The Big Questions on Faith, Morality and Politics

Yesterday I appeared on the BBC’s Big Questions talking to Nicky Campbell about morality in politics. The whole programme is available for 28 days on BBC iPlayer at

I attach below the two clips of my contributions. I think it is important that we understand that people of no faith have moral systems, and not assume as sometimes is the case that faith brings morality to politics.

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Legal Affairs Committee votes on EU rules for Robotics – BBC Radio 5 live interview

I spoke with BBC Radio 5 live earlier this week on the Civil Law Rules on Robotics report that was passed by the Legal Affairs Committee in the European Parliament.

This report calls for a robust legal framework that takes account of the increasing impact of robotics on our daily lives with specific consideration of technological developments such as autonomous, driverless vehicles.

You can listen back below.


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Parliamentary Assistant in Brussels

I am recruiting for a Parliamentary Assistant based in the European Parliament in Brussels.


Providing office administration and diary management, including travel arrangements.
Supporting and implementing political campaigns relating to the MEP’s priorities.
Helping coordinate the activities of the MEP with the rest of their group.
Collating and presenting policy-related information.
Liaising closely with the Constituency based staff on operational matters.
Handling both written and electronic correspondence.
Contributing to the MEP’s communications including social media and the website.
Ensuring proper financial management is maintained, including appropriate logging of receipts and expenses.
Maintaining regular communications with the rest of the team


Experience of campaigning, research and policy work.
Excellent organisational, analytical and communication skills.
The ability to write confidently and to task.
Fast and accurate word processing and use of relevant IT packages.
A sound knowledge of the EU and its institutions.
A good knowledge of the the Labour Party and its policies.
A multi-tasker with good time management skills and able to work independently.
Full fluency in English is essential, a good working knowledge of French, with knowledge of other major European languages would be an advantage.
The candidate should be flexible, adaptable and conscientious.
Able to cope with a wide variety of contexts and have an ability to respond to urgent work and act quickly.
Tact and diplomacy, as well as enthusiasm and initiative are essential personal qualities for this post.
Previous experience in a political office would be beneficial.
A proven commitment to equal opportunities

Closing Date: 1st November 2016

Interview/Start Dates

Interviews will be in Central London. First Interview Thursday 3rd November. Second Interview 11th November

The job will start in Brussels in December 2016 or January 2017, there is some flexibility on the exact start date.

Application Details

Applications should consist of a letter of application and a CV. Any queries should be raised by email please. Please email your applications to

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Why hard Brexit is a damaging fantasy

Martin Woolf in yesterday’s online Financial Times hit the nail on the head:

“Formal sovereignty is not power. The UK government announces its intentions. The reaction of others determines results.

“By a thin margin the country voted for some kind of Brexit. But the government has no mandate for the rather extreme version it is choosing. Triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval might be impossible. It surely ought to be impossible. Moreover, Brexiters insist that their goal is to restore parliamentary sovereignty. Why then does the government plan to ignore parliament when these decisions are taken?”

It’s actually worse than that since Government Ministers also seem to be ignoring their officials, taking the Leave side’s contempt for “experts” to a new low. Brexit Minister David Davis is now accusing Treasury civil servants of trying to undermine Brexit negotiations as part of a “desperate strategy” to keep Britain in the single market.

 The redoubtable Mr Davis whose capacity for fantasy is on an exponentially upward leap, is understood to believe that the warning is part of a “succession of treasury briefings that are damaging negotiations”

Whatever Mr Davis thinks, the Treasury is not making this up. Why would they? Surely their lives would be easier if they went along with the Government and threw the well-being of Britain to the winds. Instead, the much derided officials are doing their duty, warning , amongst other things, that according to leaked draft Cabinet papers, if Britain leaves the Single Market without a new deal it will cost the Treasury £66billion in tax revenues.

Meanwhile the City of London, one time cheer-leaders for the Conservatives, are increasingly worried about the impact tougher immigration controls and departure from the single market could have on their revenues. Miles Celic, chief executive of the influential industry body TheCityUK is on record as saying: A “hard Brexit” that takes Britain clean out of the single market, and leaves the U.K. to trade with the EU under WTO rules, will do “significant” harm to the financial services sector.”

Back to Martin Woolf: “What drove Leavers was, we are also told, “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”. The currency markets demonstrate the emptiness of that principle. Britain’s EU partners are about to do the same. The premise of the Leave campaign was false: a host of decisions that affect the UK will always be taken outside it.”

It would be comic if it wasn’t so serious. We are not talking about cosy sofa politics or even the Oxford Union debating society. This is about people’s lives, their quality of life, their health, their education and just about everything else which relies on government to deliver it. Ultimately, it’s about today’s young people and future generations.


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Keeping London Open to the World for Business

The letter below was sent by LM of Stonebridge to all London MEPs. I am publishing it because I agree that London is the world’s greatest city because it is so cosmopolitan. “We are stronger together, not apart.”

“Dear MEP,

I want to share my views as a resident of London.

In the news I have seen increased headlines about the pound dropping in value as a reflection of government devaluing ‘Great’ Britain and I ask my elected representatives

How are we appreciating and valuing that greatest if we are closing ourselves away from the world? dismissing overseas advice, excluding and segregating workers, medical professionals and students and registering them for working in international companies, naming and shaming companies for not employing British workers, which this alone has an air of antisemitic legislation from 1930’s Germany written all over it. These are not ‘foreigners’ these are human beings just like you and me, no different and without them London and Britain would not be what it is today.

If Britain stayed on this island and never invaded or explored anywhere else we wouldn’t have the diverse and multicultural life that we have let alone the standards that today make Britain what it is – look at tea for a very tiny example, something world known to be ‘British’ and yet it’s origins are Indian. This small example alone shows that as a nation we are not a stand alone ‘great British race’ of people but a collective of many different and varied backgrounds, we are not separate from the EU nor the rest of the world and continuing to peddle the perception that we are is not only to our detriment but the whole world misses out on what we can bring.

What I am getting to here is the fact that regardless of view about Brexit one cannot deny that our lives have been enriched by experiencing different parts of humanity and without this and leaving in a ‘hard Brexit’ or any Brexit for that matter we would be devaluing ourselves even further. We are stronger together, not apart so I ask you to consider this letter when representing London in the European Parliaments.”

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Keeping Freedom of Movement in the European Union

Since the EU referendum result hundreds of Londoners have written to me with their concerns about the impact on their lives. I’m publishing below a letter from a Mr. Bartholomew of Hackney who rightly makes the point about ensuring British citizens who currently have the right to move freely around the European Union retaining this, rather than facing the cost of visas and other difficulties in carrying out business across Europe. As a London MEP I know that the vast majority of London citizens and businesses welcome the opportunities that access to the European Union offers them and I will be continuing to fight for this.

“I am extremely concerned about the path being taken by the UK

Government in relation to “Brexit” following the EU Referendum. In

particular, I am concerned about the “hard Brexit” stance being adopted

by Theresa May and her three Brexiteers.

Despite what the media headlines and MP talking points say, there is no

clear mandate to leave the European Union. The country is divided in

two, while Londoners clearly voted to remain in the EU.

Not only has this referendum split the country, the tone of the UK

Government is becoming increasingly isolationist and xenophobic.

Xenophobia and racism have been legitimised, resulting in a significant

increase in hate crimes on our streets.

Indeed, the Home Secretary’s recent remarks suggesting that businesses

be compelled to report the number of “foreign” workers they employ is

bordering on the totalitarian.

I am deeply concerned about the direction my country is headed and,

against my will, once “Brexit” is implemented, I will be stripped of

the advantages and responsibilities of an EU citizen.

I ask you, as my MEPs, to work with your colleagues in the European

Parliament to offer EU passports to those British people who wish to

remain part of this amazing European Union.”

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Standing in Solidarity with the Women of Poland

Today, along with fellow Labour MEPs, I stand with thousands of women in Poland who have downed their tools to go on strike from both professional work and domestic responsibilities in protest at the Polish government’s moves to ban abortion.  This proposal that will criminalise all women seeking terminations threatens the dignity and safety of women.

As the law stands, Poland already has some of the most restrictive laws in Europe on accessing abortion. Legal termination of pregnancy currently applies only in cases where the life of the foetus is under threat, where there is grave risk to the pregnant woman or where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

The change in the law will mean increased criminalisation of women, with those who seek abortion facing up to five years in prison. Consider a case where a 14 year old seeking the termination of a pregnancy resulting from rape will herself be seen as a criminal. Doctors who assist with terminations will face a prison term and women who have miscarriages will also be under greater suspicion.

It bears repeating that sexual and reproductive rights remain human rights enshrined in international human rights mechanisms. As a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Poland must guarantee women’s rights to decide freely and responsibly about the number and the spacing of their children.

Women must also be able to access information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights. Constricting access to abortion is an assault on women’s human rights and dignity, and countries that criminalise women who seek abortion inevitably put women’s lives at great risk.

These moves to restrict abortion access follow intensive trading between the Polish government and hard-line anti-abortion factions and it is clear that women’s reproductive rights are being treated as inherently disposable.

Poland must respect the will of Polish women in their call for sexual and reproductive rights, ceasing immediately these legal manoeuvres that deny the dignity of Polish women and put their safety at risk. Today, across Europe, we stand with Polish women who demand that they are heard and their human rights are recognised.


To keep up-to-date with today’s protest and share your support for Polish women’s right to access safe abortion, follow #CzarnyProtest on Twitter.



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