By John Mair
CaribWordlNews, LONDON, England, Weds. Nov. 11, 2009: Baroness Glenys Kinnock, the British Minister with special responsibility for the Caribbean, delivered an upbeat message to a special gathering of the UK Diaspora at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Monday night.
Kinnock says she is personally committed to the region and would ensure the British government was forthcoming CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in Port of Spain, Trinidad in a fortnight.
Baroness Kinnock, whose official title is minister of state with responsibility for Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and the UN, said her commitment to the region started not just in her fifteen years in the European Parliament where `I became known as Madame Le Banane because I supported them so much in trade matters.`
Kinnock admitted to an audience that included High Commissioners as well a business and professional Caribbean nationals in London, that the region had been battered by the tides of world trade.
`I have seen the devastating effects of the Lome Convention myself. I recall a sugar worker in a cane field in Guyana telling me `Sugar is my life`-but it had survived. The UK government would help especially in matters of climate change poverty eradication and security,` she said.
On the issue most of concern to the tourist destinations in the region – the just introduced APT(Advanced Passenger Tax) on air fares, which is currently fifty pounds per person but due to rise steadily to £300 per family of four, she offered some hope.
`The government will continue to examine the impact of the reform on the Caribbean,` said the minister, but said she could not firmly promise any relief as she was not a treasury minister
Kinnock also saluted the contribution of the Caribbean to contemporary Britain. `You have given us more than we have given you including supplying Sir Sonny Ramphal the most famous Commonwealth Secretary General ever who continues to send me regular missives with advice,` she said.
Kinnock was deputizing for Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who was due to attend but who choose instead to join European leaders at the twentieth anniversary celebrations in Germany of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps that says something about current British government foreign policy priorities.