Weekends like the one just gone remind me of how proud I am to live in Peterborough, and I wanted to use my column to highlight two incredibly important campaigns that I was honoured to be a part of last weekend, writes MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes.
Anybody who was out in the city centre last weekend will have either been on, or seen, the fantastic Peterborough Pride parade. It was a pleasure to attend with LGBT+ Labour and spend the afternoon celebrating the diversity and inclusion of Peterborough.
I am under no illusion that many constituents were disappointed by the voting record of our previous Member of Parliament on the LGBT+ issues in Parliament earlier this year. I understand that it is vital that the LGBT+ community in Peterborough has a representative who champions them both in Parliament and in Peterborough.
The Guardian analysis from last month illustrated a surge in homophobic and transphobic hate crimes across the country. The threat of verbal attacks, violence and hostility in day-to-day situations has increased at a worrying pace. What this makes explicitly clear is that the fight for equality is not over. That is why it was such an honour to stand in solidarity with all my LGBT+ constituents.
Peterborough Pride is growing year on year – and after months of planning and hard work by the organisers, it made me incredibly proud to see such a fantastic event on our streets celebrating our city’s LGBT+ community. Hope can beat hate when we stand together in solidarity.
The second notable occasion from last weekend was Armed Forces Day – a day to commemorate those service personnel and their families who sacrifice so much in the service of our country.
It was again, an honour, to meet local serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans on the weekend, to not only thank them for their dedication, but also emphasise that as their Member of Parliament, I am deeply concerned about how our Armed Forces are being treated by this government.
For the sacrifices Armed Forces personnel make, it is simply unacceptable that a starting salary for an Army private has taken a £1,200 real-terms cut since 2010. Moreover, the lack of support for servicemen and women in the realms of mental health and housing mean that they being left behind by the government’s obsession with austerity.
Is this how we should be treating those whose sole duty it is to protect us?
This is why I am happy to see the Labour Party commit to scrapping the public sector pay cap so that every recruit will get a fair wage, as well as providing decent housing for personnel and families.
We must also tackle the creeping privatisation seen in our military – with companies keen to make profits whilst at the same time failing to hit targets.
Two separate events, one common denominator: being proud of Peterborough. Thank you to everyone I met for such a moving weekend which I will not forget in a hurry.