Category Archives: Brussels Labour

Chair’s new year message

Happy New Year!

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!

David Earnshaw
Chair, Brussels Labour

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Brussels Labour goes local in the Belgian Communal Elections

Two Brussels Labour executive members running in the local elections; Jo Wood in the City of Brussels, and Keir Fitch in Etterbeek. Though neither won a seat, they both ran great campaigns and we would like to thank everyone who showed up to support them.

We were pleased to see PS win in the City of Brussels with Philippe Close as mayor However, for the rest of Brussels and Belgium we need to ensure that the PS and SP.A stay strong, particularly in the approach to the European elections. On the left, the greens made gains, whilst the far-right, though far from a successful night, did win the commune of Ninove.

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Brussels pays tribute to Jo Cox

On 27th September, the city of Brussels honoured the memory of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, by naming a square beside the Ancienne Belgique music
venue she often visited in the years she lived here, as Place Jo Cox, in a formal ceremony.

We heard from different speakers during the ceremony, including Jeremy Corbyn, and Jo Cox’s sister, who gave an incredibly moving speech to those gathered.

Also speaking was Richard Corbett, leader of UK Labour MEPs, which was fitting as Jo Cox spent various campaigns for ActionAid UK, an international development charity, focusing primarily on fighting poverty and tax avoidance by multi-national companies.

He said to those gathered, “All of us were very touched when we heard of the decision of the City of Brussels to name this square after Jo Cox. The gesture will live on for many years, reminding us of the values she stood for, and of her time in Brussels, in the European Parliament. Many of us remember how enthusiastic and lively she was, and the commitment she gave to everything she did. It was a privilege to work in the vicinity of her, let alone closely with her.
I think for many of us, not just in our political family, but of course, especially in our political family, our hearts were torn apart when we heard the terrible news that day, just a few days before we voted in that terrible referendum in which she was campaigning to remain part of our European Union.
But we must take courage. We must live up to the values that she stood for, live up to the principles that she lived by. We must fight on for the politics that we believe in, which will make our society a better place. We must create a better world, where people all take to their hearts the words of Jo that are so widely remembered, “we have more in common than that which divides us.”


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Get involved to get Brussels Labour elected

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 secretary@brusselslabour.eu if you’d like to get involved. We look forward to seeing you!

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Conference fringe event: Where next for Labour in Europe?

Brussels Labour are  excited to again bang the drum for Europe at the Labour Party Annual Conference. Not only are members attending but the branch is organising a fringe event.

Europe’s future will be in the spotlight at Brussels Labour’s joint event with the Foundation of European Progressive Studies.

Where next for Labour In Europe?
24 September | Concourse Room 1 | ACC, Liverpool | 8:00am
Speakers:

  • Brendan Howlin TD, leader of the Irish Labour Party
  • Rupa Huq MP
  • Richard Corbett MEP, leader of the EPLP
  • Clare Moody MEP
  • Olivia Bailey, Deputy General Secretary, Fabian Society

Venez nombreux!

 

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Brussels Labour in the Belgian commune elections

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.

“For the many in Brussels, not the few. Faisons de Bruxelles une ville diverse, vivante, accueillante, dynamique et connectée”

Take a look at Jo’s Parti socialiste page for her manifesto. Or be a hero and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!

Meanwhile, Brussels Labour executive committee member Keir Fitch is 23 on the Parti socialiste list in Etterbeek, one of the communes that makes up part of the European quarter.

See the Parti socialiste website for the full manifestos for the commune elections.

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Brussels Labour visit to Ypres

To commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War, Brussels Labour is organising a visit to Ypres on 16th September. Below you can see the proposed itinerary for the day.

10:30 Departure from Brussels
12:00 Tyne Cot Cemetery & visitors centre, Zonnebeke
13:00 Lunch/Visit to Passchendaele Trench Museum 
14:00 Visit to German Cemetery and Poppy Memorial at Langemarck
14:45 Visit to the Welsh National Memorial at Langemarck
15:45 Visit to Yorkshire Trench (Ypres)
17:00 Ypres – visit the Cloth Hall, St George’s Memorial Church and the Menin Gate
Dinner
20:00 Last Post Ceremony
20:15 Return to Brussels

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.

Click here to register.

Deadline 31st August.

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June Branch Meeting| Discussion Brexit & Ireland

Just in time for the Council summit when the UK was supposed to have found a solution on the Irish border, Brussels Labour heard from its very own Paul Hagan. We heard not just about the impact of Brexit on the border in Ireland, both in relation to goods and the Common Travel Area, but also on how it has affected the Republic of Ireland. It was fascinating to hear the process, and a good reminder that politicians still aren’t talking about this as much as they should be.The meeting came just as revelations came out about possible collusion between DUP, the Leave campaign and Cambridge Analytica.

At the meeting we also passed a motion reaffirming Labour’s six tests for a Brexit deal and the decision of part conference in 2016 to gain approval for the final settlement through Parliament, and potentially through a general election or referendum. The motion also calls for our branch delegates to party conference to vote in line with these goals.

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Campaigning for Labour in the London local elections

Brussels Labour members travelled across to London in May to campaign for Labour in the local elections.

We went to both Islington and to Wandsworth, and are pleased to announce that in Islington, Labour won its biggest share of the vote since 1974, with 61% of all votes cast in the borough.

Although we didn’t see the same level of success in Wandsworth, which was Conservative controlled before and remains so, Labour did increase the number of seats it has on the council by 7.

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Hoping for change in Ireland

By Laura O’Conner

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.

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