“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” —— Martin Luther King
On 25th May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis thousands of protests took place worldwide and in the UK.
To show solidarity, BLM Taunton arranged a peaceful and socially-distant demonstration on 22nd June 2020. It was truly amazing to see so many people turned up, many youngsters spoke out and shared their unique experiences and reflected a solid unity and awareness about BLM issue. Such a community feeling and chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ made the environment really electrifying.
BLM Taunton said — ”A huge thank you to everyone who came and gave such amazing speeches and for all those who showed up and helped create such a supportive atmosphere. It’s so inspiring to see so many likeminded people all gather in search of equality and justice.”
Taunton Dean CLP showed full support to the peaceful BLM Taunton protest and attended the demonstration on that day.
Taunton Dean CLP Chair, Cllr Brenda Weston said — “The best job I ever had was with Equality South West, an organisation that worked with people from across the region whom the Equality Act is supposed to protect from discrimination. We listened to their experiences, wrote these into reports and training materials, we held conferences and took our learning out to organisations across the region. I think we need to send a message to Boris Johnson from today: we don’t need more research and reports about institutionalised racial discrimination – we need him to act now to put it right.”
Unfortunately, inequality, discrimination and systematic racism still exist in our society and it is very important to stand up for fairness, equality and inclusion. Also, the right to hold a peaceful protest and the freedom of expression are fundamental human rights and an important cornerstone of our society.
June 22nd is officially declared as ‘Windrush Day’ in the UK while we will pay tribute to the outstanding and ongoing contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants. It is a great opportunity for us to come together and remember how the British Caribbean communities played a vital role to rebuild Britain and recover from the post WW2 situation. Windrush day remarks on the anniversary of the arrival of Windrush generation on 22nd June 1948 at Port Tidbury near London. Since then the Empire Windrush and their generation made and continue to make a huge contribution to modern Britain, not only rebuilding the country following the WW2 but also enriching our shared social, economic, cultural and religious life. Their contribution couldn’t be forgotten and will never be, so let’s mark the day and educate the community and our next generation about the great legacy of the Windrush Generation.
Now that the No Deal threat has been neutralised, Labour at last have the chance to set out our bold vision to transform society for the good of the many, and eject Johnson and his disastrous Government from power.
Last week, Taunton Deane CLP selected the excellent local candidate Liam Canham to stand for Labour in the upcoming General Election, now confirmed by Parliament to be held on December 12th.
Here’s what Liam has to say:
“I have spent the majority of my career working in the public sector, predominantly within the field of social housing and local authority service. As a result, I have seen first hand the damage that core Tory policies, such as welfare reform and wider austerity, have had upon our community. I also have experience volunteering with the Police across Somerset as a Special Constable and until recently served on the Board of Trustees of a homelessness charity in Taunton.
“Again these experiences have brought me face to face with the resulting consequences of years of Tory austerity, which has adversely affected resources within the public sector to provide fit and proper services such as Adults and Children’s Social Care, a well functioning healthcare system and good quality ‘affordable’ housing to name but a few.
“I joined the Labour Party approximately 4 years ago following my leaving the Police, having been a supporter of the Party’s values for a number of years. Whilst originally I had not planned to take such an active role both within politics and in the party, in those 4 years I have already stood for election both with County and District elections. This has been as a result of our poor representation within Taunton Deane, both from our MP and our Council and the feeling that the people of Taunton Deane deserves better.
“When I look back through the history of Labour governments and the achievements that have been realised, from the establishment of the NHS, ending of the death penalty, the establishment of the Open University (of which I myself am currently benefiting from) and the introduction of the national minimum wage, I feel a sense of sorrow as to where the Tories have taken us over the past 9 years. However, this sorrow ignites a fire within me to fight for the investment in people, investment in services and investment within the country.
“I am extremely proud and indeed humbled to be chosen as the representative for Taunton Deane and vow to do my utmost to fight for Labour representation of Taunton Deane and indeed a Labour government.“
Liam would be very happy to answer any questions or hear your thoughts about Labour policies and the upcoming election. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you are registered to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
You can donate to the local campaign here: https://donate.labour.org.uk/taunton_deane/1
If you would like to get involved on the doorstep, please contact email@example.com
Vote Liam Canham for Taunton Deane on December 12th!
Nominations of candidates standing in the May elections for Somerset West and Taunton Council closed on 3rd April, and the full list has now been officially published.
If you haven’t read our manifesto yet, take a look at our detailed plans:
Every single vote matters, so Vote Labour on May 2nd to #MakeChangeHappen, and spread the word amongst your family and friends!
Petition link here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/save-taunton-post-office
Some of you may have seen that the Post Office has been granted a temporary stay of execution:
I went in to see what was going on and spoke with the staff. It’s in the hands of an interim manager (it seems to be a large corporation that the PO used in 2014 to advise it how to save money!). They are managing it temporarily and looking for another company to take on the franchise.
The staff are basically working in a very cold, derelict looking cavern of a building, all temporary:
One of the experienced staff told me that having a PO in shop premises is not a great money-maker, and that they bring in enough to break even, which seems to me fine for an important public service!
I stayed long enough to talk to a number of customers who were all also disgusted with the state of things, and collected more signatures, and wishes for success with the campaign. Lots of agreement it should be in public hands and secure.
So, our petition continues; we ask the council to give this important public service a secure long-term home. Please sign:
“The new Somerset West and Taunton council must save Taunton’s main post office”. So say Taunton’s Labour candidates, who took to Taunton’s High Street with a petition on Saturday morning.
The “Let’s save Taunton’s Main Post Office” petition aims to use people power on the new council to bid for the franchise to run the post office and provide secure, fit-for-purpose premises, free from the risk of closure.
Labour Councillor Libby Lisgo had raised the issue at a recent Shadow Council meeting. She said “People are appalled that Somerset’s county town is reduced to having no secure main post office. People living and working in Taunton rely on the crucial services the post office offers, especially ones that they can’t, or aren’t happy to access online.”
The decline of the main post office has come over a period of years, during which staff and the public have had to endure worsening conditions. Meanwhile the council is looking to commercial ventures – such as the proposed hotel at Firepool – to make up for massive funding cuts from government.
“If the council commit public money to building a hotel they should be able to provide Taunton with such a key facility as a full-service post office in the town” said Priorswood candidate Brenda Weston.
The petition is available online at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/save-taunton-post-office and will be available in paper format on request from Brenda Weston 01823 423275.
We had the great privilege of being joined by the Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman MP, for our local campaign launch on Saturday morning.
The event began with a members’ meeting where Sue talked through Labour’s environment policy ‘The Green Transformation’, as well as explaining her role as shadow secretary of state, and giving some insights into the Brexit situation from a parliamentary perspective. She then took questions from the floor and discussed issues ranging from Labour’s food policy (which she has direct responsibility for), to the importance of keeping climate change at the top of the agenda, to local issues of housing, transport and air quality and how they require joined-up thinking in relation to environment policy.
“I was really impressed with your manifesto. There are some cracking policies in there and you should all be really proud to go out there and stand on this basis.”Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
After the meeting and some photos with local candidates, we headed into the town centre to talk to shoppers about their priorities for Taunton. Many were concerned about the deteriorating town centre, lack of adequate infrastructure and transport, and an increase in crime; all issues covered in our manifesto. Some also came to speak to Sue personally about environmental policy, and we had some good conversations and a lot of positive feedback.
You can read our manifesto here:
PS. the event got significant coverage in the County Gazette; you can read it here: https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/17491622.sue-hayman-shadow-environment-secretary-visits-taunton-labour-party/