Goodbye to Glenys Kinnock

Labour Party

Glenys Kinnock

Though it’s great news for Glenys Kinnock and I wish her all the best with her new portfolio,  I have to admit I’m not leaping up and down with joy at the prospect of losing her as Minister for Europe.  Although in post for only four months, Glenys did make an impact, and from the point of view of Labour MEPs, Glenys was a breath of fresh air after other holders of the post who knew little about the subject.  For once we had a Minister for Europe who not only understood the brief, but was totally committed to it.  As a former MEP who had worked tirelessly in the European Parliament, Glenys was a Minister of Europe to die for.  It’s a huge shame she has, indeed done that, metaphorically speaking, and it’s our loss.  I do, of course, wish Glenys all the very best in her new role as Minister for Africa and Asia.  International development is Glenys’s passion and in that sense it is the job for her.Bryant  

I would at the same time welcome the new Europe Minister Chris Bryant who himself has excellent European credentials.  A former Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe and BBC executive in Brussels, he is no newcomer to the European scene.  Chris will, I know, be a good Minister and we will all work closely with him.

Live blog from Labour Movement for Europe Fringe meeting

Labour Party

lme 001Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century along with the battle against global poverty.  So it was with a mix of interest in the subject and sadness about the results of the European Elections last June that I went to the Labour Movement for Europe (LME) fringe meeting at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton this lunchtime.

Chaired by former MEP Richard Corbett, one of the select band who have kept the LME going over the years, we discussed the Copenhagen targets on climate change, including the contribution made by Gordon Brown. Glenys Kinnock spoke first, and was as passionate and lucid as ever; she is an excellent Minister for Europe respected by all of us.

It is regrettable that President Obama has shown very little commitment to climate change and  no firm commitment on levels of finance.  On the other hand the European Union has promised a  20 per cent cut in greenhouse emmisiions by 2020, and the  EU will up this if the Copenhagen discussions come up with higher targets.  The money for this must be new money – Gordon Brown in very clear on this.  Europe must also act together.

Glenis lme2 001Willmott was the second speaker with Richard Howitt with his purple tie taking the fouth slot.  Where else would you fiind a platform of two Richards and two Gleni(y)ses?  Is this a metaphor for Europe hedging its bets or maybe an example of European consensus?

Glenis told us how Labour has taken the lead on climate change  and has worked to persuade the other parties to come on board.  The Heads of EU Governents eventually agreed their targets, including 20 per cent of EU energy coming from renewable sources.  This was no thanks to the Tories who would almost certainly not have pursued the climate change agenda.  The Tories have, as we all know, left the mainstream EPP to join a bizarre group of right-wing misfits, including climate change deniers from the Czech Republic.  Tory MEPs do not support measures to deal with climate change when voting in the European Parliament.

And finally, Richard Howitt.  All of us were with Richard when he siad just how much he misses Richard Corbett in the European Parliament.  Along with Glenis Willmott, Richard paid tribute to Linda MacAvan who led for the Socialist Group on the climate change negotiations, making a real impact on our behalf in working to introduce the EU targets.  As the Labour MEP for the East of England, Richard explained how European money had hepled Lowestoft with its water shortage problems, showing how Europe has a concrete effect at local level.

As EPLP Spokesperson on Foreilme2 003gn Affairs, Richard explained how Foreign Affairs is becoming more and more about climate change.  Conflict now is as much about water as oil or security issues.  The European Global Climate Change Alliance working with developing countries shows the way things are moving.   The EU has come into its own over climate change.  Global problems require international solutions.


Labour Party

glennys_kinnock_l_02Congratulations to Glenys Kinnock on being appointed Minister for Europe.  It’s an inspired choice by Gordon Brown and a great one for British MEPs.  As an ex-MEP Glenys knows and understands the European Union.  She is also an accomplished media performer and will be able to answer tricky questions on Euorpe from a wealth of experience not, sadly, in evidence since another ex-MEP Joyce Quinn was Europe Minister when I first entered the European Parliament nine years ago.

Glenys has also spent her entire political career doing her very best for the developing world.  As an MEP she was Chairwoman of the Influential African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Committee which dealt with relations with developing countries.  Glenys therefore understands international issues and has worked directly on some of the most intractable problems of our time.

For me, Glenys Kinnock’s appointment was a ray of sunshine in what was otherwise a grey, but not thunderstorm weather, day.  Glenys, all the very best.  I know British MEPs will see you in Brussels very soon.


Labour Party
"Saint" Richard Curtis
“Saint” Richard Curtis

There’s a great profile of comedy genius –  a cliche but true – Richard Curtis in the Independent, click here. This paragraph caught my eye:

“Saint Richard, however, isn’t at all religious: he stopped believing in God before going to Oxford. (“I thought, well, either God doesn’t exist or he is thoroughly nasty, in which case I am not interested in worshipping him.”) About those who think this talented, funny, hard-working, money-spinning and amazingly effective man is driven by impulses of image-making or greed, he is equally brisk. “I believe that cynical people believe that everyone else is cynical. They regard non-cynical people as simply ultra-cynical. So cynics who watch Love Actually think it is a cynical attempt to make money. No amount of evidence could prove to them that it ever had anything to do with goodwill.” And anyway, he points out with a touch of asperity, “Cynics Nose Day hasn’t raised any money yet.”

Richard founded Red Nose Day (this Friday 13th March – lucky for many in the world) in 1985. It has raised over £600m. One of the things I love about it, is that it gives money unconditionally. Obama already has a great achievement in lifting the Reagan/Bush global gag rule on charities assisting with abortion. It is good to see a Christian overturning a rule where other Christians sought to impose their religious views on people of other religions and no religion.

I like to donate to charities that to do not discriminate by religion. Oxfam Christian founded has always been clear that the elimination of poverty is its goal and I’ve readily backed that. War On Want is another I like especially with its focus on human rights. It would be invidious to go on, but I must give a mention to One World Action founded by my friends Joan Ruddock MP and Glenys Kinnock MEP.

My point though is that many people wrongly assume that humanists, because we do not believe in a supreme being, we do not believe in anything. We do, we believe we have one life to make the world a better place and Richard Curtis demonstrates admirably what Humanists do.