The following article appears in this week's South Yorkshire Times:
I recently found out that in Barnsley alone, there are currently 6,500 people living with cancer and under the care of Macmillan Cancer Support. And there is hardly a family in the whole of South Yorkshire - including my own - whose lives have not been touched by cancer. That's why this month, I was proud to support Macmillan’s ‘lives depend on it’ campaign in order to guarantee that cancer care is a top priority for government.
More can be done to ensure that people with cancer get the right support they need. There is still a long way to go to ensure we are diagnosing it earlier, treating it more effectively and preventing it in the first place.
A recent report by the Macmillan found that cancer survival rates in Britain are amongst the worst in Europe. It is estimated that by the end of the next Parliament in 2020, half of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in our lives. One of three of these will die within the first year of diagnosis. This is should be a wake-up call to government that things need to change.
Levels of care in the UK currently lag behind the high standards set in Europe. Despite all the progress that was made in previous years, did you know that under this Government the NHS recently missed the national cancer treatment target for the first time ever? People are now having to wait longer to start their treatment meaning added anxiety and distress for thousands of families and, in some cases, survival chances reduced.
Another big problem is the level of disparities and inequalities for those accessing treatment, particularly for older people. There shouldn't be a postcode lottery when it comes to cancer care. It is unacceptable that in some hospitals patients are not getting the standard of care and support they deserve.
It is also the case that too many people, against their wishes, end their life in hospital. That is why Labour has said it will work towards giving people the right to die at home, with their friends and family around them, with free end-of-life social care as part of that.
Macmillan has a strong presence in South Yorkshire with 113 professionals - including nurses, doctors, outreach workers and support staff, each working hard around the clock to help cancer sufferers and their families. Macmillan is a brilliant organisation. They are the nurses helping patients through their treatment; the experts on the end of the phone; the campaigners pushing for better cancer care; and the fundraisers who make it all possible.
All politicians, no matter what political party, should commit themselves fully to delivering improvements for cancer patients and their families by supporting the vital hard work of charities such as Macmillan. You can find out more about Macmillan and their 'lives depend on it' campaign by visiting their website www.macmillan.org.uk or by calling them free on 0808 808 0000.
The following article appears in this week's South Yorkshire Times: I recently found out that in Barnsley alone, there are currently 6,500 people living with cancer and under the care...
“Even in these difficult economic times, the UK has a moral responsibility to help the poorest people in the world… We will honour our aid commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid from 2013, and to enshrine this commitment in law”. These are the words of the 2010 Coalition Agreement. Yet, despite a number of opportunities, this has yet to happen.
In June 2012, my good friend and colleague Mark Hendrick MP tabled a Private Member’s Bill which would have enshrined the commitment in law. Sadly, despite warm words from Government ministers, a Tory backbencher was able to use parliamentary process to stop the Bill progressing.
In September 2012, the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening stated: “A Bill has been drafted and, as the Prime Minister has said on several occasions, we will legislate when parliamentary time allows”. But two years on and no Government legislation has been published. As Save the Children ambassador Mariella Frostrup has said:
"This has been kicking around for way too long...We agreed it, everyone had it in their manifesto and the public voted for it - but no-one has put it into practice".
But this week's vote in the House of Commons brings new hope. Michael Moore’s Private Member’s Bill successfully passed its second reading. This is the result of so much hard work from charities like Save the Children, Act!onaid and Labour MPs, who have been relentless in their determination to see this Bill progress. The Bill will now progress to committee stage, where it will be scrutinised by a committee of MPs.
This is an important step for so many reasons. British aid makes a huge difference to millions of people all over the world and demonstrates our strong commitment to social justice. Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary, Jim Murphy, was right when he said that “we should be proud of what our generosity can do for those in need and what it says about us as a country”.
Great strides were taken by the last Labour government on development. Our hard work and commitment helped achieve so much. Three million people a year were lifted out of poverty, aid was trebled and we helped drop the debt. Global agreement on the Millennium Development Goals was secured, international coalitions to secure agreements that were right for Britain and the world were established and we set the UK on course to meet its historic commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance. Now we need to see that commitment enshrined in law.
In my role as a 'parliamentary champion' for the brilliant Save the Children, I was fortunate to join them on a visit to India where it was humbling to see first-hand the importance of international development and foreign aid and the positive impact it has on tackling international poverty. Indeed, since 1990 child mortality rates have been halved and in 2011/12 and 2013/14 British aid helped 10.2 million children attend school. However, as I wrote for the Huffington Post at the time of the visit, it’s clear that there is so much left to do.
Often the world’s poorest and most impoverished places are in areas of conflict, like Syria, where it was reported in July that in excess of 160,000 people have been killed, more than 11,000 of whom are thought to be children. And millions more have been forced to flee the violence.
Not only do we have a moral obligation to help the most vulnerable and advance and support fragile and developing states, but it is also in Britain’s interest to do so. We must work to nurture and develop stable countries that will likely go on to become future trading partners. By ignoring them, we run the risk of creating failed states that have the potential to become breeding grounds for those who would threaten our security do us harm in the future. So there is also a compelling 'enlightened self-interest' case to support international development.
The Turn Up To Save Lives charities have campaigned with such determination and through their persistence, emails have been dropping into my inbox asking that I support this Bill. We’ve passed the first hurdle, but there is still a lot to do. Labour will work hard to make sure this Bill continues its progression through Parliament and becomes law. We must wait to see if the Government finally follow through on a commitment made four years ago. There must be no more excuses.
“Even in these difficult economic times, the UK has a moral responsibility to help the poorest people in the world… We will honour our aid commitment to spend 0.7% of...
The following column appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent:
Remember when ministers used to tell us “we're all in this together”? We know that the Government have given a tax cut to millionaires whilst driving up the cost of living for ordinary people. Well now, thanks to official figures, we know that less well off parts of the country like Barnsley have been hit harder than wealthier areas in the south.
Figures from The Audit Commission recently showed that councils in some of the country’s most deprived areas have had to endure budget cuts disproportionate to those in more affluent areas. Council spending power per household in Barnsley has been reduced by £390.91 under David Cameron, whereas his own council in West Oxfordshire have only seen cuts of just £95.81 per household.
Spending power is the total amount of money available to a local authority from various sources of funding - like council tax and different grants, plus health funding - and that’s money that is used to maintain and improve local services such as education, transport, social care and housing.
How can it be right that Barnsley, ranked the 47th most deprived council out of 326 English local authorities, gets clobbered more than David Cameron’s local council, when his constituency is in the tenth most affluent area in the country?
Perversely some areas such as Surrey Heath and Wokingham, despite being some of the wealthiest parts of the country, will have actually seen an increase in council spending power under this Government.
A report by Sheffield Hallam University earlier this year confirmed that former coalfield areas like in South Yorkshire continue to lag way behind the more better-off parts of the South, in terms of health, deprivation, unemployment and job density. But areas like ours are suffering the biggest cuts.
In all of this, Barnsley Council have had to deal with massive cuts of £46 million since David Cameron came to power. Tough times demand tough choices, but these choices have also got to be fair. Labour is determined to tackle the deficit, but to do so in a fair way. That is why we have said we will end the bias against our poorest areas by ensuring that the funding to different parts of the country is distributed more fairly. Funding will be directed towards need.
What we are seeing in Barnsley is just like what happened under previous Tory governments when areas like ours were hit hardest. We need an economic recovery that is about ensuring good quality jobs, decent opportunities and prosperity for families in every corner of the country - the 'One Nation' approach talked about by Ed Miliband. That's just not happening under the Tories.
We're all in this together? I don't think so. And looking at what is actually happening in Barnsley, it would seem that some of us are more 'in it' than others.
The following column appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent: Remember when ministers used to tell us “we're all in this together”? We know that the Government have given a tax...
The following column appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent:
David Cameron likes to boast about the jobs he's creating. But what he doesn't tell you is that 80 per cent of them are in London and that we've seen a boom in low paid, part-time, insecure jobs. And because I'm worried about Cameron's race to the bottom, last week I launched a survey for my constituents in Barnsley East to give people the chance to voice their opinions on what's happening in the jobs market - including the impact of immigration, zero-hour contracts, low pay and part-time working.
Growth is finally returning to our economy, but it is not feeding through to working people’s living standards. Since 2010, working people are £1,600 a year worse off. We’ve seen a record number of people working part-time because they can’t get the hours. We’ve also seen the number of exploitative zero-hour contracts rocket and a minimum wage that’s been run down. This means we have too many people in work but reliant on benefits to help make work pay.
What we need is more and better well-paid jobs. That’s why Labour has said it will strengthen the minimum wage, encourage employers to pay the living wage and ban the exploitative use of zero-hour contracts. But there is always more that can be done and I want to hear your views.
My latest survey is also about facing up to tough issues like the impact of immigration. I know that many people in Barnsley are concerned about immigration and the impact it can have on jobs, wages and our local communities. It is not prejudiced to worry about immigration and I understand the legitimate concerns people have.
That's why Ed Miliband has been right to say that the last Labour government made some mistakes on immigration and why he's been right to change Labour’s approach. For example, Labour has said we will ban recruitment agencies who just hire workers from overseas. That's why we want to stop migrant labour being exploited and undercutting the pay and conditions of our own local workers. That's also why we need stronger border controls and tougher action to tackle illegal immigration.
So as we enter the final summer before next year's General Election, I want to hear the views of the people of Barnsley East on what else we should do. Politicians do a lot of talking. We ought to do more listening. That's what my survey is all about. If you live in Barnsley East, go to my website on www.michaeldugher.co.uk and Have Your Say. I think we need an economy that works for hardworking people and not just a privileged few at the top. Let me know what you think.
To take the survey please click here.
The following column appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent: David Cameron likes to boast about the jobs he's creating. But what he doesn't tell you is that 80 per cent...
In the coming days, we will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War - a war that was meant to end all wars. Sadly, it didn't. But it did change Britain forever.
Within the first three weeks of the outbreak of the First World War, over 1,000 Barnsley men were recruited and marched off from the site where we now have our cenotaph, outside what is now Barnsley Town Hall. So many of those men never returned home.
In May this year, I was privileged to be part of a delegation from Barnsley who visited Serre, the place where the Barnsley Pals fought on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in France. It was here where the Barnsley Pals suffered 545 casualties. Today there is a memorial dedicated to the Barnsley Pals close to the cemeteries containing the graves of many of the men who were killed.
But you don’t have to travel that far to make the act of remembrance. Last week, I visited Wombwell Cemetery and was given a tour of the war graves there by a representative from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Wombwell has one of the largest numbers of war graves in Barnsley, including 19 men who died as a result of fighting in the First World War and 12 men who had served in the Second World War. The soldiers, sailors and airmen buried there were brought back to the UK after being wounded, but subsequently died as a result of their injuries.
There are plenty of such war graves in our local cemeteries in Barnsley. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission does a fantastic job in keeping accurate records of the graves of fallen servicemen across the world and maintaining them where they would otherwise fall into disrepair.
This year has also seen local historians working hard to properly remember the men who went to war from our communities here in Barnsley. In October, I will be attending a launch of a book at Worsbrough Library, which will profile local men who saw active service in World War One. As we prepare to mark the centenary, there are many such local events taking place and most of our libraries and local history societies currently have displays. It's also particularly encouraging that so many schools have been teaching children about what happened.
This summer, I will be taking my own children to visit the war graves in Wombwell. It's really important for them to understand the consequences of war and to fully appreciate the sacrifices made so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. Evidence of that sacrifice is right there on our own doorsteps. As we say every Remembrance Sunday: we will remember them.
In the coming days, we will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War - a war that was meant to end all wars. Sadly, it didn't....
The following article appears in this week's South Yorkshire Times:
One of the things Doncaster MP Ed Miliband hasn't had enough credit for is how he has changed Labour when it comes to immigration. The Labour Party has admitted that we got things wrong in the past, including not introducing transitional controls for Eastern European countries and not fully recognising the impact immigration can have on local communities.
This is why, under Ed’s leadership, Labour’s stance on immigration has changed significantly. It is not prejudiced to worry about immigration and we understand the legitimate concerns people have.
I am proud that we live in a diverse country that faces out to the rest of the world. Immigration has made a positive contribution to our economy and communities over the generations, but it must be managed and properly controlled.
The Government’s approach is simply not working. David Cameron promised to get net migration down to the tens of thousands, but it is rising, not falling. Fewer people are being stopped at the border, which means we are now seeing an increase in illegal immigration. And fewer foreign criminals are being deported.
Under Labour’s proposals, immigration will be controlled better, with people counted in and out of the border. We will also crackdown on illegal immigration by reintroducing finger print checks at the border and closing down loopholes that allow for the exploitation of short-term student visitor visas.
But as well as implementing practical policies to control immigration, we will also address the real impact it can have on jobs, wages and local communities. One of biggest problems with immigration is that migrant labour is exploited to undercut pay and conditions of our own local workers. That is why Labour will ban recruitment agencies from hiring solely from overseas and put in place tougher enforcement of minimum wage laws.
We will also ensure that every firm hiring a migrant worker from outside the EU is required to offer an apprenticeship in return. This will help give young people the opportunities and training they so desperately need.
UKIP likes to talk tough on immigration, but they would just make things even worse with their policy to axe employment rights, such as maternity pay, holiday pay and sick pay. And turning our back on Europe and the rest of the world certainly won’t work. We need a system that is fair for everyone and that is seen to be fair. That’s why we will also change the rules so new EU migrants will not be eligible to claim benefits for the first six months they are here and anyone who commits a crime soon after arrival will be deported.
On top of this, we will ensure that migrants integrate better into British society by making more migrants learn English. With Labour, anyone working in a public sector job coming face-to-face with the public will be required to speak English.
So Labour has listened to people’s concerns and learnt from the things we got wrong in the past. Ed Miliband has been right to change Labour’s approach to one that will not only properly control immigration, but also address the negative impact it can have on local jobs, wages and communities.
The following article appears in this week's South Yorkshire Times: One of the things Doncaster MP Ed Miliband hasn't had enough credit for is how he has changed Labour when...
has been said that David Cameron never resolved the tension within his party and himself between those inclined to nostalgia – that you win with a populist right-wing agenda such as Michael Howard offered in 2005 - and those inclined towards change, modernisation and One Nation politics. But we finally now have a winner. Compassionate conservatism, which once defined Cameron as a change-maker, is now lying flat on its back.
But don't take my word for it. This is the view of one of the key architects of Tory modernisation and close friend of David Cameron and George Osborne, Danny Finkelstein.
In a lacerating demolition of the project to mimic Labour's occupation and redefinition of the British political centre-ground from power, Finkelstein, speaking at conference, has said: "Our problems are we don't have enough young people, we don't have enough ethnic minorities, we do not have enough people in prosperous rising cities". He goes on to warn Cameron against racing rightwards after Ukip votes and, most damningly, says if David Cameron stands up for what he believes “he'll just lose”, revealing what we all know: Tory modernisation failed under David Cameron because he doesn't believe in it.
As if to underline this, last week's reshuffle failed to fulfil Cameron's modest ambition of wanting "a third of all my ministers to be female", with 32 of the 43 promoted people being men. Only five of 22 Cabinet Ministers, a quarter of Ministers and just 16 per cent of Tory MPs are women.
But the failure of modernisation runs deeper than this. Consider who's in and out in David Cameron's Conservative Party.
David Willetts, an early and consistent proponent of modernisation who criticised the Conservatives' "strong element of bring-backery", was axed. Cameron finally binned the “Big Society” when he fired the likeable and highly respected Tory centrist, the “Minister for the Big Society”, Nick Hurd. And this dismissal of Greg Barker, who argued for "the radical, ambitious, modern Conservative Green agenda", signalled the final death-knell for any notion of “vote blue go green” - 1-0 to the haters of “green crap.”
There is also no space for Ken Clarke, a hate figure for the Tory right because of his longstanding support for EU reforms based on political agreement. Clarke famously advised his party: "I do not think we can win an election from the right".
With the exception of the dismissal of the Owen Paterson, who was sacked not because he was right wing but because he was failing in post, the reshuffle saw Tory One Nation politicians purged.
We now have a Foreign Secretary in favour of leaving the EU and who said the vote on same-sex marriage was "damaging". The new Education and Defence Secretaries both voted against same-sex marriage. The new Environment Secretary lauds Margaret Thatcher while the Welsh Secretary is "sceptical" of devolution.
Priti Patel, Exchequer Secretary at the Treasury, has voiced her support for the death penalty. Amber Rudd, now at DECC, says women are "punishing" the Government for the cost-of-living crisis. Meanwhile, Esther McVey, the “Minister for TV and Broadcast” questioned whether many people on Disability Living Allowance are disabled because bodies "heal".
And we now see that the removal of respected Dominic Grieve was to pave the way for an exit from the European Court of Human Rights.
This lurch to the right is the culmination of Cameron's long-term capitulation to that wing of his party. Withdrawing the Tories from the European People's Party in 2009 to form an extreme peripheral group left Britain weak and isolated (as Cameron's failure to stop Jean-Claude Junker showed). The Government said we were "all in it together" but prioritised the privileged with a tax cut for people earning over £150,000 while families are £1,600 a year worse off. Cameron's slogan "I'll protect the NHS" became £3bn being diverted away from the frontline. The Big Society gave way to huge cuts to the third sector.
The totems of David Cameron's initial project have been abandoned in a race to the bottom with Ukip. David Cameron has no vision beyond Nigel Farage's latest polling numbers.
The reshuffle was the consequence of David Cameron occupying the political territory he once defined himself against. Cameron's failure to modernise stems from his failure to confront, convince or lead his party and now he clings to the outdated ideology of “trickle-down” economics, tied to austerity and traditional Tory deference to powerful vested interests.
By contrast, a changed Labour Party under Ed Miliband has come together to agree a programme for government based on big reforms, not big spending. We are at a crossroads for our country where too many people - having to work harder for longer for less - see an economy that no longer works for working people and where opportunities for the next generation are worse, not better, than they were for the last.
The champagne has no doubt been flowing in Tory offices - a celebration for promoted Ministers, a drowning of sorrows for the vanquished. But any partying last week was really a more like a wake, a sad send-off to mark the death of compassionate Conservatism and centre-ground politics.
has been said that David Cameron never resolved the tension within his party and himself between those inclined to nostalgia – that you win with a populist right-wing agenda such...
This article first appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent:
One of the first things I learnt after becoming Member of Parliament for Barnsley East was that if you want to get your picture in the Barnsley Chronicle, go and stand next to the Mayor of Barnsley! It seems that all year round, the MPs and the Mayor follow each other around, attending local events.
We recently welcomed a new Mayor into office. With Councillor Tim Shepherd taking hold of the reins for the next year, we can take real pride in the work of our Mayor and give them our full support.
Barnsley has had a civic Mayor in place now for 145 years. This is not to be confused with places, like in Doncaster, that have a directly-elected Mayor - someone who is in charge of running the local authority. We have a Council Leader and a 'cabinet' heading up local government and I think that is much better for our Borough. But the civic Mayor in Barnsley is a really important job.
Barnsley’s first Mayor, Alderman Henry Richardson, is commemorated today by a bust on display in Barnsley Town Hall today. It's the Mayor's job to be the 'first citizen' of the town and to lead many of the civic ceremonies that many of us take part in every year – from Remembrance Sunday Service to the homecoming parades, like when soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment returned from active service in Afghanistan.
The Mayor is also responsible for promoting the Borough, raising our profile and being an ambassador at events across the country for our town. They are responsible for meeting and greeting guests to the town, including Royal visitors.
The Mayor attends around 400 engagements every year, many of which are at weekends and late into the evening. Being Mayor is a massive commitment, but it's also a great honour. I know from talking to previous Mayors, one of their favourite duties is welcoming school pupils to our Town Hall and the fabulous Experience Barnsley Museum, to learn about Barnsley's proud history.
The Mayor also undertakes other duties, including attending events to celebrate some of the invaluable work that so many local organisations do in our town, from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau to vital local charities.
And talking of charities, the Mayor’s Charity itself raises around £10,000 every year for local good causes, with the focus being on the charities that may otherwise attract very little attention. This year Tim Shepherd is supporting two local charities. Firstly, the 'White Knights Emergency Service', which offers a free motorbike transfer system for items such as blood supplies and records between South Yorkshire NHS Trusts and local hospices. Secondly, he will be raising funds for 'Creative Recovery', a movement of people who use creativity to bring about social change, grow community spirit and boost well-being and recovery. Since 2010, the Mayor has raised £54,913 for charities like these that provide a lifeline to people from every corner of our community.
In the past four years I have worked with brilliant Mayors of Barnsley - Margaret Sheard, Karen Dyson, Dorothy Higginbottom, Ken Richardson and now Tim Shepherd. All have done a fantastic job for us in Barnsley. And I've learnt in the past four years that there is certainly a lot more to being Mayor than simply having your photograph taken in the local paper!
This article first appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent: One of the first things I learnt after becoming Member of Parliament for Barnsley East was that if you want to...
This article first appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent:
Last weekend I had the enormous privilege to help mark the 30th anniversary of the Miners' Strike by marching proudly through Barnsley Town Centre with the NUM and hundreds of people from every corner of the country.
Although it hammered it down with rain, hundreds of well-wishers from the Town also turned out to line the streets and support us. The march was accompanied by the fantastic (but soaked) Barnsley Brass Band. Out too came the banners, beautifully displaying the famous names of so many pits, now sadly mostly long gone.
But it was still a great occasion. It reminded me of how in 1985, as a ten year old lad, I marched with the miners who were returning to work after the year-long Strike in Edlington. This is about ten miles from the Barnsley East constituency I now represent in Parliament and, although my home in South Yorkshire is now in Birdwell, Edlington was where I grew up as a boy and it was where my family had helped to sink the Yorkshire Main Colliery more than a century ago.
Without growing up during the Strike and seeing at first-hand what happened during that time - and witnessing the devastation caused by the Thatcher government's subsequent pit closure programme - I doubt I would have ever gone on to be a Member of Parliament.
That's why last weekend's commemoration of the Strike was so important. It is about remembering not just what happened to our area, it's also about saying to the current Government that we are still living with the impact of losing that industry. Despite the undoubted progress that has been made in the area with new jobs, it's estimated that we need around 40,000 jobs in the Borough of Barnsley just to reach the national average for employment density.
A recent report by Sheffield Hallam University showed that despite the improvements made over the years in the former coalfields, lately things have started to get worse again. And it's worth remembering that the pits didn't just provide jobs, they also gave us pride.
We desperately need to attract more jobs to Barnsley. But we also want to see better jobs too - not the low paid, part-time, 'zero hours' jobs we've seen under in the last year or two under David Cameron. We want jobs that give people a decent standard of living and restore some pride.
So last week's march with the NUM was not just a celebration of our past. It was also about saying that we want better opportunities for the future. Like many Barnsley families, I'm very proud of my family history in the South Yorkshire coalfield. But as well as honouring the tremendous contribution our area made in years gone by - and trying to right some of the injustices that were inflicted on our communities - my job today as an MP is to fight for a better tomorrow for our area.
This article first appeared in this week's Barnsley Independent: Last weekend I had the enormous privilege to help mark the 30th anniversary of the Miners' Strike by marching proudly through...
This Saturday, I will be joining the Mayor of Barnsley in the town centre to celebrate the countless servicemen and women who display exceptional bravery, dedication and professionalism in serving their country.
Unlike my brilliant fellow Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, I have never served in the Armed Forces. But as someone who worked in the Ministry of Defence before being elected, and whose first Parliamentary role was as Shadow Defence Minister, I have worked alongside many military personnel and I have a strong sense of admiration for their selfless commitment to keeping our country safe.
Barnsley has a lot to be proud of when it comes to honouring our Borough’s contribution to our armed service. Only last month, I joined a delegation of Barnsley leaders on a visit to France, where we paid tribute to the Barnsley Pals, the thousands of brave men who marched off to war from every walk of life in Barnsley, leaving wives, children, parents and loved ones. So many never returned.
This Saturday, I will be joining the Mayor of Barnsley in the town centre to celebrate the countless servicemen and women who display exceptional bravery, dedication and professionalism in serving... Read more