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Reactions to the election results
FRIENDS HAVE GIVEN contrasting reactions to last week’s election results. No Quakers, as far as the Friend understands, have been elected to the Scottish parliament or the Welsh or Northern Irish assemblies, although a number of Friends continue to serve as local councillors.
The severe backlash against the Liberal Democrats led to a defeat for Alex Cole-Hamilton of Central Edinburgh Meeting, who was hoping to become a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP). There were also at least two other Quakers seeking election to Holyrood; Morag Balfour and Pam Currie were both candidates for the Scottish Socialist Party.
The last Quaker MSP was Mark Ballard of the Green Party, who served from 2003-2007. There have been no Quaker MPs at Westminster since 2001.
Simon Beard of Littlehampton Meeting, who contested Sevenoaks District Council for the Liberal Democrats, told the Friend that his party had at times struggled to convey a clear message.
He insisted that they are still ‘standing up for liberal values and liberalism’ on issues such as human rights, Europe and migration. He said these issues ‘define us as a party much more than perhaps our position on the economy or on how to deliver social services’.
John Marjoram of Stroud Meeting, who was re-elected as a Green member of Stroud District Council, said he was not surprised that Liberal Democrat voters turned against the party once ‘they began to realise the depth of the cuts’. He accused the coalition of a ‘betrayal’ of the NHS.
He described the SNP’s success as a ‘pleasing surprise’ because of the party’s opposition to nuclear weapons and the war in Iraq. As well as being pleased with the national increase in the number of Green councillors, he is also ‘delighted that the BNP have done unbelievably badly’.
China Convoy on the move PLANS ARE UNDER WAY to launch a website devoted to the relief work done by conscientious objectors on the ‘China Convoy’.
The suggestion was made at the annual reunion of the Friends Ambulance Unit China Convoy held at Friends House on Saturday 7 May. The China Convoy was the name given to members of the Friends Ambulance Unit who worked in China between 1941 and 1951.
The reunion was attended by some original members of the China Convoy and the children of other members.
David Brough, whose father Bill was with the Convoy, said: ‘Very few of the original members are still alive. But their experiences constitute a story well worth telling and preserving.’
‘We are keen to keep their memory alive and to find new ways of doing this,’ said Annie Simpson, daughter of Convoy member John Simpson. ‘The creation of a website is a natural development of the work the group has done.’
Christian Aid Week supported
QUAKERS THROUGHOUT BRITAIN are supporting Christian Aid Week (15-21 May) by raising funds and promoting campaigns on global poverty.
Friends in Amersham Meeting are running a daily ‘soup and cheese’ lunch, while Ealing Quakers are holding collections at their local railway station. Last week Christian Aid also challenged supporters to attempt to live on a pound a day.
Christian Aid emphasise that they work with partner organisations in the global south to achieve long-term change. They have challenged the UK government on issues including corporate tax avoidance and the war in Afghanistan.
‘The continued existence of extreme poverty in a world where so much else has been accomplished is an appalling indictment of our priorities,’ said the organisation’s director, Loretta Minghella. ‘To merely accept it as a fact of life diminishes us all as human beings.’
the Friend, 13 May 2011