In this newsletter you can read about my participation in the People’s Vote campaign on the Brexit deal, my ongoing fight to promote women’s rights and gender equality, my work with young people, and my support for the brave people of Kurdistan.
STOPPING THE BREXIT CAR CRASH
On June 23rd I marched through London with nearly half a million people from all walks of life to demand a ‘People’s Vote’ so that we, the British people, can have a final say on the Brexit deal and democratically decide our future rather than being dragged off a cliff-edge. The People’s Vote is a fantastic grassroots campaign that is working with lots of different groups, including NHS campaigners, to try and stop the Brexit car crash which will take away our rights and make us poorer. You can sign up to find out more here: https://www.peoples-vote.uk
It felt so good to be a part of a mass movement of people who all recognise how important the values of the EU are, and want to be pro-active in finding an alternative to the government’s hard Brexit agenda. I’m sure many of you will have read the newspaper articles which announced the ‘Left Against Brexit’ nationwide tour which I am proud to support along with leading trade unionists Manuel Cortes and Billy Hayes, journalists Gary Young and Zoe Williams, economist Ann Pettifor, and many fellow Labour politicians. If not you can read it here.
The Left Against Brexit tour kicks off in Manchester this Thursday, July 5th at 7.30pm in the People’s History Museum Manchester. I will be speaking at this rally calling on the left to unite and put a stop to the destructive Tory Brexit. You can get your FREE tickets here –
STANDING UP FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS & GENDER EQUALITY
Meanwhile, I have continued to be as busy as ever in the European Parliament and across the region speaking at many women’s events, from One Billion Rising at UCLan in Preston with the Labour Mayor, to International Women’s Day events in Chorley with Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, and most recently at Martin Luther King House in Manchester as a keynote speaker for a women’s leadership equality and diversity conference. Many women’s groups have also been out to visit me in the European Parliament including, recently, Congleton Labour Women and women from Rochdale Connections Trust, a domestic violence support service.
This year, I was honoured yet again to act as my political group’s representative at the UN Committee on the Status of Women in New York where I met with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to discuss his priorities for pushing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the age of Trump. Guterres is from our political family, having been a previous socialist prime minister of Portugal, so it is good to know that progressive values are being championed at a global level. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/António_Guterres
Meanwhile, you can join the anti-Trump protest in London on Friday July 13th as part of The Carnival of Resistance. Sign up here: https://
At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva I was pleased to speak for the 4th time in support of women in Kashmir who are experiencing terrible violence at the hands of the occupying forces. I continue to work closely with my friend Cllr Yasmine Dar on these issues, and was thrilled to see Yasmine win a place on Labour’s NEC recently. She will be a strong voice for ALL women and especially for BAME women and diaspora communities.
Whilst in New York I visited the Committee for the Protection of Journalists with whom I am working to raise awareness of the imprisonment of Kurdish feminist artist and editor, Zehra Doğan, imprisoned for her paintings of Turkish tanks in the ruins of Nusaybin city on the Turkey-Syria border. http://voiceproject.org/takeaction/free-zehra-dogan/ The acclaimed British graffiti artist Banksy had just created a mural in New York depicting Zehra behind bars where I went to lay some flowers and talk to passers-by about her case. You too can support Zehra and other imprisoned journalists by sending a postcard, click here for more information – https://cpj.org/campaigns/free-the-press/
For your information I led a women’s mission to Rojava in Kurdistan, Northern Syria, in May, with Peace in Kurdistan, https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com to visit refugees and see how women are rebuilding society in the aftermath of terrible conflict. I will be sharing my experiences at a number of events across the country and am thrilled to note that this year’s annual Durham Miners Gala will be highlighting the Freedom for Öcalan Campaign. Some of you will know that Abdullah Öcalan, the inspirational leader of the Kurds, has been imprisoned on Imrali Island by the Turkish authorities for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, many members of HDP, our sister party in Turkey, are in jail, detained or awaiting sentencing for daring to oppose the fascist dictator President Erdoğan.
In the centenary year for women winning the vote, I am humbled and thrilled to be nominated by the local Amnesty group in Carlisle for the Suffragette Spirit map. Click here to read about all the amazing women in the UK who stand up for women’s rights, including many other Labour politicians such as Emily Thornberry. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/suffragettespirit
PRIDE SEASON IS HERE!
As a nember of the European Parliament’s Gender Equality Committee and Intergroup on LBGTIQ+ Rights, I am very active on promoting equal rights and recently hosted a discussion in the European Parliament titled “Marching for pride: still relevant?” The event gathered activists from all over Europe and highlighted all the reasons why it is still important to demonstrate for true equality. Recent homophobic and transphobic attacks in Russia, Belarus, the Balkans, Turkey and even on our own streets, show that the battle for LGBTIQ+ rights must still be fought. I work closely with Rainbow Rose, the LGBTIQ+ campaign within our own sister parties from the Party of European Socialists to push politicians to stand up for full gender equality. Find out more here: http://rainbowrose.eu
NORTH WEST YOUNG LABOUR MEMBERS VISIT STRASBOURG
I was thrilled to welcome a fantastic group of Young Labour members to the European Parliament at the end of May for the European Youth Event, a 3 day festival of politics, activism, debates, discussion and culture attended by nearly 10,000 youth from across Europe.
As we know young people who could vote in the EU referendum in 2016 voted overwhelmingly to REMAIN and it is their future which is now at stake. Here are some reflections on the European Youth Event:
‘One of the best issues to work on was mental health and body image in the media which I feel strongly about. At EYE, it was projects outside the main events, whether they be attending a meeting with OBESCU accompanying fantastic MEP and advocate of mental health Julie Ward, or activities in the Yo! Fest Village that were really thought-provoking. The most important thing to take away from EYE is that it is important to raise awareness not only that young people have a right to have their voice heard, but that they can be proactive and can take the lead on issues important to them on an international platform.’ – James
‘The trip to the European Parliament was extremely inspiring, being surrounded by 1000s of other passionate political activists who were just as keen to voice their opinions. My confidence has massively improved since speaking twice in the hemicycle, in front of at least 800 people both times on issues I am passionate about such as improving working class rights. I really enjoyed attending the workshop on preventing youth homelessness, where we discussed barriers for young people and the most effective ways to help those in need of housing. Overall, it was a culturally enriching experience( especially since I’d never visited France before) and one which has also massively improved my understanding of the EU’ – Elle
I feel proud to have these young people represent the North West. Our futures would be safe in their hands. Let’s not allow Brexit to destroy their hopes and admirations.
On a final note I again want to encourage you to support the ‘Left Against Brexit’ rally on 5th July 7.30pm at The People’s History