This summer I’ve added dozens of additional advice surgeries to the usual 11 which I hold every month.
Last night’s surgeries were in and around Priddy, at The Queen Victoria pub and then on to the Hunter’s Lodge. Tonight I’ll be on the other side of the patch in The Trotter Inn, Crickham.
Having a job where you speak to hundreds of people every week is fascinating. You get a real sense of public opinion, far more effective than any opinion poll!
This summer, it’s not the potholes, traffic lights or broadband, not even poor local planning which is dominating discussions – although they are all high on the list and must be dealt with.
This summer, the majority of people I meet out and about are disturbed, upset and angry.
It’s clear that Israel has crossed a line.
It’s not ok to drop bombs on civilians and the sight of parents carrying the remains of their small children in plastic bags is sickening. Bombed hospitals and schools, an entire population stunned and damaged is criminal. It simply cannot be justified.
When civilians are targeted, a crime is committed against us all. By staying silent, governments allow these crimes to become the ‘norm’, thereby failing the public and future generations.
We cannot allow the scenes we are witnessing to become the ‘norm’. They are not normal.
In the meantime, there is something that can be done on an individual level. I’m a huge believer in ‘people power’ and whereas modern history has repeatedly proven violence to be not only ugly but useless, non-violent actions can be hugely effective.
The use of a boycotts is one example of non-violent action and whilst a protest march is effective in raising awareness and publicity, a boycott hits states and organisations where it hurts most – the wallet.
Israel exports all sorts all sorts of things from food to financial services into the UK and we all have a choice about how we spend our money.
I had hoped that Israel’s leaders might have heeded the suggestion by Nick Clegg, that they could surprise the world with “an unexpected act of political magnanimity, rather than sporadic military reprisal”.
Likewise, Hamas could do the same and reject violence – doing so at this time would be likely to force concessions from Israel, when the eyes of the world are firmly on the region.
Unfortunately, shelling from both sides resumed earlier today. The first to die? Someone’s little boy, 12 year old Ibrahim Aldawawseh – innocent, but punished. Slaughtered whilst he played.
But it’s not just the shelling which is wrong.
Gaza is often referred to as an ‘open air prison’. People can’t come and go and access to goods and services is controlled by Israel.
We wouldn’t accept that in Britain and we can’t accept it elsewhere.
That is why I believe the time has come to use the methods that peacefully but successfully isolated South Africa during the apartheid years.
The time has come for me to choose how I spend my money. I must boycott Israeli goods and services and I would encourage others to consider doing the same.
8th August 2014