John’s Monthly newsletter November 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
The National Pensioners Convention 2nd
I spoke at the National Pensioners Convention Rally in Parliament confirming that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership will be ensuring we expose the issues around pensions and poverty, the risks to pensioners particularly with the coming winter and cold related deaths and the need to maintain a decent pension. That includes the protection of the current triple lock that is under threat by the Tories.
Society of Motor manufacturers and Traders 3rd
I met with Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, and Konstanze Scharring, Director of Public Policy of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). We talked about the effect BREXIT would have on the UK automotive industry. We also discussed the sector’s priorities for the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, as well as the key issue of industrial strategy.
Meeting with the Assistant Chief Minister Government of Jersey
I met with Senator Philip Ozouf, Assistant Chief Minister to the Government of Jersey to discuss their responsibility as a major international financial centre to tackle abusive tax avoidance, tax evasion and financial crime and their commitment to supporting international efforts to prevent misuse and abuse of the financial system. Senator Ozouf outlined his concerns about the challenges that the UKs decision to leave the E U has raised for Jersey.
PCS Reps at Heathrow 4th
I met with PCS reps at Heathrow Airport to discuss the threat of the 3rd Runway .We discussed in detail the report commissioned by PCS from Roger Seafer which explored the claims from Heathrow LTD about the additional jobs that would be provided by the 3rd runway and the threat to existing jobs if the 3rd runway didn’t go ahead. The report is fairly clear about the lack of threat to existing jobs that will be needed and protected but also cast real doubts on the company’s projections of additional jobs as a result of a 3rd runway. I emphasised that as we saw with terminal 5 with increased mechanisation jobs were actually lost rather than gained and there has been no confirmation of the gains that were supposed to arise as a result of the terminal 5 development. Although PCS reps were concerned about the future of their jobs it is clear that as a union there is also strong concerns about the impact of aviation expansion on climate change and the need to protect existing jobs whilst at the same time not damaging the environment.
Bolton Trades Council 150th Anniversary 5th
I joined local union leaders for a march in the park, before speaking to the gathered guests about the importance of the trade union movement. This anniversary for the Bolton trades council is very significant. We need to look back 150 years when friends, comrades, brothers and sisters came together and taught us something fundamental. They discovered a secret in the small, industrial workshops that unity is strength, it was the secret that solidarity makes us strong.
Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership we have rediscovered that the Labour Party and Trade Union movement is one movement again. Under the most difficult circumstances we are uniting, because we are working together. The party is uniting and the Labour and trade union movement is acting as one. We are ready for the Tories whenever they want to call an election.
The North West Regional Conference
I spoke at the Labour Party’s North West Regional Conference at Blackpool’s Hilton Hotel to more than 700 delegates outlining our plans for a Bank of the North that will raise investment in infrastructure and secure prosperity for everybody. The Party launched a video of my visit to where I was born in Liverpool in which I highlighted all the gains we had secured under Labour Governments. Free Education, access to Council Housing and full employment which secured people’s quality of life and living standards.
Living Wage Visit
As part of our Real Living Wage Campaign, Rebecca Long Bailey, Gordon Marsden and I visited U R Potential, a youth organisation and living wage employer in Blackpool. U R Potential offer community training for ages 14 and over, research projects, targeted youth projects, peer mentoring & supported youth & adult volunteering.
Nagar Kirtan Singh Sabha Gurwara 6th
I participated in the Southall Gurdwara’s traditional procession which celebrated the birthday of Guru Nanak. It was attended by thousands of local members of the Sikh Community. This was a day of celebration and religious worship.
Hayes Methodist Church
Later that day I attended Hayes Methodist Church 125 Anniversary Service and Tea with Rev Dr Leslie Griffiths. Dr Griffiths is a member of the House of Lords and in his address to the Methodist Congregation he highlighted the importance of our community working together to tackle the issues that we face for the future.
Locality Conference York 8th
I spoke at the Locality Conference in York. Locality is a national network of community organisations. I emphasised in my speech that the role of community organisations is essential in empowering and giving a voice to people in their areas. I also backed a call from Locality for a £1billion investment fund for community asset transfers which could save public buildings and open spaces from austerity by handing them over to community ownership.
New Economics Event
I spoke at the conference hall at the Royal York Hotel to 400 members of the York Constituency Labour Party and local students. Alongside me was Professor Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett who have undertaken extremely interesting work over the years on inequality within our society. They have set out proposals of how we can have a fair taxation system and investment for the future. At the meeting there was a really interesting Q&A session with large numbers of young people talking about issues from Climate change to inequality of Income and Trade Union rights. The meeting was hosted by Rachel Maskell who is leading a campaign over the closure of the local barracks. We will be demanding the Government publish all the details of the consequences of this decision. Something like this has a ripple effect across the economy, local shops and all the supply chain. The closures go against some of the military objectives of reconnecting the Armed forces with the community.
Labour Hall - Film showing of the Grunwick dispute with Pete Firmin 10th
I was unable to attend the film showing of the Grunwick Dispute. It was reported to be a successful event in which there was a really interesting discussion of Grunwick and the role of the Trade Union movement in this momentous dispute.
Meeting with Developers of Nestles Site 11th
I met with the developers of the Nestles site to talk through their proposals as they launch their public consultation. The proposals include housing development with part of the site also designated for employment as well. It’s a balanced development which I am keen to ensure takes place but in the discussion I emphasised the need for social provision within the area so that support for education places, the possible relocation of the nursery onto the site which will provide greater space for the children, investment in local GP Surgeries and also support for security via the local Police. With regard to the open spaces on the site, I was keen to seen developed and also the opening up of access to the grand union canal and the potential for a bridge across the canal linking the site to Hayes Town Centre. The proposals will be put in for planning decisions shortly and I‘ll be submitting my views generally in support of the application but with the conditions attached that a significant part of the housing on the site should be Social Housing, affordable for local people.
Merseyside Pensioners Association in Merseyside 12th
I spoke at the Generations United Against Austerity Conference which was organised by the Merseyside Pensioners Association alongside Dot Gibson, General Secretary, National Pensioners Convention, Sheila Coleman, Unite Community Branch Organiser, and Paul Novak, TUC Assistant General Secretary.
It was fantastic to see so many young and old people coming together to refute the popular claims that the lot of young people can be improved by attacking the benefits given to the older generation. The problems of housing, low wages, job insecurity, poor pensions, poor health care provision cannot be solved by pitting young against old. There is an alternative to austerity. The real cause of austerity is huge wealth in the hands of the few, subsidies to bankers, and failure to support industry
Birmingham Trades Union Council: 150th Anniversary
I spoke at the 150th Anniversary of the Birmingham Trade Union Council to emphasise the key role that Trade Unions have played in the last 150 years not only in improving not just the wages and employment conditions of working people for also their quality of life overall and their standards of living. I Talked about the challenges we now face and also the Trade Union agenda of the incoming Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn which includes within the first 100 day scrapping the Trade Union act that he Tories introduced to attack TUs even further and also setting out an agenda of Trade Union rights as published by the Institute of Employment rights which will bring us up to the level of TU Rights across Europe and end the contravention of the international labor organisation conventions as there is under this Government.
Hayes Remembrance parade and service 13th
I joined the remembrance parade at the bandstand in Barra Hall Park in Church Road, Hayes, and walked to St Mary’s Church in Church Road for the service which was followed by a short act of remembrance at the cenotaph at 11am. It was pleasing to join so many young people from the Scouts, Guides and Cubs in the procession.
Hillingdon Hospital 14th
I was delighted to officially open the new Outpatients Pharmacy at Hillingdon Hospital and meet the team who work there. The new pharmacy is a significant improvement as patients can now get new medicines from their outpatient appointment on the same day rather than wait for their GP to prescribe or have to pay a visit to a high street pharmacy
Brexit Speech Dragon Hall 15th
I used a speech at Dragon hall ahead of the autumn statement to contrast the government’s “failed” austerity approach with the Labour party’s focus on investment.
I set out what Labour is going to do, as the Tory Government struggles to get a grip of the chaos it’s injected into the Brexit process.
We need a government able to take five steps: First, place the public finances on secure foundations for the future. Second, end the cruelty of the spending cuts programme. Third, invest in the long-term to create secure, well-paid jobs. Fourth, reform our tax system so the richest pay and the rest don’t shoulder the burden. And fifth, lay out a clear plan and a vision for our country after Brexit.
Belmore Primary School 16th
I visited Belmore Primary School to discuss with their year 5 students the threat of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport on our community. The students are doing a project on the 3rd runway and had listened to a speaker the week before who was pro Heathrow expansion, a representative of Back Heathrow, which is funded by Heathrow Ltd., and in my view not a genuine community organisation.
I outlined the problems that our community would experience as a result of the expansion of a 3rd runway both in terms of loss of homes, the forced movement of thousands of people from their local community, the demolition of schools and the pollution of our air as a result of fumes from the airplanes and the traffic going to and from the airport. I also emphasised the critical impact on climate change if aviation goes ahead on this scale.
The children were as bright as buttons with some really cleaver and difficult questions for me to answer. At the end of my talk and Q&A session a vote was taken on whether or not the students supported the 3rd runway expansion and an overwhelming majority opposed it.
Opposition Day Debate
I used the Autumn Statement Opposition Day Debate to force a vote on the reversal of ESA and Universal Credits. I called on the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to show he wants to genuinely change direction from the decisions of David Cameron and George Osborne when it comes to making working people pay for the financial crisis.
In the Budget in March we saw some of the wealthiest individuals who make up just 0.3 per cent of the population get a tax cut worth £3,000 a year on average, while cuts to Universal Credit will leave two and a half million families an average of £2,100 a year worse off.
Many families on low and middle incomes are struggling as prices rise ahead of wages, and the Chancellor can prove today whether he really is on the side of working people and reverse those cuts to low and middle earners - such as the cuts to Universal Credit and ESA.
“I Daniel Blake” Film Screening 17th
I joined Labour Party members and MPs in cinemas across the UK on Thursday to attend special screenings of the film I, Daniel Blake as part of a new campaign calling on the Government to abandon their plans to cut Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments. The cuts will see sick and disabled people lose £29 a week and Labour are demanding that the Government scrap these plans at the Autumn Statement.
National Policy Forum - Holywell Park Conference Centre in Loughborough 19th
I attended the National Policy Forum which is the Labour Party’s policy making body that considers the future development of the policy programme for the labour party and then refers decisions to the Labour Party Conference. The policy forum discussed in particular the future of our economy the challenges that we face, the failed strategies pursued by the Government and some of the key ideas that I am promoting particularly with regard to a fair taxation system, national investment bank and the restoration of Trade Union rights. We also had a detailed discussion about the implications of BREXIT for our economy and the strategy that we need to develop to secure the best deal and our new relationship with Europe.
The Andrew Marr programme 20th
During an interview with Andrew Marr I spoke about Brexit in that it has simply exposed the fact that the Tories have wasted the last six years and how their economic policy has failed so many in our country. I explained that I will continue to oppose a “hard Tory Brexit. As a democrat, I respect the referendum result. Not to do so would sow even deeper divisions within our society. But that does not mean we cannot use the period of the Brexit negotiations positively to work with our socialist, social democrat and progressive friends in Europe to construct a new relationship based upon solidarity, co-operation and democracy. Labour has long argued that there are aspects of current single market regulations that should be reformed. The Brexit negotiations provide an opportunity to work with European partners to advance those reforms, such as state aid rules and enforced deregulation and privatisation.
I also appealed to Philip Hammond to reverse his decision on the ESA and Universal Credit in his Autumn Statement.
Launch of UK Disability History Month 'Language and Disability' 22nd
I supported the Disability History Month event which was hosted jointly with the Open University in Portcullis House. A pack for schools about the history of people with learning disabilities, based on the life of Mabel Cooper was launched at this splendid event
Autumn Statement 23rd
The Chancellor’ Statement places on record the abject failure of the last six wasted years and offers little hope for the future. The figures speak for themselves: growth down; wage growth down; investment down. The deficit target, failed. The debt target, failed. The welfare cap, failed. The verdict could not be clearer. The so-called “long term economic plan” has failed. So today we expected a change of direction after those six wasted years. Instead we’ve seen further cuts to earnings for those in work through cuts to Universal Credit and a living wage increase that is lower than expected under the previous Chancellor.
This is a new Conservative leadership with no answers to the challenges facing our country following Brexit and no vision to secure our future prosperity. After all the sacrifices that people have made over the last six years, I fear today’s Statement has laid the foundations for more wasted years. Only a Labour Government will deliver on the ambition and vision to rebuild and transform our economy so no-one and no community is left behind.
Annual ‘A' Level Economics Student 6th form Conference 28th
I spoke to an audience of about 1200 students, from all over the country, aged between 16 and 18, who are studying A Level Economics and many go on to study the subject at University at their annual conference.
Treasury Questions 29th
During Treasury Questions I asked The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, to provide some clarity by inviting the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility to undertake a full assessment of the public finance implications of the range of policy options associated with Brexit, including access—or not—to the single market, being in or out of the customs union and the potential for transitional arrangements?
Labour Friends of Israel Lunch 29th
I joined the Labour Friends of Israel for their Annual Lunch.
I hosted an event at the House of Commons to celebrate the role Jagjit Singh, one of our Hayes Councillors plays in raising funds for charity. He has now run over 200 marathons and as a result has raised over £18,000 for Charity. He provides funds for a whole range of charities from Breast Cancer to groups that are suffering disability and others who are working in the developing world to provide medical facilities. I presented framed certificates to Image 22 and Aeroserve who are two local companies that have sponsored the marathons and enabled him to make these charitable donations.
Labour Business Annual Dinner 30th
I was the keynote speaker at the Labour Business Annual Dinner, the flagship event of the year. It was attended by about 100 senior people in business and politics. I spoke about the current state of our economy post the Autumn Statement and set out labour’s plans for developing our economic policies.
FBU Lobby 29th
I spoke at a Fire Brigades lobby at parliament which resulted from the death of Stephen Hunt, a firefighter in Manchester, who tragically died in tackling a fire in Manchester. Stephen is one of many Firefighters who over the years have lost their lives seeking to protect our community. A number of lessons have been learnt over the years about the need for training, adequate staffing, national standards and also regular inspections of our fire service. These are the lessons that our union have been putting to the Government on a number of occasions. I spoke at the rally to urge members of the FBU to meet with their MPs and to impress upon them that the service cannot continue to experience this level of cuts. The Fire Service have lost thousands of jobs in recent years and cannot continue under this sort of strain without putting lives at risk of both firefighters and members of the community. I urged FBU members to say to their MPs of all political parties that they need to now get behind their Fire Service and make sure they have proper investment in the future both in terms of staffing, equipment and investment in the overall safety regime
Labour Business Breakfast
I spoke at the Labour Business Breakfast briefing on the Autumn Statement. A number of business leaders attended to discuss the implications of the Autumn Statement for our economy and the future development of the businesses in our Country. I spoke alongside Rebecca Long Bailey, The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Clive Lewis, The Shadow Secretary of State Business. It was an interesting discussion about the failure of the Chancellor to address many of the needs of the economy particularly the long term stable investment and the lack of emphasis on addressing the negotiations for BREXIT in a constructive way.