Last week was varied to say the least. On Saturday 16th I spoke at the Fabian ‘Framing the Future’ conference, making the case for a bold, radical and ambitious Labour project; the same day I joined our teams campaigning for Sadiq Khan and Andrew Dismore in London. By Monday I was leading for Labour in the debate on Donald Trump’s offensive remarks about Muslims, women and migrants. Meanwhile, I spent a while on European issues, including the EU referendum and the Human Rights Act. And on Thursday I was pleaded to join the Trade Union Council at a public meeting to oppose the Trade Union Bill.
It was a pleasure to meet Sadiq Khans on Saturday, to campaign on Regents Park estates for him to be next mayor of London.
We had a fantastic turnout from Holborn & St Pancras – with teams out all day, knocking on doors and meeting the community.
Sarah Hayward and a group of Councillors were on hand to answer any questions about Camden council, and pick up case work.
Debating with the Fabians
The Fabian Society – one of the oldest Labour Party affiliates – holds a conference at the beginning of every year. It helps set the agenda and generate ideas, and this year’s was no exception.
There was a packed house to hear a wide range of speakers, including Jeremy Corbyn.
I was on a panel with Dan Jarvis and Lisa Nandy – Labour’s spokeswoman on energy and climate change.
I used the platform to argue that Labour wins when it glimpses the future and fixes it with a bold, radical and ambitious project.
- In 1945 when the Attlee Government founded the modern welfare state and redefined Britain’s role in the world.
- In 1964, when Wilson argued for a “new Britain” being forged in the "white heat" of a "scientific revolution".
- And in 1997, when New Labour had a radical, outward-looking program that chimed with a country crying out for change - rebuilding our public services, introducing the minimum wage, lifting a million children out of poverty and tackling racial and sexual discrimination.
We need to find that optimism, that radicalism again. That is what we need to develop over the next few years.
The argument for Europe
In the past week I have had a chance to put the argument for our continued participation in the European Union. It is something I feel strongly about, not least because it is clearly in our national interest.
As I came to understand all too clearly when I was Director of Public Prosecution, using co-ordinated arrest warrents to fight scourges like organised crime, terrorism and paedophilia is vitally important. And being part of the EU criminal justice system is a key part of this.
You can read my argument in full in the Independent [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-quitting-europe-would-make-the-uk-less-safe-warns-sir-keir-starmer-a6815151.html]
I made the case on different grounds at King’s College in a debate celebrating fifty years of the European Court of Human Rights.
Many who oppose Europe on the grounds that it is out of touch and irrelevant to the needs of ordinary men and women in Britain fail to see what it, and institutions like the European Court of Human Rights have achieved.
From my own experience I have seen what it has done in cases as varied as the rights of women raped in a taxi, clarifying the duties of police patrolling in Northern Ireland and defending people with learning difficulties.
I would challenge anyone who opposes our role in Europe and scrapping the Human Rights Act to explain which of these groups they would wish to see left undefended by this legal remedy.
As you probably know, a debate was held in Westminster Hall, following a petition signed by over half a million people calling for Trump to be prevented from entering the UK after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the USA.
He is – of course – not someone whose views I share. Indeed, much of what he says is deeply offensive. But the bar for exclusion must be high. I argued that it would be far better to invite him to meet our diverse yet harmonious community.
Speaking for Labour, I ended my speech like this:
“I accept that this is a judgement call, and I respect those who have expressed, in this debate and on other occasions, the contrary view that the matter is so close to the line that action should be taken against Donald Trump. In the end, we should be guided by our own values, not his. Our own values include a deep belief in freedom of speech and in multi-faith and diverse societies in which everyone feels secure and respected.”
I just could not resist sharing these images of Black History Month being celebrated at Eleanor Palmer school. The event raised money for EP’s partner school in Sierra Leone, run by the inspirational Planting Promise charity, and just back on its feet after the Ebola crisis.
I am even considering wearing these magnificent robes into Parliament!
Even the Speaker could hardly fail to be impressed!
Well done to the parents, staff and children who danced to live music from soukous band Kasai Masai and ate delicious food cooked by parents and the school chef.
For more information about Planting Promise go to www.plantingpromise.com