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.
Welcome to my October e-newsletter
Johnson’s Government isn’t just attacking Manchester this week – they’re set on punishing Londoners for doing the right thing and staying off public transport during the pandemic.
According to a letter from the Transport Secretary, they’re pushing for higher council tax, no free travel for kids and older people, Haringey joining the £15 a day congestion charge zone and more. It is unfair and it is the poorest who would be hit the hardest.
At Prime Minister’s Questions today, I challenged Johnson on his plans that would be disastrous for people in Hornsey & Wood Green and for our local businesses who are already paying the price of this Tory Government’s failure. Unemployment has soared by 182% since March. Johnson blustered and outright lied.
Instead of playing politics with Londoners lives this Government should get control of the virus and guarantee communities will get the funding they need to save jobs and businesses during the months ahead.
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:
Whilst unemployment soars and low-paid workers are struggling to afford to test and isolate, it is shameful that the Government is throwing up to £7,000 a day at consultants working on their failing test and test & trace system. People have made huge sacrifices over the last seven months and this Government is letting them down. Local councils can use this money much more effectively – it’s time the PM gave them the funds instead and that’s what Labour will continue to call for as part of a short, national “circuit breaker” to get test & trace back on track.
This month I hosted a zoom chat organised by Excluded UK with a number of local residents who’ve found themselves excluded from Government financial support during this crisis. I also took part in the Westminster Hall debate about the exams debacle in the summer and spoke about the mental health impact and the appalling injustice of students initially receiving grades which no way reflected their work. I also urged the Minister to take action to support the many students on reduced income who don’t have internet access or home computers. Read my full speech here.
Free School Meals
Today, I’ll be voting to provide free school meals over the holidays for the 3,191 children in Hornsey & Wood Green who rely on them during term time. No child should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. With unemployment soaring during the pandemic even more families locally are struggling. The Government needs to act now so no child goes hungry this winter. Support the campaign here.
I joined Labour colleagues to vote for a series of amendments to the Agriculture Bill which would have protected our food, environmental and animal welfare standards in any post-Brexit trade deal. Brexit has the potential to cause a great deal of harm to our farming sector and the quality of our food. We can’t rely on this Government’s words, we need our high standards protected in law to maintain food quality on our plates and ensure British farmers aren’t undercut by cheap imports which would be illegal to produce in the UK. These amendments were cross-party and attracted the support of some Tory MPs, but despite a 2019 manifesto commitment, the Government voted each of them down.
The September unemployment figures continue the worrying trend upwards with 7,635 people claiming unemployment benefit in Hornsey & Wood Green (up from 2,580 in March). Haringey now has the highest proportion of people claiming unemployment benefit in London and the fourth highest in the UK. I visited Wood Green Job Centre earlier this month to meet the team and discuss the work they’re doing to support local residents and met with the Chief Executive of the College of North East London (CONEL) to talk about the urgent need for retraining opportunities to support those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic. I have also met with Haringey Trades Union Congress, whose affiliated unions including the GMB, Unison and Unite represent many thousands of workers across the borough.
Racism against East Asian community
I took part in a Westminster Hall debate organised by my Labour colleague and friend Sarah Owen MP on the growing racism against the Chinese and East Asian community we’ve seen since the start of the Covid pandemic. All too often I hear and read of reports of members of the community receiving appalling hatred and this bigotry cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. You can read my intervention here.
Shadow Ministerial update
As the shadow Minister for Europe and the Americas, I have been speaking with the Brazilian Union movement on the challenges they have faced in the two years since the election of Jair Bolsorano. With the UK Government seeking to conduct a trade deal with the Brazilian Government in the coming months it is vital that we use our voice to ensure any deal does not weaken workers’ rights or environmental protections in Brazil, and impress on the Brazilian Government the need to uphold their commitments to the poorest in society.
Many people will have watched with horror the ongoing and worsening conflict between Armenia & Azerbaijan regarding the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabkah. I have held regular meetings with organisations and individuals representing both sides in the conflict, and with Labour colleagues I met with the Minister, Wendy Morton, to discuss our urgent concerns about the conditions on the ground and the need for the British Government to work with European partners to secure an immediate return to dialogue. I am pleased that following Labour calling for more action, the Foreign Secretary raised the role of Turkish forces in the conflict. As a NATO ally, Turkey should withdraw from the conflict and work towards a ceasefire.
You can view the Parliamentary Questions I’ve submitted this month here.
EWS1 forms – fire safety and cladding
In my last newsletter, I shared a copy of my letter to the Housing Minister urging immediate action to resolve the cladding scandal that has seen leaseholders trapped in homes they can’t sell, mortgage or insure. This is the response I’ve now received.
Supporting the arts
Music, films, books and art have been so important for mental health and wellbeing during lock-down and they will be vital for our recovery. I’m pleased that local organisations including the Gatehouse and Jacksons Lane have benefited from the Culture Recovery Grant and Upstairs at the Gatehouse re-opens on 12th November with “Margaret – Rebel Royal” a rehearsed read through of a new play by Jennifer Selway. The American musical “Forever Plaid” will open on 16th December and run to 24th January. All the details from https://www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com/
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.