Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill
From Clapham & Brixton Hill, For Clapham & Brixton Hill

Please note: Parliament has now been dissolved until after the General Election, meaning I am no longer an MP.

Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 23rd October 2022

Oct 23, 2022 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

23rd October 2022

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The Government is in total chaos. In the space of just six days, we lost three of the four post holders of the four great offices of state. Liz Truss has finally resigned for driving the economy off a cliff by trying to slash taxes for corporations and the super rich. But the Tories should be calling a General Election, not forcing another unelected leader on us.

When millions of people worrying about where the next meal is coming from and how they’re going to pay their bills, we can’t afford another Tory coronation. Ultimately, it’s not just about one individual’s incompetence; it’s about ideology. Tory MPs lined up behind Truss, or that thousands of Tory members voted for her.

It is genuinely embarrassing to see Tory MPs crying out for Johnson’s return just months after he was ousted for his lies, corruption, and mismanagement. If replacing one of the most incompetent Prime Ministers in history with one of the most corrupt is the best they can do, that’s another argument for a General Election.

We’ve been without a functioning government for much of the last year. Even when the Tories were capable of getting their act together, they inflicted massive austerity and laid the groundwork for the poverty and financial insecurity we are now seeing. The people who broke our economy cannot be trusted to fix it.

Up and down the country, millions are going hungry, struggling to afford bills, and worrying about losing their homes. Allowing the circus we’ve seen this week to continue while people suffer would be irresponsible. But the inevitable mess we’re now facing also highlights the need for serious constitutional reform. It’s wrong that the Tories are able to hold the country to ransom like this while they play musical chairs for the top job.

Opposing the Public Oppression Bill, Supporting Buffer Zones

Public Order Bill Remaining Stages (18th October 2022)

This week, I spoke against Tory plans to expand police powers that would further undermine the right to protest and discriminate against people of colour. From the Suffragettes to the Chartists, our country’s rich tradition of dissent paved the pathway for the rights and freedoms we have today but this Bill would ban the protests that won trade unions and votes for women.

As well as introducing further curbs on protest and expanding discriminatory stop and search powers, it would introduce jail sentences and unlimited fines for demonstrating around national infrastructure like airports, railways and printing presses or “locking on” to buildings. Amnesty UK argues that “these authoritarian provisions…. are similar to repressive policies in countries the UK regularly criticises, including Russia, Hong Kong & Belarus”.

I tabled three of my own amendments to push back against this Bill: New Clause 15, for a public inquiry into impact of public order policing on Black, Asian & minority ethnic people; New Clause 16, for a full equality impact assessment of the act published within three months; and New Clause 17, for a public inquiry into protest policing – including the use of force, kettling, police horses and the Policing Act 2022.

Instead of tackling injustices like climate breakdown, low pay, inequality & racism, this Government is doubling down on policies that helped create them and cracking down on people who speak out against them.

In a ray of light in an otherwise dismal and repressive piece of legislation, we did see New Clause 11 included in the Bill. This would introduce mandatory buffer zones outside abortion clinics to ensure don’t have to face harassment and abuse in order to access healthcare – something we have seen all too often outside the MSI Treatment Centre in our constituency.

Labour Fracking Ban, Tory Fracas

This week, Labour moved a vote to ban fracking. The Tories imposed a three-line whip on their MPs to oppose this ban, despite their 2019 manifesto promise to only resume fracking if they could prove “categorically that it can be done safely” in the UK. With the study they commissioned on this yet to be published, they have clearly not satisfied this crucial condition.

What we do know is that over 182 days in 2018-2019, the UK’s only active fracking site was responsible for 192 earthquakes. And for what? We know the impact that fracking will have on energy prices is negligible and it becomes a net negative when we consider its harmful environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions. It is a poor substitute for encouraging investment in solar and onshore wind or launching a mass home insulation programme.

Nobody voted to force more fracking on communities but that’s exactly what the Government is doing. The scenes we saw at Wednesday’s vote were deeply undignified, with Tory MPs being threatened, bullied and even frogmarched through the division lobby to vote with their embattled leader. In the event, about 40 Tory MPs abstained but not a single Tory MP joined Labour to do the right thing and ban fracking.

Ban Plastic in Wet Wipes

I was proud to support my colleague Fleur Anderson as she reintroduced her private members’ bill to ban plastic-containing wet wipes. The UK uses 11 billion wet wipes every year, 90 per cent of which contain plastic. They do huge damage to our water systems and our rivers, lakes and sea at an estimated cost of £100 million every year to clear the 300,000 sewer blockages they cause. Banning these would prevent these costs and reduce this damaging ecological impact.

Menopause is a Workplace Issue

I was proud to support my union Unite in their campaign for better menopause workplace support. With nine out of ten women saying that menopause has had a negative impact on their work, we musts keep working to raise awareness, end the stigma and ensure everyone gets the highest level of care and support.

The Eyes Have It: Improving Eye Care

I joined Fight for Sight on Wednesday to support a National Plan for Eye Care in England and push for faster treatment for patients this week. NHS treatment backlogs are growing under the Tories and eye care is no exception. When 50% of UK sight loss cases are preventable, time is of the essence.

Marking Black History Month

On Thursday, I joined students at King’s College for Black History Month to talk about my experiences as a Black woman working in Westminster and answer questions about my role as an MP. Young people are leading the struggle for a fairer and more progressive world and it’s always good to field their questions and get their take on politics.

What better way to see out the working week than a Friday afternoon assembly at Glenbrook Primary for their UK Parliament Week and Black History Month Event, where pupils gave some great presentations on Black History Month. It was an extra lovely surprise to receive this special poster designed by one of the children.

Making Lambeth a Right to Food Borough

I was really happy to hear that our Labour Council voted through a motion declaring Lambeth a Right to Food Borough at Wednesday’s full council meeting. This is a campaign that I have supported for a long time and lobbied for consistently since becoming an MP. I’m looking forwards to campaigning with local councillors to push for legislation to place legal responsibility on the government to end hunger for the millions facing it in the UK.

With one in seven people skipping meals or going hungry last month, it couldn’t come sooner. The UK’s largest foodbank network has announced an emergency appeal this week, with demand for emergency food parcels outstripping donations for the first time. I’d urge anyone who can afford to do so to make a donation to local food banks.

Never Cross a Picket Line

Solidarity with members of the Communications Workers’ Union who were out on strike this week. These workers kept us supplied and connected throughout the lockdowns, making their companies huge profits in the process. They should be getting real pay rises but instead they are seeing real pay cuts and attacks on conditions and job security.

In other good news, South London bus drivers in Unite managed to successfully organise and secure a 10.5% pay rise from their employer. Workers coming together to demand better are showing us one of the best ways to combat the cost of living crisis. If your pay isn’t keeping up with inflation, join a union and do the same.

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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