INSIGHT - Weekend Reflections

SHMBE
7 Apr 2024

What do you think of an international convention which guarantees the following, amongst other matters?

First the positive rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security, a fair trial, privacy, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and assembly.

Second the safeguards, such as a prohibition of torture, slavery, retroactive legislation, and discrimination.

Would you be impressed if I told you that one of the promoters of this convention was Winston Churchill in the aftermath of the Second World  War along with politicians from both France and Germany?

Would you also be impressed if I told you the convention was drafted by a British MP and lawyer, Sir David Maxwell-Fife?

So did you watch any of the political TV programmes this Sunday 7th April 2024, where the Government had put up the charisma-free Deputy PM, Oliver Dowden?

Just like our actual PM earlier this week, when asked about the date of the General Election, Dowden just laughed, when asked whether the Government was preparing to withdraw from this convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Court which is the arbiter of the Convention.

He continually referred to it as a ’foreign court’ when it is an international court of which we have been a member since it was set up in 1953.

If we were to leave the Convention and the Court, we would be joining the only two other European countries who are not members of both.  Who are those two countries?

Russia and Belarus.

With the Conservatives still in power, those are the depths to which we might sink.

That just cannot happen!

 

Weekend Reflections – Just more evidence of broken Britain under the current Tory Government.

There is nothing more depressing for an early riser, than catching the start of the Today Programme on Radio 4 at 6am on Wednesday morning, with a News summary of the following items: -  

Item 1 - According to the British Social Attitude Survey, public satisfaction with the NHS has dropped to its lowest level since it was started 40 years ago. In 2023 it is only 24% of the population, a drop of 29% since 2020. Nearly 50% of people backed higher taxes to pay for the NHS.

Item 3 – Figures to be issued later in the day by the Environment Agency will show a big increase in incidences of sewage discharges into rivers and the sea. The data is expected to show that sewers were overwhelmed more often and for longer than in previous years.

Item 5 – Council spending on school transport for disabled children and children with special educational needs has increased to nearly double what it was five years ago, and this year is expected to rise to £1.4 billion. The Conservative chair of the County Councils Network said the pressure on school budgets was unsustainable, and parent may have to start paying themselves.

By the way Item 2 was on the Baltimore bridge collapse and item 4 was on the Israeli-Gaza conflict.

Water Water Everywhere

In a week that Thames Water failed to raise any investor contributions to its crumbling infrastructure and crippling dividend induced debt, the Guardian published - new data revealing 2023 was the worst year on record for storm water pollution with overflows spilling raw sewage into England’s rivers and seas for 3.6m hours.

Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, said “the scandal of raw sewage pouring into waterways should be declared a national environmental emergency”. He called on the government to convene an urgent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to look at the impact of sewage pollution on people’s health.

You can check your local rivers using the Guardian tool, which shows spills across England’s River basins.Click Here

River Thames at Sonning

Local MP secures ‘Levelling Up’ funds exclusively benefiting Bexhill.

Stephen Hardy writes -

Dear Huw,

I saw your clip-on X yesterday:  I have to say well done by you.....on behalf of Bexhill. 

By my reckoning, of the £20m you have secured, adding up as

£9 m for the King Offa Leisure Centre and housing,

£ 5m for the Barnhorn Green medical centre, 

£1.25 m for the Queensway Gateway, 

£2.1 m for Sidley Family Hub, the Pelham and Bexhill Community Hub, 

making a total of £17.35 out of the c.£20 m for Bexhill’s benefit. 

Oh, and I forgot that no doubt Bexhill will share in the £1.7 m for the visitor economy, the £200k for High Streets in towns, and some of the £0.5 m for skills training, shared with Hastings.

So, my question to you is simply where does the other half of your constituency figure in your view of Levelling Up for Bexhill and Battle constituency? In particular, what happened to the bid I was involved in for the much-needed Robertsbridge Health Centre, about which I kept you informed?

My regrettable conclusion is that you have latterly become the MP for Bexhill alone.  Does the rural part of the constituency no longer matter to you?

Stephen

 

Stephen Hardy MBE

Chair Bexhill and Battle Liberal Democrats

 

Did you know Friday 22 March was United Nations World Water Day?

I did not know this until this week but feel it is such an important matter for us all, that we should be much more aware of water and its impact on the whole world. I have taken facts here from the United Nations briefing for the day

Along with clean air, sunlight, food and heated shelter, water is one of vital natural resources essential to sustaining life. We use it in every aspect of our daily lives, at home and at work. At first glance, it would appear there is no shortage of water on our planet: after all, nearly 70% of the earth’s surface is water. The reality is that the vast majority of it is salt water: only 2.5% is freshwater suitable for agriculture and industry, and an even smaller proportion is fit for human consumption but only 1/3 of this water is accessible on the surface or stored in groundwater, meaning that in total, less than 1% of the earth’s total water supply is accessible and potable. The remaining freshwater is trapped in glaciers and ice caps.

As is the case with all resources, the distribution of water resources is uneven. We in the comfortable West are well provided for, even if in this country, privatising water has caused it to be much more expensive to us as users while at the same time creating huge profits for water companies and their bosses.

Elsewhere in the world, there are water shortages, making access to water a major geopolitical topic. So conflicts over the sources of water, e.g. rivers running through different countries, are becoming increasingly common. Of the global population of 8 billion people, more than 3 billion depend on water that crosses national borders. Yet, only 24 countries have cooperation agreements for all their shared water.

The United Nations predicts that the most vulnerable regions to water-based conflict due to scarcity issues are West and East Africa, the northern Middle East, and the areas bordering Central, East, and South Asia. And if there are conflicts, there is so much more  possibility of mass migrations, simply in order for people to get access to clean water.

So the message this year from the United Nations is  ‘Water for Peace’.

“Water can create peace or spark conflict. When water is scarce or polluted, or when people struggle for access, tensions can rise. By cooperating on water, we can balance everyone’s water needs and help stabilize the world.

  • Prosperity and peace rely on water. As nations manage climate change, mass migration and political unrest, they must put water cooperation at the heart of their plans.
  • Water can lead us out of crisis. We can foster harmony between communities and countries by uniting around the fair and sustainable use of water – from United Nations conventions at the international level, to actions at the local level.”

 

Did you see Tim Farron MP on Question Time?

On a more domestic political note, Liberal Democrat MP, Tim Farron apeared on BBC Question Time Thursday 21st March.  He was superb, wiping the floor with the other members of the panel, and garnering the most consistent applause from the audience in Middlesbrough of all places.

Tim Farron MP - BBC Question Time 21st March 2024
Tim Farron MP - BBC Question Time 21st March 2024 - Click to View the Programme
https://youtu.be/9b1v4dT2uhw

Weekend reflections

The weekend is a time to look back on what has been happening in yet another tumultuous week in British politics, and wonder indeed about the real mess we are in.

Just 8 days ago it was International Women’s Day, designed to celebrate women and their achievements, but on Tuesday the story broke that a very substantial donor (at least £10 m of donations in the past year) had made vile sexist and racist comments about Diane Abbott, including saying ’I think she should be shot’. After a day of dithering, finally the Prime Minister agreed the remarks were racist.  Not just ‘wrong’ you will note, which is all that Conservative after Conservative could say about Lee Anderson's comments about Sadiq Khan in the previous week.

The cry came back from various members of the Labour Party then that the Conservatives should give the money back to Frank Hester, the donor.  Mr Hester is by the way the sole owner of a business which has been awarded by the present Government contracts with the NHS worth £135 million.  Perhaps that explains his munificence towards the Conservative Party.

My view is that the Conservative Party should donate the money to anti racist and anti sexist charities, not to give it back to the donor, as he clearly does not need it.

Are you as fed up as I am with members of the Conservative Government consistently blaming the current economic ills of this country on both the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine Russia war,  whilst ignoring the more and greater woes which have been visited on us by their choice of a hard Brexit and Liz Truss’s incredibly foolish budget, ills indeed of their own making?

A quick reminder of how the country has been voting in by elections since the last round of elections in May 2023:

           Conservative – net loss 18 seats

            Labour           - net loss   3 seats

            Green             - net gain 17 seats

            Others            - net loss  16 seats

            Lib Dems       - net gain 20 seats.

 

Stephen Hardy MBE

Chair - Bexhill and Battle Liberal Democrats

Published and promoted by Mary Varrall on behalf of Liberal Democrats at Southernhay, Etchingham, TN19 7DD