The EU Referendum two weeks on, my response to the Chilcot Report, a visit to Arlington House - and much more in a look back on my last week.
EU Referendum – Two weeks on
It’s been another hectic and fast-moving week, with continuing political and economic uncertainty following the Referendum result.
In the last two weeks I have received over 1200 emails from constituents, the vast majority of whom – like me – voted to stay in the EU and are now concerned about the next steps forward.
My own view, at present, is that Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which starts the exit procedure, should not be invoked without a vote in the House of Commons. Before any such vote takes
place, MPs and my constituents are entitled to know the basis upon which the government intends to proceed. The process should not therefore be rushed and it certainly should not start straight away.
Leaving the EU will also require repealing the European Communities Act 1972, which again is a matter for Parliament. Before that happens, my constituents have the right to know the terms on which the government seeks to withdraw from the EU and the type of relationship the Government suggests we should have with the EU in future. Again, I believe there should be a full and open public debate about this before any vote in Parliament is taken.
Given the huge public concern about this, I will be holding a public meeting along with Council leader, Sarah Hayward, at 7.30pm on Thursday 14th July in Camden Town Hall to discuss the way forward.
I hope you and as many local residents as possible are able to join me.
As you will know, the long-awaited Chilcot report was published this week. Seven years in preparation, it was a damning indictment of the way in which the war was run. As Sir John Chilcot pointed out, invasion was not a ‘last resort’, troops were ill prepared and there was no clear plan for reconstruction of Iraq.
I argued in 2003 that there was no clear legal basis for the war in Iraq and Chilcot’s findings this week – in particular that “there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein” and that “the strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time” – reinforces this.
I wrote about this in The Guardian, where I argued that as well as learning the many lessons from Chilcot, we need to establish a new framework for future intervention – one that ensures military action can only take place where there is a properly evidenced and robust legal basis, accompanied by a fully prepared, realistic and risk-assessed plan.
You can read my full article here:
and summary of my comments in the Camden New Journal here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/starmer-chilcot
Air pollution is now responsible for nearly 10,000 deaths a year in London and new research shows that 6 secondary schools and 36 primary schools in Camden are in areas exceeding safe pollution levels. Tackling this must be a key priority, so I was pleased that this Sadiq Khan launched a Clean Air Action Plan and a public consultation on how to reduce air pollution in London.
You may have seen my letter in the Camden New Journal, highlighting the dangers of air pollution. I will also be holding a public meeting on this issue in the coming weeks.
As ever, there has been much else going on.
- On Monday, I held another meeting of the Victims Forum looking at how we can improve services and support for victims, and how we can take the next steps to introduce a Victims Law.
- I visited Torriano and Netley schools, to see them participate in the ‘send my friend to school campaign’ – linking pupils on Camden with some of the 37 million children around the world who miss out on their education. [http://www.sendmyfriend.org/]
- I attended a fundraising evening in Highgate ward – not only a fun event, but also raising badly needed cash for our party!
Many of you may have walked past Arlington House without giving it a second look, as you make your way to and from Camden Lock. Which is why it was fascinating to have the opportunity this Friday to visit this amazing institution.
Built in 1905 it provided generations of poor, working class men, with descent, affordable accommodation. Many Irish men will have lived here for years as they built the tube or the railways we now use. How many would recognise it today!
Once it housed up to 1,200 men (and only men) in cramped accommodation. Today it provides 95 rooms for homeless and vulnerable adults.
I met William Malonda, from Congo, who collapsed with a heart attack just as he was returning to Africa. He is now on the mend, thanks to the care of the NHS and his room in Arlington House.
But there are also 44 low-rent studios, which are much sought after, since they provide low-cost homes in the heart of Camden.
Kylie Paton, who works in IT is delighted to live here.
“It is so hard to find somewhere unfurnished. And this is lovely and quiet, except when there is live music nearby, and I can just open my window and enjoy it!”
There are also art classes for residents and 13 artist studios, all of which are rented out.
There is a firm that provides training in all aspects of maintenance – from building and decoration to window cleaning. Arlington House has teamed up with a firm and plans to make around 50 jobs available.
Once a dark, Victorian institution Arlington House is now a buzzing community, which offers a welcome to people of all kinds: from the homeless street-sleepers to firms looking for a conference centre.
On 14th July at 7:30pm I will be holding a public meeting in Camden Town Hall on Brexit and the next steps.
On 21st July at 2pm I am also holding a public meeting at the British Library on housing policy, which continues to be the biggest problem affecting Camden.
I hope as many local people as possible will be able to attend.