Monday, July 07, 2008

Leamington Schools Political Conference.

I took part in a Political Conference for schools across Warwickshire in at the Spa centre in Leamington today.

The subject for the morning dealt with the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and whether British troops should stay in these countries.

I argued that the neglect of the international community to provide post conflict support in Afghanistan after the Russian War ended in 1989 allowed the country to be controlled by Warlords and the Taliban. Bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in 1996 and used it as a base to launch attacks against Taliban enemies and the West. Although success in this country is slow, we are making progress and are focusing on state building. A failed Terrorist state threatens the safety of the region, the West and the World.

With Iraq the story is different. There was no UN authorisation for the invasion and it is deemed by many to be illegal under international law. Our presence in Iraq is now part of the problem. We should shift our efforts to a diplomatic solution, focusing on state building rather then perpetuating a war we cannot win.

I was very impressed with the quality of the questions raised from the floor and we have an interesting and lively debate about the issues raised.

In the afternoon we discussed Immigration, and whether we should have tighter controls. I discussed the various types of immigration:

Those entering Britain legally from our former colonies or within Europe for example contribute in our skills market. Rather than imposing a state led, points or quota system as Labour and the Conservatives propose, I believe legal entrants to Britain who come here to work should be led by the market. Only this way can the market respond to the needs of our global economy.

I discussed how we should have a better system to handle asylum seekers and process their claim and how we need a strong border force to stamp out crimes such as People Trafficking, modern day slavery and international crime and terrorism.

There was some debate about the ghettoisation in some communities and a balance needs to be struck between people actually wanting to live in their own communities and be able to integrate into the nation as a whole.

Labour’s proposals to use ID Cards as a way of controlling immigration, introduced for immigrants only, created a lot of comment from the floor. I really cannot see how this would work. If only immigrants need ID cards, then for example someone here illegally say from Chechnya could just pretend to be from Poland an EU country, who would know the difference? What about someone born in this country, a third generation Muslim for example, how can he prove that he is British?

All in all a really good day with some lively issues.

Warwickshire Political Conference Notes - Monday 7th July.

As promised I have included some useful links to various websites with some background material on the subjects we discussed at the Political Conference today.

Please email me if you have any comments or questions on the issues discussed.


Council of Europe page on the issue of Human Trafficking.

Liz Lynne – West Midlands MEP Website

Poppy Project – Support for Women who are victims of Human Trafficking

Destination UK – BBC website dealing with Immigration

Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees.

UK Border Agency

Liberty – Page dealing with Asylum.

Office of National Statistics – immigration and emigration


Afghanistan – Wikipedia

Afghanistan – CIA world fact book

Taliban - Wikipadia



BBC Page on Iraq War

Stop the War Coalition.

The Iraq Commission

Article on the Iraq Commission – Independent

US Iraq Study Group

Friday, July 04, 2008

Leamington Town Councils response to the 'Options For Growth'

Cllr Bill Gifford has sent me a copy of Leamington Town Councils response to the 'Options For Growth' consultation. You can find a copy on our local Lib Dem website.

I find this captures my own thoughts very well and I feel it is important that the Town Council has a strong position on something that may affect the very heart of the town way into the future.

I welcome any thoughts you may have on where new homes should be built in the future.