Will PFI campaign be derailed by MP’s spat with blogger?

Stella Creasy [Image: Nicola Tree/ Getty Images].

This is all a little silly.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has launched a campaign to stop companies that have signed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals with the government from benefiting from falls in the rate of Corporation Tax.

Ms Creasy says it is important because, when these deals are signed, the rate of tax companies will pay is directly part of deciding if they represent value for money.

On her Facebook page, she explained: “If I buy a toaster and then its on offer a week later I don’t get the difference back so why should these companies get such a windfall – either they come to the table to renegotiate these contracts and the cost of them to the public sector or we should be willing to legislate. Help us secure support from more MPs for this.”

She linked to a Guardian article which elaborated:

Companies that built and run NHS hospitals under private finance initiative (PFI) contracts will have made about £190m in unexpected windfall profits by 2020 because of George Osborne and Philip Hammond’s cuts to corporation tax, research suggests.

Analysis by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest found that more than 100 PFI operators in the NHS collectively saved an estimated £84m between 2008 and 2015 and are due to gain another £106m between 2016 and 2020 because of the falling corporate tax rate.

The PFI companies are making bonus profits because the corporation tax rate has fallen from 30% when the majority of their contracts were negotiated to 19% now and is due to drop as low as 17% by 2020. Some companies may be deferring their tax liabilities to later in their contracts when the rates will be lower.

She also discusses the matter in a Twitter thread:

For many of us – especially those who never like the idea of PFI in the first place – this is a worthwhile cause. These companies are already making a fortune at the taxpayer’s long-term expense; why should they receive millions more – apparently in breach of their contracts – because of Tory tax changes?

But there’s a snag.

Ms Creasy’s campaign seems to have been overshadowed by her inability to answer a simple question: Whether she thinks it is acceptable for Labour MPs to be friends with – and socialise with – Conservative MPs.

Our fellow leftie blog, the Skwawkbox, raised this issue a couple of days ago after discovering that Ms Creasy had attended a gig with Tory MP Therese Coffey on December 16.

In light of Ms Creasy’s fellow Labour MP Laura Pidcock’s well-publicised belief that Labour MPs should not “hang out with Tory women” who are “no friends of mine” and “an enemy to lots of women”, Skwawkbox blogger Steve Walker asked for Ms Creasy to comment.

In response, he received a torrent of evasion – and, to be honest, abuse. See for yourself, here and here.

Her bizarre attitude has been bolstered by an article in the Huffington Post that supports her attitude of indignation that a blogger should call her out on this matter.

Isn’t this hypocritical of the HuffPost, which was quite happy to quote the Skwawkbox interview with Ms Pidcock, where she first made her comments about Labour MPs fraternising with the Tories? This Writer thinks so.

It seems the aim is to divert attention. Ms Creasy seems so desperate to avoid telling us whether she thinks it’s okay to hang out with her political enemies, she’ll try to point us at anything else.

So she has claimed Skwawkbox was attacking her taste in music, then that the blog is misogynist, and finally that the blog was trying to undermine her PFI campaign.

I’m sorry, but it seems Ms Creasy has managed that, all by herself.

And it seems she has succeeded in hoodwinking people. Look at the following tweet, from another respected blogger, Tom Pride:

The issue isn’t musical taste, Tom.

It’s whether this particular person on the Left actually has any interest in opposing the Tories.

From my point of view, there is a simple way out, of course.

It is for Ms Creasy to swallow her pride, apologise for making a mountain out of a molehill, answer the question she was askedand clarify exactly whose side she’s on.

Then, perhaps we can all get behind her worthwhile campaign.

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  1. Sarah December 30, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Here’s a thought – perhaps blogs like Skwarkbox could stop writing s**t-stirring articles about what MPs do in their spare time and concentrate on the “worthwhile” campaigns they’re running instead? Perhaps Ms Creasy has refused to give him a straight answer because it’s absolutely none of his business? If you really think Mr Skwawkbox’s behaviour helps the Labour Party in any way, then I despair.

    • Mike Sivier December 30, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Despair, then.
      And modify your language if you’re going to comment here. I don’t allow profanity on this site.
      And learn how to spell the Skwawkbox’s title, if you’re going to criticise it.
      That said, I’m interested to know why you think it is permissible for Labour MPs to fraternise with Tories. Don’t you understand that this simply fuels false claims like those of the Scottish Nationalists and their supporters, that Labour and the Conservatives are allies?
      It is our business to know where our MPs’ loyalties lie. If they can be friends with people who support such abhorrent policies as the Bedroom Tax, the increase in homelessness, the work capability assessment, benefit sanctions, the cutting of wages for working people, tax avoidance for the rich, the removal of workers’ and human rights from citizens of the UK, hard Brexit and more, how do we know they will represent us properly when needed?
      Reconsider your position.

      • rollo57 January 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

        Under Blair they certainly were allies and it appears not a lot has changed, except for the leadership that can’t get his MP’s to agree policy! Just look at the numbers here under Miliband; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/these-are-the-184-labour-mps-who-didn-t-vote-against-the-tories-welfare-bill-10404831.html – of these 184, how many would now vote the same way and why?

        • Mike Sivier January 13, 2018 at 5:09 pm - Reply

          I seem to recall reporting on this at the time.
          It was under Harriet Harman, if I recall correctly, anyway.
          Labour is different now. The right-wingers have lost their grip, and that’s a good thing.
          Of those 184, first you have to check how many are still in Parliament.
          Then you would have to try to work out how many would defy the whip, which would demand that they vote against the Tories.

  2. Sandra Aitken December 30, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

    This blog sums up what is wrong with society and politics today, ie rampant tribalism. It IS possible to be friends with people whose political beliefs are diametrically opposed to your own. Check out Joe Biden (Democrat) consoling Meghan McCain on ABCs ‘The View’ where he talks about his close friendship with her father John McCain (Republican) for some perspective. Stella Creasy has absolutely nothing to apologise for. Concentrate on the validity of her campaign and leave petty poitical tribalism out of it.

    • Mike Sivier December 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      I disagree.
      Your example of cross-party political friendship goes to US politics, in which there is far less difference between the parties.
      For a UK-based example, you could have mentioned Tony Benn and Enoch Powell – but in that instance there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the divide between their political views.
      The issue raised by Laura Pidcock was that it is much less easy to identify that divide between some Labour MPs and some Tories – and going to concerts together cements the similarity in the minds of members of the public.
      Stella Creasy should apologise because she tried to divert attention away from the issue of her friendship with Therese Coffey, and actually accused Mr Walker of attacking her taste in music (for crying out loud) before suggesting he was a misogynist (on what evidence?) and then finally settling on the false claim that he was trying to undermine her PFI campaign.
      These are all false claims. All she had to do was answer the question.

      • Sandra Aitken December 30, 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

        I respect your right to disagree with my opinion, but I still don’t see how Stella’s friendship with a Tory MP is an impediment to her campaign, or why it should imply she is not committed to fighting against Tory policies. Why did the journalist feel the need to ask the question in the first place? And what gives anyone the right to question another person’s choice of friends in or out of the workplace? I stand by my original point. In a healthy democracy people should be allowed to disagree with each other and still be friends if they choose to without having slurs or abuse hurled at them. It saddens me to see so much of this on all sides of the debate, whether it’s Brexit, Scottish Indy Ref or the turmoil within the Labour Party, hence my reference to petty tribalism. The late Jo Cox said it best. “There is more that unites us than divides us.”

        • Mike Sivier December 30, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

          The question was to be asked because of Labour MP Laura Pidcock’s comment that she couldn’t be friends with a Conservative. Considering the reasons she gave, why would any other Labour MP want to be friends with a Tory, when the Tories are deliberately inflicting such horrific harm on the people of the UK?
          I’m sorry that you are saddened, but I stand by my own points.
          And quoting Jo Cox is in poor taste, all things considered.

    • rollo57 January 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Biden and McCain are both Zionists, they are both working towards the same goal, as was Blair and Cameron, who are also Zionists. The bigger picture is One World Government, which Trump and Corbyn are both against, as is Putin.

  3. Sue December 30, 2017 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I agree that in life it is possible to get on with friends and family who have opposing views. However in the workplace, where the opposition are screwing ordinary people into the ground, where food banks and rickets are now almost taken for granted, where women are disproportionately affected by the Tories vile policies, then no it is not acceptable. Be polite, yes, but how on earth can any labour MP actually have a real friendship with a Tory MP who is causing so much hardship?! It’s not a game Stella. People are suffering!

  4. Sandra Aitken December 31, 2017 at 2:15 am - Reply

    In which case we will have to respectfully agree to disagree. I too detest Tory policies which is why I’ve been a Labour supporter all my life, and confess there are some Tories I genuinely loathe. However, I prefer to attack the policies rather than the person.

    Laura Pidcock is perfectly entitled to her views on the matter, but to say every other Labour MP must follow her example or be accused of fraternising with the enemy is just plain wrong. Suggesting you can only be friends with people who share your beliefs and opinions is to live in an echo chamber and perpetuates the divisions within society. And just because you are friends doesn’t mean you can’t effectively fight your corner in the debating chamber.

    Sorry if you found my reference to Jo Cox distasteful, but I think her words are the most uplifting thing I’ve ever heard any politician say in my lifetime.

    • Mike Sivier December 31, 2017 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Your comment that you prefer to attack the policies rather than the person implies that I don’t, and I can’t let that pass.
      The simple fact of Ms Creasy’s choices make clear statements about her as a person that cannot be ignored.
      As a person, she is happy to socialise with another person who stands for the impoverishment of the majority of people in the UK, and the enrichment of a very few people, including herself.
      As a person, she has ignored legitimate questioning about that behaviour.
      As a person, she has attacked the person who asked that question, and tried to blacken their good name for no good reason.
      It is perfectly legitimate for other people such as myself to find that behaviour questionable.
      If, as a person, Ms Creasy is content to tolerate the company of another person who holds such abominable views, then I have to wonder whether her heart is in the right place as far as policy is concerned.
      Certainly, divisions within society should be broken down where possible. The issue here is whether Ms Creasy is merely putting herself on the same side of the currently-existing division as Ms Coffey.
      As for Jo Cox: She was murdered by a person who bought into exactly the kind of divisive politics that Therese Coffey and her party represent – albeit at a more extreme level. Of course it is distasteful for you to use her comment in support of friendships with people who support the politics of division.
      That said, I shall certainly eat my words if Therese Coffey crosses the floor and joins the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn, on the basis that there is more that unites us than divides us. I’m sure you’ll look forward to that day as eagerly as I do.

  5. Sandra Aitken January 1, 2018 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Well, as I said before, we are clearly never going to agree which is absolutely fine. You stick to your principles and I’ll stick to mine. Thanks for keeping our conversation civilised and a happy New Year to you and yours.

    • Mike Sivier January 1, 2018 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      And to you.

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