The ink wasn’t even dry on my last blog before Amber Rudd resigned as Home Secretary. She was right to, but this situation arose because of a deliberate Government policy, pioneered by Theresa May, to create a “hostile environment”. It is an approach that has caused terrible hardship for those caught up in it and helped fuel xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment that continue to plague some parts of society. I want to see the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid abandon this inhumane and cruel “hostile environment” once and for all and the Prime Minister Theresa May held to account for her part in this scandal. She seems determined to let everyone else take the blame and shamefully ordered her MPs this week to vote against the public release of documentation relating to the Windrush scandal. This begs the question – what has she got to hide?
Hundreds of people from Hornsey & Wood Green (the third highest in the country) signed the Windrush petition calling for the government to stop all deportations, change the burden of proof and provide compensation for those affected. I was in the Westminster Hall debate on Monday to make this case and you can read my speech here.
I’ve been calling for Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership in the Overseas Territories since I was first elected and I signed Margaret Hodge & Andrew Mitchell’s successful amendment on Tuesday which set a firm date for their introduction. It’s a fantastic victory, which I welcomed in my speech during the debate. UK territories should not be contributing to the spread of “dirty money”, yet the Panama Papers exposed the complex web of ownership of thousands of off-shore companies. By forcing transparency, these arrangements will now be open to much-needed public and media scrutiny.
Haringey Labour fought incredibly hard in the local government election on 3rd May, gaining 55% share of the vote and in some wards gaining 300 more votes for Labour than in 2014. Losing sitting Councillor, Liz McShane, was a blow as her hard work and sunny disposition will be sorely missed. Haringey Labour and the new council must redouble efforts to demonstrate Labour is on the side of all people in the Borough and communicate that clearly.
I believe the strength of feeling against the car crash Brexit the Tories are leading us into had an impact on voting here and in other strong remain areas like Kingston upon Thames and Richmond – where the Tories were roundly defeated. I have consistently stated that I believe leaving the EU is a mistake and was one of a number of MPs who voted for an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill calling for a second referendum. I’ve signed 28 amendments in the EU Bill including those in support of Customs Union and Single Market membership, environmental and human rights protections. I will continue to stand up for my constituents and argue that the people should be given a final say on the deal that Theresa May brings back from Brussels.
On Friday I enjoyed a Shabbat meal with Rabbi Baruch Epstein and guests at the local Chabad in Hornsey. It was a delicious meal and a good opportunity to connect at a local level with the Jewish community. Whilst disciplinary processes to deal with anti-Semitism continue at the national level, at local level, developing understanding, respect and community cohesion is vital.
I joined Mayor Steve Mann and Jennifer Mann, Cllr Ahmet, Cllr Carlin and our Deputy Mayor Joanne McCartney at a football tournament in Wood Green to celebrate the life of Brother Alli from Wightman Road mosque. It was a terrific day with bright sunshine and provided a full day of fun for youngsters.
Finally, it’s Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week, aimed at raising awareness of the number of women who experience mental health problems during pregnancy or post-natally. I’ve co-signed a letter to the Health Minister calling for the GP contract to be amended so it includes a separate maternal check as well as the baby’s six-week postnatal check. Too many mothers report that a discussion about their emotional and mental wellbeing is either forgotten or is done in a hurry at the end of the baby check appointment. The evidence suggests that adding this new requirement to the contract would significantly help improve maternal mental health for a very modest investment of around £20m per annum, against a total estimated £8bn in costs stemming from the adverse consequences of perinatal mental illness. It’s by no means the only answer but it would be a good start.