Phil Wilson

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I have watched Owen Smith since he entered parliament in 2010. He has grown in confidence as a parliamentarian, is steeped in the Labour tradition, he has been prepared to take responsibility on Labour’s frontbench, he is a class performer from the dispatch box, and he is more than competent to lead the Labour Party.

He is setting out a radical vision for the 21st century. I agree with Owen when he says the Tories have a plan to privatise the NHS. I personally believe, if the Tories win in 2020, they will start talking about people have to pay to use the National Health Service. The Tories will deny that, but I can see it coming.

Owen understand the NHS and our public services can only be funded by a dynamic economy, backed up by an industrial strategy, rich in skills and innovation which complements our manufacturing base especially in the North East. This is particularly important after the Brexit vote on June 23rd.

I was very disappointed at the vote to leave the EU. I was also disappointed, and felt let down by the half-hearted approach Jeremy took to the campaign. The referendum was the most important decision facing the country in a generation. During the campaign, Jeremy never visited the North East and even went on holiday. These are not the actions of a leader.

Jeremy has said he would set up ‘a monitoring group’ to watch how Brexit develops. Compare this with Owen who has said he would hold the government to account as Brexit negotiations develop and he believes we should put the results of the negotiations to a second referendum or a general election.

And winning the next general election should be the complete focus of our attention.

Helping others, defeating inequality, bringing peace to the world are principles that have drawn us to the Labour Party. I have heard some say that principle is more important than power. But those who established the Labour Party over a century ago, knew the only way we could act upon our principles was by being in power.

Labour forming a government to put into action our principles is the reason we exist. It is the reason why our constitution states that our purpose is to ‘organise and maintain in Parliament’ the Labour Party.

Until Labour formed a government and had the power to make laws the minimum wage remained a pipe dream. Until we formed a government investment in the public services was ignored, we were able to correct that by being in power.

Peace in Northern Ireland was brought about by a Labour government because we were in power to make it so.

Therefore winning the next election is imperative, and I am afraid I do not believe Jeremy can win that election.

His poll ratings are dire. In 1981 Michael Foot’s poll rating as Labour Leader was -24, and we all know what happened in 1983.

Jeremy’s rating is at -41, this is the view of the people who really matter, our supporters. I don’t want to see Labour let them down.

A poll in the Evening Standard (August 16th) said the British public would rather have Owen as PM than Jeremy.

Of the two candidates in this leadership election I genuinely believe Owen has the best chance of winning the next general election so that we can put our principles into action.

Jeremy for all his beliefs, is not sufficiently competent to deliver victory. Our supporters know that and they are desperate for us to win.

There are also two other principles that I believe are a pre-requisite for victory. They are loyalty and unity.

I believe in both. I have never voted against the Labour whip, even under Jeremy’s leadership. In addition, I was a Labour whip under Ed Miliband so I know the importance of these principles. But I am afraid Jeremy has not distinguished himself on either.

He has voted against the Labour whip literally hundreds of times and voted with the Tories on more occasions than David Cameron ever did. His career has shown that he is ready to exercise his rights to protest but has not been prepared to take responsibility. In the 1980’s he defended the hard left Militant Tendency against the Labour Party, and ran Tony Benn’s campaign against Neil Kinnock in 1988 at a time when the party was starting to look united after years of bitter infighting.

I therefore do not see how it is possible for Jeremy to demand the loyalty and unity that he has never shown himself.

I will be voting for Owen Smith in the leadership contest because he is the unity candidate and can reach out to all sections of the party. I will also be voting for him because I want to save Labour, the party I love and because I want to see Labour in government again.

Owen is principled, he is also competent and will take the fight to the Tories. Our members and more importantly our supporters deserve better than we have now. Vote for Owen Smith and help save the Labour Party.

Why I will be voting for Owen Smith

I have watched Owen Smith since he entered parliament in 2010. He has grown in confidence as a parliamentarian, is steeped in the Labour tradition, he has been prepared to...

Phil Wilson MP visited local organic dairy farm Acorn Dairies, to investigate ways to support the local farming community better through uncertain times following Britain's vote to the leave the EU.

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Acorn Dairies are a family business. To secure their future, in 2000 they diversified their business model to process and sell their milk (all organic) directly to the end consumer- be this local councils, cafes, supermarkets or individual doorstep customers. The family brand of Acorn Dairy is now well known as the regional organic milk supplier. They can supply organic milk at prices lower than the supermarkets, as they are cutting out two middlemen.

Local milk consumers are keen to know how and where their milk is produced and to visit the cows during open farm events. Cow and calf welfare is increasingly important to the consumer. Organic standards are the highest and Acorn Dairy hold a Compassion in World Farming Good Dairy award. The strong local demand for organic milk has enabled Acorn Dairy to expand and the business now employs 34 people. Organic farms also host 50% more wildlife, due to no chemical herbicides or pesticides being used. Acorn Dairy now hosts over 86 bird species, with some on the endangered red list.

Phil said of the visit “It was excellent to meet the Tweddle family and was particularly impressed at not only their passion for what they do but also at their keen business acumen. It is no doubt that life is set to get harder for our Dairy farmers in County Durham post-brexit particularly with potential lost subsidies. The Tweddle family display the determination and resilience that will be needed over the next few years.

Julia one of the Dairies directors said ‘We are delighted our MP shows genuine concern and interest in our business and wider industry. Phil was keen to find out what issues we are tackling as a farming business on a local level and also what challenges we see coming our way post Brexit. As a company we are clear that organic dairy farming is a win for all involved- the environment, cows and consumer and appreciate the interest and support of our local politicians to develop what we do further.”

Phil looks to support local dairy farmers

Phil Wilson MP visited local organic dairy farm Acorn Dairies, to investigate ways to support the local farming community better through uncertain times following Britain's vote to the leave the EU....

Following a visit to Acorn Organic Dairy Farm, Phil Wilson MP speaks to owner and director Gordon Tweddle about the implications of Brexit to local dairy farming in the region.

Gordon shares his thoughts here

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"Dairy farmers in County Durham are looking to the future with some trepidation. Although ex-farm milk prices are already largely set by international commodity movements they will now lose the protection of the EU central agricultural policy (CAP). The CAP  not only controls import/export into the EU but also provides a cash subsidy to farmers often seen as a buffer against large swings in commodity prices. Unfortunately this is now providing the bulk of the profit or minimising the losses on many farms.

If the UK is going to follow a hard- nosed free trade policy, competing in the world market, logic dictates there will be no room for subsidies to a small section of the UK economy, ie Agriculture.

Source of labour is currently a major issue. Eastern European labour has a significant presence on UK farms. They are prepared to do the jobs Brits no longer want to do, get up early, milk cows/pick fruit and vegetables.

In the short term the fall in the sterling exchange rate has firmed the ex-farm price for cereals and the equivalent for some dairy products. Though, if Brexit is to be successful, which it needs to be, then sterling will regain its strength, removing that short term benefit.

The consumer/general public may like to see cheaper food on the supermarket shelves courtesy of world trade. Is this a re-run of the C19 Corn Laws?

It will be up to the British farmer to make his pitch to the consumer emphasising quality, local, environment and hopefully jobs, to justify paying a premium for our produce. In short the farmer will probably have to get much closer to the consumer than they have done in the recent past.

The alternative would be commodity farming on a larger scale than is currently the case,  with the demise of many smaller “ family” farms.

New Zealand went through a period of painful agricultural readjustment following the removal of farming subsidies, but is now seen as a thriving, efficient agricultural sector. This may or may not be our fate, though the consumer is on our doorstep.

The major policy decisions regarding Brexit,  trade (from aircraft to cheese), the movement of labour and where compromises are negotiated have yet to be made. Then there is the crucial detail surrounding those decisions.

We are about to find out how much of that £350m per week (saving) on the side of the Brexit bus exists in post Brexit UK and how much of that finds its way into agriculture and what proportion ends up on dairy farms.

The Chinese have a saying for this…..”may you live in interesting times…….!”

Dairy Farming in County Durham Post Brexit

Following a visit to Acorn Organic Dairy Farm, Phil Wilson MP speaks to owner and director Gordon Tweddle about the implications of Brexit to local dairy farming in the region....


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