The EU Referendum can only be won with Labour voters. The consequences to our community of a Tory/UKIP led Brexit are real and serious. That’s why this fight is our fight.
Tonight in Dartford, two Tory MPs will spend the evening arguing with each other about Britain’s membership of the EU. The event will be unfortunately, typical of how of referendum debate has been framed with the public – an internal argument within the Conservative Party played out against a power struggle for the keys to 10 Downing Street. The escalating ‘blue on blue’ civil war is meat and drink for the media – who know that this sort of bun fight sells papers and attracts viewing figures.
Labour knows that the referendum and the devastating impact of a vote to leave are far, far more important than what’s going on in the Tory Party and short term political capital.
We also we know that we are in the fight of our lives from now until 23 June. I’m asking every member of Dartford Labour to help campaign to Remain from now until polling day.
Let’s be clear – this isn’t an academic exercise or a debate at the Oxford Union. There will be very real, tangible and damaging effects of a vote to leave – affects won’t be felt by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Nigel Farage. The impact of leaving will instead be felt by millions of working people across the UK – including here in Dartford. These are the communities that we all got into politics to fairer and more prosperous places. These are the communities are will pick up the bill for Leave’s reckless gamble with our economy, our rights and our future – that’s why this fight is Labour’s fight.
We’ve heard this morning that Britain won’t be able to stay in the single market if we leave the EU. That will have a devastating impact on our businesses and the people who work in them. Vote Leave are still refusing to come clean about the employment rights they will cut. Their bus is still driving around the country with a £350m lie written on it. There is now a real risk that the NHS might fall into the hands of people who have previously said they want to privatise it.
Most worrying of all is that Boris and co are now adopting the nasty, divisive, rhetoric on race and immigration previously reserved only for UKIP and Donald Trump. There is no positive future for Britain of this type of backward politics – but we need to face up to the reality that there is very real prospect that Britain may vote for isolation – and everything that goes with it – if Remain doesn’t make the positive case in the next two weeks
It’s Labour – and Labour supporters who will determine the result of this referendum. I genuinely wish that the Conservatives weren’t hopelessly divided on Europe – but the fact is they are. We can’t rely on them.
As Andy Burnham rightly pointed out yesterday, Labour needs to do more to win the argument amongst those who are undecided on how to vote, or may be considering Brexit. We also need to do more to ensure those favouring remain get out and vote on 23 June So far, not enough people have heard the positive Labour case to stay in. Let’s change that together. We all have a responsibility to get out there and campaign for a Remain vote.
If you can help the Remain campaign in Dartford over the next two weekends, then please leave a comment below or email me on Jonathon.hawkes@Dartford.gov.uk
Cllr Jonathon Hawkes
Leader – Dartford Labour Group
The EU Referendum can only be won with Labour voters. The consequences to our community of a Tory/UKIP led Brexit are real and serious. That’s why this fight is our fight. Read more
Only a vote to Remain will protect women’s rights writes Daisy Page
The fact is that we risk jeopardising women’s rights if we vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016.
A recent TUC report concluded that British membership of the European Union has been instrumental in empowering working women and enabling them to challenge unequal pay and inequality at work.
New analysis by Labour IN shows that in the course of the working week a woman in an EU-OECD country earns, on average, almost £170 closer to her male counterpart than a woman living in a wealthy country outside the EU.
Our membership of the EU has brought greater workplace protection for British women:
- · Legal right to equal pay. It is a founding principle of the EU and has been in the Treaties since 1957 (now art. 157 TFEU). In 1984 the UK government was forced to include equal pay for work of equal value in the Equal Pay Act, benefiting many women workers.
- · Guaranteed rights for part time and flexible workers. There are 6.2 million women working part-time in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you are full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, in-house or agency, all workers get the same rights, including access to pensions.
- · Paid maternity leave and the right to return to work without loss of position or pay. Provides for a minimum maternity leave period for employees of 14 weeks and for a minimum payment during this leave. The maternity provisions in the UK (52 weeks) are more generous than the minimum requirements of this directive.
- · Protection from gender-based discrimination and harassment. The Equal Treatment Directive guarantees equal treatment of women and men in the labour market (including selection criteria). It requires member states to prohibit any discrimination -direct or indirect - on grounds of gender. This includes reference to family or marital status, pregnancy and maternity, harassment, and instructions to discriminate. It also protects workers who make a complaint relating to equal treatment from victimisation.
So as you have read, women benefit directly from these achievements in many different ways every day. However, these developments would be at risk if we vote to leave the European Union in June. The current government could pick and choose which rights to water down or scrap altogether. Given their past record on women’s equality that is a frightening prospect.
Women rights are more secure in Europe; women are safer in Europe: we are more prosperous in Europe; and our future, and that of our children and grandchildren, is stronger in Europe.
Cllr Daisy Page is Deputy Leader of Dartford Labour Group
Only a vote to Remain will protect women’s rights writes Daisy Page Read more
Remaining in the EU will safeguard our rights at work from those who want to take them away from workers across Dartford and the country, writes Jonathon Hawkes
Would you trust Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith with your rights at work? No, me neither. However, that’s exactly the risk we will take if we vote to leave the EU.
Our membership of the EU means British people benefit from rights at work including the right to holiday pay, paid maternity and paternity leave, anti- discrimination laws, equal pay and protection for agency workers. If we leave, those rights won't be protected - they'll be in the hands of the government of the day. With the Tories engaged in civil war and Brexiters already measuring the curtains in Downing Street, the loss of these hard won rights is no idle threat. Gove, Boris and their mates are showing every sign that a future Tory government led by the Outers would waste no time in stripping away our rights at work. We can stop that terrifying prospect by voting to remain on 23 June.
Let’s look at how the EU protects us at work
- Protecting Part Time Workers - 34% of all working people in the Kent work part-time. If you work part time you are benefitting from EU rules ensuring that part-time workers cannot be discriminated against in comparison to their full-time co-workers.
- Protecting Work Life Balance - The European Working Time Directive means every working person in Europe receives a minimum of four weeks of paid annual leave. The Directive also helps you control how long you work for. Unless you choose to opt out, you cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours in a 7-day period, and you cannot be forced to work more than 13 consecutive hours in a day.
- Protecting Agency Workers - Many people in Dartford are agency workers. EU law protects temporary and agency workers, who are often in the most precarious jobs.
- Protecting Women at Work - The EU protects the rights of female workers to take paid maternity leave and the right to receive equal pay to men. EU law also stops pregnant women from being treated unfavourably by employers.
There is no guarantee that these rights would be protected if the UK withdrew from the EU. In fact, they are one of the main reasons why many politicians on the Right want us to leave. We’ve all heard those Conservative and UKIP politicians talk about getting rid of EU ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘red tape’ – what they actually mean is getting rid our rights at work – rights that will be at serious risk should we vote to leave the EU.
Standing up for our rights is an important part of why the Labour Party is IN for Britain. Labour have always believed we achieve more together than we do alone and our membership of the EU ensures that we benefit from equally high standards at work, instead of suffering from equally low ones. When we work together in Europe, we ensure that the people who want get rid of our protections at work are never the loudest voices. We give that protection up at our peril.
On 23 June lets vote to Remain in the European Union and stand up for our rights at work.
Jonathon Hawkes is Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors on Dartford Borough Council
Remaining in the EU will safeguard our rights at work from those who want to take them away from workers across Dartford and the country, writes Jonathon Hawkes Read more
It’s good news that the new Lower Thames Crossing won’t be in Dartford – but we need urgent action right now to tackle our growing traffic gridlock.
The news that the government have finally recommended that Dartford should not be the location of the new Lower Thames Crossing is rare relief for everyone impacted by the pollution and congestion at the existing crossing. It’s also a victory for residents who kept up the campaign against a new crossing in Dartford over several years.
It’s taken far too long for the government to make this decision. Almost 2 ½ years after the start of the consultation on a new crossing and a year after local people were promised a decision would be made, it’s unacceptable that residents and businesses have had to put up with this uncertainty for so long.
Leader of Dartford Labour Cllr Jonathon Hawkes commented;
“Building a new crossing away from Dartford is a step in the right direction. However, all the while the government have been dithering over this decision the problems at the existing crossing have got much worse and traffic gridlock is now a regular occurrence. With the new crossing not due to open for at least a decade, Dartford needs action right now to get our town moving again.
So while the news about the crossing is welcome, Dartford can’t afford complacency from the council or the MP. We desperately need a new traffic plan for Dartford to tackle to congestion and pollution we are living with right now. However, with a 37% cut in the Department of Transport budget and Kent County Council finances being slashed by £46m, there are real concerns that traffic chaos in Dartford is going to get worse under the Conservatives.”
It’s good news that the new Lower Thames Crossing won’t be in Dartford – but we need urgent action right now to tackle our growing traffic gridlock. Read more
Yesterday, Labour asked if Dartford's MP Gareth Johnson was going to continue to oppose the idea of Transport for London taking over the failing Southeastern rail franchise. Today, he confirmed he will continue to "resist" TfL.
We think that Dartford's MP couldn't be more out of touch with rail users in the town. We just want a rail service that works - and its clear that Southeastern isn't working. Is Gareth Johnson interested in what works? Or just that the Dartford rail franchise stays in private sector hands?
Cllr Daisy Page - Dartford Labour's Deputy Leader and member of Dartford Council's transport committee commented;
"In continuing to oppose the possibility of TfL taking over the failing Southeastern franchise Gareth Johnson has shown himself to be completely out of touch with rail users in Dartford.
Mr Johnson should seeking solutions and a way forward to improve Dartford rail services, not putting up barriers by clinging to the same outdated, ideologically driven position Dartford Conservatives have always taken.
He raises concerns about accountability but Dartford rail passengers feel there is no accountability from Southeastern at the moment. There certainly wasn’t any accountability 18 months ago when the Conservatives rewarded Southeastern with an extension to their current franchise.
Gareth Johnson doesn’t seem to get that Dartford rail users are crying out for change on our railways. We need an MP that is going to stand up for Dartford, rather than only standing up for Southeastern”
Yesterday, Labour asked if Dartford's MP Gareth Johnson was going to continue to oppose the idea of Transport for London taking over the failing Southeastern rail franchise. Today, he confirmed he will continue to "resist" TfL. We think that Dartford's MP couldn't... Read more
Dartford Labour has welcomed the news that TfL are set to take over the Southeastern Franchise in 2018. It's now time for Dartford Conservatives to drop their long standing opposition to the plan.
After years of the unreliable service, overcrowding, heating problems and delays passengers have experienced, particularly recently after the works and chaos at London Bridge, it’s clear we need a change in the way our rail services are operated.
It's not yet clear if this announcement will mean TfL will run London bound services from Dartford stations, although the potential to do so has been set out in the proposal.
Dartford commuters just want a train service that they can rely on. That’s why we are calling on Gareth Johnson and Dartford Conservatives to drop their opposition to TfL running train services from Dartford. We need a service that works for Dartford and it’s clear that Southeastern just isn’t working.
Dartford Labour Deputy Leader and member of Dartford Borough Council’s Transport Committee Cllr Daisy Page commented;
‘Like many local residents I have signed the online petition to remove Southeastern and I am glad to see the voice of local residents is being heard. This could be a much needed change for passengers and one that Labour and local residents have been calling for some time, but I am concerned that Dartford Conservatives have opposed it. Gareth Johnson must now tell us if he’s going to support a better train service for Dartford, or if he and his colleagues are going to continue to oppose local residents getting the service we need and deserve’
Dartford Labour has welcomed the news that TfL are set to take over the Southeastern Franchise in 2018. It's now time for Dartford Conservatives to drop their long standing opposition to the plan. Read more
Dartford Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes has accused the Conservatives of “wasting the opportunity” of a debate held in Parliament this week on the delays at the Dartford Crossing.
Cllr Hawkes commented - “The debate was a huge wasted opportunity to make progress on an issue that is causing misery for thousands of people across Dartford. What Dartford residents wanted to see from this debate was a clear plan of action to start to ease the delays that regularly cause congestion across our town. Instead, what we got was just warm words, complacency and no plan to start to address the problem.
The truth is that the Conservatives in Dartford have presided over the growing traffic gridlock and they have no idea how to resolve it. It’s easy for Gareth Johnson and Jeremy Kite to criticise Dart Charge today, but they were the people overseeing its introduction and predicting that congestion would be reduced. Unbelievably, earlier this year Cllr Kite was still claiming that the removal of the toll barriers at the crossing had been “an unqualified success”. The compliancy of the Conservatives has contributed to dire situation we see today.”
At the last election, the Conservatives promised a joined up transport plan for Dartford. So far, we’ve heard a lot of talk but seen no action. Residents sitting in traffic jams will rightly ask why that promise is not being delivered.
We need a different approach. That’s why Labour are calling for a new traffic plan for Dartford focused on delivering;
- · Additional investment to bring forward delivery of promised improvement works and to ease the bottlenecks that cause congestion
- · Improvements to our public transport. Our local bus network is struggling to cope in the congestion and we need to ensure that Crossrail is extended to Dartford.
- · Action to tackle the delays at the Crossing. Simply holding meetings and debates isn’t good enough– local people need to see a credible plan of action that includes the views of motoring and freight industry groups, local businesses and residents.
- · A decision on the location of a new crossing. We need a new crossing away from Dartford, built as soon as possible.
The Conservatives are failing Dartford – residents deserve better than to be stuck with gridlock. We need to get Dartford moving again.
Dartford Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes has accused the Conservatives of “wasting the opportunity” of a debate held in Parliament this week on the delays at the Dartford Crossing. Read more
Labour leaders across Kent including leader of Dartford Labour - Jonathon Hawkes, have come together to call on the government to extend the devolution agenda to Kent. You can read their statement below
Labour leaders across Kent including leader of Dartford Labour - Jonathon Hawkes, have come together to call on the government to extend the devolution agenda to Kent. You can read their statement below Read more
Dartford Council’s new plan to use a private company to undertake ‘Litter Patrols’ won’t address the root causes of litter in our town.
The Conservatives have failed to tackle Dartford’s litter problem and after 13 years of Tory control, litter in Dartford is getting worse and fly tipping isn’t being tackled. The truth is that the Council have always had the ability to fine people who litter our community. They just haven't been doing it.
The Council are now employing a private company to step in where they have failed to act and carry out litter enforcement on their behalf. That means for every £75 fine issued, £42 is going directly into the pockets of the private company - it's not going back to the council.
Labour have already raised concerns about how this scheme will operate.
Because there is a financial incentive to issue fines - we need to ensure that there are safeguards in place to ensure residents are treated fairly and consistently. Yes, we need crack down on litter louts, but nobody wants to see people being chased down the street or not being given a chance to pick litter up when it has been dropped unintentionally. The Council need to make sure there are effective safeguards in place. The company being used, Kingdom, has faced criticism in the past for issuing thousands of fines when they have worked for councils in other areas.
Enforcement needs to go hand in hand with prevention and Dartford needs more litter bins. However, with the council handing over the majority of the income generated from fines to a private company we are simply not going to see to investment we need in litter prevention.
It’s also really concerning that the Conservatives have not been straight with residents about this scheme. During the consultation the Tories did not make it clear to residents that the council would be using a private company or the fact that most of the income generated will not be kept by the council. They are still not being clear in their publicity now. Residents have a right to ask why the council is not being as open and honest as they could be about this scheme
Labour will be keeping a close eye on the scheme to ensure that its operated both effectively and fairly. The Council simply haven't been clear with residents – Labour will be.
Dartford Council’s new plan to use a private company to undertake ‘Litter Patrols’ won’t address the root causes of litter in our town. The Conservatives have failed to tackle Dartford’s litter problem and after 13 years of Tory control, litter in... Read more
The decision to award a contract to run local community health services in North Kent to Virgin Care shows that NHS has effectively been put up for sale by the Conservatives.
While there can be a role in the NHS for the private and voluntary sector where can add extra capacity or provide a different service, in this case millions of pounds of public money is being handed to a private company to run an existing NHS service. Even more concerning is the fact that in the tender process, the NHS bid scored higher than Virgin Care on quality – which raises real questions about whether the decision to award the contract has been made on what delivers the best outcomes for patients – or on simply who was the cheapest.
The NHS needs to change and evolve but what shouldn’t change is that our NHS is run on a very simple principle – that the care of people come before profit. That principle is being undermined by deals like this and it makes the governments claims to be committed to a publicly owned NHS seem very hollow.
The Livingstone Hospital in Dartford is one of the hospitals where services will now been run by Virgin Care. Labour will be asking what scrutiny will in place to ensure there is no degradation of the service and what protections will be in place for the hard working staff at The Livingstone. Virgin Care need to be accountable to public in running this service.
The last Labour government increased investment in the NHS. Everyone accepts the need for the NHS to evolve and change to meet growing demand and changing needs. We believe the NHS can meet that challenge but decisions like this show do show a lack of faith from the government in the NHS clinicians, doctors and nurses who are among the best in the world. The government should be getting behind the NHS not starving it of investment. The Conservatives are failing the NHS and deals like this means that we are seeing the gradual privatisation of our health service. Labour will always fight to keep the NHS free at the point of use and in public hands.
The Leader of Dartford Labour - Jonathon Hawkes highlighted these concerns on BBC Radio Kent this week – you can hear the interview here
The decision to award a contract to run local community health services in North Kent to Virgin Care shows that NHS has effectively been put up for sale by the Conservatives. Read more