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Winning in 2020 is going to be a big ask. The Conservatives are using the power of government to rig the system, with boundary changes, tougher registration requirements, votes for ex-pats and partisan attacks on the Labour party’s funding. But the underlying electoral map is daunting too. The Tories start well ahead of Labour in terms of MPs and have big majorities in many seats that were ours not so long ago.

Climb Every Mountain

Winning in 2020 is going to be a big ask. The Conservatives are using the power of government to rig the system, with boundary changes, tougher registration requirements, votes for... Read more

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Back in late 2011, four fellow-travellers got together to discuss Labour's economic strategy. The venue was Cote brasserie in Covent Garden. The glamour. Hopi Sen, Graeme Cooke, Adam Lent and myself discussed both the economics and politics of Labour's position. We felt strongly that it was in the wrong place.

It’s the economy, stupid

Back in late 2011, four fellow-travellers got together to discuss Labour's economic strategy. The venue was Cote brasserie in Covent Garden. The glamour. Hopi Sen, Graeme Cooke, Adam Lent and... Read more

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I was sat in one of Beijing’s growing number of Starbucks when I was first told of girl X.

The air outside was thick with smoke from the city’s coal fired power stations and I had taken shelter.  A journalist friend handed me his phone; on the screen was an article from the People’s Daily about China’s youngest lung cancer victim – a girl who could not be named - from Jiangsu province.  She was eight years old.

The pollution outside, an eerie yellow cloud, veiled the city, enveloping skyscrapers obscuring anything beyond the fifth floor.  Girl X’s doctor had, without equivocation, gone on record at great risk to his freedom to declare that that very pollution was accountable for her condition.

As our political leaders meet in Paris this week to reach an agreement on tackling climate change we are asked to imagine a dystopian world where the catastrophic effects of failing to decarbonise our economies takes hold. We don’t have to: Girl X is the face of that future, and cities like Beijing offer us a dubiously voyeuristic opportunity to peer into its abyss.

Beijing_Smog_August_5.jpgThis week, again, Beijing is facing down severe pollution.  For those of us who have lived there, this is nothing new; an annual tragedy which engulfs 21 million inhabitants between the months of December and February.  The blinding inescapable smog, or ‘fog’ as the Government would call it, has even the youngest and fittest hacking up black soot from the back of their mouths - and, in my case, blood. 

Expat friends still living in Beijing joke that they have taken up smoking to guard themselves against the effects of poor air quality, the cigarette’s filter protecting their lungs from the pollution.

The pollution – effluence from China’s rapid, rampant industrialisation – peppers the air with tiny particles some 28 times smaller than the breadth of a hair which lodge deep into the lungs and can enter the blood stream.

The World Health Organisation recommends the level of these particles in the air should be no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic metre.  Beijing’s reading yesterday in one part of the city was 2,242.

To put this into perspective, yesterday in London the air quality index (AQI) – a calculation used by Governments including the Chinese to communicate pollution levels to the public – stood at 28.  A score below 50 is considered good (about 30 micrograms per cubic metre).  In Beijing, at the time of writing, the score read 426.

I remember the count on the day of first hearing of girl X.  It was 876.  The AQI scale is only supposed to reach 500.

It’s no surprise that in order to get the AQI figure I had to use a virtual private network, which routed my internet connection back through the UK, to access a website giving live information on the particulate matter reader atop the US Embassy building in Beijing.  The Chinese government continues to block access to the website.

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Girl X represents the tragedy that faces us if we don’t act.  It also represents the Chinese government’s indifference to the problem and its solution.

Inner-city air pollution is a blight which affects us all.  The framework agreed in Paris gives us the opportunity to tackle the catastrophic effects of climate change from pollution in the long-term.  But we must take action in the short term too.

London isn’t Beijing, but air quality in UK and other European cities is creeping towards a future we daren’t imagine. Carbon-sink building materials and bike helmets which ionise particulate matter might seem like technologies of the future, but they offer potential solutions to London’s worsening air problem. It’s time we have that conversation, before it’s too late.

Article written by Paul Afshar. You can follow him on twitter at @paulrezaafshar

 

These are the lessons we need to learn from Beijing's airpocalypse

  I was sat in one of Beijing’s growing number of Starbucks when I was first told of girl X. The air outside was thick with smoke from the city’s...

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by Sonny Leong is chair of Chinese for Labour and Treasurer of BAME Labour.

The great immigration debate has been one of the constant features of British politics over the last few years and will undoubtedly continue to be, as we hurtle towards the cliff edge of the European Referendum. I firmly believe that the Labour Party, which has always been marked by its values of internationalism and equality, is on the right side of this argument – championing Britain’s status as a nation of immigrants, who have contributed so much to every part of our society.

Yet, as the referendum looms and the discussion focuses on future immigrants, we as a party have not paid enough attention to the people who have already come from across the world to make their lives here – the immigrants of the past, like myself. Traditionally, the Labour party has relied upon the votes of ethnic minority communities, loyal to us because of our unyielding support for and action on equality.

However, for too long Labour has taken these votes for granted. The party hasn’t recognised that its approach to immigrants and their descendants has been too backward looking, relying on past successes, and simplistic, grouping people of very different cultures together because it’s easier. ‘Asian’ comes to mean everything from Bangalore to Beijing; Black comes to mean everything from Mombasa to Montego Bay.

Labour has taken BAME voters for granted – here’s how to win them back

by Sonny Leong is chair of Chinese for Labour and Treasurer of BAME Labour. The great immigration debate has been one of the constant features of British politics over the... Read more

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Chinese for Labour's Patron, Liam Byrne argues that the left must call time on neoliberalism, move beyond both old-style statism and New Labour and embrace a new entrepreneurial socialism.
 
He sets out proposals for a new Clause IV that puts the fight against inequalities of power centre stage – and in place of top-down solutions of the past, Byrne argues for a 21st century 'opportunity state' with a radical new approach to harnessing innovation and entrepreneurialism to increase people's economic, social and political power.

Entrepreneurial socialism and the case for a new clause IV

Chinese for Labour's Patron, Liam Byrne argues that the left must call time on neoliberalism, move beyond both old-style statism and New Labour and embrace a new entrepreneurial socialism.  He... Read more

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Recent events have escalated the debate around immigration to beyond the corridors of Westminster. From listening to people in my community, the recent rhetoric has been lacking in both substance and form.

The brutal tone and language deployed by national figures of late has tarnished our reputation for compassion and justice words such as ‘abusing’, ‘tough’, relay exaggerated visions of the living dead creeping up beyond our shoreline. Sensationalist headlines accompanied by images of people clinging onto lorries, desperate for a way out, seeing our country as a place of hope, an escape from poverty, pain and brutality. What happened to our compassion and empathy?

“Students, yes. Over-stayers, no. And the universities must make this happen,” said Theresa May.

Some of the brightest and best in the world choose to save up, work and study at our universities and yet we choose to banish these bright young things back home? We need all the talent we can get. Such a view is not only short-term but woefully lacking in foresight. These students are our future teachers, professors, dentists, architects, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs.  I believe the British public will not fall for such empty rhetoric designed to score cheap political points.

Our success as a nation has been built on immigration within the framework of British laws, values and a culture of inclusion. A report published today by University College London’s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration concluded that immigrants from the 10 countries who joined the EU in 2004 contributed more to the UK than they took out in benefits. They added £4.96bn more in taxes in the years to 2011 than they took out in public services.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29910497.

Go to any hospital and look around you at the doctors, nurses and staff to see how immigration has benefitted us. Go to your local high street for a meal and marvel at the collection of world kitchens available for your gastronomic delight. People who settle here and build a life for themselves and their families will be the workers of the future their kids will become our future creating the wealth to ensure our pensions and retirement. This is how we can face the future together, by remembering our values and rejecting divisiveness. Of course we need to ensure fairness and a level playing field for all, policies to enforce the national living wage, clamping down on irresponsible employers and tackling illegal human trafficking.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people wanting to be British and building a better life. After all that’s what my parents did in 1970.

Vincent Lo is the Vice Chair and Treasurer for Chinese for Labour. If you would like to write for Chinese for Labour, or have any events that would be of interest to our community then please email at alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org. 

Why Theresa May is so wrong

  Recent events have escalated the debate around immigration to beyond the corridors of Westminster. From listening to people in my community, the recent rhetoric has been lacking in both...

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At the moment, it seems one of the big questions is – how Labour are you really? As we couldn’t have experienced more viscerally than since 7 May, the party that we love covers a huge spectrum of people from all walks of live, with their different experiences, perspectives and approaches. And it’s growing by the day. In an age of such frustration at politics, Jeremy Corbyn can take great heart from and credit for that.

Reaching out to micro businesses and self-employed: The Labour Party Way

At the moment, it seems one of the big questions is – how Labour are you really? As we couldn’t have experienced more viscerally than since 7 May, the party... Read more

Labour will only win election if it represents people who own and work for small businesses, firms employing between zero and nine people. These people are not posh. They’re not privileged. They’re not greedy or selfish or stupid. They work hard, they want to get on, but they also care about their neighbours and the communities we share. They’re our people, and we’re their party - or we are nothing. If we don’t speak for the 0-9ers, we will never win another election.

We have to be the party of everybody, or we’re the party of nobody

Labour will only win election if it represents people who own and work for small businesses, firms employing between zero and nine people. These people are not posh. They’re not... Read more

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Chinese for Labour attended the Annual Co-operative Party Conference in London over the weekend. Gareth Thomas MP and Chair of the Co-op opened the session giving much thanks to the outgoing General Secretary Karin Christiansen. Having overseen a period of change in the Co-op Karin has steered the team through some difficult times and built a platform for future progress of co-op values. 

Stella Creasy Labour & Co-op MP for Walthamstow discussed the importance of the Co-op movement for equality and fairness and responsible practice. There were a number of well run breakout sessions and further speeches from people involved in the Co-op. The conference was well attended by people who share similar values and many new friendships were formed.

Chinese for Labour's stand was well attended and many fortune cookies were happily consumed. Our fortune now turns to building a more fairer and equal society were all people including the British Chinese are represented in public life.

Annual Co-Op Party Conference

Chinese for Labour attended the Annual Co-operative Party Conference in London over the weekend. Gareth Thomas MP and Chair of the Co-op opened the session giving much thanks to the...

Chinese for Labour is one of the Socialist Societies affiliated to the Labour Party. We were founded in 1999, affiliated in 2010 and act as a bridge between the Labour Party and British Chinese and East Asian communities. Our activities including fundraising, campaigning for the Party and raising awareness on issues that affect our ethnic communities. With over 400,000 ethnic Chinese in the UK it is the fastest growing ethnic minority population and on top of this are many other East Asians and those of mixed heritage.

As part of the Labour Leadership election campaign we asked the leadership candidates a series of questions. We've split the questions into two parts. The first part contained general questions focusing on BAME issues, while the second released today are specifically related to the Chinese community.

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1. Chinese for Labour has campaigned with others on the issue of problem gambling (which is thought to be as prevalent as Class A drug use) and the proliferation of bookmakers for many years. We think it’s bad for those individuals and their families but also our neighbourhoods and communities. What can and will you do about it as Leader of the Opposition?

LK: Labour needs to win power in order to give it away, so that people have more control in their communities. They are best placed to hear from community concerns about areas disproportionately targeted by bookmakers and other gambling providers - and act where there are local issues.

AB: I understand that problem gambling is an important issue affecting many communities across the UK.  I am committed to giving local authorities more power to control their high streets including over the presence of bookmakers, fixed—odds betting terminals and other gambling establishments.

YC: Problem gambling is a serious issue and we must ensure that this is tackled properly.  As Leader of the Labour Party, I think we should look again at making sure local councils have the powers and resources to tackle this problem.  As part of this, we should push for measures that give local residents more of a say in new licences issued.

JC: The overall provision for help to those with a variety of addictive problems, whether through the NHS or social services, is insufficient in general and for those with addictive gambling problems almost non-existent.  This should be extended as should help to the affected families.

There should be a limit to the number of licences for bookmakers and other gambling outlets in an area and the power of councils to block licenses and applications should be extended, and to limit the prevalence of fixed odds betting machines.

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2. Many Chinese Associations in the UK do a great job in providing services for the elderly Chinese population including lunch clubs, advocacy and healthy living classes. As NHS and social care funding has been squeezed under this government Chinese Associations have had to cut back and some have ceased. How would you close the growing funding gap for the NHS and social care?

AB: Labour created the NHS to free people from the fear of medical fees.  We now need to do the same with care charges.

I am putting forward a radical vision for the NHS and Social Care.  I am committed to applying the NHS principle to social care – where everybody is asked to make a contribution according to their means and where everybody has the peace of mind of knowing that all of their care needs, and those of their family, are covered.

YC: The NHS is under huge strain and staff are bearing the brunt of this. There's a shortage of midwives and nurses, doctors and care workers continue to operate under immense pressure.

It was extremely disappointing to see that the Tories have already broken their promise on capping the cost of social care.  It's clear the Conservatives have no qualms about making empty promises to win elections with no intention of honouring them.  This will impact massively on our NHS, which is already struggling under the weight of crippling social care costs and demonstrates our health service is not safe in Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron's hands.

We need a strong Labour leader who can take on the Tories from day one.  As Labour leader I will always hold David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt to account on their broken promises on the NHS and Social Care.

JC: The voluntary sector has always played a vital role in supplementing public provision. The devastating cuts to local government grants, and by an NHS struggling with PFI debts, has had a huge impact on grants to local voluntary organisations - and the communities they serve.

We should bring together Health & Social Care into a single service with ring-fenced funding. The cuts to social care are anyway a false economy: increasing the burdens on NHS A&Es, hospitals and GP surgeries.

LK: This is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a society and something on which have worked closely as a shadow minister. The four policies that I would introduce as leader of a Labour government would be to:

•   Give families the right to choose their own carer.

•   End the scandal of low pay for carers.

•  Outlaw carers not being paid for travel time and having to buy their own uniforms.

•  Close Assessment Treatment Units to protect those with learning disabilities and ensure an improved standard of care.

These policies will be funded by a sustainable and responsible economic policy, not by irresponsible promises.

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3. What are your thoughts on Government policy towards China and East Asia and what would you differently if you were Prime Minister

YC: It is important to build on our strong relationship with China, including efforts to support sustainable growth in the international economy, and to maintain dialogue between our two countries through the UK-China strategic dialogue on human rights and democracy. We should also be working together to seek a stable and non-nuclear Korean peninsula and to tackle climate change.

LK: I want to lead a Labour Party and a country that looks out to the world and shows leadership on the international stage. On issues like climate change, we can’t simply look and act inward but we have to work across borders in order to have an impact. China is the world’s second largest economy and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, so we can’t afford not to keep a good relationship between our two countries.

I want to maintain a dialogue that is positive on co-operation on trade, education and climate change and firm on issues like human rights.

JC: The success of China in rising from one of the poorest  countries in the world to a moderately prosperous society, lifting 650 million people out of UN defined poverty, is an inspiring achievement, all in the space of half a century.

There are many lessons from that we should be open to learning from this success. For too long China was approached with closed minds in the west. Happily this is beginning to change and more people are taking an interest in the culture of one fifth of humanity.

China is a growing trading partner for the UK, which can aid our economy. We also have much to learn from some east Asian countries that have invested in good infrastructure (e.g. rail and superfast broadband) and are reaping the economic benefits of that investment. I agreed with the UK joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite US objections.

All of this means we should build close diplomatic, economic and trading relations with China, amplified by cultural exchanges and regular government to government dialogue, within which we can discuss all issues of concern between our countries.

The present government has taken some steps on this but more are needed. I am committed to a peaceful world and am concerned about the growing arms build up in east Asia. I am concerned by proposals to change Japan’s constitution to allow it to extend its militarisation. The US has stepped up its military presence in east Asia and the region is becoming much less stable. The UK’s role should be to help ensure peace not inflame regional tensions.

We have a commitment to human rights, and to creating a more peaceful world. So we have to raise these issues, even when we know it may be uncomfortable. I recently visited Iran on a delegation with Jack Straw and Lord Lamont - and raised human rights concerns as well as trade issues. We need an honest and open dialogue with all countries.  

AB: Trade links between the UK and East Asian economies are important and we should encourage investment from overseas.  Andy will therefore continue a healthy and stable development of UK-China relations as well as with other East Asian countries.

 

If you would like to write for Chinese for Labour, or have any events that would be of interest to our community then please email at alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org. 

Chinese for Labour: Leadership Questions Part 2

Chinese for Labour is one of the Socialist Societies affiliated to the Labour Party. We were founded in 1999, affiliated in 2010 and act as a bridge between the Labour...

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