Guest blog from Duncan Enright: ‘Winning Labour’s first seat from the Tories in 2011’

Duncan Enright is a councillor for the Witney East ward on Witney Town Council. The town’s MP is David Cameron. Duncan is son of Derek Enright, who was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1984 and then an MP from 1991 until his death in 1995.

For the last 15 years I have lived in Witney, a lovely market town in West Oxfordshire. My three children, Katy (15), Lucy (11) and Tom (8) all go to local schools, including the outstanding Wood Green High School where my wife Sally-Ann is a teacher. I’m a publisher and like many of my neighbours I commute. However I enjoy Witney – I play football with other local dads, we go to the local Catholic church, and I work for the local Labour Party and have stood locally for many years. The highlight until now has been having local MP Shaun Woodward defecting from the Tories in 2000 and signing his Labour Party membership card in our sitting room! 

Last year the Tory town councillor for Witney East, Louise Chapman, was barred from office because she didn’t turn up for six consecutive months. Odd this – they are adept at managing this sort of situation. One of the other Tories (there are four for Witney East and 15 on the council of 17, one Lib Dem who votes with them) hasn’t been seen for two years, and has got away with it.

The Tories wanted to coopt a replacement. They did the same in 2009 when the only Green stood down (found it too hard going). Despite promises to the gullible Greens, they replaced him with a Tory ex-mayor! Instead I collected the ten signatures needed to force a by-election.

The Tory constituency agent, who is also the debarred councillor’s father, railed against the expense of a by-election, and rather backed them into a corner. I took the opportunity to ram home the need for a local voice on various key local issues, which you can read about at www.duncan4witney.org. It was a great chance to state my platform, and had the advantage of being the absolute truth – these are key issues where the town councillors have done nothing, or worse still the wrong thing.

We started early, posting a letter through all doors before the nominations closed. I have the advantage of being the candidate in every election since 2007, and living right in the heart of the ward. My kids go to the local schools, my wife teaches at one, and I play football with local dads (badly). I was able to press this advantage before the Greens and Lib Dems had even decided to stand. (I did in fact write to them to ask them to stand aside in my favour, so we could challenge the Tories directly on the big local issue of a disputed £20m bypass – I’m against and the Tories are for. Subsequently the Lib Dem candidate, also against, has been abandoned by his County colleagues who voted for unanimously. Same old Lib Dems!)

To be honest, when the list closed I was disappointed not to have a Tory candidate, and also assumed that their support, which is pretty substantial locally, would naturally transfer to their mates the Lib Dems. Continue reading Guest blog from Duncan Enright: ‘Winning Labour’s first seat from the Tories in 2011’

Linda McAvan MEP to address next branch meeting

Here’s a look at some of our upcoming events:

Linda McAvan MEP – post-Cancun, and the mood of the Labour Party

Wednesday 26 January 2011 | Carpe Diem, Avenue de Tervuren 13, 1040 Etterbeek (near Merode Metro station), upstairs room | Venue open from 19:30, meeting at 20:00

Linda McAvan will speak at the first Brussels Labour branch meeting of 2011 on Wednesday 26 January. She will talk about the Cancun climate change negotiations and the mood in the Party now that we are in opposition in the UK.

Please note that we are meeting at a new venue next week!

Sister Parties reception

Thursday 10 February 2011 | Further details to follow

Brussels Labour AGM + Commissioner Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Wednesday 23 March 2011 | Further details to follow

Guest blog from Julian Priestley: ‘Europe must step up in 2011’

The sudden and untimely death of Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, just before Christmas, robs Europe one it’s most articulate and lucid voices. The former Minister of Finance in the Prodi government, and one of the architects of monetary union, was a shrewd commentator of the European scene. Writing in December for Notre Europe, the Paris think tank, founded by Jacques Delors, which he chaired, he talked of ‘the hurricane which had attacked the sovereign debt of the Euroland economies’ having as its real target the euro, rather than the debt of particular member states.

In his view the best means of defending the Euro was attack; complete the reform of economic governance, pursue fiscal union, seize on the review of the own resources system this year with new sources of finance for the EU’s budget from taxing financial transactions and carbon emissions; and finance Europe-wide infrastructure improvements by Eurobonds.

He was deeply critical of the pursuit of austerity as an end in itself. Responsible public finances needed in his view to go hand-in-hand with strong measures to combat unemployment, and harnessing the catalytic effect of the EU budget to this effect.

Such thinking is of course anathema to orthodox leaderships in Berlin, London and many national capitals. And it may be too heady a brew for the European Commission which has been reluctant to show leadership ever since the financial crisis broke in the autumn of 2008.

But the truth of the matter is that the political authorities in the member states and in Brussels have consistently underestimated the nature and scale of the challenge to Europe’s economic sovereignty posed by the crisis. At every stage the European Council, EcoFin and the Commission have been behind the curve. Measures taken in May, October and December 2010 might have stemmed the crisis had they each been taken two, three or six months earlier. But the consistent delay and sometimes the quality of the decisions has rarely provided more than a brief respite before the next onslaught from the speculators. Continue reading Guest blog from Julian Priestley: ‘Europe must step up in 2011’