The "How low can they go on eroding public trust" edition

Your weekly update from Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party. 

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Public trust in politics and politicians is vital. Sadly this week what little remains of that trust has been deeply eroded.

The behaviour of Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith, whose order to MPs to breach pairing arrangements for the crucial Brexit votes,  was a deep low.

Not only did Smith break his word and, if the Conservative MP who spoke to The Sun is to be believed, lied to colleagues while apparently misleading the Prime Minister.

From forcing seriously ill MPs into the Commons in their wheelchairs, carrying sick buckets, to cheating new mum Jo Swinson out of her vote, his behaviour is unacceptable.

As I told Sky News, at such a crucial time for our country, people expect candour and decency, not cowardice and dishonesty.

Sadly the Tories now have repeated form for showing contempt for Parliament and our democracy.  Just read this excellent round-up from the HuffPo.

As I write this, despite repeated calls for Smith to resign or be sacked, he remains in post.  For every day he continues to do so, he further taints Theresa May and her government.

Giving in to temptation


On Saturday night I found myself in a field of can check out the result here.



Forward with the veterans


I’m pleased to report that the medal campaign which I launched in Parliament with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association and the Daily Mirror has taken a firm step forward.

The Defence Secretary has agreed to refer the campaign to the Government medals committee - a decision which I warmly welcome. But this mustn't be kicked into the long grass. The vets have waited 60 years for any recognition and their medal needs to be given now, before it is too late.

A new study into the health of the veterans is also good news. It is imperative that it explores the health of their children and grandchildren, an issue which for far too long has been ignored.

A seat for culture

I make no apologies for banging on about the importance of the UK's digital, culture and creative industries.

But their future prosperity is at stake if we fall out of the single market with no trading access for services.

That's why I have written to the Prime Minister urging her to recognise these sectors - which contributed a massive £248 billion to our economy last year and employ 2m people - by appointing the new Culture Secretary to the government's Brexit sub-committee.

It's completely short-sighted to refuse our world-beating creatives - drawn from digital, film, music, theatre, gaming, advertising, fashion, media, publishing and so much more - a representative at the top table.

At the third time of asking, I am hoping Mrs May will agree.

Pressing the right button

Girls will no longer just think, ‘Oh, I could be a companion’, says new Dr Who Jodie Whittaker.

No longer someone who needs rescuing, someone who presses the wrong button, someone who is enthralled by the man at her side.

Admittedly, women still only have 8.3% representation among the Doctors - but after 900 years of time and space it's well overdue.

And the good news....she can always regenerate again!

Dying for a Coke

Imagine a town where it's easier, and almost as cheap, to get Coca Cola than water. Then imagine a population drinking two litres of Coke a day - containing almost SIXTY teaspoons of sugar - to quench their thirst.

Then don't be surprised to hear that Type 2 diabetes is the second biggest killer in this impoverished Mexican state, home to the Coca Cola bottling plant that sucks the water from the wells.

This brilliant, but terrifying, despatch from The New York Times tells us all we need to know about the sick, profiteering-before-public-health motives of the giant food conglomerates. Coca Cola is literally killing people.

Closer to home


If you missed my report on last Sunday’s BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour about fats and sugars in our diet, my fear of dying early, and how I’ve lost 96lbs in weight, it’s not too late!

You can listen to the whole programme here or there's a short clip by clicking the pic.

Bringing it home

Last Sunday, as the England team returned from Russia, I was delighted to announce Labour's support for an England-led bid to host the 2030 World Cup. Where better to celebrate the centenary of the World Cup than in the nation where football was born.


Figuring fiction


A powerful yet predictably disappointing study reveals just one per cent of children's books published in the UK feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic.

As author Nikesh Shukla notes: “When you’re figuring out the world, being able to see yourself in books, as well as people who don’t look like you, is really important. A kid should be able to imagine themselves as anyone in the world."

It's time our fictional heroes, wizards, detectives, space explorers and adventurers reflected our society today - not society as it was 100 years ago.

…and here’s the (diversity) news


Meanwhile ITN has voluntarily published pay gap figures showing staff from black, Asian or ethnic minority receive on average four-fifths of the wage their white colleagues receive.

These are very disappointing figures. But the news company's transparency and its pledge to eradicate the gap, with targets across all levels of the business, is welcome.

I'm particularly struck by the statement that no bonuses will be awarded to senior management unless they achieve their diversity and gender pay targets. It's rare to see such social responsibility in the boardroom and it should be applauded.

Urban artist

If you're passing through Sandwell, please pop in on the exhibition of the late Birmingham artist Kath Munro.

Her urban landscapes are something to behold. Her work is on display at The Art Yard in Cradley Heath until July 28th.

Click on the pic for a video about her work. 

Save our Staffies

I know what wonderful, loving and loyal companions Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be. They are also a great part of our country's animal-loving heritage.

But they are under threat from campaigners - not because they are dangerous but because some humans choose to abuse then abandon them.

To impose a breeding ban, leading to their extinction in the UK, would be a tragic and inappropriate knee-jerk act.

The people who abuse and abandon Staffies are the problem - not the dogs.

Please sign here.

Good vibrations

It’s been such a grim week in politics that I’ve cheered myself up and made a long summer holiday playlist. I make no apology that they are some of the all-time classics of the last 40 years. 

Just listening to it makes me realise how good it is to be alive. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll add a few more to it over the next few weeks.