Harpenden Newsletter May 2016

NEWSLETTER No 5/16 May 2016
Chair: Rosemary Ross, 21 Connaught Road, AL5 4TW 715399
Vice-Chair: George Fraser, 29 Pipers Avenue 765045
Secretary: Chris Gillen, 18 Barrons Row chris.gillen@ntlworld.com 622167
Treasurer: David Lawlor, 9 Burywick.AL5 2AQ 764217
Membership: Chris Gillen 622167
Newsletter: Gavin Ross, 21 Connaught Road e-mail: gavros.ross@btopenworld.com 715399
CLP Website: www.hitchinandharpendenlabour.org
St Albans LP 28 Alma Road, St Albans 01727-752183
European Office: Richard Howitt MEP, Unit 3, Frohock House,
222 Milton Road, Cambridge CB1 3NF 01223-240202
Richard@richardhowittmep.com, twitter.com/richardhowitt, facebook.com/richardhowittmep

Dear Members

Many thanks to all of you who helped in the recent elections, especially the candidates, but also those who helped deliver the extra tabloid newspaper as well as the district leaflets.

In spite of dire predictions of hundreds of lost seats in English boroughs, in the event the Tories lost more seats than Labour, and Labour beat the Tory Group keader on N Herts DC in Hitchin Walsworth. In St Albans Labour held its three main target seats, but just lost in Ashley where we had a single councillor from four years back.

Locally the results were 'no change' with safe Tory seats except in Redbourn where the popular independent was returned. With UKIP standing for the first time in Harpenden results are not exactly comparable with previous years, and there were independents in North and East. But the Labour vote held up, beating the Lib Dems in most wards. The results were as follows:

Harpenden East: Rosemary Farmer (Con) 967, Anne James (Ind) 415, Rosemary Ross (Lab) 311, Lib Dem 260, UKIP 144.
Harpenden North: Hodgson (Con) 890, Hansen (Ind) 382, Linda Spiri (Lab) 289, Lib Dem 223, UKIP 96.
Harpenden South: Heritage (Con) 1210, George Fraser (Lab) 225, Lib Dem 219, UKIP 118, Green 88.
Harpenden West: Stephens (Con) 1232, Lib Dem 349 .Michael Gray-Higgins (Lab) 320, Green 158, UKIP 141.
Redbourn: Tony Swendell (Ind) 930, Con 626, Tony Neville (Lab) 214, UKIP 106.
Wheathampstead: Jill Clark (Con) 1141, Lib Dem 292, Neill Sankey (Lab) 262, UKIP 115, Green 91.

The Lib Dems supported the Independent in Redbourn. UKIP fared little better in other St Albans seats, reflecting the finding that St Albans is one of the most pro-European districts in the country.

Police and Crime Commissioner election
As expected this was won by the Tories, but Kerry Pollard came a good second after the second votes for the Lib Dems and UKIP were added in, slightly increasing the Labour share over the November 2012 result.

Europe, the next challenge
Now we have the more serious challenge, to argue the case for staying in Europe. We will ask your help in any further leafletting or street stalls over the coming weeks.

The Doctors' dispute
Now that it is shown that there us no evidence for extra deaths at weekends, Jeremy Hunt tries to claim that he has to fulfil a 'manifesto promise', as if everyone read and voted after reading the Tory manifesto. This is a dangerous argument, as a previous manifesto promised no top down reorganisation of the NHS!


Dates For Your Diary

Thursday May 12th at 8 p.m. Branch meeting at 21 Connaught Road. Discussion on how to campaign for Europe in the coming weeks.

Thursday June 23rd European Referendum


Chris Gillen writes: Is the Party anti-Semitic?

Just a few days before the May 5th elections Ken Livingstone threw petrol on what was a slow-burning row about Labour’s alleged anti-Semitism. Livingstone, if one takes the charitable view, was giving his support to Naz Shah, Bradford Labour MP, who had mused on social media that the Israel/Palestinian question would be solved if the Israeli Jews were transported to the US. Her utterances took place before she became an MP but were ‘discovered’ by a national newspaper. She apologised and was suspended by the Party. Livingstone recounted that Hitler and the leaders of the Zionist movement had talks about the mass exodus of German Jews, but that was before Hitler, according to Ken, “went mad”. Livingstone’s qualifications in psychiatry are unknown, but most reasonable people would assume that Hitler was “mad” quite a long time before that. (Livingstone’s membership has also been suspended).

Naz Shah’s solution is not novel. During the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’ many people posited, half in frustration, half in jest , that the solution was to tow Ulster into the middle of the Atlantic and sink it. The parallels don’t end there. There are striking similarities between the Irish problem and the Palestinian problem - two intractable tribes, buttressed by their differing religious beliefs, fighting over the same territory. You cannot solve this problem by ‘disappearing’ one or other of the two sides.

Anti-Zionism has been prevalent on the extreme-left fringes of British politics for some time. Its origins go back to the forged Russian publication The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1903) which purported to be the plan whereby worldwide governments, institutions and religions would be overthrown and replaced by a Jewish world order. Paranoia about Zionist ambitions was fostered by Stalin and his successors who proclaimed Zionism as either a tool of US Imperialism or as the shadowy power behind the US government. More recently, elements of the anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation movement have joined the game – “Goldman Sachs, the name tells you all you need to know.”

It is probable that there are a few members of the Party who are anti-Zionists. But if their utterances damage the reputation of the Party they should face the consequences. The inquiry headed by Shami Chakrabarti into anti-Semitism is therefore welcome. The Party and its individual members feel sympathy not only for the thousands of displaced Palestinians but for the Israeli children killed on the school bus. The Party is right to criticise not only Hamas and Hezbollah for acts of terrorism, but also Israel for disproportionate armed reaction and land grabbing. Only a two-state solution will solve this problem.

Gavin Ross, Chris Gillen



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