Welcome to the edition of the Lewisham East newsletter. I apologise for the length of this newsletter, however it has been a very busy month so there is a lot to update you on.
This month we also had four days of celebrations to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It was fantastic to see communities come together across the country. No matter how much we can disagree with each other, there will also be something to unite us. We all need to be more neighbourly whenever we can! So, it was great to know that over 100 street parties were taking place throughout Lewisham.
Shortly after the Jubilee celebrations ended, Conservative MPs tabled a motion of no confidence in their leader Boris Johnson. Whilst the Prime Minister survived it marked the beginning of a political turbulent month. I was glad it was ‘the beginning of the end’ to his reign.
In this Newsletter I will discuss the recent by-election results and Boris Johnson clinging on to power, the Northern Ireland Protocol, Industrial strike action, the Draft Mental Health Bill, Home Office Deportations, the Lewisham Clean Air Fair.
Lastly, this month I was delighted to be re-selected as the Labour candidate in Lewisham East for the next general election. It is an honour to represent Lewisham East in Westminster. With the cost-of-living crisis and Conservative administration in a forever crisis mode, we have never needed a Labour Government more. I pledge to do all I can to get a Labour Government at the next election.
If you would like to raise anything to my attention, please do get in touch with me. I will always seek to raise issues on my constituents’ behalf to the Government or other bodies.
Recent By-election results and the Prime Minister resigning
On the morning of Friday 24th June, I woke up to the fantastic news that there was a new Labour MP coming to Parliament. Simon Lightwood won the Wakefield by-election which marked Labour’s first by-election gain since the 2012 Corby by-election.
The swing to Labour was 12.7%. If this same swing was replicated in a general election, then Labour would have enough seats to win a majority in the House of Commons. This is incredibly good news as it is demonstrating that following the 2019 general election people are now starting to put their faith in our party.
It was also very satisfying to hear that the Conservatives had lost the Tiverton and Honiton by-election. The result was incredible considering the last time this seat was represented by a non-Conservative MP was two years before Queen Victoria ascended to the throne.
This set of results show that the public are turning away from the Conservatives. For too long they have failed this country by stripping back public services, penalising the poorest in society whilst giving lucrative contracts to their cronies.
These by-elections followed Boris Johnson under-going a vote of no confidence by his own MPs. It is a testament to the lack of leadership Boris Johnson has shown that 148 of his MPs voted to oust him. If 41% of his own MPs have no confidence, why should the rest of the country?
In my political update to you last week I spoke about the developments that led up to Boris Johnson’s resignation. It was a very dramatic week. I am relieved that Boris Johnson decided to resign but he did not confirm that we would leave immediately.
Until he goes, the country is stuck with a non-functioning government. Important pieces of legislation such as on fire safety is being held up as a result. The Prime Minister must go now. Britain needs a fresh start. If the Tory party doesn’t get rid of him, Labour will act in the national interest and bring a vote of no confidence.
Honesty and integrity are vitally important matters. The difference between Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer could not be starker. Especially seeing as Keir Starmer was recently cleared of any COVID rule breaches during a visit to a Durham constituency office at the local elections last year. In the same week Boris Johnson was removed from office after his cabinet had enough of his lies.
I will also be keeping a close eye on who the next Conservative party leader will be. Currently the leadership hopefuls are tearing themselves apart and offering uncosted tax cuts. They must also not be allowed to get away with their part in propping up a corrupt Prime Minister up. They knew he was a disgrace to his office but they acted to advance their careers instead of their country’s interest. Only Labour offers a credible alternative, and I will be campaigning hard for a Labour Government.
London Pride 2022
Everyone celebrating 50 years of pride please see this video that shows that Labour is serious in supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
I continue to be proud of what Labour has achieved through the Equality Act and I remain steadfast in my support for LGBTQ+ rights, for gay marriage, gender recognition and ending all forms of conversion therapy.
Northern Ireland Protocol
The Government have also shamefully introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill to Parliament. This Bill goes against what the Government negotiated with the EU. Not only is the strategy behind it weak but it damages our relationship with the EU who says it breaks international law.
It is foolish to start creating division with Europe when we should be working with our allies at a time when Putin is waging war on Ukraine. Creating new trade barriers which could enflame the cost-of-living crisis is not the way forward.
Labour on the other hand believe that a deal is achievable without this legislation. Labour would remove the majority of checks through a bespoke Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures agreement and a monitoring system to stop and eradicate checks on goods that are only ever going to be sold in Northern Ireland.
This decision by the Government to introduce this legislation is a cynical ploy to distract the public from constant Conservative party infighting. I was disappointed to see that Tory MPs who voted no-confidence in the Prime Minister and are expressing concerns about the legality of the Bill still voted for it to pass to its next stage. Nevertheless, my Labour colleagues and I will continue to call the Government out as this legislation as it goes through Parliament.
I am sure many people in Lewisham noticed the disruption that the recent tube and train strikes caused this month. It is a very sad state of affairs that we have come to this situation. I am very concerned that Ministers have not committed to engage in talks to try and find a solution. This is a dereliction of duty. All parties must sit down and agree a fair pay-rise and resolve this dispute.
No one wants to see workers strike and if there was a Labour Government in power these strikes would not be happening. I desperately hope these strikes do not continue but if they do the Government needs to engage with the unions. Otherwise, only commuters and workers stand to lose out.
Cost of living crisis
The Government inaction about the cost of living is deeply concerning. The Chancellor did announce a package but this is not properly tackling inflation which has risen to more than 9%. This rapid inflation is pushing family finances to the edge, especially when wages are remaining stagnated and most costs are rising.
It is unacceptable that in Lewisham, emergency food parcels have increased by nearly 50% since 2014-15. This only going to get worse with the cost of living
It is vital that we get more than sticking plasters to fix our economy. It was right that the Government implemented Labour’s Windfall tax on oil and gas companies. They should now follow Labour’s lead and take VAT off energy bills. This would push inflation downwards and help many families struggling to cope.
Draft Mental Health Bill
The Government has recently made a statement on their draft Mental Health Bill. The Bill would overhaul the Mental Health Act 1983. The act allows people who have severe mental illnesses and present a risk to themselves, or others can be safely detained and treated for their own protection. I noted that the measures announced by the Government accepts the majority of the recommendations from Sir Simon Wessely’s independent review of the Act. In the review recommendations included rebalancing the threshold for detention, weighing up both the risk to the public and the therapeutic benefit to the patient.
Whilst this draft Bill is welcome, during the statement I told the Government that I am concerned about people who have a mental health crisis and go in person to A&E departments. Because of long waiting times, they are usually unable to wait to be seen by a psychiatrist, which is causing problems and distress for those in a crisis. In response the Government said that work is already prioritised within the NHS. Yet the fact remains A&E departments are struggling to help people in a crisis. Much more needs to be done on this.
As a result, I will be actively looking for ways to improve and give feedback on this Bill when it formally is introduced into Parliament.
To see me question the Government please click the link here
Home Office Deportation
Earlier this month I was alerted a concerning deportation case. The Home Office and the Home Secretary Priti Patel deported several at-risk people who will suffer if flown to Nigeria and Ghana. Among these people was one of my constituents who is gay and fears for his safety in Nigeria. The flight attracted media attention, and my constituent has publicly stated that he has received death threats from individuals in Nigeria.
Despite raising this case directly with the Home Office, the flight went ahead. This incident highlights that this Government have continued to show their lack of compassion to those in need. There must be a complete change of policy and approach at the Home Office, as it is currently a Department that is failing. I will continue to demand a fairer and more humane immigration system from the Government.
Clean Air Fair
It was a privilege to host a clean air fair on 18th June in Catford Broadway. Air pollution is a real problem in Lewisham and around the country. According to the National Audit Office the Government are not making enough progress on their 2030 air pollution targets and they are not informing the public about air quality problems in local areas. It is also not acceptable that 49 deaths in Lewisham have been attributed to human-made air pollution this year. This is unbelievably tragic.
It is vital that local organisations come together to create a joined-up approach to tackle this crisis. I am confident we as a local community can press for much greater action on tackling Air Pollution.
Due to increased workloads in my office, I would like to inform you that this newsletter will be sent to you by-monthly, so I can concentrate my efforts on urgent casework. The next newsletter will now be sent to you early September.