Ed Miliband: the patriotism of a refugee

“The first Jewish leader of the Labour Party.” It says something about me and about Britain that I am rarely described as such.

I am not religious. But I am Jewish. My relationship with my Jewishness is complex. But whose isn’t?

My family history often feels distant and far away. Yet the pain of this history is such that I feel a duty to remember, understand and discuss it – a duty that grows, rather than diminishes, over time.

As children we were only dimly aware of it but we caught glimpses. When I was seven, my family went to visit my grandmother in Tel Aviv. Pointing at a black-and-white photograph, I demanded to know who was “that man in the picture”. I remember being taken swiftly out of the room and then being told quietly that he was my grandfather David, who had died in Poland long before I was born. It was only some years later that I realised my mum’s father had died in a concentration camp, murdered by the Nazis for being Jewish.

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We must defy Strasbourg on prisoner votes

Just over a year ago the House of Commons was the scene of a robust debate on prisoner voting rights. By a majority of more than 200, MPs from both sides voted in favour of the current law that convicted prisoners cannot be on the electoral roll.

Regrettably, this emphatic statement of Parliament’s will did not stop the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from declaring on Tuesday that Britain’s ban on prisoner voting is unlawful. The Court has ordered us to legislate to give prisoners the vote within six months. We should do no such thing.

On a visit to Britain in 1997, the former German president Roman Herzog was asked what would happen if there was a conflict between the ECHR and the German Constitutional Court. The president replied: “I think the German people would support their own court.” On prisoner votes, we believe the British people will support their own Parliament.

Of course, the UK Government should not defy Strasbourg judgments regarding serious breaches of human rights, such as concerns that a deportee may be tortured. Such cases are precisely what the Court was set up to do; its conclusions in such cases ought to be respected by Britain in accordance with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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The Jewishness of Ed Miliband: Labour’s first Jewish leader bravely faces up to the Left’s anti-Semitic streak

Today’s New Statesman contains a fascinating article by Ed Miliband in which he talks, for the first time in detail, about being Labour’s first Jewish leader.

“I am not religious. But I am Jewish. My relationship with my Jewishness is complex. But whose isn’t?”, he writes. “My family history often feels distant and far away. Yet the pain of this history is such that I feel a duty to remember, understand and discuss it – a duty that grows, rather than diminishes, over time”.

Since his election, Miliband has not enjoyed a good relationship with the Jewish community. In his first speech following his victory he called for international pressure on Israel over the ending of the moratorium on settlements, condemned the attack on the Gaza flotilla, and called on Israel to accept and recognise the Palestinian right to statehood. He said the Gaza blockage must be lifted, and pledged to “strain every sinew to make that happen”.

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referendumCampaign for Scottish independence launched in Edinburgh

Organisers of the Yes Scotland movement vowed to stage the “biggest community-based campaign in Scotland’s history” in the run-up to the independence referendum which could take place in October 2014.

First Minister Alex Salmond, one of the key speakers at the launch in Edinburgh, said: “We unite behind a declaration of self-evident truth.

“The people who live in Scotland are best placed to make the decisions that affect Scotland.

“We want a Scotland that’s greener, that’s fairer and more prosperous.

“We realise that the power of an independent Scotland is necessary to achieve these great ends.”

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Catalonia demands a bailout from central government

“We don’t care how they do it, but we need to make payments at the end of the month. Your economy can’t recover if you can’t pay your bills,” said Catalan President Artur Mas.

The debt burden of Spain’s 17 highly devolved regions and toxic property debt held by the country’s banks are at the heart of the eurozone debt crisis because investors fear they could strain finances to the point that an international bailout is needed.

Just after the announcement this afternoon Spain’s IBEX stock market fell 1.1pc, the yield on ten-year Spanish debt rose to 6.24pc and the euro slumped to its lowest level against the US dollar in two years, $1.2496.

Catalonia, which represents one fifth of the Spanish economy, has more than €13bn in debt to refinance this year, as well as its deficit. All of the regions together have €36bn to refinance this year, as well as an authorised deficit of €15bn.

Last year many of the regions financed debt by falling months or even years behind in payments to providers such as street cleaners and hospital equipment suppliers.

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The Irish Christening

Paddy’s pregnant sister was in a terrible car accident and went into a deep coma.

Picture Credit – infobarrel.com

After nearly six months, she woke up and saw that she was no longer  pregnant.Frantically she asked the doctor about her baby.

The doctor replied, “you had twins, a boy and a girl. The babies are fine. However they were poorly at birth and had to be christened immediately, so your brother Paddy came in and named them.”

The woman thought to herself, ‘oh suffering Jesus, no, not me brother. He’s a clueless idiot…’

Expecting the worst, she asked the doctor, “well, what’s my daughter’s name?”

“Denise.” said the doctor.

The new mother was somewhat relieved and thought to herself, ‘wow, that’s a really beautiful name. I guess I was wrong about my brother, I really like Denise.’

Then she asked, “what’s the boy’s name?”

The doctor replied, “Denephew”.