This has been my first full week in Brussels as the North West's newest Member of European Parliament. It's been a very busy week, working hard to get my office up and running so that I can represent you effectively right from the start of my term in office.
But I have also spent time attending meetings and events, including a number of engagements on issues which will form a core part of my work here for you. I know that these issues - especially Brexit and human rights, are priorities for constituencies and communities in the North West.
Today I attended an event with the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, about the ongoing situation in Kashmir.
I addressed the meeting and raised my concerns about the situation there and in the wider region.
I stressed the importance of dialogue, and just as peace is one of the founding principles of the EU, we must work towards peace in Kashmir and the wider region. In particular I am appalled by the human rights abuses, particularly against women and children.
I firmly believe Kashmiris have the right to determine their own future, and we should support them in this endeavour.
When I became an MP in 2015 one of my first actions was to introduce a private members bill to end the morally wrong practice of charging carers for hospital car parking. This was the result of months of hard work put in by me and my constituents as part of our Park the Charges campaign. If you are unwell in a hospital sometimes the love of a caring family member can lift your spirits in your darkest times. It is immoral to charge that family member up to £40 a week just so they can visit a relative in a time of need.
I want to begin by putting this budget in context for my constituents. We have a Government that has borrowed more in 7 years than the last Labour Government did in 13 years. The deficit that we were told would be gone is still there. The country is just to about to embark on the most serious negotiations since the end of the Second World War and the Chancellor barely mentioned Brexit. The disabled who are desperately trying to gain employment are to have their incomes cut by close to a third next month.
As part of our Liberation in Labour Students blog series, our new BAME Officer, Lydia Okoibhole, writes about her plans for the year.
My name is Lydia Okoibhole, I go to the University of Leeds and I am the newly elected and incredibly proud Labour Students BAME officer!
Since becoming a Labour student, unfortunately there have been issues when it comes to the treatment and representation of BAME students. My first Labour Students event in Scarborough was incredibly difficult but I’m optimistic that things are changing for the better.
2016 was an amazing year for the BAME caucus in Labour students – our numbers increased massively, we had our first BAME caucus conference which was an interesting experience for those in attendance and a great way to meet BAME students from around the country.
Young Labour is hosting its first ever Political School this weekend in Birmingham. Here's a little of what you can expect from a jam-packed day of politics.
What can we do to stop the rise of the far right?
How can we fight for secure work for young people? What is the role of trade unions in this?
What is the right response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria?
These are massive questions. There’s not one simple answer to any of them. But this weekend in Birmingham, Young Labour will be debating, discussing and learning about all of these issues, and many, many more.