‘Utterly shameful’: Suspended Labour politician slams Starmer’s Gaza stance

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Original article by Ruby Lott-Lavigna republished from OpenDemocracy published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Four London councillors have been disciplined by their local party after calling for a ceasefire

A Labour politician suspended for backing a ceasefire in Gaza has labelled the party leadership’s stance on the conflict as “utterly shameful”.

Martin Abrams was one of four councillors in Lambeth, south London, suspended by the local Labour group on Monday night after voting for a motion put forward by the local Green Party.

It called for “an immediate ceasefire and the end to human rights atrocities in the Israel/Palestine conflict”.

Speaking to openDemocracy, Abrams hit out at Keir Starmer and the Labour leadership for its position on the conflict, which has seen over 50 Labour councillors resign since 7 October.

“It is truly a moment of great shame for the Labour Party for us to be in this place,” Abrams said. “I will continue speaking out for what I believe is right because there is a complete absence of that happening from Keir Starmer and the Labour Party leadership.”

Abrams said Starmer’s leadership on Gaza has been “utterly shameful”, adding: “It has been from the very beginning.”

He referenced an interview on LBC radio in which Starmer, the UK’s former top prosecutor, appeared to sanction collective punishment of the Palestinian people by Israel – which is illegal under international law. Starmer has since denied this is what he meant.

Last week, chaos ensued in Parliament as Labour refused to back an SNP-tabled motion on a ceasefire. Although Labour has now supported a ceasefire, the party has been criticised for doing so through its own parliamentary motion, which was less critical of Israel than the SNP’s original text.

Abrams, who is Jewish, said Lambeth Labour’s decision to suspend him had been “disproportionate” considering it was a vote on “calling an end to the slaughter of children”. But he said he would not resign from his position as a councillor and would continue “standing up for the oppressed people”.

End the bloodshed

Abrams told openDemocracy that the crisis had taken a toll on councillors hoping to represent their ward.

“Many of us are very emotionally impacted by this because we’re solid members of our local communities. Some of us are Jewish, some of us are Muslim,” he said. “The vast majority of us are humanitarians and want to see an end to the bloodshed and the fighting.”

Lambeth Labour, which decided to suspend the four members following a disciplinary hearing on Monday, had said the motion risked “exacerbating the impacts of the deeply worrying rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime across London witnessed in recent weeks.”

Sonia Winifred, another Labour councillor who voted for the motion, resigned as a councillor after being suspended. Winifred is a veteran Windrush campaigner, and said on Twitter the decision had left her with “no choice” but to resign.

Grassroots group Momentum said: ​​“This is an outrageous attack on a Jewish Labour councillor for having the temerity to stand up for the people of Gaza. Martin is a principled socialist and internationalist – and it is shocking that he has been forced out for standing up for a position endorsed by the majority of voters. This anti-democratic decision should be immediately reversed.”

Lambeth Labour has been contacted for comment.

Original article by Ruby Lott-Lavigna republished from OpenDemocracy published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel's Gaza genocide.
Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel’s Gaza genocide.

Continue Reading‘Utterly shameful’: Suspended Labour politician slams Starmer’s Gaza stance

Natalie Bennett: The state of our NHS is down to long-term political failure

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The Green Party holds that the profit motive should have no place in our health care – in any form of care

Natalie Bennett is a Green Party member of the House of Lords. She was leader of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2012-16.

Perhaps because it is a continuing story of disaster, there’s few stories now also about the impact of privatisation, despite the level continuing to rise. In 2022 nearly 10 per cent of treatments for NHS patients, more than 2 million people, were provided by private companies, up from 3 per cent in 2011. Yet there’s evidence that in areas where privatisation is at the highest levels the outcomes are dire – in the form of more people dying from treatable causes.

In mental health care – in the face of terribly tragedies, and much higher levels of privatisation, with public provision gutted – there’s been more attention. Now 55 per cent of under-18 inpatient mental health care is delivered by for-profit providers.

Meanwhile, we are all continuing to pay for the disaster of Labour Party-promoted Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes. That sees some hospitals paying a sixth of their total budget on payments, frequently to offshore hedge funds, and from a £13 billion original investment a final bill that will reach £80 billion, the equivalent of £1,200 for each person in the UK.

The Green Party holds that the profit motive should have no place in our health care – in any form of care – but the current largest opposition party, Labour, appears to be a fan of even further steps of privatisation.

There’s also long term underfunding, with austerity in the face of a growing and ageing population having disastrous impacts. Provision for investment on infrastructure and technology collapsed; the RAAC crisis was just one visible tip of a very large iceberg of decline.

And that austerity saw a collapse in real terms of the pay of nurses and doctors, which has seen a huge exodus overseas and to other jobs, meaning huge understaffing, which puts massive pressure on remaining staff.

Make no mistake. The state of the system is not the fault of medical staff. It is not the fault of managers. It is a long-term political failure, the application of ideology over evidence, the interests of private companies over public good.


Continue ReadingNatalie Bennett: The state of our NHS is down to long-term political failure

State of Our Rivers Report: Green Party repeats call to take water companies into public ownership

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Green Party Co-leader Adrian Ramsay. Wikipedia CC.
Green Party Co-leader Adrian Ramsay. Wikipedia CC.

The Green Party has repeated calls for water companies to be brought into public ownership in response to the latest State of Our Rivers report. This has found not a single waterway in England is in good overall health. The Rivers Trust study reveals that the impact of pollution from treated and untreated sewage and agricultural and industrial runoff means rivers are in a worse condition than ever.  

Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: 

“The state of our rivers is a national scandal. Despite public outcry over our polluted waterways and coastline the latest State of Our Rivers report shows things haven’t improved since the last report in 2021.  

“For too long water companies and consecutive governments have failed to act. Taking our water companies into public ownership, so they work for people, not profit, will be a clear Green Party manifesto commitment.  

“For decades, money that should have been invested in improved infrastructure has been siphoned off to water company executives and shareholders. It’s time to flush this failed experiment with privatisation down the drain and for a service as vital as water and sewage to be run for the public good. 

“It should also be acknowledged that agricultural pollution contributes to 62% of waterways in England failing to meet good standards. We need to learn from the many innovative farmers who are using regenerative and organic farming methods that prevent chemical runoff into rivers.  

“Our rivers should be havens for wildlife and biodiversity and healthy places for people to enjoy. In too many cases they more closely resemble open sewers. Green MPs will make cleaning up our act on water pollution a key priority.” 

Continue ReadingState of Our Rivers Report: Green Party repeats call to take water companies into public ownership

Green Party on Lee Anderson’s Islamaphobic remarks

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Green Party Co-leader Adrian Ramsay October 2023.
Green Party Co-leader Adrian Ramsay October 2023.

As Lee Anderson doubles down on his controversial comments made over the weekend, when he claimed “Islamists” had got “control” over London and that the mayor, Sadiq Khan had “given our capital city away to his mates”, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay, said:  

“Sunak needs to recall his pledge to act with integrity and challenge the divisive and dangerous rhetoric being used by some of his MPs.”

“We need our leaders to work for unity rather than creating division. For some time, senior Conservative Muslims have been raising concerns about the extent of Islamophobia in their party and criticizing the failure of the leadership to tackle it. Sunak needs to make clear that there is no place for such views in his party, and to instigate an immediate review of Islamophobia.” 

Continue ReadingGreen Party on Lee Anderson’s Islamaphobic remarks

In Rochdale By-Election, Climate Policy is Also on the Ballot

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A long article discussing the Rochdale by-election that has only one candidate – Mark Coleman – promoting green policies and many opposed.

[12.50 correction.] A long article discussing the Rochdale by-election. Independent Mark Coleman and Lib-Dem Iain Donaldson are the only candidates promoting green policies with many opposed. Monster Raving Loony Party appears absent prom this list of candidates.

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Fomer Labour MPs Simon Danczuk and George Galloway are standing in the Rochdale by-election on February 29. Credit: PA images / Alamy stock photos

From attacks on “eco-madness” and accusations of a “Net Zero Hoax”, here’s our climate guide to the MPs contesting Labour’s seat.

Amid February’s record-breaking temperatures, climate is emerging as a battleground – and faultline – between the UK’s two biggest political parties in the run up to the next general election.

In the past weeks, the Labour Party has dramatically scaled back its £28 billion green investment plans, while the Conservative government has committed to annual licensing rounds in the North Sea in a new oil and gas bill.

This legislation saw former green Conservative Chris Skidmore MP resign in protest in January, triggering last week’s by-election in Kingswood, which Labour won. 

Wrangling between the Tories and Labour has also opened the door for fringe political activists. Parties such as Reform UK have exploited mixed messaging over climate policy, which the UN authority on climate science, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says is essential to secure “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. 

Next Thursday (February 29), voters in the Greater Manchester seat of Rochdale will go to the polls in a by-election triggered by the death of Labour MP Tony Lloyd. 

The campaign has been overshadowed by the sacking of the frontrunner candidate, Azhar Ali, who was dropped by Labour over his controversial comments about the October 7 Hamas attacks. It is too late for Labour to field another candidate, and Ali will now run as an independent. 

Green Party candidate Guy Otten was also dropped over past statements on Islam and Palestinians. Otten will appear on the ballot paper, but has abstained from campaigning.

The rows have given more airtime to several fringe parties fielding candidates strongly opposed to climate action. 

Simon Danczuk, who is standing for Reform UK, and George Galloway, the candidate for the Workers Party of Britain, have both repeatedly attacked the UK’s legally binding net zero targets, while Galloway has spread climate misinformation and backed new fossil fuel extraction.

Read on to find out all you need to know on where the candidates stand on net zero and climate policy. 

Simon Danczuk – Reform UK 

This month Danczuk announced he had joined Reform UK. Danczuk was the  MP for Rochdale between 2010 and 2017. He is seeking a return to the constituency following his expulsion from the Labour Party in 2015 after sending sexually explicit messages to a 17-year-old (he served as an independent until 2017). 

As an MP, Danczuk voted for measures to prevent climate change, and in 2015 shared an article on Twitter criticising climate denial in the Daily Mail. However, Danczuk’s views appear to have changed. 

Last June he wrote an article attacking the “eco-madness” of Labour’s (now scaled back) green investment plans and its pledge not to approve new oil and gas projects. He wrote that Labour “see implementing a green ideology as more important than jobs, security and sustaining the economy”. 

The article was published in Spiked, an online “libertarian” outlet which has a record of climate science denial and fossil fuel-linked funding. Between 2015 and 2018, Spiked received $300,000  from the Charles Koch Foundation, an arm of oil giant Koch Industries and a major funder of climate denial.

Danczuk repeated the “green ideology” argument in an interview with the fringe right-wing outlet Epoch Times, stating: “The idea of banning gas and oil exploration in the North Sea, before we’ve got alternatives in place, is just absolute madness.” 

In September 2023, Danczuk publicly voiced support for the Conservative government’s net zero U-turns, telling TalkTV that voters “are very despondent about these targets” and that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had “called it right”. TalkTV has its own record of spreading climate denial, and until last year employed Reform leader Richard Tice as a presenter. 

Reform is campaigning to “scrap all of net zero” and received £135,000 in donations from climate deniers and fossil fuel interests in 2023. Tice has said “CO2 isn’t poison, it’s plant food”, while the party’s London mayoral candidate Howard Cox has said “man is not responsible for global warming”.

George Galloway – Workers Party of Britain

Another ex-Labour Party MP, George Galloway, is standing for the Workers Party of Britain, a party he founded after the 2019 general election. Galloway was expelled from Labour in 2003 for “bringing the party into disrepute” after a party tribunal found he had “incited Arabs to fight British troops” and “incited British troops to defy orders”. He has since been elected to parliament twice – in 2005 for his Respect party and 2012 as an independent – each time serving one term. 

The Workers Party of Britain, calls itself a socialist party that “defend[s] the achievements of the USSR, China, Cuba etc”.

The party is hostile to climate policies. Its website calls for “a much clearer debate on Net Zero” and argues that “a halt must also be made to the attempt to make working people pay for subsidies for large-scale green industrialisation”. 

Last July the party called for a Brexit-style referendum on net zero, a policy originally pushed by the right-wing Reform UK and led by its honorary president Nigel Farage. (Galloway and Farage have worked together in the past as part of the Aaron Banks-funded ‘Grassroots Out’ campaign for Brexit.)

Galloway has attacked net zero targets, advocated for clean coal extraction and spread misinformation about climate change.

In December, Galloway called for a net zero referendum in a post on the social media platform X. On his YouTube talk show in August 2022, Galloway spread the false claim that people would be forced to “eat insects” to tackle climate change, adding, “I think this net zero is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.” He then took a swipe at climate activist Greta Thunberg, a regular target for climate deniers, calling net zero “a 14-year old schoolgirl leading grown men and women up the garden path.”

The following month, he again dismissed climate warnings from activists like Thunberg, arguing that the main climate risk came from NATO and the “military industrial complex”. He said: “We are facing climate catastrophe; not man made the likes of Greta Thunberg talks about, but through our own governments.”   

Galloway has also called for more fossil fuel extraction. In an X post in March 2022, a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Galloway wrote: “Britain needs to ice its [Net] Zero fantasy, step up its oil exploitation [and] invest in peaceful nuclear energy and seek to re-harvest the 1,000 years of coal under our feet employing clean-coal technology. Our Energy policy is hopelessly unbalanced.”

From 2008 to 2013, Galloway worked as a presenter for Press TV, the English-language channel run by the Iranian government. From 2013 to 2015 Galloway was paid £100,000 to present a show on RT (Russia Today), Russia’s equivalent. Both countries are major oil and gas producers. The channels have since had their broadcasting licences revoked by Ofcom for breaking its rules (Galloway’s broadcasts were not referenced in the ruling). 

Paul Ellison – Conservative Party

Little is known about the climate views of Conservative candidate Paul Ellison, who has been dubbed “Mr Rochdale” in the local press.

According to a favourable profile in Rochdale Online, Ellison has been active in the local community protecting green spaces, and is credited with winning Rochdale recognition by the Royal Horticultural Society In Bloom awards. 

He does not appear to have commented publicly about climate change. 

Azhar Ali – Independent (formerly Labour Party)

Newly independent candidate Azhar Ali criticised the government’s U-turns on net zero in September, accusing the Prime Minister of “playing to the climate change deniers in his own party”. 

He doesn’t appear to have commented publicly about Labour’s weakening of its own net zero plans. Earlier this month, the party dropped its pledge to invest £28 billion per year in green measures, cutting its spending plans by 75 percent to £23.7 billion in total. Labour says it will still  keep to its target to decarbonise the UK’s power grid by 2030.

The party opposes new North Sea exploration, but supports unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on existing rigs. Earlier this month, Labour leader Keir Starmer said current pipelines would “continue for decades”. 

In October 2016, Ali attacked plans to introduce fracking for shale gas in Lancashire, saying on Twitter (now X): “Conservative government gives green light to the ‘rape’ of our environment.”

Iain Donaldson – Liberal Democrats

Lib Dem candidate Iain Donaldson has said he wants to hold the government to account on “water companies polluting the rivers with filthy sewage”, among other issues. In a 2017 tweet he criticised the then U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. 

Donaldson was one of eleven of the party’s 15 MPs who voted against the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill this week, while four abstained. The Liberal Democrats propose moving the net zero target forward five years to 2045 and support large investments in renewable energy.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said Donaldson had opposed the oil and gas bill, which “fails to take vital steps to grow the UK renewable energy sector and reduce energy bills, and fails to form a coherent path to net zero”.

“Iain wants to see the de facto moratorium on onshore wind farms lifted,” they added, “and allow the expansion of the cheapest form of energy to drive down bills in this cost of living crisis, and reduce our emissions helping to slow climate change.”

Mark Coleman – Independent

After dropping its own candidate, the Green Party has urged its members to back Reverend Mark Coleman, who has put climate at the forefront of his campaign.

Twice arrested for climate protest, Coleman was sentenced in April 2023 to five and half weeks in prison for blocking the M25 and other roads with campaign group Insulate Britain. 

Just Stop Oil has also asked its supporters to back Coleman. In a statement, the climate protest group said he is “the only candidate in the Rochdale by-election worth voting for”.

In a campaign blurb for local news outlet Rochdale Online, Coleman calls for “radical action on climate right now to stand any chance of a safe and stable future”. 

All candidates named in this article were contacted for comment.

 Additional reporting by Phoebe Cooke.

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingIn Rochdale By-Election, Climate Policy is Also on the Ballot

UK Government’s New Low Pay Advisor Heads Climate Denial Network

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Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Philippa Stroud, chair of the government’s Low Pay Commission, and CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. Credit: ARC (CC0 1.0 DEED)

Tory peer Philippa Stroud, who has close ties to the funders of GB News, has been elevated to a senior advisory role by the government.

A new government advisor on the minimum wage is the head of an international network of climate crisis deniers funded by the owners of GB News, DeSmog can reveal.

Philippa Stroud was appointed chair of the Low Pay Commission, a body reporting to Kemi Badenoch’s Department of Business and Trade, on 30 January. The government-appointed role pays £530 per day for three days of work per month (£19,114 per year).

The Conservative peer is the CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), a new pressure group that shares its funders with GB News and is linked to some of the world’s most prominent climate crisis deniers, including psychologist Jordan Peterson. Stroud has been described by The Telegraph as “the most powerful right-winger you’ve never heard of”.

The appointment comes as senior Conservative Party figures continue to embrace anti-climate politics. On 6 February, former prime minister Liz Truss attacked “net zero zealots” at the launch of her new Popular Conservatism faction. 

Last month, Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Clare Coutinho met with and praised fuel pricing lobbyist Howard Cox, a Reform UK candidate who wants to “scrap net zero” and claims that “man is not responsible for global warming”.

The government is also pushing ahead with legislation that would require the awarding of annual North Sea oil and gas licences. The Climate Change Committee, the independent body that advises the government on its net zero policies, warned on 30 January that mixed messages, including new fossil fuel projects, have damaged the UK’s international climate standing.

Last year was the first on record to see consistent global warming of 1.5C, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. 

DeSmog has previously revealed that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million in donations from fossil fuel interests and climate science deniers in 2022.

Stroud’s appointment also cements the relationship between the Conservative Party and GB News. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took part in an hour-long town hall event on GB News, following the example of several Conservative MPs who are regular guests and presenters on the right-wing broadcaster. 

Stroud’s ARC project is run by hedge fund manager Paul Marshall and the UAE-based Legatum Group, GB News’s principal backers. The Legatum Institute, a think tank funded by the Legatum Group, gave £50,000 to a faction of the Conservative Party in December. Before taking up her post at ARC, Stroud was CEO of the Legatum Institute. 

“Anti-science climate change denialism has become the secret handshake that ushers in the faithful and bars the door to unbelievers,” Jolyon Maugham, executive director of the Good Law Project, told DeSmog. “This is an appalling betrayal of the principles of sound government – and of our children who need us to be led by science and not by the financial interests of wealthy Tory donors.”

ARC, Stroud, the Legatum Group, and the Low Pay Commission were approached for comment. 

ARC and Legatum

Philippa Stroud was made a life peer by then prime minister David Cameron (now foreign secretary) in 2015, after failing to win a parliamentary seat in 2010. 

The Legatum Group, which has employed Stroud both directly and indirectly since 2016, is one of the largest shareholders in GB News, which frequently attacks climate science and policies. A DeSmog investigation found that one in three GB News hosts spread climate denial on air in 2022. 

GB News’s other major owner is British billionaire Paul Marshall, chairman and chief investment officer of the hedge fund Marshall Wace. DeSmog revealed that, as of June 2023, Marshall Wace owned shares worth $2.2 billion (£1.8 billion) in fossil fuel firms. This included a $213 million (£175.6 million) shareholding in the oil and gas supermajor Chevron, as well as stakes in Shell, Equinor, and 109 other fossil fuel companies. 

In her statement announcing the launch of ARC, Stroud took aim at climate policies, writing that “we risk driving policy interventions to address environmental concerns without having an honest conversation about the trade-offs for the poor at home or in developing and emerging nations”.

Poor and indigenous groups in developing countries will be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, while those suffering from poverty at home have seen their energy bills soar as successive governments have failed to implement green reforms. 

ARC is fronted by Canadian author Jordan Peterson, who regularly posts about “climate apocalypse insanity” and “eco fascists” to his millions of online followers. Peterson has promoted fringe climate crisis deniers on his YouTube channel and, as revealed by DeSmog, plans to open a new online school also featuring several climate crisis deniers. 

ARC’s advisory board includes writers Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, both of whom have written books downplaying the threats posed by climate change, as well as Tony Abbott, the former prime minister of Australia and a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s principal climate science denial group. 

Late last year, speaking on the outskirts of ARC’s launch conference in London, Abbott claimed climate change has “nothing to do with mankind’s emissions”. ARC advisor Vivek Ramaswamy, who also spoke at the conference, has called climate change a “hoax” and has said that “real emergency isn’t climate change, it’s the man-made disaster of climate change policies that threaten US prosperity.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate science body, states it is “unequivocal” that human influence has caused “unprecedented” global warming. 

Kemi Badenoch, whose department appointed Stroud to her new advisory role, also spoke at the ARC conference alongside Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. The pair were joined by a number of Conservative MPs. 

Stroud’s appointment to the government’s Low Pay Commission was first trailed by The Telegraph in December. A “Whitehall source” told the paper that Stroud was selected for the three-year post to block a possible left-wing appointment by a Labour government.

Carla Denyer, Green Party co-leader and its parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central said that Stroud’s appointment was “hardly the most appropriate” and that “the Conservatives seem set on placing their people across the quango world before the general election.”

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Rishi Sunak on stopping Rosebank says that any chancellor can stop his huge 91% subsidy to build Rosebank, that Keir Starmer is as bad as him for sucking up to Murdoch and other plutocrats and that we (the plebs) need to get organised to elect MPs that will stop Rosebank.
Rishi Sunak on stopping Rosebank says that any chancellor can stop his huge 91% subsidy to build Rosebank, that Keir Starmer is as bad as him for sucking up to Murdoch and other plutocrats and that we (the plebs) need to get organised to elect MPs that will stop Rosebank.
Continue ReadingUK Government’s New Low Pay Advisor Heads Climate Denial Network

Bristol Green Party candidate says government is ‘complicit’ over Gaza killings

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Carla Denyer is the co-leader of the Green Party in England and Wales (Image: BristolLive)

Bristol Green Party candidate Carla Denyer is demanding the UK scale up action against the Israeli government over the Gaza conflict. The Greens are calling for an end to all arms sales to Israel, prosecutions of war criminals and sanctions on Israel’s leaders.

The Green Party co-leader, who will stand in Bristol Central, has called for the UK to suspend arms export licences to Israel and to take measures such as excluding Israel from music and sporting events.

Ms Denyer said: “It is clear that the Israeli government is refusing to heed warnings about the catastrophic implications of an all-out attack on Rafah. The UK government must now demand that Israel stop the killing, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Hamas must also agree to this ceasefire of course, and release all hostages.

“Decisions made by the UK government – above all its failure, month after month, to call for an immediate ceasefire – have made them complicit in the killing of almost 28,000 people to date, 12,000 of whom are children.

“Israel relies on certain weapon parts manufactured in the UK, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter whose essential components are made here. A Dutch court has ordered the state to cease the export of F-35 spare parts to Israel. We call on the UK government to follow suit.

“Greens would implement the requirements of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign across the UK economy. This would include excluding Israel from international sporting and music events.

“It is clear that only outside pressure will make Israel stop its mass killing. We can increase the pressure on Israeli leaders by introducing targeted sanctions against key individuals. This would include travel bans and asset freezes on Israel’s leadership and cabinet members, in particular those calling for new settlements in Gaza and the annexation of the West Bank.

“Finally, we would encourage UK authorities including the Metropolitan Police and director of public prosecutions to pursue perpetrators of war crimes committed where UK citizens are the victims or where UK citizens are potential perpetrators.


Continue ReadingBristol Green Party candidate says government is ‘complicit’ over Gaza killings

Calls Grow for ‘European Arms Embargo’ on Israel After Dutch F-35 Ruling

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Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

A protester occupies the roof of Howmet Fastening Systems in Leicester, U.K., which makes components for Israeli F-35s, in October 2023.  (Photo: Palestine Action)

“Surely it’s time to stop all arm shipments to Israel,” said one British lawmaker, “and implement targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli leadership.”

While the White House has claimed U.S. President Joe Biden is growing increasingly “frustrated” with Israel’s bombardment of Gaza—largely made possible by U.S. military aid—calls are growing in Europe for governments to halt arms exports to stop their own contributions to the mass killing.

After a Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to stop exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel on Monday, ruling that the country was running a “clear risk” of helping Israel to violate international human rights law, several British lawmakers intensified their demands that the U.K. also halt arms exports.

“Selling arms to Israel for its war on Gaza is incompatible with U.K. and international law,” said Diane Abbott, a Labour Party member in British Parliament. “[Prime Minister Rishi] Sunak should follow suit and ban weapon sales to Israel.”

Natalie Bennett, a member of the Green Party in the British House of Lords, spoke on Tuesday about six-year-old Hind Rajab, whose body was found last week in a car in which her family members had tried to flee Gaza City. The car was riddled with bullet holes, and an ambulance nearby, which paramedics had sent to rescue Hind, had been bombed.

“Is the government challenging the Israeli government about risks to hundreds of thousands of children in Rafah, now in the path of the Israeli offensive?” said Bennett. “Surely it’s time to stop all arm shipments to Israel… and implement targeted sanctions against members of the Israeli leadership.”

The U.K. provides about 15% of the components of Israel’s F-35 bombers—the Israeli Air Force’s “flagship asset,” according to the Royal United Services Institute—and has licensed more than $594 million in military exports to Israel since 2015.

While the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $14.1 billion for Israel, some European governments are working to end their complicity in Israel’s mass killing of at least 28,576 Palestinians so far in attacks that have also wounded at least 68,291 and left at least 17,000 children orphaned.

On February 6, the Walloon regional government in Belgium suspended two licenses for the export gunpowder to Israel, citing the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) interim ruling last month which found that Israel is “plausibly” committing a genocide in Gaza.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said in late January that the government had halted all arms sales to Israel in October, when Israel began its bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7.

José Albares, Spain’s foreign minister, also said last month that the Spanish government had done the same, but El Diarioreported on Sunday that the country had actually exported $1.1 million in ammunition to Israel in November.

“The suspension of arms transfers to Israel must be comprehensive and permanent, and not just temporary,” said Alberto Estévez, a spokesperson on weapons issues at Amnesty International Spain. “The Spanish government has wanted to be an example in this crisis in the face of other much more complicit governments, but it must be more forceful to promote a European arms embargo on Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, in addition to pressuring the United States to stop the supply of arms to Israel and support the imposition of a global embargo on the U.N. Security Council.”

On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez joined Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in writing to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and demanding an “urgent review” of Israel’s compliance with human rights obligations under its trade deal with the European Union.

“Against the background of the risk of an even greater humanitarian catastrophe posed by the imminent threat of Israeli military operations in Rafah, and given what has occurred, and continues to occur in Gaza since October 2023, including widespread concern about possible breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights laws by Israel, we ask that the Commission undertake an urgent review of whether Israel is complying with its obligations, including under the E.U./Israel Association Agreement, which makes respect for human rights and democratic principles an essential element of the relationship,” wrote Sánchez and Varadkar.

The two leaders reiterated their call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, which was supported by a large majority of countries in a vote at the U.N. General Assembly in December, “including by 17 E.U. member states.”

Varadkar and Sánchez also pointed to the ICJ’s interim ruling in South Africa’s case last month, in which the country accused Israel of genocidal violence against Palestinians.

The orders of the ICJ, which demanded that Israel ensure that humanitarian aid can reach Gaza residents and that its military is not committing acts of genocide, “are binding,” the leaders reminded the European Union.

Original article by JULIA CONLEY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingCalls Grow for ‘European Arms Embargo’ on Israel After Dutch F-35 Ruling

Labour abandons £28 billion green investment plan – Greens call it a massive backward step for climate and economy

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Image of the Green Party's Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.
Image of the Green Party’s Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.

Responding to news that Labour is abandoning its policy of spending £28bn a year on its green investment plan, Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, said:

“This is a massive backward step – for the climate, for the economy and for good quality jobs. Both the security of our planet for future generations and the UK’s future prosperity is dependent on greening our economy and that requires large scale investment.  

“Labour have chosen to wear their fiscal rules as a millstone around their neck. A different approach through tax reforms, in particular by introducing a wealth tax on the super-rich, could help pay for the green transition. There is more than enough money in the economy to pay for this. Indeed, the Green Party would go further and faster, investing at least double what Labour originally pledged, so we can turbo charge the transition to a green economy.  

“Greens recognise that investing in a green future will provide people with economic, social and environmental security. By decarbonising industry, insulating buildings, and ramping up renewable energy infrastructure, the UK can drastically reduce emissions, cut household bills and create new, good quality, well-paid and secure jobs in every corner of the country.   

“Investing in this secure future is a political choice. By ditching its green investment plan, and making a series of other U-turns, Labour has clearly signalled that it is turning its back on a fairer, greener future.

The Labour party is expected to make a further announcement today.

Continue ReadingLabour abandons £28 billion green investment plan – Greens call it a massive backward step for climate and economy