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Leicester East

It is truly an honour to represent the city where I was born and raised and I thank the people of Leicester East for electing me as their MP.

 

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30th June

The Coronavirus pandemic, and Leicester’s ongoing high rate of infection, has reinforced the fact that there is such a thing as society, and that our collective wellbeing depends on the strength of all of us – including the most vulnerable.

It is possible for us to build a society in which everyone is valued and protected – no matter their country of birth.

As this legislation fails to do this, I will be voting against it today.

30th June

In nearly all cases, undocumented people are not criminals — but simply those who have fallen through the cracks of the government’s callous hostile environment policies.

It is imperative — and in the best interest of everyone in our country — that the basic needs of all those who are living in the UK are met.

You can read my article in the Morning Star here.

30th June

At this difficult and distressing time, I welcome the extension of lockdown measures. It is important to put protecting lives and public health first.

I wholeheartedly reject those seeking to blame Leicester residents for this spike in cases. At every step in this crisis – from lockdown delay, equipment shortages, care home neglect, misleading testing figures and much more – the government has failed to adequately protect our communities. That is why the UK has had the worst coronavirus death rate per capita of any country in the world.

It is my view that the government has lifted lockdown measures prematurely when compared to public health indicators in other countries. The UK accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in the world – even though it has less than 1% of the world’s population.

With Leicester required to maintain lockdown measures, it will be necessary for economic support to be extended and expanded. Therefore I will be challenging the Government to widen access to the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Scheme to include all hospitality businesses and their supply chains; continuing funding support to businesses to retain furloughed staff and to allow local authorities to apply discretion to help more businesses to access Business Loan Support.

It is my view that all workplaces must adhere to health and safety measures, and no workers in Leicester should be forced to work in unsafe conditions. This crisis has demonstrated the need for unionised, accountable workplaces that prioritise employee wellbeing. To ensure that every Leicester resident can seek the medical help they need, it is also vital for full citizenship rights to be extended for undocumented workers, those with No Recourse to Public Funds and people with no Indefinite Leave to Remain.

We know that existing racial and class inequalities, coupled with inadequate government support, mean that working-class people, migrants and African, Asian and minority ethnic communities are at greater risk of and exposure to covid-19.

As Leicester East is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the UK, and has high levels of in-work poverty, we disproportionately suffer from these discrepancies. The virus itself may not discriminate, but our economic and social system certainly does.

I strongly encourage everyone to keep taking the safety precautions that they have been, including washing our hands regularly throughout the day, wearing a face mask in public, keeping two metres away from anyone we don’t live with and minimising contact with others.

I will keep working tirelessly to lobby the government, public health officials and local stakeholders to ensure that Leicester receives the best possible protection from this virus.

29th June

When compared to public health indicators in other countries when they lifted lockdown restrictions, the UK is acting prematurely and rashly.

The UK accounts for more than 10% of all Covid-19 deaths in the world – even though we are less than 1% of the global population.

The government’s recklessness has already cost too many lives. They must ensure that their rush to relax lockdown does not lead to even greater suffering in Leicester and across the UK.

Read the relating article here.

28th June

Hear my thoughts on the Coronavirus in this interview with BBC new here.

28th June

It was a pleasure to be involved in the Brazil Solidarity event. You can catch up on this excellent meeting with myself, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Jeremy Corbyn and Glenn Greenwald here! This is also standing in solidarity to the Brazilian community in Leicester and the Midlands.

27th June

I am monitoring the track and trace system as it is developed in Leicester to ensure that it operates effectively and transparently. I have been concerned with the delays, detail and quality of data, and inefficient involvement of private companies in the Government’s national testing plans. We deserve better.

Read my article in the Leicester Mercury here.

26th June

I am proud to have joined this call urging the government to consider a four day working week in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

A four-day week would bring multiple benefits to society, the environment, our democracy, and our economy (through increased productivity). Mental health and wellbeing would likely improve across the board with more time available for socialising, family and community.

It’s in no one’s interests to return back to the pressure and stress that people were under before this pandemic.

Read the full article in the Independent here.

26th June

Like many Leicester residents, I am concerned about the increase in Coronavirus cases in our city.

I am working tirelessly to lobby the government, public health officials and local stakeholders to ensure that Leicester receives the best possible protection from this virus.

I will keep fighting for the safety and wellbeing of everyone in Leicester East.

25th June

At every step in this crisis – from lockdown delay, equipment shortages, care home neglect, testing lies and much more – the government has failed to adequately protect our communities. That is why the UK has the worst coronavirus death rate of any country in the world.

Whilst they boast about prematurely and recklessly relaxing lockdown measures, the government must ensure that Leicester residents receive the best possible protection from this virus.

Read my article for the Leicester Mercury here.

25th June

Sadly, we cannot rely on this government to take the urgent, radical action that is required to mitigate climate breakdown.

It is up to the Labour Party to pressure the government into taking this life-or-death issue seriously. To do that, we must ensure that our own climate justice policies are on the same scale of the crisis we face.

Thanks to our 2019 manifesto, trade unionists and member-led campaigns like the excellent

Labour for a Green New Deal, we already have many of the policies to do this. It’s up to all of us to keep fighting and make them a reality.

24th June

Moments of crises often shape the future. From the horror of the Second World War, we created the welfare state and our treasured NHS.

Whilst we rightly focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, the well being of the entire planet relies on us also to take this opportunity to mitigate the existential threat of climate change.

Check out my article for Labour List here.

24th June

am proud to have joined over 1000 representatives across 25 European countries to oppose plans by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Unilateral annexation would be fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations.

Amid the disruption of Covid-19, the international community cannot allow this unlawful act to be pushed through.

You can see the letter signed by over 1000 Parliamentarian’s here.

23rd June

Belly Mujinga, her family and her friends and colleagues deserve justice.
If the government truly believe that Black Lives Matter, they must launch a public enquiry to examine and minimise all deaths associated with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
You can see my letter to Grant Shapps MP here.

22nd June

We must build international solidarity with those in the front line in the battles against the far-right across the globe and struggling for a different kind of society, including those heroic people fighting in Brazil.

See my article in the Brasil Wire here.

22nd June

Britain and other Western countries have a moral duty to ensure that economically poorer countries do not disproportionately suffer from the coronavirus due to the unjust hindrance of global debt.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign found that more than 60 countries are spending more on paying their debt creditors than they are on their population’s health. This is a direct consequence of the uneven power dynamics forged through centuries of violent, extractive colonialism and imperialism.

Now is the time for Britain to seriously consider calling for an end to this historical unfairness.

22nd June

On Windrush Day, we celebrate the huge contribution that my parents generation made to our society.

Yet huge numbers of those affected by the Windrush scandal still have not received compensation.

The government’s cruel hostile environment policies led to thousands of legal residents being sacked from their jobs, denied access to NHS, made homeless, arrested and deported.

Read this article in the Guardian here.

21st June

Unemployment claims have doubled to almost three million during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Catch up with my interview with Bloomberg here about why the chancellor needs to deliver an emergency Budget this summer.

20th June

I am proud to support these demands for justice.

It us up to all of us to ensure that Black Lives Matter evolves from a galvanising slogan to a reality of daily life.

20th June

As the inspiring radical Angela Davis said:

“If we don’t take seriously the ways in which racism is embedded in structures of institutions, if we assume that there must be an identifiable racist who is the perpetrator, then we won’t ever succeed in eradicating racism.”

Now is the time for us to interrogate our systems of government so that we can end the global scourge of racism, no matter what form it takes.

My column in the Morning Star here.

19th June

Thank you, Marcus Rashford for your inspiring campaigning.
The fact is, in the sixth richest country in the world, we should never have to debate how to feed our children.

19th June

My statement on the COVID-19 spike in Leicester East.

19th June

The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that the time for empty commitments and heel-dragging is over.

Now is the time for our leaders, in the UK and across the world, to meaningfully and immediately address the scourge of institutional racism.

Read my latest article for the Independent here.

18th June

After this crisis, we can no longer live in a society defined by extreme racial and class inequality.

The task ahead of us is not only to defeat this virus but to build a world free of the inequalities which have exacerbated its brutal impact.

18th June

We are all indebted to Marcus Rashford for his tireless work against child hunger. His victory is an inspiration to us all.

However, it should not be up to well-meaning footballers to paper over the cracks created by a decade of cruel austerity.

In 2020, in the sixth richest country in the world, it is appalling that we are even having a debate about how we feed our children.

Read my comments in this article in the Metro here.

15th June

Public Health England has confirmed that African, Asian and minority ethnic communities are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Yet the government has still failed to outline any protective measures to deal with this disproportionate impact – despite promising to do so over three weeks ago.

Given the Prime Minister’s long history of racist comments, many members of the African, Asian and minority ethnic community have legitimate concerns regarding his personal commitment to tackling racial inequalities.

To assuage these concerns, his government must urgently publish all reports into the race equality impact of COVID-19, legislate to implement existing recommendations from relevant official inquiries to tackle systemic, structural and institutional racism, and issue practical COVID-19 guidance and protections for at-risk communities.

You can read my letter to Boris Johnson MP following the PMQ’s asking to protect African, Asian and minority ethnic communities from COVID-19 here.

12th June

am proud to have signed this joint letter calling on the Government to increase the pay of social care workers and nurses to at least the living wage, in recognition of their immense effort during the Coronavirus public health emergency.
Social care staff in Leicester East and across the country have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. One in four earn less than £10 an hour, and the average employee earns just £16,400 per annum.

The Government must urgently recognise their sacrifice and contribution to our society.

11th June

This week, we’ve seen renewed calls for our schools to teach the true brutal history of the British empire and the legacy of imperialism and colonialism.
The government must introduce a curriculum that teaches children and young people about the enduring impact of racism.

You can read my article in the Morning Star here.

11th June

On the 33rd anniversary of her election as the first Black woman to be Member of

Parliament, I pay tribute to the inspirational Diane Abbott

A true giant of the anti-racist movement, Diane has always been on the right side of history and remains a powerful voice for equality and justice.

My hero, Diane Abbott. We love you. Thank you Dianne.

10th June

It was a privilege to join an inspiring range of speakers at Stand Up To Racism’s Black Lives Matter virtual rally.

As the inspiring Angela Davis said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

It is up to all of us to ensure that ‘Black Lives Matter’ evolves from a galvanising slogan to a reality of daily life.

9th June

The shocking events of the last few weeks have demonstrated how much we need education about Black History and the violent history of the British Empire.

The national curriculum skips the extractive history of colonialism, excludes Black histories and omits the vast contributions that African, Asian and minority ethnic communities have made to the UK.

Today in Parliament I asked the Education Secretary to learn from recent events and ensure that our children are taught a full and accurate version of British history.

9th June

I wholeheartedly oppose the downgrading of Leicester General. I am concerned that it will have a detrimental impact for the residents of Leicester East and for people living across our city.

The fragmentation of our NHS has left all of us more vulnerable. This Coronavirus crisis demonstrates the need for a properly funded health service that can withstand unexpected crises.

8th June

Fascinating insight: the Leicester Walkers Factory was featured on BBC2’s “Inside the Factory” Coronavirus special edition, this evening at 8pm.

It was an interesting deep dive look at how the Walkers‘ team at the Leicester site, many of whom are constituents of Leicester East, have kept the nation’s best loved crisps supplied, and grocery shelves stocked.

Interesting to see the hard work, energy and enthusiasm throughout the pandemic to keep the nation fed from what could arguably be classed as the world’s biggest crisp factory.

Amongst its many achievements they are proudly ‘zero waste’ and have a thriving Apprenticeship Scheme and union recognition.

I look forward to learning more particularly how they have continuously kept workers safe throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic.

8th June

I’m proud to be one of the 166 MPs calling for the UK to ban the sale of ‘anti-riot’ equipment, including tear gas, rubber bullets, riot shields and weapons, to the US. Many constituents in Leicester East have written to me regarding this important issue.
It would be a disgrace if Britain supplied the equipment that is used to brutally clampdown on those protesting state-sanctioned racism.

The UK government must condemn the racist actions and rhetoric of Donald Trump if they are serious about standing up to racism of all kinds, wherever it appears in the world.

You can read the full article in the Independent here

7th June

Sanjay Foods UK LTD is a multi-award winning 20 year-old business in Leicester East which provides hundreds of hospitality jobs throughout the course of year.

They are one of the many hospitality businesses that have not qualified for the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund or business rates relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their owner, Atul, has eloquently pointed out the contradictions in the government’s policy, as takeaways, restaurants, bars, coffeeshops and pubs meet the Coronavirus support criteria – but key businesses in Leicester miss out.

I will continue to work with Atul and other business owners in Leicester East. The government must close these gaps in financial support in order to protect the Hospitality and Asian Wedding Industry – which provides many jobs in Leicester.

6th June

We must stand in solidarity with the family and community of George Floyd, as well as all those peacefully protesting state sanctioned racism in the US.

But we must also not forget the scourge of institutional racism that exists in the UK.

Although I know many in Leicester East and across the country will not be in a financial position to donate, I encourage those that are to consider supporting these important anti-racist organisations and causes.

You can see list of organisations here.

5th June

Earlier this week, I asked the government to stand up and defend those protesting state- sanctioned racism and violence across the world. I was disappointed that the Foreign Secretary did not even mention the United States in his response.

I support a ban on the sale of ‘anti-riot’ equipment, including tear gas, riot shields and supposedly non-lethal guns, to the US. It would be a disgrace if Britain supplied the equipment that is used to brutally clampdown on those protesting state-sanctioned racism.

The UK government must condemn the racist actions and rhetoric of Donald Trump if they are serious about standing up to racism of all kinds, wherever it appears in the world.

4th June

In Parliament I stood up for the many British Airways workers in Leicester East who have contacted me with grave concerns for their future.

BA, which has benefited from COVID-19 taxpayer support, has issued redundancy notices to its entire 42,000-strong workforce. It intends to make 12,000 redundant and rehire the remainder on much worse contracts.

In the words of one BA employees in Leicester East, this is “immoral, opportunistic and greedy.” The government must stand up to this corporate bullying to protect workers’ jobs and rights.

4th June

As Vice-Chair of the cross-party APPG for Air Pollution, I am proud of this report on the need for an air quality strategy to reduce Coronavirus infections.

In Leicester East and across the country, pollution must be kept at low levels to help avoid a second peak of this disease.

The full report can be found here. Read the article in the Guardian here.

3rd June

We should invest in people and health – not weapons and war. Read my full article in the Labour List here.

3rd June

With Zarah Sultana MP at today’s Black Lives Matter protest.
As I argued in my latest Tribune Magazine piece, now is the time to end the severe class

and racial inequalities which exist across the world.

The UK government must take this opportunity to address the severe racial disparities in our own criminal justice system.

3rd June

Renters are one of the many groups being badly left behind and let down by this Government. Policy decisions over the last ten years have left UK renters in a precarious position at the outbreak of Coronavirus. So far, the Government’s handling of the crisis has only made things worse for them.
Refusing to extend the evictions ban is a political choice. Refusing to help renters facing financial hardship is a political choice. For the sake of renters in Leicester East, the government must prioritise secure housing over private profits.

2nd June

Now is the time for a new internationalism, which prioritises global justice and collaboration while ensuring that human rights, international law and climate justice are at the heart of our international policies.

Britain, and other Western countries, have a moral and historical duty to ensure that economically poorer countries do not disproportionately suffer from the Coronavirus due to the unjust hindrance of global debt.

My latest column for the Morning Star here.

 

1st June

It is a grim testament to the inescapable nature of state-sanctioned racism that viral videos of unarmed African Americans being killed by white police officers have become commonplace in recent years.

Yet even within this depraved normality, the footage of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police has understandably provoked a wave of revulsion, anger and revolt amongst African, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the world.

The UK government must take this opportunity to reassess the racial disparities in our own criminal justice system. Now is the time to end the severe class and racial inequalities that exist across the world.

1st June

We must stand in solidarity with the family, friends and community of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

We in the UK are not immune from the disease of institutional racism.

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