Parliament isn’t meeting while the political parties hold their conferences. I was in Liverpool for a few days attending Labour’s event, and it’s also been really enjoyable to have had more time in the constituency while the Conservative and Liberal Democrats hold their conferences – particularly as I’ve been able to do so in the company of my good friend the Mayor of Trafford Cllr Tom Ross, as our diaries frequently coincided!
Our packed programme of local events included the annual Battle of Britain parade – particularly special this year as we mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force. It was very moving to see the young cadets, as well as chat to veterans. Our fabulous local young people were also on display at St Matthews Primary school, at their coffee morning to mark St Matthew’s day. Thank you for looking after us so well, and for the lovely cake! Tom and I also both very much enjoyed the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ performed by Urmston Choral Society.
We were both thrilled to be invited to attend Our Lady and English Martyrs parish centre last Friday, at an event to raise funds to support a Syrian refugee family who will come to live in Trafford under the government’s refugee community sponsorship scheme. St Monica’s church in Flixton welcomed the very first family to arrive in the UK under this scheme, which supports those who have suffered the most appalling trauma and danger in Syria, and have been resettled here. As mayor, Tom supports a number of local charities, and one of his chosen groups, St Ann’s in Stretford, will support a third family from Syria soon. We are so proud of the amazing work being done by local church groups to make these families welcome, and Tom and I are also delighted at the interest our local mosques have shown in becoming part of the scheme.
Tom has now clocked up 158 engagements in just 4 months since he became mayor, and I can’t keep up the pace! Though my programme at Labour’s conference was certainly full-on. I spent my time rushing round the exhibition, meeting trade unions and charities, at meetings on everything from economic policy to prisons to migrant workers to international students, and with a fair amount of partying to squeeze in too. But the big event was clearly the debate on Brexit. The local Labour party in this constituency supported calls for a People’s Vote at a recent meeting of our members, and at our conference, Labour formally committed to support such a vote in the event that the government can’t get a satisfactory deal, with all options on the table. But our first preference is for a general election – and a change of government!
I am very proud of the promises that Labour made at our conference about how a Labour government will transform our country. Our plans for public ownership of utilities and the rail network, for worker representation on big company boards, for 30 hours of free childcare for all 2-4 year olds and a pay rise for childcare workers, for 10,000 extra police officers back on our streets, and a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero will all please my constituents.
Finally, in his conference speech, Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the anger people have felt about antisemitism in the Labour party – a source of great shame to Labour, and we must root it out. I was honoured to be invited to address the No to Antisemitism rally in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, alongside colleagues from across different political parties. It was a privilege that we were joined by the Chief Rabbi, and by a huge crowd of Jews and non-Jews who braved the pouring rain to stand together. I was proud to speak out in solidarity with my Jewish friends and neighbours.
PS – the Breathe Clean Air group have asked me to pass on an update about the proposed Biomass plant in Davyhulme. Apparently Peel have surrendered their licence, which means BREP will not be built, but Peel still may use the site for other purposes. BCAG will be keeping a very careful watch on developments, and continuing to campaign for clean air in our area.