From tax credits to junior doctors’ contracts, it’s been a momentous week.
For three million people across Britain it was only resistance – led by Labour peers in the House of Lords - that stopped the government from cutting their pay by an average of £1,300.
You may have seen my letter in the Camden New Journal, describing the impact that this would have on thousands of families across Camden.
In Holborn and St Pancras alone 9,200 children in 4,300 families would have lost out, if the Conservatives had had their way. David Cameron has been halted, for the moment, but we should not think the government has abandoned this as an objective.
I worked with campaigners against HS2 to ensure, with my colleague and neighbouring MP, Tulip Siddiq, to lay no fewer than 144 petitions before Parliament.
It was an extraordinary achievement, ably led by Robert Latham. This is an important milestone.
The next will come on 9th November, when the Select Committee examining HS2 will be coming to Camden.
I will be with them, explaining what a devastating impact more than two decades of building work will have on our lives.
Even then it would not produce a satisfactory, modern station at Euston!
Junior Doctors’ contracts
I had the opportunity to meet with nearly 100 junior doctors who are rightly furious about the government’s plans to impose a new contract on them. They believe, rightly, that the scheme is dangerous for patients, and would take 15% and more out of their current salaries.
I have published a message I received from a doctor currently working at the Royal Free. You can read it here. I will quote one brief part of what she had to say:
“With the new contract changes being proposed, Mr Hunt is threatening to destroy the NHS that I love so much. I already know more people than I can count who are planning on or have already gone to work abroad. They have been made to feel so undervalued and pushed to breaking point that they are leaving for a better lifestyle for places where their jobs are valued, where they can continue to provide excellent care for patients. We are losing lots of our greatest assets and I am genuinely scared that in 5 years time we may not have an NHS left to fight for. Perhaps that's his plan.”
Holocaust memorial workshop
I dropped into a workshop at the Jewish Museum which was being held to make plans for next January’s Holocaust Memorial Day. It was a chance for campaigners to make plans to ensure that we don’t ever forget the millions of people who have been murdered or persecuted during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
“Don’t stand by”, is the slogan for next January’s event. If you can get involved, or want one of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s action packs, please contact them.
As Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor and author put it: “neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
While all this was going on most of my time was taken up in a detailed, line by line scrutiny of the government’s Immigration Bill. We have been hearing evidence from expert witnesses. This is enormously helpful in arguing against the government’s worst excesses. It is an uphill battle, but one that must be fought!