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