MP tells Government: 'Do better, be more like South Shields' in closing remarks before Parliament ends for summer
‘Do better, be more like South Shields’ – those were the parting words to Government of the town’s MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, as she hailed the efforts of her constituents during the pandemic.
The MP praised the community spirit shown by residents during the past 18 months, while taking aim at the Government’s record during the same period, in a debate before Parliament went into recess for the summer.
The summer adjournment debate saw her fellow Labour MP Dawn Butler forced to withdraw from the chamber after refusing to retract comments that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had ‘lied to this House and to the country over and over again’ during the pandemic.
Ms Lewell-Buck listed what she regarded as a number of serious Whitehall failings over the past 18 months.
However, as a counterpoint, she also mentioned the stellar work of her South Shields constituents - including Ziggy’s Bar owner, Stephen Sullivan, and the Volunteer Life Brigade – to support fellow residents during such testing times.
“Stuart Hatton provided online ballroom dancing lessons, Stevey Sullivan held ‘Storytime with Stevey’ and Shah Lalon Amin delivered free curries every single night,” she told MPs.
"South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, Women’s Health in South Tyneside and North East Animal Rights kept on with the volunteering. South Tyneside council staff, my amazing team and other keyworkers went above and beyond every single day.
"Our Port of Tyne secured us as the base for the biggest offshore wind farm in the world. Richmond and Westoe Taxis offered free taxi transport to elderly and vulnerable people to help them shop for essential supplies.
She added: "Communities across the country, including mine in South Shields, have shown the absolute best of our country.
"My constituents make me proud every single minute of every day, but I have never felt more proud of them than I have done throughout this pandemic.
"I have a simple message to the Government: do better, be more like South Shields.”
But the South Shields MP also revealed a number of ‘deeply concerning’ developments that have set up major battles when Parliament resumes business in the autumn.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I tried to highlight as many people as I could within the time limit I had, but I wasn’t able to include everyone.
"I’d wanted to mention how the Customs House had put on a ‘thank you’ show for people in the area. I’d wanted to give my team more of a shout-out for everything they’ve done during the pandemic.
"The crux of it is that the Government has used the pandemic as cover to lie and cheat and try to cause divisions in our country. We’ve done the opposite in South Shields – we’ve all come together and tried to make life easier for each other throughout it.
“This Government is robbing the public purse to give money to their mates on a daily basis. But then, at the same time, they’re also pushing through legislation to criminalise anyone who dares criticise them.
"We have furlough drying up, the cuts to Universal Credit, the NHS reform bill. So there’s big stuff they have planned for later on in the year that’s causing me deep concern.
"At any other time, most people would be up in arms over this. But the pandemic has provided the Government with ideal cover to try to push this stuff through.”