Well, you’d have been forgiven for thinking we were getting back to normal in Parliament this week as we had the first Queen’s Speech in over two years. For those of you who don’t know, a Queen’s Speech is traditionally used to set out a government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead. But as we all predicted when Boris Johnson first tried to unlawfully prorogue Parliament, this Queen’s Speech was nothing short of a piece of taxpayer-funded propaganda, designed to promote the Tories’ next election manifesto. They have no majority in Parliament to implement the vast majority of the commitments they’ve made as part of this speech and, if there’s one thing we can trust about Boris Johnson, it’s that he can’t be trusted to keep his promises.
The Queen’s Speech talked about the government recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, but yet again failed to mention to the fact that the Tories have cut 21,000 from the our local forces since they came to power.
There was also nothing in the speech to address the injustice still faced by 1950s-born women. Jeremy Corbyn called the government out on this on Tuesday and I will continue campaigning on this issue as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women. I was pleased to catch up with some of the brilliant women from the WASPI campaign earlier this week at their drop-in event in Parliament. I’ll be continuing to work closely with colleagues from across the House of Commons to help ensure we deliver the justice all 1950s-born women deserve. Anyway, more on the Queen’s Speech next week!
Away from the Queen’s Speech, I was pleased to speak at an event in Parliament organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The CIPD is a professional association for human resource management professionals. They’re doing some really positive work with companies to try and break down the stigma that all-too-often surrounds the menopause. They do this by helping them create open and supportive environments where everyone can contribute and flourish in the workplace. Women in their 50s are the fastest growing segment of the workforce and so it stands to reason that most of us will go through the menopause during our working lives. It’s therefore vital that we don’t allow anyone to go on suffering in silence. If you work in human resources or manage staff and would like to know how you can make sure that your workplace is open and supportive, you can find lots of useful information here.
On Thursday I held the Tories to account from Labour’s frontbench during Women and Equalities Questions. A cold meant that I had a slightly croaky voice and had to give my best Bonnie Tyler impression(!) but this was, as ever, a really good opportunity to further one of my key campaigns. It’s frankly astonishing that 1 in 6 female prisoners don’t have a home to go to when they are released. Leaving people homeless after they’re released from prison makes for a vicious cycle which isn’t good for the individual or wider society. It’s absolutely essential that the government does more to support women leaving prison. The government might have a Female Offenders Strategy, but it’s clear it’s not working yet. I’ll be sure to keep up the pressure on this crucial issue.
Today, I attended a drop-in at Llansamlet Tesco hosted by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) in aid of World Menopause Day. They have been working with trades union members to understand how the symptoms of the menopause affect their members in the workplace and what changes need to made to ensure that women are supported to be able to continue working through the menopause. I’m pleased that we in the Labour Party have already announced our commitment to ending the stigma around the menopause in the workplace and it is something that I will continue campaigning on.
As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01792 462 054.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!