“a free, fair and open society“ – some problems with the Lobbying Bill

Michael Carchrie Campbell (Photo: Michael Carchrie Campbell)
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Michael Carchrie Campbell (Photo: Michael Carchrie Campbell)

Michael Carchrie Campbell MCIPR (Photo: Michael Carchrie Campbell)

Today, I wrote to the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Belfast East, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party to ask her to not support the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Bill which is currently before the House of Commons. My reasons for doing so are outlined below.

According to the Parliamentary website, the Bill

  • introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements
  • regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties
  • strengthens the legal requirements placed on trade unions in relation to their obligation to keep their list of members up to date.

These sound like three good things to be doing: until you examine it more closely. Continue reading

Help us all by telling PSNI about those who plant hoax devices

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Police Service of Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thankfully the evacuation of Omagh Police Station last night was due to a hoax device. Sadly, even hoax devices can be used to create terror in the lives of our police and of our communities across Northern Ireland. I call on anyone with any information about those who plant hoax devices and real devices to contact the PSNI about this. It is essential that those responsible are brought before the courts for justice.

The PSNI can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 for non-emergency reporting. In an emergency do phone 999.

Originally published on Michael Carchrie Campbell

Northern Ireland saying Yes?

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Yes! logoIt’s great to be back after six months not posting on this blog. Although the last couple of days haven’t been a great day for the Liberal Democrats across the UK.

The reason for my absense from this blog over the last six months was of course because I was working with so many people from many political allegences and from none to try and secure a Yes! vote in the Alternative Vote referendum. Despite me being at the count centre in Newtownards for 15 hours yesterday until we had counted the Yeses and Noes for North Down, Strangford and Belfast East we still haven’t got the full Northern Ireland picture for the referendum and we are waiting that to conclude once the counts resume at 9am this morning.

However, last night Sky TV stuck their neck out and declared that Northern Ireland were going to say Yes!, some of the results from some of the centres indicate that this may be the case, but not all the results make that quite so clear. I am waiting with baited breathe to find out.

However, today I shall also be attending a Ceremony of Commitment, following his Civil Partnership yesterday, for my fellow contributor to this blog. So I’m hoping to deliver to Michael the perfect ‘wedding’ present a nice big Yes! for all the hard work he also has been doing for the campaign.

A Lib Dem round up for World AIDS Day 2010

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World Aids Day 2010 logo1 December 2010 saw many Liberal Democrats, bloggers and others, marking World AIDS Day across the United Kingdom, including Stephen Gilbert MP, Tim Farron MP, Lynne Featherstone MP, Stephen Williams MP, Jenny Willott MP, Colin Ross, Stephen Glenn, Millennium Dome, Andrew Reeves, and myself.
Let’s have a quick look at what some of them said:

Stephen Gilbert MP

Stephen Gilbert MP

The openly gay MP for St Austell & Newquay, sent the following message:

Today is a really important day to raise awareness, raise money for HIV/AIDS, and to show our support for those with the illness.

Despite recent medical advances, HIV/AIDS remains a life-limiting illness and we still have a huge way to go to tackle it.

I urge everyone to join me today in support of the work of charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and RED to help those at home and across the world.

There are vigils and events around the UK to commemorate the day. LGBT Lib Dems will be present at events in Manchester, London, and elsewhere.

Stephen also tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons calling on Her Majesty’s Government to end the ban on gay and bisexual men, and their partners, being blood donors.

Stephen Gilbert said:

As an openly gay Member of Parliament, I am a passionate believer that we must end this ridiculous and situation where law is based on stigma not science. This is one important area where true equal rights still don’t exist for LGBT people and that must change.

Technological and scientific advances mean that this unsound ban just isn’t fit for the 21st Century. It’s time to reviewed this outdated legislation and allow science and common sense to prevail.

The text of the EDM reads:

That this House notes with concern that men who are openly gay or bisexual are barred for life from donating blood; further notes that the regulations which call for this life ban have been in place since the 1980s in response to the HIV pandemic and have not been updated since, despite greater understanding of the disease; further notes that New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Japan and Australia currently allow gay and bisexual men to give blood; believes that policy on blood donation, individual exclusion and time limits thereupon should be based on science not stigma; and calls on the Government to introduce an evidence-based approach to allow as many people as possible, regardless of their sexuality, safely to donate blood.

Early Day motion 1120

Please write to your MP to ask them to sign this EDM to highlight and support this important issue.

Lynne Featherstone MP

Minister for Equalities has made a video…

She has asked that everyone takes the ‘Count Me In’ Pledge.

I will know my HIV status,
I will not assume I know someone else’s HIV status,
I will take personal responsibility for using condoms,
I will value myself and my health and,
I will stay informed about HIV and how it is spread.

Stephen Williams MP

Stephen Williams MP

MP for Bristol West said:

Like millions of people around the world, I am wearing my red ribbon for World Aids Day. Over the last 6 years I have worked with a variety of Aids related charities, most notably the Terrance Higgins Trust, on several HIV issues both in Bristol and in Westminster.

I have constantly spoken up for the need for proper sex and relationships education in schools, for affordable anti-retro viral drugs for Africa and for access for treatment for asylum seekers in Britain.

Today I used the rare opportunity of a question to the Prime Minister to ask David Cameron about the coalition government’s plans to combat HIV. The answer is that we are doing a lot, at home and abroad. Yesterday’s launch of the Public Health White Paper signals a new approach to public health, often the cinderella of the NHS. And abroad, we will be the first major country to hit 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid, much of which will benefit public health programmes in the developing world.

Jenny Willott MP

from Cardiff Central

Jenny Willott MP

Jenny Willott MP

spoke in the debate on HIV in Westminster Hall organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS. She asked:

I have just had a baby and I was tested automatically for HIV during my pregnancy. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that extending such automatic testing could play a valuable role in identifying cases very early so that people can receive the treatment that, as he said, will not only help them with their own medical needs, but prevent them from spreading the condition?

HC Deb, 1 December 2010, c302WH

and later on in the debate she said:

Will the hon. Gentleman also suggest that we need to tackle the stereotypes about the kind of person who might have HIV? That is one issue for people who do not go to their doctor, or who do go but whose GP does not pick up on it. As Pauline Latham mentioned earlier, GPs may not think that a middle-aged, heterosexual white woman is likely to be HIV-positive. We need to tackle those stereotypes.

HC Deb, 1 December 2010, c306WH

Incoming Liberal Democrat party president,

Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron MP, President Elect of the Liberal Democrats

boarded the Stop AIDS Campaign bus outside Parliament this week to show his support for the effort to bring an end to children being born with HIV by 2015.
Commenting afterwards, Tim said:

It is important we mark World AIDS Day however we can. Last year 400,000 babies were born with HIV or contracted it through their mother’s breast milk. But there are simple and affordable medicines to prevent this. We’re asking the Government to support the campaign for an AIDS-free generation born in 2015.

The Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria has saved nearly six million lives since its creation in 2002 and if fully funded, could ensure virtually all babies are born HIV free by 2015.

Diarmaid McDonald, Coordinator of the Stop AIDS Campaign said,

The UK could lead the world in ending children being born with HIV by 2015. By giving its fair share to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria the government could make this incredible goal possible. I’m delighted by Tim’s support for our campaign.

Michael Carchrie Campbell

Here in Northern Ireland, I came out on my other blog Gyronny Herald as a person living with HIV.

I gave the example of how one person can start to help to break the stigma of living with HIV.

Unsurprisingly given my job and other interests, I was at a political conference a few weeks ago. I was talking to a friend, who was also in attendance. He was asking what I was doing with my life, I told him that I was still working for my boss two days a week. He asked what I did the rest of the time.

I said:

“I help out down at The HIV Support Centre in Belfast. I’m a Trustee there.”

He asked:

“Is there much need of that, here?”
“Well, going on last year’s figures, there are about two people diagnosed in Belfast each week.”
“That’s bad.”
“Do you know anyone living with HIV?”
“No, I don’t.”

I stretched out my hand, he shook it, and I said,

“Hello, my name’s Michael, and I am living with HIV – you do now.”

My friend was rather stumped for words. But he then asked about how I was coping, and he said that I looked really well, and that I was coping well.

Here in Northern Ireland one of the best ways that you can support people living with HIV is by supporting our own local HIV-specific charity, The HIV Support Centre, which is based in Belfast. As a trustee and as a client there I know the work that they do is vital. Many have gone there when they think all is lost, when they think that their lives are over, and the staff and clients there help to turn them around, set them back on the road to better health, and to sorting out their own mental health when they learn the often devastating news that they are HIV positive.

If you would like to be support The HIV Support Centre, I know that they welcome donations not only of money, but of time, as well. Please visit their website to see how you can make a difference.

Successful complaint brings Pink Paper’s Readers’ Awards to Northern Ireland

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Pink Paper Awards now come to Northern Ireland - go and nominate

Following my complaint yesterday to Tris Reid-Smith, Editor of the Pink Paper, and following his response, I am pleased to say that as of today, the Pink Paper’s Readers’ Awards now include the option of saying you are from Northern Ireland.

The email I received from Tris this morning says:

There’s a further update. Having looked into it further, we have now been able to include Northern Ireland as an option in the Readers’ Awards! Obviously anything you can do to get the word out to people and to get them to take part would be great!

Therefore, anyone reading this please broadcast far and wide.

crossposted from Gyronny Herald

Just shows what you can do if you complain.

appeal for calm in Newtownabbey

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Local Liberal Democrat campaiger, Michael Carchrie CampbellFollowing the disturbances in the O’Neill Road area of Newtownabbey, local Liberal Democrat campaigner Michael Carchrie Campbell has appealed for calm.

Michael said:

I appeal for calm in all areas of Northern Ireland particularly in North Belfast following tonight’s disturbances in the Cloughfern/O’Neill Road area of Newtownabbey.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland serves the whole of Northern Irish society and deserves to be treated with respect by all. I am sure that the community at large will join with me in condemning the actions of the youths involved this evening.

Liberal Youth Northern Ireland

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Stephen McFarland

Stephen McFarland

 

While Michael and I were over at Scottish Conference at the weekend one of our student members Stephen McFarland, a student at Aberdeen Univeristy, asked if he could set up a Liberal Youth Northern Ireland page on Facebook. Both of us being old hands in the youth wing of our party of course jumped with glee at such a suggestion coming from the Youth members themselves.

You can visit and like the page Stephen has set up here.

Liberal Youth NI at present has no executive structure, but is a proposed youth wing of the local party of Liberal Democrats in Northern Ireland.

The primary aim is to represent the policies of Liberalism and Liberal Democracy to those between the ages of 16 and 25 in Northern Ireland. Encouraging political involvement in a part of the United Kingdom were the Liberal Democrats do not presently contest elections.

At present Liberal Youth Northern Ireland is not an affiliated member of Liberal Youth! But out of little acorns great oaks can grow.

If you are a young person living in Northern Ireland and want to get involved, click on the join us tab above. The youth joining fee is £6 which works out at 50p  or half the price of a ‘broadsheet’ daily newspaper a month. If you are a student in any of the Northern Ireland Universities or Regional Colleges and interested in setting up a Liberal Youth Branch there contact us by email and we’ll be delighted to get in touch with you about how to do so.