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Faye Gallacher

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  1. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Honourable Gentleman for Aberdeen North for his contribution. During the transition period while we’ll be out of the European Union’s political structures, we will be in the single market and customs union. The UK and EU negotiating teams have currently deemed this to be a two year negotiation period on withdrawal from the European Union. This will allow businesses, individuals and governing body to prepare for life outside the European Union so we can transition into a new reality. It will also give the United Kingdom significantly more time to forge its long term future relationship with the European Union. Naturally, what that reality this is will still be negotiated between the United Kingdom and European Union both in the shorter term with the withdrawal agreement and in the longer term with future relationship negotiations.
  2. Mr. Speaker, I rise to announce that the United Kingdom and European Union have made the following update following the second round of negotiations at Brussels. I provide the House with the following joint statement: Mr. Speaker, Following agreement that has been reached between the United Kingdom and European Union on citizens rights, this is another significant step forward that finds a path forward in regard to Britain's transition out of the European Union and an agreed financial settlement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Further, as the House is aware the government and myself have made clear to households and businesses across the country the government's utmost opposition to a no deal Brexit. We are glad we are joined in acknowledging the damage caused by a no deal Brexit to both the United Kingdom and the European Union by the European Union, and to have obtained a framework with which we can assure businesses and households across Europe that a no deal Brexit is off the table. I commend this statement to the House.
  3. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Member for Aberdeen North for the motion has has presented to the House today. I want to first focus on the areas of agreement between himself and I: the devolution settlement between Westminster and the other devolved administrations must be respected. When all the leaders of the devolved administrations and the former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom are on the same page in that the devolution settlement must be respected, its a warning that any sensible government or opposition should take seriously. I fear the opposition have not in their attempt to appeal to attempt their own Parliamentary Party, which is engaged in its own civil war. So before I continue I’ll have to offer an olive branch to the Leader of the Opposition: when I successfully reach an agreement with my counterparts in the European Union, I hope it gives me an impressive enough CV that I can offer to be a mediator and help him and the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys come to a suitable compromise after weeks of infighting that is surely inspiring screenwriters across the country. Though if I’m right in believing that the Conservatives are now engaging in “unsanctioned preemptive strikes” against each other I think I’d have more luck in resolving Israel-Palestinian relations first, Mr. Speaker, so it is probably best I stay away. But joking aside, I want to be clear that respecting the devolution powers and giving the devolved administrations powers that are rightfully theirs is not “grievance politics.” It is respecting the constituent nations of the United Kingdom to manage their own affairs as a cherished part of this union. The only strength in ‘muscular unionism’ is the strength it exerts when it pulls our union apart. When people in the United Kingdom demanded we take back control, they didn’t demand they take that back from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland Mr. Speaker. And considering Scotland and Northern Ireland voted remain, to allow Brexit to be seen as an English power grab would, as I have outlined, risk the social fabric of our union and in the process damage the integrity of the Brexit process. Unfortunately, while I am resolute in my call for a presumption of devolution I still find the motion before us overly simplistic. The Member for Aberdeen North, I acknowledge, says he believes in the free trade of goods and services within the internal market. It’s a statement I’ll take in good faith, even if he is leading the cause to destroy the Union and as a consequence the internal market. But I cannot allow the Honourable Gentleman to assert he believes in the free trade of goods and service in his speech while in the motion he says it cannot be an ‘excuse.’ Once again the SNP’s nationalist cakeism is matched only be the Conservative Party’s Brexit cakeism. The internal market is crucial for the wider UK economy and the Scottish economy. To borrow from the Member for Aberdeen North’s examples, if there is a risk some technical aspects of devolution creates trade barriers for a fisherman in Peterhead that makes exporting to constituents in the South East of England more difficult, costing money, time and possibly jobs in the process. The SNP’s grandstanding will not put food on the table. It won’t keep my constituents fed or businesses in my constituency open. And when the UK is Scotland’s largest trading market, representing up to £49.8 billion in experts, it is important the integrity of the United Kingdom’s internal market is maintained and standards across the United Kingdom can be maintained to deliver for businesses and consumers in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. We do not want this to be an adversarial or unilateral process. That is why the government is proposing if any devolutionary powers are to be recalled to maintain the United Kingdom’s internal market, this is done following consultations with the Joint Ministerial Council, with a statutory duty for the JMC to act in good faith, and for this only to be done in a scenario where it is resolutely clear action is to be taken to maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom’s internal market and that this is necessaey. Further, Mr. Speaker, we’re clear we want these requirements and this process to be put into law. So while the Conservative Party and SNP squabble between respecting the devolution settlement of the integrity of the internal market, the Labour Party is clear we can do both. And we will do both. Mr. Speaker, that’s why today I move to amend the motion to read: I hope this would be satisfactory to the Honourable Gentleman.
  4. Faye Gallacher Born: 19 August 1975 (42). Gender: Female. Avatar: Neve Campbell. Ethnicity: White. Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual. Marital status: Married to John Gallagher (2000). One child, Wendy (b. 2011). Party: Labour. Faction: Tribune (Open Labour). Political Outlook: Soft left. A left winger who is a pragmatist and electoralist. Constituency: Glasgow South West. Year Elected: 2017. Education: Oldmachar Academy (1986-1993). University of St. Andrews - Economics (BSc). (1993-1997). University of St. Andrews - Finance and Economics (MSc) (1997-1998). Career: Finance Analyst, Co-operative bank (1999-2004). Senior Economic Analyst, Resolution Foundation (2005-2007). Director, Resolution Foundation (2007-2009). Political Career: MEP for Scotland (2009-2017). MP for Glasgow South West (2017-). Biography: Faye Gallacher was born Faye McKee to Louise (an NHS receptionist) and Gary (a policeman) McKee in 1975. She lived in a generally comfortable upper working to lower middle class family as an only child - often pushed to excel academically to live a more comfortable life than her parents did, and being noted for being academically gifted. Though she attended Oldmachar Academy, a 'beacon' comprehensive school, Faye saw the poverty of the Thatcher years at the heart of Aberdeen, joining the Labour Party at a young age though never being active in it until later life. Faye went to the University of St. Andrew's after achieving excellent grades and went on to obtain a masters in Finance and Economics. She scored a graduate job in the co-operative banking group where she worked as a financial analyst. At University she met her husband John Gallacher, who went on to become a senior member of Labour's press team. This marriage politicised her further - initially in small ways, such as seeking out employment that aligned with her values, but gradually Faye became unsatisfied with her clean cut life - feeling she had more to offer and wanting to be at the heart of decision making. After marrying John and remaining in her job for a few years, she by coincidence met Clive Cowdery, a businessman who she sparked up a close working relationship with, helping him set up the Resolution Foundation thinktank, and then moving on to work in it. At the Resolution Foundation Gallacher found a calling, researching economic inequality, tax, housing, wealth and the labour market. Her work was well received and it wasn't long before she became director of the foundation and a noted voice in British politics. This gave her a positive reputation across the political spectrum, though it was noted that then Chancellor and later Prime Minister Gordon Brown was particularly influenced by her thinking and research. As a result, Gallacher is wrongly attributed in the press as being a 'New Labour' and Brownite figure - likely because of her links to Gordon Brown and her husband being a prominent New Labour staffer, bruiser and advocate for New Labour politics, with one medium stating that "if New Labour is the nice face of capitalism, [Faye] Gallacher is the nice face of New Labour." In reality, she is a more independent thinker better attributed to the soft left: she supported Ed Miliband in 2010 and throughout his leadership, being a key part of his campaign in Scotland. She supported Andy Burnham in 2015, but in the following years was more publicly supportive towards Jeremy Corbyn than her husband, who went on to leave the Labour Party in protest. She is also known for rebuking Gordon Brown publicly when he had offered her a damehood due to her disdain for titles and privilege - something which was seen as an embarrassing moment on Brown's part. She left the Resolution Foundation to pursue a political career in 2009, when she was elected as the Labour MEP in Scotland. While in the European Parliament she campaigned cross party on issues such as tackling tax avoidance, European cooperation on tackling climate change and a European wide settlement on immigration and asylum. he was selected as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Glasgow South West after being urged by Senior Scottish Labour figures. She accepted, as she did not expect to win. To her surprise, she did. Faye settled into the Labour Parliamentary Party, having made significant links prior to her election as an MEP, for her work in the Resolution Foundation and due to her husband’s connections. She supported Elizabeth Trust to become leader in 2017 and has mostly focused on constituency work in the months after her election.
  5. We spoke to swing voters in key marginals so you don't have to. “It feels like knife crime is going up and up and up and nobody wants to talk about it. You wouldn’t believe the state the NHS is in, too. They’re obsessed with talking about Brexit but no one is interested in solving it. We need to get Brexit out the way so we can solve other issues.” This statement from Paula, a middle aged NHS receptionist from the now marginal Labour constituency of Dudley made the only comment that received unanimous agreement in the focus group. They all had different motivations, but the mix of swing voters from Dudley, Morley and Nuneaton – all key marginals the main parties will be hoping to win if they’re to have a majority in the next Parliamentary term – found agreement in that they wanted Brexit over in some way. The voters had been selected as a representative mix of nine people who had voted Leave and Remain, Labour and Conservative and everything in between throughout their lives: the catch being that they were currently undecided as to who they would be voting for whenever the next General Election comes around. Though they had a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives, they were all voters the major parties had to pitch to if they wanted to keep or retake power. The focus group was conducted by the best minds at UK-Edelman exclusively for HuffPost and gave us the first qualitative insight into how voters felt about the new government, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps the only other thing that somewhat united the group was a mild disdain for Britain’s current party leaders. The new Prime Minister, James McCrimmon, got the most flack when voters were given the opportunity to air their grievances. “I can’t imagine him standing up to Putin and the Chinese President,” Ron, a 61 year old accountant from Morley said. “I don’t think he’s presented himself in the most competent way,” said Sandra. Worryingly for Labour, she had voted for them in the last general election and was also a remain voter: the kind of voter Labour had in the bag at the last election and needs to keep. When Harry, a small business owner from Nuneaton who voted Conservative in the last election spoke there were murmurs of agreements across Brexit and party lines with his assessment: “He’s from another planet. Whenever he’s on the news he’s talking about all these people I’ve never heard of or about Christianity or in another language. If I wanted a priest I’d go to church. I just want him to tell us how he’ll sort Brexit and that he gets how much of a struggle things have been but he never does.” However, the new Tory leader Dylan Macmillan was not spared any of the voters’ ire, though most of the focus group were yet to be acquainted with him. Jean, a pensioner and a newly Conservative voter from Morley, said: “He seems quite slippery to be honest. I think he’s more clued up than McCrimmon but there’s something about him I don’t trust.” The aforementioned Sandra, who was the only other voter who recognised Macmillan, agreed and told the focus group: “He’s just playing politics. The new government is announced and he opposes it. He’s opposing the government on Brexit before they’ve even given us a plan. He never has any suggestions of his own. We need to come together as a country to pass Brexit and get it sorted and I think we should give credit to the government for trying instead of trying to ruin things for power.” It was interesting that even the Leave and Conservative leaning voters appeared to agree and echo this sentiment and, more crucially, stressed their desire to give McCrimmon ‘a chance’, even if they didn’t have full faith in him. When questioned about the specifics of government formation, none of the voters appeared to have strong opinions on Labour’s new coalition partners – the Green Party or Plaid Cymru – though there were reservations on the sustainability of an agreement. “I don’t want an election anytime soon,” another retired voter who had voted both Brexit and Conservative said. “We need a government that can actually get stuff done.” All in all, it was notable that when pushed to say who they’d vote for if an election were tomorrow, none of the voters had changed their mind from 2017. 5 voters opted for Labour and 4 opted for Conservative. There was a little more unanimity when the voters had been pressed on who they thought would make a better Prime Minister: 6 opted for Dylan Macmillan as opposed to 3 for James McCrimmon. On Brexit, 5 of the voters said their preference was for a soft Brexit, 3 wanted a hard Brexit and 1 voter – a student – made clear he would only want the UK to remain in the EU. Of those, 5 members of our focus group had voted Leave and 4 had voted to Remain. It was notably stark that Conservatives appeared to struggle to win over the votes of anyone who wasn’t a hard Brexiteer, but McCrimmon had personally failed to win the personal trust of those who had voted Leave, whether their preference was for a softer or a harder Brexit. It was clear that Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet name recognition, for now, remained low, with some exception: one voter said of the new Chancellor, Steffan Lewis, “I don’t like him, I think he’s an extremist.” The new Brexit Secretary Harry West, however, received one positive but perhaps slightly misguided comment from a Conservative voter who had voted Remain. “He used to be Director of Prosecutions or something right? Is that what it's called? Anyway, I trust him."
  6. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn resigns following stroke The Leader of the Opposition and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has resigned. His press officer had confirmed that Mr. Corbyn had suffered from a ‘minor stroke' the day after the election, before Mr. Corbyn was poised to begin talks with third party leaders in Westminster. Speaking to the press outside of his home, Mr. Corbyn’s family said: “This morning Jeremy collapsed and was immediately rushed to hospital. It's been confirmed to us that this was the result of a stroke. We’ve been informed the stroke is minor, Jeremy is in otherwise good health and he’s expected to make a swift recovery. However, it is clear he will not be able to commit to being leader of the Labour Party while he recovers so he has tendered his resignation with much regret. We thank the NHS for their brilliant work as always and ask for privacy during this crucial time.” Mr. Corbyn’s resignation follows Labour winning the most seats in the next General Election. It is widely expected that Mr. Corbyn was to become Prime Minister following government talks with third parties including the SNP and Liberal Democrats. A Labour source told the BBC: “If there is one thing Jeremy is good at, it’s campaigning. Jeremy relentlessly campaigned in marginals and was under a lot of stress and criticism from all sides at this time – we had never seen him look so unhealthy. It’s no wonder this happened, and worst of all threatens to undermine the project he built up and had win a General Election.” Several figures across the political spectrum wished Mr. Corbyn a swift recovery, with Prime Minister Theresa May stating that “Jeremy and his family are in my prayers. I know he’ll make a swift recovery.” Mr. Corbyn’s close ally and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the press “we’re all shocked to learn Jeremy isn’t invincible after all, but we can rest assured that Labour still stands ready to govern and Jeremy will be back to his old self in no time.” After a longstanding career as a backbencher following the 1983 General Election, Mr. Corbyn, who has been described as being on Labour’s left and as a ‘radical socialist’ won a surprise victory in the 2015 Labour leadership election. He served as Leader of the Opposition for two years, leading Labour to victory in an ‘upset election.’ Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had an emergency meeting following the results and following a four hour long meeting had unanimously voted for a streamlined leadership election to begin ‘imminently.’ The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said “It’s thought this decision to have a new leader ASAP was made following reports of pressure that have been put on the pound, and widespread view in the Trade Union movement particularly that Labour has to seize the moment and get into government as most commentators are expecting.” Following the meeting, Tom Watson announced his resignation as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Speaking to the press, he said: “I think with this election victory there’s a historic opportunity for Labour to have a fresh start so they can be the serious government the British people have elected them to be. It’s no secret at this point I’m a bit of old hat, so I informed the NEC of my intention to resign. Procedures to elect a new Deputy Leader will be in place alongside the upcoming leadership election and I’m optimistic about what this could mean for our great party.”
  7. Mr. Speaker, This is it? Every family in the country is faced with an additional £1700 onto their energy bills and this is the best the government can do? The scheme the Prime Minister has announced today doesn't even begin to grapple with the cost of living challenge faced by millions up and down the country. The government has put forward a plan to only insulate 1.5% of UK homes, the scheme likely won't insulate those 400,000 homes in time for the winter and price hikes and everyone else is told to hold on tight as their household budgets are decimated? Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks of this being a scheme of unprecedented ambition; to the 24 million households across this scheme who won't feel any benefit it is an insult. I want to be absolutely clear Mr. Speaker that the Labour Party unreservedly supports any effective insulation scheme. It is an improvement that 400,000 households across the country will finally see the benefits of insulation. We have repeatedly called on the government to do better on this front since April and insulate 2 million homes. Their failure then has now led the government to panic and rush to produce something they hope is passable but is fundamentally flawed. But it is a change of pace from the past 12 years of failure not overseen by 'government's of all parties', but primarily a failure overseen by the Conservative Party, who had cut investment into insulation at a time we needed it most. If this government is hoping a slap dash and quick insulation scheme can compensate for this decade of failure, they need to wake up and smell the coffee. Because we need to see something bigger and bolder than this, Mr. Speaker. The Labour Party has made clear that if the government put forward a decade long proposal to insulate all of Britain's houses the benefits would be immense. Less reliance on Russian energy - or gas and oil in general. A 10% reduction in our carbon emissions. Economic growth across the country. 450,000 jobs created. Bills slashed for every household by £600. Cases of people dying of cold and asthma reduced. If the government had shown real courage, real determination, and real ambition for our country and the nations, regions and towns within it that would be what they were announcing today. Instead, what we see is a timid and last minute hashed out plan that the government hopes looks like action. But it isn't nearly enough. Even more worrying, Mr. Speaker, are the holes in the plan: I fear the government has not put enough investment or manpower towards a scheme that is already limited in scope. I will always commend British troops without reservation, and their willingness to step in and help insulate these homes during a cost of living crisis shows their unwavering commitment to British public service. But it is not the job of the British army to insulate our homes, and them needing to step in shows that where the army has shown service this government has shown failure. Labour's own projections are that for the government's scheme to work, we'd need 5,000 skilled workers. The government is only offering 1,000 from this scheme. Did the government consult the MoD to see if they had the skilled capacity to carry out the scheme? Were they consulted to see the impact putting British soldiers elsewhere would have on Britain's combat readiness? The truth is, Mr. Speaker, that despite the valiant and best efforts of our army there is the real risk of government incompetence leading to even an insulation scheme this unambitious will not meet the targets it has set. The government have made it clear this scheme is entirely voluntary - so what plans does it have in terms of outreach? How will the government ensure that every single one of the 400,000 homes eligible for this scheme will know of the scheme and know how to sign up to it? We need to be clear, Mr. Speaker, that the decision to employ the army isn't only impractical, but this profound lack of ambition and fear to invest in our towns will mitigate some of the most beneficial aspects of an insulation programme, with fewer jobs likely to be created, fewer workers upskilled and the impact of growth likely to be less felt across communities. An insulation programme isn't just an effective way for us to cut bills and hit net zero: it's a powerful tool for us to level up, one the government has clearly given up on completely. British families up and down the country needed to see an effective cost of living package to get them through this winter and the following year, Mr. Speaker. And in the meantime the government should have rolled out a comprehensive, long term insulation scheme that insulated all of Britain's homes to leave households in a more secure position in future winters while creating jobs and wealth in the process. Hearing the Prime Minister's words today, and hearing the fanfare he built for this measure, I had almost allowed myself to feel a false sense of hope. A sense of hope this government was finally prepared to take the cost of living crisis seriously. Hope this government would finally take the threat of climate change seriously. Hope that it could provide real support for families in a genuinely ambitious attempt to tackle both challenges. Instead, we're only met with a sense that the government and Prime Minister have rushed to try and do something - anything - that could give them good PR while they avoid taxing oil and gas giants who have used the global energy crisis to mop up every penny they can from hard working British families. The government is offering the British people crumbs: only 1.5% of households seeing any benefit from the government’s scheme while oil and gas giants are given licence by this government to make record profits. If this is the Prime Minister's interpretation of ambition, Mr. Speaker, I worry for British people in the months ahead. We need a government that is so much more ambitious than this. We know it is possible: Labour has both outlined to this government a plan to insulate 2 million homes a year and a fully costed package to help families with the cost of living. But instead we are left with a government which is on the side of oil and gas giants over working families, and a Prime Minister who is out of touch, out of steam and out of ideas.
  8. Good afternoon, And thank you for joining me. I know after an uneventful week you’ll be hanging onto everything I say. The last week has made clear there’s only one sector that can depend on this Conservative Party, and that’s tabloid journalism. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is crying out for a new economic vision. Just as in 1979 Britain had to confront that its economic model was no longer working, we must once again confront the reality that our approach has once again become stale. Underneath the democratic demand we leave the European Union there was something more profound: a demand for change and taking back control. Under the neoliberal consensus we’ve operated under, that loss of control has been felt by communities for too long. Despite empty free market rhetoric of giving people more control over their lives, the reality is that people feel as if their fate and their destiny has been outsourced to unaccountable corporations, to unaccountable bureaucrats in Whitehall or – as we’ve seen in recent days – to the whims of politicians and governments abroad. There is a reason the slogan of the Leave campaign resonated so profoundly with the British public, even those who voted Remain. But while we’ve left the European Union, we’ve had Conservative governments refuse to return that control to the British people. This hasn’t just worn down the social fabric of our country, with Britons feeling more lonely, more divided and more powerless than before. It has economic consequences too. The Conservative Party has resided over continuous low growth, low productivity and low wages. These are not coincidences. Instead of an economic model which promises wealth creation, the reality is we’ve seen wealth extraction. The Tories’ low growth economy has unhealthily coincided with record profits for the richest few every year and Britain producing more and more billionaires exclusively from its upper middle classes. The privatisation and outsourcing of public resources meant for everyone has done little to benefit British families, but has gone far in establishing a crony capitalism that profited from the pandemic on the back of taxpayers. All this while workers in the North and Midlands struggle on insecure pay and conditions, knowing their children and grandchildren will only have avenues opened for them if they move to the capital. Communities that once powered Britain through industrial revolutions and wars have been left operating call centres or Amazon warehouses, taking dignity and opportunity from these proud towns. Meanwhile professionals in London and the South East wonder if they’ll ever be able to afford a home and securely raise a family despite doing everything society told them to do. While the rest of the country has been neglected, Londoners have been hurt by an overheated economy and housing market. This is not sustainable. I want to be clear: I do not believe the solutions do not lie in the Old Labour solutions to centralise, nationalise and create a command economy. Those solutions were necessary and worked when it came to guiding our country through a great war and its aftermath. But they ceased to work then, and they won’t get us through this challenge now. Similarly, while New Labour harnessed a neoliberal economic model to share prosperity and opportunity, we must be frank that in the wake of the global financial crisis an uncritical embrace of the current economic model will no longer work and deliver the change the British people demand. William Croft and Cole Harris are simply not up to the job. They want more and more of the model that has for too long been allowed to let Britain fail. Instead of prioritising investing in the country and in the small businesses that put in the graft, they want to hand £20 billion in a corporation tax cut to big multinational corporations. While the former Chancellor decried inequality, his interventions have simply not stepped up to the challenge. A bailout for energy companies here and the creation of an advisory quango within the Treasury there won’t create good jobs in Hartlepool or help young people afford a home in Hampstead. It is completely devoid from grappling with the economic reality of so many working families. I want to be clear before I outline some of the policies Labour will support both now and the future: when the challenge is this grand, no policy is a single silver bullet. But if we’re going to even need to address the problems so many feel, we need to begin to allow the British people to take back control and to have more agency within their community, their workplaces and their public services. That will be the underpinning of our economic strategy. Firstly, while William Croft tries a divide and conquer strategy on public sector pay – deeming that some public sector workers wages will drive up inflation, some won’t, and letting off the people at the top who continue to have massive bonuses funded by record profits – Labour is clear that we must listen to public sector pay boards to find a reasoned way forward. But we know all too often that while public sector pay boards make recommendations informed by fantastic industry representatives we know their sector, the recommendations are often too separated from the lived reality of workers who have seen their pay squeezed or even cut in real terms time and time again in the past decade and are being told once again to make immense sacrifices during a cost of living crisis. We can find a path forward. But it’s crucial workers’ voices are an integral part of that. That is why Labour would pledge to put workers on public sector pay boards. Their personal experience is vital for us finding a compromise. We know when workers are put into crucial decision making processes, they participate reasonably and effectively: the Low Pay Commission has been a resounding success not in spite of but because of the Trade Union representatives within it. And we need to ensure workers have a bigger stake in their workplace and their voices are heard throughout the economy and throughout different sectors. That is why Labour would legislate that workers are represented on company boards, guaranteeing workers have representation and a stronger voice in their workplaces. We have seen that this model in Germany doesn’t just increase job security, but has a positive effect on investment. When a company has a range of voices from the shop floor to the very top contributing, it’s more likely to make stronger decisions on its day to day management. And we must give sectors that are vital to our economy and society more recognition and prestige. When establishing our sectoral fair pay agreement structures, we’d ensure Royal Colleges are established across those sectors, starting with social care and retail, so workers are given a national voice to improve standards and inform policy. And we must ensure that we prioritise British industry and ensure we make, sell and buy more in Britain. Prioritising our industry should have always been a given, but recent events have made the case for an industrial strategy. As Chancellor, I would immediately begin work on an industrial strategy and make industrial strategy a cornerstone to our economic strategy. We have a fantastic manufacturing sector, but we know if it was prioritised it could be world leading. We know we can make more in Britain, but we choose not to, letting so much of Britain’s potential and the potential of workers, towns and communities across Britain go to waste and contributing significantly to our low productivity economy. Abandoning industrial strategy was one of the most self-destructive things done by this Conservative government, met with derision from the TUC and the CBI alike as it left businesses and industries without a framework to tackle the challenges facing businesses and the country, removing business certainty and disincentivising investment into Britain in the process. And we know a well-crafted industrial strategy can be a crucial asset in the challenge to level up the country. But it is crucial that towns and communities across Britain are provided not just with more power, but with more wealth in the process. I would prioritise the levelling up agenda. That’s why in the Treasury, a Labour government would immediately set up a local wealth building unit with representatives of each of the UK’s regions and nations so we can come up with a bold and clear strategy to level up with clear targets that must be met, with our first priority to be a root and branch review of Treasury green book rules so that strict orthodoxy can no longer hold back the potential of Britain’s towns. For too long, we’ve been told if money is put in the hands of the largest multinationals and Whitehall we can trust that it is put back in the pocket of workers, towns and communities. And for too long we’ve seen poor decisions be made nationally and locally, because those most empowered to make the best decisions are disempowered. It’s time we follow some old fashioned common sense and put that money back in the hands of the communities it is meant to serve. Only Labour will put an end to our failed economic model and forge a new way forwards instead of more of the same. A Labour Treasury’s priority will be restoring power to communities, workers, and families across Britain – to you: and we’d ensure we grant the funding to boot. Thank you.
  9. Mr. Speaker, Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear: the Labour Party welcomes the government’s multiple u-turns as it’s become increasingly clear the scale of the situation we were facing. After a week of Ministers showing indifference in the face of an unprecedented cost of living crisis, we have finally seen some level of action. I am glad we have pushed the government into keeping its original cost of living proposals and I am glad the government has ensured the energy price cap will not rise this winter. Whatever issues I have with the proposals – believe you me Mr. Speaker there are issues – my constituents and people up and down the country, for this winter at least, will be provided with a temporary respite that will get them through the worst of this winter. That is always something the Labour Party will welcome, and though we did not get everything we wanted I am glad the Labour Party went some way in pushing for action on the cost of living crisis in the face of Conservative indifference. That is the difference Labour in opposition makes, and the case for Labour in power could never be stronger. Because Mr. Speaker we must be clear that what the Conservatives have offered households today is not enough. The Conservatives have stretched out the costs and told the British public to be grateful for it. When the former Chancellor, the Right Honourable Member for Richmond Yorks, told this very House he would give energy companies a loan to get us through the crisis, we knew that bailout was not good enough. Now we're given a bigger bailout with interest payments attached and are told it is the panacea for struggling households. This represents what constitutes a significant bailout for energy companies: a bailout that doesn't pass the smell tests when those very companies are making a profit. I know Centrica will bemoan that British Gas “only” made profits of £97million. But we should be clear Centrica made 1.3 billion in profit. When being on the precipice of financial oblivion, the British public will not be shedding tears for Centrica and other oil and gas giants who have had to endure the misery of £97 million in profit in a single division of their business. And when 75% of energy is domestically sourced, we need to make clear it is a deliberate choice to put up prices for consumers. It is fair to ask them to cut bills instead of demand the taxpayer fund a bailout and consumers pick up the tab for it later down the line. We need to be clear Mr. Speaker that when asked to provide any financial relief for hard working families the Prime Minister and Chancellor refuse, dither and eventually are forced into providing that relief kicking and screaming if we’re lucky. But the moment the gas and oil giants ask for a handout the government will provide that – £6.8 billion in taxpayers’ money, I’ll add – proudly and without a second thought. All while a 5% hike is still forced on consumers with interest on top for the long term. This is still a deal that prioritises oil and gas giants over businesses and families across Britain which is why the Labour Party will be opposing it. Because while the government are adamant interest payments will go back to the Treasury, we know exactly how energy companies will make up the shortfall put on them through interest payments: by putting the cost onto consumers. The interest payment the government have put on the energy companies is little more than an extra tax on energy bills. That £6.8 billion will have to be paid back, and we know energy companies will not hesitate to make British consumers bear the brunt of that bill. A £6.8 billion bill. We also know the Chancellor’s claims to save the average household £1,000 are wrong because his sums are based on an annual cap. I know he isn’t a fan of doing his homework, but this loan only covers three months. This bailout is snake oil because the Chancellor knows he could have chosen Labour’s plan, to provide further support to every household and to extend that additional support to the most vulnerable as Labour has offered. I suspect the government knows that this delays instead of cuts costs. But because they know how poorly the former Chancellor’s energy company bailout was received, they have tried to present this as something it is not to the British public. So, Mr. Speaker, Labour is clear that gas and energy giants should be taxed to support British households through this crisis, the Conservatives are adamant that it is the consumers that have to pay in the end, with their plan creating the conditions for consumers having to deal with higher energy bills in years to come. And this £6.8 billion is not risk free. If you owe a bank £100, that’s your problem. If you owe a bank £1 million – or, let’s say hypothetically, £6.8 billion Mr. Speaker, that’s theirs. On top of a cost of living crisis the government has now made the viability of energy company's the British taxpayer's problem. And, as this government have been privy to doing, this Chancellor and Prime Minister have swindled taxpayers’ money on a political bet, with all of us needing to pick up the pieces if that bet falls through. I know the Prime Minister has enjoyed discussing Labour's proposals. I think there is some well needed clarification: The government seems to think the Labour Party is not committed to long term solution because we do not think the solution is to pollute the country, wreck our planet and trash our net zero goals. But we know that investing in cheaper and more effective renewables can bring Britain closer to energy independence, push down bill costs and help us reach our net zero target. But the government has not announced a single initiative which would support Britain’s renewable energy sector. We know we need to work with global partners to come up with a wider strategy to resolve Britain’s supply chain issues. The government has not shown that it has even began to take that global action, let alone act on it. But we also know that to get people through the winter, the sacrifice cannot be made by British taxpayers and consumers at the expense of oil and gas giants. While people’s wages will be driven down, the government has made clear to oil and gas companies that their profits can stay high in the process. That cannot stand. This hashed out loan, a tribute act of previous ineffective government schemes makes one thing clear - we have a government that is out of ideas, out of steam and out of touch. Only a Labour government will be on the side of British households, not oil and gas giants who have profited from a cost of living crisis we have all had to suffer through.
  10. After visiting foodbanks in Dewsbury with the Leader of the Opposition Dame Arya West, the Shadow Chancellor Jim Riley gave a speech to the press: “Good afternoon, First, I’d like to pay tribute to the volunteers and campaigners who work at food banks, meal centre or soup kitchens across the country. As the Conservatives have allowed poverty and inequality fester, it shows there is still so much our country has to be proud of that people stepped up and ensured the most vulnerable were fed through these most difficult of times. Every volunteer I have met is brilliant and dedicated, and if their energy was not spent fighting the poverty created by this government I know our country could go on to achieve even greater things. We thought it was bad when we saw the rise of foodbanks in Britain. All of us here want to see a government that will put foodbanks to an end. Instead, we are left with the grim reality where some are ending because people across the country are having to scale back and are no longer able to keep food banks supplied. In a matter of weeks, we know energy bills could be as high as £4000 a year. Addressing this should be the Chancellor’s main priority. Instead, he is spending time in Parliament reciting sermons and tweeting. When he is confronted with questions on how he'll resolve the cost of living, he'll simply roll his eyes as if he is the one inconvenienced. I know he has never had to choose between heating and eating – the only electricity expense he’s ever worried about is his luxury air conditioning. I know he’s never been too afraid to open an energy bill. But his absolute refusal to even discuss the cost-of-living crisis, let alone address it, feels like a slap in the face for the millions of hard working families across the country who take on more hours and can’t keep up with their bills rising. This is my promise to the British people: I know what it’s like to worry about going without. It is my priority that I would work tirelessly, night and day, to draft viable proposals that will ensure that you can put food on the table through these hard times. Thankfully, Labour have already forced the government’s hand. After demanding a windfall tax on oil and gas companies who have made record profits so that we can help people through this cost-of-living crisis, we saw reasonable proposals that saw every household supported but with support targeted towards those struggling the most. So unlike the Chancellor who has already given up on the hard work the Treasury put towards supporting families this winter, I’ll promise this: Labour would keep those proposals almost in full to provide a lifeline for families up and down the country through the coming months. However, there’s three problems we have identified with the original package. Firstly, far from supporting families through a cost of living crisis by fairly taxing oil and gas giants who have made unprecedented profit in the previous months, Rishi Sunak still find time to give a £1.9 billion tax handout to oil and gas giants. Since those profits have increased even further, we know the handout he has given them will be significantly bigger. Oil and gas giants aren’t worried about their breadline; but working people are. To have given them a significant tax break was reprehensible. Secondly, while the original cost of living proposals were distributed effectively – with those needing the most support receiving it – there was one area in which it fell short: in supporting children and families with children through the winter. Households receiving lump sums of support have seen that money more eroded should they have children. With 4 million children in the UK in poverty, it is clear more must be done to safeguard and feed children. Labour is clear that is the priority. Last, we understand that this was a cost-of-living package designed to address a much less sharp rise in energy bills than we anticipated and its clear a further wave of support is needed. There is good news though: we can address the second and third problem and partially fund it through the first. By doing this, we can provide stronger cost of living support that can be funded through the multiple tax handouts and giveaways that have been handed to the wealthiest and most well connected in the past decade. Labour has always been clear that the livelihoods of British households, not the profits of the wealthiest few, must be prioritised. This is a plan that makes clear moral sense but also makes business and economic sense: if consumers can’t even afford the basics, what hope do they have in going out and buying from our high streets? As well as removing the Chancellor’s tax handout to oil and gas companies, we’d scale back on his immoral proposals to scale back the bank surcharge, we’d remove the ineffective business asset disposal relief and we’d clamp down on loopholes in inheritance tax which have done little for farmers but has given loopholes that the rich have exploited to avoid paying their fair share. With this, we can create a further cost of living package designed for the winter to supplement the existing package. It would include a £500 cost of living payment to Universal Credit recipients this winter. It would include further measures to support children and families with children through the crisis – by providing £200 to all children receiving the child element of UC. And we would eliminate VAT on domestic fuel: so while the Chancellor looks to keep taxes on oil and gas giants as low as possible, we’re clear we’d look to keep taxes on ordinary families as low as possible, saving the average household up to £100 in the process. Everyone is struggling through this crisis and is worried about the winter ahead. We’d provide every household with the support they need – up to an extra £350. But, more crucially, we would work tirelessly to ensure the poorest households in the country do not go under as a result of profiteering from energy giants by providing the most vulnerable households with a further £900. Protecting working households is my first and utmost priority as Shadow Chancellor. All of this will be fully funded with the measures I have outlined today alongside the additional tax receipts the government has stated it will be receiving. But I want to be clear: there are two interloping crises and what Labour is proposing today won’t resolve those. The current energy crisis and crisis of inflation can still be solved in the longer term. The Chancellor must actively be part of a global effort to strategies and resolve supply chain issues, and must take the necessary action to reach net zero so we are no longer reliant on the whims of despots and dictators. And there is a long term crisis of poverty in Britain, created by the Tories refusal to craft a strategy that will boost wages and their insistence of implementing a welfare system that is punitive and cruel and punishes working families the most. The Chancellor must also acknowledge and get to grips with this. But these are long term solutions. British households need a lifeline to get them through this winter. Only Labour's plan is providing that funded, credible lifeline for working families, and we will be fighting tooth and nail to force this Chancellor to support hard working families." The Leader of the Opposition, Dame Arya West, then spoke: "Thank you Jim. It is important as politicians to never lose touch with the real and pressing issues that people are facing in their lives. The issues we are elected to help solve. Today is a stark reminder of that. A country as wealthy as Britain should not need foodbanks. The people who volunteer here and donate represent the absolute very best of Britain. But the fact that they have to exist at all should be a wake up call. If a country as wealthy as Britain should not need foodbanks, then what does it say that a country as wealthy as Britain is struggling to even find people in local communities with enough spare to donate to them? This cost of living crisis is real. My message to William Croft is this - you need to get real. Rein in your part time Chancellor, get him off twitter, and get him in Parliament offering real solutions and real relief, not empty platitudes and religious sermons. And we’re here to help. Jim has already laid out measures we can take to get more money to struggling families right now, building on the cost of living package the previous government delivered under pressure from Labour. But I want to talk specifically on energy costs. Very shortly, Ofgem is expected to announce a further £1,200 to £1,500 increase in the energy price cap. That is a financial disaster. People simply cannot afford it. To William Croft and Michael Marshall, that probably means a bit of belt-tightening. To your struggling family in Britain, it means making the kind of hard personal choices that you associate with the past, not a modern wealthy country. Can they afford to be warm. Can they afford to feed themselves and their kids well. Can they afford the basic necessities of life. This too will pass. The global energy crisis will not last forever. But people need real help while it’s here. And what they need like a hole in the head is for the people charging them those prices to be paying out record dividends. So Labour would introduce two further changes to support families with energy costs, which I promised during my leadership campaign. The first is on the energy price cap. Currently, the energy price cap is about as effective as a chocolate teapot. As soon as wholesale prices rise, the cap rises automatically. That is despite the fact that many suppliers benefit from higher wholesale prices. The point of a cap is to shield working families from these wild, and temporary, swings in prices by sharing the risk associated with energy providers, and prevent excess profiteering on the back of a basic human necessity; when most energy we use is produced domestically.. It utterly fails in that. Energy companies are planning to pay out billions in dividends on the back of record profits, and wild swings in prices on energy markets are simply being passed right through to consumers without any of that burden being shared by the companies who should take a fair share of the pain, or at the very least should not be benefitting. It comes down to this: energy is a basic human need and a social good, it is not just a privately traded good like something you should buy in the high street. Energy companies have a social obligation to provide a public service that people cannot live without, not just a profit motive. The Shadow Energy Secretary will set out our plans for resetting the regulatory environment for energy and water so ensure that they fulfil social obligations as public services, not just a profit motive. But in the meantime, Labour is calling for a stronger and more effective energy cap now, urgently, so that struggling families are not faced with excessive bill rises. We would achieve this with a temporary “price brake” mechanism in the energy price cap.That brake will share the cost of the increase in wholesale energy prices between the profits of the energy supplier and the consumer rather than entirely passed on. This is important as a matter of principle and would mean a smaller increase in energy bills this Winter. Ofgem would, effectively, take a longer-term view in setting energy price caps. Rather than expecting consumers to take all the pain right now from higher wholesale energy prices, it would look for a more stable energy price cap that fairly shared the impact of the instability we are seeing right now. That measure would include risk sharing measures in the industry to support smaller energy suppliers who do not have domestic sources of wholesale energy, like the big energy companies making record profits. The second measure we would take is to return the proceeds of growing revenues from the Emissions Trading Scheme to consumers. While other environmental levies return benefits to consumers in lower prices and insulation, the Emissions Trading Scheme imposes net costs. It is a critical part of our net zero ambitions as a country by limiting and creating a market for emissions in the UK. The price will rise, and revenues from the Government will rise. This year, the Government expects to raise nearly £6 billion in revenue - nearly £5 billion more than last year. Our policy would be to pay low and middle income households a twice-yearly “green dividend” equal to the money raised from the emissions trading scheme. This will support people with the rising cost of living, but also support our economy in a just transition to net zero Our intention would be that all households, except those with a higher rate taxpayer, would receive a twice-yearly payment based on their household size. The average household under this plan would receive more than £250 this year - a real help with rising living costs. This would simply be extra unexpected revenue foregone - rather than a new cost on the government. The package that Jim and I have outlined today is a credible, funded, fair response to the cost of living crisis. It recognises the immediate urgency of the crisis that millions of families are facing. William Croft and Michael Marshall now have a choice. They can adopt our common-sense proposals. I can promise that we won’t charge royalties. Or they can leave millions of families at the mercy of their cost of living crisis. For Labour, there would be only one choice right now. I urge them to make the right one. Thank you."
  11. Speech to the TUC: “The future of work: building a new deal on employment and workers’ rights” Keir Starmer's PPS, Jim Riley, spoke to the TUC. His remarks were: "Friends, It’s an honour to speak to the TUC, which represents our Labour movement, today. A movement that is not only crucial to our party founded by the Trade Unions that have loyally supported us ever since, but to the wider country. Eighty years ago, when the threat of Nazism threatened Britain’s values and the world, Trade Unions worked with the government to keep the country moving, producing and fighting. And just last year when the coronavirus pandemic threatened our livelihoods, NHS and economy the Trade Unions once again stepped up to the plate for workers, creating the furlough scheme that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, helping deliver PPE on the frontline and so much more. In recent years, it is right our party has acknowledged the importance of business in producing prosperity and jobs. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that for a few years we could live without CEOs and big bosses, but we couldn’t live without our key workers. While we stayed at home, they put themselves at immense risk to keep shelves stacked, the lights on and hospitals running. We owe workers an immense gratitude – but let’s be clear: we always have. A business would be nothing without workers to sustain it and build it up. And yet while billionaires have raked in the cash throughout the pandemic and this government has funnelled billions of taxpayers’ money to donors and friends, workers are still going without. Wages have been stagnant for more than a decade. Work is more insecure than ever. We used to speak of work as the great route out of poverty, but now it feels after a decade of Tory rule it is the new poverty trap. I’m not calling to destroy the balance between business and workers. And I do not think this is what the Trade Union movement wants either – but it is time that balance is restored after decades of stagnant wages, poor conditions and power being concentrated into the hands of very few. It is time we reward carers with good pay and conditions instead of a round of applause on a Thursday night. It is time that instead of donating to and running foodbanks, we work to ensure workers never have to use one ever again. And it’s time that if companies like British Gas and British Airways want to use our name and our flag, they also make use of our values and treat workers with dignity and respect. That should – that will – be Labour’s core mission in government. Just as workers should deliver on their end of the bargain by showing up and doing a good days’ work as they always have done, it is time businesses fulfil theirs and deliver dignity and a good days’ pay. Businesses and workers collaborating to create and then share prosperity: that doesn’t have to be a utopia. It can be Britain’s reality. We have seen the Union movement step up to the plate and work with government and businesses in the national interest. But the Tories are disinterested in doing anything but hoarding wealth for the rich and well connected instead of for the wider country. Labour will work tirelessly to deliver for working people. That is why in the first 100 days in office, we would introduce Fair Pay Agreements to bring together representatives of workers and businesses in every sector to negotiate wages, so we begin the process of a race to the top for wages, not the race to the bottom we have seen in recent years. And we’re clear a crucial part of that will be banning the grotesque fire and rehire practices the Tories have allowed to fester through this pandemic. To tackle bad bosses, we’ll work to identify those bosses who often manipulate contracts and employment law to excuse bad practice. That’s why we’ll establish just one definition of a worker under law, and we will end the fractured system of employment which allows workers to be unfairly classified as self-employed despite putting their hours solely towards one business instead of themselves, being denied holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave in the process. And it is why Labour will put an end to mandatory zero hours contracts. We support flexible work and labour, but for too long the flexibility has been completely in the hands of employers and not for workers. And for that reason, Labour will put the right to flexible working into law. We’ve seen home working bring untold benefits to workers during the pandemic: more quality time with their families, lower costs, more control over their hours and increased productivity in the process. It is right that this is a benefit workers continue to enjoy in a post pandemic world. And we’ll further add legislation additional allowances for those who have caring responsibilities. The Tories have no argument against this fair settlement for workers. They know it’s wrong employers like Deliveroo will arbitrarily call their workers self-employed so that they can deny them sick pay or a holiday. They know it’s wrong employers like British Gas will fire masses of their staff – not because they can’t afford them or because they’ve been bad workers, but simply to bring them back on worse pay and worse conditions. And they know it’s wrong employers like Wetherspoons will attempt to deny their workers sick pay after they’re doing the right thing and self-isolating after contracting coronavirus. I even suspect they know that the simplest and cheapest way to level up this country as they’ve promised is to just give workers a voice and a stake. Instead, they’ll tell the Union movement they supported them through the pandemic that it is anti-business. We know it’s a falsehood. We know many businesses want to do the right thing and stand by their staff: many already do. But because the government want us to race to the bottom, they won’t be rewarded but will instead lose out. Labour will have their back and support them in fostering strong relationships with their workers. Instead of pitting business and worker against each other, we’re clear they can work as one unit. And we’ll all be better off for it. That is Labour’s founding vision and founding philosophy: everyone having a stake in their workplace, their life, and their community. Trade Unions are the most powerful driving force in achieving that society. And just as unions have had our back, we’ll be clearly we’ll have yours too. Thank you."
  12. Mr. Speaker, While I thank the Honourable Member for Penrith and the Border for his interjection, I’ll quote what the Foreign Secretary said on the sum of UK intelligence: He said and I quote “The central proposition was that, given the troop withdrawal by the end of August, you would see a steady deterioration from that point, and that it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year.” When, not if. And despite having months there was no clear contingency planning, no clear preparation for a worst case scenario, nothing. The Honourable Gentleman should know this. It is the Foreign Affairs Select Committee he sits on which gave this warning to the government. I’m afraid his warnings fell on deaf ears. As for accusations which have come from Conservative Members of the House who have riled themselves up over fantasies that if I were in charge I would simply sit on my thumbs, I would just gently remind them should focus their ire to the reality that it was the Foreign Secretary who was sat on a sun lounger as Kabul fell.
  13. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to have to respond to the statement the Member for Rugby because to me it just epitomises the learned helplessness of this government which leaves us looking inept and inactive on the world stage. He mischaracterises my statement by saying I wanted the Prime Minister to merely discuss a refugee resettlement scheme while Afghanistan plunged into chaos and to do little to nothing else. That's wrong on two fronts. Firstly, in the shorter term, the Honourable Gentleman acts as if the United Kingdom had two choices: an evacuation mission in Afghanistan or establishing a refugee programme, preferably an international one, that would provide urgent assistance to former government employees, journalists, ethnic and religious minorities, women and LGBT people. We know that is a completely false dichotomy. Government consists of more than one cog, and any Defence Secretary and Prime Minister worth their salt have been perfectly able to manage Operation Pitting and ensured government was working towards other aims. But where was the Home Secretary? Nowhere to be seen. Where was the Foreign Secretary? On a beach in Crete. And the Permanent Secretaries for the MoD, Home Office and Foreign Office were also too busy catching a tan and holidaying. All while, as the Gentleman outlines, Kabul burned and the Taliban hanged people in every city. Mr. Speaker, where was the initiative, the urgency or discipline from government in this moment of crisis? If the Foreign Secretary had time to go on holiday, and if the Home Secretary has the time to... well, we're still not quite sure what she is doing with her time other than briefing right wing media outlets, we could have had the foundations of a global plan for refugees in place by now if not an entire implementable strategy. Instead, the Prime Minister has told 20,000 Afghan employees, women, gay people, journalists, Christians, and many others who put their life on the line to help the British mission that they will be able to come to the UK "in time." All while, as the Honourable Gentleman has said, Kabul burns and people are hanged in every city. It's so pathetic that the government only this month has appointed a Minister tasked with overseeing Afghan refugees. We do not have a wider intelligence strategy, a strategy to deal with the Taliban regime, a strategy for aid or a strategy for regime. And every moment Tory backbenchers craft excuses the more that becomes clear - and the more they insult the British public. But let's take the Member for Rugby at his word, Mr. Speaker. After all, it is not out of the realm of possibility that this government is too inept to establish a comprehensive plan or do more than one thing at a time. The problem with even that proposition is the government had months to prepare for this. We're told by the government they need to be cut slack as there was flawed intelligence. But we know Mr. Speaker the flaw in the intelligence was not if Kabul would fall but how fast it would fall. The decision to withdraw was made eighteen months prior to withdrawal at Doha and four months prior the timetable for withdrawal was established, and yet no preparations had been made for a worst case scenario or, it seems, any scenario at all. The consequences of this incompetence are incomprehensible, Mr. Speaker. In July, the Shadow First Secretary of State warned the government they were not adequately preparing for that withdrawal. In May, the Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces was making those same warnings after the Foreign Select Committee warned of the grave consequences of the government's lack of preparedness for the upcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan. This was not something the government received no warning for, and so this failure and this shame is theirs and theirs alone. Our armed forces cobbled together, at the very last minute, a record breaking evacuation programme we can all be proud of. But think about what we could have had if more preparation had been made from the government. Ministers would not be on the airwaves at the very least admitting that people would be left behind and would die, and we would have a comprehensive strategy to deal with this dark new reality that faces the global community. We would be able to have the framework for a strategy on refugees, on aid, on security and a wider strategy for dealing with the Taliban, all while enacting an evacuation programme that could have saved the necessary British and Afghan lives alike. But that is not the world we live in. The government should hang their head in shame for that, and Members like the Gentleman for Rugby should join them for encouraging their delusion.
  14. Mr. Speaker, Allow me to echo what I imagine will be the sentiments of the whole House in expressing my gratitude and pride in the Armed servicemen and women who were on the ground through Operation Pitting and the wider Afghan mission. Their bravery and immense sacrifice, for 457 troops that ultimate sacrifice was paid for with their lives, can feel futile. But to those watching I want to make clear that your efforts were not in vain. There are countless people who are here today because of that sacrifice, whether that is those of us at home who are safe from the terrorist threat that emerged in Afghanistan, women who were able to receive the education they needed to live a more prosperous life and Afghans alive because of UK landmine clearing and water sanitation efforts. It is easy to give into despair when so much of the progress we fought and shed blood for has evaporated right in front of us. But we should all stress today that British bravery and sacrifice was not in vain. From beginning to the end, we saw immense heroism, courage and professionalism: thank you. And that thanks should also be extended to journalists, aid workers and UK diplomats in Afghanistan who have also worked tirelessly to save lives, let alone our fantastic Ambassador in Afghanistan who stayed behind at great risk to the very last possible minute to get everyone he could past the line. This indescribable public service feels like such a contrast to a government that throughout this process has shown complacency, weakness and selfishness. And to have government Ministers and the backbenchers that prop them up come to this House and bray about showing leadership rubs salt into that wound. The government have a tendency to rewrite history Mr. Speaker. A recent example that comes to mind is the Prime Minister claiming he conveniently sacked the Member for West Suffolk a day after he defended him and made the conscious decision to keep him in Cabinet after he was caught breaking the coronavirus rules he made. Not content with painting mirages for the British public, he wants to try and do it to desperate Afghans too. So now we're hearing that the former Foreign Secretary showed leadership from his Crete resort as Afghanistan fell and thousands of British and Afghan lives were put into danger. We all know the Prime Minister has a history of making grandiose comments he can never follow through on, Mr. Speaker - and we have a garden bridge and a road to Northern Ireland to show for it. But when thousands of Afghan lives depend on those promises, the government's pattern of promising and not delivering cannot do. Promises on refugee resettlement programmes cannot be believed when we look at a Prime Minister who scrapped the Dubs scheme after promising not to, and that's before we acknowledge the United Kingdom's paltry offer to begin with. We rightly encouraged women and girls in Afghanistan to take advantage of an education and to strive for positions of power. The same women and girls we supported are the ones in the most danger as the Taliban target them: the idea they can wait until we do something "down the line" would be laughable if it was not so bewildering and cruel. The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary or Home Secretary could have worked with key allies to create a global resettlement scheme which could be acting now to provide safe and legal routes for the most vulnerable in Afghanistan - former government employees, LGBT+ people, ethnic minorities, religious minorities and women. Instead, they have been told to wait and see. We know the Taliban will not wait and see, Mr. Speaker. And it's clear there is no strategy to support Afghanistan through what will clearly become a humanitarian disaster. I note the Prime Minister didn't even bother to mention international or humanitarian aid in his speech, months after he cut Afghanistan's aid budget in half: a decision which we now know will have devastating consequences and will leave Britain looking like it would abandon the people it pledged to protect at the most critical moment, diminishing our image on the world stage when we were promised a global Britain. It is important that Britain's aid budget does not end up in the hands of the Taliban, but that brings up questions as to whether the Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary have even attempted to create the foundations of an aid strategy for what will be chilling and devastating future months. We have no idea if the Foreign Secretary or Prime Minister have liaised with the United Nations, NGOs or our allies to execute that plan or to even discern the capacity the United Kingdom and the international community have to deliver aid across Afghanistan in a way which is as swift as it is smart. We've heard talk of 'Shadow Generals' from the government benches. We did not need Generals to warn us of the worries of a potentially destabilised Afghanistan, Mr. Speaker. Both Conservative backbenchers and Labour frontbenchers, including the Labour First Secretary of State, warned the government of the increasingly fragile picture in Afghanistan. It fell on deaf ears. We have some of the best military minds, we are a leading member of NATO and yet the government is too busy creating excuses instead of creating a plan. It makes us look weak, feckless and unstable right in front of our enemies, including the Taliban regime itself. Instead of telling the British people how powerless we are, the Foreign Secretary or Prime Minister could be working to build up the intelligence framework beyond Kabul and leverage against the Taliban regime to promote the safety of Afghans and for us here at home and preventing Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground for global terror. These were plans the government should have had in place months ago. And yet they still cannot be bothered to cobble it together today. The Foreign Secretary not even bothering to pick up the phone to his desperate Afghan counterpart because he was enjoying a £1,000 a night holiday isn't a shameful exception for this government - it epitomises a shameful norm. Uncaring and unbothered as British citizens' lives are at risk and Britain's global reputation threatens being permanently damaged. That isn't leadership. It is a dereliction of the duty that British soldiers, aid workers and diplomats have shown in spades at this devastating and shameful time. It is just a shame we are left without a government that can support them.
  15. Name: James “Jim” Riley Avatar: David Harbour Age: 48. (b. 9th January 1973). Sex: Male. Ethnicity: White. Marital Status: Single. Sexual Orientation: Bisexual [not ‘out’ but it’s not a secret either. Has only had one serious relationship – with a woman]. Party: Labour. Political Outlook: Labour centre, so somewhere in the Open Labour-Brownite space with a fondness for Blue Labour economics. Constituency: Liverpool West Derby. Year Elected: 2017. Education: Thomas Gray Primary School, Bootle (1977-1984). St George of England High School, Bootle (1984-1991). BA Jurisprudence, University of Oxford (1991-1994). MJur, University of Oxford (1994-1995). LPC, University of Law Manchester (1995-1996). Career: Solicitor, Thompsons Solicitors (1996-2000). Senior Solicitor, Thompsons Solicitors (2000-2001). Head Trade Union Unit, Thompsons (2001-2005). Head of Military Claims Unit, Thompsons (2005-2009). UNISON, Senior Legal Officer (2009-2013). Head of Legal, TUC (2013-2015). Political Career: Member of Parliament for Liverpool West Derby (2017-). James “Jim” Riley was born in Bootle to 1973. His father was a docker and his mother a housewife. Jim states he had a “pleasant, straightforward” childhood. Despite his working class background, he was noted to have been an exceptional student and was encouraged by his teachers to aim high. He became the first in his family to go to University and the first in his sixth form to go to Oxbridge, where he studied law. Having been considered to be an exceptional mind in law, he obtained his MJur at Oxford and moved back up North to complete his LPC in Manchester. A Labour Party member since 16 and passionate defender of the Trade Unions with deep family links, Jim specialised in employment law and worked with Thompson’s Solicitors due to their connections to the Trade Union movement. He worked in the Liverpool and Manchester branches and quickly rose up the ranks, heading up crucial branches and divisions in the country. After 9 years of working at Thompsons, Jim moved on to work within UNISON and eventually headed the legal division within the TUC. He left but was respected as one of the country’s most respected Employment solicitors, and had provided advice to the Business, Defence and DWP Select Committees and legal guidance to various charities, organisations, councils and Trade Unions whilst doing freelance work after leaving the TUC. Working primarily in his home city of Merseyside, Jim was selected to be the Member of Parliament for Liverpool West Derby and won (to no surprise) in 2017. Jim has not been a notable MP, and was neither a noted Corbyn loyalist nor rebel. Following the disastrous 2019 General Election, he supported Lisa Nandy for leader and Angela Rayner for Deputy Leader. He is a member of the following AAPGs: Carers, Children of Alcoholics, Green New Deal, Homelessness, Immigration Law and Policy, Liverpool City Region, Northern Culture, Palestine and Youth Affairs. He is the chair of the Homelessness AAPG. He is vice chair of the Northern Culture and Green New Deal AAPGs. In his personal life, Jim lives with his sister and his mother, with his sister being his mother’s carer. He is a lapsed Catholic. He is “not strictly teetotal, but virtually teetotal” and is interested in boxing, football and Scandi noirs.
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