Public Sector Workers do a Great Job

Labour Party

As so many public sector workers take strike action today, we should think hard about the work they do and how we could not function without their generally quietly efficient presence. Sadly, we all too often read in the papers stories down grading their work.

I have one recent and happy story which illustrates the high quality of the public sector in Britain. A day or so ago I had an important visitor due to come for a day of meetings in Brussels. The night before she discovered she had lost her passport.

Not wanting to cancel her meetings, my visitor went to St Pancras for the Eurostar with as much information as she could find –  driving licence, Brussels invitation and her Eurostar tickets. After a few questions and a form filled in she was allowed to travel.

Having telephoned the relevant consulate earlier, at the end of the day she went to Brussels Midi station for the return Eurostar and again, although it understandably took a little time, found public servants keen to assist her travel.

This kind of helpful attitude is, I have generally found, the overwhelming norm in our public services. When Conservative ministers attack our public sector workers, it is important to emphasise with examples like this, how if anything they are taken for granted. I am sure most of you will wholeheartedly agree with me, and understand that teachers and front-line civil servants should receive proper remuneration and pensions adequate to provide for their retirement.

Lammas School and Sports College

Labour Party

As you can see yesterday I received an enthusiastic welcome from Lammas School and Sports College pupils in Waltham Forest. I was due to be debating climate change with my fellow London MEP Conservative Marina Yannakoudakis. Marina unfortunately had to pull out at late notice. She missed a lively and interesting cross examination by the students.

The event had been put together by Ruxandra Ratiu, International Project Officer of the Citizenship Foundation; and I want to thank her for all her work.  Thanks too, to class teacher Mr. Daintry for facilitating everything at school. He arranged for the meeting to be in this brilliant new library.

We were joined by Vice-Chair of governors Ted Cooke who told me the history of how the former South Leyton School had been transformed over the last decade. Ted has been involved from the start and I enjoyed his candid history of the school’s transformation. As a former school governor myself I pay tribute to Ted and his fellow school governors, community champions who selflessly serve society.

I wish good news stories such as building Lammas School on the site of two former factories and its progression into a modern thriving centre of 800 pupils received more publicity. The school’s successes strike you as soon as you enter reception with a heavily laden trophy cabinet.

I am proud to be a Labour representative when I see the changes a dozen years of Labour government has made with new buildings and investment like this.

This is not just the right thing to do; it is an investment in our future for these students are the wealth creators and taxpayers of tomorrow. The more we invest in our children the more successful Britain will be.

My talk to the students was mainly about the environment, but they also wanted to know about my job and how I got into politics. I hope that some of these pupils may go on to have a role in public life.

 We then went into a detailed examination of Copenhagen and how it had not been as successful as it could have been. The students were particularly concerned about the rain forest and other citizens of the world. We then looked at car emissions and how regulation can provide information on how green a vehicle is before purchasing it. The pupils were keen on electric cars such as the Toyota Prius, but perhaps a little less so after the news on their accelerators.

We moved on to discuss a priority of the European Union – the promotion of renewable and alternative sources of energy. The students were pleased to hear I regularly use Eurostar rather than flying.

A lot of thought and research had gone into the questions, and the students broke into two groups to work up some further discussion points before quizzing me again.

I left refreshed and energised by the enthusiasm of these Lammas school pupils. Many thanks to

Meena Hadiy

Farheen Ramjan

Maria Andrews

Mohammed Ahad

Sophia Essiet

Victor Alli

Reanah Noel-James

Claire Ayres

Same old Cameron, same old Tories

Labour Party

As I returned to Brussels with the worst of the snow seemingly clearing, the 11.04 Eurostar was, somewhat remarkably, on time leaving though slightly late arriving in Brussels.  It was, however, crowded; I suppose only to be expected in the circumstances.

There will be a lot more EU news this week as the European Parliament Committees are interviewing prospective Commissioners, a serious business which, as in the case of Rocco Buttiglione, has led to the withdrawal of a candidature.

As of now, I am still mulling over David Cameron’s interview with Andrew Marr yesterday.  Before going further, I have to admit, Mr Cameron on television bores me witless.  He drones on about really very little in his really well modulated tones to really negligible effect.  Speaking personally, I have no doubt that Gordon Brown would beat David Cameron hands down in a TV debate.

Cameron is also continuing his Euro nonsense.  Speaking to Andrew Marr, Cameron again told the British people he would renegotiate parts of the treaties Britain has already agreed with the EU.  As I have said many times before, this is rather more than a hollow promise – it’s a downright lie.  It will simply not be possible to renegotiate anything without the agreement of a majority of EU member states and that majority is simply not there.

In addition to his blatant misleading of the people of this country, Cameron reiterated his old chestnut that the Tories would withdraw from the European Social Chapter.  Even if this were possible, the fact that Cameron puts this forward as a flagship policy tells us a lot about him and his Conservative Party.  If it were to happen, withdrawal from the Social Chapter would mean fewer rights at work, less job security and higher levels of poverty.  Cameron is in some ways being quite clever by clothing his agenda in EU speak.  But make no mistake as to what he and his Conservatives are about – cuts in public spending are only one aspect of a programme designed to further the interests of the rich at the expense of the poor.

There are, and always have been, clear dividing lines between Labour and the Conservatives.  I joined the Labour Party over 30 years ago to campaign for the many, not the few, to make Britain a fairer and more equal place, to encourage aspiration while at the same time allowing everyone to lead fulfilling lives.  This is absolutely not what the Tories are about.  They haven’t changed since Margaret Thatcher, and please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.