John’s Monthly Newsletter April 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Andy McDonald’s fundraising dinner 1st
I visited Andy McDonald MP’s constituency in Middlesbrough and spoke at his fundraising dinner. About 200 people attended and raised lots of funds for the labour party and its campaigning activities in the area. This is my second visit to this area as I was up there a few months ago to meet with the workers who have been laid off at Redcar in the steel industry. It was sad to meet them again. Andy McDonald as the Local constituency PM worked incredibly hard to try to ensure that steel making is preserved in Teesside. Unfortunately the government refused to assist and intervene so that the plant is now being closed down including the glass furness. Andy has been working with the local community to secure further industrial investment within the constituency and within Teesside itself. Really exciting speeches by the local PCC Candidate as well as local councillors. I really enjoyed the event.
Momentum Black Connections Birmingham 2nd
I attended the launch of momentum Black Connections which is a group of Black and Minority Ethnic people coming together within the Labour Party to campaign on equalities issues. Interesting discussion about the policies that needs to be adopted by Labour on equality when we get back into Government.
Marr Programme 3rd
I was interviewed by Andrew Marr to discuss the issues facing the economy and in particular the failure by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to invest in the long term growth of the economy and the halting nature of our economic growth at the moment.
Andrew raised questions on the European Union about the fragile nature of the UK economy and the impact leaving the EU will have on jobs and long term investment. I explained that as soon as the local election campaign and Mayoral campaign are over on May 5th we will be relaunching our European Campaign. Jeremy Corbyn and I will be going on the Stomp around the Country arguing for us to remain within Europe but with our own reform agenda, a more open and transparent brand of Europe. One that’s committed to a social programme of worker’s rights, tackling climate change and also tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance by Corporations and rich people.
Andrew also questioned me about the Panama scandal which leaked information about the role of British Banks and the City of London and Companies and Trusts based in Tax Havens on an industrial scale.
Harlington Hospice Trustees Meeting 4th
I attended the Harlington Hospice Trustees meeting to discuss the continuing role that Harlington Hospice plays within the community. With our new Chief Executive Steve Curry the Hospice is going from strength to strength, working with the health service and Local Authority to provide a ‘Hospice at Home’ for people who wish to spend their last days and weeks at home and providing support to their families. The Hospice is also working on other projects including the Lymphedema surgery as well as the advice sessions we provide for the families. We are also developing support for young people who are faced with terminal illness within their families.
Clover Health Network at Beck Theatre 5th
The Clover Health Network brings together the Local GPs to plan the development of local health services. At this meeting we discussed the development of improvements to the service for people with Diabetes and also campaigns to prevent Diabetes. A number of years ago I undertook a seminar which brought local people together with GPs, local restaurateurs and those who cook in the local churches, Mosques and Gurdwaras to encourage healthy eating. I volunteered to undertake another one of those seminars in the coming months as part of the campaign to tackle the rising numbers of people suffering from diabetes in our local area.
Stop Heathrow Expansion
I attended the Stop Heathrow Expansion meeting. We are doing a range of public meetings right the way across the constituency to explain to people the implications of a third runway if it is agreed by the Government to go ahead at Heathrow. We are expecting the decision either in July or at the latest early September. The Government at the moment is consulting still, having published an airport commission report recommending either Gatwick or Heathrow. If it’s Heathrow we will explain in the public meeting the loss of 4000 homes, 10,000 people losing their homes, the demolition of local schools and community centres as well as the impact on air pollution and noise which will result in rising levels or morbidity within our community. At every meeting there is 100% opposition to the development at Heathrow Airport and agreement that if the Government is determined to go ahead with the third runway we will be seeking legal action to prevent it as well as direct action campaigning to ensure we protect our local environment.
Street Stall with Junior Doctors 6th
We organised a street stall in Hayes Town Centre in solidarity with the junior doctors, giving out leaflets outlining the facts surrounding the dispute. Onkar Sahota the GLA candidate came along as well to show his support. The day was concluded with a 7pm Meeting at the Labour Hall in Pump Lane. The junior Doctors received overwhelming support as they explained the dispute to a huge turnout of members.
I spent the afternoon in Bristol supporting Labour’s exceptional candidate for Mayor Marvin Rees. Whilst visiting The Housing Campaign Group ACORN Marvin pledged that he would set up an Ethical Letting Charter to support landlords who offer a fair deal based on security of tenure, quality of property & rent prices.
This was followed by another extremely successful ‘New Economic Lecture’ –“ Framing the economic narrative" with Simon Wren-Lewis and Ann Pettifor. Approximately 250 people attended and participated in the question and answer session.
Building Bloqs 8th
I visited Building Bloqs in Edmonton North London to discuss entrepreneurship and open workshops. Building Bloqs is London’s largest open access workshop which offers professional machines and equipment, affordable access and a diverse community of makers.
The workshop offers over 8000 ft2 of floor space, with a central courtyard of fabrication bays, machines for woodwork and metalwork, a shop for tool hire and consumables, spray booth, laser cutter, loading bay and storage units.
There are 27 workstations on the floor, available in 12m2 and 7.5m2, with 240 and 3 phase power available and compressed air supply. Access to the workshop is purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Sheffield Northern Powerhouse or Poorhouse 9th
I was heartened to see Hundreds of people joining the march from Devonshire Green to the City Hall at Sheffield’s anti austerity rally. I was joined on the platform by General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union Mark Serwotka, Junior doctor Will Sapwell and UNITE steel officer Bev Clarkson. In addressing the rally I criticised the Government for its reaction to the steel crisis, health and education policies, the decision to close Sheffield’s department for business, skills and innovation office, which is seen as central to the ‘northern powerhouse’ project and the recent revelations about offshore tax havens. “I demand that Sheffield now puts its mark still further on history and becomes one of the leading centres of resistance in this country to the Government. “It needs a northern powerhouse of resistance, and I think you are it.”
Tamil Business Forum
I attended the Tamil Business Forum. A large number of local businesses developed by the Tamil Community who are making a major contribution to our local economy and demonstrating the industrious nature of the Tamil People themselves.
Steel Round Table meeting 11th
I attended a very productive meeting about the future of the steel industry with constituency MPs and unions.
ASLEF Executive Committee 13th
I attended the ASLEF EC to talk about the long term economic policies of an incoming Labour government and received overwhelming support from the Union for the plans that we have for investment.
Christians on the left
I spoke at Christians on the left event which was part of The Tawney Dialogue in Westminster Central Hall. In addressing the theme of ‘Economics for the common good’ I set out Labour’s economic thinking, in that we want to win the argument not just that what we are doing is morally right. We need to win the argument that we have the best solutions to the series of problems that now threaten our economy.
Economics and economic policy is always informed by morality. I believe that if we get this balance right, we can win a majority with the idea that not only should the economy be more just. It should also be more efficient. The two are inseparable.
Guru Nanak Meeting with Parents and Trustees 15th
I met with the Head teacher and parents of Guru Nanak School because of the continued delays by the Government in supporting the funding of the extension of the primary school. I’ve agreed with the parents that I will seek a meeting with the Secretary of State to resolve the outstanding problems.
Groundwork South and Hillingdon Canal Partnership
I met with Groundwork. The environmental trust that took over responsibility for Elsdale, our floating classroom. Elsdale was a project I initiated a number of years ago which involved the building of a floating classroom on our local canal to provide educational facilities to our local schools and leisure facilities to our local community groups. Groundwork is the anchor organisation which organises the floating classroom and unfortunately has entered into some financial difficulties and finds it too costly to maintain the floating classroom in its present form. We were fearful to hear they may well be selling the boat and I met with Groundwork South and Hillingdon Canal Partnership to talk through other options to ensure the boat continues to provide facilities for our local area and is not sold off.
Political Policing and Racism in the UK Conference 16th
I spoke at the conference on Political Policing and racism in the UK sharing my experiences of the undercover policing that took place both in terms of the ‘blacklisted workers support group’ which I founded and also the ‘Campaign for Ricky Reel’, the young man who unfortunately lost his life in the Thames following what we believe was a racial attack. I explained that with regard to the blacklisting campaign we now know that there was police undercover surveillance workers providing information to companies which enabled them to then blacklist certain workers and prevent their employment.
In addition I reported that the Police had confirmed with Mrs Reel, the Reel family and myself that our campaign had been placed under surveillance and the surveillance was not for the family but for the people that participated in the campaign. The police described this as collateral intrusion and we subsequently gained an apology from Scotland Yard. The family are still dissatisfied because quite rightly the information collected during surveillance exercises has not been released to them in full and we will continue the campaign until we get full truth and all the information that the family requires. Our concern was that the police were using their resources to undertake surveillance of the campaign at the very time the family were campaigning for more police resources to undertake the investigation.
People’s Assembly March
I spoke at the Trafalgar Square, Huge People’s Assembly Demonstration for Health, Housing, Jobs and Education because we need to show the huge opposition that is out there to what this Government are doing to our Country.
Vaisakhi Celebrations 19th
I spoke at the House of Commons Vaisakhi celebrations in the Speakers House which assembled numerous Sikh organisations around the Country. I shared with them my experiences of the last 20 years since I helped set up the Punjabi Community in Britain All Party Group. I talked about the advances that we had made in terms of recognition of Sikhism and Sikhs in Britain including the establishment of the first Sikh School in Britain in Hayes and Harlington, Guru Nanak. The establishment of Punjabi language radio broadcasting stations in the country and also recognition by National Local Governments and other organisations of the religious requirements of Sikhs which includes the 5 kays which is about the apparel that Sikhs wear to ensure adherence to their religion
Preston Visit 20th
I was pleased to speak at the TAS Partnership in Preston, an employee owned Transport Company, about our ambitious vision for a more devolved and co-operative state that could unlock a “£40 billion boost” to the UK economy. What we need is an expansion of employee ownership, for the handing of more power to local authorities to encourage a more creative approach to business and for workers to have the first option to buy out and take over the running of companies threatened with closure. I think the council in Preston has provided a model of how an innovative local Labour administration can start to think and act creatively to secure sustainable economic growth. This kind of radicalism is exactly what we need across the whole country.”
Lecture Series with Paul Mason
It was great to be in Manchester at the Pioneer Theatre at Manchester Conference Centre with Paul Mason and Rebecca Long-Bailey MP to talk about economic policy for the north as my New Economics Lecture Series continues its tour round the country.
Friends of Lake Farm 21st
I attended the Friends of Lake Farm meeting which I chair, discussing the enhancement of the facilities for the BMX track and Country Park as well as the overall management of the Park and committee. We had a separate discussion about our bid for the setting up of a club house on site with storage facilities. The BMX Club is now expanding dramatically holding national and regional races on the site. It also offers facilities for local schools and local community groups.
I spoke alongside Alan Waters, the leader of Labour-run Norwich City Council, Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for East of England, and Chris Jones, Labour’s candidate in the police and crime commissioner elections at the launch of Labour’s re-election campaign. I then spent a brilliant afternoon canvassing with Clive Lewis MP and other branch members.
St George’s Parade 24th
I joined the mayor in taking the salute of the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Cubs, explorers, adventurers etc., on St George’s day as they marched through the Town centre. Hundreds of young people participated. We then went to St Mary’s Catholic Church for the annual service which included a presentation of the History of the Scouts, Guides and Cubs. The event was well attended by local uniformed groups as well as their parents.
Junior Doctor’s March 26th
Just minutes after junior doctors finished their first all-out strike in the history of the NHS on Tuesday thousands of them marched from St Thomas’ hospital in London to Whitehall
Jeremy, I and members of our teams joined the Junior Doctors march as they came over Westminster Bridge from St Thomas’ Hospital. It was fantastic to see so many professionals standing up for what they believe in. The Doctors are there for us when we need them. We will be there for them when they need us.
CWU Conference 26th
I spoke at CWU’s conference at Bournemouth International Conference Centre to a 3000 audience as part of the Jeremey Corbyn for Prime Minister. Great evening of Music, Poetry, Comedy and Politics.
International Workers Day Event 28th
I spoke at the International Workers Day Event at Tower Hill alongside Len McCluskey, Brian Rye, Acting Secretary of UCAT and Ambet Yusun, General Secretary of The Builders and Woodworkers International. I spoke to draw attention to the international labours figures of over 2million workers dying each year as a result of industrial accidents and the continuing number of deaths within this country. There are 140 deaths a year and the numbers have not gone down they have hit a plateau. In addition to that there are various other injuries and diseases contracted at work as a result of working conditions. I will continue the campaign to have health and safety properly resourced, adequate Trade Union representations for workers in firms and on sites and sufficient legislation to ensure that people at work can be made safe.
The University of Greenwich
I spoke at the closing plenary at The University of Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre’s conference on “Decent Jobs and Wage-led Growth in the UK and Europe.” where the findings of two new research projects on “Wage-Led Growth in Europe? Demand Effects of Changes in Functional Income Distribution in Financialised Open Economies” and “Working Conditions in Ireland” were presented.