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Approximately 400 people endured freezing conditions on Saturday evening at Bradford’s Centenery Square to protest against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and its recent publication. Twelve people were killed in the shooting on January 7 by the extremist Kouachi brothers over the magazine’s depiction of Mohammed, which is considered blasphemous.

imagesBESMIO9OA peaceful affair organised by Bradfordians from all faiths, backgrounds and political beliefs, the gathering featured speeches by Bradford West MP George Galloway and Deputy Council Leader Imran Hussain as well as other Bradfordians highlighting the contradictions of freedom of speech and their condemnation of the magazine’s decision to publish and depict the Prophet Mohammed in their latest edition.

untitled (4)This has opened a global debate highlighting the limits or no-limits of freedom of speech and how far one can go to express freedom of speech and at the same time incite hatred, provoke reaction and insult religions.

Urban Echo received a statement this morning from UKIP’s Bradford South candidate Jason Smith, who offers his views on freedom of speech and why he was “offended” by both Mr Galloway and Mr Hussain on Saturday evening.

Official UKIP Statement from Jason Smith, UKIP’s candidate for Bradford South

“While it is of course everybody’s right to protest I find it totally ironic that elected officials in Bradford where involved in a protest against freedom of speech, after all without the right to freedom of speech this protest would not have been allowed to happen at all.

To suggest that we should limit freedom of speech because certain people might be offended effectively means an end to freedom of speech altogether. Freedom of speech is an absolute right in our society and so is the right to offend even though we may sometimes find it uncomfortable.

UKIPI am offended by George Galloway suggesting that ‘For the sake of unity in our society, we have to demand from our Government the protection of our prophets’. What Mr Galloway is suggesting is to outlaw criticism of certain groups and religions; you can’t pick and choose with freedom of speech, you either have it or you don’t.

I am offended by Labour Deputy Leader Imran Hussain when he says ‘Let’s have freedom of speech, not freedom to openly insult’, it is the same thing. Freedom of speech is the right to insult.

Even though I am offended by our Respect and Labour parties anti freedom rhetoric I defend their right to speak freely, let us remember that without freedom of speech these people would not be afforded the right to express their views at all.

For them to suggest freedom of speech should be restricted in certain circumstances is not only wrong it is dangerous for our democracy and our communities.

I call on all the good people of Bradford to stand against this affront to our freedoms and speak out now, if Respect and Labour have their way we may not be able to speak out at all.”

The deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets and a senior colleague have joined the Bradford Challenge event to describe how the London Challenge transformed schools in their borough.

Councillor-In-Tower-Hamlets-Is-Dragged-From-Office-Over-Political-Concerns-523040Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Lead Member for Education, Oliur Rahman, and Councillor Mahbub Alam will give a first-hand account of the massive change in results that the London Challenge brought to their schools. Tower Hamlets has almost identical demographics to Bradford and had a similarly low level of attainment until the government-led initiative hugely boosted the standards of education in the East End of London, and indeed across the capital.

Councillor Ralph Berry, responsible for education policy in Bradford, has been invited to the meeting.
The Bradford Challenge, sub-titled make our schools better, is organised by Bradford West MP George Galloway. The initial meeting, open to all, will take place in the Prince’s Ballroom of the Midland Hotel at 7pm on Friday, January 30.


Bradford MP, David Ward was today joined by Baroness Kath Pinnock to highlight Liberal Democrat achievements in Government in supporting Bradford families with the cost of childcare with the promise of much more if they are part of the next Government.

KathDavid Ward and Baroness Kath Pinnock of Cleckheaton visited the fantastic facilities at the Woodlands Nursery & Pre-School in Apperley Bridge, Bradford, to highlight the policies that the Liberal Democrats in Government have introduced to help Bradford families with the costs of childcare. They were also joined by Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, Bradford’s Lib Dem Group Leader and local Ward Councillor.

Woodlands Nursery was opened in May 2014 following the £350,000 renovation of the former Knoll Nursing home site which became notorious as a magnet for arsonists and thieves. The nursery created 30 new jobs and has capacity for 80 children up to the age of five, as well as a school holiday club for children aged between four and eight.

Whilst in Government the Liberal Democrats have:

•Increased free childcare to 15hours each week for all 3 and 4 year olds (up from 12.5hrs under Labour) and 40% of all 2 year olds. This has benefited 5,200 families in Bradford East and 19,500 families across Bradford.

•Lib Dems have protected the Schools budget meaning that Government funding to nurseries in Bradford has been protected.

Lib-Dem-logo•Introduced the Early Years Pupil Premium which provides £300 for extra early years support to 2,600 children in Bradford. This totals £760,000 each year to help promote the development of some our most disadvantaged children.

•From Autumn 2015 the Government will extend tax breaks on childcare to 20% – that’s a tax break on childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child. That’s a saving of up to £2,000 for every child for 3,400 working families in Bradford East & 17,970 working families in Bradford

•In 2013, the Government provided £1,766,000 to create over 900 new nursery places across Bradford. The total cost was £1.9m with the Council making up the difference.

For many parents, childcare had become so expensive that was cheaper for them to give up their job and look after the children instead. That’s why Liberal Democrats have put more money into childcare and early years education than ever before, saving parents thousands of pounds and making it easier for millions of families to get on.

However to ensure that every child in Bradford is given a fair start in life whilst helping hard working parents balance childcare with work and cutting the cost of living, the Liberal Democrats want to go much further. If we are part of the next Government we will:

•Aim to make 20hrs free childcare every week for all 2-4 year olds by 2020

•20hours free childcare for all working parents by 2020. (9months – 2 years)

•Start by giving 15hours free for all 2 year olds by cancelling Tory marriage allowance then priorities 15hrs free for working parents (9months – 2 year olds).

•Raise Early Years Pupil Premium from £300 to £1000.

•Protect Schools Budget in Real Terms

•Protect and if possible increase the Primary & Secondary Pupil Premium in Real Terms and consider the case for extending the Pupil Premium.

Commenting David Ward MP said:

David-Ward MP“Getting a good start in life is so important and that’s why as a Liberal Democrat, I’m very proud of our achievements in Government in providing more free childcare and more help with the costs of childcare than Labour ever did in their 13 years of Government.

“Whilst we have provided extra support to thousands of hard-working families in my constituency and across Bradford, we need to go further.

“That’s why a Government with the Liberal Democrats in it will extend tax breaks in childcare and seek to provide 20 hours free childcare to working parents in Bradford from the end of maternity to starting school. By re-electing me in May, I will help cut living costs by delivering even more childcare support to thousands of parents in Bradford”.

Baroness Kath Pinnock added:

“David and his team in Bradford have done a superb job in helping to deliver more childcare support to thousands of families across Bradford East.

“With facilities like Woodlands Nursery and extra funding from the Government, it’s great to see Liberal Democrat policies really making a difference to families in Bradford. If you re-elect David in May, we can expect even more support with childcare for Bradford’s hard working families.”




Date: Saturday, January 17, 1pm

Location: Achilles Statue, Hyde Park, W1J

One thousand cyclists will take part in an epic ride from Edinburgh to London in August to raise money to support a Gaza children’s charity. This Saturday (January 17) Palestine Solidarity Committee chair Ben Soffa will set the wheels spinning when he launches the project. A similar launch will also take place in Edinburgh.

Ben-Soffa-feature-A peleton comprising cyclists wearing Big Ride teeshirts and flying Palestinian flags will then ride down to the parliament, where a motion commending the epic journey has been submitted.

The Big Ride is the creation of Dermot MacWard, who runs the international cycle holiday company Red Spokes. “My friend Musheir El Farra lost eight members of his family (including five children) in the recent war in Gaza,” he said. “His sister Dr. Mona El-Farra the Vice President of the Red Crescent society for the Gaza Strip and Director of Middle Eastern Children Alliance has asked for help. Mona wants us to help raise awareness of the situation in Palestine and also help the children’s projects she’s involved in The Gaza Strip.”

photoThe massive ride will be from parliament to parliament, setting out on August 1 and ending at the UK parliament in Westminster on August 9. The entire ride stretches to 474 miles with an average of around 50 miles a day. Accommodation and meals en route can be provided.

“But people don’t need to cycle the whole route, they can join for single legs or they can just turn up on the day to encourage the other cyclists,” MacWard said. “It will be one of the largest mass participation cycling events of its kind in Britain. Ever. If you do nothing else this year – dust off your bike, pump up your tyres and oil your chain for a fabulous week of pedalling and helping the people of Palestine.”

It is hoped that at least £100,000 will be raised for MECA, the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance.

The Big Ride sets off from Scotland’s capital city on Saturday August 1 with a fanfare departure from Arthur’s Seat. The final day of the journey sees a rallying finish to the 474 mile capital-to-capital ride in Parliament Square – from one seat of parliament to another.

The Big Ride has the support of several aid organisations and support groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Bradford MP, David Ward is urging the Government and MP’s from across the political spectrum to help promote National Voter Registration Day 2015 on February 5, in the hope to encourage more young people in Ward_2463557bBradford and across the country to get registered and voting.

David Ward has submitted an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, in conjunction with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Voter Registration, calling on the Government and MP’s from all Political Parties to help promote and support National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) 2015 on Thursday 5th February.

National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) 2015 on 5th February is only the second time the event is being organised following a very successful day last year that saw hundreds of students and young adults organise events all over the country which resulted in encouraging over 50,000 people to register to vote.

imagesLQIMUMTSOrganised by Bite the Ballot, NVRD marks the anniversary of the Great Reform Act 1832 on 5th February, which first introduced the system of voter registration. The aim of NRVD 2015 is to register 250,000 young people and help engage the 4 million who are currently not registered before the general election this year. Last year NVRD was supported by ASDA, the National Union of Students and well known celebrities like Tinie Tempah, Eliza Doolittle and the founder of SBTV, Jamal Edwards.

There are 4 main ways to get involved with NVRD 2015 including organising a registration rally of your own or running an information session at a school or college. Resources and more information are available at

Commenting David Ward MP said:

“It’s absolutely essential that young adults are encouraged to get registered and get voting.

 “If young people don’t vote, then they don’t have a political voice and politicians will not care what they think, which results in them missing out on resources as political parties target their core voters. 

imagesJG2PGKG6“This is why I’m calling on the Government and all MP’s to get behind National Voter Registration Day 2015 in order to get more young people and underrepresented groups registered and voting. 

“Getting young people in Bradford to register and vote is one of my biggest priorities and that’s why I’ll be visiting local colleges and sixth forms in order to try and raise awareness that voting matters and if you want things to change, then you need to start voting.”

For the last 2 years, over the summer break Mr Ward has organised his Get on the Bus Summer tour where he travels across the Bradford East area engaging with young people, talking to them about politics and encouraging hundreds of young people aged 16-24 in Bradford to register to vote.

Bradford needs urgent measures to deal with its education failures, George Galloway said today, “Which is why I am launching the Bradford Challenge later this month”.

untitledThe Bradford West MP is holding a public meeting later this month where education experts will put forward proposals to improve Bradford’s schools. Children’s services boss Councillor Ralph Berry has also  been invited.

The city has some of the worst school results in the country – seventh bottom out of 150 local authorities for secondary schools, according to the latest Ofsted report, while more than half of secondary students and a quarter of primary pupils in the district are studying at schools judged to be not good enough. “This is an abysmal result for parents and pupils and it’s simply intolerable. It’s the same year after year. We keep bumping along the bottom educationally,” the MP continued, “and what we need is a radical improvement. And now. We keep getting reassuring words and promises from the council and education officials but these are empty ones. Families in this city want results, not platitudes.”

imagesE2G4CVEOGalloway has set up a public meeting called The Bradford Challenge: make our schools better which will take place in the Prince’s ballroom of the Midland Hotel at 7pm on Friday 30 January. As well as an educationalist who was involved in the London Challenge, which transformed the capital’s schools, the head of children’s service Councillor Ralph Berry has been invited, as have other education and community specialists and organisations.

“I keep hearing the argument that it’s bad in Bradford because the demographics are difficult, that for many kids English is a second language,” Galloway went on. “But Tower Hamlets in East London has the same demographics as here and its schools are now among the very best, largely because of the London Challenge. That can happen here if we can bring the expertise and resources to bear and deal with the vested interests who have been content to preside over failure.”

The meeting will be open to the public. “I’m sure that concerned parents, governors, teachers and specialists will want to come along to express their concerns, hopes and ideas,” the MP said. “It’s open to all. This won’t be just a talking shop, I’m determined it will be transformational.”


NazirBy Mohammad Nazir Tabassum

As time keeps changing, so do the popularity of politicians and political parties. Change is an undeniable fact. That is why it is said that nothing is immutable in this world. Everything is subject to change. The important aspect of it is that one must re-orientate one’s future action plans according to the changed circumstances.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) that stands for keeping UK away from the European Union, immigration related issues and non-intervention in Syria, gained its first elected MP with Douglas Carswell in the by-election of Clacton on October 9, 2014. The significance of this election is that Mr Carswell was a member of the Conservative Party elected twice to the House of Commons, first in 2005 and then in 2010. He intended to force a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon that created EU and EC over the need to resolve an oversight of apportionment in the European Parliament by re-ratifying the Treaty. But, disillusioned thoroughly, he defected from the Conservative Party on 28 August 2014. He resigned his seat and stood again in the by-election and returned successfully as the first UKIP MP. Today there are a host of other backbencher Tories who are UKIP sympathisers and are pushing PM David Cameron to accept UKIP’s stances on issues relating to Europe, immigration and non-intervention in Syria.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKip, commenting on Mr Carswell’s election said: “He had shaken up British politics.”

127256860_Farage_410438bPaul Sykes, a Yorkshire businessman, with a fortune of £650 million, the 26th wealthiest person in Britain, has been handed over the job of overseeing the election campaign of next May. He is also a former Conservative who split up with the party in 1991 following a disagreement over EU membership. He remained an admirer of Baroness Margaret Thatcher calling her “the best socialist I have ever seen.” Anybody can guess his concept of socialism with such a remark about the lady who took away almost everything that the British working class got after years of struggle for the rights.

Mr Sykes contributed more than £1 million to UKIP for campaigns during last spring which helped the party win 12 seats in the European Parliament. One can well imagine these Euro sceptics and their scepticism.

UKIP is causing a political embarrassment, not only to the Conservatives, but to Labour as well. Last week the Daily Telegraph published a 35-page document, leaked to the paper, setting out Labour’s approach to UKIP. This document depicted internal strategy in which party campaigners were urged to combat the electoral threat from UKIP by talking about the pressures immigration placed on services such as health and housing. Ed Miliband, the Labour Leader confirmed he had not seen the document before it was sent to MP’s and claimed he did not know where it had come from.

Contrary to all this, UKIP is facing its own peculiar odds at a time when the 2015 polls are less than five months away. UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage’s personal ratings have crashed to a record low in the first leader poll since UKIP was rocked by a sex scandal and dirty tricks row. Pollsters Ipsos MORI found that the net satisfaction with Farage’s performance as leader has dived 14 points since November to minus 20. It is the first sign that the voters are distancing themselves from the UKIP’s leadership because of the infighting and vicious wars in its top leadership. The public that scored Farage higher than the mainstream parties earlier are currently dissatisfied with him as much as they are with David Cameron, the Prime Minister.