Labour is a progressive party or we are nothing

Labour Party

It comes as a disappointment that the Labour Party appears to have done little analysis, at least as far as I know, of the results of the European and local elections held a month ago. While I fully accept that these two polls, often the repository for protest votes, do not necessarily provide pointers to the outcome of a general election, nevertheless, it would only be sensible for the Party to look at the way the votes went and draw conclusions which may be helpful for the future.

The Labour Party really needs to do this for the simple reason that, outside the large urban areas, it is not too good for us. Furthermore, in some places where Labour has traditionally regarded the electors as its “core vote” we lost and UKIP gained at Labour’s expense. There is obvious disillusionment in parts of the country which Labour ought to address urgently and certainly in time to take some remedial action before May 2015.

What is generally regarded as strong Labour territory in some of the Yorkshire and Humber region and southern working-class areas such as Thurrock turned to UKIP rather than us in the European Parliament elections. In Doncaster UKIP gained 24,240 votes against Labour’s 23,743. Across the Yorks and Humber region as a whole, UKIP won 31 per cent of the vote giving them three MEPs and Labour had 29 per cent with two. UKIP also won in Thurrock with more than twice as many votes as Labour, 17,416 to 8,645. The Labour Party should be worried by this strong showing for UKIP, not least because disaffected Liberal-Democrats turned to the UK Independence Party rather than Labour, which would have been the norm in the past.

The exception for Labour was the big cities, especially London, where we won four out of the eight MEPs. This is, I believe, a separate but linked phenomenon, and will be the subject of another blog. The urgent lesson for the Labour Party to address now is what we do about the fact that UKIP came first in the European elections. To imagine that all those errant electors will come home to Labour in a general election reeks of too much complacency. Tory polling guru Lord Ashcroft reckons about half of them will stay with UKIP. While I accept it’s a while to May 2015, Labour needs a strong and credible response in relation to the parts of the country, notably the old industrial and mining areas, which have suffered over the years from loss of jobs and Tory cuts in public services.

The Labour Party firstly needs to understand the lessons it should learn from the decline in its fortunes in these areas which were once solid for us. Although, as a Londoner I’m not particularly qualified to pontificate on the actual places under discussion, I do think that those living in the cities where Labour’s vote is holding up have valid comments to make. Let’s start with the old “being out of touch” chestnut. The Guardian today published their research into the backgrounds of prospective parliamentary candidates in marginal seats. In the 90 seats where Labour is the challenger, the majority of candidates had links to either Westminster or Brussels. In other words, they were political insiders.

While I think the “political insider” criticism is just a bit too trite, it is definitely one of the problems Labour is facing. Any political party which doesn’t represent its voters will find in the end that the voters go somewhere else. Yet the problem goes beyond this since UKIP did very well even in Dennis Skinner’s Bolsover. It is also true that some of these UKIP voters were for the British National Party in the past. It is, of course, also true that society has changed and those in the old mining and non-urban industrial areas are now a minority of Britain’s population.

Maybe it is this very change in the nature of our country – much higher levels of educational attainment, mass communication, the fragmentation of families and communities and, of course, immigration, to name but a few – which is causing UKIP to gain support. UKIP is a backward-looking party, a cancer eating away at the strength of our country which will inevitably attract those who are feeling alienated and disconnected. Labour, by contrast, is a progressive force, outward looking, wanting to improve people’s lives. Sadly, and possibly unhappily for Labour in the short-term, quite a few of those in former Labour areas feel the changes which are taking place so rapidly in our country are nothing to do with them and in any event they don’t like what is going on.

Short of becoming a UKIP clone, possibly in rather more of a sheep’s clothing, there is realistically little Labour can do about the old “core” vote in places which are currently rejecting the party. We need to look forward, to keep to our values, and to represent what is best for the country as a whole and not simply try and get back those whom we have clearly lost. Trying to out-UKIP UKIP would only move the whole political discourse rightwards with disastrous consequences for what the Labour Party should be about – fairness, equality, justice, freedom for the many not the few.

The irony of UKIP, led by Nigel Farage, a public school educated stockbroker, becoming the party of the old white working class is really quite tragic. I very much hope Labour will win back these voters by putting forward a programme in government for all the people of our country. If Labour does not fully embrace progressive policies which recognise the benefits of immigration, are strongly in favour of Britain playing a full part at the centre of the European Union, seek to improve living standards, including health, housing and education, and maintain Britain as a major player in the world economy and in world affairs, we will be hard pushed to get there in 2015. The choice is ours; the 2015 general election is Labour’s to lose.


My Profile on the Sunday Politics

Labour Party

This weekend I was featured on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, who are doing a series of profiles on MEPs in the run up to the election. I discuss the great work Labour has done for British citizens at the European level. You can watch the profile using the media player above.

This is the third and final instalment of the Party of European Socialists manifesto for the European Elections to be held on 22 May.  I believe it is a strong document providing clear policies on jobs and growth and Europe’s economic problems. This last section talks about gender equality, and I’m certainly very pleased that the PES is showing such a commitment to this extremely important matter.

The PES Manifesto

II. A Union that protects

5. A Union of equality and women’s rights
The principle of equality must be at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen. We all benefit from living in a more equal society. Ensuring, promoting and enhancing women’s rights and gender equality remains one of our highest priorities. We need a binding commitment to end the gender pay and pension gap. Violence against women must be ended. Reconciling professional and family life must mean promoting balance not sacrifice, and promoting women’s free choice and access to sexual and reproductive rights, must be urgently and vigorously protected in the face of a conservative backlash. We will be relentless in our fight against all forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and intolerance. We stand for the values of equality and of non-discrimination and promote that women and men must equally share work, share power, share time and share roles, both in the public and in the private realms. We will safeguard the rights and well-being of children, and ensure that no person is denied a job, a position, a future or any other fundamental right because of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, identity, religion, age, gender, disability, political opinion or any form of discrimination.

6. A Union of diversity
Against rising extremism, we will fight for a Europe that respects everybody’s rights and obligations, not one that is based on prejudice, hate and division. Everybody must have a real opportunity to participate and contribute to the societies they are living in. Freedom of movement is a right and a founding principle of the EU. The rights of citizens and their legally recognised families must be respected, while we must fight against fraud and abuse. True solidarity among all EU member states has to be shown in migration and asylum policy to avoid more human tragedies, and sufficient resources allocated. In order to save lives, Europe and its Member States must act in solidarity and have the right mechanisms to share the responsibilities. We want effective integration and participation policies, assistance to the countries migrants have left. The fight against human trafficking must be reinforced.

7. A Safe and Healthy life for all
European citizens deserve to live a safe and healthy life. We want stronger rules that give consumers power. We will protect Europeans’ right to enjoy safe food, safe products and a safe living environment. We recognize the strategic role of agriculture and fisheries for our societies, and want to promote a sustainable and thriving rural development. The EU must adapt to new challenges, especially the digital agenda and guarantee broad access to the internet. We need solid EU legislation on the protection of citizens’ personal data and access to information. Striking the right balance between privacy, freedom, and security is vital. The EU should guarantee citizens’ right to security by promoting cooperation in the fight against organised and crossborder crime.

III. A Union that performs

8. More democracy and participation
For the first time in EU history, you will have a direct say to designate the President of the European Commission. We are proud to lead this real step towards a more democratic Europe, and to have paved the way that other political parties now also follow. The European Union is a political union which ensures the equality of its citizens, and the equality of its states. European citizens, civil society, and social actors must have full democratic participation and control in European Union decisions. We will promote a
prominent role for the European Parliament that has legislative, budgetary and control powers, as the EU institution representing its citizens. Decisions must be taken at the most appropriate level, be it local, regional, national or European, in the interest of European citizens. All policies must be efficient, respect democratic values, fight corruption and serve citizens in an open and transparent way. We will put in place effective European responses to breaches of fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law.

9. A Green Europe
The EU must regain global leadership on the protection of nature and natural resources and the fight against pollution and climate change. This requires both close cooperation with our global partners and leading by example. We will support clean technology and environmentally friendly production. As we approach the 2020 deadline, we will therefore support further binding targets on the reduction of carbon emissions, the increased use of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. We will promote the implementation of Project Bonds to finance good investments in the green economy, renewable energy and technology. Production, consumption and mobility patterns must change and the use of recycling must improve. This way we will reduce pressure on scarce natural resources and help citizens to reduce their energy bills and their ecological footprint. We will fight energy poverty and will guarantee minimum access to energy for everyone.

10. Promoting Europe’s influence in the world
The European Union must carry the universal principles of democracy, peace and respect for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights. In a globalised and changing world, with conflicts and growing inequalities, Europe must be a global player. We must build strong alliances to respond to common challenges. We want Europe to have a strong voice and the proper tools to lead in promoting peace, democracy, and shared prosperity throughout the world. Europe combines defence, development, trade and diplomacy efforts to maximize the positive effects in its foreign policy. The EU must be an effective agent of peace abroad and an efficient promoter of defence cooperation. We must support the people struggling for democracy, social justice, non-discrimination and freedom against any form of occupation everywhere in the world. We will support the Eastern Partnership as an important instrument to bring countries closer to EU and will promote strong relations with the Mediterranean region. We must maintain support for European enlargement. Fundamental rights and European values must continue to be respected unequivocally in any future accession. We must fight global imbalances and poverty by promoting policy coherence for development and making the Millennium Development Goals and the UN post 2015 agenda a success.

With these 10 projects we, Socialists, Social Democrats, Labour, Democrats and Progressives, will change Europe over the next 5 years. We count on your vote and we will act tirelessly on your behalf. Together, we will change Europe.

Labour Party

Party of European Socialists’ manifesto for the European elections, second instalment

Labour Party

As mentioned yesterday, this is the next instalment of the Party of European Socialists’ Manifesto for the European Elections.

PES Manifesto

2. It is time to relaunch the economy

Austerity-only policy has harmed our economies and punished those least responsible for causing the crisis. To create jobs and relaunch the economy, we will prioritize innovation, research, training and a smart reindustrialization policy, so that amazing breakthroughs discovered in European laboratories and universities can be translated into more jobs for workers in Europe. Our solution is more room for manoeuvre for investments through national budgets that expand rather than shrink our economy. While the crisis has demonstrated that the Euro can act as an effective buffer, the last five years have shown that the European Economic and Monetary Union’s construction is still incomplete. It has shown the importance of mutualising responsibility and rights within the Eurozone. We will bring down deficits in a sustainable and fair way and manage public debt in Europe with new instruments. We want to put in place a real coordination of the economic and fiscal policies in the Eurozone that understands the social effects of those decisions on your community. The European Parliament and national Parliaments must keep their sovereignty and be fully involved in the exercise of the democratic control over these policies. The legacy of the Troikas in this regard is a clear failure. After the end of the Troika missions, another model within the framework of the EU Treaties should be established, which has to be democratic, socially responsible and credible. We will be tough guardians of public money, enhancing the quality of public spending, cutting out waste and directing expenditure to get the best value for Europe’s people. The fight against tax fraud, tax evasion (which represents about €1 trillion every year) and tax competition are key priorities for a just tax system. Halving tax evasion by 2020, and cracking down on tax havens are our key priorities. We will also promote tax rules that ensure transparency and prevent tax dodging.

3. Putting the financial sector at the service of the citizens and the real economy

Europeans had to pay for the mistakes and irresponsibility of an unregulated financial sector. The rescue of banks has cost €1.6 trillion of taxpayers’ money. Over 5 years, the finance sector has said that it has learned from its mistakes. We will make sure that never again will banks gamble with citizens lives. Instead we must actively put in place the framework that will make the financial sector work for the real economy and contribute its fair share to society. Regulation will force banks to serve your communities instead of stripping them. Investors should take responsibility for the losses of banks, not only for their gains. We will further regulate the banking sector, curb financial speculation and implement adequate firewalls between Commercial and Investment Banking. We will cap bankers’ bonuses and will speed up the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax that we have been supporting for years as a fair contribution of the financial sector to society. We will insist on the creation of an independent and public European credit rating agency. We will continue our efforts to build a robust Banking Union that is designed to protect European citizens and to give equal and fair access to credit in Europe.

4. Towards a Social Europe

The right wing has used neoliberal policies to cut provisions that have helped people bounce back after tough times. We will fight for a Europe that leaves no one behind. A decent income, the quality and affordability of education, of housing, including social housing, of healthcare, childcare and elderly care, as well as the adequacy of pensions are crucial components of our societies. To achieve these aims, the EU must support Member States in the effective and fair redistribution of wealth and opportunities. Binding targets on employment, education and social cohesion are essential. Social policy objectives must be respected in all European policies. We need to ensure that the EU is a real Social Union as much as it is an Economic Union: economic freedoms cannot outweigh social rights. We will give opportunities for Europeans to develop their potential by investing in education, skills, childcare provision, life-long learning, culture, student mobility, research, and knowledge.

Party of European Socialists Manifesto for the European Elections

Labour Party

The Party of European Socialists recently adopted its manifesto for the European elections to be held in just over two months’ time on 22 May.

Unlike the other pan-European parties fighting the European elections, the Party of European Socialists has a common manifesto with all the national Labour and social democrat parties across Europe, though there will be some room for member state discretion.

The PES will also return MEPs from every EU member state unlike the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformist) Group whose mainstay is the British Tories.

I am posting the PES Manifesto on this blog in three parts.

PES Manifesto
Adopted by the PES Election Congress in Rome on 1 March 2014
Towards a New Europe

We strongly believe that the European Union must change. This May, in the European Parliament elections, your vote will give us the opportunity to deliver the EU that you deserve. A Europe that progresses, a Europe that protects, a Europe that performs. Our political family of parties across 28 countries will dedicate themselves to fighting for a secure future for you. The right wing has created a Europe of fear and austerity. During 5 years of an EU conservative majority, we have fought for a strong, socially just and democratic Europe. But now it is time to lead from the front. To do that we need your support, your help, your vote.

Our programme for the next five years of the European Union will bring back job creation, a productive economy, a sense of community and respect for people. We want to put you as a citizen and as a voter back in charge and bring back hope to Europe’s youth.

This May for the first time you will have a say in who runs Europe. Your vote will decide who the next President of the European Commission is. To change the right-wing majority in the European Union, the only vote that counts is a vote for European Socialists, Social-Democrats, Labour, Democrats and progressives.

I. A Union that progresses

1. It is time to put jobs first

This is our first and main priority: Europeans, women and men, must have a decent job that allows a good quality of life. Yet here is the legacy of the economic policies of the last five years, in stark figures: nearly 27 million Europeans who want to work cannot find a job, including nearly a quarter of our young people. 120 million in Europe are at or under the poverty threshold. Creating jobs for young people is a challenge which will define us, for this generation and the next, and will remain a key priority for us as part of our long-term commitment to full employment. Central to our job strategy is the full implementation of our Youth Guarantee plan. To make it successful, we will substantially increase its budget and extend it to everyone under the age of 30. To create jobs, we will introduce an ambitious European industrial policy and will support our Social Economy and our Small and Medium Enterprises. We will promote innovative green technologies and improve the performance of our economies. We want to put an end to social dumping, by ending the practice of exploiting workers and precarious contracts that harm many Europeans. We want to promote social justice. We will insist on strong rules to guarantee equal pay for equal work, the protection of workers’ rights and quality jobs; on reinforcing trade unions’ rights, social dialogue and anti-discrimination legislation; improving the protection of workers posted in a different country by revising the Posting of Workers Directive; and promoting better cooperation at European level on labour inspections. We will introduce decent minimum wages across Europe, established either by law or through collective bargaining. The jobs we create must allow all our citizens to participate in the economy as proud equals. All trade agreements, including the one currently under negotiation with the United States, must be bound to the protection of people´s human and social rights, decent work, environmental standards, culture as well as corporate social responsibility and fair trade.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

This week began with the news that Michelle Bachelet had beaten Alianza’s Evelyn Matthei to be elected President of Chile. Bachelet, who was running for the New Majority – a coalition of left and centre-left political parties – won 62% of the vote, and will formally take on the role in March 2014. She was previously President between 2006 and 2010, spending the interim period as the head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Bachelet’s landslide victory means she now has a greater mandate than in her previous term in office. She has promised to increase corporation tax and improve state education. With Chile currently standing bottom of the 34 nation OECD inequality index, there is a strong feeling in the country that fairer policies are required. Widespread frustration with the lack of opportunities for ordinary people – despite a sustained period of growth – was one of the core reasons or the unpopularity of the previous incumbent, the centre-right Sebastián Piñera. “We’ve never been better positioned than now to make reforms,” said one left-leaning Senator.

The election also has a fascinating personal dimension. Matthei and Bachelet were playmates at a military base in the 1970s. However, the two women’s fathers – who supported and opposed General Pinchet respectively – had radically different fates, with Matthei’s promoted but Bachelet’s tortured to death. In spite of this, relations between the two women are said to be amicable.

As an advocate of a bigger role for women of all political colours, it was fantastic to observe an all-female contest. And I was of course delighted to see such an overwhelming endorsement of progressive values by the electorate. For growth to be sustainable social capital must keep pace with economic capital.

The electoral outcome in Chile marks a final closure on the horrors of the Pinochet regime, and a move towards a more open and equal era for the country. It reminds us that, while this may have been a year dominated in Britain by headlines about Ukip, immigration and London’s housing bubble, progressive values still have the capacity to triumph.

As we move into a European Election year we must be sure to remember this. Reports this weekend pointed to a potential collapse in funding for UK charities thanks to the Conservatives’ decision to withdraw from justice and home affairs programmes. Organisations focusing on, among other things, child safety, sexual bullying, and family support are expected to lose vital EU grants, and Jago Russell, head of Fair Trials International, said his charity might have to “relocate to another country”.

This is the just the latest in a string of stories showing the flaws in the Euro-sceptic argument. Pessimism and fear-mongering by those on the right have allowed reactionary arguments to gain traction, but we should not forget that being in Europe allows Britain to be a fairer, safer country. As the debate about the ‘European Question’ builds in the run-up to the elections in May, we must make a positive and progressive case for Europe.

Season’s Greetings to everyone reading this, and I look forwards to writing again in 2014.

An answer to the democratic deficit as Ireland votes

Labour Party

With Ireland  going to the polls today in a referendum on the European fiscal pact, the debate on the future of the Euro continues to rage.

On the one side is a considerable body of opinion that believes there will have to be some form of political integration between those countries who have signed up to the fiscal pact in order to make the Euro zone work. On the other side we have assorted, mainly right-wing, doom-sayers predominantly from the UK.

It is only a short step from finance to politics, and once the governance of the European Union is put in the frame, the dreaded democratic deficit raises its ugly head. This week’s Economist makes its view that the EU has such a deficit abundantly clear. That magazine and those many other voices sceptical about the EU’s democratic credentials, do, indeed, have a point. If you were to ask the simple question “who elects those who lead the EU?” you would get a less than straightforward answer.

In point of fact, the European Union law-making bodies do have clearly defined boundaries. The European Commission comprising one Commissioner appointed by the governments of each member state for a five-year period proposes legislation. The increasingly important Commission President emerges at the beginning of each Commission term from among the Commissioners by some impenetrable form of osmosis. The second institution, the Council of Ministers, is made up of member state governments, who are at least elected. The Council is joint legislator with the European Parliament, directly elected by the people of the EU every five years.

The system was, of course, designed to prevent any one group getting too powerful. This may have been a laudable aim and a necessary condition when the EU was first founded. Now, however, when Europe should be providing financial leadership with the consent of the people, the largest and most prosperous member state is taking power unto itself in what appears to be a profoundly undemocratic way.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has never in its history been given anything that may be described as a democratic mandate. True, member states go to the polls at the same time in June every five years to elect me and my fellow MEPs. Yet there has not been a European Parliament election in the UK fought on a meaningful manifesto for the European Parliament which gave those elected genuine legitimacy.

The current demands for a referendum on EU membership have, I believe, come directly out of the woeful failure to have proper elections to the European Parliament.  European Parliament elections should be fought on strong manifestos put forward by the political groups in the European Parliament and adapted for use in individual member states. The hard issues should be there as the European Parliament now has legislative power on environmental matters, transport, employment and social issues and the EU single market, amongst other things. Voters should have a proper chance to evaluate what the political parties intend to do on issues where the EU has competence.

This has certainly never happened in the UK. I have now fought three European elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009. On each occasion the election was fought almost exclusively on domestic issues and appeared to be more a test of opinion on the Westminster government than an election to the European Parliament. I have, of course, been provided with a mandate as a Labour Party representative. I have, however, never felt I have been elected on any kind of platform for the European Parliament.

This has to change if the EU is to be democratic rather than be the tragic bearer of a “democratic deficit”. While talk of directly electing the Commission President is useful, the first and easiest change would be to allow the European Parliament to act like a real parliament. This would be a relatively easy reform to put into place but one which would also be very effective.



Labour Party

Since elections are the very stuff of democracy it ill behoves politicians to complain about them. However, I am angry that the fascist BNP have gained two seats in the European Parliament ousting my hard working, intellectual heavyweight colleague Richard Corbett in Yorks and Humber and preventing the election of the excellent Theresa Griffin in the North West. It is indeed a sad day for this country when racists gain elected office, and something on which we should all reflect.

In particular we need a considered analysis as to why the BNP have gained this foothold, and the steps we should take in future to regain the seats lost to them for the democratic political mainstream. Since I don’t believe the British people are basically racist and that the overwhelming majority of the voters are decent and fairminded, ousting the BNP by democratic means is definitely achievable. We should define our strategy sooner rather than later to prevent the racists and fascists gaining further momentum.

As well as Richard Corbett, sad farewells to Glyn Ford and Neena Gill. Both were good colleagues and will be sadly missed. It is unfortunate that elections are lost as well as won, and although all of us who put ourselves forward for elected office know that things will go down as well as up, it doesn’t make losing any easier. My sincere wishes for the future to Richard, Glyn and Neena. I’m sure all of us Labour MEPs fortunate enough to be returned to the European Parliament are thinking of you.

Just a final word about London. The Labour result in the capital was significantly better than most other parts of the country. My thanks to everyone who voted Labour, to Ken Clark, the London Labour Party Regional Director, all the staff at the London Labour Regional Office and to those many Labour Party members who worked so hard campaigning to return Labour MEPs. It may not have been a great result, but we can be proud in London that we bucked the national trend and maintained our share of the vote at virtually the same level as at the last European elections in 2004.


Conservative, Equal Rights

I was very concerned to find out this week that one of the Tory candidates for the European elections, Jean-Paul Floru (a Belgian national) apparently holds an association and affinity with a racist Belgian party called Lijst Dedecker or the LDD for short. In a newspaper interview with Het Nieuwsblad earlier this year Floru seemingly complimented the LDD on their “pure ideology.” And of even greater concern he confessed to maintaining “close contact with Jean-Marie Dedecker.”


Top left: LDD candidate Patrick Ghys, 8th candidate for the region Antwerp (regional elections coinciding with the European elections) pictured in a racist election poster from a previous election; Top Right: JP Floru; Bottom: JM Dedecker.

Jean-Marie Dedecker is the founder of the LDD party. Dedecker opposes the “cordon sanitaire” of the mainstream parties impose on fascist Belgian parties by refusing to enter into coalitions with such extremists. In early 2007 Dedecker arranged for part of the party VLOTT, cartel partner of “Flemish Interest” (the Belgian equivalent of the BNP) to join his party. To emphasise the racist nature of thses people, I’ve put up a picture of a vile racist Gorilla poster that was used by one of these LDD candidates in a previous election.

But the Gorrilla election poster is not just an isolated example. I’ve been presented with evidence stretching back years that the LDD and its members are racists. The LDD has refused to denounce racist comments about Muslims made in on Belgian TV and has high ranking politicians who have participated in racist, inflammatory marches through the streets of Brussels. In addition,  Jurgen Verstrepen, a prominent politician in LDD has also confessed in a published book that he was present at political meetings (presumably with members who joined post-2007) where Nazi-songs, such as the party hymn of Hitler’s NSDAP, were sung.

I am truly shocked and horrified at what I have uncovered here. It has made me feel sick that this vile racism is still being touted around. Floru needs to clarify the extent of his involvement with the LDD, its leaders, supporters and allied organisatons. He needs to explain why he spoke admiringly of a racist party and its leader. Its the least the people of London deserve come June 4th.


Labour Party

London’s Turkish Cypriots hosted an event to be proud of yesterday afternoon.  Held in the “Cyprus Kitchen” in Green Lanes, two of Labour’s Euro candidates, Nilgun Canver and Emma Jones plus myself  addressed a meeting of Turkish Cypriots on Europe and specifically Laabour in Europe.  We were joined by MPs Joan Ryan from Enfield and Andy Love, Tottenham.

The debate, chaired by Turkish Cypriot community stalwart Hassan Raif, was lively and interesting.  As you would expect, the Cyprus problem featured heavily as did Turkey’s possible accession to the European Union.  I am confident of a high level of support for Labour from Turkish Cypriots.

Following the meeting, we were invited to a meal at the “Cyprus Kitchen”.  My thanks to all those involved in this for their hospitality and special thanks to Hassan Raif for organising the event.   

[rockyou id=138484771&w=426&h=320]