John’s Monthly newsletter March 2018
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Yesterday, I was proud to speak at the UCU rally. In the last week, thousands of university staff have taken part in the biggest strike our Higher Education sector has ever seen.
Whether it is on the picket line or in parliament, the Labour Party stands in solidarity with them. 41,000 UCU members in 61 universities and 1,500 college lectures teaching in 16 colleges took part in the strike to defend their pensions, pay and conditions of service.
Twickenham CLP event 1st
I spoke to members of the Twickenham CLP event at Heathfield School and the support for Labour here is tangible. After years of Tory cuts- enabled by the Liberal Democrats- and the damage done to local services in the borough and across the country, people are standing up to demand real change.
I gave a macroeconomic overview of the UK economy since the 2008 banking crisis, setting out what the key challenges are, citing the relationship between household debt and the Tory’s austerity policies with the aim of critiquing the austerity narrative and revealing it to be a bogus economic policy.
West Drayton Meeting SHE 2nd
We held another local meeting on the consultation being undertaken on the threat of a 3rd Runway. The meeting gave residents the opportunity of discussing the impact of a new runway on air pollution, the demolition of their homes and increased noise.
Southampton Regional Economic Conference 3rd
As part of our series of Regional economic conferences, discussing the current state of the economy, I hosted an event at The Grand Harbour Hotel, West Quay Road, Southampton. We had a wonderful range of speakers including Cat Hobbs, Polly Robbins, Grahame Turner, Jess Steele OBE, Robert Palmer, Ozlem Onaran, Dr Kate Baylis, Anna Birley, Sara Mahmoud, Leo Murry, Ross McNally and Jenny Formby. The conference was well attended with speakers and participants braving the extreme weather conditions to make it a very successful event
Jazz for Labour - Courtney Pine
I spoke at a fundraiser in Leatherhead which was organised by Unite. Courtney Pine played music from across his 30-year career, including his recent albums Black Notes from the Deep and House of Legends, among others. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Meeting with Irish Finance Minister Pascal O’Donohoe and Ambassador Adrian O'Neill 5th
I met with Pascal O’Donohoe the Irish Finance minister and the Irish Ambassador Adrian O’Neill to discussed a range of issues. We also had a lovely chat recalling stories of the late Denis Healey.
SME4Labour Annual Reception 5th
I spoke at SME4Labour’s second annual parliamentary reception, in the House of Commons which was hosted by Bill Esterson, Shadow Business and International Trade Minister. Since founded, SME4Labour has been able to create opportunities for vibrant and enlightening analysis and discussion of issues concerning self-employed people and small and medium enterprises. As of 2016, SMEs make up 99.3% of all private sector businesses in the United Kingdom, employing over 15.7 million people with an estimated combined annual turnover of £1.8 trillion accounted for 47% of private sector turnover.
Book launch of “Rise” 6th
Liam Young’s new book “Rise” insightfully describes and analyses the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. It a great read.
PCS Pay Rally 6th
I spoke at the PCS Rally in Committee Room 12 in the House of Commons alongside Mark Serwotka (General Secretary), and Chris Stephens MP (Chair, PCS Parliamentary Group). I told the crowded room that Labour will introduce a fully-funded, above inflation pay rises across the public sector. All public sector workers deserve a pay rise. Whether they are nurses, teachers, refuse workers or civil servants, government pay policy has held back their pay for too long now. The case to end the 1% pay cap is inarguable.
Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre 7th
I visited the Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre in London to launch a report which highlights the dangerous funding crisis facing children’s services in England, and call on the Government to act in next week’s Spring Statement by providing the £2 billion by 2020 in resources that services desperately need.
It is a national scandal that vulnerable children are paying the price for the austerity policies of this Tory government. Today’s report lays out in stark detail how nearly eight years of Tory austerity has created a crisis in children’s services in our country.
It is simply unacceptable that while there are more children being taken into care today that at any point since the 1980s, children’s services face a £2 billion deficit by 2020. And according to the National Children’s Bureau, more than one in three councillors are warning that cuts have left them with insufficient resources to support these children.
Post Brexit UK & India - Perspectives for Business & innovation 8th
I spoke at a meeting of the Indian Professionals Forum, in Chatham House and laid out Labour’s vision of a post-Brexit Britain and how to transform Britain’s relationship with India which I believe could be “fundamental to transforming” the British economy. A Labour government would transform the country into a “high investment, high productivity, high wage, economy” that would address the “deep structural problems” facing businesses, and seek to revive Britain’s relationship with India, post-Brexit, including through a trade deal that also involved Europe.
Pre Spring Statement 9th
I delivered a pre spring statement at One Great George Street. My main message was calling on the chancellor to use the following week’s Spring Statement to bring forward the funding needed to end the crisis they have created in our local communities. If the Chancellor cannot do the right thing and change course, he should stand aside for a Labour government that will.
CLICK HERE to read the full speech.
Scottish Labour Conference 11th
I closed Scottish Labour’s spring conference in Dundee yesterday with a pledge to increase spending north of the Border, including the possibility of high-speed rail up to Scotland. I set out a radical spending programme pledging that an extra £3 billion a year was earmarked for Scotland in Barnett consequentials – cash that comes to Scotland as a result of spending decisions taken by the UK – amounting to £30bn over ten years. Labour’s £250bn National Transformation fund would see £20bn spent in Scotland over a decade which that could help “rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and deliver key investments such as extending HS2 to Scotland”. A UK National Investment Bank could provide another £20bn in Scotland over ten years, helping small and medium businesses.
Spring statement 13th
In response to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement I said to Philip Hammond that his complacency today is astounding. We face – in every public service – a crisis on a scale we’ve never seen before. Hasn’t he listened to the doctors and nurses, the teachers, the police officers, the carers and even his own councillors? They are telling him they can’t wait for the next Budget. They’re telling him to act now. For eight years they’ve been ignored by this government.
And today - they’ve been ignored again.Today we have the indefensible spectacle of a Chancellor congratulating himself on marginally improved economic forecasts -while refusing to lift a finger as Councils go bust -the NHS and social care are in crisis - school budgets are cut - homelessness has doubled - and wages are falling. This isn’t a Government that’s preparing our country for the future. It’s a Government setting us up to fail.
Swan Road meeting 14th
We held a packed out residents meeting to launch a new petition on the need for traffic calming measures to tackle the road safety issues in Swan Road and nearby roads. We also discussed the proposed residents parking scheme.
North Warks Labour Party 15th
I spoke at North Warwickshire Labour Party and Solihull & Meriden Labour Party’s fundraiser at Kingshurst Labour Club in Birmingham to a packed hall of activists. It was a fantastic evening with a fish and chip supper. I enjoyed chatting to local campaigners about the upcoming local elections.
I spoke to year 6 pupils, who are undertaking a project on the 3rd Runway proposed at Heathrow. The overwhelming majority are opposed to the 3rd Runway.
Guru Nanak Sikh Academy 25th Anniversary at Beck Theatre 18th
Guru Nanak Sikh Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Beck Theatre in Hayes from 3.00pm to 6.00pm. The annual cultural show showcased the history of GNSA over the last 25 years. We were entertained with dance and music performances by students/pupils and staff from across the MAT. I was proud to be presented with a lovely award from pupils for my support for the school over the last 25 years.
Meeting with Hillingdon Council Staff
I held a worrying meeting with members of Unite & Unison employed by local Hillingdon Council, reporting the culture of bullying and exploitation within the council. Staff were also anxious at how services are stretched to limit. These dedicated workers deserve better. We have agreed that we will launch a joint campaign to support staff.
Urgent Question in the House 19th
I asked the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, if he would make a statement on the Government’s action to address ‘dirty money’ being laundered in the UK. The debate can be viewed here
Meeting with BFWU members 20th
I was proud to join a group of BFWU members who are working in McDonalds and planning their next McSrike to secure £10 an hour and decent working conditions.
“The Private Finance Initiative: how come we’re still paying for this?” photographic exhibition 20th
I hosted and spoke at the parliamentary launch of a photographic exhibition “The Private Finance Initiative: how come we’re still paying for this?” by Marion Macalpine and Helen Mercer, sponsored by People versus PFI. The exhibition illustrates the range of PFI deals across different sectors and throughout the UK, including schools, health, roads, prisons, housing and refuse into power schemes. It provides an overview of the extent to which PFI contracts have channeled public money into corporate coffers.
GLA Representatives re housing 21st
I convened a meeting with GLS Officers, Cllrs Peter Curling and Lynne Allen to discuss the Housing Zone announced by the Mayor for London and the council. However, due to the council’s failure to properly engage, there has been little action.
Greater London CWU AGM
I spoke at the CWU AGM to about 100 members of telecom engineers and other telecoms and IT workers. The discussion focused on Workers rights/anti Union laws, Public ownership Disability Rights and equality at work in general. And Affordable Housing.
Brent North campaign launch 24th
I spoke at the launch of Brent North’s election campaing along with Dawn Butler MP, Navin Shah- local GLA member and Muhammed Butt - Leader of Brent Council about austerity and the wider political context. I also spoke about the importance of Labour councils to protecting local communities as best they can in the face of huge cuts.
Simeon Andrews Funeral 26th
It is devastating to lose Simeon Andrews, one of the finest, most dedicated socialists. We worked & campaigned together for over 30 years, setting up trade union groups & the TUCG to give trade unions a powerful voice in Parliament. He was a true comrade and will be sadly missed.
Leeds Manifesto Launch 29th
I am speaking at the launch of the manifesto for the local elections alongside local MP Richard Burgon.