Read about some of what I've been up to in the past week...
This week has – as you will know – been dominated by the debate over British intervention in Syria. This has been no easy decision. In the end, after considerable thought and discussion, I voted against the decision to join the bombing. This is what I said during the debate on Wednesday.
If you have the time you might like to read my argument in detail, as published by the Guardian. I am grateful to the many constituents who contacted me about this.
But, as ever, there was much else going on, both in parliament and beyond.
I led the Labour Party’s response to the governments Immigration Bill. There is much that was wrong with it. The Bill could undermine all the progress made in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking. It could also leave desperate children utterly destitute. And it could lead to discrimination in the workplace and the housing market and erode important civil liberties and human rights. You can find my main argument in the debate here.
Last Friday I was delighted to meet members of the Bangladeshi, Somali and Chinese community living in the King’s Cross area, who gave me a warm welcome.
More of this below.
King’s Cross Bangladeshi, Somali and Chinese communities
Tucked away in the Chadswell block of flats just South of Camden Town Hall is a centre that is important to many in this lively community. It is the Chadswell Health Living Centre. A large, cheerful room is used for a range of activities aimed at the Bangladeshi, Somali and Chinese communities. I was happy to visit at their invitation last Friday, with Councilors Abdul Hai and Sally Gimson.
Classes in English, literacy and computing are run from here. But Sofina Razzaque, Ifrah Ahmed and Judith Leung offer much more than information and classes. They provide a friendly place in which people can meet and engage with each other.
The community was keen to raise a range of issues with me. But the most shocking issue was the rise in Islamophobia. A number of people told me there have been many more incidents in recent weeks. These ranged from threats to abuse. People said they were frightened and some are now apprehensive about going out in public.
I’ve written to the most senior police officer in Camden, the Borough Commander, Penelope Banham, raising the issues and setting up a meeting with her and our Councilors to see how we can re-assure the community.
I had planned to go up to campaign in the Oldham bye-election on Wednesday, but in the event the Syria debate made this impossible. Nonetheless, several of our members did make the trip. Ashley and Martin used my tickets - joining many supporters from the Manchester area to help in the successful election campaign. Congratulations Jim McMahon!
A great Labour Party bake off!
I had the tough task of choosing the winner of the Gospel Oak great bake off, with the chief scrutineer, my daughter, who had a clear bias towards chocolate!
But finally, after much delicious cake and careful discussion, a winner: congratulations to Jenny Mulholland!