John’s Monthly Newsletter March 2019
The month started out with the Tragedy in New Zealand. The shootings at the mosques in New Zealand are appalling acts of far right racism. I send my deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of all the victims and my solidarity to the people of New Zealand. We must stand together against all forms of racism.
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Questions to Philip Hammond 5th
In the regular treasury Questions slot in Parliament I asked the Chancellor,” if the price of a DUP vote has been £100m each, how much has he calculated a Labour MP’s vote will cost?
On his calculations, a DUP vote is worth £100 million and a Labour MP’s vote is worth about £6m.Let me ask the Chancellor to undertake another calculation.7 days ago he was forced to publish the Government’s assessment that a no deal Brexit could cost this country, in today’s prices, £198bn.Its earlier assessment put the cost of the Prime Minister’s deal at £83bn in today’s prices. How much of a threated cost to this country will it take for the Chancellor to find a backbone, to stand up to the PM and ERG to prevent a No Deal Brexit or a bad deal. Or is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the only cabinet minister willing to put country before career?”
I raised these questions because most people will be offended by the Tories maintaining themselves in power by bribing the DUP with resources being ploughed into Northern Ireland solely to secure their votes.
Launch of independent reports on how to reform our broken auditing and corporate governance regulatory system. 5th
I spoke at the launch of Professor Prem Sikka’s reports to the Labour Party, Reforming the Audit Sector and Regulatory Architecture to Enhance Democracy and Business Accountability. Under Labour, the big six accountancy and auditing firms will not be allowed to continue to act like a cartel, driving down standards, damaging the wider economy, and our business community will look closely at all of the report’s recommendations.
The Regulatory Architecture to enhance Democracy and Business Accountability report examined for the redesign of regulatory architecture. Recommendations included:
The regulatory system must be independent of all government departments so that Ministers cannot sabotage investigations or prevent publication of critical reports. Regulators must be independent of those who are to be regulated. Regulatory bodies must have clear objectives as well as their scope and powers defined by law.
The Reforming the Auditing Industry report includes recommendations that: Statutory auditors of large companies and other entities must act exclusively as auditors. The audit business of accounting firms must be legally separate from everything else, with no cross holdings. Auditors and their associates cannot sell any non-auditing services, with the exception of delivering statutory returns, to audit clients. A statutory state-backed body must be created to conduct real time audits of banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and major investment firms. An independent body to be created to appoint and remunerate auditors for all non-financial sector large companies, as defined by the Companies Act 2006.Large companies must be required to change audit firms, partners and entire audit staff at least once every five years and audit tenders must be publically available.
These reports are a damning description of the current auditing and regulatory regime, which has given us corporate scandal after corporate scandal. Labour will be examining them carefully and will lay out our proposals for shaking up the whole system
Blacklist Support Group
I hosted the Blacklist Support Group’s 10th Anniversary meeting in parliament to celebrate the successes of the campaign, but also to highlight the injustices that still need to be put right. It started out as an industrial relations issue, it’s now turned into a human rights conspiracy involving multinational companies and the police. One of the Police officers who was engaged in the spying operation attended and courageously spoke at at the meeting to expose the scale of surveillance undertaken.
How to Win a Shorter Working Week 7th
I spoke at the New Economics Foundation’s event in parliament on the prospect of a shorter working week being in reach. Arguments were made that the case is growing stronger with automation and prospects for a rebooted Green New Deal bringing a new urgency to the debate. The main discussion centred around how can we transition to shorter working week in a way that benefits workers and the economy and what forces are coming together to make it a reality.
West Ham Constituency Fundraiser
I was very pleased to speak at the West Ham Constituency Labour Party fundraiser to support Lyn Brown MP, who is part of my Shadow Treasury Team with responsibility for Social Mobility. It was a most enjoyable evening with about 200 activist raising significant funds for the coming campaigns.
David Jones/Joe Green Memorial Lecture 9th
I was proud to speak at the David Jones/Joe Green Memorial Lecture in Barnsley paying tribute to David Jones and Joe Green who died on the picket line at Orgreave in 1984 and committed to securing justice for Orgreave. I also spoke about how a Labour government will benefit the country and bring economic and social justice to the ordinary working person. The interview can be viewed here
‘In Conversation with John McDonnell and Graham Spiers’ Scottish Labour Conference Fringe 9th
This event was part of the fringe activities at the Scottish conference. It developed into a question and answer session on Labour’s policies for transforming the Scottish economy.
Scottish Labour Conference 10th
I spoke at the Scottish Labour Party Conference about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the spring statement and the misery that people are enduring as a result of Austerity. I also spoke about Labour’s intentions for a fourth industrial revolution being a Green Industrial Revolution, Scotland will be at the heart of a Green Industrial Revolution in our energy sector that could save this planet. Scottish hydro, Scottish wind, and Scottish wave power are essential to achieving the transition to the sustainable fuel sources that we need. A clip can be viewed here
High Court Heathrow Case 11th
I attended the High Court along with representatives from Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames and Windsor and Maidenhead councils as well as the Mayor of London and Greenpeace to challenge the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (NPS) on the Expansion of Heathrow Airport on the grounds that it fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. We will argue that it is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament.
Pre-Spring Statement Speech
During my pre-spring statement speech, hosted by Bloomberg, I spoke about how Philip Hammond has repeatedly talked about the dangers of a No Deal Brexit but taken no action to avert it. A No Deal Brexit which could decimate British industry and bring about – in the words of the Bank of England – a worse economic catastrophe than the financial crisis ten years ago. Our economy is stagnant and unbalanced, with millions shut out from the rewards which it creates. The Chancellor hasn’t eliminated the deficit, he’s just shifted it onto the shoulders of others. Philip Hammond was Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury when George Osborne devised his austerity strategy. He is complicit in every cut, every closure, every preventable death of someone waiting for hospital treatment or social care. And while the Chancellor has spoken about the productivity crisis, and other challenges facing us in this country, he has done nothing about it. We still have an economy 16% less productive than other G7 countries. The speech can be viewed here
Spring Statement 13th
In responding to the Chancellor’s spring statement I said “We have just witnessed a display by the Chancellor of this Government’s toxic mix of callous complacency over austerity and their grotesque incompetence over the handling of Brexit. While teachers are having to pay for the materials their pupils need, and working parents are struggling to manage as schools close early and their children are sent home, and as 5,000 of our fellow citizens will be sleeping in the cold and wet on our streets tonight, and young people are being stabbed to death in rising numbers, the Chancellor turns up today with no real end to or reversal of austerity” The full response can be read here or viewed here
Gravesham Town Seminar 16th
Gravesham was the latest stop on our Road to Rebuilding the Economy campaign where I set out some of the policies we have been pursuing and asking participants if these policies are relevant for this area or do they need adapting and to identify any gaps. The purpose of this exercise is that when the next election comes we want the manifesto drafted from grassroots up. Everything that we discuss in these seminars will be fed back into that conversation.
Harrow East Fundraiser 17th
I spoke at the fundraiser in support of Pam Fitzpatrick our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. The event was packed and raised thousands of pounds for her campaign.
Post-Spring Statement 20th
The ABI hosted a Question and Answer session on my reactions to the Government’s spring statement, in which many of the questions were on Brexit and investment.
POA Rally 20th
I addressed the Prison Officers Rally at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster to express my support for workers in the criminal justice system from prisons to our secure psychiatric hospitals and immigration services. I spoke about retirement age 68 is too late, violence in prisons, and privatisation.
Labour Assembly Against Austerity
I spoke at The Labour Against Austerity Meeting about our radical socialist programme which would create new homes, green jobs and lifelong education and build new hope. The meeting focused on the preparation for a general election and the policies needed to overcome austerity and give our society hope once more.
I was proud to speak at the launch of Preston Labour Party’s manifesto as it looks to retain control of the city council in the forthcoming local Government elections. I paid tribute to the success of the ‘Preston Model’, which was introduced six years ago to unite the council with key local organisations in looking to revive and grow the city’s economy.
It’s such a simple, straightforward but so effective method in which the council works with the key local anchor institutions to invest back into the community. Organisations such as the police, local NHS, university and colleges join with the council to use their procurement powers to basically say we will invest this money in our own community. “It has resulted so far in £75m worth of value being put back into the city and the creation of thousands of jobs – and they are well-paid ones, offering a living wage and the recognition of trade unions mean those wages are protected.
Hayes coffee morning with residents of the Allied Estate 23rd
We held a coffee morning at Hayes End Community Centre to listen to local people’s views and tackle any issues they identified in our area.
Hayes & Harlington Scouts recruitment morning at the Hayes Leisure Centre
I was pleased to visit the well attended recruitment drive by the local scout group and meet many old friends who are scout leaders.
Barnhill School Visit 26th
Over 50 students from Barnhill school came up to parliament where we outlined how Parliament works, showed them round and enabled them to attend a debate in the Commons Chamber. The students also discussed Brexit with me.
Society of Motor Manufacturers Trade SMMT Roundtable 27th
I spoke with a wide cross-section of representatives from the automotive sector about the current Brexit situation, UK business competitiveness and the Labour Party policy consultation.
London Young Labour’s AGM 31st
I was delighted to speak at London Young Labour’s AGM about building an economy that works for young people and for all of us. I was keen to ensure that the young members were fully engaged in the development of our next manifesto and our campaigning activities.