The tragic situation in Syria is the most urgent foreign policy challenge of our time. We have all witnessed the desperate scenes of refugees fleeing their homeland, sometimes with tragic consequences.
The resettlement programme for 20,000 refugees is a start, but we need a more comprehensive programme of support for people fleeing terrible circumstances.
The Prime Minister has indicated that the government may bring forward proposals for military intervention against ISIS. It's important for MPs to make informed decisions on our political, humanitarian and military response, listening to all sides including the people of Syria.
In light of this, I hosted a discussion on Syria in the House of Common this week. This was in partnership with Rethink Rebuild Society, a Manchester-based non-profit Syrian advocacy organisation that is run by Syrians for Syrians. They launched a policy document prepared by Rethink Rebuild Society, “Syria Between Dictatorship and ISIS: What should the United Kingdom Do?”
The link is here http://www.rrsoc.org/node/313
We had a range of speakers including a dual Uk and Syrian national. She was a kindergarten teacher before the current conflict, worked as a humanitarian aid worker when the conflict broke off and was detained by the Assad regime in 2014 2014. She was held for 36 days and beaten while in custody. Yasser, a former secondary school teacher, was consigned to do compulsory military service when the conflict broke out and defected from the army in 2012, after witnessing military brutality . He worked as a humanitarian worker for three years until his brother was killed by ISIS when he fled for his life, to the UK. Yasmin Nahlawi was the third speaker and is the Advocacy and Policy Coordinator for Rethink Rebuild Society. She is a Ph.D student of International Law at Newcastle University and a former director of the Syrian Legal Development Programme. Yasmin is one of the key architects of the policy document and an eloquent speaker on the issues facing Syrians.
The discussion was serious and well informed. Speakers noted that - while we need to stop ISIL - more people are being killed by the actions of the Assad regime than by ISIL, and that the brutality of the regime is a key contributor to the unstable situation in Syria.
Many people present and many of the residents who have contacted me are concerned about potential UK military action. I have similar concerns and will continue to listen to all viewpoints as we consider ways to deal with the complex and changing situation in Syria.
The tragic situation in Syria is the most urgent foreign policy challenge of our time. We have all witnessed the desperate scenes of refugees fleeing their homeland, sometimes with tragic...
The Labour Party has today released a hotspot map highlighting the scale of missing voters in Manchester Withington.
The map highlights areas in which households have nobody on the Electoral Register - you can see it here.
One million people look set to disappear from the electoral register on 1 December this year - on top of the million or more eligible adults already missing from the electoral register.
Jeff Smith, Labour's MP for Manchester Withington said:
“This map shows the scale of the problem here in south Manchester thanks to the Tories’ rushed through changes to the electoral registration system.
“There are major local elections here in Manchester next year. And soon we have a big choice to make about whether Britain stays in the EU. But if people aren’t on the electoral register, they will not be able to vote and have their say. They could even face an £80 fine and find it harder to get a credit card or a mobile phone contract.
“It is important that everyone in Manchester Withington registers to vote. It’s quick and easy - you can register in just three minutes by going to gov.uk/register-to-vote."
Gloria De Piero, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration said:
"We know what kinds of voters are more likely to be missing: they are private renters, people from BAME communities, the unemployed and lower-paid manual workers. But perhaps the greatest divide is between the older and the younger generation. Some 95% of over-65s are on the electoral register, yet the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds is just 70%.
"The Tories’ rush to fully implement IER by December is a cynical attempt to rig the system. The numbers of people registered in December will determine the boundary changes that begin next April. This inequality of opportunity to participate in our democracy is unacceptable.”
Manchester Withington Constituency Labour Party are this weekend holding special campaign sessions to encourage people to register to vote as part of the Labour Party’s Find the Missing Million campaign. If you wish to take part please contact Matt Strong, Withington CLP Campaign Co-Ordinator on 07454 280266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Labour Party has today released a hotspot map highlighting the scale of missing voters in Manchester Withington. The map highlights areas in which households have nobody on the Electoral Register...
Jeff Smith MP for Manchester Withington has attacked David Cameron for planning to change Sunday trading rules – just months after the Prime Minister promised to leave the legislation alone.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this week David Cameron confirmed his support for changing Sunday trading laws, ignoring advice from his own retail sector champion, Kevin Hawkins.
Usdaw, a trade union representing retail workers, are currently campaigning to ‘Keep Sunday Special’. Jeff Smith is fully supportive of their campaign. Usdaw members recently met with MPs to explain how extended opening in large stores will lead to even more retail staff being pressured to work longer hours on Sundays. Over 90% of shopworkers oppose any extension to Sunday trading hours.
Concerns have also been raised over the impact of changes to Sunday opening hours on local high streets. Extending Sunday trading hours could lead to superstores opening for longer and more people shopping out of town supermarkets rather than local independent stores.
Jeff Smith MP said: “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want.
“I am convinced that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping and that Sunday should remain a special day, different to any other. Extending Sunday trading does not mean customers have more money to spend, it would not create jobs and is likely to lead to the closure of smaller stores. I’m concerned about the impact this will have on our excellent independent shops like those on Burton Road in Didsbury and Beech Road in Chorlton. Extending Sunday trading would be detrimental to shopworkers and their families, as well as wider society, so I am pleased to be supporting Usdaw’s campaign.”
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw and our members are delighted to have the support of Jeff Smith MP and many others who value the special nature of Sunday and want to protect it. There is no great desire from shopworkers, customers, retailers or local authorities for these changes and many oppose them. We fear that devolution of Sunday trading is a solution looking for a problem.
“It is not yet clear whether the Government will seek to introduce legislation, but if they do I hope that they will abide by their promise of a proper consultation and a full parliamentary process. That would mean publication of the consultation responses and a considered reply from the Government, demonstrating that they have listened, before the introduction of any legislation to change Sunday trading.”
Jeff Smith MP for Manchester Withington has attacked David Cameron for planning to change Sunday trading rules – just months after the Prime Minister promised to leave the legislation alone....
Today Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, will vote against tax credit cuts in Parliament.
Earlier this year, George Osborne announced huge cuts to tax credits that will affect working families on low and middle incomes – hitting exactly the sort of families the Tories are now trying to claim they stand up for.
From April, around three million working families will lose an average of £1,300 per year. While one million single parents in work will be £1,000 a year worse off as a result of these cuts, and one and a half million married women will be £600 a year poorer.
In the Manchester Withington constituency, 5,200 families with children receive tax credits – the vast majority of whom are working parents. Almost all of these families will affected by tax credit cuts and will now lose an average of £1300 each year.
Tory Ministers have dismissed concerns over cuts to tax credits because at the same time they are increasing the minimum wage. But the average family currently receiving tax credits will still be significantly worse off, even after taken into account the introduction of a higher national minimum wage.
Jeff Smith said: “Earlier this year, George Osborne announced huge cuts to tax credits that will affect working families on low and middle incomes – hitting exactly the sort of families the Tories are now trying to claim they stand up for.
People will understand that at times governments have to make difficult financial decisions, but what is impossible to justify is making low and middle earning families bear the brunt of the economic crisis. Today I’ll be voting against their plans and urge Tory MPs to act now and help us reverse their unfair cuts to tax credits.”
Today Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, will vote against tax credit cuts in Parliament. Earlier this year, George Osborne announced huge cuts to tax credits that will affect...
Yesterday I spoke during the Second Reading of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. In principle I am in favour of the powers outlined in the Bill - however fair funding must follow these powers.
You can read my speech in full here.
Yesterday I spoke during the Second Reading of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. In principle I am in favour of the powers outlined in the Bill - however...
Jeff Smith officially opened West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC’s new £66,263 real grass pitches at Hardy Farm, Chorlton, on Saturday 10 October 2015. The project was made possible thanks to a £43,263 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The grant has enabled the club to join with Oswald Road JFC to provide four new pitches for sides from Under-8 to Under-16 along with a new full-size pitch for the club’s Under-18 youth team and adult ‘A’ team. These real grass pitches have breathed new life into an area that was previously home to nothing more than overgrown playing fields.
The club worked in partnership with Lancashire FA to secure the grant from the Premier League & the FA Facilities Fund and also raised over £20,000 from its own fundraising efforts and other small grants.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester, Withington, said: “It was a joy to mark the official opening of these new real grass pitches in Chorlton. This development will be of tremendous benefit and use to the local community for many years to come and thanks must go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for its generous investment into my constituency.
“Everyone involved in this project, from West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC, Lancashire FA and the Football Foundation, deserve great credit for making these new pitches possible. I look forward to seeing local sport go from strength to strength over the coming years.”
Glyn Meacher, Club Chairman said: “We are grateful to Jeff Smith MP for taking time out to open our new facilities and also to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and our other contributors, for supporting us in meeting our vision of having an integrated community club with many of our teams playing and training in this location and improving opportunities for grassroots sport in Chorlton and the surrounding areas.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC to develop the new pitches and provide a real boost to local sport.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Chorlton is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”
Jeff Smith officially opened West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC’s new £66,263 real grass pitches at Hardy Farm, Chorlton, on Saturday 10 October 2015. The project was made possible thanks to...
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, viewed an original ballot box used in the first secret ballot to elect a Member of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament. The box was on display in Parliament as part of the Festival of Freedoms.
The ballot box was on loan from Pontefract Museum, Wakefield Council’s Museum Service. It was used during an historic election by-election in the town of Pontefract on 15 August 1872, was won by Liberal candidate H. C. Childers. This was the first time British people voted in secret, marking ‘X’ next to their chosen candidate. The election was marked as a remarkable event by the Times newspaper for its absence of violence and drunkenness, which, up to this point, had been the norm at all elections. This was because that this election was the first after the Ballot Act of July 1872, which made provision for voting in secret, despite fierce opposition within Parliament.
Jeff Smith said: “It was fascinating to view the original ballot box that was centre stage in the first secret ballot in Britain. The box is an important symbol of electoral reform; it received the votes cast in the first election held in secret in August 1872, which is a freedom we still hold dear today."
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, viewed an original ballot box used in the first secret ballot to elect a Member of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament. The box...
Jeff Smith MP listened to Otto Deutsch, who was rescued by the Kindertransport during the Holocaust; and Martin Stern, a Holocaust survivor; at the launch event for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016. Martin is a former resident of the Manchester Withington constituency having previously lived in Didsbury.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is commemorated each year on 27 January – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death and concentration camp. HMD provides an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. HMD asks people to apply these lessons to the present day to create a safer, better future.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) promotes and supports HMD activities in the UK. Each year HMDT selects a theme around which HMD activities can focus. The theme for 2016 is Don’t stand by.
Otto spoke about his experience of being forced to leave his native Austria at the age of ten, travelling to Great Britain as part of the Kindertransport programme. He would never again see his sister or parents who were left behind. Otto highlighted the difficulty of moving to a distant land where he didn’t speak the language but used the kindness of those who looked after him to encourage the gathered MPs and invited guests to mark the theme of HMD 2016: Don’t stand by.
Jeff met with Martin Stern (pictured), who grew up in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation and survived the camps of both Westerbork and Theresienstadt.
‘Otto and Martin’s stories are a reminder of the importance of marking Holocaust Memorial Day – a day where we remember the millions who were affected by the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I want to encourage people in Withington to mark HMD on 27 January 2016.’
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said:
‘We were delighted that Jeff showed his support for Holocaust Memorial Day. We hope that many more people in Manchester Withington will use the free resources available through our website to organise activities for next year’s HMD – adding to the record 3,600 activities which took place for HMD 2015.’
Jeff Smith MP meets survivors of the Holocaust at launch of resources for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016
Jeff Smith MP listened to Otto Deutsch, who was rescued by the Kindertransport during the Holocaust; and Martin Stern, a Holocaust survivor; at the launch event for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016....
Jeff Smith MP wears it pink in Westminster in aid of Breast Cancer Now
Jeff Smith MP for Manchester Withington has shown his support for women with breast cancer by dressing up in pink and encouraging his/her constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 23rd October.
wear it pink, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.
Jeff Smith joined fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Westminster this week to encourage people across the UK to get involved. Now in its 14th year, wear it pink raises over £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it is back and bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before.
Anyone can take part, whether in school, at work or at home. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate whatever you can.
Jeff Smith MP said:
“Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. Every year in the UK around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly nearly 12,000 women still lose their lives to the disease. This is why we all must come together to support Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge research, and, in wear it pink, there is a fun and simple way for everyone to get involved.
“Together, we can make a big difference for women with breast cancer, now and in the future; I hope everyone in the local community will join me in wearing it pink on Friday 23 October and show their support for Breast Cancer Now.”
"Launched in June 2015 with the ambition of ensuring that no one dies from the disease by 2050, Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. This is a day when we stand out, stand together and stand for something: wear it pink on Friday 23 October to support Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research. For more information or to register for wear it pink visit www.wearitpink.org."
Jeff Smith MP wears it pink in Westminster in aid of Breast Cancer Now Jeff Smith MP for Manchester Withington has shown his support for women with breast cancer by...
Residents from South Manchester are being urged by their local MP, Jeff Smith, to make time for their health by taking part in Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Know Your Number! Week’.
A survey from the charity Blood Pressure UK has revealed that a shocking 33% of people haven’t had their blood pressure checked in the last year as they don’t think it affects them, yet just a couple of minutes spent thinking about health could save their life.
The independent survey of over 1000 Britons also showed that out of those people who hadn’t had their blood pressure taken in the last year, 25% don’t even consider it as a health issue. It also revealed if they had a few extra minutes of time in their day, rather than undertaking a potentially life-saving blood pressure check (11.6%), top of their list of things to do would be to make a cup of tea (44%)!
The Know Your Numbers! campaign is the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing event and this, its fourteenth, year aims is to highlight that in the time it takes to boil a kettle, you could have taken a blood pressure reading which might save your life. A shocking 16 million people in the UK suffer from high blood pressure, which is the biggest risk factor for stroke and heart attacks yet 63% did not know their blood pressure numbers.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman at Blood Pressure UK, said: “We wanted to find out what people were spending their time doing rather than spending time thinking about their health and checking their blood pressure. This year we are urging everyone to make every second count - it’s quick, free, painless, and could save your life.
“Over half of the estimated 16 million people in the UK living with high blood pressure are unaware they have the condition, as it is symptomless. The only way to ‘Know Your Numbers’ is to have a blood pressure test at one of our free Pressure Stations in your area, your GP, local pharmacy, or by using a home blood pressure monitor”.
High blood pressure is the UK’s biggest silent killer, responsible for 60% of strokes and 40% of heart attacks. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for kidney disease and dementia. Volunteers hosting the ‘Pressure Stations’ provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control.
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, said: “I am supporting Blood Pressure UK’s Know Your Numbers Week from 14th – 20th September because in the time it takes to boil a kettle you could have taken a blood pressure test. It’s so simple and something that could save the lives of people in my constituency”
For further information on Blood Pressure UK and Know Your Numbers! Week, go to:
To find your nearest check visit:
Residents from South Manchester are being urged by their local MP, Jeff Smith, to make time for their health by taking part in Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Know Your Number! Week’....