Following the recent Labour Party conference in Liverpool, which commenced with the news that Jeremy Corbyn had won an even bigger mandate to lead our party, I hope we can all now get back to the business of holding the Tories to account, in council chambers, in Westminster and in the European Parliament where I work alongside Socialists and Democrats from 27 other countries, in the largest democratically-elected body in the world.
As you may know, I have been an unequivocal supporter of Jeremy from the outset, endorsing his leadership bid on both occasions, bringing him to Cumbria to visit flood-affected communities and speaking alongside him on the same platform at Burnley May Day. I work closely with party members and supporters and also with grassroots campaigning groups on issues of social justice and human rights and I was therefore very pleased to speak at a number of events at the party conference on issues such as disability, mental health, Remembering Srebrenica (organised by Young Labour) and a Unite event highlighting the situation faced by Kurdish people in Turkey. I joined my fellow NW Labour MEP colleagues to give a report to CLP delegates, and spoke at a vigil for Yemen organised by Stephen Twigg MP. I met many members, councillors and MPs at various receptions such as the Palestine Campaign for Solidarity as well as Bloomberg's Business event. I was also pleased to attend Labour Women's conference and a Labour Women's Network event as well as showing my support for Fabian Women along with the wonderful Angela Rayner MP. As a supporter of Labour Coast and Country it was good to attend a session discussing the topic of floods and I was very impressed by Friends of the Earth's proposal for River Parliaments.
Alongside the main conference programme there was an excellent parallel World Transformed 'Art, Politics and Culture Festival' organised by Momentum at the historic Black-E Arts Centre, recently renovated with EU funding. I attended two Momentum panels on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers both in this country and in the Mediterranean, and an excellent session on the threats to all levels of education from the government's ongoing attacks on public services. Speakers came mainly from trade union backgrounds with the welcome inclusion of student voices. I was pleased to make an intervention about the vital importance of informal learning, especially in respect of the risks posed by Brexit through the loss of EU adult and community learning funds to deprived areas, and the potential exclusion of British students from the Erasmus+ student exchange and mobility programmes. I also highlighted the importance of intercultural dialogue as a tool to combat racism which was at the heart of my parliamentary report, completed earlier this year.
I also joined forces with activists marching against the closure of Liverpool Women's Hospital, speaking alongside Diane Abbott MP and filmmaker Ken Loach, and showed my support for the Durham Teaching Assistants who are protesting wage cuts to their already meagre salaries. All in all it was a very busy week but I was glad of the opportunity to meet many members from all areas of the party, and especially to meet new and returning members.