The race to replace Don Foster as MP for Bath

Don
The race to replace my old boss, Don Foster MP, has finally formally got going.

The Bath Chronicle reported that the short-listed candidates to stand on the Lib Dem ticket for Bath in 2015 are:

  • Chris Lucas
  • Steve Bradley
  • Manda Rigby (Lib Dem, Abbey)
  • Andy Furse (Lib Dem, Kingsmead)
  • Martin Turner
  • Wera Hobhouse

I have written before about how big a pair of shoes they have to fill with the departing of Don Foster. But on initial reflection there are some extremely competent candidates on the shortlist to stand in what might be one of the few truly safe Lib Dem seats.

I wish all the candidates the best of luck. I would also love to hear who you want to see as the next MP for Bath and why…let me know in the comments below.

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The rather droll UKIP joke…

UKIP (aka the people’s army) have launched their campaign ahead of May’s European elections. The campaign attacks establishment thinking focusing on concerns of ordinary Brits. Who better to head up the campaign (funded by ex-Tory donor and millionaire Paul Sykes) than son of a stockbroker, the privately educated city boy, Mr Nigel Farage? Who says UKIP don’t have a sense of humour?  

Ukip poster campaign
UKIP’s European election campaign was today launched with a bang. Their (racist?) posters have caused controversy, shock and also a fair amount of TV coverage for UKIP.

But there is more than just a touch of irony in this campaign.

The posters nail the core issues that voters keep saying they are most worried about… the economy, immigration, and of course, jobs. But threaded throughout is their ‘core message’ that they are the party of the people standing up for ordinary Brits.

With either a splendid sense of humour or a terrifying sense of self-delusion, UKIP have even started referring to themselves as ‘the people’s army’.

You have to laugh don’t you (or you might cry)? Here is the privately educated stockbroker, Nigel Farage, heading up a campaign that is funded by ex-Tory millionaire Paul Sykes, lamenting the ‘establishment’ and ‘vested interests’.

In a way it is all quite droll.

Worryingly though, against all odds, I am not sure the electorate have spotted the joke.

UKIP are not exactly shy about their vested own interests. Hynd’s Blog is no Private Eye. Just yesterday in that little known publication, The Daily Telegraph, millionaire Mr Sykes wrote quite openly about why he has pumped £1.5 million personal pounds into the latest UKIP poster campaign. In the article he finishes by chillingly saying he will ‘do whatever it takes’.

Can people really not spot the contradiction here? A party stuffed full with disgraced Tories suddenly becoming the voice of the people?

I mean really….do people honestly believe that a party chaired by Neil Hamilton is really the party that is planning to stand up for ‘ordinary Brits’? The same Neil Hamilton whose Conservative career came to an end for accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from Harrods boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, in exchange for asking parliamentary questions…

If I stopped looking at the polls I could be convinced that UKIP was just a rather droll joke, but then I am reminded that this is the party that many tip to win May’s elections.

How very terrifying.

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Watch: MEPs perform rap battle

A few weeks ago I reported on a story that was circulating about a planned rap battle in the European Parliament in an effort to win over ‘youth votes’.

It seemed too good to be true, but no…here it is.

I…am…lost…for…words!

Hat tip to Brussels based journo Andy Carling for tweeting this!

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Former Stroud College student, Sajid Javid MP appointed as Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities

Sajid
Sajid Javid, a former student at the FE Stroud College, has been appointed new Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities after the controversial resignation of Maria Miller MP.

Javid has been widely hailed as a rising star within the Conservative Party and is the first of the 2010 in-take of MPs to hold such ministerial responsibilities.

Javid, unlike the majority of his now cabinet colleagues attended a comprehensive school before attending Stroud’s FE college. He went onto study Economics and Politics at Exeter University before moving straight into the banking industry.

In 2010 he was elected the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove.

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UKIP & Liberal Democrat MEPs vote against gender pay equality

Antony Hook – the Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for the South East of England this week tweeted this picture.

UKIP

Rightly, he points out that UKIP MEPs were either absent or voted against a European Parliament motion calling for the equal pay of male and female workers. This motion received a massive 87% support from across the political spectrum but not from UKIP.

What Antony Hook might not have realised though is that his Liberal Democrat colleague George Lyon also voted against the motion alongside two other ALDE MEPs.

I look forward to his infographic highlighting this.

Shame on any MEP who voted against this motion…Lib Dem, UKIP or Tory (note no Labour or Green MEPs voted against the motion)!

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Why Maria Miller should resign as a MP

Press regulation deal
Maria Miller (still) MP has today resigned
, no not as a MP, but just as the Culture Secretary.

In case you missed it, Miller resigned because of the growing pressure on her after it was revealed she cheated the tax payer out of £45,000 (or £5,800 depending on whether you believe independent parliamentary commissioner or a collection of her fellow MPs).

The Prime Minister responded to her resignation letter saying he was ‘sad’ and that he hoped she would be able to return to cabinet ‘in due course’.

I’m sorry….what!?!

If these expenses on a second home (which all MPs are entitled to) were claimed my Maria Miller as a MP then why oh why has only resigned as the Culture Secretary and not as a MP?

In reality this is not Maria Miller resigning – this is more a shifting of her priorities within The House of Commons and taking a significant pay cut (backbench MPs like Maria Miller still get £67,060 a year).

As commentator Owen Jones noted:

This is why I fully support her fellow Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith’s, call for introducing a right to recall for the electorate. In a Conservative Home blog he argued:

“If events cause a majority of constituents to lose confidence in their MP, they should have the right to remove that MP.”

I would argue that the events have cause Miller’s constituents to lose confidence.

Goldsmith concluded his blog by saying:

If anything good emerges from the Maria Miller affair, it will be a build-up of pressure on the political establishment to honour its early promise, to trust the people, and to adapt our democracy to the modern age.”

Maria Miller is still a MP because of a deficit of democracy. She is there because her electorate don’t have the power to kick her out.

The ever out of touch Prime Minister seems to think she has a future on the frontbench but I would suggest her constituents might think otherwise.

Until this deficit in our democracy is plugged though, we all need to be calling for MPs like Miller to actually resign, not just for her to take a frontbench sabbatical until the media storm clears.

Ask her to resign:

UPDATE:

A great spot over at Labour List – In 2008 Maria Miller called for MPs caught fiddling expenses to face a ‘recall mechanism’… 

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UKIP – less popular but here to stay?

423px-Europarl_logo.svg
I have written before about why I thought that UKIP would, like other far-right groups, rise and fall in the polls. I expected the May 2014 elections to represent their high before starting to crumble before the 2015 elections.

However, a new FT/Populus poll today shows that most of those planning to vote UKIP in May are also planning on supporting the party in 2015. This could be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives in key marginal seats. The Lib Dems however would surely gain from a strong UKIP turnout in 2015 as they fight their marginal seats against divided votes.

As Lord Ashcroft pointed out last month, these findings also question the effectiveness of the proposed Tory ‘Vote UKIP get Labour’ messaging planned for the next general election. Most UKIP voters don’t care if they get Cameron or Miliband. It would appear that a ‘they’re as bad as each other’ feeling is permeating UKIP supporters.

However, the FT/Populus poll also shows support for UKIP for the May 2014 elections at a relative low of 25%. Significantly 2 percent behind the Conservatives and 6 percent behind Labour. This is a far cry from UKIP’s aim of topping the polls in May 2014.

The FT/Populus poll also spells bad news for The Green Party giving them just a 3% share of the national vote (about half the lowest vote share they secured anywhere in England and Wales in 2009)!

You can see the detailed results here.

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Watch the first of the Al Jazeera series on access to medical morphine

aljazeera011613I occasionally link here bits of my work with the African Palliative Care Association that I think could be interesting to a wider audience.

Here is a short Al Jazeera report on access to morphine in Uganda that I helped coordinate. It serves as a nice introduction to the subject that leaves millions suffering from perfectly preventable pain.

The film was shown on repeat last week. On Thursday they had our Executive Director, Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, on to speak about the subject. You can watch the interview here:

In Uganda, a regional leader in terms of medical morphine availability, only one in ten people who need medical morphine have access to it!

For more information:

Help out:

At the moment millions of Africans suffer terrible pain because they don’t have access to really basic pain medication that many people in Europe take for granted. If you feel like I do that no-one should be left to die in pain then please consider:

 

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Having depression in public life

mind_logoWill Sandry, a Liberal Democrat Cllr on Bath and North East Somerset, has announced that he is taking a minimum of 3 month leave to give himself time to address what he describes as his “depressive illness”.

Will has had the deeply difficult situation of having what is essentially a personal and private issue forced into the public light. The silver lining is that people have, so far at least, responded with empathy and support even in the usually rancid comments section of the local paper.

Will’s honesty about his illness will no doubt make a small difference to people in and around Bath. It will help raise awareness of the nature and severity of depression (about one in ten of us will be affected by clinical depression at some point in our lives although the symptoms of this can vary massively – statistically that is around 8,000 of Bath’s 80,000 residents).

My heart goes out to Will because I have seen the impact depression can have on people’s lives and I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be to then have to air your own depression publicly for people to pick over and worry about.

I often feel a twinge of unease when private matters such as a divorce are mulled over in public. This feeling is somehow amplified when the private matter is a condition the person has no control over and which leaves them feeling vulnerable and out of sorts anyway.

In light of this I have no idea how Will is feeling at the moment but I send him my heartfelt best wishes for the coming months.

More information:

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WATCH: The Green Party EU political broadcast here

Have a sneak preview of The Green Party political broadcast.

It’s nice, but once again…it is missing the three simple things I was hoping to see from The Green Party:

  • Talking about issues that matter to people (economy, immigration, unemployment etc)
  • Getting across a ‘feeling’  of what The Green Party stand for (they even used the acronym TTIP!!!)
  • Leaving the electorate clear on what their position is on the EU.

As a result I cannot see it shifting significant numbers of voters.

Anyway, it’s quirky so enjoy:

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A vote for UKIP in Stroud is a vote against science

ukip
My local paper, The Stroud News and Journal, this week published a letter from the UKIP perspective parliamentary candidate, Caroline Stephens. In the article Ms Stephens argues ‘that the climate has always been changing’ and that the local Greens should leave poor old Mr Patterson (the current climate change sceptic Tory Environment Minister) alone.

For those of you who are not familiar with the environmentalist epicentre which is Stroud, this move is akin to turning up to the WOMAD music festival to argue why you thought, not that you just didn’t like world music, but that it didn’t actually exist.

The reaction she received in the SNJ was comparable to a very verbal booing off stage. It was a splendid mixture of disbelief, outrage and bewildered humour.

But for every Stroudie who commented on the article, there are probably hundreds more who were taken in by her half-truths.

And so, once again, I feel honour bound, for the sake of anyone who is even considering lending her a vote, to highlight the pure idiocy of what she (and many other UKIPpers) actually thinks:

Point 1 – She writes:

If climate had never changed, the world would still be in say the Jurassic period maybe. If climate didn’t vary from one place to another sun seekers would not likely prefer southern Spain to the north of Scotland for their sun bathing holidays.

The first sentence is about as idiotic axiomatic and a non-sentence as me saying ‘if the Sun wasn’t there then there would be no life on this planet’.

I look forward to her speculation about where we would be without gravity.

Her second sentence shows a misunderstanding (or purposeful confusion?) of the fact that when we talk about global warming, we are talking about the globe, not what the weather is like in Spain.

Up to this point she is slightly odd but nothing too harmful.

Point 2 – She writes:

Currently there has been no statistically significant global warming for around 17 years (depending on which dataset is used).

I love the proviso here… “depending on which data set you use”. Perfect.

I think she is referring to the disparity between surface temperature and ocean temperature. If so, our friends over at Skeptical Science (who have devoted quite a lot of time to myth busting) write:

“Records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon (Figure 1).  More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the surface air temperature.”

So that explains the surface temperature recordings to which I assume she refers (but this is hard to tell when her myths are written with no sources to support them).

You can read more about why the earth has been getting warmer in the last 17 years here.

Point 3 – She then references Prof John Cristy:

Yes, her only real half reference is the same John Cristy profiled here. Lol.

Point 4 – One has to ask how there were so many storms and floods going back to the nineteenth century and before. No one had even thought of blaming humankind for the weather then although the alarmists of the day did blame so called witches for ‘cooking’ the weather? Weather (rain) not climate change has been the cause of floods which have been exacerbated by the European Union’s discouraging dredging of waterways in the name of creating wetland wildlife habitats.

Just wow…of course, it is the EU’s fault!

Right, let’s keep this simple. Rain (weather) is different to climate. But the climate can impact on extreme weather events (this was the very basic point that Green Cllr Sarah Lunnon was making that sparked this bizarre response from Ms Stephens).

If you want to know exactly how climate change might impact on extreme weather events you can read this 2012 IPCC report.

A slightly more credible source than her…oh wait…none existing source.

Point 5 – (I skip a bit here as it all relates to extreme weather and frankly, I’m getting a bit bored). But towards the end she writes:

Thank goodness there are a few climate rationalists left in the Coalition to try to defend our way of life.

Sigh. “Climate rationalist”. She is of course referring to Owen Patterson who I think broke a record a few months back with the most number of climate change myths spouted on national radio.

Read this blog on his (would be comic if it wasn’t so depressing) appearance on the BBC’s Any Questions.

The Greens have my absolute backing when they call for the sacking of this man who seems to be able to ignore basic climate science.

In short, the whole letter consisted of half-truths, misinformation and vague unsupported ideas that I felt needed to be tackled .

But I look forward to Ms Stephen’s (fully referenced with peer reviewed science) response.

Until this happens though I hope the good people of Stroud will back a candidate/party that actually uses science to base their views (and policies on).

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I have malaria, but so did over 2 million others last year alone!

anopheles_gambiae
Yesterday I found out that I have malaria. For those of you who haven’t had malaria before I can promise it is no fun. The symptoms come in waves but yesterday I took myself off for a blood test because I had a driving headache, aching bones and muscles, felt like I needed to vomit and was having hot and cold flushes all morning.

As I say, it is no fun.

Here in Uganda though malaria is an alarmingly common occurrence.  90% of the country is considered by the WHO to have ‘high transmission’ rates. This is partly explained because it is a tropical country with lots of Anopheles mosquitoes (who pass on the parasite when they bite you).

But there are also sociological factors. Anopheles mosquitoes predominantly bite humans at night. If you sleep under a mosquito net this massively reduces your chances of getting malaria. There is a big NGO drive in Uganda to distribute nets (and research suggests that most people who get them use them) but millions in Uganda still sleep without the nets.  Only a few stupid westerns actually chose to sleep, without a net, under the stars on top of a rock after a day’s rock climbing!

But this issue is not limited to Uganda, over half the world’s population live in areas at risk of malaria.

In 2012 the WHO recorded 207 million cases of malaria worldwide. Out of these 207 million, 627,000 died. Although the disease affects large parts of the world, the deaths caused by malaria are an overwhelmingly African issue. 90% of malaria deaths in 2012 occurred in Africa.  African children are especially at risk – 460,000 African children died before their fifth birthdays.

But this is the real travesty of the situation – malaria, with early diagnosis, is completely treatable.  With early diagnosis and a simple course of medication malaria is treatable and leaves the patient (normally) with no long-term effects.

Because I went to the hospital quickly and started my medication within a few days of showing symptoms, in all likelihood I should be back to my old self in the next 2 to 3 days. So for the friends and family reading this, I’m fine, you’ve got nothing to worry about!

And there is some more good news, since 2000, the WHO has recorded a drop in malaria fatalities in Africa by 49% – this is largely through greater prevention methods (such as net distribution).

Malaria is one of the big killers. In the 21st century it doesn’t have to be like that.

For more information:

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5 points to look out for in the Labour Party political broadcast tonight

The Labour Party Political Broadcast was today launched and will be hitting your TV screens later this evening.

You can also watch it here:

Here are 5 interesting points to look out for as you watch it:

  • The first point is to note how many times they use the phrase ‘under David Cameron’ opposed to their more traditional ‘Under this Tory government’. There is a very obvious reason for this. Since coming to power in 2010, David Cameron’s personal approval rating has fallen from 57% satisfied/26% dissatisfied to 37% satisfied/56% dissatisfied. In short, Cameron has become a liability at the polls and Labour are looking to play on that.
    2010 Cameron ratings
    2014 Cameron ratings
    Source
  • The second point to note is that the whole broadcast is talking about one thing – the economy! As I wrote yesterday, the economy remains top of the list of voter concerns. This makes sense then for the Labour Party to hammer home a message that we are experiencing a cost of living crisis. The question though, that might make or break the 2015 election, is whether or not the economy remains on top of the voter concerns list as the government continues to push its message of a recovering economy. Already we can see a big drop in the last year:
    issues-facing-britain-economy-preeminence
  • With such focus being placed on the economy, one wonders if UKIP and/or the Conservatives will focus on immigration (that consistently remains high on voter concerns). If so, we could see a bigger than expected shift to UKIP from former Labour voters. This in itself might make or break the Euopean Parliament elections in May 2014.
  • They have audacity, but they know the electorate have short memories. At 1:25 into the broadcast they attack the Liberal Democrats (note attack on the party rather than Clegg) for breaking their tuition fees pledge…. They mention student debt but not that Labour introduced tuition fees and then swiftly tripled them. It is this assumption, that has so often been proved to be right, that the electorate have short term memories, which leads me to believe the Liberal Democrats will make a near to full return to strength between 2015 and 2020.
  • Lastly, and I had to re-watch the video a few times to check this, did you notice that every single person who is in focus is white and, let’s be honest, quite middle-class looking? Could this be reverse Thatcherism? Trying to convince the squeezed middle classes that they are in fact working class? Need further convincing…check out the butter dish in the kitchen at the start, who owns (and uses) a butter dish?

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3 simple things the Green Party can do before the next election

The Green Party has a list of progressive policies that have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate. Despite this they have consistently failed to perform well elections.

Here are 3 simple things The Green Party could do to increase their chance of success in the up-coming May 2014 European elections:

1) Talk about issues that important to the electorate

This doesn’t mean selling out on core principles of social justice and environmentalism but simply relating them to ordinary people’s concerns and hopes.

At the top of this list (at the moment at least) has to be the economy but issues around immigration, unemployment and the NHS should all be regular features of their messaging.

issues-facing-britain-economy-preeminence

Note: The environment does not appear in the top 10.

2) Start thinking in terms of ‘voter’s feelings’ rather than policy outcomes

As I have argued elsewhere, UKIP have been soaring in the recent polls exactly because they have been able to install a general feeling amongst the electorate (despite having next to no coherent policies) about ‘standing up for Britain’.

The Green Party stands in complete contrast to UKIP in this sense – great policies but no one really knows what they stand for.

Over the coming couple of months then I hope to hear Greens talking, not about policies such ‘The Financial Transaction Tax’ or even the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, but instead about ‘principles’ such as ‘standing up for a fairer economy that puts people before big business.

3) Be bold, be seen as pro-EU

The Green Party has traditionally held quite a complex position on the EU. They opposed the UK joining the euro for example but support membership of the EU. They want an in/out referendum but are broadly an internationalist party.

In this election though The Green Party need to simplify their message to just ‘Yes to Europe, Yes to a referendum’. (this is one yes less than their current messaging). Why?

Well, for the first time in a long-time it looks like those who want to stay in the EU roughly match those who want to leave. The only difference is electorally if you pitch for the broadly pro-EU voters you only have the Lib Dems to compete against (opposed to the much better branded ‘No’ to EU UKIP).

There is a reason why the Lib Dems are branding themselves as the party of IN and that is because there are a lot of uncontested voters who strongly want the UK to stay part of the EU.

EU referendum
Oh and of course it doesn’t hurt to be seen to be trusting the electorate to make their own decisions (something which Labour have ruled out by all but ruling out a referendum)

Of course none of this replaces the basics in campaigning, the building up local parties, delivering leaflets etc etc. All it does is offer a few tips for what direction The Green Party need to be moving in. 

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A Green Party lesson in how not produce a political poster

Today the Green Party Campaigns team tweeted out this poster.

Green

This is a master class in how not to produce a political poster.

Why?

Let’s start by comparing it to perhaps the best political poster in recent times:

Obama

Can you spot the difference?

One is hugely positive, the other wallowing in its own doomsday imagery.

One has a clear and consistent message, the other is, at best, unclear.

One uses language that we can all appeal to, the other uses political and environmental jargon.

One serves as a mirror to the individual voter’s dreams and aspirations, the other appeals to a minority who are concerned about environmentalism.

I write this blog simply out of frustration and to reiterate what I have written elsewhere: That the Green Party have a list of science-based progressive policies that I honestly believe could transform communities and, significantly, have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate. And yet this popularity is rarely reflected at election time.

Why?

Because like it or not, their communications strategy has failed to communicate with the electorate a positive image of what they are working for.

This latest poster does nothing to rectify that.

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The headline no UK newspaper ran on today’s front pages – ‘Climate Change: “The worst is yet come”’

The New York Times yesterday reported on a new Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stating:

“Ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct. The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth…Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.”

And then comes the bombshell…

“And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said…”

The report goes onto highlight how climate change will impact on every single one of us. It drew out the example of food security as just one way that our changing climate will impact on us all.

With such clear and frankly terrifying predictions coming from the most authoritative source in the world on climate change, one would have hoped the editors of the main UK newspapers would hev cleared whatever they had lined up on their front pages.

It appears not…

If we browse through today’s front page we can see that no paper has chosen to cover these new revelations with the exception of one paper…The Guardian.

Worse still was listening to The Today Programme on BBC radio 4 who managed (I’m sure in the name of ‘BBC balance’) to find someone who once again wanted to cast doubt on the growing consensus of man-made climate change (If you’re still not sure if there is a scientific consensus around global warming then please click here).

As Gary Dunion quipped on twitter:

I understand that doomsday predictions don’t sell papers (unless it reinforces an existing belief system as with the case of many Guardian readers) but this is too serious for people and papers to ignore.

We desperately need action and for that to come about we desperately need a better educated public on the risks that climate change poses.

Can this happen though for as long as the main sources of new are driven by financial gain rather than public good?

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Watch the full EU Nigel Vs Nick debate

In case you missed it, here is the full Nick Vs Nigel debate on the EU ahead of May’s European elections.


If you read one thing on the debate, I can strongly recommend Adam Ramsay’s article on Vice UK.

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Scotland: No to independence campaign lumbered with George Galloway

George Galloway, March 2008
If ever there was a way to sway an undecided voter in the up-coming Scottish independence vote, it would be to place George Galloway, in all his odious rape apologizing, Assad excusing, conspiracy theory believing self, on the opposite side of the debate. 

It must have been with great cheer then within the Yes to Independence campaign that The Guardian today highlighted Mr Galloway’s previously little noticed “Just say ‘naw’” campaign - his months of campaigning for a no vote to independence. 

Already those supporting the no vote have responded with dismay:

He is a laughing stock to most, but to the ‘better together’ campaign, he is a walking liability. 

In such a tightly contested vote, could Galloway be what weights the scales towards a yes vote? 

Think I am overplaying this? Well…remember when he described North Korea as a ‘Cohesive, pristine, innocent culture’

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An African palliative care ‘No make-up selfie’

I today wrote this article for the Africa edition of ehospice news about why I posted a #NoMakeUpSelfie of myself on Facebook and why I donated money to the African Palliative Care Association (APCA)

DSCN4907

The ‘No make-up selfies’ trend has had extraordinary results. Cancer Research UK have reported that they have been donated over £2 million in just a few days.

While this social media trend has been dominated by those living in Australia, the UK and the US, sadly we know that cancer is a truly global problem. However, this global problem disproportionately impacts on low and middle income countries.

Indeed, we know that 70% of deaths caused by cancer are found in low and middle income countries.

The disparities don’t stop there. Here in Uganda, where the African Palliative Care Association is based, there is just one radiotherapy machine in the whole country. This one machine it is reported, can break down for weeks at a time.

In the UK by contrast, for a similar sized population, there are hundreds of radiotherapy machines available.

For almost every cancer patient in the UK there is access to basic pain control medications. Again though, just like the ‘No make-up selfies’ this is a luxury disproportionately enjoyed by those living in the UK, US and Australia.

recent study found that 4 billion people, over half of the world’s population, live in countries where regulatory barriers leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.

Part of what the African Palliative Care Association does is to campaign and lobby for everyone across Africa to have access to these pain medications. It is not a luxury that should only be enjoyed in developed countries but a fundamental human right that should be available to all.

ehospice reported last November that “Opioids are often unavailable [in Africa], and access is significantly impaired by widespread over-regulation that is pervasive across the region. In many countries access to strong painkillers such as morphine is impossible as they remain legally restricted.”

The results of this grim, often unspoken about, reality is that many cancer patients in countries like Uganda are diagnosed late and have little or insufficient access to treatments. A cancer diagnosis then is often a death penalty and this death comes with little support or access to pain medications.

There is no other way of saying this, cancer patients across Africa are too often left to die in considerable pain.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. All across Africa, the African Palliative Care Association are helping governments and other strategic partners to respond to this challenge.

If you feel, like everyone at the African Palliative Care Association does, that no cancer patient should ever be left to die in preventable pain then please support the ‘No make-up selfie’ spirit and post a photo of yourself on Facebook, donate, and ask others to support us.

Our work is only possible because of your support.  Please consider donating monthly whatever you can afford. The smallest of donations can have the biggest of impacts.

To donate, just click here.

More information:

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MEPs to perform rap battle to try and win over youth vote

rap battle
Go on…re-read that title. I shit you not!

Earlier today Brussels based journo Andy Carling tweeted a link out to his New Europe article highlighting a planned MEP rap battle that will try and win over young voters. My first thought was, ‘this has to be a spoof’…doesn’t it?’.

It seems it doesn’t.

A little bit of Googling seems to suggest that this is a real thing.

MEPs are actually going to enter, and be filmed, performing in a rap-battle in the belief that they are helping to win over the youth vote.

At this stage are you, like me, wondering which MEP in his/her right mind would agree to this?

Luckily for us, EU40 have already set up this events page which names and shames some potential MEPs. It names:

For the EPP (conservatives): Radvile Morkunaitè & Lara Comi

For the  S&D (socialists): Ismail Ertug & Sandra Petrovic Jakovina

For the ALDE (liberals): Vice-President Alexander Alvaro & Marietje Schaake

For the Greens: Ska Keller (both tbc)

Boy oh boy…do these MEPs employ Press Officers?

I mean…this is up there with the time Lempit Opik tried his hand at wrestling.

The event is on the 9th April in the Yehudi Menuin Room at the European Parliament with an after party at at Coco, Place Luxembourg. The event starts at 18:30!

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Filed under EU politics, Politics