Welcome to my follow up newsletter and last one of 2020
Firstly, my thoughts remain with those who have been affected by the virus through bereavement and continuing ill health and for those who have faced immense financial difficulties, loss of employment and for those living in uncertainty with what the future holds.
As we enter Tier 4, I would once again thank everyone who is working so hard locally to assist our community in dealing with, and helping people come through the Covid 19 pandemic.
All our local agencies are working hard. The police, Council, Councillors, Fire Service, teachers, our local voluntary organisations, residents’ groups and religious bodies, and of course our local carers, hospitals, doctors, paramedics and all those working in our health and social services.
You will understand my repeating this message. Their commitment and dedication are astounding, and I can’t thank them enough for their work
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and Happy Christmas and New Year
My Activities and Work
My team are continuing to work remotely during the pandemic. If you have any issue of concern, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will do all we can to assist or advice you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many problems for the residents of Hayes and Harlington.
In many situations, the crisis has made existing problems worse.
As a result, understandably there has been a remarkable increase in the number of constituents’ that have sought my assistance since March. Below is a chart that shows the breakdown of casework my team and I have actioned from 1st March – 22nd December
In addition to casework, I received over 8,700 emails from March to 22nd December from constituents raising their concerns about policy positions and campaigns. Below is a list of just some of the issues that constituents have raised;
- #SaveOurStandards campaign to protect British farmers and the health of our children
- Agriculture Bill – Protect animal welfare standards
- Call on the Government to ensure animal sentience is protected in UK law
- calling for urgent action to protect the hen harrier
- EDM 267 to end cruel fur imports and sales
- EDM 50 to ban trophy hunting imports into the UK
- World Animal Protection and the Campaign to End Wildlife Trade
- Help make five-year sentences for animal cruelty
- Virtual lobby for climate, nature and people
- Take action for cleaner air
- Work for a green and fair recovery
- Coronavirus concerns on religious burials/cremations
- Hold Government to account on ending rough sleeping
- Support for the School Breakfast Bill to ensure no child starts the day too hungry to learn
- Free school meal vouchers for holidays
- Free travel for under 18’s
- A – Level Retake Students
- Calls for a reduction in beer duty to help support the pub industry
- Call to extend the furlough scheme for creative industries
- The Coronavirus Act 2020
- Coronavirus job retention scheme
- Support for the self employed
- Give NHS staff a pay rise
- British Airways redundancies / betrayal
- Save tax free shopping
- Back refugee resettlement and reopen safe routes to safety
- Pressure the government to take action against Israel annexation plan
- UK’s exportation of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to the United States of America
- Human rights abuses and looming war in Eritrea
- Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill
- Stop arming Saudi Arabia
- Impose sanctions on Nigerian officials and Nigerian police based on the current unrest in Nigeria
- End Indefinite immigration detention
- Black lives Matter
- Justice for Belly Mujinga
- Justice for George Floyd
- Justice for Shukri Abdi
- Opposition to Overseas Operations bill
- Support for Animal Welfare (Sentencing) bill
- End indefinite detention
- #EndSars and human rights violations in Nigeria
- Support for #RightToKnow equal pay campaign
- Global wildlife trade and COVID-19
- RCN Fair Pay for Nursing campaign
- Opposition for use of Fire and Rehire tactics
- Supertrawlers and support for greater protection for MPAs (marine protected areas)
- Support for getting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashooori home by Christmas
- Protecting safe and legal routes to asylum
- Support the Nursing Staff in our Area
- Indian Farming Laws / Indian Farmers Rights
I have signed 425 EDM’S https://members.parliament.uk/member/178/earlydaymotions
I have submitted 95 written questions
To see how I have voted, click on this link https://members.parliament.uk/member/178/voting
I work closely with other MP’s to raise issues collectively. Part of this is jointly signing letters and statements of support with Parliamentary colleagues. This is in addition to the letters that I have written to Ministers and other agencies on behalf of constituents through lobbies and casework.
Here is the link to my website where you can view past newsletters, joint letters, videos and news
or follow me on twitter @johnmcdonnellMP
Local Visits and Zoom Meetings in the Constituency
Due to Covid rules, I am unable to hold face to face meetings. However, I have met with constituents’ over zoom to discuss individual cases and held regular meetings with local community groups, headteachers, police, trade unions, local businesses, local councillors, local doctors, nurses and health bodies, care homes, local religious bodies and engaging in wider discussions with groups about general topics at both local and international level that affect my constituents and have been raised by them.
I am also maintaining regular contact with the Borough Commander, the Chair of the CCG, Headteachers, Hillingdon Hospital, the managers of our local care homes, Harlington Hospice, the Mayor for London and the Group of London MP’s. This is helpful by way of updates, sharing information and assessing how we can all work together
Since March and as part of the lock down rules, I have used my daily exercise walk to walk around and inspect different areas of my constituency to monitor the area and report to the appropriate body any issues that I find needing action.
These are just some of the local visits and Zoom Call meetings addressing local issues I have been involved in.
Supreme Court Decision on Heathrow 3rd Runway
You may have seen reports in the media that the Supreme Court has recently overturned an earlier court decision that the Government had acted illegally in its airport policy by not taking into account international agreements on tackling climate change when it considered a 3rd runway.
The Supreme Court’s decision simply means that the Government has to take climate change agreements and policies into account when at a later stage a planning application may be submitted.
This is my interview on Sky News regarding https://youtu.be/QjJB86oE50s
I met with representatives of Unite the Union who represent Rolls Royce workers in our constituency to discuss the threat to their jobs and what support I could give them in negotiations with their manager.
I also Joined members of unite in an online picket line rally for Rolls Royce workers in Barnoldswick. This company is betraying its workers and this community by shipping these workers’ jobs abroad, especially after receiving billions in taxpayer support.
I met with this local company to assist them in representations to the Government for support in the development of the Company’s contracts abroad that will provide more jobs and job security for local people in our area.
The Fight for Jobs at Heathrow Goes On
I have held regular meetings with the management and trade unions at Heathrow doing all I can to protect jobs and wages and conditions of employment. I have spoken at a number of Unite, the trade union, meetings and supported the workers in their campaigns to protect their employment. This has including making representations on their behalf to companies like British Airways and the various airport catering and airport services companies that have often treated their employees appallingly. Although the pandemic may continue to impact upon our
economy for some time, nevertheless it is a temporary problem and yet many companies like Heathrow Ltd are trying to impose permanent wage cuts on their wages. This is unfair and disgracefully using the crisis as an excuse to increase the long-term profits of their shareholders. This is unacceptable.
Unite Picket line
I spoke at the drive-in rally at the Bedfont Football Club in support of my constituents who are striking against Heathrow Airport trying to force through wage cuts and attacking their terms of employment.
General Secretary of Equity, the Actors Union
I met with the new General Secretary of Equity, the Actors Union. I have received representations from local constituents working in the performing arts sector, who the Government have left without support. I have taken up this case from the early stages of the pandemic and will continue to press the Government on this issue
Community Trade Union – Justice and Custodial Sector Workers
I met with the Trade Union Representatives from workers at the local detention centres to ensure that I could support them in their occupation and their Trade Union activities.
Tower Hamlets Strike Rally
I spoke at the rally to support workers taking strike action against job cuts in the section providing support to children with Special Educational Needs.
Brighton UCU Strike Rally
I spoke at the online rally in support of the strike against job cuts at Brighton University.
Heathrow Education Hub Meeting
I attended a meeting with Unite the union which launched the Heathrow Hub project to provide educational and training opportunities, especially for Unite members and their families impacted by the Covid crisis. This is an online response which will greatly help them in pursuing career opportunities.
Launch of UKDHM 2020
I spoke at the above Launch about disabled people’s rights and the urgent need for this, especially as during Covid 19 disabled people have been badly affected by the lack of protection by the Government.
DPAC 10 Year Anniversary
10 years ago, I spoke at the founding conference of Disabled People Against the Cuts. This anniversary meeting celebrated 10 years of active campaigning by disabled people against austerity measures. I was proud to be able to support their campaign through the last 10 years.
I am in regular contact with the Royal College of Nursing. Through the RCN, I met with a group of local nurses who shared their experiences of working through Covid. I thanked them for their dedication and hard work. I am supporting the campaign for a decent pay rise for health and care workers.
Keep the NHS Public
Linked to this, I have been working with the campaigning group of doctors and health workers, Keep the NHS Public, to demand the NHS is fully funded and an end to the privatisation of our NHS. I have expressed my concern at the award of contracts for test and trace, PPE equipment to companied with no track record in this field but with political links.
Doctors Association UK
I was invited to an important briefing from the Doctors Association who are the voice of doctors, run by frontline doctors. Primary Care changed overnight to adapt to the
pandemic. As they are first line of defence. PPE issues continue, test and trace is not up to standard, deprivation widens health inequalities and staffing and funding issues remain. There are concerns that this is affecting morale which in turn could lead to rising workloads, recruitment and retainment, mental health issues and burn out.
Hillingdon Hospital redevelopment
I attended the first monthly public webinar to hear an introduction to the plans and progress of the hospital redevelopment to date.
H4All trustees Board to Board meeting with the Hospice
As a Trustee of Harlington Hospice, I attended this meeting of local voluntary organisations to discuss their future role and activities.
Care Home Zoom
I attended this important briefing from the Alzheimer’s Society. I have received emails from loved ones of those with dementia who are in care homes and they are unable to visit due to Covid. The presentation covered the challenges and how best to work with care homes and local Directors of Public Health to best enable visits or maintain contact between residents and their loved ones. I have also supported local care homes that have struggled to receive adequate protective equipment and testing. This has including liaising with the homes and chasing ministers to secure action.
I attended this briefing to gain a thorough briefing of the funding crisis in our schools. There was a range of experts who reported that the fall in pupil spending between 2009 – 2019” represents the largest cut in over 40 years”. They are facing rising costs from Covid-19 and with the unfunded teachers’ pay award, is pushing school budgets to breaking point. I have linked up with a number of local school and college heads drawing upon their experience in my representations to ministers, especially over the exam’s fiasco. I am holding a Zoom meeting this month for all the local heads as there have been strong concerns raised about the lack of support and leadership from the Department of Education and the failure of the Secretary of State to consult headteachers fully
Special Needs Pupils (SEND)
Following representations from local parents, I have been participating in meetings of parents, teachers and MP’s to secure more support from government to assist pupils with special needs
Brookside School meeting with students
I attended an on-line lesson and responded to insightful questions from the pupils about International Trade.
Charville School Governors
I attended a meeting with the Governors who updated me on the progress of the school.
Hayes Park School
Mini Ministers and the Pupil Parliament at Hayes Park School grilled me with some well thought through questions around the environment, pollution, littering, as well as the lockdown period and the effect the pandemic has had on my job. We also talked about extending free school meals to children in KS2.
I convened an online meeting of Headteachers to listen to their concerns about the impact of the pandemic and also to thank them all for what they have done to support local children.
Winter Fest (socially distanced)
I visited the wonderful Winter Festival organised by Hillingdon Play Association, with the support of a local company, HASBRO and Kevin Gates. Valerie Mohammadi organises this every Christmas and this year was no different. She didn’t want any child to miss out and so arranged for local children to visit Father Christmas and receive a gift. I send my heartfelt thanks to Valerie, HASBRO and of course Father Christmas!!
Cladding / leaseholder
It has been over three years since the Grenfell tragedy. This disaster highlighted the use of flammable cladding, insulation and other materials that have been used in buildings. There have been inordinate delays in identifying the buildings with dangerous cladding and the removal of such materials. This has left hundreds of my constituents’ living in fear as they could be residing in unsafe buildings. They are unable to sell their properties or re mortgage due to not having a safety certificate. Leaseholders also face an anxious wait to hear if they will be charged for any safety checks and the work to remove the material.
I met with the UK Mortgage Prisoners campaign group, who are fighting for fair mortgages for all. Since the global financial crash over 12 years ago, people have been trapped on crippling interest rates. Some face repossessions or have court orders that will be activated if one mortgage payment is missed
We have an ongoing housing crisis in our area with homelessness, overcrowding, high rents and an overall shortage of genuinely affordable accommodation. Although we do all we can to assist families this problem will not be overcome without a large-scale council house building programme and rent controls. I am working with the London Renters Union and Acorn, another renters body, to campaign for an end to
evictions during the pandemic and the scrapping of Section 21 which allows landlords to evict tenants without reasonable grounds. This was promised by Boris Johnson but has not been delivered. If anyone is interested in helping set up a local branch of the Renters Union, please contact me.
River Colne and River Frays
For some time, I have been contacting the Environment Agency about the lack of maintenance of the rivers Colne and Frays. The recent wet weather saw a rise in water levels which flooded properties in the vicinity. I visited the area to record the extent of the flooding and spoke to constituents’ who were anxious about the situation. I remain in contact with the Environment Agency and will continue to work with our West Drayton councillors, Stuart Mathers, Janet Duncan and Jan Sweeting, who have launched a petition on behalf of the residents.
Hayes Canal Partnership
I continue to work with the local Canal Partnership that I helped to found. We have been focussing on improvements to the towpaths, securing residential moorings in Hayes town centre and ensuring developments along the canal in Hayes and West Drayton open up the canal to local residents and improve the overall environment.
Harmondsworth Moor and Saxon Lake
Over the past few months, residents have contacted me about littering, anti-social behaviour which has led to significant damage to parts of Harmondsworth Moor and around Saxon Lake
The land is owned by BA. The park wardens who are employed by BA do a great job in ensuring the area is safe. However, since they have been furloughed, the area has deteriorated. I am trying to secure a zoom meeting with the CEO of BA, the local police and the residents
Climate, Nature and People
Several constituents invited me to a virtual lobby for a healthy, green and fair recovery from coronavirus. We discussed the build back after Covid 19 and the opportunity to tackle climate change, nature’s decline, and rebuild a resilient economy that benefits everyone in society.
Claim the Future- Labour Land Campaign
During this event George Monbiot, Heather Wetzel and myself discussed issues around land, where it belongs and the radical changes needed in the way land in the UK is used and governed. The way land is owned and controlled underlies many of the problems this country faces. Soaring inequality and exclusion, the massive cost of renting or buying a decent home, repeated financial crises, sparked by housing asset bubbles, the collapse of wildlife and ecosystems: the ownership and control of land underlies all of them.
Black Lives Matter Rally
I joined the Black Lives Matter Rally in Barra Hall Park. It was a very well organised, socially distanced event, with a good atmosphere and speeches. I thank Charlene for organising it. Here is a link to my speech https://twitter.com/socialistcam/status/1274013746751512576/photo/1
Black Lives Matter and the Curriculum to Fully Reflect British History
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham led the discussion on this topic. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that the time for empty commitments is over and the
Covid crisis has shone a brutal light on the racial and class inequalities. Our curriculum does not fully reflect British History and now is the time to immediately and meaningfully address this.
A Debt Jubilee – Claim the Future 26th
For many people, debt is a crushing issue that has been deepened by Covid-19. I was joined by Johnna Montgomerie, Head of the Department of European & International Studies at Kings College and Astra Taylor, a Canadian-American documentary filmmaker, writer, activist and musician in a discussion about debt as both a domestic and an international dimension. Some of the issues raised included – What policy measures should be demanded on a domestic and international level: capping interest rates and what can be demanded in overdraft fees or interest payments? Interest-free student loans or cancellation of student debt? Or a debt jubilee both at home and internationally?
Human Rights Abuse in Eritrea
I met with a group of Eritrean constituents who explained first-hand the abuse and fear that Eritrean’s are facing. The diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia gave hope that the human rights would improve in Eritrea. However, indefinite military conscription, forced labour and slavery, restricted freedom of movement and expression and arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances continue
The Crisis in Yemen
Many constituents’ have contacted me about the dreadful humanitarian crisis in Yemen. It is reported that over 24 million Yemenis urgently require humanitarian assistance, including almost 10 million children. The ongoing conflict has resulted in an economic collapse and has left families and children in urgent need of food and water. It is reported that 10 million Yemenis are on the verge of famine. With the outbreak of COVID19, the situation worsens as hospitals are barely functioning and there is a huge shortage of medical supplied and medicine. Helen Lackner joined us in this discussion. Having worked in all parts of Yemen since the 1970s and lived there for close to 15 years, she gave an insightful talk on the history of the region and the current state of affairs
Annexation of Palestinian Occupied Territories
Israeli Government’s declaration that from 1st July 2020 the state of Israel will begin the process to annex areas of Palestinian Occupied Territories it has occupied since June 1967. I share constituents’ concerns that annexation will completely undermine the Palestinian’s right to self-determination and destroy any hopes of justice for the Palestinians. Ben Jamal from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign joined us to discuss the impact such a move will have on the Palestinian people and what support we can provide
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community APPG
I attended the APPG to discuss the violence and victimisation of Ahmadiyya’s in Pakistan and the regrettable response from the Pakistani government.
I attended the Tamils All Party Parliamentary Group to discuss the issues facing the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, in particular the continuing Human Rights abuses. I also met with my constituents from the Tamil community who are concerned that the UK Government is not complying with the court verdict to lift the ban on LTTE. With this ban in place, it prevents any political progress and as many agencies have raised, it is a serious attack on basic rights of free speech and assembly as well as derailing any peace talks.
I joined the APPG British Sikhs at a virtual lobby of Parliament to highlight the 3rd year of detention, without charge of Jagtar Singh Johal of Dumbarton who was abducted with his newlywed wife in Punjab in November 2017 by masked men who did not identify themselves as police. The Indian Government have not yet brought charges against Jagtar in the terrorism case for which he is being held.
There have been widespread protests by farmers in India, following recent legislative changes by the Indian Government. They are protesting to ensure that they get fair prices and to protect the farmers from exploitation
Many constituents have contacted me about this issue. I have signed a joint letter to the Secretary of State about this issue. I also raised concerns about the lack of coverage on this issue with the BBC
Progressive International – We stand with Assange, for truth and justice
I spoke alongside Roger Waters, Rafael Correa, Yanis Varoufakis, Pamela Anderson, Srećko Horvat, Jennifer Robinson, Slavoj Žižek. This event brought attention to Julian Assange’s ongoing trial in the UK, which will shape the future of publishing, journalism and free speech rights. Assange faces this defining trial, and the prospect of a 175year sentence in a maximum-security US prison, because he and the organisation he co-founded, Wikileaks, revealed US government crimes. For example, the infamous “Vault 7” leaked documents revealed crimes of US empire, including: war crimes in Iraq, torture at Guantánamo Bay, and the CIA’s illegal surveillance program. Wikileaks has been an inspiration to social movements around the world in their fight for truth and justice.
A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft
I attended the virtual premier of a short film of the installation of Maggie Hambling’s sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraf, in Newington Green Mary was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.
Aviation Industry Debate in Westminster Hall
I spoke at a debate in Parliament on the Aviation Industry. Before I stood down as shadow Chancellor, one of the last conversations I had with the Chancellor was about securing an aviation strategy and bringing various partners in the sector together to do that. I regret that no effective co-ordinated strategy has been forthcoming, and in the absence of that strategy, we have seen the law of the jungle rule that sector. As a result, many of my constituents are experiencing real uncertainty, stress, distress and hardship, as they lose their jobs and have their wages cut.
During this debate I called on the Government to live up to their responsibilities to bring together all the partners in the sector, employers and trade unions, and then bring forward a programme for the immediate and long-term future of aviation. It should include the support that airport and aviation communities need immediately.
Financial Reward for Government Workers and Key Workers
In the Westminster Hall debate on the petitions signed by over 150.000 people protesting against the treatment of public sector workers during Covid I highlighted the ‘depth of anger’ across the UK in regards to public sector pay freeze, anger ‘comes after 10 years of pay cuts’ and an ‘epidemic of in work poverty’. My full speech can be viewed below
Ricky Reel Campaign
Many of you will remember my constituent Ricky Reel. Ricky was a 20 year old student who was last seen on 15th October 1997. He was on a night out with his friends in Kingston, when they were attacked.
Whilst his friend was fighting the attackers off, Ricky disappeared. His body was found in the Thames a week later. At the time, the police thought that it was an accidental death.
After two investigations, neither established exactly how he died. For 23 years, his family have been campaigning to get justice for Ricky. They have now launched a petition to demand a new police investigation, including a review of all forensic evidence.
I support the call by the family of Ricky Reel and the Justice for Ricky Reel Campaign for the police to review the case of Ricky Reel afresh including a review of forensic evidence in the light of recent technological advances.
The link to the petition is here http://chng.it/MnqqMkLvwH
Please sign the Petition and share.
Mecca Bingo “Everyone Deserves a Christmas” Campaign
Mecca has 77 bingo clubs across the UK, including here in Hayes. This year they launched their campaign, “Everyone Deserves A Christmas” to provide free hampers to those in our community who are most in need. They partnered up with ‘Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow & Brent’ & ‘Hillingdon Foodbank’ to ensure the food hampers go to those who need it the most.
The Mecca team in Hayes collected donations from local companies and got to work filling the hampers and then delivered them to Hillingdon Food Bank, where I joined them to offer my support.
Two new foodbanks have opened in Hayes. Whilst it is wholly unacceptable that foodbanks are needed in 2020, until there is long term change, people will still have the need for this support.
St Anslem’s Church Foodbank Wednesdays 12pm – 2pm. Station Road / St Anselm’s Road Hayes
Thanks to the dedication of the volunteers and the commitment of Fr Matthew in opening the church for this much needed service
St Marys Church Hall, Church Road, Hayes UB3 2LR
I visited St Marys to give a donation and more importantly, to thank all of the volunteers for their work. Below are photographs of all the the gifts that they collected, wrapped and delivered to Kingsley Court Residential Home, Sheltered Accommodation in Kelf Grove and over 100 children in need
Bell Farm Christian Centre
Most Foodbanks are struggling to keep up with the demand, Bell Farm Christian Centre is one of them.
I visited to give a donation and to meet with Diane Faichney, Centre Director and Stuart Mathers, Director of Development and Project Management
It was heart-warming to see such generosity by way of donations and those helping to sort clothes and food, delivering parcels and wrapping gifts.
Their contact details are 01895 444406
Bell Farm Christian Centre, South Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 9LW
I extend my deepest gratitude to the staff and volunteers who run all the foodbanks in our community and to those who assist with their donations
Numerous business, including pubs, the hospitality industry and the performing arts are suffering due to Covid-19
At this time, I would ask that wherever possible, try and buy local to support our local economy.
Our local theatre has also struggled. It is not just a theatre; it is a community hub. The Beck Theatre team support as many voluntary groups and initiatives as they can, and I would like to send my thanks and to give a “shout out” for their new programme of events for 2021.
Please do keep in touch and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need my assistance.
Because of the high volume of work at his time I will always do my best to respond promptly but hope that you will appreciate that sometimes we are a bit stretched because of the high volume of work at this time.
Stay well and stay safe and as always thank you for the support you give me and my team.
Have a safe and happy Christmas
John McDonnell MP