Newsletter 30 October

Apsana Begum
In this issue, you’ll find out what I’ve been up to over the last month representing you: 
 
(1) Autumn Budget
(2) Working for Poplar & Limehouse
(3) On the climate emergency
(4) Solidarity across borders
(5) On education
(6) On worker’s rights
 
Like many others, I was horrified to learn of the murder on Sir David Amess MP and my thoughts and prayers are with him, his loved ones, and staff.  The Home Secretary announced that there is now an increased threat facing MPs. This murder highlights yet again the dangers for those doing public service especially frontline workers who risk their lives on an everyday basis and have lost their lives in the pandemic.
 
As we enter the winter period, I am urging everyone to be cautious and look out for one another as cases of coronavirus increase. Government measures to tackle coronavirus are insufficient which is why, if MPs were given a vote, I would have voted against the Covid Act to ensure it is repealed and replaced with targeted measures.
 
Best wishes, 

Apsana

(1) Autumn Budget🛄

This week the Chancellor announced his budget leaving the government’s claims of ‘levelling up’ brutally exposed.  Funding remains desperately short to tackle the most pressing issues of our time, from the epidemic of violence against women and girls to the building safety crisis. I will continue to push for the large-scale public investment needed as we go into the harsh Covid winter.

Ahead of the Budget, I called on the Chancellor to undertake and publish a comprehensive equalities impact assessment for this and future budgets and outline how each measure in his budget will mitigate against negative impact on communities most impacted by inequality.

I also joined teachers, parents, and the East London branch of the National Education Union to present a petition to the Chancellor demanding that he pledges long term funding for maintained nursery schools – 5 of these are in our borough and are being left with no choice but be forced to close or merge.

I also made representations to the Secretary of State for Housing, with four key asks to bring the government’s ‘levelling up’ rhetoric into reality and address the housing crisis.

 

(2) Working for Poplar & Limehouse📍

I’ve been campaigning to secure the future of St George’s and Tiller leisure centres, which are closed despite restrictions being lifted.

In addition to meetings with constituents, the Mayor and the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets council on this, I’ve tabled motions in Parliament to secure the future of our much needed local resource and have raised the issue with Ministers and Swim England.

On the 3rd October, I marched with constituents at the 85th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. This ‘battle’ must not just be a footnote in our history but be a constant call to be pro-active in our anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning.

As Oswald Mosely and the Blackshirts attempted to march through Cable Street, it must be remembered that it was the police who facilitated them. 85 years on, with authoritarianism on the rise, police powers must remain under limit and check. As I said in my speech, I will continue to oppose draconian measures such as the Policing Bill for this reason.

I have been representing local concerns on One Housing Group’s proposals to merge with Riverside Housing alongside residents on the Four Estates Forum, to the Secretary of State for Housing.  There should be democratic ballot for mergers between housing associations and this should be mandated by government.

On 15 October, I visited  teachers and students at Langdon Park School to discuss a range of topics from mental health care to building international solidarity and answered questions about life in Parliament as a working-class Muslim woman.
 

On 11 October, I attended a lecture at the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest which is home to seafarers and servicemen past and present. I spoke to close the event and discussed with local church leaders the impact of the Universal Credit cut.

On 23 October, at the request of Sabina Nessa’s family, I attended a celebration event in Kidbrooke on behalf of constituents, on what would have been Sabina’s 29th birthday.

I know that this incident like the murder of Sarah Everard, has sent shockwaves through our local community once again and I will continue champion the issue of gendered violence in my role as your representative.

(3) On the climate emergency 🌍

As a supporter of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill , I’ve been calling for the urgent action needed to tackle climate injustices in the lead up to COP26, including highlighting the impact of inaction on countries such as Bangladesh and the need to bring energy systems into public hands.

This has been the key theme of discussion of my school visits. Teaching young people the truth about the climate emergency is vital and that’s why I joined the Teach the Future campaign outside Parliament on 24 October, in support of a climate curriculum to prepare our youth for the future.

(4) Solidarity across borders 🗺️

Six Palestinian human rights organisations have been designated as terrorist organisations by the Israeli government. I’ve sponsored a motion calling on our government to stop , just as many Israeli human rights organisations have done.

The UK-US-Australia military pact will escalate tensions in the Far East. I’ve tabled a motion with colleagues calling on our government to uphold the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and promote stability in the region through diplomatic not military means.

On 22 October, I spoke at the first Belmarsh Tribunal about the impact of the Iraq war on the British Muslim community, alongside international figures including Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who exposed US government lies that began the Vietnam War.

You can watch back the proceedings here about why it is important to campaign to free Julian Assange.

(4) On education 📚

Members of the Universities and College Union including at Queen Mary University of London, are undertaking a historic ballot of pay and conditions which has my support.
 
On 27 October at the Education Committee, I asked the vice chancellors of two universities if they could justify their six-figure salaries against the insecure contractors, low wages and poor pension terms of their workers. You can watch this exchange here.

I spoke at a debate on lowering university tuition fees on 25th October, which you can watch back here .

The debate was made possible by thousands who signed a petition including many in Poplar and Limehouse who asked me to raise their wish to access higher education without paying interest on loans. I’m thankful to all those who signed the petition & wrote to me about this.

(5) Worker’s rights📄

I have been supporting Barry Gardiner MP’s Private Members Bill on “fire and rehire” practices which have been used against workers at Tower Hamlets Council. I contributed to the debate and you can read my Tribune magazine article on the bill here. Sadly the bill was voted down.

GPs have faced a fresh round of attack by the government about their work so I’ve also written to all our local GPs to thank them for all their work during in delivering health care under immense pressure. In next month’s issue, I will outline what I’ve been doing on the Health & Care Bill which seeks to further privatise our NHS.

Selection 2019: 2 years🚩

This week marked 2 years since the selection process, when I was selected to represent Poplar and Limehouse Labour Party in the general elections 2019.

A massive THANK YOU to members for your support to me throughout my time as your Labour Member of Parliament to date!