Author Archives: Issan Ghazni

Liberal Democrat Muslim Network launched in Birmingham

Launch of Lib Dem Muslim NetworkMuslim Liberal Democrat members and activists from across all parts of the country came together on Saturday 3 May in Birmingham to promote a strong Muslim network within the Party in support of greater inclusion, dialogue and campaigning.

The key aims of the Network are:

1. Promote the party amongst Muslim communities across the UK

2. Provide a support mechanism for Muslim members within the Party

3. Promote dialogue and greater understanding of Muslim communities in the UK

4.

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Opinion: The East Midlands would suffer without Europe

Vince Cable speaking York Europe Jobs Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsIf we needed reminding how vital Europe is to British jobs in regions like the East Midlands, the bosses of car giants Hyundai and Toyota spelt it out.

As a European candidate in May’s elections I was alarmed to read that Hyundai, who have a base in Corby, warned against leaving the EU saying that if the UK were no longer in the single market it would throw up ‘barriers’ to doing business. There was a similar message from …

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Opinion: Knock on doors in diverse communities with confidence

Campaigning on the doorstep - Lynne FeatherstoneLater this month Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats will be holding the first of several action days in Brent Central to help the excellent Ibrahim Taguri get elected.

We will also be doing everything we can to encourage party members to get out and secure a victory for Ibrahim in 2015.

On paper this may look like an uphill task – defending a wafer-thin majority against Labour in a highly multicultural seat. But it really isn’t, and here’s why…

Let’s tear up any assumptions that Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are wedded to Labour.

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Opinion: Britain should offer more support to pro-democracy protesters in Ukraine

Liberals have common cause with pro-democracy protestors in Ukraine

While UKIP and the Tory Right want to take Britain out of Europe other nations are clamouring to join the EU, not least in the Ukraine where pro-EU protests have been taking place for several months now. They want to be ‘in’ for the same reason as the Liberal Democrats, to boost jobs and investment. Europe is not a threat to national sovereignty but a guarantor of democratic and economic stability across the continent.

 As Ukraine protesters are seeking to free their country from Kremlin interference so too the collective influence of European nations

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Opinion: Eastern Europeans hold the key to the European elections

Boston-eurosDoomsday predictions in the media that Liberal Democrats are set to lose all our MEPs to UKIP are wide of the mark. The closer we get to the Euro elections in May the greater the opportunity for us to win support from the substantial minority of voters who are pro-Europe.

Yet there is no doubt the threat of UKIP is a substantial one. And just as Nigel Farage is boxing clever we Lib Dems need to get smarter about our strategy. Our Euro-slogan ‘In Europe, In Work’ is a powerful statement about …

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Opinion: Time to expose UKIP

The recent expose of UKIP’s Victoria Ayling, who wants to send all immigrants “back home” offers a glimpse at the nasty side of this party which Nigel Farage would rather keep hidden.

Talk of ‘repatriating’ of immigrants sends a cold shudder up my spine as I remember the 1970s rhetoric of when that phrase applied exclusively to those from the Commonwealth.

As a European candidate in the East Midlands, the same region Ayling is from, I want voters to be informed the true face of UKIP.

For a party which many commentators speculate will reap the most votes in next May’s …

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Opinion: The inspiration of Nelson Mandela

The passing of Nelson Mandela is a moment in history which has touched almost everyone as we reflect on the momentous achievements of the great man and compare them to his engagingly humble personality.

His belief in peace, non-violence and reconciliation mark him out in the same bracket as Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr and Mahatma Gandhi. His role as a freedom fighter and international symbol of resistance of Apartheid show an uncompromising spirit.

Mandela was a hero to most and his fight inspired many to get involved in the political process, perhaps more in the Liberals than any other British …

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Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats: a year of achievement

cropped EMLD logoI was delighted to be re-elected Chair of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) at the AGM last Saturday, 25th November.

2013 has been a year of considerable achievement, not least a very well-attended race equality conference in partnership with the Social Liberal Forum  which was launched by the business secretary Vince Cable.

EMLD were also successful in changing party policy on education and employment when our motion endorsing the Race Equality Taskforce report was unanimously approved at federal conference in Glasgow.

We were instrumental in preserving the “general duty” part of the …

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Open letter to Lib Dem MPs: The Immigration Bill is illiberal

Dear Lib Dem MPs,

We Liberal Democrats have long been proud of our internationalism and compassionate stance towards refugees and immigration. Not an ‘open borders’ party, but a party which believes controlling our borders does not conflict with welcoming newcomers or upholding their human rights.

By contrast the Conservatives care little for rights, European or otherwise. Theresa May is engaged in creating a “hostile environment” made so unpleasant for “irregular migrants” will simply pack up and leave, and minority ethnic British citizens could end up being racially-profiled if they ‘look foreign.’ This approach is diametrically opposed to the values I …

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Equalities – how the ‘General Duty’ was saved

It was fitting that, on the 20th anniversary of the death of Stephen Lawrence, the government decided to listen to campaigners and save a key element of our equalities laws.

Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) played a leading role in the campaign to save Section 3 of the 2006 Equality Act which provides a vision and mission statement for Britain’s equality watchdog.

This is known as the ‘general duty’ and both informs the work of the watchdog – the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – which itself is responsible for setting the standard for the rest of our public services.

That is …

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Opinion: Fear-mongering, negative stereotyping and abuse, even in polite society

Why, in a supposedly modern civilised liberal society, are some of our journalists having to put up with alarming levels of personal abuse?

Mehdi Hasan

It is not often that I agree or sympathise with the comments of Mehdi Hasan, a vehemently tribal Labour party supporting journalist previously working for the New Statesman and now with the Huffington Post UK.

But here, he talks about something I concur with – an issue which is not written about often due to the fear of public reprisal. It is an issue of real importance …

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Opinion: UK-US Extradition Treaty Review – now is the time for change

Now that it is holding the reins of power and is in a position to make necessary changes to a universally acknowledged unfair extradition treaty with the US, why is the Coalition government stalling? This is baffling, particularly as both our own party and the Conservatives campaigned strongly against the ‘lopsided’ nature of the arrangement when in opposition.

In fact, every senior member of the current cabinet voted in 2006 in support of a ‘Forum Bar’ amendment, giving our judges greater power to decide on the basis of each individual case, whether or not it is appropriate to order extradition. It …

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Opinion: we can not allow ourselves to be used as scapegoats by the Tories

It was an amazing coincidence that Lady Warsi’s interview on BBC2’s Newsnight spoke so lamentably about the state of the coalition the evening before YouGov put the Tories 11 points behind Labour. The Conservative Party chairman without hesitation accused us of being immature and failing to accept collective responsibility within the coalition.

Patrick Wintour’s article in yesterday’s Guardian  highlights the despicable manner in which Lady Warsi, as a cabinet member showed no loyalty to her coalition partners by putting the boot in as soon as the going got tough and the Tories started struggling in the opinion polls.

The whole episode …

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Opinion: Support for emerging democracies – we’ll do it our way

Speaking at the recent Munich Security Conference, US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton said “Americans and Europeans must send a clear and common message to despots that they must respect the rights of their people….America and Europe stand shoulder to shoulder.”

However, the UK role in encouraging emerging democracies must be determined through a process of working closer with the EU and by identifying limited areas in which tangible gains can be made through shared resources. That is to say that we do what we can with our European partners to achieve the best results within our areas of influence. Continually …

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Opinion: the Government’s new integration strategy – when are we going to learn?

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recently published and launched its new integration strategy – “Creating the Conditions for Integration”. Following discussions with many concerned Lib Dem party members and feedback from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community organisations involved in race equality work, I am now more convinced than ever that this document does little to address the persistent racial inequalities that exist across the nation. The Government for their part are trumpeting this publication as equivalent to a race equality strategy – although one which has diminishing credibility within BAME communities up and down the …

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Opinion: EU needs to resolve the crisis over Hungary’s slide to autocracy and human rights violations

The right-wing populist policies of the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, have created real concern over a growing constitutional crisis within the European Union (EU). His Fidesz party secured a two-thirds majority in the 2010 elections giving Viktor Orban, total authority to pass legislation.

Since then, he has been much criticised across the EU, in particular, for his new law setting unacceptable limits on media freedoms. He has also declared the country’s previous constitution invalid and passed legislation with no consultation, declaring a new constitution requiring that all judges older than 62 retire – a cynical ploy thought to favour …

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Opinion: Size does matter – UK under-investment in research and development

I welcome Julian Huppert’s important contribution towards updating our party’s science policy and, along with others, efforts in making the case for science in politics.

In his 30th January article on LDV, Julian, quite rightly, made the point that UK science and research is definitely world class, and it’s in all our interests not to be complacent about that.

As a Party, we can come up with lots of ideas and innovative policies to boost UK science, and to campaign tirelessly to get them implemented. However, the key barrier to better utilising science to drive forward the economy is our …

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Opinion – NHS Reforms: It is not too late to pull back from the edge

If the Party is still licking its wounds and reeling from the catastrophic loss of public support over student tuition fees and the kicking received in the May 2011 local elections, then please be in no doubt, that the punishment it will receive from the electorate for its perceived co-operation in, and reluctant endorsement of, the demise of a much loved and unified national health service, will be on another planet entirely! And that will be despite the valiant efforts and guerrilla warfare carried out by our Peers led notably by Shirley Williams and others.

Essential to Cameron’s election campaign was …

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Opinion: 2012 – Time for an Arms Trade treaty that will really save lives

This February marks the final United Nations (UN) Preparatory Committee session before the deciding negotiations in July 2012 for a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). As this critical moment approaches, we need to call on our Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to support the strongest possible Treaty.

The historic decision made in 2009 to negotiate a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the UN was predicated on calls from more than a million people across the world. They argued for the arms trade to be brought under control and for governments to take their responsibility …

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Opinion: The Government’s new Prevent strategy – a missed opportunity

The government has just launched a revamped version of the old failed and worn out counter-extremism strategy initiated by Labour whilst it was in power. Prevent was originally launched after the 7 July bombings in 2005 to stop the spread of home-grown terrorism. Labour’s approach failed, proved divisive and also led to inevitable alienation in Muslim communities. Can the new hardline approach succeed in preventing acts of Islamist violence on the streets of Britain?

The new framework runs counter to the liberal and sensible arguments proposed and hard fought for within Government by Nick Clegg and Andrew Stunell for …

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Policy development – mainstreaming equalities!

If you have been reading your papers for conference, you might have noticed something new. Tucked away at the back of the policy papers is a page headed ‘Policy Equality Impact Assessment’. If you work in the public sector, you may already be familiar with these, as they have been compulsory in schools, hospitals and other public institutions for some time now. As a political party, we are not expected to complete such assessments as a matter of course, but have started to introduce them as a sign of our own commitment to the principles of diversity, equality …

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