My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green. If you’d like to receive it, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.
Here’s what it said:
Welcome to my June e-newsletter
Monday was Windrush Day
It should be a day that celebrates the contributions made by so many since the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in 1948.
Instead, it was a stark reminder that many hundreds of people are still waiting for compensation, more than two years since the Government first apologised for the appalling Windrush scandal that saw lives ruined and families torn apart. I’ve been supporting two of my own constituents who have been waiting well over a year for a response to their claims.
It is a double injustice from a Government that has also failed to implement the Windrush review recommendations and has left in place the hostile environment that caused the scandal and is still destroying lives today.
The Black Lives Matters movement has powerfully spoken to the injustice that is still too evident in our society and which the Windrush scandal so clearly highlights. Hundreds of you have got in touch and I share your anger. You can read about some of the actions I’ve been taking here. You can also read the House of Commons Library briefing on Covid-19 and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities here.
The Government needs to act, and it needs to act now. That doesn’t mean another Government report, it means implementing the Windrush recommendations, implementing the Lammy Review and making this country fairer for our Black and other ethnic minority communities.
Haringey Labour Party are organising a zoom meeting on Black Lives Matter in the UK on Monday 6 July to discuss some of these issues including the number of BAME deaths from Covid-19 and problems in the criminal justice system. If you’re interested in taking part, email Tom at [email protected] for more information.
Here are some of the other things I’ve been doing this month:
Job creation and protection
The latest figures show the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Hornsey & Wood Green, has gone from 2,580 in March to 7,145 in May (an increase of 176%). This is on top of the 16,700 workers on furlough. These are staggering and extremely worrying numbers. Labour is calling for a summer budget focused on job creation and tackling long-term unemployment to make sure we can build a better, greener society on the back of this crisis.
Hornsey & Wood Green is home to many hundreds of people working in the creative industries, who have been hit hard by the impact of the lockdown. In Parliament this month, I pressed the Government on the need for sector specific support – we cannot allow the devastation of this industry which contributes so much both to the economy and to people’s lives.
I’ve also written to the Prime Minister to urge him to fund a national, paid work-experience programme that links young people up with charities including in the arts, cultural and sports sectors. I am concerned that we risk a lost generation of young people leaving school and university at this unprecedented time. A funded scheme would enable small and medium sized charities to offer placements and support through an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and provide young people with interesting, paid opportunities at a time when employment may be scarce.
Teach our children about Britain’s past
Our education system needs to reflect Britain’s past and challenge the racism in our society today. This month I wrote to the Government to urge a full review into the curriculum to address the historic imbalance in our schools and spoke to Sky News about my campaign. You can read my letter here.
LGBT+ rights in Europe
I’ve been alarmed and concerned by the regression of LGBT+ rights in Hungary and the recent comments of Poland’s President on LGBT+ “ideology”. We’ve come a long way in Europe on LGBT+ rights and should be proud of the progress and equality which we have come to enjoy – especially during Pride month. But we mustn’t forget the challenges faced by the LGBT+ community in parts of Europe, and I will be writing to the Government as shadow Europe Minister to urge them to do more to stop this regression of hard fought for rights and protections.
As part of the shadow Foreign Office team I have been involved in many discussions about China’s proposed National Security Law, which would severely curtail Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties. As I have often said previously, Britain has a legal and moral responsibility to Hong Kong, and Labour has been pressing the Government to do more to challenge the Chinese Government and protect Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Israel’s annexation plans
Arguably the greatest foreign policy challenge at the moment is the proposals from the Israeli Government to annex parts of the West Bank from July. I’ve always been clear that a two-state solution, protecting Israel’s security whilst ensuring a free and prosperous Palestinian state, is the only viable solution to the decades old conflict and these proposals would fundamentally weaken this plan. Lisa Nandy has written to the Prime Minister on behalf of the shadow Foreign Office team to demand the Government does more to urge the Israeli Government to drop their illegal and counterproductive plans.
One of the few positives of the lockdown has been the marked improvement of air quality and sustained fall in CO2 emissions. As we slowly restart our economy it is vital that we do not go back to “normal”, and instead herald in a new and sustainable society with active travel and environmental policies at the heart of what we do. Read my latest column in the Ham & High about the need to build back better. I asked Haringey to publish its plans for new active travel schemes and would encourage residents to submit ideas for new cycle routes or low traffic neighbourhoods on Haringey’s new interactive map. I have also urged the Government to ensure their recent uplift in funding for walking and cycling schemes is sustained to create a long-term shift towards active travel.
Standing up for asylum seekers
I’ve been pushing the Government to increase asylum support during the Covid-19 pandemic in the same way that support has been increased for those receiving mainstream benefits. In answer to my Parliamentary Question, the Minister finally announced this month that they will. But by 26p a day. It’s an insult and does nothing to support these often vulnerable people already living 72% below the poverty line. I’ll continue to call for the Government to do much more to help people in the asylum system survive this health crisis and stay safe.
Three years on from Grenfell
This month marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, where 72 people lost their lives and many hundreds more saw their homes destroyed and their community devastated. It is completely unacceptable that three years on, people are still living in homes with the same flammable cladding. I have written to the Minister to ask for a detailed timetable for the removal of all flammable cladding and for assurances this will be prioritised and financed through the Government not through residents. We cannot wait for another tragedy for this Government to act.
Free School Meals victory
I am delighted that the Government u-turned and agreed to fund free school meals over the summer just as Labour’s opposition day debate on the subject was starting. Huge thanks must go to the incredible campaigning of footballer Marcus Rashford, who used his own personal experiences to improve the lives of 1.3 million children including 3,037 here in Hornsey & Wood Green who were at risk of going hungry this summer. With the added pressure of the coronavirus crisis plunging families into deeper poverty and social distancing raising questions on whether holiday lunch schemes may run, many families were rightly concerned about how they will afford food during the summer holidays. It’s a welcome victory, but it’s only the start. We need to create a society where no children face the prospect of going without food because their families can’t afford it.
Bring back free travel for young Londoners
It’s completely wrong that the Conservative Government should try and make young people pay the price of the Covid-19 collapse in Transport for London revenue by taking away their free travel passes. Join our campaign and tell the Tory Government to stop punishing Londoners and pushing families into further poverty. Retain free travel for under 18s. https://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/keep-free-travel