UKIP responds to MP’s radio interview
Letter of the Week: Aleks Lukic, UKIP Dewsbury, Batley and Spen
An open letter to Tracy Brabin, as a Batley and Spen resident, I am writing with concerns about your recent appearance on Radio IMWS.
Firstly, you claimed that the report on the Iraq War ‘specifically, unequivocally says Tony Blair did not lie to Parliament.’
This is not true at all. The report did not say whether Blair lied or not, but it did say that there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein when we invaded Iraq.
You then said ‘we cannot also forget that he did bring three Labour governments.’ Why would you try to defend Blair at all, let alone in this way? Nothing else he did can compare to the devastation in Iraq.
You next went on to say ‘More than ever we need the country to see that actually the Labour Party’s getting back on its feet. It’s getting back united. It’s fighting against Brexit.’
Most people across all communities in Batley and Spen voted to leave the EU, as you will know. So why do you want to fight against our wishes? Why would we accept that?
You were later asked how you would hold Kirklees Council to account over inadequate children’s services.
Your response was that, although you were disappointed, ‘it’s really hard for our Labour council because the cuts are from the Government and we in the North are paying the price for it.’
It is wrong to blame others for the serious failures which Ofsted found at the council.
In light of this, how can residents trust you to challenge the council and make sure vulnerable children are looked after properly?
I was then appalled by your response to a question about the far-right.
You said ‘Paul Nuttall likes to think that UKIP is going to stride the nation, and we’re all going to be Ukippers and have those attitudes.’
You might not know that I am a teacher employed in a local school. If you would suggest that I have far-right attitudes, then that could cause real problems for my livelihood.
I can only be glad that most people do not seem to agree with you about UKIP and its four million supporters. But still, will you admit your mistake and issue a public apology to prevent any possible issues for me at work?
For all our sakes in Batley and Spen, I hope you realise that what you are saying is not going to win people over. 78 per cent of us did not support you in your by-election.
I haven’t even mentioned your comments on local segregated communities. I could write another whole letter about that!
In response, Tracy Brabin MP wrote to Mr Lukic.
Dear Aleks Lukic,
You bring up a number points, let me respond to each on an individual basis.
Brexit – let me be absolutely clear, I heard the voice of the country and people of Batley and Spen in last summer’s referendum loud and clear – we are leaving the European Union.
I may have misspoke in the interview but my position and voting record hasn’t changed.
I’m determined to get the best possible deal for Batley and Spen in the Brexit negotiations and I will use my position as your MP to do so.
As I’m on record as saying, I do not wish the hinder or delay the submission of Article 50 in any way, as evidence of this, I have already voted in the House of Commons on a motion which called on the Government to submit Article 50 ‘no later than March 31, 2017’.
Tony Blair – The three successive Labour Governments did an enormous amount of good for our community. Under Labour we saw record investment in schools, brought class sizes down, record results in our schools, introduced the Winter Fuel Allowance, the creation of Sure Start, half a million children out of poverty, peace in Northern Ireland, hospital waiting times at a record low and the cluster bomb banned.
Contrast that with the situation today, Sure Start centre closures, food bank queues growing, in work poverty on the up, child poverty rising again and vital NHS services under threat.
While I need no lessons on the Iraq War, indeed I left the Labour Party for a time because of it, I refuse to hide away from my belief that Labour Governments are much better for Batley and Spen than Conservative ones.
Children’s services – I’m not sure if you had the opportunity to listen to the interview in full as I didn’t blame Government cuts for the Ofsted inspection result.
What I said was the report was very disappointing, I’d spoken to Council Leader David Sheard, a senior official at the council and that it was a small mercy that no child had been put in harm’s way.
Thankfully new procedures have been put in place by Kirklees Council and I know you’ll join me in wishing everyone involved well as the current situation simply isn’t acceptable.
On the other hand it is undoubtedly true that unprecedented cuts to local government budgets have made delivering top-quality services much more difficult.
UKIP – firstly, let me say, of course I do not wish to see you lose your job, and I hope you know my comments were in no way intended to do so.
If they do cause any problems with your employer, please let me know and I’ll send an urgent clarification. Yes, the question I was asked referenced the term ‘far right’ but it also mentioned Angela Merkel.
Merkel is one of the most high profile and successful politicians in the world, that’s why in my entire answer I referenced other ‘mainstream’ political parties and politicians, Marine Le Pen in France, Norbert Hofer in Austria and your party, UKIP.
I fully respect the decision thousands in Batley and Spen made to vote for UKIP at the last general election, but I won’t shy away from highlighting stances I don’t agree with, the party’s thirst to further privatise the NHS which has time and time again resulted in poorer services or cutting taxes for the richest which means less into the Government coffers and less to areas like our community.
Despite our differences, I hope we can do our politics by open debate, discussion and in a respectful way.
I appreciate you took the time to email me on this matter, I’m sure Radio IMWS are pleased to hear you are a listener and I look forward to continuing our discussions soon.
New challenges for us in 2017
From: Ednan Hussain, Dewsbury Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Spokesperson
The year 2016 will be remembered for better or worse, as one that changed all our lives – and perhaps more importantly, those of the children and young people who will shape all our futures.
Britain voted narrowly to leave the European Union.
None of us will know the real consequences for some time, probably years rather than months.
True, the sky did not fall in the day after the referendum, but the pound quickly dropped in the currency markets, making foreign holidays more expensive for everybody.
The more serious and long term consequences have yet to be seen, but there are worrying signs.
I fear that Brexit is a self-inflicted economic mistake that we could well do without in a very competitive world.
I campaigned to remain in the EU and make no apologies for that.
Some 48% of my fellow voters felt the same way. The Brexiteers tell us to accept the vote and move on.
But what is it we are supposed to accept? They don’t know. And would they have accepted an equally close vote to remain? I think we all know the answer.
But unexpectedly the year has ended on a much more positive note for the Liberal Democrats than we could possibly have imagined.
A string of by-election successes in council elections, including here in Kirklees, was capped by winning in Richmond Park in London, overturning a huge Conservative majority.
Events elsewhere in the world deserve far more attention than they get from politicians living in their ivory Trump towers.
Events in the Middle East are a tragedy of huge proportions, and it’s innocent civilians on all sides who come off worst when leaders cannot see beyond their narrow short-term interests.
What is clear at the end of this tumultuous year across the world is that standing up for liberal values, for openess, diversity and freedom from conformity is more important than ever before.
By defending the rights of minorities and of freedom of speech, we defend our own rights to be different.
I am an optimist. 2017 will see new opportunities and new challenges. Let us all dedicate ourselves to working together, across culture, race and faith, to make the world a better place.
That is the best Christmas present we can give each other and the communities we love.
A fresh look at Chinese culture
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
I called at the ‘Impressions’ gallery in Bradford recently to see its latest exhibition: ‘The Queen, the Chairman and I’ by Kurt Tong, an award-winning photographer.
The exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China from British rule. Hong Kong is a place of great beauty.
Former Labour MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary Denis Healey, a keen photographer, described the view over Hong Kong from the peak as one of the wonders of the world in his autobiography ‘The Time Of My Life’.
Margaret Thatcher once said she would never surrender sovereignty, but was persuaded otherwise.
Ceding Hong Kong to Britain was seen as a humiliation with no benefit, its loss of sovereignty put it at the mercy of foreign powers.
When the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, as many as 100,000 people a month fled to Hong Kong and in the 1980s and 1990s the economy boomed.
The exhibition takes a fresh look at Chinese culture. Kurt Tong will give an artist’s talk on Saturday January 21 at the Impressions gallery, or you can attend a workshop as part of a special cultural events programe presented with the Business Confuscius Institute at the University of Leeds.
From: ‘JS’, Batley
Your old world is rapidly fading – you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changing,” were the words of a Bob Dylan song.
Over the years we have seen how the state has failed the British people...
Lessening the means of defending ourselves;
Giving away powers to the unelected European Union;
Failure to act on the promise to reduce bureaucrats in the NHS, governing bodies, and think-tanks;
Failure to control excessive immigration;
Weakening police forces;
Allowing house prices to sky-rocket out of the reach of most people;
Selling our best companies – Jaguar, Rolls Royce, British Steel, Cadbury’s and even our ports etc;
Rapidly increasing government and public debt;
Selling our gold at rock-bottom prices – Gordon Brown;
Pussyfooting with the politically-correct EU Court of Human Rights, as regards to cases supporting
Foreign aid being wasted on buying restaurant chains, hotel chains, shopping trips for dictators and their wives, entertainment and even gambling;
Banking corruption – no-one made accountable or punished. It’s always just ‘lessons will be learned’.
The list could go on and on. The whole system needs a giant facelift.
It is clear that matters just can’t be left solely to the likes of Cameron, Blair, Heath, Brown, Major, Clegg, Merkel, Hollande and Sturgeon.
We must have more ‘direct democracy’ by the people, because it is clear that our views, and visions, are proved correct more often than our elected dictators.
Local footy links
From: Harold Laycock, Mirfield
Last Wednesday evening Salomón Rondón scored a hat-trick of goals with his head, playing for West Brom against Swansea City.
However, back in 1953, whilst playing for Huddersfield Town against Everton, Jimmy Glazard scored four goals all with his head.
These were all from crosses from Victor Metcalfe, a local Ravensthorpe lad who went on to play for England.