Abstaining Labour MPs are independently singing from the same song sheet – written by a rat?

Harriet Harman seems to have caused confusion by mixing Labour's lack of opposition for the Welfare Reform and Work Bill with the party leadership's reaction to the proposed cut in tax credits.

Harriet Harman seems to have caused confusion by mixing Labour’s lack of opposition for the Welfare Reform and Work Bill with the party leadership’s reaction to the proposed cut in tax credits.

A Labour MP named Helen Hayes contacted This Writer on Twitter after the disastrous vote on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, asking me to read a blog article explaining her reasons for abstaining after our party’s “reasoned amendment” failed.

According to this piece, it seems she found reason to support certain parts of the Bill, namely the provision of three million new apprenticeships, support for troubled families and reduced rents for council tenants.

She opposed the abolition of child poverty targets, the reduction of Employment and Support Allowance, and the shrinking of the benefit cap in London.

She voted for the Labour leadership’s “reasoned amendment”, in which changes to the Bill were proposed alongside reasons for it. When this failed, she said she abstained because she wanted the elements she supported to be enacted.

She went on to point out that the Bill will not become law until it has been discussed, line by line, in the Committee Stage, sent to the House of Lords for detailed consideration there, and returned to the Commons for its Third Reading.

Finally, she pointed out that the Bill does not include the proposed cuts to tax credits, which are to be implemented in the autumn via a Statutory Instrument which Labour vehemently opposes.

It is impossible for This Writer to agree with Ms Hayes.

Yes – new appenticeships, support for troubled families and reduced council rents are potentially good moves. But the other elements of the Bill are disastrous for the people the affect.

If the Labour leadership had wanted to adopt a principled position, it would have required them to say that the offer is tempting, but the price is too high – and to reject the Bill, as it is, in its entirety.

Ms Hayes suggests, “It would be much harder to hold the government to account for delivering high quality apprenticeships and an effective troubled families programme, if I had voted against the principle of these proposals”.

Yes indeed – but it will now be much harder to stop the government from abolishing child poverty targets, cutting ESA and reducing the benefit cap – across the who of the UK – now that most of the Labour Party allowed those thing to continue along the legislative process unopposed.

Furthermore, This Writer would have been more impressed by Ms Hayes’ article if I had not read almost exactly the same sentiments in words by fellow Labour MPs Andrew Gwynne and Peter Kyle.*

Both of these gentlemen mentioned the elements that Labour supported and rejected, the stages through which the Bill had to progress, Labour’s “reasoned amendment” and further amendments to be made later, and the fact that tax credits are not part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

The elements were arranged in different ways, and each article was clearly written by each individual MP, but it seems clear that they were all working from the same starting point.

Oh look – Karin Smyth, the new Labour MP for Bristol South (This Writer’s original home constituency) has written a piece that is, again, startlingly similar.

Is it paranoia or healthy scepticism that prompts This Writer to suggest that someone in the current Labour leadership has issued a bullet-point list or factsheet to all abstaining MPs, showing them how to defend their indefensible position and claim that they came to this decision by themselves? You decide.

Or perhaps the author of such a document would like to step forward and admit the attempted deception?

*Apologies to the kittysjones blog for using it to highlight this; the articles by these two were the very first blog pieces I read after Helen Hayes’ article, and the similarities were too pronounced to ignore.

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  1. hstorm July 22, 2015 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    So had Hayes been a German politician in the mid-1930’s, and Hitler put up a Bill before the Reichstag demanding death to Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and the disabled, but offering state-funded dog-care for all, Hayes would have abstained because the dog-care sounded nice?

    • polwin12 July 23, 2015 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Well put!

    • Anne July 24, 2015 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      Tom Watson posted the same. Can I pont out the Troubled Families Project has been widely discredited as its a tool for objectifying the poor. And the other two ‘pro points’ are straw men.

      • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm - Reply

        Interesting. Do you have references for the discrediting of the Troubled Families Project?

  2. Jean Smith July 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    My MP said exactly the same thing. :(

    • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      The plot thickens.

  3. kittysjones July 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Perhaps the “same sentiments” simply reflect Labour principles. It’s difficult to see the way the Bill was presented as anything but a ploy to foster such divisions as they HAVE. It was a lose/lose situation for Labour. The fact that those Labour MPs voting against the Bill have also echoed the same account of how the Bill was presented indicates to me that they are all most likely telling the truth, rather than using a crib sheet. Michael Meacher also gave a similar account, for example, of the way the Bill was presented. He’s not a crib sheet type.

    I can see this was a purposefully divisive strategy by the Tories. It’s terribly difficult to find a way of tackling this type of ploy, and it is going to keep on happening. It’s definitely not the first time it’s happened either.

    The Tories have since pushed the label yet again “the party of welfare”. (Osborne and Priti Patel in particular). Indicating that we did in fact oppose effectively. As I said, we were put in a lose/lose situation on this, intentionally. If MPs abstain, it’s seen as a lack of opposition by our left core support – even though that clearly isn’t the case. If MP’s vote against the Bill, we get labelled “the party of welfare.”

    Unfortunately, recent research indicates that we lost votes to UKIP and the Tories because some former supporters consider we are “too soft” on welfare (and immigration, they also cited distrust of trade union links, tax and the Tory lies – their narrative about the economy – worked), so we have a dilemma. JRF also concluded in their own research a couple of years back that the public’s attitudes towards welfare have “hardened”.

    How do we deal with being caught between public perceptions and public interests? How do we reconcile populism with democracy and ethics? This is a situation that has been engineered almost entirely by the Tories and mainstream media.

    Peronally I go for upholding ethics and welfare every time, but I can see that is a complex issue, with risks either way, and that the Bill was engineered purposefully to create precisely the divisions and fallout that we now see.

    • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Look at Michael Meacher’s blog and you’ll see very quickly that he’s reading from a very different song-sheet from the others!
      There’s nothing wrong with being the party of “welfare”, by the way. The problem is that nobody seems to have applied the logical response, which is that, if Labour is the party of welfare (welfare meaning physical, social and/or financial well-being), then the Conservatives must be in the Party of Harm.
      Abstention is a lack of opposition – there’s no way around that. Opposition would have been voting against the Bill. There would have been no harm to Labouor in doing so; MPs could have said they liked some of the provisions but the price was too high. They would have been lauded for it. This would not have prevented them from tabling amendments in the Committee Stage, either. Now, if any of the abstainers propose amendments, they’ll have the huge handicap of their de facto support of the Bill to argue around.
      If we have lost votes to the other parties because people believe we are “too soft” on certain subjects, might this not be because we have failed to present our argument in a convincing manner? I think it might, and I don’t think I’m alone. There was a huge clamour against Miliband, all the way through his leadership, that he wasn’t putting up a strong enough argument. Some of us thought this was because the media were squeezing him out but it’s a debatable issue.
      I don’t think the “same sentiments” we’ve seen in these articles by the abstainers represent Labour principles at all and – judging by your support for ethics and welfare – it seems you don’t either. The divisions we’re seeing would not have happened if the leadership had taken the position I have suggested.

      • kittysjones July 22, 2015 at 8:25 pm - Reply

        My point, Mike was more about the complexities of our situation, the growing public support for welfare cuts, the shift to the right, which leaves us with the problem of electability, again. Those problems won’t be going away and the tories will be using the tensions to continue to create divisions.

        The media accounts that we did manage to get past the gatekeepers as it were – Miliband on the economy, debunking Tory myths in the Times, Independent and elsewhere from 2011, Reeves and others complaining to the ONS, along with widespread media acknowledgement of the subsequent rebukes for the tory lies from the ONS, indicates to me that this isn’t just a media platform issue, because those accounts were ignored and forgotten in the longer term. It seems to me that glittering generalities and other propaganda techniques have worked. We relay on the electorate making rational choices, in their own best interests. What is clear to me is that they don’t do that. Nor is it actual policies that matter to people most, curiously.

        I didn’t see this particular issue as a neat and tidy “either/or” matter. It was made intentionally difficult by the government, as Meacher also confirmed. That was the point I wanted to make.

        The tensions between tory populism, public perceptions, democracy and ethics won’t go away any time soon, no matter how we want to ignore it, or no matter if respond dogmatically, it’s an issue that is going to require open, rational and honest discussion if we are to move past it. And we need to be able to do that whilst upholding our values and principles …

        Meanwhile, the tories continue with simply being the tories. Bastards.

        • Mike Sivier July 23, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

          What public support for cuts? Support from the 24 per cent who voted Tory this time, and from people who have right-wing, evidence-less dogma thrown at them by a compliant media, day in, day out? What shift to the right? What we’re seeing is that, the more political parties move to the right of the political spectrum, the more of the population they leave behind.

          You’re right that our problems won’t be going away, but we (as a population) need to admit what those problems are. Too many people are too ready to believe these stories, rather than find out the facts. The Big Lie, encapsulated in its little friend the Soundbite.

          I don’t agree that the problem was difficult, even with the government trying to make it so, but I’m prepared to concede that this is because I have a particular way of seeing this issue. I hope more of the Labour Party come around to seeing it as I do, but I’m glad 48 of them already do.

          I think the first problem is going to be getting the Labour Front Bench to admit that it has one. Second will be getting shadow cabinet members to admit that they don’t know all the answers and could benefit from listening to the rest of us.

          • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 12:40 am

            The shift to the right on welfare was reported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, based on their research, and by the British social attitudes survey. Labour supporters showed the most stark change of attitude, too. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Public+attitudes+have+hardened+to+welfare&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=ZCCwVanIJIPWU5avsbAB

            We lost voters to ukip and the tories, and according to our own research, those who did so, in the key marginals, did so because we are perceived as “soft” on welfare, immigration, there’s a lack of trust because of our links with trade unions , lack of trust on tax and the economy. The people surveyed were previously long standing labour voters.

            It’s the tories and media pushing rightwards, labour don’t have the platform or impact capacity atm to shape opinions.

            But if public attitudes remain the same, we will probably lose the GE in 2020 too.

      • kittysjones July 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

        “The problem is that nobody seems to have applied the logical response, which is that, if Labour is the party of welfare (welfare meaning physical, social and/or financial well-being), then the Conservatives must be in the Party of Harm.”

        Yes that’s a direct and memorable way of putting it. As I said, I think we rely far too much on lengthy rationales, when actually, punchy summaries like yours, there, are often far more effective.

        • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 11:52 pm - Reply

          Thank you!
          I wrote an article – probably a few years ago – pointing out that the Tories make their case with soundbites and suggesting that their opposition should defeat them with soundbites of their own. It fell on blind eyes at the time. Perhaps the idea should be resurrected?

          • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 1:00 am

            Yes, I’ve also pointed out that we lack skill with rhetoric techniques such as glittering generalities more recently, something that the Tories, and also, the SNP, Greens and other parties are very good at. We really do need to learn. Again, it’s back to that reliance on the electorate being rational, when they are actually anything but. Proof? How many people who voted tory will actually benefit from tory policies? Hardly any of ’em.

          • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 1:10 am

            Reminds me, I said I’d do a series on techniques of persuasion and haven’t written a sausage since this one – http://think-left.org/2015/06/26/propaganda-techniques-glittering-generalities/

    • hstorm July 22, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      ‘The Tories have since pushed the label yet again “the party of welfare”. (Osborne and Priti Patel in particular). Indicating that we did in fact oppose effectively.’

      I’m a little bewildered by that remark. Are you suggesting that labels thrown around by the Tories, of all people, are reliable evidence, even when they are intended as derogatory?

      Labour did not oppose effectively; only about a fifth of their MPs voted against the Bill, and the vote-against is the most effective way of opposing. Any disapproving rhetoric without the vote-against is hollow. I recognise – I suspect most people recognise – the rock-and-a-hard-place position Labour were in, but they are just going to have to grit their teeth and deal with it. That is, unless they genuinely want to go full-Tory and just abandon the Welfare State forever. There will come a time when Labour will have to make a stand to protect Welfare, and failing to do so at an early time is just putting it off, handing the initiative to the Tories once again.

      What the bulk of Labour MPs did on Monday was the worst thing they could do. They spoke up against the Bill but didn’t oppose it, making them look flip-floppish and unreliable, while still opening them to (the supposed) criticism of being the party of welfare. It meant that both Right and Left are angry with them, and no one is happy with them.

      • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 12:56 am - Reply

        It’s a Tory policy and therefore it IS their initiative. Don’t forget the Mps tabled amendments outlining precisely why they opposed parts of the bill. That’s hardly “unreliable”. And don’t forget they still have another vote on this, with an opportunity to vote against the whole Bill.

        I’m glad you got my point about rock and hard place. I personally hope that, as the amendments are rejected, they will all vote against the entire Bill, explaining why.

        Regardless of the whip.

      • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 1:07 am - Reply

        I started discussing the “rock and hard place” in this a few weeks back. My own position is, as someone who has long valued Corbyn’s work, that we take a left turn. It’s certainly no more risky than pandering to populism and public (mis)perceptions, and we get to uphold decent principles and our traditional core values as well – https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/labour-faces-a-dilemma-which-way-do-we-turn/

      • John Gaines July 23, 2015 at 9:11 am - Reply

        There is NO rock or Hard place for real Labour MP’s, only the CAUSE they were elected to PROMOTE, the CAUSE of the working people, if Labour cannot do that, then it is NOTHING.

        I GUESS WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT IT IS NOTHING, for the majority of those who obtained their selection by Fraud & Deceit.
        Dump them all.
        And get Blair, the liar, out of the Party.

  4. kittysjones July 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm - Reply


  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) July 22, 2015 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    All the greater reason to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. The last thing we want as a leader are people who change direction when it suits them.

    • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      … As I mentioned in this very blog on July 13 (and Mhairi Black paraphrased in Parliament the very next day)!

  6. Ian July 22, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I cannot remember the MPs concerned, they may be the ones above, but I have seen links to two very similar excuses this afternoon on Twitter.

    Whoda thought it, Labour MPs trying to spin their way out of trouble. It’s almost like an episode of The Thick Of It. Minus the swearing.

  7. Jim Round July 22, 2015 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    I do wonder where these three million apprenticeships will come from, hairdressing, dog grooming, beauty therapy?
    I very much doubt they will be much needed “skilled apprenticeships”
    Also, what is a troubled family?
    Those who didn’t vote Conservative?
    Seriously though, I have worked with such families, it is no easy task, and with all of the cuts to Social Services one wonders how it will be implemented.
    Will it be through the “Nudge Unit” or bribes to councils as reported on the poor side of life blog?
    What do those in power think those in poverty with no food or money will do, if they shoplift for food, will they have them charged and put in prison, thus costing the “hard working tax payer” more?
    Or do they hope they will decide they cannot live anymore and pack it all in?
    People go on about “Jeremy Kyle types” if you can sit through that dross for longer than five minutes, think about it, as an employer would YOU employ people like that?
    And unfortunately Kitty and the JRF are correct, attitude towards social security claimants and the disabled has hardened, mainly due to programmes like Benefits Street, The Jeremy Kyle Show and Saints and Scroungers.
    Too many people really do think that they are an accurate picture of claimants, and that the disabled are just pulling a fast one in order to get more money “look what those paralympians can do”

    • kittysjones July 22, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Very well made point, Jim. The Nudge unit dominates much policy-making and media management now, it’s a nasty, grim, punitive, behaviourist, victim-blaming, small state endorsing, pound pinching, coercive, very TORY and anti-democratic branch of govt authoritarian reach.

      We really do need to be challenging those right wing portrayals and stereotypes. I’ve been focusing on promoting the need for social security, exploring why it came about and how we cannot afford to NOT have a welfare state a lot recently, for precisely that reason. But I found the most popular posts have been the short satire ones, taking the michaels out of the irrationality of common perceptions. We have to keep pushing back.

    • paulrutherford8 July 22, 2015 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      Sometimes ‘Saints & Scroungers’ may present the ‘other’ side of Benefits Street?

      The family in this episode have just been given leave to appeal their adverse bedroom tax case judgement at the Court of Appeal… “as a matter of urgency”, according to the judges who granted permission on 21 July.


      I had to argue with the BBC over the usage of the two words ‘Bedroom Tax’ and won. I seem to spend my whole life arguing with the government and MP’s from other parties. I don’t believe I ought to have to, but hey… as you said, it’s a big ‘thank you’ to Mr Kyle, et.al., for that.

      • Jim Round July 23, 2015 at 6:36 am - Reply

        Really, the show should be called Saints and Fraudsters/Criminals, as Mike pointed out in a previous post, that is what they are.

    • Florence July 22, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      As “popular views” are nudged in one direction, they can also move back again, and you sound totally defeatist, and it’s very unappetising. Very soon the pain of the ever-increasing numbers of poor will be unavoidable as it reaches millions of families the length & breadth of the UK. Mike is 100% correct – abstention is NOT opposition. Every one of them will be left wondering why there was no apparent opposition – and looking at Labour party.

      The programmes that the abstention apologists say are “good”” will extend to millions upon millions,young, old, families,unemployed, disabled, single mothers, homeless renters, all being made compliant and “Job Ready” in a system that has mass unemployment built in. They look more & more like systems for the mass “re-education” of the those in need of social security, allied with deliberate and savage and punishing poverty. Labour needs to put together a coherent policy of opposition, not rake over the politics of “Austerity” looking for something they can use in their sterile pursuit of a handful of Tory swing voters that might respond to “triangulation”. Labour needs to recover it’s voice, the voice of the aspiration of the majority of the population to a good functioning Welfare State, not the aspiration of those whose only contact with the homeless being “those you step over on the way out the Opera” (Freud, while a Labour peer, I think?).

      • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 11:48 pm - Reply

        Sir George Young, in fact.

      • Florence July 23, 2015 at 12:02 am - Reply

        Thank you for the correction. Ah, SIr George Young, yes. I remember now! The Nasty Party that just keeps on giving. …..

      • Jim Round July 23, 2015 at 6:34 am - Reply

        If I sound defeatist it is only based on personal experience.
        You see it in the likes of Mikes petition for release of benefit deaths.
        It’s great that the petition has 100,000+ signatures, but when you compare it to the Jeremy Clarkson one, and how many views certain videos get, it shows you just where societies priorities lie.
        Also a disgrace is that politicians of all stripes seem to only recently noticed these deaths, so called human beings eh?
        Couple this with Job Centre staff sanctioning the vulnerable for spurious reasons, could you do that?
        I know I couldn’t.
        It’s OK to whistleblow if you work for the NHS, but strangely not if you work for the DWP, nor can you, it seems, lift the lid on rampant Westminster corruption (for a party allegedly opposed to WM, it would be a perfect opportunity for the SNP, their silence speaks volumes)
        Why don’t we just put the poor in the stocks or on some sort of freak show, after all, it would be no worse than the poverty porn we have on TV at the moment.

        • Mike Sivier July 23, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

          The petition was undermined when David Cameron announced that the figures would be released, during Prime Minister’s Questions.
          People heard the headline, didn’t realise that he was referring to ‘Age-Standardised Mortality Rates’ – ratios, rather than real numbers – and stopped signing. There have been only a few thousand additions since. No such brake was applied to the Clarkson petition, which also had the advantage of being about a very famous person who was very much in the public eye.
          The poverty porn you mention is a freak show featuring the poor.

      • Jim Round July 23, 2015 at 10:13 am - Reply

        I meant something like a circus, where you throw food to the “performers” mind you that “hardest grafter” comes close.
        Doesn’t matter about Clarkson’s fame, your petition is about the deaths of innocent people due to the actions of the state, who are supposed to protect them.
        Clarkson is just an attention seeker who, like anyone else in an everyday job, got sacked for gross misconduct.
        Unfortunately I very much doubt we will se “real” figures on the deaths, if the government can cover up paedophilia in its ranks, then they will have a good go at covering this up.

  8. Jean Smith July 22, 2015 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I had a word with my MP, and even if all Labour MPs voting against it they couldn’t have won, though it looked like they might on paper, due to the rules around pairing up of Labour MPs with absent Tory MPs – an explanation I can understand rather than the somewhat strange “official” one. Some MPs in the Labour camp would have been unable to vote. Maybe they think the public don’t know the system, hence the curious crib sheet they seem to have provided? Maybe not voting, rather than “losing” has given the whole thing more publicity – hope so it is toxic (apart from the dog-care). I am suspicious, and will judge them on their effectiveness in derailing this, but at least I do not feel they have wasted a real chance of defeating this Bill any more had they just voted against it with the other parties.I am still unsure why they didn’t though under the dog- care argument (thanks hstorm, I will be using that :)).

    • Mike Sivier July 22, 2015 at 11:55 pm - Reply

      No – they didn’t have a chance to defeat the bill.
      They had a chance to make a point about social security – about standing up for everyone, rather than a select few – and they blew it.

    • John Gaines July 24, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

      This highlights the reason why we should Elect Saint Jeremy, few of us no longer trust a word that Labour MP’s bleat. Cameron has, very subtly been playing the Honour card for the past 7 years, “We must honour our Debts, we must be upfront in our Financial dealings”—of course they are not our Debts and we are always honest with our Finances, they are, of course, the Criminal City of London’s and the Bankster gamblers and losers DEBTS, yet people often nod sagely when Cameron dumps the blame on them. The rotten City encourages this blame transfer from their stinking denizens, on to the backs of the working people who have never had anything to do with their rotten criminal culture.

      The people will respond to an obvious honourable, likely the only verifiabley honest Politician left in the Country, as they have responded to the radical Ethical Agenda CEO Paul Polman at Unilever:
      “Polman staked a bold claim to the sustainability agenda when he first joined the firm, launching the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), a project designed to make the company more ethical.

      “We’re not working for our shareholders,” he said stridently in 2012. “We’re working for the consumer, we are focused and the shareholder gets rewarded.”

      He also ditched quarterly earning reports –“We’re not going into the three-month rat-races,” he added – and started incorporating solar panels and rainwater capture from roofs into a huge factory building program to cut on­going costs.

      Radical maybe, but full-year results for 2014 hint at the fruits of his strategy, with 50 per cent of its growth coming from brands Unilever uses to push its ethical agenda, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Comfort. These grew twice as fast as the rest of the business in 2014”
      Game set & match, Saint Jeremy can do the same for Labour and, by God, they badly need it.

  9. Thomas July 22, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Labour is supposed to be left wing, just as the Tories are supposed to be right wing. What I don’t want is a right wing Labour Party, pushing my vote to some tiny party where it’s wasted.

  10. Jenny Hambidge July 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    And now we are getting stories on BBC of two brave and wonderful disabled people- and how they work hard and don’t give into their disabilities – don’t even LIKE to use the word “disability ” in connection with themselves, just so the public can think that we disabled people could be like them and try harder. Part of the nudge unit too I expect. Sorry, just had to pick up on that last point.

    • polwin12 July 23, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

      Ought to be a series of Expenses Street. Followed by Tax Dodging Avenue

  11. christopherblackmore July 22, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    It’s much simpler than the other commenters think…

    If you don’t vote against the Tories, you are a Tory.

  12. paulrutherford8 July 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Yes, Mike, I agree that there was at least a circular to the PLP MP’s yesterday.

    The first one I saw, as I pointed out to Sue on Kitty Jones last night, was this one http://www.emma-lewell-buck.net/read-emmas-statement-on-the-welfare-reform-and-work-bill/ posted by Emma Lewell-Buck MP. It reads just as those mentioned above. I think most Labour MP’s now possess their own edited version.

    It may be considered to be the ‘truth’ on one level, but without any doubt whatsoever, all came from the same source.

    Today, shadow Welsh chap, Owen Smith wrote a version on facebook… https://www.facebook.com/owensmith4mp/posts/1186411194719221

    I’ve alreadytold some of these ‘bloggers’ [really??!!], that apart from the fact I think they ought to have not abstained, if employing such tactics as they claim after the fact, they perhaps ought to have alerted ‘the public’ of their reason[s] for abstaining *before* the debate.

    Andrew Gwynne agreed with me and with my second point, that many of Labour’s advisors and/or researchers ought to be sacked. They are divorced from ‘real life’ and, after all, are just apprentices themselves and very likely ‘yes men’ [or women], glad to be working in an MP’s office, on the first step of their career path… to becoming an MP.

    No wonder they’re all so very afraid of that Corbyn bloke… he’s a tad rough isn’t he!! Hahaha!

  13. AndyC July 22, 2015 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Paul Blomfield MP for Sheffield Central can be included in this too – “Opposing the Welfare Reform and Work Bill ” – http://www.paulblomfield.co.uk/home.html

  14. Jeffery Davies July 23, 2015 at 5:42 am - Reply

    That kj again so far up the backs of the right hum come to neath talk to the people they dont agree with whot kj is saying yet these bkair babies will finish this little tory party if they dont listen to the electorate its still unbelievable that if jc gets in the knives are out rid themselves of him they doing us a dis service yet again if ones a tb please cross the floor to the proper party you should be in jeff3

    • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      If by KJ you mean me, well I support Corbyn. That doesn’t mean I am not allowed to point out what the Blairites are banging on about, (public shift to the right, according to research) or that sometimes people have complex and well-meaning motives for making decisions we don’t like or approve.

  15. Jeffery Davies July 23, 2015 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Ps I emailed my mp she was away on holidays or party biss in america

  16. Jeffery Davies July 23, 2015 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Apprenticeships yes stacking shelves I suspose a tory thing if its to be a apprenticeship then its four yrs learning a trade but torys mean cheap labour stacking shelves not a true apprenticeship nay this party is realy going to town showing us how tory they are jc has a uphill battle has of to many tb who will backstab him

  17. NMac July 23, 2015 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Reading all the above posts, one thing appears to be certain. The Tory policy of “Divide and Rule” is working perfectly for them.

  18. kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Peter Kyle for Hove and Portslade asked if he wrote from a template:

    No, I wrote my piece myself and a friend checked over the grammar / spelling but that’s it. I pasted the amendments though. I respect Andrew a lot and he is one of the people I spoke to about this Bill and the way forward so it’s no surprise that our posts are similar. I assure you that there was no template sent around.

    • Mike Sivier July 23, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      There are a lot of these ‘justification’ pieces springing up, all saying exactly the same things (if in different ways) while the authors all claim, somewhat improbably, that each piece is all their own work. Whether anyone believes that is a matter for them.

      • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

        There are also the dialogues with those MPs – see Peter Kyle’s FB page for example – which expand on what they have written.

        • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

          I’m sorry, but there’s no reason not to treat these as suspect also. While the dialogues may be genuinely the work of the MPs in question, they don’t prove anything about the originality of the statements that sparked them.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm

            The MPs try and explain why they made the decisions they did, describinbg the same bill and the same reasons. Some try and explan what “reasoned amendments are” also. It’s inevitable they will talk about the same issues with the bill. There is no reason to treat it as suspect, also. Especially given the process of this bill has not concluded and there is still the final vote to come.

          • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

            I wonder if any of them – at all – have accepted the point that their constituents have made. Have any of their constituents actually supported them in what they did?

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:44 pm

            Yes, I think most of them accepted the point in particular that organisation and communication was appalling.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 5:28 pm

            I think there’s a case to be made, also, in explaining the amendment process and pointing out the final vote on this Bill is yet to come. Frankly, if I were an MP I would have done that much more clearly than has been done. Yet many didn’t seem to clarify this well at all. And those that tried lost the point amongst the rest of their often explanations.

            I wasn’t aware of how the “reasoned amendments” worked, exactly, until I looked on the parliamentary site. It’s a sort of secondary issue, but we need to raise some understanding and share info on processes like this too.

          • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 6:23 pm

            I think Harriet Harman (and, if you’re correct, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper) have already booby-trapped the final vote. Explaining that they were trying to be clever won’t have much effect on anybody.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm

            “Explaining that they were trying to be clever won’t have much effect on anybody.” I wasn’t explaining any cleverness, I was explaining parliamentary process. I’ve learned however, that people choose to believe what they will regardless of a few facts here and there. Stepping back from this a little, if people choose to despise labour because we have a tory government formulating tory policy, I am happy to leave them to it. The final vote remains what it is: a final vote.

            I have concerns about why at this stage the story in the media is that labour supported the bill, when it is clear to me they did not. The details do matter.

            I’m reminded again of Adam Curtis and Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe – oh dearism in particular.

            I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the amendments generally, and agree on the rest, particularly Harman’s initial stance, Mike :-)

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 5:05 pm

            They’ll despise Labour because they saw Labour (barring the 48) voting to support one group of people and letting down another, rather than supporting all of them, and because they then saw Labour (barring the 48) abdicating its responsibility to oppose harmful Conservative policies. You are right to point out that failure to oppose does not indicate support, but the argument that it is de facto support has traction, because an abstention means an MP has decided not to oppose it.

            Yes, let’s agree to disagree at this stage, and see how matters progress.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            I will agree that labour needs to me much more canny when it comes to public perceptions, Mike. We’ve been crap at that for a long time, relying on a rational public to go out and behave like “naive scientists” gathering facts for themselves … it ain’t ever going to happen. We need to learn how to do the rhetoric too. Regardless of SNP policies and tactics, Sturgeon is a brilliant rhetoritician, for example.

            This is the great thing about discussions like this one: it inspires further thinking :-) Best wishes Mike.

  19. kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    From his facebook page. And this:

    Peter Kyle for Hove and Portslade Hi Lucy, thanks for posting. Just to make one thing clear – we could not, ever, even in our wildest dreams, even if every opposition MP had voted against, have defeated the government on the third reading of this Bill. They have a majority of 12 and not one Tory voted against the Bill. You have 8 mins to vote and had the Tories seen loads of Labour suddenly piling through the ‘no’ lobby they would have simply hit the panic button and ministers and the PM would have come running across.

    You rightly make the point about people like you suffering because of this Bill. You are right – be angry at the Tories for trying to make this law. And be angry at the Tories for holding a gun to our head over apprenticeships and lower social rent and family support, but please don’t be angry at me for trying to get you the support you need whilst doing all I can to stop the measures that will harm you and your family. Labour lost the election so we don’t get to call the shots on the way government Bills are made. I can just try my best to take the difficult decision that will deliver the best for people and communities in Hove and Portslade. All the best, Peter

    • kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      Final comment: Has anyone noticed how our attention has been diverted via the media and tories from criticising the details of the tory welfare reform bill to infighting about what labour should do? Seriously anyone would think it wasn’t a punitive Tory Bill being inflicted at all ….

      • Mike Sivier July 23, 2015 at 8:08 pm - Reply

        Isn’t the problem simply the fact that, by giving in to the Tories’ fake choice and abstaining because they wanted the “good” plans to go through, the majority of Labour has forfeited the right to criticise the “bad” parts? That they have chosen to help some segments of society over others, rather than trying to stand up for everybody? For those who Labour chose not to represent, by abstaining instead, any arguments in terms future will be too little, too late.

    • Mike Sivier July 23, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Without seeing what Lucy said, it’s hard to judge this, beyond reiterating that the principled position would have been to say that it is wrong for the Tories to try to force Labour to choose to help some people but not others so, in this case, while Labour welcomes some proposals, the price is too high. This would have allowed Labour to table amendments in the Committee Stage without being shouted down for hypocrisy.

  20. kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    It’s on his page on FB.

    I think the amendments attempted an outline of the arguments, to be fair. And no-one has forfeited the right to criticise any of it – that always remains. Things are rarely so either/or, which is my point here, and that stands, regardless of my own preference, which was a straight vote against the bill.

    • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      I should have clarified that people will think the Labour abstainers have forfeited the right to criticise the Bill – and the government will use that to belittle any such criticisms.

      • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm - Reply

        Noone has ever lost the right to criticise any bill. People seem to have lost sight of the fact that this is actually a tory bill, not a labour one.

        This is akin to arguing with the SNP about labour on the bedroom tax all over again.

        Labour have used a reasoned amendment to criticise the bill and to try and halt it. Reasoned amendments are another way of trying to get a bill scrapped. I took the time and trouble to read what they are and how they are used. The SNP and others KNOW how this works, and they also know there is still a final vote on this at the third reading. Yet before this is done, before the [process is completed, here we are distracted from the bill itself, and all raging at the labour party.

        • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm - Reply

          Are we? Are we distracted from the Bill?
          It seems to me that the Bill is fundamental to the discussion. We know that the Tories were trying to present Labour with an unpalatable choice, between rejecting the whole Bill and being seen as betraying those it would benefit (which probably would not have happened as the Tories are likely to be lying about the three ‘positives’ quoted by Labour abstainers) and accepting part of it and being seen as betraying those it throws to the wolves.
          Whichever way I look at this, I honestly can’t see any sense in accepting any part of it at all.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:43 pm

            We haven’t accepted ANY part of the Bill as yet, we have opposed the parts that needed opposing and opposed the entire second reading of it via the amendment. We tried to use the amendments to stop the Bill progressing, too. We lost the vote on it.

          • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm

            The abstention says those Labour MPs have accepted part of it. Their justification essays say the same thing – they want those measures put into place.
            The logical conclusion is that they betrayed those who will be disadvantaged by the Bill.
            And remember, their objections won’t have any impact from here on because of what they did at the Second Reading.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 9:21 pm

            That’s not a logical conclusion at al, since those MPs outlined precisely whch parts of the Bill they disagreed with, and which the agreed. Their objections will continue to be expressed at the final vote. The impact to be concerned about is whether or not the Bill is passed and whether or not we did our best to try all the methods available to halt it. Just voting no is unlikely to halt the Bill by itself.

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 12:51 am

            But voting no and saying why – as I’ve suggested – would have brought the public on-side, whereas putting forward an amendment that failed and then not voting – as happened – has convinced too many people that Labour is on the wrong side, here.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 1:14 am

            Who convinced the public, exactly? And why are the public widely unaware this wasn’t the final commons vote?

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 2:31 pm

            Are the public widely unaware this wasn’t the final Commons vote? I haven’t seen any indication of that.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

            That’s my point … WHY aren’t they aware of that? The media certainly didn’t convey that info.

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

            Mine was that I didn’t think the public were unaware of the facts; they just thought that Labour had behaved very badly at this point in the legislative process.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:17 pm

            They did vote no to the bulk of the bill, and say why. But Harman most definitely has not helped public perceptions at the offset

  21. kittysjones July 23, 2015 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    “This significant shift in position by the acting leader was only made possible in exchange for our abstention on the second reading, with the understanding that Labour MPs will seek to amend the Bill for the better during the committee stage and that we will be free to fully oppose it at the third reading if the Government refuse to back these changes.” David Crausby, MP Bolton North East

    • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      So Harriet Harman dug her heels in, said, “I won’t listen to reason, I won’t, I won’t!” until other party members agreed to a stupid idea. That shows weakness on the part of those Labour MPs who caved in to her.

      • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm - Reply

        I didn’t agree with Harman. However, I think using “reasoned amendment” is a good way of trying to halt the bill, reserving chance of the YET TO COME final vote at the third reading to try and vote it down. Given the way the HoC is composed, it’s unlikely a vote will halt it, even if all opposing parties vote against. Reasoned amendments can sometimes halt Bills too.

        I think the fact the criticism arose before the reading and voting has actually finished is strange, since Labour are likely vote against the bill at the last commons reading, after trying the amendments first. Reasoned amendments are not a “stupid idea”. They are part of the process parties use to express what the don’t agree with and why, and may be used to halt a bill.

        • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

          I know you don’t agree with her, don’t worry.
          I wasn’t saying reasoned amendments are necessarily a “stupid idea” – the stupid idea was the abstention that was attached to it. If the amendment was voted down (as it was), then Labour MPs should have been free to vote against the Bill as a whole, for the reason that I have stated – that the price of the desirable elements is simply too high.
          I note that the Conservative Party’s attitude to apprenticeships has also been called into question since the vote.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm

            They ARE free to vote the Bill down at the final reading!!!!!

          • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 6:20 pm

            And who will that impress?

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm

            Had the media not leapt on the 2nd reading vote prematurely, I doubt this would have even been an issue. And sometimes, simply being seen as doing the “right thing” and “impressing people” clashes with actually doing the right thing, if you see what I mean. There does seem to be problems with perceptions of using reasoned amendment, yet as it’s a way of halting Bills, it’s a mechanism that should be used, buttressed by taking the final vote as a further opportunity to halt the Bill. That’s my thoughts on the use of amendment, anyway, rather than the Harman isssue. As I said, I fundamentally disagreed with Harman’s initial stance on this.

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 12:48 am

            There’s only one problem with what you’re saying about Labour’s use of a ‘reasoned amendment’: It hasn’t halted this Bill.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 1:30 am

            Why is that a problem with what I am saying? I’ve outlined how reasoned amendments are used, which is also explained on the parliamentary site. How other parties chose to vote for or against those amendments is nothing to do with the explanation. There was an amendment that called for a halt and no second reading, apparently, too.

            And the process, as I have pointed out several times, is not complete yet, the Bill may possibly be halted at the third reading. Though even if every party that isn’t conservative votes this down, the division bell will be ringing, and I don’t doubt that the entire tory team of MPs in the commons will be dashing their 8 minute dash down the corridors to enure a tory majority vote. But these are things we at least have to try, are they not?

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm

            It’s a problem because you’re saying (in line with the Parliament website) that reasoned amendments are used to halt Bills, but Labour knew there was no possibility of theirs being able to do this, before tabling it. Reasoned amendments may also be tabled for the Third Reading of a Bill, so we return to the argument that Labour should have pushed for all-out rejection of the Bill at its second reading.

            I should probably congratulate you, at this point. For someone who doesn’t agree with what happened, you’re doing a very good job of defending it. It occurs to me that we’re not going to come to agreement on this, though; it really comes down to opinion – whether, as individuals, we believe a reasoned amendment was appropriate at this stage in this particular Bill, or not.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm

            There’s a difference between “defending” something and explaning it. Furthermore, I think I made it clear that because there is yet another vote to come on the matter, the responses from media and some supporters was oddly premature. I also understand that one of the reasoned amendments was for an all out rejection of the bill at the second reading.

            We can agree to disagree on one issue, flat voting isn’t the only way to try and stop a bill, my argument, not just in this case, but in all cases, given the opposition minority in the HoC, is that we need to draw on as many ways as possible of stopping a Bill. I raised reasoned amendments because it is one other way. And I would argue it was best done at this stage, reserving a full vote against at the Third reading, if you see what I mean

            WE both agree on Harman being wrong, and the lack of organisation and communication more generally was abysmal. The reason why I brought the amendments up in the first place is partly for future ref, because it’s important people know why they are used, too

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 4:56 pm

            I certainly think it should be possible to use them more effectively in the future.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm

            Hope so, because we are going to need to draw on every strategy available to have an impact on the tory onslaught to come. And we need the SNP to be a little less concerned with perpetual electioneering, too

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:17 pm

            But then nor has the media and other parties

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 9:24 pm

            I do completely agree that the Tories are probably lying about the 3 proposals lifted from Labour’s manifesto, btw, as I can’t see them possibly implementing those as presented. They fundamentally contradict their form and narrative. I guess though, that it served to confuse.

      • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm - Reply

        It’s the front benchers who abstained, and they are bound by a stricter code of conduct than the backbenchers. That’s probably the main reason, though I know many were very conflicted – Tom Watson, for example, said he was. Harman was wrong whip the way she did initially. But another way to see this is Harman also caved in to pressure, and was pushed to change her approach. I understand Burnham and Cooper were behind that

        • Mike Sivier July 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

          Whichever way you slice it, Harman was weak.

          • kittysjones July 25, 2015 at 9:07 pm

            Yes she was undeniably weak. It turned into a shambles. However, that is not the same thing as claiming she supported the tory Bill, which some people have said. And also, that Labour haven’t opposed the Bill – they did, and there is still the final vote in the Commons, which I feel is an important point.

          • kittysjones July 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm

            Thanks for the discussion btw :-)

          • Mike Sivier July 26, 2015 at 5:07 pm

            And thank you. It was a pleasant change from the kind of discussion that has been too common on the blogs lately (and I’m aware that you’ll know exactly what I mean)!

  22. 1nhs July 24, 2015 at 1:15 am - Reply

    The abstention from voting on Wednesday is just the latest in a series of clear indications that the labour party is fundamentally broken. It has lost it’s way and forgotten the core principles upon which the party was founded. It has one remaining chance to redeem itself and it comes in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, but I fear the task at hand is too vast for even him and that’s assuming he does get elected as leader.

    It is not just the labour party that is failing the vast majority of people, it’s our entire political system as well. Following the recent general election, we have a majority government that less than 25% of the electorate voted for. Our system of politics is wholly undemocratic, unrepresentative and despite their promises, successive governments have failed to deliver the radical reform we need, not only to our political system but the wider UK society as well.

    Nothing could be clearer, that our politicians are incapable of building the kind of society in which we could all live as equals. In response, a new grassroots, non political group has been setup. It’s purpose is to provide a platform for UK residents who are concerned about the state of British democracy to come together to discuss, debate, design & build a better, fairer, more democratic UK society where everyone will have an equal chance to prosper.

    Group meetings will be held online as webinars and the first meeting is taking place next Monday 27th July from 8.00-9.30pm. Anyone who is UK resident and wants to be a part of designing and building a fairer UK society can join by sending an email to [email protected]

  23. mrmarcpc July 30, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Harman, like the others in the Labour party, except Corbyn, are all closet tories, that’s why no Labour voter trusts and believes in them, they all know Blairite Labour is light tory Labour, get out of the party and go join up with who you belong and leave the Labour party to the working class and it’s true members!

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