It’s been another busy week – starting on Sunday morning when I was pleased to join Elizabeth Glinka on Politics Midlands (virtually, of course) to talk about the week’s events in politics. We spoke about the frustrations felt by students across the country and the worrying scenes we’ve seen of large gatherings in university accommodation. I do understand that these students are angry and frustrated and are looking for a sense of normality, but I cannot condone the blatant rule breaking that is putting others at risk. We’ve worked so hard as a country, adhering to restrictions and social distancing, and we cannot risk greater outbreaks because of frustrations spilling over.
We also discussed the recent unrest on the Tory backbenches, among the so-called libertarian right and their views on getting rid of restrictions. We cannot simply let this virus run amok through the population and accept the tragic number of deaths that that would result in. Those who are vulnerable live with people who are not vulnerable and so letting everyone else carry on with our lives simply wouldn’t work. I want, and Labour wants, to work with the Government in the national interest to bring this virus under control, but their shambolic handling of communications, testing and tracing, and lack of engagement with Parliament is making cooperation extremely difficult.
This week I wrote to Alok Sharma MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy regarding the serious impact the 10pm curfew is having on business owners in Ladywood. Following complete closure during the lockdown and then operating under limited capacity and now a 10pm curfew, hospitality businesses are struggling to make ends meet. If businesses cannot generate enough income to pay their employees, the Job Support Scheme will be ineffective in my constituency, which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. I am asking the Government to review the 10pm curfew and consider greater support for the hospitality industry to support them through this crisis so that the many viable and profitable businesses are able to weather this crisis and return to full operation once it is behind us.
Eastern Eye this week published an article on the disturbing data compiled by Hope Not Hate that found that 57% of Tory party members reported negative attitudes towards Muslims. Unfortunately, the findings of this report are shocking, but not surprising given Boris Johnson’s former published opinions. All political parties have shortcomings, but whereas Keir Starmer has admitted Labour’s failings and committed to stamping out anti-Semitism in the party, Boris Johnson has refused point blank to accept that the Tory party has a problem with Islamophobia, has refused former Tory-chairwoman Baroness Warsi’s calls for an inquiry, and continues to use inflammatory language and behave with a complete disregard for British Muslims.
We’ve had confirmation that Birmingham’s Government-mandated Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will be launched on 1 June 2021. It is important that we improve the air quality for those living in and visiting the city centre. We know the serious impact pollution and poor air quality has on our health and we must do all we can to improve the situation. But I also strongly believe that local residents need to be properly supported to prevent any unnecessary physical or financial disruption from adversely impacting them. The necessity for support has only been underlined by the additional financial pressures caused by the pandemic. As we head towards the implementation of the CAZ, it is important to remember that many constituents will be exempt from being charged and that many vehicles will already be compliant with the new measures. We have a responsibility to make sure that this system works for the people of Birmingham but we also have to make sure that no community is left behind in the process.
If there are issues you want 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!