December 13, 2011

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The X-Factor was very popular in our household this year because of course we were supporting Marcus Collins.

He did terrifically well and I am sure he will have a very successful musical career. He is a very good singer and entertainer.  I’d like to think that I would have supported Marcus even if he hadn’t been one of my constituents as I thought all the way through that he was the best performer. Another reason why my family were so supportive of Marcus was that he went to school with Veronica Bennett, who is my Case Worker and Veronica introduced me to Marcus last year before he went on the show, when we knocked on his door in Crosby. He made quite an impression then and I was thrilled that he did so well on X-Factor.

 
An MP’s office deals with many different issues and is a busy place during the year. We can only represent the community effectively thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers. I mentioned Veronica Bennett, my Case Worker. Veronica does much of the work when people phone, email or write for help. Thank you to Veronica and also to Kevin, Kath, Peter and Ben for all their hard work. Thanks also to Phil who has just left and to the many volunteers who help out during the year.
 
The Prime Minister has vetoed a deal with the rest of Europe. But what does it really mean? I doubt that the answer to that question will be clear for some time. David Cameron says he blocked a deal in order to protect the bankers and to me that rings alarm bells. He was not trying to protect British jobs or British businesses, just stop the international financial transaction tax. Such a tax could have been used to target the bankers who caused the crisis and protect those on low and middle incomes. As things stand, the poorest third of households in this country are paying more than the wealthiest third to reduce the deficit. An international transaction tax would be one way of tackling the deficit in a fairer way.
 
Meantime, we will have no say in what is decided by the rest of Europe. That means that changes will be made which may hurt jobs and business here and because we won’t be involved in the negotiations, we will have no way of influencing such decisions.
 
Mr Cameron’s tough talking may look clever this week, but in the long run I am afraid that hard working families and pensioners will be the big losers, while the bankers carry on without regulation and are free to do as they please. That can’t be good for anyone except the bankers can it?
 
The Conservative Government has thrown its toys out of the pram and gone off to sulk. That raises many questions for the future of our country. The questions include; when are we going to see the long promised rebalancing of the economy so that we make more things; how is our political isolation in Europe going to help manufacturing exports to the continent? 
 
I fear we have a Prime Minister who is a prisoner of the extreme right wing of his party. He went to Strasbourg promising to protect "something" and came away with much less than he started with.
 
If we are to create wealth and jobs in the future we are going to have to compete with the emerging nations like China and India as well as established nations such as Germany and USA. We will not be able to compete with mass production so must develop niche, specialist or creative industries and by developing new technologies and materials in a creative way. 
Training students at school in technical subjects helps them to get a job when they leave school and is what businesses want from young people and from schools. The country needs business to succeed and to create jobs. Our young people need the skills they learn in design and technology subjects so that we can develop the hi-tech modern products which people around the world will want to buy.
 
High skilled jobs are better paid, so it makes sense for schools, colleges and universities to run top quality courses which teach the skills needed. Sadly, the government has brought in the E-Bacc which encourages schools to cut the number of technical subjects they offer to young people.
 
I share the very real concern of teachers, young people and business that we are going to see fewer opportunities for young people to study technical subjects like design and technology, engineering or computer science. The same cut backs are likely to affect catering, hairdressing and music, also subjects which many young people want to study to help them get a job.
 
It appears that the Tories and Lib Dems are not listening and I will continue to raise this issue in parliament.

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