On Wednesday 8th January we have our first meeting of the year for all Labour members from Canterbury, Whitstable and the villages and we invite you all to attend. It will be held at Friends Meeting House in Canterbury at 7.30pm.
2019 was a difficult year for us as a party. Happily, we’ve held Canterbury and returned Rosie Duffield as our MP, but there is much work to be done in 2020 to determine the future of the party. On Wednesday we will of course be discussing the leadership nominations and look forward to a healthy debate on this.
Locally, we should also be proud of the city council election campaign we ran early in the year which saw the number of Labour Councillors returned to serve as City Councillors increased from 3 to ten. We now have a much stronger Labour voice representing us across the district.
As a democratic party, the work we do at constituency level does really matter, we are a grass roots, membership led organisation. Our local meetings are designed to encourage political debate that translates into action. We debate motions that then get sent up to the National Executive Committee for consideration once passed. We work with other constituency parties to encourage them to pass motions we believe in to increase the pressure on the national party. We take motions to conference for them to be debated on a national stage and they receive national attention.
Some of the work that we’ve done as a local constituency party since the last AGM in June 2019 that I’m particularly proud of include:
- Care reimbursement policy
This started as a motion and was later brought into policy by an all members meeting. It was designed to remove some of the barriers to political participation for our many members who having caring responsibilities. It means that those of you who are carers for a parent, child or partner can claim back the cost of having someone else care for them while you attend a meeting. We are only the second constituency in the country to offer this, and the first to make it for all carers rather than childcare. The offer of reimbursement is not means tested, we trust our members, if you tell us you need it, we’ll provide it. Get in touch with me at: [email protected] if you need more information about it.
- Sexual Harassment motion
This motion was passed as a strong critique of our current sexual harassment policy which this CLP deemed not fit for purpose. It is a radical motion calling for a new fully independent complaints process for dealing with cases of sexual harassment and assault within the party, and a culture change that prioritises members safety above the political advantage of high-profile members. In 2020 we’ll continue to encourage other constituencies to bring this motion before their all members meetings to bring about the change the party so desperately needs in this area.
- Freedom of movement conference motion
The motion we put forward to conference in 2019 called for an end to all of the Tory’s hostile environment policies and stated that this constituency party backs free movement within the EU and beyond. As a Kent based party many of our members (including Kate Adams who brought this motion forward) work with migrants and refugees. So, this was a motion close to our hearts and we believed it important to affirm our belief that equality and rights for migrants are socialist values benefitting us all. Despite all expectations to the contrary, and after a lot of hard work by our delegation at conference, this motion was passed by national conference in September and we’ll be working hard this year to keep up the pressure on the new leadership to include in policy all the points that were agreed within this motion at conference.
- Anti-Racism March Canterbury in June
In June 2019, Ben Hickman (our Canterbury Constituency Chair) organised an anti-racism rally in Canterbury – a response to the horrifying racist attack in Canterbury against Daniel Ezzedine. The march reflected to the strong feeling that local members wanted to show solidarity with Daniel and his family and to ensure that our local community understood that racism will not be tolerated here in Canterbury. Over 300 people turned out to march with us from Westgate Towers and the march was attended by Kent Refugee Action Network, Canterbury Mosque, Kent Union, our local Councillors, local Liberal Democrats as well as our own members from across East Kent.
- Decriminalisation of sex work motion
In October we became the ninth constituency in the country to pass a motion for the full decriminalisation of sex work. This passed after impassioned talks in our meeting from two members of “Decrim Now,” a sex-worker led organisation. This constituency affirmed our belief that sex work is work and that sex workers are some of the most vulnerable workers in our society. We agreed that they deserve our support as a labour movement and an ability to unionise to achieve better working conditions and we believed them when they said that decriminalisation would make their work safer. We join Amnesty International, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Human Rights Watch, UN AIDS, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and WHO amongst others in this call for decriminalisation.
- Save our NHS Kent – Hospitals Motion
In 2019 there was much Tory misinformation about making money available to build a new hospital in Canterbury. It was clear to our local campaigners that this was never going to happen and was simply designed to bribe members of our constituency to vote for the Tory candidate in the 2019 general election. As a constituency we affirmed our support for the position of the campaign group SONIK (Save our NHS Kent) which supports the retention and upgrading of three excellent hospitals (QEQM, Kent & Canterbury and William Harvey) ensuring the best health services for all residents of East Kent including full A&E and Maternity care. This is the position we’ll continue to be campaigning from on the NHS in 2020. We have a very active group of NHS campaigners working in this area across the constituency and East Kent.
If you want to know more about campaigning with us in any of these areas or if you have ideas for motions or campaigns that you’d like to see in 2020 then please get in touch with me [email protected]. I hope to see you on Wednesday at our all members meeting to kick start our work for 2020.
Canterbury CLP Secretary