Questions to NEC candidates - Responses from David Wheeler and Pete Willsman

Questions to NEC candidates - Responses from David Wheeler and Pete Willsman

Reply from David Wheeler

 

1.        Labour International 

1.1     If elected to the NEC, will you attend one of our events at Conference and/or come to our LI members' meeting in Germany planned for October?  

1.1. Would definitely attend the event at Conference. Would look forward to attending an event in Germany but would need some more details.

 

1.2     We have tripled our membership since May 2015, and experienced infighting and tensions between groups within LI. How will you try and bring the Party together?

 

1.2 The new members who have joined the party can be one of our biggest assets. We won't beat the Tories on money but we can beat them with the commitment of our members who want a Labour victory. There are bound to be tensions in any organisation that experiences major growth like this but we need to embrace them and be positive.

My own branch has doubled in size and I have tried to personally visit every new member and welcome them into the party. A good number of them are now playing an active role in the local branch. I think nationally the party needs to provide more support for branch and CLP officers to help them do a good job. Frankly, a lot of the time we just need to be more friendly and nicer to each other!

 

2.        Voting rights

2.1     Do you support the right of UK citizens living abroad having the right to vote for life and remove the present restriction? 

2.1 Yes

 

2.2     The UK Labour Party thinks that most UK citizens living abroad are Tory voters. How can you help us overcome this prejudice within the Party?

 

2.2 Even if it were true, we won't win the next election without convincing people who did not vote Labour to vote for us this time. Labour International can play a key role in mobilising Labour votes across the world. More visibility at national and regional conferences and coverage in party publications would obviously help and I would look forward to working with you on this.

 

2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?

 

2.3. It's the first time I have heard this suggestion and think it could be a good idea but would like to know more.

 

3. Election of Party Leader 

3.1    Should the current Leader of the Labour Party automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election?

3.1 Yes. In the event of an election anything else would clearly be undemocratic.

 

3.2    Do you support one member one vote (with each vote having the same weight) for future leadership elections? If you don’t why not?

 

3.2. I could go on for ages about this. Quite simply, if you want the right to vote for our leadership you should accept the responsibilities that go with membership. There were people who joined my branch just to get a vote and then promptly left. However you can't really blame them as they were explicitly encouraged to do this. It is just not fair that these people had the same say as friends of mine who turn out to leaflet and canvass in all weathers and who keep the party alive. The issue is to combine this with keeping strong links with the trade union movement.

 

4. General 

4.1 Do you support the “unfreezing” of the rate of UK state pension paid to pensioners living in many countries abroad? (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan)

4.1. Yes. Without knowing all the detail it seems reasonable to me.

 

 

4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?

 

4.2 It's not a priority. The next Labour government will have major financial commitments in tackling poverty, saving the NHS and building the housing we need in this country. We won't have the money to be paying compensation to utility shareholders- and if you take things into public ownership you have to pay compensation. I grew up in the era of Norweb, Manweb etc and it never felt like a socialist paradise. 

The exception to this would be the railways where the leasing system allows us to take the lines back as the franchises expire. East coast railways shows what could be done and this step could be genuinely popular.

 

4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees?

 

4.3 I went to university in 1974. Full grant, tuition fees paid- working class kids were better off than most of the middle class kids. Yet the reality was then that only 8% of students came from working class families with very few from BAME backgrounds. University education now is much more representative of a diverse society and that's thanks to a Labour government. In areas like Salford where I come from the participation of working class children in higher education has massively increased. I think the next Labour Government will have to think very radically about how it spends money ( as well as raises it) and I am not sure just abolishing tuition fees is the best way to be spending it.

 

4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments?

 

4.4 Yes. We should be establishing a respected role for trade unions in Britain and some real employment rights. One of the worst acts of this Government was charging for employment tribunals.

 

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally? 

 

4.5 That is what I have done as a trade union rep, NEC member and local Councillor and would continue to do.

 

Reply from Pete Willsman

 

1.        Labour International 

1.1     If elected to the NEC, will you attend one of our events at Conference and/or come to our LI members' meeting in Germany planned for October?   

I would be happy to come to Germany as long as I get plenty of notice.

1.2     We have tripled our membership since May 2015, and experienced infighting and tensions between groups within LI. How will you try and bring the Party together?

Jeremy has been elected as a leader with a huge mandate.  I really think it is time for the small but vocal minority of malcontents to get behind Jeremy. 

2.        Voting rights

2.1     Do you support the right of UK citizens living abroad having the right to vote for life and remove the present restriction?  

Yes. 

2.2     The UK Labour Party thinks that most UK citizens living abroad are Tory voters. How can you help us overcome this prejudice within the Party? 

I agree with Christine Shawcroft who talks about doing a mosaic analysis. 

2.3    Do you support the idea of having MPs to represent Britons living abroad i.e. international constituencies, like France?

As with Christine, I haven’t really thought about this and would be interested to hear the views of LI. 

3. Election of Party Leader 

3.1    Should the current Leader of the Labour Party automatically be on the ballot in the event of a leadership election?

Yes. Definitely. I am quite clear that the rulebook allows the current leader to be on the ballot in the event of a challenge. 

3.2    Do you support one member one vote (with each vote having the same weight) for future leadership elections? If you don’t why not?

Yes.  

4. General 

4.1 Do you support the “unfreezing” of the rate of UK state pension paid to pensioners living in many countries abroad? (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan)

Yes. 

4.2 Do you support public ownership of utilities and the transport system?

Yes.

4.3 Are you in favour of scrapping university/tuition fees?

Yes.

4.4 Are you in favour of repealing the anti trade union laws brought in by various Conservative governments?

Yes.

4.5 Would you be able to represent all current views within the Party, even if you disagree personally? 

Yes.

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