I hope everyone managed to get some time with family and friends over the summer, but I know it has been a long and difficult summer for many. The fall of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister’s so called Social Care Plan and the huge cut to Universal Credit payments gave many constituents cause to write to me with their concerns.
In particular, the rapid fall of Afghanistan and the botched evacuation caused distress and indeed trauma for many constituents, especially those with relatives in Afghanistan. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the withdrawal the British Government had a duty to those who had helped and supported our troops in Afghanistan, and those whose lives are threatened by the Taliban regime. Parliament was recalled to debate the situation and many MPs made eloquent contributions, particularly those who had fought in Afghanistan. I did not speak in the debate but I did raise cases with Ministers and was pleased that my office was able to help a number of families get out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, nowhere near enough – we estimate we had 103 cases and managed to help 18 individuals leave the country. We have yet to receive responses from either the with the Foreign and Home Offices for the vast majority of these cases, sometimes not even an acknowledgement.
Meeting with Unison to discuss tech & the public sector
The Prime Ministers ‘Social Care Plan’ is a betrayal of care workers and all those worried about their loved ones’ social care – and their own. A ten percent National Insurance Tax hike that takes money from low paid workers in the Newcastle in order to protect those living on rents or investments. That the Tories are doing this at the same time as cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week will drive up poverty rates in Newcastle, which are already far too high. The Government’s actions show, yet again, that when it comes to levelling up what they mean is increasing the burdens on the North, not the opportunity.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Unfortunately my parliamentary assistant James Bamborough announced he was leaving the team. We will all miss James’ contribution to our team. We are recruiting a new Parliamentary Assistant, the team helped review CVs and James and Christine did the first round of interviews together.
- Parliament returned in full after the summer recess with no remote working or questioning allowed. Parliamentary guidance is still for remote working where possible but we are gradually returning to more normal ways of working, although hopefully with more concern for Covid security than Tory MPs display. I am considering what arrangements are appropriate for a return to the office and in person surgeries.
- I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding issues and demands for support for constituents and businesses, on business admin apprenticeships, on housing conditions for asylum seekers, on plastic waste in the oceans, on support for the Gosforth civic centre and on the problem of pigeons damaging the war memorial in Eldon Square.
- I will be following up with Ministers on correspondence regarding a meeting with Wylam brewery, which we have still yet to get a commitment on.
Discussion with Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi on Premier League lack of transparency over NUFC takeover process
- I met with Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi to discuss the Newcastle United takeover and the lack of transparency from the Premier League, a subject which a significant number of constituents raise with me.
- In July I appeared on Politics North, ITV’s around the House and Any Questions as well as the Institution of Engineering Technology’s special programme for its 150th
- The APPG Africa which I chair completed an investigation into the African diaspora in school curricula inquiry and I took part in a number of evidence sessions.
- I raised the preservation of the Cooperage and the Swing Bridge with the relevant authorities
- So far this year I have caused £695 to be donated to good causes in Newcastle including WERS, Children’s Cancer North, Projects for Change, the West End Foodbank and Search. I do this with payments for MP surveys and some speaking engagements and journalism.
- I have limited my appearance at Labour conference, due to covid and time concerns, but still a lot of preparation is required!
Blakelaw community in action
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- We produced packs highlighting science assets in every Labour constituency and the status of broadband in every constituency. We are looking to increase colleagues participation in science and broadband debates by giving them the tools to make contributions.
- The Online Safety Bill finally entered pre-legislative scrutiny with the formation of a committee of both houses to look at it. We worked to produce a briefing on the Bill and our key aims.
- There were a number of media stories highlighting concerns around bias in big data, algorithms and facial recognition. I am working on a blog to set out Labour’s concerns and actions.
Parliamentary business 6th July to 6th September
Spoken from the back bench: 5 times
Spoken from the front bench: 3 times
Westminster Hall: Space Debris (14th July)
Written Questions: 46 questions
FINA (6th July), Cyber Crime: Small Businesses (12th July), NHS: Software (14th July), Newcastle United Football Club: Takeovers (15th July), Football (15th July), Football: Arbitration (15th July), Football: Takeovers (15th July), Monopolies (15th July), Refugees (15th July), Internet and Telephone Services: Fraud (19th July), Internet: Racial Discrimination (19th July), Energy: Meters (19th July), Football: Takeovers (19th July), Internet: Sales (19th July), Cybercrime (20th July), Qualifications (20th July), Qualifications: Coronavirus (20th July),
Barclays Eagles Lab in Newcastle support for business start ups
Police: Coronavirus (21st July), Internet: Safety (21st July), Football Association Premier League: Competition (21st July), Newport Wafer Fab: Nexperia (21st July), Klarna: Regulation (22nd July), Telecommunications: Infrastructure (22nd July), Telecommunications: Infrastructure (22nd July), Hospital: Waiting Lists (22nd July), Football Association Premier League: Competition ( 22nd July), Exports: EU Countries (22nd July), Research: Finance (22nd July), OnlyFans (23rd July), Science: Curriculum (23rd July), Artificial Intelligence: EU Action (26th July), Ajax Vehicles (26th July), Research: ICT (26th July), Information Commissioner’s Office: Complaints (26th July), NHS: Software (26th July), Business: Newcastle upon Tyne Central (26th July), Business: Newcastle upon Tyne Central (26th July), Local Government Finance (26th July), Violence Reduction Units: Finance (26th July), Broadband (26th July), Internet: Fraud (27th July), Long Covid: Screening (27th July), Hospitals: Staff (30th July), Social Services: Pay (30th July), Medical Records: Data Protection (6th September), Taxation: Import Duties (6th September)
James has left us, Sophie’s contract was extended to enable Gareth to spend more time on Parliamentary activity whilst we recruit a new parliamentary assistant.
Building for the future with North East African and Caribbean businesses
Quoted in national and local media including BBC Look North & Radio Newcaslte Tyne Bridge, E&T magazine interview (IET), BBC Politics, Tyne Tees Around the House, Any Questions, Tyne Tees Cooperage, Chronicle Swing Bridge, Observer Swing Bridge,
Social Media – Top Tweet earned 296K impressions
Long discussion w Amanda Staveley & @ghodoussi on @premierleague lack of transparency over #NUFCtakeover process & what they might have to hide at arbitration. Oliver Dowden says #Football is nothing without fans – so why does he allow the PL to leave fans so totally in the dark? pic.twitter.com/SrJigxsMgb
Impressions 298,105 Total engagements 12,482, Retweets 338
Top Follower: Ant and Dec!
Unison, APPG Manufacturing, Peter Jackson Postmaster, Excelsior Academy, Minister Courts International Travel requirements inbound, Amanda Staveley, UK Dementia Research, Joint Radio Company, Code 4000, Communications & Workers Union, Tuspark, Nicholas Wright, Hetan Shah British Academy, Barclays Eagle Lab, Leazes Park, MP meeting, Litter pick Blakelaw Park, Foundation for Science & Technology, 5 Rights Forum, Demos, BT, Panorama sexual culture in schools, Theo Blackwell, Google, National Security Discussion, You Gov survey, IPSOS MORI Summer survey, Britain Thinks The CityUK research, Tech UK, Lord Wilf Stevenson, Minister Scully NSI, Office of Chairman Meeks US House Common Affairs committee, Office of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Office of Joyce Beatty, Congressional Black Caucus.
Around the House on ITV
Association of Accounting Technicians, Newcastle University Engineering postgrad conference, LSE online safety Bill, US-UK Innovators & legislation, North East of England African Business Forum, Imperial College Media Academy, Jewish Labour Movement NE NHS digital, Pictfor Diversity event, New Statesman Biotechnolgy conference, Stand up to Racism, Doreen Reece funeral, Westminster Forum Establishing ARIA, (message of support Elswick plaque Dr Ruth Nicholson