Category Archives: Brussels Labour

Brussels labour pub quiz

Will you join us at our Pub Quiz? Wednesday 11 May 

Reckon you know a thing or two about politics? Do you know your parmesan from your paneer? Perhaps you’re an expert on all things musical theatre? Whatever your specialist subject, the Brussels Labour branch pub quiz needs you! 

With rounds on music, food and drink, politics and more, there’s something for everyone. Bring your friends, have a pint or two and see if you’ve got what it takes to be crowned the pub quiz champion.  

All proceeds will be used to support Ukraine via the Belgian Red Cross.  

How to join the quiz:  

Twitter: @brusselslabour  
Facebook: Brussels Labour | Facebook 

The James Joyce allows patrons to order-in food. All drinks must be purchased from the James Joyce’s bar. 
We very much hope you will be able to join us. See you there!  

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Brussels Labour Quiz

Brussels Labour Virtual Pub Quiz: 18 November 19:30 CET on zoom

Register now for our annual Brussels Labour Pub Quiz taking place virtually this year with former Brussels Labour Chair, David Earnshaw, as quizmaster.

How to join the quiz 

  • Form a team and register your team name on the form here. Teams should be up to 4 people.  If you have any problem registering, contact

We are waiving the normal 20 euro per team participation fee so entry is free, but if you would like to make a donation to Branch funds you can do so here by bank transfer 
Account number:  IBAN: BE 33 7370 4656 0346
Account name: Brussels Labour International   | Bank:  KBC
When making the transfer, please add your name and “BL November Pub Quiz”

Thank you in advance for your support!

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Brussels Labour joins calls to support the most vulnerable affected by COVID-19

Brussels Labour and joined forces with some of our sister parties in Brussels to call for greater support for the most vulnerable as the lockdown in Belgium, put in place to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to reverberate.

The letter, addressed to Ministre Nathalie Muylle, responsible for Work, Economy and Consumers, while recognising the support already made by the Belgian Government, calls for measures to ensure that the most precarious and vulnerable people are also not left behind; and for a multi-language information campaign to remind employers of their responsibilities during the crisis.

Download the letter (in French and Dutch) here

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Football has been handed over to the bosses: Labour will reclaim it for local communities

Elliot Robson

I was brought up a Sunderland fan. I was never given a choice in this and it remains the biggest burden my dad has ever put on me. In my first season of following the club we were relegated from the Premier League with a record low number of points for the league. Three seasons later we went on to break our own record. Today Sunderland is in a much worse state, sitting mid-table in the third tier and just knocked out of the FA Cup by Gillingham. F*****g Gillingham!!!

Things could have been a lot worse though. A few seasons ago, Sunderland had debts piling up and found themselves on the edge of bankruptcy. Fans were crying out for new owners and we eventually got them; and while they remain questionable characters, the short to medium-term existence of my club is assured. We were at the mercy of a select few individuals and we got lucky.

This is not the case for fans of Bury FC. There have been untold number of accounts from people who feel the loss of Bury very deeply. About how this founding member of the Football League has been stolen and wrecked by cowboy-owner after cowboy-owner. Heartbreakingly, a major unifying force in a community crying out for it has been lost. A football team is not just a sports club; it is not just a business. It is one of those things that knits people who happen to live in the same area together into a single identity. At its best, it is a force for solidarity and hope where people may not otherwise find it in their daily lives.

That is why Labour’s policies to give football back to the working people who built it are so important. Labour wants supporters to have a say in the boardrooms, with the power to appoint and dismiss at least two board members. They want supporters’ clubs to have the right to purchase shares in their club when it changes hands and they want the Premier League to invest 5% of their TV money into grassroots football. These much-needed changes will reinvigorate the sport’s working-class supporters that have increasingly felt marginalised in the unfettered capitalism of English football’s boom or bust model.

Take Arsenal for instance – the club that Corbyn himself supports and who have a proud tradition of representing some of the more impoverished areas of North London. The cheapest season ticket a fan can buy will set you back £891. That’s more than most of their fans could hope to afford and has led many simply to walk away and either watch at home or find a club where they can afford to get through the gates. Every year, clubs want to increase the sacrifice required for fans to keep going. That money is a holiday, or a better car, and thousands gladly pay it.

These unrelenting price hikes have been met with some great campaigns by fans. The ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign has led to a £30 cap on away tickets. While falling short of the aims of the campaign’s organisers, this is a step in the right direction. We have also seen fan-led movements at Liverpool, Blackpool and Charlton to name a few, which have attempted to reassert fan power to varying degrees of success. It is time that this power was enshrined in the rules of the sport.

Giving these fans a say in the boardroom will have a massive impact. It will provide proper scrutiny of the shady collection of rogue bosses, oil tycoons and royal families that currently have carte blanche over these historic institutions by people who really care. It is no surprise to find that Mike Ashley holds working people in contempt as an employer and as the owner of Newcastle. It is no surprise that the Chief Exec of my own club, a man who said Margaret Thatcher would be his dream dinner party guest, referred to fans who can’t go to the games as ‘parasites’. If these people continue to be allowed to impose their will unabated, things are only going to get worse for fans. Talk is already ongoing about a ‘European Super League’ where clubs are treated more as American-style franchises, ripping them out of the heart of the community and confirming them as purely corporate entities.

All of this is sacrificed on the altar of TV money. The current Premier League TV deal is worth £4.5 billion and is the main source of income for top flight clubs. Labour is proposing that 5% of this (£235 million under the present deal) should be spent on grassroots football. This is not a major loss to the Premier League; but will have a transformative effect on local communities.

Facilities for local football are in dire straits. According to latest figures from the FA in 2017, one in six matches are cancelled each season because of pitch quality, while only one in three pitches are deemed “adequate”. Investment in 3G pitches can revolutionise football at this level. Ensuring that the next generation can hone their skills on decent quality surfaces and that adults have regular access to a hobby that will not only benefit their body, but also have a significant positive effect on mental wellbeing. Any government that is serious about combatting these twin health crises must harness the potential of the country’s most popular sport.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Labour will ensure that Clubs pay their staff a real living wage. If teams are to be brought back to their communities, they must treat their employees with the dignity of a wage they can afford. Corbyn himself supported efforts for this policy to be implemented at Arsenal and pushing this out across the country will not only help those it will directly affect, it will give people a sense of pride in the club as an institution.

Football is always a reflection of society at large, and much like the country, football has been held in the interests of capital for too long. Inequality is rife, and we are seeing an undermining of the values of community and people power that were once integral. Labour’s programme for the national game will see power going back to the fans, it will end the destruction of clubs by asset strippers and chancers and it will improve the health and mental wellbeing of many. These are radical proposals but ask any fan who has followed their team week-in week-out and they will tell you, they are badly needed.

I am incredibly lucky to have Sunderland ruin my Saturday every week.

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Branch Meeting | 11 September

Our next Branch meeting will take place on 11 September. We are very pleased to be joined by Rory Palmer MEP who represents the East Midlands in the European Parliament. He is also member of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

Where: FEPS, Rue Montoyer 40, 1040 Brussels
When:  11 September at 19:30 (Doors open 19:00)

We look forward to seeing you there

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Jackie Jones MEP visits Brussels Labour

Brussels Labour was delighted to welcome newly elected Jackie Jones MEP to speak at our June branch meeting. Jackie was elected in May as the Labour Party MEP for Wales. Since there is now unfortunately no Labour MEP in Scotland, Jackie is the only Labour MEP of a devolved region in the UK.

Prior to her election, Jackie taught law at Cardiff Law School at Cardiff University. She then taught at Bristol Law School, University of the West of England, where she was Professor of Feminist Legal Studies. Jackie is active in the voluntary sector on Wales on human rights for many years.

As such, it is fitting that she will now be working on both the legal affairs (JURI) and women’s rights and gender equality (FEMM) committees in the European Parliament.

It was refreshing to hear from a new voice at the branch meeting, and members were eager to hear more about Jackie’s plans for her time in Brussels, whether that be a few months or a few years. Brussels Labour hopes we will hear more from Jackie Jones in the near future and looks forward to having her as a Labour MEP.

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Branch Meeting | 26 June

At the next Branch meeting on 26 June we will be joined by Professor Jackie Jones, the new Labour MEP for Wales, who will share her thoughts on the recent European Parliament elections and what the next few months might bring as the next parliamentary term gets underway

Where: Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS), Rue Montoyer 40, 1040
When: 26 June | 19:30 (Doors open 19:00) 

We look forward to seeing you there

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After the European elections, what next?

We held our meeting in May on the first Wednesday after the European elections, giving us an obvious topic of discussion. Rather than invite in external speakers, we decided to use the expertise already present in our executive committee, with Frazer Clarke and David Earnshaw giving an overview of the elections and taking questions from members.

It was easy for many of us to feel pessimistic about the elections. Although many excellent Labour MEPs were elected, including one new face, there was almost an equal number who sadly lost their seats. 

Meanwhile, both the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats successfully portrayed this vote as a proxy second referendum, with themselves as the parties of Leave and Remain respectively. Despite the issue of a second referendum not being an EU competence, this was still a successful strategy for these elections, with the Brexit Party winning 29 seats, and the Liberal Democrats 15.

However, things look more positive for us at European level. The Socialists and Democrats remain the second largest party, with 154 MEPs. At the time of the meeting, it also still seemed possible that Frans Timmermans could be nominated as the next Commission President.

Unfortunately, since the meeting, the outlook has changed. Last week, the European Council not only chose not to nominate Timmermans as the next Commission President, but decided against nominating any of the lead candidates of the political groups. Instead, they nominated Ursula von der Leyen, German defense minister, for the top job.

This decision has been presented as a victory for either Macron or for Orban, depending on your source. However, whoever engineered this, the rest of the council approved it, save for Angela Merkel, who abstained. This could cause difficulties for the lead candidate process in the next elections. Of course, it is not a done deal; the European Parliament will decide whether to approve von der Leyen later this month.

In this meeting, we also discussed a branch submission to the National Policy Forum. The discussion was led by Jos Gallacher, who is the Labour International CLP representative on the National Policy Forum. Jos proposed a submission to the economy, business and trade commission, which is currently consulting on democratic public ownership.

There were lots of excellent ideas from members in the meeting. If you’d like to find out more about the National Policy Forum or this particular submission, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the executive committee.

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Submission by Brussels Labour Executive Committee to the NPF Commission on Brexit

As decided on Wednesday 10th April, the UK will now remain a member of the EU until 31st October 2019, which means it will also take part in the European elections.

We believe it is important that Labour stands on a platform promising a public vote on any Brexit deal.

In question two of the International Policy Commission, the Labour Party asks what steps it can take to follow and build on the motion passed at Labour Conference. This motion clearly stated:

 “If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.”

In January, shortly after May’s deal was rejected by Parliament, Labour tabled a motion of no confidence in the government. Unfortunately, the government defeated this option. Since then, May has brought her deal back twice and it has failed both times. There have been indicative votes, and so far, no majority for any Brexit option has been found.

While this happens, pressing issues facing working people are being ignored. The NHS is being ignored. The homelessness crisis is being ignored.

We cannot continue like this. But, even if parliament were to pass May’s deal, Brexit would remain the dominant discussion for years as we try to negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

This is why any public vote should include the option to Remain. People were not told about how long Brexit would take, what form it would take, and the extent to which it would overshadow all other issues.

It has been three years since the first referendum. Not only is this more than enough time for people to have changed their mind, it is also enough time for demographics to shift: by June 2018, around 1.4 million young people were eligible to have a say in their future who didn’t get the chance in 2016.

All these people deserve a final say. We all deserve a final say. Labour members want a final say.

Please include a promise for a confirmatory public vote with an option to Remain in our European election manifesto.

Download the submission

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