Wednesday, 17 May 2017

2017 Election Campaign: On Israel and Palestine

I have received letters from various correspondents for my views on Israel and Palestine.  Here is the Liberal Democrat view from our 2017 manifesto.

“[We] Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. We condemn disproportionate force used by all sides. We condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and other targeting of Israeli civilians. We condemn Israel’s continued illegal policy of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution. We support recognition of the independent State of Palestine as and when it will help the prospect of a two-state solution.”

My personal view coincides with the party view insofar I condemn force used in all cases apart from self-defence. Disproportionate force is never right, nor is the targeting of civilians.  Any civilians.

As a liberal, I condemn the suppression of equal rights and any form of discrimination or threat, whether it occurs in Israel, occupied territories or anywhere across the world.

Where I potentially disagree with party policy is the pursuit of a two-state solution. Owing to Israel’s policy of settlement expansion (illegal under international law), there is now not enough land left to a potential Palestinian state to make it viable.  Pragmatically, all I want to see is a country where all citizens have equality under the rule of law and protection against discrimination.  The current situation is a long way from that.  For evidence of Israel’s attitude to a twin-state solution, I suggest the reader researches the siting of the proposed Palestinian airport.  Under a variety of proposals, not once has Israel offered Palestinian control of the airport.  This is not sovereignty on offer.

As for whether I back broad economic and cultural sanctions against Israel, the answer is that I do not.  While the Palestinian people are undoubted are under oppression, citizens of Israel are under compulsion.  Failure to undertake compulsory service in the military either results in a prison sentence or removal of rights following a diagnosis of mental incapacity.  Sanctions tend to hit the most vulnerable of the affected society and this in turn will, in my view, only increase the suffering of all people and reinforce nationalist opinion.  Besides, the material effect of sanctions would be debatable unless the USA were to undertake them and this is not going to happen.

In my view, the root cause of the continuing conflict is that of weapons.  Both from reading and my own experiences in Israel, the nation “benefits” from being lavishly supplied by weapons, not all of which are declared openly.  For an historic example, please refer to Robert Fisk’s book The Great War For Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East (search Hellfire missile) and my own experiences in country (see links below).  I do not support ongoing UK co-operation with the Israeli arms industry.

I feel desperately sorry for all people involved in this ongoing conflict.

Below I offer a selection of blog posts outlining my own experiences while in Israel.

Blog links:

Campaign Facebook page:

Saturday, 13 May 2017

General Election 2017: Reply to Concerns on Animal Welfare and Fox Hunting

Thank you for your recent email on animal welfare. 

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are strong supporters of animal welfare and will continue to protect wildlife, pets and farm animals in the next parliament.

Up to 2015, Liberal Democrats at Westminster were able to make significant progress on improving animal welfare. Many of these achievements affect the whole of the UK, including the ending of housing hens in battery cages and tackling the smuggling and illegal trade of wildlife through the Border Force.  Previously, I have visited livestock farms in the Pentland Hills and seen best practice at work.  I know that animals can be both treated well and see farmers with a fair deal.

Wildlife crime remains a significant problem and I am pleased that, as part of the Coalition government, Liberal Democrats made the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) one of its wildlife crime priorities. However, further action is needed to ensure that penalties are properly applied and prosecutions, where necessary, are carried out. 

On your particular point on fox hunting, this is a retrograde step by Thesesa May’s Conservatives. I would have no problem supporting the views on the constituents of Edinburgh North and Leith in blocking the reintroduction of fox hunting from Westminster.  As an MP however and owing to the nature of devolution, I would have little power over Scottish legislation and therefore I suggest a direct approach to current SNP minister responsible, Roseanna Cunningham, at Holyrood.

In general though, I am willing to work across party lines to deliver improved conditions for all animals in the United Kingdom, whether they are domesticated or wild.

Kind regards,

Martin Veart
Edinburgh North and Leith
Scottish Liberal Democrats

Campaign Facebook page: 

Friday, 12 May 2017

2017 Election Campaign: Refugees and the UK Arms Trade

[Original Post from]

Today Tim Farron announces LibDems plans to accept 50,000 Syrian refugees.

I have no problem with the UK taking more refugees. The problem I have is the UK's role in creating refugees. We should not be supporting any side in the wars in the Middle East. I have worked and travelled in the region (and beyond) over the decades. My fear is, which have been confirmed by Michael Fallon on the Today Programme this morning, is that we are selling weapons purely for profit and, in doing so, enable the continuation of the wars. Saudi Arabia hasn't been threatened by Yemen but Fallon claimed this in order to justify the continued bombing of Yemeni cities using UK-made weapons.
The Second Gulf War started in 2003. There has been no peace in the region since then, despite being flooded by weapons from the USA and Europe, including the UK. After 14 years of continuous conflict, no one is speaking of peace. The language of politics is becoming increased more belligerent. 
Now the UK is the second largest arms manufacturer after the USA, but our armed forces continually complain of lacking equipment. So where is all these weapons going? If the wars stop, what will happen to our industries? What will happen to the US economy?
Continuous warfare is no basis for a long term economic strategy. It is a recipe for a long term refugee problem.

Campaign Facebook page: 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

2017 Election. Campaign Blog 10 May 2017.

[Original post from]
My papers are in and, in the eyes of the law, I am now your Liberal Democrat candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith for the general election to be held on the 8th of June, 2017.
While campaigning over the past few years, and living in Edinburgh from 2008, I have come to know and appreciate this city and the people. Perhaps it is na├»ve of me, but we are often told that the public, us, demand a new type of politics. I’m ready for that. I’m listening.
I know that the constituency has many concerns. In West Pilton and Muirhouse, there simply isn’t enough of anything: shops, recreational facilities, doctors’ surgeries. In Leith we have some of the most tightly packed residential housing in Europe. In New Town, property prices are so high that the diversity of the area is under threat as the young are simply being priced out of the market. Everywhere, old housing stock is expensive to heat and our heritage status means that it is even more challenging to upgrade the energy efficiency of our housing stock. Around where I live at Western Harbour, I have had to call the police several times in the past year as I have witnessed attempted break-ins. 
Being part of this community means listening to everybody who lives and works here. So what I will do is keep this page open, even beyond the election. If there is an issue you want to bring to my attention, or if you want my view upon a particular topic, just get in contact. I won’t pretend to have the answers to everything. Some of you will disagree with some of my views. But I am here to help, as best I can and, if elected, I will seek to represent you