Palestinian Dabka Folklore Dance Troupe – and Civic Reception

Last night, I had the great honour of giving a welcome address to the Palestinian Dabka Folklore Dance Troupe from Bethlehem as they performed to a large audience (see right) at the Dundee West Church Halls.    
 
It was very kind of Tayside for Justice in Palestine, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Action Palestine to invite me to give the welcome address and I took the opportunity to thank all for their support for the people of Palestine and their right to self-determination, nationhood and a positive future.    
 
The Dabka Folklore Dance Troupe performed in the City Square last year and are hugely talented.   Here’s a photograph below of the troupe with me last night:
Later yesterday evening, I attended the Civic Reception in honour of Bailie Ian Borthwick, as Ian celebrates his 50th anniversary as a city councillor.   It was very fitting that there was a large turnout to recognise Ian’s immense contribution to his constituents and the city over 50 years, including councillors and other elected representatives of all political persuasions.
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Supporting the people of Palestine

I have today written to the MP for Dundee West in the following terms:
 
From: Fraser Macpherson 
Sent: 27 November 2012 08:44
To: Jim McGovern MP
 
Dear Jim
 
As you will be aware, the Palestinians are seeking recognition of sovereignty by applying for Observer status at the UN on 29th November.   This is a fundamental step towards having long term peace in the region and moves the two state solution closer to reality.   Unfortunately the British government is planning to abstain in this vote.   However, it is expected that the Palestinians are likely to win this bid and gain recognition by the UN.   There are a number of senior members of the government like Nick Clegg that are actively lobbying fellow MPs to vote in support of a yes vote.   Can you please advise what your position on Palestinian sovereignty is?
 
It is important that we demonstrate our international outlook by supporting this initiative by impressing upon both the Westminster Government and indeed all MPs the need to support the Palestinian bid.   The government has openly stated that all parties should work together to achieve the two state solution and supporting this bid would demonstrate that the government genuinely believe in this solution and are prepared to work towards creating political, diplomatic and trade encouragements for doing so. 
 
This vote is due to take place this Thursday (29th November 2012) and I look forward to hearing your views on this matter. 
 
Best regards
 
Fraser
 
Cllr Fraser Macpherson
Liberal Democrat Councillor for the West End
Dundee City Council

Busy Saturday …

It has proved to be a busy Saturday, starting with giving the Bonnie Dundee team a hand with tidying the garden of Dundee West Church at the top end of Roseangle:
Trudy Cunningham and me in gardening mode at Dundee West Church this morning!
Thereafter, I attended the Blackness Primary School Jubilee Fete, which was hugely well-attended!   Here’s a couple of photos from the fete:
The Fete stalls were really busy!
And yet again, Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, was a good sport (and rather cold and wet!)
At lunchtime, I had the pleasure of addressing the Justice for Palestine Festival in the City Square – here’s a couple of short videos from the event:
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of dropping in on the Tullideph Place Jubilee Party!   A good time had by all:

Supporting the people of Palestine

I have, over the years, made no secret of my support for the people of Palestine.    I am therefore pleased to have been invited to address an event in support of the Palestinian cause, taking place in the City Square on Saturday.

The Justice for Palestine Festival takes place between 12 noon and 4pm and is part of a Scotland-wide series of events – see below:

Monday, Tuesday

* At last night’s City Council meetings, despite the support of petitions signatures from hundreds of Dundonians and the powerful and compelling case made by delegations in support of my motion on the plight of the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip, I was heavily outvoted by a cobbled-together Labour/Nationalist amendment that represented the lowest common denominator of standing up for nothing.   As I am reported in today’s Courier, it is sometimes better to lose the vote but do what you consider to be morally right.

* I raised questions about the City Council’s poor performance on re-letting of council houses and on the provision of controlled entry systems at the Housing, Dundee Contract Services and Environment Services Committee.

* Tonight, at West End Community Council, there was a very interesting presentation by Lisa Toon of the Association of Scottish Neighbourhood Watches.   In response to one of my questions, Lisa said that the number of Neighbourhood Watches in Dundee is lower than average and it would be good to see the number increase across the city.   Lisa outlined ways the Association of Scottish Neighbourhood Watches can support Neighbourhood Watch initiatives and I am keen to encourage neighbourhood watch schemes in Dundee that can assist local communities prevent crime in their local area.

City Council motion on Gaza

Earlier this week, I mentioned some of the criticism by certain propagandists of the motion I have placed on the City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee next Monday, expressing concern about the plight of the people of Gaza.    There’s been something of a predictable campaign by these people, who have a few things in common – few (if any) live in Dundee (most e-mails, some with very inappropriate content, emanate from outwith the UK) and most writers are in a state of denial about the behaviour of the Israeli government and military over the Gaza blockade.

The letter in today’s Courier continues this theme of denial and I have responded to the Courier as follows:

Subject: Letter to the Editor

Dear Sirs

In meddling in the affairs of a local authority outwith her own area of Fife, Flora Selwyn (Courier Letters 11th June) claims that I should “leave foreign affairs to the Government.”

She fails to appreciate that local authorities procure goods and services and it is the responsibility of councillors to ensure they do so in an ethical manner.

Best regards

Cllr Fraser Macpherson

Dundee City Council

Tayside House

Dundee.

It is interesting – and extremely heartwarming – to note the huge outpouring of support for my actions by local Dundee people.   On Monday, I will collect a petition in support of my motion to the City Council, signed by hundreds of local people.   I am very grateful to those who have organised the petition for all their efforts and to everyone who has signed it.

The people of Dundee have a reputation for fair-mindedness and the city has a proud record of supporting what is right.   Of all the e-mails and letters I have received, perhaps the most telling quote made was originally said by Archbishop Desmond Tutu : “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Wednesday …

Today’s “Courier” covered the criticism by “Scottish Friends of Israel” of the motion I have placed on the City Council’s Policy & Resources Committee next Monday.    As I said to the Courier:

“I have raised this issue in light of my concerns over the continuing plight of the Palestinian people and of the humanitarian situation caused by Israel’s continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The Gaza blockade by Israel has brought terrible hardship to Gaza’s one and a half million citizens.   I agree with the International Committee of the Red Cross which has made clear that Israel is in violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law.

“I am rather concerned by the use of some selective quotes by Stanley Grossman of Scottish Friends of Israel to suggest there is not a humanitarian crisis in Gaza when this is far from the case.    There has been a huge level of concern shown by people across the world about the plight of the people of Gaza and I would draw Mr Grossman’s attention to the concerns raised by respected organisations such as the Red Cross and Oxfam.

“I have raised this matter as it is important that Dundee City Council, as with other local authorities, has an ethical procurement policy.    It is very clear from feedback from many constituents that they too are concerned for the plight of the people of Gaza and it is to be hoped that, with international pressure, Israel will lift its blockade of the Gaza strip.”

Tonight’s Evening Telegraph covered the efforts made at the weekend to clean up graffiti in the West End and my praise for all who got involved in removing graffiti on Saturday.