Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, leader of Catholics in Glasgow, today called for an end to the ‘human rights scandal’ which forces asylum seekers into destitution.
He said as he signed a public petition against such forced destitution: ‘I’m sorry we have to make such efforts. They are only necessary due to the inhumane situation that is manifesting itself on our doorstep.’
When a person’s claim for asylum is refused, their accommodation and weekly allowance of around £70 is stopped. They are left homeless and with no money to feed or clothe themselves. They are forbidden to work at any time during the asylum seeking process.
Right now, Dje Bruno Masahi, is in that situation. He fled from the Ivory Coast almost two years ago when his life as a politician in the opposition party was under threat. In an emotional account of his day-to-day struggle to survive on the streets of Glasgow he said: ‘I fled my country looking for protection because my life was in danger. I did not get protection and now it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive.
‘It’s not just me – asylum seekers across Scotland are suffering. Something needs to be done about this situation.’
Recent research by Caledonian University showed that hundreds of people are made destitute by the UK Government’s policy. Some couch surf with friends. But another asylum seeker whose case is in process, can find their case is put in jeopardy if they house a destitute friend.
The night shelter for destitute asylum seekers in Glasgow is usually full. And the City Mission’s rough sleepers’ shelter – which has just opened for the winter – is expected to allow destitute asylum seekers in now, too. It is aimed at people who live rough on the streets of Glasgow.
Said Archbishop Tartaglia, who is also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland: ‘This Christmas, I have a particular concern for people in our own backyard who may be forced to shelter under a bridge in freezing conditions, in a doorway or on a cold floor – because they have been made compulsorily destitute.’
He has put out an appeal to those ‘in positions of civil authority’ to ease this suffering by allowing people the ‘basic human requirements of shelter and sustenance.’
Gary Christie, Head of Policy at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: ‘We are calling on the UK Government to provide basic support to all asylum seekers until they are given the right to remain here or until they leave this country.’
Eileen Baxendale, Chair of Refugee Survival Trust said: ‘It is unacceptable to leave people hungry and homeless on the streets of our cities.’
Almost 1500 people have signed the Stop Destitution petition in postcard format which the Archbishop signed. The postcards will be sent to the UK Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean. He took over from Damian Green MP in September. More than 20 organisations have also pledged support including, Amnesty International, Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland.
Details of what people can do to stop enforced destitution can be found on the website: www.stopdestitution.org.uk under LEARN. And the petition is there for those who wish to sign it. Caledonian University’s full survey and a summary, are also online there.
The Editor of the Big Issue, Paul McNamee, former captain of Motherwell football club, Stephen Craigan, and a polemic of politicians will be in Hampden Park on Friday 21 September for the weekly radio show ‘Brian Taylor’s Big Debate.’
Broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland from 12 noon till 1pm each Friday, the programme is based on questions from the audience. Said a programme spokesperson: ‘We look for questions on the most stimulating moral, political and social issues of the day – the current issues that will get people talking. The programme gives the audience the opportunity to challenge politicians, policy makers, writers and thinkers.’ Brief questions raising matters of genuine national interest and which are ‘newsy’ can be emailed to : firstname.lastname@example.org by 4pm on Thursday 20 September. To book a seat at the Debate which is broadcast live, go to : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-15190428 The location will be Lomond 2 Suite in Hampden Park on Letherby Drive Glasgow G42 9BA. Entry to the venue will be from 11am.
The politicians expected to spice up the debate will be Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw, Labour MSP James Kelly and local SNP MSP, James Dornan.
By Alieu Ceesay
The election season is upon us with one of the first hustings being Govanhill and Crosshill Community Council`s event on Monday16 April at Samaritan House in Coplaw Street.
Prospective candidates – aiming for one of the four seats in Southside Central ward – were quizzed by the public. Among the issues raised were social care, crime, privatising of council services, fuel poverty, benefits and the local economy.
The meeting was chaired by Iain MacInnes the Community Council`s Secretary, who called on the candidates to fight for the local community and to oppose all forms of privatisation in the city. He said: ‘There is a national debt but the austerity crisis is contrived. The need for the punitive, austerity measures being imposed on communities across the country, is a fallacy.’ He also questioned why so few resisted the ‘unsound, illogical economic orthodoxy.’
Moira Crawford, Green Party candidate, said that if elected on Thursday 3 May she would campaign for a city-owned energy company which would sell its surplus to the National Grid and use it to improve the City’s housing for the benefit of people. She also promised to work with residents and community organisations.
Labour Candidate Dr Soryia Siddique said she would fight for the building and refurbishment of local primary schools and the provision of up to five months of additional care for all three years olds as well as the creation of 1000 jobs each year for young people.
Anne Marie Millar has served the area as a Labour councillor for nine years and is now standing as an Independent candidate. She claimed her efforts achieved an investment of £13 million in housing for Govanhill. She promised to continue to work with residents, community organisations and the police to make neighbourhoods and streets safer and address knife crime and domestic violence; anti social behaviour and the regulation of private landlords. Although the crime rate has fallen the fear of crime still remains, she said.
Jahangir Hanif, SNP, who is seeking re-election to the Council, said it was time for regime change at the City Chambers. He pointed to the SNP’s successful campaign which halved the cost of chauffeured cars for councillors. He berated Labour’s record on ‘the state of our roads’ and was sure his party, ‘as the new majority,’ would do much better on infrastructure.
He added: ‘We will be campaigning to keep council tax frozen to help hard pressed households and for the council to do more to help local businesses create new jobs for young people.’
Robert McIlroy, Conservative, who is standing in Newlands and Auldburn ward represented local candidate Thomas Connor. The Conservative party would fight for weekly bin collections instead of fortnightly ones. ‘Waste must not be left uncollected for a long time,’ he said. He also advocated investment in roads and pavements.
William Bonnor, Scottish Socialist Party, emphasised the democratic accountability of the Council. ‘Local people should be consulted on the issues affecting them,’ he contended.
David Jago, Liberal Democrat, said rules must be enforced to ensure that private landlords are better regulated. In addition, he called for more money for housing.
Gavin Mc Nae, local resident, highlighted that none of the candidates had given recognition to the Community Council for mounting a sustained campaign on slum housing in the area.
Iain MacInnes told this reporter that it was the Community Council’s efforts that led to the Scottish Government taking notice of the dire housing problem. In March 2010, Housing and Communities Minister, Alex Neil said ‘hit squads’ could be set up to tackle Govanhill’s poverty and housing issues. Iain said: ‘this was translated into a ‘task force’ by Labour’s then Councillor, Anne Marie Millar. Through that, a hub was created to coordinate acute housing problems. But this put the issue into the doldrums. After being treated as a political football, the hub seems to be back on track.’
Iain said that the Community Council would continue to: ‘Campaign on housing in particular and on other relevant issues brought to our notice.’
One person asked if the panel would join him in opposing the current care ‘personalisation’ plans being presented as choice when, in reality, they were being used, cynically, to create cuts to services for vulnerable people and their families.
A question relating to the Commonwealth Games was: ‘How do the candidates feel about Glasgow hosting the ‘public relations’ front line for some of the countries which have abysmal human rights records?’
A member of the public said that money could be saved by abandoning the opening and closing ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games. ‘The money could be used to reinstate services cut by the Council. She went on: ‘The ‘Games are really about land deals and building contracts; there is little by way of a sustainable legacy for the people of Glasgow.’
‘It’s good to see politics is alive and can generate a good stooshie,’ commented Dr Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam after the Sunny Govan Radio’s hustings on Tuesday 26 April. Oxfam is a supporter of the 24 hour radio station which beams out across the whole of Glasgow and beyond.
Held in Kinning Park Church and chaired by media director Martin Paterson of Paterson Communications, the Southside Constituency contenders of Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Stephen Curran (Labour), Kenneth Elder (Lib Dem) and David Meikle (Conservative) had a sparky interchange and the audience took no prisoners either!
The biggest audience applause was during the question on the future of shipbuilding in Govan and Scotstoun when the questioner – Iain McInnes a community campaigner said: ‘We should be building ships for peace not war. Ferries for around the coast and sea-going structures for renewables is what we should be building.’
Nicola Sturgeon said she was proud of the local shipbuilders in what was her constituency before recent boundary changes.. ‘We should be 100% behind Govan and Scotstoun yards,’ she said. ‘Anyone who suggests they only got the work because they are a part of the UK, is doing them a great dis-service. It is because of their skills and their willingness to change and be flexible that they got the orders.’
David Meikle in making a point that the companies should be securing new contracts in new markets as defence cuts took effect, was rounded on by Nicola who said it was ‘Tory cheek’ to suggest that, when Conservatives had been responsible for massive cutting of defence jobs.
Stephen Curran wanted to see the River Clyde better used. ‘It has great potential. The only reason Govan yard is still open is because we are part of the UK. In an independent Scotland, shipbuilding would disappear. It is absurd for the SNP to suggest otherwise.’
Lib Dem candidate Kenneth Elder said technology and future generations had to be considered. ‘We should be thinking of extending the industry not neglecting the River Clyde. There are not enough craft on the river which is a common good asset. We need a longer vision for the Clyde,’ he added.
Audience concerns covered – travel expenses for job seekers attending interviews in the city; regeneration and the plight of pensioners in flats who want Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) to renovate their lifts, not install new ones. On that issue, the panel was unanimous that GHA had to listen to what the pensioners wanted. ‘I’ll be on the phone to GHA in the morning,’ said Nicola.
When the effect of cuts at the St Mungo centre for disabled people was aired, Stephen said: ‘People don’t listen enough or trust enough. We are all in this together and we need to learn to trust each other.’
The spectre of people trafficking increasing during the Commonwealth Games was raised. ‘We’ve got to recognise this happens and talk about it,’ commented Kenneth. ‘We can find out what London does for the 2012 Olympics and learn lessons from and co-ordinate with international agencies across Europe.’
In a bit of banter, Nicola said she liked Midge Ure’s music: ‘I supported him in the 1980s so I’m giving my age away!’ Ure’s concert was a free one on the night of the hustings and aimed at young folk. Labour accused the SNP of a serious breach of election laws. Commented David:’ I don’t know who Midge Ure is! I suppose that shows my age!’
Post Office closures, regeneration, mental health, human rights and Go Ape and Pollok Park were all subjects tossed around by the candidates with dexterity.
Heading up Oxfam’s Poverty Programme for Scotland, Dr Trebeck said she was delighted with the evening.
A team of first year media students from Cardonald College filmed the event. ‘We want the experience,’ said Amy Hamlan (18). ‘I’m looking for good shots,’ said Dan Lowrie (26). ‘We’ll be giving Sunny Govan good feedback,’ added Jordan McClymont (22). All aim to be directors or writer directors in tv.
By Martin Graham
Around 150 people filled a hall at the David Cargill Centre on Ledard Road to hear six political candidates outline their views and policy positions for the forthcoming Westminster election on May 6.
The event was organised by Langside Parish Church, who are currently using the David Cargill Centre as a base until their own church across the road is rebuilt following a fire.
With Minister David McLachlan chairing the event, the panel members were; Brian Smith – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Brian is a social worker and Unison rep from Castlemilk; Malcolm Fleming – SNP – Malcolm works for an international aid agency and lives in Shawlands; Shabnum Mustapha – Lib Dem – Shabnum works for a disability charity and lives in Shawlands; Davena Rankin – Conservative – Davena is a manager and Unison rep at Glasgow Caledonian University; Marie Campbell – Green – Marie works for Patrick Harvie MSP; Tom Harris MP – Labour – Tom is the sitting MP, and has held the seat since June 2001.
Each candidate spoke well, with Tom Harris in particular holding forth on his own views and making clear the difference between his opinions and the rest of the panel.
Questions from the floor provided good opportunities for the panel to expand on their answers and develop their views. It became apparent that in terms of policy, there was little to differentiate the parties.
The first question sought the panel’s views on Trident replacement – the £20bn plans to replace the submarines, missiles and warheads which make up the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
All candidates except Tom Harris and Davena Rankin spoke against Trident. The panel said that it was illegal, immoral and unnecessary.
Shabnum Mustapaha spoke in favour of a strategic defence review.
Tom Harris said that Trident may not be necessary for today but that we could not leave future generations without defences. He said that it was difficult to judge the situation from the comfort which Trident provided.
Marie Campbell stated that the money would be better spent on sustainable jobs, and Brian Smith said that our children would be pleased that we had got rid of Trident as it only encourages nuclear ambition in other countries.
The next question for consideration was immigration policy. Chairman David McLachlan explained about the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign pledge which each candidate was asked to sign. The pledge states that asylum seekers should be treated humanely, not locked up, and have the right to contribute to the UK while here, through working.
Tom Harris said that he would not sign the pledge as it would send a message that the UK is a soft touch and that relatively large sums of money could be earned by anyone coming here. All other candidates signed the pledge on the night.
Malcolm Fleming stated that most asylum seekers are genuine and that there were genuine ‘push factors’ which led to people seeking asylum in the UK, like the conflict in Somalia.
Malcolm said: ‘The Labour government is a disgrace and the word asylum is now a term of abuse. People arrive with skills then lose them because they cannot practice them.’
Davena Rankin committed to signing the pledge, saying :’The way we treat asylum seekers is a reflection on our society. Only 20-30,000 people per year seek asylum, and Dungavel is a disgrace.
Shabnum Mustapha said: ‘We should deport failed asylum seekers quickly. We have a proud tradition of welcoming refugees, and the UK is 17th in the list of developed countries for receiving refugees.’
Tom Harris said that it was a tough choice between locking up families together with their children or separating them. He had spoken to the Home Office about people spending too long in Dungavel before deportation.
Davena Rankin said: ‘The current asylum system is unfair, there are other ways to prepare families for departure, such as supported accommodation flats.’
At this point, an audience member asked if the Labour and Tory candidates had got their rosettes mixed up.
The candidates were asked what they would do to ensure climate change remained on the political agenda.
Shabnum Mustapha outlined LibDem plans to convert shipyards to make wind and wave power equipment. Davena Rankin confirmed Tory opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.
Malcolm Fleming explained how the SNP had implemented climate change legislation at Holyrood. Marie Campbell stated that the Greens would use the opportunity to rebuild society on a sustainable basis and overcome poverty in the process.
Brian Smith said: ‘Capitalism is the problem because resources are used in an unplanned system where growth is the only measure of success. We need a global perspective to overcome poverty. The Copenhagen climate conference failed because of China’s capitalist ambitions.’
Marie Campbell said that climate capture technology was largely unproved and that nuclear technology is expensive and unsafe.
One audience member raised the issue of potholes. All panel members agreed that the issue needed to be resolved.
Shabnum Mustapha suggested planting flowers in the holes, while Aileen Campbell pointed out that money spent on expensive projects like the Forth Bridge replacement and the M74 extension could be better used to repair the local road network.
Finally, the issue of banks was put to the panel. The Greens and Lib Dems favoured separating High Street banks from investment banks, with the Green favouring a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on bank profits to be re-invested in social enterprises.
The SNP candidate pointed out that the other G7 countries were still practising fiscal stimulus while the UK had stopped.
Brian Smith spoke in favour of a socially planned economy with banks in public ownership. Davena Rankin spoke in favour of regulating the banking sector, without the ‘light touch’ approach which created so many problems in recent years.
Towards the end, Malcolm Fleming quoted Scottish trade union legend Jimmy Reid, who said: ‘I didn’t leave the Labour Party, the party left me.’
That’s it! The General Election will be on Thursday 6 May. So check your name is on the voters’ roll as there is still time to add it before polling day.
The APRIL issue of the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW contains a constituency-by-constituency brief on who is standing for each of the Glasgow seats at Westminster.
Here is a summary:
Sitting MP John Robertson, Labour; Margaret Park, SNP; Natalie McKee, Lib Dem; Richard Sullivan, Conservative; Moira Crawford, Green Party; Mark Livingston, Communist.
Sitting MP Ann McKechin, Labour; Katy Gordon, Lib Dem; Patrick Grady, SNP; Martin Bartos, Green Party; Erin Boyle, Conservative; Angela McCormick, Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.
Sitting MP, Willie Bain, Labour; Billy McAllister, SNP, Ruth Davidson, Conservative; Eileen Baxendale, Lib Dem; Charlie Bailie, BNP; Graham Campbell, STUSC; Kevin McVey, SSP.
Sitting MP, John Mason, SNP; Margaret Curran, Labour; Hamira Khan, Conservative; Kevin Ward, Lib Dem; Joe Finnie, BNP.
Sitting MP Mohammad Sarwar, Labour, is retiring. His son Anas Sarwar, Labour, will carry the torch. Osama Saeed, SNP; Alistair Whitelaw, Green Party; John Bradley, Conservative; Chris Young, Lib Dem; James Nesbitt, SSP.
Sitting MP Tom Harris, Labour; Malcolm Fleming, SNP; Marie Campbell, Green Party; Davina Rankin, Conservative; Shabnum Mustapha, Lib Dem; Brian Smith, STUSC.
Sitting MP Ian Davidson, Labour; Chris Stephens, SNP; Maya Forrest, Conservative; Isabel Nelson, Lib Dem; Tommy Sheridan, STUSC;
Since the resignation of Michael Martin MP on June 21, the long-awaited Glasgow North East by-election has never been far from the news agenda. LOCAL NEWS takes a closer look at the backgrounds of the candidates, their key policies and what promises they are making to the people of the area.
As we go to print no date has been confirmed but Thursday 5 or 12 November is looking a likely day for the by-election
SNP candidate David Kerr is hoping that lightning can strike twice by repeating the famous SNP victory won by John Mason in Glasgow East last year.
David, 35, a former BBC journalist, originally from Dennistoun, stood for office in 2000 when he resigned as editor of Newsnight Scotland to contest the Falkirk West by-election for the SNP. He managed to increase his party’s vote and was narrowly pipped to the post despite a 16% swing away from Labour to the SNP.
David will be fighting the election on local issues and promoting what he describes as ‘the great potential’ of the constituency.
He said; ‘After 74 years of Labour dominance this constituency has the highest unemployment and the lowest weekly wage in the UK. A third of children grow up in poverty and one in three adults is workless.
’But the problems facing our area are far outweighed by its potential. ’If elected, I will stand up and speak up for this area which has been long forgotten by Labour.’
Willie Bain will be hoping to retain the seat for The Labour Party following the resignation of Michael Martin.
Willie, 36, is aiming to be seen as the local option in the constituency, despite up till very recently working in London. He was born in Stobhill Hospital, grew up on the Carron estate in Springburn, and went to St Roch’s Secondary School.
Willie was the first person in his family to go to university, and he studied law at Strathclyde. He decided not to become a lawyer to but to stay in education, where he now teaches public law.
Willie was secretary of the Springburn Labour Party, and continues to be a member of Amnesty International. He promises a more open and fair form of politics with a better understanding of street level issues.
Willie said; ‘I promise to fight for local jobs, ensure excellent community facilities are in place and do all that I can to create safer neighbourhoods. These are promises that I will work night and day to fulfill if I am elected as the new MP for Glasgow North East. ’People are furious at how the SNP are soft on crime. Thousands have signed my petition to send knife criminals to jail – something the SNP just refuses to do.’
Annabel Goldie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, talked up the Tory candidate Ruth Davidson’s chances. She said: ’Ruth is another top class Conservative. There are no no-go areas for the Scottish Conservatives in Scotland.’
Ruth, 30, is the youngest of all the candidates standing but knows her way around politics, having worked as a BBC journalist for the past 10 years.
She promises to run an honest and smear-free campaign. Ruth grew up in the east coast but now lives in Partick. Both her parents were from Glasgow and her father played for Partick Thistle FC in the late 1960s
Optimistic and undaunted by the fact that a Tory candidate hasn’t bothered standing in the area since the 1997 general election, Ruth told Local News: ‘It’s vital that people have a full range of candidates to choose between. I think we will do very well and surprise a few people.
‘Going round the doors I’ve had a great response, even the people who will not be voting for us have been friendly, unlike Glaswegians might have perceived to have been during and just after the Margaret Thatcher era.
‘The SNP won’t win the next election so we are a very real alternative.’
The Liberal Democrats have selected Eileen Baxendale to stand in Glasgow North East. Eileen has been working for the past two years as a councilor in Rutherglen.
Eileen grew up in northern England, went on to study in New York and has lived in the Glasgow area for over 30 years. Previously a social worker for 28 years, she also has spent time working with charities across greater Glasgow including Scottish Churches Racial Justice Group.
She hopes the voters will opt for Liberal Democrat policies that aim to regenerate local communities.
She said: ’I have been out canvassing for the past five weeks and the one thing that is clear is that this campaign is wide open. Lots of people have not made up their minds yet. I have lots of experience from working in this area and I do think there is a drift away from the Labour Party.’
The Scottish Socialist Party has put forward Kevin McVey as candidate for the Glasgow North East by-election. A civil service trade union representative for 20 years, Kevin was brought up in the constituency, in Ruchazie.
He promises, if elected, to reject the £64,000 salary and live on a workable skilled workers wage. The SSP stand for a Socialist Republican Scotland, and argue for higher taxes on the wealthy and aim to eradicate poverty by increasing pensions, benefits and low wages by £50.
Kevin told THE LOCAL NEWS: ‘We are being told that we have to accept sackings, low pay and slashed service to pay the billions poured into the bankers pockets.
‘The SSP rejects this and wants a Europe wide Greed Tax of 10% on the rich who caused the problem. In Scotland this would strike a major blow against poverty.’
Tommy Sheridan needs no introduction to most Glaswegians. He will be standing on the Solidarity platform and hoping to capture the left wing vote.
Tommy offered to work with the SSP on a united left ticket but the offer was refused.
Solidarity campaign for a democratic, nuclear free and anti-war based Scotland. More locally you can guarantee that Tommy will be bringing his opponents from the mainstream parties to task on issues such as affordable housing, the closure of the Diageo plant and the expenses scandal.
Tommy said: ‘This is an opportunity for the voters to send a message to Westminster that they are fed up and want to kick out the system that has failed, causing so many job losses and bankruptcies.
‘We need to replace the system the system with something more equitable and more reliable.’
John Swinburne of the Pensioners (SSCUP) will be hoping to make his mark in Glasgow North East. John, 78, lives in Stewarton now but is a Motherwell man both in origin and in football allegiance. Previously an MSP, John will be setting his agenda around cleaning up politics, law and order and a better deal for pensioners.
He said: ‘If I am elected then I will donate my entire Westminster salary to pensioners and needy causes in Springburn.
‘Cleaning up politics is a tough thing to prove to your voters. However, I will be able to continue living at a reasonable level from my pensions and that will put to shame the greedy and insulting ways in which money has been taken from the public purse both in Westminster and in Edinburgh.’
Charlie Baillie a 59-year-old electrician will be standing in the constituency for the British National Party. The far-right candidate is well aware of the high immigrant population and multi-ethnic nature of the constituency.
This is something he will be campaign against and will be calling for a more independent Britain, cutting ties from the EU.
He said: ’All the chaps that come over from places like Eastern Europe are part of the problem.
‘The BNP will fight against and aim to reverse the dispersal policy that Glasgow City Council has been systematic with in recent years.
‘Settled migrants are ok if they have been here for a generation or more, but we believe that migrants should only go to the first neighbouring safe country. In our case that means people from France and Ireland.’
The Green Party is yet to announce their candidate. Meanwhile, Glasgow Airport hero of summer 2007, John Smeaton has announced his intention to stand for the Jury Team. John finds himself in unknown territory and took a grilling from the media at the launch of his media campaign, and despite the best efforts of LOCAL NEWS he has been unavailable to give comment since.