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Prominent Israelis call for recognition of state of Palestine

Prominent Israelis have sent a message of support to the organisors of the ‘Balfour Project’ and called for recognition of state of Palestine’.

They say that ‘the seeds of the ongoing dispute between the Palestinians and Israelis were, to a large extent, sown in 1917’ by the Balfour Declaration. And they call on the British Government to recognise Palestine as a state.

Read more here.


Hiroshima Day commemoration in Carshalton

On 6th August 2017 the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 was marked at Carshalton Ponds.

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Supporters and friends of Sutton for Peace & Justice along with local residents and ward councillor Chris Williams gathered at the ponds at dusk.

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Doris Richards (right) led a short ceremony, with readings by Junko Osanai, Naomi Aruliah and Mike McLoughlin, which expressed deep sorrow for the events of the 6th August, 1945, when the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and, three days later, on Nagasaki, and honoured the victims.

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Hiroshima17 reading2.jpgThose present urged everyone to do all they can to ensure that such barbarity is never repeated and nuclear weapons are not used again, and called on the UK government to scrap the Trident missile system.

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Participants then floated flower petals on the ponds before observing a minute’s silence.

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In defence of development aid

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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.

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.


Tom Brake
Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Why Local Authorities should oppose TTIP

Local Authorities should officially oppose TTIP – and many have

By Mike McLoughlin

TTIP will be damaging to local authorities and their democratic rights. It will force local authorities to open their procurement processes to US corporations. Such interference will have profound effects on how local authorities operate – from lowering of service standards to lowering of staff pay. Councils committed to paying a living wage i.e. a wage higher than that which Mr Osborne thinks can be called a living wage, will be prevented from so doing in their outside contracts. The procurement process will be undermining as it forces the councils to sign contracts which go against decisions made by the democratically elected representatives of the council.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism will undermine an important role of local councils, that of boosting the local economy. At the moment local councils can, for example, choose to favour local produce and local suppliers. However, with the threat of ISDS litigation (which could be very expensive a local authority cannot afford) they could be forced to forgo that “favouritism” as it will be considered an unfair advantage to local farmers, one that excludes producers from across the EU and US. Such a change will have a crushing effect on attempts to build resilient communities. The EU negotiators are particularly keen on this aspect of the deal as they wish to get rid of the “Buy American” local campaigns in the USA. Therefore any Government assurance that this will not happen cannot be relied upon.

The trade deal is negotiated in secret. And that fact alone is enough for aware people to be against it – the lack of any information on the negotiations, other than what has been leaked, means we cannot trust any official comments about it.

TTIP is a vehicle for corporations to strengthen their hold on the economies of both the EU and the US. This trade deal is, on principle, a threat to our democracies since the power is all in the hand of corporations and its overarching aim is to increase their profitability. It is not about increasing employment opportunities, nor is it about helping small to medium manufacturers to export their goods. It is about corporate profits. Health, workers’ rights, the environment, even the local economy – all are of no account as long as the big companies in the US and EU can turn an even greater profit. That is why this deal should be rejected by anyone who cares about our communities, anyone who wants to live in a thriving, healthy local community.

A total of 46 Local Authorities, 36 in England & Wales and 10 in Scotland, have considered or are considering becoming TTIP-FREE zones. Of these only 4, all conservative controlled, have rejected a motion in some way condemning TTIP or wishing to distance themselves from it. 37 have passed a critical motion calling on the Government to abandon or modify the present state of TTIP and 5 more are actively considering such a motion.

Councils of many different political make-ups are included; in England mostly Labour controlled, but 11 have no overall control. In 7 the second party after Labour is the Lib-Dems. There is one conservative controlled council that has passed a critical motion.


Councils against TTIP

The following Councils have declared themselves TTIP-Free zones (April 2016):




























UK signs up to Forced Labour Protocol

After pressure from civil society groups, the United Kingdom has become the third country, after Niger and Norway, to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (better known as C29).

This means that the UK has acknowledged the importance of strong international standards which will encourage other countries to join the fight to end modern slavery. This Protocol was created last year to update Convention 29, which was drafted in 1930, so that it is equipped to address modern slavery today.

Through our collective voice, we can ensure that protection measures to end forced labour are up to date in every country in the world.