Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott is the Shadow Secretary of State for Health. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1987 general election, when she became the first Black Woman to have a seat in the House of Commons.

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott

Trust Theresa? Not on her immigration claims

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Theresa May continues to make false promises on cutting net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’. The policy has been in place now for 7 years, and has spectacularly been missed every year.

Theresa May was the Home Secretary throughout the entire period. She couldn’t meet the target then and she won’t meet it in future. We learn from the ex-Chancellor George Osborne she is isolated in the Cabinet on this. “None of its senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative Party such public grief,” he wrote in the London Evening Standard.

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Dangerous Tory Cuts to Our Fire & Rescue Service Need to End

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As well as holding back investment, living standards and growth, it’s important to also point out that the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity also makes us all less safe.

One example of this is the cuts to our fire and rescue service.

While our firefighters do an amazing job, we have seen the axing of 10,000 jobs, record numbers of fire stations closed and cuts to equipment, meaning people are left running the service on a shoestring.

Such cuts are bound to have an impact on the ability of firefighters to do their jobs, which is consistently being undermined by cuts.

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Where is the Government’s 2016 drugs strategy?

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The government was supposed to produce a drugs strategy in 2016, but two weeks into April 2017 and still nothing.  We see disturbing scenes of completely wasted people on our city streets, caught up in the latest drug craze ‘spice’. There can be no excuse for government inaction. Brexit should not be the only issue for Government and other policy areas cannot be completely neglected, especially ones that are literally a matter of life and death.

Who knows how bloody and messy the ‘war on drugs’ will get under President Trump. In general, in this country in recent years we have usually had a far more intelligent approach to drugs and drug-related crime. But the drugs barons never rest and the threat is constantly changing. Policy must be proactive and evidence-based.

Recorded drug-related crime is not rising in this country. Yet there were almost 150,000 drug offences committed last year in England and wales, so there is no room for complacency. Heroin, cocaine or crack cocaine addicts commit theft and robbery to feed their habits. Nearly all the most dangerous gangs in Britain are involved in the Class A drugs trade. The UK is also the EU’s largest market for ‘legal highs’. 

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Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism

As Mayor of London Sadiq Khan put it this week in response to the horrific Westminster attack, “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism. We stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life. We always have, and we always will.”

I was in lock down in Parliament for five hours and it was very frightening, especially as we all remember the 7/7 attacks in 2005.

What we saw in Westminster this week was an indiscriminate attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, taking no account of age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion.

All our thoughts are with the victims of this outrage, their loved ones, families and friends.

The victims of this brutal and indiscriminate attack as innocent people walked across Westminister Bridge like millions before them included people of ten nationalities.

They include civilians and a police officer, Londoners and visitors.

Aimed at the heart of our democracy, this cowardly attack was also an attack on our freedom, and our values of justice and tolerance.

We also saw our emergency and public services at their best, acting promptly and decisively, working to keep us all safe and showing tremendous bravery. In their heroism they were joined by ordinary people who were passing by and helped the injured and  traumatised.

We also salute the work of our NHS staff, including those from St Thomas’ Hospital who rushed out to help those in need.

The tragic death of PC Keith Palmer, a Metropolitan Police officer who was unarmed, reminds us  all of how big a debt of gratitude we owe our police officers. He was tragically killed while performing his duties. 

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The inadequate housing system for refugees is a disgrace

A report from Parliament’s Cross-Party Home Affairs Select Committee this week delivered a devastating critique of the system of housing for those who apply to be a refugee in 21st century Britain.

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UK is a centre of money laundering. Tough laws are needed to end it

The UK is an ‘enabler of corruption’ and ‘the role of the UK as a centre of global money-laundering is widely acknowledged. There is considerable data. These are not the verdicts of some stereotypical anti-bank campaigner, intent on soaking the rich. They are the considered assessments of independent and widely respected experts Global Witness and Transparency International UK. The UK has a money laundering problem, and action is required to deal with it.

The mechanisms of global financial corruption and money laundering taint all those who come into contact with them. The biggest losers are primarily the populations of the least developed economies, where multi-national corporations, corrupt local agents, and sometimes governments work to plunder the wealth of the nation and enrich themselves. This can and has led to the generalised corruption of society in some instances.

The financial facilitators of this corruption are the banks or other major financial institutions, operating through a complex network of trusts, managers and personal wealth funds in a series of offshore tax havens. No great financial crime can be committed without them. A key conduit in this network are the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, who are subject to wholly inadequate regulation.

This was revealed in the publication of the ‘Panama Papers’. The release of the Panama Papers in April 2016, just prior to the London Anti-Corruption Summit, exposed the extent of tax evasion and tax avoidance through tax havens around the world. It also highlighted the UK’s involvement in such schemes. Approximately half of the companies, over 113,000 in total, which featured in the Mossack Fonseca files were registered in the British Virgin Islands, a UK Overseas Territory.

In addition, almost two–thousand UK-based intermediaries were revealed in the leaks, making the UK second only to Hong Kong for the number of facilitators of tax evasion and avoidance it hosts.

This has a detrimental impact on the financial system here too, with vast resources, time and personnel devoted to tax avoidance and to tax evasion, not to beneficial financial activity such as productive lending that would benefit the economy. Instead, there is the huge inflation of house prices especially in London in part funded by the proceeds of tax evasion and money laundering. The ordinary people of this country have a common cause with the ordinary people of some of the most deprived countries in the world. To different degrees, we all have an interest in ending this corruption.

Currently the Criminal Finances Bill is going through Parliament. Labour has tabled amendments with the aim of expanding the bill to include Britain’s tax havens. We hold the position that they should publish the names of the individuals behind the shell companies registered there.

In its current state the Bill is lax on tackling this major issue and needs to be strengthened significantly.  The quasi-autonomous status of Overseas Territories cannot be a barrier to our role in tackling international money-laundering. We must face up to our responsibilities and end the UK’s role in this global scandal.

 

 

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Investigatory Powers Bill may not survive

The Investigatory Powers Bill is likely to become law. Its powers are far too widely drawn and there are very few safeguards against the mass collection of data by a host of different government agencies, simply acting on suspicion of any crime, not even limited to terrorist or serious crime.

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There is no trade-off between the Single Market and Freedom of Movement

In Britain there has been a widespread delusion that we can be in, or have ‘full access to’ the EU Single Market while negotiating some sort of opt out from Freedom of Movement.  In politics, as in life, it can be deadly to base your actions on wishful thinking. 

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Tory cuts to NHS put health visitors under threat

­­­I was honoured this week to deliver my first speech to Labour Party Conference as Shadow Secretary of State for Health in order to highlight how the Tories’ ideologically-driven austerity agenda is risking the very future of our health service and public health more generally.

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NHS looks to Labour to save it

Here is the speech I gave at the Labour Conference about the state of our health system:

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