West Ham MP Lyn Brown is reflective while Parliament is in recess

PUBLISHED: 09:39 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:39 31 August 2016


Parliament is in recess and it’s a time to reflect on what we achieved over the past session and prepare for the coming challenges.

As a member of the Shadow Home Office team for the last year, I’ve led for the opposition on two major pieces of legislation: the Psychoactive Substances Act and large parts of the Policing and Crime Bill.

My task was to scrutinise Government’s plans line-by-line, working out what they really intended doing and whether we agreed or disagreed. I drew helpful information from hundreds of experts: doctors, charities, police officers, unions, businesses, and academics.

I spent weeks questioning government ministers, forcing them to justify their decisions and, occasionally, very occasionally, persuading them to moderate their plans. All told, during the passage of these two Bills I spoke over 70,000 words. I’ve obviously been in training for this my whole life!

Government ministers say a lot, too. It’s never one-sided. They have hundreds of civil servants and specialist staff preparing their speaking notes and providing briefings. I had to do this all myself, with just a small team and my kitchen table, at weekends. It’s enormously challenging but, when you manage to get changes to damaging government proposals, it’s so rewarding.

This year hasn’t only brought a heavy parliamentary workload. I’ve been out knocking on doors, drumming up support for Sadiq Khan’s mayoral campaign and for the Remain campaign.

Newham voted to remain. Unfortunately, the rest of the country disagreed. Now I’m committed to holding the Brexiteers to account and making them keep their referendum promises. We want that extra £350million-a-week for our NHS!

The EU result sparked a political frenzy, culminating in the coronation of a new Prime Minister. On her first day in the job, Theresa May stood outside Number 10 and promised heal divisions and promote ‘social justice.’ Instead she promoted some really right-wing ministers. Not a great start. David Cameron made the same promises and did not deliver. Will Mrs May change the course of the Conservative Government? I don’t think she will. More from Lyn

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