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October 22 Newsletter

Dear Constituent,

It’s been an extraordinary time in British politics and as I write this Liz Truss’ Government has imploded, she has resigned and we are to expect a new Prime Minister within a week.

It’s shocking to see the Conservatives limping on despite it being clear to everyone else that it’s time for a General Election. The Labour Party is ready to govern and the public know this. The Conservatives must put the country first and do what it right.

Whatever happens I know we have a difficult winter ahead with the cost-of-living crisis and I will continue to fight on behalf of my constituents.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Yasin MP

Constituents get in touch

In summary:

  • This has been a tumultuous month for policy, on a wide range of fast-moving issues.
  • Investment zones and environmental regulations have been a key concern.
  • The Public Order Bill has been at the forefront of my inbox.
  • I have also received correspondence on plastic reduction, fracking and solar power.

This month, my office has opened a total of 621 cases, 141 of which are casework and the remaining 480 relating to campaign and policy.

This has been an incredibly tumultuous month for politics and policy. The constituents of Bedford and Kempston have been in touch with their concerns on a wide range of newly-announced Conservative policy proposals, on issues such as the potential move of the British Embassy in Israel, and the ending of the Environmental Land Management Scheme. The lack of coherence and accountability in the current Government has meant that it has been a particular challenge to respond in time to constituents before the Government U-turn yet again.

One of these key announcements has been on Investment Zones, leading to over 160 emails in my inbox. Constituents are particularly worried about the potential for environmental damage should the relaxation of nature protection rules go ahead. I share these concerns, and I will do all I can to ensure a bonfire of environmental regulations is not on its way.

The Public Order Bill has also been at the forefront of my inbox this month, receiving over 40 pieces of related correspondence on issues such as buffer zones, the right to protest and violence reduction orders.

On the day before she resigned, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman faced up to Yvette Cooper in the Commons over the authoritarian Public Order Bill which Labour voted against at Third Reading. This is the Conservatives’ second bill on protest in twelve months (they re-introduced the controversial clauses they were unable to pass in the Policing, Crime and Sentencing Bill) even though they have shelved the much-needed Victims Law and the Online Safety Bill.

The Conservatives have drawn it up to pursue political divides rather than to solve practical problems, by criminalising effective means of protest and further entrenching racial inequalities in our criminal justice system. Disappointingly, the Public Order Bill was passed through the House of Commons by a Conservative majority.

Continuing from the summer, plastic reduction and marine protected areas are still key constituents’ concerns. Opposition to fracking, support for solar power, as well as a campaign on co-operatively owned windfarms, have also been popular environmental issues, alongside calls to protect Britain’s woods, trees, and hedgerows.

In the constituency

It was a joy to attend the opening of the £2 million teaching block at Grange Academy school in Kempston in September. I was contacted by the school in 2019 as despite teaching some of the most vulnerable in society, they were forced to do so in dilapidated classrooms. Despite the obvious need for investment, the school had lost their first bid for capital funding.

I extend my congratulations to Grange Academy staff and pupils, Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust for their perseverance, I am delighted to say we together brought about a brand-new double storey building with 10 great teaching rooms, children, staff and teachers now have the classrooms they deserve.

It was an honour to be invited to speak at the Bedford African Community’s Festival Africa open day at the Harpur Suite and Harpur Square, with traditional music, dance, food, a great atmosphere throughout the day.

It was a pleasure to attend the Early Childhood Partnership’s celebration event for their work running Bedford Borough’s Children’s Centres. It was a great opportunity to meet families and to see the facilities at the Queens Park Children’s Centre.

At Queen’s Park Academy I was pleased to participate in discussions on how the school can work with the local community and cultural sector for the benefit of students.

I met with Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) to discuss improving pop up activities in empty shop units and allow the creative talent across Bedford and Kempston to flourish.

At the Ridgeway School in Kempston, I was invited to talk about my work in Parliament to pupils but the in truth I think the Government could learn a thing or two from them. What a positive, lovely place to be and learn.

Last week I attended the wonderful Festival of Lights celebration at the Bunyan Sports Centre, organised by the Bedford Indian Community to bring together people of all cultures and backgrounds across Bedford. It was a truly joyful event.

I also had the honour of attending the Centenary Concert of the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama. The concert was held at the Corn Exchange and was an impressive showcase of some of the skills and talents that we can be proud of in Bedfordshire.

In Westminster

Labour came out of our successful conference, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to take on the beleaguered Tories. We knew they were bad, but no one predicted the expediency of their unravelling.

I never thought Parliament and Governance could become more fraught and febrile than during the Brexit legislation years, but the last few weeks following Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous budget on 23 September set off a sequence of events that have surpassed that chaos. It’s been extraordinary.

We are already a Chancellor and a Home Secretary down and we’ve just heard the inevitable news that the PM will be gone too.

The new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt made a statement in Parliament reversing most of the PM’s main policy platform that sent the economy into freefall.  He kept the lifting of the cap on bankers’ bonuses though!

After just a few short weeks, this Government has had to be bailed out by the banks – and we are paying for the catastrophic mistake through mortgage rate rises and inflationary costs.

Hunt has now reduced the help for energy bills instead of asking the oil and gas giants to pay more from their vast and unexpected profits – which the CEO of Shell even said was a good idea.

The markets have been stabilised for now but Hunt is replacing one failed Tory libertarian ideology with another – Austerity – which the Tories admit failed and has led to the terrible record on growth and productivity which are at the heart of many of today’s ingrained problems. I challenged the Chancellor on his record as Health Secretary. He knows the NHS won’t survive another round of austerity.

In an Urgent Question on the current economic crisis, I asked the (now gone) Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Philip to ask his colleagues to ditch the disastrous budget and call a General Election.

But it was Labour’s Motion to ban fracking that threw the Government into disarray on Wednesday.

In a smart move by Labour they forced a vote on banning shale gas extraction – ‘fracking’, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because they knew so many Tory MPs and their constituents were against it.

Tory MPs had a simple choice; do they break the manifesto commitments they made to their constituents and allow the government to impose expensive, unsafe fracking on communities that do not want it, or support Labour’s ban on fracking once and for all? They bottled it. 

In a fit of the vapours, Tory MPs said they voted against it because Labour should not be allowed to take control of the order paper but it was Liz Truss that very bizarrely and naively brought the most controversial of issues back into the legislature. Of course, Labour had the right to challenge the Government on it and although it didn’t pass, Tory MPs are left explaining why they didn’t vote to ban fracking – which isn’t going to look good on the leaflets of Tory party candidates.

Unbelievable scenes took place in Parliament. Instead of giving Tory MPs a free vote – they were 3- line whipped to vote against Labour’s motion and their own manifesto commitment. But Tory MPs were told it was actually a confidence vote in the PM so if they voted against fracking it could bring their Government down if they lost the vote.

Needless to say, the plan backfired spectacularly as it looked as if the Government would indeed lose the vote, so the Whips then said it wasn’t a confidence vote in the PM, then it was again.

Chaos ensued. My Labour colleagues and I heard rumours that turned out to be true that the Tory Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip resigned, (who later un-resigned) some Tory MPs were in tears being forced and physically manhandled to vote for something they were against.

This was the Cabinet that was supposedly bringing some stability to the Government after the litany of lies and scandals in the Johnson administration. But this chaos is even worse – and of course a legacy of Johnson and Brexit.

This Government is collapsing. And it’s because they’ve forgotten why they are in Parliament – they’ve forgotten who put them there and that they are supposed to act in the best interests of the country and their constituents and to keep them safe. The Government is collapsing because their manifesto commitments mean nothing to them and they’ve forgotten their job is to serve the public and honour our democratic processes.

We need a General Election now.

LUHC & My Representations

The LUHC Committee began the public evidence sessions for its inquiry on the Government’s Draft Electoral Commission Strategy and Policy Statement and the role of the Electoral Commission.

This month the Committee also questioned Simon Clarke, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on the Government’s Levelling-Up plans, including proposals for low-tax investment zones which Labour does not support.

Following Jeremy Hunt’s warnings to expect spending cuts across departments, The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee launched an inquiry into Funding for Levelling-Up, examining the funds available for levelling-up and how effectively resources are directed to those areas most in need.

Whatever the Tories do now, whoever they sack, un-sack or reappoint, the damage is done.

As people struggle to pay their bills, to eat, to get NHS treatment, a crime investigated, all this Government can do is focus on is themselves, to fight for their own survival, for their own damaging ideologies. After 12 years, all the Tories have delivered is crises after crisis, chaos, confusion and division.

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