Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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National Express HAS stepped in to sponsor a climb of Ben Nevis to raise funds for local charities.

The third annual Bert Bissell Memorial Walk will see a local team climb Ben Nevis in honour of Dudley mountaineer, local hero, peace campaigner and charity fundraiser Bert Bissell.

National Express IS providing a coach to travel from the Black Country to Scotland after more local people than ever before signed up for the challenge to try and beat the £9,000 total raised by last year’s walk.

Over twenty charity fundraisers from Dudley will be led by Austin and the new Dudley Mayor Mohammed Hanif, including Deputy Mayor Dave Tyler, local councillors Keiran Casey, Steve Waltho and Cathryn Bayton, Astley Blake who now runs the Bible Class Bert Bissell established, local charity campaigners Damian Corfield, Shaz Saleem and Steve Rayner and former Dudley police chief Richard Green.

Bert Bissell (1902-1998) founded the Young Men's Bible Class at Vicar Street in Dudley. He lived at Selborne Road. He was a probation officer and climbed Ben Nevis on VJ Day in 1945 and many times afterwards, constructing a Peace Cairn at its summit. There is a monument to Bert at Coronation Gardens opposite the Council House.

Bert was a friend of the Austin family and someone the MP knew well as a child.

All funds raised this year will go to the new Mayor’s charities which are the Friends of Alfie Johnson who help children with disabilities, the Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living that supports local people with disabilities and Diabetes UK.

Anyone who would like to support the good causes can do so at www.bertbissellmemorialwalk.co.uk.

Ian Austin said:

"The whole team are really grateful to have the support of National Express, helping more local fundraisers take part than ever before.

"I’m delighted that the number of local people taking part in our climb and making a donation is growing every year.

"It just goes to show the enduring legacy of Bert’s work in the community. He was a legendary figure and an inspiration to so many of us. "

Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express said:

"This is a fantastic event, and this year promises to be the biggest and best yet.

"Supporting our local communities is extremely important to us and we are delighted to be able to provide the transport for the fundraising team.

"We wish them every success in their efforts."

National Express back charity Ben Nevis challenge

National Express HAS stepped in to sponsor a climb of Ben Nevis to raise funds for local charities.

The Chilcot Report will never settle arguments about whether the war was right or wrong, but it should lay to rest allegations about bad faith, lies or deceit.

First, it finds that there was no falsification or misuse of intelligence by Tony Blair or No.10 at the time.  Second, there was no attempt to deceive cabinet ministers.  And third, there was no secret pact with the US to go to war.

That means there is no justification for saying evidence was “confected”, that the case for war a “deception” or that MPs were “misled” ahead of the 2003 vote on military action, yet these are exactly the terms used by Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons yesterday. 

To listen to Tony Blair’s critics, you would think that Iraq had been a peaceful haven of tranquillity before 2003. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Iraq Saddam Hussain perpetrated the largest chemical weapons attack against civilians in history, killing thousands and led a brutal reprisal against Iraq’s Shia majority, slaughtering up to 100,000 Iraqis in just one month, more than in any year since 2003. Abroad he supported terrorism, including a plot to murder President Bush and offering al-Qaeda sanctuary, training and assistance in planning attacks.

His refusal to cooperate with UN inspectors led intelligence services the world over to believe he did in fact possess chemical or biological weapons. Even countries that were opposed to military action such as France, Germany and Russia believed he did.  The debate up to 2003 was not about whether Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction but about how to deal with them.

Of course we must learn the lessons of mistakes made after the invasion of Iraq, but we must also learn the lessons of not taking action too.

British intervention in Kosovo and Sierra Leone prevented people being slaughtered.

Libya was already in a brutal civil war before Western air forces prevented Gaddafi killing innocent people in Benghazi, including women and children, but without support afterwards the country is a huge problem for the whole of North Africa and the wider region.

Not intervening in Syria didn’t prevent the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, let alone terrorist attacks not just in Syria, but in Tunisia and Europe too.

None of this will make the slightest bit of difference to Jeremy and the hard left. The facts make no difference at all because he is implacably opposed to the UK or other western countries ever taking military action. He has never supported Western military intervention in all his political life.

He opposes every attempt to use British forces – not just in Syria and Iraq, but even Kosovo where the UK intervened to prevent thousands being slaughtered.

He blames the West for Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and wants a closer relationship with Russia when we should be hitting them with tougher sanctions.

He called the terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” and described Raed Salah, a man convicted of the racist blood libel, as an “honoured citizen”. He invited Dyab Abou Jahjah who said he considers “every dead American [and] British soldier a victory” to Parliament.

For the hard left, the world is a simple place, all the problems are caused by the West and the solutions are obvious.

Thirty years in protest movements and meetings where everyone agrees with him mean Jeremy has never had to think about complex problems and difficult solutions, which is why he is struggling to lead a mainstream political party, let alone persuade people to see him as their Prime Minister.

Chilcot should lay to rest allegations about bad faith, lies or deceit

The Chilcot Report will never settle arguments about whether the war was right or wrong, but it should lay to rest allegations about bad faith, lies or deceit.

The House of Commons will celebrate Black Country Week by hosting an event to showcase the region’s businesses.

The Black Country Day Celebration will take place from 11am-4pm on Tuesday 12th July in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons.

Dudley North MP Ian Austin has worked with the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership to give local business figures, Government Ministers and MPs from all parties the chance to meet Black Country business and see how the region produces everything from nuclear reactors and Bugatti sports cars to Olympic torches and the country's best beer.

Amongst the companies that will be exhibiting at the event are Walsall foundry and manufacturer of the 2012 Olympic torches Alucast, Stourbridge Glass, Wolverhampton aerospace experts HS Marston, automotive components manufacturer CUBE and local brewers Marston’s and Holden’s.

Austin organised the event to raise the profile of Black Country manufacturing in Westminster and highlight the region’s skills.

Ian Austin said:

“I grew up in Dudley, I love the Black Country and I’m proud of it.

“Manufacturing is a really important part of the Black Country’s heritage but I want to show that hi-tech manufacturing, science and technology has a bright future in the region too. I want people in London to understand that we are bringing new industries and new jobs to the area to strengthen the local economy and boost prosperity.”

“That’s why I’m delighted to be able to organise this event in Parliament, where our brilliant local producers and manufacturers can show off their work to MPs from across the country.”

The Black County comes to Parliament

The House of Commons will celebrate Black Country Week by hosting an event to showcase the region’s businesses.


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