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by Nazir Tabbasum

A loss of just six seats would be enough to turn Theresa May out of Downing Street                                                                                                              

Prime Minister Theresa May has been in the office just for nine months. She was not at ease with the governance feeling that her mandate to rule was borrowed. She wanted to be strong enough to go to negotiate over Brexit in Brussels. For that matter she felt that only her own mandate could give her enough strength necessary to negotiate over her own terms and conditions. Thus she chose to appeal to the right wing of her own party as well as anti-immigrant part of the UK population. But this aspect of her thinking is deeply unpopular with the British business and with much of the country. Thus she has gambled taking into account the gains of Tories in the last general elections and the losses of Labour party.

The polls of these elections would be about a week away when these lines would be published. Election manifestos of the three main stream parties are already launched. Lib Dams promised a vote on Brexit and to raise £1billion by legalising cannabis. Labour chose Bradford and Conservative, Halifax, to launch their manifestos.

Labour kicked off by pledging to abolish tuition fees and nationalise mail, rail and energy firms. Theresa May’s slogan “join me on this journey” to a land where old people worth more than £100,000 will pay for their social care. Moreover, about 900,000 children who are either eligible for the pupil premium supplement or classed as being in ordinary working families will lose the right to a free hot lunch. Tory candidates expressed their private concern about their party’s plan to make people pay for their old-age home care through their estates. The campaign is going on full swing. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested hustings to the incumbent prime minister but she avoided to face his opponent publically on the electronic screens.

There is a remarkable rebound in Tory manifesto as it strikes against the rock hard progressive manifesto of the Labour party. Going through it, one feels that what Labour has offered to the toiling masses of the UK groaning under the Tory rule since 2010, Conservatives have changed their usual course of conservatism in the shape of Mayism by claiming: “We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and Ideology not just as needless but dangerous”.

Is this a new technique to woo voters? Is this an evolutionary aspect of the Toryism? Mrs May breaks away from David Cameron on one hand and from Thatcherism on the other, yet she reacts violently by saying that there is no such thing as Mayism. We are left with no other conclusion than the one that the secret of winning election by the Tories lies in the fact that the Party is immensely fluid and changes colours like chameleon, according to the need of the hour.

After the launching of the manifestos of the two parties, the opinion polls swung in favour of the Labour Party. The first survey since the Conservative manifest was brought to light published by YouGov on 17 May brought the Conservatives down to 44 %, with the Labour up to 35%. The change in opinion is the direct result of the publication of manifestos of the two parties. In this way, Labour’s standing has gone up, the highest since the last general election. The credit goes to the Party’s offering to the public whose living standards have gradually been going down since the Tories came to power in 2010.

These are the indicators that point to the probability that there won’t be any such thing like landslide victory of the Tories. Now the percentage point difference between the two parties is just 9. If Labour continued to spread their message “For the Many, not for the few”, they may continue to improve their standing before the polling day, and the result could be anybody’s guess.

Mrs May’s election manifesto clearly said that people needing social care at home will have to pay for it until their value of their assets – including their homes – reached a floor of £100,000. The party also promised that a family home would never need to be sold in a person’s life time, with costs, initially uncapped, instead recouped after death. But later, while visiting North Wales, she announced that the social care costs would now be subject to an unspecified cap. She said that her social policy will limit winter fuel allowance to the poorest and take peoples’ properties into account in the means test for social care at home.

Soon after these announcements, Mrs May was accused of “chaos, confusion and indecision” as she made a U-turn on her plans to make people pay more for social care just days after these were first announced. Thus her announcement was dubbed as “dementia tax”.

A political scientist, Sir David Butler, who has covered every general election since 1950, used his new Twitter account to declare it unprecedented. Manifestos are documents indelible and sold as such to the voters, later becoming mandate in the exercise of powers. The U-turn made by Mrs May leaves her undefended and thus leaving her accusations of weakness of others as baseless.

A pertinent question about her credentials as a Brexit negotiator has been raised by Labour’s election co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne: If this is how they handle their own manifesto, how will they cope the Brexit negotiation?”

Theresa May has confessed publically that if she lost just six seats, she will lose majority and Corbyn will become Prime Minister.

The long and short of it is that these elections are an opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to go to the country with his modern socialist manifesto he has always wished that the Labour party would put to the public. This election is going to be a defining moment in the contest between the left and the right of the party.

There is just one Labour MP in Scotland today that once was a stronghold of Labour party. We have yet to see during these elections if Labour could retrieve a few more seats in that country that was called a predominantly Labour province.

As temperatures rise across the district, the Bradford West election campaigns are also heating up.

Independent candidate Salma Yaqoob has been accused by the Labour Party of making misleading and false claims on her campaign leaflet.

The Labour Party has demanded that Yaqoob, from Birmingham, stop making these ‘misleading and false’ claims on her campaign literature, which have been distributed across the district.

leafletThe ex-Respect politician has been exposed for including a photograph of herself with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on her leaflets, along with the palpably false phrase “a vote for Salma is a vote for Corbyn.”

A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “There is only one Labour Party candidate in Bradford West and that is Naz Shah. Naz has been an outstanding member of parliament for Bradford West since trouncing George Galloway two years ago and if re-elected will continue to be a strong voice for local people.

“She, and only she, has the full support and endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn as the best choice for Bradford West.

“People in Bradford West have a choice on 8th June – re-elect their strong Labour MP who will stand for the many, not the few, or elect a Tory who would sit on his hands while his Party in government slash funding to local schools and further run down our crisis-hit health service.”

Salma Yaqoob was unavailable for comment.

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
Nothing has changed for the third world countries. They were raided, plundered, colonised and occupied before and after the cold war era and they are attacked, destabilised, ruined and changed into ashes in this age of so-called globalisation.

In 2003, George W. Bush in the company of Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, said there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Iraq is now a doomed country. Is it doomed because of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction? The whole world knows that it was just a bad name given in order to kill him. Now they say that they have evidence Assad’s forces used sarin gas against civilians on 4 April.

If we just go back and see US President Donald Trump as a private US citizen on Twitter and then as a presidential candidate, we see him quite good with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power. At that time he was of the opinion that US should not get involved in another Middle Eastern conflict in particular with one who is backed by Russia. When he won the elections, he told Wall Street Journal: “My attitude was you‘re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting Isis, and you have to get rid of Isis”. This was the basis on which Assad called Trump “a natural ally”.

On March 30, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, said that the US needed to “pick and choose [its] battles”, though Bashar al-Assad was accused of human rights violations. “Our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out”.

562754-syria-chemical-attack-reutersIn spite of all this, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat Airbase, a Syrian airfield, on the morning of 7 April 2017. It was alleged that this place was the base for the aircraft that carried out the chemical attack on Syrian citizens. It has been claimed by senior White House officials that Syrian military officers involved in the chemical weapons programme were at the Shayrat base before and on the day of Khan Sheikhun attack. They say that the attack was carried out by the Syrian air force SU-22 war plane, dropping at least one munitions containing sarin. A US official laid blame on Russians’ connivance with the Syrians in this alleged attack without any sound evidence, speculating on the premise that there has been long-term collaboration between the two countries.

Foreign ministers from the G7 nations met in Italy on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th April and the meeting focused on putting pressure on Russia. Boris Johnson led the push and asked the participants to allow more sanctions against Russian and Syrian leaders suggesting that they could follow the findings of an investigation by the independent Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

But Germany and Italy, who were of the opinion that the increasing broad economic restrictions on Russia would be counterproductive, could not be influenced by Boris, and the Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said it would be wrong to isolate Russia or push it into a corner.

The allegation of chemical attack was vehemently refuted by Putin who said that Western and Turkish accusations that Syrian government had dropped nerve agent sarin that killed dozens of civilians in Idlib earlier in April, were comparable with the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “It reminds me of the events in 2003 when US envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq”, the Russian President told reporters on 11 April. “We have seen it already”.

Thus, Vladimir Putin’s support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was further strengthened as he shrugged off western criticism and claimed that his opponents planned fake chemical weapons attacks to justify further US missile strikes.

The US President Donald Trump showed constant change of colours with regard to his approach towards American involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. The day after the alleged chemical attack and on the first day when images of the suggested victims were published, Trump said Assad had crossed “many, many lines”. Hours before guided-missile destroyers launched 59 Tomahawk missiles, Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, indicated that Trump had reversed his position completely. “Assad’s role in the future is uncertain, clearly. With the acts that he had taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people”, he said.

When the media men asked Tillerson about US preparations to rally an international coalition to remove Assad from power, he replied: “Those steps are under way”. In spite of all that the US administration kept on changing position. Thus, soon after the missile attack , the newly appointed national security advisor HR McMaster described the US attack as “aimed at the capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons, but it was not of a scope or scale that it would go after all such related facilities”.

On 9 April, Tillerson said: “Our priority is first to defeat Isis”. Once the US “conclude” that war, the US would attempt to broker ceasefire agreements between the Syrian civil war’s combatants. Tillerson said he was hopeful to work with Russia “and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilisation throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties …”Nothing about Tillerson’s statement implied that Assad’s “fate” would be to leave power. Contrary to that, Tillerson insinuated that overthrowing Assad would be disastrous, and to that he cited Obama’s adventurism in Libya: “Any time you go in and have a violent change at the top, it is very difficult to create the conditions for stability longer-term”. Yet we see that the contradictions in American policy know no bounds, as Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador in the UN, though agreed with Tillerson on the importance of “the political solution”, she added: “In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government, and we have to make sure we’re pushing that process”.

On 11 April, Tillerson told the journalists after the G7 summit: “It is clear to all of us the reign of Assad family is coming to an end. But the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important in our view to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria”.

The Trump era in the White House is not short of eccentrics as we see the White House press secretary Sean Spicer comparing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with Hitler: “We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who did not even sink to using chemical weapons”.

During his election campaign, Trump emphasised that his only focus in Syria would be defeating Islamic State, repeatedly signalling that he had little interest in regime change. But he ended that policy by launching missile attack on Khan Sheikhun.

In the final analysis, what can be said about US policy in Syria is that it is full of contradictions, unclear, ambiguous and confusing more now than it was before Trump.

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
Theresa May’s sudden decision to hold a snap election on 8 June 2017 surprised many political observers and politicians. She said ‘I have taken this decision as Britain needed stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.’ Last month, the Parliament endorsed her decision with more than a two third majority which was required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Generally snap elections are called by the incumbent at an advantageous time when they believe the political climate is in their favour. And usually to capitalise on such a favourable opportunity to increase their majority to decide any pressing issues. For Theresa May, the current most pressing issue, of course, is BREXIT. On the one hand she is faced with the internal rift within her party. The far-right MPs who are pro-hard BREXIT want to sever links with Europe and to ensure the implementation of a strict immigration and refugee policy.

Ms May seems to have caved into the ultra-right threats. Also the investigation of twenty MPs from her party over the last elections’ expenses is very serious and if the allegations against them are proved, they could be disqualified. In view of these difficulties and the current thin majority of only ten of her party in the parliament, she believes it may not be possible for her government to carry on effectively and even be faced with a no vote of confidence. Hence, she has taken a calculated risk of going for a snap-election.

A glimpse of what is likely to dominate the election is mirrored in the daily headlines of our national newspapers. The flagship for Tories is BREXIT. Therefore, their strategy is to keep voters mainly occupied with this issue and create the impression that Theresa May will be a strong and unassailable leader to successfully conclude the negotiations for BREXIT. This sort of tactic may divert the attention of voters from the irreparable damage and influence the UKIP supporters to vote for the Tories. Interestingly very little emphasis is placed on social and economic problems facing the country.

Jeremy-Corbyn-Theresa-May-Brexit-YouGov-poll-Article-50-Len-McCluskey-785174The Labour Party has presented the voters with its ten point’s plan that embraces mainly its policy on social, economic and health, housing and education. It also aims to raise the minimum wage, the tax on wealthy and re-nationalisation of railways. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a target for the media and Tory Party from the first day of his successful bid for leadership. He has been consistently smeared, vilified and at worse described as a security risk for the country. He has been tainted as incapable of leading the party. His enemies within the Labour Party have refused to accept him as their leader and yet despite all such odds, he has not only survived but steadily increased his popularity.

The former Labour Prime Minster and Leader of the Party, Tony Blair has publicly said that even Labour voters should consider seriously to support the Liberal Democrat and Tory candidates who are against hard –BREXIT. His statement is another thin end of the wedge into already fragile unity of the party.

One of the most critical aspects of Labour policies is its defence and the controversial future of Trident. The Labour Party have to be transparent and unambiguous on the policy to allay suspicions and confusion. However, the position on BREXIT is gradually being clarified and explained to the public.

Seven years of Tory rule and its policy of austerity has broken the back of the poor and lower middle class families. The National Health Service has been forced to its near collapse. Massive cuts in public services have crippled the ability of local councils to provide essential services.

The education of our children is in disarray. The disabled citizens are facing extreme hardship. Homelessness in recent years has rapidly increased. Even begging has become more visible in the centres of our cities. Such are the dire side effects of austerity on the lives of poor and unemployed people. The systematic tendency for social and economic inequality, in Britain, that is rooted in its institutional structures has been reinforced in the last seven years of Tory reign. Such structures of systematic inequality and increased poverty are counter-posed to the very idea of the social justice.

What else can we expect from this flawed and lopsided paradigm? Ms May, under the irresistible pressure from the far-right is refusing to accept refugees from Syria for whose plight to flee their country, we have share of our responsibility too.

The Liberal Democrat Party is hoping to capture the Remain vote as its main election focus is on Remain. Since the party is free from the shackles of coalition with the Tories, it expects to lure the Remain voters across the board. This could prove to be a false hope. However, they may increase their seats in their heartlands.

It is difficult to make any predictions about the outcome of snap-elections and particularly the election on June 8 is exceptional. The major focus of all mainstream parties is on BREXIT. During referendum and even now, the country is divided right in the middle. About 52 per cent of electorate who then supported BREXIT were from all major political parties of the land.

It is assumed that of this number, a good percentage may no longer be willing to support BREXIT. These apologists now may switch their allegiance to pro-soft or pro-Remain parties. If this hypothesis comes true, the Tories might lose a significant segment of these voters which could be a gain for the Lib Dems. It is envisaged that Labour’s support in large cities of the Midlands and North may remain undisturbed. But most importantly, both Labour and the Tories have to reclaim their share of votes in Scotland. The failure to achieve this target will have a decisive impact on the overall results of the election. A greater proportion of young and ethnic voters are traditional supporters of Labour whereas the older population may continue to be loyal to the Tories. However, one must not ignore to recognise that there is a strand of strong anti-government sentiments deriving from the shoddy treatment of the disabled and slow bleeding demise the National Health Service and massive cuts in public services which may tilt the scale in favour of Labour.

One should not rely on daily results of opinion polls. They have proved to be wrong in the recent past, both during the referendum in our country and elections in America. The current election is different to past general elections in Britain. It is not only about the national issues. The main plank used by the Tories is BREXIT.

Snap elections are always fraught with uncertainties and risks. The last such election was called by Edward Heath in 1974 in order to get a mandate to face down the miners’ strike. It resulted in a hung Parliament in which Labour won more seats by a narrow margin. Heath resigned and was replaced by Harold Wilson. It would not be a miracle if history repeats itself!

Editors note: This article was written before the publication of the parties manifesto

Six months ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke about her commitment to the ‘just about managing’, the poor as well as the rich, and to tackling the ‘burning injustices’ of social and economic inequality. The need for national consensus in the wake of the Brexit referendum and a revival of one nation conservatism. She made great capital about the steadfast and steady leadership she would provide and the cynicism and opportunism of those encouraging her to call an early election. The country she argued could not risk the instability that would inevitably cause!

Understandably today’s announcement of a General Election on June 8th caught many by surprise. In contrast to her often quoted prime ministerial predecessor, this Lady certainly is ‘for turning’ especially when the fruits of our electoral system beckon so strongly.

It seems that building a national consensus and safeguarding the country against political and economic instability are of scant importance, especially when compared to the prospect of locking out opposition to a hard Brexit whilst burying the Conservative Party election expenses scandal.

Today’s announcement is political game playing of the highest and most deplorable order. A cold and calculated attempt, less than a year since her leadership success and not two years since the last general election to create political advantage from uncertainty.

Theresa May and the Conservative Party have shown their true colours. After seven years of Tory austerity let us be in no doubt what a further term of office would mean.

This is a government that is dedicated to exploiting division not healing it.

I represent Bradford West, I have sought to work tirelessly on behalf of all the people living in a constituency that I was born in, grew up in and have lived in all my adult life. There are things a working class woman from West Bradford knows in her heart and can see with her own eyes that no Tory election spin can hide.

Since 2010 the Tories have imposed an agenda of economic austerity with unswerving disregard for its impact on the people of my home city. The simple fact is that Tory policies have hit the poorest people in the poorest places hardest. Those least able to cope with the loss of public services live in the areas where they have been cut most.

The Tories told us that savings could be made with cuts to top heavy management but it’s clear that its front line services that are now in a state of collapse. Those working in schools, hospitals, social services or the police work longer hours and carry a greater workload as they desperately strive to shield the most vulnerable from the full impact of Tory cuts.

Cuts to management that are so extreme that strategic and organisational capacity are undermined. The impact hits working class communities hardest. They make the greatest use of public services and notice what are initially presented as small changes to hours, waiting times, and cost. The effect is cumulative and disproportionate. When allied to a world of employment that is increasingly precarious and uncertain, where wages have stagnated for years and employment rights feel like a thing of the past, Theresa’s May’s hypocrisy is staggering.

There is an alternative. We need to start funding the public sector again, and we need to rebalance between investment and saving. We need to listen to alternatives because austerity has not worked. Debt is higher, borrowing is higher, and we have paid enough of a price for this government’s failure to deliver.

The time for bleak, pessimistic austerity from Tory governments is over.

It has bought the NHS to its knees, stripped local government of vital resources, decimated school funding and put immense pressure on those who were struggling the most.

This is a chance for optimism. It is a chance for us to want better. WE deserve better!

Better for ourselves and better for the next generation.

It is a chance to make a change.

This is your opportunity to vote for it!

Naz Shah MP
Bradford West

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by Zaf Shah
by Zaf Shah
The tragic events of 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities have grabbed attention all over the world. As an unintended consequence, this has changed the way we view the adherents of the Islamic faith.

This brought with it significant challenges for all of us. Indeed, and in Britain this was felt more acutely after the 7/7 London bombings and more recently the attack in Westminister. An ‘us and them’ notion of religious identity separation began to emerge more strongly than ever.

For me, and I am sure many of you reading this, created some real internal struggles. At what level in Islam was this sanctioned, or was it a misinterpretation of the ‘sacred text’?

Is the West at war with Islam? One can argue that the debate over who and what makes someone kill in the name of a religion or a political goal has been exhausted over the course of the last decade.

hqdefaultHowever, the why at the human level still eludes us. For example, why would a seemingly ordinary Bradford family decide to pack their bags and leave for a war zone in the hope of celestial redemption? This question is by no means easy to answer. It is for this reason that I embarked on the greatest intellectual struggle of my life, a PhD programme with the University of Huddersfield’s, Secure Societies Institute.

The research is primarily rooted in religious and political narratives. Anti-Terror legislation also features in the research. The Governments Counter Terrorism Strategy (Prevent) has created untestable suspicions for British Muslims; this is an element not to be overlooked. The research looks specifically at both political and religious narratives told by scholars and political ‘leaders’, that arguably many of us adhere to and act upon as ‘Gospel’. For example, what is it that a ‘scholar’ says that can make us act in ways that is in the traditional normative sense, very alien?

This research brings with it challenges to my own identity in the 21st Century as a British Muslim. To some extent which has never been more curious, and in part, thought provoking. Over the course of my life, I have tried, like many of you to navigate between what it is to be British, Muslim, a Bradfordian and a Yorkshireman. In some ways, I felt as though Britain was looking at my own culture as inferior to the ‘British culture’.

That said, the rationalised country in which I live helps me navigate my place in our social system, one that based on my own experiences with both my Muslim and Christian family has allowed me to create a distinct role, yet without a clash between my faith(s) and society. The community to which I belong has allowed me to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that my own social identity plays a distinct part in shaping not only my own views, but also how I view the wider world and its citizens. While grappling with my own identity, my faith has allowed me to, understand and accept that the rights of all members of the human collective are not at odds with Islam. Yet at the same time, it is difficult to see where, given the rise of fundamentalism and traditionalist Islam, if ever Islam in the West will be able to reconcile the varying and competing interpretations of Sharia’h with human rights.

The events playing out in the Middle East serve as a constant reminder of the challenges British Muslims face in trying to understand the links between a faraway land and their rightful place in Britain. Britain has seen a surge in imported and transplanted traditions into society, both Islamic and cultural. While, this brings with it challenges, my experience of society through the British education system, and familial experiences, has allowed me to engage with a different set of values. Values which have gone on and continue to enrich my identity.

On a monthly basis, I will try to answer some of the provocative questions you may have. For example, is the West at War with Islam? Is the Government Prevent strategy a state spying tool aimed solely at Muslims? This is just a sample of what is going to be a journey of discovery and intellectual enlightenment, with the main purpose to bring us closer, rather than allow discord and divisions to be sown by a few.

Mr Zaf Shah, BA (Hons) PGC Law
PhD Scholar
Secure Societies Institute

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
The immediate effect of the Executive Order by the US President was complete confusion and chaos at the airports as approved refugees, valid visa holders, non-US dual citizens and US legal residents were detained, barred from planes or ordered out of the US. A Federal Judge in New York ordered a stay on the deportation of the people with valid visas. Universities, hospitals and tech companies staggered from the order which threatens or has already banned thousands of doctors, students, researchers, engineers and others. Refugees persecuted for their sexual orientation or suffering from medical crises are still in limbo with other people denied entry because the order makes no exception besides for minority religion applicants.

The Executive Order banning entry of citizens of seven Muslim majority countries into the US is being taken as closing the door on the world. Its natural and rebounding effect would be that the world will start closing the door on the US.

There is a growing concern that this policy would throttle the flow of foreign talent, block certain employees from returning to their home offices and harm small businesses that rely on immigrant spending. That is what made some US corporations to decry the immigration blockade. The fears are growing that big foreign investors like Kraft, General Mills and Nestle would scale back foreign investment plans. Thus, counterproductive measures are afoot to stop the government from carrying out the ban. Lyft, a ride-hailing firm has donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union to battle the ban. Uber too pledged a $ 3 million legal defence fund for immigrant Uber drivers caught outside the US.

Many other companies whose professionals are spread out among citizens countries reacted gingerly, in such a way that some declined to comment on the policy altogether, while others expressed mild concern and yet a few others criticised the ban out rightly. For example Ford, the major US automakers openly assailed Trump’s action. Ford CEO Mark Field and Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman told employees in an email: “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

Although Ford said it was not aware of any employees who were personally affected, reports came to the limelight of other organisations that were affected directly. For example, a Saudi-born and Sudanese-passport-carrying doctor at the Cleveland Clinic was reportedly denied entry to the US upon returning and was forced to return to the Middle East.

General Motors sent an email to its employees obtained by the Detroit Free Press, about the travel and immigration policy. John Quattrone, GM’s senior vice president of global human resources said in the memo: “Some of our colleagues operate here with a GM-sponsored work visa and a few are from the countries affected by the Executive Order. Please know that, per our normal business practices, if any GM employee travelling back to the US with a visa encounters difficulties, GM will provide the employee and his/her family with support.”

The US Chamber of Commerce said that some companies are advising potentially affected employees to “simply stay in place and avoid travel until the confusion can be rectified. The Chamber said in a statement: “Companies are understandably confused with regard to the status of green card holders and dual nationals, and we hope the administration can quickly clarify how these will be handled.”

Certain corporations like Exxon Mobil and BP that have significant operations in the Middle East declined to comment. Others were low key, such as Cargill, which employs many immigrants in its meat and poultry plants, said it is working with its travel and security partners to determine what the action means for its workers.

Jennifer Walske, a professor in the school of management at the University of San Francisco says: “It is not surprising that companies are cautious of opening up a Pandora’s Box by taking up the issue when they apparently could be ‘a tweet away from annoying the administration’.

Malissa Arnoff, chair of corporate communication at Levick Strategic Communications says: “In the end, companies need to look at the fundamentals, what their business stands for and where their customers are. Because of that many firms are being cautious of what they say. If you look at a lot of the statements, people are criticising the policy without criticising the President. It’s a fine line, but they are trying to not blatantly say he’s a horrible person.”

Michelle Sternthal, deputy director of policy and government affairs at the Main Street Alliance says: “The ban could undermine American innovation because 25% of science and engineering companies have at least one immigrant founder. The chilling effect is just enormous.”

Several law suits are under way in Federal Courts in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington State challenging Trump’s executive order. Thousands of Americans protested at airports and outside a Brooklyn courthouse in the 48 hours following the executive order. Democrats and civil rights attorneys have criticised the order, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer saying it contradicts the ideals enshrined in American culture and on the Statue of Liberty.

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have stood by Trump praising his executive order. Republicans like senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticised the order.

Barack Obama, ten days after handing power over to Mr Trump, stated that he supports mass protests against the “extreme vetting” orders. It is rare for former Presidents to criticise their successors and certainly not just ten days after they are sworn in. Protests continue across America and around the world – including in Britain.

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The most important national issue of our time – how do we create a country in which economic growth enables the many ‘people who are just about managing’ to feel more economically secure in life, not only across the Northern Powerhouse but across the country – is being debated by leading thinkers and decision makers in Bradford in March.

Theresa May declared on becoming Prime Minister in the context of the Brexit vote: “We will strive to make Britain a country that works for everyone, regardless of who they are, regardless of where they’re from.”

‘Making Inclusive Growth a Reality’ is an RSA Inclusive Growth Commission conference, hosted in Bradford on 6 March, facilitated by Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor and attracting keynote speakers Andrew Percy MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister and Stephanie Flanders, Managing Director of J P Morgan Asset Management and Chair of the Inclusive Growth Commission.

Pioneering work on inclusive growth, led by local authorities working in partnership with business and community partners, across the Leeds City Region will be showcased.

The Bradford event follows a year-long national inquiry to identify practical ways to make local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. It will launch the Inclusive Growth Commission’s ‘how to guide’ which recognises that it is the leaders, businesses and citizens of regional cities and towns that will play the critical role in securing the conditions for economic growth and social inclusion.

On the back of the Bradford conference, the inquiry will publish its final report of recommendations the next day. This is expected to cover areas such as social and physical infrastructure investment, place-based industrial strategies, inclusive devolution and proposals for measuring ‘quality GVA.’

Three West Yorkshire council leaders, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe from Bradford, Coun Judith Blake from Leeds and Coun Peter Box from Wakefield, will speak about how their councils have been in the forefront of developing pioneering initiatives to try and make sure economic growth benefits everybody in their cities.

Bradford Council Leader, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “I’ll be pleased to welcome the Northern Powerhouse Minister once more and I’m glad that Bradford has been chosen as the national host of this important event.

“Bradford is exactly the right place for it. Government needs to back big cities like Bradford which has massive potential but which has been overlooked when it comes to Government investment for years. In Bradford we need decision-makers to take note of the report’s recommendations and turn them into action.

“Leeds City Region is already making inroads into securing decent jobs and providing the right skills for the local population. We want to build on all that work which will further boost the prosperity of the area.”

Case studies will be profiled at the event demonstrating the progress so far, and attendees will also be able to hear from businesses and residents from the region who will describe their experiences of inclusive economic growth.

Charlotte Aldritt, Director of the RSA Inclusive Growth Commission, said: “The ‘How to guide’ is an important milestone for the Inclusive Growth commission.

“It demonstrates the importance of key leaders in local government, businesses and the third sector working together to tackle challenges and mobilise resources in order to bring quality jobs to a region.”

His entry into the White House was marked with the beginning of an era of pride not only for himself but also for the colour-skinned Americans. He marvelled in certain fields of public service such as marriage equality, expanded healthcare, a renewed economy, federal divestment from for-profit prisons, the Fair Sentencing Act reducing the disparity between crack and cocaine sentencing, the end of the war in Iraq, the appointment of thelandscape-1429889065-obama first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and a lot more.

During this time, it was witnessed that equality is never free. Those who invested in the system of justice make the oppressed pay for any progress they make. Thus, those who were mildly prejudiced became vehemently racist. Rumours of Obama’s “Muslim Identity” during his campaign didn’t dissipate after his election; instead these became a regular part of the Conservative lexicon that fuelled violent Islamophobia.

Thus, with his elevation to the American Presidency, an increase was seen in the hate crime and hate groups nationwide. During the recent US elections, many Americans lamented the angry and sometimes violent rhetoric and actions, frequently demanded by the angry white people to “take the country back” – as if the election of the black president amounted to a coup.

Black Americans had to bear the brunt of getting into the White House of a black president. An email message was circulated among all female persons of colour in an office in Washington that read: “Congratulations bitches! Don’t come crying when you’re forced to wear a burka in a few months”.

Conservative Americans dismissed political views of their fellow coloured Americans as being ignorant; just once in American history their support to a black man was labelled as race-based while none of them ever questioned what must have been their 100% support for white men in all previous elections. Just in one instance of black leadership, the nation stood divided, hate sentiment of whites against the coloured Americans rose to the new heights.

In that climate of unprecedented hatred against the coloured Americans by the white supremacists, President Obama had to make heartbreaking and unforgiveable compromises during his eight years in the White House. The carnage wrought by drone strikes would likely result in paying for the enemies thus made with all the indefensible deaths caused.

Millions of families were torn apart as Obama’s administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in the American history. Obama tried to walk the “middle road” on the extrajudicial killings of black people at the hands of police officers, knowing that if he were to voice too much support for the Black Lives Matter campaign, he would be lambasted by those who would claim that he is anti-white and anti-police.

rt-obama-trump--72-er-170120_4x3_992Today, at the end of his eight years in the White House, the African Americans as well as all other coloured Americans are not the least safe, not the least equal and not the least free. Their children are still knocked out of schools. They are locked up. A third of their men are more likely to be imprisoned. They are still 13 times poorer than their white counterparts. They are still four times more likely to die at the hands of police.

The cloud of glory and optimism with which Barack Obama entered into the White House eight years ago, he has now departed from the White House leaving the nation in a cloud of disappointment, recrimination, and even paranoia.

None of the wars Obama inherited are truly over, and he started or joined several more. If anything, the sense of America’s decline is even more palpable than before. For a sense of that decline, look at the pathetic tantrums that the Obama administration threw in its last days.

After the White House received some criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in the media for letting a non-binding resolution condemning Israeli settlements pass at the UN, Secretary of State John Kerry let fly with speech on Israel and its settlements at a bewildering length. He scolded Israel for having the “most right-wing (government) in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”. It was petty and unnecessary. Letting the resolution pass said everything that the administration hoped to express. This indicated clearly the impotence of administration in the backdrop of no intention to stop economic aid or military aid to that country.

Now comes the treatment meted out to Russia as an omnicompetent rival by the Obama administration. Just before his departure from the White House, his administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families in retaliation for their government’s supposed hacking. But when the Obama administration presented its evidence for Russian hacking to the public, it was so week and circumstantial, it almost invited those perusing it to disbelieve the administration’s claim.

Obama administration has fallen far short of the soaring aspirations in which it began. The wars have not ended. Obama is the first two-term president to be in one war – the war in Afghanistan, the war that even his own “surge” could not end – for his entire presidency. And it’s a war in which Taliban have been making a comeback. Obama hands off American involvement in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and a humiliating wind down of its five-year covert intervention in the Syrian war.

Obama was hailed as a genius and political saviour. Now his Democratic Party has fallen to new lows in the state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country. Instead of handing on the executive branch to an ordained successor, he is passing it onto the man who questioned his birth certificate, a certain Donald Trump. God help America!

By Mohammed Nazir Tabussam

A group of more than 35 cross party British Parliamentarians led by Bradford West MP  Naz Shah, have today co-signed a letter asking for the Prime minister of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) – Farooq Haider Khan – to complete and expand the diaspora support initiative that he has been working on in Kashmir.

The government of Azad Kashmir have recently legislated for a “Commission for Overseas Kashmiri’s” based in Azad Kashmir. Ministers will report directly to the PM, who will personally chair the Commission. It has been designed specifically to support the Kashmiri diaspora community navigate through processes that they may be unfamiliar with.

Yesterday, Naz Shah met with the PM Farooq Haidar Khan and held lengthy discussions around the continued implementation of the proposals. Naz Shah suggested that this commission would benefit if it had direct designated links to the diaspora communities, via the Pakistan high commission and its regional offices here in the U.K.

The letter also calls for a strengthening of the current proposals, asking them to explore the possibility of separate ‘Diaspora Facilitator Police Cells’. Arm’s length, on the ground, independent policing units within Kashmir.

While commending what the government has done so far these British Parliamentarians are asking the government to go further.

Naz Shah states: ‘’Whilst I am pleased to see the authorities in AJK, and particularly the Prime Minister himself are making visible efforts in rooting out corruption and making legal processes more accessible for the diaspora community in the UK, it can often be a struggle to achieve justice and legal remedies.

“The Diaspora community are vulnerable in many ways to processes that are often opaque, confusing and difficult to navigate without support. The establishment of a Commission represents a significant opportunity and British Parliamentarians have urged the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmiri to consolidate the initiative with a liaison team based in the UK, allied to a dedicated investigative police team in Azad Kashmir. This is not about getting the diaspora a different level of access, it is about ensuring that they get access to due process.

“The diaspora community invests considerably in Azad Kashmir, and these additional initiatives will help secure the legacy and success of the commission.”

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