Constituency Newsletter for February 2023
Welcome to my newsletter for February. The past month has been cold and long, especially for public sector workers striking for change. The Government has handled this situation appallingly.
Nevertheless, with Labour still commanding a 20+ lead in the polls there is hope that the current Government will be voted out when a General Election comes. Then a competent Labour administration can be formed to address the nation’s problems.
February has been a busy time in Parliament. Please see below for an update on my activities over the past month. If you need any assistance from me, please do not hesitate to contact me via janet.daby.mp@Parliament or 02084 614733
When Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister just over 100 days ago, he promised that his “Government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level. Trust is earned. And I will earn yours.” We now know these were empty words
The past month has shown Rishi Sunak’s weak leadership and appalling judgement. Nadhim Zahawi was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the same time as he was negotiating a settlement with HMRC, which involved millions of pounds. It took Rishi Sunak far too long to sack him as Conservative Party Chair.
It is very troubling to hear of reports suggesting at least 24 civil servants have raised complaints about Dominic Raab’s conduct. Indeed, it has been reported that Downing Street knew about Dominic Raab’s alleged behaviour before Rishi Sunak made him Deputy Prime Minister in October.
To add to this sorry state of affairs, an investigation will be launched by the Commissioner for Public Appointments into the appointment of the BBC chairman. This follows claims he assisted Boris Johnson to secure a £800,000 loan.
After two new Prime Minister’s both promising fresh starts following Boris Johnson’s premiership, which saw standards in public office drop dramatically, nothing has changed. Regardless of the Government’s reshuffle today, it is clear the Conservatives are not capable of governing in a responsible manner.
David Lammy’s Britain Reconnected Speech
As Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Lammy, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs, I was pleased to support him in his landmark speech to Chatham House earlier this month.
In his speech, David identified three major trends that are shaping international politics. These trends are comprised of the new age of geopolitical competition, a state of weaponised interdependence and a blurring of the distinction between foreign and domestic policy.
The main theme of the speech was that under a Labour Government, Britain will be reconnected to the global stage after over a decade of isolation and decline under the Conservatives. Policies and ambitions announced included a new UK-EU security pact, repairing relations with the EU, forming an international Clean Power Alliance, developing a new approach to international development as well as restoring Britain’s reputation in diplomatic circles.
You can watch his speech here.
Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill
For the past few months, we have seen wave after wave of strikes. This is because of the Government’s inability to conduct conducive negotiations between bosses & the unions and to recognise that the cost-of-living crisis is getting worse for struggling families.
The Government’s answer is to make it worse and harder for public service workers to stand up for their rights. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill will give the Government powers to create, impose and enforce minimum service levels across six sectors including health, education, and transport. However, the Bill is unworkable and impractical. The Transport Secretary has admitted it will not work and the Education Secretary does not want it.
This legislation is an attack on the fundamental right to strike. A right that must be protected.
Crisis in the NHS
This winter has been one of the most challenging on record for the NHS. In November more than 7,150 Londoners waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to A&E .
I have used my position in Parliament to urge the Government to address the crisis. Whilst Rishi Sunak has unveiled an emergency care plan to cut waiting times. Sticking plasters are not enough. I have been urging the Government to address the following issues:
- NHS A&E waiting times – you can watch my speech on 11th January here and my question to the Health Secretary on 30th January here.
- The NHS’s long-term strategy – you can read my speech here.
- The retention and training of NHS staff – you can watch my question here.
- The need to lower the cost of Indefinite Leave to Remain for health care staff – you read my intervention here.
As I am sure you are aware the service run by Southeastern Rail across Lewisham East has been incredibly disappointing since changes were made to the timetable in December. It has negatively affected commuters’ lives ever since.
Two weeks ago , I wrote a letter to Southeastern along with Ellie Reeves MP and Vicky Foxcroft MP where we called for Southeastern to once again provide a reliable service to rail users throughout Lewisham. You can see Southeastern’s response here.
In early December I spoke in a Parliamentary debate on this new timetable. You can read my speech here. The Minister, whose Department owns Southeastern, made a pledge to visit impacted services and stations. I therefore also asked him directly on the floor of the House to come to Blackheath Station to see the disruption this timetable has caused. You can see the exchange here.
Nevertheless, I will be continuing to put pressure on Southeastern as well as on the Department for Transport on the need to reverse this timetable. I believe the Minister will be attending a meeting of the Lewisham User Group and I will be keeping a very close eye on what he says at this meeting.
January was Tamil Heritage Month as well as Thai Pongal (the Tamil harvest festival) from 14th January – 17th January. Lewisham East has a large and fantastic Tamil population. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating with the Tamil community locally as well as welcoming them to a Thai Pongal Parliamentary reception.
Holocaust Memorial Day
Levelling Up Fund
Lewisham Council has secured over £24 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. Local people can expect to use a renovated library, an improved market, and a greener and safer town centre. I commend the work of all those who were involved in submitting such a strong bid!
Nevertheless, we must remember that Lewisham East has been let down by the Conservatives. In real terms, at the start of the Conservative party’s time in office, Lewisham Council’s budget was £400 million, now it is closer to £243 million. Lewisham East is a fantastic place to live, but it has a range of challenges and needs. This Levelling Up money is welcome but it is a drop in the ocean to what has been cut from it. Lewisham deserves better and I will not shy from saying this in Westminster.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.