Yesterday I participated in an extremely important debate in the House of Commons about coalfield communities. The debate was called to highlight the deprivation which still exists in our ex mining communities and to ask the government to not, once again, turn its back on the hard working families who worked down the mines, helping to create the wealth of our country.
The Conservatives’ attitude to the miners and former mining communities is symbolic of their attitude to working people today - you only have to look at the explosion in the use of zero hour contracts, temporary work and false self-employment to see that this government has not changed, it’s still the same old nasty party.
Two fifths of neighbourhoods that make up the most deprived communities in the country are in coalfield areas. So further funding being taken away from our area, for example, from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust is shockingly premature, because the job that it was asked to do has clearly not yet been completed.
One in five of all children in my constituency live in poverty, and equally disturbing is the fact that a male child born today in the most deprived area of my constituency is expected to live 10 and a half years less than a child born in the least deprived area.
The government have questions to answer - if we do not support and invest in our ex coalmining communities now it is the next generation that will suffer.
I would like to see the government to do three things. Firstly, show some humility and apologise to the miners. Secondly, agree to a proper independent inquiry into the events surrounding the miners’ strike. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, commit the government to a full scale process of regenerating coalfield areas.
The full debate is currently available to watch on BBC Iplayer and you can read the full debate by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/qbq5svr