2019 will be a year of change – again! This could be the year of a second referendum in the UK and also the year of elections, for the European Parliament, in Belgium and of course the election by the new Parliament of the next Commission President. Who knows, to top it all it might even be the year for an early UK general election.
I know many of us are exasperated about the ambiguity of our leadership on the most profound issue facing working people in Britain today. Despite our unyielding commitment to social justice, equality, and the redistribution of wealth, we appear myopic to the need to create and genuinely guide the creation of European institutions capable of supporting and implementing the values for which we stand.
Jeremy Corbyn appears to be more interested in appeasing nationalism and privileging the role of national institutions than in continuing to build a European Union able to control multinational capitalism and achieve social change for the better across our continent. Giving the appearance of preferring little Englander nationalism over a socialist Europe is not where we should be. Nor is it why many of us joined the Labour Party.
We have always believed that we have more in common than we have apart, and this is why Brussels Labour will always campaign for a better Europe in which British people are not exiled from the construction of a peaceful, fair and just Europe but one in which we continue to contribute actively, in different ways and through our different walks of life. Whatever happens this year that will not change.
Closer to home, this year we will also have the Labour International elections, a chance for Brussels Labour activists to shape our party more deeply beyond Brussels. We need to make sure that Labour International’s agenda focuses on British Labour members’ real and tangible interests and preoccupations such as our rights in EU countries, our right to vote in the UK and definitely not least, the fight to keep the UK in the EU.
Our Brussels Labour executive is looking forward to seeing everyone at forthcoming branch meetings during the year. Please continue to be as active as ever, and please, if you have ideas for activities and for the development of our branch, please do not hesitate to get in touch – we need your views and support – we can’t do it without you!
The Belgian commune elections are two weeks away and Brussels Labour members Jo Wood and Keir Fitch are standing, respectively, in Brussels 1000 and Etterbeek for P.S-s.pA. If you would like to support their campaigns, here’s how you can get involved:
Wednesday 3 October
Place Ambiorix | 18:00: Evening canvassing
Etterbeek | evening: Addressing envelopes to send out election literature
Thursday 4 October
Etterbeek | Evening: Leafleting or canvassing
Friday 5 October
Etterbeek | 8.00 : Morning distribution of leaflets at Merode or Thieffry metro stations
Saturday 6 October
Place Amborix | 14:00 : Afternoon canvassing and leafleting with members of Islington North Labour
Etterbeek | afternoon: Leafletting
Marolles | 19:30 : Out and about with members of Islington North at Nuit Blanche. Meeting point here at the info point at Place du Jeu de Balle. Please RSVP by 4 October so we can book a table for dinner nearby
Sunday 7 October
Square Amborix | 8:00 : Brocante – Come and spend time meeting local residents – don’t forget to wear some RED!
Etterbeek | 11:00 : Meet the PS/s.pA candidates at Place Jourdan
PS final meeting | 12:00 – 13:30 : 85 Boulevard Anspach – 1000 Bruxelles. All Brussels Labour are invited!
Thursday 11 October
European/Schuman quarter | all day : Massive leafleting session
Square Amborix | 18:00: Leafleting
Sunday 14 October
Bar St d’Hic, Place Rouppe | 18:00 onwards Election results
Any time you can give will be really appreciated by Jo and Keir. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved. We look forward to seeing you!
Brussels Labour is keen not just to connect Labour supporters in Brussels but also to get involved with the local politics that affects its members.
This year Brussels Labour is practicing what they preach in Brussels’ commune elections. Not one but TWO members are on lists to become councillors in the city. Former Chair, Jo Wood, and executive committee member Keir Fitch are standing in the elections on 14 October.
Jo Wood is standing in the Ville de Bruxelles commune, which stretches from the centre of the city over to the European quarter. She is #36 on the Parti socialiste list for the commune.
Brussels Labour members, friends and family are all welcome. If you have not registered already, we do hope you will be able to join us on 16th September – the cost will be approximately 25-40 euro depending on final numbers which will be confirmed when registration is closed.
Ireland has failed when it comes to women’s healthcare. On May 25th it ‘s time for a change.
As you read this, around 10 women will travel from Ireland today to the UK and other countries to seek a termination. Some will have family support. Some will be completely alone. Some will have the money to ensure they can stay overnight in the UK in case anything goes wrong. Others will have to fly back home on the same day hoping airport security won’t notice they are in agony and stop them from flying. At the same time, 3 women in Ireland will take abortion pills sourced from the internet -alone and unsupervised. Unable to seek medical treatment when the pain and bleeding get too much for fear they will be prosecuted. This is the reality for women living in the Republic of Ireland in 2018. But this coming Friday, there is a chance to shape the future for the better. Irish voters will be asked whether they want to legalise abortion for up to 12 weeks. And I for one, hope it will be a resounding yes.
Currently, the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution states that the unborn child has an equal right to life to that of the mother. In the Republic of Ireland, abortion is only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk, which includes suicide. This, however, is not an easily applicable law. As we saw with the 2014 case of a young suicidal refugee woman seeking asylum in Ireland, raped in her home country and ordered by an Irish court to continue with her pregnancy to 25 weeks and then forced to undergo a c-section. This young woman, who had come to Ireland to find sanctuary, is said to have asked for a termination when she found out she was 8 weeks pregnant with her rapist’s child. Instead of protecting her, the law failed this young woman. Her life, health and well-being were not a priority under the 8th amendment. This has to change.
The 8th amendment has not prevented Irish women from accessing abortions. It has made them unsafe. The 8th amendment pushes abortion underground or exports it to the UK or other European countries. The 8th amendment means medical staff cannot take care of women. They too face jail for up to 14 years if they contravene the 8th. The 8th amendment leaves women isolated, traumatised and often without access to post-abortion health care. Legalising abortion in Ireland will not see women using abortion as a form of contraception as the anti-choice and forced pregnancy campaign so regularly claim. Abortion is a very difficult and personal choice. Each case is different. Abortion isn’t something women and girls have on their bucket lists. Women have terminations for so many difficult and personal reasons. Women should be able to access this basic right to health care for their own bodies at home without fear of going to jail.
This Friday’s vote is about equality of bodily autonomy, compassion and human decency. The underlining questions facing Irish citizens on Friday are do you trust women to make decisions about their own health and well-being. Or do you want to continue to force women to seek illegal and unsafe abortions?
I have been living outside of Ireland for longer than the 18 month limit and therefore am ineligible to vote. So, to the Irish people who still can, please vote with compassion. For your sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, daughters and the women in your lives- please vote yes. Please vote to repeal the 8th amendment.
On the death of Dame Tessa Jowell, Brussels Labour would like to make the following statement.
I know I speak for all of us in expressing our sadness following the announcement of the passing of Tessa Jowell. Tessa fought to the end as she had throughout her life, with courage and determination.
She was a great parliamentarian, a great constituency MP and a great campaigner. She will be sorely missed by the Labour movement.
Brussels Labour welcomes a guest post from the I vote where I live campaign.
We are a group of European citizens from different EU countries, living in Brussels. In 2016 we got together to create the I vote Where I Live campaign. We all are interested in politics, not only in our countries of origin but also in this city that we call home. Nearly 250,000 Europeans are affected by local policies in the 19 communes of Brussels. We believe it is important that all residents of Brussels are engaged in Brussels’ local politics, and even more so with municipal elections on the agenda this year.
Our group’s primary objective is to raise the awarenessof European residents to the political and institutional life of the territory and facilitate their integration and active participation in the Brussels communes, in line with the rights provided by European citizenship. We believe that the city of Brussels, for its history of diversity and its role in the European construction, is a privileged laboratory for an innovative and inclusive notion of political citizenship.
We consider participation in the local elections in the 19 communes of the Brussels-Capital Regions an important step towards better integration of European citizens and the emergence of a sense of community and belonging. We want to actively contribute to developing joint answers to local issues.
We have identified two main obstacles for Europeans for voting in the local elections, which our campaign seeks to tackle:
Awareness (of the institutional set-up of federal, regional, and local authorities, as well as the political issues on the table)
Logistics (which voting rights, procedures for registration etc.)
We are not starting from zero as a group. Already in June 2017, we created a Facebook page, I Vote Where I Live, with currently around 260 likes and followers, “and counting”. Within this group, we have already organised several events, for instance, on the rise of populism across different countries, on mobility in Brussels and a series of events called “Belgium for Dummies” where we address the questions of foreigners on how Brussels and Belgium work and what needs to be done to vote in October. Events were attended by between 40 and 80 participants.
Commune elections in Belgium are coming up on 14 October. There’s no more direct means of being politically active than putting a cross in a box and it’s a great way to show that you’re integrated in Belgium 😉 Take a look at the commissioner.brussels website to see how you (or a friend) can register. Make sure you sign up by 31 July!