NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington
17 Feb 2017I fought racism and misogyny to become an MP. The fight is getting harder
In 30 years I’ve never complained about abuse. But this week I spoke out in The Guardian because I fear the politics of personal destruction is silencing minorities.
But despite these difficult times, Toni Morrison got it right when she said in a 2004 essay: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language.” And we also do politics. Thirty years ago I entered parliament to try and be the change I wanted to see. Despite the personal attacks and the online abuse, that struggle continues.
Read my full article here.
Our NHS is suffering from the biggest financial squeeze in history - the Tories need to get their head out of the sand
It was reported this week that Jeremy Hunt said the problems facing some parts of NHS England are ‘completely unacceptable,’ as we have seen yet more statistics revealing that patients are waiting longer, and suffering longer in discomfort.
NHS England have published full year 2016 data for a number of key NHS indicators, including waiting lists, ambulance response and delayed transfers, which show the health service stretched to the limits. These are some of the worst figures we have seen, with experts saying that standards are being pushed back fifteen years or more.
The BBC has also published leaked figures showing January’s A&E performance to be the worst since records started.
It’s making Theresa May’s utter disregard for the dire state of the NHS all the more disgraceful, and in this context, these are hollow words from Jeremy Hunt. On his watch the NHS is suffering from the biggest financial squeeze in history and social care is at tipping point.
Government advisor Lord Carter has extraordinarily called NHS conditions ‘warlike’ and now Sir Robert Francis says there is an ‘existential crisis.’
The Government now need to listen to the experts and explain fully in the Budget in a few weeks time how they will put the NHS and social care on sustainable footing. As Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary said “The Prime Minister can’t just put her head in the sand and ignore these astounding warnings. This is clearly not just a 'small number of incidents’ as she glibly suggested.”
The Tories need to tackle the social care crisis
It was revealed last week that Surrey County Council is now not going to hold a referendum on 15 percent council tax rise to solve the shortage of funding for social care, with much speculation about the discussion they may have had with central Government.
What we do know is there is an unprecedented crisis in social care, with care providers handing contracts back to councils, 1.2 million elderly people living without the care they need and delayed discharges causing huge pressure on the NHS.
Across the country, people are facing steep rises in their council tax bills, whilst the provision and quality of social care is declining. Council tax rises are nothing more than a short-term sticking plaster for a problem that needs long-term solutions. And they create a postcode lottery in social care, because they raise the least money in areas with the greatest need.
As Teresa Pearce, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said “The Government should not be trying to deal with the national social care crisis through backroom deals with sympathetic Tory council leaders in an attempt to avoid negative publicity.”
The Government must come forward with a long-term strategic rethink of social care funding, as well as urgent funding to stem the crisis which is hurting elderly and disabled people right now.
Government must show caution and concern about the way the Saudi campaign is being conducted
This week saw yet more revelations regarding arms exports to Saudi Arabia, following Boris Johnson giving a reassurance that the Saudi-led coalition was improving its targeting processes and ensuring that any incidents where non-military targets had been bombed were being properly investigated.
According to the independent Yemen Data Project, in the 55 days between Boris Johnson writing his letter and the end of 2016, Saudi forces bombed 60 residential sites in Yemen, including houses, markets and refugee camps. At this time of heightening humanitarian crisis, they bombed 46 sites of economic infrastructure, including farms, water tanks and food trucks, and 48 sites of physical infrastructure, including roads, bridges and ports. They also managed to bomb three schools and a university. Not a single one of these 160 incidents has yet been investigated by the Saudi authorities.
As Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, put it “If this is what Boris Johnson calls the Saudis ‘improving processes and…taking action to address failures’, then I would sorely hate to see the opposite.. It should not be left to the courts to rule whether the export licences for these arms sales should have been granted. It should be for this Government to show some long-overdue caution and concern about the way the Saudi campaign is being conducted, the devastating humanitarian crisis that campaign is helping to cause, and the blatant failure to ensure any proper, independent investigation of these alleged crimes against international law.”
By stopping the Dubs Scheme the Government is shutting the door on the most vulnerable
Government statements last week regarding the ‘Dubs scheme’ for children refugees showed they are shutting the door on the most vulnerable, and wriggling out of the government’s obligation to accept child refugees.
We need to be clear that internationally agreed principles and the Dubs Amendment were never conceived as a “one-off.” For this reason, Labour cannot accept this decision. This seems to breach the spirit of the law passed with cross-party support. Accepting 350 unaccompanied child refugees is far short of the expected 3,000.
There will no doubt be legal challenges to this decision. This government is not above the law.
The Government should continue to commit to meeting their international treaty obligations and our own laws.
Labour commits to meeting the obligations of the Dubs Amendment - we will restore the scheme and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.