At the start of my Christmas newsletter last year, I said it had been a
tumultuous year in politics. It's hard to believe that 2020 has been even
more extraordinary in so many ways. It is a year I think none of us will
For too many, it is the year when they lost someone they loved, or saw
their precious business forced to close, or lost their job or home. It has
been an incredibly difficult time when it's often been hard to stay
optimistic about the future. But I have always believed that the
inclination to goodness in hard-wired in people and we saw so many examples
of that this year, with organisations like the Brighton & Hove Food
Partnership and mutual aid networks pulling together  to support the
most vulnerable in our city. We must try to hold on to that sense of
community, and the way people and neighbourhoods came together in
compassion and solidarity, as we face the challenges of 2021.
My work as your MP (often taking part in parliamentary sessions via video
link) has been dominated by the Coronavirus crisis: holding the Prime
Minister and government ministers to account for their response;
challenging the access to vital PPE supplies for hospital and care staff;
supporting people trying to get home  in the early weeks of the crisis;
raising concerns with the Prime Minister  over the failing test, trace &
isolate system; campaigning for better support for businesses impacted by
the crisis; pressing ministers to support the 3 million self-employed 
and small company directors who've been unjustly excluded from support
schemes and securing a backbench debate on the issue ; supporting arts
and cultural venues in their campaign for funding to see them through the
crisis, and more.
This has been an unprecedented challenge which any government would have
struggled with. But the performance of this Prime Minister and his Cabinet
has been dire . The response to infection rates has been too slow,
scientific advice has been ignored, public messaging has too often been
confused and public money has not been well-spent. The Dominic Cummings
episode  in May was shameful - I have seldom seen such an angry response
from constituents who had made difficult sacrifices themselves, and seen
that thrown back in their faces.
THE IMPACT IN BRIGHTON AND HOVE
My inbox has shone a light on the huge range of difficulties that
coronavirus has caused for people in the constituency: accessing Covid
tests and trying to get a prompt result, attempting to get financial
support, accessing food and basic provisions, and more.
I have had regular (virtual) meetings and updates from the local public
health team and others, hearing about, and responding to, the early
struggles they had to acquire PPE, the impact on care homes in the city,
and the challenges of trying to maintain social distancing measures when
the lifting of restrictions and warm sunny weather brought thousands of
visitors  to the city, and packed out the beaches. I have also talked to
many small businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, and heard of
the devastating impact the lockdowns and other restrictions have had on
them. I have consistently pressed the Chancellor for more support on issues
like an extension to business rate relief, the easing of VAT in the tourism
sector , help for the arts  and support for the self-employed .
The Government's procurement process for Covid-related contracts is a real
cause for concern. Huge sums of public money are involved, there is a
worrying lack of transparency and the "fast track" for suppliers with links
to the Tory party are especially disturbing. I am taking legal action ,
together with two other MPs and the Good Law project, over this scandal.
Most recently, we wrote to the Health Secretary asking him to explain who
benefitted from this "fast track" process, and why the companies involved
LEARNING THE LESSONS OF THE PANDEMIC
The Prime Minister has made only vague commitments about an inquiry into
the Government's handling of Coronavirus. But it's clear lessons need to be
learned now. As vice-Chair of the All-Party Group on Coronavirus, I heard
the views of a wide range of people from epidemiologists, local authority
leaders and patients and their families. Our report listed 44
recommendations , starting with the need for a clear exit strategy that
recognises that by saving lives, we also safeguard jobs and the economy. We
also called for local public health teams to lead on tracing operation,
since all the evidence suggests that's far more effective than ever more
CLIMATE & NATURE EMERGENCY
While Coronavirus has rightly grabbed most of the headlines, and much of my
attention, I have also been working hard to address another emergency we
face - the climate and nature crises. At the beginning of this year, I
attended the first meeting of the UK CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY on climate in
Birmingham. It brought out its final report in September, coming up with a
raft of brilliant ideas and showing the public appetite for strong climate
action from the Government which it just isn't delivering.
In early September, I tabled the CLIMATE & ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY BILL, which
sets out a pathway for meeting the temperature goals of the Paris
Agreement, protects nature and biodiversity and provides a critical role
for citizens in how we transition to net zero emissions, as we must. My
Early Day Motion  in support of the Bill continues to gain support.
The Bill is backed, among others, by Extinction Rebellion, who brought
their protests to Parliament in support. I caught up with some of them in
Parliament Square, and later that day joined an amazing line-up of artists
including Sir Mark Rylance, Zadie Smith and George Monbiot in a WRITERS
REBEL event outside the offices of the Global Warming Policy Foundation
which, with other right-wing think-tanks, lobbies against effective climate
OUR FUTURE AFTER CORONAVIRUS
I believe Coronavirus has changed us as a society, but there is the danger
that as soon as the crisis has passed, we will go back to
business-as-before and the need to fire up the economy will over-ride the
need to transition to a better, sustainable future. We need to use this
moment to pivot to a different way of running our society  and economy.
In May, I started a campaign called Green Steps to Better  which set
out the initial steps we should take to build a better, fairer and greener
society after Covid.
As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the Green New Deal, I
spent much of the summer on a project called RESET, talking to people
across the country from members of the public to scientific and economic
experts, about building back better from Covid. Our report  was full of
recommendations on how the Government could build a fairer, greener UK,
creating more than a million jobs in the process. It also showed the public
are way ahead of ministers on the scale of change they want to see when we
emerge from this pandemic.
THE WELLBEING OF FUTURE GENERATIONS
I am sponsoring this important bill, alongside the Big Issue founder, John
Bird, and introduced it in the House of Commons in March. Its aim is to put
the wellbeing of future generations  at the heart of all policy-making,
giving them a voice in today's decision-making. Among the proposals are a
duty on Government to publish national indicators that measure progress
towards wellbeing goals and a duty on all public bodies to balance the
needs of the present with those of the future.
CAMPAIGNING FOR YOUNG HOMELESS AND CARE LEAVERS
I have been campaigning for a change in the rules  on housing allowance
for homeless young people under 25, and for care leavers, securing a
Westminster Hall debate about the discrimination against young people who
get a much lower rate of housing benefit than those over 25. Young people
leaving care, who are especially vulnerable, can initially claim the higher
rate but then lose it on their 22nd birthday - a loss of £330 a month in
Brighton and Hove. I am glad the Government recognised the inequity in this
and is making changes, but is not doing so for three years.
LEGAL ACTION OVER THE RUSSIA REPORT
When the Russia Report was finally published in July, it revealed very
disturbing evidence of likely Kremlin meddling in the UK's electoral
processes over the past six years. Yet it's been brushed aside by the Prime
Minister who is refusing to investment further. Many of us disagree which
is why I and other MPs, together with a non-profit organisation All the
Citizens, are taking legal action  over this response.
BREXIT AND THE AGRICULTURE & TRADE BILLS
Businesses are not only having to deal with Coronavirus - many are also
having to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period 31 December.
Yet at the time of writing, they still don't know exactly what they're
meant to be preparing for.
Two major pieces of legislation have been working their way through
Parliament this year, which are supposed to ready the country for Brexit:
the Trade Bill and the Agriculture Bill. I spoke several times  in the
debate on the TRADE BILL, trying to protect the NHS from back-door
privatisation in any trade deal, and ensure environmental and social
protections were maintained. I also spoke in the opening debate  on the
AGRICULTURE BILL, which will shape food and farming for a generation or
more. While its headline aspiration of linking public money to public goods
is welcome, it does little to address important issues like pesticide use,
the need to transition to agroecology and the role of farming in tackling
NATURAL HISTORY GCSE
A new GCSE in Natural History  is a cause that's been close to my heart
for several years, after first hearing about the initiative from the
naturalist and writer Mary Colwell. It's now come a step closer after a
consultation process by the exam board which is backing it. I hope it will
offered as part of the school curriculum from September 2022.
I was hugely honoured to be given two awards this year. I was the first
recipient of the Judges' Special Recognition Award in the Patchwork MP of
the Year awards, which recognise MPs' work for disadvantaged communities.
And I was among 30 amazing women activists, educators, campaigners and
doers who were named on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour's "Our Planet Power List
It was a real delight, and a welcome relief from politics, to curate an
exhibition at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. The exhibition was called
Brink - a name inspired by one of the exhibits - reflecting my belief that
we are on the brink of a different world with the loss of so much nature
and wildlife. It received quite wide coverage, including in the Apollo arts
magazine . I hope some of you were able to go along and see it.
I've spoken or written about many of these issues over the year, appearing
on BBC, Sky and C4 news programmes as well as local news outlets. I've also
written for the Independent, iNews, New Statesman, Daily Mirror, Huffpost
and others and have a regular column in the Metro.  Thank you to all
those who follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
I wish all of you, and your loved ones, a happy Christmas, and send all my
best wishes for a better, brighter 2021.
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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