Harpenden Newsletter November 2016

Dear Members

At the October General Committee meeting we elected George Fraser to be Constituency Chair. While the Plough and Harrow is a good venue for Party meetings we will use it when expect larger attendances, so our next Branch Meeting on 10th November will be back at 21 Connaught Road. 


At our October meeting we talked about the state of the Labour Party following the re-election of Jeremy Corby and the Party conference, and in particular how the Labour Party should take the lead in ensuring that all our hard won rights at work, and protection for welfare and public services should be protected in negotiations on Brexit. We also want the Party to continue to explain the facts about the contribution made by immigrants to our economy and culture. 


Local NHS developments


Plans for a 'Health Hub' at Harpenden Memorial Hospital are going ahead, with the Mental Health unit known as 'The Stewarts' moving elsewhere, allowing the site to be redesigned for local clinics, although it will be paid for by selling off some of the land for housing.  Meanwhile the latest stage of Hospital planning is ruling out a newbuild on a greenfield site near Hemel Hempstead, and concentrating on Watford General as the main acute hospital.


Local pharmacists are extremely concerned at government plans to restrict NHS funding where there are several pharmacists in one town,which is the case in Harpenden. The independents in the town centre and particularly Southdown will be worst affected.  Details may be found on:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04cdpgt


Refugees in Herts


St Albans LP is sponsoring a public meeting on the need for Britain and Herts to do more to help the refugee crisis in Europe, finding homes and support locally and urging the Government to meet its obligations.  The meeting is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 15th November at the University of Hertfordshire, Room N002 on the de Havilland campus.  There is no need to book places in advance.  The meeting is also sponsored by local TU groups and St Albans For Refugees.


Socialist Societies


We are affiliated to the Socialist Health Association and the Socialist Educational Association, which promote progressive policies in health and education nationally, and support Labour shadow ministers in their opposition to Tory policies.  Please let us know if you are interested in receiving their newsletters and publications so that we can forward them to you.

 Dates For Your Diary 

Thursday 10th November at 8 p.m.         Branch meeting at 21 Connaught Road


Wednesday 16th November at 8 p.m.      All Member meeting and General Committee at St Michael's                                                      Centre, St Michael's Rd, Hitchin


18-20th November                                 Eastern Region Conference at Southend


The December meeting will be a Social gathering, details next time.

 Chris Gillen writes:

Last month we discussed the continuing sagas of Brexit and disunity in the Labour Party.  As far as the latter is concerned, the scene is remarkably quiet.  Has a truce been declared (and we haven’t been told about it)?  Or are the various factions hunkering down and plotting their next moves?  Whatever the reasons a period of calm is much appreciated.

Brexit, on the other hand, is still catching the headlines and this saga is set to continue ad nauseam.  After 100 days of the May premiership we aren’t any closer to understanding how the Government plans to exit the EU.   Is there a plan?  At a recent televised debate in the Commons the three Brexiteers – David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox - turned out in force and sat together on the front bench talking to each other and laughing at each other’s little jokes like three naughty schoolboys in the back row of the classroom.  Do they have a common vision of what Brexit means?  It seems unlikely if their various public utterances are examined.  Labour and the other opposition parties are not impressed by the lack of Government transparency and by Mrs May’s reluctance to debate and vote on the plans until, it seems, it is a fait accompli.  There are members of her own party, not just remainers but also leavers, who share this disquiet.  They make the reasonable argument that one of the reasons for leaving the EU is regaining ‘sovereignty’.  How does keeping the sovereign body – the Houses of Parliament – in the dark match the rhetoric of sovereignty?

The leavers contend that worries about lack of debate is a tactic by remainers to obstruct or delay Brexit, and they invoke ‘the will of the people’ which the remainers are somehow defying.  They conveniently forget that the vote to leave was not that overwhelming – 52% to 48%, and that those who voted to remain have a perfect right to debate the terms of the settlement.

It appears that the referendum has resulted in Britain (or more accurately) England becoming a meaner, more intolerant place.  People seem to think that the referendum result has given them licence to insult, abuse, assault and even murder those whom they believe are outsiders.  This behaviour ranges from asking Muslim women on a bus when they are going to leave, through creating a fuss about their town giving refuge to a handful of children, to GBH and murder. The idea that England is a tolerant, welcoming place is increasingly becoming a myth.


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