Sunday, January 30, 2005


On Thursday 3rd February, Nelson Mandela will be coming to London at the invitation of MakePovertyHistory. He will be endorsing MakePovertyHistory - the biggest anti-poverty campaign ever.

You can come too.

He will be addressing a crowd of thousands in Trafalgar Square in London to put pressure on world leaders to ensure more and better aid, drop the debt and deliver trade justice. He will also as well as calling on the public to get involved and take action.

It's going to be special.

The finance ministers of the G7 (Group of 7 industrialised Countries) will meet the following day in London. From that meeting we want to see significant steps to drop the debts of developing countries which currently costs them $39 billion a year. When Mr Mandela meets with the finance ministers he will take a message from all of us to all of them.

Come and add your voice to the global call to Make Poverty History.

White bands, the symbol of the campaign, will adorn the square, Nelson's Column and we're hoping you'll come wearing one too.

The Facts:

12 noon
Thursday 3rd February
Trafalgar Square, London
Nelson Mandela, You and A Few Thousand Others...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The best way to get around anyone abusing their power of patronage and appointing too many peers directly to the House of Lords is not to appoint Peers but to Elect the Lords.
Brown in 100% debt relief pledge

Just read Brown in 100% debt relief pledge on BBC News website and I have to say some of the content was very pleasing. I welcome the Chancellors remarks that he hoped to persuade his G7 colleagues to commit to the goal by the end of the year.

However debt relief is not the only action needed in the attempt to make poverty history and helping developing countries improve the lives of their citizens. We need an improvement in the trade rules governing international trade and Mr Brown and Tony Blair find themselves in great position to do this. A close friend of theirs by the name of Peter Mandelson is the Trade Commissioner of the European Commission who is forcing unfair trade rules on developing countries.

I hope that during the UK presidency of the European Union Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and other members of the UK government will be doing their best to get Peter Mandelson and the European Commission to relax some of their unfair rules against developing nations.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

As ever a good feature from the BBC on their website about the referendum on the EU constitution.
It’s a great guide explaining What is the European Union constitution?, What is it for?, Who supports it?, Who is against it?, Who else is having a referendum?, When will the UK's vote be held? and What happens if the UK votes no?
Interesting list of people

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Save the Children have launched an online calendar, which lists important dates and events for the make poverty history campaign.
An important date for January is Tuesday 25th send Make Child Poverty History action card to my MP Important Dates in February are Thursday 3rd start wearing white wristband and on Friday 4th G7 Finance ministers’ meeting starts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Paul Marsden the MP for Shrewsbury becomes the 48 Liberal Democrat MP to sign EDM 9-MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN.
If you happen to know an MP who has not signed EDM 9-MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN. Please write, email of fax then now and help make 2005 a memorable year and lets Make Poverty History in 2005.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

They work for you

I have just been looking at They work for you and looking at my local MP Khalid Mahmood MP Labour MP for Birmingham, Perry Barr performance data:

Mr Mahmood spoke in 8 debates in the last year (546th out of 659 MPs), asked 3 written questions in the last year(498th out of 659 MPs), has attended only 66% of votes in parliament (409th out of 658 MPs)

However what surprised me most was Mr Mahmood’s last speech in the Chamber at the House of Commons.

Mr. Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): Rodney

Now that is value for money!.
Both David Laws and Mark Oaten have now added their signatures to EDM 9 - MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN so 47 of the 55 Liberal Democrats have now signed EDM 9 - MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN. The 8 who have not signed so far are Bruce, Burnett, Green, Kennedy, Marsden, Rendel, Taylor and Younger-Ross.

If you happen to be a constituent of any of the Liberal Democrat MPs mentioned above or a Liberal Democrat who is a friend of theirs please write to them and explain that that every 3 seconds, poverty takes a child's life or even that there are more than a billion people living on less than $1 a day. This if proof that there is an urgent requirement for there to be action on the issue of poverty and since 2005 holds a fantastic opportunity due to the issue of poverty being on the public mind because of the 10th Red Nose Day 11th March 2005 (the 20th Birthday of Comic Relief), the 20th Anniversary of Live Aid 13th July 2005, the Commission for Africa report (due in April) and the UN General Assembly Special Summit on the Millennium Development Goals takes place 1st - 5th September 2005 and since they as Liberal Democrats they have made a commitment to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity and that they believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives they should call on the government to lead the way for change and use its influence when it holds as it holds the Presidency of the G8 and the EU to make poverty history in 2005.
The simplest gesture they can make is by signing EDM 9 - MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN and follow that up by writing to fellow Liberal representatives across the world asking them to call on their governments to support the UK Government during its Presidency of the G8 and the EU to make poverty history in 2005.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

So let me get this these guys have been held in prison since 2002 without access to Lawyers and had no or very little contact with the outside world. They have been accused of contributing to the acts of terrorism but never actually been charged. Now after 2-3 years they are being released without charge.

Am I the only one who thinks the American government has wasted a whole load of money they have raised from the hardworking American people?

Monday, January 10, 2005

`Pressure group activity is necessary for democracy.’ Critically discuss this proposition 2

Today was the first chance I had to pick up my marked essay which I handed in towards the end of November.

Graham Raymond my lecturer who had the misfortune of having to mark this essay said the essay was good on Knowledge and Content, Argument and Analysis and Referencing, Expression and Presentation.

In comments Graham made on the Assessment Criteria Sheet Graham says I cover the different examples of pressure groups very well but when explaining their impact on democracy I loose my way some what.

All these comments will be taken on board for when I complete my next piece of work that is due in on the 24th.

For those of you interested I have copied the whole essay below.

`Pressure group activity is necessary for democracy’ Critically discuss this proposition

Pressure groups can be defined as groups of people who have come together to protect and advocate a shared interest.

Pressure groups can be divided into two categories “sectional” or “interest” groups and “cause” or “promotional” groups. “Sectional” and “interest” groups act to protect the interests of their members. Examples include unions (National Union of Students), professional bodies (British Medical Association) and employers’ organisations (Confederation of British Industry). “Cause” and “promotional” groups act to promote a particular idea, cause or issue not directly related to the personal interest of their members. Examples include Charter88, Britain in Europe, The Electoral Reform Society and Make Votes Count.

These groups can then be further divided into peak associations who are umbrella organisations that represent the interest broad bands of similar groups such as workers (Trade Union Council) and fire brigade groups who form in reaction to a specific problem and disband when it is solved. An example of a fire brigade group is the Anti-Poll Tax Federation. This sub-division can also include episodic groups they are groups who are not normally political but may become when circumstances require. Religious groups who sometimes speak out against issues such as abortion, gay marriages etc are examples of episodic groups.

Pressure groups can also be divided as “insider” and “outsider” groups. Insider groups are those who have access to decision makers and politicians. Outsider groups are those who do not have access to decision makers and politicians. Those groups who wish to work outside of the current political establishment may also be referred to as “outsider groups”.

Finally there are the New Social Movements, which are political organisations who have broader concerns then many interest or cause groups, but are more loosely knit then political parties.

There are thousands of pressure groups covering almost every conceivable interest and these groups come in many different forms. Some pressure groups such as Fathers for Justice are continuously active in politics while others are very rarely heard of or seen. As government behaviour and politics affect so many people many groups are likely to be politically active locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

Pressure groups come in many different forms-large and small, loosely knit and highly organised, rich and poor. Some of these groups will work together while others will work against each other. The recent referendum on regional devolution in the North East saw rival pressure groups from the Yes and No campaign competing against each other.

Many but not all pressure groups are organised like a pyramid with local branches at the bottom, area and regional organisations in the middle and national and international bodies at the top. These networks allow organisations groups with similar positions to work together on issues. For example during the Local, Greater London Assembly and European Parliament elections in June 2004 Unite Against Fascism brought together many different organisations such as political parties, trade unions, charities, religious groups and women’s organisations to campaign against the election of fascist parties. This was only possible because the groups brought together all had local organisations/branches who were prepared to work together to campaign locally.

Pressure groups generally exert pressure at two different stages. The first is the policy making stage at this stage pressure groups put forward their ideas of policy and then at the decision making stage when they try convince politicians and decision makers to adopt policies that support their cause.

Some people argue that pressure groups are a potential threat to Parliament and a danger in democracy while others argue that pressure groups play an important part in any democracy.

Those who argue that pressure groups are important for democracy say that pressure groups are a means of political participation and influence for members of the public especially minority groups. However the New Right who see pressure groups as a potential danger to Parliamentary Democracy argue that government are elected by citizens to represent the public good and pressure groups work against this especially those representing minority groups. However if we take John Emrich Edward Dalberg Acton’s remark “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities” then we must see pressure groups that allow minorities opinions to be recognised as an example of the strength of our democracy.

Those who argue that pressure groups are a potential threat to “our way of life”, Parliament and a danger in democracy site examples such as the fuel crisis of September 2000 when an almost ad hoc alliance of road hauliers and farmers blockaded all the country’s oil refineries and depots causing widespread panic buying by the public. During this period the government took steps to secure emergency powers from the Privy Council to control the supply of fuel. However others may argue that the fuel crisis of September 2000 was a success for democracy and proved the need for pressure groups and protest because it was not the government but members of the public setting the political and news agenda.

Others argue that pressure groups especially trade unions; professional bodies and some business groups distort market operations. They also argue that these in protecting their and their members interest slow economic growth and cause unemployment, inflation and high public expenditure. They often site the industrial problems that plagued the Callaghan government of the late seventies as an example of this. However it could be argued that Trade Unions and Professional Bodies protect their members who would be possibly trampled on if the market were totally free. It could also be argued that these groups can help in keeping industrial relations good which then allows the owners, managers and workers to get on with making the company/economy more efficient rather then spending time in discussing to how to sort out disputes or striking. It can also be argued that if Business Groups did not exist the government could more easily increase red tape and taxes causing a distorted market.

The greater number of groups and the diversity of the issues they cover ensure political recognition of many issues, which political parties would rather disappear. An advantage of the number of groups and issues covered by pressure groups is that it allows a greater number of people to participate in the political process without being politically partisan. Pressure groups can also provide for those who find the party system difficult or complicated to understand as identified in Jordon, G 1998 Hugo Young (Guardian, 22.6.95) “Single-issue work these makes a stronger appeal. It is pure. It is clear. It is unencumbered by complications. Its virtue is obvious. It also brings widespread benefits to society”.

Other argue that while pressure groups alienate others from the political process by making request which would be reachable only if the government only concentrated on their wants and their interest and therefore when not delivered the supporters and followers of these groups become disillusioned with politics. It can also be argued that groups who make undeliverable request could force those are moderate and ready work within the system to become militant and possibly to the extent where they threaten the peace.
I would argue that as pressure groups are a means of political participation and influence for members of the public especially minority groups allowing minority opinions to be voiced. pressure behaviour sometimes allows the public and not the politicians to set the political and news agenda and pressure groups an opportunity for a greater number of people to participate in the political process without being politically partisan. These in my conclusion prove that pressure group activity is necessary for democracy.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Another Q & A email

This came into my inbox today.

Surely you know how it works by now.

If not, answer the questions and then send it to everyone is you address book including the person who sent it to you.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Waking up in a world free of illness, ignorance and poverty.

What is your greatest fear?

Not being able to do anything to help those in needs.

Which living person do you most admire?

Nelson Mandela: one of the great triumphs of hope over adversity.

What makes you depressed?

Fear failure

What do you most dislike about your appearance?


What is your favourite word?


What is your favourite book?

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

For what cause would you die?

My beliefs

Should the royal family be scrapped?


What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Not sure I have ever really been in love

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?


What is your greatest regret?

Not working hard enough for my GCSEs

When and where were you happiest?

Watching the sunrise in Salima, Malawi

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Increased exercise

What would your motto be?

Hard work earns the best rewards

How would you like to die?


How would you like to be remembered?

As a good family member and friend

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

There is always someone who is worse off then you

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tony Blair on ID Cards

"And instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards as the Tory Right demand, let that money provide thousands of extra police officers on the beat in our local communities."
Mark Ramsden contacted me a few minutes ago to inform me that while browsing the no2id website he found this qoute from the Prime Minister at the 1995 Labour party conference.
Running since 1985, Westminster Day is a unique event, which allows young people to engage with senior political figures and make their voice heard. It gives a good opportunity to young people to question those who make key decisions and can be great way of sparking an interest in the political process. Previous Westminster Days have featured Paddy Ashdown, Sir David Steel, Peter Mandelson, Ken Livingstone and William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Charles Kennedy and John Reid. Well-known journalists, media personalities and representatives of think tanks and campaign groups also join politicians during panel debates with young people to discuss contemporary political issues.

Westminster Day 2005 will be held at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London and will hopefully be chaired by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. Previous Westminster Days have been sold out and it is hoped that in a general election year that will happen again.
Tickets are £12 and you can book online now!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Just been looking through the signatories of EDM 9-MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN and noticed that 45 Liberal Democrat MPs have now signed it.

I will be writing to the remaining ten Bruce, Burnett, Green, Kennedy, Laws, Marsden, Oaten, Rendel, Taylor and Younger-Ross to ask them once again if they would be willing to help.

It was pleased to find that 271 MPs had singed EDM 9-MAKE POVERTY HISTORY IN 2005 CAMPAIGN so far. If your MP has not signed it so far then please write to your MP, fax your MP or email your MP.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I have just been reading Crime Against Humanity and thought that I should respond to some of the points raised in the article.

Iftikhar wrote:

"The first wave of Muslims arrived with three or four languages including English but the next generation born and educated by native teachers has been subject to learn English in local accents, making them mis-fit not only for the British society at large but also for the whole world".

Not true, when I was at Secondary School in Birmingham from 1994-1999 I learnt Gujrati, which is meant to be my home language.

Iftikhar wrote:

"A Muslim is the citizen of this small global village. On top of that they have been discouraged to learn Arabic and Urdu, making them cut off from their cultural roots".

Again not true, I was born in Birmingham and have lived almost all my life here. While I never learnt Arabic and Urdu at primary or secondary school I was never discouraged to do so and in fact I did go to an "Mosque School" here in Birmingham to learn Arabic, Urdu and about Islam until my parents thought that I should stop going so that I could focus on my GCSE's.

Iftikhar wrote:

"They are unable to have a good communication with their parents and elders".

My two grandfathers who were born and raised in India before they moved to Malawi in Africa spoke/speak better English then I do. My grandmothers both understood/understand English and both my parents were educated at English speaking schools in Malawi.

Iftikhar wrote:

"All of them suffer from Identity Crises resulting in mental, emotional and social problems."

I suffer from an identity crises because I don’t know whether I'm an Indian, Malawian or British person not for any other reason but I don’t loose any sleep over it accepting that I am an citizen of a global village. My identity crisis does not result in mental, emotional or social problems for me.

Iftikhar wrote:

"Now Muslim Imams will need to show a basic command of spoken English before being allowed to enter the country to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Muslim community."

As a Muslim I think that’s a good thing because Imams will now be able to talk to young British Muslims and non Muslims in their language rather then through translators so there wont be the chance of a person not sufficiently educated in Islam changing the meaning of things in translation.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Anyone who knows of the Make Poverty History campaign will know that the symbol of the campaign is a simple White Band worn around the wrist or your arm.

I happen to be looking at the Make Poverty History campaign website and found that you can now buy them online from Oxfam and Save the Children, On the High Street you can buy them from Oxfam and Save the Children and on the phone from Action Aid on 01460 238027 or Save The Children on 0800 0273270.

I happen to be reading Guess who's coming to Chequers? Pop stars and tobacco bosses and started thinking of whom I would like to invite to dinner.
The Chequers: official dinner engagements (8 June 2001-April 2003) include:
Michael Ball - singer
William Birtles - lawyer, partner of Patricia Hewitt
Sue Birtwistle - TV producer, wife of Sir Richard Eyre
Adele Blakeborough - social entrepreneur
Paul Boateng - minister
Edward de Bono - business guru
Alison Brimelow - chief executive of Patent Office
Trevor Brooking - former England footballer
Jim Capaldi - rock star
Anna Capaldi - campaigner
Bill Connor - union boss
Robin Cook - ex minister
James Cracknell - rower
Gavyn Davies - former chair of BBC
Alice Deen - fashion PR
Alain-Dominique Perrin - tycoon
Sir Richard Eyre - former head of National Theatre
William Farish - US ambassador
Clara Furse - Stock Exchange chief
Geri Halliwell - pop singer
Ian Hargreaves - journalism professor
Patricia Hewitt - minister
Robert Hill - Australian minister
Lord Hollick - former boss of Express Newspapers
Ken Hom - chef Sir Ken Jackson - union leader
Lord Janner - Labour peer
Tessa Jowell - minister
Bill Kenwright - theatre/football boss
Dominic Lawson - editor of Sunday Telegraph
Terry Leahy - Tesco boss
Lord Lloyd Webber - theatre boss
Sir David Manning - UK ambassador in Washington
Cathy McGowan - Sixties TV presenter
David Mills - husband of Tessa Jowell
Rosa Monckton - wife of Dominic Lawson
Estelle Morris - former minister
Sue Nye - Gordon Brown's chief of staff
Des O'Connor - singer
Esther Rantzen - TV presenter
Sir Stephen Redgrave - rower
Marjorie Scardino - boss of Financial Times publisher Pearson
Albert Scardino - Guardian executive editor
Jenny Seagrove - actress
Lord Simon - former boss of BP
Mark Studer - barrister friend of Blair’s
Tessa Tennant - ethical investor
Lord Thomas - Labour peer
Sir Andrew Turnbull - cabinet secretary
Jodie Wilson - actress
David Yelland - former Sun editor
I was surprised to find Sue Nye Gordon Brown's chief of staff on the list but those on the list I'd like to meet were Trevor Brooking, Robin Cook, James Cracknell, Gavyn Davies, Sir Stephen Redgrave, Albert Scardino and David Yelland.
Those not on the list that I would invite would be John Simpson (BBC foreign Affairs Editor), Nelson Mandela, Booby Robson (Former Newcastle United Manager), ill & Hillary Clinton, Martin Bell, Muhammad Ali, Andrew Marr, Greg Dyke, Michael Buerk, Desmond Tutu, Menzies Campbell, Mo Mowlam, Bono, David Steel, Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown.
There are probably others but I can think of them at the moment.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Hope you have a fantastic 2005.

I have decided that I’m only going to have three new years resolutions this year:

1. Eat more healthy stuff
2. Get some exercise
3. More ethical buying

For most people they are probably not that difficult however in my case they seem impossible.

Currently the only healthy thing in my diet is the salad that’s comes with kebabs I order from the local takeaway.

The only exercise I get at the moment is walking from my home to the bus stop, bus stop to tram terminal and tram terminal to uni. At uni I refuse to use the stairs in the School, Learning Centre or Union and always use the lift. I have continuously promised myself that I would join a gym. This year I will try my best to join the one at Uni or the Newtown one.

I’m sure I wont keep this resolution that long as well. However I have decided that when I now visit coffee shops I will only buy free trade coffee and whenever I purchase new clothes I will try buy more ethically produced stuff. So I have taken the first step towards this by adding Paper High and People Tree's to my favourites on my computer and I promise I do my shopping there.

And if I can afford it and someone is ready to allow me to spend sometime with them in the summer of 2005 I would like to go out to Sri Lanka to help with the rebuilding of communities that have been affected by the tsunami.

In 2005 may you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

Well Good Luck and have fun.