Dear Newcastle November 2021

The murder of Sir David Amess was a shocking reminder of the vulnerability of MPs and their staff and the value of public service. Parliament was deeply shaken by his brutal killing, and I am personally grateful for all the positive supporting comments I received from constituents.

The Budget and COP26 were the big anticipated events of the last month. The budget was a huge wasted opportunity with the Chancellor doubling down on tax rises for the less well off and tax cuts for the wealthy. There was no serious attempt to address the big three crises we face, the cost of living crisis, the climate crisis and the covid crisis.

COP26 kicked off in Glasgow, this is the our last opportunity to make good on the Paris commitments to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. To do so we need to half emissions by  2030 but currently we are on track only to reduce them by 7% which would lead to a warming of 2.7% with devastating consequences globally and here in Newcastle. Unfortunately the Prime Minister has shown no real leadership. Jetting about (literally) for photo opportunities but not matching warm words with hard cash.

                                               COP26 North East Coalition Rally Photo @VBarryStanners (Twitter)

The takeover of Newcastle United by the Capital Partners Consortium turned the eyes of the foolballing world on Newcastle and brought joy to the vast majority of fan, sick and tired of Mike Ashley’s lack of investment, as well as re-igniting a fierce debate over Saud Arabia’s human rights record and the Premier League’s owners and directors test.  I expressed my  relief at the end of the Ashley era, and the deep frustration of fans over a decade of neglect and lack of involvement.  I have campaigned for the Premier League to be more transparent and accountable to fans. But I also recognise Saudi Arabia’s atrocious human rights record and that this investment brings with it significant challenges as well as hopes for the future. Newcastle has a long history of struggle for social justice at home and abroad and this investment must continue that tradition.

The last week also saw  Parliament brought into disrepute by the corrupt, arrogant and entirely unacceptable actions of the Prime Minister and his cronies.  A ex Cabinet Minister took hundreds of thousands of pounds to lobby for private companies and used his Parliamentary office and personal influence with minister to do so, clearly against the rules of the Parliament. He refused to accept the decision of the independent Parliamentary Standards commissioner, and the Parliamentary Standards Committee and then Boris Johnson flew back from Cop26 to force his MPs to change the entire system.

                                                    NUFC Fans Foodbank collection Photo @Hawaay61 (Twitter)

The Tory MPs who went along with this Government corruption should be ashamed of themselves, and that includes several North East MPs, all Tories.  They damaged the  confidence of the public in Parliament, and all MPs suffer as a result. The Government was forced into a U turn by public outrage but astoundingly still refuses to condemn the behaviour of Owen Paterson and want to brush under the carpet further a Tory Police and Crime Commissioner who has broken the law and a Tory MP accused of serious sexual misconduct.

Backbench and Constituency Role

Progress

  • The Budget was trailed as investing in the North to support levelling up, but of course it did no such thing. Aside some money for Grainger Market there was nothing for the North East, their ‘Northern Transport’ offer did not include the North East.
  • It was Black History Month in October and I spoke at many events mainly on zoom, to highlight the contribution of people of colour to our region and country.
  • Many North East Tories voted for the disgraceful attempt to ‘save a corrupt mate’ which undermined confidence in all MPs – Simon Clarke (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland), Peter Gibson (Darlington), Richard Holden (North West Durham), Paul Howell (Sedgefield), Ian Levy (Blyth Valley), Matt Vickers (Stockton South).
  • We returned to face to face surgeries. Thank to my office staff for their  hard work to help make them secure.

                                                                     Unison Black history month discussion

  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding issues and demands for support for constituents and businesses, on support for businesses exporting to the EU, on allowing more asylum seekers to find work when we have labour shortages and to the new owners of Newcastle United.on support for businesses exporting to the EU, on the problem of pigeons damaging the war memorial in Eldon Square.

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

  • The Telecoms security bill came back to the commons to vote  on Lords Amendments, which were mainly in accordance. In the Commons debate the Government put forward a series of unconvincing arguments to continue to escape scrutiny.
  • I met with a number of stakeholders on the continuing issues of algorithmic surveillance of workers and algorithmic bias.
  • As the lead for the Online Safety Bill I continue to meet with stakeholders concerned about the delay and lack of proper protections.

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary business  5th Oct – 9th November

Spoken from the front bench: 4 times

Telecommunications (Security) Bill (8th Nov), Tackling the Digital Divide (4th Nov), Post Office Closures (19th Oct Draft National Security and Investment Act 2021 Committee (20th Oct)

                                            North East Homeless visit

Spoken from the back bench: 9 times

Transport Topical: Bus Prices (4th Nov), Budget Resolutions (2nd Nov), Arts Courses: Funding Reductions (1st Nov), Topical DEFRA: Plastic Pollution (28th Oct), Budget: Pre-announcement of Provisions (26th Oct), Topical FCDO: Vaccines (26th Oct), Arrest of Sudanese Prime Minister (25th Oct),  Business of the House: Online Safety Bill (21st Oct)  Covid-19: Government Response (21st Oct), Free Trade Agreement: New Zealand (21st Oct)

Written Questions: 54

Digital Technology: Prices (15th October); Post Offices: ICT (15th October); Semiconductor Devices: Exports (15th October); Help to Grow Scheme (15th October); Dementia: Research (19th October); Social Services: Finance (19th October); Clinical Trials: Coronavirus (19th October); Post Office: Herbet Smith Freehills (19th October);  Universal Credit: Newcastle upon Tyne (19th October); Asylum: Employment (19th October); Social Services: North East (19th October); Equal Pay: Disability (19th October); Integrated Care Boards (19th October); Sexual Offences: Email (19th October); UK Trade with EU (19th October);  Broadband Standards (20th October); University and College Union: Workplace Pensions (20th October); Aviation: Exhaust Emissions (20th October); Cars: Ownership (20th October); Agriculture (20th October); Special Educational Needs (20th October); Public Transport: Newcastle upon Tyne (25th October); Electric Vehicles: Buses (25th October); Travel Restrictions: Dominican Republic (25th October); Transport: Tyne and Wear (26th October); Internet: Safety (27th October); Africa: Military Aid (27th October); Global Britain Investment Fund (27th October); Global Britain Investment Fund (27th October) origin of the funding; 5G: Finance (27th October); Litter (28th October); Science: Research (29th October); Public Expenditure (1st November) National Productivity Fund’s provenance; Public Expenditure (1st November) Provenance of funding for ARIA, Help to Grow, Future Fund and National Productivity Fund; Public Expenditure (1st November) Capital DEL spending; UK Shared Prosperity Fund (1st November); Migrant Workers: Research (1st November); Research: Tax Allowances (1st November); Research: Tax Allowances (1st November); Electronic Funds Transfer: Fraud (2nd November); UK Shared Prosperity Fund: Innovation and Research (2nd November); Research: Finance (2nd November); Bank Services (2nd November); Skilled Workers: STEM Subjects (2nd November); Migrant Workers: Research (2nd November); Skills Bootcamp (2nd November) Employment rate; Skills Bootcamp (2nd November) Number of participants; Skills Bootcamp (2nd November) Funding and regional breakdown; Future Fund (2nd November); Online Safety Bill: Ofcom Recruitment (8th November)

                                                                  With Blue Star FC in Scotswood

Media

Quoted in national and local media including Which interview, BBC Today Programme on Science, BBC Look North MLK Legacy, Newcastle United Food Bank TV recording, BBC Radio Newcastle MP Safety, BBC North East Budget reaction, BBC Politics North

Top tweet

Not commenting on #nufctakeover until confirmed – too many false starts in the past – but any u-turn by the @premierleague is due to the persistence & determination of #nufc fans to expose their anti-competitive & unaccountable behaviour, rather than changes in media rights!   493K impressions, 125 retweets, 1473 likes

Visiting Richard Ratcliffe on hunger strike in support of the Free Nazanin campaign

Meetings

Grosvenor Casino, Leazes Park Tennis, North East Trade briefing, North East Homeless visit, Ariel Armony Pittsburgh University, Fabian Society, Mavenir, Newcastle College, Waitrose Eldon Square, Damain Tambini & leo Watkins LSE,  North East Transport briefing, Jobes Gym, Gozi Haircare, Pat Ritchie reception, Blue Star football Club, Prof Candy Rowe Newcastle University, Dr Sara Walker National Centre for Energy Stystems Integration, Matt Beeton Port of Tyne, Advertising Standards Authority, Harvey Nash, Industry Froum, Twitter, Chris Day Newcastle University, George Street Social, Asian Business Connexions, Guardian, Admiral Gaming, Stonewall, Inspector Karen Madge Northumbria Police, Long Live the Local, DLA Piper, Zero emission buses, Online Harms, Clean Energy from Coalfields, National Lorry Week, Scientists for Labour, Net Zero, Lee Castleton Post office, Niamh Dunne LSE , Prof Tomasso Valleti Imperial College, Haddock & Chips Gosforth Civic, Open Rights Group, Creative Commons, SOAS Professor Habib, BAPG, Nuclear Power reception, UK Music, FSB, Micehlle Meagher, Saturday Club, Amnesty North East, Wing Bridge Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust, Minister Rowley battery manufacturing, The Globe, Tyneside Irish Centre, Vanessa Christophers, Enterchnos,  Richard Ratcliffe hunger striker, Tech UK, Op Loqui Northumbria Police, East Coast Mainline APPG, Bishop Christine, Richard Masters, Forces in Mind Trust

                                                                       Meeting Bishop Christine as she retires as Bishop of Newcastle   

Speaking

Manufacturing the Future film, All Girls African Science Academy, Home Group Black History Month, Unite Rally for jobs, Christian Aid Racial & Climate Justice, Blair project interview Diversity, Unison Northern Black History Month, Changing Lives, Sunderland BME Network, Northern Powerhouse partnership, Association Medical Research Companies panel discussion, Parent zone/Nominet launch Digital Youth Index, NHS Women into leadership, opening Lumo HQ, Tyneside Irish Cultural Festival Closing, COP26 North East Coalition,

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