Politically Speaking with Kim Leadbeater: It’s a war I never thought I‘d see in my lifetime

Currently the horrific invasion of Ukraine is dominating the world’s attention.

By Jane Chippindale
Friday, 4th March 2022, 6:00 am

Kim Leadbeater MP writes: One of the most challenging parts of my job as a Member of Parliament is the wide range of issues I am called on to get involved in. In any one day I can be dealing with local issues like housing and potholes, national policy debates on children’s mental health and the cost of livingcrisis, and international issues in Ukraine, the Middle East or further afield.

This dreadful war is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime and it is a very dangerous time for the whole of Europe, if not the world. Anything we can do – from the toughest sanctions to supplying military equipment and humanitarian aid – we must do. My party has thrown its full support behind the people of Ukraine and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government in its condemnation of Putin’s unprovoked aggression.

Locally I have offered my help and support to Ukrainians living in Batley and Spen, particularly those with loved ones in Ukraine. Like many others, I was disappointed by the UK Government response in terms of allowing Ukrainians visa-free access to this country. This has been particularly tough on people, including constituents who have written to me, with members of their wider families desperate to join them in safety. At times like this we must be totally firm in our support for international law, the defence of democratic freedom, self-determination and human rights.

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The view of a military facility which was destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images

Although the situations are very different I made the same point in Parliament in a debate on the recognition of the State of Palestine; while we demand that our adversaries adhere to these important principles, we should also remind our friends that they apply universally. We should hold political leaders around the world to account and should never become numb to the pain and suffering of our fellow human beings.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Gujarat riots in which thousands of people - Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and others - lost their lives, including members of the Dawood family from here in Batley and Spen. So once again we remember the cost not only of war, but of communal violence on families and communities who are not in any sense combatants but simply want to get on with their daily lives in peace and security.

My own family knows the devastating impact of violence. It casts a long shadow and the pain never completely disappears. The same is no doubt true of the worst kinds of injustice in other ways.

I’m thinking of Alison Hall and her husband Richard who I met with recently. They have suffered unbelievable stress and financial hardship as a result of the national Post Office scandal. Having worked hard to build a successful local business at the heart of their community, through no fault of their own they lost it all. In fact, as well as losing their existing business in Hightown they were also forced to abandon plans to open a new Post Office in Roberttown, so alongside their quite unbelievable personal suffering our communities have also paid a heavy price for this outrageous miscarriage of justice. I will do all I can to support Alison and Richard in their ongoing fight for justice.

We are living through troubling times, but once again the way the local community has responded is magnificent. So many groups and individuals have been raising funds and organising collections of clothing, medical supplies and other equipment for the people of Ukraine. And as we start to emerge from the pandemic, there’s a renewed focus on health and well being for all ages. Healthwatch Kirklees are asking young people to get in touch and let them know what they want to see to help keep them happy and healthy. And it’s great to see the Spen Valley Leisure Centre now open and a shout out to GameChangerz, Streetbikes, and Andy’s Man Club, along with so many others, who are helping us to take care of our mental and physical health.

It’s always a pleasure for me to get out of the office, especially with spring on the way, and I am always happy to hear your views. Over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to what local

people tell me on visits across the constituency. I was at the Royal British Legion and RAFA club in Batley, Jeremy Lane Mosque in Heckmondwike, Batley Bulldogs to discuss their

exciting development proposals, Fairfield School and Roberttown Church, and – a new experience for me – joining Ukelele Dad at Cleckheaton Library. I’m going to be out and about

all across Batley and Spen as much as I can in the coming weeks, so if you see me rushing past please do say hello.

Thanks for reading and take care of yourselves.