My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green. You can read a copy below or online, with all the pictures, here. If you’d like to receive my e-newsletters, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.
Welcome to my December e-newsletter
While Downing Street partied, the British people paid. My only job is standing up for the people of Hornsey & Wood Green and here are some of the things I’ve been doing this month. If you know anyone who would like to receive these updates, please share this link.
Separated from loved ones, following the rules, people had a right to expect the Government setting them was doing the same. They weren’t. There is no good time to have a Prime Minister and a Government who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. But to have a Prime Minister with no moral authority during a pandemic puts us all at risk. 11 years of Conservative mismanagement and austerity had put our public services at breaking point even before the pandemic hit. Now Johnson’s actions have undermined public trust and distracted from key public health messaging at the most critical time. At PMQs I asked Johnson directly about parties at Downing Street and his “no, but” answer doesn’t cut it. It’s clear he isn’t up to the job.
Nationality & Borders BillIt is shameful that this month the Tories voted through their anti-refugee Nationality & Borders Bill. It criminalises people seeking asylum, whilst providing no safe routes, and gives the Home Secretary the power to strip UK citizens of their citizenship without even saying why. I opposed this Bill at every opportunity because it proposes unworkable, cruel solutions that demonise refugees and it undermines international humanitarian conventions at a time when co-operation is needed more than ever.
Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts BillI’ve also had lots of emails this month from constituents concerned about the Crime & Sentencing Bill, currently in the Lords. I’ve voted against it at every possible opportunity because the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental right that should never be taken away because those in power don’t like it. We saw what powers the Police already have at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham Common, and this should have been a red warning sign for any suggestion of rushing through ill-judged further restrictions. I have also consistently opposed measures in the Bill aimed at penalising already marginalised Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Labour will continue to press the Government to scrap these poorly thought-out proposals when the Bill returns to the Commons. Human Rights BillAs both the above examples show, the Tories can not be trusted with our basic rights. One by one they are removing the right to protest, the right to vote without photo ID, citizenship rights and ultimately Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has made clear he wants to rip up the Human Rights Act. No Government should be above the law, but his plan to “reform” the Act, published this week, is a threat to us all. The Human Rights Act allows us to challenge public authorities when they get it wrong and secure justice. I will oppose any moves to shut down accountability and remove these fundamental rights.
Save London’s public transportThere are just days till Transport for London’s funding deal runs out, yet the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has refused to even meet Mayor Sadiq Khan. Londoners did the right thing and stayed home during the pandemic, they must not pay the price for this with the loss of vital bus and tube services. The Prime Minister must stop playing political games and agree a fair, long-term funding deal for Transport for London because there is no London recovery without a properly funded public transport network. Please sign and share the petition calling for a fair deal for Londoners. Vulnerable Pregnant WomenIn Parliament this month, I took part in the debate on Prisons Strategy and raised my concerns about lack of antenatal care, particularly following the tragic stillbirth of an 18-year-old mother’s baby at Bronzefield. Reports this week have also highlighted the lack of antenatal care for pregnant refugees in Home Office accommodation, who are too often left without midwife support and are forced to undergo examinations without privacy. The Home Office has to do better for pregnant women. Covid-19 updateWith the arrival of the worrying new Omicron variant, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated and keep yourself, your loved ones and our community safe this winter. The vaccine is safe, effective and the best weapon in our fight. My website has up-to-date COVID information together with details of walk-in clinics open across Haringey. We have to act swiftly to limit Omicron’s spread, so I supported the measures the Government has introduced for mask wearing, home working and COVID passes. It’s important to be clear that the vote wasn’t about Vaccine Passports, something I’ve always said I wouldn’t support. It was about asking people who enter large events (over 500 people) and nightclubs to show a negative COVID test result OR proof of vaccination to keep others around them safe. It’s a system that has been operating in Wales for some time, and with evidence clearly showing the Omicron variant to be more transmissible, I think it’s a sensible, proportionate measure. But, yet again with this Government the fundamentals haven’t been addressed. We still need to see improved sick pay for workers so that nobody has to choose between feeding their family and doing the right thing and isolating. We also need to see action to keep children in school. Infections are high, too few children have had their vaccination and failures to improve ventilation over the summer months have left children learning in freezing classrooms. Now we hear that we’re running out of PCR and lateral flow tests. Johnson’s Government seems stuck in an endless cycle of making the same mistakes whilst everyone suffers. We also need to provide more support to businesses, particularly in the hospitality and travel industries, who are being affected by the rise of Omicron but have been left without any assistance during what should be the busiest time of the year. Businesses say they need clarity and backing from Government during these difficult months, that’s what I’ll keep pushing for.
In the community:
Royal Mail Services in Hornsey & Wood Green
Too many of you are still experiencing post problems, including going a week or more without any mail and important items taking weeks to arrive. I met with Royal Mail bosses last week to hold them to account and you can read the latest update on my website. This isn’t the fault of the hard-working posties, but I am concerned that since the Tory Lib Dem privatisation of Royal Mail, profits for shareholders have been prioritised over investment in services. Royal Mail need to step up because residents and businesses deserve better. I’ll continue to hold them to account and put pressure on Government Ministers to ensure the regulatory framework is tough enough. Incinerator expansion plans
I welcome Haringey Council Leader Cllr Peray Ahmet’s letter calling for a “pause and review” before the North London Waste Authority pushes ahead with plans for a new Edmonton Incinerator. It’s an issue I’ve raised with Ministers previously and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution
has highlighted the concerns over this method of waste management. The plans for the Edmonton Incinerator were put forward a long time ago, back when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, and things have moved on since then. We’re in a climate emergency and it’s right that the NLWA pause and look at whether this model is still the greenest, best way of dealing with London’s waste – if it isn’t let’s make changes before it’s too late. Private tenants deserve more security
I’ve been supporting private tenants in Hornsey who, since their building was purchased by a new owner, have been issued with eviction notices or eye watering 40% rent rises. It’s a stark reminder of how insecure private renting still is for many, and I’ve asked the new owners of their building for an urgent meeting. In Parliament, Labour will keep pushing the Government to ban Section 21 evictions, something they promised in their 2019 manifesto but still haven’t delivered. A White Paper is expected in 2022 and I’ve asked the Housing Minister to look at the merits of introducing a national register of landlords, to help local authorities identify and prosecute criminal landlords and protect tenants from exploitation. I also took part in the debate on the Leasehold Reform Bill, which introduces long overdue changes to scrap extortionate ground rents for new leaseholders but does nothing to help existing ones. I spoke up for the Hornsey & Wood Green leaseholders, trapped by spiralling ground rents, who’ll see no benefit from these modest reforms.
Small Business SaturdayIt has been such a tough year for our brilliant local businesses, and in the run up to Small Business Saturday on 4 December I visited the Goodness Brew Co and Ezra’s Kitchen in Wood Green to back the campaign to shop local and eat local this Christmas. I enjoyed a lovely meal at La’De Kitchen in Muswell Hill and congratulated them on winning best newcomer at the British Kebab Awards, a very well-deserved recognition of their delicious food!
|Shadow Ministerial Update:
I was delighted to be asked to stay in the shadow Foreign Office team, led by the brilliant new shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, as Labour’s new shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific. I am excited by the new challenge, and I am committed to ensuring Labour’s values of decency, respect for human rights and adherence to international law is at the centre of our approach to the region and the support we give to our friends and allies in the region. It’s a busy position, and in the few weeks since my appointment I have already got stuck in with holding the Government to account. Afghanistan
While the situation in Afghanistan may have fallen away from the headlines it is still dire. I was appalled to learn of summary executions of former Government officials and security personnel by the Taliban, and the reports that some 100 British Council staff remain in Kabul in hiding. It’s clear that the British Government has a moral duty to those who supported our mission in Afghanistan – whether directly, through the British Council, or as part of the wider Afghan Government which we did so much to support – and I’ve written to the Foreign Office to make urgent enquiries in to how many at-risk Afghans and British nationals remain in Afghanistan
. The humanitarian situation is also alarming with the collapse of the economy, and my colleague Preet Gill has highlighted the need for the international community to support the Afghan population regardless of the status of the Taliban administration. Indonesia
The eruption of Mount Semeru In Indonesia, claiming countless lives, has saddened many of us and as one of my first acts in my new role I wrote to the Indonesian Ambassador to the UK to express my condolences and those of the wider Labour Party. China
China’s treatment of their own citizens is something which the British Government needs to speak up about and work closely with our international partners on without delay. The genocide of the Uyghur minority, and the continued erosion of the freedoms and rights of Hong Kong, are both something I have raised publicly with the Foreign Office and I will continue pressing the Government for the action which we so clearly need to hold the Chinese Government to account. Consular support
While historically the support offered by the Foreign Office and British Embassies overseas to British citizens in crisis has been first class, the Covid pandemic and the evacuation of Kabul has shown the failings of the Department in a new light. Its capacity to deal with crisis has been eroded by the Tory Government’s continued budget cuts which threaten to downgrade what was once a world-class diplomatic service. In a debate in the House of Commons I underlined our thanks for the tireless work of individual staff, but highlighted serious concerns about the damage being done to the Department.
Advice & Support:
Remember, these e-newsletters are only a snapshot of some of the things I’m doing each month. If there’s an issue that concerns you which I haven’t covered here, please drop me a line.
If you’d like to speak to me at one of my regular advice surgeries, held by telephone and in-person, find out here how to book an appointment.
You can also keep up-to-date on my work in Parliament and in the community on Twitter, Facebook or through my website at www.catherinewest.org.uk. In the meantime, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Please keep yourself, your loved ones and our community safe and book your vaccination.
Best wishes,Catherine West MPLabour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green Shadow Foreign Minister – Asia and the Pacific