Kate Hollern MP

Working Hard for Blackburn

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Last week in Parliament, Kate has been representing Blackburn in Parliament, championing constituents inside and outside of the debate chamber. Events in Westminster have been in the headlines, and Kate and the Labour Party have been standing up for ordinary people.

Lastweek in Parliament, the aftermath of the budget dominated proceedings. Tory MPs who dutifully trooped out to defend the anti-business, anti-entrepreneurial tax rise found themselves looking foolish in national media. The chancellor was humiliated and the government was in disarray.

I have written a blog about that element of the budget in particular, and my concerns regarding Hammond’s blunder on social care. It’s available at: http://www.katehollern.org/budget_u_turn

The biggest news of the week apart from the budget U-turn was that Nicola Sturgeon will be seeking a second referendum. The careless manner in which Theresa May is handling our exit from the EU is threatening to break up our country. She may find that there is not a Britain left to exit the EU by the time ‘Brexit’ is complete. I’m proud to be British, and I’m proud to know people from all four nations that make up the UK. I agree wholeheartedly with the Labour position that our MSPs will oppose triggering a referendum, but that if it is the decision of the Scottish Parliament as a whole to hold one, then it is not my place to prevent a referendum happening.

On Wednesday, I attended a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters. Now, as I am not a football fan, this might seem a bit odd. However, the situation at Rovers has an impact on the whole town, on businesses and jobs as well as in the stands and on the pitch. My duty as an MP is to take every opportunity to represent your views. I will work with other MPs who represent clubs with community relations issues and will work with Rovers fan groups to ensure the issue is not forgotten.

This morning the most bizarre news of the week hit, that the architect of austerity, George Osborne, is to take over editing the London Evening Standard. He’s been described as ‘London through and through’ and will combine the position with his work as an advisor at BlackRock, his speaking engagements and representing his Tatton constituency. I am sure his constituents are thrilled.

Are you a constituent experiencing difficulty or do you have a cause you wish to raise? You can email kate.hollern@parliament.uk, call 01254690120 or write to Kate Hollern, Richmond Chambers, Richmond Terrace, Blackburn, BB1 7AS

Week in review March 13th - 17th

Last week in Parliament, Kate has been representing Blackburn in Parliament, championing constituents inside and outside of the debate chamber. Events in Westminster have been in the headlines, and Kate...

Budgets over the last few years have very quickly unravelled, and this one is no different. We all remember the Pasty Tax, the Tax Credits cuts, cuts to Personal Independence Payments and now increases in National Insurance contributions.

Last week after Philip Hammond’s drab & expensive budget there was outcry from Labour, from business and from the self-employed who would be affected. We all recognised that the announcement made amounted to a broken manifesto promise, an attack on entrepreneurship and a hit on low-earners who are trying to go it alone.

There was real concern for me as MP for Blackburn. I know that there are over 8,000 self-employed people in Blackburn and that some will be barely keeping their heads above water, and Hammond’s broken promise only added to the uncertainty they faced.

Despite Labour protests about the unfairness of this hike in NI contributions for the self-employed, the Prime Minister said last week that rises in self-employed National Insurance contributions were ‘fair’. If that is the case, why has she ordered the Chancellor to reverse them?

I welcome the U-turn, but am left with concerns about the competence of those occupying Numbers 10 & 11 Downing Street. Faced with opposition from Labour and Tory rebels, they folded in under a week. Their action have shown that a Tory budget is about as reliable as a Tory manifesto promise, and they now have a £2bn black hole in their budget projections.

Yesterday, Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne said that an article he had written defending the rise was at the printers. Never has an edition of the Forest Journal been so highly anticipated in Westminster. Another Tory, Rory Stewart, had to segue on live TV from defending the rise to defending the U-turn. Ed Vaizey, former Culture Minister, tweeted after hearing the news ‘Blimey, I’ve been vigorously defending it…’.

 You almost feel sorry for the Tory MPs trooped into TV studios to spin a broken manifesto promise. This screeching U-turn has humiliated many Tory MPs and I am certain will not be soon forgotten.

They must make up the shortfall from somewhere, but where?

A slight positive from the budget last week was the commitment to an additional £2 billion in funding for social care. Even before the U-turn, this wasn’t enough. The government proposed to give social care £2bn over 3 years, with £1bn available this year. Social care needs £2bn this year just to stabilise the market. It needs £2.6bn by 2020. What Hammond proposed simply was not enough to end the crisis in social care.

As the government refuse to invest properly in social care, Hammond must guarantee that the black hole his own dishonesty has opened up in his budget must not come from social care. As a shadow minister, I will continue to push for greater funding for social care and a strategic, long term plan to rescue the sector from Conservative cuts and neglect.  

He must also ensure that making up the shortfall do not result in cuts to teachers, police officers, nurses or doctors, and rule out imposing any further measures that will hit the poorest hardest.

Budget U-turn

Budgets over the last few years have very quickly unravelled, and this one is no different. We all remember the Pasty Tax, the Tax Credits cuts, cuts to Personal Independence...

I was incredibly proud that so many MPs spoke in opposition to the state visit by President Trump. I’m even more proud of the community that I represent in Blackburn. We are fortunate to live in a diverse community and I am fortunate to represent that community. As a representative of the people of Blackburn, I have a duty to make my views known to constituents on this issue. While 2,837 constituents of mine, 2.69% of the constituency have signed the petition, it is clear that the Muslim ban is an attack on all diverse communities and all who are resident in them.

 While the government has negotiated an exemption for British citizens, many of my constituents, and I am sure, many British Muslims across the country, will be outraged at their failure to demonstrate solidarity with the innocent people fleeing terror who have been worst affected.

That the President of the United States uses his position to demonise an entire religion, aided by his cheerleaders on this side of the Atlantic, has the potential to damage community cohesion and to create a generation brought up in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust.

Over a third of my constituents identify as Muslim. They play a huge role in common institutions, acting as councillors of all political persuasions and as pillars of our community.

Blackburn has a proud history of rejecting intolerance and racism. In 2004, the only sitting BNP councillor left Blackburn with Darwen Council. Having been involved in local politics during the high tide of support for the BNP, I know the damage that hate and intolerance can cause to community relations and how vital it is that racist myths and falsehoods are challenged as soon as they are heard.

The hatred that Trump is perpetuating with this ban, which will be publicised by those who wish to pit religion against religion as an attack on Muslims, is not only wrong. It is dangerous. Dangerous because it fuels distrust among communities when the role of leaders is to bring communities together.

I do not believe that this President is worthy of the trappings of a state visit. We hold our allies to a high standard, we expect the United States to live up to its own billing as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

A man who has displayed such blatant disregard for the welfare of women, describing pregnancy as an ‘inconvenience’ and who has so crassly demeaned women in the public sphere for decades is not worthy of the red carpet treatment.

To invite this President so quickly and to refuse to withdraw the invitation after he has proved himself manifestly unsuited to the task of leading the international community demeans Britain. It will diminish the Queen’s stature and will cause irreparable damage to our national image.

Sharing the spotlight with Trump, a man who called for a gross invasion of the privacy of the Duchess of Cambridge, would be an insult to the dignity of the Royal Family and to that of Britain itself.

Ultimately the government had the opportunity to build relationships across the globe by joining in condemning the Muslim ban. They could have sent a strong message to Muslims in Britain and around the world that Britain does not endorse Trump’s view of their religion and that we work for tolerance in our communities and in the international community. They could have sent a message to women around the world that a man who boasts so graphically about ‘grabbing’ women has no place in Westminster Hall or in our politics. They could have sent a message against sexism and racism, misogyny and islamophobia. They opted not to.

I, and I am sure many other people across the country opposed to Trump, do not believe the trappings of a state visit and the allure of our royalty should be used to buy the favour of this President. As a country, we are better than this.

Trump State Visit

I was incredibly proud that so many MPs spoke in opposition to the state visit by President Trump. I’m even more proud of the community that I represent in Blackburn....


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