This week I have been appalled to watch the footage of the violence that
has escalated horrifically in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
At the time of writing, 119 Palestinians have been killed, including 31
children, and at least seven Israelis have died. Every one of these deaths
is a tragedy, and I want to express my absolute condemnation of the
targeting and killing of civilians.
I have received hundreds of calls and emails from constituents who are
worried about this tragic conflict in the past week.
On Monday, I wrote to the Prime Minister to express my opposition to the
illegal evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and the inexcusable
attacks on worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan. I asked the UK
Government to set out as a matter of urgency the steps it would take to
support the de-escalation of tensions and ensure international law is
The fallout from this episode has sadly and predictably had devastating
consequences for everyone in the region.
We cannot go on generation after generation trapped in this spiral of
violence. We owe it to children growing up in Israel and Palestine today to
break that cycle, and work together towards a negotiated two state solution
that secures a safe Israel living in peace alongside a viable and sovereign
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PAYING MY RESPECTS AT THE COVID MEMORIAL WALL
Earlier this week, I visited the Covid Memorial Wall in Westminster. It was
a really touching sight to see the thousands of hearts displayed and
absolutely heart wrenching to read all the messages written by those who
have lost loved ones during this pandemic. I was so thankful to be able to
pay my respects.
I was also pleased to hear that the Government has committed to launching
an inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the
pandemic has seen 127,000 lives cut short before their time. We have the
worst mortality rate in Europe and the bereaved need and deserve answers.
The inquiry must be fully public and independent that properly consults
with bereaved families. We need answers as to why the UK was so
underprepared, where Ministers were getting their advice, why our response
was so slow off the ground, and how we can best protect Britain against
While an inquiry is a big undertaking, it is still perfectly achievable in
this Parliamentary term. With such a huge loss of life, we must have these
answers before we can move on and heal as a country.
What I would like to understand is why the Government is making bereaved
families wait until the middle of next year for an inquiry to begin and why
has it taken until now for it to agree to learn from its mistakes.
MY VISIT TO THE COVID MEMORIAL WALL
TORY PLANS TO MAKE 1 MILLION PEOPLE INELIGIBLE TO VOTE
In the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, plans were announced to launch a new
mandatory voter ID system. While it might seem like a sensible step
forward, in practical terms, it would require voters to have accepted forms
of ID to take to the ballot box.
In the West Midlands, only 79% of people have a passport. That’s
1,149,137 who would no longer be able to vote. This number drops even
further, to 75%, when talking about the number of voters with a driver's
These new measures which the Government wish to introduce will politically
silence more than a fifth of people in the West Midlands and is a dangerous
precedent to set against our democratic rights.
The Conservative Government are looking to put this in place, at a cost of
around £20 million per election in a bid to prevent voter fraud. While
preventing voter impersonation is a laudable goal, it is a costly and
unnecessary one and simply distracts people from the growing issues that
are at the heart of our country.
At the elections in 2019, Birmingham City Council experienced zero cases of
voter impersonation. This means a £20 million cost will be enacted to
address something which is not a problem. Surely, there must be a more
cost-effective solution which can be found for such a relatively
Most concerningly, we do not have information on how this will affect
minority groups or low-income households. There is only data available to
tell us about the age, sex and region of ID holders.
The pandemic has shown us the stark inequalities that are rife throughout
our country and are growing. While solutions to address some of these
inequalities might be more complex to correct, this is straightforward.
Simply, do not introduce legislation that will have a disproportionate
effect on those who are already facing a huge imbalance.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all those who celebrated
yesterday a Happy Eid. While this Eid, like last year, has not been like it
would ordinarily, I would like to thank everyone for playing their part and
celebrating safely and observing social distancing measures which are still