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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Brussels Labour joins People’s Vote March in London

Members of Brussels Labour were part of the over 100,000 strong rally in London demanding a People’s Vote. Rather than asking to redo the referendum, the People’s Vote UK campaign focuses on making sure the public get a final say on the Brexit deal.

When the UK voted in 2016, all that was on the table was in or out. Yet there was no discussion of what voting out would look like. Some did so to fund the NHS, a promise broken a day after the campaign. Some believed we would stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, which the UK government has now said we will leave.

All these decisions will have a huge impact on the UK for decades to come. It’s time the people got a real say on their future, once the terms are known. This is why our members joined the demonstration to call for a People’s Vote.

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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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With courage and determination

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.

David Earnshaw
Chair, Brussels Labour

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Vote where you live

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 awareness of 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.

  • Ilaria Maselli, Italo-Belgian, Uccle/Ukkel (contact person, masellilaria@gmail.com, 0473787046)
  • Sandra Parthie, German, Etterbeek
  • Arnold de Boer, Dutch, Etterbeek
  • Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk, Nederlands, Elsene
  • Cathrine Hernández Festersen, Danish, Ixelles
  • Ivan Scannapiecoro, Italian, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
  • Federico Mori, Italian, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek
  • Sabrina Iannazzone, Italian, Forest
  • Max Frey, German & Italian, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
  • Adeline Rochet, French, Ixelles
  • Filippo Orlando, Italian, Brussels
  • Christine Jakob, French-German, Uccle

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!  

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Brussels Labour meets John Howarth MEP

John Howarth became an MEP in June last year, after the snap general election saw the departure of Anneliese Dodds to Westminster. In our April meeting, we heard about John’s experiences so far from an MEP, including the strange feeling of coming to Brussels knowing your time is limited. Nevertheless, John has been incredibly active since taking up his post, making the most of the opportunity of being in the European Parliament before we leave. We’re also lucky that he’s another MEP who is not afraid to call out the pitfalls of Brexit. As we creep ever closer to March 2019, it’s crucial that people like him are speaking out, and Brussels Labour looks forward to hearing more from him

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