Congratulations to Moss Park Infants and St Matthews Primary schools who’ve won a Kids Count Award for the Most Inspirational Campaign on Youth Issues. I’ve visited both schools recently and couldn’t be more delighted at this well-deserved award.
I’d also like to congratulate Lynn at Thomas Carter Opticians in Urmston, who won the competition for best cake at their Macmillan coffee morning last Friday. I had the difficult job of choosing a winner from among many fantastic entries, including Lynn’s amazing lemon drizzle buns. – before heading on to taste more delicious cake at Stretford Public Hall and at Limelight in Old Trafford, who were also holding coffee and cake events to raise funds for Macmillan.
I was also delighted to join LMCP to celebrate their NHS Parliamentary Award as North West Regional Winners for their work to tackle health inequalities. This fabulous health and social care organisation has been providing culturally appropriate care in Old Trafford, Longsight and Moss Side for many years. It was fascinating to hear about their work over the years, and to meet the staff, trustees, volunteers and service users.
Thanks to constituents who met me at the weekend to discuss the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. In August, the Indian government unilaterally cancelled arrangements which have been in place for more than 70 years to give Kashmir autonomy over certain matters. This was followed by a curfew and communications blackout, and although the curfew has now been partly lifted, reports of violence and people having been imprisoned for their views continue to circulate. The British government wants the governments of India and Pakistan to sort out this situation between them. I’m worried this totally overlooks the interests of the Kashmiri people themselves, and their right to peace and freedom. Following my meetings, I raised the concerns of my constituents in parliament this week.
With the Conservatives mostly away from parliament attending their conference in Manchester (sorry to all of you at home), it’s been a much more sedate and thoughtful week in Westminster, with some very good debates. MPs from across the House were pleased that the Domestic Abuse Bill finally began to make progress, and an excellent debate took place on Wednesday in which I was proud to participate. Do watch it here to see the amazing contributions from my very brave colleagues Naz Shah and Rosie Duffield, as well as Theresa May’s first backbench speech since she stood down as prime minister.
I was also able to raise concerns about the behaviour of car park operator ES Parking who run the car park at Seymour Grove, about which I have received many complaints. I urged the government to get on with introducing its promised code of practice for car park operators. You can watch my question here.
And finally, on Thursday, the prime minister returned to parliament to make a statement on his latest Brexit proposals. I have to say they’re even worse than the deal Theresa May proposed, especially because of what they’d mean for Northern Ireland. They would break the Good Friday Agreement, risking 20 years of peace, create not one but two hard borders, hand a veto to the DUP (who as Brexiteers absolutely don’t represent the majority view in Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the EU), and threaten workers’ rights and environmental protections – points I and many other Labour MPs made repeatedly to the prime minister. I’m glad to have been in parliament to question him, something his failed attempt at prorogation (suspension) of parliament last month would have prevented. But even so, he’s managed to wriggle out of three of the four sessions of prime minister’s questions since he became PM – though that did mean that this week saw Diane Abbott stand in for Jeremy Corbyn in accordance with protocol when the PM is absent. She’s the first Black MP ever to ask questions at the despatch box in prime minister’s questions – a proud start to Black History Month.