Body Image, Equal Treatment, ethic minority, Evening Standard, Freedom of Speech, Gender, Immigration, Women's Rights

The often taboo topic of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was raised sensitively in the media last month.

Thousands of girls mutilated in Britain

Reversing female circumcision

I am proud that the UK is leading the way in Europe by assisting victims of this savage crime quickly and confidently via advertising a targeted NHS service to reverse female circumcision.

In the European Parliament one of the changes in attitude that the Daphne fund (one of the EU’s prime sources of funding for awareness-raising, prevention and protection of victims of FGM) sought to achieve is an end to the grimly scandal mongering tones occasionally struck by media’s coverage of FGM. Such tones often only serve to make affected women feel guilty, hence wounding them psychologically and increasing their sense of being an outsider.

I think it is an outrage that, despite 25 years of legislation, not a single person has faced prosecution for the barbarous act of female circumcision, which claims the well-being of approximately 500 girls a year in Britain.

At the end of last month I supported a resolution, put forward in the European Parliament Women’s Committee, to make all EU Member States enforce their existing laws on FGM and introduce new tough measures to stamp out cultural tolerance of this practice.

Locally everyone can make a difference by helping to integrate immigrant families more successfully. Female genital mutilation is carried out in accordance with tradition in certain communities in the UK. These traditions come from other parts of the world and flourish in other European countries.

There therefore needs to be a massive global effort to break through these barriers and protect girls from this barbaric practice.

A very good video explaining the effects and attitudes towards FGM in Somaliland can be seen here:


Evening Standard, Labour Party, Tony Blair

The London “Evening Standard”  is up to its usual tricks.  This paragraph appeared in today’s Londoner’s Diary”:

“Forget the furore over MPs’ (I have corrected the apostrophe as theirs was woefully wrong) abusing their expenses.  What about ex-Prime Ministers?  Tony Blair has now emerged as the world’s highest paid public speaker earning almost £400,000 for two half-hour speeches during a 36-hour visit to the Philippines.  Well British taxpayers are certainly doing their bit for the money spinning cause.  Blair stayed with the British ambassador, as he also did on a recent lecture circuit in Washington.  Surely Tone can afford to stump up for a hotel given his earnings.”

Apart from the snide nature of this piece, perhaps understandable in a scurrilous diary, the underlying sentiment is truly crass.

Tony Blair is a national asset.  His talks around the world boost Britain in a way few others can.  Blair is good news for us.

It’s therefore mindboggling that the “Evening Standard” compares his staying with the British ambassador to MPs’ expenses.  Tone, as Londoner’s Diary calls him, earns us money.  Rather than slagging him off in the same breath as the MPs they perceive to be fiddling their expenses, it would be far more reasonable to recognise the benefits Tony Blair has brought our country.  His status and name recognition are more like Elton John or perhaps Paul McCartney than little known politicians.  After all, if it were Blair’s favourite Liam and Noel Gallagher I imagine the “Evening Standard’s response would be very different.     


Conservative, Evening Standard, GLA, Jennette Arnold, Joanne McCartney, John Biggs, Ken Livingston, Len Duvall, Mayor, Murad Qureshi, Navin Shah, Nicky Gavron, Val Shawcross

There is no getting away from it – Thursday 1 May was a bad day for the capital. Ken Livingstone has done an extraordinarily good job on our behalf. His most striking achievement, the congestion charge, was one of the boldest moves I have seen in my thirty odd years in politics. It took a very special politician to embark on a course of action which, while beneficial for the city as a whole, upset many vested interests and invited the wrath of the capital’s only newspaper, the appalling Evening Standard. Many would say “it was the Standard wot won it” thanks to the paper’s relentless and uncritical campaign for Boris Johnson.

As a London representative resident in the capital’s centre, I was very aware of the real improvements made by Ken. Since there are many more buses I now use them in a way I did not eight years ago, and I have found my Oyster card immensely helpful. Ken is a true Londoner and worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of London.

My congratulations to the Labour members of the Greater London Assembly who were returned: Nicky Gavron, Murad Qureshi, Val Shawcross, John Biggs, Jennette Arnold, Joanne McCartney, Len Duvall and Navin Shah. I know they will keep up Labour’s good work.