Monday, March 27, 2017
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News

Following the Prime Minister’s comments on Radio 4, Bradford East’s MP and Shadow International Development Minister, Imran Hussain, demanded that he apologise for linking extremism with poor English language skills.

The Prime Minister made the comments linking extremism amongst Muslims in the UK to a lack of English language skills whilst on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning as part of his announcement to make £20 million of funding available to teach English to Muslim women, and they were immediately denounced by Mr Hussain and other Labour MPs who claimed that they promoted divisive language and alienated the Muslim community.

The announcement on funding and the proposed sanction in the policy has also come under attack by Mr Hussain who has decried the Prime Minister’s intention to deport those who fail English language tests, labelling the decision as ‘absurd’ in light of the Prime Minister cutting funding for ESOL courses designed to increase English proficiency whilst in Government and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding in July last year.

Speaking on the Prime Ministers’ announcement this morning, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain said:

“Whilst I support to some degree the Prime Minister’s announcement to set aside £20 million to help teach English language skills, I believe that the funding should be there for all communities. However rather than offering sensible solutions to problems that affect non-English speakers of all faiths, the Prime Minister has revealed his true discriminatory and divisive nature, and I would also have been more supportive had the announcement not come from a Government who have already gone about slashing ESOL funding through massive cuts and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding which was established to improve English language skills.

“It is therefore the height of absurdity that whilst the Prime Minister is taking funding from ESOL courses with one hand, he is showing those who fail English language tests the door with the other by threatening them with deportation. This proposed sanction is entirely disproportionate and will not help provide for greater and more cohesive integration, and instead, those with limited English skills should not be coerced into English language classes with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads if they fail, but should be persuaded into them by the many benefits, economic, cultural and social, of extending their English language skills, with the necessary funding available to do so.

“In addition, whilst the Prime Minister is indeed right to talk about tackling discrimination, empowering women and increasing English language skills, by making utterly outrageous and unsupported claims in the process that allude to a belief that a lack of English language skills can drive Muslim women to radicalisation, he has harmed his own cause and has yet again further stigmatised Muslims, and in doing so has both antagonised and alienated communities. There is absolutely no evidence to support this view and it is extremely damaging behaviour from a Prime Minister. I hope that he now either produces evidence to back up his comments or he immediately withdraws them.”

Following a dramatic increase in refugee crises around the world, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has today appointed Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain, to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development.

Mr Hussain was the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Diane Abbott. In a move by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to expand Labour’s Shadow International Development Team he has been appointed to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development

The Shadow International Development Team is responsible for scrutinising the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) which was established by the last Labour Government and was instrumental in negotiating the Millennium Development Goals. Although the full responsibilities of the role are yet to be announced, it is expected that it will heavily involve working to resolve the numerous refugee crises around the world caused by conflict, persecution and climate change, as well as focusing on human rights.

Speaking on the appointment, Imran Hussain MP, Member of Parliament for Bradford East and Shadow Minister of State for International Development said:

“The act of increasing the size of Labour’s Shadow International Development Team shows just how significant the issue of international development is to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, particularly following the acceptance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ongoing global refugee crisis, and I am of course extremely thankful to Jeremy for appointing me to this important position and looking forward to the task at hand.

“In the coming weeks, months and years, I will be focusing on increasing the scrutiny of the Government’s decisions and policies in developing countries, and I will be putting forward ideas, along with the rest of the Shadow International Development Team, on how we can help the poorest people in the world, how we can help refugees fleeing war, persecution and climate change, and how we can ensure that human rights are respected and upheld around the world.

“It will also help to raise the profile of Bradford and I will use the platform that it gives me to fight for better education, a better economy and better healthcare in the district. I came to Parliament in May last year to represent the people of Bradford, which I did within weeks by voting against cuts to welfare, so my constituency office door will continue to remain open throughout the week and priority will stay with my weekly advice surgeries on Fridays. I will not let this position get in the way of my most important role, standing up for the people of Bradford.”

 

by Nazir Tabbussam

When Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured many at a Christmas party going on in San Bernardino (California), President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the Oval Office saying it is possible the massacre in San Bernardino was related to terrorism, but it’s also possible it was workplace-related.

Donald-TrumpAs compared to this sober statement most appropriate to a statesman, the republican hopefull presidential candidate for the forthcoming US presidential elections, Mr Donald Trump has been quite reckless in his response. On December 7 he said: “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on … our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

This statement of a possibly would-be US president, without the least reservation, can be classed as extremely Islamophobic because it stereotypes all Muslims indiscriminately. Mr Trump did not feel the least need to identify the specific hate-mongering elements who incite to violence the American Muslim community and abroad. Trump’s negative remarks are indicative of the fact that quite often negative remarks have more impact than the positive ones. Thus, his statement received widespread and justified criticism. The US foreign Secretary John Kerry accused Trump of endangering the security of the US. In the UK, the reaction against Trump was strongest. A petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK has reached 556,386 signatures at the time of writing this article.

In spite of all that, Trump is adamant to his abhorring statement and he says: “The proposal was probably not politically correct, but I don’t care.” This sort of attitude is called speaking from the heap of one’s wealth because he is a billionaire who made fortune from property and the entertainment business. Thus, his policy statement says: “Shariah authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody, the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.”

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in AmesDemocratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley condemned Trump: he tweeted: @realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for president as a fascist demagogue.” Other politicians on both sides of the aisle did not spare any moment to get their condemnation recorded, including former US Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump’s Republican rival Lindsey Graham said: “Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level. His comments are hurting the war effort and putting our diplomats and soldiers serving in the Middle East at risk. The way to win this war is to reach the vast majority of people in Islamic faith who reject Isil and provide them to resist this ideology…”

The Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal attacked Trump and tweeted: “you are a disgrace not only to GOP (the Republican party) but to all America. Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win.” (The Guardian 12/12/15) Al-Waleed’s attacks gave a new impetus to Trump who retorted immediately in his tweet: “dopey prince… wants to control our US politicians with dad’s money.” (Jerusalem Post 13/12/15) It won’t be impertinent to quote here another such interesting episode of Prince Al-Waleed. After 9/11 Al-Waleed gave a cheque to the then New York Mayor Guiliani for the sum of 10 million dollars. Guiliani refused the money following Al-Waleed’s suggestions of “moral equivalence.” Al-Waleed had said that the “US must address some of the issues that led to such criminal attacks….” and furthermore, that the “US should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.” (CNN 12/11/2001) Interestingly enough, the 19 Al-Qaeda affiliated Arabs who came to the US to launch 9/11 attacks, 15 of them were Saudi citizens. They were neither poor, nor deprived, nor the victims of American social injustices. In this perspective, the US relationship with the Saudi monarchy is worth studying when under US umbrella, they have created a new defence pact between 34 Muslim countries, including Pakistan. All these countries are Sunni by faith and Shia have very carefully been excluded from it. The Sunni nomenclature used in the West actually means Wahabism or Salafi faith and it does not include the Sunni Brailvi and Deobandi who are in great majority in South Asia. Pakistan’s Advisor for Foreign Affairs had to cut a sorry figure in the Senate when questioned about the legitimacy of joining this pact at the cost of ill-feelings of its Shiite population.

President Obama addressed the nation soon after the killings in California. He was most passionate while making an appeal to the Americans for tolerance in the aftermath of San Bernardino incident. He underscored most specifically by saying while Muslims have a responsibility to identify and reject extremism within their ranks, Americans cannot lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of Islam’s more than a billion followers are peaceful.

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Former Bradford West MP George Galloway reacts to Syria airstrikes…

“Last night’s decision by Parliament to authorise British airstrikes in Syria, which are already taking place as you read this, will make nothing better, and may make things a whole lot worse. As a result, Syrian civilians will die, and the lives of British servicemen and women, and civilians, are put at serious risk.

“And for what? Let us be very clear, Cameron’s aim, his enemy, are not ISIS and Al Qaeda, but the regime of President Assad. This is evident in the fact that neither he, nor his allies in Paris and Washington, have lifted a finger nor spoken a word against the funding and arming of these and other extremist groups by NATO member Turkey, and our “closest ally in the Muslim world”, the tyranny that is Saudi Arabia.

It is also evident in Cameron’s fantastical claim of “70,000 moderate rebels” which will serve as a ground force, supposedly to liberate the areas we are now bombing. As countless experts have repeatedly pointed out, there are not 70,000, nor 7,000; it would be optimistic to claim there are 700 moderate rebels in Syria today.

“This latest attempt at regime change shows our political elite, including many Labour MPs, have learnt nothing from our recent wars on Libya and Iraq, the latter being the most direct and immediate cause of the fire now engulfing the whole region. These two interventions themselves were part of a wider history of over 100 years of British failure and bloodshed in the Middle East; occupying foreign lands, imposing and replacing borders and regimes, giving away Palestine to Zionist settlers. What could possibly be gained from yet another such abomination?

“I, along with millions of others, marched against the wars in Iraq and Libya. If the world had listened to us, instead of the siren calls of warmongers Blair, Cameron, Bush, Obama, Hollande, et al, there would be no ISIS, and Al Qaeda would not control a single square mile of land in the whole Middle East.

“We now march against this latest war, as we did outside Parliament last night, and the night before, and as we will continue to do over the coming days, weeks and months. Last night’s victory for warmongering in Parliament was not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning.”

With Respect,

George Galloway

by Mohammad Nazir Tabassum                                                                                                  

“As in Afghanistan, there is confusion about western objectives in a complex conflict – is the aim simply to push back Isis, or does it have to be halting the wider Syrian war in which Isis has thrived? Is this imaginable while President Assad remains on the stage, or is the removal of this man – who has killed more Syrians than anyone else, and driven so many to embrace Isis – a red line?” (The Guardian – Leader Comment 17/11/2015)

A member of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant.This comment of the most esteemed daily newspaper of the UK is worth consideration. I think that while giving such comments, the learned editor has ignored certain basic and most important facts as to who initiated, instigated, supported, financed and funnelled the most sophisticated weaponry to the terrorists’ organisations like Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and the so-called Free Syrian Army, usually described by the western press as “moderate opposition of the Syrian government.” The terrorists from all over the Muslim world including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Chechnya were provided free access to come to Syria and join these terrorists. So all these three organisations acted as midwife and delivered the most barbaric, ruthless, heartless, merciless child that came to be known as Isis and who played havoc in Paris on 13 November 2015. Any impartial, unbiased and just observer can easily conclude that it is not President Assad but all these terrorist organisations supported and financed by the west as well as the monarchs, Amirs and Sultans of the Middle East, including Turkey, who drove many to embrace Isis. The western countries 226208-asadwatched passively while their Muslim citizens, both men and women, including Jihadi brides and in certain cases, the whole families to go and join the Isis.

There is sufficient evidence that the west has only been interested in the removal of Assad for which they have readily and happily been willing to pay the price of making their citizens unsafe at home. After all, why America wants to keep company with Al-Qaeda? For years they knew where Osama Bin Laden was housed, as did the Pakistan Army. They did not harm him. But only in 2011, when he was a spent up force and Barak Obama was going for his second term election that they chose to send the US Navy Seals to kill him. Bashar Al-Assad, like Qadafi and Saddam Hussain is secular.

pic_giant_091014_sm_obama-manages-isisIf the western countries really want their citizens to live in peace, then it is high time that they should reconsider their foreign policy. Interventionism pays dividends but only to a limited extent. It starts hurting very soon. The examples are Korea and China. Taiwan and South Korea have now fully realised that they were used as tools by the Americans.

When America and her western allies including the Middle East partners started a proxy campaign against Syrian President Al-Assad, they were faced by the Russians. Thus, they attempted, though unsuccessfully, to neutralize Russia. Look at the crude methodology that they applied to do so.

ujtCe9wjF89YaAPXGFmhhP0BvqwbAIh1Last month, a meeting took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the chief of Saudi Intelligence and the key link between Washington and Riyadh. The encounter between the two was leaked by certain interested quarters. Thus, in return for Russian acquiescence to regime change in Syria, Bandar offered not only oil and gas deals, but a “guarantee” to protect the winter Olympics next year in Sochi, Russia from terrorist attacks by Chechen Islamists. Bandar assured Putin that these groups were “controlled by us” and could be instigated or restrained as it suited Saudi and US interests. The meeting took place at Mr Putin’s dacha outside Moscow.

This interesting episode was also reported by The Telegraph (Sunday 22 November 2015). This is something that indicates irrefutably that western countries’ foreign policy has serious drawbacks. A policy in which these governments along with their non-European allies can flock together any time and run over any peace-living country without caring much that by doing so they may be making their own homes and people unsafe. Newton’s third law of motion is applicable not only on physical but also on political phenomena. This law states that in nature to every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Why the learned authors of western foreign policy deliberately ignore this scientific truth and start blaming others when they have to harvest the crop whose seeds were sown by them and by no one else.

In the final analysis I must state clearly and unambiguously that those who were brutally killed at various places in Paris were innocent people. They were not the scribblers of the French foreign policy. Their brutal killings cannot be justified by any reason whatsoever and the barbaric killers and the organisation to which they belong and wherever in the world they are located must be annihilated with the unified strength of all peace-loving, non-interfering countries of the world. The west and their Middle Eastern allies must realise that they have seen the removal of Qadafi and Saddam in the near past. Has anything good come out of that? Therefore, “desist from high-handedness because the vengeance of Nature is merciless.”

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

narendramodipti-mThe Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s recent visit to Britain was marked by cheerful greetings, noisy and angry demonstrations, contempt, and some unfavourable and critical media reports. However, Mr David Cameron, our Prime Minister, received him on the rolling red carpet and showered him with factitious words of praise and admiration with the hope of securing more investment to the UK and vice versa. When Modi was received by a huge crowd of British Indians at Wembley Stadium, David Cameron accompanied him and acted as a compere and then greeted the crowd by speaking a few sentences in Hindi. He seized this opportunity to woo his potential voters as most of those present were wealthy businessmen and women.

On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn the Labour leader, shunned Mr Modi and had a short private meeting with him. The reports suggest that Mr Corbyn, in this meeting, very cogently raised with Mr Modi the question of abuses of human rights in India. Mr Corbyn has been a consistent critic of Modi in the last few years.

modi-protestOn 12 November, a large demonstration was held against Modi in front of 10 Downing Street by mainly British Kashmiris as well as a number of Sikhs, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Sri Lankans. All these groups were protesting against Modi and his government’s intransigent and aggressive policies against their people. Under the Modi regime, the Kashmiris who have been struggling to achieve their fundamental right of self-determination for longer than half a century, claim to be suffering most grievously now from anti-Muslim overt policies of the present Indian government. The escalation of anti-Muslim sentiments in India, they believe their struggle for freedom will require more sacrifice of lives. Already more than eighty thousand men, woman and children are estimated to have been killed by the Indian security forces, numbering over three quarter of a million stationed there for the last 30 years.

modi-uk_0Mr Modi, who is well known as the butcher of Muslims during his reign as the chief minister of the Gujarat state in 2002, has recently been dubbed with the new title of ‘Hindu Taliban’ in an article written by Anish Kapoor in the Guardian. It is believed that Modi’s political shaping has greatly been influenced by his close association with the extreme militant Hindu organisations who have flourished in India since independence. Among the most bellicose of them are the Rashtriya Sawayam Sevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Bhartya Jan Sangh. Mahatma Gandhi, the symbol of none violence, peace and harmony was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godsey, a militant Hindu and a prominent member of Mahasabha. Unfortunately, the resurgence of this mind-set is being supported and encouraged by the present government of BJP in India. Muslims and Christians are being forced into mass Hindu conversions and the suffocation of the freedom of expression, the raping of women and banning of consumption of beef are a few examples of Modi’s India. Some Muslims have been lynched and brutally murdered by fanatic Hindus because they were suspected of eating beef.

India, a so called secular country and the greatest democracy of the world, is fast becoming a land of intolerance, discrimination, violence and extremism where religious minorities have to live under oppression and the fear of losing their indentures and even their lives. Those who oppose these evil doings, are harassed and muzzled. The gravity of the current situation is noted by the world media too.

The history of India is imbued with a sense of grandeur, diversity, pathos, casteism, subjugation, polarisation, poverty and squalor. However, since its independence, most leaders of the country were sincere in developing India as a secular, modern and tolerant nation. Jawaharlal Nehru, on the sad occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, while addressing the nation said: ”Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.” Once again, the clouds of darkness are hovering over India’s horizon. The return of the mind set which took the life of Gandhi is at work again. India’s secularism and unity can be at risk if the necessary steps to nip into the bud of this evil are not taken now.

Meanwhile, BJP, the ruling party, has recently faced the electoral defeat in the eastern state of Bihar and many of the individuals and civil liberty groups are openly opposing Modi’s state sponsored oppressive measures. The women organisations have also come out to agitate against some of the obsolete attitudes of the extremists. Such moves should be welcomed and supported by all freedom loving people.

Boasting by Modi while in London, about the fast growing Indian economy and its influence in the region, does not stand any scrutiny. The preponderance of Indian masses are still struggling with the drudgery of their existence. The country’s relations with its neighbours are at their lowest ebb. Recent escalation of skirmishes on the border with Pakistan were feared to be turned into another war between the two neighbours. Kashmir still remains a flash point. Separatist movements in the country under Modi are gaining strength.

Despite the spending of millions of pounds by Modi’s friends in London, helped by David Cameron, they failed to achieve their goal. Modi could not win any laurels for himself because he could not fool all the British people. He was only able to fool himself.

Judith Cummins has this morning challenged the Government to do more to help families save money on their increasingly unaffordable energy bills, with an estimated 28,724 households classified as “fuel poor” in Bradford.

The Bradford South MP challenged Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd MP, saying:

“With the withdrawal of government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, it is now even harder for over-stretched families to afford energy efficiency schemes in their homes. With poor quality housing stock too often leaving families in fuel poverty, what funding does she plan to introduce to help families save money on their increasingly unaffordable energy bills?”

Speaking outside the House of Commons chamber, Bradford South MP, Judith Cummins says: “With the cold winter weather beginning to bite, I wanted to challenge the government to recognise the sheer scale of fuel poverty in our communities and the impact withdrawing government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company. It’s made it even harder for over-stretched families to afford energy efficiency schemes in their homes.

“It’s outrageous that nearly 30,000 families in Bradford are struggling to cope with their energy costs. The Government can and must do more to help people reduce their energy bills.

“The Government’s proposed cuts to Tax Credits could tip thousands of working families in Bradford over the edge, as they are already struggling to make ends meet.  This could result in even higher levels of fuel poverty in the future”.

 New research has been released yesterday by national charity Turn2us found that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work.

Worryingly, of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) have done so for more than a year. The knock-on effect is severe, with a third (33%) forced to skip meals and over a fifth (21%) experiencing stress and other mental health problems.

Questioning Ministers in the House of Commons, Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain called on the Government to do more to tackle the health inequalities blighting the poorer areas of Bradford.

These inequalities in health remains a particular concern for Bradford as according to a report conducted by Public Health England in June 2015, life expectancy in the most deprived areas of the city is 9.6 years lower for men and 8 years lower for women when compared against the least deprived areas, highlighting the severe disparities in healthcare that exist.

The link between deprivation and poor healthcare is also highlighted by national figures from the Office of National Statistics which show that in England, men and women living in the most deprived areas, are up to four times more likely to have a ‘not good’ health rating than their equivalent in the least deprived areas.

Citing these damning figures by Public Health England, Mr Hussain also claimed that “the Government’s attacks on the poor makes this issue worse” as cuts to household incomes and children’s services lead to food poverty and poor nutrition which has been shown to be a leading cause of healthcare problems.

Speaking on health inequalities in Bradford, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said:

“Health inequality between the richest and the poorest in Bradford is a huge problem for the city and the fact that it is so great is deeply concerning as it means that the quality of life and even the life expectancy of those in the most deprived areas is negatively affected simply because of their background and income.

“Not only does this inequality result in poorer life expectancy, it also leads to greater costs for the NHS who have to address the issues that are caused by it, along with a restriction of people’s life chances and their ability work their way out of poverty as numerous studies show health is closely linked to educational attainment.

“Therefore greater action is needed to tackle health inequalities in Bradford and the Government has to seriously invest in NHS services focused on improving health in the poorest people, and stop their widespread cuts to tax credits and Sure Start which are leaving growing numbers of parents unable to provide a consistent and healthy diet and lifestyle for their children, which further exacerbates the situation.”

The Prime Minister, David Cameron has made it clear that at the end of this term in Downing Street, he will step down. Nonetheless, as pledged in 2013, he is bound to hold an in-out from the EU referendum before the end of 2017.

flagJudged by some of his not-easy-to-understand assertions, he is leaving the country in the lurch. When he says: “English votes for English laws”, it connotes that he is saying goodbye to the Scots before they actually opt for independence. Thus, there is a state of uncertainty – uncertainty about the future constitutional relationship between the different components of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Though SNP were humbled following the “No” vote in the Scottish independence referendum yet it left the sovereignty of Westminster internally within the UK in question.

Mr Cameron, irrespective of achieving anything substantial in renegotiation with the leaders of the EU, has to go for referendum. It will turn out later whether he will campaign to remain in or to get out of the EU. Either way his campaign would hinge upon 4 things – preferences of the people on EU membership, the question asked in the referendum, Conservatives’ popularity and inter- and intra-party politics.

cameron-euro-5_2079690bAccording to the latest opinion polls 40% of the people want to leave the EU. Receiving 4 million votes, 13% of those cast, UKip, who won the last EU elections, are campaigning for Britain’s exit from the EU. A substantial number of Tory MPs and many MPs of the Labour party are also in favour of exit.

In referendums, the question asked is always of crucial importance. In 2013, Conservatives suggested: “Do you think the UK should remain a member of European Union, Yes or No”. This question was widely criticised by various circles. Thus, the Electoral Commission intervened and proposed: “Should UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” This question was accepted by the Prime Minister Mr Cameron.

Though the Tories won 2015 general elections to the extent of forming government comfortably without sharing power with any other party, yet they are not comfortable over the in-out question. David Cameron wants to stay in the EU once he got some powers back from it. At the moment, Cameron is reluctant to reveal the full details of what he wants from the EU leaders but he is expected to demand opt-out from the EU ambition to forge a United States of Europe. His other demands may include restriction of access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants, greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation, freeing of businesses from red tape and excessive interference from Brussels, protection of City of London financial markets from EU legislation and lastly, creating safeguards to ensure changes in the single market that should not be imposed on non-euro zone members by the euro zone.

Here I must stop to stress over another aspect of the issue, and that is, referendums quite often turn out to be the popularity tests of the incumbent government. Just like mid-term polls, these provide an opportunity to the public to express their indignation with the performance of the government. Here I would like to quote Michelle Dorrell, 35, a mum of 4, and a Tory voter, who broke down in tears on Question Time (15/10/15). Full of tears she confronted the energy secretary Amber Rudd saying: “I thought you were going to be better for me and my children.” As she said this the audience members shouted: “Shame on you.” So things like these cannot be ignored and these will make the legacy David Cameron would be leaving for his successor.

Then there is a tug of war within and without the Conservatives. There is no denying the fact that when a party is split internally, it cannot successfully persuade voters of their leadership’s message. There are quite a few Tory MPs who would cause internal division. On the contrary, it seems more likely that internal divisions within the Labour party will make a ‘Brexit’ (Britain’s exit from EU) more plausible. Though both the Lib Dems and the Labour opposed referendum during the general elections saying that no referendum unless there were plans to transfer more powers from the UK to the EU but later on Labour stopped opposing referendum.

The Labour party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems are in favour of staying in the EU. They believe that Britain gets a big boost from EU membership – it makes selling things easier. They argue that the flow of immigrants, most of whom are young and keen to work, enhance the economic growth and helps pay for public services. They also believe that Britain’s status in the world would be damaged by leaving EU.

David Cameron has said that there is “no doubt” his planned reforms will require changes to the treaties governing the EU. But this would require the unanimous support of all EU members, and it may not be possible within the deadline he has set for a referendum before the end of 2017.

However, Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, has said he is ready to work with Mr Cameron to “strike a fair deal for the UK in the EU.” “The ball is very much in the court of the UK now”, a senior official told the Guardian. “It’s up to the British to define what they want.”

by Naz Shah
by Naz Shah, MP

It has been almost six months since the people of Bradford West placed their trust in me and voted for me. What a journey I’ve been on since!

On a personal level, it has been a bit of a roller coaster and people in Westminster weren’t kidding when they said the first 6 weeks will be just induction and settling, including setting up two new offices and recruiting staff.

Locally, I am pleased to report that we now a have a full team of staff who are working hard on behalf of the residents of Bradford West. On average, the local office are dealing with more than 125 constituent queries on a weekly basis.

IMG_0194In terms of my own parliamentary work, I am pleased with my most recent appointment to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Very early on following my election, I had my first experience of something very international yet very local. Nothing could have prepared me for grappling with the idea of any local women taking their children to Syria and the media interest that followed suit. It is still something that troubles me and I can imagine it will be something I will never be able to reconcile.

My interest in this issue of radicalisation, extremism, Islamaphobia and policing, influenced my decision to put myself forward for the role which I am enjoying immensely, as it is challenging me and my own learnings whilst I also have the chance to hold the government to account on issues, particularly around extremism, which is one of the bigger issues we are grappling with as a country including the rise of Deash.

image3I also had the honour of being a member of the Welfare Bill Committee which gave me an opportunity to raise the voice of my constituents around the unacceptable changes, particularly the welfare cap and tax credits that this government wants to bring in. The cuts proposed will hit those in need the most and tax credits are a hand up, not a hand out!

Some of the other areas of work I am now also involved with are around human rights issues. Only this morning, I have agreed to support the work of an international charity around the legality of the use of drones. I also continue to contribute regularly to discussions around humanitarian issues within Palestine and Kashmir and am I committed to keeping that dialogue going and raising awareness.

image1As a feminist with a keen interest around the issues of violence against women, I will be supporting discussions and facilitating meetings in relation to women in India and Pakistan as well as here in the UK.

Some of the groups I will be working with include Muslim Women’s Network UK, Southall Black Sisters, Women of the World and the Cortson Review.

Around local issues, I have been meeting regularly in Bradford with all those involved in key issues. For example, I have met with the Leader of the Council no less than six times on issues including education, development, the Syrian refugee crisis and employment/business development. Obviously, we still have more work to do in these areas and I am keen to see rapid improvement.

I have met the head of the LEP and we are exploring development opportunities in the city going forward, especially with the new Westfield shopping complex now open.

I have developed good working relationships with the police and the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and I am regularly updated on issues pertinent to Bradford West.

image1I am also in regular dialogue with our other local service providers and have meetings scheduled with the hospitals trust and higher educational institutes so we can work together for the betterment of our communities. The police, hospitals, schools, university and colleges are all key service providers that are under increasing pressure, and it’s imperative that we try to continue to be innovative and support front line staff, whilst striving to provide the best possible services in Bradford.

Work aside, it’s been an interesting few months. Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy the summer recess due to illness and a spell in hospital. I had lots planned which could not happen, in particular, catching up with people locally.

Although it’s only been 6 months, it feels much longer especially when my youngest child is now stringing together long sentences and having proper conversations. I also now have my daughter in secondary school. It’s also been a huge honour to win a national award for overcoming adversity and making it on to the ‘Most Influential British Asians Power List’ in such a short time into my job made it all the more humbling.

Now with the leadership contest over, I’m looking forward to the next six months and I am confident of making further progress and building upon the work I am already doing.

Should people need any support on issues, please do get in touch. We have three weekly surgeries and our contact details are:

West Riding House, 41 Cheapside, Bradford, BD1 4HR, Tel 01274 725171, or email me Naz.shah.mp@parliament.uk. You can also follow me on Twitter for further updates @nazshahbfd

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