Richard Willis's Blog

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BREAKING NEWS: Reading Labour Select Millionaire Outsider to Contest West

Victoria GroulefMy sources tell me that at their Parliamentary selection Reading and District Labour Party have selected another outsider to contest the Reading West seat at the next General Election expected in 2015. This time however they have not gone for a part-time teacher from London but a millionairess from Buckinghamshire!

The Party considered three candidates from an all-woman short-list which included former Reading Borough Councillor Deborah Watson, Wycombe Councillor Victoria Groulef and Christine Quigley. They have chosen Cllr Victoria Groulef who is Labour Group Leader (Group of 7) and lives in a million pound house in Bourne End in Buckinghamshire. She is married to John and has two young children.

Her Council declaration of interests include a couple of small businesses and a property company. Outside of her Councillor duties she runs a lingerie company for which she was interviewed in 2010 and posed for photographs.

After Labour’s disastrous selection of London Councillor Naz Sarkar at the last General Election many people expected Labour to chose a local candidate this time. In Deborah Watson they had a local choice but once again have chosen an outsider to face the very local Conservative MP Alok Sharma.


December 2, 2012 - Posted by | Local


  1. I’d rather they had chosen a local but I wish Cllr Victoria Groulef all the best and i am likely to vote for them.

    Comment by Steve Foley | December 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. My hugely confident prediction is that she will win at a canter.

    Comment by Phil the Greek | December 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Richard, you are in danger of becoming a parody of yourself, get a grip. Coming from a party which is replete with Millionaires such as Cameron and Osborne, and has cut the top rate of Income Tax w.e.f. next April to 45% helping that group out yet has put VAT up to 20% , and which is hurting the most vulnerable in Society by the Cuts then that is a bit rich, pun fully intended.

      I do not know if Victoria Groulef is a self made millionaire or has inherited her money or married into it and to be honest I don’t care. Also since when has the nearby County of Bucks and the town of High Wycombe, only a short drive away from Reading, been the far flung reaches of the globe? I am surprised and disappointed by the xenophobic aspect of your post.

      All this has done is to convince me to vote for Victoria Groulef at the next General Election, By all means challenge her on her own and her party’s policies but it is unworthy of you to attack her for either being a millionaire or a High Wycombe Councillor.

      Comment by Steve Foley | December 3, 2012 | Reply

      • Steve – you need to sit down with a towel on your head!! 🙂

        Conservatives welcome people who are successful and create jobs for others through their enterprise. I have certainly not “attacked” Groulef for being wealthy, whether self made, inherited, or married into. It is the Labour hypocrites who do the attacking of “the rich” and “millionaires” and then they select one to represent them in Reading! Do you not see the irony and the hypocrisy?

        Labour had a choice of a local woman who has been a Borough Councillor to seek to represent Reading people but they chose someone who does not live in Reading, use our shops, libraries, schools, roads, or pay Council Tax here. No wonder some Labour members are reportedly upset at the outcome!

        At the next General Election people in Reading West will have a clear choice between Conservative Alok Sharma, who lives in Reading and grew up here, and a Labour candidate who may occasionally visit in her Aston Martin. You have clearly made your choice, and that is your right, but remember that the only time Labour has recently won Reading East and West was when they selected local candidates (just as Rob Wilson and Alok Sharma were and are local).

        Comment by Richard Willis | December 3, 2012

      • I’ll leave my towels in the cupboard for the while. Were Somerville Hastings, Mikardo and McKay local Reading Men although John Lee did attend Reading School. I didn’t think Peter Emery was either, nor Freddy Bennett nor were Tony Durant nor Gerry Vaughan although I know that Tony did move into Reading after he became the MP.

        I did hope that the lady who used to be my Local Councillor here in Minster Ward would get the nomination but am quite content with Victoria Groulef who lives but a short distance away be that by Aston Martin or local bus.

        Do I detect the smell of fear in the Tory Camp?

        Comment by Steve Foley | December 3, 2012

      • No fear! Just amazement that Labour did not learn the lessons from the last candidate they imported to Reading West!

        Comment by Richard Willis | December 3, 2012

      • You know better than that Richard! Sarkar was parachuted in at the last moment to try to hold a seat where there was no hope and with the tide running against his party. Despite your trying to make a big issue out of the non-issue of her being a High Wycombe Councillor, (Durant was on Woking Council and Vaughan was a London Alderman before becoming Reading MPs) Victoria Groulef has until the Spring of 2015 to campaign, fight and win Reading West. I am sure Alok Sharma will find a worthy adversary in her. BTW I can’t recall but was the Cameron (no not THAT one) who stood in Reading West in 2005 a local man? I think he was a Jock from Glasgow unless I am mistaken.

        Comment by Steve Foley | December 3, 2012

  3. While it is certainly true that no-one with a social conscience joins the tory party, having money doesn’t necessarily relieve a person of their social conscience. As far as I know labour welcomes members irrespective of the size of their bank balance.

    Comment by Welwyn Dowd | December 4, 2012 | Reply

    • The Tories are running scared of losing Reading West hebce the petty attack. Having wealth is no sin and many wealthy people are philanthropic. It is what one does with the wealth and one’s attitude to those who are poor that counts.

      There is plenty of Labour’s ideological baggage I dislike but I think Richard has convinced me to vote for Victoria Groulef in 2015

      Comment by steve foley | December 4, 2012 | Reply

  4. Rob Wilson was born in Wallingford which is NOT Reading and not even Berkshire. Therefore he is not local.

    Comment by Phil the Greek | December 4, 2012 | Reply

    • You silly man! When Rob Wilson was born there it WAS in Berkshire!!!

      Rob studied at Reading Uni and then made Reading his home. So by the time he stood for Parliament he had lived here for years, had his kids in local schools and was a Reading Borough Councillor. He was/is as local as the majority of Reading residents.

      Comment by Richard Willis | December 4, 2012 | Reply

  5. Steve ………I just love the comment about the tax cut to 45% helping out the millionaires. Would you like to confirm that the tax for this group was 40% for virtually all of Labour’s 13 years in office? And that it was only put up to 50% when Labour realised that they wouldn’t win the next election? And that the plan was to keep bleating on about this for ever more even though they know it was a political hand grenade lobbed at their opponents by a government with little left to lose?
    I read an article the other day that quoted an HMRC report showing that when the rate jumped to 50% the total tax claimed from people that earned over a million pounds actuallly halved.
    What this government ought to do, and do properly, is to make sure that they close the tax loopholes that allow big companies to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK. That would really make a difference. The last government did nothing about this and the current one seems little better!

    Comment by Howard Thomas | December 8, 2012 | Reply

    • I agree with what you say as regards the 50% tax rate for those who can afford it only coming in late in the Labour Government but I still consider it to be fully justified. If they can cut Benefits or make them more difficult to obtain, if they can hike VAT up to 20% then the well-heeled should pay 50% on their top slice but I could see a pint in increasing the threshold thereof.

      I am with you on cracking down on Tax Avoidance and Evasion especially by big companies who make the profit here but use accounting contrivances such as Transfer Pricing to reduce their tax bill.

      Comment by Steve Foley | December 8, 2012 | Reply

      • Steve – I broadly agree with you but the 50% rate was purely a political ploy from Labour in the dying days of their administration. There is growing evidence that it has raised no additional revenuew and may in fact have driven some people to push their assets (legally) overseas to avoid this higher rate. Osborne’s reduction to 45% is a pragmatic compromise which leaves a higher rate in effect than prevailed throughout Labour’s time in office!

        Comment by Richard Willis | December 8, 2012

      • I might accept this if Osborne cut VAT back to 17.5% or perhaps had two rates, say 15% for essentials and even 22.5% for luxuries. Thus a PC or a Digital Camera would have 22.5% VAT but a Washing Machine or a Cooker for example would only have VAT at 15%. As for Tax Avoidance this to me is morally as bad as Tax Evasion and the onus should be on the Tax Avoider to prove the legality of their action to HMRC and not the other way round. Receive the pay or make the profit in the UK then pay our taxes!

        Comment by Steve Foley | December 8, 2012

      • Steve – one things Osborne has not done enough of is simplifying the tax system. Under Gordon Brown it became horrendously complicated and some of the suggestions (such as two rates of VAT) would make it more complicated. That is one reason why I would be against a married couples tax allowance. We should be removing many of the loopholes and allowances and reducing the main rates as far as possible. That is the way to an efficient system and less (legal) avoidance!

        Comment by Richard Willis | December 8, 2012

      • As regards the Tax System I disagree with you and would rather have a flexible Tax System with enhanced granularity for VAT, not necessarily a simpler one. I want BETTER Government not Smaller Government.

        I also prefer Taxes on Income or Profit and NOT on Sales or Property,. Two rates, or more, of VAT would not only help those who are poorer by there paying less for essentials which are not exempt nor Zero Rated but could help stimulate a Retail led recovery from our current economic depression.

        Comment by Steve Foley | December 8, 2012

  6. A quick Internet search shows that she and her husband bought the house in 2004 for well over £600,000, which if you add house price inflation easily makes it about £1m now.

    No crime to be wealthy but let’s hope she doesn’t do the usual Labour trick of pretending to be “one of the workers”.

    Comment by Paul | December 8, 2012 | Reply

    • Paul – true! All the statements I made were carefully checked and I agree with your last sentence. Time will tell!

      Comment by Richard Willis | December 8, 2012 | Reply

    • I feel that Victoria will not “Dumb Down” nor play the Prole (or should that be Pleb?).

      Unlike the hapless chap that labour fielded in 2010, I feel that she is playing to win Reading West in 2015 so I can’t see her making such a mistake.

      Comment by Steve Foley | December 8, 2012 | Reply

  7. Steve……Very much agreed that taxation should be on income and profit and not on property. Sales might be argued as justified though, Taxation has to come from somewhere after all.
    However property taxes like council tax are basically unfair as they don’t take into account a household’s ability,or not, to pay. Its quite absurd that one property is expected to pay xxx on an income of £20,000 while the identical property next door pays the same amount on an income of £80,000. That can never be right or fair. Income tax is the fairest way to raise taxation and it automatically takes account of such unforseen events such as illness or injury during which period council tax is still expected to be paid. There is also the cost of collecting council tax to consider which in this town is circa £3million which includes the absurd idea of the council tax benefit system which exists purely to assist those who are presented with a tax bill for which they have insufficient money.
    However I believe there is an outstanding case for taxing second homes at a level which might discourage people from keeping properties to be used only occasionally when there are many who need somewhere to live. Similarly properties deliberately left empty as they have been in the not too distant past while developers wait for the price to rise should be taxed at whatever level prevents this. During the property ‘boom’ under the last government developers were keeping flats empty in large numbers while waiting lists for housing grew ever longer. That cannot be right!
    Going back to the story, I can’t help thinking that Ms Groulef might need to brush up on such local info such as the meaning of IDR !

    Comment by Howard Thomas | December 8, 2012 | Reply

    • We would seem to have more in common on Taxation than I would have thought. .

      Of course the problem with the much detested Poll Tax was that it was a flat rate as I remember and the person in a grotty bedsit in Zinzan Street would pay the same as one in Caversham Heights.

      As to the IDR and other Reading names etc, I would think that Victoria Groulef will be given a grand tour of Reading West and be well appraised of such local, names etc.

      As I have previously remarked I would see Rob Wilson holding Reading East no doubt with a reduced majority but Reading West could be the far more interesting contest.

      Comment by Steve Foley | December 8, 2012 | Reply

  8. As regards taxation which is avoided by big companies, it might be interesting to look at the Starbucks scenario. They have now decided to ‘open negotiations’ with HMRC about their tax avoidance. I read somewhere that their ‘popularity’ rating ( for want of a better word) with the public has taken a bit hit since they were exposed as tax avoiders and they clearly need to improve their image. Naming and shaming would seem to help, but tough tax avoidance laws must surely be the answer. After all Starbucks customers can but their coffee elsewhere, but Thames Water customers have no such choice.
    If big companies paid had to pay their proper share of taxation the whole economicic situation in the UK would be looking much brighter.

    Comment by Howard Thomas | December 9, 2012 | Reply

    • Howard, I agree with you in this 100%

      Comment by Steve Foley | December 9, 2012 | Reply

  9. I have met personally both Alok and Victoria. They are both ‘good’ candidates. Both articulate, both personable.Mr Well-Balanced Versus Mrs Bubbly. Reading West depends on where the Lib-Dem vote goes – if at all. Reading has had a ‘good’ recession with very low rates of unemployment. That may help the Tories. Victoria is certainly ‘pumping’ the flesh (hand-shakes all round the constituency) recently. This is good for Democracy. Both candidates will be very keen to ‘help’ local constituents for the next 2 years.

    Comment by Tony Pearce | December 8, 2013 | Reply

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