Yesterday I spoke during the Opposition Day debate on mental health.
The more that mental health is discussed, the clearer it becomes that it is something that affects people in huge numbers from all walks of life, all backgrounds and all ages.
I supported the Labour motion stating that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health and that not enough progress has been made in translating parity of esteem between mental and physical health into practice.
You can watch my speech here.
Yesterday I spoke during the Opposition Day debate on mental health. The more that mental health is discussed, the clearer it becomes that it is something that affects people...
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, visited businesses across south Manchester over the weekend in support of Small Business Saturday.
Saturday 5 December marked the UK’s third Small Business Saturday, where people are encouraged to ‘shop small’ and celebrate the contribution of local entrepreneurs and small firms. The day aims to give a boost to trade and a long term lift to our high streets. The idea started in the USA, and took off here following a campaign by Labour MP Chukka Ummuna.
In 2014, 16.5 million Britons visited a local independent store – 2.7m more than on Small Business Saturday in 2013. Across the UK different activities took place to promote Britain’s small businesses – and Jeff visited a number of local businesses across Withington, Didsbury and Chorlton, including clothes shop Punk and Disorderly (pictured).
Jeff Smith MP said: “Small Business Saturday provides a great boost to small businesses on a key shopping day in the run-up to Christmas. We should do all we can to support local businesses and thank them for the vital contribution they make. They help to grow the local economy, give job and shopping opportunities to the local community and boost diversity on the High Street. Small Business Saturday gets bigger every year and I’m pleased to support the campaign.”
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, visited businesses across south Manchester over the weekend in support of Small Business Saturday. Saturday 5 December marked the UK’s third Small Business...
Jeff Smith MP has visited Royal Mail’s Manchester South Delivery Office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to postmen and women at their busiest time of year.
Mr Smith was shown around the office by Delivery Office Manager, Joanna Spencer, and was introduced to the postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering mail in the Manchester South area during the Festive season.
Jeff Smith said: “There is a huge amount of effort and dedication that goes into delivering a first class Christmas at Royal Mail’s busiest time of year. It was great to meet the team here at Manchester South.
“Our postal workers do such an important job at this time of year and I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”
Joanna Spencer, Royal Mail Delivery Office Manager at Manchester South, commented: “Our postmen and women are working extremely hard to deliver Christmas cards, letters and parcels to people across Manchester South. We are grateful that the Jeff visited the office to see our operation and to support the team.
“We’d like to remind our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings. We would also like to ask everyone to please always use the postcode as this helps us greatly in the job that we do at this busy time.”
The last recommended posting dates for Christmas are:
Second Class – Saturday 19 December 2015
First Class – Monday 21 December 2015
Special Delivery – Wednesday 23 December 2015
Customers can also help Royal Mail ensure that all their letters, cards and parcels are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible by taking a few easy steps:
- Post early – Avoid disappointment by posting your cards and parcels early.
- Use a postcode – A clearly addressed card or parcel, with a postcode, and return address on the back of the envelope, will ensure quick and efficient delivery.
- Use Special Delivery – For valuable and important packages and parcels guarantee delivery with Royal Mail’s Special Delivery, which means your gift is tracked, traced and insured against loss.
- Wrap parcels well and always give a return address
- For more information about Royal Mail’s last recommended posting dates, please visit: www.royalmail.com/greetings or call 03457 740 740.
Jeff Smith MP has visited Royal Mail’s Manchester South Delivery Office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to postmen and women at their busiest time of year....
Many constituents have contacted me to ask my position on the government proposal for air strikes against Isil targets in Syria. I wanted to lay out my thinking at this point ahead of the parliamentary debate and vote.
A number of colleagues who've been MPs for many years have told me that this is the most difficult decision they've ever faced. It is a fine judgement call, and it's not one I'm going to make lightly. I will continue to look with an open mind at the case presented by the government and at other evidence; consider the advice of experts on the issue (including Syrian people); and consider the many representations I am receiving from constituents and others. There are further briefings and discussions taking place over the next two days before the debate itself.
Authorising military action is the most serious decision an MP can make and deserves to be treated as such. Those who characterise it as a purely political Tory v Labour issue are being unhelpful. The socialist president of France has asked the UK government to join action. There will be Conservative MPs who will vote against. This is more important than party politics.
Similarly, those who are trying to reduce it to a question of support for the Labour leadership are wrong to do so. If I vote against, it won't be because of support for Jeremy Corbyn, just as if I voted in favour it wouldn't be because of support for David Cameron. This is a decision that MPs will have to live with for the rest of our lives. I will make my decision because I think it's the right thing to do.
Neither does either side of the argument have a monopoly on principle. I have decent, thoughtful colleagues who will be voting for and who will be voting against increased military action - in either case it's because they think it's the best way to help save lives and end conflict in the long term. Both decisions deserve to be respected because I know they will not be made lightly.
Isil are a group of fascists who have committed mass murder in recent weeks in Tunisia, Ankara, Paris, Sinai and Beirut. They have been behind seven thwarted attacks in the UK, and they will undoubtedly try to strike here again. They target Muslim people as viciously as non Muslims. The question is not whether their poisonous ideology and murderous activities should be stopped, but how.
It's generally agreed that there needs to be an approach which includes diplomatic, political, and economic as well as military action. We also need a comprehensive humanitarian plan to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as a thorough reconstruction plan.
For those who say we shouldn't get dragged into military action, it needs to be pointed out that we are already involved - carrying out air strikes against Isil targets in Iraq. They have made a difference to the campaign against Isil, and minimised civilian casualties. The government are now proposing we extend air strikes to Isil targets in North Eastern Syria. The language of people who refer in very general terms to "the bombing of Syria" is very unhelpful. No one is proposing indiscriminate bombing of Damascus. There are specific Isil military and economic activities around Raqqah which are proposed to be targeted. There is a logic to extending the strikes against Isil which are currently taking place in Iraq to the same targets across a border which Isil do not recognise and does not effectively exist.
I am not opposed to military action in principle. I agree that a strong moral and legal case for action has been made. United Nations Security Council resolution 2249 calls on all member states to take "all necessary measures" to tackle the "unprecedented" threat of Isil. But the key question now is whether the government's plan for action in Syria is likely to work, and to do more good than harm. That is where I have concerns.
Based on briefings we've received, I believe that UK aircraft would add to the coalition strike capability. But it's clear that this will not defeat Isil without a wider military strategy, including ground troops. David Cameron has rightly ruled out the possibility of UK troops on the ground. The government has said there are 70,000 Sunni fighters who can make up a ground force. This seems to me a very unconvincing claim. These fighters are in a large number of disparate groups many of whom are focused on fighting the Assad regime. They do not look like a coherent potential ground force. And without a wider military strategy that includes ground troops, air strikes in isolation will not defeat Isil. It may be a gesture of support and solidarity with our allies that brings its own dangers.
In my view there is a real risk of Isil using an escalation of military activity to boost their (effective) propaganda war. In 2003 I argued that action in Iraq would lead to increased radicalisation. Unfortunately I was correct. While this is a quite different situation to 2003 Iraq, it's important to learn the lessons of past mistakes. My worry is that Isil will exploit escalated action to further add to their narrative of a growing world war between the west and Islam. This is a particular concern if an attack goes wrong and there are significant civilian casualties. This danger of increased radicalisation, and playing into Isil hands, is one that needs to be taken seriously into account.
The political and diplomatic strategy also needs further development. The chaos that Bashar Al-Assad has reaped in Syria has been a key factor in driving people into the arms of Isil. There are Syrian people whose judgement I trust who tell me that we can't defeat Isil without removing Assad. The way to remove him is not through military action; there needs to be a negotiated transition plan to a post Assad Syria. While I welcome the progress at the discussions in Vienna, I'm not convinced the plan is yet sufficiently advanced. Until we have a coherent plan that will lead to a ceasefire in the civil war, moderate Sunnis who are fighting the regime will surely not be part of the ground force that is necessary to defeat Isil. And without a coordinated ground force, air strikes alone run the risk of being counter productive.
These are complex issues that MPs have to take into account in making a judgement. There is no easy answer. In making a decision, I will continue to consider representations and evidence, and will wait to see the wording of any proposed motion. But while I am not against further military action in principle, I am yet to be convinced that the case for this action is made.
Many constituents have contacted me to ask my position on the government proposal for air strikes against Isil targets in Syria. I wanted to lay out my thinking at this...
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...