I know we were all relieved to hear that after mounting pressure, Boris Johnson finally decided to stand down. This should have happened months ago. He has done untold damage to our country and political standards. He is a self-serving and a wholly incompetent leader who has been exposed for his lies and deceit.
But this now means that we are facing a Tory leadership election and the level of debate has been depressing. Tales about fixing the economy, when they have been in charge of that economy for the last 12 years, are ludicrous. Little to nothing being said about reaching net zero. And contenders attacking each other on gender identity to make political gains serves no one.
After 12 years of Tory failure, 12 years of a stagnating economy, 12 years of broken promises, Britain needs a fresh start, not just a change of the Tory at the top. Labour are ready to take the fight to the Conservatives, which is why we think the country should decide who our next Prime Minister is in a general election. Only Labour can provide the fresh start the country needs.
Over this past month I have made numerous media appearances on Sky News, BBC Politics Live, Times Radio, BBC Politics London, ITV and GB News to get Labour’s messages out to the public and outline how a Labour government will deliver for our country.
One area where this couldn’t be clearer is on the recent heatwave. Extreme weather is just one manifestation of climate change but whilst Britain has boiled, the Conservative leadership candidates have engaged in fantasy climate denial. This task is urgent, and we have no time to waste but until we have a Labour Government, we will not see the pace of change we need.
In the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine our community has really come together to support innocent families fleeing this dreadful war. The Lewisham Polish Centre has also provided invaluable support and Bromley Council’s Ukrainian Support Hub, which I visited last month, is doing brilliant work helping families with issues ranging from benefits to school places and jobs.
Later this month I will be hosting a garden party for Ukrainians who have arrived in our community to welcome them and help introduce them to the area and their neighbours. The trauma they have faced is unimaginable and the least we can do is help welcome them properly as they begin to rebuild their lives here.
But whilst the community response has been fantastic there have been some huge failures from the government. First the delays in processing visas have prevented many in their hour of need from even coming to the UK.
One constituent was sponsoring a mother and son who were facing frequent air raids. Their visas took so long to process the family ended up going to the USA instead. My constituent went on to host another family but again delays meant this family went to another country. Despite raising this with the government they have done little to speed this process up.
Second, there are difficulties with the family scheme and the Homes for Ukraine scheme. One family had their host cancel at the last minute and had to go through an unnecessarily complicated and stressful process to be placed with another host. A central database across London identifying where families are and where hosts are available would help fix this. Despite writing to the Home Secretary about this the government have said they will not develop such a system.
In addition, if housing under the family scheme breaks down, for example due to overcrowding, these families are unable to switch onto the Homes for Ukraine scheme even though there are hosts available in the area. Instead, they would be facing homelessness and temporary accommodation. Again, despite raising this the government have not committed to fixing this.
Finally, at my local foodbank I met a Ukrainian mother and her 2-year-old son. They were queuing for food and nappies because the 5-week wait for universal credit had left them with absolutely nothing. How they can be expected to wait over a month for support is beyond me. But again, despite raising this with the Home Secretary and calling for immediate support the government are failing to fix this.
Our community has come together with open arms, and I hope my event later this month will also demonstrate this. But these failings, which are all fixable, have hindered many refugees in their hour of need. They deserve far better than this.