Islington North Newsletter – February-March 2023

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In Parliament and work with other MPs

Parliament spent most of February in recess, allowing me to spend even more time meeting constituents, supporting campaigns, and joining workers on the picket line.

I continue to oppose the government’s barbaric treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Rishi Sunak’s latest asylum ban is immoral, inhumane and in breach of international law. The Tories are escalating their attacks on the rights of refugees in order to stoke division, hatred and fear. There is an alternative to this approach: giving safe passage to those just trying to survive. Seeking asylum is a human right — we must fight back to protect it. That’s why I voted against this horrific “Illegal Migration” Bill (13/03) after speaking at a demonstration in Parliament Square. As I told the crowd, “the enemy of working class people arrives by private jet, not by plastic dinghy.”

February was LGBT+ History Month. As LGBT+ people continue to face appalling levels of violence, it’s up to all of us to build a society where everyone is free to be loved, free to be together and free to be themselves.

In the wake of the awful incident at Knowsley, where a far-right mob harassed asylum seekers, I asked (20/02) the Minister for Immigration to condemn the violence and stand up for refugees:

“We have a system that spends a great deal of public money to keep desperate people in absolute poverty and degradation in terrible hotels—their use obviously needs to end. Will he say a word of humanity about the fear that many of these people must be facing? They are refugees from wars, famine and human rights abuses who are looking for a place of safety in this world. They are human beings just like the rest of us. Surely they deserve to be able to exercise their legal rights to seek asylum and not be constantly accused of being illegal when this is a legal right.”

I was pleased to intervene several times in a debate on the Future of the NHS (23/02). Pushing back against those who are using the NHS crisis to cynically advocate for more privatisation, I called on other MPs to defend the foundational principle of the NHS: to provide comprehensive and universal healthcare to all. To make my point, I commended the work of our local community who reversed Centene’s takeover of Hanley Road Primary Care Centre. I also highlighted the disastrous impact of austerity and privatisation on social care:

“If in 1948, with all the post-war problems of investment, public austerity and so on, we were bold enough to develop a national health service, surely to goodness by 2021 we can be bold enough to develop a national care service, which takes away the fear for so many people of the enormous costs of healthcare—healthcare that at the moment is largely provided by the private sector on low wages and in sometimes not very adequate conditions.”

Constituent and PhD student Aspen Watts, was a finalist in the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee’s STEM for BRITAIN 2023 event, in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences category, at the House of Commons (06/03). This is quite an achievement by Aspen and others in the early part of their career and their studies, so I offer my heartfelt congratulations.

Aspen Watts exhibiting

I remain a member of several Parliamentary Groups including the Parliamentary Socialist Campaign Group (SCG). I attended those that sat this month, including the month including the Chagos Islands, and West Papua and I attended both. The SCG meets weekly in parliament to discuss how best to promote a socialist agenda both within and without parliament.

Please refer to my website: Jeremy Corbyn MP for my social media, as well as most recent outputs including my parliamentary interventions, speeches, and comment outside parliament. Please refer to my website: Jeremy Corbyn MP for my social media, as well as most recent outputs including my parliamentary interventions, speeches, and comment outside parliament.

Islington

I visited Islington Mind’s Day Centre on Despard Road (16/02). Islington Mind has 3 day centres across the borough, each providing specialist support to different groups of people. These centres are incredibly important not only as essential mental health specialist services, but as community spaces where people can come together and support each other. We have lost so many important community spaces through austerity, and as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, these day centres are more important than ever.

On the same day I also took part in the regular Blackstock Road stakeholder meeting which is chaired by Islington Faiths Forum, and brings together council officers, police, community leaders, local residents and business owners to address important issues in the area.

At the Islington Turkish Kurdish and Cypriot Women’s Welfare Group I thanked the women present for all they do to support each other and the community. They spoke of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria; the aftermath for survivors, and the importance of donating to the organisations providing vital relief. We also discussed the importance of easier routes for those affected to seek refuge in this country.

Café 91 is a grassroots organisation which is part of Shelter from the Storm. Whilst visiting it I was inspired by the good works it contributes to our community; currently including free community lunches every Thursday at 1pm (89-90 Holland Walk); and running a clothes donation and community garden.

Café 91

It is always a privilege to visit the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women Organisation’s (KMEWO) International Women’s Day event (09/03). This was a truly multicultural event bringing together women from all groups for a celebration of traditional dancing, singing and delicious food. The event marked the struggle women face just to be free from violence, and KMEWO dedicated this year’s event to all the migrant and refugee women seeking safety.

KMEWO

I visited the Muslim Welfare House (17/02) to thank them for the generous donations provided to the victims of the devastating earthquake (Turkey and Syria); as well as for their ongoing support to vulnerable people in Islington.

Islington Council held a vigil at the Town Hall for the victims of the earthquake (20/02) at which I spoke.

English Heritage installed a blue plaque (22/02) to commemorate Dr Richard Price at 54 Newington Green and I was delighted to attend the unveiling. Richard Price was a Welsh moral philosopher and much more, and significantly, a political reformer, pamphleteer, and radical political activist championing causes such as the French and American Revolutions.

I had the great pleasure of joining volunteers of the Octopus network (23/02) to celebrate their Queen’s Award. Mr Paul Herbage, the Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Islington, presented the award.

I met with Mike Cooke and Frances O’Callaghan (24/02), the Chair and Chief Executive of the Integrated Care Board, the new structure which has replaced Clinical Commissioning Groups. We had a productive discussion on the importance of mental health, community care, and preventative care.

It was such a pleasure to attend the opening of the new Highbury Roundhouse building (25/02). I offered a big thank you to all those who worked tirelessly over the years to make this a reality. Having this new building is an amazing achievement, and will make such a difference to countless young people.

I joined with longstanding and loyal CND members, and of course friends and family of the late Bruce Kent. We planted a Walnut Tree in Finsbury Park in his honour (4/03). This was a very well organised event thanks to the Park staff. It was also truly delightful event that Ken would have loved, for it was full wit and good humour, and anecdotes about the good man himself. All of this made a freezing cold day both productive and pleasurable.

 I had the pleasure of visiting Ambler Primary School (10/03) and chatting with Sandy McNicholl the Headteacher, Mike Dickie the Deputy Head, and a lovely group of year 4 students. I was incredibly impressed with the students’ knowledge: on climate change, animal cruelty, bullying and more. Under Sandy’s management Ambler has created a supportive community for both students and parents.

Ambler Primary School

I also visited the Sobell Centre where I am having ongoing discussions with Islington Council officers and Greenwich Leisure Limited /Sobell staff about its future. I want to thank the Sobell staff for the way in which they have continued to welcome residents and users despite the difficulties the centre has experienced. I raised concerns shared by many who use the ice rink and other facilities there.

Unfortunately, I was told all the sporting facilities on the ground floor have been written off, including the ice rink, due to the water damage caused by the flooding. I asked the council to provide a detailed update to all service users and stakeholders regarding plans to remediate the facilities once the relevant approvals have been made.

Unprecedented strike action continues to sweep the nation. I joined PCS Union members on strike (17/02) outside the British Museum to support their demands for a decent wage. Our national institutions are nothing without the workers who keep them running!

PCS picket line, British Museum

Alongside many teachers I’ve been on the picket line (02/03) at Tufnell Park primary school, before joining a march in Islington to show solidarity with all NEU members.

I also joined striking junior doctors outside the Whittington (13/03), demanding decent pay. This followed a national demonstration in London over the weekend, where thousands marched against privatisation. We support you in your fight to protect your patients, defend your profession, and save our NHS!

Whittington picket line (13/03)

I will continue to stand up for the democratic rights of workers. You can read more about my views on democracy, both in society and inside our movement: www.tribunemag.co.uk/2023/02/democracy-is-under-attack

I was delighted to “stopover” in Navigator Square, Archway (04/03). I meet more and more constituents in despair over the intensifying cost-of-living crisis, unable to pay their bills. I will continue to champion their cause, and provide guidance wherever it is needed.

Navigator Square, Archway

Beyond Islington

In early February, the far right mobilised in Knowsley to terrorise desperate people seeking asylum. The following week, I travelled to Liverpool (18/02) for an anti-racist demonstration. I joined trade-unionists and anti-racist campaigners to stand up for refugees, push back against rhetoric of division, and fight for an immigration system grounded in compassion, care and dignity.

It was an honour to speak alongside Chris Smalls (20/02), who led the first Amazon strikes in the US, and GMB workers who organised the first Amazon strikes in the UK. We spoke to students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) about the power of collective organising. International solidarity is how we win!

On International Women’s Day (08/03) I was proud to renew my support for the WASPI campaign. Millions of women born in the 1950s have been cheated out of their pensions. They deserve justice.

Women Against State Pension Inequality

I received a very warm welcome as a guest speaker at Unison’s AGM (09/03) where I spoke on the Cost of Living crisis.

I was honoured to receive a Ron Todd award for peace (11/03). Ron was of course an English TU leader, General Secretary of the TGWU (now UNITE) from 1985-1992 and this award is a great honor.

Sadly

I was very sad to hear of the death of Tom Mannion recently.

Tom was a good friend and a wonderful Head of St Aloysius school. Tom was “old school” in his head teacher role. He constantly walked every corridor; seemed to me to know every pupil; and would barge into any lesson and engage in scholarly and witty banter with the students. He also had the unique head teacher skill of being able to walk along the corridor whilst showing guests around, simultaneously picking up the odd bit of litter without breaking either his step or conversation.

I will miss Tom very much for his sense of fun, his love of education and students, and his determination to ensure that every student whatever their faith or cultural background, was fully welcomed at St Aloysius.

Tom made sure that the school’s sporting prowess and wonderful art department remained at the forefront.

Many of you will recall the MP for Halifax (1987-2005) Alice Mahon. I spoke at her funeral, alongside many socialist comrades who also attended this warm and sad gathering. Much-loved by constituents and beyond, Alice was a fearless working-class woman who loathed inequality, racism & injustice in any form.

Alice was one of the most caring and friendly human beings you could meet.

My 2023 Calendars are freely available for anyone wishing to have one or more. Please telephone 020 7561 7488 to receive some and this can be arranged. I am keen for them to be widely distributed so I can be easily contacted, especially by those in need.

You can see all my contributions in parliament as well as any public comment I issue on my social media:

Instagram (@jeremycorbyn)
Twitter (@jeremycorbyn)
Facebook (JeremyCorbynMP)

My regular constituency advice sessions have resumed and please do ring my office if you wish to have an appointment, or for assistance: Additional telephone appointments with me can also be arranged where that it is sensible.

Tel: 0207 561 7488 (Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am – 12pm)

Write to: Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Email: jeremy.corbyn.mp@parliament.uk