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.
This week, I have been representing Wansbeck in Parliament and speaking on behalf of the Labour Party at the TUC conference.
Since my last update, I had the pleasure of visiting some wonderful assets to our community in Wansbeck. I opened the refurbished garden & play area at the Bedlington Sure Start Centre and the new building at Bedlingtonshire Community High School. Also last weekend, I was able to meet with Bedlington Churches Combined to hear about the fantastic work they are doing, and to open the extension at Ashington JW Rugby Club.
I have shared the concerns of many colleagues about the Concentrix fiasco. Rebecca Long-Bailey has spoken for Labour in welcoming the news that their contract will not be renewed, but demanding that an urgent inquiry into the present state of their obligations be carried out. Too many people are having their personal finances affected by this. One year on from Labour’s defeat of the tax credit cut, many people are being thrust into hardship through no fault of their own. Many individuals affected by this have contacted my office, and we are assisting them where we can. If you have been affected, please get in touch, and if you know of anyone affected, please refer them to my office.
For many years, an inquiry into the militarised policing at Orgreave has been urgently required and I was pleased to be a part of the delegation to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. Campaigners and Labour MPs have worked tirelessly to ensure that there is a full inquiry and although the signs are encouraging, I join Andy Burnham in my disappointment that news of the inquiry receiving a ‘green light’ only filtered out through anonymous briefings in the press.
The dedicated campaigners of the Orgreave Truth and Justice must be involved in defining the scope of the inquiry; a half measure is not enough. The frame of reference should be enough to encompass Orgreave and to consider the wider culture in the police and security services that resulted in a strike defined by hundreds if not thousands of Orgreaves on a smaller scale.
Jeremy Corbyn delivered one of the best perfomances of his leadership on Wednesday, focusing on the worrying plans of this government to establish more grammars schools. I wrote last week that I can never support plans to divide a generation at the age of eleven. The damage these plans would do to the worst off, permanently damaging not only earning potential but self-confidence.
To place the burden of explaining friendship groups being torn apart upon teachers and parents demonstrates that this government is dramatically out of touch with the concerns and priorities of everyone with a stake in our education system.
I cast two votes in Parliament this week. The first was a bill brought forward by a Conservative MP to trigger our exit from the EU before even the government is ready to do so. Voting against it, regardless of the referendum result, was the right thing to do. Leaving the EU will be the most complex task facing British politics and government in a generation, and deserves more careful consideration than this bill would have given it.
I also voted for the Opposition Day motion on NHS Stability & Transformation Plans (STPs). These plans are an attempt to disguise 6 years of Tory underfunding of our NHS. Diane Abbott has led the criticism of these secrets plans, drawn up with no transparency and allowing little time for campaigners and health professionals to respond to them.
At the TUC Conference in Brighton, I promoted Labour’s Workplace 2020 initiative to trade unionists. This listening exercise will feed directly into workplace policy for the next Labour government. I will be hosting events around the constituency. Until these are announced, please do contribute at www.workplace2020.org.uk.
One of the other meetings I attended was an event with Show Racism the Red Card. For me, one of the most upsetting images of the post-referendum mood was the National Front banner in Newcastle. The vote to leave was not a vote to endorse bigotry or hatred. Hate groups like the National Front have no place in our society, and I have no doubt that the tolerance and openness of the British people will ensure that these groups remain at the margins of our society.
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