Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Member of Parliament for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill

Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 4th March 2023

Mar 4, 2023 | News

Share this page

Bell’s Newsletter

4th March 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This week saw the publication of more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent and received by former health secretary Matt Hancock. These messages show Tory Ministers putting headlines ahead of results, overruling expert advice, giving VIP treatment to ministers, and slamming teachers asking for workplace safety measures among other things. It is difficult to have any sympathy for the disgraced former health secretary but there is clearly an effort from some in the media to set him up as a scapegoat for the Government’s wider failings.

Seeing these messages only underscores the importance of a comprehensive and independent inquiry that seeks to learn from government failures during the pandemic. With the Covid Inquiry doubling down on its decision not to explicitly examine structural racism during the pandemic, I am worried this may be the case. The loved ones of the 150,000 people who lost their lives to Covid in the UK deserve so much better.

Fair Pay Means Teachers Stay: Supporting Striking Teachers

Bell speaking at the Save Our Schools Rally

It was an absolute joy to be with teachers from across South London for a rally on Thursday as they entered another day of strike action. When teachers stood on the picket lines this week, they did so with overwhelming public support. People aren’t buying Tory claims that workers are being “selfish” or “greedy” by asking for fair pay. They know that investing in teachers is investing in the next generation of students.

Bell addresses a rally of striking teachers in the Oval cricket stadium

We saw exactly what the Tories think of teachers this week. Leaked WhatsApp messages between former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson showed them calling teaching unions “arses” and saying “they really really do just hate work”. That was their response to teachers raising very valid concerns over the lack of safety measures like ventilation and PPE and the wider impact on community case of reopening – something acknowledged by the government’s own scientific advisers at the time. Teachers deserve better, students deserve better.

Questioning the Government on blocking Scottish gender recognition reform and banning conversion therapy

Bell questioning the Minister for Women & Equalities in a parliamentary committee room

During Wednesday’s Women and Equalities Committee, I pushed the Government on their decision to block Scottish efforts at gender recognition reform and slow progress towards banning conversion “therapy”. It is hard to see how the former decision does not undermine Scottish autonomy to legislate over LGBTQ+ and trans rights. Equally, the Government’s dilatory approach to banning conversion practices over the past few years risks sending the message that they are not interested in bringing forwards a comprehensive ban that will protect the LGBTQ+ community in its entirety. It’s not good enough to keep promising a ban “in due course”.

Brixton Rush Common Labour Cost of Living Crisis Meeting

Bell speaks on a panel at a cost of living crisis meeting in St Matthew's Community Hall.

Thank you to members of the Brixton Rush Common branch of Streatham Labour, who organised a community meeting to discuss what we can do to address escalating living costs. We need to stop calling this a cost of living crisis, as if it’s fallen from the sky. Thirteen years of the Tories has left people less resilient than ever. It has meant thirteen years of falling pay, soaring rents, rising bills and declining public services.

Right now, we need to see action to shift these burdens away from those at the bottom and onto those who can afford to pay: the super rich and corporations. That means levying a proper windfall tax on oil and gas companies, freezing rents, boosting pay for the lowest paid, and raising taxes on the wealthiest in our society. But we also need to think about long-term resilience and building shock absorbers into our systems to protect people from these kinds of financial pressures. That means taking energy, water, rail, and mail back into public ownership to ensure money is ploughed back into the system. It means building more decent quality homes, and particularly more council homes. The Tories’ just-in-time model for our economy simply doesn’t cut it when we face the challenges that lie ahead.

Meeting with Free School Meals Campaigners Bite Back 2030

Bell with young free school meals campaigners from Bite Back 2030.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils live in poverty but don’t qualify for free school meals. It was great to meet with young activists from BiteBack 2030 to discuss their campaign to change this. It’s brilliant news that Sadiq Khan has announced emergency funding to provide a nutritious school meal to every primary school child in London at the start of the next school year. This will ease the burdens of soaring living costs for families and ensure no child is left hungry in the classroom. The Government should be funding the extension of free school meals in the same way across the country to ensure no child is hungry in the classroom.

Lunch with Sunnyhill Primary: Improving Nutrition in Schools

Bell is served to a nutritious salad by Sunnyhill Pupils in aprons.

Veg Power are on a mission to inspire kids, support parents and encourage everyone to enjoy more vegetables. Last year, more than a million children took part in their school programmes. I joined them for lunch at Sunnyhill Primary on Friday to see the programme in action. It was great to see kids getting stuck in and empowered to eat more fresh vegetables. With 4 million children facing food poverty in the UK, there’s so much work to do to ensure every child enjoys a nutritious diet. This starts with extending free school meals to primary school children across the country, as Sadiq Khan has done in London, and as my colleague Zarah Sultana is currently pushing for. We also need to see free school meals expanded to every child whose family receives universal credit.

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

Keep up to date with my work by following me on social media