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As a mere observer I feel a deep compassion, as I know do all of you, for those who have suffered at the hands of this terrible disaster. I've donated to a number of charities focused on providing immediate assistance to those who have lost their homes and loved ones in this tragedy. In this fast moving world of accelerated daily news, it is easy to sometimes forget the human consequence of these events as such, I wanted to emplore you all to donate what you can to this cause.
One of the charitable organisations I am fond of for their "grass roots" and egalitarian appraoch to helping others is Khalsa Aid who recently release this statement:
Note: you can see more here.
PRESS RELEASE – KHALSA AID: 16TH MARCH 20011
Most of you will have seen the tragedy that has struck Japan, firstly with the earthquake, the tsunami that followed and now the fallout from the nuclear plant. Some of you have been asking what Khalsa Aid is doing to help in this disaster. Planning
From day 1, Khalsa Aid has been assessing the situation, having made direct contact with a number of Government authorities, fellow Sikhs living in the area, as well as other charity organisations involved in similar work to KA. Currently the overriding message is that only government-approved organisations are being allowed in the area. Indeed the International Rescue Corp (IRC) based in the UK was turned away simply to return to the UK having achieved nothing. See link below covering this news in more detail:
The local Gurdwara in Tokyo have prepared Langar to serve to those in need, but have been prevented from getting to the affected areas. All transportation to Sendai and other towns hit by the tsunami has ceased.
Rest assured KA is keen support the rescue efforts in Japan by offering our seva as soon as is practicably possible. Some of our most senior and experienced relief workers are on standby, ready to leave for Japan whenever the opportunity arises. We are very conscious that we do not want to waste Sangath’s money in sending volunteers to Japan only to be turned away, like with the IRC.
Ravinder Singh CEO, currently in Haiti with 2 other volunteers, is returning to the UK immediately to assess the situation in Japan.
Khalsa Aid is also assessing the situation at the Libyan Tunisia border, where some 250,000 refugees are stranded and living in torrid conditions.
Please refer to the KA website where we will keep the Sangath updated as soon as we can on both of these projects…………
I was utterly shocked to read the Evening Standard (front page) article regarding the terrible plight of the homeless in Southall a few weeks back. It's a sad state of affairs and it really hits home given that it's happening on our doorstep. In situations like this, you'd expect some compassion and at the very least, a plan of action from our local councillors and MP to resolve the matter. Suffice to say, nothing has been forthcoming (no real surprise there).
However, what has shocked me the most about this situation is that the local Labour Party has made it clear that they simply do not care. Sharma was recently quoted as saying "I have no compassion" for those destitute in Southall. Hardly the sort of response one would expect from their leading local politician. I suspect Julian Bell (Sharma's Alistair Campbell) was not on hand to provide a more considered response - maybe he's on holiday...
The response can be read here.
Months have gone by and I was beginning to wonder what has become of our “honourable” MP Virendra Sharma. So much so, I was considering putting out a missing persons advert. Well, thankfully all my worries were cast away after he popped up during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday! His return to the political scene proved that nothing has changed and that the hapless Sharma is as slippery and woefully inadequate as ever.
It was a shameless attempt to curry favour with the local electorate. Well, it won’t wash with us. Even though he may have a short memory, we don’t. We all know that when the issue of departmental closures at Ealing Hospital came up Sharma was nowhere to be seen. He couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the hustings held for him by “Save Our Services” –instead, spent his time having a curry at a restaurant just down the road! Now, all of a sudden he’s feigning an interest. Again, it won’t wash.
I am writing this just to set the record straight and sprinkle some truth over the lies that pepper Sharma’s career. Here is the transcript of Sharma’s question with some commentary:
I am sorry for not giving the prior notice to the Prime Minister, but I am confident that, given his reassurance on the NHS, he will be able to answer my question this afternoon.
-Watching Sharma’s opening was like watching a Big Brother winner – he couldn’t have looked more glad to be in the spotlight –his demeanor lacked poise and sincerity. He continued:
Does he agree with me and the Secretary of State for Health that it makes no sense to close Ealing hospital's accident and emergency department, given that 100,000 patients use this service each year?
Note: it is the Conservative Secretary of State he was referring to – the Labour predecessor never gave such assurances. Should Sharma not point this out and congratulate the Tory Secretary of State for being so bold?
Will the Prime Minister also take this opportunity to end rumours of coalition plans to close the entire Ealing hospital?
-What rumours? There are no such rumours unless of course they have been spread by Sharma and his cronies. “Coalition plans”?! Mr Sharma clearly needs a lesson in understanding the facts! All previous plans to cut services including the Stroke services at Ealing Hospital were drawn up under the Labour administration that he represented at the time!
Mr Sharma, it is clear to me that this “unplanned” interjection at PMQs was purely an attempt by you to get your name in the spotlight. There’s no honesty behind it and to be frank, you’re months late. One of the first things the Tory Sec for Health made clear when appointed was that A&E at Ealing would not be closed. My advice to you – please find something of REAL concern to your constituents. Sharma could have done better to point out that only on the previous evening his colleagues at the Ealing council, in these times of austerity, voted en-block against the motion that would have meant a reduction of all councillor’s allowances by 10% and saved Ealing council almost £500,000 over four years. This was made even more despicable as the same Labour councillors rather than supporting a cut of 10% in their allowances voted to close the Albert Day Centre for the disabled in Southall under the pretence to save even an smaller amount of money. So much for Labour’s friendship to the residents of Southall. For further information on Albert Day centre, please visit the following link.
The Conservatives have published Labour's Last Will and Testament, outlining thirteen years of economic failures.
The document, published ahead of next week's Emergency Budget, sets out why we must act now to reduce the deficit the previous Government left behind.
Commenting on the release of the document, Conservative Party Co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi said:
"Let no one be in any doubt about the mess that Labour have left behind. We are all in this together and must realise the consequences of their 13 years in charge."
This is Labour's legacy:
Sayeeda added, "The cuts that are coming are Labour's cuts."
You can read the document in full using the document viewer below, or alternatively click here to download the document in PDF format.
In his first "Constituency Matters" posting for the Ealing Gazette MP Virendra Sharma compares the recent general election results to a “volcanic explosion in British politics” with the fallout being the “ash cloud”. I congratulate him on his use of similes but that's about all the praise he can be given for his article. Unfortunately, Sharma has chosen "doom and gloom" to be the theme of his entire address.
Sharma goes on to make a baseless claim that there is a "real chance of a double dip recession". He conveniently re-writes history by suggesting this is a “Tory recession” whilst the rest of us all know our current recession is effectively a parting gift from his very own former Labour administration. I wonder how much of this is his own analysis and how much is actually borrowed from the naysayers from within his party.
Anyway, to sift through Virendra’s dark clouds and offer up some light to brighten his day, I thought I’d list some truly positive facts about the new coalition and their early achievements:
We are now going to have more academy schools with one thousand schools having already responded positively to Michael Gove's invitation to become academies. Gove's initiative may see the number of independently-managed schools quadruple.
Debt reduction has begun (remember the Labour Party has left this country with £167Billion of deficit). Only one tenth of what needs to be done (according to the IFS) has been done but George Osborne's £6bn of spending cuts is a vital first down payment. Also, the establishment of the Office of Budget Responsibility will give us confidence that the new Chancellor cannot and will not be able to manipulate budget figures in the way that Gordon Brown did.
Sharma should remind himself that any cuts that are being introduced by the new government are only necessary because of the ill-fated economic policies of the former Labour government.
Obviously, he would not like to mention that just before the elections, they wasted so much money left, right and centre that their Chief Secretary, Mr. Byrne, was honest enough to say in his hand over note “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards — and good luck! Liam.”
Government spending will be exposed to more scrutiny. All government expenditure is being put online. Andrew Mitchell announced an Aid Transparency Guarantee to give taxpayers confidence that their money is genuinely going to the world's neediest people. Top Whitehall pay has been published. Transparency is one of Cameronism's seven biggest ideas.
Cutting red tape
The biggest example of this so far is the end of Home Information Packs (HIPs), delivered by Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps. Iain Murray has praised the Coalition's overall programme for deregulation.
Management of the war effort
The National Security Council with new Foreign Secretary William Hague at the helm have already convened to bring clarity to Afghanistan campaign.
Removal of Labour’s wasteful initiatives
The ID cards programme has been abolished with other, more relevant and less expensive civil libertarian ideas set out by Nick Clegg.
Also, fewer quangoes. Michael Gove has already scrapped 3 education quangoes and yesterday Vince Cable said that in addition to the 13 quangoes he has already scrapped he has plans to end or merge another 20. "It looks as though the march of the quangoes may finally have been halted," concluded The Telegraph.
More freedom for local government
(The new Labour council should be thanking us for this one.) Ring-fencing of funds has been abandoned for much of central government's grant to local government as a first big step towards greater localism. We've also seen the end of expensive Comprehensive Area Assessments and the axing of Regional Spatial Strategies.
Finally (for now), there has been a return of Parliamentary decorum with this new government as the latest PMQs have shown.
Mr Virendra Sharma continues to prove how woefully inadequate he is as an MP by spewing his negative rhetoric (just as he did during the general election). His brand of politics is the "politics of fear" and should be taken seriously at one's own peril.
On my part, I will continue to provide an alternative view to that of Mr. Sharma because I owe it to 12,733, almost 30% of the electorates, a record for the Conservatives, who voted for me.
Today marks the 26th anniversary of ‘Operation Blue Star’. We should remember this and the subsequent events which led to the death of many innocent people as a blot on the face of our free and democratic India. We should also note that justice is yet to be served to many of the victims - especially the widows of the Delhi riots. At the same time, I believe the bonds that have been built between the Sikh and Hindu communities have strengthened over time and our kinship will continue to grow regardless of the efforts made by those without scruples to undermine our communities. Case in point being MP Virendra Sharma who disgracefully bought the issue of 1984 into the recent General Election thus raking up the memories of this dark period to shamelessly meet his own political ends. This condemnable act of desperation was used to re-create divisions in our community and I call upon him to immediately apologise to us all.
Back in January 2009, 17 Indian nationals, predominantly from the Punjab region were sentenced to death in a Sharjah court, in the UAE for bootlegging and the murder of a Pakistani national. Ever since, many difference groups have pleaded for clemency on their behalf. I wanted to raise awareness to their plight and urge you all to sign the following online petition to have their sentences commuted:
Recent positive news is that the Indian government has decided to absorb their legals fees.
I will be participating in a demonstration being organised by the Sikh Channel this weekend. I believe this is a cause that all communities can rally around regardless of their background.
I'd like to send a huge congratulations to the councillors of Northfields who maintained the full confidence of their constituents. Namely:
Also, in Elthorne, Anita Kapoor who managed to retain her council seat in a three-way split with the other parties.
It was good to see the hard work pay off.
Firstly, I’d like to thank my family, fellow Conservatives and my campaign team, without whose support I could not have mounted such an effective campaign.
I would also like to thank each and every one of 12,733 voters who put their faith in me and I hereby promise that I will continue to serve them and others irrespective of the position I hold.
The results and our achievements
As you now know, the results are in and unfortunately, Ealing Southall will not get the new dawn it so richly deserves. Despite the manner in which his campaign was conducted – namely the personal attacks and unfounded allegations against me, the unwillingness to partake in public debates, the vandalism and intimidation of constituents – in the time honoured fashion, I congratulate Virendra Sharma and his team.
I truly hope that the new Labour council will continue to invest in the community as the Conservative council did before them and build on the progress which has been made. Of course, in the interest of the community, we will be keeping a close eye on things.
I’d also like to praise Nigel Bakhai of the Liberal Democrats for mounting a positive and spirited campaign in which we were able to debate the issues and maintain the maturity and decorum of engagement that should come with a democratic election.
We didn’t get the 19.17% swing required to gain Ealing Southall (which was always going to be miraculous if achieved). Even so, we have achieved a number of successes with this campaign:
Upon closer inspection of the results, the following can be drawn:
We've won the battle for 2nd place having usurped the Liberal Democrats.
We achieved an 8.3% swing in our favour -the largest in West London and nearly double the national swing rate.
We now have a 29.8% share of the overall vote which is an increase of 10.8% (also more than double what the party achieved on a national scale) whereas, Labour's vote share was fell by -5.8% and the Liberal Democrats by -3.3% as can be seen in the following graph:
At the council level, we didn't manage to gain any seats - a trend that was repeated across most of west, south west and east London. However, we massively increased our share of council votes, as can be seen below:
The sheer magnitude of the increase can be seen in the graph below:
The results clearly demonstrate that without a shadow of doubt there is a real alternative to the previous political status quo in Ealing Southall. The Conservatives now have a firm foothold in terms of the popular vote albeit without firm representation. It is also clear that there is a strong desire for change and that this Labour “hold” should not be misconstrued as the right to rule without consultation with the public. There are a significant number of people in Southall (almost 30%) who want to see a difference made and have shown that they do not support the current administration.
On a personal level, it’s been a very busy 18 months so I think we all deserve a short break especially my wife Rajinder who has been and continues to be my rock.
From a political perspective, I intend to maintain my interest in the politics of Ealing Southall. My website will remain current and up-to-date. I will continue to do what I can to build upon the foundations we've laid for the Conservative Party and I will certainly keep my door open to all Ealing Southall constituents should they want to consult me for any advice and guidance.