By Chris Cornell / Latest News / 0 Comments

Name: Ben Hickman


Age: 35


Political persuasion: Left left Labour


Who are you? I’m a lecturer in English at the University of Kent and Chair of Canterbury Constituency Labour Party. I’ve lived in Canterbury for 10 years and I love it.


Kent County Council, what do they do? Well. Right now it’s full of Tories, so at the moment they mainly cut the budgets of public services like schools, social care, buses and the like. But we can change that. The fight to push back the sea of blue in Kent starts here: we can turn the County Council into something that properly represents, listens to and fights for many of Kent, not the few.


Does that mean I can vote then? Yes! You can vote if you live in the area of Canterbury North, and what’s more, if you’re a student you can register in two places — your term address and your address back home. Do it by the end of the month though — that’s the deadline.


If elected, how would you help me? I’m determined to be the first councillor for Canterbury North that listens to you, the people who live here. There’s already plenty to be getting on with, though. I want to fight for a new hospital at Kent & Canterbury, with A&E, and for properly social care funding. I want buses that run regularly and later than 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and free travel for under-25s. I want more investment in early years education so headteachers don’t have to turn special needs pupils away. And I want much more for Canterbury North!


Can you really make a difference? I’ve seen what austerity has done to Canterbury and its surrounding areas — we have to make a difference. It won’t just be me: the Labour Party in Canterbury is a social movement — not only do we have our own MP and some city councillors, unlike the other parties we also have an army of activists that are committed to helping those most in need. We can all make a difference.


Does my vote count? Usually, not many people vote in Kent County Council elections, and young people especially stay away. We’re going to change that next month, but it’ll be tight so your vote really will matter.


Do say: “For the many, not the few”


Don’t say: “Brexit means Brexit”


For more information on Ben and the Kent County Council vote on Nov 15, click here.

By Chris Cornell / Latest News / 0 Comments

The first main item of business was the Democracy Review on the first morning. CLP delegates wanted this deferred to a later time slot so that we could consider the proposals more carefully but this was not agreed as trade unions voted against this. Voting on the proposals was in eight sections, most of which we voted for, and the whole review was passed.

The next big item was Private Investment and Ownership, introduced by John Healy. This included our motion on housing, which was composited with other similar motions. Chris and Ryan made sure that all our points were included in the composited motion which was overwhelmingly carried. This was followed by the composite motion An Economy for the Many, also overwhelmingly carried. There were emergency motions on Grenfell Fire and Industrial Crisis in the Car Industry, both carried. At the end of this session John McDonnell addressed Conference.

On Tuesday morning we debated constitutional amendments. Most of these had been withdrawn following the Democracy Review, and the only ones carried were to amend Standing Orders for Conference and to remove the one-year waiting period for future constitutional amendments. We decided to withdraw our motion on the election of the General Secretary. This was because it was clearly the wrong time to present it: Jennie Formby had just been endorsed and given a standing ovation, and if the motion was lost another similar motion would not have been admitted for four to five years. We were also concerned about reputational damage to our CLP. Our motion did not have support from the NEC or any of the delegate groupings, and would have been decidedly lost.

Tuesday morning was also the Brexit debate. Delegates had worked for five hours to produce the composite motion which was introduced by Keir Starmer, who was very well received, and the motion was overwhelmingly passed by Conference. The main points are:

  • Conference believes that there is no satisfactory technological solution that is compliant with the Good Friday Agreement and resolves to oppose any Brexit deal that would see the restoration of a border on the island of Ireland in any form for goods, services or people.
  • Should Parliament vote down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no-deal, Conference believes this would constitute a loss of confidence in the Government. In these circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate General Election that can sweep the Tories from power.
  • If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.

In the afternoon we heard Emily Thornberry on Security at Home and Abroad before debating emergency composites on Justice for the Windrush Generation and Palestine. Both motions were addressed by many delegates and again overwhelmingly passed.

On Wednesday we heard Jonathan Ashworth on Tackling Inequalities, and debated the emergency motion Build Our Royal Liverpool Hospital which was carried. Dawn Butler addressed conference after this debate. The final item was Jeremy Corbyn’s speech which was received with cheers, standing ovations and singing. Key points from the speech were:

  • Making the radical mainstream
  • Reiterating our position on Brexit
  • Drawing a line under antisemitism
  • Maintaining the triple-lock on the state pension, the winter fuel allowance and the free pensioner bus pass
  • Covering the childcare costs of all two-, three- and four-year-olds for up to 30 hours a week
  • Putting renewable energy and efficiency at the heart of Labour’s offer, committing to ambitious emissions targets and clearly stating that climate change represents the biggest threat to humanity.

In terms of our mandate, we composited and voted for Housing for All, withdrew the constitutional amendment, and voted for the Brexit motion and the Democracy Review. There was no motion on open selection of MPs but the trigger point for reselection (part of democracy review) is better than it was.

We all enjoyed the Conference and worked well together. We attended all sessions of Conference and many fringe meetings.

We would strongly urge that future delegations contain at least one experienced delegate as it was quite a learning experience for us first-time delegates.