Archives for category: Peace

So says George Monbiot in the Guardian. He trounces Blairite MPs who, disloyal to their elected leader and helping to grant Theresa May a mandate, ‘tolerated anything the Labour party did under Blair’:

They “proclaim disenchantment now that it calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

The popularity of Corbyn’s recent policy announcements leads Monbiot to believe he has a chance, albeit slight, of turning this around. His pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour is supported by 71% of people, according to a ComRes poll; raising the top rate of tax is endorsed by 62%.

He cites Labour’s 10 pledges, placed some time ago on another website, which could – incorporated in its manifesto – appeal to almost everyone. They promote the theme of security:

secure employment rights,

secure access to housing,

secure public services,

a secure living world.

Compare this with the attitude of the major funder of the Brexit campaign, billionaire Peter Hargreaves: ‘Insecurity is fantastic’.

Those who question Corbyn’s lack of experience and competence should remember where more ‘credible’ politicians led us:

  • Blair’s powers of persuasion led to the Iraq war.
  • Gordon Brown’s reputation for prudence blinded people to the financial disaster he was helping to engineer, through the confidence he vested in the banks.
  • Cameron’s smooth assurance caused the greatest national crisis since the second world war.
  • May’s calculating tenacity is likely to exacerbate it.

A progressive alliance/tactical voting?

Much advice follows; the most congenial is that Labour should embrace the offer of a tactical alliance with other parties:

“The Greens have already stood aside in Ealing Central and Acton, to help the Labour MP there defend her seat. Labour should reciprocate by withdrawing from Caroline Lucas’s constituency of Brighton Pavilion. Such deals could be made all over the country: and as the thinktank Compass shows, they enhance the chances of knocking the Tories out of government . . .”

Monbiot ends:

“The choice before us is as follows: a party that, through strong leadership and iron discipline, allows three million children to go hungry while hedge fund bosses stash their money in the Caribbean, and a party that hopes, however untidily, to make this a kinder, more equal, more inclusive nation I will vote Labour on 8 June . . . I urge you to do the same”.

 

 

 

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Though an account of the event has already been covered (link via the Brummie) this account by freelance Emanuel* has a dispassionate charm rarely seen in the dismal Times Online.  

EDL protest overshadowed by tea party at Mosque

Balloons are released during a “best of British” tea party for the public at the Birmingham Central Mosque in response to an English Defence League protest

Emanuel opens: “It was supposed to be a far-right show of strength against Islamist terrorists on the streets of Birmingham. But in the end it was overshadowed by a spot of tea, cake and union jack bunting fluttering in the wind at a local mosque”.

“When the English Defence League is protesting and trying to divide the community, we are holding this party just to prove to them that Birmingham is a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith community,” Muhammed Afzal, Birmingham Central Mosque’s chairman, said on Facebook before the event. And so it proved as Mr Afzal addressed a crowd of more than 100 tea-drinking guests, saying that local people would remain united irrespective of their religion or race.

Emanuel pointed out that the English Defence League (EDL) rally two miles away in Centenary Square, attended by 100 people (other accounts give as far lower number), was outnumbered by this “best of British” tea party at Birmingham’s Central Mosque.

And ended by noting that – because of the low-key nature of the EDL demo – the elected police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, was able to attend the tea party.

See: Louis Emanuel on Corbyn, Castro and far more: https://www.clippings.me/users/louisjemanuel 

 

 

 

 

Programmes on Sky News and the BBC have shown bombing, mass starvation and collapse of medical facilities in Yemen. British firms have supplied military hardware and British military officers have helped to direct the Saudi military campaign.

In October the Labour Party submitted a parliamentary motion which opened: “That this House supports efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities and provide humanitarian relief in Yemen, and notes that the country is now on the brink of famine; condemns the reported bombings of civilian areas…”

The government voted against this disloyalty to our ‘special friend’ Saudi Arabia, as did some Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Shabana Mahmood.

Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff and human rights lawyer Kim Sharif will speak at this public meeting in Sparkhill organised by Stop the War Coalition, which does not support either side in Yemen’s civil war but condemns outside intervention and bombing by Saudi Arabia with the support of British and American military personnel.

yemen

 Roger Godsiff has raised six concerns in parliament after the government – via Tobias Ellwood, a minister at the department – issued ‘corrections’ to six statements on the Yemen crisis dating back almost six months:

  1. The government admitted issuing six statements misleading parliament on whether Saudi Arabia committed war crimes in Yemen.
  2. Saudi Arabia is in fact committing war crimes by targeting civilians and non-military infrastructure in Yemen.
  3. The UK is continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and these weapons may be used to commit war crimes in Yemen by the Saudi regime, which is a dictatorship with no regard for democracy or human rights.
  4. Continuing to sell arms to the Saudi regime both enables and condones violence against civilians.
  5. The UK’s standing in the world is diminished by these actions and strongly urging the government to urgently reconsider its arms export policy to Saudi Arabia.
  6. And the safety of civilians in Yemen and the UK’s reputation in the world should be prioritised over the profits of arms companies.

 

Contact Stuart Richardson: email ser14@btinternet.com or see www.stopwar.org.uk

 

 

council-house

Birmingham Trades Union Council meeting:

7.30 pm Thursday 1st December

Committee rooms 3 and 4 The Council House Victoria Square BI IBB

For the first half of the meeting there will be a discussion opened by Murad Qureshi, the new national chair of Stop the War Coalition.

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the recent Presidential election was a big shock to the liberal establishment in the West. His openly racist attitude to Muslims (banning their entry into USA), building a wall on the Mexican border and his attitude to sexual assaults on women have appalled millions of Americans.  Newsnight and other programmes have been mourning the end of the liberal world order with the election of Donald Trump referring to the fact that he openly supports torture and use of enhanced interrogation by the use of waterboarding. But tens of thousands of detainees have been tortured under Presidents

Bush and Obama with the continuation of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp which Obama had promised to closed. Trump is just more honest when he says he supports torture which has been continuously used under previous administrations. Trump will just be a continuation of the brutal imperialist world order imposed on the people of the Middle East and other regions.

But what are his policies on the Middle East and on the American intervention in the region?

Donald Trump has denounced the deal in his election campaign and has appointed several cabinet members have a record of opposing the deal. But given the strong backing of the deal by Russia and the European powers it is difficult to see Trump withdrawing from the deal.

A good summary of the policies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is presented in the newspaper “i” by Patrick Cockburn on Saturday 12th November. It is entitled “Trump may be a danger to world peace – but Clinton would have started new wars”. Clinton called for No Fly Zones in Syria which could only be implemented by American aircraft shooting down aircraft and helicopters of the Assad regime and his Russian backers. This would involve a dangerous escalation of the Syrian conflict almost certainly leading to even more civilian deaths. As Patrick Cockburn says, “Hillary Clinton’s intentions in Syria, though never fully formulated, always sounded more interventionist than Trump’s. One of senior advisors openly proposed giving less priority to the assault on Isis and more to getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad.”

The headlines on Trump’s foreign policy has been his praise of Putin, clearly he does not seek a confrontation with Putin which Clinton’s policies would have probably led to. But actually it is very unclear what is Trump’s policies as Patrick Cockburn says, “Nobody really knows if Trump will deal any differently from Obama with the swathe of countries between Pakistan and Nigeria where there at least seven wars raging – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and South Sudan”. But given his reluctance to get into confrontation with Putin he does seem to have a different policy on the Syrian civil war. Patrick Cockburn sums up this view when he says, “The most serious wars in which the US is already militarily involved are in Iraq and Syria, and here, Trump’s comments suggest that he will focus on destroying Isis, recognise the danger of becoming militarily over-involved and look for some sort of co-operation with Russia as the next biggest player in the conflict. This is similar to what is already happening.”

Trump has appointed some very right wing people to his cabinet to positions of National Security advisor and Head of the CIA so the prospects for peaceful developments in The Middle East seem very unlikely. The Anti-War movement needs to be ready to respond to further aggressive American activity.

 

 

 

CHURCH AND PEACE Day Conference, Quaker Meeting House, Bull Street, Birmingham B4 6AF, Saturday 29 October 10am – 4.30pm. 

church-and-peace-header

The church as an agent of peace in an increasingly insecure world. Keynote speaker: Simon Barrow, director of Ekklesia: www.ekklesia.co.uk.

Church and Peace is a European ecumenical peace church network made up of communities, training centres, peace organisations and peace service agencies. It participates in the ecumenical dialogue of the conciliar process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation and is a catalyst for common initiatives and projects.

This Church and Peace Britain and Ireland day of reflection and discussion will look at what makes us secure, and what makes us insecure, and how the churches can play a prophetic role in building true security in the region today.

Workshop sessions and an afternoon panel discussion will give opportunities to reimagine the face of Church and Peace in Britain and Ireland, to see what the network’s unique contribution can be in the future and how we can strengthen the work already being done.

The event is free of charge. A soup and sandwich lunch can be booked at a cost of £6.00.

Contact: Barbara Forbes forbesbarbarae@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

ruth cadburyA hundred years after conscientious objection to military service was legalised, Ruth Cadbury MP (right), a descendent of WW1 Quaker conscientious objectors affected by the 1916 clause, is introducing a Bill to extend this right into the tax system.

It would increase funding for peacebuilding, development and diplomacy work, more economical, ethical and efficient forms of security.

The 10-minute rule Bill will be read on 19 July 19 2016 by the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, who has been working closely with a campaigning organisation, Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War, to secure the right to pay for peace, not war.

Birmingham Peace Tax stalwarts, Else and Joseph Pickvance, repeatedly had possessions seized and auctioned in lieu of taxes and Gloucester’s Arthur Windsor was imprisoned for 28 days in his seventies, only to receive a parliamentary welcome on his release, conveyed to the House by MP Dennis Canavan. Many people on PAYE made sure of withdrawing their war tax equivalent by making gift-aided charitable donations.

It is taken for granted that we contribute taxes for military preparations; this is conscription by proxy because we live in a country where civilian men are no longer required for military service. Military tax is an issue of conscience, not a political preference – this type of hypothecation could not therefore set a precedent for selective taxation.

At its Parliamentary launch, Ruth Cadbury endorsed the 10 minute rule bill by stating “I want to pay for our national security, in fact I want to strengthen it. The Taxes for Peace Bill does this by investing in the most effective form of defence – conflict prevention.” She continued: “In an age where more and more people are concerned about spending their money ethically, this is an idea whose time has come.”

Source: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23247

An interesting list of 10 minute rule bills passed since 1945 may be seen here: https://web.archive.org/web/20100615142414/http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-04568.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

A summary provided by Richard Tetlow, convenor of Moseley Faiths Forum

‘Love Your Neighbour’(LYN)

LYN 3 crowd

                 On Saturday July 9th about 100 local people gathered on Moseley Green to take up the challenge to ‘Love Your Neighbour’, a new Birmingham-wide movement. It aims to encourage people to challenge the racism and divisiveness unleashed by Brexit.

Participants were members of the Moseley Society, Forum, CDT, Festival and Buddhist, Humanist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Christian and of ‘no faith’.

Revd Richard Tetlow, convenor of Moseley Faiths Forum asked, ‘What kind of city and country do we want to live in?’ He had met people, even in Moseley, who now feel threatened because of their national origins or their faith.  All present affirmed that such behaviour was totally unacceptable and to be contested. Revd Richard raised 3 questions:

What personally matters most?   What is life about? and Where are vision and responsibility?

The gathering ended with reflective silence. Then everyone was invited to talk and really listen to someone not known to them and put their convictions into action with a simple daily act of kindness. The idea urgently needs spreading!

    

Richard’s address may be read in full on the Civilisation 3000 site:                                                          

https://civilisation3000.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/marching-to-a-different-drum-in-moseley/

     

News of this initiative comes from Shafi Chowdhury, a Surrey reader, and the International Business Times, which often records news avoided by the mainstream press.

central mosqueThe minaret and dome of the Birmingham Central Mosque, where about 200 were said to have attended a community event in opposition to Pegida UK: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/pegida-uk-hundreds-attend-birmingham-central-mosque-opposition-tommy-robinsons-anti-islam-march-1542279

visit mosque logoThe Muslim Council of Britain reports that thousands of Britons were welcomed into over 80 mosques across the country on Sunday 7 February, as part of the second annual ‘Visit My Mosque’ Day. A small number of mosques will be holding their open days on 13th and 14th February for logistical reasons.

Mosques across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland invited in neighbours to share tea and refreshments, alongside an insight into the day-to-day goings on of a busy Muslim centre of worship.

One individual’s experience may be read here.

Mosques up and down the country also invited local faith leaders and civic and political leaders. Many politicians participated, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, and other members of Parliament including Bob Blackman, Stella Creasey, Fabian Hamilton, Wes Streeting, James Flanagan and Rupa Huq.

#VisitMyMosque Day was facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), to provide a platform for Muslims to reach out to fellow Britons and explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines . . .

Local mosques also invited inter-faith leaders as well, to come together to demonstrate unity and solidarity, while many visitors were just curious local residents. David from Hendon said, “I’ve driven for many years past London Central Mosque wondering what goes inside, but when I got an email telling me there was an open day, I decided to come today and visit.”

Posting on Facebook, Frances Stanfield said, “Just back from Medina Mosque Southampton. Lovely hosts and some interesting and open conversations.”

Tanvier Ahmed, Outreach Team at Darul Isra Mosque in Cardiff, said, “The majority of mosques have open doors so you can walk in at any time. Today we’re just making that extra special effort by putting on an event, but we welcome visitors throughout the year.”

Dr Salah Beltagui, Muslim Council of Scotland, expressed the hope that such events will see new acquaintances being made between Muslims and their neighbours of other faiths or beliefs, and start relationships and joint work to improve the lives of all communities in future.

For the full text of this message, and a list of mosques that took part, go to: www.mcb.org.uk/visitmymosque

 

Background

tommy2-robinsonIn December, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson (left) formed a UK branch of Pegida, a German organisation founded in Dresden. The International Business Times describes Pegida as an anti-immigration group set up to halt what it sees as the “Islamisation of the West”, holding well-attended protests across northern Europe. Their protests in the UK are said to have fared poorly to date.

On December 4th Robinson told IBTimesUK: “Birmingham is where most of the terrorists have been from, it’s where six Muslims who wanted to blow us up were from – the continued epicentre for terrorism is Birmingham.”

The decision to hold a Pegida UK rally in Birmingham has been condemned by the city’s leading politicians. A joint statement, issued on Monday 7 December, was signed by Council leader John Clancy Cllr Robert Alden (leader of the Birmingham Conservatives) and Cllr Paul Tilsley (leader of the Birmingham Liberal Democrats).

Tommy Robinson toned down his rhetoric:

“The rally – which we’re calling a ‘silent walk’ – will be a march in Birmingham on February 6th, with some speeches at the end. We don’t want any confrontation. There will be no alcohol allowed, no masks allowed and no racists allowed. If there are opposition rallies, we don’t want to go near them. We’ve asked the police where they think the best and safest place for us to march would be. We just want to walk peacefully through the streets. Why have these Birmingham councillors got a problem with that?”

Andrew-Smith 2Canon Andrew Smith (right: Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham) has now circulated an appeal to Birmingham’s churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras and temples, trade unions and community groups.

It calls on the police to explore whether this provocation amounts to an incitement to racial and/or religious hatred and to use all of their powers to prevent people of whatever background, from being intimidated in the city centre next Saturday, 6th February.

And ends: “As proud people of Birmingham, we wish to declare that Pegida are not welcome and have nothing to offer our city — apart from a huge bill for policing and the clear up operation after they have gone”.

As yet the only online access found for the text of this message is on this website, which carries a list of signatories to a pledge to affirmative action.

 

A reader who had one brief contact with Cllr Ward a couple of years ago found her conduct very unsatisfactory; have many of her constituents had similar disappointments?

We read that – for the second time – Hodge Hill ward Labour Party members have refused to endorse sitting councillor Anita Ward. Two weeks ago, Cllr Ward failed by 18 votes to three to win a ‘trigger ballot’ vote, which meant she had to face a formal reselection procedure and would not automatically go forward as the candidate.

mayors for peace header

As a researcher our reader had approached Cllr Ward, then mayor, to give a few words to add to her picture in a city centre peace trail leaflet, one of a series of city trails devised in Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, London and Cambridge. This, because Birmingham became a member of the worldwide Mayors for Peace initiative in 2007. 

Perhaps the concerns about Cllr Ward are deeper and more substantial – our reader’s experience indicates that possibility

anita 2 wardCllr Ward initially agreed to do this, but then backed out and brusquely refused to discuss her change of heart.

Her failure to give a reason for not performing this minimal act, in fulfilment of an internationally agreed role, was disappointing and rather unpleasant. The researcher also entered the fact that Birmingham had followed Manchester City Council’s lead, becoming a member of 78 nuclear-free local authorities, though nuclear fuel rods are transported through the residential heart of the city by train, and nuclear warheads are driven along major roads and motorways around Birmingham.

A Labour member who was at the meeting told Chamberlain Files: “People were shouting and saying ‘no we aren’t going to vote for you’. There was concern that Anita doesn’t even live in the ward.

And is Birmingham still a ‘nuclear-free’ LA with a ‘Mayor for Peace’?