Campaigning in Baldock
Dismantling the North Herts Blue Wall: Lessons from Baldock and Royston
May 30th, 2022

If anywhere defines the “blue wall” it’s North Hertfordshire. Bucolic towns and villages with fast and direct trains into the Square Mile as well as to Cambridge and the Silicon Fen. This is the heart of the Home Counties and it’s a commuter’s dream. This is where the Tories should be weighing votes not losing Council seats.

Yet here on 5th May, Labour won nine out of eighteen seats up for election with the Tories losing two seats each to Labour and the Lib Dems.

Most strikingly, Labour gained Baldock Town and Royston Palace. These are “blue wall” places even by North Hertfordshire standards. Historic market towns with coffee shops and ancient pubs, good schools, and character cottages. Labour came third in Baldock as recently as 2019 coming behind the Lib Dems with a mere 321 votes – more than 600 votes behind the Tories.

What on earth happened? Well, we think it’s quite interesting and provides important lessons to the Labour Party nationally. Do Royston woman or Baldock man really provide the keys to Downing Street? (more…)

On the Minneapolis Riots
May 31st, 2020

Rugby is my dad’s religion. But his is a working class faith. He had grown up on the old West Cumberland Coalfield where every pit village had a rugby club – of one code or another. He was hewn from the same rock as the men who, having finished an early shift at the coal face, would walk to the rugby ground to play a game. Men whose toughness on the pitch was matched only by their courage working in some of the most dangerous mines in Europe.

In August 1977, my parents participated in a teaching exchange to Coon Rapids Senior High School in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. Dad had wanted to head to one of the coasts – as that was where the rugby was. But having been billeted to the Midwest, he found the rugby club and their captain arranged to meet them at the airport. (more…)

Keir Hardie Avenue
Why I Am Angry: Lessons from West Cumbria
December 29th, 2019

I need to write.

I have been meaning to write since the General Election, but I have been numb with an anger that has left me unable to string a sentence together or make sense of what has happened. The gloom seems unrelenting – there appear to be no shafts of light or hope on the horizon. (more…)

st johnston
On being a Lapsley: A visit to St Johnston
September 12th, 2019

“Hello my name is Rachel. I’m a Lapsley” I said to the dry stone waller. He was working on the walls to the churchyard of St Johnston Presbyterian Church in Donegal. By describing myself as a Lapsley, what I meant was that I was a member of the Lapsley family. My maternal grandmother was a Lapsley before she was married and had been born in St Johnston in 1908 – the youngest daughter of John Lapsley, who was Grand Master of the St Johnston Orange Order. The family had moved to Londonderry in 1916 when his shipping business had gone bankrupt and he had to get a job on the docks. But St Johnston was where he belonged and every Saturday, he would cycle home – a journey of 7.5 miles each way – to see his friends and family. Of course, when partition came in 1921, this meant cycling over an international border and back. It was perhaps apt that when he died in 1932, his coffin was carried over the same journey – from his home at 10 Georges Street in Londonderry to the graveyard of St Johnston Presbyterian Church- and he was carried on foot across a frictionless border.


Power and Influence
July 7th, 2019

I had a remarkable experience at church this morning. The preacher mentioned Lyn Edwards and the Shackles Off projects at Seascale Methodist Church. I know that project – and I’ve met Lyn. We worked together on a joint church youth event at what is now Whitehaven Academy. I had put together a drama based on the Columbine Shooting. We shared our stories about how we had ended up in Cumbria. I was struck by how God had brought so many people – including me – to the area in such miraculous ways. (more…)

Why Rachel Held Evans Matters to Me
May 7th, 2019

Last week, Rachel Held Evans died. She was 37.

I write this to explain why she mattered to me.

My faith journey has been somewhat meandering. I grew up in the Anglican church on a strict diet of the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer and the New English Hymnal. I sang in the Church Choir. Our repertoire included the Cathedral Psalter, sung liturgies and the Te Deum. Or the Tedious, as I dubbed it. This instilled in me an enduring love for classical church music and an uncompromising adherence to church doctrine as expressed in the historic creeds. In all my wanderings, wrestlings and questioning over the decades, these beliefs have stood firm. (more…)

Press Release: Corbyn urged to back business in latest Brexit tussle
March 8th, 2019

London, 8 March 2019 – The Conservative government’s reckless abandonment of British business since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 offers Labour an opportunity to displace the Tories as the natural party of business, according to Labour Business, the Party’s business affiliate.

Writing to Jeremy Corbyn in a letter sent earlier today, Labour Business Chair Hamish Sandison welcomed the fact that the Labour Leader had brought the public vote option into play, and commented: “Labour Party members in businesses – small, medium and large, up and down the country – have direct experience of jobs and investment being lost ever since the Conservatives triggered Article 50 and mishandled the ensuing negotiations. We should be broadcasting that very loudly.”

Labour Business called on Corbyn to reduce the uncertainties for business, jobs a (more…)

The speech I planned to deliver at Labour Women’s Conference: Migrant’s Rights
February 24th, 2019

Below is the speech I planned to deliver at Labour Women’s Conference. However, I wasn’t called to speak.


Rachel Burgin, Socialist Societies delegate for Christians on the Left speaking in support of the motion. This is an issue that matters a great deal to our members. Indeed, many migrant women are Christians: they are filling church pews right across the country.

Sisters, when decisions are made from a misplaced fear of “the other”, then systems often invite horrific consequences. The hostile environment has often allowed unchecked decision-making with little regard for the impact on migrant women. From destitution as a result of the “No Recourse to Public Funds” policy, to being potentially locked out by the proposed £30,000 salary cap or being trapped in a confused system with no clear outcome, a gender impact assessment is desperately needed for any new immigration system.

We in Christians on the Left believe we should treat others as we wish to be treated. And we have a biblical mandate to care for the widow, the fatherless and the immigrant.


We all need a functioning and humane health service. Those that need access to maternity services should be able to access it. Safe doctors surgeries should be the norm. The Government should develop a set of safeguards which support all mothers living in the UK to receive the maternity care that they and their baby need.


Issuing bills of £6,000 or more to pregnant women who are destitute is a pointless and destructive policy. Department of Health guidance states that women should receive maternity care even if they are unable to pay. But if that is the objective, then why are women receiving letters threatening referral to debt collectors, and the Home Office? Why are hospitals demanding immediate payment of bills of thousands of pounds?

Women who are entitled to free care are left confused by complex rules and fearful of approaching maternity services. This is a system which isn’t working.


We have a duty to our sisters, we must continue speaking truth to power and we must protect the rights of migrant women

(Special thanks to Heather Staff for her work on this).

July 30th, 2018

1. I voted and campaigned to remain in the EU. Nevertheless, I am ready to accept pragmatic ways of making Brexit work if there is no democratic means of remaining in the EU – through a Parliamentary vote, a General Election or a second Referendum.

2. The Conservative government’s current position, reaffirmed in its recent White Paper after a 2-year delay, is causing real damage to the UK economy. Businesses are suspending investment decisions and/or moving to other EU member states.

3. I am clear that the Government’s White Paper does not offer an acceptable basis for leaving the EU (even in the unlikely event that it proved acceptable to the EU 27)) because:
a) It fails to meet the needs of the UK’s services sector, which represents 80% of our GDP – a “no deal” Brexit for services;
b) It fails to set out a workable solution for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, which is a threat to businesses as well as to security;
c) Above all, it fails to remove the possibility of an overall “no deal” Brexit. (more…)

Keir Hardie Avenue
National Policy Forum: My Track Record
June 16th, 2018

1) I spoke out against the Welfare Bill abstention in 2015. My tweet made the national press!
2) I have advocated for water renationalisation for 10 years since the flooding in Cumbria. I was a parish councillor in a community directly impacted by flooding and saw firsthand the failure of the privatized utilities to be held accountable for upgrading infrastructure.
3) I campaigned for rail renationalisation as a parliamentary candidate (when it wasn’t formally party policy).
4) I helped to organise a Co-operative Energy conference in Hitchin.
5) I have argued for an interventionist and active industrial strategy for as long as I’ve been in the party.
6) As a National Executive member of Labour Business, I have helped to draft Labour Energy and Industrial policy. (more…)

To the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
June 9th, 2018

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.

These words from Song of Solomon echoed around the world at Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Bishop Curry’s sermon brought them to life with a quintessentially un-English exposition on the power of love. His words about fire set ancient St George’s Chapel ablaze:

If humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love – it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

King Solomon, was presented as the wisest man in the world when he wrote the Song of Solomon. And his wise words tell us that love is an unquenchable fire.

So, I find completely unfathomable yesterday’s decision by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to excommunicate LGBT church members in relationships and deny their children baptism. (more…)

Keir Hardie Avenue
The Cumbria floods: out of the textbooks
May 23rd, 2018

Thousands of families made homeless weeks before Christmas, key transport routes torn to shreds by the sheer force of nature, families unable to buy food due to supermarkets being flooded, children unable to sleep because they are frightened of the weather, schools posting homework on their website so their pupils can continue their education, hundreds of farm animals lost and drowned, municipal and local government buildings, major retail outlets and football clubs all under water. ‘Ordinary life’ has ground to an almighty halt for tens of thousands of people. No cameraman or news reporter can possibly convey the sheer magnitude of the environmental chaos that has been visited on vast parts of northern England.

I am Cumbrian to the thousandth generation: my forefathers were Border Reivers, hill farmers, coal miners, Sellafield workers, Labour activists and trade unionists. In 1831, they opened the Carr’s (now McVities) biscuit factory in Carlisle, which has, itself, (twice) been flooded. I know that the iron grit and the uncompromising commitment to community solidarity of the Cumbrian people will pull them through this difficult time – as it has for centuries – through every storm, flood, mining disaster and foot-and-mouth epidemic. (more…)

Keir Hardie Avenue
National Policy Forum
May 11th, 2018

As Vice Chair and Campaign Coordinator for Northeast Hertfordshire CLP, I was delighted with our results across North Herts District Council. We took a ward in Letchworth and took control of Letchworth Area Committee. We took another ward in Hitchin (where I was the parliamentary candidate in 2015) and took control of Hitchin Area Committee. We saw dramatic swings to Labour in a number of wards.

But I was born in Nuneaton and my family is from Copeland. So I know we have our work cut out to win power in parliament.

And it was while campaigning against the BNP in Copeland in 2009 that I was confronted with the failure of the Blair/Brown governments to completely reverse the economic policies of the Thatcher/Major governments – and the unmitigated anger it created in ex-industrial communities.

I re-joined the Labour party later that year in order to make that case within the party. (more…)

Christians on the Left
March 11th, 2018

My faith was born in the crucible of political turbulence. Mum was from the Fountain Estate in Loyalist West Londonderry – a community that endured decades of IRA siege during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Dad was from the West Cumberland Coalfield. My earliest political memory was the miners’ strike. When Mrs. Thatcher referred to the striking miners as the “enemy within” my seven year old self sincerely believed that included me. In the midst of this turbulence, my relatives lived quiet, dignified and respectable lives. But as a small child, I equated this respectability with the Christian faith.

Encountering Jesus in scripture’s pages turned this on its head. Here, I met a radical Jesus who taught that we should love our enemies. A Jesus who reached out to the people society rejected – like the Samaritan woman and the tax collector. Christians on the Left stands proudly in this tradition –and on the shoulders of the Levellers, Diggers, Chartists and Tolpuddle Martyrs. With the rise of the Populist Right, this tradition has never been more needed. Only a Politics of Love can defeat the Politics of Hatred. That is why I am standing for the Christians on the Left Executive.

I am Vice Chair of North East Herts CLP and Labour Business. I stood for parliament in Hitchin & Harpenden in 2015 and I have stood for local council several times. But above all, I am a campaigner and am happiest talking to voters on Labour Doorstep

On Methodism……
December 19th, 2017

On the wall of the Market Hall, Market Place, Whitehaven, Cumbria is a blue plaque. It reads:

John Wesley (1701- 1791), founder of Methodism visited Whitehaven on 25 occasions between 1749 and 1788 preaching in numerous outdoor and indoor venues including the marketplace, the Ginns, and later the town’s first Methodist chapel in Michael Street. From Whitehaven Harbour he made several visits to his followers in Ireland and the Isle of Man.

When I lived in Whitehaven, I would often walk past the Market Hall and stop and reflect on the plaque. Why Whitehaven of all places? It’s hardly on the beaten track. It’s an hour west by car from Junction 40 of the M6 on single carriageways. By horseback, many times that. These days a speaker or performer will think they’ve “done” Cumbria if they do one engagement in Carlisle.

But he chose Whitehaven. And specifically, he chose the Ginns. And he could hardly have chosen a less salubrious place to preach in all of Cumbria. In the eighteenth century, Whitehaven was a major port that rivalled Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow. For some years, it was a corner of the slave triangle. The Cumberland coast also had significant coal deposits with a coal seam that went out under the Irish Sea. The area of Whitehaven known as the Ginns was home to several coal mines – along with numerous factories and rows of workers cottages. The Ginns even had its own workhouse. In later centuries, the Ginns would become the subject of “slum clearances” and other social reform movements. (more…)

Why I’ll be voting for Johanna Baxter to serve on Labour’s NEC
October 26th, 2017

I was brought up to believe that socialism and common decency went together. That if you believe in equality, then you should treat everyone with the same respect and dignity. That if you believe in cooperation over competition then you should, well, cooperate. And if you believe that power, wealth and opportunity should be in the hands of the many, not the few, then you should be prepared to stand up to powerful people – especially when there’s bullying. That’s why I’m backing Johanna Baxter to be a CLP representative on Labour’s NEC. Because she believes this too. And she practices what she has preaches – standing up to every party leader – without fear or favour – and to the most powerful figures in our party. And she has been prepared to do so in the eye teeth of ferocious opposition.

And she doesn’t just talk about party democracy: she has proved she believes in it by the miles she has travelled, visiting more than 180 CLPs during her period on the NEC. This is more than all the other CLP NEC representatives put together. Some of the CLPs she has visited have been in some of the remotest corners of the country – places that hadn’t seen sight of an NEC member in decades.

Cut Johanna and she bleeds red. She has socialism and trade unionism flowing through every blood cell in her body. She is a person of courage, passion, conviction, integrity and principle. And above all, common decency. We need more – not less – people like Johanna running the Labour party.

The DUP Deal: A Tale of Two Families
July 4th, 2017

I am fiercely proud of my Labour roots in the old West Cumberland Coalfield. Of my great great grandfather who helped to organise supplies to the Jarrow Marches, of his son-in-law, a miner, Labour activist and First World War veteran. Of communities who taught me the meaning of solidarity, common decency and the dignity of hard work.

But they are only half my story. The other half is slightly more challenging to talk about in Labour circles. (more…)

Rachel Burgin photo 3
Statement on Hitchin & Harpenden
April 23rd, 2017

Following the announcement by the Prime Minister that there would be a General Election on 8th June, Labour’s NEC published their procedure for selecting parliamentary candidates. As part of this process, candidates who had stood in 2015 were asked if they would stand again.

I responded that I would not stand again in Hitchin & Harpenden.. This is due to specific prior work commitments. Namely that my employer is in the process of agreeing finance to support me to take professional exams. This support would be put at risk if I were to stand for parliament at this time. (more…)

Letter to Editor
April 3rd, 2017

Dear Sir,

I am writing to support local school leaders who have expressed their concern about cuts to their budgets.

Both my parents were teachers and I have clear memories of them facing similar struggles during the Thatcher and Major years. I remember the crumbling school buildings, temporary classrooms and ever-increasing class sizes. Teachers were “over stressed, over worked and underpaid”. (more…)

A conversation with a Copeland voter
February 28th, 2017

“Hello is that Mr. Joe Bloggs?

“Yes. Who is it?”

“My name is Rachel. I’m calling from the Labour party on behalf of Gillian Troughton. Do you have a few moments?”

“Yes, go on.”

“I was just wondering who you planned to vote for in the by-election on 23rd February?”

“I have no idea” (more…)

Rachel Burgin Climate Change
Copeland By-Election: GMB Motion to Conference
January 26th, 2017

During my campaigning in the Copeland by-election, I have frequently made reference to the following motion that was moved by the GMB trade union at Labour Party Conference in 2016. It clearly states support for the construction new nuclear power stations.  Conference delegates voted on the motion and it overwhelmingly passed.

Within the Labour party, it is National Conference that decides on party policy, not the party leader.

Conference notes that: the USA and China have ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 4/5 September but the Government has failed to do so; the Government in merging the Department of Energy and Climate Change into the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has signalled that Climate Change is irrelevant;

Conference condemns the Government’s refusal to ratify the Paris Agreement immediately and calls on the Government to both ratify it immediately and seek to meet its obligations before 2050.Conference reaffirms its commitment to both a carbon-neutral environment and limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial ones.

Britain needs investment in energy and a strategic plan that balances environmental considerations, the need to tackle fuel poverty and job creation in the UK. (more…)

Guest Post: Speech delivered by Jenny Sinclair at Blue Labour Conference
November 28th, 2016

Panel 2:                Treasures of the Left?

Speakers:            Fr Michael Docherty, Jenny Sinclair, Lord Maurice Glasman

Chair:                    Rachel Burgin

Panel brief:  Following an edict of persecution, St. Lawrence was instructed by a Roman prefect to bring forth the treasures of the Church. In response, he rounded up the poor and marginalised, the alienated and dispossessed, and presented them to his Imperial antagonist. For such impudence St. Lawrence would forfeit his life, but he was making something clear: our value rests with how we treat and cherish the least amongst us.


Guest Post: Speech Delivered by Father Michael Docherty at Blue Labour Conference
November 27th, 2016

Fr Michael Docherty is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster. He serves as parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Carlisle as well as being Deputy Head of Service of the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service.  He is a graduate of History as well as holding degrees in Theology and Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.  Prior to seminary formation he taught at St. Edmunds Catholic Secondary School in Dover, Kent. 

The French Dominican priest, Henri Lacordaire, once said that a priest is ‘a member of each family yet he belongs to none’.  It is in that vein that I speak today. As a priest, I am aware that I can only inform the people I serve how to vote, but never who to vote for: I do not belong to any particular political ‘family’ and any views I hold have been shaped by Catholic Social Teaching as well as through the formation I received from my own family during the 1970’s and 80’s.  (more…)

Setting the record straight on diversity
November 27th, 2016

This is the text of a speech I delivered at the Blue Labour Conference in Manchester on 26th November 2016

It’s a real privilege to be asked to speak at this event. When I was first asked I said that even though I had done my fair share of academic work, I’m not really an academic when it comes to my politics and that maybe discussing post-liberalism wasn’t really my thing. “I’m a story teller!” I said. “Story telling is fine” I was told. So, that’s okay. I shall tell stories and I hope these will inform the debate even if they don’t directly answer the exam question, as set.

What better way to explore Labour’s approach to post-liberalism than to consider the issue of diversity. In the wake of Donald Trump’s shock election victory, my social media stream is awash with metropolitan angst about the white working classes. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been a “voice crying out in the wilderness” on this subject for a very long time so I have a deep sense of relief that others are finally waking up. But I do feel the need to set the record straight. Because, for me, this has never been about scrapping the diversity agenda. But broadening its scope. (more…)

The 19 per cent
November 20th, 2016

This is written in response to the 81% of White Evangelicals who voted for Donald trump in the US elections.

I am Evangelical. I am the 19 per cent.

I am William Tyndale, who, in the early sixteenth century, yearned for the plough boy to understand the bible better than the pope. So he dedicated his life to translating the bible into English. For this, he was strangled and burned at the stake.

He was the 19 per cent.

I am the Levellers, campaigning for radical equality and religious liberty more than 250 years before universal suffrage. For these causes, they too gave their lives. (more…)

What granny said to Iain Paisley (and would probably say to Donald Trump)
October 23rd, 2016

“I presume we can count on your support, Mrs Glenn”, the Rev Dr, Iain Paisley said to my granny while he was out canvassing one day. The Rev. Dr. was not wrong to assume he could count on support: after all, this was a DUP stronghold – the Fountain in Loyalist West Londonderry.

However, he hadn’t accounted for my granny.

“Reverend Paisley” she replied, shaking with nerves. “Do you remember the story of the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle?”

A look of recognition came across his face. The story of the wee boy and the jigsaw puzzle was a story told in Presbyterian Sunday schools – and from pulpits – right across Northern Ireland. (more…)

One Nation
The speech I planned to give at Labour Party Conference
September 28th, 2016

Rachel Burgin, Socialist Societies delegate for Labour Business, speaking in support of the NEC’s provisions to tackle abuse within our party.

I am the fifth generation of my family to be involved in Labour and trade union politics. This is the first occasion that any of us have spoken at Labour Party Conference. We’ve been hiding our light under a bushel for the best part of the last century. But I owe it to them and their memory to speak out right here, right now at this Conference and on this issue.

Because everything I understand about socialism I learnt from them and from the Labour communities that they have lived in since the days of Keir Hardie. Their socialism was built on fixed set of values – a code of conduct – that all were expected to abide by – and wo betide anyone who didn’t! (more…)

Jo Cox: Facing a Task Unfinished
June 19th, 2016

In 1929, the China Inland Mission (now OMF) sent out a call for 200 workers. It wasn’t an easy sell as there had been a brutal Civil War: half their workers had fled the country and many of those who remained had been killed. In order to make the case to the churches for why people should go to such a dangerous place and risk their lives, Francis Houghton was commissioned to write a hymn. He produced “Facing a Task Unfinished”. It begins:

Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease

It was precisely these words that came to my mind on Friday evening as I found myself standing next to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Parliament Square. The causes that Jo Cox has laboured for over the course of the last 20 years have benefited millions of the world’s poorest people. In parliament, she gained a reputation for being perhaps the most articulate and effective advocate of Syrian refugees. We have lost Jo but the Syrian refugees are still with us and they are as much in need of advocates as ever. In fact, every cause that Jo has ever fought for – whether that be modern slavery or maternal mortality – is still with us. Francis Houghton continues that we bear the torch that fell from the hands of those who have given their lives. The hymn goes onto say: (more…)

Overseas Aid
Donald Trump and the Religious Right
March 2nd, 2016

Those who know me well know that I can be very strident in my views sometimes.

Nevertheless, I am a great believer in public service and accordingly respect dedicated public servants – regardless of their political affiliation. There are some exceptions: I would find it hard to respect a BNP Councillor, for example, because I believe their politics is one of hatred. But within mainstream politics, I understand that we’ve all had different journeys and have reached different conclusions about matters of public policy in good and sincere faith. As a Christian, I know fellow Christians in the Conservative, Lib Dem and Green parties and I respect the contribution they make in their various spheres. (more…)

February 3rd, 2016

Integrity is the integration of thought, word and deed. Integrity preaches what it believes and practices what it preaches.

Like a stick of Blackpool rock, integrity is the same all the way through – from the outside all the way to the deepest depths of the human soul.

Integrity is prepared to count the cost – be that a reputation, a promotion, a relationship, a job – or even a life.

Integrity was my grandfather when he resigned from his job at the pit. He was a checkweighman: it was his job to weigh the pieces coal and sort them accordingly. One day he saw some of his colleagues siphoning off coal for their own use. As an honest man, he wanted no part in their deceit. But as a socialist and proud trade unionist, he could not and would not betray his work colleagues. So, for him, the price of upholding the principle of solidarity was resigning his job. Because he resigned, he wasn’t able to claim the dole, and he also found it almost impossible to get another job. His young family endured absolute penury – surviving on crisp sandwiches – until he eventually got a labouring job onsite at Windscale (now Sellafield). (more…)

Working Class Candidate Shortlists
October 3rd, 2015

I have a confession to make. Before I got involved in politics, I thought I was Middle Class. After all, my parents were teachers, they were owner occupiers and we lived in a nice village in the Midlands.

After I got involved in the Labour Party, I learnt that I was, in fact, Working Class. My family had lived in the same coalmining village for 7 generations and many of my family – including my dad – had worked in the mines. They had been involved in the General Strike and the Jarrow Marches. (more…)

Speech to Blue Labour
July 18th, 2015

I am the fifth generation of my family to be involved in Labour politics. This is something I am deeply proud of. From the party’s birth in Primitive Methodism through the General Strike and the Jarrow Marches through the many countless mining disasters, the history of the Labour party is my family history.

I can wax lyrical all day about my Labour roots in the West Cumberland coal mining village of Lowca where my family have lived for seven generations. The problem for Labour is that I am part of an ever-decreasing number of people who vote Labour because their family has always voted Labour.

For decades, Labour’s strength has been the love people have for the party. Voting Labour is not merely a transaction but an act of solidarity towards family and community. Traditional Labour voters don’t say “I vote Labour” but “I AM Labour”. It is part of who they are. But that sentiment is dying out and that is Labour’s problem. (more…)

Building a movement of Christians working towards a just and sustainable future
June 23rd, 2015

I am the fifth generation of my family to be involved in Labour politics. This is something I am deeply proud of. From the party’s birth in Primitive Methodism through the General Strike and the Jarrow Marches through the many countless mining disasters, the history of the Labour party is my family history.

Looking back even further, my ancestor George Lapsley, a Scottish Covenanter, faced almost certain death for his belief in a more egalitarian faith. It is THIS passion, conviction and courage that is the beginning of all my campaigning endeavours. If a cause is worth fighting for is worth making sacrifices for. “To live is Christ, to die is gain”. (more…)

What Labour must learn from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
June 22nd, 2015

He offered a clear vision 

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. (more…)

Campaign photo 2
Knock on Tory Doors: the Lessons from Hitchin & Harpenden
May 15th, 2015

I got a positive result in Hitchin & Harpenden. I increased Labour’s vote by 4,020 (7.1%) and moved Labour from 3rd to 2nd place. It was the largest number of votes for Labour since 2001 and one of the best results for Labour in an “unwinnable seat” in the country. 20.6% of the vote in one of the bluest parts of Tory Hertfordshire is not to be sniffed at.

But my satisfaction with my own result was totally consumed with grief at the national picture. Dozens of our members had been working in neighbouring Stevenage: many of them were new to the party and/or new to campaigning. As a local party we almost certainly knocked on many more doors in Stevenage than we ever did in our own constituency – at least during the short campaign. But then the stakes were high: we wanted Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister and winning in Stevenage seemed the best way of achieving that. (more…)

Rachel Burgin photo 3
Message to Activists
May 11th, 2015

Since my selection on 29th March 2014 you have worked tirelessly to get our message out across the constituency. There aren’t many of us (though more than you might think!) but we should all take pride in what we have achieved. 11,433 votes is our largest number of votes since 2001 and 4,020 more than five years ago. Holding Bearton by such a substantial margin and keeping Walsworth in contention for 2016 were also credible results.

But we should also take pride in the fact that we were able to reach communities that we haven’t worked for decades. In the end leaflets were delivered not just across Hitchin, Harpenden, Wheathampstead and Redbourn, but Great Ashby, Sandridge, Jersey Farm, Kimpton, Whitwell, Ickleford, Pirton, Breachwood Green and Peters Green. (more…)

Rachel Burgin photo 3
May 11th, 2015

Dear Sirs

I am writing to you to thank the 11,433 people in the Hitchin & Harpenden constituency who placed their trust in me to represent them as their Member of Parliament. Although I did not win, I was heartened that Labour made progress with 4,020 more people voting for us than in 2010.

I would also like to thank my political opponents, Peter Lilley (Conservative), Pauline Pearce (Liberal Democrat) and Richard Wise (Green) for fighting an unfailingly courteous and clean campaign. We respected each other both personally and politically – and for that I am enormously grateful. (more…)

The New Harpenden Secondary School
May 5th, 2015

I am deeply aware of the extent to which the Harpenden Secondary School issue is dividing the community and the level of heartache and anger that is felt. It has become increasingly apparent to me that, as a local political representative, it is crucial that I listen to all sides and seek to bring the town together.

In the last few days, I have spoken to parents in Redbourn, Kimpton and Whitwell. Our rural communities are perhaps most severely affected by the shortage of school places because they are furthest away from the existing schools. Parents in Kimpton and Whitwell want the school built in Batford because it would be closest to them and their children would qualify for free bus services. So, the school issue affects families in different places in different ways and it is important that all voices are heard. Some of our farming families even struggle to secure places at their local village primary school. (more…)

Overseas Aid
Robin Hood Tax
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding a proposed Financial Transaction Tax and the ‘Robin Hood Tax’ campaign.

I know how strongly many people feel about this issue. I believe our banking sector needs to be reformed so it is more sustainable and competitive and so that our banks work for savers, investors and the small and medium-sized businesses that have found it so difficult to get the finances they need to invest and grow. I also believe that the banks should make a significant contribution to repaying the debts that were incurred as a result of the banking crisis. (more…)

Pedestrian Safety
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding pedestrian safety.

I agree we should be making it easier for everyone – and especially the 10 million people in Britain aged over 65 – to walk safely in our local streets, communities and countryside. I also appreciate that organisations such as Living Streets have made a number of important recommendations to improve pedestrian safety. (more…)

For Rent
Private Rented Sector
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the problems that many people in the private rented sector are experiencing, including rising and insecure rents.

I agree this is a huge and growing problem and that it is contributing to the cost of living crisis that is affecting so many households in our constituency and across the country.

11 million people now rent in the private sector, including 1.5 million families with children. Too often those renting in this sector can face sharp and unpredictable rent rises and feel unable to control one of the most fundamental parts of their life. (more…)

For Rent
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding homelessness and Crisis’ ‘No One Turned Away’ campaign.

It is deeply concerning that homelessness and rough sleeping have both risen sharply since 2010, and that there has also been a big increase in the number of families living in temporary accommodation. A number of homeless shelters have been forced to close, leaving those who find themselves homeless vulnerable and without support.

Labour is committed to tackling the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping by building more affordable homes. (more…)

May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding community pubs and the CAMRA ‘pubs and real ale’ manifesto.

I share your concern about the serious challenges that are currently facing many community pubs and Britain’s breweries. Indeed, British pubs are closing down at a rate of twenty nine per week – almost twice the number of pub closures in 2011.

I also recognise the important contribution that community pubs and breweries can make to our local economy, jobs and trade. (more…)

Official Labour Party response on Faith Schools and Religious Freedom
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding Christianity and faith schools.

Christianity has played an incredibly important role in our national and cultural history and I believe it is vital that Christians – and, indeed, people of all faiths – remain able to celebrate their beliefs freely. (more…)

Human Rights
May 1st, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding human rights, the Human Rights Act and the related campaign by Amnesty International.

I agree that promoting justice, equality and human rights should be absolutely central to Britain’s domestic and foreign policy. I also appreciate, as Amnesty International emphasise, that in too many parts of the world basic human rights are under threat and human rights abuses continue. (more…)

Fuel Duty
April 29th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning fuel duty and the related campaign by FairFuelUK.

I appreciate that the cost of fuel has been a major part of the cost of living crisis that is affecting households in our constituency and across the country.

That is why under a Labour Government there will be no return to the Fuel Duty Escalator, which drives up tax, and we will not increase VAT in the next Parliament. The current Government’s decision to raise VAT to 20%, however, added around 3p per litre to the price of fuel. (more…)

April 29th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding surveillance laws and oversight.

I know there is real public concern about this extremely important issue. I believe it is vital that our surveillance laws are proportionate and effective in meeting the ongoing terrorist threat Britain faces and in countering new and growing threats such as cybercrime. It is also crucial, though, that our surveillance powers are matched with effective, transparent and up-to-date oversight. (more…)

Media Ownership
April 29th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning media ownership and plurality.

I believe that a diverse, open and accountable media is crucial for the free flow of ideas and to challenge unhealthy concentrations of power.

The concentration of media power in too few hands is damaging to our democracy. No media owner should be able to exert undue influence and no media company should believe they are above the law. That is why Ed Miliband was absolutely right to stand up to powerful interests in our media during the phonehacking scandal. (more…)

Autumn Statement
Welfare Benefits
April 29th, 2015

Labour is committed to restoring fairness to our social security system.

Sanctions have been part of our social security system since its foundation, based on the belief that the right to work goes hand in hand with the responsibility to prepare for, look for, and accept reasonable offers of work. But we must ensure that sanctions are both fair and proportionate, based on transparent procedures and with safeguards in place to protect the most vulnerable.

Under this government, we’ve seen an exceptional rise in the proportion of people sanctioned, in part driven by unofficial targets imposed on JobCentres by the Department for Work and Pensions. (more…)

Gender Equality
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding gender equality.

I believe that no one should suffer discrimination because of their gender or gender identity, nor indeed, because of their age, race, religion or belief, disability or sexual orientation. I am also proud that the Labour Party has been at the forefront of this fight for equality over many decades.

I agree, however, that while there has been real progress on gender equality in recent years, much more needs to be done to tackle vital issues such as the gender pay gap, violence against women and girls and women’s representation in public life. (more…)

One Nation
Build a Better Britain
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the ‘Build a Better Britain’ campaign.

I agree that we need to do much more to ensure that our community and communities across the country have the good quality, affordable homes they need. To achieve this, the next Labour Government will need to focus much more closely on solving the current housing crisis and ensuring that local communities have the powers to build the homes local people need and in the places they decide.

The current Government, however, has presided over the lowest peacetime level of housebuilding since the 1920s and the gap between the number of houses being built and the number of houses we need is unprecedented – at over 100,000 each year. Under this Government rents have soared, many first time buyers have been priced out of the market and the number of new affordable homes has collapsed. Homelessness and rough sleeping have both risen sharply. (more…)

Ownership of the Railways
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding ownership of the railways.

It is clear that the Tories’ plan is failing to deliver a rail network that works for passengers or taxpayers, because they put the interests of the big train operating companies before those of working people.

Rail fares have risen by 20 per cent on average since 2010 and British passengers are now paying the highest rail fares in Europe. The Government’s chaotic franchising system has seen millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money lost through the West Coast Main Line franchising process while the successful East Coast franchise has been sold off despite returning £1 billion to the UK taxpayer while in public control. (more…)

April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding flooding.

I share your concern about this extremely important issue. The floods we saw last year showed the terrible impact that flooding can have on people’s homes, livelihoods, businesses and communities. It should also remind us how important it is that the next Government do far more to prioritise flood prevention and adapt to the effects of a changing climate.

Under the current Government flood defence funding has been slashed and flooding has been downgraded as a priority, leaving thousands of families at risk. (more…)

Breast Cancer
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding breast cancer and the related ‘Stop Women Dying’ campaign by Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

While welcome progress has been made in recent years on screening, treatment and survival rates for breast cancer, it is clear that with 12,000 women dying every year in the UK from breast cancer, much more needs to be done.

In particular, earlier diagnosis is critical to improving cancer survival, because treatment is more likely to be successful at an earlier stage. It is deeply concerning, therefore, that in the last year 20,000 patients waited longer than two months to start urgent cancer treatment and that the two month cancer treatment target has been missed for a whole year. The Government’s decision to restrict funding for extra investment in cancer drugs has also led to thousands of patients missing out on cutting-edge radiotherapy and surgery. (more…)

sustainable farming
“Stand Up for the Countryside” Campaign
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for writing to me recently concerning CPRE’s ‘Protect our Countryside’ manifesto.

I believe that everyone should be able to access and enjoy the countryside and that we need to do more to support communities living in rural areas and to protect and preserve our natural environment.

Under the current Government rural communities have often been hit harder than others, with wages falling and the cost of living rising more rapidly than in other parts of the country. Transport is often worse and more expensive in rural areas, broadband roll-out remains slow and inadequate and rural communities lack sufficient power to make decisions about their future, including over housing and infrastructure. (more…)

Cancer Care and Services
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding cancer care and services.

I share your concern about the growing pressures we are seeing on cancer services and I believe the next Government need to do far more to ensure we are diagnosing cancer earlier, treating it more effectively and preventing it in the first place.

In the last year 20,000 patients waited longer than two months to start urgent cancer treatment and the two month cancer treatment target has now been missed for a whole year. The Government’s decision to restrict funding for extra investment in cancer drugs has also led to thousands of patients missing out on cutting-edge radiotherapy and surgery – the two forms of treatment that are responsible for nine in ten cases where cancer is cured. (more…)

Autumn Statement
Personal Debt and High Interest Lending
April 19th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding personal debt and high interest loans.

I agree we need to promote more sustainable forms of personal lending such as credit unions and to provide greater support and advice for people facing debt problems.

The alarming growth we have seen in the high-interest loan market is further evidence of the current Government’s failure to tackle the cost of living crisis or to build an economy that works for working people. Working people are on average £1,600 worse off under the Tories – this is the first Parliament since the 1920s where living standards have got worse. (more…)

Mind’s wellbeing tips for parliamentary candidates
April 13th, 2015

We know that election campaigning has an impact on wellbeing, with two-thirds of MPs identifying that stress negatively affects their health. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave. Common signs range from feeling over-burdened or lonely, to smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual, to experiencing headaches.

With this in mind, here are our tips to help look after your wellbeing during the campaign:

Make time to relax
If you know that a certain activity helps you feel more relaxed, set aside time to do it – whether it be mindfulness practice, being active by going for a run or swim, listening to music or taking your dog for a walk. And even five minutes of relaxation can help. (more…)

You can’t trust the Tories with public safety – 999 emergency response times up, yet they want to cut almost 20,000 more police officers
April 10th, 2015
  • Response times in Hertfordshire up 29% between 2011 and 2014
  • 20 of the 27 forces who provided data showed increases in how long it took to attend the highest priority 999 emergencies at night
  • Two forces recorded huge rises of over 50 per cent, in one instance from an average 7 minute response to an average 11 minutes
  • Three forces recorded rises of over a third
  • Three forces recorded rises of over a quarter (more…)
Labour puts neighbourhood policing at the heart of its plan to build safer and stronger communities
April 10th, 2015

Neighbourhood policing will be protected with a plan to safeguard over 10,000 police officers over the next three years

At the launch of its Crime and Justice Manifesto today, the Labour Party will commit to keeping police on the beat – legislating to introduce a new ‘Local Policing Commitment’, which makes sure police forces guarantee neighbourhood policing in every area.

Labour will set out £800 million worth of efficiency savings a year by year three of the next parliament, as part of its Zero-Based-Review of spending, which the Tories cannot and will not match, to enable Chief Constables to safeguard over 10,000 police officers in the first three years of the next Parliament from extreme Tory cuts.

Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls
April 10th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning violence against women and girls.

I agree that the current level of violence against women and girls is far too high and that too little is being done to prevent these crimes, to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

There were an estimated 1.4 million female victims of domestic violence last year and two women are killed each week by their partner or ex-partner in the UK. Reports of rape and domestic violence are up, yet the number of prosecutions and convictions are down. At the same time, specialist prosecutors for rape have been cut back, domestic violence courts are closing, and specialist police officers are overstretched. (more…)

Labour launches local election campaign with pledge to deliver “the biggest devolution in England for 100 years”
April 7th, 2015

Labour will launch its 2015 local election campaign in Leeds today (Tuesday April 7) with a bold devolution pledge to reverse a century of centralisation by giving back an unprecedented £30 billion of funding from Whitehall over five years. This will enable the creation of economic powerhouses in every region, backed by new freedoms.

Shadow Cabinet members Harriet Harman, Hilary Benn, Chris Leslie, Chuka Ummuna and Michael Dugher will sign a covenant with Labour local government leaders to deliver a new devolution deal for England in the first year of a Labour government. (more…)

GP surgeries
April 7th, 2015

Some 600 fewer GP surgeries across England are open in the evening and at weekends compared to the time of the last election, new figures today show.

The figures underline the true scale of the Tory-led Government’s NHS crisis – with patients forced to turn to A&E as they struggle to secure a slot to see their doctor on the first working day after the Easter break, which saw doctors and NHS England express fresh concern about GP access and the resulting pressure on A&E departments.

David Cameron first promised seven-day opening for GP surgeries in the Conservative manifesto before the last general election in May 2010, but once in Government promptly cut back Labour’s scheme for evening and weekend GP opening. (more…)

For Rent
Homes for Britain
April 7th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the ‘Homes for Britain’ campaign and the very serious problems that are currently affecting our housing market.

We are currently experiencing the biggest housing crisis in a generation. The current Government has presided over the lowest peacetime level of housebuilding since the 1920s and the gap between the number of houses being built and the number of houses we need is unprecedented – at over 100,000 each year.

Under this Government rents have soared, many first time buyers have been priced out of the market and the number of new affordable homes has collapsed. Homelessness and rough sleeping have both risen sharply. (more…)

April 7th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning support for carers and the related campaign by Carers UK.

I appreciate the vital contribution that Britain’s 6.5 million unpaid carers make to those with care needs, our local communities and our economy.  I believe that for too long carers have been ignored and unable to get the help and financial support they need in order to help others.

The previous Labour Government introduced the first ever Carers Strategy in 1999 and a future Labour Government will build on this to provide greater support for family carers. (more…)

FE Funding
April 7th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding funding for further education (FE).

I believe that investing in skills is absolutely vital to Britain’s future and to help create the kind of high-skill, high-wage economy we need. Good quality post-16 education is a key part of this so I appreciate why many young people and organisations including the UCU and the ATL have expressed such concern at the Government’s plans for FE funding and non-apprenticeship provision.

The current Government have failed to properly support FE or to provide the relentless focus that is needed on improving the quantity and quality of apprenticeships. Indeed, in the last year, the number of 19-24 year olds starting an apprenticeship has fallen by more than 6,000, 24 per cent of apprentices aged 19-24 are receiving no formal training and around one in five are not receiving the appropriate minimum wage. (more…)

St. Ippolyts Solar Farm
April 7th, 2015

I was recently asked if I supported wind and solar farms.

The most accurate answer is: it depends.

What I mean is: I strongly support any strategy that seeks to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and secures our energy supply.

It does not follow from this that I support every individual wind and solar farm application. (more…)

Overseas Aid
UNICEF UK’s ending violence against children campaign
March 26th, 2015

Labour is committed to helping end violence against children across the world and I can assure you that a Labour Government will play a leading role in shaping the post-2015 international development agenda.

I am proud of the UK’s record in supporting international development. The last Labour government cut debt, trebled the development budget, brokered ambitious deals on trade and climate change, outlawed cluster bombs, and set the UK on track to be the first major economy to reach the target to give 0.7 per cent of gross national income to development. (more…)

Rachel Burgin photo 3
The drawback of being an “honest politician”….
March 25th, 2015

…is having to publish articles like this:

Because I just can’t shrug off false allegations. The truth matters to me.


Loving the Thousandth Generation: A Christian Perspective on Climate Change
March 24th, 2015

In November 2009, a flood hit Cumbria that was so enormous that even the local MP described it as biblical. It – quite literally – tore the county in two. So many bridges fell that driving from one side of Workington to the other became a 90 mile journey. Children were cut off from their school, shoppers were cut off from the supermarket and commuters were cut off from their train station. While much of the media attention focused on Cockermouth – a town that had been almost completely submerged by the flooding – the damage to infrastructure caused more widespread – and longer term – disruption. And it affected communities psychologically as well as economically. There was the dawning realisation that our 21st Century existence was at the mercy of the elements. We felt our vulnerability quite deeply.

It was the churches that were at the forefront of the clean-up effort. One church set up a drop-in centre that served hot food on an almost 24/7 basis. Others were out with their supermarket trolleys picking up debris, bringing provisions or serving hot drinks. They brought cheer – and a really powerful sense of community solidarity. I attended a church youth service in Cockermouth shortly afterwards when the town was still in ruins: never in my life – either before or since – have I ever seen the human spirit soar so much. Cumbrian kids have always been able to have fun in the rain but this was on a completely different level. Both local MPs paid tribute to the contribution of the churches in a subsequent parliamentary debate. (more…)

Save the Children’s No Child Born to Die Campaign
March 24th, 2015

Thank you for contacting me regarding preventable child deaths, access to healthcare in developing countries and Save the Children’s No Child Born to Die campaign.

I agree the UK should lead international efforts to reduce child preventable deaths and shape the post-2015 international development agenda.

Save the Children’s campaign states that 6.3 million children under the age of five die each year. And preventable child deaths are increasingly concentrated in the world’s poorest regions. (more…)

Anti-Christian Persecution: Official Labour Party Response
March 23rd, 2015

For many in our local community Easter is not only a time for reflection and prayer but also an opportunity to contemplate the sacrifices made in the struggle to defend faith.

Good Friday is almost upon us but more than 2000 years later, regrettably, sacrifice is once again a part of daily life for millions of Christians around the world today. Christian persecution is once again filling our headlines, dominating our prayers and weighing down our hearts.

2015 has already been a year of real tragedy and suffering. Only this month, suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore killing 17 people and setting off a cycle of violence across the city. Those murdered included Christians praying at their place of worship, and those brave volunteer security guards that give up their time, and ultimately their lives, to protect their right to do so. (more…)

Europe: FAQs
March 21st, 2015

Why can’t we just have a free-trade relationship?
Britain will always be heavily influenced by whatever happens within the European Union due to our geographical and economic proximity to the continent. It is therefore in our national interest to have a seat at the table when EU policy is determined. The example of Norway is often trumpeted as a country in Europe but not the EU, but what is not mentioned is that Norway has to comply with most EU rules and regulations to trade with it, but has no say in how they are made. It would not be in Britain’s national interest to find ourselves in a similar position.

Surely we could still trade with Europe even if we weren’t in the EU?
It is in Britain’s economic interests to remain within the EU not only because so much of our trade is done with the EU, but because so many international businesses choose to base themselves here because of our unique position as the bridge between Europe, the Commonwealth and America. (more…)

tax dodging
Hitchin and Harpenden needs a better plan and a Labour Budget
March 21st, 2015

This week’s Budget changed nothing for working people here in Hitchin and Harpenden.

George Osborne spent an hour telling people they’ve never had it so good. But after five years of the Tory government, working people are still an average £1,600 a year worse off.

The Tories came into office promising to protect our National Health Service, make people better off and balance the books. But their plan hasn’t worked and the Budget said nothing about the NHS. I’m worried that the NHS as we know it won’t survive five more years of the Tories.

The Tory government started Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts and they ended Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts which go beyond simply balancing the books. (more…)

Reversing Privatisation: Clive Efford MP’s NHS Bill
March 21st, 2015

Labour MP Clive Efford successfully introduced a Bill that will scrap David Cameron’s market framework for the NHS and make sure local NHS patients are always put first. Now the Tory-led government is under pressure to honour this new bill and make sure it is enacted and enforced.

The Tory-led government has forced hospitals to open themselves up to a privatisation agenda which prioritises spending on competition lawyers and tendering exercises instead of on patient care.

The Bill would scrap the rules that force market tendering of services and that are seeing millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers instead of patient care.

1. Section 75 regulations
These are the rules that many doctors say are forcing them to put services out to the market, even if they do not want to, for fear of legal challenge.
Labour oppose these regulations because they risk fragmenting care and are seeing large amounts of money spent on tendering exercises rather than patient care.

  • Freedom of Information requests by the Labour Party show NHS hospitals are now spending in excess of £60 million per year just on tendering exercises / assessing tenders for bids. In addition to this, Clinical Commissioning Groups will also be spending millions on putting services out to tender.
  • In a survey by Health Service Journal, two thirds of commissioners said they had experienced increased commissioning costs as a result of the new regulations (Health Service Journal, 4 April 2014)
  • Last year, the Chief Executive of the NHS said “You’ve got competition lawyers all over the place, causing enormous difficulty…We are getting, in my view, bogged down in a morass of competition law which is causing . . . significant cost in the system” (Sir David Nicholson, Financial Times, 5 November 2013). (more…)
Updated response on TTIP
March 21st, 2015

Thank you for writing to me about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free-trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU.

Labour believes it is right that this important issue is debated in Parliament and I agree that these proposals deserve proper scrutiny at both a UK and EU level.

The Labour Party supports trade agreements which can bring significant benefits through boosting trade and growth, securing and creating jobs, and bringing down costs and extending choice for consumers.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement between the US, the world’s largest economy, and the largest single market, the EU, has the potential to bring significant benefits. Europe and the United States are the UKs’ most important markets today. Indeed, the US is the UK’s biggest export market and likewise the UK economy attracts a significant level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from across the Atlantic. That’s why we support the principles behind these negotiations and recognise that more and better trade is good for the UK. Reducing barriers could for example help our car industry export more vehicles to the US where there are regulations inhibiting this and negotiations could remove. (more…)

PRESS RELEASE: Labour delivers for families
March 21st, 2015
The next Labour government will deliver an additional 50,000 childcare places, and increase paternity leave and pay.
Labour candidate for Hitchin & Harpenden, Rachel Burgin, said the commitment would tackle the shortage of childcare places and give families more choice about how they manage work and care.
“Under the Tories, the cost of childcare has risen by 30 per cent – faster than pay,” Rachel Burgin said.
Emails received on the NHS and Privatization
March 17th, 2015

Below is just a sample of the emails I have been receiving on the NHS and Privatization:

Dear Rt Hon Peter Lilley, John Stocker, Richard Wise, and Rachel Burgin,

Please do not encourage or continue the false  assumption that the private sector can deliver care and disease management more effectively than a publicly owned and governed NHS. Competition is good in defined arenas – essential public utilities and natural monopolies are not those arenas.

For ANY private sector company to out-perform its nationalised equivalent it must be SO FANTASTIC that it can do the “day job” PLUS (more…)

Overseas Aid
Tradecraft Video
March 17th, 2015

This is superb:


Labour’s Announcement on Energy Bills
March 15th, 2015

The energy market isn’t working for working people…

  • Energy bills have increased by over £300 since the last election.
  • The number of families with children who can’t afford to heat their homes is at an all-time high.
  • Limited competition, in a market dominated by 6 companies, and weak regulation has resulted in 3 out of 4 families being overcharged.


Energy companies hike prices when the cost of energy rises but don’t cut them fully when it falls…

  • When wholesale prices rose, energy companies hiked up bills.
  • Over the last year, wholesale energy prices have fallen by an average of 20%, yet the Big 6 have only passed on cuts of 1- 5% on gas bills and nothing on electricity bills.
  •  The consumer group Which? estimates that further cuts of up to 10% in electricity and gas bills are possible this year – saving families up to £2.5bn a year (more…)
NHS Past and Future
March 15th, 2015

NHS staff have suffered under the Tory-led Government, with ministers often trying to blame doctors, nurses and other staff in order to hide their own failings.

Labour would recommit to the Pay Review Body process and we would not renege irresponsibly on the outcomes of the Pay Review Bodies, as the current Tory-led Government has done over the recent 1% pay increase. It was unfair for NHS staff to be singled out in that way; the Pay Review Body had looked carefully at the issue and the Government should not have rejected its advice. Ultimately, if David Cameron hadn’t wasted £3 billion on a reorganisation nobody wanted, the NHS would have a much better financial outlook than it has today. (more…)

Overseas Aid
PRESS RELEASE: Labour Candidate backs life-saving international aid law
March 15th, 2015

Rachel Burgin, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hitchin & Harpenden has backed legislation to enshrine the UK’s commitment to the world’s poorest people in law, completing a course set out by the last Labour government.

On Monday 9 March, Parliament passed a law to guarantee the UK’s promise to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income on international aid – in line with an aspiration first put forward over 40 years ago.

The law nearly failed because the Tories and Lib Dems failed to vote for it in the House of Commons. At the final vote in the House of Commons a group of Tory MPs tabled dozens of wrecking amendments and tried to talk out the bill. The Tory-led Government also failed to put forward this legislation, instead relying on a Private Member’s Bill from a backbench MP to make the 0.7% commitment law. This was despite the fact the commitment to 0.7% was included in both the Lib Dem and the Tory manifestos and in the Coalition Agreement. (more…)

Excessive Teacher Workloads
March 15th, 2015

Since Michael Gove entered office, barely a week has gone by without a review of another examination or national curriculum subject. This has piled on the paperwork and seen the workload of the average primary and secondary classroom teacher increase by nine hours and six hours a week respectively. Labour recognises that the workload issue is one of the greatest killers of progression and commitment in the teaching profession, which is all the more worrying at a time of looming teacher shortages.

So whilst we have some deep concerns about some of the Government’s changes, such as the removal of practical learning from a range of subjects, we think it is important to have a period of stability in what is taught in our schools. In order to promote continuity in the classroom, a Labour government would retain the new primary curriculum and, in the main, continue with the GCSE changes. We would not, however, go ahead with decoupling AS and A Levels, which would leave young people without the opportunity to reach the highest standards and realise their full potential. An end to the relentless change will mean teachers can concentrate on what really matters: their subject knowledge and classroom practice. (more…)

Modern Slavery Bill
March 15th, 2015

No one should be subject to threats, abuse or slavery, but unfortunately too many overseas domestic workers in this country live under these horrendous conditions.

The plight of some overseas domestic workers is simply unacceptable.

I am proud that since 2013 Labour has been working with overseas domestic workers and the charities and campaigners that support them to listen to their experience and seek to force the government to act to untie their visa and stop their suffering.

This work is essential, because as Kalayaan, a charity who work with domestic workers, have found from the (more…)

William Carr
Labour has a better plan to protect pensioners’ living standards
March 12th, 2015

The next Labour government will protect pensioners’ income, introduce new laws to safeguard their retirement savings, keep their energy bills down and improve care for those who are frail or vulnerable.

Older people have been let down by this Government which has worsened their living standards by failing to act against rip-off pension fees or energy bills and slashing funding for social care.

We have taken a difficult decision to restrict Winter Fuel Payments for the very richest older people, the top five per cent with retirement incomes that make them higher rate tax payers.  (more…)

Rachel Burgin Climate Change
PRESS RELEASE: Labour Candidate attends Climate Change Demo
March 8th, 2015

Rachel Burgin attended the “Time to Act ” demonstration in London on Saturday 7th March in order to highlight the problems associated with Climate Change.

The event attracted in excess of 20,000 people from a wide range of backgrounds and political persuasions.

Rachel also attended the pre-demonstration church service at St. Mary Le Strand, organised by Operation Noah.

Rachel said “the issue of Climate Change is much bigger than one political party. I believe it is important that all of us – of whatever political persuasion – who recognize the the importance of addressing these challenges – are prepared to work together to find solutions. (more…)

Answering questions from Redbourn
March 5th, 2015

I have been asked a series of questions for a Redbourn publication. I trust this reassures readers that I don’t duck hard questions and will give direct answers when I think they are appropriate….

What is your current occupation?

Transaction Support Manager at a niche Energy Law Firm in the City that specializes in Renewable Energy projects in Africa.


sustainable farming
Sustainable Farming
March 3rd, 2015

I have received a lot of emails on sustainable farming. My response is below:

I grew up in the countryside – in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire villages – and attended rural schools at both primary and secondary level. As an adult, I also spent some years living in rural Staffordshire and Cumbria – so I fully understand the issues facing our rural communities. In recent years, I have been active in the recently-formed Labour Coast and Country campaign group that seeks to raise the profile of rural issues within the Labour Party.

The Labour Party believes that there are huge challenges facing the food and farming industry. It is clear that we need to produce more food without damaging the natural resources that we all depend on whilst promoting the highest possible animal welfare standards. (more…)

Peter Lilley MP
Peter Lilley and Kazakhstani Human RIghts
March 2nd, 2015

From the Hertfordshire Mercury

An MP who is paid £15,000 a year to advise a repressive regime has been urged to confront it about human rights.

Peter Lilley, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is paid the sum for his advisory work on the Eurasian Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFA), which is funded by the government of Kazakhstan.

The Central-Asian nation has been led by the same man, Nursultan Nazarbayev, since 1989, and has been criticised by Human Rights Watch for cracking down on free speech and torturing prisoners. (more…)

Tuition Fees: Q&A
February 28th, 2015

Is this setting generations off against each other – young vs the old?

  • Not at all – we think we can protect everyday pensioners without doing what this government has done which is to load all the costs onto the young generation.
  • This package is really about dealing with the huge problem of student and taxpayer debt that the Government’s botched tuition fees increase is leading to.
  • Pensioners will be unaffected. This will mean that people who are working and on the top incomes get less generous relief.
  • But they will still be able to save up to £1m and get tax relief on it.


Labour’s Better Approach: fairer for students, fairer for taxpayers
February 28th, 2015

Labour will tackle spiralling student debt by cutting the tuition fee cap from £9,000 to £6,000 for undergraduates from September 2016 and providing additional grants for students from lower-income backgrounds…

  • Cutting the tuition fee cap will reduce graduate debt by nearly £9,000.
  • Labour will also increase student grants by £400, so that the full grant increases from around £3,400 to around £3,800, benefiting all students with a household income up to £42,620. More than half of students will benefit.
  • The grant increase will cost £200 million and be paid for by asking the highest earning graduates to pay more by increasing the interest rate on loans from 3 to 4 per cent for the highest earners.


Speech to sixth formers at St. George’s School, Harpenden
February 28th, 2015

It is great to be here with you at St. George’s School. I have heard so many wonderful things about this place so it is a real privilege to be here.

Thankyou for inviting me, to those who have organised today’s event – and for making me feel so welcome.

I hadn’t realised this school was planted from Keswick – a place very dear to my heart:

“We moved to the strange land of the South. We missed our excursions to the island, and our lake picnics (Lake Derwent Water). Instead of hills to climb and form teas, there were bicycle rides along green lanes, past rich cornfields into lovely villages, and we enjoyed the sometime shocked, but always interested attention, of the Hertfordshire folk who looked upon us no doubt as interesting specimens from the queer educational school up the road.” (more…)

Keir Hardie, the Welsh Miners and my UKIP opponent
February 26th, 2015

My UKIP opponent has asked whether I agree with places being blighted by wind farms and solar panels. This is, of course, a nonsense question. ALL forms of Energy bring with them blight: the question is what sort of blight and which communities get blighted. There’s no point in saying “yes of course we should have Electricity and Heat in our homes, just so long as some other unfortunate community gets to be blighted”. This question matters because when I lived in Cumbria, it was the poor communities who ended up getting blighted with wind farms as the wealthier communities had more influential people on their parish councils. This is where NIMBYism has a callous heart – and where as politicians, we need to show leadership.

But there are solutions. It is possible for a wind farm to be a community asset owned by the parish council for the benefit of local people – both in terms of profits and cheaper – or even free – electricity. Then, a wind farm becomes, not so much a blight on the landscape but a community asset that provides prosperity to local people. (more…)

Rachel Burgin photo 3
PRESS RELEASE: Labour Candidate commits to being a “Fulltime MP”
February 24th, 2015

David Cameron has rejected Ed Miliband’s call for him to follow Labour’s lead in banning MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies.

MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.

Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have already been put on notice that from the coming General Election the Party’s Standing Orders will be changed to prevent them holding such second jobs. (more…)

COMMENT: Labour is the party to tackle Climate Change
February 23rd, 2015

When I introduced myself to Ed Miliband as the Labour PPC for Hitchin & Harpenden, he burst out laughing and replied “so you’re up against a Climate Change denier then?”. So said the former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change who introduced the country’s first ever Climate Change Act in 2008 which committed this country to ambitious Climate Change objectives. And as Prime Minister he has pledged to work for:

  • Ambitious emissions targets for all countries, reviewed every five years, based on a scientific assessment of progress towards the 2C goal.
  • A goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century.
  • Transparent, universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions with all countries adopting climate change adaptation plans.
  • A deal whereby richer countries provide support to poorer nations in their efforts to combat climate change


Ed Miliband on Climate Change
February 22nd, 2015

Christians on the Left standing for Parliament in 2015
February 20th, 2015

This list includes both MPs and candidates who are known to Christians on the Left. There will be others who are not known!

  • Russell Whiting (Suffolk Coastal)
  • David Mellen (Rushcliffe)
  • Darren Paffey (Romsey and Southampton North)
  • Rachel Burgin (Hitchin and Harpenden)
  • Suzy Stride (Harlow)
  • David Drew (Stroud)
  • Nick Bent (Warrington South)
  • Jon Wheale (Burton) (more…)
Some questions for my UKIP opponent
February 20th, 2015

Since my UKIP opponent has asked me a question, I thought I’d ask him some questions to return the favour:

1) You have invited me to join UKIP. Unfortunately I’m banned from joining UKIP because I’m a member of Hope Not Hate – an organisation that helped me keep the BNP off Cumbria County Council. Why does UKIP have a problem with me campaigning against the BNP?

2) What are your views on Peter Lilley MP’s outside interests? Do you think he should have a second job? Why is there nothing on your website about such a central issue in this campaign? (more…)

The European Union
February 20th, 2015

My UKIP opponent has asked for my views on the European Union.

To start off with, I really envy people who are able lie awake at night worrying about Europe. For most of us, the daily grind of earning a living and paying the bills occupies most of our thoughts. It’s been a tough few years as many of us have seen our real incomes fall and the cost of living soar. For those of us priced out of the property market – and in many cases, priced out of affording to save for a private pension – the concept of enjoying financial security is alien to us. (more…)

Labour and Mental Health (2)
February 15th, 2015

Mental health will be a key priority of the next Labour Government, and I am proud that it was Labour who in this Parliament won the vote to introduce ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health into law.

It is critical that people in crisis get the help and support they need regardless of where they turn to for help, whether it’s health services, the police, social care or community organisations. I am delighted that local organisations in Hitchin & Harpenden have come together to sign their own declaration on the action they will take to achieve this and I will support this work in any way that I can. (more…)

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