WEARSIDE women have a new campaigner in their corner as Sunderland’s MPs win promotion in Parliament.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has been asked by Labour leader Ed Miliband to take on a wide-ranging role as a spokeswoman on women, families and equality issues.
Meanwhile, Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson has been made a Labour whip, and there was a promotion for Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, who joined Labour’s frontbench shadowing the department for energy and climate change.
In her new role as Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, Mrs Hodgson will work with Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero on holding Government departments to account for the impact of policies and spending reductions, and to lead the Labour Party’s policy review on discrimination against and support for new mums.
The brief also covers other issues relating to equality, including same sex marriage.
Mrs Hodgson is moving from her previous role as Shadow Children and Families Minister, which she has held since October 2010, and where she played a key role in helping devise Labour’s recent announcements on wrap-around childcare in schools and an extra 10 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds from working families.
She has led campaigns against cuts to Sure Start, for greater support for young carers and scrutinised the Government’s major reforms of the Special Educational Needs system.
The Wearside MP said: “I’m really excited to take on this role. I’ve had three great years in the education team and have seen a lot of policy work come to fruition in the last year, so I’m looking forward to a new challenge and particularly concentrating more on how a future Labour Government can better support new families.
“While millionaires are enjoying their tax cuts, new mums in particular have borne the brunt of this Government’s cuts and policy changes, including real terms reductions in maternity pay and the abolition of a number of grants which previously helped women during pregnancy and the first years of their child’s life.”
Ms Phillipson and Ms Elliott have also been celebrating their promotions.
“Delighted to have joined @UKLabour’s shadow ministerial team. Thanks for all the well wishes,” Ms Elliott told her followers on Twitter.
Ms Phillipson also thanked her Twitter followers for their kind wishes and said it was a “privilege” to join the team.