Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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Politics

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

Latest – Bradford West Member of Parliament, Naz Shah, has been selected to sit on the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Naz Shah
Naz Shah

Ms Shah, who defeated George Galloway earlier this year, is proving to be a popular figure within the Labour Party and is working tirelessly to improve Bradford West and the city as a whole.

Speaking to Urban Echo, Ms Shah states: “It is with great privilege that I announce my unopposed selection to the very important Home Affairs Select Committee.”

Ms Shah’s current areas of work include:

– The investigation into the late Lord Brittan

– Reform of the Police funding formula

– Countering extremism

– Migration crisis

– Immigration: skill shortages

– The work of the Home Secretary

– The work of the Home Office

– Psychoactive substances

Ms Shah concludes, “I endeavour to play my part and hold this government to account”.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the Labour Party is being jeered at from outside and within his own party since September 12. Those who elected him with an outstanding edge over his three rivals, have pinned certain hopes on him. One out of many is the most important; they don’t want to see their leader failing, neither at the party nor at national level. So he must also have the clear realisation not to disappoint them on this count.

jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-electionWe do respect his republicanism but when it comes to his voters, many of whom still revere monarchy, and he standing respectfully in silence while the national anthem was being sung in remembrance of the Battle of Britain, and not moving his lips with others, is nothing but to disappoint his voters and give a chance of mudslinging to his adversaries. Right at the time of announcement of the result of leadership, he should have assumed himself a leader of the Labour Party who represents everyone, speaks for everyone and is no more an individual and idealist backbencher.

However, soon after his election as Leader of the Labour Party, he did certain good things as well. His clear cut articulation “working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show that we don’t have to be unequal. It doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable, things can, and they will, change” has been very well received. The announcement of a 31 member shadow cabinet with the majority of women and a novel way adopted during the PMQs, were certainly appreciated. Even in this case he was castigated that the top three departments were all male. In an effort to bring about a balance in this regard, he elevated Angela Eagle to the post of first secretary of state that has always been so far a male monopoly. His broadly based shadow cabinet consisting of Lord Falconer, Hilary Benn, Rosie Winterton and Andy Burnham, apart from others indicated continuity.

The other good thing that he did was to accept the membership of the Privy Council. It is customary that Leader of the Opposition is taken into confidence and revealed to him certain highly confidential matters relating the national security policy. It has been leaked out that the leadership of the armed forces is reluctant to share with him such things but the Conservatives would certainly like to put his sense of responsibility to test.

gettyimages-481043092There are quite a number of Labour MPs, who do not support his stance over the use of drone attacks over ISIS in Syria, EU, NATO and Trident. So far as the EU is concerned, Corbyn has committed publicly that the party would campaign for the UK to stay in the EU in the forthcoming referendum. However he said: “We will, of course, oppose any attempt by the Tory government to undermine workers’ rights. But Labour is clear that the answer to any damaging changes that David Cameron brings back from his negotiation, is not to leave the European Union but to pledge to reverse any changes by campaigning to stay in and get a Labour government elected in 2020.”

On NATO and Trident, the first rebuke of Jeremy Corbyn came from military four days after his election. The first sea lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas announced the renewal of Trident and the creation of a new aircraft carrier fleet. He said: “I believe these two capabilities will define our nation’s strategic and maritime security authority for the next half a century or more.”

This can be well understood in the backdrop of Corbyn’s opposition of the renewal of Trident and spending of 2% of GDP on defence. Though Zambellas’s remark was certainly not aimed at Corbyn and hardly any senior member of the military would challenge an elected politician in public. Yet the senior ranks of military do think about these matters privately. The Sunday Times quoted a senior serving general who said: “there would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be mutiny” in the event of Corbyn becoming prime minister. It is sufficient to refresh our memories of the alleged military plots to destabilise Harold Wilson. These are the basis of Tory ministers harping on the tune that the Labour party is “a threat to our national security, our economic security and our family’s security.” Yet, the Tories altogether ignore Europe’s refugee crisis, contribute to the collapse of the NHS and now they are concentrating on trade union bill to crush already feeble employee rights, amassing more wealth by drained profits from wages.

The choices are open to Jeremy Corbyn: accept the challenges, eschew individualism and work to keep the party united under his wings. Only by this way he would be able to cast away the shadows of the coming events.

There has been a lot of mudslinging against Jeremy Corbyn’s gaining more and more popularity in his campaign for Labour leadership orchestrated by the hierarchy of Labour party as well as the Tories and the press.

jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-electionNonetheless, every turn of the tide bailed him out against all odds and people like Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation boss, who equally backed Tony Blair and David Cameron win general elections, had to acknowledge in his Twitter fed on 20/08/15: “Corbyn increasingly likely Labor winner. Seems only candidate who believes anything, right or wrong.”

Addressing a packed hall of over 1,000 people in Newcastle on 19/08/15 Corbyn condemned austerity and shared his views on Murdoch: “When the party says it has to be seen economically competent to be attractive that can mean lots of things. You can make yourself very attractive to Rupert Murdoch. You can make yourself very attractive to global corporations. You can make yourself very attractive to the super rich around the world. But the problem is you make yourself attractive at the expense of something else – often called soul – but also the very poorest within our society”.

imagesOn 21/08/15 Corbyn said in a statement to the Guardian: “I’d apologise to the British people for the ‘deception’ in the run-up to the 2003 invasion and to the Iraqi people for their subsequent suffering”. He also vowed that future UK military inventions would be rarer: “Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put out troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”

Jeremy Corbyn’s planned apology is intended to win back those who left the party or stayed but felt estranged as a result of the decision to go to war. He said, ”Labour, to win in 2020, needed to rebuild its coalition with those who opposed the conflict”. This apology would also be an attempt to pre-empt the findings of Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war: “The endless delay on the Chilcot inquiry is wrong. But we don’t have to wait for Chilcot to know that the mistakes were made and we need to make amends”.

If Corbyn wins the September 12 Leadership election, little doubt now left, there is going to be a great shift in Labour’s foreign and security policies. He has expressed scepticism about the role of NATO, in particular its eastwards expansion and the standoff with Russia. Moreover, there would be little likelihood to support the proposed renewal of Trident, the nuclear weapons programme.

So far as the statistics are concerned, there has been a continuous upsurge in Labour party membership since May which now stands at 600,000. When Tony Blair became Leader, he vowed to raise the membership to one million but never went beyond 400,000. According to the latest polls, Corbyn scores 53% on first preferences that means 32% ahead of his closest rival. Similarly he wins 32% public support who says that it would be more likely that they support Labour under Corbyn. Even on this count he has an edge of 7% over his rivals.

Now, let’s look at the issue from another aspect. There are three important characteristics of Jeremy Corbyn none of which are found in any one of his rivals. Firstly, he is one of the best three political communicators of the UK, the other two being Alex Salmond of SNP and Nigel Farage of UKip. Secondly, his rivals in the leadership contest are very week and quite bore. Thirdly, there is a message in the claims made by Corbyn about a collective society and cooperation to be delivered that would certainly resonate across the UK in the next parliament.

There would certainly be some problems as well. These may be within the domain of foreign policy and defence. Yet it can be expected that the attitudes would be far less self-defeating. Similarly mass immigration, inequality and climate change which are linked together intricately could be the other challenges. But if the Islington North MP, after becoming Labour party leader, did anything really good on these counts, he would then prove himself the best party leader in the UK.

The last and final is the letter made public by 41 economists who have defended Corbyn’s economic policies. This is the letter in which David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee is one of the 41 signatories, the economists write: “The accusation is widely made that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have moved to the extreme left on economic policy. But this is not supported by the candidate’s statements or policies. His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics, even backed by the conservative IMF. He aims to boost growth and prosperity.”

By Nazir Tabassum

The number of emails that I receive every day from prospective leaders and deputy leaders of the Labour party makes me think that it is more a call centre and less a political party. Had it been a political party that gained two million less votes and 98 seats less than its rival Conservative party in May 7 elections, its leadership would have been in a continuous session to think about the causes of the defeat and do the necessary planning to turn the defeat into victory in 2020. Perhaps this cannot be done until the new leader and deputy leader are elected.

corbynWhen George Osborne is on his way to make more spending cuts in places where one can’t think there are cuts left o be made and David Cameron talks about bringing back fox hunting, while food banks are making appeals on behalf of schoolchildren who go hungry during the holidays. In the news we are told that the acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman supports the Tory Welfare cuts. But soon after that she is seen declaring “happy to be over- ruled on this”, then again she says: “we have to do something, I mean, we’ve lost two elections after all.”

1390388054-yvette-cooper-crop-red-march-2014-issue-suki-dhandaAfter Tony Blair, Alistair Darling, Peter Mandelson and Alan Johnson warned the candidates for leadership of lurching to the left will not put the party back in power. All this suggests that the Labour leaders are perhaps engaged in efforts of trying to convert Labour party into a second Conservative party. But they need to remember that going after Blair will never pay the dividends. Blair’s turning right brought Labour its only election victory in the recent memory because he was a giant of eloquence as compared to the present lot consisting of Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn. In 1997 Blair had entered as a charismatic leader. He turned a scoundrel afterwards. In the absence of charisma it would be perilous to give up the principles and the values that have been so dear to the Labour party throughout its history. In this backdrop Labour is in dire need of a leader who could bring forth a big alternative to Osborne and his vision in the 21st century.

1_articleimageToday’s voters can’t be fed with just policies; they want to know more fundamentally what Labour is for and whether they could ever have a credible leader. Most of them believe that Labour did not offer the average family the prospect of a better life. Those in the marginal seats, who had stood with the party even after the defeat in 2010, deserted the party this time. Some of them voted for Ukip, Lib Dems and the Greens but majority voted for the Tories. They say that Labour is a party of punitive taxation for the very rich, pays welfare handouts for the poorest and has little to offer those who are in between. They don’t know why Labour has nothing convincing to say to them about the impacts of immigration on jobs and public services. They were sceptical too of the Labour pledge to the middle Britain to increase free childcare; even here Labour ended up because of the Tories’ outbidding them. They are of the opinion that Labour understands how to borrow money but knows not how to make it. They also say that Labour is obsessed with the super rich and the very poor but has nothing to say to those who just “want to get on in life.”

o-LABOUR-LEADERSHIP-facebookOut of these four prospective leaders, Jeremy Corbyn is being targeted by the rightist press in such a way that the “doom” of Labour party lies in his election. Particularly the daily Telegraph has launched a campaign of vilification apparently against Labour party but in fact against him. Thus Daren Hughes, deputy chief executive of the Electoral Reforms Society described the article (published in Telegraph) as cynical and warned against undermining the democratic process. However, Corbyn’s chances of winning Labour leadership is causing shudder in the spine of both the friend and foe alike.

In the BBC hustings on Sunday (19/07/15), the front runner Andy Burnham said he “might be open” to give Corbyn a position in his shadow cabinet if he were to win the contest. “I think he’s said things in this contest that are important and that people have responded to, clearly,” said Burnham. “I think the Labour party has got to come back together after this leadership contest.”

Yvette Cooper said she would not “draw up shadow cabinets in advance of the leadership election”, adding that there were a lot of areas she and Corbyn disagreed on.

When Liz Kendall – who is considered the most rightwing of the candidates – was asked if she would have Corbyn in her shadow cabinet, she said: “I haven’t made any decisions about that yet, but I don’t think Jeremy’s and my politics is anything like the same.”

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Commemorating Kashmir Martyrs Day, Labour MP, Imran Hussain said that the only solution is self-determination for the sons and daughters of Kashmir, and he pledged to ensure that the UK Parliament does not ignore Kashmir.

Imran Hussain, Member of Parliament for Bradford East
Imran Hussain, Member of Parliament for Bradford East

Marking the anniversary of the events of 13 July 1931 where 22 men were shot and killed by Dogra Forces outside Srinagar Jail in the Kashmir Valley, Kashmir Martyrs Day commemorates the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives for the right to self-determination for Kashmiris.

Attending a meeting to commemorate Kashmir Martyrs Day, Mr Hussain pledged to ensure that the international community does not ignore the inalienable right of Kashmiris to self-determination and the ability to choose their own future, and announced that he tabled a motion calling for a debate in the House of Commons and questioned UK Government Ministers on their involvement in Kashmir.

Speaking on his motion, Imran Hussain said:

“Kashmir Martyrs Day marks a dark day in the history of Kashmir that no son or daughter of Kashmir will ever forget, where 22 young men were butchered because they dared to speak up against tyranny and for their rights, and we must never forget their sacrifice.

“I have campaigned on this issue for many years and will continue to do so. The continued human rights abuses in Kashmir must end and the sons and daughters of Kashmir must be granted their birth right to determine their own destiny.

“I will be advancing the cause of the inalienable right of self-determination for Kashmiris through questioning the Government and calling for action. I have today tabled a motion to ask for an immediate inquiry into the human rights abuses in Kashmir and called for a full debate in the House of Commons.”

 

Bradford – Responding to the Chancellor’s recent announcement in his Summer Budget, Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain has condemned the Budget as nothing more than ‘smoke and mirrors’ concealing the true extent to which it will hit working people.

Imran Hussain MP
Imran Hussain MP

Following his last budget just several months ago before the election, on Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne unveiled his Summer Budget which included a raft of measures.

Most notable was the introduction of a ‘national living wage’ intended to soften the blow of cutting tax credits which boosted the pay packets of workers on low wages, a measure implemented by the last Labour Government. However many experts have since said that this is not representative of the true living wage as it will be calculated at a different rate and currently stands at a rate that was designed to take the inclusion of tax credits into account.

Furthermore, despite increasing student tuition fees to £9,000, the Chancellor continues to add to the financial burden of aspirational students attending university by removing the system of student grants which aided poorer students through helping to pay for food and cover their rent. These grants will be replaced by higher student loans which will have to be paid back once graduates are earning over a certain threshold, and it is expected that many will be further deterred by these announcements.

Speaking on the Budget, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said:

“Although the Government has granted a rise in the minimum wage, this is still a budget by the rich and for the rich using smoke and mirrors to give the impression it will help working people, whilst instead cutting tax credits that benefit thousands of families in Bradford by keeping them out of poverty. This is a budget that will hit them the hardest.

“Furthermore, the rise in the minimum wage branded by the Chancellor as a ‘living wage’ is no such thing as the true living wage is set at a rate which takes tax credits into account, and so with the cut to tax credits it will not be the pay rise that many people in Bradford and across the UK expect and deserve.

“Students aspiring to attend university and better themselves will also be hit by this cruel Government who have scrapped student grants and replaced them with expensive loans, adding to the already colossal loans which they will have to pay back and burdening them throughout their working lives.

“Ultimately, it is not the budget that the poorest and working people need, it is not the budget that the UK needs and it is not the budget that Bradford needs.”

 

Bismarck, the first German Chancellor who dominated German and European affairs from 1860s to 1890, once said: “Hate is stronger and domineering passion than love. I’m alive only on account of two things – love for my wife and intense hate for my enemy.” So is the case with our lady Nicola Sturgeon who once said that her motivation for getting into politics was Margaret Thatcher as the former “hated everything she stood for.”

11-Sturgeon-gettyAddressing STUC (Scottish Trade Union Congress) in Glasgow last month she said: “I want to offer my support to those marching with the STUC today against the harsh, deeply unfair Tory cuts that are causing real pain for many in Scotland and across the UK. Five years of Tory austerity has done too much damage already; working families and vulnerable people cannot afford further UK government cuts. At Holyrood and at Westminster, the SNP will continue to make strong case for an alternative to austerity to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society do not continue to face the brunt of unfair Tory cuts.”

Nicola Sturgeon, a law graduate from the University of Glasgow, elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, had joined SNP in 1986. She had come to the party through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and scrapping Britain’s nuclear weapons is now one of her policies. She eventually became Deputy Leader of SNP in 2004 and when Alex Salmond stepped down after the failed referendum for Scottish independence last year, she was elevated to the Leader of SNP and thus the First Minister of Scotland.

DebateUnder her leadership, the SNP’s members have swelled to over 100,000. She gave speech after speech to packed conference halls of zealous SNP supporters, rousing them to rapturous cheers during the 2015 General Election campaign. She wowed to “shake up and reform” the tired “Westminster”.

Very recently she said: “Scotland has moved forward light years but the Tories are still stuck in the past. Most trade union members are now voting SNP – and they will do so again next year. That is a significant turnaround in Scottish politics.

“And it is why I was delighted this week to address the first annual conference of the SNP Trade Union Group – comprised of men and women in the SNP who are active in the trade union movement in Scotland. Like the SNP, the Trade Union Group have experienced an extraordinary surge in membership since the referendum, going from 800 to nearly 16,000 now. That number is far more than the membership of the entire Labour Party in Scotland – now down to under 13,000, according to the figures leaked out last week.”

untitledNicola stands for full fiscal autonomy for Scotland. She explains that fiscal autonomy is about building the powers of Holyrood – powers that over the last 16 years have seen an improvement in the economic performance of Scotland. Fiscal autonomy for Scotland means enabling Scottish Parliament to take the decisions that are right for Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a say on David Cameron’s European Union renegotiations ahead of the upcoming in/out referendum. She says that Scotland “cannot be kept in the dark on the Prime Minister’s reform plan. She has warned that the Prime Minister is jeopardising Britain’s place in Europe. This week she will issue the warning at an Anglo-Irish summit in Dublin that will be attended by leading figures from UK, Scottish, Welsh and Irish governments. She demands that Scotland’s voice, and those of the other devolved administrations should be heard to ensure that their interests are acknowledged.

Nicola wants that the £26,000 annual benefits cap should be removed and £180 billion more should be provided for public spending. She also wants that the welfare system should be made more generous and the minimum wage should be raised to £8.70 an hour. She describes blocking a renewal of the Trident nuclear submarine programme as her “absolute” red line. She could be seen as spearheading a progressive front in Westminster that would force Labour back to its red roots. Yet she never wanted to be locked into a coalition with Labour and had mocked Ed Miliband for ruling out a coalition with SNP in the following words:

“MIliband rules out a formal coalition no one was proposing! Fact remains if more anti Tori MPs in House of Commons, we can block Tories out.”

This was all during the 2015 General Election campaign but the results turned out to be unexpected even to the Tories also.

Nicola lives in Glasgow with her Husband Peter Murrell who is SNP’s chief executive and campaign strategist. Her mother is also a councillor.

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