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.