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In defence of development aid

S4P aid Apr17 2

Tom Brake and Graham Gordon speak in support of development aid

Reporting by Mike McLoughlin.

At a well-attended meeting hosted by Sutton for Peace and Justice at Friends Meeting House in Sutton on 28th April, Graham Gordon and Tom Brake spoke on why International aid is good for both the recipients and for us.

Both have extensive experience in the subject, Graham Gordon as Head of Public Policy at CAFOD, a leading aid agency, and Tom Brake as present and past Lib-Dem spokesperson on international development.

Tom Brake said that over the last 18 months or so there had been a concerted effort by some of the press to talk down the benefits and exaggerate the failings of aid. One success of this campaign had been the appointment of Priti Patel, an opponent of aid in general to head up The Department for International Development (Dfid) which she once said should be abolished. She has said we will promote transparency but by shifting DFID money into Prosperity, Security and Empowerment funds its use will become less transparent. The “Prosperity” fund will provide cash for private businesses, the “Security” fund probably be used by the Ministry of Defence, the most non-transparent and unaccountable ministry and the “Empowerment “ fund is for the Baltic States who are not high on anyone’s list of the world’s poorest countries. With all these moves the provision of aid will become more political and less able to fulfil its purpose to eradicate poverty in the world.

Tom Brake concluded by saying we should lobby our political parties and their election candidates telling them how much we value aid and encourage its focus on eradicating poverty.

Graham Gordon agreed with Tom Brake in that the quality of our aid was in danger from the skewing of the debate possibly leading to the reduction of our involvement to only disease eradication and responding to natural disasters. DFID was recognised as a world leader in humanitarian aid but also in development aid in areas such as the alleviation of the impact of climate change, improvement of the position of women and girls, and strengthening of civic society for long term development. He quoted several typical schemes in countries as far apart as Zambia and Myanmar whose success was apparently unknown to the aid deniers. These included provision of water boreholes which then enabled girls to attend school because they no longer needed to spend their days fetching water from great distances, providing training in cyclone preparedness so that communities were able to quickly recover from the next cyclone caused by climate change and schemes to strengthen civic society and governance enabling more transparency and so enabling governments to improve their tax take and therefore provide service to their communities.

Graham also mentioned the Commonwealth Development Company, now know as simply CDC, a part privatised arm of DFID. There was little evidence of it being successful at generating jobs by providing capital and loans to private companies. However Ms Patel planned to give it much greater funds. In fact private enterprise is not very good at working with civic society or focussing on the poor, the two most important areas if we really want to eradicate poverty.

Both speakers concluded that we should be proud of our contribution to reducing poverty across the world and being one of the first in the rich world to commit to 0.7% of GDP. Many millions of people have benefited from our generosity and many millions more rely on our continuation of this generosity.

Aid works – public meeting in Sutton 28 April

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a public meeting :

Aid works –

why we should maintain the foreign aid budget

With Graham Gordon of CAFOD  and Tom Brake MP

Friday April 28th 2017, 7.30–9.00pm, doors open at 7.00.
at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

There is no advance entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.
Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or by text message to 07740 594496.

Come and learn more about foreign aid spending and join the discussion.

Our informed speakers will provide evidence that foreign aid is a good thing with examples of how aid money can have a real impact on people’s lives, and will equip us with the arguments to dispel the myths and protect the 0.7% GDP currently spent on foreign aid.

Graham Gordon heads CAFOD’s Public Policy team dealing with international development, finance and environmental issues in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Graham worked for six years in Peru protecting the rights of indigenous groups and local communities, particularly around land, natural resources and political participation.

Tom Brake is MP for Carshalton & Wallington. Having been actively engaged in International Development issues for at least the last ten years, Tom is currently the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs, International Development and Defence Spokesperson.

You can download a flyer here.

MP Responds on Israeli Settlements

S4P&J members wrote to their MP Tom Brake to seek his views on the debate in Parliament on Thursday 9th of February regarding Israeli settlement expansion. Mr Brake wrote back:

I am pleased to say I spoke in the debate. You can see the speech I made here.

In my speech I expressed my severe concerns regarding the Land Regularisation Bill, the position the UK Government has taken by failing to support the recent Paris Peace Conference and the Government’s failure to make adequate representations to the Israeli Government before the demolition of Umm al-Hiran.

I also emphasised that Israeli settlement expansion is not the only obstacle to peace and that Palestinian initiated violence must also cease. I strongly believe that Israel must abandon its illegal programme of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution and increasingly makes any likelihood of peace in the region impossible.

I am concerned by the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza and condemn the continued cycle of violence. As a Liberal Democrat, I am committed to seeing a negotiated peace settlement with a two-state solution. This will involve difficult, but necessary compromises on both sides of the conflict in order to respect the rights of both Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Regarding United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, I believe the motion merely reasserted that Israeli settlement expansion is in contravention of international law. I was therefore happy to see the UK play a leading role in drafting this motion. It is important that for there to be any hope that the peace process will restart, it is noted that the boundaries of Israel and Palestine should be recognised under the 1967 borders, and not take into account the illegal settlements which have since been constructed with the support of successive Israeli administrations.

I have been disappointed to see the reaction from Israel and from the new Trump administration following this motion. I believe that threats to nations which supported the motion and the withdrawal of UN funds are very regrettable. I am also greatly concerned by the current Israeli administration’s refusal to engage in meaningful talks towards a peace process.

I was also disappointed to see the Prime Minister describe the recent speech regarding Israel and Palestine by John Kerry, the then US Secretary of State, as inappropriate. I will hold the Government to account regarding this matter to ensure that the UK’s position does not shift towards that favoured by the Trump administration which I believe will lead to an intensification of the violence in the OPTs and Israel.

Hearing reports that Bedouin villages are being demolished to pave the way for further settlement expansion by the Israeli authorities and that the Bedouins are being denied basic services such as electricity, water and metalled roads is extremely concerning, as I believe that Bedouins should be granted the same human rights as others.

I have also tabled many Written Parliamentary Questions to the Foreign Secretary regarding Israel and Palestine, they can be found here.

I hope that this response confirms that I am treating the matter of Israeli settlements seriously. Please contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Regards

Tom Brake
Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

See ‘This Is A Coup’ in Sutton on 24 November

Sutton for Peace and Justice is screening of  ‘This Is A Coup’ – a documentary film telling the story of Greece’s 2015 confrontation with the European Union.

coup-greek-flag

  • Thursday November 24th
  • 7.30–9.00pm doors open at 7.00
  • at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

January 2015. A radical left party called Syriza wins the Greek elections. With over 50% youth unemployment, unimaginable public debt and the people struggling under crippling austerity measures, Syriza and its charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras, is handed a clear mandate for change.

In this four-part unravelling of events, Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason look at how Syriza won, what they did, how they clashed with the global financial system and how it all ended. Fully exploiting their unprecedented access to politicians and venturing behind the doors where decisions were made, they chronicle a ‘war’ that highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.

Underpinning all this political posturing is also a strong vein of hope – as Skarlatos said:  “The people always felt they were stronger than the politicians who eventually didn’t live up to the promises they made back in January.”

Produced and narrated by journalist Paul Mason, with extraordinary access to key

Directed by Theopi Skarlatos, edited by Andreas Loukakos. Released by Field of Vision.

The extraordinary resilience of the Greek people – in retreat but not defeated.

There is no advance entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.
Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496.

Remembrance not celebration

Today, the 11 November, we seem to need a reminder of why we mark 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, and how the focus has shifted from Armistice Day to ‘Remembrance Sunday’.

The original spirit of marking Armistice Day was to remember those who had given their lives and to pledge to prevent such loss of life happening again – in remembrance, not ‘celebration’.

How many times have we heard veterans of both world wars saying that they do not want to be described as heroes, and rather that we should remember those who died when they survived.

The way this annual call for peace has been hijacked and transformed into a glorification of militarism is a disservice to those who deserve to respected and remembered.

It is well worth reading this report by Joe Glenton, written after Remembrance Day last year, that expresses this better than  I can.

Joe Glenton was a British soldier for six years, serving in Afghanistan, whose book Soldier Box was published in 2013. Follow him on Twitter at: @joejglenton

Posted by Mike Cooper.

Film ‘This Is A Coup’ – 24 November

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a screening of  ‘This Is A Coup’. A documentary film telling the story of Greece’s 2015 confrontation with the European Union.  Presented by journalist Paul Mason, with extraordinary access to key politicians.

coup-greek-flag

  • Thursday November 24th
  • 7.30–9.00pm doors open at 7.00
  • at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

January 2015. A radical left party called Syriza wins the Greek elections. With over 50% youth unemployment, unimaginable public debt and the people struggling under crippling austerity measures, Syriza and its charismatic leader, Alexis Tsipras, is handed a clear mandate for change.

In this four-part unravelling of events, Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason look at how Syriza won, what they did, how they clashed with the global financial system and how it all ended. Fully exploiting their unprecedented access to politicians and venturing behind the doors where decisions were made, they chronicle a ‘war’ that highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.

Underpinning all this political posturing is also a strong vein of hope – as Skarlatos said:  “The people always felt they were stronger than the politicians who eventually didn’t live up to the promises they made back in January.”

Directed by Theopi Skarlatos, edited by Andreas Loukakos.
Produced and narrated by Paul Mason. Released by Field of Vision.

The extraordinary resilience of the Greek people – in retreat but not defeated.
There is no advance entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.
Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496.

Refugee & Migrant Network Sutton AGM

Refugee and Migrant Network Sutton (RMNS) are holding their Annual General Meeting
on Wednesday October 19th 12.00 midday, Trinity Hall, Trinity Church Sutton  SM1 1DZ.

The meeting will feature keynote speaker Shabibi Shah, author of Where do I belong? and Innocent Deception. In 1982 she fled across the mountains of Afghanistan with her three children arriving as a refugee in Croydon and has worked tirelessly for human rights.

RSVP:  olwenstewart@hotmail.com  or olwen@rmns.org.uk