Gábor Vona is Not Welcome in the UK

Labour Party

Theresa May is being asked to stop the leader of the Hungarian extreme right-wing political party, Jobbik, from entering the UK this weekend.

Vona is coming to Holborn on Sunday to speak at a rally that he says is for the Hungarian community living in London, in advance of this year’s European elections.  This is made all the more troubling as his visit falls the day before Holocaust Memorial day.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been urged to ban a Hungarian extreme right leader from the UK, as he prepares to come to a meeting in London on Sunday.

Labour’s Frank Dobson MP and London Assembly Members Andrew Dismore and Murad Qureshi have urged the Home Office and the Met to take action to prevent any potential unrest provoked by the arrival Gábor Vona.

The party is the most successful extreme right organisation in Europe, with three seats in the EU parliament and 44 in the Hungarian Parliament. They are aligned in the European Parliament with parties such as the BNP, Front National and Greece’s Golden Dawn.

But even Nick Griffin would shrink from publicly stating some of the things that Jobbik members feel perfectly comfortable with.  Mr Vona stated recently whilst protesting the World Jewish Congress in Budapest:

“The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale,” party chairman Gabor Vona told the rally, according to Reuters news agency.

Marton Gyongyosi, deputy leader of Jobbik, said Hungary had “become subjugated to Zionism, it has become a target of colonisation while we, the indigenous people, can play only the role of extras”.

Recently, Mr Gyongyosi sparked outrage by saying all government officials of Jewish origin should be officially listed, as they might be a “national security risk”.

Let Theresa May know that we do not want this sort of hate speech on our street.  Please sign the petition here and stop Gábor Vona from being given a platform on Sunday.

Helping Karen Buck fight the Ashcroft millions

Labour Party

It is an annual pleasure to attend Westminster North MP Karen Buck’s magnificent fundraising dinner.  It has found a spiritual home at the Phoenix Palace restaurant in Marylebone. Word has spread far and wide and tickets sold out weeks ago. Karen commends a strong personal loyalty from both activists and constituents.

Arriving early I had the opportunity to catch up on City Hall affairs from London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi.  Murad and I are pictured with Camden Labour activist Diana Broad and my partner Chris Underwood.

Guest speaker, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, gave us a rousing speech with his trademark stringent intellectual analysis.  David’s contention that there are three myths we need to rebut – that Labour is going backwards, that there are no great causes left and that the Tories have changed – resonated with his audience.  I certainly know from my own experience in Europe that the Tories are still the hard right nasty party and that there are more than enough great challenges, reducing poverty and improving education to name but two.  It is also nonsense to believe that Labour is doing anything other than progressing, as the Prime Minister’s support for the Robin Hood tax shows.

The event was again compered by Mathew – I’m going to tell you lots of funny stories about Joanne “Cash for Questions” – Taylor.  Mathew is gaining such a reputation for being very good at doing this sort of thing that he’s now in demand by Labour Parties across London.  A special thanks was also given to Helen Hegarty who organised the whole show as she also did last year.  Helen did a fantastic job in ensuring everything ran smoothly- no mean feat with 150 guests and a celebrity speaker.  My personal thanks to the Phoenix Palace restaurant who put on their customary excellent spread.   

Karen rounded off the evening with a call to all of us to campaign as hard as we can, or even harder if we can manage it.  We know now that Labour has a strong fighting chance and it’s up to us to make sure Labour is returned to govenment in a few months time.  Karen is one of the most respected and highly regarded MPs in London and, I suspect, in the country as a whole.

Tributes were paid to Karen during the evening, in particular from three local government colleagues, Paul Dimoldenburg, Leader of the Labour Group on Westminster Council, Jane Roberts, former Leader of Camden Council and Lambeth Councillor Florence Nosegbe.  They will,of course, be candidates on the London Borogh elections due on 6 May.

We owe it to all our Labour councillors, to Ka ren and to the Labour Party to do everything we possibly can to make sure Labour gets back into government and wins for Labour in London.  The Tories may have Lord Ashcroft’s millions.  We have something far stronger – a real belief in our policies and our government and the will to win.

Mushtaq Qureshi – a remarkable man

Labour Party

wnews103009_04[1]It was a sad day when Mushtaq Qureshi passed away at the end of last month.  Mushtaq was one of those truly great people who spent his life working for others – for the Labour Party, for the Bangladeshi community of which he was such a prominent member and, of course, for his family.  A councillor in Queen’s Park Ward for the past 15 years up until his death, Mushtaq was the first Bangladeshi to be elected to Westminster Council.  He had been active in the Labour Party since coming to Britain over 50 years ago, having previously served as Vice-Chairman of the Awami League in his native Bangladesh.  It is a measure of his desire to help others that when Mushtaq retired from the restaurant business he worked at the Paddington Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Harrow Road. 

I was privileged to know Mushtaq and spend time at his family home in Maida Vale.  His daughter Papya, who is now also a Westminster councillor for Westbourne Ward, worked for me in Brussels for nearly a year.  I know his son Murad as a hard working member of the Greater London Assembly, having also been a Westminster Councillor  representing Church Street Ward.  The Qureshis are a truly remarkable family.

Many condolences to the Qureshi family.  All of those many people who knew Mushtaq will miss him for himself and for his very real commitment to those around him and to the causes in which he believed.