John’s Monthly newsletter November 2017
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Advance Engineering Show 2nd
I took advantage of a great opportunity to walk around and meet lots of businesses (buyers, engineers & managers across the engineering sectors) at the Advanced Engineering Show at the Birmingham NEC. These firms at the cutting edge of technological progress in this country today.
North West Regional Conference 4th
I was pleased to speak at Labour’s North West Conference in Blackpool along with Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott, John Healey and Jeremy Corbyn about building an economy for the many not the few. I emphasised labour’s plan to ban fracking in Blackpool and invest in renewable energy projects instead.
CLASS 5th Birthday Celebration 6th
I spoke at an event CLASS held at Hamilton House in London to celebrate their 5th birthday. The event took the format of a Question Time-type panel, with pre-selected questions from the floor to the panel on climate change, Brexit, the media, race and immigration, jobs and workers’ rights, the Labour party, austerity and the economy. I concluded with some closing remarks about where we want to be in five years’ time, and what we’ll need to overcome in order to get there.
Hayes Park School 7th
I visited Hayes Park School to talk to the children about their visit to Parliament and my role as MP. As usual the children put me through my paces about my role as a constituency MP and the Shadow Chancellor. It was a pleasure working with them.
Charter of the Forest Reception and Seminar
In partnership with New Putney Debates we delivered a seminar in the Speakers House on the importance of the Charter and its implications for the 21st century. This was the first of a series of events to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the Forest. The Charter was intended to ensure that people had access to the Commons – the cultural and natural resources available freely to everyone – for subsistence by guaranteeing common rights to food and Fuel.
In summing up, if we go back to the charter of the forest we see how the people then questioned the right of those who annexed large tracts of land and called it their own. Perhaps we should do that in 21st century Britain and, as mentioned above, look to firstly, to question the legitimacy of ownership, secondly to protect our public land from any more plunder by the private sector, thirdly, to look at the possibilities of using land more productively in a democratic way in which the people can create collective wealth together for the good of the many not the few.
The event can be viewed by clicking here link
Carnival meeting with John and LBH 8th
I met with the Council Officers and John Chamberlain, joint Chair of the Carnival Committee to prepare for next year’s carnival.
Railway Estate Residents
I convened a meeting of Railway Estate residents, with local councillors, to develop our programme for tackling the environmental and antisocial behaviour problems on the estate. The meeting was well attended and we agreed a plan of action.
Pinner High politics club 9th
Went to speak to the pupils of Pinner High who have joined the politics club to discuss the role of an MP. They were very enthusiastic questioners!
Swan Road Meeting at Swan Road Methodist Church
I attended a packed meeting at Swan Road, West Drayton with Cllrs Jan Sweeting & Janet Duncan to demand action from council on local road safety issues.
Pinkwell School and Laurel Lane Chat with Headteacher
I visited Pinkwell and Laurel Lane schools as part of a tour I am undertaking of local schools to meet head teachers and staff to discuss local education developments.
Political Literacy – London Oratory School
I visited the London Oratory School to listen to the students deliver their special, end-of-course speeches on Friday the 10th of November.
The speeches covered a variety of different topics, ranging from tuition fees to the NHS, to knife crime, to bringing back the death penalty. I was impressed with the work Shout Out UK is doing in the area of political literacy and the importance, in general, for young people to engage in the political system, whatever their beliefs.
The course covers an Introduction to British Politics (local and national, separation of powers, voting and debating), International Relations (Britain and the world, media literacy, political theory) and Employability & Politics (oratory skills, debating and public speaking).
Stop Heathrow Expansion AGM
I attended the packed AGM which was held in St Mary’s church hall in Harmondsworth village and reminisced that I attended my first anti-runway meeting in 1982 in the old Harlington Secondary School. Over the years each time we have forced them back. This time it is probably the final battle. At the end of the day, I am not going to sit back and allow it to happen. They will destroy 4,000 homes and shut down our schools and pollute the atmosphere. I am not going to sit back. I have to tell you now, if it comes to direct action I’ll be there.
Charter of the Forest 11th
As part of our Economic Regional Conference Series I delivered the opening speech on the Charter of the Forest in Lincoln, which is home to one of the two surviving copies. I spoke about Labour’s plans to bring back key industries into public ownership. The conference also heard from Professor Guy Standing, Claire McCarthy, General Secretary of the Co-Op Party and local MP Karen Lee on co-operative ways of working, land ownership and the plunder of the commons.
In the workshops speakers highlighted public ownership, the role of co-operatives and social enterprises in moving towards a new economy fit for the 21st Century and New Concepts of Land Ownership.
Remembrance Sunday Services and Parades 12th
I attended the remembrance service at St Mary’s Church, Church Road. The parade assembled in Barra Hall Park as usual and moved off for the service of Remembrance in St Mary’s Church, Church Road Hayes. This was be followed by a short Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph at 11.00am.
IPPR Commission on Economic Justice 14th
I spoke at the IPPR about the UK Economy After Brexit at Fishmongers Hall, London Bridge emphasising the fact that the immediate challenges of Brexit have been magnified a hundredfold by this decaying government. We face the biggest political challenge in this country’s recent peacetime history with a government barely capable of agreeing amongst itself on any given day, let alone in negotiating properly with the European Union and its member states.
We are, as a result, rushing headlong into the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit in which a sudden and catastrophic change to our regulatory and legal environment is imposed on us – with no real preparation or plan for how to deal with it.
Labour will fight every step of the way for a Brexit that puts jobs and living standards first and we have insisted that the rights of EU nationals currently resident are agreed immediately.
When we go into government, we will have an extraordinarily difficult job on our hands: not just in addressing the social, even humanitarian crisis of austerity and not only in turning round the economy so that it delivers for the many, not the few but in addressing those gross inequalities and longstanding structural failings.
Labour understands and will rise to the challenge. We will build a new economy: radically fairer, more democratic; sustainable and egalitarian; where alienated and insecure work has given way to free and creative labour. The challenges are immense, but so, too are the possibilities.
Shout Out Parliamentary Event
I attended a packed meeting, hosted by Cat Smith, on “The Importance of Political Literacy in the House of Commons. You can see an interview I did after the event by clicking here https://youtu.be/xVi05fY-C5s
Harlington Hospice AGM 16th
I attended the Harlington Hospice AGM, as a Trustee, to discuss the exciting plans to develop a bedded unit in the Hospice.
Pre budget Anouncement 16th
In a pre -Budget speech at Church House Westminster, Deans Yard, Westminster I called on Philip Hammond to end seven years of austerity with an “emergency Budget” for public services and asked for a genuine and decisive change of course when he reveals his Budget plans in the Commons.
In the speech I demanded the government lift the public sector pay cap, “properly” fund public services, “pause and fix” Universal Credit, and embark on a large-scale public house-building programme.
In his first year as Chancellor, Philip Hammond has demonstrated that he completely fails to understand how working people are struggling after seven years of Tory austerity, the country needs an ’emergency Budget’ for our public services that are in crisis, not a budget desperately designed to save the jobs of a weak Prime Minister and her embattled Chancellor.
Philip Hammond wants you to believe there is nothing that can be done to end these scandals and that the millions more children who will grow up in poverty under this Government due to their policies cannot be prevented, wants to pretend he cannot invest on the scale needed, yet he has already borrowed more in his first year as Chancellor than any of his predecessors in their first year at the Treasury.
Pre-Budget speech, China Exchange, 32A Gerrard St, London 17th
I introduced the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler MP, at the china Exchange where she set out the impact of the Government’s policies on BAME women and the Labour Party’s vision to build an economy that works for the many, not the few.
Austerity is a failed Tory party economic project, and has hit Black and Asian women the hardest. Labour’s race manifesto is our commitment to eliminate racial inequality in our economy.
Hereford & South Herefordshire CLP Centenary Dinner 18th
I felt honoured to be invited as the guest speaker at the CLP Centenary Dinner and passed on a congratulatory message from “a Shropshire Lad”, Jeremy Corbyn to the 100 members and supporters that attended the event.
The CLP has grown in strength since the General Election in 2015 and now have some 600 members and 200 supporters which is a mean feat in this rural constituency. I presented Jo Kelly with a Long Service award and thanked her for the work that she has done for the party over the years. Ms Kelly first joined Labour more than 50 years ago as a teenager living near Glasgow.
Andrew Marr show 19
I gave an interview on Andrew Marr – as I frequently do – to put across labour policies.
Launch of UK Disability History Month 22nd
I was delighted to speak at the launch of UK Disability History Month in Portcullis House. Each year they choose a different subject to examine and explore and given us the opportunity to challenge policies and stereotypes and talk about the future. This year they have chosen the Arts which is an area that I think we have made a significant breakthrough in being able to get the truth across that other form may not so effectively articulate.
The introduction of the Universal Income will cut the severe disability premium which will affect many disabled people in a reduction of £80-£100 per week. This will reduce the quality of lives of many disabled people and reduce their potential in realising their artistic ambition. Congratulations to all those who organized this event as it gets bigger and more successful each year.
Response to the Budget 23rd
This is a ‘nothing has changed’ Budget from an out-of-touch Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and no plan to improve them. Philip Hammond has completely failed to recognise the scale of the emergency in our public services.
Today’s Budget has found no meaningful funding for our schools still facing their first real terms funding cuts since the mid-90s and nothing even approaching the scale needed to address the crisis in our NHS or local government.
For all the fanfare on housing, today saw more tinkering in place of decisive action, with only one third of funding announced today genuinely new. The Chancellor announced no measures to directly increase house-building and, without that, lifting stamp duty for some will only drive up prices and benefit sellers, as the OBR have acknowledged.
The Government’s rollout of Universal Credit is causing real suffering in our communities. Today rather than the halt the botched rollout and fix the failing system, the Chancellor has put back £1 for every £10 cut from the system. Today all the Chancellor could offer those struggling with debt and rent arrears is further debt.
Economic growth is the lowest it has been since the Tories came into office and today’s Budget confirms that failure, with growth and wage forecasts revised down in every year of the forecast. If the Government cannot address the scale of the challenges facing our economy they should stand aside for a Labour government that will.”
Rally against Austerity
I spoke at the Rally Against Austerity at the Bethel Convention Centre in Birmingham setting out how Labour will build an economy for the many, not the few.
Blyth Valley CLP 25th
I spoke at the annual dinner at Blythe Valley CLP. It was great to have the opportunity to meet so many enthusiastic and active party members.
Inter-Parliamentary Union 27th
I met with the visiting delegation from Cuba which was organised by Karen Lee
Treasury Questions 28th
I asked the Chancellor Why the Government have not brought forward an amendment of the law resolution in the Budget resolutions? This is almost unprecedented and a tactic used only when the issue to be dealt with is urgent. It will restrict the ability of hon. Members on both sides of the House to move amendments and to address the range of economic and social needs of our community.
I believe it is because he wishes to avoid debate on some of the key issues facing our communities. I highlighted one of those questions, which was totally neglected last week in the Budget. The Chancellor received representations from Action for Children, the Local Government Association and Barnardo’s on the crisis in children’s services. Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, has said that “children’s services are on an unstable and dangerous footing. We’re calling on the Government to prioritise the services children need before this crisis turns into a catastrophe”.
What was in the Chancellor’s mind when he prioritised giving nearly £5 billion to the banks rather than plugging the gap in children’s services for those most in need in our society?
Meeting with the local police commander
I undertook my regular meeting with the local police commander to discuss local political issues and to express my concerns at the lack of policing resources overall, as the result of cuts in the Metropolitan Police budget imposed by Government.