Like everyone else, I have been watching in horror as the financial markets reacted to the chancellor’s budget statement last Friday, with panic-selling of the pound driving up interest rates, while building societies cancelled their mortgage products and the Bank of England was forced into a rescue operation, buying up UK government bonds to protect people’s savings in pension funds. Even the International Monetary Fund condemned the tax cuts for those on the highest incomes.
All this chaos hasn’t had any effect on Liz Truss and her chancellor Kwai Kwarteng, however. Yet the blame for what is happening lies squarely at their door. As Labour pointed out again and again at our conference in Liverpool this week, this isn’t the way to grow our economy fairly. And it is my constituents who are paying the price for their arrogant refusal to change course.
Away from the economic debates, I had a busy time at the Labour conference, including speaking at meetings organised by the National Youth Association, visiting the Alzheimer’s Society stand, and getting acquainted with Colin his and guide dog Diamond at the Guide Dogs stand. In fact, I had met Colin and Diamond quite by chance on the station platform at Oxford Road that morning, as we all waited for the Liverpool train. It was a lovely surprise to find them at our conference, talking to Labour Party members and allowing us to give Diamond a pat.
I was especially pleased to attend the National Youth Agency events, as we have been working together over the past few months on a project on youth work and schools. And I was all the more pleased to meet young people at Gorse Hill Studios last Friday to hear about their priorities for our area. They’re worried about street safety, healthy eating, littering and the environment, and I have lots of issues to follow up. I can’t wait to meet them again soon.
I was very excited to be invited by Quarantine theatre to take part in a performance at HOME Manchester on Saturday, which lasted for 12 hours (I wasn’t on stage all the time!), as a whole range of different people were interviewed about our work. But the stars of the show were the workers who didn’t just talk about, but actually demonstrated how they do their jobs. As I arrived, a university lecturer was giving a physics lecture. She was followed by a painter and decorator who pasted and papered a screen behind us, and a confetti cannon operator (a new one to me). It was great fun, though I was sorry to have missed the slot with the chef, who had apparently cooked and shared food with the audience.
I’m always interested to hear about new businesses coming to my constituency, and so it was a pleasure to meet Carlton Power, who have established Trafford Green Hydrogen to develop a site at Carrington, which will help to achieve our net zero targets by providing hydrogen as an alternative to carbon fuels. Sorry, Liz Truss, but my constituents don’t want fracking in our area, we want investment in renewables and low carbon solutions, and it was fascinating to hear about how hydrogen technology is developing and how it could help reduce our carbon footprint.