It is a great pleasure and honour to once more be writing to you as your MP, the Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. I want to thank all those who voted for me for the confidence and trust you have placed in me, and to say to everyone in Newcastle Central, whether you voted for me or for someone else or did not vote that I will do my very best to represent you and the interests of Newcastle Central and to live up to the hopes and ambitions of the constituency. I was re-elected with 55% of the vote, 9.1% more of the vote than in 2010, the majority increasing from 7466 to 12673, and the highest swing in the North East (not counting Teesside). I am grateful for the positive feedback I received on the doorstep from many constituents on the help I had been able to offer dealing with issues they had raised during the last five years, thanks primarily to my excellent team in the Newcastle office in Pink Lane, who have agreed to continue with me.
Across the North East, voters elected 26 Labour MPs and three conservatives. The North East voted for a Labour government.
But Labour lost the election. The defeat was as devastating as it was surprising with the polls all predicting a hung parliament. Many that I spoke to on the doorstep were just hanging on, scrapping together what it took to pay the bedroom tax or their childcare or their tuition fees in the hope and expectation of a Labour Government. Now that will not happen for five more years. But the Labour Party still has a very important job to do, holding the Conservative majority Government to account and I will be working hard to promote the interests of Newcastle Central, championing our strengths and exposing the Governments neglect of the North and vicious attacks on our services.
Whilst we choose our next leader and deputy leader we will still be taking the fight to the Tories as they seek to undermine civil rights, working people and the most vulnerable amongst us.
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. I will be holding the Tory Digital Government to account particularly on how they use our data and whether they ensure everyone has access to digital services. I recently wrote a blog on this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/chi-onwurah/silk-road-internet_b_7500972.html
I will also be promoting social enterprise as a way of empowering local people and communities, rather than a Trojan horse for privatisation.
Backbench and Constituency Role
I am currently considering what should be my priorities for this Parliament, especially given the continuing and perhaps accelerating disproportionate cuts Newcastle will suffer. I am thinking of (comments welcome)
- Devolution of powers to the North East
- Jobs and skills in Newcastle
- Benefits advice and support
- What the MPs office can do directly to support each of these
As part of the above I met with Newcastle City Council to discuss what should be our priorities given the new Government and how we can work better together.
Agreed in principle to chair All Party Parliamentary Group on Extended Learning, with secretariat from the WEA
I have met with many of the candidates for the Leadership and Deputy Leadership. I will consult widely before deciding who to support and welcome comments from constituents.
There was a significant amount of media around the election. Since then I have appeared on the Politics Show, published two blogs on the leadership, and been quoted regularly in the media on a number of issues including devolution and FIFA.
New office in 1 Parliament Street. Living wage intern advertised, and received over eighty applications.
Meetings, Visits & Speaking Engagements
Meetings and visits: Progress Reception, Franco British Council AGM, LostBox, Trinity Media, Scottish Widows & WEA, Morpeth to Newcastle Race, Young Black Youth, Federation of Small Businesses, Semta North East Met with key leadership and deputy leadership candidates including Andy Burnham and Rushanara Ali
Speaking engagements: Launch of Game On Exhibition at Centre for Life in Newcastle