Dear Newcastle January 2018

UNSPOKEN at the Theatre Royal about lives interrupted and forever changed by war

Parliament is back but it does seem a bit like Back to the Future with Brexit and Tory backbiting and political manoeuvring dominating the Westminster airwaves whilst up and down the country jobs are in jeopardy and public services suffer. The Prime Minister’s reshuffle was both incompetent and ineffective – she has no authority in her own party so Ministers decided if they were staying or going themselves. The collapse of Carillon demonstrated the failure of public sector outsourcing as well as the incompetence of the Government in managing its suppliers. For Newcastle it represented a double betrayal – Carillon bought Eaga in 2011, a successful local energy company employing thousands, and part employee owned When the then Tory led Government withdrew its support for renewables many local jobs were lost until last week there were just 30 staff at its Gosforth base, who now face an uncertain future. Our thoughts are with them and their families.

The end of 2017 did bring some notable victories in Parliament for common sense, we won the right for Parliament to vote on the final Brexit deal and secured concessions on Universal Credit.

The Government’s Budget however showed that austerity is by no means being abandoned and people in Newcastle and the country are daily paying the price. Universal Credit, the NHS, our national transport system, they are all suffering from the continuation of austerity. The Prime Minister may be too weak to move the current Chancellor but both remain in thrall to Osborne’s austerity economics.

This is particularly evident in the Government’s Industrial Strategy was published on November 27th and was full of warm words but no investment and no legislative action to revitalise our key industries or prepare us for the industries of the future.

To learn more about the technology and industry of the future I extended a family holiday in America to visit some of the country’s tech giants.

Meanwhile snow has come to Newcastle but no successful bid for our beloved football team which remains in the hands of someone who seems unaware of its true value.

In Silicon Valley visiting Hewlett Packard, one of the first tech startups

Shadow Ministerial Role

  • Spoke from the frontbench for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions (12 Dec 2017) highlighting the Government’s failure to raise UK worker productivity.
  • We continue to work on our industrial strategy missions and an industrial strategy tour.
  • I spent a week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and meeting tech companies, support organisations and unions in Silicon Valley as part of the development of our policies on the future of work.

Promoting construction apprenticeships at the Bigg Market

Backbench and Constituency Role

  • I spoke eight times from the backbenches, including:
    • Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Topical Questions (21 Dec 2017) on Facebook’s use of personal data.
    • Justice: Topical Questions (5 Dec 2017) on Operation Sanctuary.
    • Online Hate Speech (30 Nov 2017) on the need for regulation to force social media giants to take responsibility for hate speech on their platforms.
    • Transport: Topical Questions (30 Nov 2017) on funding for the Tyne and Wear Metro.
    • Forensic Evidence: Alleged Manipulation (27 Nov 2017) on the privatisation of the forensic service.
  • Spoke in the following Westminster Hall debates:
    • Leasehold and Commonhold Reform (21 Dec 2017) where I raised the charity loophole that has affected my constituents.
  • I asked 110 written questions to Ministers.


Quoted regularly in local media and nationally including blogs for the New Statesman on drugs prices, giving workers a say in the Government’s economic policy (with Jack Dromey) and on this Government’s mishandling of the digital economy.

At Colby Court Fire Station

Meetings and visits


Royal Mail Campaign, Healthwatch/ Steph Edusei, Excelsior Academy, Changing Lives/ Stephen Bell, Financial Conduct Authority/Nausicaa Delfas, Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists’ Ball, Murdoch’s proposed Sky takeover, Nigerian PAC lunch, Transgender day of remembrance, British Poultry Council, Centre for Towns Launch, Sky/Lucy Aitkens, Universal Credit reform drop-in, Parliamentary and Scientific Committee lunch, Regional School Commissioner/Jan Renou, Lord Curry, BAE Systems, Electrical Fire Safety, Dea Latis Beer and Food, Meningitis Now, Cancer52, Nissan LEAF display, Barry McKay dinner, Changing nature of small & medium businesses, Construction week Bigg Market, Construction Week Science Central, Fire Service Colby Court, Newcastle Youth Council Takeover, NUFC vs Watford, Freedom Film roundtable, Jackson Law/Louisa Bestford, Carbon Trust/ Tom Delay, Future of Agriculture and the role of family farmers, Food insecurity, IET lunch, APPWG water innovation, Premier League Primary Stars, Eradicating cervical cancer, AMRC chief execs, International day of persons with disabilities, Facebook online safety guide for Muslim community, Bikeshare drop-in, Huawei, Centenary of the Air Force Act, Camelot reception, The Sunday Times business party, Avoiding the digital black hole, EDF/Fabien Cavenne, Carbon Connect & APPG Manufacturing, African Achievers Awards, Chris & Anne Ramsden, Grainger Market, Etsy market, Grey Joys small business Sat, La Petite Crêperie small business Sat, Tesco food collection, TKO boxing open day, Think Digital/ Herb Kim, 70 Years Listing, Chartered Institute of Building reception, Royal Aeronautical Society, InfoSum/ Nick Halstead, Rank group/ Henry Birch, DIT Africa Trade Commissioner/ Emma Wade-Smith , One Punch Drop in Event, APPG Writers group, Queens reception Diplomatic Corps, Youtube UK, NEA/ Smart energy, Jisc Digital Services and Solutions/ Dr Feldman, Dell/ Will Parker, Year of engineering reception, Performer’s Alliance APPG party, APPG Manufacturing ‘Industrial Digitalisation Summit’, Royal Society of Biology reception for science and engineering, Keyes Eye care, Digital Service/ Ray Cross, Tameside LFFN Project/ Shaun Fensome, Africa Director, French Ministry Foreign Affairs/ Rémi Marechaux, University Technical Colleges Party, Women’s Lobby, Pacts Transport Safety, Fed. Master builders report, SEA reception, Countryside Alliance reception, Kellogg’s breakfast Club awards, Royal Mail reception, Founders 4 Schools / Sherry Cortu , Sustainable Aviation reception, Speakers Chanukah, APPG Football Supporters, LSE Commission (Truth, Trust and Technology), Royal Africa Society/ Dr Nick Westcott, APPG Wine and Spirits reception, Guide dog event, social integration report launch, Universal Credit and Foodbanks, APPG Charities and Volunteering reception, Trade Union Co-ordinating Group,   Labour Future/ Brendan Chilton and John Mills, Cllr Salma Arif, Unison/ Clare Williams, Mothers Unite/ Lucy Beckmann, Labour North Christmas Red Ramble, RELX Group/ Alistair Tebbit, CMA officers/ Andrea Coscelli and Michael Grenfell, Samaritans’ reception, SME4Labour Gala awards, Library Member’s reception, BAE systems reception, Poverty, abuse and disadvantage in women’s lives, Cambridge Women/ Lola Olufemi, APPG women in Parliament reception, Parliamentary Labour Party drinks, Stephen Kinnock MP, Reception Conferment of Doctors of Laws, PLP shadow defence team drinks.

CES conference Las Vegas, HPE/ Ana Pinczuk , Google HQ, Working Partnership USA, Greg Becker, Facebook HQ, Stanford University/ Tom Byers, World economic Forum Centre 4IR/ Zvika Krieger, Marco Rogers, DIT San Francisco/ Jaclyn Mason , Salesforce/ Jim Green, Clover Health/ Vivek Garipalli, BAB Silicon Valley Bank/ Greg Decher.

Supporting USDAW


INCA conference closing speech, Tyneside Orchestra MLK, Chess & Children’s Day, African Caribbean Alumni Network launch, Chair Adult education APPG, Newcastle Labour Women’s Meeting, TUC reclaim the night, Key Change post performance discussion, Business Services Association, The Draft Scotland Act 2016, Audit Quality Forum, Huxley Summit, DfiD & Africa APPG meeting , British Chamber of Commerce Gala award, Royal Society pairing scheme reception, Chair Africa APPG, Chair Pictfor CEO Forum dinner, Policy Connect Sustainability reception, Great Exhibition of the North reception, Pictfor Annual Dinner (AI), Reform Social Mobility Conference, Leasehold debate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.