John’s Monthly Newsletter May 2016
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Glasgow May Day Rally 1st
I spoke at the Glasgow May Day Rally which was a march and rally with over 500 people present. All the local trade unions participated in a very successful rally celebrating the role of the labour and trade union movement in Scotland and its history of campaigning to improve employment rights and the quality of life of working people.
Local and Mayoral Elections 5th
I’d like to congratulate Sadiq & all our GLA candidates & campaigners, as well as and our new mayor for Liverpool - Joe Anderson, Marvin Rees for Bristol and Paul Dennett for Salford.Labour is rebuilding its support and closing the gap the Tories had at the 2015 general election. Labour has made a significant start and performed better than many predicted.
A P Taylor Awards 6th
I attended a presentation to local groups of funding awards from the local AP Taylor Trust in Hayes. It was good to be back at the heart of my community. This was an opportunity to thank all those local community groups for the work they do in supporting our community and I thanked the trustees of the A P Taylor Trust who manage the resources so well so that each year they are able to give small grants to vital community groups.
TSSA Conference 7th pic
I spoke at Tssa’s fringe event at Eastbourne discussing labour’s economic policies and in particular answering questions with regard to the impact of austerity measures which have been introduced by the government. There was a discussion particularly about the impact on people with disabilities and the campaign that DEPAC Disabled People Against the Cuts are undertaking to ensure that people are protected against these cuts as best they can.
I was pleased to welcome to Parliament our 2 new MPs Gill Furniss and Chris Elmore. Congratulations on great campaigns.
National launch of Labour Business LFIG
I spoke alongside Tom Watson, Angela Eagle, Seema Malhotra, Bill Esterson and Anthony Watson at the launch of Labour Business, which is the new name for the Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG) which is the largest and oldest and only business group affiliated to the Party as one of its 22 socialist societies. The event was attended by about 100 business leaders, trade unionists, Parliamentarians and Councillors.
Black List Support Group 11th
I joined blacklisted workers outside the High Court celebrating their legal victory against the major construction firms. I chaired the first ever meeting of the Blacklist Support Group back in 2009 with less than 10 people present - but now we have won a famous victory as companies forced to pay compensation. However "compensation is one thing, justice is another"
Construction firms at the centre of the blacklisting conspiracy were forced to make a grovelling apology "for the distress and anxiety caused to workers and their families". A six page agreed statement (attached) was read in open court which reads like a history of blacklisting in construction from the 1960s, covering the covert operations of the 'Services Group' within the notorious Economic League until the discovery of The Consulting Association blacklist in 2009. Senior company directors including Cullum McAlpine are named in the statement which ends with an apology from the firms.
While welcoming the agreed statement for putting on public record the shameful activities that have tarnished the reputation of an entire industry, blacklisted workers remain extremely sceptical about how genuine the apology really is. Even now the firms cannot bring themselves to use the toxic word 'blacklisting', despite the British Parliament passing the Blacklist Regulations 2010 in order to outlaw the disgraceful practice as a direct response to the Consulting Association scandal.
All Our Welfare Book Launch
I took part in an exciting discussion and panel debate about the future of the welfare state at the launch of Peter Beresford's challenging and valuable rethink of the welfare state: All Our Welfare: Towards a participatory social policy. Other panel members included, Julia Unwin CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who wrote the foreword, Suzy Croft a long term palliative care social worker and Peter Bereford.
Digital Charter Rights Launch 12th
A cross-party campaign for the People's Charter of Digital Liberties was launched in Committee Room 16 at the Houses of Parliament. The campaign for the People's Charter of Digital Liberties emerged from the 23rd March 2015 People's Parliament/Cybersalon about Snowden's NSA/GCHQ revelations. During the evening, both the panel and the audience repeatedly stressed that the NSA/GCHQ's mass surveillance was an infringement of our human rights. Inspired by this insistence, Cybersalon began the process which would lead to this campaign for the People's Charter of Digital Liberties.
Autism Equality in the workplace book launch
I attended Janine Booth’s launch of her excellent book Autism Equality in the workplace at the ex-Services Club, Harvey Road, Leytonstone E11. At the meeting I announced a neurodiversity shadow minister would be implemented to ensure these issue were given the same prominence as tackling racial and sexual discrimination following I received an email from Monique Craine. We want to represent the whole of society fairly. At the moment we are focusing on LGBT, we’re focusing on women, we’re focusing on race, etc. But what about neurological diversity as well? And I think that’s come on to the agenda.
Speech on EU at TUC 17th
At the TUC I set out the vision of Europe I have - a vision based on hope and solidarity. One where we protect and advance worker's rights, get to grips with climate change, protect our industries like steel and reform the institutions of the EU from a position of strength as a Labour Party in the EU and set out the progressive case for remaining in the EU.
Mirror EU Referendum Debate
I took part in the Mirror EU Debate with Nigel Farage and Peter Mandelson among the guests to put forward the vision for Britain and Europe where we protect workers’ rights, tackle tax avoidance, get to grips with climate change and protect our industries like steel.
UCATT National Conference 19th
At UCATT’s National Conference in Scarborough I spoke about how when Labour are in power we will tackle tax avoidance and evasion and invest in skills for jobs. I pledged that the next Labour Government will take action to tackle umbrella company exploitation. I believe umbrella companies should be scrapped. I also informed conference that I will ask a team of experts in “employment and company law” to fully examine all of the issues surrounding umbrella companies and to develop detailed policies to tackle this form of exploitative contract.
TUC’s Disabled Workers Conference 20th
I addressed delegates on the second day of the TUC’s disabled Workers Conference and took questions from the floor. I was pleased to endorse the manifesto for Disability Equality and urged support for the DPAC Campaign over the coming year.
Verasaikhi Fundraising Event
I attended the Hillingdon Sikh Welfare Association fundraising Versaikhi celebration. It was great fun. I am proud to say that we have worked together for 20 years. I especially thanked Mr Jasuir Rayat, a key founding member of the group.
Annual State of the Economy Conference at the Imperial College London 21st
I made the opening speech to the 800 delegates at our first Economic Conference setting out our radical reforms to surpass even the Atlee government. The party will revive plans for rent controls and urge councils to follow the lead of areas like Manchester to offer cheap, local authority-backed mortgages, Labour would make it a mission to ensure families and young people on ordinary incomes aren't locked out of home-ownership as they are under the Tories. I also announced plans for a mayors' economic forum to allow the elected local leaders to share ideas along with a new economic and innovation forum to bring together businesses, unions and government.
This was followed by a keynote speech from Ha-Joon Chang talking about a balanced and sustainable economy. There were 5 workshops in the morning – What would a fair tax system look like, Europe, Britain and the economic challenges ahead, Economics within a carbon budget, Alternative models of ownership and a finance sector fit for purpose.
The afternoon session’s workshops included rewriting the rules to tackle inequality, Fiscal and monetary policy: can the UK do better? How much debt is too much? Gendering economic policymaking, and Technology and the future world of work. A fantastic question and answer session took place in each workshop following exceptional presentations from all speakers. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time in each of the workshops and I was astounded by the level of enthusiasm and participation from all delegates. The workshops were followed by a plenary panel consisting of Sue Himmelweit, Linda Yeuh, Paul Mason, Adam Marshall and Len McCluskey with closing remarks by Jeremy Corbyn.
It was a day of serious economic debate featuring world famous experts, NGOs, trade unions and people impacted by policy We have the opportunity to build a fairer, equal, prosperous economy. We must be bold and ambitious.
PCS Conference 25th
I spoke at the PCS union Conference in Brighton. It was great to be amongst old friends and colleagues. I thanked PCS for their input into the HMRC review and reminded delegates that when Labour get back into power we’ll scrap the Trade union Act within 100 days. I also spoke at a fringe meeting on Tax justice along with our adviser Richard Murphy emphasising the importance of tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance so that we can fund our public services.
Ronald Tress Lecture
I delivered the 2016 Ronald Tress Memorial lecture to an audience of invited guests at the Houses of Parliament. I spoke about the enduring legacy of Ronald Tress and his work as part of the War Cabinet which laid the bedrock for the Welfare State directly after World War II. Ronald Truss was a graduate of politics and sociology from Birkbeck. He included a programme of housebuilding which enabled the young Shadow Chancellor to benefit from his own bedroom when he moved, along with his family, into their first council home. Professor Tress was part of “a remarkable generation who were swept up from wholly academic careers into the heart of Government itself”. This is an approach I am keen to emulate in my work in formulating Labour party economic policy, drawing on the best research to inform the Party’s approach to economic and fiscal issues.
Click it Out 26th
I chaired the launch of ‘click it out’, a new campaign which is monitoring the massive rise of social media abuse of predominantly Black and Jewish football players. In football season 2014/15 there were over 130,000 instances of abuse to these players and their clubs. Click it out will monitor and evaluate abuse of players during the 2016 tournament
Momentum Anti Austerity Meeting in Bedford
I attended a packed meeting in Bedford along with Ann Pettifor and Steve Keen, left economists, outlining the argument that austerity is not an economic necessity but a political choice and there is an alternative which is about long term investment in our economy, to grow our economy to be able to fund our public services but also to create prosperity that can be shared by all.
Tata Steel meeting 27th
Angela Eagle and I met with Koushik Chatterjee, Group Executive Director of Tata Steel and Bimlendra Jha, Chief Executive Officer of Tata Steel UK in Westminster, along with representatives of the steel unions Community, GMB and Unite.
Tata Steel announced their plans to sell their entire UK business in March. Since then we have been working to secure the future of UK steel making. All parties agreed the need to find a resolution to the pension issue which both protected workers and pensioners, and supported the sale process and the future sustainability of the business.
Steel is a foundation industry. It is vital for UK manufacturing and it supports 40,000 jobs across the country. Labour will continue to push the Government to do what is necessary to save our steel industry.
Another Europe is Possible 28th
It was a pleasure to be invited to speak at Saturday’s Another Europe Is Possible event at UCL Institute of Education. I was joined by Yanis Varoufakis, Caroline Lucas, Muzna Al- Naib, Katia Widlak, Amelia Womack, Asad Rehman, Anthony Barnett, Owen Jones, Michael Mansfield and a host of other campaigners to discuss and debate the ideas we need to win.
I have be touring the country over the recent weeks, making the case for EU membership and emphasising Labour’s own reasons for wanting to stay in the EU, separately from the Conservative campaign.
“The EU referendum is about our future relationship with Europe, not who is the next leader of the Tory party, which is why I think there is a positive case to be made and it’s vital young people hear this case over the personal ambitions of different Tory MPs,”
EU referendum – Public Meeting Wolverhampton 30th
I spoke at a public meeting in Wolverhampton advocating The Europe that the Tories want is not our Europe. Cameron went to negotiate away workers' rights in advance of this referendum. If he could have done it, he would have done. If Cameron and his crew are stillin power after this referendum they will continue dismantling our welfare state. 'They will continue to cut benefits, undermine wages and cut public service jobs. This will go on.'
EU referendum Public Meeting Leeds 31st
I spoke on the platform with Yanis Varoufakis, Pat Glass MP and Kim Groves to a packed auditorium as part of the ‘Another Europe Campaign’ advocating Remain and Reform.