The past few weeks have not been at all typical of summer months in years gone by. The country is experiencing record high temperatures, and Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions continue to dominate our lives. Solutions to the pandemic are slow in the making and in the absence of a vaccine, or a massive shift in the numbers of people with Covid-19, we are required to exercise ongoing caution in much of our behaviour.
Parliament adjourned on 22nd July (to return at the beginning of September) for its summer recess and the work goes on remotely by MPs and staff. Where possible, we aim to take turns incatching some time off at this time.
For many across the world who flee persecution and poverty, the summer months can be life changing: 11/08/2020 Socialist Campaign Group Statement on the “Migrant Crisis”
“We stand in solidarity with migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, and reaffirm the moral and legal right for refugees to claim asylum in the UK.
While the Conservative government and their billionaire press baron allies try to whip up fear about a “migrant crisis”, we know that the real crisis is the war, poverty and persecution that forces people to flee their homes and take dangerous journeys in search of a better life.
Rather than treating these people with hostility, with threats to deploy military vessels to deter crossings, the UK should provide safe and legal routes to people seeking to claim asylum.
The UK must do its fair share in providing a welcoming home to refugees. The current support for asylum seekers – £37.75 a week – and the ban on their right to work is inhumane.
The fact that it is often aggressive wars led by the UK and our allies that forces people to flee their homes give us a special responsibility to these people.
This latest drive by the Conservatives is a blatant attempt to distract the public from their calamitous handling of Coronavirus, which is leading to economic turmoil that will devastate working peoples’ livelihoods.
This divide and rule tactic must be fought by the entire labour movement. The real cause of problems working class people face is an economic system rigged for the super-rich, not migrants.“
Dawn Butler MP has been in my thoughts this past week since being stopped by the police while travelling in a car driven by a friend. Dawn is a colleague, friend and a hard working MP who has used the experience in a positive way in order to raise the issue of racial profiling. She has my full support and that of so many of her colleagues in doing so. To have subsequently had to endure negative, and inappropriate comments on her experience is an indication of how significant the Black Lives Matter movement is in educating the public toward achieving a racist free world.
A significant number of local, national, and international meetings have continued apace. Technology continues to dominate what we do, with the exception of mutual aid groups and food banks. Locally, I continue to visit foodbanks in Islington and assist at some including Brickworks, Sunnyside, and the Light Project. My visits continue to be a wonderful opportunity to see the brilliant work local residents, the Council, community organisers, and ward councillors are doing to continue supporting the most vulnerable during this pandemic.
Every year I attend the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and this year was the 75th anniversary. I broadcast live to the CND event from the Elthorne Park Peace Garden on 6th August. Organised by the very capable Carol Turner, CND commemorated the lives lost in the bombings.
It was an opportunity to campaign for a nuclear free world, which is something we must actively do at all times to send a clear message to government across the globe that never again must we allow another tragedy of this nature to reoccur.
I spoke at a virtual meeting Stop the War held to discuss the very serious and urgent issue of the Yemen humanitarian crisis on 29th July. I highlighted the fact that Covid-19 has exposed problems of people in Yemen just as it has exposed injustice and health poverty all over the world. The situation in Yemen is deeply concerning and we must demand an end to the UK’s arms sale. Our media has also been slow to report what’s happening in Yemen and it is therefore up to us to raise our voice. We need to look at global action. On 21 July I did an online interview as part of a series on what the world after COVID-19 might look like which is being done by the School of Global Studies at Boston University. You can watch parts one and two on YouTube, and we discussed issues ranging from the refugee crisis to global health inequalities, to the future of the NHS and public services here in Britain. I took parliament’s Valuing Everyone course virtually (23/07). All MPs are doing this 2 hour training course, which as its name suggests, can only be a good thing.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity hosted a key event on July 23 on why we must keep fighting NHS privatisation and the prospect of our NHS being sold-off to Trump in a one-sided free trade deal. The People’s Assembly have played a vital role in opposing the government in recent years, and it was great to also be joined by representatives of Keep Our NHS Public and We Own It on the panel.
The Rohingya crisis: I have become increasingly concerned about the Rohingya and as part of my research I had a virtual meeting Wai Wai Nu, a Burmese activist who advocates for the rights and equality of all people in Myanmar, including the Rohingya. Ours was a very productive meeting on 24th July and I hope to continue working on this very important issue. We must continue to campaign internationally for the Rohingya people.
On 27 July I joined an international panel to discuss Cuba’s health internationalism and effects of the US blockade on the island during the Coronavirus crisis, alongside Fernando González (previously one of the famous Miami Five Cuban prisoners in the US,) Her Excellency Bárbara Elena Montalvo Álvarez, Cuban ambassador to the United Kingdom and Gail Walker, from Pastors for Peace in the USA.
I also conducted two interviews (on July 28 and 3 August) which will be released in the autumn – one for the next print issue of Tribune magazine on next steps for Labour and the Left, and the other for the economist Grace Blakeley’s new podcast – ‘A World To Win’, on Britain and the world after the Coronavirus crisis.
I hosted an Islington North Environmental Forum (20 July) inspired by Beto Cortez, which was very well attended by constituents, and supported by party members. We had an excellent discussion as well as a Q & A in which we covered much ground including the issue of the proposed North London Waste Authority (NLWA) incinerator plans; Cop 26; and local pollution issues. Considerable support was evident for: local anti-pollution and sustainability measures in all places throughout the borough; Islington Council on traffic reduction measures; as well as Transport for London on pavement extensions. There is pressure on Transport for London regarding the levels of pollution which is of course at its worse along the Holloway / Seven Sisters Rd including of course the Nags Head gyratory.
I am also getting in touch with Network Rail who have today contacted my office to advise me of some “upcoming vegetation clearance work we’ll be undertaking around Canonbury station”!
Separately I also had a virtual discussion with Cllrs Rowena Champion and Richard Watts specifically on the matter of the NLWA incinerator going forward.
Elthorne Park walkabout (21/07): I have been in conversation with Council officers and local ward councillors of Elthorne Park regarding the re-installation of the “Upon Reflection” statue by Kevin Atherton to its original position. It is also hoped that the height of the wall that surrounds the garden can be lowered to make the garden more accessible.
I visited Sunnyside Gardens (27/07) where the team have been extremely supportive and I am grateful for their involvement in the Elthorne Peace Project. I look forward to seeing the changes to the Peace Garden and more people making use of such a wonderful space.
I am also delighted to learn today that the Gardens have been awarded lottery funding (the Postcode Local Trust)of £18,887.00 for their Increasing access to and improving natural spaces in Islington project.
Among the other events I have attended were:
Islington Stakeholder meeting on Coronavirus
The Bedford Pub (30/07) opened its doors and social distancing is of course being enforced in all pubs for the foreseeable.
Light Project International trustee meeting (31/07).
CONTACTING JEREMY CORBYN MP
My contact details remain unchanged and Advice Sessions are being held over the telephone with my staff.
Constituency Office Tel: 0207 561 7488 (Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am – 12pm)
Postal address: The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0A