John’s Monthly newsletter February 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
CWU London Regional Event 2nd
I spoke to members of the CWU at their Regional Event about Labour Party policies on housing, transport and public services and their effects particularly for inner and outer London. I also spoke about the London Mayoral election, the Trade Union bill and changes to registration to vote.
UNISON South East Region Local Government Spring Conference
I spoke to UNISON members at their Spring Conference about my plans as Shadow Chancellor for a future Labour government and its impact on Trades Unions and on the provision of public services in the Local Government sector.
The Federation of Small Business Awards
I attended the Federation of Small Businesses World Pay Business Awards at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference centre, to discuss Labour’s policies for SMEs
New Economics Lecture – Technology and Future World of Work 3rd
I chaired the second of the New Economic Lectures “Technology and the future world of work” with Francesca Bria (Senior Project Lead, Nesta), Nick Srnicek (author of Inventing the Future) and Daniel Susskind (Balliol College, Oxford, author of The Future of the Professions).
I spoke at a public meeting with Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East and Karen Reay, Yorkshire Regional Secretary of Unite the Union. Richard said "Local people and local businesses are being made to pay the price for the Conservative Governments' decision to pursue a ruthless and economically counter-productive cuts agenda. The meeting was timely as the Government has this week announced it is moving the so-called 'Northern Powerhouse' jobs from Yorkshire to London.
A lively discussion about ‘the New Economics’ with 300 Labour Party members and trade unionists from across the city followed, whereby I outlined Labour’s economic vision which is also committed to investing and growing the economy in Leeds and the North.
LGA Labour Group 5th
I spoke to Labour council leaders at the Leaders' summit in Nottingham where we discussed priorities for Local Government finance and the issues local councils are facing as a result of the Government’s cut to grants to local government, especially targeting Labour councils. Later in the day I joined local MP Gloria De Piero and protesters in Eastwood, calling for Broxtowe Borough Councilto keep staff in the town to help the elderly and vulnerable stay on top of their council bills.
The district authority has talked about closing three local cash offices across the borough for seven years, but are now determined the doors will shut in Eastwood, Stapleford and Beeston by April 1 to save money for the cash-strapped council.
Burns Supper – Edinburgh
I spoke at a Burns Supper organised by the Edinburgh Constituencies Labour parties. There were about 250 people there. It was a traditional burns supper where we toasted the haggis and I gave the speech honouring Robbie Burns, his poetry and actually his socialism as well.
Junior Doctors 10th
I met with the Junior Doctors at Hillingdon Hospital this morning. They are all dedicated hardworking professionals who have my whole hearted support. Jeremy Hunt must get back round the negotiating table.
Jeremy Hunt has decided today to impose a new contract on junior doctors. The doctors have 100% support from me in the face of this dictatorial behaviour.
Imposing a new contract without consent requires every one of the 53,000 junior doctors to be dismissed from their post and offered a new post under the imposed contract terms
Sheffield Central CLP 13th
I spoke at a packed meeting of Labour members in Sheffield at St Marys Church with local MP Paul Blomfield. I have been concerned about the lack of investment by this government and in particular the short-term nature of the government’s decision-making. I believe Sheffield is going to play a central role in the future of our economy, but it needs investment, and it needs a government working with us. Our whole thrust around areas like Sheffield is about investment. Investment in skills. Sheffield is a classic example of a city where generations of skills have been built up over literally decades and centuries that desperately needs investment in infrastructure, and investment in new technology.
I had a great afternoon campaigning with Sarah Champion, Labour’s prospective candidates and lots of very committed volunteers in Rotherham. Sarah is a fantastic local MP with a record of community campaigning.
Glasgow Caledonian University 14th
I spoke at the Scottish Campaign for Socialism at the annual meeting at Glasgow Caledonian University. The meeting was packed, particularly with young students and young workers turning up to talk about the policies that Labour need to introduce to address a number of the key issues facing the Scottish economy and the social issues that are impacting on the communities including the shortage of housing and cut backs in local government as a result of austerity measures introduced by the SMP Government in Edinburgh. We also focused on the need for investment in skills and infrastructure.
TUCG AGM 15
I attended a meeting of the TUCG unions to update them on Labour’s policy making plans over the coming year and to discuss joint campaigning.
LSE Lecture Series 16
I spoke to a crowded auditorium at the London School of Economics to deliver the third of our Lecture Series entitled ‘Labour is interested in how we earn money not just how we spend it.’The need for a ‘New Politics’ and touched a nerve with thousands of people up and down this country who instinctively understand the need for radical change. Our job is now to deliver that change, and I believe we have made real progress in doing so.
A few weeks after Jeremy asked me to take the job as Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne brought his so-called Charter for Budget Responsibility to Parliament.
Now these have become something of a farce in recent years. Each time, the Chancellor solemnly informs us this is how he will address the finances of the Government and each year he misses the targets he set himself, and tries again.
From now on, the Labour Party is an anti-austerity party, which rejects the failed approach to macroeconomics that has done so much damage to this country and across Europe.
We want to look root and branch at every aspect of the British economy and especially how it interacts with the process of government. One of the first things we did was to commission a series of reviews by respected figures in their fields into the key institutions of economic decision making.
All this work is important to help us understand why the failed policies of the past are still dominating so much of public life. Developing that understanding is vital.But most of all we need to begin to put forward the radical alternative which our economy needs.
That’s why I assembled our Economic Advisory Council. It brings together some of the foremost economists in their areas to advise us in their areas of expertise, which range from Labour economics to shadow banking to monetary and fiscal policy.
My full speech is posted on my website.
West Midlands Visit 18th
I had great day in West Midlands seeing Birmingham New St Station redevelopment and on the campaign trail in Cannock Chase. I joined John Clancy, the new Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, who is buzzing with ideas on how to improve the city. I also met local councillors and local Unison members.
Meeting with Jeremy and Joseph Stiglitz 19th
I had a great meeting discussing Labour's new economics and tackling inequality with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Jeremy Corbyn.
I am very grateful to have the advice and input of Professor Stiglitz, as a member of our Economic Advisory Council, when it comes to formulating Labour’s plan to create an economy that works for all.
LRC AGM 20th
I spoke at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Labour Representation Committee. It was a special annual meeting to talk about the future of the LRC and its role within the wider Labour and Trade Union Movement. What came out of the discussions was a commitment to campaigning for a Labour Government and for the development of a policy programme that will attract the votes of a wide and broad coalition of the electorate to ensure we have a sizable Labour majority when we get back into power in 2020.
Welsh Labour Conference 21st
I spoke at the Welsh Labour Grassroots fringe meeting. There was a great discussion with activists as to how we can channel the energy and enthusiasm summoned up by Jeremy Corbyn's victorious leadership campaign and use it to secure the best possible results in the Welsh Assembly elections in May, while also taking forward a democratic socialist agenda within the party.
Africans for Momentum
I spoke at the Launch of Africans for momentum, which is a group of people coming together, to talk about how we can address issues facing the people from African origin within our country and in particular the discrimination they still face. We also discussed the recognition of African culture with the UK and how we can work together to develop a programme of work and policies to address these issues.
Barnet Trades Council
I was delighted to address such a large turnout at the first event hosted by the Barnet branch of momentum.The discussion focused on the government needing to build more social housing, scrap tuition fees and stop cuts to libraries.
Heathrow 13 Court case 24th
I spoke outside Wilsden Magistrates Court in support of the Heathrow 13."We were fearful that the Heathrow 13 would receive a custodial sentence which frankly, I think, would be a disgrace… It is in the tradition of this country over centuries that people have taken direct action of this sort and it should not be one which receives a custodial sentence." We have been campaigning against the Third Runway for the past 130 Years. They were given suspended sentences. This was a real victory for our campaign.
Economic Advisory Committee
We had a further meeting of our Economic Advisory Council which included participation by Joseph Stigliz, Danny Blanchflower, Marianna Mazzucato and a whole range of our other economic advisors. The discussion was focused on the current state of the economy and the issues we need to address. We also had a discussion with regard to the banking sector and in particular the shadow banking sector and some of the issues that are being thrown up by developments within the banking and the finance sector overall. Again it was an extremely intensive and creative discussion providing us with advice on the development of labour party policy, long and short term, and also advice on how we should be reacting to current events
Film Screening- Kwaku ‘How fa has Britain come?
I attended the film screening of Kwaku ‘How far has Britain come’. This was addressing the issues with regard to the representation of Black and Ethnic Minority people within Britian and issues regarding discrimination and how far we have come after this number of years have passed since the early equalities legislation and also looking at how far we have to go.
Havering Unison AGM 25th
I attended the Annual Meeting of the Havering Unison branch which was extremely well attended. It was a lunch time meeting in which we discussed the issues facing local government in London, particularly the problem of the loss of grant and the cutbacks in services. We also considered the problems people are facing as a result of the privatisation of local government services and the outsourcing that is taking place. I outlined Labour’s economic approach and how we would be supporting Local Council in the future and also supporting the campaigns that UNISON is waging to prevent the cuts to local government services.
Canal Partnership 26th
I attended the Canal Partnership at which we discussed a whole range of issues with regard to the Canal which runs through Hayes. We have continued to campaign for residential mooring in Hayes Town Centre and at the same time planning environmental improvements along the canal particularly the tow path improvements. We also expressed our concern about the illegal felling of trees along the canal and Hayes town centre which was undertaken by a private contractor. We are trying to trace the company that commissioned the work because it has removed some of the mature trees that we have all enjoyed.
I chaired the Hillingdon Play Association meeting as the Chair we discussed our budget for the coming year and made preparations for our annual meeting which is coming up on Thursday 10th March at 7pm at the Labour Hall in Pump Lane. Everybody is welcome to attend. We are looking at the long term future of the Play Association and its development. We have recently attracted a grant to provide play service for young people on the Austin Road site and we want to roll that out across other estates across the area.
Ravi Dass Gurdwara 28th
I attended, along with Seema Malholtra, MP for Feltham and Heston and the Indian High Commissioner, the anniversary of Sri Guru Ravi Dass at the Gurdwara in Southall where a large number of my constituents are members of the Sangat. This temple was the first to be funded by the GLC for its work within the community. It’s the first time a Gurdwara has received funding from a local or national government and it has proved to be a wise investment as the temple has grown to provide services to the whole of its Sangat and a large amount of support to the local community. His has demonstrated how a local community can assist in bringing about integration into our community and bring about peace and harmony. I was pleased and proud to attend and will continue the support I have given over the last 30 years.