A day I dreaded turned out to show the city at its best – May 25th the day of the EDL march only a few days after the tragic and horrendous murder of Lee Rigby. They came to try and start a ‘war’ on our streets, we walked, talked, sang, drummed and danced peacefully and they ended up fighting amongst themselves. One banner said it all:
But the day of the spending review lived up, or down, to my lowest expectations. Sitting in the House of Commons listening to the Chancellor announce yet more cuts for local services was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had. He made a joke about Eric Pickles being a ‘lean’ minister and the Government benches fell about laughing. It’s funny for them, we see the school leavers unemployed and the friends fearful for their jobs, the pay day loan shops opening whilst libraries close. They see their millionaire mates getting a tax cut, have a nice little laugh and then say we are all in it together.
George Osborne claims the economy is ‘healing’ but families in Newcastle know prices are rising, spending power falling and there are thousands chasing each minimum wage job.
He should have used his spending review to deliver action to get the economy moving again, like introducing a banker’s bonus tax to build 25,000 new affordable homes.
But instead the Chancellor announced yet more cuts to police and local services and then attacked the poor and the unemployed to justify them. He got his current job from his Bullingdon club mate David Cameron, what does he know of what it is like to look for work?
The fact is it’s because his economic plan has failed that the deficit is growing and we’re borrowing more £245 billion more than planned, to pay people to waste their lives on the dole.
He said he was investing in the future when he is actually cutting investment in infrastructure projects like roads, schools and housing and all his promises are for after the next election. Even then they don’t amount to much, as the Chief Secretary admitted to me the next day, this Government’s ‘commitment’ to dualling the A1 is really a ‘wish’ that that there should be a feasibility study before 2020!
Instead of planning cuts two years ahead George Osborne should have acted to boost economic growth this year and next so people in the region can get back to work.
Shadow Ministerial Role
I spoke for Labour Front Bench on 11 June 2013 SMEs (Public Sector Procurement) debate in Westminster Hall emphasising the important contribution smaller companies make and what local and national Government can do to support them.
I was interviewed by Zoe Williams at the Social Economy Summit on Labour’s support for social enterprise.
Backbench and Constituency Role
On June 25 I held a Westminster Hall debate on the pioneering work by Newcastle University to prevent Mitochondrial Disease and the need for approval from the Government. This was followed two days later by an announcement from the Chief Medical Officer that these techniques would be approved.
I had a Prime Minister’s Question on 5 June and raised the green energy supply chain, the opportunity for jobs in the North East and the need for Government action on the Decarbonisation Target. I raised the Decarbonisation target again at DECC questions on 6th June.
I Intervened on 5 June 20 in the Badger Cull debate to criticise Government approach to science
On 26 June 2013 intervened in Roberta Blackman-Woods debate on the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to emphasise North east support for the arts.
On 13th June I asked what support for women entrepreneurs at oral questions to the Department for Business.
Quoted extensively in local media including on Look North over EDL march, on Radio Newcastle and on Sunday Politics with Richard Moss. Interviewed by Password Radio on cyber security. I wrote for the Social Enterprise Guardian Blog and one on Digital Democracy for Computer World.
I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2000 per week and the changes to benefits have significantly increased the workload.
Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements
Meetings & Visits: Lloyds Banking, Microsoft, Ofcom, Aviva, Launch of Securing our economy: the case for infrastructure, Hazel Blears, Peter Ingram, Angola Open Policy Initiative, Philip Sheldrake Euler Partners, Building Futures East, IT Academy, Institute for Government Civil Service Reform event, Major Tim Peake, AkpoBari Celestine Nkabari & Platform, Chemistry Club, Waitrose, Jayne Shotton, Aberdeen Foyer, Philip Pugh, Beauty Geeks, Ben Goldacre; Hannover Mills, Beauty Geeks, Vestas Isle of Wight, Ahoka, Allia, UKIE, Cooperatives UK, Scientists for Labour, Edge Foundation, Spinwatch, InvolveUK, aHUS Action, ITN, Henry Tam, Dr Mark Thompson, Newcastle Airport, Norman Lamb, Federation of Small Businesses, ICE, Sir Ronald Cohan, Cassidian, Careerplayer, Huawei, Air Ambulance, Uk Fashion & Textile Association Graduate Fashion Week, UK Defence Forum, Peter Warren, Kaspersky, Rebecca George & Stephanie Liston, Barclays, UKPAC, NEST Pensions, Harvey Nash, EUP VP Commissioner Neelie Kroes, Keep East Coast on Track, Go4SET celebrations, PROPS AGM, Research Institute for Science and Security, Green Social Democracy Advisory Group, Canon, Engaged Investment, YHN, Society of Biology, FSB, Children with Cancer, Guide Dogs, Salesforce, Which Nuisance Calls Campaign, Wingrove Primary, Wyndham Primary, Seven Stories, Subway, Skills Bridge
Speaking engagements: Digital Skills CEO summit, Lobbi event on Digital Democracy, PRCA Roundtable on Lobbying, IPPR BVCA Debate on Enhancing Enterprise, IPPR Liam Byrne Keynote Speech, Waka Waka African Festival Launch, Elswick Branch AGM, NE Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Newcastle Business & IP Centre launch, Newcastle University Campus Challenge, ABFE Transition, , Demos and Wolfson Institute Grimmer up North, Social Enterprise Roundtable, Bournemouth Fabians, Dodds Innovation Panel Roundtable, Open Rights Group, National Institute of Economic & Social Research, Westgate Community Centre ESOL class, Pictfor Teachin, First Woman Awards, The Importance of Human Voice Roundtable, two panels and plenary at Digital Agenda Assembly, Dublin, Bangladeshi Social Justice Rally, Barclays Forward Ladies Conference, Pictfor Summer Reception, Social Economy Summit