Labour North West Regional Conference was a great success and a chance to come together as a region to discuss how we move forward as a Party. I caught up with members, councillors, trade unions and MPs from across the North West abd took part in panel discussions, workshops and talks covering everything from diversity to preparing for government. On Saturday, Diane Abbott and I ran a training session on ‘Building a Diverse Party’. We discussed why diversity is so important and ways we can increase BAME membership in The Labour Party. It was great to hear what members thought about these important issues and to listen to new ideas about how we can ensure BAME representation not only in our membership, but in leadership roles too. It was great to catch up with reps from The CWU, Unite the union and USDAW over the weekend to talk about what they've been up to and the campaigns they're leading. I was glad to see to see a motion for a Total Eclipse of the S*n in the North West moved by CWU officer, Cllr Brian Kenny on Saturday. I also took part in a the 'Preparing for Power' debate with Paul Nowak (TUC), Angela Rayner MP and Debbie Abrahams MP and spoke at the Equalities Reception with Cat Smith MP and Margaret Greenwood MP.
On November 3rd, Jim McMahon's Votes at 16 Private Members Bill will be debated and voted on in Parliament. I'm proud that the Labour Party is supporting the campaign because we believe our young people deserve a say in their future. You can add your support to the campaign by signing our petition - labour.org.uk/votesat16
It was an honour to attend the Pride of Gorton awards this month and see so many local residents and community groups recognised for the huge difference they make to our local area.It was a wonderful evening attended by local councillors, residents, members of Greater Manchester Police, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Manchester, with entertainment provided by students from Wright Robinson College choir.
It was great to meet members of Refugee Action to learn more about their #LetRefugeesLearn campaign. I spoke to Anteneh and Ana from Manchester about the positive impact English lessons have had on their lives. Learning English is a gateway to work, study and getting to know your neighbours. It is also instrumental to refugees’ mental health and staving off isolation and loneliness. I addressed the vital need for investment in ESOL courses in a Westminster Hall debate this month, you can read my contribution here.
During Prime Minister's Question Time this month, I challenged the government on the issue of social care as I know this is important to so many of my constituents and a vital resource which is currently being stripped away under this Government. Since 2010, Manchester City Council has had its annual social care budget cut by £32 million. By March 2018, the Government will have taken £6.3 billion out of social care. Labour have committed to investing £8 billion in social care, a desperately needed investment. I asked the Prime Minister whether she would commit to matching this investment in next month's budget. You can watch the Prime Minister's response here.
I had a great time at North West Young Labour Conference where I caught up with my former colleagues from the European Parliament, Theresa Griffin and Julie Ward, and met young Labour members from across the North West.The conference was a brilliant opportunity for young members from across the region to come together to discuss policy, plan campaigns and get to know each other. Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith MP, lead a lively debate on lowering the voting age to 16 and I took part in a panel debate on Brexit with our North West Labour MEPs.
This month's 'Meet Your MP' coffee morning was held in Rusholme at Birch Community Centre. I talked to residents about the process of setting up my office, what I'd been up to in Parliament since being elected, and my role as Shadow Immigration Minister. There was a great turnout and some really interesting questions from constituents on issues such as Brexit, housing and policing. I was really pleased that the ward councillors were also able to join me to talk to residents about the work our Labour council is doing locally. Thank you to everyone who attended and joined in the debate. I hope these monthly “Meet your MP” events – which will move from ward to ward – will be a chance to discuss the issues I have been working on, both in Parliament and locally, on behalf of the people of Manchester Gorton. But most importantly I want to listen to constituent’s views and concerns, and understand how I can best represent them in Parliament.
This month Parliament voted to pause and fix Universal Credit by 299 to 0. A vote that has been completely ignored by the government. Universal Credit will be rolled out to 400,000 people over the winter, and nearly 7 million over this parliament, despite the pilots showing that huge problems with the system will push claimants into debt and homelessness. I spoke in the debate on Universal Credit, highlighting the closure of Longsight Jobcentre and the risk of eviction and homelessness from higher levels of debt among UC claimants. I urged the Minister to recognise the damaging effect this roll out will have on my own constituents and asked that the government act now to pause and fix Universal CreditYou can watch my intervention here.
A study published this month has revealed that the UK has one of the worst records of pollution death of any country in Europe. As many as 50,000 deaths last year in the UK can be attributed to toxic air and man-made chemicals. In Manchester, the air we are inhaling is considered too dangerous to breathe by the World Health Organisation. I raised this issue in the House on October 20th - "Encouraging the use of public transport is key to tackling air pollution. Does the Minister accept that the increase in rail fares at twice the rate of wages since 2010, and the decreased use of buses while the Conservatives have been in office, have made air quality worse?"You can watch the debate here.
Yesterday I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the future of supported housing. I have seen first hand the positive impact supported housing projects can have on the lives of my constituents and it is vital the that the government continue to provide funding for these invaluable organisations.
Along with local police officers, councillors and local residents, I unveiled a plaque dedicated to the memory of all those who were killed or injured in the Manchester Arena attack. The plaque was donated by the wonderful Gorton community who I am proud to represent. Read the MEN article on the event here.
There was an amazing turn out for the The People's Assembly Against Austerity march in Manchester during Tory Party Conference. I joined Manchester Gorton Members, Manchester Councillors and other local MPs on the march. Over 30,000 people from across the UK came together in Manchester to send a loud and clear message to the Tories - we reject your failed austerity program and want an alternative. The Labour Party are a government in waiting and we are ready to deliver a country that works for the many, not the few.
This month it was my privilege to attend my first Labour Party Conference as an MP. Although, of course, being in Brighton could never compare to Manchester, the mood of unity and elation was inspiring. I started conference by watching our shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott’s speech, in my role as Shadow Immigration Minister (you can watch it here). In it, Diane reiterated Labour’s commitment to EU citizens (my article here) and promised that our immigration policy will always be shaped by enduring Labour values. I spoke at two fringe events during conference, one on the government using EU citizens as bargaining chips in negotiations, and the second on the impact of Brexit on BAME communities. There was some fascinating discussion of these important issues at both. Between all these formal engagements it was great to meet up with different groups: the unions, including the GMB, Unite and CWU, and Manchester airport and train operators, to raise my constituents concerns about transport, amongst plenty of others. As Jeremy Corbyn said in his speech on Wednesday, Labour is ready for government. The general election result put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power. I will certainly carry on working hard to get us there!
I have written to the Prime Minister expressing my outrage at the violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar, asking her to forcefully condemn serious human rights violations, and seeking a full review of the UK military's aid to Myanmar. You can read my letter here. I also raised the issue in the House and called on the government to do more to protect innocent civilians. You can watch it here. "Despite the extensive support— economic, cultural and political—that we have given to the Myanmar Government, we are now seeing that the Rohingya community is in danger of genocide. Does the Minister agree that we need to ask that Government for three things? First, the Government security forces need to be brought under control. Secondly, the aid organisations need to have free access there. Thirdly, the key thing is that the Rohingya need to be recognised as full citizens of Burma."
I held my first 'Meet Your MP' coffee morning in Gorton. Constituents raised lots of concerns about Tory cuts to public services and police. I will continue to work hard to fight these cuts and get a fair deal for everyone in our constituency. I hope these monthly “Meet you MP” events – which will move from ward to ward - will be a chance to discuss the issues I have been working on, both in Parliament and locally, on behalf of the people of Manchester Gorton. But most importantly I want to listen to constituent’s views and concerns, and understand how I can best represent them in Parliament.
I had a great time celebrating the 85th Birthday of The Place on Platt Lane, Fallowfield. As part of their celebrations I stopped by with Neil MacInnes, head of Libraries for Manchester City Council, to thank all the staff and volunteers who work so hard to make this place such a special part of our community. I also signed the original Fallowfield library visitors book which was first used at its opening in 1932.
It was great to see the sun shining for another successful Caribbean Carnival in Alexandra Park. Manchester carnival has brought Caribbean culture to the forefront annually for over 40 years and is the North West’s largest celebration of Caribbean music and carnival arts. The carnival is a vibrant celebration of caribbean music, dance, theatre and costume and it was an honour to be invited to speak. I'd like to thank you to everyone involved who helped make it a huge success as well as Greater Manchester Police who ensured everyone had a safe weekend.
Since the tragic events of Grenfell Tower I have been working closely with Manchester City Council and local housing associations to ensure that the safety of all tower block residents is put first. The City Council will ensure that all unsafe material found in tower blocks will be removed and they are keeping in regular contact will all residents who will be affected by this. There are a few buildings in our constituency which are affected and I am receiving regular updates from housing association One Manchester about the status of their work on these blocks. The latest information from One Manchester on fire safety in their high-rise blocks can be found here.
I was contacted by concerned constituents about the closure of Longsight Job Centre. I’ve been informed by Greater Manchester Jobcentre that although the services offered at the Longsight location will now be relocated to the Rusholme Job Centre, this may result in an increased pressure on services. I have written to the Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds, expressing my concerns about this decision and asking him to guarantee that no staff will be made redundant and that services will not be reduced. This week I visited Rusholme Job Centre to meet with senior DWP managers about the closure and relocation of services. I also had a tour of the Centre to see for myself the current situation of the service and meet with people who are using the Job Centre now.
I met with Chief Constable Ian Hopkins to discuss a range of local and national issues. As well as offering my praise to Ian and his officers for the way they responded to the tragic arena attack in May, we talked about how to improve public safety and community cohesion in Manchester Gorton. During the election campaign the Tory’s brutal cuts to our police service were raised with me time and time again. Since 2010 over 2,000 police officers have been taken off the beat locally and now crime is starting to rise again. I will be pressing the government in Parliament to reverse these dangerous cuts and put officers back on to our streets.
The Save Our Schools campaign took their message to Downing Street this month to highlight the funding crisis our schools are facing. Myself and fellow MP’s Mike Kane, Jeff Smith and Caroline Lucas joined children from across the UK as they delivered their SOS message in a bottle to the Prime Minister, calling on her government to fully fund our schools. I later went to visit the children of Stanley Grove Primary School who were involved in the campaign to talk about my role as an MP and was really inspired by their engaging and insightful questions. Every child deserves a good start in life and I’ll fight Tory cuts to local schools all the way.
In July I spoke at Manchester Mega Mela at Platt Fields Park. Manchester Mela is the largest celebration of South Asian culture in the North of England, attracting an audience of over 77,000 people. It was great to see that this year’s event was attended by people from every background and it as a true celebration of Manchester’s diversity and inclusivity.
I had a very productive meeting with the chair of Transport for Greater Manchester, Andrew Fender, to discuss how we can improve transport links across the Manchester Gorton constituency. As many of you will know transport links across the constituency are a real problem. Too many of our bus routes are underfunded and not properly supported. Instead of providing good links for the whole of the constituency, bus companies have creamed the profits off popular routes, while neglecting less profitable ones. I will be meeting with GM Mayor Andy Burnham to discuss how the new powers Greater Manchester will soon have over franchising can be used to improve transport links in our constituency. I will also be pressing ministers to put further investment into Manchester’s transport links, especially considering their broken promise to electrify the Manchester to Leeds railway line.
I was immensely proud to make my maiden speech as the MP for Manchester Gorton. In my speech, I paid tribute to my predecessor, Sir Gerald Kaufman, promised to stand up for the issues that matter most to my constituents and to always put the interests of Manchester Gorton first during my time in Parliament. You can watch my maiden speech here.
I was delighted to have been appointed as a Shadow Immigration Minister by Jeremy Corbyn. It’s an honour to have been asked to serve in this important role and I look forward to making use of my experience working on community cohesion and as an MEP. As we negotiate our future relationship with the EU, it is vital that we have an immigration system which supports our economy, keeps us safe, prevents exploitation and commands public support. I will be working hard along with Shadow Home Office team to develop this agenda in the coming months. You can watch my first appearance in the Commons as a Shadow Minister at Home Office questions here.
This morning I had the huge privilege of saying the oath of allegiance and being officially sworn in as MP for Manchester Gorton. It's a huge honour to represent the people of Manchester Gorton and my home city in Parliament. The hard work is only beginning, but I will be working everyday to get a fair deal for our local area and to make sure your voice is heard in Westminster. You can watch it here