Dear Newcastle

The football season ends with Newcastle relegated to the Championship League for the second time under Mike Ashley, and yet beating Tottenham 5 1. That’s a lot for fans to take on board and demotion will undoubtedly impact the heart and soul of the city. However the fact remains that the majority of NUFC fans’ passion will not be lessened by the change of league and that we have a diverse local and night time economy. I hope that United’s stay in the Championship will be short, and that it will be the opportunity for some serious reflection on the part of the management and ownership of the club.

We are still debating the meaning of the local elections even as our focus switches to the European referendum, the most important decision many will make in our lifetimes. In Newcastle, Labour gained two seats from the Lib Dems whilst in London and Bristol Labour made magnificent Mayoral gains despite, in the case of London, a vicious islamophobic campaign from Zac Goldsmith.

We have had a number of successes in recent weeks in opposing the Government, forcing u-turns on child refugees,  enforced academisation and cuts to disabled benefits, but we have still seen the Government passing legislation such as the Housing Bill which may spell the death knell for social housing.

Above all the EU referendum on the 23rd of June will be won or lost in cities like Newcastle. I have made my views clear in interviews and in this blog. I hope the country follows the example of London and chooses ‘hope over fear and unity over division’.


Shadow Ministerial Role

Spoke from the Frontbench for DCMS on 9 March 2016 on BT Service Standards [Westminster Hall] and for BIS on 15th March on Broadband, for DCMS on Local Authority Plans for Culture on 21 April 2016, and for BIS on Europe and the Digital Economy on 3rd May. I spoke from the frontbench on 14th April in response to the BBC Diversity debate.

I will host a Women in Engineering Reception on 13th July with Jeremy Corbyn in the Opposition Leaders’ Offices in Westminster.

Excellent tour of Windsor Castle and we will look to work with them on a Digital Culture Access event.

Backbench and Constituency Role

Spoke from the backbench on 8 March 2016  about the lack of women in STEM in the International Women’s Day 2016 debate, intervened in the Budget debate on 22nd March and then spoke in the debate also on 22nd March. I also asked a question on 24th March on the Junior Doctors Strike and on 14th April on the impact of Brexit on legal services in Newcastle. in Topical Questions on 28 April 2016 I questioned Transport investment in the North East and I intervened in the Westminster Hall debate on 26 April 2016 on Antibiotics: Research and Development to emphasise the importance of the state in developing antibiotics and the need for the state to get a return.

Launched Google Digital Garage at Newcastle City Library with Eileen Naughton, Google UK’s Managing Director.  Google Garage will offer free advice to local small businesses on how digital can help them grow.

I had a productive meeting with Newcastle Freeman regarding the Town Moor.

Continuing discussions with local stakeholders on our fantastic Freedom City Festival plans.

Excellent visit to Liverpool to give Women in STEM lecture at John Moores University.

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Media, Organisation & visits


Quoted regularly in local media.  On BBC for local elections till 2.30 in the morning!  Interviewed on national media regarding tragic death of Kenton School pupil and child soldiers in Sierra Leone. A number of blogs written including for New Statesman on the Budget, for Labourlist on progressive parties and unity and for Huffington Post on Cameron and Tax havens and further one on the Digital Single Market.


Welcome to Bobbie who joins us as a six month intern.

Meetings and visits

Dan Lewis – Institute of Directors, St Cuthbert’s Financial education visit, Alasdair Grieg – Northstar Ventures, David Carroll – XQ Digital Resilience, Ross Smith – North East Chamber of Commerce, Quaker Tapestry Exhibition, National Union of Teachers, Valerie Todd and Daniel Slipper – Crossrail, Andrew Byrne – Uber, Sheila Flavell – FDM Group, Mary McKenna – KickHQ, Parliamentary Jazz Awards, Pictfor repitch, ICE North East Regional dinner, National Citizen Service, Phil Pringle – Lost Box Tim Hedley-Jones and Claire Ansley – Virgin Trains East Coast,  2016 Green Ribbon Political Awards, Vodafone Foundations – Connecting for good, British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, NFU Broadband & Mobile networks launch event, Fusiliers Imjin lunch, Gateshead Jazz Festival, representative of the Governor of Abia Dr Okexie, Pictfor Ofcom briefing, First Secretary High Commission for The Kingdom of Lesotho, Alan Wylie – Speak up for Libraries, Vaiskhi celebrations, Book launch – The Creative Citizen Unbound, Science & British Culture panel discussion, Heritage Lottery Fund, Belinda Phipps – Science Council, , Business Council for Africa Gala Dinner, Daniel Boffey – Guardian/Observer, Newcastle Freemen, Torbyn Hughes – Nexus, Stronger In Visits – Gospelware and Carline Lifestyles, Peter Stark – Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Eliott Smith – Barre Studio, Nik Barrera – Vamos, David Austin – BBFC, Advertising Association, Rotary Club International Fundraiser, Jazz at Sage, , Sky Sports 25th Anniversary, Mobile technology and innovation in policing, Historic Royal Palaces celebration of Banqueting House, Little Big Butterfly, Vane Gallery, Baltic 39, Visit Britain Tourism, SET for Britain, APPG Music, BBC – Charlotte Moore, Alliance for Intellectual Property, Colston Hall’s Inclusive music education, Hearing Dogs, OU showcase, Progressive Europe, Safeguarding adults, NEA, CAMRA, North Edinburgh Arts Centre,  Visual Energy & Broadband, Materials Processing Institute, British Council, SAB Miller, YMCA training awards, DigiWorld Executive, Lord Hughes, Exporting is great initiative, Kurdish New Year, Tourism Ireland, Pictfor EU, Broadbent Institute, Yinnon Ezra, UK Music, Big Bang STEM exhibition, Food & Drink Federation, Creative Newcastle, Primary Inspiration in Engineering, Health education England apprentices, Live Theatre.

Speaking Engagements

Commemoration of Rwandan Genocide, Swedish Press – North East, Arabia News – Child Soldiers, RT UK – Aegis employees, Socitm Spring Conference, Launch of The Digital Garage, Doug Drinkwater – Internet of Business, Newcastle University Science magazine – EU referendum, Orson Nava – Diversity in creative industries, Women and Inclusion – Engineering politics, John Moore’s University –  Women in STEM, APPG Customer Service Roundtable, Angolan APPG Meeting with Ambassador, NUBS information sharing, Practical Action Technical Justice, Blakelaw Post Office opening, How UK Parliament Works Parliamentary Outreach, Labour North Regional Conference, HealthWORKS, Bangladesh Overseas Ladies Organisation, Richard Moss BBC, APPG Adult Education, Chartered Institute of Building & National Trust

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