Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 11th February 2023

Feb 11, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

11th February 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

At this week’s Prime Ministers’ Questions, I took the opportunity to probe Rishi Sunak on the Government’s use of secretive ‘Counter Disinformation Units’. Initially started to tackle Covid misinformation, a recent investigation from civil liberties charity Big Brother Watch found comprehensive evidence that they have subsequently been used to monitor a range of people who criticise government policy: politicians, activists, journalists and others who speak out.

Bell speaking in the House of Commons.

I also asked Sunak for clarity around the publication timeframe for the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. It’s very worrying indeed that the Government has passed several bills ramping up state powers to crack down on protest and activist movements before finding out how much damage this has already done. At PMQs, I asked Rishi Sunak how much public money has been spent spying on political opponents under the guise of tackling misinformation and whether he thought this was justifiable. He dodged the question, claiming he believes in “free speech” but his government’s actions say differently.

Bell speaking in the Sky News media studio.

Supporting the NHS Workers Who Support Us

Bell on the picket line outside St George's Hospital, standing alongside striking nurses.

This week saw more mass walkouts of NHS workers in England, with nurses and ambulance workers leading the biggest strike in NHS history on Monday, physiotherapists out on Thursday, and ambulance workers out once again yesterday. This is an indictment of a government that has run our NHS into the ground over the last 13 years and consistently failed to value NHS staff and the work they do.

I joined picket lines at St Thomas’ and St George’s to tell the Government to pay nurses and all our NHS staff what they’re really worth. Not just because it’s the right thing to do; but because the consequences of losing valuable staff in our NHS are all too plain to see. Solidarity with NHS workers fighting for a safer health service for everyone.

My latest South London Press column defending the Right to Strike

Support for Turkey and Syria

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Turkey and Syria impacted by earthquakes, especially those who have lost loved ones. It’s absolutely vital that the international community, including the UK Government, is stepping up to provide urgent support for rescue efforts and rebuilding. With the death toll now standing at 21,000 and people in both countries facing renewed threats from cold weather, we must provide all the support we can. As well as maximising our humanitarian aid, all damaging sanctions on both countries should be lifted until they fully recover.

Please consider donating if you have the means

Visiting Bishop Thomas Grant School

Bell standing at the front of a school assembly talking to students.

It was great to start my Friday with another visit to Bishop Thomas Grant School politics students to answer their questions about my role as an MP and discuss the issues that matter to them. They asked me some fantastic questions on my work in Parliament and a range of other issues, including: on tuition fees, gender reform, devolution, policing and the behaviour of MPs. Going into schools to talk to younger constituents and encourage them to participate in the democratic process is one of my favourite things to do. It’s great to see local schools working so proactively to educate young people about the power they have as citizens.

Streatham Society Talk: Why Streatham Would Survive An Apocalypse

Bell in St Leonard's Church speaking to a crowd of seated people.

It was lovely to join the Streatham Society this week to give a non-political talk about how Streatham would survive in the unlikely event of an apocalypse. A great chance to celebrate the local produce, green spaces, community venues, transport links and other unique things that make our area great to live in.

Migrant Voice: A Better Deal for Migrants

Bell speaking on a panel in a conference centre. Projected onto screen behind: A better deal for migrants: campaigning for a fairer visa and settlement process.

On Thursday, I joined Migrant Voice for their conference, “A Better Deal for Migrants: Campaigning for a fairer visa and settlement process”. Migrant Voice is a migrant-led national organisation building a community of migrant voices to cut through the anti-migrant narrative peddled by the political Right, who rely on scapegoating and persecuting migrants to maintain their grip on power. It’s important to centre the voices of people who feel the impact of the Government’s hostile environment on their everyday lives. With overcharging on visas and arduous settlement routes driving people into deprivation and exploitation, we urgently need to lower fees and overhaul settlement routes.

Operation Black Vote

Bell with Reverend Al Sharpton, Lord Simon Woolley and other MPs who attended the event.

It was an honour to host the Reverend Al Sharpton in Parliament this week with Operation Black Vote to talk about the common challenges facing Black communities in the UK and the US. With the Tories implementing Republican-style voter suppression laws, we can learn a lot from US efforts to drive up democratic participation and boost voter registration.

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address:

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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