First of all, many congratulations to: Paul Wray, Andrew Scopes and Abigail Marshall-Katung on being re-elected, Nkele Manaka and Abdul Hannan on being elected for the first time and heartfelt commiserations to Lauren Summers who stood in Middleton Park and sadly did not win (although she reduced the SDP’s majority).
Overall, in Leeds, Labour made a net gain of five seats – two from the Green Party, two from the Tories and one from the Lib-Dems. Nationally Labour took control of Medway, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Plymouth, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Broxtowe, High Peak and North East Derbyshire. We demonstrated the significant progress we are making while the Tories suffered a catastrophic night.
The Impact of Voter ID
The Guardian has reported that “more than 1% of voters, half of whom appeared to be from minority ethnic backgrounds, were turned away from polling stations because of ID requirements at the local elections, according to a group of democracy observers.” In Leeds, 601 residents were initially turned away from polling stations on May 4, and more than a third of those – 225 – didn’t return to vote. This is bad enough, but the figures take no account of the people who never tried to go and vote in the first place because they didn’t have suitable identification. This isn’t acceptable and the current law should be scrapped.
EU Retained Law Bill
The Government has now climbed down on the controversial Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Ministers now plan to replace the ridiculous automatic “sunset” provision – originally planned for the end of this year – with a list of around 600 pieces of REUL that the Government plans to revoke instead.
The Government was told many times – by the Institute of Directors, the TUC, the Bar Council, environmental groups and many other organisations, as well as by Labour – that it was totally unrealistic and reckless to potentially strike up to 4,000 laws from the statute book by the end of this year, and anyway Government departments didn’t have enough time to review all the laws in the time available. Now ministers have been forced to change course, thanks to a concerted campaign against what I called a “shocking piece of legislation.” Although the end of the year cliff edge is going, the Bill still gives enormous powers to Ministers and we will need to watch how they are used carefully.
Arrest of Republic Protestors
I was very concerned to hear about the arrest of the six members of Republic on Coronation Day, and especially because they had been in contact with the police previously to share their plans for the day. The police have now apologised to the six and dropped any charges – not that there were any charges that could have been laid because they did nothing wrong! The big question is what confidence the organisers of future peaceful protests can have that anything they’ve agreed with the police in advance will be honoured on the day.
On the public order legislation, Labour voted against it. There is always an issue of balancing the right of protest against the right of people to go about their lawful business. As ever, this is a fine judgement and part of the problem is not always the legislation, but the way in which the police choose to interpret it in particular circumstances. For example, the arrest of a journalist during the M25 protests and the arrest of another journalist on Coronation Day are also matters of deep concern, and it is by raising these cases, and calling out particular police interpretation that we can best safeguard our liberties.
Political and Parliamentary Activity
- Questions and interventions on cladding, HS2 safeguarding, Kurdish asylum seekers, waiting time for treatment for ADHD, the hunger crisis in East Africa, the economic impact of Brexit, smart motorways and Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories
- Meeting with Gayle Smith, the CEO of the development charity ONE
- Attended the all-party group on brain tumours
- Attended joint British/German parliamentary seminar on defence and security in Europe
- Meeting with Tony Juniper, the Chair of Natural England
- Attended conference on the political situation in Kashmir
- Spoke in the second reading of the Energy Bill
- Spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the economic impact of Brexit
- Hosted a parliamentary drop-in on Huntington’s disease
- Interviews on BBC Look North on Huntington’s Disease and for a BBC documentary on Conservative prime ministers
- Election campaigning across the constituency
- Visited Leeds Baby Bank
- Discussion with Thea Stein about mental health waiting times in Leeds
- Opened new classroom block at Leeds City college Printworks campus
- Attended Workers’ Memorial Day
- Attended a public meeting at the Bangladeshi mosque in Dewsbury Road
- Zoom meeting with cladding campaigners
- Visited Leeds Trinity Academy
- Zoom catch-up with Prof Phil Wood, the chief executive of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust
- Meeting with the EU Ambassador to the UK on his visit to Leeds
- Visited Slung Low in their new premises in Holbeck
- Regular column for South Leeds Life
- Advice Surgeries