Today, we learnt that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has sadly died. He was a committed public servant throughout his life and will be remembered fondly.
He was a celebrated naval officer for the role he played in the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, particularly the battles that took place in the Mediterranean.
One of his lasting legacies was establishing the Duke of Edinburgh Awards that enabled some six million 15-to-25-year-olds – many with disabilities – the world over to challenge themselves physically, mentally and emotionally in a range of outdoor activities designed to promote teamwork, resourcefulness and a respect for nature.
My thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family at this difficult time.
Now for my latest update, topics this week include:
- My latest care home survey
- Liam Byrne’s radical manifesto for West Midlands Mayor
- The Greensill Capital saga
- UK Race Report
- Violence in Northern Ireland
- Next stage of lockdown easing
My latest Care Home Survey
I have recently completed my third care home survey since the start of the pandemic, and it has revealed a worrying level of vaccine uptake amongst care home staff.
Shockingly, 67% of care homes reported staff refusing the vaccine, including one care home where 23 out of 25 staff turned down the offer of a jab.
Care homes have been so badly hit by Covid throughout the pandemic, with care home residents accounting for almost a third of all Covid deaths in the UK. This latest revelation highlights the risk to care home residents, particularly those who are unable to be vaccinated.
What is extremely concerning is that dangerous misinformation seems to be the source of much of the resistance to accepting the offer of a vaccine. Reasons cited by care home staff include believing the vaccines are ‘poisonous’ and that they ‘cause infertility’, despite these myths having been disproven.
Those who are responsible for sharing these dangerous myths should be utterly ashamed of themselves and I will be looking at how we continue to encourage vaccine uptake and dispel any myths.
Read more about my care home survey here: http://www.erdingtonlocal.com/news-erdington-mp-survey-reveals-worryingly-high-number-of-care-home-staff-refusing-covid-19-vaccine/
Liam Byrne’s Manifesto for West Midlands Mayor
This week, Liam Byrne announced his ambitious manifesto ‘A New Future for the Heart of Britain’ that outlines his vision for the West Midlands if he is elected as Mayor on Thursday 6th May.
After 4 years of a Tory Mayor that has seen our region go backwards, the time has come for a Labour Mayor that will offer hope and unlock the vast potential we have in the West Midlands.
Liam has also released his key pledges for the upcoming election, they are:
Get Our Share:
Win a fair share for the West Midlands, the Heart of Britain, and stand up to Government to guarantee we get every penny we deserve.
Lead Green Britain:
Become the UK’s first net-zero carbon region and secure 200,000 skilled green trades and manufacturing jobs.
Bring Back Industry:
Become a world capital of green manufacturing, turn brownfield sites into green industry zones, double apprentice numbers with free retraining for workers who have lost jobs.
Build More Homes:
Double the number of truly affordable warm homes we build to put a roof over everyone’s head – but we’ll build on brownfield first not the greenbelt. Let’s have the homes we need without losing the places we love.
Support Our Youth:
Help our children and grandchildren succeed, and keep them safe from knife crime, starting with youth workers back in every neighbourhood.
Protect Our Safety:
Surge in an extra 450 community police officers to boost police numbers in every neighbourhood to fight crime and make our streets safer.
Champion Community Spirit:
A decade of investment into the soul of community life: grassroots sport, arts, parks, green spaces, high streets, markets and festivals.
The upcoming election will be crucial in shaping the future of our region, Liam will offer the leadership our region needs as we look to recover from the Covid crisis.
The Tories are pouring huge resources into what they regard to be the most important election, alongside the by-election in Hartlepool. If we win, it will be a decisive moment showing that we are rebuilding the red wall and turning the blue tide.
You can read Liam’s manifesto in full here: https://liambyrnemp.co.uk/A-New-Future-for-the-Heart-of-Britain-Manifesto
The revelation that David Cameron used his connections within the Conservative Party to attempt to secure Government help for finance firm Greensill Capital, where he worked as an adviser, by privately messaging Rishi Sunak raises serious questions for the Government.
Millions of businesses and workers across the country have struggled financially throughout the pandemic, desperate for Government support. They had no choice but to wait patiently for their application to be processed, no doubt worrying about their future prospects.
For someone to use their personal connections to try and get special access to Government is fundamentally wrong. The British public expect fairness and transparency from Government, and this saga will only serve to erode confidence.
There must be a full investigation into whether Rishi Sunak acted inappropriately by ‘pushing’ his team to respond to requests for Gov support from David Cameron and Greensill Capital.
We cannot allow Tory cronyism to go unchecked, the British public deserve answers.
UK Race Report
Last week, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, commissioned by Downing Street, published their report into racial disparities in the UK. The report concluded that the UK was not institutionally racist and “no longer” has a system rigged against people from ethnic minorities.
The conclusion of this report is, to say the least, disappointing given the focus there has rightly been on racial equality in the UK.
The Black Lives Matter protests that took place last year in response to the killing of George Floyd in America highlighted the issues we have here in the UK. We know that those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been more likely to die from Covid. And we know that powers such as stop and search are disproportionately used on those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
If we are to truly create an equal society then we must first acknowledge the barriers that those from ethnic minority backgrounds face. This report unfortunately denies the experiences of many living in the UK and will only serve to undermine confidence in the Government to act appropriately to rectify some of the injustices people from ethnic minority backgrounds face.
After years of stable peace, we have this week seen a return of violent scenes on the streets of Northern Ireland.
I strongly condemn the violent scenes we have seen in recent days and would urge all parties to come together to find a peaceful solution. Many of us will remember the violence that marred the streets of Northern Ireland during The Troubles, we cannot return to those terrible days.
The peace that was started by the Good Friday Agreement is as fragile as it has been since the agreement was signed. Boris Johnson must now show leadership and convene cross-party talks in Northern Ireland. Including engaging with the joint-custodians to the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish Government, to find solutions and resolve tensions.
Next stage of lockdown easing
On Monday, England will move to the next stage of the easing of lockdown and non-essential retail and outside hospitality will reopen.
I know that many people are looking forward to the gradual reopening and it will come as welcome news to the hospitality industry in particular that has been so badly impacted by the Covid crisis.
However, we must continue to exercise caution. The pandemic is far from over and we cannot afford to see another wave of the virus that would be deeply damaging and would undo all the work we have done to get to this point.
So please continue to follow the rules as we gradually move out of lockdown. We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent at this crucial time. The vaccination programme is going well, but not everyone has been vaccinated yet. Therefore, please exercise caution.
Finally, in parallel, profound lessons need to be learnt as to why Birmingham and Britain suffered some of the worst losses of any country in Europe. That is why I am working closely with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice for a public inquiry to be set up so that the relatives of those that died are able to call to account those who made decisions that had such catastrophic consequences.
As always, if you or anyone you know needs support throughout this difficult period, then please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington