Well for once we can say we definitely had a summer, indeed the thermometer was uncomfortably high at times. MPs were recalled to Westminster early but Cameron’s reckless attempt to force through military action in Syria on an arbitrary timescale was successfully opposed by Ed and Labour.
The vote had a big impact in the UK, Syria and across the world. It also reflected the mood of almost, though not all, those who wrote to me in Newcastle Central.
Following defeat on Syria David Cameron chose to claim that he has saved the British economy. It’s good that we finally have some growth after three years of austerity economics but I know from my surgeries and talking to people on the streets of Newcastle that we have yet to feel the benefit. Wages are down an average of nearly £1,500 a year since David Cameron became Prime Minister. Prices have risen faster in the UK than any other major economy, with energy bills up by more than £300 a year Under this Tories Lib Dem Government, we have had the slowest recovery for 100 years, with almost one million young people now out of work.
The bottom line is that most people in Newcastle still feel insecure about what the future holds. By making them pay more than their share to bring down the deficit, while cutting taxes by an average of £100,000 for the 13,000 people earning over one million pounds, the Government sent completely the wrong signal to everyone struggling so hard to make ends meet.
Shadow Ministerial Role
I spoke for Labour Front Bench on Cyber Security at Cabinet Office 4th September 2013 and against the lobbying bill on 9th September. We hope at the very least to slow the progress of this opportunistic attack on trade unions and charity campaigning.
I held an open data competition over the summer using constituency casework properly anonymised. I am meeting with a wide range of stakeholders to develop policy proposals on social enterprise, cyber security and digital democracy.
Backbench and Constituency Role
I spoke in the General debate on North East Independent Economic Review Report on 5th September focusing on the importance of devolving power and money to the LEP and combined authority, on 2nd September on Get Britain Cycling, 18th July on economic development in the North East, on 17th July on Agricultural Science and again on the Pupil Premium
As part of my Housing Campaign I published a series of blogs on housing in Newcastle.
During recess I focused on visiting third sector organisation in the constituency as well as individuals and organisations with a positive long term vision for the city.
Media: Quoted extensively and on a number of subjects in local media including Journal, Chronicle. Interviewed by Password and Computing on Cyber Security, by all media on payday loans, Wonga and NUFC. Interviewed also on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Dream speech by Radio5Live, BBCRadioNewcastle and LBC. I published broadband and social enterprise blogs, and NUFC and Wonga blogs in Journal and The Mirror.
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. I have recruited a one year admin apprenticeship in Newcastle and a summer intern in Westminster.
Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:
Meetings & Visits : , John Smith’s Northumberland Plate with Arena Racing, Aimia, NIESR, British Bankers Association, Institute of Directors, Responsible 100, American Chamber of Commerce Institue for Legal Reform, UKIE, Morrison’s, Network Rail, Sacred Heart, Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Self help Africa, Fujitsu, Commonwealth Exchange, IPPR, National Grid, Royal Mail, Royal Society, Newcastle Education Business Partnership, Exchange, Exchange Group, Tesco Food Collection, Cisco, Fairtrade Foundation, St Mary’s School, Arquiva, Whizzkids, Transparency International, Social Investment Business, Destination Tyneside, VMWare, Newcastle Uni, Durham Miners Gala, British Insurers Reception, Jon Penfold, Ofcom, Alliance for IP, Sky, NHBC, Juniper, Food and Drinks Federation, Aston Uni, Little Miss Geek, Asda, City of London Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Blackberry, Joao Meneses, Tim Garbutt, Resilient PLC, Matteo Robiglio, Dabbawal, St Andrews Lunch Club, William Hill Newcastle, Herb Kim, St James Benwell, Margaret Carter, Pat Ritchie, National Citizen Service Engagement Coordinator, Newcastle West Food Bank, Margie Mendell, NAPO, Riverside Centre, Culture Lab, Digital Spark, Alexion, Smart Grid, Internet Advertising Bureau, Smart Grid, BVCA, NASUWT, Foundem, Emmaus Gateshead, North Of Tyne Mental Health Trust, Shared Interest.
Speaking engagements: Policy Exchange’s Competition for consumers: Are Britain’s regulators up to the task, Computer Weekly Woman in IT Event, Newcastle Walk 4Women, Huawei Spectrum Breakfast, APPG Africa Telecoms in Africa Debate, Tower Hamlets Young Labour, Internet Service Providers Association Dinner, launch of Pendower Bungalows, launch of Destination Tyneside Discovery Museum, Royal Academy of Engineering Awards, Newcastle United Foundation Family Football, Greening Wingrove Festival, Denton Burn Allotments Prize Giving, Wonga debate, ACS Leadership Summit, Westminster Spectrum eForum, Social Action Fund Parliamentary Reception.