MP’s Report: 15th November to 16th January
Although it feels like a long time ago already, I hope everyone enjoyed some kind of break over Christmas and New Year. Of course we know that for Newcastle’s Citylink workers the sudden news that they had lost their jobs, delivered by trade unions and the media because the bosses had better things to do, must have made Christmas a very sad and distressing time. It’s hard to believe there are Scrooges who think it is OK to sack workers on Christmas Eve, leaving taxpayers to pay their redundancies and many, many small businesses and so called self employed contractors (most of whom should really be employees) out of pocket to the tune of thousands and thousands of pounds.
Since this Government came to power ordinary working people are £1800 per year worse off on average across the North East. And whilst giving tax cuts to millionaires, George Osborne has broken his promise to eradicate the deficit in one term, as well as lying about halving the deficit. The Tories can’t even find a decent road to photograph which isn’t German.
So when they say “Stick with us, we’re on the right road” it rings hollow. Unemployment is still high and far too many of those in work have to rely on benefits to top up low pay or compensate for sky high child care costs, or are classed as ‘self employed’ with no rights, made to shell out for everything from uniforms to petrol. This is the Tory Lib Dem vision of a booming Britain, tax cuts and bonuses for those at the top, insecurity and foodbanks for those at the bottom, and an NHS broken up to maximise profits for Tory donors, where competition counts for more than care.
But it is not the Labour vision. No, we want a Britain that works for everyone. Living wages, employment rights, 25 hours of free childcare, 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more careworkers and 3,000 more midwives paid for by a tax on homes of more than £2 million pounds, 200,000 new homes every year, a freeze on energy bills, proper apprenticeships which lead to proper jobs. That is the choice on 7th May 2015.
Backbench and Constituency Role
On 7th January I raised with the Prime Minister at Prime Ministers Questions the state of the NHS in the North East, not one Trust is meeting A&E targets whilst PM sells it off to his friends.
On 7th January I led a Westminster Hall debate on the treatment of benefits claimants in the North East. There was an excellent response to this debate and many other Labour MPs from across the North East joined in highlighting the demonization of benefits claimants with case studies that the hardest hearts – even Tory Ministers – could not defend. Unfortunately the Ministers chose to hide behind the DWP staff rather than taking responsibility for the culture she had created.
On 15 January 2015 I raised the NHS in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership debate and on 12 January 2015 the lack of coverage of the Nigeria Boka Haram deaths and on 11 December 2014 Food Poverty and lack of decent broadband
On the steering group for the 2017 fiftieth anniversary celebrations of Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle to receive Honorary Doctorate and proposing a lasting artistic legacy.
Received Parliamentary Award for contribution to science
Held Business Surgery on the West Road with local councillors going from business to business. Positive response.[i]
Shadow Ministerial Role
The Independent Digital Government Review launched its report on November 25th to a very positive reception – commentable version www.digitalgovernmentreview.com.
On 19 November 2014 I spoke from the Front Bench at Cabinet Office Questions on Government Digital Service and on 7th January to highlight confusion in Whitehall over data sharing and our own commitment to a Review of Data then The Deregulation Bill returned briefly to the House for a ‘carry over’ motion on January 13th.
Quoted regularly in local media including Journal and Chronicle, and other media outlets particularly around Coindesk interview, Transferwise Forex Campaign Launch, Toontalk, Blizzard, some quotes, the benefits claimants debate but also student visas. Labourlist article on how Labour will end the demonization of Benefits Claimants. Published ‘Top Tips for Staying online’ which had a significant number of views.
I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2500 per week. We are looking carefully at organisation for the election period.
Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:
Meetings and visits: Miners Strike Commemoration, NE Women Entrepreneurs of the Year Awards, British Council of Shopping Centres, 38 degrees, William Webb, Social Enterprise Day reception, Save our NHS back the Bill Reception, FT Innovate Conference, PICT, Microsoft, Turn2us, German Social Democratic Party, Big Society Capital, Warmzone, npower, Inspector Barry Joice, Balfour Beatty, Professional Publishers Association (PPA), Debbie Wosskow on Sharing Economy, Royal Africa Society, Finance and Leasing Association, Brunswick Methodist Church annual Christmas Coffee Morning, RMT, Philip Bernays, • Zaki Laidi, Microsoft Institute for Advnaced Technology in Governments, Association of British Insurers, British Bankers Association, Alternative Commission on Social Economy, Ann Tyler, Sacred Heart Primary School, Newcastle City Council, Right Trak Brighton Grove Children’s Home, Channel 4 Diversity Charter Launch, New Philanthropy Capital, Charities Security Forum, Anti Apartheid Movement Forward to Freedom Exhibition Launch, IMeche, Engineering UK, David Brock, UK Digital Currency Association, Rugby World Cup England 2015, Eileen Burbidge, Social Enterprise UK, CSA Survivors Meeting, Lonodn Education Games, Commonwealth Secretary General, McDonalds Grainger Street,
Speaking engagements: Defend our Daughters Event, St Josephs School, NUST Credit Union Launch, Equality Challenge Unit Annual Conference, Digital Public Services Conference, Kable, Chaired Digital Inclusion lunch, spoke at Digital Leaders Hustings, TUC Health and Safety Hustings, Acevo’s Good with Money Report, Hewlett Parkard, ncjmedia, NEDigital Girls, Labour party digital policy breakfast
[i] All my spoken Parliamentary contributions can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cmallfiles/mps/commons_hansard_5617_od.html