SNP MEP Challenges Parliament To Support People's Protest

04 July 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has called on colleagues in the European Parliament to play their part in putting pressure on the G8 leaders due to meet at Gleneagles this week.

Alyn Smith, who joined the Make Poverty History March, challenged MEPs to meet the objectives of the 225,000 people who marched in Edinburgh on Saturday. Mr Smith has lodged the only Written Declaration in the European Parliament calling attention to the campaign, and the fundamental role EU trade policy plays in the developing world.

Speaking in the debate Mr Smith said:

" At a time when expectations of politicians in general are running so high, I would urge colleagues to demonstrate and prove to the citizens of Europe that we are in step with them, as we were in step with them over the weekend, and play our part in making poverty history."

Commenting on those rioting in Edinburgh Mr Smith said

"We cannot allow the actions of a small number of people to obscure the wider picture. It grieves me that the phrase 'bawheid bammers' would not translate in the Chamber because it is the best phrase I have to describe these people. We cannot let them hijack the agenda. The contrast with the positive, hopeful atmosphere on Saturday could not be greater.

"It has surprised me though, that few people have picked up on the importance of the EU trade policies in this whole debate. Aid to the developing world, and debt cancellation, are only part of the picture, trade policy undertaken by the EU underpins all hopes for Africa's future. It is that trade policy that we in the European Parliament can lobby to change, and I hope colleagues will continue to support my Written Declaration to prove that we are in step with the peoples of Europe."

ENDS

Full Text of Speech

Monday 4th July
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE). -
Mr President, I, along with a quarter of a million people, marched through Edinburgh - my home city - over the weekend to protest against poverty in the developing world. Sadly, today we hear that a few hundred rioters are currently under the control of the police in Edinburgh and that they are intent on making trouble in my home town. I hope that the police will take firm steps against them.

As you said earlier, it is our turn in this House. We must reclaim the agenda from these rioters, from these protesters. I would refer the House to the activities which will be taking place this week. I campaign, and would urge colleagues to support them. I would ask you also to sign the written declaration in my name on 'Making Poverty History'.

At a time when expectations of politicians in general are running so high, I would urge colleagues to demonstrate and prove to the citizens of Europe that we are in step with them, as we were in step with them over the weekend, and play our part in making poverty history.