Like thousands of people in this country and millions around the world, I took to the streets in February 2003 to March against the US-UK invasion of Iraq. The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have opposed the war from the start, joined only by few rebels from other parties. Since the last Government’s illegal invasion of Iraq the following month, 179 British servicemen and women and 100,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives. The war has cost the British tax payer £8billion.
After the secretive Butler and Hutton inquiries resulted in a whitewash the Liberal Democrats pressed for an open public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the decision to go to war. The Labour government eventually set up the Chilcot enquiry, while ensuring that it would not report until long after the 2010 General Election. In the course of the inquiry it has become increasingly clear that not only the public, but also senior members of the government were seriously misled over the justifications for war. The inquiry should report its findings by the end of 2010.
For more information, updates and analysis of the Iraq war inquiry, please follow the link below.
Jo talking about Iraq in Parliament
The UK has had a military presence in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in October 2001, and around 9,000 British troops are currently based in Helmand province in the south of the country. Although the Liberal Democrats believe that the deployment is in Britain’s security interests and is a tough but necessary mission, we the absence of any coherent international political strategy is putting our soldiers at unnecessary risk and prolonging the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. A clear military strategy and adequate resources are required so we can achieve the desired military and political objectives and work towards a regional peace settlement. Our strategy must focus on people and not just political leaders, and we must pay more attention to economic development as well as security.
Jo talking about Afghanistan in Parliament
In the midst of globalisation Britain’s membership of the EU remains vital. Our country’s potential influence in the international arena is much greater when we lead in Europe. We must focus on issues such as tackling climate change, taking on cross border criminals and building economic prosperity for all Europeans. We are stronger together and weaker apart.
Jo talking about Europe in Parliament
External news stories on Europe
Trade injustice plays a fundamental part in maintaining our unbalanced world economy. To reduce levels of poverty in developing countries it is essential that governments in developed countries such as our own trade on fair terms, respecting rather than exploiting poorer communities. The Liberal Democrats seek to remove the subsidies and tariff barriers that prevent the poorest countries in the world selling their goods on fair terms. Aside from government policy, local communities can also play an important role in promoting fair trade. I have been supporting local businesses who sell Fair Trade products in East Dunbartonshire (an area which thanks to its Fair Trade Movement has become an official ‘Fair Trade Zone’) and I hope that more local businesses will do the same. You can read more about this in the stories below.
As members of the international community it is important to respect human rights and uphold international human rights law. As Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats I regularly spoke on issues of human rights effecting countries such as Iran, Iraq and Latin America in order to put pressure on the government to fulfil its obligations in the global arena. Here are some of my articles and speeches on related topics and below are links to relevant organisations that campaign on human rights.
Jo talking about Human Rights in Parliament
External news stories on Human Rights
The Liberal Democrats are firmly committed to the global elimination of nuclear weapons. We support the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 and believe we must reduce our own nuclear stock pile. The Labour government, with the support of the Conservatives, took the decision to renew Britain’s archaic Cold War “Trident” nuclear weapons system at the cost of £100 billion to the British taxpayer. The Liberal Democrats oppose the replacement of Trident, and as part of the coalition government we have ensured that it will have to be scrutinised to ensure value for money before going ahead.
External news stories on Nuclear Arms
Jo’s other stories on global affairs
Jo talking about global affairs in Parliament
External news stories on Other Issues
- War on Want
- European Union
- Trade Justice Movement
- UN Human Rights
- Amnesty International
- Make Poverty History
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- International Crisis Group
- CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament)