Friday, June 12, 2009

Another week

We had the very sad news yesterday that our very dear friend Jan Webster had died that morning in University College Hospital. We last saw her in March, and last heard from her when she sent Lindsay a birthday card at the end of last month, so it was shockingly sudden.

Was it Harold Wilson who said a week's a long time in politics? Since I wrote a week ago, the Euro-election results have quitened the Labour rebels, who can see that if they rock the boat, as Hazel Blears suggests in her self-indulgent lapel brooch, and there is a snap general election, they'll all be swept away. If the headless chickens have any sense left in the rest of their bodies, they will lay off, because it could hardly get any worse, with the economic situation improving, they might save a few seats from the wipe-out. In the few weeks of this Parliament that remain, we need to address the allowances scandal, and to reform the electoral system so that it reflects the views of the people. 63% of Conservative supporters, 67% of Labour supporters, and 78% Liberal Democrat supporters now back change to a proportional system.

Meetings this week with:

Dr Brad Blitz, researcher on statelessness.
Ursula Smartt, expanding her magistracy work, but looking for new projects now that she has left Thames Valley University
John Vine, the Monitor for the UK Borders Agency
UK representatives of the Bangladesh National Party, who raised three main issues: their exclusion from Parliamentary processes; lack of consultation over the Tipaimukh Dam, and the alleged murder in custody of key witnesses to the BDR massacre.
Senator Eve Bazaiba Masudi, member of the main oppostion party in the DRC, the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and is also the President of the Congolese Women's League for the 2011 elections.
Hassan Mushaime', Leader of the Haq Movement in Bahrain and effectively Leader of the Opposition. He and many others were released from custody as a result of international pressure, but there are still political prisoners and the repression continues.

Wednesday evening I attended a reception to mark the 40th anniversary of Survival International, and Thirsday evening I chaired a Question Time format meeting at the Royal Commonwealth Society to discuss the role of the Commonwealth in protecting indigenous peoples in member states.

Joined in a question on Thursday, about UK and other foreign asistance to Iraq on rebuilding the infrastructure of schools, hospitals etc, destroyed in the war.

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