The past two weeks have seen a number of major developments. Most notably, Derek Chauvin, the Police Officer in the US who knelt on George Floyd’s neck until he died, was found guilty of his murder. The murder shamed and shocked America. The verdict brought back into focus the fight against racial inequality both in the US and here in the UK. Justice has prevailed in this case, but there is much more work to be done as we look to create a more equal world for all.
We also saw a string of shocking revelations relating to Tory sleaze, with Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson both finding themselves at the heart of cronyism accusations. One thing is for certain, there must now be a full investigation into the dealings of this Tory Government who do not seem to think twice about giving preferential treatment to their friends.
There are also updates on Liam Byrne visiting the GKN plant and showing his support for the 519 workers whose jobs are at risk, the plans for a European Super League and what that means for the governance of football clubs in the UK, the continuing scandal of fire and rehire, and Earth Day 2021 and the White House climate summit.
Derek Chauvin Trial
On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all 3 counts, second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter, for the brutal killing of George Floyd. The verdict was warmly welcomed by people across the world, but it must now be the catalyst for fundamental change in the US and beyond.
We have all seen the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck and there was little doubt he would be found guilty of his murder. The justifiable anger it provoked has provided the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the world and it has started the process of a deep examination of racial inequalities in society.
However, while Tuesday gave us optimism with the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the comments of George Floyd’s family following the verdict highlighted that there is still much, much more to do in the fight against racial injustice.
We also cannot be under any illusions that these problems are confined to America alone. The anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder should serve as a reminder of racial injustice in this country. The recent release of the Race Report that inexplicably concluded that there is no longer systemic racism in the UK points to a fundamental lack of understanding by Government over the extent of the problem we face.
We must not stop until we create a society where we are all equals.
Black lives matter.
The past two weeks have seen numerous revelations about private correspondence between Government Ministers and prominent businesspeople and have raised serious questions over the influence those connected to the Tory party wield.
The Greensill Capital Saga and the involvement of former Prime Minister David Cameron was the beginning of a tidal wave of stories that are exposing dodgy dealings at the heart of Government.
Since then, we have seen 3 separate parliamentary inquiries launched into lobbying, bringing the total number of inquiries on this matter to 8. Matt Hancock was caught up in the affair after it was revealed that a company he and his family hold shares in were awarded a Government contract. And, most recently, text messages between James Dyson and Boris Johnson were released that show direct lobbying to the Prime Minister over tax arrangements, to which Johnson replied he would “fix” it.
These revelations raise serious questions over the privileged access that those close to the Tory Party have to those at the top of Government. There must now be a full investigation into lobbying, and we need fundamental reform that ensures transparency and gives the public confidence in the dealings of the Government. We must put an end to cronyism once and for all.
Liam Byrne’s visit to GKN
Last week, Liam Byrne, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor, came to Erdington to show his support for the 519 workers at GKN who face an uncertain future after it was announced that Melrose, who completed a hostile takeover of GKN in 2018, are set to close the plant next year.
Along with their Trade Union, Unite, I have been campaigning since the announcement to find an alternative to closure and to save the plant and the jobs of the workers. We have secured meetings with both Melrose and Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and all have indicated they are open to alternatives to closure and talks have commenced.
I know the workers at GKN appreciated Liam coming to the plant and showing his support. We will not allow Melrose to renege on the promises they made to the workforce when they took over GKN in 2018 and close the plant.
You can read more about Liam’s visit to GKN here: http://www.erdingtonlocal.com/mayoral-hopeful-liam-byrne-mp-backs-gkn-workers-calling-proposed-chester-rd-closure-unthinkable
Plans for a European Super League
I am glad that the disgraceful plans for a European Super League have been put to bed before they barely got off the ground.
When the announcement was made on Sunday evening it came as a shock to everyone. 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs, including 6 Premier League clubs, had planned a breakaway European competition in which they were guaranteed to play every season with no promotion or relegation, closing off the prospect of other teams ever making it into Europe’s top club competition. The new competition would also ensure these 12 clubs would get a massive financial windfall every year that would further the gap between them and the rest of the clubs in their domestic leagues.
The announcement was rightly met with fury from fans across the country. There were protests outside grounds and politicians from across the political spectrum all came out in opposition to the plans.
Due to the pressure on these clubs, the 6 Premier League teams all announced on Tuesday they would be withdrawing from the competition. A victory for fans.
However, the debate over how these football teams are run is now raging and it is clear that fans want to see reform that would give them a greater say over how their team is run.
These football teams were built off the back of the communities in which they are based and any decisions that are made should have the fans at the heart.
Fire and Rehire
British Gas are continuing with their disgraceful fire and rehire tactics despite powerful campaigns by both the GMB and Unite.
Fire and rehire is a tactic that is becoming more commonly used by employers to force their employees to sign new contracts on worse terms or face losing their jobs. It is a disgraceful tool that is used to increase profits at the expense of the workforce.
British Gas are just the latest example and there are 7,000 full-time engineers they are now subjecting to untold stress and worry over their futures because of this latest fire and rehire attempt.
We must put a stop to fire and rehire. The GMB and Unite are both launching campaigns against this practice and Labour MPs have raised this issue with the Government again and again. Boris Johnson must now act and outlaw fire and rehire once and for all. He said he would, but he has failed thus far.
Earth Day 2021 and the White House Climate Summit
Yesterday was Earth Day 2021 and Joe Biden hosted a virtual climate summit from the White House. It served as a necessary reminder of the grave threat that climate change poses to humanity.
The summit brought together the leaders of 40 countries from around the world to discuss how we can combat the growing problem of climate change. Ahead of the summit the US announced a plan to cut emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030, a welcome commitment and a striking change in tone from his predecessor.
There were warm words from many of the leaders in attendance, but this must be followed up by real, tangible progress towards our aims of becoming carbon neutral. Environmental factors must also be considered in every decision that is made by Government to ensure we continue to do everything we can to reduce emissions.
Let us make no mistake, climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity. If we continue on the path we are going down then we will irreversibly damage the planet for good and leave many parts of the world uninhabitable. We must take whatever action is necessary to reverse this trend. The responsibility is on each of us to act.
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