Paul Blomfield MP

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

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Lots of people have been getting in touch about the Labour leadership contest so I thought I’d share this note I’ve sent out to Sheffield Central party members today:

I’m following up on my recent email on the Party leadership.

As I said previously, I don’t think we should be having a leadership election now and deeply regret the divisions that it’s created in the Party. But we can’t change what’s happened and now have to find a way forward.

We need to unite Labour and build a strong team to take the fight to the Tories - who have been renewed under Theresa May’s leadership.

The choice we face in the Party leadership election is vital.

Lots of people have written to me and said that we must maintain the strong principles and values on which Labour was founded - and I agree.

That’s why I backed Owen Smith to be the next Labour Leader as soon as he said he was willing to stand.

Owen not only speaks out against austerity, but has a plan of action too.

He wants wage councils to end low pay in sectors like hospitality and retail, a £200 billion ‘New Deal’ to create jobs and invest in communities, and a new ‘Clause 4’ in our Constitution to make tackling inequality Labour’s defining purpose.

He believes in strong public services and would renationalise the railways. He wants an ethical foreign policy, with a War Powers Act to put decisions like going to war in Iraq under effective scrutiny.

He’d reverse the Tories’ abolition of the Climate Change Department and he’d offer a second referendum on EU membership, or an election, to give people a chance to decide on Brexit when they’ve seen the detail.

Crucially, Owen also has the communication and leadership skills to work with others to put these things into action.  A leader without the power to put words into action does nothing to help those who need it most.

And I’ve seen how effective he is in Parliament.

As Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Owen led the campaigns that secured major victories to reverse Tory plans for cuts to disability benefits and tax credits for low-paid workers. As part of Labour’s health team, he fought the Tories’ plans to privatise the NHS tooth and nail.

Owen has what it takes to be not just a radical Labour Leader, but a radical Labour Prime Minister.

At his campaign launch last weekend, Owen talked about his plans and you can see some of his speech here - or you can read more about his background, his values and his ideas here.

But this election is about much more than who leads us. Labour’s future is at stake. There are some on both the right and left who are prepared to risk splitting our Party, leaving us broken on the margins of politics. I am not. It would be a betrayal of the people we represent and whose lives can be transformed by a Labour Government.

I hope you’ll agree that we need to find common ground, unite the Party and prepare to win the next election. That’s why I’m backing Owen Smith as our next Leader – let me know if let me know if you’ll support him too, or sign up for his campaign here.

With best wishes

Paul

 

 

 

Why I’m backing Owen Smith for Labour Leader

Lots of people have been getting in touch about the Labour leadership contest so I thought I’d share this note I’ve sent out to Sheffield Central party members today:

Graduation.jpg

Today in Parliament I condemned the Government for retrospectively changing the repayment terms for student loans, making thousands of Sheffield graduates pay back more.

In a debate in Parliament, I criticised the Government’s plans to freeze the earnings repayment threshold at £21,000 for all graduates who have begun courses since 2012, which breaks their 2010 promise to increase the threshold every year in line with earnings.

The government’s own figures show that a graduate with a salary of between £21,000 and £30,000 will have to pay £6,100 more over their lifetime than they would if the system to which they signed up was maintained.

The debate was based on a petition against the changes which has over 130,000 signatures. Sheffield Central has the second highest number of signatories in the UK.

In the debate I said:

Through this measure Sheffield graduates are being made to pay for the Government’s mistakes. And to do so through changing the terms of the deal long after they signed up to it. If a second hand car salesman tried to get a customer to pay more than the contracted deal years later, they’d be referred to Trading Standards. If it was a bank, there’d be action by the Financial Conduct Authority. Why should the Government be subject to different standards? This is fraudulent behaviour. It undermines trust in Government. It undermines confidence in the student loans system. I urge the Minister to think again.

I’m determined to make the case against this fraudulent behaviour in and out of Parliament, holding the Government to account for breaking their promises and slapping thousands of pounds onto already expensive loans.

My condemnation of Government ‘fraud’ hitting Sheffield graduates

Today in Parliament I condemned the Government for retrospectively changing the repayment terms for student loans, making thousands of Sheffield graduates pay back more.

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This is the last week that Parliament will be sitting before the summer recess, and there’s lots happening. After going along to hustings for the Labour Party leadership election, my day is focussed on higher education. I’ll be at a meeting with NUS and UCU to discuss the Higher Education and Research Bill, which will get its Second Reading on Tuesday. Then I’ll be speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the Government’s plans to retrospectively change the repayment terms for student loans by freezing the repayment threshold of £21,000. It’s something I’ve previously opposed and the debate has been triggered by a public petition.

On Tuesday I’ll have a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration to discuss our future work programme, in the light of the Brexit vote. Then I’ll be speaking to educational attaches from foreign embassies at the Embassy Education Conference at Kings College London. After that, I’m rushing back to Westminster for a meeting of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, of which I’m a member, for evidence sessions about the new Pub Codes Adjudicator - about which constituents have raised concerns. I’ll be in the Commons Chamber all afternoon, speaking in the debate on the Higher Education and Research Bill - and then I’ll be at a meeting of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform, of which I’m Vice-Chair.

Wednesday starts with a meeting of the BIS and Education Select Committees Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, at which we’ll be discussing our inquiry on apprenticeships and then meeting with apprentices to discuss their experience. After the first PMQs for Theresa May, we’ve a meeting of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, to question the Secretary of State, although it may be re-arranged following the huge changes to the Department made last week – over which I have major concerns, particularly in relation to the abolition of the Climate Change Department established by Labour, but also in the way it splits responsibilities for universities from science and research. 

Back in Sheffield on Friday I’ve a meeting with Sheffield Live about the threat to community TV from the Government’s controversial BBC consultation (which I’ve spoken out against). I’ll also be speaking at an event organised by the National Citizens Service and holding one of my regular advice surgeries, before going on to the University of Sheffield University Graduation Dinner – and on Sunday I’ll be at a reception to celebrate 37 Signal Regiment based in Manor Top.   

Student loans, the Higher Education Bill, apprenticeships, pubs and community TV – some of my week ahead

This is the last week that Parliament will be sitting before the summer recess, and there’s lots happening. After going along to hustings for the Labour Party leadership election, my...


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