What blatant disregard for democracy.
It seems Conservative members of Parliament have been told not to bother voting in any Opposition Day debates.
This would explain why the House of Commons supported both the Labour Party’s motions yesterday, without having to go to the vote.
On NHS Pay, the House of Commons decided: “This House notes that in 2017-18 NHS pay rises have been capped at one per cent and that this represents another below-inflation pay settlement; further notes that applications for nursing degrees have fallen 23 per cent this year; notes that the number of nurses and midwives joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council register has been in decline since March 2016 and that in 2016-17 45 per cent more UK registrants left the register than joined it; and calls on the Government to end the public sector pay cap in the NHS and give NHS workers a fair pay rise.”
On tuition fees, the Commons decided: “That the Higher Education (Higher Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1206) and the Higher Education (Basic Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1205), both dated 13 December 2016, copies of which were laid before this House on 15 December 2016, in the last Session of Parliament, be revoked.” It means MPs have decided unanimously (thanks to the Tories’ abstention) that increases in university tuition fees totalling £250 per year should be abandoned.
Jeremy Corbyn celebrated the NHS pay victory:
Today, the Tories knew they'd lose if there was a vote on Labour's motion to end the pay cap. So, their coalition of chaos didn't turn up. https://t.co/YOljx51PxF
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) September 13, 2017
And so did Labour MP Alex Cunningham:
The Commons votes unanimously to stop hike in student fees – Tories faced defeat so didn't force vote. Now ministers must honour the vote.
— Alex Cunningham MP (@ACunninghamMP) September 13, 2017
But it seems they were both premature.
V signif. Tory sources say their MPs will not be expected to vote on ANY Opp Day debates for rest of Parliament. https://t.co/gKWknBwUdF
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) September 13, 2017
If true, this decision shows contempt for democracy and democratic debate. The Tories are saying they will pay no attention at all to Opposition motions, even when a majority of MPs support them – as they would have in the debates yesterday.
That’s why the Tories abstained, you see. It would be hugely harmful to the government for it to be defeated in a democratic vote, even one that is non-binding – because it would show that the Tories don’t care about democracy.
But the decision not to pay attention to Opposition Day debates show they don’t care about democracy anyway.
The reaction has been incendiary:
They'd rather sit there pulling faces at the opposition benches than actually have a reasonable debate pic.twitter.com/hu5R11kvS3
— Dale Ricketts (@ImpDale) September 13, 2017
in days gone by, if the government lost 2 votes in parliament in one day, there'd have been a VONC. Today, unlikely to even honour result
— Sue Marsh (@suey2y) September 13, 2017
A VONC is a vote of “no confidence”. That’s exactly what should have been triggered, but then we would have seen the DUP scuttling back to prop up Theresa May and her cronies.
Tories are rudderless, cowardly & disrespectful to the electorate. And the DUP are no better. Delete your government Theresa May https://t.co/YfkjO4vENI
— Jo Stevens (@JoStevensLabour) September 13, 2017
In a week during which other aspects of a functioning Parliamentary democracy have been thrown away by the Tories – with DUP help – the decision to ignore Opposition Day debates is yet another sign of the drift towards dictatorship:
Government boycott of Parliament Opposition Days. Dictatorial power grab in Great Withdrawal Bill. DUP bung. Democratic norms being dumped!
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) September 13, 2017
And let’s admit it – that drift is now almost complete.
This Writer is left to wonder how Theresa May will propose to stop general elections from taking place. My bet is she’ll create an artificial threat of terrorism. What’s yours?
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