View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 5 June 2009


Elections are being held for the European Parliament until Sunday 7th June across the European Union. Yesterday, voters went to the polls in (amongst others) the UK and Holland. The Dutch decided to publish the results of their poll early - officially, the EU will publish the results on Monday, after all countries have voted.

Fifteen percent of the vote in Holland went to the far-right PVV (Freedom Party), led by controversial MP Geert Wilders. Mr Wilders was denied access to the United Kingdom in February, amidst fears his presence would destabilise community relations. Following the attacks on London's public transport system in 2005, much work has gone into drawing ethnic minorities back into mainstream British society. I was surprised that the Dutch government, which protested loudly about the treatment of

I am particularly shocked, as Holland has for centuries had a reputation for tolerance and being a safe haven for the persecuted of the world. In the wake of the Second World War, which was fought to combat racism, discrimination and intolerance, any problems surrounding ethnic minorities in Holland were sidestepped, for fear of raising the impression of discrimination.

Back in 2002, politician Pim Fortuyn became hugely popular for giving a voice to those people who felt that the migrant-related problems were not being dealt with. He was assissinated just before a General Election, and his party (not the current PVV) gained a huge percentage of the vote.

As Dutch politicians are saying today, Mr Wilders has a clear message, but no workable alternative. I hope someone realises the message that underlies the 15% vote for the PVV, and starts addressing the problems.

Disaster relief

Not widely known, tropical cyclone Aila struck southeastern India and Bangladesh ten days ago. As per usual, I monitored the storm until it disintegrated over land north of Calcutta. The impact of such storms doesn't normally attract much media attention, but I am grateful for the following update from Blogger user Bianca, who bothered to comment on Tropical Cyclones:

Music for Relief is responding to help provide relief following Cyclone Aila. The Cyclone struck eastern India and coastal Bangladesh on Monday 5/25 leaving millions of people displaced and in desperate need of food, water and shelter. In West Bengal at least 5.1 million people were displaced, with more than one million people stranded in the Sundarban islands alone, most of them without any food or water. Food security and loss of livelihood are also major concerns as it is estimated that 80,000 acres of rice paddy and other crops have been destroyed, about 300,000 acres partially destroyed and over 50,000 poultry and livestock have been killed.

Please help the victims of this disaster by making a donation:

MFR is partnering with BRAC in Bangladesh where 100% of funds contributed will go to those affected by Cyclone Aila.
More information about BRAC: BRAC has provided emergency aid and rehabilitation in Bangladesh since its inception and carried out large-scale relief and rehabilitation activities there for cyclone and flood victims in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2007. BRAC, the largest non-profit in the developing world, was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and today reaches more than 110 million people in Africa and Asia with its holistic approach to addressing poverty by providing micro-loans, self-employment opportunities, health services, education and legal and human rights education.

Thank you for your support!
And forward this information to spread the word.