David Miliband came to Hove and Portslade today. We’ve been friends for a long time and whenever we’ve worked together its always been on policies or campaigns for social change. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with and I saw this best when we worked together on the Commision on Youth Unemployment. I ran the Commission and David chaired it, he gave it purpose and depth and when it reported almost all of the recommendations we made were adopted by government and form the bedrock of policies to tackle youth unemployment today.
David really wanted to come and visit the team and show support for the way we do our politics here in Hove and Portslade. But there’s no way I could leave it at that – David has too much insight and experience to let him leave without sharing it!
He now runs the International Rescue Committee. It was set up by Albert Einstein in the 1930’s to support refugees and today is one of the world’s largest charities dealing with one of the world’s largest challenges. There’s almost 70 million people who’ve been forced to flee their homes around the world, that’s pretty much the population of Britain.
Here in Brighton and Hove we’ve created a ‘city of sanctuary’ but we’re in a country that has created a ‘hostile environment’. There’s a lot of fight for. In heated public debate people often confuse different forms of migration, economic and asylum and refugee are all different and demand different policies and responses.
I took David to Refugee Radio operated by RadioReverb locally. We met staff there and talked about the work they do to support and inform refugees and also educate the broader public about the issue itself. It’s an amazing organisation run by amazing people. David and I were interviewed for by the station, David about global issues relating to refugee challenges, and myself about my time as an aid worker where I spent time working in refugee camps and relocating people home after war and supporting communities as they rebuilt life.
General elections are dominated by the agenda set at the top and is usually dominated, rightly, by pressing domestic issues. But I’ve always tried my best to get other important issues onto the agenda too, ones that reflect the values we have as a community. Supporting those in need and providing sanctuary to people who have lost everything is one of those issues and I wanted to use his visit to do that as much as possible.
I also know what any of you are thinking! I too wish David were still here and playing a big role in our domestic politics…I really do! David has been a great friend to me and I have seen his talent up close for a long time. Parliament needs the kind of talent and experience he embodies more than ever, I know that and I hear you! All I can say is that I’m learning from the best and always working as hard as I can to give you the quality and hard working voice you deserve in difficult times like these.