Author Archives: Tom Brake MP

Tom Brake MP writes…It’s time to reform renting

Recently at my surgery I met a distressed young woman who came to see me with her mother. Repairs are outstanding on their rented property. The landlord is refusing to sort them out while at the same time putting pressure on them to leave their flat. She didn’t know where to go or what to do.

This is a familiar story and it is no exaggeration to say that we have a national emergency in housing. There are vast numbers of people living in fear and uncertainty and in 2016 that is simply unacceptable.

We clearly have a rental sector which is broken. Many people are spending over half their disposable income on rent and yet a third of homes fail to meet the Government’s decent homes standard, with over 60% of renters having experienced either damp, mould, leaking roofs or windows, electrical hazards, animal infestation or gas leaks, according to a recent survey commissioned by Shelter.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes….On International Romani Day we should all remember the need for human rights to be given to all groups in Europe

Today is International Romani Day, a day to celebrate the culture and raise awareness of one of the most misunderstood groups within Europe. Romani people have faced severe persecution over the last century but are tragically often forgotten and that is why this day is important.

Tragically, Romani people are still facing persecution and are being denied equal human rights within Europe.

Our continent is buckling under the strain of the greatest humanitarian crisis it has faced since the last World War, tensions are running high in areas struggling to cope with an influx of men, women and children who have had to flee their homes to escape the destruction and tyranny of terrorist groups and dictators. Sadly, as these people reach the borders of states unable or unwilling to welcome the number of people who have arrived needing protection, human rights are often being forgotten and protection and fair treatment is not being given.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes: Do you support military intervention in Libya?

Libya is in crisis. After the removal of the brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has unfortunately disintegrated into a state in little more than name, without the stability and leadership of any government. The country is being held back and fragmented through tribal infighting and most worryingly Daesh has established strongholds around Libya, including the cities of Sirte and Sabratha and even in areas surrounding Benghazi.

It is reported that the vast majority of Daesh fighters based in Libya are not Libyan nationals and the movement does not have roots within the country. Daesh is deeply unpopular with Libyan citizens and they have struggled to motivate and indoctrinate Libyan citizens.

The American military are currently conducting airstrikes on Daesh targets within Libya. The Secretary of State for Defence has personally authorised the use of RAF Lakenheath to allow these airstrikes to be launched from within the United Kingdom. The UK Government has been coy on what role, if any, our military will take to support the US military in their fight against Daesh in Libya, however the likelihood of the UK Government committing to military intervention in Libya is increasing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 68 Comments

The Diversity Motion – a spring board to bring greater fairness, diversity and openness to our party

The Diversity Motion being put forward this weekend at the Spring Conference in York, is an important, necessary and long overdue motion, one that Liberal Democrats need to unanimously support. As a party we have always been committed to eliminating all types of prejudice, discrimination, inequality and privilege, and must continue to do so when it comes to the country’s elected bodies and party structures. For the myriad voices present in our society to be heard and valued, our political system must reflect the diversity that exists, not just a narrow section. This unfortunately is not case, and also is sadly not true of the Liberal Democrats.

There is wholly inadequate diversity among Lib Dem members of parliament and candidates. Despite efforts to increase diversity, in the form of the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Leadership Programme, there has only been a limited impact on the proportion of individuals elected from under-represented groups and low socio-economic backgrounds.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 44 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes…Violation of judicial process by Bangladesh International Criminal Tribunal

This week the Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) decision to execute Salauddin Quader Chowdhury. This represents the second rejection for Mr Chowdhury, following his original appeal in July 2015. This is a grave injustice for Chowdhury and for Bangladesh.

In 2013, Chowdhury was sentenced to death by the ICT for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Independence War. The original trial, like many others heard by the ICT, has received widespread criticism including from the United Nations and Amnesty International for procedural irregularities and the violation of international fair trial standards.

The case of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was marred by irregularities, the worst of which relates to witnesses for the Defence. The Court imposed a last minute restriction to the number of witnesses the Defence was permitted to call. The Prosecution called 41 witnesses to take the stand against Chowdhury. On the day the final Prosecution witness was called, the Court branded the 1153-long witness list a ploy aimed at delaying the case and arbitrarily cut the Defence witness list to just five.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Tom Brake MP: Why I’m fasting for Shaker Aamer

haker Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, which still stands as an icon to the Iraq War, a war which only the Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were brave enough to stand up against. Shaker has been held for the last thirteen years without charge or trial. He has been cleared by two successive US Presidents and yet is still held captive.

Baroness Ludford correctly said in 2012 ‘the continued existence of Guantanamo is a stain on the record and reputation of President Obama’; it is truly depressing that Guantanamo continues to be used to incarcerate people and that there are many reports of abuse and violence within the prison.

On 25th September, Shaker learned that he would finally be freed, however as Congress has to be given 30 days’ notice before Shaker can be released, he is unlikely to be released before the 25th October at the earliest.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Tom Brake writes: My trip to the Calais Jungle

 

I visited the Calais Jungle a week ago, where around 4,000 people live in terribly squalid conditions. My trip was organised by staff from Lib Dem HQ, who had collected donations so we were able to distribute water, food and sanitary products.

It was a shocking experience to see the dreadful conditions people are living in. The Jungle is worse than a shanty town, with very few facilities.

There was no sign of water being provided and the people we met clutched gratefully the bottles we had transported.  Shoes, clothes and dry foods were also in demand. Portable toilets are provided by aid organisations while the local authorities seem to turn a blind eye to the conditions in the camp, simply wishing it would go away. I was told the French authorities don’t provide any help apart from a Centre where mobile phones can be charged and a hot meal is available. If someone is badly injured the local hospital bandages them up.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 17 Comments
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