Zero-hour contracts represent everything that is wrong with Tory Britain; insecurity and exploitation disguised as flexibility and economic necessity.
It has been announced that the number of people on zero-hour contacts has risen to 1.5 million. These contracts were intended to be used as an exception, to help small businesses, but instead they have become the norm.
The next time someone supports zero-hour contracts by claiming that workers like their flexibility, I challenge them to meet one of the many constituents of mine that are trying to survive from month to month because they don’t know how many hours of work they’re going to get. Not knowing whether they’ll be able to pay the rent or buy food.
I have met many people on zero-hour contracts and they have explained to me the everyday cost of having no guaranteed work. It means that they cannot plan ahead. People cannot think about owning their own home because they don’t have a guaranteed income and are refused a mortgage. It means that they have to wait until two o’clock in the morning to see if they’ve been given any hours.
The Tories are turning back the clock in terms of worker’s rights and this is a prime example. It reveals what they really are; the enemies of hard-work, aspiration and stability.
Zero-hour contracts represent everything that is wrong with Tory Britain; insecurity and exploitation disguised as flexibility and economic necessity. It has been announced that the number of people on zero-hour...
On Saturday I addressed a rally of Jeremy Corbyn supporters in Sheffield.
The event was enormous and very enthusiastic. I first attended a meeting of the Labour party in 1969. In the intervening years I must have been to thousands of such meetings. But the meeting in Sheffield was not like any one I have ever been to before.
Labour’s leadership contest has shown that there is a huge appetite for a new form of politics. Many people in the country feel that we cannot go on in the same old way.
But big political change is never achieved by single leaders on their own. Only when tens thousands of people come together in a common movement does change happen. It is now apparent that there are indeed tens of thousands who want Labour to renew itself by returning to our true values of community, social justice, decency, dislike of inequality and so on.
True Labour values will not accept a social order where the millionaires are rewarded whilst there a millions who are left behind.
The Tories will always look after the richest 1%. It is Labour’s task to represent the rest. Both the poorest in our country but also the millions on middle incomes who are finding it more difficult to manage household budgets as austerity continues to bite.
It is Labour’s task too to ensure that everyone has a chance to achieve their dreams rather than, as at present, inhabit a country which too often puts a cap on our ability to make progress.
The purpose of my speech was to launch a new organisation: Northern Futures.
A part of what is wrong with our country is the way that some regions have been left struggling. A country which truly believes in social justice, strong communities and fair treatment for all must not condemn whole areas to being left behind.
The North – which was the engine room of our national prosperity for so many decades – has been left decisively weakened by a triple whammy
- De-industrialisation which was the Thatcher government’s lasting legacy has left many parts of the North stripped of productive economic activity
- Centralisation of power in the Cities of London and Westminster means that the key decision-makers have often had little regard for Britain’s regions
- Austerity, which forced the real people of our country to pay off the debts of the bankers through lower incomes and reduced public services, added a further vicious twist to the North’s difficulties.
The North is a vast area covering millions of people, far bigger than many countries in Europe. We are being left behind in the global economy. An area which has lost its primary economic purpose and which has yet to find a new role, inevitably finds its sense of morale, identity and direction all impaired.
Our infrastructure is weak. Investment has been lacking. Our businesses are not as profitable as they need to be. Communities have been damaged, and there has been an unacceptable spread of low pay, part time and temporary working, agency labour etc.
But the people of the North retain strong values of hard work, fairness, solidarity, and caring for one another. These are the values which regions like the North of England gave to the Labour Party. And these are the values which require us to stand by the area.
The Tories will never address these issues. Osborne’s concern for the North is entirely synthetic. His proposals amount to a pretence to be interested but in reality to hand over responsibility for cutting services to Labour councils so that they are seen to be to blame.
Look at the figures. It is estimated that London received 24 times as much expenditure on transport as the North East, and created 6 times as many new jobs as were created in the North East. This is not to say that we should be against the growth and investment in our country’s capital. But fairness demands that similar efforts are made elsewhere.
In the place of a Tory agenda of delegating cuts to Labour’s Northern Councils, we need a policy of determined devolution of real power and authority.
But we cannot rely on a handful of Leaders at the top to bring about the renewal of the North. Instead we need a real political movement. This is the task of the new organisation. Northern Futures is intended to bring forward a multitude of northern voices as part of a pathway to a new settlement.
We are unashamedly campaigning for new way of governing Britain based on four principles. Rejection of austerity. Renewal of our democracy, but on a new basis. Rebalancing our regions. Regenerating our economy.
For well over a century the North has stood by the Labour party. Now the Labour party must stand by the North.
We can make it happen.
If you agree, please join us.
On Saturday I addressed a rally of Jeremy Corbyn supporters in Sheffield. The event was enormous and very enthusiastic. I first attended a meeting of the Labour party in 1969....
This weekend I helped to launch ‘Northern Futures’, an organisation dedicated to regenerating, rebalancing and renewing the North of England.
We need a new settlement for the North that promotes growth and challenges the huge regional inequalities in the UK. But this does not mean accepting the Tories’ delegation of cuts.
It has become increasingly clear that Osborne has no intention of creating a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. For example, just after the election it was announced that the Government was pausing the electrification of the Trans-Pennine railway.
Now a study by the University of Sheffield has been released indicating that planned infrastructure investment is heavily biased towards London at the expense of the North. The report shows that London will receive more investment than every other English region combined. Infrastructure investment in London is totals about £5,305 per person whereas Yorkshire and Humber lags behind at £851 per head in Yorkshire and Humberside.
Not only are the Tories blatantly ignoring their pre-election promises but their planned investment will actually inhibit the economic growth of the North.
If the Government want to create a true ‘Northern Powerhouse’ then they need to devolve power, not cuts. They need to provide substantial investment in infrastructure and growth; not play politics with the fate of the North.
If you want to be part of campaigning for the North, sign up to Northern Futures: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northern-Futures/694478407354707?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser
This weekend I helped to launch ‘Northern Futures’, an organisation dedicated to regenerating, rebalancing and renewing the North of England. We need a new settlement for the North that promotes...
Once more on Iraq.
Iraq is in the news once more. The Chilcot report is in the headlines - for the wrong reasons.
It is hard not to view the delay to publication of the report as an establishment tactic to keep the ball in the long grass for as long as possible. It is time that it was published.
But the Labour Party also has unfinished business in connection with the war. Jeremy Corbyn has sought to address this today.
It has been argued that the Iraq war happened long ago and has little bearing on present day politics. Others have said that the electorate supported a Blair government even after the military intervention in Iraq.
Yet that war continues to cast a shadow over the whole of British politics as the controversy about the delays to the Chilcot report shows. The whole of the political class, as well as the media were in favour of the war.
Those of us who voted repeatedly against the proposal were left in a minority and were often the subject of vilification.
It was only later that the awful truth began to emerge. That there were no weapons of mass destruction. And in spite of robust statements at the time that the war was not about regime change, when the sickening fact emerged that we went to war on a false prospectus, our leaders began to justify their actions by saying that they had ridden the world of a dictator.
To this day we do. It know the whole truth about the path to war, but there is a settled opinion that the country was not told the truth and that our troops were put in harm's way with little justification.
The collapse of trust in British politics occurred in part because of what was said and done in the run up to war. There were many other factors too. But Iraq remains a key moment. Of course, the Labour Leadership especially was seen as responsible and it is therefore of particular importance that we settle our view once and for all.
Ed Miliband was aware that this was an issue and he made the following comments when he was elected as Leader:
"Iraq was an issue which divided our party and our country. Many sincerely believed that the world faced a real threat. I criticise nobody faced with making the toughest decisions and I honour our troops who fought and died there. But I do believe that we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that."
Ed's statement was clear. It was an honourable effort to retain unity and at the same time draw a line under the whole Iraq venture.
But there were two problems with it. First, few people heard it because the media were besotted with the discussion of the trivia of two brothers contesting the leadership.
There was a second problem with Eds formulation, however. How could it really be that the war was a "wrong" and yet he would criticise non one for their decision. Questions of war and peace cannot be dismissed in this way.
This is why Jeremy is correct today to return to this matter. He has said that if he becomes leader he will apologise on behalf of the party for the war and for the "deception" involved in the decision. He will also say that we should never again go to war in such circumstances.
This formulation is the correct on. Jeremy says Labour must apologise and goes further in saying that deception was involved in the process. Of course there will be a full national debate about Iraq if and when Chilcot publishes his report. But Jeremy's words are correct and long overdue.
Jon Trickett MP
Once more on Iraq. Iraq is in the news once more. The Chilcot report is in the headlines - for the wrong reasons. It is hard not to...
With one in two people set to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives it is vital that we support research and treatment now more than ever.
Last week I attended a reception held by Cancer Research UK and spoke to some of their dedicated volunteers about their work and the cancer treatment facilities in the Hemsworth constituency. It is shocking that around 1,800 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in our constituency with a survival rate of only 50%. We must do all that we can to support the work of Cancer Research UK, and other charities, to eradicate this terrible disease.
If you would like to find out more about the work of Cancer Research visit their website at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/
With one in two people set to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives it is vital that we support research and treatment now more than ever....
The south-east of Wakefield has been without a public swimming baths now for over two years. The community campaigned hard to secure a replacement pool and I know from chatting to people that they are wondering what’s happening with the plans to build the baths on the site of Minsthorpe School.
Following a recent meeting that I requested with the Leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box, I have received an assurance that the proposed plans are underway. I was told that a time table is in place for the planning application to be submitted and then the process of going out to tender for the building contract will commence. The expected opening date will be around the beginning of January 2017.
I will continue to follow this issue closely to ensure that our community gets the public swimming pool that it needs and deserves. I will also monitor the proposed timetable. None of us want to see the opening date being pushed back.
The south-east of Wakefield has been without a public swimming baths now for over two years. The community campaigned hard to secure a replacement pool and I know from chatting...
I will not be the only person who feels anger at the government decision to allow Hatfield colliery to close. The pit has provided employment for near on 100 years. Whilst Britain will continue to burn coal for many years to come it will have been mined at the other side of the world!
In the last few days I have had a significant number of conversations with the Chair of the board of the colliery, Mr John Grogan. I have also spoken on a number of occasions with the MP who covers Hatfield, Ed Miliband.
Three key facts became clear:
1) the government caused the closure because they doubled the carbon tax which then led the power stations to buy huge stocks of coal before the tax was implemented with the consequence that the price of coal fell.
2) Nonetheless all the coal they could produce in the next year had customers who were prepared to buy it.
3) It was also clear that if the colliery had remained open, then the government would have continued to receive a large amount of tax paid by the miners and VAT paid by the company. Now the miners will have to receive benefits until they find other work.
The government decision is a disgrace and is yet another example of how they are destroying the Yorkshire economy.
I will not be the only person who feels anger at the government decision to allow Hatfield colliery to close. The pit has provided employment for near on 100 years....
The crisis last summer in Gaza was horrific and we must do all we can to prevent future conflicts.
Earlier this week I attended a lobby hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The PSC is campaigning for peace and justice for the Palestinian people by calling for an end to the blockade on Gaza and a ban on arms imports in Israel. Bombs and bullets will not fix this problem; there must be a diplomatic, humanitarian solution.
I have received many letters and emails from my constituents raising the issue of Gaza and the terrible conflict last summer. This reflects the wider growing national support for Palestine, including hundreds of thousands of protesters that demonstrated across the UK last year. It is clear that politicians must act on this public support and put pressure on the Government to ensure that the fundamental human rights and lives of Palestinians are protected.
The crisis last summer in Gaza was horrific and we must do all we can to prevent future conflicts. Earlier this week I attended a lobby hosted by the Palestine...
Recently I wrote to Yorkshire Bank to ask them to reconsider the closure of their Featherstone branch. I have received a response which indicates that despite the issues raised and the public opposition they intend to close the branch anyway.
Below is a letter that I have written in reply to Yorkshire Bank's letter:
'I acknowledge receipt of your recent letter confirming the closure of Featherstone Branch....
I am very disappointed that you are not prepared to reconsider your decision and I also know that many residents are angry at your decision to go ahead. People have told me how they, as Yorkshire folk feel a strong connection with Yorkshire Bank. Some recall how they used to save money every week at school with your Bank and then, throughout their adult years, continued banking with you. Some customers even remember when the Bank was known as the Yorkshire Penny!
During the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike Yorkshire Bank stayed loyal to many of Featherstone’s residents offering mortgage holders a deferment. Whilst everyone recognises that times have moved on there is a sense of bitter disappointment that you could not choose, as some other high street banks facing similar challenges in other areas of my constituency have, to remain open albeit with reduced opening times. This would have at least ensured you retained a presence within Featherstone and also at some level acknowledged the loyalty and support you have had from many thousands of Featherstone residents over the years.
Recently I wrote to Yorkshire Bank to ask them to reconsider the closure of their Featherstone branch. I have received a response which indicates that despite the issues raised and...
On Friday I visited a school at South Kirkby. The school is called Stockingate Mill Junior School.
I spoke to perhaps 60 or 70 children aged between seven and 11. The school is going to set up a school Parliament and the children will be able to stand for election as MPs, ministers and even the Prime Minister.
The best part of the visit was when the children asked me questions. I can honestly say that they were very tough questions indeed, and also showed great intelligence.
For example one of the children said would it be okay if you were an MP to start speaking in parliament by saying “hey up” as we do here in Yorkshire. To my astonishment one of the other children said that it would not be right, because when speaking in parliament it would be best to use “formal language” rather than “informal language”.
This of course is correct and it was fascinating to see that young children understood the difference in styles of speaking which should be used in difference situations. Equally interesting was when I asked a second question as to whether this means that we should not speak with a Yorkshire accent in Parliament the pupils were equally clear that you can speak formal English but in a Yorkshire accent.
What a fascinating discussion, in a great school and to meet intelligent youngsters with all their lives in front of them.
I guess that it is OK for me to say “hey up” amongst friends and colleagues in casual conversation but not when addressing the House of Commons.
What do you think?
When can a Yorkshire MP use a Yorkshire phrase like “hey up”? Pupils at Stockingate Mill School teach me a lesson
On Friday I visited a school at South Kirkby. The school is called Stockingate Mill Junior School. I spoke to perhaps 60 or 70 children aged between seven and...