Campaigning in Middleton Park with James Lewis and Sharon Burke
Campaigning in Middleton Park with James Lewis and Sharon Burke

It’s a General Election on 4 July

As I write this, the Prime Minister has just announced that there will be a General Election on Thursday 4th July. This is the moment we have been waiting for. We’re ready. Let’s go!

Local Election Results

Congratulations to Mohammed Iqbal, Asghar Khan, Shaf Ali and Helen Hayden who were all elected – in Mohammed’s case after a very tough fight with the Greens in Hunslet and Riverside – and commiserations to Sharon Burke, who lost in Middleton Park although she reduced the SDP’s majority and to Al Garthwaite who was defeated in Headingley and Hyde Park. Overall, Labour gained four seats on Leeds City Council, including Kate Haigh’s victory in Farnley and Wortley, and lost four, making it no change overall with Labour still holding a very comfortable majority with 61 seats out of 99. I would like to thank all those Labour candidates who stood in the local elections, and everyone who helped their campaigns.

Tracy Brabin was re-elected as West Yorkshire Mayor, which was a great result. Across the country it was a disastrous night for the Tories – they lost nearly 500 council seats – and a great night for Labour as we won the mayoralties in London, York and North Yorkshire and the West Midlands. And we won a thumping victory in the Blackpool South by-election.

Infected Blood Scandal

“Politics has failed every single one of the victims of the infected blood scandal”. These were the words used by Keir Starmer in the House of Commons this week as Sir Brian Langstaff’s report was published and the Prime Minister issued a heartfelt apology on behalf of the nation. The Report found that it could have been avoided and that there had been a lack of openness, inquiry, accountability and elements of “downright deception”, including destroying documents. The least we can do now is to make sure that everyone affected receives the proper compensation they deserve.


Labour's pledge card

Labour’s First Steps

I attended the launch of Labour’s six first steps pledges last week in Essex. The pledges are:

  • Sticking to tough spending rules in order to deliver economic stability
  • Setting up Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean power energy company
  • Cutting NHS waiting lists by providing 40,000 more appointments each week – funded by tackling tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes.
  • Launching a border security command to stop the gangs arranging small boat crossings.
  • Providing more neighbourhood police officers to reduce antisocial behaviour and introduced new penalties for offenders.
  • Recruiting 6,500 teachers, paid for through ending tax breaks for private schools.

It’s important to make it clear that these are six things that we’re going to do right at the start, but they do not represent the sum total of our ambition. On the contrary, all of the other policies that we are committed to – and which will figure in our manifesto when it’s published – remain. For example, it’s worth remembering that Labour’s promise to establish a national minimum wage wasn’t on the 1997 pledge card but we carried through that commitment.


Visiting Windsor Park (home of the Northern Ireland Football Association)
Visiting Windsor Park (home of the Northern Ireland Football Association)

Israel, Gaza and the International Criminal Court

The Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has announced that he will seek arrest warrants for the Israeli Prime Minister and the leader of Hamas in Gaza. The application has to be approved by a panel of ICC judges. The Tory Government has said that it doesn’t believe that the ICC has jurisdiction over the Israeli Palestinian conflict and has called the move unhelpful. President Biden has been even more critical. But in the House of Commons the shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said that “the Government have backtracked… on one of the Britain’s most fundamental principles: respect for the rule of law. Labour has been clear throughout this conflict that international law must be upheld, the independence of international courts must be respected, and all sides must be accountable for their actions. Arrest warrants are not a conviction or a determination of guilt, but they do reflect the evidence, and the judgment of the prosecutor about the grounds for individual criminal responsibility.” David Lammy also said that the ICC Chief Prosecutor’s decision to apply for arrest warrants is an independent matter for the Court and the Prosecutor, and that the ICC’s independence must be upheld and respected. Democracies that believe in the rule of law must submit themselves to it.

The crisis in Gaza continues to get worse, with now the risk of starvation. Labour continues to call for an immediate ceasefire, in order to end the war in Gaza, free the hostages, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and create a pathway towards a lasting political solution. All eyes are now on the resumed ceasefire talks in Qatar.


Labour’s pledge to bring our railways back into public ownership
Labour’s pledge to bring our railways back into public ownership

Aire Street Workshops

The workshops are a collection of creative businesses that have operated out of this council building since 1981. The council has a commitment to bring all of its premises up to a higher energy efficient standard by 2030 but it doesn’t have the money to do this for the workshops, and it needs to raise capital because of the huge budget cuts it is facing. It has, therefore, taken the decision to sell the building. I went to visit the Workshops recently, and we have managed to persuade the Council to extend the lease and say that they won’t market the building until the end of September, so as to give the businesses the time to try and come up with an alternative plan. This is not going to be easy, but we should do everything we can to try and help them.

Tom Riordan

The Council’s Chief Executive Tom Riordan has announced that he will be leaving at the end of this year. He has been a magnificent public servant and it has been a privilege and a great pleasure to work with him. Our great city has been so fortunate to have the benefit of his wisdom, energy, vision and decency. Thanks for making so many good things happen.


Inspecting the new city centre campus of Leeds St John’s University
Inspecting the new city centre campus of Leeds St John’s University

Political and Parliamentary Activity

  • Visit to Northern Ireland to meet ministers and Party leaders, the Chief Constable, Belfast City Council and several voluntary organisations
  • Interviewed on BBC NI The View and Ulster Television
  • Meeting with the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery
  • Zoom meeting with the NI Attorney General
  • Meetings with Sir Robert Chote of the NI Fiscal Council
  • Spoke at Business Post breakfast event
  • Meeting with the Italian Ambassador
  • Various meetings on Legacy in Northern Ireland
  • Spoke at Labour Party fundraisers in Newcastle North, Stockton South, Barnsley, Harrow, Gravesham, Shipley and Wakefield
  • National Election Campaigning, including Colchester, Harlow, York Central, Denby Dale and Blackpool South

Local Activity

  • Local election campaigning
  • Visit to the Middleton Railway Open Day
  • Visited new Leeds Trinity University building in the city centre
  • Visited Involve Community Centre in Hunslet
  • Met Canon Paul Maybury at Leeds Minster
  • Visited the Aire Street Workshops
  • Attended the opening of the Leeds Media Centre
  • Meeting with the Saxton Committee re cladding
  • Regular column for South Leeds Life
  • Advice Surgeries
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