John Macefield (Walsall South)

John Macefield (Walsall South)

Twitter: @DellMacefield. More information can be found here.

1) Do you agree that the UK should recognise Palestine? What would be your reasons for and against recognition?

Yes, Palestine is recognised by a large majority of UN countries. Diplomatic efforts in recent years have focused on a two-state solution, and this requires both Palestine and Israel to be recognised.

2) Should the UK call for an end to all illegal Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian land, and stop trade with Israeli settlements? Do you consider settlements as an obstacle to peace, and what can the UK Government do about them?

Yes. The Green Party has called upon Israel to evacuate all illegal settlements in the occupied territories of Palestine, to stop all discrimination against Palestinian citizens, and to dismantle the West Bank wall, which deprives Palestinians of employment and land, water and other resources. We support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. In particular, the UK government should halt all joint Israeli/UK military cooperation and approval for all arms sales to Israel.

3) Do you think that the UK's response to the refugee crisis has been satisfactory? What more should the UK be doing, in particular in countries where most refugees are being hosted?

Like many people, I have been appalled by the UK government’s lack of action and callous attitude to the refugee crisis. The Green Party has repeatedly called for more refugees to be accepted – particularly child refugees, who are extremely vulnerable to violence and trafficking.

The Green Party recognises that the numbers of refugees accepted by the UK are insignificant compared to those taken in by countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. While additional support must be provided to the countries doing the most, the EU must take in more refugees, particularly the most vulnerable. We would want to see visas granted to refugees in the nation they are currently located.

The migration crisis did not happen in a vacuum, we must consider the destabilising impact of our foreign policy, our willingness to sell weapons to foreign regimes and also recognise our country’s historic role in contributing to climate change which must come with a duty to assist those suffering from its consequences.  

Those who come to Britain in search of asylum should be welcomed and supported. The Green Party would ensure that all immigration officials are trained in human rights and asylum issues, and that asylum seekers are not routinely held in detention.

The willingness of many citizens and local councils to welcome refugees shows the true tolerant nature of Britain. The government’s inaction, and the hostility from sections of the press, must be challenged at every opportunity.

4) Should guarantees on human rights be a condition of new free trade agreements after the UK leaves the EU?

There must be no ‘race to the bottom’ on standards if the UK leaves the EU. Trade rules should respect human rights, labour standards, environmental standards and climate commitments, with no corporate courts giving foreign companies special legal rights outside of the national legal system, and mechanisms instead for individuals, groups and communities to bring grievances. Corporations should be required to abide by the environmental, labour and social laws of their own country and of the country in which they are operating - whichever are the more stringent.

The Green Party would reform the UK’s approach to trade and aid to support the poorest and promote localism, in contrast to the current system which heavily favours the interests of rich countries and multinational corporations.

5) Will Brexit change Britain's foreign policy priorities in the Middle East? If so, how? What role can the UK play in the Middle East?

The Green Party opposed military interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, and will oppose all future interventions that lack a sufficient moral, legal and democratic mandate or when military action risks being counter-productive, for example by providing fertile recruitment, fundraising and propaganda opportunities. We will instead advocate for regional solutions to conflicts and whether or not the UK is a member of the EU for it to take a lead in advancing diplomatic, economic and political solutions to the threats posed by terrorist groups.

6) Do you think the UK could/should be doing more to uphold the rule of international law in the Middle East?

The enforcement of international law in the Middle East on matters such the civil war in Syria, the conflict in Yemen and settlements in the occupied territories is absent due to the current structure of the UN Security Council and the possession of veto powers by its permanent members.

The UN Security Council with its permanent seats for France, the UK, the US, Russia and China, is undemocratic and unworkable. All permanent seats on the UN Security Council should be abolished, all nations should take a seat in turn, continents should be represented in proportion to their populations, and decisions should be made by a 2/3 majority. This would enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN and remove all justification for any unilateral actions by member nations. 

If a member state fails to ensure the protection of human rights they should be referred to the International Court of Justice or Court International Criminal Court. If the Court finds that their behaviour falls below accepted legal standards, the regimes will be given time and assistance to improve their record. In the event of non-compliance, the matter will return to the Court, and if found at fault, the regime will suffer penalties in terms of its members' privileges in the fields of finance, diplomacy, transport and trade.

The emergent 'Responsibility to Protect' doctrine promises to legitimise UN intervention in cases of ethnic cleansing and genocide and it is only such cases that national sovereignty should not be held to. Military intervention must be a last resort as such action will cost lives but under a reformed UN, the possibility of such action will act as a deterrent for those who would wage war against civilians. 

7) Do you believe that Britain should take back children of British ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria?

Yes, they are children and victims of decisions made by others. Conditions in the camps are appalling and their lives are under threat from disease, they are also at risk of radicalisation and being drawn into taking up violence themselves. The small numbers of children who have been accepted are usually orphans. Arrangements should be put in place to allow mothers to return with their children. We must carefully manage the threat that they may pose taking appropriate measures to deradicalise them and their children. While the government may seek to make them someone else’s problem they are our responsibility and it is right that we properly examine how they came to be part of the conflict and to reintegrate them into our society while maintaining our values of justice.   

8) Do you think that the government should suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia over its involvement in the bombing campaign of Yemen?

Yes. The Green Party passed the following resolution at its conference in spring 2016:

In recent months the Saudi bombing campaign, and the food, water and medicines blockade against Yemen has intensified catastrophically.  The Green Party is very concerned about the effects of the war conducted by one of the world’s richest countries, Saudi Arabia, on one of the poorest, Yemen. We demand:

  • That Britain end the current supply of UN-banned cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia which are being used to bomb schools, hospitals and orphanages in Yemen. 
  • That Britain end all military assistance to the Saudi Arabia bombing campaign against civilians in Yemen and end all Royal Naval support for the Saudi water, food and medicines blockade of Yemen.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has repeatedly called on the government to end arm sales to Saudi Arabia and in March of this year joined with parties to condemn the government’s approach, writing to the Foreign Secretary that ,’It is morally reprehensible that the UK government is not only not considering changing its policy, but is actively lobbying other foreign governments, as it did with Germany, to resume arms sales to Saudi’. 

9) What would you propose to address increasing levels of hate crime in Britain, including attacks on the Muslim community, Jewish community, and on refugees and migrants?

More action needs to be taken to protect people from hate crime. The Green Party believe that funding to support the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes must be increased. We defend the right of people of all faiths to express their faith and will work with religious communities to defend the safety of places of worship.

We would end the hostile environment which has put migrants at risk, increasing racism and anti-immigrant sentiment. This would include closing the immigration detention centres and ending the culture of violence which has prevailed in them.

We would confront racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia through a broader and decolonialisied curriculum in school focusing on histories and role models from a diverse range of races and religions.