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:
For six months now, the vast majority of people in Hornsey & Wood Green have done the right thing in incredibly difficult circumstances.
Without doubt, the sacrifice people have made and continue to make have helped to save lives from this terrible disease. It’s very important everyone follows these new rules to keep our loved ones and our community safe.
But all summer long we’ve seen the consequences of a part-time Prime Minister leading an incompetent Government and we are paying a heavy price. The UK is suffering from the worst recession in Europe along with the worst excess death rate and now infections are rising again.
Where’s the “world-beating” test and trace system? Many of you have found it impossible to obtain a test, and others who did were sent halfway around the country when there are facilities right here on our doorstep. Why has so much time been wasted over the past six months and where is the support for the industries particularly affected by the new restrictions as the Government pushes ahead with a blanket end to the furlough scheme?
Keir Starmer is right to say that a second lockdown isn’t inevitable and would be a sign of Government failure. Johnson cannot put the blame on anyone else – he needs to get a grip and quickly. We all deserve better than this chaos.
My Autumn Report is being delivered across the constituency this month. If you haven’t received it yet, you can read a copy here.
Here are some of the other things I’ve been doing this month. If you know anyone who would like to receive these updates, please share this link:
I’ve been pushing for months now for financial support and assistance for the three million people who’ve fallen outside the Government’s schemes, whether that’s because they’re newly self-employed, creative freelancers working on a number of short-term contracts or sole employees of limited companies. I’m a member of the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Excluded UK and as part of their mass lobby of Parliament, I’m holding a virtual zoom chat with affected constituents later this month. Sign up here for more details or to take part in the call.
Brexit & the Internal Market Bill
By their own admissions, the Government’s Internal Market Bill breaches international law. The Tories have kept coming up with excuses as to why this Bill is needed and at every occasion their excuses have been found to be untrue. The Prime Minister fought an election on the promise of an “oven ready” deal which he then passed in January. He should be spending his time working with the EU in good faith to find an agreement which gives businesses certainty and dealing with the entirely expected stark warnings of 7,000 lorry queues in Kent, not pushing through this law which would have serious consequences for the UK’s position on the global stage. How on earth can we hold other countries to account when we ourselves are showing such reckless disregard to international law? My Labour colleagues and I will continue to oppose this reckless move at every step.
Environmental Protection Standards: future trade agreements
I took part in the Parliamentary debate on environmental protection standards in future trade agreements and spoke about the importance of protecting the climate both here and abroad. I’ve received huge numbers of emails this month from constituents supporting the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and it’s absolutely essential this stays at the top of the agenda and standards aren’t put at risk by leaving the European Union. Watch my full speech here.
A-level exams fiasco
Over the summer, I joined local students in Parliament Square who were rightly angry about the A-level results fiasco and the unnecessary stress it caused at this already difficult time. I’ve written about it in my latest Ham & High column here. On Parliament’s return, Labour challenged the Prime Minister and his Government on what they knew and when. We asked for all the documents related to the exams fiasco to be provided to the Education Select Committee to ensure absolute transparency and to avoid any repeat. Johnson refused. It begs the question, what has he got to hide?
Making the UK a Global Leader in Sustainable Fashion
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics & Sustainability in Fashion, I was pleased to host a virtual event to launch our new report setting out ideas to make the UK a Global Leader in Sustainable Fashion. Coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities and unsustainability in the garment industry. Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry is important, and that must mean developing sustainable fabrics, boosting fabric recycling and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the UK. Read the full report here.
This summer saw the devastating fire at the Moira refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece and the tragic death of a young man in the Channel. We have to do more to support refugees and crucially to provide safe and legal routes to claim sanctuary here in the UK so people do not feel forced into embarking on treacherous journeys. I have written to the Home Secretary to urge action to prevent further such loss of life and ensure the UK steps up to its duties to these vulnerable people. I have also raised Parliamentary Questions to seek answers on when the refugee resettlement programmes, put on hold during Covid, will be restarting. I am disappointed that the responses I have received to date have been so non-committal and I will continue to push this.
Shadow Ministerial update
If we are to safeguard our democracy, we need to look closely at the foreign money illicitly held in London. This has to include full transparency of our Overseas Territories and concerning reports of funds linked to the Conservative Party. As Shadow Foreign Minister, this summer together with the Shadow Treasury Minister Pat McFadden MP, I wrote to the Government to urge them to act. Read the response we received here. I’ll continue to work closely with organisations such as Transparency International to campaign against money laundering and tax havens.
Following the disputed election results on the 9th August Belarus has been hit by a wave protests with the Government responding with brutal force and mass arrests. I have met with countless activists from Belarus who have detailed the appalling and developing situation in their country, and their demands for the British Government to do more. I’ve also written to the UK Government to raise concerns at the indication that funds will be withdrawn from vital election monitoring missions.
I wrote to the Home Secretary Priti Patel earlier this year to urge that an investigation was carried out into the circumstances around Belly Mujinga’s death – including why she wasn’t supplied with PPE by her employer. You can read the response I received here. Earlier this month I met with Govia Thameslink Railway and raised the matter directly. They have provided this link to their internal investigation into the matter.
You can view the Parliamentary Questions I’ve submitted this month here.
Sign my petition: save Barclays Bank in Highgate and Wood Green
I am deeply disappointed to learn that Barclays plan to close their Highgate and Wood Green branches later this year. This will come as a huge blow to many local residents who rely on these branches to do their banking and is yet another obstacle to vulnerable groups who cannot access online banking. I have already written to Barclays to make clear my objections to these proposals and to urge them to reconsider. Sign my petition opposing the closures here.
EWS1 forms – fire safety and cladding
Over recent weeks I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents who have found themselves in the impossible situation of being unable to sell, mortgage or insure their home because of the confusion and uncertainty caused by the new EWS1 certificate. It’s become clear that these new regulations, brought in following the Grenfell Tower fire, aren’t only affecting those buildings over 18m where there are fire safety defects and concerns, but are instead being requested by many mortgage providers for blocks of flats that fall below the 18m height. The knock-on effect this is having for leaseholders is huge. I’ve raised Parliamentary Questions and you can read my letter to the Housing Minister urging immediate action to resolve this.
The latest August local unemployment figures paint a worrying picture for the future. Unemployment has risen in Hornsey & Wood Green by 188% since March 2020, with 7,435 people now claiming unemployment benefit (up from 2,580). For those aged 18-24 the figures are even worse. 1,070 are now looking for work, an increase of 205% from the March figure of 350. The Government needs to provide targeted extended support to those industries particularly badly affected, assistance to get people back into work or retraining and backing for small businesses who are still struggling to recover. I’ve been asking Parliamentary Questions about the kickstart scheme, because I’d like to see small and medium sized cultural and sports organisations be able to take part – which simply isn’t possible under the current guidelines.
Advice & support:
These newsletters are only a snapshot of my month. If there’s an issue you’re concerned about that I haven’t covered here, or if there’s an issue you’d like me to take up on your behalf, do get in touch.