We're off! The PM has fired the starting gun for the EU Referendum - we now know it will be on 23rd June. Everybody will have a vote of equal value. So it's important to make sure you're registered so you have a voice. The Government's new registration system has meant a lot of people think they're registered when they're not! That's why I've been writing to people locally who are only partially registered to let them know what they need to do to complete the registration. If you're not sure about whether you are the best thing to do is to log onto https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Chatting to local people I've been surprised how many have no strong feelings either way on EU membership. It's a reminder that compared to politicians and other EU obsessives most people simply get on with their daily lives and don't worry too much about these issues. They now know they need to get the information to make that informed decision that they realise will affect them but they don't yet know how.
Myself? I'm strongly of the view that leaving the EU is a massive risk with people's jobs and security. There is enough uncertainty about the future of our steelworks without adding more doubt. And with Russia flexing its muscle in the Middle East and Ukraine there are dark clouds hovering on the edge of Europe.
There is strength in the unity of the EU - that's why it's contributed so much to the longest period of peace, freedom and prosperity in the continent's history. Why take the gamble with our futures (and those of our children and grandchildren) that leaving would represent?
As well as asking people their views on the EU when knocking on doors I've been able to introduce Labour's candidate for Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner - the excellent Keith Hunter. Keith is a local man with experience, not only in local policing but also of security systems across the world. At a time when Humberside Police has been struggling to deliver the sort of service people rightly expect, Keith would bring new focus and energy to leading the force. The PCC Election is on the 5th May - another good reason to make sure you're registered!!!!
I was pleased to meet up with a great group of local women campaigning against the changes the government has made in their pensions. This is an issue I've spoken out against since the changes were put forward by the Conservative Government in 2011. Everyone is in favour of equalising the state pension age and recognises that, as we are living longer, we will be older when we get our pension but women born in the 1950s have been particularly badly affected. The Women Against State Pension Injustice, or WASPIs, deserve to be listened to and action taken on their behalf. That's why I will continue to shout out for them.
Despite all these local things going on I spent a large part of last week on a fascinating parliamentary visit to Palestine/Israel. The injustices I witnessed there were unlike any I've seen elsewhere in the world. Like all intractable problems it's complex but in simple terms the Israeli Occupying Power was making the lives of ordinary Palestinians extremely difficult and ignoring their obligations under international law. I will write a separate piece on what I learnt during my visit.