Honeyball’s Weekly Round Up

Labour Party

The Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, outlined another swathe of cuts to benefits (slashing the benefits cap to £20,000 per year) per house hold for those living outside London.

Osborne also promised big cuts to the BBC’s £650mn licence fee during the same interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

But it was leaked documents (which were revealed last week) that have caused most controversy. The documents, sent to the BBC, revealed that government is considering making cuts to some disability benefits. The leaked paper written before the election found that claimants of sickness benefit could be moved to jobseekers allowance, which is a cut of £30 per week.

Labour has never denied that sensible cuts would be necessary but it would not leave vulnerable people without support. But the same cannot be said for the current government. As the Guardian reminded us last week: “In March, the supreme court found that the government’s current benefit cap had left claimants at risk of being unable to house, feed or clothe their families, putting it in breach of the UK’s obligations under the UN convention on the rights of the child.”

Osborne’s planned cuts will be particularly hard for those living just outside of greater London where the cost of living is still extremely high. Overall some 90,000 households are expected to be affected in some way. You can read more here.

Preparing to return to Oslo, where she received her Nobel Peace Prize last year, Malala Yousafzai has written of the honour she felt when she was presented with the Nobel Prize.

She is returning to address the Oslo Education Summit to highlight the fact that there are still children, and specifically 60 million young girls who are denied the right to an education across the world.

She is calling on governments across the globe to fight for the right of access to education.

She calls for, “hope over doubt, light over dark, books over bullets,” simple words but said with the greatest conviction. You can read more on Malala’s trip here.

Dr Denis Mukwege

Labour Party

MukDenis Mukwege, an amazing doctor who campaigns against rape and sexual violence addressed the European Parliament yesterday.

Tears came to many of our eyes as Dr Mukwege told us what he had witnessed and as we heard about his incredible commitment to the women and girls in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a truly worthy winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Throughout his life, Dr Mukwege has dedicated himself to caring for women who have suffered rape as a weapon of war, and now campaigns tirelessly to ensure the voices of those affected by these crimes are heard.

Initially studying medicine, Denis decided to specialise as a gynaecologist, having seen how the care offered to poor Congolese women post-birth was virtually non-existent. He is now the world’s leading expert on repairing the internal physical damage caused by rape, especially gang rape, and has treated more than 40,000 women since 1999, earning him the enmity of the militia groups which fight for control of the DRC’s mineral rich areas. Even after his children were taken hostage and he was forced to leave the DRC, Dr Mukwege decided to return in order to help the victims, once more putting his life at risk.

Denis’ life has been a testament to courage in defending women. The appalling horror he has seen should wake us up to the brutal realities of war in so many places. Rape and sexual violence, not only against women but also against men and children, is still used as a tactic of war, designed to humiliate communities, spread sexual diseases, and have a lasting impact on the psychology and the demographics of a society. Dr Mukwege himself has stated that the international community has seen fit to treat biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as unacceptable, and it should do the same with the weapon of rape.

Talking about receiving his award, Denis said that he felt the European Parliament really understood the problems women in the DRC face with rape. It is now up to us to ensure that we make this a key issue in any lasting conflict resolution.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has previously been awarded to Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan and Reporters Without Borders. Dr Denis Mukwege certainly fits that noble tradition.

 

 

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

Clacton in Essex, Heywood and Middleton and soon to be Rochester have all become symbols of what Patrick Wintour, in last week’s Guardian, called “Farageland”.

As the conference season ended the parties faced an almighty challenge little more than 200 days before a general election that even the most experienced pollsters are hesitant to call.

The message from the two by election’s held last week is that UKIP are a real threat to all parties and, as I have said many times, Labour is also be affected and must take action to address concerns.

“Hurrah for Malala Yousafzai,” wrote Radhika Sanghani, in the Telegraph. “Her tireless work for girls’ rights to an education all over the world have just been awarded with the highest accolade imaginable: The Nobel Peace Prize.”

Malala is an inspirational young woman who wrote about the importance of education for girls. She was targeted and shot by the Taliban when she was 15.

Despite almost losing her life she continued to campaign relentlessly and her birthday, 12 July, is recognised by the United Nations which calls this day ‘Malala Day’. The purpose of the day is to campaign globally and recognise a child’s right to receive an education.

You can watch the Daily Telegraphs top ‘Malala moments,’ which show just inspirational she is.

Last week was the International Day of the Girl and Tanya Barron, head of Plan UK, wrote an article for the Telegraph explaining why it’s time for Britain to wake up to the plight of girls both at home and abroad. This was the third year of the International day of the Girls and the aim is to promote girls rights and to highlight gender inequality. This year’s theme concerned ’empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence’.

Barron wrote in her article: “Millions of girls in the developing world don’t attend school and, instead, are handed a curriculum of chores at home. They’re denied the chance to live in good health because of violent abuses such as female genital mutilation (FGM).”

The International Day of the Girl reminds us of how many girls across the globe are denied the basic human right of an education while others are abused in the most abhorrent way such as FGM. It provides an opportunity to really challenge the behaviour of those who seek to undermine or abuse girls and young women. You can read Tanya’s article here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

The Conservatives were accused of putting corporate interests ahead of public health last week following a decision by the government to postpone its plans on cigarette packaging.

The Tories decision followed a vote in the European Parliament last week at which Labour MEPs today voted for 75% of packaging on cigarette products to be covered in graphic warnings, and a ban on menthol and other flavourings, as well as slims and ‘lipstick packs’, which target young people.

The statistics are clear and make a convincing argument, almost 50% of smokers will die from a smoking related disease and tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable premature deaths across Europe. More than 700,000 people a year die in the European Union as a result of smoking and 70% of those started smoking before the age of 18.

It costs the NHS millions every year and is therefore a significant public health issue, though evidently not to the Tories. We should seek ways to make smoking less attractive to young people, with a variety of flavours available, and ‘elegant’ slim packaging.

The human cost and misery which causes terrible illnesses must not be underestimated.

However, health minister Jeremy Hunt is awaiting the results of an experiment in Australia where, even despite colleagues saying they had been personally persuaded of the effectiveness of such a move.

Awaiting research is an odd decision since The Department of Health’s own research shows that plain packaging is less attractive, especially to young people, and improves the effectiveness of health warnings. Yet last week George Osborne said: “[We need to] take our time to get the right decision.” But who must the decision be right for?

The Observer dedicated its editorial to the plans, or rather postponed plans, which you can read here.

You couldn’t fail to be moved by the presence of 16-year-old Shot Pakistan schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. She addressed the UN and said she was there to “speak up for the right of education of every child”.

Malala told the UN during her speech that books and pens scare extremists, as she urged education for all. She made other powerful statements and said “efforts to silence her had failed.” Following her attack by the Taliban, and to a standing ovation she said their actions had only made her more resolute.

You can see her speech and read more here.