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Yesterday U.K. wholesale electricity prices were at 414 euros a MW hour . In Germany, France and Italy they hit Euros 465 a ME hour. This  is a tenfold rise on a year ago.

The U.K. has been linked into the European market by interconnectors and is often a net importer thanks to the policy of keeping us short of capacity. This summer we have a small surplus to export but the winter may well prove more difficult.

The  continent is facing a damaging storm of problems. The wind often does not blow much, hobbling  the windfarms when we have high pressure and no westerly winds. The low level of water in reservoirs and rivers has hit renewable  power from hydro in Norway, Italy, Spain and elsewhere . The French nuclear fleet has maintenance issues at several plants and is short of cooling water to enable them to run at others. Germany has closed three of her remaining six nuclear stations and is still planning the closure of the rest by end year. The continent is racing to get Russian gas out of its system before Russia throttles the supply taps further.

Too little attention has been paid to security of supply and too much trust has been placed in renewables which do not always deliver. The U.K. has just shut one of its nuclear stations and plans to close all but one of the rest this decade. Even allowing for Hinckley C coming on stream we will end the decade with less nuclear than we began. That is why we need to keep all our gas plants and get more domestic gas out of the ground. On a bad day for wind the U.K. gets under 2% of its electricity and well under 1% of its energy from wind turbines.

BBC Feature on First Bus Service Cuts

John Penrose (Weston-Super-Mare)

BBC Points West ran a short feature on the proposed local bus cuts.

Grassroots Football Visit!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I really enjoyed meeting Robert from the Football Foundation when I recently visited Oak Park Active Living Centre.
Earlier in the year the Premier League, the FA, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport held a session for MPs, explaining more about the impact of investment into Grassroots football can have and I keen to follow up on this and see how we are benefitting from this locally.
There was lots happening when I was visited and it was good to hear Walsall Wood has been added to this years West Bromwich Albion Foundation’s Summer Football Camps. 
With the recent historic win by the Lionesses, I am sure there’s even more enthusiasm for football.

Job advert – Office Assistant

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Closing date: 21st August 2022

Job Title: Office Assistant

Working For: Tulip Siddiq MP (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Location: London

Salary: In line with IPSA pay scales

Length of Contract: 3 months (with possibility of further employment)

Job details

Tulip Siddiq MP is looking for an enthusiastic and responsible individual to join her busy team and support with casework, policy and the running of her office. This will be a fixed-term contract for 3 months, with the possibility of employment as a maternity cover at the end of the fixed period.

This is an exciting opportunity to get experience of a wide range of tasks within a busy MP’s office and support Tulip in her roles as Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn and Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury. The successful applicant will have a strong understanding of politics and current affairs, a strong work ethic, teamwork skills and meticulous attention to detail.

The position will be based primarily in Tulip’s constituency office and there may be opportunities to work from the Parliamentary office in Westminster. We are happy to discuss options for flexible working at any stage including part-time remote working, flexi-time and other forms of flexibility.

Key responsibilities

  • Drafting responses to constituents’ policy and casework queries.
  • Conducting research into policy issues and other matters.
  • Engaging professionally, confidentially and sensitively with members of the public, through telephone enquiries, emails, social media and face to face.
  • Liaising with Government departments and agencies, local government, the voluntary sector and others to raise and resolve issues facing constituents.
  • Managing a large workload of complex cases, exercising good judgement in taking decisions about how to procced and ensuring all identified actions are taken.
  • Monitoring casework calls and logging cases.
  • Proactively leading on individual projects and activities.
  • Administrative duties and helping other members of the team as needed.

Skills and values

  • Sound judgement in dealing with sensitive issues;
  • Strong awareness of local and national politics;
  • Excellent attention to detail;
  • Ability to prioritise and manage a large workload independently;
  • Fluent and clear written style;
  • Good communication and teamwork skills;
  • Proficiency in basic IT;
  • Sympathetic to the aims and values of the Labour Party;

Interview/Start dates

Interviews will be held in London within two weeks of the closing date and will involve written tasks. The start date will be as soon as possible after that, to be agreed with the successful candidate.

Applicants should send their CV and a one page covering letter to liam.taggart@parliament.uk with the subject heading ‘Office Assistant – Full name’. Due to the expected high volume of applications, only those applicants selected for interview will receive a response.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, is encouraging constituents to get involved in the Labour Mayor for the West of England, Dan Norris’, bus consultation to improve bus services in and around Bristol.

In Bristol South, a public meeting is taking place on 3rd August at St. Augustine’s Church, 2 East Dundry Road, Whitchurch at 6:30pm. All are welcome to attend and contribute their views on how improvements can be made to create a bus service that meets the needs of local people.

Topics such as community transport, how to deploy limited numbers of bus drivers and how to encourage more people to use the bus will be discussed at the meeting.

You can also share your views on these issues and more by filling in the online survey, or print out and complete the paper survey. The survey closes on 31 August 2022.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:

“People in Bristol South want a reliable, affordable and safe bus service, but with the sector facing challenges such as a shortage of drivers and costs of running buses going through the roof, big conversations need to be had over how we can create a bus service which best meets the needs of local people.

“Dan Norris, West of England Mayor, is running a consultation asking what local people want to see from a bus service. For example, where should bus routes run? What do you think is a reasonable fare? Do you view frequency or reliability as more important? We want your views!

“I’d encourage constituents to take part in the survey, and attend the meeting on 3rd August to help shape future bus services and ensure we get the best service possible for Bristol South.”

The post Karin Smyth MP encourages constituents to have their say on Bristol bus services first appeared on Karin Smyth.

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

On Monday 18th July I took an early train to Paddington, because of the warning that rail tracks could buckle in the heat after 11am. The temperature was expected to reach nearly 40 degrees on Monday and Tuesday. The journey was comfortable until I took the tube to Westminster, which was packed and very hot. It’s warm in Neath, but the heat is different in London in that the humidity is very high.

When I arrived in Westminster, I attended the AGM for Rail in Wales All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and was honoured to be elected chair. Chris Elmore MP for Ogmore stood down as chair, and I shall try my very best to succeed Chris who has been an excellent chair for many years. I have always been interested in trains and rail infrastructure, and I am an ardent supporter of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence which is being developed in Onllwyn. I feel privileged to receive the support of the members of the APPG.

The business in the Chamber started with Defence Oral Questions, followed by an Urgent Question on The Government’s Preparedness for the Extreme Heat in the UK, then a UK Government Statement on Ambulance Pressures, and finally a Confidence in the UK Government (Motion).

Labour made it known last week that it would table a motion of no confidence in the UK Government, but the UK Government made it known that there was not any time available in the Chamber for the Labour motion to be debated. Then the UK Government tabled its own motion to be debated on Monday! After 6 hours debate, a division was taken at 10pm, which Labour lost the vote by ayes 349 to noes 288.

House of Commons – Hansard – Monday 18th July

On Tuesday, due to the extreme heat, which was over 40 degrees, many events in Westminster were cancelled, or postponed until September. The business in the Chamber started with Oral Health and Social Care Questions, followed by two Urgent Questions, “The Australia – U.K. Free Trade Agreement“, and “The U.K. Government’s Policy on Interim Payments for Victims of the Contaminated Blood Scandal“.

Tuesday lunchtime I attended the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting to listen to Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, speak about Labour’s Green Deal, which if Labour is elected, would pledge £28 million annually to tackle the climate crisis. She told us that the UK Government were not adequately funding its aim to reach net zero by 2050, and it needs to improve climate adaptation and levelling up. Rachel wants to be the first female chancellor, and she said that she will be a “Green Chancellor”.

On Tuesday afternoon I chaired the Seventh Delegated Legislation (DL) Committee when members debated the Draft Register of Overseas Entities (Delivery, Protection and Trust Services) Regulations 2022, which sought to implement aspects of the new Register of Overseas Entities created by the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. The Act requires overseas entities owning or buying properties in the UK to provide information to the Registrar of Companies to help authorities identify those seeking to use the UK property market to launder money.

The recently appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Businesses, Consumers, and Labour Markets, Jane Hunt MP, moved the motion and opened the debate. Shadow Front Bench Spokesperson Bill Easterman MP asked for clarification of certain points in the draft regulations, so too did a member of the DL committee, Wayne David MP for Caerphilly. The Minister’s answers were accepted by members, and the regulations were approved without a division.

I spent most of the afternoon joining events organised by the Trophy Hunting APPG. There was a press call/drop in event to maintain our APPG campaign to ban trophy hunting imports into the UK which was attended by many MPs. This was followed by the AGM of the APPG. Co-chairs Sir Roger Gale MP and Baroness Sue Hayman were re-elected, and I was honoured to be elected as vice-chair. Members of the APPG were then privileged to see a confidential UK premier of “Lion Spy” made by Rogue Rubin, a documentary film maker, who went undercover to expose the cruelty in trophy hunting of lions. Rogue was scheduled to join us for the film and a Q&A, but unfortunately, she became unwell, and couldn’t make the journey to Westminster.

Late afternoon, as vice-chair of the APPG on Music, I joined the online launch of our report “Let the Music Move – A New Deal for Touring”. The report sets out a bold vision for clearing out the red tape that risks (as Elton John says in the report) leaving UK artists wanting to tour the EU “stranded at Dover through no fault of their own”.

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Speaker’s Rooms to celebrate the awarding of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the South Wales Police Specials. There were 40 Specials there from all over South Wales, and I had the honour of meeting Chris, Robert and Emma and talking about their very important work. Chris and Robert have been Special Constables in Neath for many years, and Emma has made the transition from being a Special to a full-time police officer. We heard speeches from Mr Speaker, Chief Officer of the South Wales Specials Dr Dale Cartwright, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones MP, and David T C Davies MP for Monmouth, who was a Special Constable for the Transport Police for over 9 years before becoming an MP. Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, is immensely proud of his Specials, and he sent a personal message of congratulations.

In the Chamber, following the conclusion of the UQs, the business continued with the remaining stages of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, day 3, and day 4 was taken in Wednesday afternoon’s business.  There were numerous amendments, clauses, and New Clauses, tabled for both days. The Bill was scheduled for 7 hours protected time on both days, and there were many divisions taken throughout the two days.

On Tuesday, amendment 44, which would impose conditions before the option to choose dual routes could be implemented, was pushed to a division, and was defeated by ayes 201 to noes 293.

The aim of amendment 28 was to ensure that a thorough economic impact assessment would be carried out before the UK Government made any provisions under the Bill for a dual regulatory regime, which allows companies to choose between EU and UK laws relating to goods, and it was defeated by ayes 205 to noes 293.

New Clause 15 would require the Minister to report to each House regarding meetings between UK and EU in Joint Committee within 21 days of each meeting plus any submission on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and it was defeated by ayes 204 to noes 292.

House of Commons – Hansard – Tuesday 19th July

On Wednesday morning I called into the “Clear the Air awareness raising display by Asthma + Lung UK” hosted by Ruth Jones MP for Newport and learned much more about air pollution being a health emergency. There is no safe level of air pollution to breathe, it damages all lungs, and babies in the womb, pregnant women, children, people with existing lung disease, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Over 260,000 babies are born every year breathing in toxic air, and 31% of schools and colleges, 26% of care homes, 29% of hospitals in England, are in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO 2005 guidelines.

In the chamber COP Oral Questions was followed by a typical robust performance by Boris Johnson in what should have been his final PMQs, but at the end he signed off with “Hasta la vista baby”, meaning “see you later” – a line spoken by T-800, who was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

I dropped into the Kidney Function Testing event organised by Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK, the National Kidney Federation and Healthy.io. I spoke to Dr Thakkar about the new non-invasive, digital health testing technology that people can use to test their kidney function at home and link it to an App uploaded to their smartphone. The testing kit involves urinating into a small pot and the urine is tested by examining the result and comparing it to a graded scale, then uploading the result to an App on their smartphone, which can be monitored by the NHS. Healthy.io developed this test which has already had an impact on improving detecting levels of CKD in the NHS and can identify abnormal kidney function in minutes.

As chair of the APPG for Sepsis, I was honoured to host the Infection Management Coalition (IMC) event which brought together the 12 stakeholder partners who have contributed to the IMC White Paper which was launched at the event. The White Paper contains information about the collective effort to contain and control antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Many MPs called into the event to meet the stakeholders and discuss the contents of the White Paper.

As vice-chair of the APPG for PKU I joined in the event with the National Society for Phenylketonuria (NSPKU) to thank all our supporters and MPs for relentlessly campaigning to improve lives of the people with the rare condition PKU. At the end of 2021, NHS England finally announced that patients of all ages would be able to use the life changing treatment sapropterin (Kuvan). NHS Wales has recently announced a similar policy. The NSPKU continue to campaign for access to this treatment in Scotland and Northern Ireland and for the next generation of new treatments.

In the Chamber, on Wednesday afternoon, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill continued to be debated and after many hours, some amendments, clauses and New Clauses were pressed to a division.

  • Labour Amendment 12, which would change the threshold for giving Ministers power to make regulations from subjective to objective, was defeated by ayes 197 to noes 277.
  • Labour supported amendment 49 which protects the Belfast Agreement, and it was defeated by ayes 196 to noes 278.
  • Labour supported amendment 3, which taken with amendment 4, would make all operational aspects of the Bill dependent upon approval of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was defeated by ayes 194 to noes 275.
  • Labour’s New Clause 12 aimed to act as a safeguard against breaching the UK’s international legal obligations and to empower parliament in the event any action by the government under the Bill did breach these obligations, was defeated by ayes 192 to noes 273.

Labour voted against 3rd Reading, but it was passed by ayes 267 to noes 195. The Bill will now be debated in the Lords.

House of Commons – Hansard – Wednesday 20th July

Back in the constituency I visited The Ministry of Furniture which is now based in the old Metal Box building, Milland Road Industrial Estate. In 2019, I had a tour of this amazing locally run business when it was based in Baglan Business Park, and I am delighted that it has relocated to Neath. The Ministry is the business that evolved from Remploy Furniture, and it specialises in contract furniture supply, remanufacturing, and interior design. The factory is in Ystalyfera. Their design experts create inspirational interiors, using the latest space design, BIM modelling software, and graphics, to achieve the best use of space in schools and workplaces. As well as manufacturing, they are appointed dealers for Nomique, Senator Group, Sixteen3, Connection, Naughton, and Boss Design. The Ministry has expanded and diversified since I visited them over three years ago, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet the directors and staff to learn about their plans for the future.

I had a wonderful time at the 7th Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival which took place at Neath Town Hall on Friday and Saturday. It’s great to be back after being cancelled for the past couple of years due to the pandemic. The pubs and restaurants in Neath hosted special guest ales throughout the two-day event, and there was live music to accompany the wide range of 24 ales and 15 ciders to choose from at £2 per half pint. Massive thanks to the organising committee and the sponsors for another superb festival event in Neath.

Climate and Environment Emergency: WWF Earth Hour

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Backbench Business Committee

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

My article in House Magazine

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, stood up for the thousands of Menopause Warriors in Wales during the Welsh Grand Committee debate earlier this week as she discussed the work of the menopause revolution and how it is benefiting women across the nation. 


A key success of Carolyn Harris’ Private Member’s Bill last year was the formation of the Menopause Task Force, of which Carolyn is co-chair, which will be holding its inaugural meeting in the coming weeks.  


Through the Taskforce, Carolyn aims to totally transform menopause support and services for women right across Wales and the UK with three key aims- to improve diagnosis and treatment pathways; to ensure women have the understanding and support they need from doctors, employers and their families; and to develop the school curriculum so the next generation are better educated on the menopause. 


Carolyn has also been working closely with the Welsh Labour Government, who have put the menopause high on the political agenda, to make the  improvements in healthcare and education so that women in Wales will be able to access the support and services they need when it comes to menopause care.

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, said:

“2021 saw the menopause revolution really take off.  We have already achieved so much in breaking down the barriers and getting people talking about the menopause, putting the menopause high on the political agenda.


“In Wales, we are so lucky to be able to access HRT free of charge thanks to the Welsh Labour Government, but I’m looking forward to working with Welsh Government colleagues to make further improvements to menopause support and services to ensure women across Wales can always access the support and services they need.


“Our combined efforts across the Senedd and Westminster are helping us revolutionise menopause care throughout the UK to help keep women wonderful.  There should be no politics in women’s health, and we must work together cross-party and with the devolved governments to make a difference to women’s lives and achieve our common goals.”

Visit my Facebook page

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

Visit my Facebook page for upto date news on my work as your Member of Parliament.

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

I am delighted to write and tell you that local NHS leaders have confirmed plans for a new hospital to be built in Sutton and to upgrade facilities at St Helier. This represents a £500 MILLION plan that will not only build a brand new state of the art hospital near to the Royal Marsden by 2025, but ALSO invest AT LEAST £80 MILLION into upgrades at St Helier.

The new specialist emergency care hospital, just a few minutes from St Helier, would treat the sickest 15% of patients, those normally arriving by ambulance. This larger specialist team would be available 24 hours a day to diagnose what is wrong with patients more rapidly, start the best treatment faster, and help patients recover more quickly. St Helier and Epsom Hospitals will remain open 24/7, with updated and improved facilities, providing all the other services that they currently do.

My children were born at St. Helier so healthcare provision in Sutton has been an issue that is a very personal one to me. Ever since being a councillor in Carshalton, some 14 years ago, I have been campaigning for a solution that protects the future of St. Helier whilst ensuring that Sutton residents have access to the very best treatment in cutting edge modern healthcare facilities. I believe that this decision can finally put to rest the political arguments so that we can get on with doing what’s best for residents across the whole of the borough of Sutton.

With this plan, the refurbished St Helier Hospital is here to stay providing the majority of local health services, and the sickest patients will get state-of-the-art treatment in the brand-new specialist emergency hospital right here in our area.

You can find out more about the plans, including the answers to some frequently asked questions at the NHS’ website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk. You can also contact them at hello@improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk, or get in touch with me with any queries.


Why is this being done?

To improve the care that we receive. As St Helier’s buildings continue to age over time, it’s necessary to upgrade our healthcare facilities to improve outcomes. Surviving illness and recovering quickly is the number one priority.

Is St Helier closing?

No, quite the opposite. St Helier is here to stay with a multi-million-pound improvement package.

Is a new hospital being built?

Yes. A new specialist emergency care hospital will be built in Sutton, in addition to improving St Helier hospital.

Is St Helier getting an upgrade?

Yes. At least £80 million of the funding promised will go towards improving the facilities at St Helier hospital.

Who developed these proposals?

For the first time, we have a plan that was developed by local clinicians, not national bureaucrats or politicians. Local healthcare professionals made the case for funding to deliver this improvement, which has been rewarded with a £500 million investment. Sutton Council also supported the proposals last year.

Will I have to travel outside my area for services now?

At the moment, if you have a stroke or heart attack you will be taken past St. Helier to be treated at St. George’s. This plan means that we will still be able to treat people within the local area, not moving more services away from Sutton.

Will we still use St Helier?

Yes. From 2025, Epsom hospital, St Helier hospital and the new hospital at Sutton will all have a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) (which already treats the vast majority of people going to St. Helier in an emergency). Under the plans, 85% of services will remain at St Helier. Both Epsom and St Helier hospitals will still have a 24/7 UTC.

Diagnostic tests, such as MRI, x-ray or ultrasound, the heart problem diagnosis unit, the dialysis unit, Croft Ward (which takes care of patients who are stable but not ready to leave hospital), the eye care unit, the gastroenterology unit, and so many more services are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

What about bed numbers?

The NHS have calculated that they will need the same number of beds as they do now.

What about A&E?

Unlike previous plans, which saw A&E diverted away into Tooting, A&E is now staying right here in our Borough at the new hospital. Most of the time you will still use St Helier for matters requiring immediate medical attention like broken limbs or cuts. Major trauma cases needing a blue light ambulance transfer will be treated in Sutton at the new state-of-the-art hospital next to The Royal Marsden.

What about maternity services?

Maternity services have also been protected and kept locally. Post-natal and ante-natal care are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and births will take place in the brand-new maternity unit at the new hospital in Sutton built to the very latest healthcare standards. Women need the very best care and facilities when giving birth, and the new plans will provide that.

Where will children services be provided?

Most children will continue to receive care and treatment in the same place as they do now. Care for children who need to stay in hospital overnight – as a result of a serious illness or complex problems – will be treated at the new specialist emergency care hospital. This includes children’s surgery.  

What will happen until the new hospital in Sutton is built?

All services will continue to be carried out at Epsom and St Helier hospitals until such time the new hospital in Sutton is ready for patients.

Where will the new hospital be built?

After consulting residents, patient groups and healthcare professionals, the decision was taken to build a brand-new specialist emergency care hospital in Sutton. This will be combined with the necessary infrastructure and transport links to ensure the site of the new hospital is accessible to all that need to use it.

For more facts, and to find out what this multi-million-pound government investment in our local NHS will mean for you and your family, visit the following website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/faq.

Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent such kind messages to me after last night’s result in Birmingham Northfield. Even though I never took this election – or any election – for granted, it is still a big blow to lose the seat I have represented for 27 years and which is […]

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

Labour has pledged compensation packages for millions of women hit by state pension age rises imposed by the Tories.

Pay-outs of up to £31,000 will be made, with an average payment of £15,000.

The scheme will be delivered within Labour's first full five year term of government.

Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age hiked.

David Cameron's coalition government presided over a change in the law that increased the women's state pension age to 65 in November 2018 - followed by 66 in October 2020.

Labour will introduce a compensation scheme as rapidly as possible for the 3.7million women hit by the changes, which Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem government imposed in 2011.

It comes after Boris Johnson u-turned on his pledge to help those affected.

He dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.

The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.

They were not able to prepare and have had to suffer serious financial consequences as a result.

We have a historic debt of honour to them.

Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour

Lisa Nandy (Wigan)

Lisa Nandy MP

Wigan Constituency Labour Party have reselected Lisa Nandy MP as their candidate for the next General Election.

At meetings held over the last fortnight, members in all of the branches that make up Wigan Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to reselect Lisa. All affiliated organisations, including Unite the Union, the Communication Workers’ Union, GMB, Unison and Usdaw, also voted to reselect.

Lisa said:

“I’m grateful to Labour members in Wigan for choosing to reselect me so overwhelmingly. Being the Member of Parliament for Wigan is the privilege of my life, and I couldn’t do it without the members who turn up year in, year out and in all weathers to campaign for the Labour Party. With a General Election looking likely, we will be out once again fighting for every vote and to put an end to the damage inflicted on Wigan by this reckless Conservative government.”

Wigan Constituency Labour Party said:

“We’re delighted to have reselected Lisa Nandy as our candidate for the next General Election. For 10 years Lisa has worked tirelessly to represent Wigan in Parliament, fighting for constituents hit hardest by this Conservative government’s brutal cuts and ensuring that Wigan’s voice is heard on the national stage. The overwhelming level of support Lisa received from local party members is testament to that work. We’re proud to have Lisa as our MP and we’re ready to fight and win the next General Election together.”

The post Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour first appeared on Lisa Nandy MP.

Two thirds of Wolverhampton pensioners lose free TV licence

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

A broken Conservative Party promise from the 2017 election will mean two thirds of Wolverhampton’s over 75s are set to lose out, after the BBC announced changes to eligibility for free TV licences.

From June 2020 only households with a pensioner in receipt of Pension Credit will be eligible for a free TV licence. This follows a government move for the BBC to take on responsibility for funding the £745m cost of the scheme.

In Wolverhampton, 11,360 pensioners across the city’s three constituencies – two thirds of all households currently eligible for a free TV licence – will no-longer be eligible.

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds previously met pensioners who would be affected by changes to the scheme, and joined the other city MPs – Eleanor Smith and Pat McFadden – in signing a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright against any change.

On the announced changes, Emma said:

“At the last election the Conservative Party stood on a platform to keep free TV licences for the over 75s. Now, 11,000 Wolverhampton pensioners have been betrayed by a government which promised to keep them.

“Two thirds of Wolverhampton’s pensioners are to lose their free TV licence as a direct result of the government forcing the BBC to take on the cost. The £745m cost of the universal scheme is around a fifth of the BBC’s entire budget, and the government were warned the BBC could not take on this cost and keep the scheme in full. When Labour brought in free TV licences, it was government policy so the government rightly covered the cost.

“It is plain wrong that Boris Johnson is championing big tax cuts for the wealthy, while all but the poorest of pensioners now face having to pay for their TV licence. According to Age UK, 400,000 over 75s neither meet nor speak to family and friends every week. When I met with local pensioners, they told me how essential a TV is. A TV is often their only form of companionship, and the only way of knowing what is happening outside their home.”

The post Two thirds of Wolverhampton pensioners lose free TV licence appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)

This website is discontinued. Please visit my new website: StephenMetcalfe.org.uk 

MP meets South Downs farmers

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs)

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met South Downs farmers on Friday (19 January) to discuss the challenges they face as Britain leaves the EU and…

With Northern Ireland once again in politcial crisis and continuing divisions within unionism, we need to consider carefully the consequences, both for the Union itself and for efforts to create a shared future here.

On being a woman in politics

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)

A few things have recently been rattling around in my head which concern women in politics; I've been trying to gather some ideas as to why there aren't more of us, and how I might encourage female candidates to come forward. At the same time, I noticed that the launch of the Counting Women In campaign, couldn't miss the outrageous attack on Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, and I've been enjoying Winnie Ewing's very readable autobiography. I've also been out on the doorsteps for Ken Andrew in Hillhead.

All of these together really say: the culture of politics in the UK is what's at fault. Women don't think it's for them and just disengage. 

Now, obviously that's a generalisation. I'm a woman, and I'm very engaged in politics. I'm prepared to accept I'm a bit odd.

I chapped on a door the other week while canvassing. I had Alexander with me in the pram. A woman answered, I politely introduced myself and my purpose on her doorstep - she shook her head and told me she wasn't interested. I asked why. She firmly asserted that all politicians are just the same. I asked her if anyone from any political party had ever come to see her with a baby in a pram. She thought briefly, admitted that'd never happened, and sent me on my way. 

I'm not sure whether that experience tells me whether I ought to a) leave the wee man at home or b) work on my doorstep pizzaz, but I bet that woman had opinions on all kinds of things. I don't think she believes them to be particularly political - provision of care services, or bin collection, say - but in the end they're determined by politicians. I want women like her to tell me what she wants and why it matters. More than that, I want women who care about issues to join political parties to further that cause. There are all kinds of causes promoted within the SNP, and I will most likely welcome you in.

I'm sure I've said before that I've always felt welcomed as a woman in the SNP, and that remains true. I'm not sure how Labour men treat women in general (not great by some accounts, which appear to be no barrier to reselection), but they're certainly not great at giving SNP women the respect they are due.

I recalled hearing when Winnie's book came out that she had been bullied while at Westminster. The Scotsman's 2007 interview put it thus:

As the lone SNP member in the Commons - at best an intimidating place for an inexperienced politician - she found herself without friends, without party colleagues, without any supporting structures. She was completely alone. She was hundreds of miles from her husband and her children in an excessively macho and very hostile environment. "I was treated as the enemy, I was shunned and despised. It's a peculiar experience to suddenly find yourself hated. At times I did feel terribly lonely, close to despair." 

Reading the autobiography, you really get a vivid picture of the pressure Winnie Ewing was under as an MP on her own. Her every action was scrutinised; if she didn't attend a debate, the other parties would ensure it got in the papers. The nuances of what said were taken apart. She was under political and personal attack from all sides and, even more sinister, stalked by another MP. Interventions by others had some impact, but it must have been a great emotional strain.

What I didn't know was that when Winnie was appointed as an MEP (pre-democratic elections to Europe), the bad behaviour of two particular Labour bullies continued in the European Parliament when she was alone again, deliberately working to ridicule and undermine her for over a year. By the account in the autobiography, this only ended when the President of the Parliament intervened, threatening to have them withdrawn as being "not fit to represent their country and Parliament in Europe".

You might think that, around forty years later, a female SNP MP might expect some kind of change to have occurred in attitudes, as with wider society. Women are accepted in a range of jobs, universities are gaining majorities of female students, there are innumerable opportunities and directions for careers. And then, there's Ian Davidson MP.

Eilidh has written a revealing article in the Scotland on Sunday - I'd urge you to read the full article, but I think this small quote does illustrate the point perfectly:

"It does not matter that all I had done was disagree with the committee. In fact what inspired Mr Davidson’s remark is utterly irrelevant. There is no action, no misbehaviour that justifies the threat or act of “a doing”. We hear too often of women being told they were “asking for it” in justification for intimidation or violence. I never expected to hear that from an MP in Parliament.

But this is not simply an issue of aggression towards woman; it’s about a culture of intimidation and bullying affecting men and women that seems to flourish with impunity in the Westminster world."

The tragedy is that it's primarily through this Westminster lens that the viewing population sees politics and politicians. They see argument, they see confrontation; they see crowds of boorish suits moaning a weary "hear hear". And they switch off. They say "that's not for me".

They don't see a politician arguing the case with a housing association, trying to help a vulnerable tenant. They don't see someone working on a committee, trying to improve a policy that will help improve children's health. They don't see the joy that is presenting prizes to year groups of school students, with the hope that you can encourage them in that tiny second as you shake their hand. They don't know what a privilege it is to be invited into so many lives and homes, to meet with groups and organisations and offer what help you can.

The work of politics should never be that yah boo nonsense that men excel at and so many women hate. More women should be in politics for the fantastic difference they can make every day.

Made by @davorg / Last built: Wednesday 17 August 2022 09:32