Guest Blog – Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn

Today’s guest blog is from Hendon Labour Party activist David Beere. I have campaigned with David for 4 decades and he was always a great supporter when I was a councillor in Barnet. David’s email was prompted by an email from Jeremy Corbyn on Iraq.

 

 

I have been a member for 47 year and have no intention of going anywhere. 

Dear Mr Corbyn,

 

In 2003 I voted at my General Committee against intervention in Iraq.( I well remember the figures 10 against-6 for).

 

I was not convinced by the arguments for intervention at the time and neither were many others . Having been a party member for 47 years I have known who you were for many years.

 

Whether we like it or not the fact that the Commons followed the lead of the government in approving intervention set a precedent for military action.The government of the day should be given the credit for this.

 

The decision having been made, military personnel at the time deserved support. I think it fair to say that you did not agree with this.And yet I now note your sympathies for those families who lost military relatives.  This is not consistent ,to put it very mildly.

 

Your increasingly frequent missives are no doubt connected with the fact that you do not have the confidence of the Parliamentary Labour Party. No doubt many members will feel that you deserve loyalty. I do not. I was emphatically what would now be called a critical friend of the New Labour Government. As a very ordinary member of the party, however, I was not disloyal and did not align myself with anti-Labour organisations such as the Stop the War Coalition. Its leadership seems to have comprised various strands of trotskyism , communism and Greens. You had every right to vote against the Labour whip. I would probably agreed with you on some counts. However you took your disloyalty  to phenomenal levels. Given this can you seriously expect those of us who have had continuous membership of the Labour party for all our adult lives to take you seriously because you have a ‘mandate’ from people who have just managed to bring themselves to join or part with £3?

 

Given constraints of work and family I have done what I can for Labour over the years, whatever the leadership and whatever the policies-and whatever the source of those policies.

 

Polling suggests that 90% of Labour members supported Remain. You did not support those members at all. You seemingly declined many opportunities for publicity and your comments in favour of Remain seemed measured to the point of indifference. You showed no leadership over Europe at all. In your campaign to become leader you made much of the fact that you believed you could motivate those who were normally non-voters to follow your lead. On June 23 the ‘extra’  voters (beyond the General Election turnout) were undoubtedly Leave voters. And they were overwhelmingly in what used to be called Labour heartlands. In class terms they were massively the least well-off. Your actions ,or rather lack of them, have given many such people the chance to identify with UKIP and vote for it in the future.

 

You should take responsibility for this.

 

For the sake of the Party you should resign.

 

David Beere

 

P.S.To “the team’.I don’t suppose this will get anywhere near The Emperor but I hope somebody will tell him about his new clothes.

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Why I’m supporting Angela Eagle

Along with many in the Labour Party I am angry and saddened that the Party now finds itself in what must rank as the worst crisis in its history. To find anything comparable, we need to go back to Labour’s first Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald who formed a National Government with the Conservatives in 1931 is order, mistakenly as it turned out, to deal with the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. Macdonald split the Labour Party which was heavily defeated in the subsequent general election.

The Labour Party has faced other crises along the way, but none, I contend, as great as the one now confronting us.

I now think the only way Labour can resolve its difficulties is by choosing a new Leader. Angela Eagle is taking a very courageous step in standing against Jeremy Corbyn, a decision she announced within the last few hours.  It has become glaringly obvious that Corbyn is not up to the job. He is also on the hard left of the Labour Party, allied with fringe groups who do not believe in parliamentary democracy.

Labour needs a new, vibrant and enthusiastic Leader who will take us forward and win the next general election, a leader who is committed to gaining a majority in the House of Commons while at the same time upholding Labour values.

That person is Angela Eagle. I will be nominating Angela and campaigning for her all the way.

Angela has a wealth of experience. She has held ministerial office, having been appointed Minister of State at the Department of Work and Pensions in 2009. She has subsequently been Shadow Leader of the House, Shadow Chief Treasury Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

I got to know Angela on the National Policy Forum. I am a NPF member and Angela has been the Chair for a long time. She has done that job very well, being both hard-working and thoughtful, weighing up evidence and avoiding trite conclusions based on ideology. I urge Labour Party members to support Angela Eagle for Leader.

 

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What exactly was the Brexit manifesto?

The European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) has raised concerns over the future of Britain’s immediate involvement of the European Membership and our current membership following the referendum.

There are, the EPLP warns, “two unpalatable options”. These are currently being contemplated but both of options are problematic. Some believe we can exit the European Union but retain membership to the European Single Market. The issue with this is that in order to gain full access, Britain must accept the common rules, and this means it will no longer have a say over future changes. A further consideration is that one of the central points of many leave campaigners was the issue of free movement of labour.

The free movement of labour, is part of the strict criteria which members must sign up to if they are to enjoy membership to and trade in the single market. It is very likely therefore that the UK would need to accept free movement as part of the terms.

The other alternative advocated by some ‘Brexiteers’ was to leave the single market entirely. In this scenario the damage to the economy will be significant, not least because we would face tariffs on exports to the EU.

In addition, many current trade agreements we have in place globally will need to be replaced because these deals were agreed as part of our relationship with the EU. They were made centrally by the European Union. So the UK would need to rapidly re negotiate trade agreements to replace these.

Although the result of the referendum was to end our membership of the European Union, there is no explicit mandate for what happens next as my colleague Richard Corbett MEP has pointed out.

The problem with the Brexit campaign, as we now know, is that there was no clear plan offered for life post Brexit. Neither was there a clear manifesto and as a result the next steps are muddy and unclear. A full debate in the British Parliament is therefore essential.

Richard Corbett said yesterday: “The idea that the recent referendum has completely settled the issue is surely dead. Referendums are supposed to settle issues. But does the UK look settled and calm?”

The new Prime Minister has a huge task ahead of her (or him) and how s/he directs the narrative and the first stage of negotiations is crucial, but first Parliament must hold a full and in depth debate about the future of negotiations.

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Channel 4 News Interview: Labour’s Future

Last week I discussed the future of the Labour Party on Channel 4 News with Michael Crick. You can watch the clip here.

 

It followed an article I wrote for the New Statesman which you can also read here.

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Calls for better protection for victims of trafficking

A joint report published yesterday Europol-INTERPOL Report on Migrant Smuggling Networks revealed that the agencies estimated the annual turnover of migrant smuggling to be  worth $5 -$6 billion in 2015, representing one of the main profit-generating activities for organised criminals in Europe.

It also found, among other things that, “travel by 90% of the migrants to the European Union (EU) is predominantly facilitated by members of a criminal network.”

Meanwhile, Members of the European Parliament called on member states to do more to support and protect victims of human trafficking during last week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

The resolution voted on in the European Parliament raised concerns that specific European Union legislation intended to protect victims of trafficking has not been adequately enforced by national governments and that the European Commission has failed to meet reporting deadlines.

The report for which I was the shadow member, revealed details and raised concerns regarding the European Commission. It also found the European Commission failed to keep to the timetable of reporting on the issue of human trafficking as is clearly required by them to do and is clearly stipulated in the Directive.

However, it has been noted that progress has been made in tackling trafficking gangs. But concern about the level of support victims receive remains. National governments must fully implement measures which are designed to help victims including collecting proper statistics which help governments and the European Union gain better insight into the problem.

Statistics, collected by Europol, estimate that 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared since arriving in the EU in 2015. As we have argued before EU member states must ensure that agencies involved in helping victims must receive adequate training. This includes a range of sectors from the Police, medical staff, the judiciary and charities so that they are able to identify the needs of the victims early on and help them work through their trauma.

There are also practical areas where help and support should be offered including helping victims to source safe accommodation, medical treatment and legal counselling.

The report also calls for member states to grant victims residence permits and access to the labour market in the member state to which they were trafficked.

Members of the European Parliament called on member states to do more to support and protect victims of human trafficking during last week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

The resolution voted on in the European Parliament yesterday raised concerns that specific European Union legislation intended to protect victims of trafficking has not been adequately enforced by national governments and that the European Commission has failed to meet reporting deadlines.

The report, for which I was the shadow member, revealed details and raised concerns regarding the European Commission. The report found it failed to keep to the timetable of reporting on the issue of human trafficking as is clearly required by them to do and is clearly stipulated in the Directive.

However, it has been noted that progress has been made in tackling trafficking gangs. But concern about the level of support victims receive remains. National governments must fully implement measures which are designed to help victims including collecting proper statistics which help governments and the European Union gain better insight into the problem.

Statistics, collected by Europol, estimate that 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared since arriving in the EU in 2015. As we have argued before EU member states must ensure that agencies involved in helping victims must receive adequate training. This includes a range of sectors from the Police, medical staff, the judiciary and charities so that they are able to identify the needs of the victims early on and help them work through their trauma.

There are also practical areas where help and support should be offered including helping victims to source safe accommodation, medical treatment and legal counselling.

The report also calls for member states to grant victims residence permits and access to the labour market in the member state to which they were trafficked.

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MEPs vote for tougher measures to combat terrorism

MEPs will vote in Strasbourg this week to adopt new rules to give greater powers across all EU member states for authorities to tackle the growing threat of terrorism.

The new rules will be a decisive measure in the counter terrorism drive and support the work of the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol. The goal of the agency, as many may know, is to support member states in the fight against terrorism and serious organised and international crime.

As we have seen in the last year, the threat terrorist networks pose within the European Union is significant. Europol describes the threat as ‘resilient and able to quickly adapt to new opportunities.’

With this in mind its incumbent upon the European Parliament to respond to, and address the growing threat, and as legislators we are seeking to enhance the mandate of Europol so that it is fully equipped to respond even more swiftly to the rise of international criminal activity including terrorism.

The new measures will also give additional powers to existing units like the Internet Referral Unit, allowing such authorities to swiftly remove any content on websites which praise terrorist acts or encourage terrorists to join terrorist organisations.

In addition, social networking sites such as Facebook can be approached directly and asked to remove material that is used by terrorists. Europol will also be able to request details of other pages in an effort to stop the continuing spread of terrorist propaganda.

Another important area the new rules address is that of information sharing. The ability to share properly, transparently and swiftly information among member states is a significant benefit of our membership to the European Union which must not be underestimated.

While some people have raised concerns over data protection issues, the new measures address the concerns robustly by ensuring strict parliamentary scrutiny and safeguards are in place. Indeed the Civil Liberties Committee has been very clear. It stated: “MEPs have ensured that Europol’s new powers will go hand in hand with increased data protection safeguards and parliamentary scrutiny. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) will be responsible for monitoring Europol’s work and there will be a clear complaints procedure under EU law for citizens.”

And Europol’s work will be overseen by a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group and will include members from both national parliaments and the European Parliament.

As the new measures address data protection issues robustly then we must respond in the toughest terms to the growing threat of terrorism, and without delay.

The rules will take effect from 1 April 2017.

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Multilingualism-another reason to stay in EU

Later today I will speak at an event about about the importance of multilingualism, and higher education.

I work for an institution which, as many of you will be aware, is required by law to speak 24 different languages. I represent a city which prides itself on both multiculturalism and multilingualism. So I have some idea of just how important languages are, the opportunities they create- jobs, experiences and the invaluable contribution to lifelong learning they create.

But I am concerned about what will happen to language education following the referendum. If on June 23rd Britain votes to leave the European Union, it seriously jeopardise language education.

If we cut ourselves from the continent, then we effectively prevent future generations from pursuing careers and enjoying experiences which will be accessible to the remaining member states.

And what message will it send to young people? The incentive to actively learn another language will significantly diminish.

The single market undoubtedly opens huge opportunities, but in order to thrive within that environment, to take advantage of what it offers or to set up a business, then language skills are an essential part in determining that success.

British citizens still need to acknowledge that the ‘everyone speaks English’ phenomenon is outdated.

We must embrace the so called ‘Barcelona Objective’ – an ambitious plan whereby all European school children should be able to communicate effectively in two languages in addition to their mother tongue.

But if we vote to leave the European Union, then we risk further reducing those important learning opportunities for future generations and their ability to be competent in other languages.

The European Commission has created several learning portals which allow young people to expand their horizons by travelling abroad for a few months and taking part in specific learning programmes. Such programmes are of course available to British students and we should encourage them to participate.

Learning languages is just one reason why we should vote to stay in the European Union on June 23rd. The possibilities offered as a result of embracing multiculturalism and multilingualism are endless, exciting and offer a real economic return for the country. We shouldn’t throw away the opportunities created and offered by the European Union.

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