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In his recent column in the Hamilton Advertiser, Tom wrote about the Parliamentary vote to recognise Palestine that took place on the 13 October and why he supported it.

"So much has happened in the last few months, both here at home and around the world, that it is perhaps unsurprising that the events in Gaza have faded from the collective memory to some extent. Yet the widespread sense of revulsion and anger that, as a longstanding dispute in what has been a troubled part of the world escalated, several hundreds of civilians were killed (mostly Palestinian) remains. For as long as I can remember this has been one of the most entrenched conflicts around the world. While there have been attempts to secure a peaceful long-term settlement, most recently led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, they have so far proved unsuccessful. Like most people, including many in both Israel and Palestine, I believe that it is only with a two state solution that a peaceful and secure future can be achieved.

Earlier this week, I joined other MPs in voting to support a motion in Parliament that the UK should recognise Palestine as a state. I believe that in both 2011 and 2012, when motions in relation to the recognition of Palestine were put before the United Nations, that the UK should have joined other UN members in supporting that recognition. Not in support of the Hamas led regime in Palestine, nor to take a side in the Israel/Palestine conflict, but as part of a contribution to securing the negotiated two state solution that the vast majority want to see.

Recognition of the Palestinian state is a political step – one which has been taken now by more than 130 of the 190 UN members. It is right that the UK, as a member of the UN security council, now joins that growing list of countries that recognise Palestine as a state. Some have argued this amounts to the equivalent of the recognition of the current Hamas administration – but the UK and other international bodies recognise states rather than governments, and should do so in support of the innocent civilians living in very difficult circumstances through no fault of their own. The UK should be joining others in sending a very strong message that helps to strengthen moderate Palestinian opinion that is committed to negotiation and dialogue rather than violence and conflict.

While the vote in Parliament this week was overwhelmingly in support of recognition, it is not binding on the government. The timing of a decision to recognise Palestinian statehood would remain one for the government of the day to take, but there has been a clear and definitive view expressed by Parliament. Not only to ensure our government has recognised the strength of opinion and level of support there is in the country for recognition of Palestine, but also to send a powerful message to both Israel and Palestinian governments of the merit of a negotiated and agreed two state solution that the international community would try to help facilitate. That lasting and enduring settlement will be helped from the starting point of both states being recognised.

With various initiatives designed to lead to the negotiation of a lasting peace have been tried and failed, there are some who have questioned whether it will ever be possible to find a way forward that results in both Israel and Palestine being able to co-exist, side by side as peaceful and secure states that provide a quality of life to their citizens which simply has not been possible in recent years. The question for all of those with an interest in seeing a lasting peace is what is the best route to encouraging the next step in the complex process of rekindling the hopes of a credible route to a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel – to my mind, and therefore my vote in Parliament this week, agreeing to the principle of recognition is an important and worthwhile step."

 

Greatrex: Recognising Palestine will help bring peace

In his recent column in the Hamilton Advertiser, Tom wrote about the Parliamentary vote to recognise Palestine that took place on the 13 October and why he supported it.

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Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex has  welcomed the Energy Best Deal campaign run by Citizens Advice Scotland, including the local Rutherglen and Cambuslang bureau.

 

Tom, who is Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, recently chaired a national Energy Best Deal event hosted by Citizens Advice Scotland at the Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, which reviewed the success of the campaign so far in 2013/2014 and considered the next steps with around 80 delegates from across Scotland representing charities, partner organisations and energy companies who have helped in the delivery of the project.

Energy Best Deal, a consumer campaign developed by Citizens Advice and Ofgem, helps consumers on low incomes to reduce their energy customers by switching tariff, payment method or supplier as well as providing guidance on where to go if they need help and how to use less energy in their homes. Tom also recently met up with Rutherglen and Cambuslang bureau staff and volunteers to discuss the service, which is being provided by Sharon Hampson and her team locally again from this month.

Tom said: “Energy bills are right at the top of many people’s cost of living concerns, and the bad practice of the big companies means many customers have lost trust in their suppliers. Part of the problem is that the energy market is so complex that often those who can least afford it find themselves on the worst deals – it is why an incoming Labour government will freeze energy prices and give a new regulator teeth to rein in the energy companies where they rip people off.

The Energy Best Deal campaign – where authoritative, independent and impartial expert advice is provided to communities like ours – is a good initiative, and I am delighted that once again it will be available through our local bureau serving Rutherglen and Cambuslang. It was informative to chair the national event in Edinburgh to hear from advisers from around Scotland about their experiences in dealing with energy companies on behalf of their local areas.”

Sharon Hampson, Manager of Rutherglen and Cambuslang CAB, said: “We are proud to announce that once again, Rutherglen & Cambuslang Bureau are taking part in the Energy Best Deal for the 3rd year running. This project is designed to facilitate consumers saving money by finding the best energy deal for them and targets consumers and frontline advice workers through face to face information and guidance sessions.

“The Energy Best Deal is also designed to help people access the support, discounts and energy efficiency measures they may be entitled to through their energy suppliers and Government. Our aim is to make these actions as easy as possible and to ensure that vulnerable consumers can access the support available to them."

MP Tom backs ‘Energy Best Deal’ campaign

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex has  welcomed the Energy Best Deal campaign run by Citizens Advice Scotland, including the local Rutherglen and Cambuslang bureau.  

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Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex is asking folk across the area to support the 'Lights Out' campaign to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

 The 14-18 Now campaign invites everyone in the UK to turn the lights off between 10pm-11pm on 4 August, the exact hour when war was declared in 1914 - a century ago - leaving on a single light or candle for a moment of reflection.

The project is being organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations.

The inspiration for LIGHTS OUT comes from a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey: The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”. Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm on 4 August 1914 ushering in one of the darkest periods in British history.

 

Millions of people are expected to participate in LIGHTS OUT and hundreds of iconic buildings,

national organisations across the UK and in Scotland including the Royal British Legion, and many
places of worship have pledged their support.

 Important landmarks such as Blackpool Illuminations, the Houses of Parliament, Eden Project, the Imperial War Museums and Tower Bridge will turn off their lights; the Royal British Legion has launched a campaign for at least one million candles to be lit across the UK and theatre productions including those of the National Theatre’s War Horse, both nationally and internationally, will invite their audiences to take part in LIGHTS OUT after their curtain calls.

Tom Greatrex MP said: “The First World War had a dramatic impact on communities across the UK and Europe with millions of lives lost. As the centenary of the start of that conflict is reached, I am encouraging as many people as possible in Rutherglen and Hamilton West to participate if they can and to turn the lights off for an hour on 4 August. Our local war memorials remind us both of the sacrifices made and also the sheer scale of the war over four long years.

“It’s important that we remember that sacrifice, and learn the lessons from the past – and ensure that those lessons continue to be passed on to the next generation.

"That’s why I’ll be turning my lights off for an hour on 4 August – I hope that many local people will join me and take the opportunity to learn more about the campaign.”

LIGHTS OUT complements the candlelit vigil service to be held in Westminster Abbey from 10pm to 11pm on 4th August.

 

The 14-18 NOW programme is funded by £10 million granted from the National Lottery including The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) which are contributing £5million each.

 

For more information and to find LIGHTS OUT events in your local area go to: www.1418NOW.org.uk/lightsout

 

You can also follow the campaign on Twitter using #LightsOut

MP Tom backs "Lights Out" Campaign

  Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex is asking folk across the area to support the 'Lights Out' campaign to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.  The 14-18 Now...

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