Welcome to this month’s Lewisham East newsletter.
After the fantastic results for Labour in London and elsewhere in the Local Elections I started the month by joining fellow Labour MPs canvassing for the Wakefield By-election. As the Conservatives fail to tackle issues relating to the cost-of-living, it is the Labour Party who is offering real solutions to real problems to Conservative mismanagement of the economy. I am sure that the voters in Wakefield know this and will vote Labour 23 June 2022.
This month saw the start of a new session of Parliament when Prince Charles, in place of the Queen delivered the Queen’s speech on 10 May. The Government will be publishing Bills over the coming weeks and months ahead, in fact I spoke in the Chamber about my concern over the Public Order Bill. I also raised my concerns about the forced deportations of foreign nations by the Home Office.
I will speak on these subjects in this Newsletter as well as the upcoming Lewisham Clean Air Fair, the 50th Anniversary of the Confait case, the 2nd Anniversary of the murder of George Floyd andas well as the Blackheath Suffragette walk.
It was great to end month with the news that the Elizabeth Line is now open. Whilst the line does not go through Lewisham, I am sure many residents will use the line or that they will find that their commutes are less busy now that there is an extra tube line.
If you would like to raise anything to my attention, please do get in touch with me and my office (via firstname.lastname@example.org). I will always raise issues on my constituents’ behalf to the Government or other bodies.
Publication of the Sue Grey Report
The long-awaited publication of the Sue Grey Report was published this week. The report highlighted the extent that those in 10 Downing Street were involved in excessive drinking, fighting and even vomiting after being too intoxicated. It is simply shocking that Downing Street security guards and cleaning staff who warned against lockdown parties ‘were laughed at.’
This is no way to run a Government, especially so when you are ordering people to stay inside and not to socialise with anyone. As the leader of the country and as the person who oversees the culture of working in Downing Street, Boris Johnson is ultimately responsible for the failings that Sue Grey has identified. He should have the dignity to remove himself from office in a decent way. But somehow he reminds me of previous president of America and will probably leave office kicking and screaming. Our country needs a Prime Minister who is respected on an international stage. Our country needs a Prime Minister who demonstrates integrity and decency. It’s time to go.
The State of Opening of Parliament and the Public Order Bill
On Tuesday 10 May saw the State Opening of Parliament. This year because of poor health, the Queen could not attend, and Prince Charles made the Queen’s Speech on her half. This speech is written by the Government, and I was very disappointed with it. The speech had little ideas or purpose. It had no guiding principles or a roadmap for delivery. Whilst the Chancellor did announce a package of measures yesterday to help with the cost-of-living crisis, the Government is taking too long to get a grip on this problem.
One of the pieces of legislation coming out the Queen’s Speech that I was especially concerned about was the Public Order Bill. This Bill includes all the controversial aspects of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act that the Government could not pass in the last session of Parliament. This includes expanding protest related offences, extending police stop and search powers and introducing a new preventative court order. I raised with the Home Secretary my concern to allow police officers to stop and search protesters without suspicion.
You can watch my question to the Home Secretary here.
Foreign National Offender Removal Flights
This month the Home Office deported seven people to Jamaica. The Home Office initially had 100 people on their list they had hoped to fly to Jamaica. I told the Minister that whilst it was important that violent and dangerous criminals are deported, they have also been trying to deport mentally unwell people. This unacceptable. Deporting them will harm them and it could even lead to their death. The Government must not ignore human rights of extremely vulnerable people
You can watch my question to the Home Office Minister here.
Ukraine Refugee Crisis
This week a parliamentary debate was held on the war in Ukraine. I used this as an opportunity to call on the Government to improve how they process Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers. I told the Minister of the problems a family of five in my constituency who are struggling to get to their documentation to be processed. I also tried to raise how my constituents are seeing 2 months delays for visas for the Ukraine family scheme or Homes for Ukraine. This is unacceptable and the Home Office must address. The Government must properly resource the Home Office, because it is not fit for purpose.
You can watch my contribution here.
Clean Air Fair
In London, there are roughly 9,400 premature deaths because of poor air quality. Poor air quality also costs an already stretched health service between £1.4 and £3.7 billion a year. This is unacceptable.
To raise awareness of the problem of air pollution I am holding a clean air fair on Saturday 18th June. The event is supported by Lewisham Council, Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah from the Ella Roberta Family foundation, Mums for Lungs, Breathe 2022, London Environment and Energy, Lewisham cyclists. I would encourage you to attend this very worthwhile and informative event.
Second Anniversary of the Murder of George Floyd
I was honoured to be asked to speak at a small rally at Lewisham Clock tower on Wednesday 25th May in memory of George Floyd on the second anniversary of his murder. The rally was organised by Stand Up to Racism, Lewisham. Unfortunately, because this fell on the same day that Sue Grey published her report on widespread COVID rule breaking in Number 10, I was unable to attend.
It was important for me to still have a presence at the rally, as I wanted to show my commitment to fighting discrimination in all areas of our society. Therefore, I wrote a statement that was read by out to the rally. In the statement I said how in the UK black communities still endure systemic and institutional discrimination. With deep regret the problem is getting worse not better. Nevertheless, as a community and as a society we need to come to together! We must continue to fight racism at all levels.
You can read my full statement here.
Blackheath Suffragette walk
On Saturday 28th May it was fantastic to go on the Blackheath Suffragette walk to learn about the brave and radical women suffragettes of Blackheath who fought for the right to vote. It was fascinating to discover that Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Wilding Davison both have roots in Blackheath. There was also a part of the walk dedicated to icons of modern music and fashion who have lived, loved and played in the area.