to Duncan Enright as the Labour parliamentary candidate for Witney, urging everyone to get out and vote.

Remember that people fought for our right to vote,” he concluded,” “and the percentage of the vote for each party will set the tone for the next five years.”

Award for Councillor Eve Coles

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Dec 222014

Eve Coles, Town and District Councillor for CEve Coles presentationhipping Norton was presented with an award “In recognition of long and outstanding service to the Labour Party.” The citation refers not only to her dedication as councillor but to her work with the ACE Centre, Age UK and the Trade Union Movement.

Local Party members and Chair, Chris Johnson, are shown applauding the award at the Chipping Norton Christmas dinner.

Update from Cllr Andrew Coles

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Dec 082014
Week beginning Sun 30th Nov

• Spent a morning travelling as a passenger on the first day of the newly restored Witney Town Service bus routes. Chatted to passengers and listened to their thoughts and hopes for the new service.
• Did a few hours voluntary work for the RSPB in Witney. The RSPB is Britain’s (and Europe’s) largest wildlife conservation charity.
• Helped out at the Witney Christmas Light switch-on by stewarding and manning a road closure barrier with the Round Table & Rotary Club.
• Called in at Witney Branch Labour Party fundraising coffee morning.
• Kept up to date with phone calls and emails received during the week.

Update from Cllr Laura Price

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Dec 042014

Last week was a mixed one for me and unfortunately included a family funeral in Doncaster, so apologies for missing out on my usual update. The week ended on a positive note, with a drop-in surgery alongside District Cllr Andrew Coles and District candidate Kate Walsh – we had a steady stream of visitors and a range of issues to take forward.

This week I only have one meeting in County Hall so it will be good to catch up on emails and chase outstanding issues.

I’m currently preparing a briefing paper on pay and conditions for domiciliary care staff working for agencies commissioned by OCC – this is a difficult area to unpick as OCC pay the agency an hourly rate but don’t have to disclose how that translates to staff pay. I’d be happy to circulate this to interested members.

I’ll also be preparing a speech for full council next week in response to a motion from Conservative Cllr Richard Langridge . Obviously it’s good that the local Conservatives have come around to our way of thinking on Shores Green, but I won’t be missing the opportunity to point out that Richard Langridge and the Conservative Group put forward a wrecking amendment to the motion from Labour Group earlier this summer on the same issue.

On Wednesday I’ll be meeting with County Labour Group to prepare for Full Council where changes to Cllr remuneration will be on the agenda. I will update members on the outcome of Group discussions but my personal opinion is that at a time of pay freezes and staff cuts any increase to Cllr allowances is totally unacceptable. If OCC really wants to make council more diverse it needs to look at wider action than simply increasing allowances.

On Saturday I will be helping with a stall to promote the Oxfordshire Credit Union in West Oxfordshire (more volunteers welcome!) and then popping into the CLP coffee morning where it will be nice to see some of you and catch up.

Update from Cllr Andrew Coles

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Dec 012014
Week beginning Sun 23rd Nov

• Spoke with Chair of the Riverside Gardens Resident’s Association over some concerns they have regarding flood alleviation work, promised to look into it with WODC and County Council.
• Spoke with Miss R in Mirfield Road who was ecstatic that some long term outstanding maintenance work has finally been completed on her home.
• Attended an emergency meeting of West Witney Sports and Social Club.
• Delivered Duncan’s leaflet to households in Fettiplace Road, Mirfield Road, Fieldmere Close and James Walker Mews – managing to twist my ankle in the process.
• Visited Mr M in Dark Lane who contacted me recently over a health issue.
• Attended a meeting of WODC’s Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee. The committee discussed issues including the council’s 2014-15 budget and the open space grass cutting. Also reviewed the performance indicators and widely debated the apparent increase in household waste not being sent for recycling.
• Jointly hosted a councillor’s drop-in advice surgery with Laura and Kate.
• Actioned issues raised at the surgery.
• Chased Sanctuary regarding the exterior lights around the Smith’s estate shops all being out.
• Kept up to date with phone calls and emails received during the week.

Duncan Enright on reddit

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Oct 062014

Chris Johnson writes:

Duncan was on “reddit” yesterday answering online questions – in part as a way of advertising the funding campaign. You can view the exchanges here:

Duncan stuck at it for four hours, fielded hundreds of questions, and received well over 2000 comments – the vast majority positive. I sat in for an hour or so – it is incredibly intensive, much more so than hustings, where you have a few minutes thinking time while other candidates are answering.

This was non stop, with questions about almost anything – often from people with special interests about which they are very knowledgeable. Candidates have to have an answer for or a view on everything – or at least a plausible reason for not having one! Duncan did incredibly well.