Dear Newcastle – February 7th 2020
Winter storms are blowing through the region but still Newcastle feels much calmer and more reasonable than Westminster with Tory reshuffle anxiety and Labour Leadership contest ongoing. It is clear that Boris Johnson’s ‘special adviser’ Dominic Cummings, thinks there is nothing he can’t do. But can he bring public decent transport to the North East? Not if Boris Johnson’s response to my question on buses is anything to go by!
On 31st January we finally left the European Union. After three and a half years of debate, division, demonstrations and desperate dancing on the edge the final few moments before we left were still very sad with real concern for the form of Brexit to come. I joined the vigil at the Monument, I believe strongly that Boris Johnson’s Tory Government will ensure it is the North East and working people who suffer most in their hard Brexit.
The Labour leadership race entered full throttle. I nominated Emily Thornberry and Rosena Allin-Khan to ensure choice on the ballot but I have yet to explicitly back anyone. I think all the candidates have good qualities and it is very important that the party swing behind whoever is elected.
As we are waiting for our new leader I took on the temporary role of Shadow Digital Minister. Digital is an area with which I am very familiar having worked as an Electrical Engineer for twenty years. However it still involved a lot of additional work with the Telecoms Infrastructure Bill going through the house now and Government due to report on Online Harms.
Given that the Tories have a majority of 80 Labour will generally be unable to change legislation – we always likely to lose votes. That means I can spend more time in Newcastle. I am also looking at what campaigns to focus on for this Parliament – transport is an obvious one given the differences between London and Newcastle bus prices.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- January was a particularly busy time for constituency casework with many complex and heart-rending cases. It is very distressing to realise that for the next five years we have little hope of changing constituents lives for the better through legislation. However we have been able to help in many ways on individual cases.
- On Correspondence many of the Ministers have changed so I continue to engage with Ministers or Government Agencies on Leasehold, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Newcastle United Finance, Weinstein and Ipsa, Relocation and Ipsa, use of Algorithms in the Home Office with the Council on Kittiwakes and Homelessness and with LNER and Nexus on Disability Access
Spoken from the backbenches eight times: Imported Agricultural Goods (6 Feb), Imported Agricultural Goods (6 Feb), Middle East Peace Plan (4 Feb), Business of the House on buses (30 Jan), UK Telecommunications (28 Jan), Facial recognition (27 Jan), Greggs bonuses (27 Jan), Britain in the world (13 Jan),
Asked 34 written questions: European Telecommunications Standards Institute: Computer Software (6 Feb), Renewable Energy (6 Feb), Legal Aid Scheme: Low Incomes (6 Feb), Prison Officers: Safety (6 Feb), Housing: Standards (5 Feb), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Staff (5 Feb), Openreach (5 Feb), Housing: Broadband (5 Feb), Tyne and Wear Metro (4 Feb), Internet: Advertising (4 Feb), NHS Trusts: Carbon Emissions and Climate Change (4 Feb), Buildings: Telecommunications (4 Feb), Broadband (4 Feb), Openreach (4 Feb), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Public Appointments (3 Feb), Digital Technology (3 Feb), Electoral Register: EU Nationals (31 Jan), Manufacturing Industries: North East (29 Jan), Carbon Emissions and Renewable Energy: Finance (29 Jan), Digital Technology: Carbon Emissions (28 Jan), Food Poverty: Newcastle upon Tyne (28 Jan), Housing: Standards (27 Jan), Housing: Standards (27 Jan), Homelessness (27 Jan), UK-Africa Investment Summit (27 Jan, UK-Africa Investment Summit (27 Jan), Databases: Finance (22 Jan), Ukraine: Aviation (21 Jan), Nissan: Import Duties (20 Jan), Nissan: Import Duties (20 Jan), Conditions of Employment (20 Jan), Dangerous Driving: Death ( 20 Jan), Dangerous Driving: Sentencing (20 Jan)
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I represented the Labour Party at the Party of European Socialists meeting in Brussels. This was the first such meeting after Brexit and our sister parties expressed sadness at our departure and concern over future negotiations with Boris Johnson’s Government. I read out a message of solidarity and ongoing internationalist commitment from Jeremy Corbyn which was welcome. We agreed to look at areas of focus for future collaboration.
- Spoken from the frontbench twice on behalf of the Shadow BEIS team, both times on Government’s reassurances to Nissan on frictionless trade post Brexit (21 Jan)
- Spoke from the Frontbench twice on behalf of the Shadow DCMS team, at the 2nd reading of the Telecoms infrastructure Bill (22 Jan) and on Full Fibre gigabyte broadband (16 Jan)
- Fortunately we have been able to get Charlotte Holloway on board as a temporary advisor until March 31st. Charlotte is a Tech expert and was the Labour Candidate in Plymouth Moorview and she has already made a great contribution. James has had a great learning curve and is now an expert on parliamentary procedure, recruitment and telecoms infrastructure!
- Charlotte has joined us until March 31st. Our part time caseworker, Marion will be full time until March 31st in order to catch up on the additional casework and improve our internal organisation.
- We are recruiting a London living wage intern.
Quoted frequently in local and national media and on Newsnight on Huawei. I wrote an obituary for my friend Steve Cohen which the Guardian posted here
Quoted frequently in local and national media and on Newsnight on Huawei. I was interviewed by HighLifeNorth
Meetings and visits
James Ramboatham NECC, Armed Forces Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch – Commander Home Command, My Globalbridge, Liz Bromley- Newcastle College, Rabbi Lipsey, Christine Hall – River of Tears, Slatyford Tenants Bingo, William Perrin, e-Power, JG Windows, Illuminating the Self – Hatton Gallery, Hope not Hate, Ditchley Foundation, Association of British HealthTech Inustries, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee event, The House event, Media Freedom in the Commonwealth event, APPG Jaz Rising Stars Awards, APPG Engineering Lunch with Excelsior Academy, BAME MP photo, NHS Macmillan Workforce event, Cervical Cancer prevention research launch, Reform the Computer Misuse Act 1990 event, Africa UK Female Tech Founders, Lyttleton Theatre – The Welkin, Reach North East, Kenton Academy, YHA, Opening Ceremony of 2020 Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorations, Competition & Markets Authority, BBC World Service, APPG Universities, NFU, Royal Mail, APPG Energy, Action for Children, NEA Heat Heros, Nigerian Delegation, APPG Angola, UK Fishing Industry, APPG Personalised Medicine, Rail Industry Association, Office for Students, Air bnb, Royhal Town Planning Institute, Foundation for Science Facial Recognition & Biometrics Technology & Ethics, Prince Debo Adesina AL-AMIN, Time to Activate, Freemen of Newcastle, Prof Paul Christensen Newcastle University-Lithium Ion Batteries, ITV Coronovirus, Central Lofts, City Baths, Sudan Day Celebration, British Vehicle Rental & Leasing, Make UK, Hospitality Apprentices, APPG Apprentices Fair, APPG Engineering, Conference on Kashmir, Juvenile Diabetes Research, Sustainable Aviation, Adult Education APPG, Shrinking Space through Palestine event, Cancer Research UK, National Apprenticeship Week reception, APPG Dance, North East Transport briefing, APPG Football Supporters, Airlines & UK Aviation & Sustainability, Future of Immunology, PES Presidency, , St Mungos, Lloyds changing face of banking,
Newcastle Stop the War Coalition, High Life North interview, UCU report launch anti-casualisation in HE/MLK Day, APPG Africa Trade & Brexit, Charles Hymas – The Telegraph, Telecoms Infrastructure Bill, Child Poverty 2020 conference, IPSOS Mori MP survey, Newsnight, Westminster eForum Developing Quantum Computing in the UK, FCO Orals, Metro Radio targettted ads, Video for Parliament outreach events Thomas Walling/Moorside & Wingrove Primary schools