Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

2014

The following article appears in this week's Barnsley Indpendent:

Next week George Osborne will stand up and deliver his fifth budget. Once again he will claim that his plan is working. Well it certainly doesn't feel like that here in Barnsley.  But, tellingly, it is also what George Osborne won’t say that is important.

What won’t be mentioned is the fact that, because of their failure on jobs and growth, the Government has borrowed more in three years than Labour did in 13. Or that last year the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the welfare bill will increase by £20bn more than was expected between 2010 and 2015.In the last quarter of 2013, the economy grew by 0.7 per cent. That’s the exact same percentage as was the case in the second quarter of 2010 – so it’s taken nearly four years to get back where we started.

In Barnsley the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance is climbing and has risen by seven per cent compared to last month. The big worry is still youth unemployment which increased by eight per cent in the most recent unemployment figures. Since January 2011 long-term youth unemployment has increased by a shocking 106 per cent. People across Barnsley are being hit hard by the cost of living crisis, with working people an average of over £1,600 a year worse off. Recent figures showed that over the past five years, childcare costs have risen by 27 per cent and that even part time childcare costs now outstrip the average mortgage. Added to this, household energy spending has risen by 55 per cent in the last ten years. That’s why we need policies to help people deal with the cost of living crisis. Labour has proposed a number of things including:

Dugher's column: 'We need policies to deal with cost of living'

The following article appears in this week's Barnsley Indpendent: Next week George Osborne will stand up and deliver his fifth budget. Once again he will claim that his plan is... Read more

The following article appears in today's Barnsley Chronicle 2:

One of the proudest moments during my time as a Member of Parliament was in 2010 when I became Patron of a superb local charity doing amazing things right here in Barnsley - the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support (BIADS) charity.

That's why it was a real privilege to visit their new dedicated dementia support centre.

The BIADS Chief Officer, Linda Pattison, showed me around and I was taken aback by how fantastic the new centre is and the excellent work of the staff as well as their 100 volunteers.

Their recent move to Joseph Exley House near to the town centre has helped them to provide even more services to local people who suffer from dementia.

Dementia affects so many and it has such a devastating impact, not just on those who suffer from it, but on the partners, friends and loved ones.

Some 3,000 people in Barnsley suffer from dementia.

With an ageing population, dementia is now one of the greatest challenges facing our health and social care systems.

This is not only because of the increasing number of sufferers, but because dementia and care services are being stretched to breaking point.

Since the Government came to power, over £1.8 billion has been cut from local council budgets for older people's social care.

People with dementia need protection against the massive costs of care at the end of their lives.

That's why it is more important than ever for us to address the existing social care crisis. We need a far bigger and bolder response to meet the needs of our ageing population.

We must develop a genuinely integrated NHS and social care system which helps older people stay healthy and living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

Michael Dugher is the Member of Parliament for Barnsley East and Patron of Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support (BIADS)

Michael's article for the Chronicle 2: 'Fantastic support for sufferers of devastating dementia'

The following article appears in today's Barnsley Chronicle 2: One of the proudest moments during my time as a Member of Parliament was in 2010 when I became Patron of...

This article appears in this week's Barnsley Indpendent:

Last month I went to a brilliant place in Grimethorpe - and I just have to tell you about it.  It's called the Milefield Children’s Sure Start Centre.

I met Amy Tierney, the Centre Manager, and Nigel Cole, the Citizens Advice Bureau Advisor, and they very kindly took the time to talk me through the brilliant things the Centre offers the local community.

The core purpose of the Centre is to help improve the outcomes of local young children and families, particularly those with the greatest need of support.

It aims to address inequalities in child development and school readiness, parenting aspirations and skills, as well as child and family health and life chances. The Centre offers extensive services - from Play Workshops, breast feeding groups and antenatal and post-natal services, to cooking on a budget courses, parenting programmes and help stopping smoking.

Out of the 708 under 5's within the Centre’s reach, 537 are registered. Giving children the best start in life strengthens our community and is really important. Some people might ask, ‘can we afford to do this?’

But the truth is we can't afford not to.  We need to see these services are an investment. Why? Because helping people to stop smoking, or advising them on healthy eating to reduce obesity and related illnesses, actually saves the NHS money in the long run.

Dugher's column: 'Helping kids now will help eradicate anti-social problems in the future'

This article appears in this week's Barnsley Indpendent: Last month I went to a brilliant place in Grimethorpe - and I just have to tell you about it.  It's called... Read more

Some of you may have seen a story in a recent edition of the Barnsley Chronicle about local resident, Malcolm Wallace of Wombwell, who was diagnosed with Polio at the age of two and now suffers from Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). Mr Wallace has found throughout his life that many people, including health professionals, have very little understanding of the condition and rightly wants to see awareness raised.

Thankfully a vaccine for Polio was developed over 60 years ago, and the last recorded case of naturally occurring Polio in the UK was in 1984. As a result it is not surprising that Polio is not an illness with a high profile in the UK. But what many people might not be aware of is that people who have suffered from Polio in the past may suffer from PPS and develop new Polio-related symptoms years later. Symptoms include, amongst others, the onset of new weakness or abnormal fatigue in muscles and muscle pain. Up to 120,000 UK citizens suffer from PPS, including Mr Wallace.

The British Polio Fellowship has been carrying out the admirable task of raising awareness and helping those suffering from Polio and PPS for over 75 years. Their brilliant work has helped to ensure that those suffering from Polio or PPS can live active and integrated lives despite their disabilities. The Fellowship’s work is fantastic, but it is clear that more needs to be done.

Because PPS is a widely misunderstood condition, public knowledge and support is vital in ensuring that those suffering from PPS are able to receive the help they need. There is no cure as such for PPS, but it can be managed in way that can slow its progress or stabilise it. Receiving the right care does a great deal in helping sufferers to retain independence and maintain an active life.

For Malcolm Wallace and many others, this forgotten condition is a day-to-day reality. The British Polio Fellowship and my fellow Labour MP, Andy Love, have started a campaign calling on the Department of Health to address the needs of those living with Polio and PPS and to publicise those needs within the medical profession. This is a campaign I am happy to support - for Mr Wallace and for thousands like him. 

Barnsley Independent: 'PPS: support and knowledge vital'

Some of you may have seen a story in a recent edition of the Barnsley Chronicle about local resident, Malcolm Wallace of Wombwell, who was diagnosed with Polio at the...

On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember and pay tribute to the millions killed in the Holocaust – a scar on humanity that we continue to struggle to comprehend.  

Over six million Jewish men, women and children were killed - alongside many Romani, disabled and other people too - in a systematic, state-sponsored act of murder on an industrial scale. 

Our theme this evening is 'Journeys'.  Two weeks ago, I journeyed to Yad Vashem, the memorial in Jerusalem to the victims of the Holocaust.   We laid a wreath to remember the victims, took part in a ceremony and visited the children’s memorial, which was constructed to honour the one million Jewish children who were killed. 

That journey brought home to me once again the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day, which makes us all stop and take a step back from our day-to-day lives. It is so important that we do pause for remembrance. For when we remember the events of the past, we learn from the events of the past.  We learn so that we do whatever we can to ensure that it could never, ever happen again.  

Worryingly, a survey published only last week found that 91 per cent of the 16 to 24 year olds who responded did not know what genocide meant.   And more than half could not name a genocide since the Second World War, such as in Rwanda – which occurred 20 years ago this year - when one million were killed in just 100 days. 

That's our challenge. With each passing year, it is more important than ever that we remember and teach younger generations about the Holocaust and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Darfur and Rwanda. 

It demonstrates why the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is so crucial.   By partnering with schools, universities and other institutions, the HET plays a vital role in ensuring that the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory.  

Since 1999, over 20,000 students and teachers have taken part in HET's educational programmes and visits to Auschwitz.  And I saw for myself the fantastic work that the Trust does when I journeyed with them, together with some school pupils, on a visit to Auschwitz-Berkenau a few years ago.

Nothing can prepare you for the horror of what you see there.

Every visitor comes away with their own story and the one thing that shocked and upset them the most.  For me, it was what I saw in the very last building we visited.  This was a room full of photographs.  Black and white pictures of men and women, of all ages, from all walks of life in the 1940s.

These were photographs that had been carefully packed into the suitcases of so many people who had arrived at the camp and who were murdered there.   Like our own photos today, these pictures captured precious memories.

But what really got me was all the pictures of babies.  Because a photograph of a baby doesn't date.  A baby in 1944 looks exactly like a baby in 2014.  They looked just like my own children.  But these were babies whose lives were taken away in acts of almost unspeakable evil.

In recent years I have been privileged to meet a number of holocaust survivors.  To shake their hands.  To listen to their stories.

Last year, I attended the annual Holocaust Education Trust dinner in London. As they always do at these functions that I've attended for years, they asked the Holocaust survivors in the room to stand and we led them in applause. All around me, elderly men and women - many very frail - stood and we applauded them.

Because what happened in the Holocaust is not ancient history.  For many, it is living memory.  But when the last of those great Holocaust survivors is sadly no longer with us, there is a solemn duty on all of us to tell our own children and the young people in our communities about what happened. 

Many stories from the Holocaust demonstrate the very worst of what humans can do – of man's inhumanity to man.  But there are also the stories of great human heroism – stories of non-Jews who refused to stand to one side and risked their own lives to save the persecuted.    We are here to mourn the loss of so many lives, but we should also pay tribute to those who saved lives.  We can learn from their values and their courage.

So today we do remember. We do honour those who died.   And we do learn the lessons - from the Holocaust and all subsequent genocides.

Thank you for inviting me this evening and thank you to each and every one of you for the support you show on Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Address by Michael Dugher MP to the 2014 Holocaust Memorial Service in Barnsley

On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember and pay tribute to the millions killed in the Holocaust – a scar on humanity that we continue to struggle to comprehend.   Over six...

This article appears in the Wednesday 15 January edition of the Barnsley Independent:

With the long-awaited release of the previously secret cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, we finally saw it in black-and-white, in official documents, proof of what we always knew to be the case: that we were all lied to by the previous Conservative government.  It comes as no surprise, but it's still nonetheless shocking - and I think it's high time today's Tories apologised.

The cabinet papers confirmed three important things: firstly that, contrary to denials from ministers at that time, Margaret Thatcher’s government did have a secret hit list of pits earmarked for closure; secondly, the previous Conservative government did seek to influence police tactics and put pressure on the police; and thirdly, that the Tories were even willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army in order to gain victory over the striking miners and their families, which demonstrates that we really were seen as "the enemy within” (to use that awful phrase of Margaret Thatcher’s). 

Michael's Barnsley Independent article

This article appears in the Wednesday 15 January edition of the Barnsley Independent: With the long-awaited release of the previously secret cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, we finally... Read more

The following blog appeared on both Labour List and Labour Uncut on Saturday 04 January.

With the release of the cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, one of the more shameful chapters of our history has once again been exposed – and it’s time today’s Tory ministers apologised for the sins of their fathers.

Yesterday cabinet papers from 1984 revealed that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government did have a secret hit list of pits earmarked for closure.  Despite denials by the then government and by the National Coal Board, we now know that Tories planned to close 75 mines at the cost of some 65,000 jobs.

The papers also revealed that the previous Conservative government did seek to influence police tactics and put pressure on them to escalate the dispute.  Government ministers at the time pressured the Home Secretary, Leon Britton, to ensure chief constables adopt a “more vigorous interpretation of their duties”.

Labour List and Labour Uncut: 'It’s time today’s Tory ministers apologised for the sins of their fathers'

The following blog appeared on both Labour List and Labour Uncut on Saturday 04 January. With the release of the cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, one of the... Read more

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