Wycombe: A Changing Landscape

Since the 2015 General Election, our constituency of Wycombe has experienced a political roller-coaster ride. Against the expectations of our local MP Steve Baker, Wycombe voted to remain in the EU Referendum. Since then Steve Baker has been an MP who does not have his constituents’ best interests at heart. Steve’s hard right libertarian vision for Brexit and his ultimate desire to see the whole EU dismantled clearly disregards not just Wycombe remain voters’ views, but also the views of many of Wycombe’s leave voters. Partly as a result of Brexit, his almost 15,000 majority was reduced to a little more than 6,500 votes at the recent General Election. Our leader Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has not gone unnoticed, as he shocked the nation by jeopardising Theresa May’s plan for a hard Brexit. Nationally, we managed to gain 30 seats and prevent May from gaining a majority. Many factors contributed to this reduction, primarily the strength of Labours voice nationally, our manifesto for the many and a strong campaign run by our local Labour Parties. It shows that our policies are resonating well with people and we are offering a new brand of hope.

Troubling Tories

Most recently, our Conservative council has failed its constituents and then added insult to injury with an attempted cover-up. The Tories tried to disguise a loss of revenue for the Council caused by the failure of the recently introduced and now-defunct ANPR parking system. At least £1.3 million of the taxpayer’s money was lost (due to individuals managing to avoid paying for tickets) as a result of this £680,000 scheme. Councillor Katrina Wood (Leader of the Council) showed contempt for constituents already hit by austerity, by trivialising this important issue dubbing it ‘old news’. She continues to serve as Leader of the Council, despite calls for her to resign. The people of Wycombe, and Buckinghamshire as whole, cannot afford to be duped by the Conservatives any longer. With local public finances squeezed by Westminster’s ideologically driven and unnecessary cuts it is imperative that our Council manages its shrinking budget much more effectively than the Conservatives are currently managing. Our council seems content with wasting our money on failed projects, instead of investing in our public services. This must stop.

On a local scale, we have suffered significant austerity based cuts at the hands of the Tories.  Troubling policies implemented by the Conservatives are not strictly limited to a local level of course. Nationally, the people of this country have suffered astonishing cuts to Public Services that are essential to our everyday lives. It is outrageous that, nearly a decade on from the Great Financial Crisis, the poor and most vulnerable are still being asked to pay for the failures of bankers.  Regular cuts are made to our NHS, schools, children’s services, fire brigade, social services, road maintenance and other essential services. On average, a primary school student is losing out on £338 of funding since the Conservatives took charge. As the children progress, the amount lost increases as the average secondary school student receives £436 less than before. These cuts are jeopardising the education of our youth and in turn, harming our already dwindling economy. If the children do not receive a decent education, how can we expect them to contribute to this country and assist in our growth?

As ever, austerity remains a self-defeating policy, sucking demand out of the economy, restricting productive capacity and leaving people underemployed. Ministers have released figures exhibiting that by 2019/20, NHS funding in real terms will decrease by 0.6%. This is one national policy that will have a significant impact on locals in our own constituency, we are still reeling from the loss our very own A&E department. A department that we were prepared to campaign for the return of, if we were elected. Since 2005, constituents of Wycombe are forced to undergo approximately 1 hour journeys, for the sole purpose of finding an A&E department at a hospital. We require easily accessible and safe healthcare and are set to campaign for this. Other public services have suffered a similar fate to that of the NHS, with 265 firefighter jobs having been cut in Buckinghamshire alone, since 2010. A period of endless cuts seems to be the Tory way and we cannot remain idle as this occurs.

Our Local Revival

Wycombe Labour has acknowledged that times are changing and we remain in constant campaign mode. Since the election result, our outlook has become even more positive than before. We are holding regular street stalls on Saturdays to engage with our constituents and understand what issues they believe need addressing. We are a party that cares all the time, not just when we require your vote. We are engaging with our recently expanded local party membership to find people with the time, energy and skills to drive our local campaigning forwards. Wycombe Labour cares about the Many, not just the Few. That means we have to build a democratic grass-roots organisation in Wycombe Constituency.

In July we held our Annual General Meeting where we elected many new officers to roles that are important to us in fighting Tory austerity. We have assembled a team with a good blend of youth and experience, a mixture of political outlooks and a broad mix of skills and interests. We are looking to engage more with members and other individuals who support us and what we stand for. We will soon be selecting our parliamentary candidate and all local members will have a say.  It is a truly exciting time for our party.  We must build the foundations of our party as we work cohesively to undo Tory austerity. Our party will do our best to communicate with you, in whatever manner suits you best. With 23,450 people not going to the polls, we must work hard and engage with people in an attempt to encourage them to vote. Increasing voter turnout could be imperative to introducing a Labour MP in Wycombe.  We will ensure that your voice is heard and we only ask one thing of you…

Try to Get Involved

Your involvement and support is essential if we are to elect a Labour MP in Wycombe. We have seen the injustices of austerity at both a national and local level and it is intolerable. We face a gargantuan task ahead of us as we attempt to topple this disastrous austerity regime. If you aren’t a member already, and would like to contribute more to our local party, you are more than welcome to join us and attend meetings. Of course, you do not need to become a member to get involved. There are many activities you could involve yourself with to assist us. Whether it involves donating money to our cause or attending a street stall to engage with constituents, we would appreciate and welcome your help. If you have any queries please email us or even message us on social media, we are there to answer your questions. You can also sign up to receive e-mail updates on our website. Together, with your support, we can really make Wycombe red again. We are a party for the Many, not the Few.

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  • commented 2017-09-12 14:31:49 +0100
    Dear Mansoor

    First of all let me congratulate you on this “Wycombe Update”. It’s no good the local party doing good things if nobody knows about it and I hope that your review will be spread widely within and without Labour members. It cheered me up no end.

    What I find encouraging is that CLP is reinvigorating itself in a way not achieved by previous CLP leaders; I feel I can say this as I held, back in the day, the posts of Wycombe CLP Secretary and then Chair. Continue to generate the enthusiasm that you are doing with the increasing membership and we will see a Labour MP in Wycombe.

    Congratulations should also go to Rafiq Raja and the team that supported his campaign during the last General Election. Although, as you say, Steve Baker’s majority was slashed as he was out of kilter with the “Remainers” in Wycombe (the overwhelming view of his constituents) I believe that Rafiq worked hard to achieve an excellent campaign. I had the opportunity to attend one of his Public Hustings and he was most impressive as a speaker and, obviously had done the homework so as to be on top of his brief. He came over as an extremely creditable candidate.

    I am glad to see your emphasis on “austerity”. Public services and public servants have suffered dreadfully since we bailed out the bankers. The Tories use austerity to disguise their real agenda. It remains what it has always been – to ensure that prosperity is for the rich and “little people” can suffer.

    A 1% pay rise for the public sector, year on year, erodes the value of wages as prices rise at two or three times that rate. Those earning, say, £95k are cushioned against the basic cost of living, although opportunities to dine out may be restricted. For workers on £25k their standard of living is in decline and as for those on benefits – they are under real attack. A Labour Government may not be able to rectify the situation overnight but the intention is to be more humane.

    Mansoor, I could go on but readers will soon tire. Keep up the excellent work.

    JohnB
  • commented 2017-09-12 11:52:28 +0100
    thank-you…really good to be kept up to date

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