The run up to Christmas seems to start in August these days but for me the sight of Fenwicks windows is the real start of the festive season. This year’s Snowman theme is particularly joyous, which I appreciate as there is not much joy around in Westminster.
Austerity, Brexit and the Budget are the big topics in Parliament now though there are many different aspects to each of them but few if any positive ones. The Budget made clear that austerity is not over. The cuts continue and much of the ‘announced’ spending is reannouncements – so of the 1.6 Billion of R&D he ‘announced’ only 180 million was new. The Chancellor caused widespread and justified anger with his off-hand comment about ‘little extras’ for schools facing unprecedented financial pressures – how bad does it have to be for headteachers to march on parliament as they did in October. And of course the cuts to councils which have seen Newcastle’s central government funding halved continue. In my Budget speech I tried to list all the negative impacts of austerity on Newcastle – 1000 less police on our streets, £416 less spent per child in our schools, delayed metro investment meaning misery for commuters, funding for parks and libraries slashed… but I ran out of time.
Brexit cast a shadow on the austerity and budget debates. We know that a no deal would be disastrous for our economy, particularly in the North East where we export so much to the European Union. The Tories are still arguing amongst themselves rather than negotiating with the EU for a deal which is in all our interests. I will not vote for a deal which does not meet Labour’s Brexit tests.
Tracey Crouch was a minister who commanded widespread respect. The fact that she has resigned shows how sensible policies such as reducing the Fixed Odd Betting Terminals stakes are undermined by lobbying and infighting within the Conservative Party. She had just written to me a very reasonable, if not radical, response to concerns I raised on behalf of constituents regarding financial transparency in football. I shall take it up with her successor.
Trains for the future – jobs for the North East
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Spoke from the backbenches six times: intervened in the debate on East Coast Main Line Investment (17 October 2018) (twice), asked a question on EU Customs Union and Draft Withdrawal Agreement: Cost (22 October 2018) intervened in the Minister’s Statement on the Death of Jamal Khashoggi (22 October 2018) spoke in the Budget Debate on the impact of Austerity on Newcastle (29 October 2018), asked about Football Finance Transparency (1 November 2018) and asked a question about Leasehold Changes (5 November 2018)
- I asked 24 Written Questions to Ministers
- Many speaking engagements for Black History Month
- Officially greeted the New Dean of Newcastle Cathedral, Geoff Miller, during his installation.
- I met with the Minister for Primary health Care for constructive discussion on how to improve consistency and quality of primary health care in the constituency following a number of contracts being handed back.
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers on Leasehold, Primary Health Care, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Mesh, Newcastle United Finance; and with the Council on Kittiwakes, Homelessness and the Fenham Hub
Welcoming the new Dean at St Nicholas Cathedral
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- With Unison and the TUC I held a successful conference on industrial strategy and care in the economy called North East New industry. The keynote speaker was Mariana Mazzucato and it provided a refreshing new narrative on industry and our future. Notes will be available.
- Spoke from the frontbench once to open the Budget Economy Debate on behalf of Labour after Rebecca Long Bailey was unexpectedly taken ill.
- I closed Labour South East Regional conference, speaking on industrial strategy and how Labour policies for high wage, high skill high wage jobs can help bring our country together and make it fairer.
- As Vice Chair of the Party of European Socialists spent a day in Brussels on Monday 15th October discussing the Labour party’s future relationship with PES.
Our new Westminster intern has been recruited and our Newcastle Apprentice has started. We are looking at technology to help us work more effectively as the workload increases.
Quoted in national and local media including Sky, BBC Politics Live
Show Racism the Red Flag
Meetings and visits
Wallsend Boys Club, PES Brussels (Party of European Socialists), Mitzvah Day, Support Dogs Event, National Cyber Security Centre, Support Cyber Skills photo-call, Africa APPG, World Menopause Day, Edward Harcourt UKRI, Labour Friends of Local Government Seminar, Regional Industrial strategy roundtable North West, GEIC (Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre) visit, Fenham library meeting, Meet UNAA (University Nigeria Alumni Association), Wear Red Day, meeting BME representation in Newcastle Central, Red Ramble, Jo Greening PES, APPG Africa meeting with Lord Mayor’s office, Support Solar Energy drop in, Google UK Economic Impact Report Launch, Age UK Social Care, High Streets Working Group, APPG Mozambique, St James Health, Minister meeting on GP surgeries with Steve Brine/CCG/NHS England, London Magpie Group, Tony Dyke’s ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) Farewell, Street Games, Tree planting Queen’s canopy, Labour’s Black History Month Celebration, Fire & Fury, Angola APPG, Ambassador designate to Nigeria, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Kate Bradley & John Marshall NU Foundation, Newcastle Insights Lecture & Dinner Lonnie Bunch Smithsonian, Care Mission meeting, Act of Remembrance to Commemorate 100 years since World War 1.
Tree planting in Nunsmoor Park
Policy priorities for closing the gender Gap in tech & digital skills (Westminster eForum), Presented Parliamentary Jazz Media Award, Construction Products Association – concerns & aspirations for manufacturing and construction sectors, Women in Maths day – what I’ve done with my STEM Degree & what you can do with yours, Installation of Venerable Geoff Mille as Dean of Newcastle, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means at a special event for Black History Month event, IET New Approaches to Engineering Higher Education roundtable, Herbert Smith Freehills Multiculturalism in the City – a new generation of leaders, Labour students Black History Month event at Southside ‘Where next?, Northumbria Uni Black History Month – Inspirational Women, Labour South East Regional Conference Southampton.