Friday, 6 March 2015

If you believe in freedom then join us on Sunday

This Sunday is International Women's Day and I'll be marking it by walking with Helen Pankhurst through London in support of 'Walk In Her Shoes' campaign 

It's a day to remember all women across the world who currently face injustice and inequality. Twelve reasons why you should mark it:
  1. 1 billion women across the world will be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetime
  2. In the UK, women make up 17% of board directors at FTSE 100 companies
  3. In Russia, women are forbidden from working in 400 types of work
  4. In the UK, 70% of people employed in national minimum wage jobs are women
  5. In Madagascar, women are not allowed to work at night
  6. Across the globe, 1 in 9 girls is forced into marriage before her 15th birthday
  7. In Saudi Arabia, women are forbidden from holding a driving licence
  8. Two thirds of women are illiterate world-wide
  9. Marital rape is legal in the Bahamas
  10. In Malta, it is legal for a man to abduct and rape a woman as long as he marries her afterwards
  11. 800 women die in childbirth 
  12. In Syria, a husband can prevent his wife from leaving the country
When women are empowered and have an income, it has been proven that they invest back into their families and communities, driving down hunger, poverty and malnutrition, and improving health, education and well-being. Statistically, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 per cent more likely to survive. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Musings on why the Conservative Party has rediscovered its soul

One of David Cameron’s finest qualities is his ability to bounce back from near oblivion, when the media, pollsters and membership have abandoned all hope. This was a point laboured by the newly installed Chief Whip Michael Gove in the warm-up speech, where he emphasised that leadership is about tough decisions, including telling your own party some uncomfortable home truths.
For the many thousands of delegates who arrived in Birmingham over the weekend, this will be remembered as the conference where problems were turned into solutions and gloom was transformed into optimism.
Across the halls in the ICC and the meeting rooms of the Hyatt Hotel, Cabinet Ministers were preaching to the membership that any defection was a betrayal not just to the party and our people, but to our country. Indeed, this was a conference that for so many obvious reasons seemed set to fail, yet the membership left with fire in their bellies and a clear reason to campaign for a full majority next year.
Up until now, many centre-right columnists had offered praise or support for the likes of Douglas Carswell, revering him as a maverick. Quite how betraying the very people who helped you get elected constitutes noble behaviour seems a mystery to true believers in the Conservative cause.
But then again UKIP is a magnet for political underachievers, who find themselves and their oddball personalities thrust in the limelight; perhaps compensation for their repeated failures in mainstream politics.

The defection of Mark Reckless changed the narrative. From the Prime Minister downwards, every senior Conservative sent a clear message to the membership – that ‘liars and traitors’ have taken them for granted and they should be punished heavily for it...
Read the full article at The Commentator 

Monday, 15 September 2014

If you love Great Britain then sign the Let's Stay Together letter

If you, like me, are a proud patriot, lover of Great Britain and agree that we are better together then please sign the Let's Stay Together letter here

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

This Sunday - Peace Rally against ISIL

If you're free on Sunday and want to see and end to the atrocities in Iraq then come and join thousands of Christians, Jews, Assyrians, Muslims and others calling for an end to this. 

Meeting point is Richmond Terrace, 2pm - 5pm. 

The rally has three specific aims:

(a) A rally for unity, tolerance and to preserve Iraq as a state and the presence of minorities within it. We hope for an united Iraq in which the rights of all its peoples are respected;

(b) A demand for humanitarian assistance and targeted intervention to ensure that the minorities of Northern Iraq are not expunged permanently from their land, and call for the creation of a safe haven in the north of Iraq to protect minorities, using the 1991 international intervention on behalf of the Kurds as a precedent;

(c) Continue to cast light on the atrocities committed by ISIS against minority groups in Iraq, as well as Syria. We believe that ISIS and its extremist ideology represents an immediate threat not only to the peoples in the region but also to the international community and here in the UK.


14:00 Arrival at venue
14:30 Zehra Zaidi, Stand Up and Mardean Isaac, A Demand for Action to introduce Rally
15:00 Speeches to begin. Speakers include:

o Charles Tannock MEP, Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Spokesperson for the UK Conservative Delegation, Chair of EP Friends of Kurdistan, Honorary EP Parliamentary Adviser to the Save the Assyrians Campaign;
o Richard Howitt MEP (Labour, S&D), Labour Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Vice Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee [TBC Tuesday];
o Emma Nicholson (cross bench peer);
o Conor Burns MP (Conservative);
o Stephen Pound MP (Labour);
o Mardean Isaac and Max Joseph (Assyrian Iraqis);
o Sajad jiyad, Al-Khoei Foundation (Shia Iraqi);
o David Taylor, Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford;
o Ben Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
o Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St George's Church, Baghdad (only Anglican church in Iraq) and Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in Middle East [TBC].

16:30 Lords Prayer in Aramaic

16:45 A Demand for Action will present an Open Letter signed by activists, academics and MPs to Number 10 Downing Street 

17:00 End of Rally

*Coaches coming from churches, mosques and community groups need to get in touch re parking on the day.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Africa: The new battleground against Islamic extremism

The brutal and ruthless kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last month shocked the world, leading to condemnation from global leaders including former Prime Minister Tony Blair. But the incident is the latest in a much wider problem of Islamic extremism that is engulfing many African countries.

The continent has long been plagued by challenges of poverty and war, with several countries sharply divided between Christianity and Islam, some moderate and some extreme. I have spent a great deal of time in both East and West Africa and witnessed first-hand varying degrees to which these two religions co-exist. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed worrying examples of the perversion of both religions.
These terrorist attacks have cast a grim shadow over some of Africa’s most forward-looking countries and created an environment of danger that not only threatens the African people, but is putting Britain’s national security at risk. This tragic scenario contrasts heavily with the huge strides made in the continent over the last few years, perfectly summarised by Nigerian novelist and poet Lola Shoneyin when she said, “Look one way and my country is booming. Look another and there's poverty and fear.”
In Kenya last September, 67 people died and over 175 were wounded during the siege in The Nairobi shopping centre. The perpetrators were Somalia-based Al-Shabaab, a group with a frighteningly expanding network of bloodthirsty supporters. This pattern of sporadic and brutal attacks continued in the tourist port town of Mombasa with bombings at a bus stop and The Reef Hotel, killing three people.
Such attacks, like the acid attack on Jewish volunteer teachers Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup near Stone Town, Zanzibar, do huge damage to the local tourist industry, a vital line of economic support for areas already beset with poverty. A few months later on the island a Catholic Priest was shot to death and his church was burned down.
At home, after British solider Lee Rigby was hacked to death in the middle of a Woolwich street by Islamic extremists, it emerged that one of the accused was seeking training with Al-Shabaab. Perpetrator Michael Adebolajo had previously been detained by Kenya’s anti-terrorism unit and was deported from the country.
These examples to name but a few illustrate a clear pattern of Islamic extremism that is creeping its way into several countries within Africa, poisoning the minds of some of the most vulnerable people in the world and perverting a religion which has in many cases existed in peace alongside other religions for decades.
The situation is so severe that Britain must act urgently, not simply to provide support and guidance, but also dedicated and extensive education to these counties, to help route out terrorist ideologies and develop counterterrorism strategies to fight this evil.
The issue is not simply one of increasing security, as advised after the first round of bombings in Nairobi. We in Britain know all too well the security alone cannot defeat extremism. These problems are much more deep-rooted and need to be tackled through better education and community outreach programmes. By identifying potential extremists and their preachers from the outset, this will help to eradicate Islamic extremism. 
We know from previous examples, such as Al-Qaeda’s rise in Afghanistan, that it is in environments of uncertainty and poverty that extremism thrives. Unfortunately the terrorists are equally aware of this.
The greatest tragedy of all is that, despite high levels of poverty and unemployment, African countries are still full of hope for the future, and Britain has a moral duty to ensure that this hope is not high-jacked and poisoned by extremists.
Britain has knowledge, skill and experience in regards to how to best tackle this growing threat. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with our African friends to stamp out Islamic extremism before it gains a further foothold.