The tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan distresses us; the human suffering there and the guilt here for our part in it. We want our Party to say something about these events which is both authoritative and constructive in looking for a way to a better future for all Afghanis but so far we have failed to do this.The truth is that we have paid it little attention and our position on Afghanistan is currently little different from that of the Tories. In addition, it was after all a Labour Government that took our armed forces into the country in 2001 and sustained the occupation until 2010 . The mess that is Afghanistan today has many roots but a major one is the armed intervention of foreign countries pursuing their own interests over many decades, including the British imperial occupation in the 19th Century, the Russian invasion of 1969 and the arming and funding of the Mujahideen, precursors of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, by the USA throughout the 1970’s. The Labour Party will not be able to provide a credible lead on Afghanistan until we acknowledge our culpability and turn our back on the imperialist mindset that has been behind the UK’s serial armed interventions in other people’s countries. In my opinion the best recent statement from a prominent Labour politician came from Clive Lewis, published in the Guardian last week.

New Unitary Authority Ward Boundaries.

We have just been informed of the proposed wards and numbers of Unitary Authority Councillors which will form the basis for the elections next May. For our area the proposal is thirteen wards, up from twelve currently, and fourteen seats, up from twelve currently. The number of Councillors is more than the number of wards because Easingwold gets two. The other wards each get one Councillor as currently. We are invited to comment and if we wished to we would need to do it through our Party representative on the County Working Group which has been given the job of coming up with the boundaries. The Government will make the final decision and there is no clear idea of when that will be. The full set of proposed ward boundaries, including maps and voter numbers, and the report from the Council Working Group are attached.

For what it’s worth I think the proposals overall are pretty reasonable, given the parameters set by the government. It’s similar to what we currently have for the County Council although there are a couple of less practical looking areas, in particular Hunmanby which now includes the Wolds. It is in any case just an interim arrangement to enable elections to go ahead in 2022. After the elections there will be a further review conducted by the Boundaries Commission. (No wonder we never get anything done).

Whatever representations are made it is unlikely that these proposed wards will change much. They are therefore likely to be the basis for the next election. Our four Branches, Filey, Malton/Norton, North Ryedale and Vale of York can now start planning their election campaigns, starting with getting the 14 candidates that we need.

Campaign Against Closure of the Scarborough Stroke Unit.

Our Filey Branch has initiated a campaign against closure of the Stroke Unit at Scarborough Hospital. The campaign and a leaflet are still in preparation but if you would like to help please get in touch with Jo Burton, Secretary of the Filey Branch on  or contact  me or Anne Seex.

We are liaising with the ‘Save Scarborough and District Hospital Campaign’. There are a lot of posts about the Stroke Unit on their Facebook Group. Attached is their list of the cuts in services at Scarborough Hospital since it was taken over by York NHS Trust in 2012.

Note that the new Unitary Council has a role in relation to Health Policy and that the current County Council has already endorsed closure of the Stroke Unit. The people of Thirsk and Malton badly need voices on the new Unitary Council which are not just puppets of the Tory government. We need a Labour manifesto for the Unitary Council election which covers the full range of health and care issues. Again, if you would like to contribute to producing this manifesto, please do let us know.


No Conference Delegate.

Due to an error on my part we missed the deadline for registration of our delegate to this years annual conference by a couple of days. Although I have made several attempts to overcome this the Conference Arrangements Committee is adamant that they will not allow us to register late. This is extremely unfortunate and I can only apologise to you all for the fact that we will be unable to contribute to the debate at conference this year. There will consequently be no general meeting to discuss conference resolutions and delegate mandating this year.

Best wishes, Mick Johnston and Anne Seex Secretaries of Thirsk & Malton Labour Party 


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