Welcome to Cheltenham Labour Party


The Labour Party in Cheltenham was founded in 1918 by the Cheltenham and District Trade and Labour Council with the purpose of electing onto the Town Council direct representatives of Labour.

A purpose we still pursue to this day nearly 100 years since the Labour Party first established itself in the town.

The values Labour stands for in Cheltenham today remain those which have guided our local party since those early days.


We believe in and we campaign for:

  • A first-class National Health Service free at the point of use

  • A decent, safe and secure society with a strong sense of community and social justice

  • The protection of public services and support for the most vulnerable

  • A strong and stable economy based on investment, growth and high quality jobs

  • The right to work, to free choice of employment, to protection against unemployment and paid at a living wage

  • The provision of readily available, decent, secure homes to rent and buy at affordable prices

  • An education system that delivers quality and equality for all to allow all the children and young people of our community to achieve their full potential


Latest News . . .

Like many people in the UK, I am proud of the NHS and anxious about its future. My own family has had excellent healthcare, but news headlines emphasise failure and huge strain on the system, both from insufficient funding and from staff leaving due to Brexit. My prior knowledge is limited but I have read 1) that we are spending less on our healthcare than comparable European countries, and 2) that the American privatised system results in far greater spending overall for poorer or similar outcomes. However, it seems that our Government is turning towards American style privatisation rather than to Europe.

The NHS is so large and complex that it is very hard for an outsider to understand what is going on. Which reforms should we be opposing? Which are dangerous and which simply modernisation? Might we lose services without realising the danger?

The one-day conference organised by Stroud Labour Party with Unite and Unison support was very informative about the local and national situation. There were several workshops and strands so I can only report on the ones I attended.

The talks started with David Drew MP and two Union officials talking about the local and national situation. The phrase ‘A deliberate and malicious fragmentation of the NHS’ was used, and the implications of the plan to put 750 local NHS workers into a new company was put into context. The lack of transparency and public consultation was highlighted. Apparently this is happening in many areas as well as Gloucestershire, though some places have ruled it out. It seems to be partly a way of reducing tax (odd for a tax-funded body) and partly for staffing and pensions savings later on. Documents also refer to ‘greater operational efficiency’ but offer no convincing detail on why. It also seemed to be against civil service advice.

A campaigner for healthcare in rural areas said that people’s health is hugely affected by lack of access. With small community hospitals targeted for closure, A&E departments being consolidated further away from many, and public transport appallingly reduced, the people who need the care most are the least likely to be able to get to hospital and follow-up clinics quickly. As a consequence, asthma, diabetes and heart attacks all have worse outcomes in rural areas. We should not accept this on the grounds that not many people are affected: we are a prosperous enough country to be providing good care everywhere and we should be addressing these issues.

A Health Visitor said that while people do generally try to take responsibility for their family’s health, many children are living in poverty and under stress, in substandard or temporary accommodation, with increasing rents and reduced state support. All this makes providing a stable nurturing environment very hard. There is research to show that early support and intervention has the best effect on children’s health and achievements, but 350 Sure Start Children's Centres had closed by last January.

This all implied that the whole system is under huge stress and it will be hard to lessen the burden by focussing on the NHS alone: improvements to housing and transport are vital considerations.

A local NHS consultant spoke, showing the difference in funding under Labour and Conservative governments, she said that there have been many headlines about A&E failures but in her experience it is working pretty well. However, it is often at A&E that other stresses become apparent. She compared the situation with a plumbing crisis, saying “where the water sprays out is not always where the original problem is”. She also said that she didn’t think people were using A&E inappropriately (as the papers allege), as she rarely sees someone who shouldn’t be there. She says the NHS does need to adapt to stay effective and not every reform is bad. Attempts to blame the ageing population for overuse of resources is ridiculous, given that we’ve done censuses since 1911 and this should have been planned for.

Several people said that we need a positive approach. Too much gloom makes people give up and feel they have no chance of changing anything. It’s important not simply to oppose but to show what we can achieve.

The afternoon keynote speaker was Professor Wendy Savage, the president of ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ https://keepournhspublic.com/ which looks like a very useful resource for information on the implications of current plans.

Another speaker, Caroline Molloy from OurNHS, https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/caroline-molloy talked about attempts to blame groups for overusing the NHS, including migrants, smokers, and people who are overweight or elderly – and showed statistics undermining these deliberately divisive claims.

For the last workshop of the day, I chose the Unions one, ‘Engaging Health Workers in the Unions to save the NHS’ and found it very interesting. Someone said that a report on Union membership was titled ‘Smaller and Older’ and what can be done? When I started work, joining the union was a matter of course, union reps spoke as part of the induction process, but when younger people I know started work, unions were not mentioned at all. (Material for a different blog post there!)

Overall it was an excellent, informative day and I really congratulate Stroud CLP for organising it.

(I’ve written up summaries of the talks I attended as I understood them, please do get in touch if you spot any inaccuracy.)

“What’s Happening to The NHS?” - report from the Stroud NHS conference 24th February 2018

Like many people in the UK, I am proud of the NHS and anxious about its future. My own family has had excellent healthcare, but news headlines emphasise failure and...

Banner - Cheltenham Womens Freedom league

One hundred years ago, the efforts of countless women over generations to win their democratic rights as citizens of the United Kingdom came to fruition with the passing of two Acts of Parliament.

February 2018 sees the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which finally gave women the vote. Similarly, in November of 1918 the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women to stand as Members of Parliament for the first time. These new rights were first used on 14th December 1918 when 8.5 million women became eligible to vote.

Decades of hard labour in Victorian mills and mines as well as the munitions factories of the First World War gave women a vital economic standpoint from which to argue that they should be able to vote. However, despite women proving themselves time and again to be responsible and steadfast citizens, it wasn’t until the launch of a spirited and relentless political campaign that their democratic rights were finally achieved. The campaign was led by the twin movements of the Suffragettes and Suffragists. Although these groups used different methods to achieve their aims, there is no doubt that together their campaigns provided a powerful voice for many women.

The Suffragettes - led by Emmeline Pankhurst - focused on direct actions such as chaining themselves to the railings of the Houses of Parliament. These tactics would later be replicated by other women's political movements such as the protest at Greenham Common. The Suffragists, by contrast, adopted a more traditional approach by utilising tactics such as petitioning and lobbying Members of Parliament. Nonetheless both groups were united by a common sentiment best expressed by Pankhurst’s rallying cry: ‘I would rather be a rebel than a slave’.

Whilst we should celebrate the achievements of these women, it must be remembered that the legislation passed in 1918 only ‘gave’ the vote to women over the age of 30, and only then if they or their husbands met the property qualifications stipulated. Women had to wait another 10 years to achieve the vote on an equal basis with men.

Women’s suffrage was not a new or unusual phenomenon. Mary Wollstonecraft had argued for equal rights in her work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792, and all through the 19th century women were active in campaigning for parliamentary reform, most notably as part of the great Chartist actions of the 1840s. This grass roots activism kept the issue of female suffrage alive despite the Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884 rejecting the proposal.

It wasn’t until the United Kingdom’s male-dominated political establishment was challenged by the creation of the Labour Party in 1900 that the issue of female suffrage became much more urgent. The Labour Party was in favour of women’s suffrage from its beginning, with both Keir Hardie and George Lansbury being strong supporters.

At the turn of the century, the campaign to win the vote for women was launched with passion, capitalising on the changes then occurring in society. The issue of female emancipation was rarely out of the public eye - especially when many countries had already given women the vote, starting with New Zealand in 1893.

Faced with opposition from powerful figures in the UK government, a private members’ bill to give women the vote was heavily defeated in 1907. This proved that however logical the case for female suffrage, a far more dramatic change of thought was required within the dominant political parties of the time to get such a bill passed. It would take the sacrifice of many, both on and off the battlefield, to alter a nation’s views.

'Cheltenham's First Labour Candidate Florence Widowson

In 1918, the newly formed Cheltenham Labour Party elected five women to senior positions on its new working committee. Well before the era of women-only short lists, the Cheltenham Labour Party supported women to become parliamentary candidates. Prominent among these were Florence Widdowson (its very first candidate in 1928) and Elizabeth Pakenham. This trend has continued throughout the party’s 100-year history with five women candidates standing for the town.

We should be rightly proud of these achievements in the realm of women’s suffrage, and celebrate those who helped build the more egalitarian society we have today.

Women’s Suffrage 2018

One hundred years ago, the efforts of countless women over generations to win their democratic rights as citizens of the United Kingdom came to fruition with the passing of two...

The United Nations was established in 1945 after World War Two to try to stop such a war from ever happening again. Its Charter says the objectives are to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations amongst nations, to eliminate poverty and to protect human rights.

Peacekeeping is one of the most important functions of the United Nations. There are 15 ongoing operations across the globe. They have to be authorised by the UN Security Council (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France).

Unfortunately, several US presidents (Nixon, George W. Bush, probably Trump) have been contemptuous of the United Nations. They have preferred to rely on US military strength. The Russians have been no better, exerting their veto when it suited them.

Nor have UN operations always had successful outcomes. And sometimes UN peacekeepers – the ‘Blue Helmets’, drawn from many contributing countries – have behaved badly themselves.  

Nevertheless, the presence of UN peacekeeping troops has generally helped to calm situations. Peacekeeping can only take place with the consent of parties involved in a conflict. The UN is not equipped to put down high-intensity fighting.

Some UN operations have been literally to keep warring parties apart in conflicts between states or in civil wars. Other missions have been more sophisticated. For example, the war in Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians happened nearly twenty years ago yet there is still simmering tension in the region. UN police and civilians are helping to keep a lid on things.

On the other side of the world, Haiti has a history of poverty, political instability and natural disasters. A current UN operation aims to improve its justice system and its prisons and to protect the human rights of ordinary people.

The United Nations Association UNA-UK is an independent organisation which exists to support the United Nations itself; to encourage Britain to back UN operations; to advocate dialogue not warfare; and to trumpet the many useful activities which the UN carries out, not just peacekeeping.

For more information and to join UNA-UK, please consult their website www.una.org.uk.

David G Evans.


(Article originally published in the Gloucestershire Echo 18/01/2018)

United Nations peacekeeping operations

The United Nations was established in 1945 after World War Two to try to stop such a war from ever happening again. Its Charter says the objectives are to maintain...

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.