Report on Current Affairs Meeting – August 2015

10 members were present.

Brenda opened the meeting and explained that Judith Power had offered to job-share the responsibilities of Group Leader.   Brenda then handed over to Judith who will chair future meetings.

Judith welcomed Thea Van Dam as a permanent member of the group.

We had 2 issues for discussion this afternoon;

  1. Should our troops fight in Syria?
    Judith outlined some points to consider:

    1. Arguments for action are:
      1. Syrian refugees
      2. Negative experience in Iraq
    2. Arguments against
      1. Allies are not being very effective
      2. Devastation to Middle East in general
      3. Is Britain ready for another weekly procession of repatriations

Any involvement by British forces should only be used to stop Isis infiltration, not oust President Assad. Unlike Iraq, we have not been invited to help Syria defeat Isis. Any action should have clear exit strategy. Any action should be under the umbrella to Nato or UN. Does Britain have the capability/manpower to get engaged in further world conflicts? The general consensus was that we should not get involved in military action.

  1. Does Britain need more strike legislation?
    Judith outlined some points to consider:

    1. Question prompted by recent rail workers strikes
    2. Passenger disruption
    3. Further legislation makes Government look tough
    4. Any ballot must be by 80% of membership, with 50% in favour of strike action
    5. Industrial relations are best settled by jaw-jaw, not war-war!

Members agreed that there should be 50% vote in favour of strike action before strike action is called. We also agreed that ACAS is a very effective arbitration system. Although we did not agree with strike action by public sector workers we felt they had a just cause with their wage increases frozen at 1%.

Judith then asked members to comment on format of the meetings. She reported that we hope to have a representative from local radio station in November, and there were several suggestions of other organisations we might invite, eg:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Ambulance service – effect of HS2 construction on the service
  • A local supermarket – what do they do for the community
  • Age UK, Aylesbury Branch

Members were then asked for their contributions and these ranged from:

  • The new PO selling other goods
  • Tesco withdrawing sugary drinks from childrens’ shelves
  • BBC licence fee – we felt this subject would be good to discuss further with other pensioner benefits, Dick Darke was asked to lead the discussion on this issue at the September meeting
  • Liverpool Pathway – there are now stricter regulations on assisted dying
  • Calais migrant crisis – again we felt this subject would be good to discuss further at the September meeting when they may be further developments, Brenda was asked to lead the discussion on this issue.

The next meeting is 7th September