It was a busy couple of months in Parliament during the run-up to Recess with the Government crumbling around us and the cost of living scandal hitting hard. I had the opportunity to challenge Government racism in Parliament on several occasions, speaking up for Londoners about tackling institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, supporting the PCS Union’s inquiry into racism at the Cabinet Office, pointing out the Government’s failure to implement the Windrush Lessons Learned Review and using a PMQ to highlight the ongoing injustice of inhumane and costly deportation flights.
This month also brought some wins at a national level, with the Government finally caving to Labour’s demand for a Windfall Tax – just days after voting against it. Whilst this measure is deeply flawed, it does represent a forwards stride in the fight for support for people worst affected by twelve years of austerity and the current financial turmoil being inflicted on the country.
After months of hard work and campaigning, last month’s local elections saw 22 Labour councillors elected to represent our constituency in Town Hall, with Labour holding 58 of 63 seats overall. Congratulations to our newly elected and re-elected Labour councillors for Brixton Acre Lane, Brixton Rush Common, Clapham Common & Abbeville, Clapham East, Clapham Park, Streatham Hill East, St Leonard’s, St Martin’s, Streatham Common & Vale and Streatham Wells. I look forwards to working with all of you to build a cleaner, greener, more equal borough.
In Parliament, I secured an Urgent Question on the disgraceful strip searching of Child Q and spoke in the International Women’s Day debate and Labour’s Opposition Day debate on ending violence against women. I’ve also been holding the Government’s feet to the fire over its poor response to supporting Ukrainian refugees.
Inflation reached a 30-year high in February. Wages, welfare and pensions are all tumbling in real terms while national insurance is about to rise, along with the cost of basics like food, fuel, rent and energy. Meanwhile, banks are doling out their biggest bonuses since they crashed the financial system in 2008. This squeeze on living standards is the consequence of a Conservative Government that prioritises the very rich at the expense of everyone else. By rejecting Labour’s proposals for a windfall tax on oil & gas companies to help bring down bills, they are choosing to put energy profits ahead of people who are struggling to make ends meet or heat their homes.
With the most cravenly dishonest and corrupt Government of my lifetime, our community needs all the help we can get. In the past two months, it has emerged that many senior Tories were simply ignoring their own lockdown rules last Christmas: a lockdown which only had to happen because they refused to countenance a shorter, earlier one.