The Prime Minister has unexpectedly called an early General Election, to be held on June 8th. In doing so she has nakedly put her own interest ahead of the national interest. There is little appetite locally for another election, and most people tell me they just want the Government to buckle down and get on with things following last year’s referendum. She has also needlessly wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money by not calling it for the same day as the County Council and Mayoral elections on May 4th .
However, this is a poor Government and I welcome the chance to make the case against it. At home it has left the NHS in crisis, schools facing outrageous cuts, and unprecedented numbers of people seeing their family budgets squeezed. It's treatment of people with ill-health and disabilities is shameful. Local councils have seen their budgets all but destroyed. It has recklessly prioritised huge cuts in inheritance tax and corporation tax over measures which could help people in work and running small businesses. Abroad, they have embarrassed the country by cosying up to Trump.
I am also very proud of my local campaigning work as our MP. We have seen real progress made towards sorting out the congestion in Longdendale, with electrification of the trans-pennine rail line, and at Tameside Hospital after we demanded the resignation of the former Chief Executive. I relish using my position in Parliament to raise local matters, from individual pieces of casework to support for manufacturing jobs, the armed forces, and special educational needs, especially autism. I also take very seriously the duty of being an ambassador for our area, be it at important occasions like Remembrance Sunday or when we face difficult moments in the national spotlight, such as the terrible police murders in Mottram.
I am and always have been a Labour man, but I try to speak for all constituents. I am one of the leading advocates within Parliament of a move to a fairer voting system so that all votes count in elections.
Therefore I am proud to be standing to be the Labour and Cooperative Member of Parliament for the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency at the election, and look forward to making the case for a better deal for Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale and Dukinfield. Despite the Tories’ secret plans for this election, they don't even appear to have actually chosen a candidate for our constituency – though at least their plans to split us up and put Hyde in with Marple will now take a back seat.
One small but important detail: as soon as Parliament is dissolved I will not be an MP (because there will be no MPs) and so any casework and correspondence has to cease until the election is over. This means I won't be able to use my office or hold surgeries etc. More details about these arrangements will be available in the next few days though.
I very much appreciate all of the pledges of support and volunteering I have received so far, and I very much look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail soon.
If you would like to volunteer your time, please click here.
The Prime Minister has unexpectedly called an early General Election, to be held on June 8th. In doing so she has nakedly put her own interest ahead of the national...
Since my days as local councillor for Longdendale I've had a great relationship with our colleagues across the border in Derbyshire, and yesterday I went down to Tintwistle with them to get a sense of how the feeling is there on the Bypass proposals.
As might be expected it was very similar to sentiment in Hollingworth - very much a desire for the full Bypass, concern that this proposal isn't that, but also a very strong feeling that something must be done and any progress is better than none. In my next meeting with Highways England I will be passing on this feeling that more assurance and clarity for Hollingworth and Tintwistle is required.
A few people have also raised the possibility of combining the Mottram Bypass plan with a weight restriction on heavy goods vehicles over Woodhead. This was something that came up a lot 10 years ago with the last plan. I'm happy to make some enquiries as to what this might mean, but from memory last time the finding was a ban on Woodhead would just displace HGVs to other Trans-Pennine routes, and an HGV ban covering all the routes would be unenforceable given the size/local access those routes cover. My preference is to get the Hollingworth-Tintwistle section included in the next Road Investment Strategy, which I believe is very much possible.
Since my days as local councillor for Longdendale I've had a great relationship with our colleagues across the border in Derbyshire, and yesterday I went down to Tintwistle with them...
Today the PM triggered Article 50 and the UK formally began the process of leaving the European Union. For some this will be a moment of great celebration, for others bitter regret. Bridging this gap is now one of the most biggest jobs the Prime Minister and Government must address.
I have always said we must honour the result of the referendum. If we weren't willing to do this then we shouldn't have held it. I think the Lib-Dems and others are heavily mistaken and quite cynical to propose holding another referendum in the hope that next time it gives them the result they want. Democracy means sometimes you're on the losing side. You have to accept it and move on.
From the many meetings and events I have been at since the vote, particularly relating to the financial services sector as part of my frontbench brief, I do think there is a mutually beneficial deal to be had. It's not a zero sum game between us and the EU. The Government need to get their act together and deliver this - and there must be no excuses or attempts to diminish workers' rights, product standards or environmental protection in the UK.
We must also acknowledge there will be costs. At the very least we will need considerable investment in our customs systems and in the bureaucracy to deal with immigration and visas from the rest of the EU. It is clear there will not be another £350m a week available for the NHS.
One surprise in the letter to the EU was the explicit linking by the PM between the trade negotiations and the UK contributing to security in Europe. It was a fairly transparent threat and I think this is a mistake. Our national interest lies in a secure Europe through NATO. That should be sacrosanct and distinct from our exit negotiations with the EU. It may have unnecessarily generated bad faith on the first day of the process.
My work in Parliament will now focus on holding the Government to account for the deal they now need to negotiate. In particular, they must confirm as soon as possible transitional arrangements so that UK financial services do not begin to leave the country simply because they have no other information on which to make decisions on. They do not want to do is - but they understandably need confirmation that they will legally be able to continue to do business from the UK.
I also think we need to be mindful that the rest of the EU will need to ratify our exit deal. I asked the Prime Minister to confirm her understanding of that process in the House of Commons today.
Today the PM triggered Article 50 and the UK formally began the process of leaving the European Union. For some this will be a moment of great celebration, for others...
The celebration for the life of our friend Jo Cox today was absolutely wonderful. So many people came to Dukinfield Town Hall to make it a very special and memorable occasion.
Huge thanks to the amazing Stalybridge and Hyde Women's Forum for organising and baking everything, to Rt. Rev. Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, for being the keynote speaker and to the fabulous Manchester Airport Choir for providing entertainment. I was also very proud of Claire for giving a personal tribute to Jo.
It was an honour to be able to welcome Alistair and Gabrielle Cox as our special guests, and I hope they took away just how loved and inspiring Jo has been to so many people. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved.
The celebration for the life of our friend Jo Cox today was absolutely wonderful. So many people came to Dukinfield Town Hall to make it a very special and memorable...
This week the Article 50 Bill has been in it's committee stage, which is where amendments are tabled by MPs to a bill and the detail of the bill discussed. I am supporting the Bill as I believe the result of the referendum should be honoured (for a detailed explanation of this see my previous posts).
Yesterday and today I have supported the following amendments:
NC2 - that the negotiations should have regard to delivering: a) a stable economy, b) peace in Northern Ireland, c) tariff and regulation free trade with the EU, d) Europe-wide cooperation in science, crime and terrorism, e) all current U.K. social, economic and workers' rights
NC7 - UK should not become a tax haven after Brexit
Amendment 29 - Govt should consult Govt of Gibraltar on the deal
Amendment 11 - the NHS should get £350m extra a week after Brexit, honouring the Leave campaign pledge
Amendment 86 - Govt should have regard to the Good Friday Agreement and maintaining peace in Northern Ireland
NC57 - EU citizens lawfully resident in the U.K. on the day of the referendum should get the right to remain here
NC192 - UK should remain a member of EURATOM (this is about civil nuclear industry regulation, and seems an odd thing to depart from)
The Government opposed and defeated all of these amendments and new clauses.
I did not support the amendment calling for a Second Referendum. I have already said I think this would make our negotiating position with the EU impossible, and be seen as a con trick because the proponents wrote the amendment so that we would remain in the EU if the public didn't back the deal.
Yesterday, the Government did concede it would make regular updates to Parliament and allow Parliament to vote on the deal before the EU Parliament did so. That was welcome.
The Bill is about to pass it's Third Reading in the Commons and will now go to the House of Lords.
This week the Article 50 Bill has been in it's committee stage, which is where amendments are tabled by MPs to a bill and the detail of the bill discussed....
Another Brexit update from me today. I'm afraid there’s likely to be a lot of these over the next few years.
We had the Supreme Court judgement yesterday giving Parliament a say on when to trigger Article 50. It’s been fairly obvious for a while that the Government did not have the legal power to invoke Article 50 without Parliament, so in my view it would have been better to acknowledge that and get on with it. However, that's for the Government to account for.
I will be voting to invoke Article 50. We had a referendum to decide this and there was a result. Our constituency voted to Leave but even more important than that is respect for the democratic process. I've been to countries where the results of elections and referendums are not honoured – it is absolutely ruinous. To ignore this referendum would mean there would never be faith in an election or referendum ever again. If I had been on the winning side I would certainly have expected that outcome to occur. That has to work both ways.
It's important to remember Article 50 is the start of the negotiating process. The Government should now publish a White Paper on the way forward (i.e. it should follow the process we used for joining the EU, but in reverse) and it should not sideline Parliament. There are many different views on what the future should look like - let's listen to all of them.
The Prime Minister has now set out what she wants our future relationship with Europe to look like. She is promising us a U.K. more open to the rest of the world, full tariff-free access to the Single Market, no customs checks or inspections between us and the EU, U.K. companies freely doing business across the continent without impediment, no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and full U.K. control of EU immigration. In other words, all of the benefits of the EU without the downsides. This is a tall order and she must set out clearly how exactly she plans to deliver it. That's why a White Paper is important.
I also want to see guarantees that there will be no reduction in worker’s rights, such as the minimum wage, parental leave and the right to annual leave, or environmental protections which have improved so much in recent years. Whilst I want to see the UK strike trade deals with other countries as soon as possible, I want assurances this will not mean opening the UK to hormone-treated beef or cheap dangerous toys. And no trade deal should ever countenance breaking up the NHS so that foreign providers can bid for bits of it.
First and foremost, we must take action to protect jobs. In Tameside, our economy is especially dependent on making sure manufacturing companies can thrive outside of the EU. For Greater Manchester as a whole to go from strength to strength we must also fight particularly to protect jobs in the Higher Education sector, financial services, and - on the back of Media City’s success- the creative industries. Jobs and the economy should always be our first priority.
There was one ominous thing in what the PM said, which is when she said if the EU doesn't agree to our demands she will ‘seek to change our economic model’. This is code for ripping up the social contract which has existed in the U.K. since 1945 – i.e. she is saying she will turn the UK into a Cayman Islands-style tax haven to lure businesses from Europe to here, with no NHS or social care or other public services that would have to go with that. That is as much a threat to the British people as it is to the EU, and there are no circumstances under which I would accept it.
Since the referendum the emails and letters I have received from constituents have largely got more divided, not less. We are a nation ill at ease with itself, with profound feelings of bitterness and anger on all sides. I hope, in the weeks and months ahead, we will start to overcome this and that common ground will be found.
Another Brexit update from me today. I'm afraid there’s likely to be a lot of these over the next few years. We had the Supreme Court judgement yesterday giving Parliament...
This is my response to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework consultation, containing my views on how we might balance the need for new homes alongside the burden that places on existing communities.
Please remember that you have until the 16th January 2017 to send your views in too. You can do so through a variety of ways, all which are listed here: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/in…/20081/draft_plan
This is my response to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework consultation, containing my views on how we might balance the need for new homes alongside the burden that places on... Read more
Last month I wrote to Andy Burnham, Ivan Lewis and Tony Lloyd, who all hope to be Labour’s Candidate for the new Mayor of Greater Manchester. I set out my top priorities for our area of Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Dukinfield and Longdendale, and asked each of them to respond to these. I am grateful to have received a full and considered response from each of the candidates. You can read them below. Please let me know your views.
Last month I wrote to Andy Burnham, Ivan Lewis and Tony Lloyd, who all hope to be Labour’s Candidate for the new Mayor of Greater Manchester. I set out my... Read more
This week marks the first anniversary of David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister, this time with a Conservative majority government. It has been a year characterised by unprecedented parliamentary about-turns.
In my last newsletter I wrote about my opposition to Government plans to force all primary and secondary schools to become academies by 2020. Since then, the Education Secretary has watered down these plans, which is welcome news to many parents, teachers and governors. Academy status is right for some schools and not others, but in Tameside, where local authority maintained schools currently outperform academies, forcing all schools into multi-academy trusts overnight could have jeopardised children’s attainment, schools’ accountability and local government finances.
Last week also saw the Government climb down from their opposition to rehoming our share of child refugees from the Syrian war in Britain, just days after they had voted against it in the Commons. These are children who have seen unimaginable horrors far too early in life, and who are now without their parents. I was stunned by the cold-hearted approach from the Government when we debated this, and am gladdened that they have had conceded they were wrong.
These U-turns follow earlier flip-flopping on proposed cuts to disability support benefit and family tax credits, both of which could have forced people into poverty. I think it is right that we re-examine our welfare system, but by going after working parents and vulnerable adults, the Government has revealed its desire to pinch pennies whatever the human cost.
Mrs Thatcher may have been a lady “not for turning”, but it seems Cameron and Osborne find themselves in a spin at every junction. As we approach the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, I hope the Government will give greater forethought to their policies. A second year of handbrake turns could be very damaging for our country.
This week marks the first anniversary of David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister, this time with a Conservative majority government. It has been a year characterised by unprecedented parliamentary about-turns....
This week in Parliament we had an excellent debate about Autism Spectrum Conditions, to celebrate National Austism Awareness Week. I spoke in the debate, alongside many colleagues, but in preparing my speech, I realised I wanted to tell a fuller story about my personal experience of autism than the time limits in parliament would allow. So, I have made a video, sharing my testimony about my eldest son’s diagnosis and journey. Please share, and help us deepen public understanding of this much misunderstood condition.
To see the full video, you can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESZ-m5QLKuk&feature=youtu.be
This week in Parliament we had an excellent debate about Autism Spectrum Conditions, to celebrate National Austism Awareness Week. I spoke in the debate, alongside many colleagues, but in preparing... Read more