Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

All cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involving under 18’s must be reported, new legislation introduced for England and Wales will stipulate.

The law will state that health care professionals, teachers and other social care workers will have to report cases of FGM within a month of becoming aware of it. Failure to comply could result in internal disciplinary or being referred to their professional organisation which could result in them being barred from practice and sacked.

The law will apply in all cases of known FGM in under 18s, whether it is disclosed by the victim or noticed by the professional.

The hope is that it will increase the ability to find perpetrators and this will lead to an increase in the rate of prosecutions. The move follows a public consultation which asked for opinion from a range of stakeholders including health care professionals, survivors of the practice and community groups.

We have a duty of care to protect young girls from this practice. Identifying the pathways that lead to FGM is an important step. And equipping front line staff with the right tools to identify and support victims or potential victims is a significant step in the right direction.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report last week which found that women who have endured violence in the home may have problems providing the evidence required to obtain a lawyer. And another report, published in the same week by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), found that cuts to legal aid exposed victims to a court room ordeal, some are even forced to endure cross examination by their abuser because they are increasingly forced to represent themselves in court due to legal aid cuts.

The CAB report, Victims of Abuse: Struggling for Support, found that victims give up on their fight for justice because regulations, “both in terms of evidence requirements and income or asset thresholds requiring financial contribution, leave large numbers of victims giving up on their rights to justice”.

It adds: “In some cases these restrictions expose victims to risk, leaving no alternative but to represent themselves in court facing their perpetrator.”

In other news, worrying statistics emerged last week as it was reported that young people are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population. Almost half a million, 498,000 young people aged 16-24 are without a job and thee unemployment rate sits at 14.4% for thus demographic.

The Tories accused Labour of talking negatively of the unemployment figures, however there is no way to negatively spin these facts which are shameful.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said there could be “no doubt” that there was a genuine issue with youth unemployment that needed to be addressed.

Failing to invest in this group of people is short sighted and a disgrace.

Labour Women Pioneers into Power Liverpool 2011 Part 2 Rachel Reeves MP on Alice Bacon MP

Labour Party

Rachel Reeves MP, elected in Leeds in 2010 is writing a book about the first woman MP for Leeds, Alice Bacon. Alice had a distinguished career in public life and served the Labour Party diligently. When she died The Independent wrote about the Yorkshire lass who had become a Baroness:

“ALICE BACON can claim to be one of the most significant figures in the British Labour Movement for over 25 years: from the wartime 1940s to the last years of the Wilson government.”

I am grateful to Rachel for sharing her insights and will be buying her book on Alice when it is published. Here’s Rachel’s insight into Alice’s life which she relates to today’s politics.

Labour Party Conference

Labour Party

Labour Party Conference is proving a good event this year.  Having been in Liverpool since Friday evening, I am now settled in. Sadly, I am going to Strasbourg tomorrow as I feel I should do my job in the European Parliament and go to the plenary session to vote. Party Conference often clashes with a Strasbourg session so this is not the first time I have had to make this decision.

My fringe meeting yesterday, “From pioneers to power and back a again – why have women been forgotten” on the theme of the early women MPs, what they achieved and where we are now, proved very popular. Somewhere in the region of 100 people attended, which I was very pleased about. My thanks to the three speakers – Rachel Reeves MP for Leeds North-West, Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader and Shadow International Development Secretary and Baroness Joyce Gould. A former Chief Women’s Officer, Joyce gave us invaluable insights into how we have reached our current level of female representation, achieved largely through all women short lists.   

Video clips and still photos of the fringe meeting will appear on this blog in the not too distant future.

I also appeared in a short clip on BBC News 24 just after 7.00 pm yesterday evening giving my thoughts about what I would like to see at this conference. In fact, I ended up talking about the economy and how appalling George Osborne’s cuts actually are, especially for low paid workers, women and vulnerable groups.

Conference today has gone well with Harriet Harman and Jim Murphy speaking, amongst many others. I was, I have to say, impressed with Dan Jarvis, the relatively new Barnsley MP who opened the defence debate. Yesterday we heard from Margaret Hodge and the excellent she and the constituency Labour party have done in defeating the BNP in Barking.

Last but not least, I had an interesting meeting with representatives from Microsoft this morning. They fund apprenticeships in IT across the country and encourage employers to take on such apprentices, training them in IT skills which are now required for about 90 per cent of office jobs. Microsoft want to extend their programme, so if you know of any company or registered charity who may be interested in participating in the scheme, please wold you let me know.

At Conference: From Pioneers to Power and Back Again: Why Have Women Been Forgotten?

Labour Party

As the Parliamentary season gets into swing we once again find ourselves back in conference season. This Saturday the Labour Party Conference begins in Liverpool.  I am looking forward to the first couple of days in particular as Saturday and Sunday are the days of the Women’s Conference which I hope as many of you can make as possible. You also might be interested to know that I have organised a Fringe Event on the Sunday: “From Pioneers to Power and Back Again: Why Have Women Been Forgotten?”

One of the most overlooked aspects of the Labour Party’s history is the contribution of its women activists. By holding this event I plan not only to pay tribute to the work they did and the successes of women in the Labour Party but also to ask why women have been forgotten in the socialist movement.

I believe this question is more important now than ever before as the Tories are in the process of rolling back all of the advancements women have made in recent years.  As a result, the women’s vote may cost the Tories the next election.

Labour’s future lies in once again becoming the party for women. So join me, Harriet Harman, Rachel Reeves and Baroness Joyce Goulding for an afternoon where we examine where we went wrong and how to become the women’s party for the future.

You can also find details of it in the Conference Guide (page 63) or online here.