Bristol South

Bristol mayoral election

Following the selection of Marvin Rees as Labour’s candidate for the 2016 Bristol mayoral election, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said:

“I look forward to campaigning positively with Marvin, explaining how a Labour mayor will focus on the issues that matter for people living in Bristol South and right across our city.

“On key concerns like opportunities for young people, affordable housing and transport, the past four years has brought precious little progress. A Labour mayor will work for a fairer, better Bristol for all citizens, wherever they live in our city.

“Labour will also ensure the legacy of the city’s spell as European Green Capital is focused on things that most matter to residents: warm homes, reducing fuel poverty, and improving public health.”

Choice & dignity: The Assisted Dying Bill

Karin Smyth MP Health Questions June 2015Karin Smyth is one of the sponsors of a Parliamentary Bill, to be debated by the Commons this week, that would allow some terminally ill people to choose to take their own life.

The Assisted Dying Bill comes before the House of Commons for its second reading on Friday 11 September. It would allow adults of sound mind who have a terminal illness, with a prognosis of six months or less, to voluntarily end their life.

The proposed law would ensure a number of upfront safeguards are in place: for example two doctors and a High Court judge would have to be satisfied of the person’s eligibility, and that he or she had made a fully informed decision, before assisted dying would be allowed.

“The change in the law this Bill seeks will provide choice and dignity, whilst reducing suffering for dying people who want to control how and when they die,” said Karin Smyth.

Outlining the inadequacies of current legislation, she said: “As things stand, lawyers and medical staff are left to navigate the intricacies of existing laws which accepts the principle of compassionate assistance to die, but is unwilling to deal with the reality. People who wish to deal with their inevitable death by choosing to die can do so, but must rely on Switzerland to manage the consequences.

“Moreover, people who can manage and afford to travel abroad have this choice, but others do not. To me, that cannot be right. It is time for Parliament to step up to its responsibility as legislator and clarify the law.”

She explained that her professional background, working in the NHS before being elected in May 2015, helped shape her views.

“This is a hugely emotive and personal issue, and many people hold very strong views either for or against. Like many of them, my own opinions have been shaped by my family and friends’ experiences. They have also been influenced by my professional background in the NHS.

“A few years ago I worked on a project with some excellent doctors and nurses who were trying to build, improve and develop the communication skills of clinicians in order to help patients gain a better understanding of their disease. They were committed to helping patients understand how to live with their illness – and eventually how to die with it.

“As a society we talk a lot about life but not about death, particularly death from long term conditions. Much of the work involved opening conversations, to help enlighten patients about how to cope with the flare-ups that might mean spending time in hospital, their treatment choices, and to empower them to make these choices. I learnt a huge amount, especially from the patients and clinicians. I particularly learnt how poorly equipped they were to talk about how to die with dignity, and how lonely it becomes for the patient when it is nobody’s role to talk about dying.

“This insight into how little choice and control patients have, as well as the ‘minefield’ navigated by doctors and other clinical staff, really opened my eyes to the need for society to acknowledge death as a part of life. It also highlighted to me that we need to be more open about how we respond with compassion to the knowledge of imminent and inevitable death. As I became more aware of the issues, I realised that if we are to see the changes that are needed, then we must change the law.

“Opinion polls suggest public support for a change in the law is strong, but I understand that many people will be worried about this, feeling passionate about the issue and profoundly disagreeing with me.”

Each Private Members’ Bill has a number of sponsors, and their role is to support its passage in the House of Commons, being present when it reaches the various stages. The Assisted Dying Bill’s primary sponsor is Rob Marris MP. Other co-sponsors as well as Karin Smyth are Heidi Alexander, Crispin Blunt, Lucy Allan, Jim Fitzpatrick, Paul Flynn, Norman Lamb and Stephen Twigg,

The Assisted Dying Bill has a clear process, with multiple safeguards.

1. It covers a patient who is “terminally ill”; i.e. life expectancy of less than 6 months. (Hence those with disabilities, however serious, are not covered unless they also have a terminal illness.)
2. The patient must be aged 18 or over.
3. The patient must have been ordinarily resident in England or Wales for at least one year.
4. The patient must be of sound mind. (Hence dementia patients for example are not covered)
5. The patient voluntarily (i.e. not coerced) signs a declaration that they wish to end their own life.
6. The patient’s own doctor counter-signs the declaration that the patient is terminally ill and of sound mind and acting voluntarily.
7. An independent specialist doctor counter-signs the declaration that the patient is terminally ill and of sound mind and acting voluntarily.
8. If a doctor has a conscientious objection to any of this, then he or she does not have to participate in any way.
9. Upon the application of the patient, a High Court judge agrees that the patient is terminally ill and of sound mind and acting voluntarily.
10. After the court order, there is a 14 day cooling off period.
11. After that cooling off period, the doctor takes the medicine to the patient, and waits there.
12. The patient must choose: to take the medicine themselves, or to change their mind and not take it.
13. The medicine is self-administered by the patient, and by no-one else – not by any third party (e.g. not the doctor, not the spouse).
14. If the patient decides not to take the medicine, the doctor leaves and takes the medicine away – i.e. the medicine is not left with the patient.
15. The Chief Medical Officers must monitor the operation of the Act and submit an annual report which must be laid before Parliament.

Refugee crisis

I want to set out my position on the refugee crisis which is facing Europe, from the shores of Greece to the so-called “Jungle” camp in Calais.

Like most people I have been shocked by the very many individual tragedies which have been reported, such as the appalling scenes on an Austrian motorway and the daily toll of bodies washed up on beaches across the Mediterranean. The images on our television screens and in our newspapers offer us a glimpse into the reality of life for thousands of people fleeing a region which is in turmoil.

My Labour colleague, and Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP spoke out about the United Kingdom’s response to the immediate crisis during a recent visit to Bristol last month. In a further speech just a few days ago she said:

We seem paralysed to respond. Stuck in the troubled politics of immigration when this is about asylum instead. Stuck treating immigration and asylum as the same thing when they are completely different – and we should keep them so. Stuck hiding behind disputes over student visas, illegal working or European agency workers, when none of that has anything to do with refugees.

Stuck talking only about ‘migrants’ when we should mean fathers, sons, sisters, brothers, daughters, mothers. Stuck in political cowardice that assumes British voters’ unease about immigration means they will not forgive anyone who calls for sanctuary – even though our nation has given shelter to the persecuted for centuries, and sometimes moral leadership is needed.

At the time of writing this the UK has so far accepted fewer than 200 Syrian refugees since that conflict began. I fully support calls for this to be dramatically increased. Bristol should play its part and I hope that there will be widespread support for action.

We must also ensure that there is a properly resourced search and rescue mission across the Mediterranean, it is not acceptable to leave it to our European partners, in particular Greece which is still struggling with its own economic crisis. Not to do so will be a complete moral failure.

The longer term goal must be to resolve the conflicts which are raging across the Middle East. A comprehensive peace settlement in the region can only be achieved by defeating the poisonous ideology of ISIL, which is now active from Tunisia to the Sinai as well as in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. However it is not clear to me how effective the military action by more than 60 countries – including 10 Arab states such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan – has been to date in halting the spread of ISIL. We must do more with our international partners to establish a comprehensive political and diplomatic strategy in the region. This may mean working closer with countries such as Iran, and I welcome the slow steps taken recently to improve our diplomatic relations in Tehran.

This strategy should include renewed efforts to re-start talks between the Israeli and Palestinian administrations which broke down yet again this year. All acts that are harmful to the peace process should end, this includes the building of settlements – which are illegal and make a peace settlement harder to achieve – and ending support for all terrorist activity. It is the responsibility of the international community to encourage those moderate voices on both sides to be heard so that progress can be made on a two-state solution.

I have been very disappointed by the response to date of the Prime Minister. I have written to him about this issue and I hope that he will now understand the scale of the crisis and that he offers genuine help, including a significant rise in the number of refugees allowed to settle in the United Kingdom. I am sure that this issue will be very high on the agenda when the House of Commons next meets and I expect a full statement from the Government.

Several UK based charities have launched appeals to help those affected, to learn more about how you can help, please use these links:

Refugee Action

Save The Children

British Red Cross

Karin Smyth MP, September 2015

 

Public Accounts Committee visit to Bristol

Karin Smyth Meg Hillier Bristol Sept 2015
Meg Hillier MP (left) pictured during the visit to Bristol, organised by Karin Smyth MP

A House of Commons Committee fact-finding visit to Bristol, aimed at helping shape future policy-making on devolution to cities, took place on Thursday (3 September).

The intelligence gathering visit, by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chair Meg Hillier MP, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth and PAC / National Audit Office officials, was held ahead of the Committee’s formal evidence session on Wave 1 City Deals (Wednesday 15 September). The PAC will then publish a report on City Deals at a later date.

Karin Smyth MP said: “Bristol was the only city to vote in favour of an elected mayor when given an opportunity, so it is important we are at the forefront of the devolution debate.

“There are huge economic inequalities in Bristol, thwarting the potential of so many talented local people and, three years on from the election of a mayor and the City Deal, Bristolians still await improvements to housing, skills, jobs and transport.

“As the only core city in the first wave of City Deals to have an elected mayor, I want to ensure other places learn from Bristol’s experience, which is why I was keen to organise this fact-finding visit. The outcomes will be fed in to the Public Accounts Committee’s investigation into City Deals with the aim of influencing future government policy and ensuring good value for taxpayers.”

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, added: “I was impressed by the plans for the city region. Bristol is becoming a vital modern tech hub. There are important lessons for other cities and regions about how to get value for money for taxpayers through devolved services.”

Background:

• In 2012, the Government signed Wave 1 City Deals with the eight core cities: Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds and Nottingham to devolve more funding and responsibilities to local places.

• The Government has since signed Wave 2 City Deals with 18 more localities in England, Growth Deals with England’s 39 LEPs and ‘Devolution Deals’ with Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region and Leeds City Region. To date, the Government has committed £2.3 billion to the deals using funding from eight departments to support around 40 programmes over a 30 year period and should impact the lives of the 12.7 million people living in the Wave 1 City Deal areas.

• City Deals are still at an early stage of their development and it is too early to conclude on their overall impact. However, as the Government has set out its aim to continue devolving responsibility for local growth to cities and local places, the visit formed part of PAC’s examination of progress early so lessons can be identified to inform future initiatives.

Trade Union Bill seeks to gag working people

Tolpuddle 2015 Karin Smyth MPKarin Smyth joined thousands of trade unionists and supporters at the 2015 Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset on Sunday 19 July.

The Labour MP addressed the main stage rally, part of the annual weekend-long festival which commemorates the Tolpuddle Martyrs

She said: “Today the collective need for the rights of working people to be recognised, cherished and protected is as relevant as ever.”

And commenting on the government’s new Trade Union Bill she added: “Our country and the people living here face many, many big challenges. But they will not be addressed by a law that is set to criminalise working people who want to protect their rights. It is a law that seems intent on gagging working people the moment they want to challenge their working conditions; their health and safety, and their rates of pay.

Tolpuddle 2015 Karin Smyth MP“Taking forward the trade union’s proud traditions of educating and informing members and communities will be important to ensure everyone in the country knows the truth about this Bill’s intents and outcomes.”

Tolpuddle 2015 2The Tolpuddle Martrys were six farm workers, leaders of a newly formed trade union, who in 1834 were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy, sparking a major nationwide protest. The Dorset village has been an icon of the trade union movement ever since.

The choice facing us in the Labour Party

Here is the text of my recent newsletter emailed to all members and supporters in Bristol South:

Dear members and supporters,

It is great to be able to say that this email is being sent to more members and supporters of Labour in Bristol South than ever before. To our long-standing members, thank you for your continued support in my first few months as your M.P. To newcomers, and returners, a hearty welcome. I hope to get to meet you all in due course. I have always been a strong believer in regular direct contact with voters to understand what matters to them and keep the Labour Party relevant.

The Labour Party has always been a mass movement of people, from different traditions, coming together to deliver fairness, equality and justice across society.  It is exciting to have had so many people join the party in the past few months as it gives us a great opportunity to organise together with the shared aim of removing the Conservative government at the earliest opportunity.

At the election the Tories increased their vote in Bristol South and although UKIP came third they still have one UKIP councillor in Hengrove.  My current local campaign priorities are to support better opportunities and training for 16 year olds, increase housing supply and improve rights for tenants.  We will also be campaigning to ensure that our community hospital provides services to better meet local health need. I hope you will join me and our Councillors at street surgeries in the next few weeks and months to take these campaigns to people across the constituency.

Many recent joiners have been inspired to do so by the opportunity to vote in our leadership elections.  The choice we make now between Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall is of national importance.

Like many members and supporters, I was devastated by the general election result, despite our successes in Bristol. The electorate sent us clear messages; they did not trust us with the economy and they did not trust our choice of leader.

We failed to effectively challenge the lies of the Tories and their Lib Dem friends that the economic crash was caused by the last Labour Government. Nor was it caused by nurses, fire fighters, teachers, students or pensioners; it was a global banking crisis, and the economy was growing again in 2010 when we lost power.

I am disappointed that our leaders have not defended our record in government much more effectively.   Our 13 years delivered improvements in all south Bristol schools, a local hospital after a 60 year campaign, Sure Start centres, workers’ rights, gay and equal rights and increased overseas aid. We introduced the minimum wage and delivered growth, low inflation and reduced unemployment. Change and progress I marched for in the 1980s, only finally delivered by our Labour government in power from 1997.

During our time in government we also made mistakes including the Iraq war, insufficient bank regulation and not enough to prevent tax evasion.

We also made compromises to deliver our plans; it is an inevitable part of holding political power.  We should learn from our mistakes but not be cowed by them.

The next five years of Tory plans will be hard for us all, but hardest of all for those in Bristol South most dependant on a fair economy, our state and public services. Our collective ambition must be to mitigate the Tories’ impact by effective opposition; but we must replace them as soon as possible by winning back the power to change people’s lives.  That means winning back seats across the south, east and south-west of England that have now have huge Tory majorities.  Labour won only 12 out of 197 of these seats.

The leadership campaigns are fascinating; Jeremy Corbyn’s stated desire for a straight talking, policy focussed debate resonates with me. He articulates our need to challenge unfairness (whether by big businesses paying fair taxes or those needing welfare getting our support) with passion and clarity. I understand that for some he represents ‘change’, tapping into dissatisfaction with the excessive control of decision making by previous leaders and their advisers that has made our mass movement feel too centralised.

We need to give hope to those who know that the middle aged white male elite running the Tory party do not understand their lives; we need to give direction to our economy that looks at greener, high tech jobs as well as traditional industry; we need to kick start children’s life chances by emphasising the importance of pre-school opportunities and childcare; we need a vision to build two million more homes to address the housing crisis.

That is why I am supporting Yvette Cooper to be our next leader. As the Guardian newspaper said “Corbyn has shaped the campaign, but Cooper can shape the future”.

What better change than to have a woman leading our party? Her practical, feminist approach would contrast spectacularly with the high-handed air of privilege from the Tory front bench.

Yvette Cooper has the intellect, passion and Labour values to be a great leader and prime minister. She has been consistently effective on the front bench as Home Office lead; she shows vision with an alternative to George Osborne on the economy; and she unsettles David Cameron with her common touch.  She is the candidate the Tories fear most.

She is also best placed to unite our party and capture the strengths and ideas from across our movement. However, those who tell you ‘anyone but Corbyn’ risk adding to the tone that turns people off politics. We must take the opportunity that this surge in interest in our party offers us by continuing to debate the range of views of members and supporters, whilst committing to winning the election in 2020.

All four candidates have identified the fact that the Labour Party needs to change. We need a better way of doing things that is forward looking, focussed on the way the world is and will be; not how it was. Rather than move to the left or the right what we need is a broader movement, winning support from all parts of society, including those who do not vote, because that is the way to win back power.

I, like you, hold a range of views, passions and principles that I want to support. My political principle is simple; to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in Bristol South by delivering a Labour government. I believe that Yvette Cooper is the best choice to achieve that.

Yours sincerely,

Karin Smyth

Yvette Cooper – the outstanding choice for a future Prime Minister

Yvette_CooperHere’s the text of a speech that Yvette Cooper gave today. This sums up why I’m backing her for leader of the Labour Party.

Text of speech given by Yvette Cooper, 13 August 2015

“Tomorrow the ballots go out. Tomorrow we start to choose.

If the polls are right – and it’s a big if – there’s a battle on for the soul of our party It’s not about personalities. It’s about the future of our country.

And I will not duck that fight. Because there is too much at stake.

I’m here because I can’t walk away from this party.

I can’t walk away from the people Labour was built to serve.

Too often in this race people have suggested that only one candidate has principles. – Rubbish.

I’m the granddaughter of a miner, the daughter of a trade unionist, a comprehensive girl who was brought up to believe in the strength and solidarity of family, trade unions and the coalfield communities.

The belief that we are stronger if we stand together than if we leave each other to sink or swim alone, that you have an obligation to work hard, to get on, to look out for your neighbour and to make sure no one is left behind.

And because I know I’ve had more chances in life than my mum and grandma thanks to the Labour campaign for women’s equality, I’ve long been part of that radical equality tradition in our party – drawn from the emancipation and liberation movements. It’s why I believe in the deep equality of equal respect for every human being, why one of the first campaigns I joined was against Section 28 and why I was proud to lead Labour’s campaign for equal marriage.

It’s why I hate what the Tories are doing to Britain.

Why I believe it is so unjust that half the world’s wealth sits in the hands of the top 1%. Why I hate the fact that prejudice and poverty still hold too many people back.

Like most of us, I didn’t join the Labour party because I like stuffing envelopes, leafleting in the rain.

I joined the party I love a quarter of a century ago because I believe in something.

That the world needn’t be this way.

That the gap between rich and poor is too big.

That markets should serve humanity not humanity serve markets.

That diplomacy is better than war, but sometimes you have to be ready to fight for justice.

That Labour must always give voice to the voiceless, strength to the weak.

That the Tories don’t have a right to rule.

That a woman can lead the Labour party.

But our party is facing a crisis in our identity – and it hasn’t come from nowhere.

Of course we are bruised by two defeats. But it’s more than that. Across Europe, social democratic and long standing left of centre parties have found themselves under pressure in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

In just the last 12 months we have seen the Danish social democrats lose – with a centre right coalition in power, and an anti-immigrant party now the second largest party.

In the European Parliament elections last year parties of the far right made spectacular gains – including victory for Front National in France amid accusations of betrayal levelled at the French socialists.

In Greece the social democrats have gone from governing just six years ago to just a handful of seats. Meanwhile Syriza captured huge populist momentum but are now struggling with the realities of political compromise.

The Spanish socialists lost power to the centre right in 2011 and the insurgent party Podemos now has the second largest membership of any political party – despite only being founded a year ago. Here at home Labour went down to a disappointing defeat losing votes to the Tories, UKIP, the SNP and the Greens.

European social democracy is fracturing, losing or turning to a more uncompromising politics that divides the electorate. Too often the winners have been the right.

We shouldn’t forget the sheer scale of the global financial crisis we went through – and how close we came to losing our savings, our pensions, our hopes and dreams as markets failed and global banks crashed.

The only reason we didn’t was because all of us, society, taxpayers, governments across the globe stood together and used our common strength to stop entire markets and entire economies crashing down around our ears.

It was a Labour response, and a Labour Prime Minister and Chancellor who led the debate across the world to stop the global economy crashing.

Yet politics changed in the aftermath. The right seized their chance across Europe, and both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in Britain argued that far from being a private sector crisis, it was actually the public sector to blame.

The left had a tougher case to make – to explain both why the deficit didn’t cause the crisis and why it still had to come back down. And it was harder to offer optimism and hope when budgets were so tight.

And as parties steeped in the principles of solidarity and internationalism – we’ve not yet set out a clear enough response to the politics of rising nationalism, fragmentation and blame.

At the same time the old industrial workplaces from which our party was forged are largely gone. Most working people aren’t members of trade unions any more. More people self-employed, more people setting up their own businesses. But also more people working for agencies, in and out of temporary work. More people trapped in low paid jobs. Working lives more insecure. Families more stretched.

The world is changing fast with more travel and trade, more migration changing communities, faster technology providing great opportunities but leaving more behind.

At the election we didn’t offer enough optimism for those with strong aspirations for their future.

But also enough reassurance and support for those who felt left behind at the end of the line.

Our party started in the workplace solidarity of the industrial revolution.

Now we have to build a new argument for social solidarity in a post industrial age.

But when times are tough, and the old answers, and the old parties don’t seem to be working, people cast around for something else.

Something different. Something subversive. Something to kick out at the system, to express anger, frustration and the demand for change.

In different ways that’s fuelled support for the SNP and for UKIP.

And so now in the Labour party, in the yearning for answers and for Britain to change, I can see why many people have bought into what Jeremy is offering.

I’m not going to dismiss the values and the intentions of Jeremy and those who are supporting him. I’m not going to claim they don’t believe in social justice or the ideals of the Labour party because I don’t think that’s right.

But nor am I going to pander or pretend I agree with them on the answers, and claim I’m just a more electable version of what they stand for.

Because the truth is that Jeremy is offering old solutions to old problems, not new answers to the problems of today.

We have to look the 21st century in the eye, face up to the future.

That’s where we will find the new radicalism, the answers in the modern fight for social justice, equality and solidarity Not the old answers of the past.

I understand Jeremy has strong support.

But i feel really strongly – not just as a leadership candidate but as a Labour Party member that desperately wants an effective Labour Government – that his are the wrong answers for the future.

That they aren’t radical.

And they aren’t credible.

That they won’t change the world, they will keep us out of power and stop us changing the world.

That’s what I want to set out this morning.

Saying this rather than pretending I agree with the person who is currently the most popular candidate in the race may lose me votes. But it needs to be said.

Our party, the values we stand for, and the country we want to fight for are too important not to be honest about what is at stake.

And I want to show today that there is an alternative that is both radical and credible, true to our values, but serious enough to win.

And we have to fight for it before it is too late.

Consider the future economic challenges we face.

Our economy is polarising, too reliant on cheap labour. Britain isn’t creating high quality new jobs. Economic power and wealth are stuck in the hands of the few not the many. From the Governor of the Bank of England to the Head of the OECD, global economic leaders are warning that the short termism of markets and widening inequality are undermining growth and prosperity.

Gone now are so many of the factories and mills even of thirty years ago. This is an interdependent, networked world which invests more in IT knowledge than in bricks, mortar and machines. The fight for social justice has to start from today, not the world we remember it to be.

As Hilary Clinton has warned we still have a quarterly capitalism based on short term cashing instead of investing in the future of long term growth. The Tories can’t solve this – they just believe in laissez faire, in shrinking the state and pulling back.

The radical approach of the future is to reform capitalism so it serves people, not to try to destroy it with nothing to put in its place. To reform markets so power isn’t concentrated, so they encourage the talents and ideas of all, invest in the long term, not return to clause IV as Jeremy has suggested.

To work with business to double our investment in science and the future, so we can create 2 million more good quality high tech manufacturing jobs not return to British Leyland.

To deliver the vocational revolution we need, end the old British snobbery between academic and vocational skills that is holding us back. And we should be devolving education and skills out of Whitehall and into local councils and communities not the centralising policies either of Michael Gove, or Jeremy’s plan for a National Education Service.

The radical plan is to put power in the hands of the many not the few. Not to concentrate power in Whitehall, or in the central state, but to hand it back to communities across the country to give people control over their lives.

And we need what is bluntly a much more feminist approach to our economy and society. Put family at the centre of our economy. As any parent will tell you, that would be really radical and it would transform families lives. Stop families being stretched and stained to fit round work, and change work to fit round family life. Universal free childcare should be as much the infrastructure of the modern economy as trains, planes and boys toys.

And we need a radical vision to end child poverty in a generation – to stop poverty and prejudice holding people back. That’s why one of the simplest and most radical policies we have is Sure Start.

As one of the Ministers who started it I think it doesn’t go far enough. We should extend it, not just for the under-fives but for older families too.

There in the heart of the family is the power to give every child the love, the hope, the opportunity they need. Yet poverty, trauma, lack of opportunity or abuse can destroy lives for generations.

I talked to one Mum about what Sure Start meant to her. She had hit rock bottom, the council had tried to take her children away because she couldn’t cope. Then she went to Sure Start. She told me without it she wouldn’t have been sitting there living and breathing in front of me. She got her kids back and her confidence and strength back too. Got some training. Part time work. And she joined – and then she led – the local labour party campaign to keep it open when it was threatened with closure. They put her on the council, and this autumn she starts her university degree. All because of sure start. That’s the vision I want.

And people say they want radical politics.

So tell me what you think is more radical.

Bringing back clause IV: spending billions of pounds we haven’t got switching control of some power stations from a group of white middle aged men in an energy company to a group of white middle aged men in Whitehall. Or extending Sure Start; giving mothers the power and confidence to transform their own lives and transform their children’s lives for years to come.

What is more radical? False promises to the South Wales mining communities you will re-open the now capped and flooded pits or investing in the green technology including clean coal technology of the future.

Britain’s last deep mined pit Kellingley pit is still open in my constituency. I’ve fought hard to keep it open – with little support from many on the Corbyn campaign – promoting clean coal technology and calling for state aid. I’m a coalfield MP proud to have the nomination of the NUM. But I’m not going to make people false promises ion the coalfield communities that we can turn the clock back to the middle of the 20 century instead.

And at a time when we are dealing with a global climate change threat, when international borders have ebbed, when extremism doesn’t recognise nations, and when we need to work together more than ever, is it really radical to quit NATO, to prevaricate over membership of the EU, or trash our reputation as an internationalist party.

I say no.

We should stay in the EU, stay in the European Court of Human Rights, stay in NATO – sorry, Jeremy, internationalism is a core Labour principle and I will always fight for it.

And what is more radical?

A Labour party after a century of championing equality and diversity which turns the clock back to be lead again by a leader and deputy leader, both white men.

Or to smash our own glass ceiling to get Labour’s first elected woman leader and woman Prime Minister too. Who’s the real radical? Jeremy or me?

Yes there are areas where Jeremy and I agree.

We both feel passionately about human rights, about ending homelessness, about building more homes.

We agree that we need an alternative to George Osborne’s austerity ideology.

I’ve argued from the start we shouldn’t swallow the Tories myths about Labour’s public spending. It wasn’t too many teachers, nurses or doctors that caused global banks to go bust. And I don’t think Andy was right to apologise for Labour’s public spending record.

The debt and deficit need to come down. But we should never sign up to George Osborne’s 40% cuts – that’s way beyond what is needed to bring borrowing down.

It’s not prudence its punishment – driven by right wing ideology that wants to shrink the state.

It’s not common sense economics – its deliberate dismantling of our public services.

We have to have a radical alternative.

But it also has to be credible. And Jeremy’s approach isn’t.

Quantitative easing to pay for infrastructure now that the economy is growing is really bad economics.

Quantitative easing was a special measure when the economy collapsed, liquidity dried up, interest rates fell as low as they could go.

But printing money year after year to pay for things you can’t afford doesn’t work – and no good Keynesian would ever call for it.

History shows it hits your currency, hits investment, pushes up inflation, and makes it harder not easier to get the sustainable growth in a global economy we need to tackle poverty and support our public services.

So it’s not radical. It won’t stand up to scrutiny. And it won’t get us elected.

And that matters. Because otherwise we let people down.

Jeremy and I agree we need an alternative – but I want one that’s radical and credible so we can pull people behind it and make it happen.

We are a broad church in the Labour party – and we have to be. Some people may want to divide our party and to pull us apart – from left or from right.

I will never believe that is the right thing to do. I believe in the solidarity of our party just as I believe in the solidarity of communities or of families holding together through thick and thin.

I believe our party has to stand together to change the country.

When we were founded back in 1900 the whole idea was to be an alliance of workers and intellectuals, of Fabians and socialists, of women and men, of trades unionists and Christian socialists, of radicals and moderates. We even did a deal with the liberals.

And there was good reason for that broad alliance. Because people were sick of losing battles in Parliament and in the courts and they wanted to change the world.

I don’t believe that Jeremy can hold the party together – and I can’t bear to see us pulled apart when I believe Britain needs a Labour party more than ever.

As for this idea that power doesn’t matter so long as our principles remain intact.

I dare you to tell that to the woman in tears because she can’t afford her bedroom tax arrears.

Tell that to the working parents on tax credits about to lose thousands of pounds who can’t afford new school shoes for the autumn term.

Tell that to the family struggling with care costs, forced to sell their family home.

Tell that to the student, scraping to make ends meet to get through university, about to lose their maintenance grant Tell that to all those people who are being hit by Tory Government.

All those people with no one else to stand up for them than the Labour party.

Than us. That’s our job. We can’t walk away.

We can’t just luxuriate in our own righteousness out on the side lines. That’s not a luxury the most vulnerable in Britain can afford.

It’s not enough to be angry at the world. We’re the labour party, we have a responsibility to change the world or what’s the point of us at all.

Because in the end Britain needs a strong Labour party now more than ever.

Power is in the hands of a narrow Tory elite.

Concentrating wealth, widening inequality, fragmenting Britain, letting people down Already they broke their promises.

Already they are turning the clock back.

They only have a majority of 12. We can beat them.

They are still only Tories. Now is not the time to give in.

We cannot condemn today’s five year olds to spend all their childhood under a Tory Government.

We’re fighting for a fairer country for our children to grow up in.

So this is the choice.

Between a Labour Party back on its feet, fighting the Tories, fighting for our principles, fighting for our future. And a Tory Britain while Labour walks away.

This is about the 2020 election.

I’m in it to win it.

The Labour Party must be too.”

Backing Mark Bradshaw for Bristol Mayor

Mark Bradshaw
Mark Bradshaw

With ballot papers posted this week to Labour members to select the party’s candidate for the 2016 Bristol Mayoral election, Labour MP for Bristol South, Karin Smyth said:

“I will be voting for Mark Bradshaw to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor. Mark’s 10 years’ experience representing people in Bedminster means he understands communities.

“As a Cabinet member he has shown leadership on the key issues for Bristol that are transport and housing. He has demonstrated his ability to focus on Labour priorities whilst working with people of all political views on behalf of the city.”

Support for Colston Hall Transformation campaign

Colston HallSupporting Colston Hall’s Transformation campaign, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth said:

“Having spent many memorable evenings at Colston Hall down the years, I know the auditorium facilities are in need of modernisation.

“But this project isn’t just about transforming the concert environment enjoyed by those from the city and others who travel to Colston Hall from around the region.

“Importantly it’s also aimed at enhancing Bristol Plays Music, the city’s music education hub. Outreach work into communities and schools will be extended, so the huge boost from this project will resonate right across the city for years to come.

“There are plans to improve accessibility and diversity too: more reasons why I’m pleased to support Colston Hall’s Transformation campaign.”

Petition to stop the closure of Hawkspring

petitionPlease use this link to sign a petition aimed at stopping the closure of Hawkspring, the Hartcliffe-based drug and alcohol service.

Hawkspring has supported 900 people over the last 18 months, with demand for its services the highest it has been in 12 years. The petition aims to ensure the closure it now faces does not go ahead.

To find out more about my activity on this issue follow this link