NHS rally at the Monument in Newcastle
So far 2017 seems to have been all Brexit Trump. I know that’s not really true, there have been many very important issues from the dire state of the NHS, pressure on housing & council services and school performance in the city to security concerns in Syria and Turkey.
But in terms of what we have been talking about in Parliament, Brexit and the new American President have been top of the list. Even at the Westminster launch of Freedom City in the Speaker’s State Rooms in Parliament, President Trump was mentioned. The Festival was launched by the outgoing US Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, and many of us were concerned that his successor would not have the same level of support for Martin Luther King’s legacy or for Newcastle and the North East. But overall it was a fantastic event with great speeches from the Speaker, the Ambassador, the Minister and our Shadow Minister Dawn Butler MP as well as University representatives and singing from the Voices of Virtue. Freedom City events will take place throughout the year, find out more here.
Anti Trump pro Equality rally in Newcastle
Theresa May set out her 12 pillars of Brexit, making it absolutely clear that the extreme hard right had won the Tory ideological debate. This will be a hard Brexit, hard for working people, hard for the North, hard for the vulnerable. By imposing a three line whip Jeremy Corbyn sought to deliver a united pro Brexit Labour Party, he only partially succeeded.
I voted ‘For’ the Bill at second reading – whether to debate it – and ‘Against’ at Third Reading – whether to pass it.
I tried to ensure that as many constituents as possible understood why I voted as I did. I spoke in the Brexit debate, I consulted with constituents and Sky News filmed me doing so in the Grainger Market and I recorded a video message within an hour of the final vote. I believe this is a Hard Right Tory Brexit and it is working people and the North East who will suffer because that is what Tories do. Whether it is Brexit or the Financial Crisis their response ensures that we are the ones who suffer.
We need to put the divisions of the past year behind us and come together to fight for a Brexit based on our values.
The Brexit debate also took attention away from the dire state of the National Health Service, Social Care and just about every public service.
Shadow Ministerial Role
I continue to champion the Labour approach to ensuring we have an industrial strategy that works for working people. I held a well-attended Industrial Strategy Roundtable at the Civic Centre on 3rd February.
Industrial Strategy roundtable in Newcastle
The Tories launched their industrial strategy consultation, it is weak and sector based.We continue to work on Labour’s industrial strategy. Our consultation www.labourbeis.org has now received over 800 responses with one weeks to go. That is excellent but means we will be looking for support with reading and summarising all the responses!
Backbench and Constituency Role
I spoke from the backbenches to celebrate Freedom City 2017 with the Westminster Launch on 16th January, on Brexit and Fintech on 17th January, on Church support for victims of Human Trafficking on 19th January and on EU Nationals Residency Rights on 26th January
Also led the debate I secured in Westminster Hall (9 Feb 2017): Effect of state pension changes on working-class women. I highlighted the particular injustice suffered by working class Waspi women. To my amazement the Minister Caroline Nokes refused even to acknowledge working class women existed.
I spoke in the second reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (1 Feb 2017) to explain my position.
I asked questions on the single market access in the statement on Exiting the EU: (2 Feb 2017) effect of state pension changes on working-class women in Women and Equalities questions (2 Feb 2017), US Immigration Policy (30 Jan 2017), closure of Jobcentre Plus Offices (30 Jan 2017)
Media, Organisation & visits
- The Westminster Office now has Matt working full time as my Parliamentary Researcher and two students, Megan and Jess.
- Ian Johnson, our Newcastle University placement Digital Civics PhD student presented a number of ways in which the office can make better use of technology and better engage with constituents. We will be following up his proposals.
- Quoted regularly in local media and nationally including a Sky report as a sought constituent views on Brexit in Grainger Market, Metro Radio interview on Sex Workers, Look North interview on Article 50, Parliamentary Radio WASPI debate, CNN interview on Trump.
Meetings and visits
Discussing Digital Voting technology project
- Angie Jenkinson (Digital Music Industry), Chris McDonald (Materials Processing Institute) Annual Reception for the UK Downstream Oil Industry, Stronger Knowing More-Cancer Research UK event, performance of Giselle, Benjamin Franklin House, BBC North East and Cumbria Breakfast Meeting, Action on Hearing Loss drop-in, Paul Jackson (Engineering UK), Elizabeth Donnelley (Chatham House and APPG Angola), Gambia Coalition visitors meeting, “Any Girl” event, launch of research into factors affecting investment by global retailers in the UK, Tribune event on Brexit, John Martin (Wolseley), Bob Paton Lord Nash and Guy Opperman MP (regarding North East Futures), Christopher George (Made in Britain Trade Centres), Jacqueline de Rojas (Sage) and Jayne-Anne Gadhia (Virgin Money), Blackswan collaboration for innovation conference, Lesley Harrison and Ian Malone (Origin Sports), Alcohol Unit at Freeman Hospital, Morning Service followed by a special Kiddush in honour of the late Kath and Ron Lahav z’l, Northern Gas Networks and KPMG report: ‘Energising the North’, Colin Smith (Rolls Royce), Host South Africa Minister Trade & Industry meeting, Tarmac & Alex Cunningham on EU Emissions Trading, impact of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia event, ImagineNation: the value of cultural learning launch, Airbus New Year Reception, Jazz Appreciation Group visit to Ronnie Scott’s club, Electricity Storage Network’s Annual Symposium, Rebecca Newsom and Doug Parr (Greenpeace), British Youth Council reception 2017, TUSNE (Trade Unionists for Safe Nuclear Energy) reception, Airbnb, Katherine Mathieson (British Science Association), Elizabeth Linder. Demonstration of GREAT.GOV.UK website – Exporting from your Constituency, The future of local television event, UK automotive dinner. James Sheerin (NE for Europe), Hewlett Packard dinner, Nick Forbes (NCC), Science is Vital Lobby drop-in, Mike Haley (Cifas), Launch of the Libraries APPG event, Sunderland 2021 reception, Northumbrian Pipers reception, University APPG Meeting on Industrial Strategy, CIM Parliamentary dinner to discuss concerns over use of public data, UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mozambican MPs Delgation Roundtable on Industrial Strategy, Heidi Mottram (Northumbrian Water Group), Ruth Codinha Hair Salon Opening, Barry McKay Freedom City, NHS March, Opening of Opulent Mehndi, #VisitMyMosqueday to Newcastle Central Mosque, Tyne and Wear Metro reception, Nike Folayan (AFBE-UK), Chinese for Labour Dinner, Theresa Griffin MEP on Industrial Strategy & Brexit, Ditchley Reception, Archibald School Talent show, Andrew White (Skills Bridge/COBS).
- Martin Luther King Westminster Launch, A Woman’s role in the Labour Party Q&A, Roundtable on Supporting women in business, Chair Open Banking: Making the Revolution Work for Customers, Host FDM lunch, Post Brexit Roundtable, Rally against Trump, Iot Tech Expo global, Pictfor CEO forum, Brexit , Science, Innovation & the UK Industrial Strategy POST reception. Pictfor skills & diversity event, IPT’s Future of Industrial Strategy dinner, Building a Vibrant, Digital Britain Roundtable breakfast, Labour Industrial Strategy Consultation Roundable, Southern Africa APPG Delegation Report back