Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Consistency is over-rated, isn't it Mr Uppal?

My underwhelming MP, Mr. Paul Uppal, is the son of refugees: Kenyan Indians forced to flee by Idi Amin, one of history's worst monsters.

So you might think that he'd have some sympathy for the plight of the oppressed in the East. Perhaps a word in favour of the Bahrainis?

Not a bit of it. Paul's a multimillionaire. He sees himself as one of a band of victims, harried by the taxman and the grasping poor. When the showdown between the Saudi armed forces and the desperate and unarmed Bahraini poor began today, he's firmly on the side of dictatorship and reaction.

Why else would he be a member of the
Saudi Arabia All-Party Parliamentary Group - Treasurer
To encourage and develop diplomatic, cultural and social exchanges between the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UK with the aim of achieving greater understanding and fostering mutual respect.
Doughty fighters for democracy and human rights, no doubt. Let's have a look at the officers:

Daniel Kawczynski
Rehman Chishti
Andrew Rosindell
Lord Rogan
Paul Uppal
Khalid Mahmood

Delightful. Khalid Mahmood is a pretty unpleasant Labour MP, Rogan is a disgusting Ulster Unionist, and the rest are from the white-coats-flapping-nurse-the-screens wing of the Tory party. Rosindell, for instance, flirts with the iconography of the BNP and had to be forced  to quit the Monday Club (toff BNP) by his party leader to avoid embarrassment. They will not, one suspects, be asking the Saudis why women aren't allowed out without male relatives, and banned from driving, for instance. These are the officers: the members are a motley crowd of spooks, arms-dealers' pets, directorship-chasers and eye-swivellers.

You can gauge the kind of links they want with Saudi Arabia by looking at chairman Daniel Kawczynski's new book, Seeking Gaddafi. He's the MP for Shrewsbury and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libya (mysteriously absent from the official list but referenced by various MPs). Is it a fierce attack on that repulsive dictator? Er, no. Not according to the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph:

The “principled engagement” that he advocates means that oil and gas trump human rights.
Fair enough, but at least spare us the pious platitudes: “As we become more interdependent, culturally and economically, the chances for honest, productive conversations on all the issues that both unite and divide us grow ever greater.”
It is also extraordinary that a book of this type should contain no maps.

Chair of two pro-fascist groups? I hope the voters of Shrewsbury and Atcham are taking a view on this.

What do these MPs do? They kiss bottom and get schmoozed. In return, these revolting regimes get a friendly hearing in the corridors of power. Will Uppal's constituency citizens gain any benefit from his hobnobbing with brutal medieval dictators? Not that I can see. Take Bahrain: their Parliamentary Group (virtually all Tory) is funded by… the Bahraini government. Not much independent thinking will be going on there, I fear.

Don't worry, Uppal's not just thinking about foreign murderers. He's on other lobbying efforts (not Select Committees of course: they have authority and demand hard and honest work):

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Excellence in the Built Environment
To promote excellence in the built environment.
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Men's Health -Vice-Chair
To raise awareness of health issues affecting men.
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community
To increase the coverage of race equality issues in Parliament; to update members on race equality issues and up-to-date research; and to connect the group with race equality organisations.
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees
To provide a forum for the discussion of issues relating to refugees, both in the UK and abroad, and to promote the welfare of refugees.
All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs – Treasurer
To support and promote the interests of Sikhs in Britain; to work with British Sikhs to celebrate Sikh culture in the UK; and to ensure full equality for all British Sikhs
All-Party Parliamentary Strategic Industries Group
To examine and discuss ways of safeguarding UK industry and expanding opportunities for growth for the UK's strategic national industries.
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Transplantation-Vice-Chair
To promote leadership of organ donation and transplantation in Parliament in order to support the implementation of the Organ Donation Taskforce's recommendations, ensure that the target to increase organ donation after death by 50% by 2013 is met, and significantly increase the number of organ transplants.
All-Party Parliamentary Urban Development Group - Chair
To ensure the progression of urban renewal and sustainable development in the UK and raise, within Parliament and outside bodies, the profile and understanding of the regeneration process and the role that can be played by the private sector, particularly the property investment community.

Some of these are of course simply to look active and caring without actually doing anything. Others are good for electoral purposes - local Sikh voters will be keen on his membership of the British Sikh Group. Yet others are classic Paul, such as the Urban Development and Built Environment Groups: he's a property speculator. 'Excellence', you may presume, means 'profitable'. As to the 'race and community' group: perhaps we should refer back to his only public statement on race relations (deleted along with the rest of his blog but saved for posterity by his itchy white admirers):

"It is with particularly sadness that I recently heard that  James McGrath (Chief of staff to our previous Chairman) has been pushed out of his job working with Boris Johnson.  Accusations of racism have been levelled against him, as a few words have been taken out of context and jumped upon by the PC brigade. I’ve met James on numerous occasions and found him to be a warm, witty and charming individual. As someone who prides himself as being fairly astute at spotting such things, I am wholly convinced that he does not possess a racist bone in his body.
Rather he appears to be the victim of the McCarthyistic mouth foaming utterances of the race relations industry, which through accusation alone can slay political careers and stifle well intentioned and principled debate. I say this because I have seen with my very own eyes the modus operandi of this circus which employs individuals to perpetuate this climate of political correctness. In reality this industry/business does dreadful damage to Britain’s real race relations. It seems more concerned with securing it’s own funding streams and non jobs for it’s membership of zealots. The cost of this is all is so much more than financial, as we lose decent people and gag those who point to the emperor’s new clothes."
His friends in the property industry know where he's coming from: money-green is far more important than brown:

Yet four decades after Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech against Commonwealth migration, part-time property developer Paul Uppal is more worried about empty rates than race relations or voting reform. “I would like to help change the face of property,” he says. “It doesn’t get a good press, and the industry doesn’t bang the drum hard enough about its role in the wider economy.”

Finally, what if you want to see Paul and ask him what he's up to?

Well, he's not keen.
Many people think that their MP can solve all their problems: this is sadly not the case and there are many examples where contacting an MP may result in a problem taking longer to resolve if the issue in question is not their responsibility. MPs are there to help only with those matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible.
An MP is unable to…
Nor can an MP…
your nearest Citizens' Advice Bureau will be able to guide you.
It takes several paragraphs before he gets round to grudgingly admitting that there are things he can do. And when he does, there's a striking Freudian slip:
Ways Pay could deal with problems of his constituents would be
Your tax-dollars at work.

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