National Campaigning …
Belinda has led a number of major national campaigns over the past 5 years. This includes working together with and bringing together campaign groups including Justice, Liberty, Release, Unlock, the Bar Council, The Royal Society of Medicine, Equity, a variety of disabled groups and other grassroots groups, to form various alliances to campaign against (or to amend) various Bills going through parliament. These include recently exposing the government’s bogus trafficking figures, and getting the government to change two key civil liberties infringements.
Belinda’s recent work on the Policing and Crime Bill (clauses 14 – 20 introducing a new strict liability offence and premises closure orders) alongside Evan Harris MP Liberal Democrat Shadow Science Minister and a team including the Chair of the Bar Council, various women’s groups, public sector unions, and safety coalitions to amend the Policing and Crime Bill. When the Bill went through Parliament on 12 November there was a key victory – the government was forced to amend clause 14. The offence however, remains a strict liability offence, so that there is no legal defence. Despite the Bill being passed, Peers and MPs said the campaign was very effective, and many of those who do not have a vested interest were persuaded by Belinda’s use of the research evidence and powerful civil liberties arguments.
Last year she worked cross-party with a number of Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative politicians on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. She wrote parliamentary briefing papers for Baroness Miller of Chiltern Domer, and provided other members of the Lords with advisory material on the Bill including Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and Baroness Howe of Chidlicote, and Baroness Stern of Vauxhall, which reflected core values. In one meeting with Lord West of Spithead and Mr Vernon Coaker, she explained why the Bill’s clauses would have damaging unintended consequences on other policy areas including the disadvantaged, families and children, and other areas of criminal justice. In addition she showed how examples of European policy that the Government was interested in applying (from Sweden) could not be abstracted from the other welfare elements of that jurisdiction, and would render the intended recipients of the provisions vulnerable to other aspects of policy (e.g. by rendering them liable under inchoate offences) and English law. This was just one of many meetings that the government held that was pivotal in persuading the government to remove the clauses from the Bill.
She contributed to progressive amendments to Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2008 tabled by David Howarth MP and David Heath MP, Members of Scrutiny Committee of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007-2008. I also provided briefing material to Evan Harris MP in October 2007, during the passage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
Education changed Belinda’s life and she has campaigned against against tuition fees for over a decade, so that others are not denied the opportunity to reach their full potential. She was involved with a campaign against the Equivalent of Lower Qualification (ELQ) cuts for people re-training and trying to up-skill. These cuts particularly affected mature and part-time students at places like Birkbeck, the Open University, and Anglia Ruskin students. She lobbied, demonstrated, wrote, and encouraged others to write, to Bill Rammell stating how the cuts would affect students, their studies, and their lives. She has campaigned against tuition fees from the beginning when they were first mooted because having left school at 16 herself, she cares deeply about educational opportunity. Belinda believes that no-one should be enslaved by ignorance. Liberal Democrats will create smaller class sizes, more cash for schools and abolish university tuition fees.
As Patron of a disability charity to help socially and physically disabled people in their personal development, Belinda has campaigned tirelessly for vulnerable groups, and disabled rights. Outsiders also works with other disability groups to increase understanding and work towards solving personal problems faced by people with disabilities. She planned and led a demonstration on Westminster Bridge which involved a team of energetic and enthusiastic volunteers as many of the demonstrators needed physical help.
Belinda belongs to the Safety First Coalition, a coalition of bereaved families, Ipswich residents, church people, nurses, doctors, probation officers, anti-rape and anti-poverty campaigners, trade unionists, prison and drug reformers, co-ordinated by the ECP to end violence against vulnerable women. She coordinated volunteers, mostly on email, to get to parliamentary public meetings to deliver campaign material to politicians, and to distribute campaign material at conferences.
Only the Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality, and community, and in which no one is enslaved by poverty ignorance or conformity. Only we can create a fairer society.