John’s Monthly newsletter January 2016
Happy New Year to everyone. Let's work together to make 2016 a year of peace and hope.
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Powerday Development Demonstration 30th Dec
I joined my constituents in protesting (outside the proposed Tavistock Road entrance) at the heavy traffic, air pollution and noise disturbance that would be generated if the latest Powerday development planning application is granted.
This site is in the close vicinity of a residential area and this type of development so close to people's homes is not acceptable. For these reasons I have urged the council to reject this latest planning application.
Council Housing Lobby 5th
I joined Jeremy Corbyn and Other MPs at the ‘Kill the Bill’ meeting in Parliament. This Bill will significantly reduce the future supply of genuinely affordable rented homes by redirecting government support to private developers building publicly subsidised ‘Starter Homes’ that may help a few, at the expense of worsen the prospects for millions in housing need. It will also further erode the stock of affordable rented homes by compelling Councils to sell-off ‘high value’ homes when they become empty and exasperate the current housing crisis.
Shelter’s Public Advice Service Campaign Launch
I attended the launch of Shelter’s new campaign to raise awareness of its vital advice and support services where I met with Shelter’s Director of Services Alison Mohammed to discuss the frontline services Shelter delivers in Hayes & Harlington, and across the UK. These include the 531 cases that Shelter dealt with in the Hillingdon area last year alone.
John and Shelter are urging anyone who is struggling with their housing costs to seek advice, before problems spiral out of control. Shelter, the leading housing and homelessness charity, helps over 4 million people a year with free, practical housing advice, through its online support, face to face and national helpline services.
Shelter’s Director of Services Alison Mohammed said: “Every day at Shelter we hear from families who face the bleak choice between missing their rent or cutting back on heating. Or from parents whose children have stopped asking for treats because they know they’re struggling just to keep a roof over their heads.
“No-one should have to face these problems alone, which is why Shelter is here 365 days a year. Getting advice early can make all the difference, and we’re only ever a click or a call away at shelter.org.uk/advice or on 0808 800 4444.”
I addressed a packed meeting in Derby which was organised by Derby North CLP and shared a platform with Margaret Becket.
Northampton’s Anti-Austerity Event.
I joined Dave Ward from the Communication Workers Union and Lee Baron from TUC on the platform at the Northampton Anti Austerity meeting to explain how a Labour Government would help the many not the few.
Locally and nationally we are facing the greatest attack on essential services in living memory. In the aftermath of the devastating election results in May 2015, the Conservative Government is cutting spending on education, the police, social care, benefits, flood management and transport.
300 people turned out to show their displeasure at how the Northamptonshire, Tory Council is implementing £148 million worth of cuts that will result in: 95% of council jobs to be privatised; 343 job loses; the closure of two care homes and widening cuts to adult social care.
Shaker Aamer Demonstration 11th
On the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay, I joined 7 former British hostages outside the US embassy in London to call for the closure of the infamous detention centre. The London vigil (organised by London Guantanamo campaign) coincided with a demonstration outside the White House on Monday when campaigners will be urging President Obama – who has referred to the prison as both a recruiting tool for extremists and a stain on America’s reputation - to overcome opposition and honour the commitment he made on Day 1 of his administration to close Guantanamo within a year. More than 100 detainees are still imprisoned at Guantanamo seven years after President Obama’s promise to shut it down.
I joined the TUCGs demonstration against the Housing Bill, which fails to get to grips with crisis of home-ownership for young people and families on ordinary incomes. So-called 'starter homes' are simply out of reach in those areas where people most need help buying a home of their own. Last week, Tory MPs voted against Labour proposals to make these homes more affordable.
The Bill sounds the death knell for social housing. Starter homes will be built in place of new affordable council or housing association homes, and for the first time since the Second World War there is no national investment programme to build such housing. It's the most extreme and extraordinary assault on affordable homes in a generation. Shelter predict the Bill will lead to 180,000 fewer affordable homes to rent and to buy over five years.
Junior Doctors Picket 12th
I joined the Junior Doctors Strike at St Thomas Hospital and urged Jeremy Hunt to urgently get back round the table. Two-thirds of the public back Tuesday’s junior doctor strike, new polling has revealed, as walkouts involving thousands of medics commence throughout England. 66 per cent of people in an IPSOS Mori poll for the Health Service Journal said they support junior doctors walking out from all but emergency care.
Fast Foods Rights Forum
I met with McDonalds Workers from US in support of their Inspiring campaign, fighting against poverty pay which is spreading to the UK, working with the Bakers Union.
Nanaksar Primary School 15th
I visited Guru Nanak School to meet the parents and teachers as we press for the expansion of the primary school to meet the increasing demand for places.
Momentum Event Thanet 19th
I spoke at a packed meeting in the Kings Theatre, Ramsgate prior to a potentially significant by-election. It was great to be joined by Michelle Dorrell. I thought she showed such courage and determination in her response on Question Time to the prospect of having her tax credits cut. I am delighted to report that Ukip has lost its seat and Karen Constantine, the Labour candidate triumphed recapturing the seat lost in May. Congratulations to all campaigners whose hard work has paid off.
Democratic Co-op Conference in Manchester 21st
I shared a platform with Chris Baugh, PCS Deputy General Secretary, Jo Bird, Co-operative Business Consultants, finance writers Frances Coppola and Pal Gosling and author Christian Woolmar. The conference, organised by Co-operative Business Consultants (CBC), discussed and debated co-operative and labour movement alternatives to austerity and capitalism to help shape our vision of a prosperous caring society based on a People’s Economy.
Participants focused on how nationalisation, but without the old style bureaucratic policies that left control in the hands of the Establishment, will be accompanied by co-operative democratic principles in the new People’s economy. The challenge was to thrash out how a People’s economy can be shaped to benefit all.
I met with labour members and had great fun door knocking in the rain with the dedicated team of campaigners I also visited the Rawtenstall Credit Union that provides vital community finance service. Rawtenstall First Choice Credit Union is a brilliant example of a co-operative working within a community to offer fairer solutions for local people. I would recommend to everybody in the area that they join their local credit union and find out the benefits for themselves.
I spoke at the Momentum North Cambs Rally along with Ron Graves, President of Peterborough Trades Union Council. Jocelynn Scutt, Barrrister & Human Rights Lawyer, Writer & Critic. Steve Jansky from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Jo Rust from Unison and George Welch from the RMT. There was a lively Q & A session with lots of involvement from the floor.
Hillingdon Gurkha AGM- Shepiston Lane 23rd
I spoke at this year’s annual meeting of the Hillingdon Gurkha Nepalese Association. The packed meeting celebrated the success we have achieved together over the last year including the designation of an area in our local cemetery for the Gurkha community and the support for English language training.
Launch of Economic Lectures 26th
I introduced a lecture delivered by Mariana Mazzucato, RM Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation, on “Economic Policy: from market fixing to market creating and shaping” to a packed audience at The Royal Institution. Mariana followed her lecture with an extensive question and answer session. This was the first lecture as part of a series of public events to broaden the debate around economics in Britain. These meetings are an important first step on the path to reshaping the economic debate in the country, and getting away from it being a Westminster dominated view of economics.
Lambeth Older People’s Alliance 28th
I spoke at the Older People’s Alliance in Lambeth. This meeting brought together the pensioners groups from around the Borough. A fantastic turnout.
Rolls Royce Site Visit 29th
I visited the local Royals Royce factory at Heathrow Airport and met with the trade unions, the workers and the management. They took me on a tour of the site. This is the factory that repairs and services aircraft engines. It is high tech, extremely well managed and involves the workforce in the development of the company. They are now taking on new staff and apprentices and are hoping to expand in the coming years.
Seema’s Curry Night
I was pleased to attend a Labour party fundraiser for Seema Malhotra my colleague from Felton and Heston who is also the Shadow Treasury Secretary and works in my treasury team. Seema is an extremely talented woman and who undertakes terrific work both in the constituency and in parliament. I was also accompanied by Sadiq khan our Mayoral candidate and our local candidates for the GLA elections. The event was really well attended raising funds for this vitally important election campaign.
Walthamstow CLP Fundraising evening
I received a very warm welcome at Walthamstow CLP’s fundraising curry at Zaiqa Buffet Restaurant. I spoke alongside Matt Wrack and Arica Nadeem. Meeting and talking to members gave me a great sense of hope for the work we have to do over the next few years to bring about a Labour government. It was great to see some of my old friends again each of them committed to an anti-austerity movement as the way forward. But what really impressed me was the number of young people who came along and it is their enthusiasm and energy that will take Labour to victory.
Launch of Newham’s West Ham Anti-Austerity campaign 30th
I spoke at the launch of the Newham anti-austerity campaign. The meeting was chaired by MP Lyn Brown and launched with the support of Newham Council and Newham Joint Trade Union Committee. Other speakers included Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the national union of teachers, Rokhasana Fiaz, Newham councillor for Custom House, and Yvone Green, Unison’s greater London region officer. Attendees – including teachers, Labour members, disability and housing campaigners and Newham councillors, were urged to forget their differences and unite together against the cuts.
Botwell Pensioners Dinner
I rushed back from a meeting in central London to join the pensioner’s dinner at Botwell Catholic Church. I missed the raffle which I usually draw. It is usually the longest raffle in history with numerous prizes but I they undertook it successfully without me I am told.
Below is a list of the interventions I have made on the floor of the House of Commons this month. Please click the link below to take you to the debate set out in the hansard.
Long Term Economic Plan 19th January
HMRC and Google (settlement) 25th January