My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green. You can read a copy below. If you’d like to receive my e-newsletters, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.
Welcome to my November e-newsletter
The news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective is extremely promising.
Along with the recent breakthroughs by Moderna and Pfizer, there is a clear end in sight – but we are not there yet.
We won’t know until Thursday which tier London will be placed in when lockdown ends next week, but it is vital that we all keep doing what we can to keep infection rates down whilst these vaccines are evaluated and delivered.
Labour has demanded clarity from the Government on its plans for a vaccine rollout, but I remain concerned that the failures of leadership we continue to see from this Government are coming at an economic and human cost.
Johnson’s speech yesterday provided no clarity on why the tier system which didn’t work last time would this time around. Nor has he used this lockdown to fix test and trace, sack failing Serco and put these crucial services back in the hands of local councils who have the expertise and knowledge. Instead, Johnson and Hancock have overseen the system’s costs rise to £22 billion a year – nearly equivalent to a fifth of the entire annual NHS budget.
I know how tough this winter lockdown has been for so many – the Government needs to get its act together so this is the last.
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:
My website has been updated with lots of useful sources of Covid-19 advice and support.
I supported this second lockdown with a heavy heart. It shouldn’t have been needed and Johnson’s dithering and delay meant it failed to coincide with the school holidays and closed shops at what is for many their busiest time of the year. The mental health impact of lockdown, particularly in the dark winter months, also can’t be overstated. Sport provides so many benefits, to physical and mental wellbeing, community cohesion as well as saving the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Swimming, I met with the Sports Minister this month to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on swimming, the difficulties facing many pools, clubs and leisure centres and the need to get our pools open as quickly as possible. Yesterday I also took part in a Westminster Hall debate about restrictions on gyms and sport and highlighted the active outdoor swimmers who form the Park Road Lido User Group and have told me how keen they are to get back in the pool. Read my full speech here.
The Conservatives can’t ask the poorest households to shoulder the burden of this crisis. It is absolutely wrong that at a time when unemployment is soaring and millions are relying on Universal Credit to get by, the Government plans to cut that lifeline – taking £20 per week or £1000 per year away from those who need it most. Support the campaign to cancel the cut here.
Nor should our key workers, who have kept this country going through the last nine difficult months, see their pay frozen. It is the wrong priorities from a Government that seems to have no problem handing out £100million+ contracts to their friends but thinks clapping can pay the bills for our hard-working public servants.
Labour’s Green Economic Recovery
Britain faces an unemployment crisis and a climate emergency. We must build back greener from this crisis, creating new jobs, retraining workers and investing in projects from energy efficiency, flood prevention and offshore wind to cycling and walking infrastructure and the electric vehicle charging network. Labour spent the summer consulting on what a “green economic recovery” from Covid should look like and our report, published this month, sets out plans to create 400,000 new jobs by bringing forward £30 billion in planned capital investment. It’s urgently needed and we’ll keep pushing this Government to act.
Update: congestion charge and free travel for the under 18s and over 60s
I challenged the Prime Minister at PMQs on his shameful attempt to play politics with Londoners lives during the pandemic. He lied and absurdly tried to push the blame for TfL’s massive drop in fares income over the last nine months on Sadiq Khan. I am pleased that following sustained pressure the Government has stepped back. The deal Sadiq Khan has now negotiated for the next six months will save free travel for the under 18s and over 60s and stop the Tory expansion of the congestion charge.
Modern Slavery in Fashion
In my position as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, we have continued to hold evidence sessions with the latest focused on labour exploitation, modern slavery in the UK and globally and the transparency of supply chains. We’re speaking to fashion brands, trade bodies, NGOs, academic experts, survivors and government ministers and supporting an upcoming report which will address these issues and provide the Government with concrete recommendations. In my latest Ham & High column, I’ve written about some of the work we’ve been doing– too often bargain clothes means the exploitation of workers and of our planet.
Internal Market Bill
I’ve received lots of emails from constituents appalled that the Tories are trying to push through this Bill which undermines the UK’s reputation as a law-abiding nation and reduces the chance of agreeing a free trade deal with the EU or with the US. I voted against it at Second Reading and welcome the fact that the House of Lords has rightly sought to remove the provisions in the Bill which would breach international law. They are unnecessary, unwarranted, and unbefitting a Government seeking to work with our EU partners. At a time when the economy is suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic they should be focused on reaching an agreement with the EU in good faith, not pursuing these damaging ideological fantasies.
Overseas Operations Bill
The Tories rejected Labour’s attempts to improve the Overseas Operations Bill so I voted against it. John Healey’s articlesummarises the problems many of us have with this bill. It’s extremely disappointing that the Government refused to listen to Labour or to the serious concerns expressed by legal, defence and human rights experts.
Shadow Ministerial update
I am delighted that Joe Biden prevailed in the US Presidential election and we have seen the historic election of the first black women to the Vice Presidency – Kamala Harris. Despite President-elect Biden’s clear win Donald Trump has undermined faith in the democratic process by alleging, without basis, widespread fraud in the election. This matters for the UK, and the British Government must make it clear to the White House that this is doing untold damage to America’s standing in the world and to international stability.
In recent months we have seen an alarming crackdown on LGBT+ rights in Poland, with the shameful establishment of “LGBT free zones” in several areas and a rise in generalised homophobia and stigma. More recently we have seen an alarming change in the law relating to the reproductive rights which has seen many thousands of women take to the streets of major cities. Poland, as a major EU nation, has a role to play in upholding rights and as shadow Europe Minister I will be having an urgent meeting with the Polish Ambassador to express my clear concerns about the direction being taken and urge them to reconsider.
Whilst the situation in Belarus has faded from the headlines there is still a major challenge and movement for democracy and decency, and I have continued working hard to demand more support from the British Government for the civil society groups most active in challenging the fraudulent election and the authoritarian and repressive actions of the regime. Earlier this month I met with Belarusian activists to discuss this further and I’m also working with the International Trade Union Confederation.
You can view the Parliamentary Questions I’ve submitted this month here.
Early Years – first 1,001 days
I chaired a meeting of Foundation Years Information & Research where we heard from Andrea Leadsom MP who is leading the Government’s Early Healthy Development Review and Professor Susan Golombok from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research. I am concerned at some of the reports about the experience of families with new babies during lockdown and about the support and services being provided in this critical period. This can’t all be done remotely – it’s really important that face to face services are still available where needed. I’ve also been discussing the provision of local services with Haringey Council’s Chief Executive and Council Leader.
Supporting our local businesses
I’ve written to local traders’ associations to offer my support in raising issues with Government during this second lockdown. This is the busiest time of year for many businesses and I’m backing the Ham & High’s Shop Local campaign and promoting local independent businesses who’re operating during lockdown or offering delivery services.
Where possible, with the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, I’ve attended a number of events and meetings both in Westminster and across the constituency including:
- Helping to judge the Chinese Information & Advice Centre’s Woman Volunteer of the Year contest, something I take part in and enjoy every year.
- Speaking at two events organised by Labour for a European Future.
- Speaking with TUC Young Leaders about my life as an MP and how trade unions can engage with MPs to achieve change.
- Attending Muswell Hill Synagogue’s annual civic service.
- Meeting with Haringey’s Borough Commander to discuss issues including policing strategy during the lockdown, Safer Neighbourhood Teams and progress on the Independent Advisory Group.
- Meeting with Haringey Council’s Leader and Chief Executive to discuss issues including services for new mums, Covid-19 support for businesses and leaseholder charges for major works.
- Paying my respects at Remembrance Services across Hornsey & Wood Green, marking seventy-five years since the end of WWII.
- Taking part in a wonderful zoom chat with Year 1 pupils at Our Lady of Muswell Primary School.
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.