This year will mark a huge year in politics that could change the fortunes of working people and families. We will have an upcoming Mayor election in Lewisham, a London Mayor election and a general election. However, something that has not changed has been the Government lurching from chaos to chaos.
We have seen a prominent former Minister calling for the Prime Minister to resign, backlash over the Government’s unworkable Rwanda Bill and another Conservative MP causing a by-election where Labour has a great chance of winning.
In short, Labour offers a decade of renewal to replace fourteen years of national decline. This decline can even be seen by a Conservative Minister of State resigning overpay because he ‘couldn’t afford’ his mortgage increases caused by Liz Truss’ disastrous mini budgets and years of conservative economic mismanagement.
Despite the rare success of restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister and his Government are trying to convince the public that they should be trusted again to lead the country. They are doing this by introducing policies such as clamping down on vapes. Whilst this is on face level is not too controversial, it symbolises the sticking plaster politics that the Conservatives are known for. This is where headline-grabbing policies are favoured and the fundamental challenges facing us are not tackled head on.
It is vital that we start the year as we mean to go on. That is why I have used my position as a Member of Parliament and the Shadow Minister for Youth Justice to highlight Conservative failure and how Labour can offer a positive solution. You can read more about my work in and outside of Westminster throughout this Newsletter.
I am always available to constituents, so if there is anything that you would like to raise to my attention, please email me via janet.daby.mp@parliament
Shadow Minister for Youth Justice Responsibilities
As we gear up for the next General Election it is vital that Labour is able to communicate just how badly the Conservatives have broken our justice system. My specific responsibilities are to expose how children, who are among the most vulnerable people in society are being let down by the Government.
As Parliament returned from Christmas recess, I took to the floor of the House of Commons to press the Government on how little children spent out of their cells and how this is fuelling violence. You can watch my exchange with the Justice Secretary here.
Last week I spoke from the Despatch box as Labour’s Shadow Minister during the second reading of the Joint Enterprise (Significant Contribution) Bill.
Going forward my priorities to transform the youth justice system will be centred on reducing re-offending, addressing the youth court backlog, reducing violence on the youth estate, youth remand and the future of girls on the Youth Estate.
You can expect to hear much more from me on these issues going forward.
The horrors of recent months in Israel and Gaza have been intolerable. We must not become desensitised to civilian deaths. Suffering continues in Gaza, with no end to the cruelty for hostages and so many have displaced and witnessed truly horrific things.
A humanitarian truce leading to a sustainable ceasefire is a necessity to begin a bigger push towards a political solution and a just and lasting peace.
Furthermore, I am concerned that the violence in Israel and Gaza has been spilling over into the wider region. For instance, Iran has denied involvement in a drone attack on a US base near Jordan’s border with Syria that killed three US troops. Additionally the UK and US, with the support of other allies, have launched strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in response to repeated attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. Whilst Labour support this limited and targeted action, ultimately, the UK must continue to pursue all diplomatic channels available to achieve peace and regional security.
With regards to Ukraine and Putin’s illegal war, we must stand unshakably with NATO allies in providing military, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
I was also concerned to see last year that Guyana was threatened by its hostile neighbour, Venezuela, who is claiming two-thirds of its territory in a dispute that could lead to conflict. As a result, I called for the Government to do all it can to protect Guyana’s sovereignty in the House of Commons Chamber. You can watch my question here.
Unfortunately, the Government’s Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons in January. However, not only is this Bill deeply flawed and unjust, it is wasteful. Already the Government has given Rwanda more than £290 million and they are refusing to come clean on how much in total this is costing or how they will ever make it work.
During the debate on this Bill in the House of Commons I said that “the Government are being extremely neglectful with the public purse by throwing money at a Rwanda scheme that simply will not work.” Only Labour has a serious plan to end dangerous boat crossings by investing in a new elite cross border police unit alongside clearing the asylum backlog.
The Bill is now in the House of Lords, and I will be following updates closely.
Lee Court and Housing Reform
I was appalled to hear that the leaseholders of Lee Court in Lewisham East had until recently been left without central heating since October. Other issues residents have reported include rising mould, rot and dampness in the ceiling of the building, a roof leak, a fire safety door hanging from its hinges, a pile-up of waste and litter in the shared garden, broken windows in the hallway, a broken exterior wall and an abandoned building site.
This has been allowed to happen because, for 14 years the Government has not done enough on leasehold reform. We have had 16 separate Housing Ministers since the Government took office. This demonstrates that the Conservatives are content to allow the housing crisis to continue.
I asked a question the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on how and when he will go further on the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill. You can watch it me press the Government here.
I was disappointed to see Michael Gove play party politics by blaming the local authority, who is not even the freeholder. Nevertheless, I will continue to do all I can to get a Labour Government so we can fix the broken leasehold system once and for all.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia, I continue to look to improve the healthcare outcomes for people with Sickle Cell. That is why I co-chaired a roundtable discussion with the APPG for Stem Cell Transplantation and Advanced Cellular Therapies on Sickle Cell treatments.
I reiterated the point that it is vital to raise awareness of the needs of sickle cell patients in accessing and receiving stem cell transplantation and gene therapies.
The next day I followed up on this by pressing the Government on how sickle cell patients continue to be let down when accessing pain-relief at A&E. You can watch me ask my question here. It is encouraging that the Minister agreed to meet with me on this and I will tell him that this needs to be urgently addressed.
January is Tamil Heritage Month. This is celebrated every year in Parliament, and I was delighted to attend a celebration of Thai Pongal and it was great to learn more about Tamil traditions and culture.
It was then a privilege to be part of the Pongal Villa event on at the London Sivan Temple in Lewisham. Lewisham East is home to a large Tamil Community, and it was a joy to join them in their celebrations.
273 Bus Route
You may be aware that there is a proposed consultation on changes to 273 bus route between Lee and Grove Park, and a section of Manor Park. The deadline to give your feedback on these changes will be on Sunday 18 February 2024.
To submit your views and learn more about this issue, please click this link here.
Warm Centre Visit
Under this Conservative more than 1 in 5 people in the UK were in poverty in 2021/22. This is 14.4 million people. Whilst it was fantastic to have the opportunity to meet and talk to local people when I visited a warm centre in Bellingham. I also saw the work and support of local businesses.
However, I am saddened that they had come into existence. The fact that people now cannot afford to heat their homes should be a source of great shame for the Government. In response I am campaigning hard to get a Labour Government elected, so people can start to afford the essentials again. This includes having a warm home.
If you believe that you need to visit a warm centre, please use this link.
Local Primary School visit to Parliament
This month I welcomed pupils from Sandhurst Primary school to Parliament as their local MP. It is important for me to engage with all my constituents no matter their age or background. I was very impressed with their questions, and I look forward to welcoming more young people to visit me in the House of Commons soon.
Beckenham Place Park
I recently visited Beckenham Place Park to see how work is progressing on building the new playground, environment area, and cafe. It was good to see exciting plans for the park which will be a great asset to those who use it. I am sure local residents will warmly welcome it.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.