NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington

22 Nov 2016

Brexit - Let’s call time on post-truth politics
I wrote an article for 
The Times this week arguing that “This prime minister is very rapidly establishing a reputation for not playing straight and Brexit will make it worse. We have had the denial of a full inquiry into Orgreave despite clear signals to the contrary from Theresa May and her team when she was home secretary, as well as the U-turn on her personal pledges on the third runway at Heathrow.
This is something of a pattern. It was initially denied that there had been any agreement or sweetheart deal for Nissan but now other car makers and other key industrial sectors are clamouring for special treatment. Unfortunately, the entire Brexit project is riddled with mendacity and it will not end well if we continue to give the government too much benefit of the doubt.
Many of the lies and deceptions that have festered in British society for so long may not survive in the light of the coming negotiations.”
  • Read the full piece here
We are now building the lowest number of social rented homes since records began
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing responded this week to new official statistics showing that fewer affordable homes are being built than at any time in more than two decades, saying: “These figures are disastrous. They show we are now building the lowest number of social rented homes since records began. And the number of affordable homes to buy has fallen by two-thirds since 2010.
"Public concern about housing is at the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs. Faced with this Ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most - by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.”

The NHS is supposed to be free at the point of need, not free at the point of ID
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, commenting on reports this week that patients could be forced to bring two forms of identification to hospital to prove they are eligible for free treatment, said:  “It’s testament to the desperate squeeze on our NHS finances that we have civil servants publicly talking about patients being forced to show not one but two forms of identification before they are treated. The NHS is supposed to be free at the point of need, not free at the point of ID. 
"Day by day, further details are coming out of plans drawn up in secret all over the country to slash services and withdraw treatments... So rather than hiding behind this spun story, Jeremy Hunt needs to come clean, give the NHS the money it needs and rule out what many fear is a secret Tory strategy to cut services.”

Labour announce £155 per week for WASPI women
Labour has this week outlined our plans to help end the plight of the hundreds of thousands of women abandoned to live in poverty by the Tory Government’s changes to their state pension age. 
Under the plan, Pension Credit will be extended to those who were due to retire before the chaotic pension age increase of the Conservative-led Coalition Government. This would alleviate the worst of the impacts for the most vulnerable women, and restore some of the dignity many of them feel they have been robbed of. It would provide support worth up to £155 per week to half a million of the most vulnerable WASPI women.
The Government’s changes have affected women who would normally have retired earlier under the 1995 Pensions Act. Labour plans to extend eligibility to pension credit to these women, ensuring that they are not forced into the Government’s punitive social security regime.
Labour are also developing solutions for those affected who would not be entitled to means-tested Pension Credit under these proposals. It is however vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.
Sadly the Pensions Minister has issued a point blank refusal to do anything to alleviate the worse cases – claiming that the current social security system was sufficient to meet the needs of everyone. Labour are now acting where the government has refused.  

Tories are turning back the clock on economic equality for women
Sarah Champion MP Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, commenting on research released this week by the Women’s Budget Group, showing that tax and benefit changes since 2010 will have hit women’s incomes twice as hard as men by 2020, said: “Last year the Government voted down Labour proposals to conduct a full cumulative impact assessment of their policies on women and since then the Treasury have refused to appear in front of the Women and Equalities Select Committee to give evidence on how the equalities impact analysis was conducted for the 2015 spending review.”
Labour will not let the Tories off lightly with their warm words of equality and fairness when their policies systematically embed the very unfairness they say to want to tackle.

International Students Are Welcome Here
I have written a piece for The Morning Star on how the Tories’ hostile policies towards international students in our universities must be fought and how targeting international students, migrant doctors and forcing businesses to publish lists of foreign workers will create division, increase tensions and only make us poorer.
  • Read the full piece here

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