Category Archives: Labour Party

Open letter to Nigel Farage on the new member of the EFDD Group

Dear Nigel,


Having heard in the Hemicycle earlier today (21 October) that the EFDD Group is to be reconstituted, I am now writing to you in my capacity as Labour Spokesperson on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament.

I have heard and read about the misogynist attitude towards women of your new recruit Robert Iwaszkiewicz, his Party, the Polish Congress of the New Right, and its leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke.

Korwin-Mikke has, in fact, called for the vote to be taken away from women and has also claimed that the difference between rape and consensual sex is very subtle.

Today’s edition of the BBC Daily Politics reported that Iwaszkiewicz has said many wives would be brought down to earth by being hit. During an interview conducted by the presenter Jo Coburn, your deputy Paul Nuttall equivocated quite shamefully, claiming that Iwaszkiewicz’s remarks were a “joke” or that he had been misunderstood.

While it would be too much to expect that UKIP, an anti-EU Party who nevertheless takes European Parliament money while campaigning to leave the EU, would sign up to the EU’s commitment to gender equality, I would at least expect you to take the view that violence against women is wrong and should be stamped out.

However, it would seem that by accepting Robert Iwaszkiewicz from the Polish Congress of the New Right, you do not even agree that women should have the basic human right of freedom from violent harm.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Honeyball MEP

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Hitler-defenders and misogynists – UKIP’s new allies

Nigel Farage has struck a deal with a far right MEP in order to save his political group the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) in European Parliament.

The Polish MEP, which Farage has invited into his political grouping to save it from collapsing, belongs to the Congress of the New Right and its leader, also an MEP but who is not joining the EFDD, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has questioned the Holocaust and made offensive remarks about the right to vote being taken away from women.

He has also made some terrible remarks about the difference between rape and consensual sex, claiming that “the difference is very subtle”. On the issue of the Holocaust he claimed that Adolf Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated”.

Korwin-Mikke even made remarks about the British national minimum wage claiming it should be abolished. And when he refused to withdraw and apologise for racist remarks he made he was fined 10 days allowance by The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

President Schulz said of the incident, in a statement: “As Members of the European Parliament, we are particularly obliged to respect and protect the fundamental values of the European Union. This includes the principle of non-discrimination and respect for human dignity.”

The EFDD would have disintegrated had Farage not invited the Polish MEP, this is because any group wishing to form must have a minimum of 25 MEPs across seven different countries in order to be considered. Farage lost the support of Latvia MEP, Iveta Grigule, who quit the group meaning Farage lost the minimum number of people required to form the group.

The EPLP referred to the party as: “Hitler-defenders and misogynists” and called them “UKIP’s sickening new allies”. Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in Europe, said: “Nigel Farage’s desperate attempt to resurrect his group has seen him sink to an all-time low. The views expressed by his new allies are sickening even by UKIP standards.

Farage was clearly so desperate not to lose the kudos, power, prestige, extra funding and speaking rights that he has taken this drastic and very worrying step of aligning with a far-right party whose leader has made these dreadful remarks.

Even Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National, refused to form an alliance which included Korwin-Mikke on the basis that his political views are “contrary to our values.” It says rather a lot about Farage and his morals if he is willing to align with a member of a party who has such disturbing views, and which even other far- right politicians refuse to have anything to do with.

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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

New figures emerged last week which revealed over 1,700 women and girls who have been victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) have been treated by the NHS since April this year.

This is an astonishing figure and shows this disturbing crime has many more victims than was originally understood. The figures provide the first official data on the numbers of FGM cases seen by the NHS in England.

Broken down, the numbers are even more concerning. In September alone 467 previously unknown FGM victims were treated at NHS trusts across the country.

The data has been produced to inform people about the scale and horrific nature of the crime, and is part of a drive to eradicate FGM on British soil. The figures provide a harrowing narrative to what is a vicious crime. You can read more here.

The outgoing president of the European Commission appeared on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, where he made it very clear that the UK would have “zero” influence if it voted to leave the European Union.

Jose Manuel Barroso warned Britain would not be able to negotiate with the US and China “on an equal footing” on its own. Cameron has failed to understand much of the country’s relationship with the EU and it was therefore not surprising that Barroso concluded by spelling out clearly, that the free movement of people within the EU was an “essential” principle that could not be changed.

You can see the interview with Barroso here.

A bizarre story appeared last week when it was revealed that Apple and Facebook will pay for female employees to freeze their eggs.

A ‘perk’ of up to £12,000 is being offered to help women employees freeze their eggs in order to allow them to focus on their career at the Silicon Valley companies. On the face of it may appear to be a good natured offer, but actually there’s a far more cynical twist.

Of course, should women choose to, they have the right to freeze their eggs but the idea that they should do so in order for it not to get in the way of their careers is both bizarre and offensive.

The freelance journalist, Dani Garavelli wrote in the Scotsman on Sunday how the ‘back-slapping’ culture of these companies considered this to be the answer to a ‘problem’ faced by most businesses. However, it remains totally distasteful to be offered as some kind of incentive or reward package.

As Garavelli says, they are mostly white 20-something men: “You can picture the high-fiving and backslapping that greeted the light-bulb moment. Someone had a vision of a brave, new world in which the whole, messy disruptive business of reproduction could be passed by.”

You can read more of Garavelli’s view here.

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Human Trafficking Victim Compensated

A human trafficking victim from Pakistan who was brought to the UK at the age of nine has been awarded £100,000 in compensation. She received the compensation under the proceeds of crime legislation and it is believed to be the first time it has been used to compensate a victim of human trafficking in this way.

This is a landmark ruling because bringing human traffickers to justice is so incredibly difficult. As I have said many times before, the very nature of the crime means it is often extremely difficult to even identify victims and therefore to prosecute offenders.

But I hope the news of compensation for this victim will encourage more trafficked victims to come forward, not because they may receive compensation but because the compensation should be an indication to them of how seriously the crime is taken by the courts.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the Commission has published the first evaluation of its report examining the EU’s human trafficking strategy. The Commission adopted the strategy two years ago and essentially it aims to protect victims who are bought and sold for sexual exploitation or forced labour or other reasons.

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Juncker’s Commission still being formed

Jean Claude Juncker, the incoming President of the European Commission, is to meet with the new Slovenian commissioner candidate, Violeta Bulc. As long as she proves herself appointable, Ms Bluc will replace the previous Slovenian nominee Alenka Bratusek.

Bratusek, the former Prime Minister of Slovenia, nominated herself to the position after she lost the country’s general election, but was rejected after failing to impress MEPs at her hearing last week.

The EU Observer claimed that Bluc’s candidacy is also not without controversy. The paper reports: “The new prime minister, Miro Cerar, pushed her name through even though seven members of his cabinet were against and only six in favour. But with three ministers abroad and unable to vote, rules of procedure allow unexpressed votes to be counted as positive.”

It has not emerged which portfolio Juncker would offer the new commissioner designate but there is criticism in Ljubljana that she also lacks experience in the political arena.

Last week I wrote for the New Statesman about the Commissioner hearings and also why I feel Jonathan Hill is well placed to represent the UK as commissioner designate. You can read my piece here.


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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Clacton in Essex, Heywood and Middleton and soon to be Rochester have all become symbols of what Patrick Wintour, in last week’s Guardian, called “Farageland”.

As the conference season ended the parties faced an almighty challenge little more than 200 days before a general election that even the most experienced pollsters are hesitant to call.

The message from the two by election’s held last week is that UKIP are a real threat to all parties and, as I have said many times, Labour is also be affected and must take action to address concerns.

“Hurrah for Malala Yousafzai,” wrote Radhika Sanghani, in the Telegraph. “Her tireless work for girls’ rights to an education all over the world have just been awarded with the highest accolade imaginable: The Nobel Peace Prize.”

Malala is an inspirational young woman who wrote about the importance of education for girls. She was targeted and shot by the Taliban when she was 15.

Despite almost losing her life she continued to campaign relentlessly and her birthday, 12 July, is recognised by the United Nations which calls this day ‘Malala Day’. The purpose of the day is to campaign globally and recognise a child’s right to receive an education.

You can watch the Daily Telegraphs top ‘Malala moments,’ which show just inspirational she is.

Last week was the International Day of the Girl and Tanya Barron, head of Plan UK, wrote an article for the Telegraph explaining why it’s time for Britain to wake up to the plight of girls both at home and abroad. This was the third year of the International day of the Girls and the aim is to promote girls rights and to highlight gender inequality. This year’s theme concerned ‘empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence’.

Barron wrote in her article: “Millions of girls in the developing world don’t attend school and, instead, are handed a curriculum of chores at home. They’re denied the chance to live in good health because of violent abuses such as female genital mutilation (FGM).”

The International Day of the Girl reminds us of how many girls across the globe are denied the basic human right of an education while others are abused in the most abhorrent way such as FGM. It provides an opportunity to really challenge the behaviour of those who seek to undermine or abuse girls and young women. You can read Tanya’s article here.

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Human Trafficking figures rise sharply

The National Crime Agency (NCA) published its report last week into human trafficking and exploitation. It revealed the UK has seen a rise in the number of people trafficked for slavery or other forms of exploitation.

The figures published by the NCA show a significant increase of 22% between 2012-2013 in the number of trafficked victims.

Some of the increase can be attributed to better reporting and the NCA says that this is particularly the case with cases relating to children. High profile cases such as the abuse of girls in Rotherham have helped to create a surge in the reporting of exploited children, but the NCA admits that the 2,744 known victims (of which 602 are children) is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Investigators said that trafficking didn’t just mean where people were taken from one country to another but their figures also include victims who may have not been trafficked into another country. For example the NCA also found cases of adults forced into prostitution, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, or those who were forced to commit crimes such as making false benefit claims.

One of the other incredibly disturbing and shocking revelations from the NCA’s report is evidence to suggest some victims are marked with tattoos, the symbols of which are not clear, but the report claims symbols are possibly used to indicate country of origin or age of the victim (if the victim is over 18 or not). The report says: “Various sources indicate that tattoos are used globally to mark victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation by traffickers and pimps, but the extent to which this is used in the UK is not known.”

This is an absolutely appalling crime and we must act swiftly to prevent further crimes of this nature. Labour is ready to tackle the issue of these very underground sexual crimes and has promised to create a “specific offence of serious exploitation”. The Labour Party has also said it will make prosecutions easier.

We must also focus on the support we offer victims. These terrible crimes will affect them for the rest of their lives.

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