Pity the poor people of Aleppo and Mosul. Pity the poor children. Our hearts go out to those who face the bombs and bullets, and try to survive in such war torn cities.
The west is rightly united in condemning the atrocities in Aleppo. The UK Foreign Office has made clear its fury, stating that “The actions of Assad and Russia are driving radicalisation and fuelling terrorism, not tackling it”. Many have protested to demand the West does more, and many MPs have spoken in the Commons of the need to relieve the pain.
The problem is what can the West do that can make the situation better? A much reviled but internationally recognised government in Syria has asked for Russian help. The area is now well armed by Syrian forces. President Obama has judged that any military intervention by a US led coalition would make the position worse so he is not proposing to try landing NATO troops or inserting more western warplanes and missiles into a highly explosive situation with all too many bombs already. Those the West would best protect might not welcome a full frontal war between the West and Assad, given the intensity of the violence that would require. Assad is able to exploit the unwillingness of the outgoing President to undertake more intense military action, and the delay before a new President. Mrs Clinton might be more belligerent.
Meanwhile the Iraqi government is seeking to evict ISIL from Mosul and the surrounding area by using substantial military force on the ground. Most agree that ISIL is a dangerous terrorist grouping with links to Al Qaeda affiliates. The problem is a military solution entails a lot of death and destruction. ISIL kill, maim and cow the civilian population, They may now take human shields and expose them to more risk as the Iraqi forces draw nearer. Let us hope that the action to recapture lost territory by the Iraqi forces does not lead to an ISIL inspired massacre.
There are no easy answers for this war torn and troubled part of the world. I Just thought I would give you, my readers, the chance to say your piece on these two conflicts. In the end these countries have to be stabilised by a political process. Governing forces have to emerge that can govern by laws and civil justice, not by force of arms. This still seems a long way off. Gaining military advantage for one side or the other does not necessarily speed a peace.
There is a welcome call from the British Medical Association to create a helpline for those suffering side effects of prescribed medicines. On Thursday I raised the new threat in Commons Business Questions. I will press for a debate.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
The total number of deaths caused in America by the side effects of opioid drugs has now grown to a larger figure than the total number of people killed there by road traffic accidents, guns and terrorism. Given that the use of those drugs is increasing in this country, and given that our usage of them amounts to a third of that throughout the continent of Europe, may we debate the terrible dangers that result from medicines that are more deadly than the maladies?
Mr Lidington (Leader of the House)
The hon. Gentleman has looked at drug use and drugs policy for many years, so I listen with some respect to what he says. There will be the opportunity to question Home Office Ministers about this on 31 October, and I suggest that he take advantage of that opportunity.
On Wednesday there was a very enthusiastic meeting of the Commons All-Party Group on Prescribed Medicines Harm. Four experts gave fascinating, disturbing accounts of he scale and serious nature of damaging addictions and rising numbers of death from the use drugs-usually prescribed for transitory mild ailments. A vivid account was given of a life of a young journalist that was reduced to the inactivity of chronic addiction. The issue will receive a great deal of long over-due publicity in the next few days.
Among the inveterate campaigners are Barry Haslam and my former colleague Jim Dobbin who chaired the APPG before his tragic death on a Council of Europe visit to Poland. Jim was a Papal Knight, a fine MP, a microbiologist and a rare MP scientist who understood the scourge of addiction and deaths caused by the careless prescription of dangerous addictive drugs.
The BBC Victoria Derbyshire episode can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07zmmgx/victoria-derbyshire-19102016 starting at 13.05 with the accompanying article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37682355
The BBC Radio 5 programme can be heard here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07zxrdb after broadcast which is at 11am
During the referendum campaign, there was one thing Remainers and Leavers agreed on: that a vote to Leave meant leaving the European single market. Who are Nick Clegg and co. kidding by denying that now?
One of the Remain rearguard's transparent attempts to subvert the referendum result is to make out that Leave voters didn't know what they were voting for. "17.4 million people might have voted for Brexit", they say. "But they didn't vote for a particular kind of Brexit".
"Brexit", they expect us to believe, is just an empty word. It can mean anything you want it to mean. What the majority thought it meant when they voted for it is an unfathomable mystery.
Except, as anyone who was hasn't erased their memory of the last nine months knows, it's not. Throughout the referendum campaign, Brexit campaigners consistently made it clear what a vote to Leave meant. In short:
- No more EU budget contributions
- No more freedom of movement
- Full Parliamentary sovereignty
- Control over our trade policy – by leaving European customs union
- Access to – but not membership of – the European single market
The fact that a Leave vote entailed leaving the single market was always a key plank of the Leave campaign. But it wasn't just Brexiteers who said so – although we did, repeatedly. Remainers said so too. The evidence, conveniently compiled by the Daily Politics, is clear (H/T Guido Fawkes).
Voters weren't kept in the dark. On the contrary: the majority made a deliberate choice to quit the single market.
Not because they didn't know what it meant, but because they did. Because single-market membership entails accepting the four freedoms, including freedom of movement. Because – above all – it means Britain couldn't become a sovereign nation again.
Staying in the single market would mean many of Britain's laws would still be made by a foreign, supra-national government without the consent of the British people. The question as to who should make Britain's laws wasn't a side issue in the referendum campaign. It was absolutely central.
Apparently it's too much to expect that trying to impose an outcome that the majority of voters expressly rejected would be beneath the dignity of elected representatives. But they should know better than to think voters won't notice.
Karen Lumley, MP for Redditch County, is urging residents who have an interest to go along and examine plans for the Redditch Eastern Gateway project.
The proposed £85m industrial development is sited east of the town at the junction of the A4032 and A435 and close to Ravensbank Business Park. The 75-acre site could see the creation of up to 2,500 jobs and almost one million square feet of new office and industrial space.
Developer Stoford, working alongside two landowners, are carrying out a public consultation ahead of the submission of a planning application later this year, and residents are invited to a public exhibition on the project this weekend.
Karen said: "This is a project which I am 100 per cent supporting. It will provide jobs and the potential for a huge cash injection into the local economy.
"I urge local residents to try and get along to the exhibition and have their say."
The exhibition takes place at the Blue Inn Hotel, off Far Moor Lane today (Friday, 21 October) from 3pm to 8pm, and Saturday, 22 October between 11am and 3pm.
Redditch Gateway, which was boosted by £1.8m in funding from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), is located close to the M40 and M42, with a drive time of just 20 minutes to Birmingham International Airport and railway station.
Tonight at the Rye Hill Tenants & Residents Hall, the residents of Solomon’s Passage got the opportunity to put their concerns directly to senior Wandle staff, including the Chief Executive Tracey Lees and Newman Francis, who is the appointed Independent Resident Advisor.
We discussed a number of ongoing issues and it is clear that some residents still feel worried and anxious about their housing future and communication with Wandle continues to be a problem.
I will continue to work with Wandle and Newman Francis to ensure all Solomon’s Passage residents are clear about their housing future and to make sure their options are fair.
Many thanks to Miriam Facey, Chair of Rye Hill TRA for arranging the use of the Rye Hill TRA Hall for this meeting.
My father died just over a year ago. I dreamt about him last night. Thinking about him, I’m reminded of two things today: first, that he loved me; and second, that he was – to put it mildly – puzzled by my choice of profession. He never saw the point of parliament, which he thought a ‘giant talking shop.’ […]
The Award is named after Archbishop Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of the signing of Magna Carta.
The Award made from Fairtrade silver will be conferred on Sir Tony Baldry by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 31st March.
For further information click here.
The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!
“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.
“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.
“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.
“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.
“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.
“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.
“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.
“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.
Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.
I hope I still have at least one reader left!
Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.
Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.
“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”
Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.
“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”
The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.
Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".
But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.
The toll of death will continue to rise.