Dear Stella: Letter to my MP December 2014

Postal letter sent December 2014, with a copy of a letter sent October 2014. As yet no reply recieved.

Dear Stella

I wrote this email to you (below) on October 15th 2014, and have as yet received no reply.

I have received an email from you about your backlog, which I appreciate, and also an email responding to my offer of support around involving volunteers.

My request, in a nutshell was this:

Please, write to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and the Business Secretary Vince Cable to call for a fundamental re-evaluation of the UK’s approach to arms sales. UK arms export controls will never work while the focus of the government is on promoting rather than controlling arms sales.

Since then I have learned that £7 million worth of export licences to Israel were approved in the 6 months leading up to the recent Gaza atrocities. Along with our public acceptance of the state of Palestine must surely come strength from our country that we will not support atrocities against it; these licences say the exact opposite and therefore are a hypocrisy.

I understand that you are busy but in the approach to this very important general election there is no other way we have as constituents to be sure of our views being heard than contacting you. By online petition, by individual letter… we must make contact and we must have our voices heard by our elected representatives. It is only in this way that we can make the right voting decisions in May.

Please see the full email below, sent October 15th. I am happy to receive a reply in whichever form is easiest.

Thank you

Rebecca

Hi Stella

Thank you for your detailed explanation about your choice of vote on airstrikes in Iraq, and on the recognition of the state of Palestine. It is appreciated.

I have a question and a request.

The Question: You said that your vote about Palestine was about what you believe, as was your vote about airstrikes — as you had constituents with both points of view.

I remember when we spoke a long time ago, your vote about gay marriage was also rooted in what you believe is right. I wonder — What are your criteria for which votes are about constituent pressure, and which are from your beliefs? How much pressure would it take to change your mind on the use of military force?

The Request: You stated that you are not sure if airstrikes will bring an end to the barbarism, and that the UK bears a responsibility. Part of our responsibility for this, and for the atrocities in Gaza, lies with the fact that the government’s arms export controls system is broken.

This summer no arms exports licences to Israel were revoked, despite the Government admitting that at least 12 were for equipment that might be being used in the attacks on Gaza. When hostilities resumed, again no licenses were revoked.

Last week we saw UK made tear gas turned on democracy protesters in Hong Kong – yet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond commented that it was ‘immaterial’ that the tear gas was from the UK.

The government’s OWN rules state that arms export licences should not be granted where there is a significant risk that they might be used for internal repression or in violation of international humanitarian law… this regularly is not happening.

In July, Parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls reported that “the Government’s arms export policy is essentially one of reacting to events and not taking sufficient account of the nature of the regimes concerned at the point when the decision is made to approve the export licence or not.”

Please, write to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and the Business Secretary Vince Cable to call for a fundamental re-evaluation of the UK’s approach to arms sales. UK arms export controls will never work while the focus of the government is on promoting rather than controlling arms sales. Please tell Philip Hammond that it is unacceptable to say that whether the weapons came from the UK is ‘immaterial’: it is his job to enforce the UK’s arms export controls. We must put human rights first and this government needs to hear strong opposition on these points.

Thanks Stella. Take care and hear from you soon.

Rebecca