John’s Monthly Newsletter March 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
GMB meeting at Heathrow 29th
I spoke with over 200 GMB members who work for B A at the Thistle Hotel at Heathrow regarding the outsourcing of work to India.
All members meeting 1st
I was pleased to host a meeting of our Constituency labour Party in Parliament. Many new members attended and I took them on a tour of Parliament, including the Commons Chamber.
PCS Union protest against HMRC job cuts
I told demonstrators outside Parliament, who were there to protest at the cuts in staff and HMRC local offices by George Osborne, The last thing you do if you want to close the tax gap is close HMRC offices and cut staffing levels.
New Economic Lecture Series 2nd
It was an honour to have Professor Stiglitz, a member of our Economic Advisory Council, speak at my New Economics lecture series event today at Birkbeck College. Joseph’s talk, Rewriting the rules of the market economy to achieve share prosperity” focused on the many aspects of inequality…in health, wealth, access to justice, life expectancy etc., and the relationship between inequality of income and opportunity. He went on to talk about how an unequal society has serious consequences for the functioning of democracy, society and economics. Joseph said that we need to recognise we made a mistake and need to embark on re-writing the rules to lead to economic growth and prosperity.
Stand up to Racism video
I participated in a short video to support campaigning against racism.
Question Time 3rd
I was in my hometown of Liverpool appearing on Question Time at the Liverpool Guild of Students along with Dominic Raab, Conservative MP, Louise Bours UKIP MP, Zoe Williams, Guardian journalist and footballer Jermaine Jenas. It was clear from the audience that nobody thinks it's fair that the wealthiest and corporations are getting away with not paying their fair share of tax. It's very simple. We need a fair tax system.
East Midlands Momentum Conference 5th
I spoke at the packed East Midlands Momentum Conference at the University of Nottingham, to a really enthusiastic group of Labour supporters, about how we fight for a fair society and win the next election in 2020.
Compass National Gathering
I spoke at Compass annual gathering on the development of Labour’s economic policies. We have an extremely constructive discussion brimming over with ideas for the future.
Guru Nanak School 7th
I visited Guru Nanak and was grilled by the students as part of their BBC School Report Day.
I chaired a combined Parliamentary and Heathrow APPG discussing the next steps in our campaign to prevent a 3rd Runway destroying our Heathrow villages.
Barking and Dagenham International Women’s 8th
I chatted with two women who went on strike for equal pay in Dagenham this morning whilst celebrating International Women's Day with the rest of Labour's Shadow Cabinet to honour one of the most iconic women’s Labour movements in UK history.
The 1968 strikes at Ford’s Dagenham plant were a major factor in passing the 1970’s Equal Pay Act, which guaranteed women the same treatment as men in the workplace.
New Economic Lecture Series with Danny Dorling in Bracknell
I visited Bracknell as part of our nation-wide 'The New Economics Lecture Series'. I spoke about inequality, housing and the economy during a 45 minute debate with Professor Danny Dorling of Oxford University before taking questions from the audience.
Cllr Bidwell, a Labour member of Bracknell Town Council, said: "John's attendance this week was a real shot in the arm for everyone in the Bracknell Labour Party. It is important for Bracknell that senior party members are aware of the challenges we face. "Bracknell is one of the most affluent towns in England but we have food banks, homelessness and growing social problems. John's visit allowed Bracknell's voice to be heard and in return he gave us the opportunity to hear from the horse's mouth how Labour intend to tackle the economic issues that are the root cause."
Guardian Daily News Meeting
I spoke at the daily news conference of the Guardian. All Guardian staff were invited to attend. Following a discussion of the contents of the paper for the next day, the staff held a question and answer session with me. I found this really stimulating.
Junior Doctors Strike 9th
I joined the Junior Doctors Picket Line outside Hillingdon Hospital to show my 100% support for their campaign.
The Prevent Strategy discussion at Pump Lane
I attended and spoke at a discussion entitled “The Prevent Strategy – does it undermine tolerance and community cohesion?” held in the Labour Hall, Pump Lane. The meeting was very well attended and I was delighted to see lots of new faces. We had an interesting discussion on discuss the strategy and the effect it may be having on our community.
Some concerns have been expressed that this strategy can sow the seeds of mistrust and fear within communities. Some educationalists have expressed their unease that this agenda stifles freedom of speech and does not nurture a safe environment where children can discuss sensitive issues in school. There is also the school of thought that this strategy will tackle ideologies and grievances that can fuel violent extremist behaviour and will help to understand the factors that contribute to radicalisation. Our discussion focused on how we can overcome the concerns about the strategy and make the strategy more effective in our local community by mobilising our local community networks and better communication.
This was the first of a wider series of meetings and discussion groups I am organising.
Hillingdon Play Association AGM 10th
I attended the AGM as the Chair of the Hillingdon Play Association. It was well attended. We saw a film on the importance of play for children and we elected our board of trustees for the coming year. Hillingdon Play Association has been extremely successful whereas many other play associations have not survived in recent years because of council and grant cuts. Hillingdon Play Association has continued with a whole range of activities in the community, on the estates and within parks. The AGM discussed our plans for the coming year as well as receiving report backs on particularly successful projects, one of which was at Austin Road estate where we were running play sessions every week. The financial situation of HPA is always challenging, never the less with the support of the community groups we are determined to continue to provide an excellent service to local children.
Launch of Labour’s Fiscal Credibility Rule 11th
At the Royal Society of the Arts I launched Labour’s new Fiscal Credibility Rule which will eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt without accepting Tory cuts to our public services. We will rewrite the rules to create a fairer and more prosperous economy
Labour Party National Campaign Day in Crawley 12th
I spent the morning knocking on doors and talking to people about Labour's plan for a fairer economy in Gossops Green. This was followed by a very successful and well attended, rally for members and supporters at The Charis Centre, West Green Drive and an afternoon of canvassing in West Green.
Andrew Mar 13th
On the Andrew Marr show I talked about George Osborne's failures ahead of the budget and Labour's plans for the future of our economy. We need strategic investment for the long term in skills, infrastructure and new technology. Interestingly enough George Osborne flatly refused to sit on the couch with me at the end of the programme.
Kill the Bill Demo
I joined the Kill the Bill housing demonstration in Central London because the Tories housing bill going through Parliament at the moment will decimate social housing provision and end up making the housing crisis worse.
In a speech at the end of the march, I gave a commitment that the next Labour Government will address the housing crisis by building council homes and affordable homes.
This excellent article published in The Guardian yesterday by our Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey MP, sets out how a Labour government could build 100,000 council and housing association homes each year to rent and buy: http://www.theguardian.com/…
My Response to the Chancellors Budget 17th
"George Osborne delivered a budget built on failure. He failed on closing the government deficit. He has failed on reducing the government debt. His politically precious but economically nonsensical target for a budget surplus at the end of this parliament is remaining intact only as a result of creative accounting, shuffling around billions in corporation tax revenues."
His disastrous economic failures are the result of putting personal ambition ahead of sound economics.The Chancellor is clinging to the tattered remains of his fiscal charter, using it to justify brutal cuts to vulnerable people in our society. In contrast to his rule, widely savaged by economists and now on the point of being torn up by Government statisticians, the Labour Party will offer a real alternative.
Labour will build a society based on a fair tax system, where the wealthy and powerful pay their fair share of tax. Labour will invest for growth, to expand opportunity and output, eliminating the deficit by growing the economy. Labour will invest in skills, for a high wage,
In contrast to his broken promises, we will actually balance Government spending, using a Fiscal Credibility Rule developed, and recommended to us, by leading economists.
We will balance Government spending, but not by bullying those that won’t fight back.
We will invest to deliver shared prosperity, with people able to fulfil their potential and a country meeting its potential.
The Labour Party will set out our alternatives to this Budget. Labour will fight every inch of the way against the counter-productive and vindictive measures the Chancellor has set out.
Britain deserves better than this.
Federation of Small Business in Glasgow 18th
I was honoured to deliver the keynote speech at the National Federation of Small Business Conference in Glasgow outlining the labour Party’s plans to support small businesses by investment in skills, infrastructure and renewable energy and for a fair and just tax system. There was strong audience support from the 600 small business owners, chosen to represent each of their 33 FSB Regions and 184 Branches.
Elaine Smith MSP Election Launch 20th
I was happy to be able to attend the launch of Elaine Smith’s campaign to re-elected as the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston at the Bowling Club in Coatbridge.
New Economics Lecture Dundee
I introduced Lesley Brennan (economist and MSP) and Christine Cooper (Professor of Accounting, Strathcylde University) to a crowded audience at Boner Hall in Dundee on the Scottish economy in 2050.
Swedish Delegation 21st
I hosted a delegation from the Sweedish Social Democratic Party in parliament. Ingela Nylund MP Committee on Finance, Khaled Saibi Political Advisor on Finance, Peter Persson MP committee on Taxation and Henry Petterson Political advisor on Taxation, They had a tour of the House followed by a discussion with some members of the Treasury team and then on to meet with the Lords. After lunch they attended our shadow treasury team meeting and went into the chamber for the Urgent Question on the Budget that I was able to raise.
I was granted an Urgent Question in the Chamber requesting the Chancellor to make a statement on changes to the Budget and ask that he comes before the House to clarify the Budget plans in the light of the media reports, Given the House is expected to vote on the Budget resolutions on Tuesday evening and there now appears to be £4.375 billion of cumulative savings from 2016-17 to 2020-21 unaccounted for it is incumbent on the Government to clarify its position as a matter of urgency
In his first House of Commons appearance since the Budget fiasco I told the Chancellor that “this isn’t a one nation compassionate budget. Nobody believes that. It’s a budget shot through with unfairness at its heart. Even the Chancellor’s own cabinet colleagues last week denounced it. Its fundamentally derisive and unfair. This isn’t a complete budget. It fell apart within a couple of days and the Chancellor is still unable to explain how he will fill the £4bn hole created in his own budget. This isn’t a budget for the long term. A long term plan that lasted 3 days?
What I find most disgraceful through all of this is that there has been no word of apology from the Chancellor or any Conservative Member. Apologise, I say. I say apologise for the pain and anguish he has caused disabled people and their families in the past two weeks. We all make mistakes. I understand that. But when you make a mistake and correct it, you should at least apologise”.
The full debate can be seen by clicking the link below
After Jeremy Corbyn used all 6 of his questions at PMQs today to challenge David Cameron about the disgraceful recent attacks by George Osborne on disabled people.I think that they are rightfully angry at the way they have been treated by this Government. They were hoping George Osborne might come out and apologise to them but sadly he didn't.I came out of the chamber to meet with DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and other disabled protesters who were demonstrating in Central Lobby at the same time.I think that they are rightfully angry at the way they have been treated by this Government. They were hoping George Osborne might come out and apologise to them but sadly he didn't
I was delighted to be invited to speak at Southampton’s Affiliated Supporters meeting. It was brilliant to see hundreds of people out at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton.
New Economic Lecture Series 30th
I chaired another very successful Lecture at the Haberdashers Hall, West Smithfields with thanks to the Centre for Labour and Social Studies for hosting this event. The lecture was opened by Mark Boleat, Chairman of the City of London Corporation's Policy and Resources Committee. Yanis Varoufakis, the Former Finance Minister of Greece and Anastasia Nesvetailova, City University Political Economy Research Centre gave their views on “Is the finance sector fit for purpose”. This was followed by a lively and interesting question and answer session.