Amongst various meetings, briefings etc yesterday I popped into the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Guns, Gangs and Knife Crime. Massive meeting with lots and lots of young people – excellent!
The APPG is chaired by Dawn Butler – a Labour MP. I could only stay for half and hour – and Vernon Coker (the Labour Minister) certainly made a decent speech. Various members of the audience contributed too – in the usual way.
But looking around the audience I noticed they all had a printed piece of literature in front of them – pinky purple in colour. Clearly it had been distributed to them – but then I realised what it was – it was Labour Party literature (their pamphlet for young people) including a request to join the Labour Party.
Well – this is a no no! APPGs are just that – non-partisan – but you can’t get much more partisan than handing out leaflets praising one party! Indeed, it is strictly against the rules to distribute party literature. The Conservative member of the panel is writing to the Speaker and when I spoke to him later that night in Parliament he said that there were three other serious transgressions which he would also report. I had also reported it to our Chief Whip to take further.
Just before the meeting I met a very genuine and successful peace campaigner who works tirelessly with young people – but who was leaving rather than going to the meeting. I asked why he was leaving and he said because he couldn’t sit through another one of those meetings where people just talk – not again.
I still think these type of meetings are worth having – even if they are mostly talk – as they engage quite a lot of young people and the more people we can engage the better. But it’s just not on to use young people as Labour fodder. And that is what the whole thing looked like to me. Anyway – I’m going to meet up on my own with this peace campaigner to see about action not words!