John’s Monthly newsletter July and August 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Southbank Centre 1st
I spoke at the Southbank Centre about Brexit and what the economic implications mean for our country. Last Thursday’s vote to Leave the European Union has opened a period of intense political and economic uncertainty. The UK’s triple-A credit rating has been lost. Sterling markets have been in turmoil, as have stock markets here and abroad. The FTSE100 index registered a bigger single-day fall than after the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros in 2008. Some employers, most notably in financial services, are already looking to relocate jobs. A quarter of those employers say they will introduce a hiring freeze. Shares in UK banks have fallen most dramatically.
I respect the decision of the population to vote Leave but we now need to work out which elements of our European relationship we want to preserve and which should be changed. The key principles underlying negotiations should include: freedom of trade, no loss of residency rights for existing migrants, retention of all EU employment rights, continued involvement in the EIB and retention of ‘passporting’ for British financial companies
Politicians in all political parties have an immense responsibility on their shoulders. We need to concentrate fully now on the country’s and our peoples interests.
St Mary’s Fair on the Green and Flower Festival 2nd
I attended St Mary's, Hayes, fete & flower festival. It was a beautiful community event. I particularly enjoyed the delicious curry we had in church hall afterwards.
Tamil Community Centre
I spoke at the 4th anniversary celebrations of the Tamil Community Centre which was held at the Botwell Parish Social Centre.
NUT Rally 5th
I was pleased to support and speak at a packed rally of teachers in Parliament Square. It is vital that we invest properly in our education system.
Rate Capping Anniversary
I spoke alongside Ted Knight at a meeting at the Brixton Library took the stage for the first of the night’s speechescelebrate the Rate Capping struggle and the removal by the High Court of 31 Lambeth councillors in 1986. At the time I was the Chair of Finance at the Greater London Council (GLC).
Local Government Association Conference 7th
I spoke about the enormous uncertainty that we are facing right now in terms of the wider political uncertainty about Britain’s role in the world and the economic uncertainty introduced by the shock of the leave vote itself, which has been worsened by the shakey foundations of our economy.
Local Government have been bearing much of the brunt of austerity. Labour will continue to press for proper funding and resources for our local authorities. I believe that it is local councils, like Oldham, Enfield (in London) and Preston, that have started to show how a new path for the economy can be created. But it has to be matched up by action from central government.
The Government’s austerity policies have reinforced the UK’s regional bias. It is local authorities that have borne the brunt of the cuts. Overall, local authorities have seen their spending fall by 23% since 2010, allowing for inflation. These are huge cuts for local authorities to bear.
We need some clear parameters for the ongoing discussions with the EU and other international partners about Britain’s future role in the world. Local Government must be represented in the negotiations and decision making as we remake our relationship with Europe.
The Brexit vote should act as a wake-up call for all of us. It will force major challenges on local and national leaders alike over the coming years. Labour wants to work in partnership with local authorities as we begin to put together a new political economy for the country.
Hayes Carnival 9th
Yet another fantastic Carnival celebrating Hayes and its diverse community. The Parade left Pump Lane led by renowned Bollywood Choreographer Jay Kumar who, along with his Dance Asia Team, performed a unique routine in a variety of colourful and dazzling costumes along the mile-long route.
There were amazing children's shows, 'Epico the Dragon' and 'The Verona Chard Musical Balloon Band' plus many other activities such as a Soft Play and Arts and Crafts area, Gozart and his Giant Puppet, Stilt Walkers, Story-Camp, Sports Zone, traditional community stalls, and a Fun Fair.
The main stage showcased the parade prize giving ceremony and performances from Local bands The Soul Mates and Pig Earth as well as a 'Bollywood' style dance class.
Federation of Master Builders 12th
I spoke at the Federation of Master Builders’ 75th Anniversary Reception in Parliament. The FMB is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry who represent small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They were established in 1941 to protect the interests of small construction firms following the devastation of the London Blitz and the urgent need for small builders to be given the opportunity to rebuild the city. Participants were keen to discuss their proposed solutions to the construction skills shortage and how SME house builders can be empowered to increase their delivery of new homes.
TUCG Annual Tolpuddle Seminar
I attended the TUCG Annual Tolepuddle Seminar held in the House of Commons which brought unions together for the first time since the Trade Union Act was passed to discuss and formulate a positive and coordinated fight against the reforms. Speakers included John Hendy QC; Caroline Lucas MP; Louise Regan (NUT Senior Vice President); Mark Serowtka (PCS General Secretary);Liz Lawrence (UCU Past President).
Barnardo’s 150th Anniversary Celebration 13th
I attended a Parliamentary reception for the 150th anniversary of Barnardo’s. For 150 years, Barnardo’s has been helping the UK’s most vulnerable children to transform their lives. Back then Thomas Barnardo offered food and shelter to children living on the streets on East London. Today, Barnardo’s work with more than 240,000 children, young people and families across the country.
Everyone agrees that children should be protected and educated, and our laws ensure that decisions are made in children’s best interests. But we must not be complacent. Despite legal, social and economic advance, it remains true that in every community in the UK there are children who need help.
Children in the care system and care leavers are some of the most disadvantaged in our society. They too often miss out on the help they need to overcome the challenges they have faced and to forge a positive future. Specifically, care leavers often are less likely than their peers to gain qualifications, move into employment and fulfil their ambitions. They can become trapped in a cycle of worklessness, poverty and poor physical and mental health.
Creating a fairer society means giving all young people a helping hand to overcome the challenges they face and forge a brighter future and that is what Labour will do when in Government.
Unite Conference 14th
I spoke at Unite the Union’s 2016 Conference in Brighton to a crowded auditorium and I thanked Unite for all the work that they do and for being such a steadfast friend. I also reassured delegates that in the first 100 days of a Labour Government we will scrap the Trade Union Act.
Farewell to Tony and Ruth Pilkington 15th
I attended a Lunch at Bell Farm Community Centre along with Church Leaders, Colleagues and friends to say Farewell to Tony and Ruth and to thank them for their many years of dedication in serving all members of our community.
Davey Hopper General Secretary of the Durham Miners' Association
I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Miners' leader Davey Hopper. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Davey's family. He stood in the proud tradition of dedicated, socialist trade unionists. His passing is a sad loss to our movement. He was a popular and respected figure among the Labour movement,
Davey Hopper was not a man to shy away from controversy, demanding the Monkwearmouth Miners’ Banner be taken down from the reception of the Stadium of Light and handed back to members in protest at the decision to appoint Paolo Di Canio as the Black Cats' head coach and more recently announcing Labour MPs who had not backed leader Jeremy Corbyn would not be welcome at the Durham Miners' Gala including the city's own MP Roberta Blackman-Woods.
I spoke at the North East Keep Corbyn rally alongside Northumberland Councillor and Unite activist Laura Pidcock, FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack at the Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle. The meeting was chaired by Momentum North East and Cumbria rep & Unison activist Ed Whitby.
The National Glass Centre, Sunderland 18th
In a speech at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland I made a firm pledge: on coming to power, Labour will set up a National Investment Bank, and a network of regional banks whose aim is to help mobilise £500bn into the economy and transform Britain.
A National Investment Bank, managed independently of government, can raise the financing needed to deliver the infrastructure that is needed. By mitigating the risks and giving a firm, government-backed commitment to funding, it will draw in the private financing that has otherwise been wary of financing infrastructure in the UK.
So as well as our proposal for a National Investment Bank, we would look to establish a network of regional banks, publicly accountable and locally managed, with specialist local knowledge. These would break the logjam in the British financial syste
Slough Momentum 23
I spoke to a crowded Audience in Slough and outlined labour’s plans for our economy when we are in Government.
Oxford Economic Lecture 28th
As part of the New Economic Lecture Series I was delighted to address 600 people at the Oxford Town Hall alongside TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak and Professor Ozlam Onaran. My main focus was how a Labour Government would launch a huge Council home-building programme to help address the crisis of housing in cities like Oxford. We will give Local Government the freedom to start building again to satisfy the massive demand amongst people in this country who need a roof over their heads.
Exeter Public Rally 29
I spoke at a packed meeting in the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter which was organise by the Trades Council to broaden the debate around economics in Britain and to pledge that The Labour Party offers way forward to transform the economy and transform Britain. I also reiterated our promise that the Labour Party will wipe out all anti trade Union laws within 100 days of coming into power.
Plymouth Public Rally 30th
I spoke to a crowded audience at the launch of Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign at the Guildhall in Plymouth .I set out Labour’s economic vision for a fairer, more equal, more democratic society that is based on a prosperous economy that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.
New Economic Lecture Series in Cornwall
I was amazed to see how many people turned up to Liskeard Public Hall on a sunny Saturday afternoon to participate in our economic debate. Having discussed issues surrounding the numerous schemes in the region that are in danger of losing vital EU finance, post-Brexit, I will be calling on the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and PM Teresa May to guarantee match funding.
Cornwall and Devon are beneficiaries of substantial grants from the EU, and the Government must now step in, otherwise people will start taking short term decisions and not look at long term investment. A future Labour Government is committed to giving an equivalent level of grant to this area.
Hazards Conference 31st
I spoke at the closing plenery of the Hazards campaign 3 day conference at Keele University ‘Building the Hazards Resistance to support Safety Reps’. Health and Safety has been under massive attack since 2010 with the deregulation and slashing of enforcement actions and the budgets of HSE and Local Authorities. I assured delegates that a Labour Government would put the health and safety of workers at the centre of decent jobs for all to create decent lives for all.
Throughout August I was working on Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election campaign.
As you will no doubt be aware Jeremy has received a very warm welcome across the country with thousands of people turning out to hear him speak about policies that Labour will introduce when they are in Government.
The decision taken by the NEC to freeze out new members since January was an affront to democracy and went against everything the party stands for. The High Court judgement allowing new members of the party to be able to vote in the leadership election was a huge victory for Labour Party members and party democracy. However I was appalled by an unnecessary & costly appeal. I find it unacceptable to use member’s money to stop members from voting and I am deeply saddened that the appeal was successful.
To date 285 Constituency Labour Parties have nominated Jeremy Corbyn and 53 have nominated Owen Smith.
UNISON,UNITE, CWU, ASLEF, BFAWU, UCATT, FBU and TSSA have all nominated Jeremy in the Leadership elections.
The results of the recent NEC elections showed that the six members elected to represent constituency Labour parties were Corbyn backers. This result clearly shows that there is a desire for real and genuine change in our party under the continued leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, but we are not going to take anything for granted and we will be campaigning for every vote in the leadership contest’.