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Show support to Portsmouth’s tourism online urges says city MP in virtual English Tourism Week

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is showing support for the first ever “virtual” English Tourism Week, backing the industry and highlighting its importance to the local economy.

Overall the tourism industry in Portsmouth supports about 12,500 jobs and brings around £40 million to the local economy year on year. Between 2016 and 2018 an average of 658,000 domestic overnight trips were taken to Portsmouth per year, and in 2018  the top overseas tourism markets for Portsmouth were Germany, France and the Czech Republic.

English Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the tourism industry, a week dedicated to showcasing England’s tourism offer. For this year’s virtual activities, respecting lockdown restrictions, took place between 25-31 May. Stephen Morgan MP has been working with VisitEngland to shine the spotlight on the importance of tourism to the local, regional and national economy and pledge their support to the sector’s recovery.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city boasts world-beating museums and historical assists spanning centuries, we must ensure that we all do our bit to preserve them for both the good of our city’s culture and economy.

The Mary Rose Museum, D-Day Story and other major attractions have all taken measures to allow visitors to enjoy their experiences online.

On English Tourism Week, I urge all those who are disappointed not to be out enjoying our city’s attractions to go online and see the outstanding efforts made to ensure some kind of visitor experience remains.”

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said:

“English Tourism Week is all about highlighting the economic benefits that tourism brings to local economies, celebrating our diverse and exciting sector, and showcasing the quality, range and value of English tourism.

“While we cannot run events as usual this year, the spirit of the week has never been more important.  Tourism has been one of the first and hardest hit economic sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s virtual week is dedicated to showing support for the industry, the millions of people who work in it and the hundreds of thousands of businesses impacted.

“It is also about looking towards the future recovery and doing everything we can right now to ensure that tourism can bounce back to once again become one of the most successful and vibrant sectors of the economy.”

Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries, supporting hundreds of thousands of businesses, employing more than 2.6 million people and generating more than £106 billion a year for the English economy.

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking a number of steps amid this pandemic to support Portsmouth’s normally thriving tourism sector.

He has already written to Minister’s on behalf of individual museums to outline financial struggles, asked parliamentary questions on small business support available to cultural assets, and remains in communication with the management of the city’s tourism sector.

For more information about this year’s virtual English Tourism Week please see: https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week

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Covid-19: Report reveals surge in city’s unemployment claims even greater than previously thought

Independent research conducted by the House of Commons Library has found that ‘unadjusted’ unemployment claims amid Covid-19 in Portsmouth South have drastically risen.

The unadjusted claimant count includes those who were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or were claiming Universal Credit and are required to seek work.

The figures show that in Portsmouth South, unadjusted unemployment claimants were a staggering 123% higher in April 2020 than April 2019. They also reveal that there was a 66% surge between March 2020 and April 2020. The stats also reveal that Portsmouth has been hit 8% harder than the UK national average.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The fact we are in a crisis means that we should allow for a slight increase in unemployment claimants, but there is truly no excuse for a 123% surge within just a year. These figures also reveal that Portsmouth South is being hit harder than the rest of the UK. Time after time, our community bears the brunt of Tory austerity.

Behind each figure is a family forced to live on far less and people struggling under the financial pressures of this crisis.

Countless constituents have got in touch with me to express that they aren’t eligible for government support. From not being covered because they are paid in dividends to not being eligible for furlough, people are falling through the gaps.”

These unadjusted figures include those who were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or were claiming Universal Credit and are required to seek work. Unlike the ‘alternative count’ the ‘unadjusted count’ is not adjusted to consider the roll-out of Universal Credit.

This gives a more accurate picture of how the number of claimants has changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and shows the scale of the problem is actually far greater.

Labour is calling on the government to agree five urgent social security measures to provide immediate support to people affected by the coronavirus crisis:

  • Convert Universal Credit advances into grants instead of loans, ending the five-week wait
  • Remove the £16,000 savings limit which disqualifies individuals from accessing Universal Credit
  • Suspend the benefit cap
  • Abolish the two-child limit in Universal Credit and tax credits
  • Uprate legacy benefits to match the increase in Universal Credit, providing an immediate increase in Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment Support Allowance

Mr Morgan added:

“I have already written to the Chancellor twice, submitted a string of written questions, backed Labour’s calls for urgent social security measures and continue to help individuals with casework relating to a lack of financial support.

We all want government to get this right. We all lose if they do not. I will continue to constructively highlight where gaps in their support exist and lobby hard for more far reaching financial packages. My work goes on in parliament holding this government to account for its substandard social security record.”

Figures for both series (unadjusted and alternative) are available on the House of Commons Library’s dashboard:

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/social-policy/welfare-pensions/benefits/constituency-data-people-claiming-unemployment-benefits/

 

 

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Portsmouth MP pleads with constituents to respect restrictions

Responding to recent concerns from constituents about anti-social behaviour and people not following social distancing guidance on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls and in parks across the constituency, ahead of the Bank Holiday Stephen Morgan MP has written an open letter to all residents urging continued ‘respect for the lockdown restrictions’.

In the personal letter, published on all social media platforms on Saturday morning, the city MP pleads with constituents by saying:

“As we approach another sunny Bank Holiday, we must redouble these efforts. If we fall at the last hurdle, we could face months more social distancing measures and run the risk of harm to our loved ones”. 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Open letter

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister says troops ‘let down’ in response to armed forces attitudes survey

The annual armed forces continuous attitude survey (AFCAS) is one of the main ways to gather information on the views and experiences of our personnel. For the tenth year running, it has shown government’s failure to address declining satisfaction and morale.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, has called out Ministers for failing to address these deeply concerning numbers and drawn attention to the outstanding role our armed forces are continuing to do amid this pandemic.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“Since this government came to power, they have failed to address a growing feeling of dissatisfaction and dwindling morale among our armed forces.

Year on year the attitude survey has revealed deep set failings which government is yet to act on. I am deeply concerned that our troops are being let down.

Our armed forces deserve so much more than dwindling satisfaction in pay, morale and general wellbeing. It is high time that troop satisfaction reflects the amount the nation relies upon them.”

Commenting on the release of the annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“Crude Conservative defence cuts have undermined the wellbeing of our armed forces.

“These figures show a decade of discontent under the Tories, with satisfaction with military life, pay and pensions all falling since 2010.

“After years of neglect, Ministers must now rebuild military morale.”

The information from this survey helps shape policies for training, support, and the terms and conditions of service. It is also a useful indicator or how armed forces personnel feel, data usually difficult to obtain.

The 2020 survey published yesterday revealed that satisfaction with service life in general has fallen from 60% in 2010 to 45% in 2020, personal morale has fallen from 52% expressing high morale in 2010 to 41% in 2020 and satisfaction with basic pay has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 39% in 2020.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Beyond revealing a decade of failure to address troops’ concerns, the survey paints a damning picture of how government treats a service the nation is relying on it its time of need.

Armed Forces personnel are delivering for nation amid Covid-19 by helping administer PPE, setting up test centres, and aiding local authorities. It is a grave injustice that this government relies on them so heavily but refuses to act on their grievances for a decade.

I will continue to work with colleagues in applying pressure to Ministers to act on the findings of this survey and address the needs of our armed forces.”

The annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey has been openly published and is available: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/armed-forces-continuous-attitude-survey-2020

 

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Covid-19: How Portsmouth’s services are working hard to keep us safe this weekend

Following concerns raised with Stephen Morgan MP over recent days about anti-social behaviour on Southsea Common, the Hotwalls, other public spaces including parks in Milton, Fratton, and across the whole constituency, Stephen continues to take action on behalf of constituents to ensure the police, council and other bodies are doing all they can to address issues.

As result of further conversations, lobbying and liaison with senior officers today, the following is an update on efforts by key public services and what we can expect this weekend for the Bank Holiday to manage the situation:

Hampshire Constabulary efforts

 Stephen is in regular contact with the District Commander and his senior leadership team and receives a full briefing on the police’s response to the coronavirus crisis weekly.

The police locally have dedicated Covid patrol teams, who will be resourced for Portsmouth this weekend. They also have response and patrol teams with a patrol plan to focus upon locations, where the community have guided the force to consider in relation to groups gathering and breaches of Covid-19 guidance compliance taking place.

Community Wardens will also be patrolling across the city including supporting the Hotwalls area and Southsea Common.

Working with the city council additional security will be provided in some locations and a community advisers foot team will be pro-active in engaging with the public again on social distancing.

Street Pastors will also be providing support engaging with members of the public, and the Ministry of Defence police will be on duty assisting across the constituency.

Portsmouth City Council efforts

Stephen has also been liaising with the city council over what they can do to address issues being raised.  Officers have assured me they are very aware of the gathering of groups in recent days but inform me the vast majority of users of both the seafront and parks spaces are families and the general public practicing effect social distancing which having picnics, BBQs or taking exercise.

The council are taking forward our concerns with some additional measures to ensure public open spaces are as safely accessible as possible.

They have arranged a wide range of staff to be present across the seafront and city parks and specifically this weekend there will be officers supporting and responding to any physical damage all across the seafront from beach huts to notice boards; teams managing the deployment of resources across the open spaces; grounds maintenance providing the cleansing service across the grassed areas; a Community Advisor team – walking patrols who operate from the Hotwalls to Canoe Lake offering pro-active advice on social distancing and general information and the Seafront Management responsive to issues as they arise

In addition to these, council staff at PCC have also contracted additional security to have a presence at the Hotwalls area, especially when we feel the weather and tides are likely to be attractive to visitors. They are scheduled to have a presence in this area throughout the weekend.

On top of this they have are deploying 350+ additional high visibility signs to support social distancing right across the seafront area. The signs are gradually being enhanced with further messaging to support the recent government changes to how people can use spaces, and these are being rolled out from today.

The council’s social media will also remain very active from encouraging only sensible involvement in water activities in light of there currently being no lifeguard presence across the seafront, to ensuring the public are clear on the road closures.  The road closures remain in place to support safer social distancing and to support the increased numbers of cyclists using the seafront area.  A specific Bank Holiday campaign is asking people to please follow the guidance, stay home as much as they can – and do not visit Portsmouth yet.

The council has instigated a daily checking of provision such as beach huts and sites where fitness equipment is located, again to ensure the correct messaging out to the public and also to ensure that any fencing or closure measures we have had to put in place remain secure.

We are very aware of the gathering of groups of young men on the Common in the last couple of days but up the vast majority of users of both the seafront and parks spaces are families and the general public practicing effect social distancing which having picnics, BBQs or taking exercise.

What enforcement powers do authorities have?

The police and local authorities have the powers to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply with them. If you breach these regulations, the police may: instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse; instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so; or; take you home, or arrest you, where they believe it necessary

The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures and we expect the public to act responsibly, staying at home in order to save lives.

However, if the police believe that you have broken the law – or if you refuse to follow their instructions enforcing the law – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £120 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a maximum of £960.

Stephen understands the government are keeping this under review and will increase the penalties if necessary to ensure compliance.

Update on incidents in recent days

Four people have been arrested following a public order incident at Southsea Common. Officers were called at 6.09pm on Thursday 21 May to a report of a fight amongst a large group of people. Shortly afterwards, we received a report that a group of males were trying to gain access to a property in Nightingale Road. Officers arrived and four people were arrested.

Those arrested are:

  • A 21-year-old man from Essex, arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place
  • Two 17-year-old boys from Portsmouth, both arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply
  • A 16-year-old boy from Portsmouth, arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply

All four remain in police custody. A meat cleaver and bottles were seized. Three boys attended Queen Alexandra Hospital following this incident. No serious injuries were reported.

As a result of this incident and the associated anti-social behaviour, a dispersal order has been authorised, which will run from 4pm today (Friday 22 May) until 3:59pm on Sunday 24 May and covers the areas of Southsea Common and immediate surrounding roads and The Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth.

The order gives a police officer the power to order a person to leave the area for a 48-hour period with no return. Refusal to comply with the order is a criminal offence.

The order, which has to be authorised by a police inspector, is made under the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Section 34).

Government support to Portsmouth

Stephen continues to lobby Government to make sure local public services have the resources they need to respond to the pandemic. He remains concerned by how stretched local services are and the impact this has. He has written to the relevant Secretary of State to urge for the department to give the council and police extra power and resources to deal with the anti-social behaviour being undertaken in the constituency. He will continue to work with others on this important lobbying work.

Separately the Government have published new guidance on enforcement this week which Stephen is keen to ensure local service providers utilise as quickly as possible.

Updated 23 May 2020 at 08.00

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs ‘Pompey Street Space’ campaign and wastes no time promoting the plan in Parliament

Backing efforts by local groups and community representatives, Stephen Morgan MP today took action in support of the new Pompey Street Space campaign as part of his ongoing work to tackle the city’s climate emergency

Launching this morning, the Pompey Street Space is a newly formed campaign calling for the council to make our city safe for residents to walk, wheel, shop and cycle whilst keeping 2m apart. Since the lockdown the number of residents walking and cycling has risen hugely. The cleaner air, more audible bird song and peaceful streets have been a revelation for many of how our city could be.

The city MP is encouraging Government through the hybrid-Parliament to ‘lock-in’ the emission reducing practices that the city has adopted amid Covid-19. 

While Mr Morgan has been taking action to promote active travel in the city for some time. Today he threw his weight behind the Pompey Street Space campaign in signing a collective letter to the local authority and raising the community campaign in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Active travel uptake amid this crisis has increased by up to 125% on some days. This shows that our city is capable of making decisive efforts to change behaviours and in turn, tackle climate change.

Now it is up to government to seize the opportunity and ensure Portsmouth people can continue to use green travel free from fear and with confidence. That means putting an end to the piecemeal approach to transport infrastructure and allowing councils rapid access to new vital funds.

Social, economic and environmental returns to active travel investment will be seen almost immediately. I will continue to take action with others to promote greener travel and look forward to supporting the work of Pompey Street Space to make this vision a reality.”

Active travel – such as walking and cycling – has soared amid the pandemic while traffic has seen around a 60% decline, slashing harmful emissions.

Portsmouth is the fourth most congested city in the UK and one of the worst outside London. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation have deemed current city pollution levels as ‘illegal’, while Friends of the Earth have described them as ‘Dangerous’. This means an increased risk to 11,000 people living the city who have heart and respiratory conditions.

Local climate activist Nick Sebley said:

“Stephen has been a solid ambassador on climate issues since his election and we welcome his support for the Pompey Street Space campaign.

We are presented with a unique opportunity to make our community fitter, healthier and greener. Portsmouth people have shown they have what it takes to be pioneers in addressing the climate emergency, it now falls on government’s shoulders to ensure the continuation of these practices.”

The community-led campaign is calling for the council to take three important steps immediately:

  1. Widen narrow pavements in busy streets so that people can keep two metres apart whilst walking, queuing for shops etc.
  2. Create a comprehensive city-wide network of roads that give priority to cyclists and pedestrians
  3. Create more commuter cycle routes to allow people who usually travel by public transport to get quickly and safely to work by bike.

Mr Morgan added: 

“As we emerge from this crisis, we cannot go head first into another. Climate change poses a real and severe threat to life that disproportionately effects people in our community.

Government has a duty to listen to the calls of trailblazing campaigns, like Pompey Street Space, to create the right conditions in communities that will allow green and active travel to continue to thrive. For that reason I wanted to flag this new initiative from our city to Ministers today.

According to the Government’s own research, at least £6bn of extra funding is required to meet their own targets of doubling cycling by 2025.

If Ministers are serious about active travel, then they need to get serious about investing in communities like Portsmouth”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a long running history of climate change action. He has hosted Brompton along with Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to promote active travel, hosted major public events with expert speakers to share best practice, regularly speaks out at local events, has worked in conjunction with XR and Friends of the Earth and continues to raise issues in Parliament.

 

 

 

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“Still work to do in tackling discrimination in armed forces” says Shadow Armed Forces Minister

Today – Sunday 17 May – on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP praises progress made since the ban on serving was lifted but says there’s no room for complacency until all LGBT personnel can ‘thrive without fear of who they are’.

Since discriminatory rules were struck down by the European Court of Human Rights, the nation’s armed forces have launched major reforms to become LGBT inclusive, with all four branches of the British military – the Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Marines all marching together at Pride in London, dedicated recruitment campaigns launched, and efforts to challenge fears of homophobic attitudes.

These efforts have praised all services for their diversity and inclusion work in recent years, with all three making it into the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list.

Recognising the progress made, Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“IDAHOBIT gives us the opportunity to reflect on progress made in tackling hatred and discrimination affecting the LGBT community, and also take stock the challenges still to overcome.

20 years ago, Labour lifted the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces.

Since then, from dedicated staff networks to all services marching at Pride, from senior army officers being the face of Stonewall campaigns to our military services being recognised as amongst the best places to work, our armed forces have been on a long journey from a ban to being a beacon of best practice for the LGBT workforce”.

In a report commissioned last year by the armed forces, Air Chief Marshall Wigston found that a third of LGBT service people had faced negative comments or behaviour from colleagues because of their sexual orientation while at work, whilst the continuous attitude survey reports that 12 per cent of those surveyed were the victims of bullying, harassment or discrimination in the past year, but only six per cent made a formal complaint.

Evidence reflected in this report indicates a significant number of people in the military have experienced discrimination but have not felt able or been able to come forward to report it. The Armed Forces Ombudsman also found this week that the armed forces service complaints system is not ‘effective, efficient or fair’.

The challenges ahead, Shadow Armed Forces Minister added:

“While significant progress has been made, there’s still some way to go to ensure no individual faces hatred or discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and all LGBT personnel feel safe and free to be themselves.

That means continued efforts on education, leadership development and creating a culture in the forces where everyone can thrive without fear of who they are.

There’s no room for complacency. Today acts as a call to action for everyone who supports equality in our armed forces, and in wider society.”

 

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Stephen Morgan MP: Fight for equality far from over

Sunday 17 May marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), a day of celebration to mark the anniversary of the decision, in 1990, to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organisation.

This year’s anniversary comes at time of rising hate crime committed against the LGBT community and a third of LGBT people reporting that they are scared to display public affection for ‘fear of violence’.

There has been much widespread criticism of the way in which hate crime cases are dealt with under the current Government. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has found inadequate responses in 89 of 180 cases it reviewed.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has been campaigning for some time for greater government action to stop the increase in hate crime in society.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

Today’s anniversary represents a global annual landmark drawing attention to the tenacity and strength of the LGBT rights movement, the battles fought and won, and the struggles ahead.

Against the backdrop of rising hate crime, last year’s string of heinous public attacks and a rise in right-wing populism, mean that this show of solidarity is needed more than ever.

In highlighting to the public, businesses, local authorities and media the discrimination still affecting the LGBT community, today is a reminder that we must come together to say to government that complacency will not be tolerated when it comes to hate.”

The rate of LGBT hate crime per capita rose by 144% between 2013-14 and 2017-18. In the most recent year of data, police recorded 11,600 crimes, more than doubling from 4,600 during this period.

Hate crimes against transgender people have nearly quadrupled in the last five years, to 2,333 reports last year, whilst campaign group Stonewall said 81% of people who experienced LGBT hate crime did not report it to the police.

The Portsmouth South MP has said that with increased pressures amid Covid-19 and Pride celebrations later this year cancelled across Britain, the need for continued action is greater than ever.

The city MP added:

“Portsmouth’s growing Pride festivities have understandably been curtailed due to Covid-19. With the backdrop of increasing hate crime, we cannot allow this to deter us as a city from marking LGBT achievements and campaign for the protections still needed.

We must also see leadership from government in addressing this surge in hate crime plaguing our society and a focus on increasing people’s confidence in reporting hate crimes with people knowing they will be treated seriously by public bodies.

I will continue to work with others on this issue of concern and put pressure on government where further action is needed.”

 

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Resilience and recovery. Why the lessons learnt from VE Day go beyond the events of 1945.

We are unable to leave our homes. Our public services are creaking under the weight of a pandemic. There is no notion of what comes next, and we are all concerned about the wellbeing of our loved ones. Why is it so important for us to spend time thinking about events that took place long before most of us were even born?

Over 450,000 British men, women and children died in World War Two. The majority of them in the European theatre or as a result of bombing raids launched from the continent. Without this unfathomable sacrifice, the surrender of the most tyrannical regime the world has ever seen would not have taken place. Time does not erode the significance of this event, and in celebrating and reflecting, we preserve the actions of those before us. As the number of people with living memory of the events slowly slip away, the importance of commemoration grows. Not only for their sake, but for the sake of future generations who can draw vital lessons from actions that took place 75 years ago.

Lessons of resilience and stories of recovery have the ability to instil in us the hardy mentality that saw this country through the darkest period in its history. Many of the hard-fought freedoms secured by the actions of those during World War Two are the ones we find ourselves without today. Most are unable to leave their homes, loved ones are at risk of harm, and spending time with those close to us is impossible for many. In taking stock of the actions performed by those during World War Two, we will find the strength to deal with the present. The continuation of celebrations act as a reminder. This country has overcome hardship before, and we can do it again.

Reflecting on the events that unfolded in the wake of VE Day highlight that when backed into a corner and pushed to our limits, Britain is capable of transforming society for the better. The 1945 Labour landslide secured by Clement Attlee brought with it a of tide of radical social policy that has indisputably enriched our society and changed the political landscape indefinitely. Our much-cherished National Health Service, cradle to grave welfare, modern day workers’ rights and efforts to tackle wealth disparity are all firm foundations helping to fight the crisis today, borne out of the crisis 75 years ago. Spending some time thinking about this reminds the nation that we are capable not just of overcoming hardship but transforming society for the better.

The lessons learnt by celebrating VE Day go beyond inspiration and commemoration. They also help us learn the value of working together. On 8 May, standing before an ecstatic sea of people stretching from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace, Prime Minister Winston Churchill leant from the Ministry of Health balcony and declared “This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole”. Why is this important? Because it shows that in times of crisis, we must come together to fight a common enemy.

There is a great deal more that unites us in this country than divides us. Understanding the intrinsic nature of putting differences aside will help us now in the battle against this pandemic. Bombs in the Blitz did not discriminate, neither does Covid-19. A united front helped defeat the former, it falls on our shoulders to make sure it defeats the latter too.

Between 1939 and 1945, 383,700 British armed forces personnel laid down their lives in the fight against tyranny. 75 years later, in the midst of a very different crisis, they are still delivering for Britain. From supplying PPE to frontline staff to supporting local authorities and the NHS, three quarters of a century on our military personnel are standing up to be counted in our time of need. We owe it to all generations of service people to celebrate their actions and remind them that we recognise all they have done, and all they are doing.

So, as we hit the 75th anniversary of VE Day, celebrations are more important than ever. Lessons of resilience and fortitude can be learnt from the adversity faced by past generations. Radical social change and transformation prompted by the crisis then can help us forge new paths of compassion now. Stories of cooperation and alliance show us the benefit of putting differences aside. Covid-19 has not lessened the importance of our VE Day commemorations. It has enhanced it. The bunting must go up. The photo albums must be opened, and the stories must be passed on.

Now more than ever, as a nation, we must come together and celebrate safely in whatever way we can.

Stephen Morgan MP writing for Politics Home marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day

 

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Portsmouth MP urges people to “pocket memories” of VE Day in call for photos and stories

Stephen Morgan MP is encouraging Portsmouth residents to share their family members’ short stories and photos of celebration marking the end of the Second World War.

The call has also been put out to share memories of Portsmouth at the time, as part of the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day later this week.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister has already called on residents to get creative and celebrate safely. Now he has urged fellow city residents to mark the occasion by gathering photos, stories and memories from those who lived through the war as a legacy of the commemorations.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“During the D-Day 75 commemorations last year, my family and I enjoyed looking through my late grandfather’s collection of photos from his time in the Royal Army Service Corp, and the images of him as a veteran with my grandmother enjoying life together in Southsea after the war.

Reflecting on these memories not only acts as window into the world as seen by our loved ones, it also paints a picture of the war that shaped everything as we know it.

The more we can do to understand the sacrifice and experiences of that generation, the better equipped we will be to take on the challenges we face today”.

Initially memories provided to the Portsmouth MP will be shared online and depending on the volume received, may be used for archive purposes to help record the city’s commemorations.

On the ask for memories from Portsmouth residents, the MP added:

“At this time of crisis for our country, I want to make sure everyone in Portsmouth has a way to pay tribute to the contributions generations before us made for the peace and freedoms we enjoy today.

Our city played a crucial part in the allied victory, a price we paid for heavily in the bombing campaigns. Sharing memories and photos of this time helps us to understand the significant damage done to our city and how much has been done to rebuild it. Portsmouth featured heavily in Britain’s post war planning and reconstruction.

Despite today’s challenging circumstances, we as a city must be proud of our past and ensure that these men and women are always remembered.

To help mark the 75th anniversary in our city, I am asking constituents to share with me just a couple of sentences of a story or memory, or a photo if you have one, to remember a loved one and give thanks for everyone who fought for our country.

I hope as many people as possible will help me pocket our city’s past memories of VE Day and find a way to take part”.

Contributions of all kinds should be emailed to stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk for collation by volunteers between now and Saturday 9 May 2020.

The Royal British Legion Industries are also encouraging members of the public to mark the anniversary by placing 25cm tall ‘Tommy in the window’ figures at www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/teaching-remembrance