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The Conservative Party have lost the Chesham and Amersham by-election: their majority of 16,223 at the 2019 election turned into a Lib Dem majority of 8,028. A cursory glance over the Liberal Democrats’ election literature suggests that they won by highlighting that various Conservatives oppose the Government’s planning reforms. While this might be true, it would be wrong to pronounce planning reform out for the count – the Planning Bill isn’t even published yet. Although early communications around reform may have been over-exuberant, what emerges at the end is likely to involve giving control over development to communities in ways that Amersham and Chesham voters would be much less concerned about.
The global response to the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a series of reflections about the international architecture of global health, both domestically and internationally. Through its Presidency of the G7 summit – which takes place in Cornwall next weekend – the United Kingdom has both an opportune moment and ample scope to take a leading role in reshaping global health governance for good.
Voices in the environment sector have long fired criticisms at Net Zero, the Government’s target for eradicating emissions by the middle of this century. Last year, Greta Thunberg argued that the world should ‘forget’ Net Zero, and an article recently posted by The Conversation argued it is a “dangerous trap”. However, the opposite is true; Net Zero is a practical and a political victory for the decarbonisation agenda, not a dangerous trap worth forgetting.
The Iranian news agency Mehr News has released a short video showing a flag of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) being displayed during a London anti-Israel demonstration on 22 May. The IRGC was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2019. In December 2020, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee called on the British Government to also proscribe the IRGC.
The Government’s tree strategy for England arrived this week, setting out a range of welcome measures designed to meet its manifesto promise of 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by the end of the Parliament. That’s about three times the current rate and it’s a tall order. Compared to places like France and Germany, which have tree cover upwards of 30%, the UK has a paltry 13%.
Die Welt – the Berlin-based centre-right German newspaper of record – reported on 25 April that the European Commission apparently continues to fund organisations that either the Federal Government (FG) or the domestic German intelligence and security agency, Das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV – The Constitution Protection Agency), have found to be Islamist and some of whose employees have made anti-Semitic statements.
“My Government will help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent.”
These words, from Her Majesty, during the Queen’s Speech, reflect an important focus for the Government. It was only last autumn that the Prime Minister outlined his intention to help Generation Rent become Generation Buy.
In the wake of the Queen’s Speech it seemed appropriate to return to some of the issues raised in a paper I produced for Policy Exchange on housing earlier this year.
The campaign group CAGE and the Islamist website Islam21C have both promoted endorsements from Tauqir Sharif (Tox) as part of their Ramadan fundraising campaigns. Sharif is a UK-born activist based in Syria who has been unable to return to Britain since 2017 when his British citizenship was removed on the grounds that he is linked to a group aligned with Al-Qaeda. Sharif has reportedly admitted to fighting in Syria, but denied being part of Al-Qaeda. He has justified his presence in Syria as a charity worker. However, a letter from the Home Office accused Sharif of being “aligned with an AQ-aligned group,” and stated that it had been assessed that his return to the UK would “present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom.”
Friends of Al-Aqsa leader participates in online conference including listed terrorist and Islamist figures
The head of the UK-based campaign group Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), Ismail Patel, has appeared among the speakers at a recent online conference that included a number of extreme figures. Taking place on 9 May 2021, the conference titled The scholars’ speech to those steadfast in Al-Aqsa, was broadcast over Facebook and YouTube by the Palestine Scholars Association in the Diaspora. Coverage of the event by Donia Al Watan reported that Muthanna Harith Al-Dhari, head of the Political Department of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI), was one of those speaking at the conference. In 2010, Al-Dhari was listed by the UN Security Council under the Al-Qaeda sanctions list for providing financial support to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He is the son of the late Harith Al-Dhari; the former head of AMSI, known as ‘the Spiritual Leader of the Iraqi Resistance’ (Insurgency), and designated by the US Treasury in 2008 for threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.
5Pillars publishes Hizb ut-Tahrir leader advocating military force and a Caliphate to “liberate Palestine and Kashmir”
The UK Islamist news website 5Pillars has published an opinion piece by Abdul Wahid—chairman of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain—arguing that Muslim majority countries, and to a lesser degree some Muslims in the UK, are betraying the Palestinian and Kashmiri causes. Titled, Only a united Ummah can liberate Palestine and Kashmir, Wahid advocates the use of military force and the establishment of the Khilafah, or Caliphate, as the only means for achieving this.