About Me

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I grew up locally by Old Trafford football ground and began my working life serving at the shop counter of a pawn shop, an experience that taught me more about the struggles of life than any degree or qualification ever could. I also worked in call centres, a furniture factory , and as a postwoman before eventually studying to become a solicitor, where, for many years I acted on behalf of NHS Bodies on a range of governance and contractual issues.

I became interested in politics at an early age because I saw the struggles that my parents and other local families faced. I was angry at the inequality and unfairness I had seen and I wanted to do something about it. A society should be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable in the community and I believe that we should rebuild a British economy with the welfare of the British people at its very heart. The foundation stones of our economic policy should be prosperity and social justice not greed and despair.

 

In May 2015 I was honoured to be elected as MP for Salford and Eccles with 49.4% of the vote, and with over 21,000 resident votes I am truly grateful for the support I have received.

 

In my maiden speech to Parliament I talked about the history of Salford and Eccles and the struggles that the people of Salford, Swinton, Eccles and Pendlebury unfairly face due to a financial crisis they didn't cause. At the same time the Conservative Government turns a blind eye to tax avoidance and hands out tax breaks to millionaires. I told Parliament that this constituency and its people have a proud socialist history, and that I intend to use my time representing them in parliament to fight for them to have a proud, socialist future as well.

 

In September 2015 I was asked by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn to become a Shadow Treasury Minister as part of Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell’s team. My role covers a number of areas which I was already interested in including childcare policy, tax credits and child poverty, housing and planning, charities, the voluntary sector and gift aid, environment and transport taxation, North Sea oil, gas and shipping, energy policy and climate change, excise duties, including excise fraud and law enforcement, gambling duties, the Royal Mint, Crown Estate and the Royal Household.

 

I want people to see their MPs in Westminster as people who really do care about the people and the communities they serve. I want to be an MP who truly represents people who have experienced the same problems I have witnessed and that ordinary people across Salford and Eccles face.

 

I am a mum, wife, a Man Utd fan (obviously!) and I love star wars (the old ones).         

 

Where I stand

Local Issues and Campaigns

Stop the Tax Credit Cuts

I will be campaigning to call on the Tories to stop the cuts to tax credits of which three million families will be affected. In Salford and Eccles alone around 61% of families will be hit. The Government should not be hitting families who work hard day after day just to get by.

As part of this campaign we’ll be running petitioning support from the public to send a message to David Cameron to stop the tax credit cuts.

Fracking

I have concerns about the Government's weak regulations, which allow for fracking to take place below national parks and other protected areas, and which I voted against on 16 December 2015.

When the Infrastructure Bill was being debated during the last Parliament, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues tabled an amendment to introduce tough environmental standards before any shale gas drilling could go ahead. This included a ban on fracking in areas where drinking water is collected and protected sensitive areas like our national parks or important wildlife sites.

At the time, the Coalition Government accepted this amendment. However, Ministers backtracked and tabled a redrafted amendment which removed a number of protections, notably the ban on drilling in or under national parks and where drinking water supplies are too close by. Unfortunately these weaker regulations formed part of the Infrastructure Act.

The current Government carried out a consultation between 4 November and 16 December 2015 on proposals to prevent fracking from new or existing wells drilled at the surface in specified protected areas. I was pleased by this Government U-turn but I appreciate groups such as Greenpeace remain concerned the Government still intends to allow fracking to take place under these areas and that in order to access shale gas reserves below the ground, fracking rigs will need to be located along the edges of our National Parks and other protected areas, to drill down, and then horizontally across. I believe there are still huge concerns over the environmental impact, including light, air, water and noise pollution.

Unfortunately, the Government appears set against giving all MPs the opportunity to debate this issue. Indeed, on 16 December 2015 there was a vote on the Government's weak fracking regulations without any debate. Because Government MPs supported the regulations, they were passed by a majority of 37.

I believe we should have a moratorium on fracking in Britain until we can be sure it is safe and won't present intolerable risks to our environment. In my view the Government is ignoring people's legitimate concerns and imposing fracking on communities.
 
I will continue to press the Government to listen to genuine and widely held concerns about fracking.

Missing Million Campaign

As a result of The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 the UK is moving from the old household survey method of electoral registration to a new method of individual registration.

The Government plans to bring forward by 12 months the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) to 1st December 2015, against the opinion of their own independent expert body. Changes to the way we register to vote mean that over 1 million people may fall off the electoral register. For Salford this means an estimated 5% reduction in the number of eligible voters, which amounts to approximately 8,000 voters.

The aim of the Missing millions campaign is to identify people who haven’t registered and motivate them to do so. This is an incredibly important campaign for our democracy and I support Labour's national campaign to increase awareness and improve voter registration across Salford and Eccles.  

Parliament Bills and Issues

Welfare Bill

On 20th July 2015 the first vote took place for the Conservative Welfare Bill. Along with 208 fellow MPs, including 48 Labour MPs we voted against this Bill but were unfortunately defeated.

 

I chose to vote against this Welfare Reform Bill as I am concerned that the bill will push families into further poverty, which would severely affect many people across Salford and Eccles. I was not alone in my concerns, with many MPs across different parties, as well as Labour Leadership contenders and London Mayoral contenders also being opposed to these cuts.

 

The current proposals of the Welfare Reform Bill will make vast cuts to the provision of working and child tax credits which will affect millions of people across the country and many across Salford and Eccles. As of April 2015, over 3 million in-work families are dependent on tax credits. 2.7 million of these families include children. As a result of the proposed cuts these families are expected to lose £1300 next year.  In our constituency of Salford and Eccles, over 60% of families rely on these tax credits and will be hit hard when these measures come into force. That is why I voted against the cuts to working and child tax credits as I feel these impacts are too severe to the people of Salford and Eccles and across the country.

Trade Union Bill

The Trade Union Bill is an assault that the current government are making on workers’ rights, civil liberties and democracy, and make clear to see that the Conservative ruse of being ‘the party of the working people’ is a complete fallacy.

During the debate I voiced the concerns stating that the Bill breached the European Convention on Human Rights and would be detrimental to future economic growth. Salford was pivotal in the creation of the trade union movement, with Salford and Manchester trades councils founding the TUC in 1868. I can assure residents that I will continue to lobby the government to think again with regards to this attack on the trade union movement and oppose the Bill as it progresses through the legislative process. 

 

As well as myself, 284 other MPs also voted against the Bill but unfortunately it was supported by 317 and so the Bill will continue to committee stage. I can assure you that I will continue to lobby the government to think again with regards to this attack on the trade union movement and oppose the Bill as it progresses through the legislative process.

 

Below is the speech I delivered to Parliament regarding the bill:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cmallfiles/mps/commons_hansard_6103_od.html

 

I declare an interest in this debate as a proud member of my trade union Unite.

The freedom to speak out against injustice and to campaign for economic equality and the rights and freedoms of workers, is underpinned by the European convention on human rights—rights that were bitterly fought for by the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors. The Government claim that they are forced to amend those rights, and we are led to believe that that is because the number of strikes called in recent years is a threat to our economic wellbeing. The total number of days lost in the 12 months preceding April 2015 was 704,000, but before the House becomes hysterical about that, it is important to note that historically that figure was in the millions. In fact, we are experiencing an all-time low for strike action, and it is at its lowest level since before 1990. The simple truth is that workers do not take the decision to strike lightly, and they never have.

 

I stress that such rights are not simply to improve workers’ living standards, but to enable the functioning of the economy as a whole. If wages continue to fall in real terms that implies a shrinking of the market. That inhibits profit and growth, and results in a vast reduction in the amounts recoverable in taxes by the Treasury. Indeed, proponents of the competitive market—including those on the Government Benches—would do well to understand that intrinsic to its very existence is not just the supply and demand of labour, but the freedom of labour to move and organise. Members who are fans of the free market mantras of Milton Friedman and co. will no doubt notice a real contradiction in terms. On the one hand, the Government advocate freedom and deregulation of company activity in their promotion of free market ideologies, but when it comes to the activity of workers it is a completely different story.

 

It is clear that the arguments in favour of this Bill do not stack up. This Bill is a clear breach of the European convention and poses a real and present danger to our economic viability as a nation. I call on Members to reject this Bill today. Failure to do so will open an economic and democratic Pandora’s box that unleashes something so pernicious that we will not be able to close the lid again.

Academies

I'm concerned that the Government’s academisation plans will have a detrimental effect on our education system and I was all too happy to speak in the Opposition Day Debate secured by my Labour colleagues in the Shadow Education team:

‘’Schools in Salford are under immense strain: there are chronic shortages of teachers; class sizes are rising; and the extra-curricular services, such as mentoring, which can often mean the difference between a child from a disadvantaged background succeeding or failing, are being scaled back. With all the Chancellor’s rhetoric about the northern powerhouse, now is the time to raise standards and to skill our region for the future, not to take money and effort away from education by undertaking an extremely costly and unnecessary programme to convert all schools into academies.’’

Full text of my speech is available here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-04-13/debates/16041341000001/SchoolsWhitePaper#contribution-16041344000181

BBC Charter Review

The BBC is one of our most treasured institutions and the cornerstone of our creative industries. I therefore believe that its investment and scope must be maintained so that the BBC remains a great universal broadcaster that continues to inform, educate and entertain.

The Government's consultation shows that a massive majority of the public agree that the BBC is serving viewers and listeners well and do not want to see a reduction in its scope or remit. The majority of respondents also believe that the BBC's content is of a high quality and is distinctive from other broadcasters, which is a view shared by the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

However, I am concerned that the Government wants to cut down the size of the BBC and I believe this ideological approach not only undermines the independence of the BBC, but ignores the results of the consultation. The Government has already confirmed the BBC will take on the cost of free TV licences for over-75s. Other proposals being considered include narrowing the BBC's remit to stop it from making some of its most popular shows. I believe the Government's actions are an assault on the principle of public service broadcasting.

The Clementi Review into Governance and Regulation of the BBC has recommended replacing the BBC Trust with a unitary Board with a majority of non-executive directors, half of whom would be appointed by the Government. However, recent reports suggest that the Government plans to directly appoint most members of the new body.

I believe the BBC does need reform and I accept changes are needed to how it is governed. However, both the Clementi report and the public consultation make clear that the independence of the BBC must be at the heart of its future. I therefore believe that the new unitary board must be underpinned by independent appointment processes, including for its Chair. It is clear that the independence of the BBC is at real risk under the current Government. I am also concerned that the Government wants to exert more political influence by shortening the Charter period. This must be fought all the way.

The Government says it will take the consultation responses into account and bring forward proposals for BBC Charter Review in a White Paper this spring. However, I am concerned by reports that this could be delayed. I believe it would be unacceptable to create more uncertainty over the future of the BBC. I am therefore pleased that my Shadow Frontbench colleagues are pressing the Government to get on with publishing its White Paper and have committed to oppose any attempts by the Government to dismantle or downgrade the BBC.
 
It is clear that the public overwhelmingly support the BBC and I can assure you that I will continue to do all I can to defend the independence of the BBC and to save our outstanding national broadcaster.