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Birmingham’s Labour MPs Fight Back Against Conservative Apprenticeship Cuts

Last month, all of Birmingham’s further education colleges and Birmingham City University were told by the Conservative Government that they could no longer offer apprenticeships to local people. This would set us and the people of our city back, stifling opportunity, preventing people from getting training and jobs, as well as hampering the hard work of our colleges and universities.

Along with other Labour Birmingham MPs, I have been working hard to get this changed and have been writing to and meeting with the Government to press them to reverse this decision. I’m glad to say that our pressure has paid off and the Government have announced that they are reconsidering. They have already assured us that South and City College will now able to offer apprenticeships again and that other colleges will be reviewed quickly.

Unfortunately, though, the Conservatives have past form on this and it is telling of their priorities that they were willing to let this happen to our region in the first place. Just last year they planned to cut some apprenticeship funding by up to 50%. But with the support of other Labour MPs, I helped force them to u-turn on that. I was relieved when we achieved that last year and am relieved that we have been successful again this time. It shows what Birmingham’s Labour MPs can achieve for our city when we work together.

Help re-elect the local, independent-minded and trusted MP for Northfield

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In all the years I have been an MP I have always stayed true to the values that took me into politics in the first place.

My values are Labour and that means that I have consistently been a thorn in the side of Conservative-led Governments. But those same values also mean that I have never been someone who blindly follows party lines. I stand up for what I believe – first by working in partnership with the people I represent here in Northfield to make a difference to our local area, but also on issues ranging from the future of the automotive industry in the UK to promoting peace in the Middle East.

I also hope you agree that that having independent and experienced voices like mine in the Commons will be even more important in the coming years – whoever is in Downing Street – as Britain faces the challenges of Brexit and at a time when world affairs are more uncertain and perilous than they have been for generations.

So that is why I am asking for your help.

In the last General Election two years ago, the Conservatives spent a fortune on promotional material in their efforts to take the constituency of Birmingham Northfield. There was no way we could ever match the kind of money the Conservatives put in. We held the seat by hard work on the ground. But getting our message across still costs money and the donations we received ranging from small ones to large ones were vital.

There is no doubt that the Conservatives will spend a fortune in trying to take Northfield again and so once again I am asking for your help to get the message across and to win on June 8th .

So please give whatever you can afford – however much or however little that may be. I promise you that anything you give will be put to good use.

To help, you can donate through PayPal by clicking here:

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Alternatively, you can donate by:

• Online banking to – Account Number: 58124637, Sort Code: 60-83-01
• Cheque made payable to ‘Birmingham Northfield Constituency Labour Party’ and sent to John Stewart, 5 Ramsden Close, Birmingham, B29 4JX

Please note that under electoral law I can only accept donations from individuals registered to vote here in the UK and from UK–registered organisations. More details on the rules covering donations at elections is available here.

So please help me to remain one of those voices in the House of Commons. All donations are vital and I promise you that anything you give will be put to good use. Please give as little or as much as you can.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Safety Must Be Top Priority, But UK & US Bans on Passenger Electronics on Aircraft Leave Questions Unanswered

Responding to the announcement, Richard Burden MP, Labour’s Shadow Aviation Minister, commented:

“Safety and security of passengers must always be the overriding priority for Government and for airline operators. If the Government has evidence that the level of security checks on passengers carrying electronic devices is of exceptional concern in the countries they have listed, then it is right that prompt precautionary action should be taken.

“This announcement does however leave a number of important questions unanswered and we are seeking urgent clarification from Ministers on these points. It’s important the Government set out clearly the precautionary steps they have taken in response to advice from security services to reassure passengers and the public. The Government must also work with airline operators to ensure all passengers are given the necessary information and flights can continue where appropriate with as minimal disruption as possible.”

 

Read more

February/March Newsletter

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Birmingham Northfield

North Worcestershire Golf Course

Residents living close to North Worcestershire Golf Course will know that at the end of February, Bloor Homes withdrew their planning application to build on the golf course. However they have now said they will be submitting new proposals shortly. In their latest notice they have said their new proposals are aiming “to address the concerns raised during the determination period. The amount of housing has been reduced and additional public space is now proposed.”

Locally, there has long been widespread opposition to building on the Golf Course and this has been reflected in cross party opposition amongst elected representatives of the area too. The City Council’s current Planning framework also opposes redevelopment and, had Bloor proceeded with their recent application, Planning officers were recommending refusal by the Council’s Planning Committee. Last year, the Government’s Planning Inspector also reviewed the overall Plan or Birmingham and also said he was not persuaded of the case to overrule the City Council’s policy in opposition to building on the site.

Bloor Homes are hosting a public consultation event next week. I would encourage local residents to go along and let Bloor know your views. Details here: Thursday 16th March, 1pm-7:30pm, Hollymoor Community Centre, 8 Manor Park Grove, B31 5ER.

Schools Funding

The news that we feared from the Government has been confirmed, Birmingham schools are set to lose a staggering £20m Read more

My Reflections on Gerald Kaufman. Rest in Peace

Sad to hear of the death of my colleague Gerald Kaufman, the longest serving MP in this Parliament. The quantity and breadth of tributes to him have underlined the huge mark he made made in the Labour Party, in the House of Commons and to British politics as a whole.  

 

I got to know Gerald through our shared commitment to the cause of justice for the Palestinians. Gerald was a a proud Jew and a Zionist who passionately believed in the creation of an Israel living in peace with its neighbours and one which embodied the social democratic principles he held dear throughout his life. He would often talk of the conversations he had in the 60s with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. Yet those same principles meant Gerald always believed Palestinians have no fewer rights to self-determination than Israelis have. It was those same principles that motivated the anger he felt about how the policies of successive Israeli Governments have systematically prevented those rights being realised.

 

To say he was outspoken in his criticism of the Governments of Sharon, Barak, Olmert and, most recently, Netanyahu would be the understatement to end all understatements. In recent years, some of the language he used to express that anger crossed a line between criticism of Israel and what sounded like criticism of Jews more generally, prompting allegations of antisemitism. That line should never be crossed, even inadvertently, and Gerald should not have crossed it. However, I cannot accept that this son of Polish immigrants who lost family members in the Holocaust was ever motivated by antisemitism. Indeed, it was both his own Jewishness and his own Zionism that made the anger he felt towards what he thought Israel had become so profound and so personal. 

 

My abiding memory of Gerald is, however, a much lighter one than any of this. The first conversation I remember Gerald having with me took place a few weeks after my election to Parliament in 1992. Gerald came up to me in the Lobby of the House of Commons. He asked “How are you settling in?”, “Oh fine” I replied, trying to cover up the confusion I was feeling about the many eccentricities about the way Parliament seemed to operate. “Mmmm” replied Gerald in those slow, deliberative tones for which he was famous. “There are two things you will always need to remember about this place. The first is that real life is out there, not in here,” he said, pointing to the exit. “The second is…” – he paused and then went on “that everyone here is mad. That includes me and, if it doesn’t already include you, it soon will.”  

 

He was certainly right about where real life is. As for his second point, I could not possibly comment! Rest in peace Gerald.