The abiding memory of last week was sitting in the Sky TV studio as the day’s headlines went up: steel job losses followed by the Chinese President riding down the Mall in a golden coach! These images focused everyone’s attention on making it clear to government to summon the political to act before it’s too late.
It’s absurd that the UK is looking to Communist China, with its dodgy human rights record, to build our future infrastructure and at the same time failing to take effective action against Chinese steel dumping.
Battling for local people’s jobs and livelihoods has meant a week that began talking to Radio Humberside’s James Piekos in the early hours outside the steelworks Gate E, saw me on every media outlet including Russia Today! The week ended with me putting the case for steel on the Sunday Politics and in the Sunday Express.
In Parliament I managed to ask questions of the Prime Minister twice – getting sympathetic answers but not much action. He has, though, agreed to meet with myself and fellow North Lincolnshire MPs to discuss how government can ensure Scunthorpe Steel has a future.
I also pressed the Business Secretary to act before it is too late when we dragged him to the Commons Chamber to answer for his inaction. Back in Scunthorpe I’ve been talking to some of Tata’s suppliers like PD Logistics about the likely impact on them of what Tata has announced. For the impact of what’s going on will be felt beyond the core Tata workforce.
On Saturday I joined steelworkers and their families in the Town Centre gathering signatures for petitions to press the government for action. It was good to see a number of Labour councillors there showing their support for the families affected. And the response from local people and shopkeepers was fantastic! A big thank you to them.
The government seems to be saying that the best way to build the future is through further English devolution. So it was good to meet with the Greater Lincolnshire LEP and hear about the work they are doing in the area. I also dropped into the All Party Group for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire to make clear my preference for our area to be part of a devolution that recognises the opportunities of the Humber estuary for jobs and involves the East Riding and Hull. But all that’s being offered at the moment is some muddled passing down of random powers with no true accountability to match that enjoyed by Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.
Indeed the muddle continued at Westminster with the Conservatives forcing through their ill-conceived English Votes for English Laws legislation which sounds good but is a nonsense!
In my Shadow Schools brief I responded to a debate on fire safety in schools. I was also able to celebrate the campaigning work of Lorna Fillingham for increasing the number of changing places toilets in a debate focused on that issue.
Finally I was delighted to join a packed St George’s, Crosby for a wonderful Festival of Choirs.