Fair 10 - The manifesto
Below are the 10 manifesto points agreed on by the coalition.
Leeds activists were first invited to submit points for the manifesto, then to vote for the top ten. The final list reflects the priorities of all the groups in the coalition and the 100+ activists who voted in the poll.
People fleeing torture and persecution who seek sanctuary in the UK are forced to live on £37.77 per week because they are banned from working until their cases have been resolved, which can take years. In addition, every year over 1,000 refugee children are imprisoned in detention centres. Will you vigorously oppose the detention of children and families, and call upon the Home Office to allow asylum seekers the right to work whilst their cases are being considered?
A ‘Robin Hood Tax’ of 0.05% on speculative banking transactions could raise hundreds of billions of pounds a year to tackle UK and global poverty and climate change. Will you proactively support the introduction of the Robin Hood Tax, including in any future votes in Parliament and by signing any relevant Early Day Motions that are tabled?
Produce grown on occupied Palestinian West Bank land is imported to the UK and labeled as Israeli, and thus Israel benefits from reduced import duties under the EU Trade Agreement. As settlements are illegal under international humanitarian law, do you support a complete UK ban on the importation of Israeli settlement products and will you write to the Foreign Secretary to call for such a ban?
Do you support urgent action on climate change to secure a fair, ambitious and binding global deal in 2010, and will you support action and put pressure on the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change to ensure the UK achieves 40% cuts in emissions by 2020 and contributes its fair share of finance to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?
The current government plans to spend £15-20bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons. Will you pursue international nuclear disarmament and call upon the Government to cancel the full replacement of the Trident system, and instead make significant investment in green jobs, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?
Despite the notable successes of campaigns such as Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History, still only 20% of unpayable poor country debt has been dropped. Would you be prepared to contact the Secretary of State for International Development about progress on international debt cancellation and to push for the creation of a fair, democratic and transparent debt tribunal run by the United Nations that would adjudicate on payability and legitimacy of debts?
The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) employs 170 people with taxpayers’ money, who work to market weapons to other countries, even where those weapons will be used to fuel conflict and aid repression. Will you seek to close down the DSO and oppose the level of financial support that weapons exports receive from the government, and pursue the matter with the Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment?
Developing countries lose an estimated $160bn to tax evasion by companies every year. Will you write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him/her to call for country-by-country reporting of profits and tax by multinational companies, an end to tax havens, and international transparency on tax?
Leeds City Council recently committed to reducing the carbon emissions of the city by 40% by 2020. Will you write to the Secretary of State for Local Government to ask for Local Carbon Budgets that would place a cap on emissions in each local authority area, in line with the demands of the Friends of the Earth ‘Get Serious about CO2? campaign?
The Office of Fair Trading has documented numerous examples of supermarkets dealing unfairly with their suppliers and farmers, from forcing them to pay for half-price deals to changing order volumes at the last minute, with no written contract. Will you work to ensure that an independent supermarkets ombudsman is put in place to uphold the new Groceries Code of Practice, including imposing fines where necessary, and report back to your constituents on progress made?
Detention damages children: Taken from their communities, with little understanding of what they have done to deserve being locked up, detention has a devastating impact on children. Scared and anxious, children have experienced insomnia, weight loss, bedwetting, depression and self harm while in detention.
Detention of children is unnecessary: There is no evidence that families run away from the authorities if they are not detained. As anyone with children will know, their education and health needs, friendship ties and the desire to be settled in the UK all prevent families ‘disappearing’.
Detention of children is a shameful waste of taxpayers’ money: It costs £130 every day to keep a child in immigration detention. To keep a family of four in detention for six weeks costs over £20,000.
Employment is one of the best ways for a person who has suffered a traumatic upheaval to start the process of rebuilding their life. A paid job brings a sense of self respect and dignity; it is a way of meeting people and making friends; and it gives a person some control over their life.
Employment also benefits wider society. It means people are able to support themselves, instead of needing to be supported by the taxpayer. It also contributes to cohesive and functional communities.
The majority of asylum seekers have skills and a high level of education. Many are qualified nurses, teachers and academics. Others have been employed as journalists and civil servants in their home countries. They are working people – and many of them are trade unionists, who got into trouble with the authorities because they stood up for worker’s rights.
They are forced to survive on hand outs that leave them in poverty, or they are denied support altogether and end up destitute. It is inhumane to treat people in this way, and it makes no economic sense.
The global economic crisis has pushed 50 million more people worldwide into extreme poverty. It’s simply not fair for poor people to pay the price of mistakes made by rich bankers, to die for lack of medicines or for their children to be forced out of school because of an economic crisis they did nothing to cause. That’s why we are campaigning for a financial transaction tax on banks.
The ‘Robin Hood Tax’ is a tiny tax that would have a massive impact. It would raise enough money to help poor people, protect public services and tackle climate change at home and abroad.
Politicians around the world are already beginning to consider it as a serious possibility, but we need to make sure the possibility becomes a reality.
For more info go to The Robin Hood Tax
Israel’s continued colonisation and annexation since 1967 of Palestinian land in the West Bank (WB), described by Israel as ‘settlements’, are illegal under international law and thus a major obstacle to peace (see eg UN Security Council resolutions 446 in 1979 and 465 in 1980; 2004 International Court of Justice). Much agricultural food produce exported to the UK by such as Agrexco and labelled as produce of Israel originates from the fertile WB Jordan Valley area, grown on confiscated Palestinian land . Following increasing consumer pressure, even a change of labelling to such as “produce of West Bank” or “Jordan Valley” misleads consumers seeking to make informed ethical choices, since the vast majority comes from Israeli settlement areas anyway.
Hansard from 2nd December 2009 (Israeli Goods Labelling, led by Phyllis Starkey) outlines the exact nature of the problem: Namely that exports to the European Union under the EU-Israel trade agreement benefit from the trade preference and avoid import duty. However goods identified as from settlements cannot legally be labelled “made in Israel” and should pay full import duty. Ruling in a case involving the German courts and Brita bottled water, the European Court of Justice recently reaffirmed that the trade agreement applies only within the 1967 borders of Israel.
As the sale of agricultural and other produce from the illegal settlements contributes significantly to their economic viability and thus their continuation, we are asking candidates to:
a) Make immediate representation to HM Revenue and Customs via Treasury ministers to ensure only goods identified as originating from within the internationally recognised borders of Israel are permitted to enter under preference, thus ending the unlawful flouting of EU regulations and a loss of income to UK public finances?
The global average temperature has risen almost 0.8ºC over pre-industrial levels, and climate change is already causing serious problems for millions of people. Once temperature increase rises above 2°C, up to 4 billion people could experience growing water shortages, millions more people will be at risk of hunger and 40–60 million more people would be exposed to malaria in Africa. Above 2°C, the risk of a disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet rises significantly, as does the greater danger of ‘tipping points’ for soil carbon release and the collapse of the Amazon rainforest (Source: Tearfund).
Many scientists, governments and NGOs have agreed that developing countries must commit to a target of 40% cuts on 1990 levels by 2020 to prevent global temperature rises of more than 2°C (Source: Tearfund). That is why we are asking our candidates to commit to helping to push for an ambitious and binding global deal in 2010 and action to ensure the UK achieves 40% cuts in emissions by 2020.
In addition to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, it is essential that we help developing countries to adapt to the changes in climate which are already happening.
According to a selection of current estimates, the investment required for adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change in developing countries is in the order of $50–86 billion per year by 2020 (Source: UNDP), in addition to existing aid commitments. Oxfam estimates the UK’s obligation at 5.3% of the total, or US$2.65-4.56 billion per year(Source: Oxfam).
With the UK facing its biggest economic crisis in decades, there is a stronger case than ever to put the money for Trident to better use. Nuclear weapons do not meet our security needs and have been described by some senior military figures, including former Chief of the Defence Staff, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, as ‘useless’.
Yet the government is planning to spend up to £20 billion on replacing Trident.
£20 billion would be enough money for:
- 96,000 newly-qualified nurses every year for the next 10 years
- 48,000 newly-qualified teachers every year for the next 20 years
- A £2000 bonus per pensioner
- Investing in climate change measures, both energy efficiency and renewables, to meet our emissions targets.
In addition, £20 billion is just the (estimated) initial cost of replacing Trident, if you count running and maintenance costs as well, the full estimate is up to £100 billion over its lifetime.
Far from deterring nuclear threats, replacing Trident will increase the risk of nuclear war. That’s why we’re asking candidates to actively pursue international nuclear disarmament.
For more information go to CND.
The UK has made good progress towards cancelling the debts of some of the poorest countries in the world, but there is still a long way to go.
The UK still holds more than £2 billion of debt from other poor countries which are not eligible for Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative. This includes countries like Angola, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru and Ecuador, which desperately need to invest in basic services for their people, but which are still making debt payments to the UK.
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative was a step forward, as it cancels the debts that some countries owe to the international financial institutions, but still only covers countries which have completed the HIPC.
Poor countries as a whole are still paying more than $100 million a day to the rich world, and – if they are to get debt relief – are still forced to implement unproven policies chosen for them by unaccountable outsiders. Millions of people are still suffering as the debt crisis drains their countries of resources, and policies imposed in order to get debt relief destroy their livelihoods. There must be full cancellation of all unpayable and unjust debts – without harmful strings attached – by fair, open means.
For more information go to: The Jubilee Debt Campaign.
Armed conflict has a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. Arms exporters help prolong violent conflict, profiting from the human tragedy it brings.
Yet the UK government continues to grant export licenses to countries involved in armed conflict and to countries classified as being ‘of concern’ in the government’s own human rights report. These sales are supported and promoted by a taxpayer funded arms sales unit, the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).
Despite its obscure name and low profile, UKTI DSO is at the heart of the government’s support for the arms trade.
- It exists purely to help arms companies sell weapons to other countries.
- Working on behalf of private arms companies, it promotes weapons sales to unstable and repressive regimes, with little regard for the impact of such sales.
- This work is all paid for by the UK taxpayer.
- UKTI DSO reflects the huge and disproportionate support given to arms companies: UKTI employs more civil servants to sell arms than it does to support every other industry sector combined.
There is no economic justification for such support: arms sales account for just 1.5 % of UK exports and sustain just 0.2% of the national labour force. Instead of fuelling insecurity and abuse around the globe, this money would be better spent on tackling real threats to our security, such as climate change: a move that would also create new jobs and boost the economy.
For more information go to:
CAAT (Particularly their UKTI – Armed and Dangerous campaign, and work on BAE and corruption allegations against them. Also all the facts and figures you could ever want!)
SPEAK Defend Peace: Disarm Tax campaign (a great briefing can be downloaded from here as well as action points).
As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela, by Mark Thomas: an excellent and surprisingly funny book following the adventures of the comedian tackling and exposing arms dealers and government involvement.
Poor countries have the riches to help work their own way out of poverty. But it’s multinational companies that are reaping the rewards.
Multinational companies are really good at finding new ways to make money – that’s what they are there for. But some go to unethical, even illegal, lengths.
By reporting just a fraction of the profits they make in poorer countries, and hiding the true amounts offshore, these unscrupulous businesses reduce their tax bills – and cost the developing world billions.
In the West, tax revenue pays for basic healthcare, roads and schools. Many poorer countries struggle to do the same – sometimes because lack of infrastructure prevents them collecting revenue efficiently, and sometimes due to corrupt and unaccountable government.
However, the cloak of silence under which so many corporations are able to operate means billions of dollars leave developing countries without anyone noticing.
If the West is serious about poorer countries helping themselves out of poverty, the secrecy has to stop.
We need a new global financial culture. The G20 needs to ensure that every multinational declares in which countries it makes its profits and how much tax it pays.
For more information go to Christian Aid.
Councils have a big say in UK climate emissions – from how we heat and fuel our homes to how we get around. The Get Serious About CO2 campaign is calling for every council to do its bit to tackle climate change by reducing their emissions 40% by 2020. Recently, Leeds City Council did just that.
The latest science tells us that carbon emissions need to fall now and fall fast to avoid dangerous climate change. If we don’t act, a billion of the world’s poorest people will be left hungry and homeless, and people in the UK will be affected by rising food prices, and more floods and droughts. But if councils got serious about climate change it would:
- Boost the local economy.
- Create green jobs.
Slash fuel bills.
We’re calling for Local Carbon Budgets that would limit the amount of carbon emitted in a council area and:
- Are set in line with the current science (so that the targets are tough enough).
- Apply to every council.
- Are backed up by financial and technical support for councils.
For more information go to: Friends of the Earth
Every week 32 million of us shop in British supermarkets. But as supermarkets continue to push for lower prices and higher profits – who is paying the cost?
Rarely is it supermarkets. Instead all too often it is passed down the supply chain to the workers at the bottom. They end up poorly paid and easily exploited.
The Grocery Market Ombudsman Bill was debated by MPs in parliament for around four hours on Friday 5 March. If passed into law, the proposed Bill would create an ombudsman to monitor supermarkets and enforce the new Groceries Supply Code of Practice.
Campaigners and MPs say that without an ombudsman with proper powers to enforce it (as recommended by the Competition Commission after an exhaustive 2 year investigation) the Code would be ineffective in stopping the British supermarkets from squeezing small producers and continuing to push for lower prices and higher profits.
By preventing supermarkets from squeezing suppliers unfairly, an Ombudsman would give farmers and workers in poor countries a chance to improve their pay and conditions, whilst protecting quality and choice for British shoppers.
We need an independent, proactive Ombudsman that will allow suppliers to make anonymous complaints and we want candidates to help ensure that this does not fall off the agenda of the new Government.
For more information go to ActionAid.