Dear Newcastle: July 2015
Last weekend’s Pride festival was a great example of our city coming together – on the Town Moor of course – to celebrate diversity, unity, culture – and to party. There was a great atmosphere and many thousands took part of all background. On the same weekend I also joined Newcastle’s Muslims in celebrating the end of Ramadan at the Eid in the Park event on Nunsmoor. Here again there were thousands of people of all races and different backgrounds to hear a message of peace and goodwill, tolerance and diversity.
Eid at Nunsmoor
These are good messages to end the first Conservative parliamentary term on. But as Westminster ‘recesses’ what is first in my mind is the Chancellor’s budget. It was undoubtedly a set piece in Conservative cynicism, spin and exploitation. Taking billions from the working poor and those on benefits he declared ‘Britain deserves a pay rise’ but not if you are young, low income, have more than two children, have a disability or work in the public sector. The respected Think Tank the Institute of Fiscal studies made it absolutely clear that this is one of the most regressive budgets ever but Osborne cloaks it in terms like fairness and national living wage. It is false to say he has stolen Labour cloths, it is a cynical rebranding exercise.
The last week also saw the Welfare and Work Bill. I voted against the welfare measures which seek to balance the books by raising child poverty, but not against the three million apprentices the Chancellor is promising or against welfare reform. I shall oppose the welfare changes which demonise the poor and vulnerable but I support reform of welfare.
Whilst the Chancellor talks of a Northern Powerhouse, I’m still not convinced he knows where Newcastle is! Certainly the fact that unemployment in Newcastle is twice what it is in the rest of the country tells us all you need to know about his long term economic plan for us. I shall return to Westminster in September to stand up for Newcastle and fight for more power for the North East to run its own affairs. In the meantime if I can help in anyway, please contact my office.
I wish everyone in Newcastle Central a great summer.
Shadow Ministerial Role
I have agreed to remain Shadow Minister in the Cabinet Office until the new leader is elected, so I retain my responsibilities for Digital Government, Cyber Security and Social Enterprise. Key areas of attack are this government’s chaotic and at times malevolent approach to personal data and their abandonment of any vestige of real digital inclusion policy.
Backbench and Constituency Role
• I was elected Chair of the Africa APPG and vice Chair of Nigeria APPG, co Chair of Parliamentary ICT forum, Chair of the Angola APPG, vice chair of FinTech APPG
• I Spoke twelve times in Parliament, 23 June 2015 on a Point of Order to put National Women in Engineering Day and Parliamentary Links Day on the Record and in Justice Topical Questions on changes to FoI, on 17 June 2015 I spoke in the opposition day debate on Productivity, 2 July 2015 on women and Career Progression and on 1 July 2015 on investment in Tyne and Wear Metro [Westminster Hall] on 14th July I raised the Downing of Flight MH17 ] and 20 July I criticised the forcing of schools into Academy chains. On 14 July 2015 I held a debate Public Sector Broadcasting (Diversity) [Westminster Hall] which focused on the need for more working class and northern voices in broadcasting.
• Agreed to chair Manufacturing Commission Enquiry
• Pursued better Student Registration with Newcastle University and made some progress in that they will improve their enrolment process
• Computer Weekly decided I was 20th most influential woman in IT in the UK.
• Published blogs on Tory Digital Fail and Digital Inclusion. Quoted in local media, the Guardian and on radio and television.
Backing Catch the Bus Week in Newcastle
• Jake started in the Westminster office as summer intern. He is a former Gosforth High
• Two work experience students and one shadow (Gosforth and Kenton schools). We also need new website support so organising brief tender.
Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:
Meetings and visits
MotorNeurone Desease North East support, BAE Systems, Centre for Public Impact, CAFOD Climate Coalition Lobby, Clouston Group, Good Gymm Volunteer Centre Summer Fair, Life Transformation Church Praise Festival, FSB, Niger Delta Development Forum, Railway Delivery Group, Ipsos Mori MPs Survey, Reece Group, Tyne and Wear Fire Service, Cycle City Active City Conference, Theatre Royal, Armed Forces Day, Imagine North East Exhibition, Science on a soapbox, Government of Bermuda Governance tax & transparency roundtable, , Rev Eden Fletcher, Patrick Jordan, Al Southall Close Brothers, Power to Change, Catch the Bus week, St Cuthberts Herb Garden, Chief Constable Steve Ashman, Newcastle Toy & Leisure Library, Scotswood Community Garden open day, Golden wedding celebration Elsie & George Tully, Dr Lucy Rogers, Robert Liddiard, APPG Africa roundtable with James Brokenshire, Google, In Harmony concert Hawthorn Primary, Len Fenwick, Opening refurbished Montagu post office, Locality Keep it Local event Cowgate, Durham Miners Gala, SAP Dinner, Superintendent Bruce Storey, MPs meeting with church leaders & Bishop of Durham.
Launch of refurbished Montagu Post Office
Pictfor Social Media Event, Newcastle College Adult Learners Week, Parliamentary Links Day, Cloud World Forum, Samsung Digital Government Roundtable, chair Westminster eForum Delivering Digital Government, Present Community Ambassadors Award, Thomas Walling, Amnesty International Freedom From Torture North East Group. Newcastle Amnesty International, Speech at Payments Innovation Conference, Speech at Policy Exchange Digital Government event, Pictfor roundtable on Internet Advertising, Prospect Construction Products UK Manufacturing Debate, Sacred Heart students in Parliament, Royal Institution Engineering & Maths masterclass Year 9 celebration at Northumbria, Pictfor Summer Reception, Nigerian High Commission, Reform Cyber Conference, Shout out UK Screening, SOCTIM North East, Eid in the Park, Pride