Michael made the following speech at a special ceremony held today in Barnsley town centre to commemorate this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day:
Workers’ Memorial Day is a day when we come together to remember and honour those workers who went to work, but never came home. And particularly here in Barnsley all those workers from our own Borough who were killed at work.
Many of my own family first came to South Yorkshire to work in the pits. When I was in Grimethorpe a few days ago, I paused once again by the memorial to all those who died in the colliery there – a story replicated throughout Barnsley and a reminder of the enormous contribution and sacrifice made by the people of this great Borough.
But if we are to honour our history, we must also learn the lessons from it. As we say today: Remember the dead, fight for the living. In the UK, over 20,000 people are still losing their lives every year because of their work – a statistic that never becomes less shocking.
As the Shadow Transport Secretary, I am also aware of the risks that face thousands of workers in the transport sector each and every day.
Over very many decades, good progress had been made in workplace safety. So much of the credit for this must go to the trade union movement. And that’s why I want to thank all of the unions present here today and to pay tribute to the work they do, day in, day out, to try and make our workplaces safe.
Michael made the following speech at a special ceremony held today in Barnsley town centre to commemorate this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day: Workers’ Memorial Day is a day when we... Read more
The following article appeared in this week’s South Yorkshire Times:
In my first speech in the Commons in 2010, I described the Government’s programme for massive, immediate cuts in public spending as “not new politics, but old economics”. I likened their plans to the 1930’s where spending cuts suppressed demand in the economy, killed investment and turned a global financial crash into a prolonged slump.
What happened after 2010? We know growth in the economy was snuffed out. And yes the Government made cuts, but they failed to deal with deficit or debt.
In 2010 the Tories pledged they’d balance the books by 2015. Yet today the deficit remains a staggering £80 billion. The Tories are now set to borrow £207 billion more than planned. Why? Because this is a recovery for a privileged few the government has built an economy based on low wages, part-time working and zero hours where tax revenues coming into the Exchequer have been woefully poor.
Families across the country are £1,600 a year worse off since David Cameron became PM. Millionaires got a tax cut – how can that be right?
The following article appeared in this week’s South Yorkshire Times: In my first speech in the Commons in 2010, I described the Government’s programme for massive, immediate cuts in... Read more
In recent months, Labour has talked a lot about the need for people to have more of a say in the running of the railways and our bus network. But the same can also be said about cyclists and pedestrians who, similarly, have no voice. And changing that will be one of Labour’s first acts in government.
That’s why, in a recent speech for the excellent Campaign for Better Transport, I announced that Labour will create a new high-level and cross-government Cyclist and Pedestrians’ Advisory Board, which will put cyclists and pedestrians at the top table of transport policy for the first time.
Labour is committed to implementing a long-term Cycling and Walking Strategy in government and we want cycling and pedestrian representatives to be at the heart of its development and implementation.
Labour’s new board will include ministers from across Whitehall, senior civil servants from the Department for Transport, cycling and pedestrian representatives, and will help facilitate the quick publication of the strategy in the next parliament by the summer of 2016.
To show the importance of cycling and walking to a Labour-run Department for Transport, the Secretary of State will chair the board meetings. In addition, to ensure a proper cross-departmental approach, senior representatives from relevant departments will sit on the board, including from the Department for Education, the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
It is only by listening and learning from cyclists and pedestrians themselves that will we be able to deliver the big changes we need across the country.
Boosting active travel is a major priority for Labour as we not only want to improve the nation’s health, but also unclog our towns and cities, help people who are being priced out of transport and make our communities safer and better places to live.
In recent months, Labour has talked a lot about the need for people to have more of a say in the running of the railways and our bus network. But... Read more
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:
Last week I sat for nearly an hour listening to George Osborne deliver his Budget. He was basically telling people that they have never had it so good. Well not in Barnsley we haven’t.
This is a recovery that seems to be only benefiting a privileged few. In fact figures also released last week show that unemployment is up in Barnsley on last month, with youth unemployment in Barnsley East rising by nearly 15 per cent since January. And too many of those who are able to find a job are having to accept ‘zero hours’ or part-time, often low-paid, working.
During the speech, Osborne rolled out his catchphrase ‘long term economic plan’. But how can ordinary working people in Barnsley make long term plans of their own with that type of employment? Let’s not forget, as thousands of working families in Barnsley are facing hardship, millionaires have been given a tax cut by Cameron and Clegg’s Government.
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent: Last week I sat for nearly an hour listening to George Osborne deliver his Budget. He was basically telling people that... Read more
Chief Rabbi, my Lords, Ladies and Gentleman.
Thank you for inviting me here this morning.
It’s great to see so many old friends. To meet new friends.
It’s also good to be here with Michael Gove. We sit on opposite benches of the House of Commons.
In the forthcoming general election you will hear about the many things that Michael and I disagree on many things, but we do have one thing in common – and that is we both share a passionate belief in Israel.
Now I’m not particularly well known for saying nice things about Conservative politicians, it’s fair to say, but Michael recently gave a speech at the Holocaust Education Trust Dinner. And it was one of the finest speeches I’ve heard by any politician of any party. Not just in recent months, but in very, very many years.
Now I was recently interviewed by the Jewish Chronicle and they were interested to know why I was such a staunch supporter of Israel.
They were particularly interested to know, they said, given that I am not Jewish and that I have no sizeable Jewish community in my constituency in Barnsley.
But for me, the reason I support Israel – the reason I believe in Israel – is because, like America, Israel is more than just a country.
It’s an idea. An idea founded on a set of values and principles.
An idea that is worth fighting for.
The founding fathers of the State of Israel built a country on a rock of great ideals: democracy; liberty; rights for all citizens; freedom of religion; opportunity; social justice; and equality.
And like America, Israel’s founding fathers were ambitious, courageous and optimistic, setting only the very highest standards.
In 1948, talking about the creation of the State of Israel, President Truman said: “I believe it has a glorious future before it. As not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilisation.”
These ideals are still very much alive in Israel today.
Last week, we saw the latest general election in Israel’s 67-year democratic history – with a turnout of over 70 per cent of those eligible to vote. Will we get a turnout of 70 per cent in the UK’s forthcoming general election? Maybe, maybe not.
And no matter what you think of the result, it was great to see another example of a multi-ethnic, liberal parliamentary democracy having a big, open and vibrant debate about the future of its people.
Many of you, understandably, will have different views on politics in Israel, or about how the peace process should proceed.
But I know that we are all completely united on this – we believe in Israel, we believe in her right to defend herself.
We believe that Israel is a great country and that she has a right to a great future ahead of her.
Chief Rabbi, my Lords, Ladies and Gentleman. Thank you for inviting me here this morning. It’s great to see so many old friends. To meet new friends. It’s also good... Read more
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent:
This Sunday will be Mother’s Day, when mums across the country get a much deserved reminder of how grateful we are for all they have done for us.
Last weekend was International Women’s Day, where women were also celebrated and recognised for the role they play in the home, community, workplace and wider society.
Here in Barnsley we have a proud tradition of supporting strong and determined women. As we marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike, we are reminded about the fantastic contribution made by the Women against Pit Closures.
Today in Barnsley, out of 63 councillors, 26 are women. That’s 41 per cent – not yet 50 per cent, but we are doing a lot better in Barnsley than we are in Parliament (despite Labour’s progress in recent years).
But just as the House of Commons needs to do much better, a recent report for the Government highlighted that women still only represent just fifteen and a half per cent of executive directors on FTSE 250 company boards.
Women and working mums here in Barnsley, and throughout the whole country, make a massive contribution to our economy and our vital public services. However this Government hasn’t made it easy for them.
On top of the cost-of-living crisis that has come to define David Cameron’s time in office, there are now 720 fewer Sure Start centres than in 2010 and some parents are getting £1,500 less help with childcare support through reductions in working tax credits.
Part-time working – not out of choice, but because people can’t get the hours – and low pay are both facts of life for too many women.
According to research by the Fawcett Society, women are still paid just 81p for every £1 earned by men. Analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics show that because of the gender pay gap, women earn an average £209,976 less over their lifetime than men.
We know that working families are on average £1,600 a year worse off under David Cameron, whilst millionaires have been given a tax cut. But did you know that around a quarter of working women earn less than the living wage, compared to one in six men?
Also, following the last Autumn Statement, it was confirmed that 85 per cent of the Tory-led Government’s cash this Parliament from changes to direct taxes and benefits has also come from women. So women are being hit hardest by the cuts.
We need help now for women and for working families here in Barnsley.
That’s why I’ve been saying we need to make work pay by raising the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour. We need to ban exploitative zero-hour contracts and take action on the gender pay gap by forcing companies to publish the hourly wage pay gap of their employees. Labour is also committed to providing 25 hours free childcare for three and four-year-olds of working parents.
I’m very lucky to be blessed with two daughters and one son. So this Mother’s Day, I’m looking forward to seeing my three young children prepare their homemade cards and gifts for my wife.
It would be nice to think that when they are grown up, my daughters will get the same pay, opportunities and the standards of living that my son might expect. It would also be nice to think that working mums everywhere get the support they deserve from their government.
But the truth is, we’ve still got a hell of a long way to go.
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent: This Sunday will be Mother’s Day, when mums across the country get a much deserved reminder of how grateful...
The following article has been written for Michael’s regular column in The South Yorkshire Times.
Last week I was talking to fellow South Yorkshire MP, the excellent Rosie Winterton. She has been campaigning in Doncaster on behalf of the residents of Silver Jubilee Court, Wheatley Hills, who were left completely isolated after a major bus service into Donny town centre has been slashed.
In my patch in Barnsley, the number 9 bus, which used to go along Farm Road and West Street, has similarly been cut. And did you know that across Yorkshire, there were over a million fewer miles of local bus services last year compared to 2010?
The national picture is just as worrying. Recent figures from the Campaign for Better Transport revealed that more than 2,000 bus routes have been cut in England since 2010 and that things are getting progressively worse.
At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, increasing by 25 per cent since 2010 – that’s a rise that is five times the average growth in wages.
It’s clear that the bus operators have been cutting crucial routes that people rely on at the same time as hiking up fares to maximise their own profits.
The problem is that all the power currently rests with the big bus companies, not with passengers and local communities. This means that if a local council feels a particular bus route is of vital importance for people in the area – like a route that stops at the local hospital – they are forced into the position to find the money to subsidise the route from taxpayers.
These are tough times for local councils because of all the cuts from central government. Yet local bus firms, in focusing on the profitable routes, don’t think it’s their job to dip into their profits to ensure other vital local routes are maintained.
Regions like South Yorkshire should be able to negotiate a better, more comprehensive contract with bus companies that will ensure operators not only get to run the most profitable routes in the area, but also have to run routes that are important for the local communities as part of the overall deal.
Up the road in Tyne and Wear, the local transport authority, NEXUS, are trying to get a better contract for local people in the area. But what has been the response from the local operator Stagecoach? The company are threatening to pull out all their buses out of the area.
The following article has been written for Michael’s regular column in The South Yorkshire Times. Last week I was talking to fellow South Yorkshire MP, the excellent Rosie... Read more
The following blog appeared on the Huffington Post website:
Anyone who knocks on doors knows that one of the most depressing, but all too often, comments from the public is: “You politicians are just in it for yourselves”. And at a time when trust in politicians and politics remains perhaps at an all-time low, this week has been another bad week for Westminster.
That’s why Ed Miliband has been absolutely right to repeat his call to do something about MPs so-called “second jobs”.
Labour MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have already been put on notice that from the coming General Election, the party’s Standing Orders will be changed to prevent them holding second jobs involving consultancies and paid directorships. The party is now consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs. And this week, Ed Miliband confirmed that these measures will be included in Labour’s General Election manifesto.
The fact we have seen yet further allegations in recent days goes to reinforce why Labour has been right to call for new rules and new limits on MPs’ outside earnings. The perception that some MPs are only in it for what they can get, not for what they can give, merely serves to further undermine Parliament.
MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But as Ed Miliband has said: “The British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.”
Huffington Post Blog: When It Comes to MPs’ Second Jobs, the Status Quo Is Unsustainable and Indefensible
The following blog appeared on the Huffington Post website: Anyone who knocks on doors knows that one of the most depressing, but all too often, comments from the public is:... Read more
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent.
The big question as we head to the election is who should our government stand up for? And no more was this illustrated than during the recent row about tax avoidance. You’ll remember that it is alleged that HSBC staff in Geneva encouraged customers to dodge tax payments during the time that Mr Stephen Green was chief executive and then chairman of the bank. That’ll be the same Stephen Green who was made a lord, a trade minister and was appointed to a Cabinet committee on banking reform by David Cameron.
But David Cameron has gone very quiet on the issue. He was repeatedly asked about whether he spoke to the HSBC chairman about tax avoidance during a recent Prime Minister’s Questions. Four times he ducked the question.
The following article appeared in this week’s Barnsley Independent. The big question as we head to the election is who should our government stand up for? And no more was... Read more
The ORR’s report states that over 100,000 passengers were affected by the rail chaos over the Christmas period. Passengers were left stranded across the country, an image that was particularly encapsulated by the pictures of the thousands standing in the freezing cold at Finsbury Park in North London.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that Labour revealed earlier this week, we now know that Ministers were warned and failed to act. The FOI response reveals that Ministers were made aware of the exact problems facing the network over this crucial period.
Information obtained by Labour from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that, on 17 November 2015, the ‘Rail Taskforce’, of which the Department is a member, discussed;
“Christmas and New Year Planned Engineering Works – Members noted the people resources, specifically Signal Testers, Overhead Linesmen and Supervisors, were the biggest risk to delivery as they are currently at supply chain capacity limits.”
The released information goes on to show that following this meeting, these seasonal resilience issues were to be raised again in December at the Department’s ‘Performance Delivery Group’ – a body chaired by Ministers. This is damning evidence that shows the level of ministerial complicity in the Christmas rail chaos.
Politics Home blog: The rail regulation office spoke up for passengers – it’s time ministers did the same
The ORR’s report states that over 100,000 passengers were affected by the rail chaos over the Christmas period. Passengers were left stranded across the country, an image that was particularly... Read more