Friday, November 11, 2022

Parliamentary Candidate Selection

A month is a long time in politics. Way back at the beginning of our Filton & Bradley Stoke (FaBS) CLP Parliamentary candidate selection process, I endorsed my good friend Angela Morey. I’m glad I did so, and delighted she made the shortlist for the final member vote.

I’ve been following all of the candidates’ campaigns over the last few weeks with a keen interest, and have always said I would only make my mind up who I would vote for, at the end of this process.

The selection process isn’t about selecting our MP - it’s about selecting the best candidate, who has what it takes to actually become our Labour MP; someone who lives, breathes and campaigns on Labour’s core values, who can take the fight to the Tories on the national issues on which their Government is badly failing us, as well as on the local issues affecting our constituency.

As a committed Labour member and activist (and former CLP Secretary), I will wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support and campaign towards the next General Election for whoever wins tomorrow’s vote. 

But after a great degree of consideration, I’m delighted to say the candidate getting my vote tomorrow will be Claire Hazelgrove 

Claire has over a decade’s experience of campaigning for Labour, locally and nationally, in 5 General Elections - and she’s been campaigning all year, all across our constituency, in all weathers. That’s why she knows the local issues facing communities across FaBS better than I do, and I’ve lived here for just short of 25 years.

Scan back through all the obligatory doorstep team selfies, and as often as not you’ll see Claire’s smiling face in the photo.  

This is why so many of our dedicated team of FaBS Labour canvassers have come out in favour of Claire - not to mention Bristol Labour MP Darren Jones, regional Metro Mayor Dan Norris, and previous FaBS Labour Parliamentary Candidates Ian Boulton and Mhairi Threlfall. 

I’m very much looking forward to hearing all candidates speak at the hustings tomorrow (10am at Abbeywood School) - and may the best candidate win!  I’ve never been more proud to be Labour Party Member 🌹

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

An Ethical Asylum Solution

Whether you see them as refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and oppressive regimes, or simply as economic migrants looking for a better life - for now I’m just going to refer to them as people, ok? - there’s no denying that the number of people crossing the English Channel in flimsy inflatable boats to enter the UK over the last few years has increased dramatically.

In 2018 the number was less than 300; in 2021 the number was almost a hundred times that.

Why such a huge increase?

Well, it’s all down to the actions of the UK Government over the last few years.

Before 2021 the UK was signed up to the Dublin Agreement, because we were in the EU. 

Most people know of this as the agreement among EU (and a number of other, non-EU) countries, which allowed us to send asylum seekers back to the first country within the agreement, that they entered in their journey from their original homeland.

As a result many of the people reaching the UK could be legitimately transferred back to their first country of entry. The people knew this, and this served to limit the number of people travelling across the EU into France, with a view to coming to the UK.

Leaving the EU effective as of 31st January 2021 meant we were no longer able to return such people from the UK to their first country of entry. 

This suddenly added a massive incentive to those people travelling across Europe and into the UK via France - if stopped in the UK they couldn’t be sent back. As a result of this incentive the numbers of people multiplied by almost a hundred in just two years.

Brexit supporters will tell you that Brexit was necessary in order for us to to take back control of our borders, and that losing access to the provisions of the Dublin agreement was necessary in order for us to leave the EU.

Except that’s not true.

The real reason we are no longer covered by the Dublin Agreement, is that when negotiating our eventual exit agreement from the EU, the UK Government was not willing to fulfill its obligations under another part of the Dublin Agreement.

Remember the Agreement’s purpose is to ensure that an asylum application is only considered by one of the participating states (the EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).

However, it’s not quite as simple as specifying the first country of entry; instead it sets a hierarchy for determining which state should be responsible for processing an asylum application. 

As well as setting out transfer processes and timelines, the Regulation gives greater importance to family reunion than which country an asylum seeker first entered.

The terms of the Agreement are less strict that the UK Government immigration rules on what constitutes close family, and so a few more people were granted asylum in the UK under the Dublin Agreement’s definition of family than would have been the case under UK rules.

The UK Government therefore chose to ditch the terms of the Dublin Agreement when drawing up the agreement to exit the EU.

In the UK Government’s own words, taken from its own House of Commons Library briefing document:

“What future UK-EU co-operation did the Government want?

The Government did not want to replicate the provisions of the Dublin Regulation.

It proposed two draft agreements with the EU which related to certain specific aspects of the Dublin Regulation:
  • an agreement on the transfer of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children for family reunion purposes
  • a readmission agreement for accepting returns of irregularly residing UK/EU citizens and third country nationals

Unsurprisingly the UK was asking for the benefits of the Dublin Agreement without the drawbacks, and as a result the negotiation with the EU was unsuccessful.

When the Conservatives are criticised for their inhumane and unethical Rwanda Policy, and their false arguments are exposed (see my blog post here), the Conservative Government asks “Ok, so what would Labour do?”.

The answer to that question is simple.

Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham Law School, has outlined how the UK would have a truly world beating, fair immigration system under a Labour Government, in his article

As Brooks says, “A more effective way of ensuring control is a new cooperative arrangement with France and the wider EU for returns, alongside a joint anti-trafficking taskforce.”

“We should have border controls, and only a Labour government can ensure they are fit for purpose by preventing abuses and fulfilling our humanitarian obligations for which we should be proud.”

“As a former shadow immigration minister and shadow Brexit minister, Keir Starmer understands this. We need Labour in power to deliver it. Britain can have a world-leading plan, but not while the Conservatives remain in government.”

Friday, June 17, 2022

Rwanda - The Real Truth

The handful of asylum seekers dragged onto the plane that eventually failed to fly to Rwanda this week included a former Iranian policeman who was sentenced to jail in Iran for refusing to use firearms at peaceful protestors in 2019, and a 54-year-old Iraqi who has previously been tortured.

Right wing media outlets would have you believe that those crossing the channel in flimsy inflatable boats are mostly economic migrants and not true refugees - backed up by Home Secretary Priti Patel having claimed that as many as 70% of channel crossings are economic migrants - yet data released by her own department, the Home Office, exposes this claim as a lie.

Overall last year 75% of all asylum seekers were given asylum, the highest since 1990.

The biggest group of people crossing the Channel in the early part of 2022 were Afghans, representing one in four of all crossings.

Over 90% of Afghans last year were given asylum, together with 98% of Syrians, 97% of Eritreans, 95% of Sudanese and 88% of Iranians.  76% of claims from young men aged 18-29 were granted.

So why send asylum seekers to Rwanda?

Pro-Government media including the BBC will report they are being sent to Rwanda for “processing” - as if we are simply delegating the administration of asylum seekers to another state, leaving many to draw the inference that successful applicants will be allowed to settle in the UK. 

Except the successful applicants WON’T be allowed to settle here - they are being sent to Rwanda to apply for asylum IN RWANDA.

The UK Government says the Rwanda scheme will act as a deterrent to those crossing the channel, and thus disrupt the business model of the people traffickers they are paying to help them do so - yet at the same time the Government is claiming that Rwanda is a sanctuary and the refugees will thrive.

So is it a deterrent, or is it a sanctuary? It can’t be both!

There is no evidence to support the deterrent argument - experts suggest that, instead of deterring people, it will simply mean these desperate individuals will attempt to make the long journey back from Rwanda to the UK. They have done a similar journey once – the prospect of living in a different continent, with no communal or cultural links, which far from being a sanctuary has deeply concerning human rights records and a lack of infrastructure, is unlikely to deter them now. 

When Israel entered into a similar agreement with Rwanda in 2014 and 2017 almost all of the 4,000 detainees sent there left for Europe again, opening up a huge market for people traffickers in Libya.

So, the Rwanda policy is a deterrent that won’t deter; shipping asylum seekers to a sanctuary that isn’t a sanctuary; and supposedly penalising people traffickers in one continent by rewarding people traffickers in another.

And let’s not forget that it’s massively expensive, costing hundreds of millions; this week’s cancelled flight alone cost £500,000.

So - why IS the UK Government pushing ahead with its ridiculous Rwanda policy?

It’s not to penalise people traffickers - why would they? they don’t penalise tax dodging billionaire corporations and fraudsters.

It’s not to save peoples lives, either - the average right wing voter banging on about boats in the channel is more bothered about the number of people who successfully make it to our beaches, than those who perish on the way.

So the Government is basically deporting people, most of whom would successfully be awarded asylum if they were allowed to apply for it here.

They’re not deporting all of them - they don’t need to - just a token number to fill the headlines and throw red meat to their baying mob.

Their measure of the success or failure of this policy is not the number of people deported by it, or the number of boats crossing the channel - but the number of voters taken in by it.

The reality is that the UK Government is using people who are mostly innocent victims of war, torture and the acts of hostile states, as commodities in its cynical attempts to divide the British public by demonising refugees and immigrants. 

It is the ugliest of political moves, designed to stir up a culture war that splits the population by emotional response and personality type as much as it does by political conviction.

It’s no surprise to them that there have been legal challenges, or that the legal challenges have been successful - it helps their populist narrative of lefty lawyers and judges as enemies of the state.

A few archbishops and church leaders speak out against it - lovely, even more controversy, even more enemies of the people.

The key to effective propaganda is in using messaging that appeals to the emotional state of the target audience. 

Reflecting an emotion currently felt by the target audience, has a higher likelihood of succeeding in persuading them.

They know there is no legitimate justification for their policy - when challenged and their feeble arguments crumble, they always come down to their bottom line “ok, so what would Labour do?” - I’ve answered that question here.

It’s not the first time they’ve done this, and it won’t be the last - think weights and measures.

They’re already starting to stoke up the trans debate in time for the next election, too. 

Populist governments thrive by sowing division.

Mark my words, before the election they’ll be slipping out “feeler” articles in the right wing press asking why we should be spending good money protecting future generations from the effects of man made climate change when there’s a cost of living crisis.

Then it’ll be “hey - look over there - another dinghy full of foreign scroungers crossing the channel, coming over here to steal our benefits / jobs / whatever! Rwan-da! Rwan-da! RWAN-DA!!!”… “Sieg- Heil! Sieg-Heil!  SIEG-HEIL!!!”

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

It’s Time For Change

If you voted for Brexit, I don’t think you’re stupid. I don’t even think you’re stupid if you voted for Boris Johnson’s Tory Government in 2019. You had your reasons.

But if you can’t see how badly Brexit is going - and how badly Boris Johnson is doing - then you and I really need to talk.

He “Got Brexit Done” by pushing through an arrangement he had always said he wouldn’t accept, involving border checks in the Irish Sea - and now he’s blaming the EU for insisting that the UK follow the agreement he signed up to.

He claims he got the big decisions right with Covid, too - but the UK is 52nd in the world health organisation stats for Covid deaths per capita. 

Yes, vaccinations went well, but he dithered and delayed with lockdown causing thousands of unnecessary deaths, and unnecessary impact on the economy.

Yes, the economy bounced back faster than anyone else in the G7 - but only because it had already fallen the fastest and the furthest. 

They say the cost of living crisis is a global situation, yet inflation in the UK is the worst in the G7, and is forecast to stay higher for longer than any other country. 

On top of a decade of Tory austerity, this is hitting people hard.

It’s time for change. We need a change of Prime Minister within weeks, and we need to change the Government at the next election.

If you don’t agree, I have a friend in Nigeria who would love you to cash a large cheque..

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Tory Cost of Living Crisis


UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation reached a 40 year high of 9% yesterday, and the Bank of England are forecasting it’ll get even worse in the winter.

Don’t ever forget that it’s 12 years of Conservative policy that has led us to this point. Our cost-of-living crisis is a culmination of TORY political choices. 

The decade-long march of austerity, their economically insane version of Brexit, and mishandling of the Covid pandemic.

I’m not a fan of Brexit but better Brexits were (and still are) available. The Tories asked us what we wanted, then served up the worst form of Brexit that suited their purposes, not ours. 

As a nation we need to start fact-checking the bullsh*t the Tories are feeding us daily.

Of course the Tories will tell you this is a global energy crisis and there’s a war in Ukraine - true, but our inflation is the WORST in the G7, and is forecast to remain HIGHER, for LONGER, than any other country in the G7 - and THAT is down to the Tories. 

World beating?!?..

So now, as if their home made cost of living crisis isn’t enough, the Tories are going to provoke a trade war with the EU, supposedly based on the EU’s insistence on adhering to an international agreement drafted by - and signed by - the Tories.

EVERYBODY told Johnson that his oven-ready trade deal would mean a trade border in the Irish Sea - but he wouldn’t accept it. 

Now, he wants to tear it up because everyone warning him was right all along, and HE was wrong.

Johnson is an expensive liability we cannot afford!

And NOW the Tories are even telling us the inevitable recession we’re diving heading into under THEIR leadership, is all OUR FAULT - wait for it -  because we’re WORKING FROM HOME!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Electoral Calculus predicts Labour WIN in the new FaBS!

The Electoral Calculus website is predicting that Labour will WIN the "new" Filton & Bradley Stoke Constituency, when the proposed 2023 boundary changes are in place!

Link: here

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Lessons From a Landslide


Labour In Communications today released Lessons From a Landslide, their retrospective on the 25 years since Tony Blair was elected.

It's a really good read whether or not you liked New Labour - it doesn't attempt to reinstate New Labour only to learn from its successes and see how Labour can use those lessons to beat the Tories next time.

I'd recommend anyone involved in campaigning / canvassing / social media to read it as national politics issues get thrown at us from all directions even when working locally.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thinking in Straight Lines

With people’s attitudes swinging in Labour's favour on a range of social issues, why do we keep failing to win a general election?

The analysis suggests that while most people share common values there is a distinction in how we express and conceptualise them.

Direct reasoning: Favours common senses, agency based explanations rooted in how the situation looks from one perspective and what that viewer can do about it.

Systemic reasoning: Looks for connections and complexities, is more concerned with root causes, and often suggests one must solve one problem before one can solve another.

Most people use of a mix of both, and various factors will explain why we lean towards one or the other, with those who have gone through higher education (for example) favouring systemic reasoning.

But Labour recently has become totally dominated by systemic reasoning. We struggle to communicate in any other terms. This has pushed large swathes of the electorate who are more direct, into the arms of Boris Johnson and the conservatives.

But this can can change and the report sets out how we can adjust our policy and messaging to appeal to the people in England in particular who have left the party – without compromising our values or vision.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

About Me

My name is Keiron Marsden, I'm an early-retired husband, father and dog lover, former 
engineering manager, and current Labour Parish Councillor.

As a news and current affairs addict for decades, I have always been interested in politics since Harold Wilson was blathering on about "the pound in your pocket" - although I wasn't old enough then to actually have a pound in my pocket. 

I was born "up North" in Lancashire, in a working class town that would now be referred to as “red wall”, and I've had quite a political journey over the decades - if you're interested you can read about it in My Journey.

I now consider myself a moderate on the centre-left of UK Politics, see My Politics if you're interested the gory details.

My newspapers of choice are the Guardian, which broadly reflects my political views, and the Telegraph, which definitely doesn't - the latter comes under the heading of "know thine enemy".

I joined the Labour Party to make my own small contribution towards the direction it takes, and to help it get there, but I've been a social justice keyboard warrior and digital activist for well over a decade. Post pandemic I'm finally now getting out on the doorstep too, and was delighted and proud to be elected as a Labour Parish Councillor for Stoke Gifford in the May 2023 local elections.

After a stint as Secretary of the Filton & Bradley Stoke Constituency Labour Party I would highly recommend all Labour Party members to attend their Branch and Constituency meetings and get involved.

For why I joined, support, and vote for Labour, see my Why Labour and Labour Vision pages.

If you think you may like to join, see the party's own Why Join Labour and Joining Labour FAQ.

Follow me on X @keironm

Views expressed are my own, and don't necessarily represent the views or position of any organisation or committee that I have been or still am a part of.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Labour and the Past, Present and Future of Work


The Labour Party has been successful in the past at offering both change and consensus around a changing economy and world of work. To do so again though, we need the Labour Party needs a clear, positive, vision that can engage with the hopes of workers present and past, young and old.
This vision must be optimistic, focusing on tangible future benefits. 
It must go beyond stale repetitions of what the party is against, and not be hung up on impossible promises to restore what has been lost in previous decades.
Progressive Britain have partnered with a leading academic and trade unionist to publish this paper, which is part of building that vision – setting out how Labour has grasped the politics of work in the past, the challenges of today and the electoral and moral victories than can be won should the party get it right now.