We are posting reports of some of the key issues covered in our branch meetings. Our latest branch meeting was on Monday 11th April 2016. These are some of the topics we covered:
Junior Doctors Strike
Zoe Thompson, a Junior Doctor at Darent Valley Hospital gave an excellent talk, speaking in a personal capacity. She described how Junior Doctors were determined to oppose the Tory Government’s attempts to impose a contract on Junior Doctors. The Government is attempting to make Junior Doctors work longer and more unsocial hours for the same pay. The impact on Doctors’ family life was described as disastrous. Zoe described how Junior Doctors felt betrayed by the press who were not reporting the real impact of the new contract on patients, as well as staff.
Zoe discussed the planned strikes 26th & 27th April, when for the first time ever there will be a total withdrawal of labour on the part of Junior Doctors. Zoe did stress that Consultants will be providing emergency care. Zoe emphasised that no Junior Doctors wanted to take this drastic action, but they were compelled to do so by the Government’s unwillingness to negotiate.
In discussion Zoe requested that Labour Party members wrote to their MP and attended the demonstrations on Saturday 16th April and Tuesday 26th April. Zoe also referred to calls for a general strike on July 4th and linking up with teachers to defend our public services.
Annual Town Meeting
There was also a lot of discussion about the Annual Town Meeting in March. Labour Party members expressed their frustration at how the meeting was managed, with Councillors reading from sheets, and very little time for questions or discussion.
It was also noted that while at the Annual General Meeting the Leader of Town Council gave a cast iron guarantee that there would be no development on the Swanley Recreational Ground without a local election where the residents of Swanley voted on the future of the Rec. No reference to this assurance was made on the Swanley Town Council website report of the meeting.
A number of other related issues were raised including the Radio 5 Live Investigates report on gagging agreements that included a devastating critique of Tory run Swanley Town Council.
A motion was passed unanimously:
In the event that a potential challenger attains the threshold and that an election will take place, the incumbent (Leader or Deputy Leader) will be automatically included on the ballot paper if they inform the General Secretary in writing they wish to be a candidate in the election. We urge the constituency delegate to Labour Party annual conference to vote for any rule changes to ensure this happens.”
There was the proviso our candidate to conference should be mandated to vote likewise.
There was also a motion on scrapping Trident:
Swanley & District Labour Party does not believe a renewal of Britain’s Nuclear capability will enable us in protecting Britain’s security and pursuing the values that guide our foreign policy. This Branch votes to scrap Trident and oppose its renewal. This motion, when passed, will be immediately submitted to the Labour Party Defence Review ensuring it meets the April 30th 2016 deadline”
There were powerful speeches for the motion to Scrap Trident. The key points mentioned were the phenomenal cost that was said to be over £100 billon and rising. It was stressed that this money could be spent on health, education and productive jobs. It was also noted that while the UK had a huge defense budget, conventional military needs were not being met. Instead of investing in nuclear weapons that were redundant, it was argued that the UK should ensure conventional military forces were being resourced.
No one chose to speak against the motion to scrap Trident and it was passed by an over whelming majority, with several abstentions.
The meeting concluded with members being encouraged to go on the Demonstration for Health, Education & Jobs, saying No to Austerity on Saturday 16th April. People who wanted to go up to the demonstration together are to meet at Swanley Railway Station (Ticket Office entrance) at 11.30am. This is such an important demonstration. If you can join us please come.