This week in Parliament, Ian has been representing Wansbeck in Westminster, championing constituents inside and outside of the debate chamber. Events in Westminster have been in the headlines, and Ian and the Labour Party have been standing up for ordinary people in Wansbeck and beyond.
After the Hillsborough inquiry, there has been growing momentum for there to be an investigation into the conduct of South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave in 1984. A letter has been sent to the Home Secretary from a cross party group of MPs, including Peter Bottomley, an employment minister in the Thatcher government at the time. As a committed trade unionist and Labour’s spokesperson on trade unions, I have added my signature to those calling for an inquiry. My experiences during the Miner’s Strike mean that I have a special interest in holding the authorities to account for this period of our history. I saw first-hand the methods that were deployed against mining communities by the state. British policing is supposedly above politics, but in June 1984 South Yorkshire Police deployed aggressive tactics and shamefully blamed striking miners for violence. Although an enquiry into police conduct at Orgreave is welcome, I would urge for the inquiry to be expanded to include all aspects of policing & surveillance during the strike. The full machinery of the state was turned against communities. Although a particularly reprehensible episode, the strike was filled with many incidents smaller in scale, but no less devastating in impact. Over 30 years later answers have still not been satisfactorily provided and an inquiry must lay the matter to rest.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, George Osborne faced Angela Eagle, both deputising. Osborne was repeatedly put on the back foot by questions on the leniency on Google’s tax affairs and Tory divisions over Europe. As an aspiring Prime Minister, Osborne was unconvincing. He has failed to hit targets that he set himself, and has implemented his dogmatic, wrongheaded austerity in a way that has hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
On Thursday, I was glad to see Labour’s Yvette Cooper launch Reclaim the Internet, a cross party campaign aimed at tackling sexism online. Although social media has allowed new and innovative ways to communicate with people in all walks of life, the disturbing amount of abuse directed at women in public life is a national disgrace. Women should not have to grow a thicker skin or toughen up, and no one should be threatened based on their point of view. The Labour Party look forward to engaging with people from all sides of the political spectrum to find ways of combating online misogyny.
I voted for Labour’s amendments to the Queen’s Speech on the issues of Education and the Economy. Labour introduced amendments to the Speech designed to negate some of the long term damage done by the government. Unfortunately, these amendments were voted down by a government that is blind to the damage it is doing across the country. No proposals were brought forward to address the injustice facing a generation of women due to state pension changes, brought to the limelight by the WASPI campaign, no proposals to undo the damage done to support for disabled people. This government’s rhetoric has been exposed as hollow; it is cutting in work support through Universal Credit. It will add additional stress to those in low paid part time work. As a result of government decisions, 2.5 million families on low and middle incomes stand to lose £2,100. The government could have taken the opportunity to forge a new path, to invest and to approach the problems facing the country with genuine radicalism. Instead, they have chosen the thin gruel of party management.
Labour has been campaigning to highlight the serious concerns we share with the public about the intrusive nature of the Investigatory Powers Bill. Although the Home Secretary has given ground on two key areas, the first the formation of an independent panel to evaluate the operational case for bulk powers and the second a guarantee that the proposals will not be used to monitor legitimate trade union activities, there are still serious implications in the bill. We are still concerned that there is a greater risk to privacy, that a higher threshold must be set for access to Internet Connection Records and that the bill has potentially dangerous implications for press freedom, among other concerns.
I will continue to represent Wansbeck in Parliament when it returns on the 6th June after the Whitsun recess.
Are you a constituent experiencing difficulty or do you have a cause you wish to raise? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01670852494 or write to Ian Lavery MP, 7 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8QZ