• Lessons from history

    Spending my summer break pottering along the Baltic coast from Germany through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia is a reminder of how recently Europe saw horrific slaughters like those now on our television screens in Iraq and Syria. I write these words from Bialystok, where, seventy-five years ago, the Jewish community comprised almost two thirds of […]

  • Gaza, Palestine, Israel: time for the UN to impose a solution?

    The world has looked on in horror at the events of the past few weeks in Gaza. The sight of, in particular, children being killed and schools bombed has shocked public opinion, even among those traditionally supportive of Israel. But even if the latest cease fire holds, what then? A return to the previous status […]

  • The First World War

    The madness that saw millions of young people go out to slaughter each other on the battlefields of the First World War started 100 years ago today. Of course, on all sides, most were motivated by high ideals: to defend their country, to right a wrong, to do their duty. Killing people who had precisely […]

  • Credit where credit’s due?

    I’m always amused by the way people give credit for Britain’s economic fortunes exclusively to British governments, as if Britain were an economic as well as a geographical island, totally unconnected to the rest of the world. Opprobrium was heaped on the Labour government for the recession starting in 2009 – even though it was […]

  • With staff at Kirkwood hospice

    Kirkwood hospice

    On a gloriously sunny Saturday, it was a pleasure to be invited to Kirkwood Hospice‘s summer garden party and fundraising event in Huddersfield. The hospice provides invaluable medical, care and support services for people across the Kirklees area with long-term and life-limiting medical conditions. It also has an education programme, which aims to develop the […]

  • A view from Ypres

    Travelling back from Brussels to Yorkshire by car this time, we decided to go via Ypres (or Ieper, to give its proper name). It’s always moving to visit the area, with its countless war cemeteries, but never more so than on this 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The Menin gate […]

  • The lighter side of Parliament

    Aside from the serious work that goes on, most parliaments also have their amusing and quirky side. Perusing the bookshop at Westminster, you find plenty of books with anecdotes and tales of the lighter side of politics and some of the more colourful characters who have inhabited the building. The European Parliament too has its share of yarns and […]

  • A constructive agenda for Europe

    Had a productive weekend in Milton Keynes at Labour’s National Policy Forum. This is the body which does the detailed drafting of Labour Party policy, for submission to Labour Party conference for final approval. Of course, this year is particularly important, with the general election being only ten months away — so much of the work done this weekend will […]

  • Dishonourable exception

    In a democracy, people who want to change or undermine the system have the option to gather support and stand for election within that system — but they then have to decide what to do if they’re elected within the very system they want to break up. If you’re elected to a parliament of which you […]

  • Hill for Commissioner?

    After a good deal of speculation, David Cameron has unexpectedly nominated a little-known peer, Lord Hill, as Britain’s next European Commissioner. This is a bizarre choice. Following his car-crash of a negotiating strategy over Juncker’s nomination, Cameron desperately needs to claw back some British influence and credibility in the eyes of neighbouring countries by securing […]

  • Remembering Srebrenica

    This weekend, I spoke at two commemorations of the Srebrenica massacre — one in Leeds (at the Makkah Masjid mosque) and one in Bradford (at the town hall) — marking the 19th anniversary of the cold-blooded massacre of over 8000 Muslims in the Bosnian civil war. I visited Srebrenica three years ago. Like others in […]