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Opinion

Wed, 10:43

Battle worn soldiers or maimed victims of conflicts far away often stir in the mind when we think of war.

These are interesting times, someone said to me recently grimly, perhaps echoing the old Chinese curse. “But there’s always hope!” was my reply. And I meant it, because there is.

In the early evening of January 19, 1917, Catherine Oates, a beautiful determined, fiercely loyal woman was walking in Silvertown when she was caught up in the biggest explosion London has ever seen. She was to become my Nan.

Is Trump really that bad? Can we take his more outspoken statements with a pinch of salt? Well yes, he is that bad. And as our government starts to court him, in the wake of Nigel Farage, it is important not to forget the poisonous platform Trump used to achieve power.

In December the UN Security Council passed a resolution critical of Israel for settlement building in the disputed territories of the West Bank.

Before Christmas I took part in Walk the Met – an initiative where Assembly Members amongst others, were invited to join police on patrol.

Whatever your age, the evidence shows that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.

My relationship with John Denis hairdressers at the White Horse, East Ham, began when, aged nine, I decided to cut my own hair just before we went on holiday!

Hopefully, your new year resolution(s) are still on track – four days into the new year.

On behalf of everyone at Newham Council I would like to wish everyone a happy new year.

It is often said that young people are apathetic about politics. It’s true that election turnout among younger people is lower than among older voters.

It’s been another great year on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I want to thank you for all your support.

Back in the dark days of December 1939, when our country was facing war with Germany, the young Princess Elizabeth, aged just 13, gave her father, the King, a copy of a poem. He was so moved by it that he quoted it in his Christmas broadcast to the Empire.

I’m a well organised woman. You can’t do my job otherwise.

This is a good time of year to talk about uplifting spirits. I speak of the alchoholic variety rather than the religious! Drink has been enjoyed since time immemorial by civilisations around the globe. Of course, before I am lambasted for being irresponsible or insensitive, it has also caused illness and misery and is often behind violent and anti-social behaviour. But for many it has proved to be a welcome social lubricant associated with conviviality, friendship and pleasure.

As the festive season draws closer, I’d like to encourage local people to make sure they know where to go for treatment and health advice over the holidays, as well as to think about some simple steps they can take to stay well this winter.

Once again the sounds of jingle bells are all around us, Christmas lights are shining ever so bright and Christmas trees are the centre of attention for all. It is time to celebrate.

Life continues to be busy on the assembly police and crime committee and Newham has featured heavily in our recent work, which saw the issue of policing and security in and around the London Stadium as a major topic.

You might not have noticed, but there’s an epidemic sweeping this country at the moment with devastating results. It is shortening life-expectancy and destroying people’s quality of life. Doctors diagnose it all the time, and we should all be looking out for it: It’s called loneliness.

Personally, I was not surprised that recent research carried out by the Big Give in to individual giving, found that individuals living in the poorest boroughs (including Newham) give a higher percentage of their income to good causes than those living in more affluent areas.

This week, the branches, unions and affiliated organisations that make up the Newham Labour Party voted that I should be their candidate in the next election to be Mayor.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in the referendum of June 23 was the most significant political moment of our generation.

The Chancellor ended his Autumn Statement saying “We are bold in our vision”.

I’m hugely proud of what we’ve achieved on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but none of this success is possible without the enthusiasm and passion of Newham residents –particularly our amazing Legacy Youth Voice.

We’ve seen all the great work around Children in Need, and it made me think of my children, who are not in need but sometimes thought they were – there are upsides and downsides about having a parent who’s a priest married to another priest, as you can imagine!

This month, I had the honour of representing Humanists at the Remembrance Day ceremony in neighbouring Tower Hamlets. This was a first for me. More importantly it was, so far as I’m aware, the first time that those without a religious faith have been officially represented at the ceremony in that borough.

Back in the 1980s, my mum was a Tate and Lyle shop steward. She told me about her campaign to gain parity for women workers: equal pay for work of equal value. She felt she’d been unsuccessful and believed the work of women was continually undervalued.

It has been quite a year. What with Brexit and Trump, you might feel “stirred up” quite enough, but the ancient Christmas tradition of “stir-up Sunday” could help you start Christmas in the right spirit.

I supported an event on November 3, organised by Det Ch Insp Shabnam Chaudhri, entitled Girls Allowed.

It’s not an Olympic legacy to be proud of,” is what Newham Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, said about plans to build three concrete plants and one asphalt plant next to the London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I couldn’t agree more.

As I write, Remembrance Sunday is just a few days away, poppies are on sale and the thoughts of the nation are beginning to be directed to the thousands and thousands of individuals who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during two world wars and many other subsequent armed conflicts, to enable us to enjoy the freedom and quality of life that we all experience today.

I’m very proud to announce that Newham Council has been shortlisted for honours in four key areas at the hotly contested Local Government Chronicle awards.

In April this year not only had I correctly predicted the outcome of the Brexit vote but in relation to the US election I wrote: “Donald Trump will clinch it. He has been totally outrageous to date – racist, sexist and plain stupid – but the Americans love him.”

I attended a concert at Milton Court last weekend.

A few weeks ago when the news of the closing of the Calais “jungle” camp by the French authorities was aired on television, I wasn’t sure what to feel, happy or sad, as we have come to know the place very well, and we almost built a bond with its unfortunate residents.

This month, I’d like to remind everyone living and working in Newham how important it is to make sure that they are using antibiotics in the right way.

The internet has proved to be a “mixed blessing”.

Every time I am on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I’m struck by how much is going on: new housing going up at Chobham Manor, people screaming their way down the slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit, taking part in a free community sports class or exploring the beautiful parklands.

In 2014 I went to the doctor. I thought I’d injured my knee whilst exercising and spent weeks icing and elevating the leg, as instructed, in the hope of improvement.

They shall not pass! was the call that brought out 300,000 east Londoners in 1936 to protest against attempts by Mosley’s Blackshirts to stage a provocative hate-filled march through the East End.

As an individual who passionately believes the best and most effective ways to eradicate poverty and achieve equality for all is through education that leads to employment, I am dismayed that once again there is an attempt to introduce grammar schools which will be for the select few and not enable the social mobility the government would like you to believe.

A couple of days after the referendum, once David Cameron had resigned, but before anyone else had put their name forward to be prime minister, I was interviewed on CNBC news. The final question I was asked, was who I thought should be the new leader of the Conservative Party.

One thing for which East Enders are known is surely our love of a good story!

A hospital not far from here is offering “dignity bags” to people suffering bereavements.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last week outlined plans for more river crossings in the east and south east of London over the next decade to improve travel across the capital and support the area’s economic development. I welcome his commitment as there is an unequivocal need for river crossings in east London.

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