Labour Councillors Appalled by CEO Offer to Spin Facts

Today the Labour Cllr M. Ali has written to Peter Briant, Woking Borough Council’s Compliance Officer and Chief Solicitor, demanding that a formal investigation is undertaken following the comments made by Ray Morgan, Woking Borough Councils’s CEO and Returning Officer, in a recently published email.

Woking Labour (CLP) fully supports the call by Cllr Ali and echo’s his shock and distress at the apparent bias shown towards the Conservative Party by Mr Morgan. We are equally appalled by the derogatory tone that the CEO uses when referring to a member of the public for simply exercising her democratic right to question the escalating Tory spending in the town.

Cllr M. Ali says –

I am appalled to see that the CEO and Returning Officer Ray Morgan is apparently unable to remain neutral. Clearly, he has strong opinions against some candidates and even members of the public. It seems to me he has forgotten that we live in a democracy where we represent the will of the public and the CEO must implement that will without bias. I also find the fact that Mr Morgan used such a demeaning tone towards a resident really disconcerting.

I hope the leader of the council, Cllr Bittleston will take this as seriously as it deserves. The email does not implicate him so I hope he will take this opportunity to stand up for the public he represents. This is not the first time that the Ray Morgan has stepped outside his role. Mr Morgan has previously spent significant amounts of Council funds without the Council’s permission showing total disregard for the public and their representatives. That issue was never satisfactorily resolved, I hope that this time the Conservatives have the moral courage to do the right thing and call for an investigation into Mr Morgans comments.”

Please find the full text of the letter sent to Peter Briant below.

Mr P Briant
Woking Borough Council
Civic Offices
Gloucester Square
GU21 6YL

Dear Mr Briant,

In an email recently published in a local paper the Chief Executive Officer, Ray Morgan, makes statements which warrant immediate formal investigation. We are very concerned by both the tone and content of the
message sent to the Conservative Leader, David Bittleston. It is disconcerting and disappointing to note the tone of the comments relating to a Woking Constituent, whose best interest the authority is supposed to
serve. I call for an immediate investigation of the following points:

1. Mr Morgans offer to spin the facts for Conservative gain
In the email, the CEO offers a ‘positive explanation’ of the council’s actions for use ‘politically in election material’. Mr Morgan in his role as CEO and Returning Officer (RO) is required to remain politically neutral.
This requirement has clearly been breached as this email reads more like that of a Tory spin doctor than a senior council official. It is the CEO’s responsibility to provide undoctored information, not manipulate the
facts and Mr Morgans seeming willingness to do so is hugely concerning.

2. Apparent political bias
The CEO’s comment relating to former candidate and member of UKIP, Mr Shatwell, clearly indicates a personal bias and political opinion. As the RO Mr Morgan should not be expressing such views about political candidates. His role requires that he remain neutral and to conduct free, fair and impartial elections.

3. Disrespectful and dismissive attitude towards a constituent
Mr Morgan’s comment that the constituent who wrote the original email ‘will not go away’ shows a shocking lack of respect for members of the public whose opinions appear to be contrary to Mr Morgans own. In a democratic society, we value diverse opinions, welcome discussion and debate, and do not disparage members of public for expressing their point of view. The Victoria Square development which sparked this email exchange remains a source of huge concern with even members of council questioning the vast sums of public money pouring into the project. The
constituent that raised their concerns regarding this had a democratic right to do so, without facing disrespectful comments from the CEO.

This is not the first instance of Mr Morgan using derogatory and demeaning language towards a member of the public but I sincerely hope that it will be the last. The residents of Woking and the position of CEO both deserve far greater respect than Mr Morgan is showing them a present.

I await your response.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr M. Ali


Nigel Beard

It is with sadness that we have to report that Nigel Beard has died after some years in a nursing home. Nigel was a longstanding member of ours and came to local events with Jennie whenever they could. He had been the MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and lived in Pyrford.
Nigel was a staunch defender of standards in the party and quick to comment whenever we looked like going off the rails, and both he and Jennie often signed nominations for our candidates too. He will be greatly missed.

Election results show Labour progress in Woking

Fiona at Woking Station

In the June 8th General Election, our Parliamentary candidate Fiona Colley significantly raised the Labour share of the vote in Woking, from 16% to 23.8%. We would like to thank her for her consistent and cheerful leadership during the campaign and for her clarity of contributions and ready responses at the hustings on June 1st at the HG Wells Conference Centre.

The count also took place at the HG Wells, and while we fortified ourselves at the bar swapping news about the exit polls the boxes began to arrive from the polling stations at 10.15pm. The exit polls were showing Labour much higher than expected against the Tories and turned out later to be uncannily accurate.

The Conservative Jonathan Lord came in with 29,903 (29,199 in 2015), Fiona second with 13,179 (the Labour share was just 8,389 in ’15), Lib Dem’s Will Forster 9,711 (6,047), Ukip 1,161 (5,873), and the others far behind. The turnout was 72%, with young voter turnout massively greater than before. If more young voters understood how their votes can influence the policy-makers on issues affecting them they would make sure they got registered and voted. The count finished at around 4am, more like the old days when the count always took place on the same day as the vote, and finished in the wee small hours with the sky getting light and the birds waking up.

In spite of the short notice given of the election we managed to have canvassing on several Saturday mornings and afternoons, on Sunday afternoons and, in the last two weeks, nightly canvassing from 6.30 until the light was fading. Our Newsflashes and social media produced a higher level of new support than in previous years, and new and old supporters also offered to help with leaflet deliveries. Four members also went over last Friday to canvass in Slough and three to Brentford and Isleworth for the Get-Out-The-Vote on polling day as both were marginals. Both were won comfortably by Labour.

On the campaign trail: (l to r) Hassan Shah, Fiona Colley, Patrick Lonergan, Chris Martin, Liz Evans
Looking ahead to the 2018 borough elections next May, this result gives Labour a good platform for raising our vote. Jeremy Corbyn has confounded the critics and much of the uncertainty we met on the doorstep will have gone. We found a great deal of support for Labour values and the Labour manifesto and if more of the Labour parliamentary party can support Corbyn now, the vote should rise even further in Woking. We need our members and supporters to give more help with canvassing, delivering, street stalls and demos around the local issues we are working on.

Join in with the debates at our meetings every month (except August). Street stalls will be running on Saturdays from 11–2 in the town centre and we need your help. Canvassing will be stepped up from September onwards and is the best way to win votes. It is enjoyable and not difficult at all so long as you like people! Don’t stop now. Let this election be the template from now on and keep the momentum going. All dates and details will be on the Newsflashes, website and social media – so just turn up.

Disappointing result in SCC election

In one of the hardest fought campaigns in recent memory, our candidate for Woking North in the Surrey County Council election, Mohammed Sakhawat Khan, gained 1666 votes but lost by 247. The seat was one of many potential Labour seats lost across the country, an outcome mainly of the UKIP vote merging with the Tory vote.

Thank you to Sakhawat for leading from the front so well, and also to our other stalwart candidates in the seven County seats.

Labour Conference

The annual Labour Party Conference takes place this year in Brighton from September 24th-27th. Papers can be downloaded from the National Policy Forum web page.

If you would like to be the Conference 2017 delegate for Woking CLP please contact our Chair, Sabir Hussain, on 07887 553716 as soon as possible. The closing date is June 23rd. The conference fee is free and some contribution towards accommodation can be made from constituency funds. It is advisable to find somewhere to stay early as the best cheap ones go quickly. Lists can be obtained from the Conference Arrangements Committee.

Could you be a Councillor?

Woking Council is currently looking ahead to the 2018 Borough elections, and advertising their annual ‘Could you be a Councillor?’ event.

This year, the event has been brought forward to be held on Saturday June 10 at 11.30am in the Skylight Room at Christ Church, Jubilee Square, Woking. If you would like to go, please contact the Council’s Election Officer Charlotte Griffiths on

New guidance documents from Labour

The Labour Party has issued some new guidance documents on the safeguarding of young people and two additional notes which deal with the general behaviour of party members and the use of social media. They are designed to ensure the Labour Party is a safe and welcoming place for all our members and supporters, where the contribution of all is valued and the abuse of anyone is unacceptable.

Copies can be downloaded from this site:

Members’ Pledge
Safeguarding Code of Conduct
Labour Social Media Policy
Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

Jo Cox MP

Jo Cox MP
Jo Cox MP
Woking Labour stands with all who care about democracy and humanity in mourning the loss of our sister Jo Cox MP. We remember her life’s work which was committed to those core values. Jo was an ardent defender of human rights and an internationalist, to her, humanity saw no borders. Today we mourn her loss but tomorrow we will continue her quest to try our best to develop a world which values every human being, a world which sees no colour, a world free from destitution and a world which challenges bigotry. We send condolences to the family of Jo Cox MP and to her friends at this dreadful time and we hope they find some solace in the love and solidarity of millions in our nation who have shown their support.
Barry Faulkner, Chair, Woking Labour

Vicki Kirby

Woking Labour has been in the media spotlight over the past few days as a result of allegations made against our vice chair Vicki Kirby. The matter has been discussed in the Labour Party at a national level and as a result the National Chair of the party, Ian McNicol, has suspended Ms Kirby pending a full investigation. At this point we feel as a local party it would be inappropriate to comment further as we do not wish to interfere with any ongoing investigation or prejudice the outcome.