This week marked four years since the senseless and brutal murder of our Labour colleague and friend, Jo Cox. We remember her compassion and dedication to working with MPs across the political spectrum to improve the lives of all in our society. As Jo said in her maiden speech in Parliament, we have more in common than that which divides us.
As some of you will know, for the last few months, I’ve been working on the Labour Together report which set out to analyse our huge defeat in the last election and to look at ways of charting a path back to power for the Labour Party. The December election was a difficult experience with the collapse of the ‘red wall’ and the apparent alienation of many core Labour voters. No one issue or individual was responsible, and the report – published this week – warns that Labour must face up to the alienation that has been felt by many voters and set about bridging the gap between current Labour supporters and the lost voters who need to see change that makes theirs and their families lives easier. It’s been a tough few months, and there have been some very frank conversations with members and voters, but I feel confident that with Keir Starmer as Leader and a group of dedicated and hardworking MPs, Labour can once more fulfil its purpose and responsibility by winning power in order to improve the lives of those who need our support the most.
This week we’ve seen the Government – thankfully – make a u-turn on their frankly disgraceful decision not to offer lunches to some of our most vulnerable children in England throughout the summer holidays. It is shameful that in one of the richest countries on earth, children are going hungry and parents are facing choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. As Marcus Rashford so rightly said – this is not about politics, it is about hungry children. I’m pleased the Government saw the error of their ways but it’s clear we need to look again at how our economy works. If children are going hungry and getting no support from the Government, there is clearly something wrong.
The Prime Minister also announced this week that he will be merging the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. Many Conservatives have been talking about how other countries have their Foreign Ministries administering their aid budgets; what they failed to mention was that the Department for International Development has long been held up as an international example of excellence and praised for its effectiveness and transparency in delivering projects which not only offer British taxpayers value for money, but actively support our security, and ensure access to education, vaccinations, and family planning for some of the poorest people on earth. This is nothing but a cynical and irresponsible move by a Government that has been responsible for successive failures during this pandemic and now wants to distract us by wasting time on distraction tactics.
This week is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. The NHS and those in public service are growing concerned at the low number of cancer referrals being made during this time. While invitations to routine screening were paused to support the health service through the peak, these appointments are now resuming and if anyone has any concerns about possible cancer symptoms, they should contact their GP as normal and get themselves checked out. The NHS is still there for us should we need it, so please, do contact your GP or NHS 111 if you have any worries.
It’s also Loneliness Awareness Week, which is particularly poignant during the pandemic, when it’s often been difficult to maintain our connections with our family, friends, and local community. We’ve seen some fantastic initiatives which have brought people together to support one another through this crisis and it’s vital that this support continues. Loneliness is a significant health factor and experiencing severe loneliness can be as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This affects people of all ages, but particularly the elderly and disabled, who perhaps cannot get out of their houses to be among people more. We need to work as a society to ensure that no one is left behind and that everyone has someone to talk to, be it in person (with a 2-metre distance!), on the phone or using the wonders of modern technology!
As ever, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0121 661 9440. My team and I are of course subject to many of the same challenges and restrictions as other families in Birmingham Ladywood at the minute, but we will do everything we can to help constituents in these difficult times.
Keep your social distance, stay safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!