As the beautiful autumn leaves once again transform our environment into something very memorable, many of us remain subject to a variety of Covid-19 restrictions, depending of course upon where one lives.
Clearly, in the absence of a decent Track and Trace system, lockdowns have become the order of the day for Boris Johnson’s government. And there is very limited agreement among the different authorities on how they are being implemented, who is directing them, and significantly, what help is to be offered to local businesses and people who will suffer indeterminably as a result of the harsher and long running lockdowns.
At the same time, the government is busy pushing through legislation that many of us find abhorrent. Two significant bills stand out this month: The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill and The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.
Yesterday (15 October) I spoke up in the debate against the Covert Human Intelligence Services (Criminal Conduct) Bill and you can see my contribution here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=669067510709325. This bill represents an appalling threat to the human rights standards that we have in this country and quite simply, would enable covert operatives to commit criminal acts with impunity, including rape.
Additionally, The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill which I also oppose is part and parcel of the same thinking; creating immunity for those engaged in police or military operation, and fundamentally undermining the human rights laws in Britain, as well as our support for the International Criminal Court and the conventions on human rights.
I think it was a great mistake for the party to abstain, and I made it clear to the Whips that their calls for us to do so, given how seriously flawed the two above are, is most unwise. Opposition to such measures is what is required and so along with several colleagues, when the time came, we voted in the No lobby.
Significantly I feel strongly that the 10pm curfew makes no sense and that the huge fines up to £10,000 in some cases within the legislation are quite simply ridiculous.
Outside of parliament the month has been very busy, and the online meetings have taken on a life of their own.
On 12th September over 1700 people joined an International online Rally for Socialist Change hosted by Arise, in advance of the TUC and Labour online Conferences. I was pleased to speak alongside Portuguese MEP Marisa Mathias and Gullaume Long, the former Foreign Minister of Ecuador, and a number of fellow Labour MPs.
I was also delighted to take part in an in-depth interview with Laura McAlpine (Labour’s candidate in Harlow at the last General Election) for the new website ‘Labour Outlook (17 September). They have posted a number of preview clips of the interview on issues such as standing up for refugees and tackling media misrepresentation at www.facebook.com/LabourOutlook
Building solidarity with the people of Bolivia: I have taken a keen interest in Bolivian affairs since I visited the country in the late 1960s and in particular the amazing social progress the country made under President Evo Morales until he was deposed in a military-led coup last year.
As part of building solidarity with the people of Bolivia and their struggle for democracy this month I have taken part in:
- A private briefing with the Friends of Bolivia group (see their solidarity statement at bit.ly/boliviarepression) and former Minister of Communications Amanda Davila on 25th September.
- A call hosted by the Progressive International featuring Evo Morales and others on the upcoming elections in Bolivia and the need for vigilance against right-wing, anti-democratic violence (also on 25th September).
- Bolivia, the left and international solidarity: In Conversation with Álvaro García Linera – this conversation took place (22nd September) as part of ‘The World Transformed’ and can be viewed here.
Stop the War Online Labour Fringe Meeting on US-China Tensions & the Threat of War: Over 600 people tuned in for this event on 19 September with other speakers including Diane Abbott MP entitled ‘A Dangerous World: The US, China & The Threat of War’.
I looked at how we need to break from our so-called ‘special relationship’ with the Trump administration, including through stopping selling arms to Saudi Arabia that are used in the deadly and illegal war on Yemen.
You can watch the video online at https://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition/videos/658977888327988/
Morning Star Fringe Media on Labour and the Media: It was great to have hundreds of people tune in for this informative ‘Morning Star’ event (19th September) at which other speakers included Labour’s Leader in Scotland Richard Leonard MSP, looking in-depth at how we tackle media distortions and also build up our own labour movement and progressive media.
I still write regularly for the ‘Morning Star,’ which is our daily dose of peace and socialism, and would encourage you to sign-up at www.morningstaronline.co.uk
Campaign for Labour Party Democracy Fringe and Online Rally: I was pleased to speak alongside a range of fellow MPs, NEC members and leading trade unionists and social justice campaigners at the annual CLPD rally on 19th September.
I have supported CLPD since its foundation in the 1970s and its core aims of extending party democracy and promoting socialist policies.
You can find out more information at www.clpd.org.uk
Jeremy Corbyn and Mustafa Barghouti in conversation; this was a hugely successful webinar chaired by Diana Buttu in which Jeremy and Mustafa discussed the need for a progressive response from the global community in the face of the threats faced by Palestine. 1,600 people watched the event live and 10,000 have done so since: https://www.facebook.com/labourandpalestine/
Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs Online Rally: Over 3000 people watched this year’s Socialist Campaign Group rally on 21st September, and thousands more have watched since online. The time for socialist ideas and policies has come!
You can watch the rally online here.
On 10th October I had an online meeting with Mark Dearn from CORE Coalition. The company is the UK’s long-standing civil society network on corporate accountability, with a wide range of members including Amnesty International UK, Unison, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, War on Want and more. We discussed Labour’s commitments to corporate accountability and what these mean for human rights and the environment and significantly, how I might make a positive contribution to their work.
In the summer (July) I was interviewed in some depth, with the excellent ‘Tribune‘ magazine on the priorities facing socialists and Labour.
You can now read that full interview at
Blackstock Road continues to draw attention to itself and on 17th September I participated in the regular stakeholder engagement meeting to discuss the issues affecting this busy and popular road. The issues are many and complex and a lot of work is needed to address the root causes. I was very pleased to see that partners are still working closely, and progress is being made on the plans discussed in July’s meeting.
I had several meetings across the constituency on 18th September starting with the local Jobcentre Plus on Medina Road. I toured the ground floor of the building, which is open to the public, to see the new social distancing measures put in place to protect staff and those visiting the centre. The work of the jobcentre is a very challenging one especially while Universal Credit remains in place, which during the pandemic has shown once again that it is a wholly inadequate form of social security. Over the years I have observed the work done by the Jobcentre on Medina Road to reach out to the wider Islington community and I was very pleased to discuss the extension of their partnerships with local organisations.
I had a zoom meeting with Network Rail to discuss the vegetation management at Canonbury Station. We discussed the impact of the works on residents and the importance of maintaining the vegetation. Railway borders are important wildlife corridors and I expressed that I was keen for them to be maintained where possible.
As readers will be aware, over the past few months I have had regular conference calls with various authorities though most frequently with Islington Council and the Whittington Hospital.
At the end of a busy Friday (18 September) I visited with Siobhan Harrington, Chief Executive of Whittington Health. It was an important discussion ahead of the second wave of Coronavirus. As you may have seen in the news, local health authorities across Camden, Haringey, Barnet, Islington, and Enfield have collaborated to move paediatric A&E services to the Whittington and Great Ormond Street for the winter. This means paediatric A&E at the Royal Free will be closed at this time. I appreciate this has been of concern to some residents, however, I have been assured the change is temporary and necessary to ensure the best care is provided to children and young people during the second wave of Coronavirus, which is coinciding with the traditionally busier winter months.
I met with Islington Council’s Chief Executive, Linzi Roberts-Eagan and Council Leader, Richard Watts on 25th September who briefed me on the latest Coronavirus developments in the borough and the measures they are taking ahead of a second wave.
Meeting with members of the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) on 5th October was a real pleasure. UKSCN is a group of mostly under 18 year-old students campaigning for stronger action to tackle climate change. They continue to work during lockdown to make the environment more important on the education curriculum.
In my capacity as Patron of Friends of Finsbury Park I went on a walkabout there with Police representatives of Haringey, Islington and Hackney. It was a rare chance for them all to meet together and we had a good discussion about security and the park which was followed by a constructive meeting with the Friends of Finsbury Park. The discussion was productive and we were able to prioritise a number of concerns we had that need addressing including: the unattractive nature of the Seven Sisters Road entrance and the levels of reported crime; evening security as the Haringey Police who cover the Park have to cover the whole of Harringay Ward and therefore have limited resources; any future festivities being unlikely which may then lead to financial difficulties; we complimented the staff for keeping the park clean and welcoming, for all. I have expressed strong opposition to moving the Seven Sisters Road boundary further into the Park to allow a new cycle route. Parks are, in my view, sacrosanct and not to be given up at all.
I met online with senior members of the North London Waste Authority and Islington Council’s Director of Environment and Regeneration (16th October) to discuss the planned incinerator at Edmonton. I have received emails from a few constituents and am aware of the environmental and air pollution concerns.
SADLY: Sadly, Bisi and Ginette Williams lost their mother Mary Williams (January 1930 – October 2020) last week.
An energetic 90 year old, Mary never stopped living – she was planning her next long bus trip on the day she died. Witty, sharp-tongued and a talented artist, she will be much missed. Our sympathy to her family.
CONTACTING JEREMY CORBYN MP
My contact details remain unchanged and due to Covid-19 restrictions my Advice Sessions are being held over the telephone.
Constituency Office Tel: 0207 561 7488 (Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am – 12pm)
Write to: Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA