Spring has come to Newcastle in style with a gorgeous St Georges Day for the Fusiliers Birthday, a beautiful May Bank Holiday and a three nil victory over Chelsea in a sunlit St James Park. After what felt like an extended winter which was particularly difficult for the homeless and those in fuel poverty, this was a very welcome change.
Fusiliers Birthday in Eldon Square
The local election results delivered gains for Labour in Newcastle and returned a Labour City Council with more female councillors than male ones for the first time ever! In Parliament Lords amendments passed which require a meaningful vote in Parliament but also support continued membership of the customs union and single market. These will return to the Commons and so more debate and votes on these are likely.
The uncertainty over Brexit is hitting businesses in Newcastle – at Prime Ministers Questions last week I told the Prime Minister the sad stories of two local businesses – one forced into bankruptcy by delays in the payment of European Regional Development funds, another forced to stop expansion plans after the Government refused to guarantee it would have access to the native European language speakers it needs for its Customer Relationship Centre. Both meant job losses in Newcastle and I told the Prime Minister that Tory party infighting was costing us jobs.
The Government’s decision not to intervene in the takeover of GKN by Melrose was very disappointing – GKN is a great British Engineering company and Melrose a short term ‘turn around’ company. And the idea that the Blue British Passports will be made abroad and not in Gateshead is a blow to both local jobs and our national industrial strategy.
Discussion with Senator Bernie Saunders
Shadow Ministerial Role
- During a personal visit to the US I met with Bernie Sanders. We discussed industrial strategy and the situation in Syria and the Yemen.
- I launched our Diversity Charter Challenges part of our Industrial Strategy with Lenny Henry as our first Diversity Champion
- I was asked by the innovation foundation Nesta to speak at a one-day conference on ‘inclusive vangardism’ at the OECD which was an excellent opportunity to meet people working on inclusive growth from across the OECD including Professor Unger of Brazil.
- Spoke from the frontbench three times:
- In Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions (13 Mar 2018) on the proposed GKN takeover by Melrose.
- In a Backbench Business debate on the proposed GKN takeover by Melrose (15 Mar 2018)
- Closing a general debate on industrial strategy (18 April).
Digital Citizens at Kenton School
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Significant campaigning activity ahead of the local elections.
- I resigned as Chair of Pictfor in part because I am talking up a role on behalf of the Labour Party at the European level – I am now officially the Vice President of the Party of European Socialists.
- Attended some Commonwealth Heads of Government events as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Africa
- Held Kenton Ward Summit with excellent participation from local stakeholders.
- Spoke from the backbench 13 times:
- In an urgent question debate on Cambridge Analytica (19 Mar 2018) on rights to and control over personal data.
- In Health and Social Care questions (20 Mar 2018) on the gender pay gap and low pay in the care profession.
- In an urgent question debate on Fisheries (20 Mar 2018) on fish products in the North East.
- In a Westminster Hall debate on the Future of the Commonwealth (21 Mar 2018).
- In Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions (22 Mar 2018) on rights to and control over personal data.
- Twice in DWP questions (26 March) on Universal Credit and Child Poverty and during topicals on the impact of Universal Credit on constituent Emily Johnson;
- In Women and Equalities questions (29 March) on support for engineering companies to go into schools.
- In International Trade questions (29 March) on the signing of the African continental free trade area agreement.
- In Transport questions (19 April) on regional equity in transport spending.
- In Prime Minister’s Questions (9 May 2018) on the cost to jobs in Newcastle of Tory infighting over Brexit.
- Intervened twice on speeches during the debate on the Data Protection Bill (9 May 2018), raising the wholesale destruction of data as a result of data protection requirements; and the need for a Charter of Data Rights.
All our interns – Fadima, Taylour and AJ – have now left and Alfie’s time standing in for Jane’s Jury Service leave has now ended. We will be recruiting another living wage paid intern in September.
Meetings and visits
Pearson Engineering / Craig Priday, THE VERB live performance on Radio 3, WEA (workers educational association) / Ruth Spellman, STEM for Britain 2018, Africa APPG Delegation briefing / Antony St John, Commonwealth Day Reception, , ISACA cyber security and IT Audit / Rob Clyde, Borris Vallaud MP France,, Bishop Christine, ICAEW Annual dinner, National Salt Awareness Week, Dr Reynolds Women & Civil Rights discussion, IET / Dr Joanna Cox, Big Bang Fair Supporters’ dinner, Federation of Small businesses / Simon Hanson, Regional Conference dinner, Heathrow Airport / Craig Owen, St Patricks Day Remembrance, Richard Swart, Digital Nations Group / Paul Miller, ICAEW Chartered Accountants / Martin Martinoff, Suffrage Centenary launch of Parliamentarian pack, Foreign Secretary’s Reception, Friends of India Dinner – 70 Years of Friendship, Mining Institute Constituency Tourism day visit, Tour UCL Institute of Communications and Connected Systems, , Iqbal V Gandham Crypto UK, Sikh community drop-in, Growing the Internet of Things, FSB small business confidence and local elections event, Rick Waghorn Addiply, APPG on Wholesale Financial Markets and Services dinner, , Mondelez International reception, Labour Women in Business reception, FAR community garden visit, Neil Hutchinson Northumbria Police, Newcastle Film Festival awards dinner, Andrew Parkes Prospect, Jane Luca and Jessica Thrift ITV Public Affairs, Southport visit, European Week of Astronomy and Space Science dinner, Dilston Road Medical Practice, Senator Bernie Sanders, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, TUC/ Frances Grady, Ethiopian Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) reception, Aston Martin Lagonda Women in Engineering reception, CHOGM Joint-Forum Plenary sessions, tour and lunch, Keep Britain Tidy event, WSP professional services firm/ Ian Liddell, Ernst & Young/ Adhika Chadwick, Eamonn McGrath & John Jarrett, CHOGM Parliamentary reception, Royal Africa Society Women & leadership dinner, Dun & Bradstreet/ Allison Schwartz, Anglesey Day, Commonwealth Youth Advocates drop-in, Association For Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK) Advisory Board, North East Art Collective auction, English Martyrs School celebration assembly, Fusiliers 50th Anniversary Commemoration Service, People Power / Andrew Wilson, Millicent Fawcett Statue unveiling, St George’s Day APPG reception, Dame Allans School Visit, Jewish Leadership Council/ Michaela Vyse, APPG for Africa/ Hetty Bailey, Google UK/ Pandu Nayak & Katie O’Donovan, Ubisoft EMEA Consumer Relationship Centre/ Giselle Stewart, Stephane Catherine & Sarah Hinchcliffe Smith, Big Brother Watch/ Silkie Carlo, BAE Systems Joint trade Unions Parliamentary Committee/ Jarrod Rex, Pictfor EGM, Matilda Performance, Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) Chair/ Ruth Evans shadowing, Changing Lives/ Laura Seebohm, Grandparent Plus, Kenton Dene with Rabbi Barbara Borts and other interested parties
Meeting with residents in Kenton Dene
Kenton Ward Summit, Panellist UN Women HeForShe Arts Week, African Science Academy Gala Dinner, Campaign Launch Newcastle City Council Election, Keep Our NHS Public North East, Voice of the Future 2018, Welcome at Post Brexit Trade Relation with Africa, Reading Regional Business Roundtable with Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour North Regional Conference, Jan Trust / Sajda Mughal OBE, Tourism Alliance event, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s drop-in, 10 Year Anniversary Celebration Newcastle United Foundation, 15th Anniversary of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, National Housing Federation reception, launch of Positive Money’s latest paper, LSE Truth, trust and Technology commission meeting, Vision Aid overseas Universal Eye Health event, Royal Society Labs to Riches dinner, Africa APPG roundtable with new Africa Minister Harriett Baldwin, Vodafone panel on regional productivity, Speak Brexit For or Against you must be ready, Kenton Brownies, Brexit: For or Against, ‘100 years of woman’s votes’ to Brownies, Unison Northern Labour Link Forum panel, Pictfor CEO Forum dinner, Labour diversity business summit, Women in Film panel, Newcastle Film Festival The Body Beautiful, BME Early Career Research conference, European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, Industrial Strategy debate, interview with Hilary Baxter for book about female MPs in the UK Parliament, Host Chartered Institute of building event, Mind the Gap conference, Speak at Professors & head in Computing dinner, Speak at Nesta- OECD ‘Inclusive Vanguardism’ event in Paris, Freedom City Service ‘50 Years since Dr King’s death’, Internet Citizens workshop, speak at SME4Labour about upcoming local elections, Speak at Degree Apprenticeships event, Question Time St Albans, Speak at Our Future; Our Voice Newcastle University, Chair British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) roundtable with delegation from Liberia, AstraZeneca–Labour roundtable lunch on UK life sciences