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Articles about ‘Middle East’

February/March Newsletter

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Birmingham Northfield

North Worcestershire Golf Course

Residents living close to North Worcestershire Golf Course will know that at the end of February, Bloor Homes withdrew their planning application to build on the golf course. However they have now said they will be submitting new proposals shortly. In their latest notice they have said their new proposals are aiming “to address the concerns raised during the determination period. The amount of housing has been reduced and additional public space is now proposed.”

Locally, there has long been widespread opposition to building on the Golf Course and this has been reflected in cross party opposition amongst elected representatives of the area too. The City Council’s current Planning framework also opposes redevelopment and, had Bloor proceeded with their recent application, Planning officers were recommending refusal by the Council’s Planning Committee. Last year, the Government’s Planning Inspector also reviewed the overall Plan or Birmingham and also said he was not persuaded of the case to overrule the City Council’s policy in opposition to building on the site.

Bloor Homes are hosting a public consultation event next week. I would encourage local residents to go along and let Bloor know your views. Details here: Thursday 16th March, 1pm-7:30pm, Hollymoor Community Centre, 8 Manor Park Grove, B31 5ER.

Schools Funding

The news that we feared from the Government has been confirmed, Birmingham schools are set to lose a staggering £20m Read more

The Iraq Inquiry

Read and watch my question to the Prime Minister on the long-awaited publication of the Chilcot Report into the Iraq war:

“May I also ask the House to pause for a minute to remember Robin Cook, who had the courage to speak up against the orthodoxy of the day, and the courage to speak out as a voice of sanity in 2003?

The sequence of events that led to the UK’s participation in the invasion of Iraq shows that where the unshakeability of a political leader’s self-belief so traps him or her in its own logic that he or she cannot see beyond it, the consequences can be catastrophic.

As someone who voted against the war in 2003, I know that the Iraq war did not create from scratch the multiple problems that we see today in the middle east, but it has made them so much more intractable.

Does the Prime Minister agree that at root what the peoples of the middle east want is not so different from what people over here want? They want security, they want respect, and they want to know that they are not treated with double standards by the international community.”

Watch:

Click here to read my thoughts which I posted on the eve of Chilcot. My post includes onward links to my speeches at the time as well as a copy of my letter Tony Blair expressing my concerns on the issue.

 

On the eve of the Chilcot Report

Tomorrow, the Chilcot Report into the Iraq war will finally be published.

Ahead of publication, my thoughts have gone back to how it felt in the House of Commons – and outside – at the time. Sometimes it is easy to get hindsight mixed up with what we knew at the time, as we approached a conflict that was going to have such a profound effect on the Middle East and beyond. It was a conflict which also was to have a big impact on way politics and politicians are viewed today.

So I have revisited some of what I was saying and writing at the time. Here is a letter I wrote to Tony Blair some seven months before the invasion started, setting out some of my concerns about the course he was on. Below are also links to a couple of speeches I made to Parliament – one also in September 2002 and one in March 2003 just a week before the invasion.

I was one of the 139 Labour MPs who opposed the war and voted against the government in the House of Commons on 18th March 2003. Another was the late Robin Cook. British politics is the poorer without him. And we – his friends in the Labour family – particularly miss him at this time of new political turmoil.

* Letter to Tony Blair: 12 September 2002
* Speech in the House of Commons: 24 September 2002.
Speech in the House of Commons: 11 March 2003.

 

Remembering Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah

IMG_0292Some years ago I was approached to become a “Guardian of the Memory”. Established by Yad Vashem, the world centre for Holocaust research, the idea is both simple and powerful.

There were 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 1.5 million of them were children. The Guardian of the Memory project recognises that each one one of those who died has a right to be remembered by someone to ensure they will never be forgotten nor their existence denied.

Like me, Jacob Billauer was an MP. He was born in Warsaw and his father’s name was Moises. We know Jacob was married but we don’t know the name of his wife. We do know that, prior to and during World War Two, he lived in Lodz, Poland. Jacob Billauer was murdered. He was one of the six million.

We know about him because his niece, Ida Karpel, lodged a page of testimony with Yad Vashem. Every year I remember Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah, the annual Jewish Remembrance Day for those who died during the Holocaust.

Today is Yom HaShoah and today I remember Jacob Billauer.

You can also become a guardian of the memory of one person who died in the Holocaust. Find out how here http://guardianofthememory.org/