50 years since the Race Relations Act 1968: where are we now? Time for politicians to step up to defend its legacy

Today is the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Race Relations Act 1968.  This was the first legislation to outlaw race discrimination in our workplaces and in other settings like in the letting of homes.

The passing of such a landmark leads many of us to reflect on the current state of race relations in our country and globally.  I think we’d all agree that current evidence shows progress is mixed.

Recent symbolic high-points like the wonderful royal wedding and its celebration of our diversity, have not been matched by the conduct of leading politicians around the world.

At home, the way that Boris Johnson recently, very deliberately, used his Telegraph Column to liken Niqab wearing Muslim women to letter-boxes and bank robbers, was a brazen exploitation of residual Islamophobia or Islamoscepticism in certain parts of our country.  Rhetoric that was not quite at the “rivers of blood” level of Enoch Powell, but worse because of Boris’s perceived position as a more mainstream politician and potential prime minister.

Then more recently we had Home Secretary, Sajid Javid tweeting about “sick Asian paedophiles” finally facing justice, and columnists Rod Liddle suggesting that it would be okay if suicide bombers blew themselves up in majority Muslim Tower Hamlets.

The Charity Tell Mama reported a spike in Muslim-directed hate crime in the aftermath of Mr Johnson’s comments. And their response to Mr Javid’s tweet, I think was telling of where we are on these issues:

“The current atmosphere in our country is polarised. The last thing we need is language that can be misread, abused or used to fan the flames of division. We agree with much that the Home Secretary does on tackling hate crimes, including anti-Muslim hate or Islamophobia, but on this matter, we disagree. We all need to ensure that communities feel accepted and respected at this time, whilst the victims of grooming should be first and foremost in our minds.”

We would all do well to try and walk in the shoes of British Muslims in the atmosphere that has prevailed since the start of the War on Terror and the increase in terrorism from those proclaiming to be Muslim.  And, to consider how the atmosphere has changed to all foreign and non-white people in the post Brexit vote era: best summed up in my experience by an emboldened gentleman born in Ireland, living in Loughborough telling me it was time for “them all to go home”.

This is all mirrored on the other side of the Atlantic, where Donald Trump failed to condemn the white supremacists at Charlottesville where one young civil rights protester lost her life.  Adding to a lifelong track-record of his peddling racist tropes and using inconsiderate language regarding those of colour, his endorsement of police brutality, and opposition to leading sportsmen taking a stand against institutional racism across the USA.

In all these cases above they are sad, firstly because the politicians concerned think it is okay to ignore their moral leadership position and court favour through thinly-veiled attacks on multicultural societies.  And secondly, because they feel that there is an audience in the country of such a size to make such comments politically advantageous.

The answer has to be for politicians who do take their moral leadership responsibilities seriously to stand up against such behaviour.  I have heard far too much that this is just Boris being Boris, or that the language may be unfortunate but X politician is at heart not racist.  The truth is that to acquiesce in such circumstances is to be complicit in behaviour that is undermining race relations in our country.

I am proud that at the next general election I will be standing for the Labour Party who were responsible for the Race Relations Act 1968, and other landmark equality legislation culminating in the Equality Act 2010.

That said, I would hope that politicians of all political colours would use today to reflect on the moral leadership that is required.  Not just for our country’s sake: in an era of discrimination around the world, be it against Rohingya in Myanmar or Uighur in China, also, so that we can also assume some moral leadership across the world.

Let’s build pressure to use our Loughborough Hospital to its full potential, sign my petition!

One of the most consistent messages that came out of my series of winter crisis public meetings was the desire to reopen beds and wards at Loughborough Hospital, and for its Urgent Care Centre to get more resource to take pressure of the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
That’s why I have started a petition to build pressure on our “Clinical Commissioning Group” (the body that decides what healthcare is provided).  Please join my campaign.

Stop the Incinerator: a health disaster for the health of all of us, children and athletes included!

Here is my response to this important consultation from the Environment Agency on the Shepshed Incinerator.  By way of background, this was rejected by the County Council, before being given planning permission by Tory Secretary of State Eric Pickles who went on to a £40,000 a year role with a waste management company.

https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/le12-9bu-biffa-waste-services-limited/

Dear Sir/Madam,

As the Labour Candidate for the Loughborough Constituency at the next general election I have been contacted by people from across Loughborough and Shepshed with sincere and justified concerns about the construction of this incinerator.

The location of the proposed incinerator is highly proximate to the M1 at a well populated area along that key road with the large towns of Shepshed and Loughborough very close-by.

It is well known that the air quality in the area around the M1 is poor. The very heavy traffic leads to high amounts of nitrous oxide and particulate matter, along with the CO2 emissions that are produced.

The incinerator will only add to these pollutants in a way that can only deteriorate the quality of the air breathed by local residents.

Local families who already have to breath the substandard air caused by traffic on the M1 and other trunk roads in the area will be forced to breath yet poorer air. Particular concern has to be had for those living down-wind of the proposed site.

Loughborough is by quite some considerable distance the leading elite sporting university in the country if not the world with a considerable number of world leading athletes training there. This deterioration in air quality will be of significant detriment to the air they breath. Those using the world leading, multimillion pound facilities at the university will be inevitably exposed to the detriment resulting from the deterioration in the local air quality.

It is unclear how a proper assessment of these health impacts can allow the incinerator to proceed.

The location of the incinerator is inappropriate given the many populations that will be inevitably impacted by its construction. The below table is from the Local Air Quality Protection Group (http://www.laqpg.org.uk/).

It is clear that this incinerator will have damaging impact on a disproportionate number of people from groups that include children, the elderly, and the most elite sportsmen and women in the world.

The people of Loughborough and Shepshed have long since become reconciled to living next to one of the busiest transport arteries in the country, the M1. Indeed many people live incredibly close to this very busy motorway. This has public health impacts, notably respiratory impacts, that are undeniable. It is also undeniable that there will be further deterioration as a result of the presence of this incinerator.

The impacts are disproportionate and indefensible. There must be far more appropriate locations further away from such populations.

Yours Sincerely,

Stuart Brady

Place at Risk People at risk Distance in km
Longcliffe Golf Club Outdoor sportsmen/women 1.1
Longcliffe Nursing Home Elderly people 1.8
Nanpantan Pre-school Children at play outdoors 2.0
Nanpantan Scouts Children at play outdoors 2.1
Watermead Nursery Children at play outdoors 2.2
Nanpantan Sports Fields
– Football, Cricket Outdoor sportsmen/women 2.2
Brush Bowls Club 2.2
Loughborough Tennis Club Open-air sportsmen/women 2.2
Loughborough University
– Holywell Pitches Open-air sportsmen/women 2.3
Holywell Primary School Children at play outdoors 2.5
Charnwood College Children at play outdoors 2.5
Booth Wood Primary School Children at play outdoors 2.5
Ashby Ward – Charnwood Residents 2.5
Nanpantan Ward – Charnwood Residents 2.8
Loughborough University
– Cricket Ground Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Loughborough University
– All-weather Pitches Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Loughborough University
– Athletics Track Open-air sportsmen/women 3.0
Mountfields Primary School Children at play outdoors 3.9
Loughborough Hospital Infirm people 3.7
Thorpe Acre
– Sheltered Housing etc Elderly people 3.9
Planned Garendon Park SUE Residents 1.0 – 1.5
Planned Science & Enterprise Parks Employees 1.5 – 2.0
DNRC Stamford Hall Infirm people 9

My Speech speaking out against the values President Trump represents #stoptrump #protesttrump

Yesterday I spoke at the Leicester demonstration against President Trump and what he stands for.  This is the speech as written (there may have been more than a few divergences in delivery!).

Speech to Trump protest 13th July 2018

Why is this protest against Donald Trump’s visit important?   We’ve hard won rights in this country like that which we celebrated in this town with the unveiling of the Alice Hawkins statue celebrating 100 years of some women getting the vote.

Rights that have been shared  by a community of nations.

Principles of respect and non-discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or sexual orientation.

These principles need to be preserved.  They are preserved by civilised countries and people coming together to show what is okay and what’s not okay.

And that is what this is all about.

We have a President in the White House who is a proven racist and mysognist.  And he is using the highest office in the world’s most powerful country to attack the hard-won values and freedoms that people, particularly from the Labour movement, have fought hard to win and retain.

So today is about saying enough is enough.

We cannot stand by as someone in his position:

  • Repeatedly objectifies and abuses women.
  • Repeatedly behaves in a racist manner.
  • Condones police brutality.
  • Puts into place migration policies that single out countries on the basis of religion.
  • Propagates the most hostile environment for migrants. Seperating children from their families at the border and caging them.  Potentially never to be reunited.

And today is as much about what sort of country we want to be, as what sort of president Mr Trump is. 

Because we see some of these characteristics coming into our politics.  The complete absence of humanity shown to people of colour in our migration policies.  The ongoing failure to address gender imbalances.  Narrow parochialism and casual xenophobia that has become so mainstream.

Well, enough is enough.

And we have a choice to make.  As our values are being challenged here and abroad, we have the rise of strongmen, from China, to Russia, to Turkey.  Free-speech, LGBT rights being challenged, gender equality failing to progress.

Do we turn a blind-eye for the sake of some mythical special economic relationship with a demagogue who has already rewarded our loyalty with massive trade barriers? Or do we use this opportunity to say to Trump, they way you talk, the way you act, the way you are trying to lead the Western world, it’s not okay, it has to stop, the world is watching you and will not dance to your tune.
So we should be proud of the reception we are giving Mr Trump, because this is who we are, and this is the the direction that the world should be going in.

Mr Trump you’re not welcome here.

Swansea Lagoon decision and others: A bad week for our public health, economy, climate, and commitment to innovation.

Ever since I was in school (a long while ago!) it seems that people have talked about the potential of tidal energy in the Severn Estuary.  It was incredibly disappointing to hear that government had kicked the proposed tidal energy lagoon in Swansea into touch.   A decision rounded upon by local politicians of all colours.  A massive missed opportunity.  Unlike the Tories’ deal with the DUP it would have been £1 billion well spent.  Contrast with the £30bn EDF Hinkley nuclear project is also instructive.

The fact it came in a week where public health and environmental concerns were summarily dismissed in the Heathrow decision is doubly depressing.

My friend Chris Grocock has penned the following piece explaining why we should have gone ahead with the lagoon.

Chris Growcock

With this decision the Conservative Party has backed an outdated potentially dangerous technology where the expertise, ownership and engineering skills sit with foreign state owned companies (China and France) and which, like fossil fuels, still relies on importing an unstable finite fuel supply (Uranium) from the global marketplace.

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State have turned down a world-first opportunity to build a sustainable renewable power source extracted from our national waters, invest in jobs and skills, regenerate local communities, reduce carbon emissions, reinvigorate British industry and develop an entirely new sector of the UK economy.

The false idea that this decision has anything to do with the market is a nonsense. It is a purely political decision based on the unwillingness of the Tories to show any imagination or oppose the vast power of vested interests in the energy sector.

Yet serious public investment in the technological and industrial development of renewable energy would be truly transformative – environmentally, economically, socially and politically.

Over time it would eventually lead to an oversupply of inexhaustible electricity causing the price to plummet and ushering in an era of inexpensive, clean energy. How can renewables not be cheaper when the fuel source is infinite, abundant and doesn’t require expensive extraction from increasingly inaccessible locations? All that’s missing is the investment in technology and infrastructure to create economies of scale. The spin off benefits would be incredible.

And this is how Labour’s proposed national investment bank and regional development banks can and will most fundamentally transform Britain and set an example to the wider world.

It’s not principally about being green although the environmental impact would see us lead the way in the fight against climate change.

Nor is it about foreign policy although it would be great for Britain not to compromise with corrupt authoritarian regimes or feel the need to invade countries to secure our energy supply.

It’s not even about economic development although it would be amazing to cultivate new cutting edge industries, create thousands of jobs and improve the productivity of the UK workforce.

It’s ultimately about demonstrating a belief that sustained investment and innovation can make energy so cheap, even free at the point of use, that it is available to everyone entirely on the basis of need no matter their wealth, status or position.

I don’t know if anybody can truly conceive what that would look like in its entirety – for health, transport, education, housing, for information technology, industry, construction and agriculture – but it has to be one of the great missions of 21st century socialism.

For today, for tomorrow, and the future of our country.

The Shelthorpe/Chimes Fence: what’s going on?

20180608_164642

I have been contacted by Sheltorpe residents who were concerned about this fence.  It blocks off the end of a footpath between Manor Drive on the Shelthorpe Estate, and an open space with a very nice looking playground for younger children.  That open space sits on the Chimes Estate which is still partly being built.  The park is finished.  Children play on it.  The grass around it is in good shape.

People got in touch with me because they wanted to know why children on the Shelthorpe Estate were having to take a ten-minute or more detour to get to a bit of open space with a lovely community asset on it. The trip would otherwise be around 30 seconds.

Many people have memories of going down the self-same path to play on the open space that used to occupy the land where the new estate is being built.

I have been to the site twice now to see and hear what is going on.  Today I went to speak to local residents.  One, who lived within metres of the fence reported that it has been up since the building started, he was none the wiser as to why it was still up.

I also visited the office of the David Wilson Homes who are developing the site.    They were very courteous to me.  It’s fair to say the gentleman I spoke to did not have the answer but said he would get the relevant person to contact me.

I await eagerly, but won’t wait around if the response is slow.

One aspect of this is the way that these new estates across Loughborough are being constructed and sold.  The parks and open spaces, and some other community amenities will not be administered by the Borough Council in the normal way, but will be maintained by a management company who takes a service-charge from those living on the estate.  It’s a daft idea, basically privatising open-spaces, and introducing an additional private council tax.

This arrangement may mean that some of the paths around the park (on this plan below) will be maintainable by the management company.  But in my view if the public has exercised a right of way over the path to what used to be recreation land (and still is), they should still be granted that right of way.

20180615_124158

We will see what the construction firm come back with.

You would hope, however, that they would see sense: there is a community asset in the park, there is a path to it, and on any common sense view all members of the community ought to be able to use the park and access it by way of the path.

To be continued…