Friday, July 25, 2014

Westminster Question Time #LabLink14

Trying to catch up with posts from UNISON Labour Link National Forum 2014 earlier this month.

The first speaker on "Westminster Question Time" was  UNISON member and local MP, Dawn Primarolo. Dawn has been the MP for Bristol South since 1987. In fact in 1987 Dawn was the only Labour MP to be elected in the whole of the South West of England.

She is currently a deputy speaker at the House of Commons (official title "Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means").  Dawn said she had been asked whether use to be a teacher? She says, no, she learnt to cope as Speaker by being a parent.

At the moment Dawn is trying to stop the privatisation of a local Bristol GP Surgery.  A contract has been put out but it is totally unclear who is responsible and despite it being a 14 day process, the local NHS is refusing to speak to her, because it may "compromise" the tender.  Dawn asked the Labour Party to make it clear that we are not going to allow the privatisation of our NHS.

Dawn is also campaigning on the "Living Wage" and is asking the Mayor of Bristol why in a rich city, we are not paying everyone a living wage? Dawn is standing down as an MP in 2015 but is pleased that an excellent unison member, Karin Smyth, is replacing her as our candidate.

Next speaker on the panel was Kerry McCarthy MP for Bristol East.   Kerry supported the call for a Living Wage but also asked for the banning of "zero hour" employment contracts, which cause misery to many of her constituents. She also attacked the proposed privatisation of cancer services by this Government. Kerry pointed out that all of us here now know what will happen to the NHS if the Tories get in again in 2015.

During the Q&A the panel were asked what they thought of "Executive Mayors". Dawn responded that she was not a fan of executive mayors and thought they were undemocratic. There is now an opportunity with the Labour plan to devolve powers to look again at the system.. For one person to hold all this power without any accountability is wrong, no matter how good they are.

When asked about priorities of a new Labour Government Kerry said that there is a massive task and a lot to do since this Government had spent the last 4 years destroying all what we have done.

To a (leading) question about the Scottish referendum (by a Scottish delegate) "Is separation better or should we stand together and fight together?"Dawn replied "I'm for the union. All the gains we have ever got have been made by fighting together". 

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