I don’t know about you but I was very much looking forward to the end of 2016. It was an extremely difficult year in many ways for many of us. The Brexit vote divided our city down the middle. The death of Jo Cox in a politically motivated brutal murder was both tragic for her loved ones and disturbing for all who value democracy. The uncertainty over the consequences of Brexit and the continued cuts to Central Government funding called into question both investment and public sector services.
2017 had to be better, I thought. Well now we find ourselves in 2017 we realise that the battles and the challenges haven’t gone away. Far from it. We have a long, long haul ahead of us.
Brexit chaos intensifies even as Theresa May is bowing to Tory internal pressure for a ‘Hard Brexit’, leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. That leaves manufacturers like Nissan facing increased uncertainty.
The current crisis in our NHS is unprecedented. Our health service is on its knees with one third of hospitals having declared they need urgent help to deal with the number of patients coming through their doors. A&E departments have turned patients away more than 143 times between 1 December 2016 and 1 January 2017. In one day last month 15 hospitals ran out of beds with elderly patients languishing on trolleys in corridors, sometimes for over 24 hours.
The inauguration of Donald Trump in the US has made many in Newcastle more fearful for both our economic and military security.
However there is also some good news with Nissan choosing to continue investing in the North East, Legal and General completing its investment in Newcastle and the launch of Freedom City 2017, celebrating fifty years since Martin Luther King
Shadow Ministerial Role
- As Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation I launched our Industrial Strategy consultation with Clive Lewis on 5th It was received very positively for its vision for a high skills, high
- I spoke from the Frontbench in the Westminster Hall Debate on South West Charter on 22nd November, in BEIS questions on 13th December – about the need for an industrial strategy – and opened the debate on Science and Research in Brexit on 19th December.
- Planning an economic summit in Newcastle in March, jointly with Treasury Team.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- I spoke from the backbench on 14th November (Nursery Schools and IT training for Teachers) 16th November (Economic Development in Africa), in the Westminster Hall Debate on Transport in the North East on 23rd November, on Devolution of Power on December 1st, on the strength of communities in Newcastle in response to the Casey Report on 6th December, on women in STEM on 8th December.
- There was a difficult vote on Brexit but our position is to recognise the result of the referendum and on that basis I voted to support the Government’s timetable.
- I championed ‘Toon Beef’ branding, recognition and marketing with Freemen and media
Media, Organisation & visits
- After close and very strong recruitment campaign we now have Matt as my Parliamentary Assistant in Westminster, and he has hit the ground running. Thanks to Megan for the great work holding the fort in the meantime and also Sarah for supporting the handover. We have identified a short term solution to our caseworker needs by offering a temporary casework assistant position. We will still seek to have a permanent addition in the new financial year.
- Quoted regularly in local media and nationally including Daily Politics, BBC Toon Beef, Tyne Tees interview on Autumn Statement.
Meetings and visits
- Remembrance Sunday Service, Terhas Behre (Brand Communications), group meeting with Frances O’Grady (TUC) and Carolyn Fairbairn (CBI), Rail Civil Engineers Association & Institution of Civil Engineers reception, interview with Doug Drinkwater (IoB), Palestine Lobby, , Kenton Allen (Big Talk Productions), Opening Night of Giselle Sadler’s Wells, Pictfor annual event planning meeting, IT Industry Awards, , Richard Davies Freedom City, ChessN Heritage Experience, Martin Beattie and Prof Sarah Churchwell Being Human Tyne Bridge Tower exhibition, BBC & American Embassy on Freedom City, reception at the French Embassy, BT Parliamentary Reception, Decarbonising our energy systems discussion, APPG Regions Transport Group meeting on Bus Services Bill, Tim Sawyer and Bernice O’Reilley (Start-up Loans), Craig Berry and Tom Hunt (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute), RNIB reception, Birmingham-Nottingham Parliamentary Reception, The House Magazine 40th Anniversary Reception, The Foundation for Science and Technology Trustee Meeting, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee Annual Lunch, Canon Parliamentary reception, Institution of Mechanical Engineers parliamentary lunch briefing – STEM Insight for Teachers, Improving Careers Education, The Role of the Church in Community Cohesion, launch 2016 Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study, Diversity UK Paul Stephenson Lecture 2016, Facebook UK Politics Reception, , ITV Drinks Reception, New Sources of Social Housing Finance reception, Steve Walker (Stagecoach North East), Constituency new member event, Sir Francis Festing Fund (Fusiliers charity) Christmas Reception, ACTSA Dinner. Safeguarding Constituents from Scams Parliamentary drop-in workshop, Nominet IoT showcase; Sir Hugh Bayley (Labour Party relations with African sister parties), Prof Robert Skidelsky (Economic historian), Lenny Henry & Keith Harris MLK Freedom City, Royal Society Pairing scheme reception, Portrait of the Artist exhibition, #givingtuesday event, National Consumers Week celebration, Fire Brigades Union lobby, Richard Arnold and Sophie Thompson (SSE), Olly Buston (Future Advocacy), NFU briefing on agriculture and Brexit, MasterCard Technology drop-in, CECA 20th Anniversary reception, Political Cartoon of the Year Awards, , IET briefing on Adapting to a connected world, North East Automotive Alliance reception, St Andrew’s Day celebration, Owen Larter (Microsoft), Waitrose Winter Wine Reception, Africa Future has no Space for Stupid Black Men performance, Roundtable discussion with Israeli Colonel (res.) Grisha Yakubovich, Launch of 50:50 Parliament’s #AskHerToStand Campaign, Board of Deputies of British Jews Better than that Hate Crime event, Sarah Owen (GMB), Celebrate 20 Years of Water for Kids reception, Rotary reception 20 year anniversary, Filming for Stevie Wonder message, NHS England Mental Health Briefing, Carol Davidson (Sacred Heart), Sustainable Aviation Christmas Reception, Drinks with Tom Watson, Countryside Alliance Christmas Reception, “Beyond Caravaggio” exhibition, Cumbria Day event, introducing into UK law something similar to Rooney’s law in the US interview with the Press Association, Medical Technology Group Parliamentary Reception, Growing up North event, NEPIC MP Discussion & Dinner, The Foundation for Science and Technology Council Meeting, Marianna Drake and Dan Wood (UKIE Games), ADS Parliamentary Reception, Parliamentary Space Committee Winter Reception, FDF President’s Reception 2016, Jeremy Corbyn Christmas Drinks Reception, Advertising Association Reception, Chris Richard and Madeleine Scott (EEF), John Unsworth (Science for Labour), Launch of the Skills Commission’s Adult Education report, Chris Brink retirement dinner, MLK meeting, visit small business Saturday nominees with Allen Creedy FSB Chairman Newcastle
With staff at Newcastle College’s Cruddas Park Learning Centre
- IGNITE Summit – Defining bold leadership & smart strategy, IOT Enablement – Can the Government be doing more, The London Conference – London futures, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge University Labour group, Ditchley Foundation Conference, Westminster Hall Debate – South West Charter for Growth, Pay 360 Innovate conference; Momentum North Conference ,US Embassy Panel following screening of Loving film, Chair APPG Mozambique meeting, HP Discover conference Women Leaders in Technology panel, Chair Roundtable with Africa Minister, Pictfor annual dinner, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung London and Fabian Women’s Network Panel Event The impacts of digitisation on women in the labour market, Science & Engineering Christmas Reception, address Royal Society Chemistry event