Saturday, August 19, 2017
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by Bradford West MP Naz Shah
Today I’ve been given “a right to reply” regarding a story running in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.

One of the questions I was offered to comment upon was, “Members of her family have challenged her account of growing up in squalor moving home 14 times in under two years”

Followed by the most disturbing statement I’ve been asked to respond to, which is one about the abuse my mother suffered which reads, “her account of physical and sexual abuse suffered by her mother at the hands of Mohammed Azam was rejected by the court of appeal in her appeal case”

Before I get to the more important points in this article, let me clarify a couple of things. I was 6 years old when we first moved. Between the ages of 6-8 I didn’t count the number of times we moved, but I do remember we moved often. I remember the outside toilet because I was afraid of the dark as well as the neighbour’s dog at the back of our back to back house. I remember the bath in the kitchen and seeing a rat running across it which frightened me as to me it seemed enormous. I remember going on holiday with social services because we were poor and I hated sleeping in a dormitory. So dear Daily Mail, my apologies if  I can’t give you the 14 addresses with postcodes – I don’t have many happy memories of that time. I have plenty that no child should ever have and I try not to remember them.

I’m not going to catalogue my mother’s abuse here as it is well documented, certainly in the court papers that the Daily Mail have most probably trawled through like Galloway did. But what I will talk about is the court dismissing her as incapable of belief.

My mother didn’t tell her story because of the concept of “honour”, as it brought shame upon the wider family and very little was understood about it, so when she did finally find the courage to speak out back in 1997/8 she wasn’t believed. However, it is well documented that when reviewing and subsequently reducing her tariff from 20 years to 12 years, in 1998/9, Lord Chief Justice Bingham acknowledged my mother was a desperate woman in desperate circumstances.

It has taken years of campaigning by women’s rights groups to help people understand this issue of “honour based violence”, a patriarchal mindset and culture which is prevalent in parts of some communities.

This is no different to the change in attitudes that has taken place to begin to understand street grooming.

We have to accept that it was only in 2015 that the terminology “child prostitutes” was removed from government literature. And one of the biggest reasons we never saw any prosecutions was because these victims and their stories of horror were not believed. It was the approach which Nazir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor applied at the time which led to convictions in Rochdale and other cities. Why? Because he believed these girls.

I have always acknowledged that we have a particular model of abuse, street grooming, which is pertinent to a minority of British men of Pakistani heritage who work in the night time economy. It is a fact, a fact that we cannot and must not hide away from. In doing so we must also be mindful not to fuel the fire of hate and vilify a whole community with sweeping statements.

So this brings me to my understanding of The Daily Mail. A paper which claims to be on the side of victims.

The only motive I can fathom for this personal attack upon me and my character by the Daily Mail, is because I dared call out the racism and fascism of a right wing tabloid.

But the saddest and most important issue isn’t this attempted attack on me, but the fact that in and amongst all of this conversation we’ve stopped talking about the victims.

How do we change attitudes and challenge this misogyny and abuse to stop it?

How do we empower our young people to be resilient and address issues of safe guarding, because all these victims have a common denominator which is their vulnerability?

We should be renewing the call for research so we can better understand what we are dealing with, whilst supporting these young girls, these survivors, to rebuild their lives having relived the horrors of the evil abuse to get justice.

The truth is that I have no idea what this potential news story about me will finally look like in tomorrow’s paper, or even if it makes it to print. But the fact is that The Daily Mail questioned my mother’s abuse, a victims account, and in doing so have undermined years of work women have campaigned upon across this country and beyond. This in my eyes is not only disgraceful but unforgivable. I cannot and will not allow this to go unchallenged, not only for the sake of my own mother, but for the sake of every victim who isn’t believed.

So, Dear Daily Mail, whilst you trawl through records and question my mother’s abuse, a victim’s narrative, whilst peddling hatred and division, I and countless others will continue to do what we do. Concentrate on the issues that matter, with a dialogue of unity not division.

Finally, as a woman, a survivor, a daughter and a mother, I will be damned if I allow a right wing sexist tabloid tell me what my experiences are. Like every other survivor, I own my own narrative. People like my mother and I, and so many other victims, have had their accounts questioned. I have been fighting this battle all my life. So bring it on, because I will not be silenced.

Naz Shah
Member of Parliament
Bradford West

by Nazir Tabassum

It is very clear now that Mrs May, the Prime Minister of the UK, is now nominally in charge, destitute of any real power. Certain figures among her party are intending to place their hand on the off switch; however, it is being watched when they do so.

So far, two successive Conservative leaders have gambled their majorities; David Cameron on a Brexit referendum for which he was woefully unprepared, and then Theresa May on the snap elections for which neither the country nor her party was prepared.

Kate Maltby, writer and critic, says: “My Tory party has gambled away its reputation. It needs more than a new leader.”

Thus, there is every likelihood that the Prime Minister may face a coupe attempt by some Tory MPs in the autumn season. She is so weakened now that she can hardly afford to sack any senior cabinet figure for fear of triggering a leadership challenge.

It seems that the Conservatives are now a house of cards. The infighting is no more encrypted; it is all evident. The battling of allies of the stalwarts like Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and David Davis from arguments around the cabinet table, have now moved to the open warfare at Westminster summer garden party.

Efforts are being made by the senior Conservatives to downplay the split and infighting labelling it as a result of the “too much warm prosecco”, which is doubtless an insult to the voters’ intelligence.

Why all this? The answer is very well known. The contest for leadership is afoot, as well as, for the nature of Brexit. In this backdrop, Mrs May, enfeebled politically, shorn off of authority, is incapable of reasserting discipline in the party after her election disaster.

Philip Hammond is being targeted on account of negative briefing for he is against hard Brexit. Moreover, he is adamant on maintaining fiscal discipline. His adversaries label him as a stooge of the establishment who can go the extent of ignoring the Brexit results. Therefore, he is being embarrassed on account of his statements about “public sector workers being overpaid, and that, even women can drive trains”.

Negative briefing against each other has become quite common in the Conservative party which is now a house of cards. A senior Tory has blamed Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, for being involved in briefing against Philip Hammond. This senior Tory says: “They are so obsessed with hard Brexit that they are prepared to run the economy off the cliff; they don’t like the fact Philip is pointing out that we will deservedly lose the next election if we do that.”

Philip Hammond is under attack from within his party. There are some who try to undermine him in an endeavour to safeguard Brexit; others detest him as a potential rival for the keys to No. 10.

Another scene of this long Tory play is focused on Boris Johnson and David Davis. Both of them are inwardly hungry for the top job but outwardly pose as if they are the guardians of Brexit vote. Someone has remarked that the elevation of David Davis to Brexit Secretary was like inviting an untrained terrier into the chicken coop.

But the stories of bad blood between Boris and Davis are in circulation. Sunday Times reported the brawl between the two that took place at the Spectator summer party where they behaved “like a pair of rutting stags”. David provoked Johnson over his “failure” to keep his sister Rachel from defecting to Liberal Democrats. Their allies threatened kicking each other in the balls if they did not stop briefing against each other.

There are others who are less ambitious; they think that their interest will be best served if Theresa May stays in the Downing Street. One of such Tories told the Telegraph: “What’s really going on is that the establishment, the treasury, is trying to …. it up. They want to frustrate Brexit. This is a critical moment. That’s why we have to keep Theresa May. Otherwise, the whole thing will fall apart”.

In the Conservative party, Boris Johnson and David Davis are these days viewed as big snarling beasts who are making most of the noise.

Ambition for leadership is not restricted to them only. There are many more who dream of moving into No. 10 by a stroke of luck or a good chance. These include Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, Jeremy Hunt, Justin Greening, Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom.

Then there is a second tier of junior ministers and a third tier of back benchers, who are waiting in the wings until their profiles are improved. When the inevitable leadership contest of the Conservative party start, they too will declare their interests.

In the meanwhile, negative briefing and counter briefing goes on ceaselessly as a part of phony war for the leadership. A campaign to work out their supports in case of any eventuality is also going on side by side. Allies of David Davis are making catalogue of their supporters.

An interesting aspect of this “House of Cards” is that many a Tory MP’s are worried as they are desperate to avoid another election for the fear that Jeremy Corbyn may not win.


by Nazir Tabassum
While on holiday in Wales, the idea flashed to the mind of the British Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May that a few more seats added to her basket would make her position strong when she will sit across the negotiating table in Brussels to deal Brexit.

This idea was further strengthened as she considered Labour party in disarray and its Leader still not able to get his leadership established by the dissenters of the party. Her two advisors, now removed unceremoniously, further led her into a make belief situation and as a result, one fine morning, as she woke up from deep, dreamy and peaceful slumber, she came out of the 10 Downing Street where media people were already waiting, she surprised everyone present by announcing snap elections.

At that time, she had a majority of 13 seats in the commons. She never knew that dreams rarely come true. She was also unmindful of the fact that most of the dreams turn out to be deceptive in the real life and thus become nightmares. And the same happened. So, when she got up once again on the Friday morning of June 9, she had lost majority and could win just 318 seats, 326 is required to form majority government. In this way, her plan to make her position strong in Brexit negotiation simply backfired.

The election results were highly encouraging for the Labour party; they bagged 262 seats but these elections proved beyond any doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is a man of parts having skilful leadership qualities. All of his adversaries as well as the dissenters in the party were led to the practical belief that paying lip service to the tabloids and going against the Labour ideals is not the mantra to win elections.

Before going any further, the election results at a glance: Tories – 318; Labour – 262; SNP – 35 (losing 21); others -23. Grandies like Alex Salmon, Angus Robertson, and Nick Clegg were toppled over.

There was nothing for Mrs May except to cut a sorry figure for the loss of majority that she had and for her former colleagues who lost their seats and became jobless. Though the election results were a disaster for Mrs May, yet she clings with power and to stay in power she is obliged to beg support from DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) of Northern Ireland with 10 seats. In this way, her hopes to boost her mandate for Brexit negotiation were dashed. And now her minority government is dependent upon 10 DUP members to pass any piece of legislation in the Parliament.

She failed miserably to deliver a resounding victory for the Conservative party. In spite of all that, her decision to cling to power has instigated widespread condemnation not only by her colleagues in the House but also by Jeremy Corbyn who has demanded her to resign. On the floor of the House he said:

“We are not an opposition; we are a Government-in-Waiting”.

Apart from that, there were demonstrations in which the majority of the participants were young people who clanged in and around Downing Street raising slogans demanding her resignation. Now Mrs May is isolated by her cabinet with big Tory MPs like Boris Johnson, and Amber Rudd conspicuously absent from the airwaves in the aftermath of the election results. Boris, as he was previously, is Foreign Secretary; Amber Rudd, Home Secretary; Sir Michael Fallon Defence Secretary; Philip Hammond Chancellor of the Exchequer; David Davis seen prominently in Brussels is Brexit Secretary.

It is interesting to note what she said to the Queen as she met her in Buckingham Palace, asking permission to form the minority government:

“What the country needs more than ever is certainty and having secured the largest number of votes and greatest number of seats in the General election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.”

She further said: “Her minority administration will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days.”

DUP leader, Arlene Foster said: DUP’s backing for the Conservative was far from a done deal as she only said she would talk to Mrs May to try and find a way forward. I’m informed deal is done; the parliamentary arithmetic of the situation will mean Mrs May will face an almighty struggle to pursue the policies set out in the Conservative manifesto.

Now, what is clear as day light, is that if a handful of Conservative MPs desert the party on key votes, Mrs May’s plans would be left in tatters. This is the basis on which Mr Corbyn urged the Prime Minister to resign; she “should go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.” Not only Mr Corbyn but senior Conservative members too suggested she should consider her position.

Adding salt to the injury, George Osborn, the sacked former Chancellor, now editor of the Evening Standard, while talking to ITV, said: He doubts whether the PM can “survive” in the long term as Conservative party leader.

The “hard Brexit” on which she based her future politics is now crumbling as Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, said in a letter to Mrs May: there is now “no time to lose” on Brexit negotiations after other senior figures suggested talks be delayed.

Conservatives, more so their leader, had to face further humiliation when Ben Gummer, the architect of Tory manifesto, and Jane Ellison, financial secretary of the treasury, lost their seats. As opposed to that, Labour performed much better than expected with Mr Corbyn announcing he was ready to form the government. Speaking from the Labour party headquarters, he said: “I think it is pretty clear who won this election. We are ready to do everything we can to put our programme into operation. There isn’t a parliamentary majority for anybody at the present time, the party that has lost election is the Tory party, the arguments the Conservative party put forward in this election, have lost.”

Tim Farren, the Lib Dem leader said: If Mrs May had an “ounce of self-respect, she should resign”. Paul Nuttal, UKip, after losing from Bostan and Skegness, has resigned as leader. Big hopes are being pinned to Mrs May at a time when she has not yet comfortably settled at the head of her new government. The leader of the Scottish Conservative party, Ruth Davidson, herself a gay, says she has received assurances from the PM over gay rights should the Tories do a deal with DUP.

Such is the scenario of uncertainty in the wake of Mrs Theresa May’s search for certainty. Therefore, we are left with no alternative at the moment to wait and see which way the wind blows.

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 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

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.

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

By M Nazir Tabassum

The Presidential elections take place in the US after every four years. Today is the day that American’s decide between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

According to the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution, an incumbent president cannot contest presidential election a third time, that is, the term of the president is limited to only two terms. The presidential primaries and caucuses took place between February and June 2016 in 50 states and the District of Columbia and US territories. As a result of these, Donald Trump, a real estate businessman and reality television personality, became Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and former US Senator from New York, became the Democratic Party’s nominee.

6360139435793044861461393096_donald-trump-prune-faceBoth the contestants have been in the headlines with their good and bad points since the campaign started. FBI, the American spy agency is after Mrs Clinton for her alleged emails relating American interventionist policies. Donald Trump, since he came to the limelight as a presidential candidate, has become a highly controversial figure because of his political naivety. In the very beginning, he earned notoriety for using foul language against Muslims. He confuses Iran’s Quds Force (a US adversary) with Kurds (by and large US allies) and does not seem to care. He has almost never met a Middle East problem that he hasn’t at one point suggested could be solved by force.

Now Trump denies that he backed the Iraq and Libyan wars too. “We‘re gonna get rid of ISIS … fast”, he says. He will “bomb the hell” for not hitting the Syrian leader with “tremendous force “after he used chemical weapons against the rebels. He would have Iranian vessels that taunt American ships “shot out of water”.

There is unanimity of thought and action among most of the Americans that Islamic State must be destroyed. They think that the weak states in the Middle East, if allowed to fail completely, they could become havens for the extremist groups. Therefore, they agree that America needs to stay in the Middle East for its oil production that keeps the global economy afloat. In spite of all that, they do not want any new commitment of military force because of the bitter war going on in Iraq, a less disastrous but more unpopular intervention in Libya and a failed democratic revolt in Egypt which is a key American ally.

Hillary Clinton who has a long experience of structuring America’s foreign policy is in favour of a low risk plan little different from the one perused by Barack Obama. She favours the use of Air Force to support Kurdish and Arab allies slowly moving in an IS stronghold and special forces to train the local troops, preferably with origin in IS-held regions, to garrison the cities after they have been taken back. She vows an “intelligence surge” to hunt Jihadi leaders, rules out any big commitment of American ground troops, and offers no time table for success.

A number of women have come forward who accused Donald Trump of assaulting them sexually. Thus, there were protests in no less than 15 states across the US against the presidential candidate. One of the largest protests was at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York.

A Survey Monkey poll of 15 battleground states conducted with the Washington Post and released on Tuesday the 18th October showed Clinton leading in enough states to put her comfortably over the 270 majority needed to win the presidential election on 8th November. Top Republican leaders are now worried that Trump’s irresponsible behaviour is going affect their elections of Senate and House of Representatives.

Polls say that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the final Presidential Debate. The CNN/ORC poll named Clinton the winner for the third time. During the debate, the two candidates sparred over Supreme Court, abortion policies and immigration, among others. Trump notably declined to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding that he “will keep you in suspense”. The answer prompted strong criticism from many who argued it threatened democratic principles. Hillary Clinton’s response was succinct.

Trump seems jittery while facing his doom today, that is why he is becoming more and more controversial by claiming that the election is being rigged. In the third and final Presidential Debate, Donald Trump twice declined to say whether he would accept the results of the 2016 election. As a result, leading Republicans disowned Donald Trump’s claims that the US election is rigged. President Obama said: “One way of weakening America and making it less great is if you start betraying those basic traditions that have held it together for well over two centuries.” The President also accused Trump of irresponsible “whining” and said there was no evidence at all to support his allegations.

The Daily News, a New York Tabloid, published 14-chapter editorial that rallied against Donald Trump and everything that he stands for. Its front page on Friday (21 September) morning:

NEWS TO AMERICA: BURY TRUMP IN A LANDSLIDE. Restore US honour with giant defeat of the fear mongering demagogue.

Because Trump refused to say at the last Presidential Debate that he would accept the election result, the Daily News urged the public to deliver an unequivocal message on Election Day. The editorial offers a point-by-point takedown of Trump across 14 chapters that question his policy positions, his business record, his fitness to serve and even his sanity: “TRUMP THE DEMAGOGUE,” “TRUMP THE FRAUDSTER,” “TRUMP THE HEAD CASE,” “TRUMP THE FAKE PHILANTHRPOPIST,” “TRUMP THE LIAR,” “TRUMP THE FLIP-FLOPPER,” “TRUMP THE IGNORAMUS,” “TRUMP THE CONSPIRACY THEORIST,”TRUMP THE TAX EVADER,” “TRUMP THE DIVIDER,” “TRUMP THE AUTHORITARIAN,” “TRUMP THE SECURITY RISK,” “TRUMP THE MISOGYNIST,” and finally, “TRUMP THE ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY.”