The actions taken by the Israeli Government against Palestinian protestors this week were appalling. In the bloodiest day of this conflict since the 2014 war 58 Palestinians were killed including six children and a baby of 8 months old, and the number wounded has risen to over 2,700. This use of excessive and in many cases lethal force is not simply disproportionate, it is wholly unjustifiable. It destroys efforts to restart the peace process, and fuels the cycle of hatred and resentment between both peoples.
The response from the UK Government to the ongoing crisis in Gaza and in the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been limp and inadequate, especially with regards to the reckless actions of President Trump. His deeply insensitive and provocative decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem has set the peace process back years. I want to see the UK Government challenging the US President on his actions and helping to lead the international community to secure a lasting peace in the region. In addition, we must have an independent and impartial UN-led inquiry into this most recent outbreak of violence. I have already entered the ballot for next Foreign & Commonwealth Office oral questions to raise these matter with the Secretaries of State.
With every school in Hornsey & Wood Green having their per pupil funding slashed under this Government, it is particularly galling to see the Tories announce this week that they’ve found £200 million for their vanity project of expanding grammar schools. Evidence from all corners show that grammar schools hold back social mobility, and less than 3 per cent of pupils attending them are on free school meals. Read the article I wrote last year on why grammar schools are not the answer. Children are being let down, especially those with special educational needs or disabilities where there is a funding crisis. That’s where funding should be focused, not just for a lucky few.
Almost a year on from the Grenfell tragedy, the Prime Minister has finally agreed to the call from survivors, bereaved families and the public that a panel of experts should sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick. It shouldn’t have been such a struggle. The Prime Minister has to build public trust in a process that many are sceptical of, and there has to be community confidence. Many Grenfell residents felt they weren’t listened to before the fire when they spoke out about their safety concerns. It is imperative they are listened to now. I attended the Westminster Hall Debate where this was debated at length and I praised the role the Speaker has played, together with the Parliamentary Chaplain Rose, to bring Parliamentarians together after something so dreadful.
I’m delighted that the St Ann’s Hospital site in Haringey will be the first purchased by the Mayor of London’s brand new City Hall Land Fund, and that half of all the new homes built will be genuinely affordable. I’ve been arguing for years that the original planning permission for the site was unacceptable, with a pathetically low 14% affordable housing, and I’ve been a strong supporter of the active St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART) campaign for a community-led development. We desperately need homes that local people can actually afford to live in, and this deal will provide hundreds of genuinelyaffordable homes as well as a much-needed new mental health facility. It shows what a Labour Mayor can achieve for London – and I hope it’s the only the first of many such schemes across the capital.
In the constituency, I held a useful meeting with the Head of St Thomas More Catholic School where we discussed concerns over rising violent crime levels and gangs. It’s an issue I’ve already raised in Parliament and the previous Home Secretary Amber Rudd promised a meeting. I’m pursuing this with the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and I’ll be using it to urge him to cancel the further £325 million in cuts the Metropolitan Police is expected to make by 2021.
It’s certainly timely that the Mayor of London has launched his Young Londoners Fund to help tackle youth violence this week. Community groups, charities, youth centres and schools can apply now for a share of £15 million of funding (deadline Monday 9 July). I hope lots of groups across Hornsey & Wood Green will apply and joined David Lammy MP and Joanne McCartney AM to help promote it at the Selby Centre on Thursday.
Finally, I had a wonderful morning in the glorious sunshine cheering on the Crouch End fun runners. Well done to everyone who took part, and thanks to the YMCA which not only provides a fantastic gym but also a lifeline to vulnerable youngsters.