Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Good news and bad…

For the last few days I have been in Liverpool supporting my sister-in-law through a difficult labour which finally ended with an emergency Caesarian Section procedure. The good news is that in the early hours of the morning a healthy and beautiful 8lb baby boy was born! I am very happy to report that mother and son are doing fine.

The bad news is that I have emerged from that world into a heated controversy around Julian Assange which is conflating issues around freedom of speech with debates about what constitutes violence against women.
Let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex. George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.

There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him. Any individual accused of a crime, sexual or otherwise, is innocent until proven guilty. By the same token, any individual who believes themselves to be a victim has a right to have their grievances heard in a fair manner and not have their allegations belittled or dismissed. This is the cornerstone of justice.

This turn of events may well act to undermine Assange's defence against those powerful forces keen to make an example of him for exposing the crimes of Empire. It has certainly taken the debate around violence against women a step backwards.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Double dip depression

Amidst all the good news about the Olympics, and the national feel good bounce it has generated, you may have missed this story: Britain is getting more depressed.

According to figures from the NHS antidepressant prescriptions rose by 9.1% between 2010 and 2011, costing over £270 million. That’s 46.7 million prescriptions – more than enough for each adult in the country.

A breakdown of the figures show that there is a clear North/South divide with a cluster of cities in the North East all registering the highest rates of anti-depressants, and Blackpool taking the prize for the unhappiest place in the UK.

I am not surprised by this. There is a clear North/South divide in terms of the impact of the recession, with areas traditionally more reliant on manufacturing industry and the public sector for employment have been hardest by the cuts. Unemployment and insecurity wrecks lives. The news that 1,000 people have committed suicide because of the impact of the recession is terrible, but will not come as a great shock to mental health professionals.

However this increase in mental health illness reflects something much deeper about our society than the impact of recession.

Psychologist Oliver James has demonstrated that rates of mental illness are double in those countries most enthralled with the neo-liberal model and its accompanying materialism, greed-is-good philosophy and cultural vacuousness. As James states: ‘Not only would reduced consumerism and greater equality make us more ecologically sustainable, it would halve the prevalence of mental illness within a generation’.

Makes sense to me.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Stop the persecution of Burma's Rohingya Muslims

The continuing killing and persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma is causing real worry and upset  among British Muslims.

For good reason. The Rohingya have long been one the most persecuted minorities anywhere in the world and the latest escalation in violence raises fears of wholesale ethnic cleansing.

What is also shocking about the latest developments is the complete silence of internationally feted democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy.

Press release: Respect candidate backs families’ call for justice

Kate Hudson, Respect candidate for Manchester Central, will join with family members of those killed in police custody, to attend a screening of the award-winning film 'Injustice'. The screening takes place this Friday August 10th at 6pm at the Phil Martin Centre in Moss Side.
The screening takes place on the anniversary of the riots triggered by the shooting by police of Mark Duggan, and is hosted by BARAC (Black Activists rising against the cuts). The film charts the struggles for justice of the families of people who have died in police custody.

Kate Hudson said: ‘Over 1,000 people died in policy custody in England between 1969 and 1999. But no police officer has ever been convicted of any of the deaths. This remarkable film exposes the reality of this deeply shocking figure and calls us to action for justice. Time does not erase the crimes.’

There will be a discussion after the film, including family members of those who have been killed. Please join us at the Phil Martin Centre, 141-143 Princess Road , Moss Side, Manchester M14 4RE. It’s time for justice.

Kate and the Respect campaign team will be taking their message to Manchester Central again on Saturday, meeting at 12 noon at the party rooms at Hilton House, Hilton Street , Manchester M1 1EL .

Press Release 2: For interview/comment please phone 07739 184 335

Twitter: @kate4manchester

Facebook: Kate4Manchester

Website: www.kate4manchester.org

Thursday, 9 August 2012

'The gods of economics have failed'

As was entirely predictable, and predicted, the bankers have simply taken the money and refused to part with it back into productive investment in the economy. The economic statistics attest to mounting misery - a weaker recovery from the initial crisis than from the Great Depression, now a double-dip recession worse than any in 50 years, manufacturing and construction slumping, shocking contraction across the economy as a whole. And the Prime Minister pledges that the savage austerity will carry on for the rest of the decade.

Read George Galloway's latest article in full here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Labour stalwart backs Respect candidate for Manchester Central

Former Labour MP for Halifax, Alice Mahon, is backing Kate Hudson , Respect candidate for the Manchester Central by-election on 15th November.

Mrs Mahon said: ‘Excellent news that Kate Hudson , General Secretary of CND and well-known political activist, is to stand in the Manchester Central by-election. I have worked with Kate on many campaigns. Highly intelligent and articulate she is totally committed to a fairer more equal society.

If we are to stop the privatisation of health, and education, the introduction of work for no pay, and a continuation of the lousy neo-con economics that have done so much damage to our country, then we have to start electing people like Kate who have the courage to take the fight for a more equal society to the heart of government. The people of Manchester Central deserve nothing less.’

‘When Labour stops being for labour, then the voting has to change’

I am really proud that Kate Hudson is the Respect candidate for Manchester Central. Read her article here about why she’s standing.