Category Archives: Democracy

Lavery demands working-class Labour MPs – but what do we get?

Telling it like it is: Ian Lavery.

Here’s another split between Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership and senior party MPs.

Ian Lavery was party chairman under Jeremy Corbyn and is a member of the Socialist Group of Labour MPs. I’m sure that, once upon a time, every Labour MP was a socialist but now there’s only a rump of around 30.

He was replaced as chair by deputy leader Angela Rayner so you can tell which way the wind is blowing.

Lavery is putting forward a viewpoint that will be particularly unpopular with the Starmer faction that currently has control: he thinks the Party of the Workers should have working-class representatives.

We have seen from the treatment of Anna Rothery in Liverpool that Starmer doesn’t like any hint of socialism in his Labour Party and will take extraordinary steps to stamp on it (his behaviour towards her also suggests he doesn’t like anybody who isn’t white and male, but that’s another story).

Lavery says:

Labour representatives cannot focus group their way to a better society. We need people with the heart and instincts that can only come from the bitter sting of personal experience. Parliament is desperately short of people who have claimed benefits, gone through life with disabilities or struggled day in day out in bad employment. This past year we have seen key workers carry the country on their backs, yet the green benches are sadly lacking in them too. We desperately need people with this experience to rebuild our country.

Labour has a history of promoting positive discrimination and it has an even longer history of championing the cause of working people. It is time that we remember our roots and embrace protected places for working class candidates throughout of our movement. If we do not trust in the power of people from our heartlands, why should they ever again put their trust in us?

Excellent points – although I fear the ideal of protected places for working-class candidates may not weather the reality of Starmer’s leadership, as Anna Rothery was standing for election to be Liverpool’s executive mayor as part of a protected all-female list and Starmer scrapped that when he realised she was black, a socialist, and female.

And I fear that Lavery only gets to make these point because he has held a senior post in the Labour Party.

I recently heard about an MP in Bristol who has given up positions as a junior shadow minister and as Starmer’s PPS “to concentrate on constituency work”. Maybe that’s true. But generally they only take a reduction in pay grade if they have serious disagreements with the leader.

It occurs to me that this MP cannot say as much, though, due to a lack of seniority. At junior grade they can’t speak their mind because the leaders will eat them for breakfast.

That’s how it seems to me, anyway.

It is no way for the Labour Party to behave.

But that’s Keir Starmer and all his minions for you.

Source: Ian Lavery on the Need for Working Class Labour MPs | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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The Anna Rothery scandal suggests Labour is a sexist and racist institution under Starmer

Anna Rothery: her socialism is probably the reason she has been dropped as a Liverpool mayoral candidate. But the decision is also sexist and racist – and that is how Keir Starmer’s Labour party should now be described.

How is this an improvement?

Let’s go through the information we have, and please correct any errors.

There will be an election to fill the role of executive Mayor of Liverpool after Joe Anderson retired under a cloud.

The Labour Party held a selection process using an all-female shortlist which produced three candidates, including current Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Anna Rothery.

However, examination of Ms Rothery by party leaders revealed that she is:

  • female
  • black, and
  • socialist.

It seems that these are considered undesirable elements in Labour candidates under Keir Starmer’s leadership.

This may come as a surprise to many, especially as he should have expected a selection process that demanded that all candidates are female to produce candidates who aren’t men.

The selection process has reopened. It seems clear that the aim is to parachute in a candidate who is as neoliberal-blue as Starmer himself – in denial of Liverpool Labour members’ right to a free and democratic selection.

But the fact is that he will have eliminated a black woman to do it.

Therefore it is possible to claim that Starmer’s Labour is prejudiced against women and against people of colour: he and his party are sexist and racist.

I am reminded that his forerunner as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suffered years of attacks, both in the media and by backstabbing right-wingers within the Parliamentary Labour Party, based on fabricated accusation of anti-Semitism.

So I ask:

How is genuine racism and sexism better than fake anti-Semitism?

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Are the Tories trying to stop poor people having a say in public services because they stopped the low-paid from paying tax?

Some of us saw this coming.

If you’ve seen the video clip in which Richard Murphy explains how money works, you’ll know that people who pay tax are more likely to vote – they feel they have more of an interest in it.

(Of course, tax is about returning money the government has created, in order to avoid catastrophic inflation – and not about giving the government the money it needs in order to provide public services, but let’s not complicate matters by going into that.)

But the Tories have spent the last 11 years raising the earnings threshold at which people pay tax, claiming this as a sign of their generosity.

Oh really? Watch the video and consider the comment by Paul Sweeney.

It seems to This Writer that, through no fault of their own, attempts are being made to deny more than 20 million people the right to say which services the government funds. Presumably the next step is to say, if you don’t pay tax, you don’t get to vote.

We’re on a very slippery slope, here.

And a hypocritical one.

You’ll notice that nobody is saying you shouldn’t have a say if you don’t pay all the tax for which you should be liable – for example, because you engage in tax avoidance.

So super-rich tax avoiders will be able to vote/help decide which public services are funded or whether they get funded at all – despite the fact that most of them don’t need the most expensive of those services. Logically, they’ll say those are the ones to get the axe.

Meanwhile, the super-poor – who are now prevented from paying tax, either because they are on benefits or their wages have been pushed into the dirt by Tory employers – may be denied that right.

It should not even be a subject for discussion.

The qualification for voting – and therefore for helping decide how public money is spent – is UK citizenship because we all live here and we are all affected by the decisions the government makes.

Oh, and of course Income Tax is not the only tax that people pay.

So to rule people out of the process because they have been priced out of paying just one of the UK’s many taxes would be unfair in the extreme – and Emma Barnett was talking out of her rear end.

What a shame that’s such a good description of our current Tory government.

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Royal baby expected – just as Royal Family falls into controversy. Funny, that…

The Queen (left): when she announces the legislative programme at the start of every Parliamentary term, how much of it has already been influenced by her? And how heavily?

Considering the apparent enmity between Prince Harry/Meghan and the rest of the Royal Family, I can only imagine that this announcement is a timing malfunction.

Others may take it as an indication that the split wasn’t as big as we were all led to believe.

Either way, it will take some of the heat off the Queen and anyone in line for the throne, who have been the focus of politically-charged criticism lately. So I think this line from the BBC may well be accurate:

The Queen and Royal Family are “delighted”, as the Sussexes say “Archie is going to be a big brother”.

See, it seems the Queen has a lot more influence on the way laws are enacted than we previously thought – especially if they affect her or the other Royals in any big way.

So, for example, she successfully lobbied the Heath government of the 1970s to exclude Heads of State from financial transparency laws.

Other alterations made to benefit the crown or her private interests, or to reflect her opinions, include:

In 1982, she withheld Queen’s Consent for debate on a plan to create a new commission to preserve ancient monuments and historic buildings in England, taking over from an existing royal commission. This meant Parliament was denied permission to discuss the plan.

The Queen ultimately consented to the bill six months later. However, the royal commission would survive for another 17 years. It was merged with English Heritage in 1999.

In 1968, she used the consent procedure to extract a commitment from Harold Wilson’s government that a new law – to apply the same road safety rules to all roads accessed by the public – would not apply to her private estates.

And in 1975 a Bill demanding that those intending to lease land for development would do so through local authorities – in an attempt to secure reasonable rates – was opposed because the Crown Estates believed there was a “financial advantage” to be made from direct dealing.

These are only instances that have become public because the relevant documents were not included – possibly by mistake – in an absolute exemption from release to the public.

This exemption lasts until at least five years after the death of the relevant member of the royal family.

So we don’t know how much influence the Queen has wielded – or continues to wield – and we won’t until five years after she passes away.

And now that Meghan has announced that she has a baby on the way, it seems unlikely many people will care about it for the foreseeable future, either.

Source: Meghan and Prince Harry expecting second child – BBC News

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Labour isn’t winning back Tory voters by trying to be Tory. What will Starmer try next?

Spot the difference: one of these men has the experience, the principles, and the arguments to win voters to the Labour Party, and the other is a chameleon who can only fake similarity with the Tories in a bid to steal their votes.

Chameleon Starmer’s bid to out-Tory the Conservative Party seems set to fail, with only four per cent of Tory voters expected to switch to Labour in the May elections.

This means Labour is likely to lose a swathe of council seats due to Starmer’s failure to understand that leading an opposition political party implies offering an alternative to the government – not trying to be just as bad.

Labour officials have been briefing that a “standstill” result, where the party gains no seats and minimises losses, would be a good outcome.

Of the constituencies that Labour lost to the Conservatives in 2019, 37 have council seats up for election this year.

Shadow ministers have been warned that the party’s 20-point poll advance has come from cannibalising the Liberal Democrat vote, as that party languishes in single figures.

It’s a trick.

Pretending to be what supporters of other parties want might seem an easy way to win votes but it doesn’t work. People have seen through it. The Liberal Democrats haemorrhaged support because of the disastrous leaderships of Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson.

And now Labour is likely to lose support because of Keir Starmer.

The only UK party guaranteed to keep its core vote is the Conservatives, because they rely on selfishness and there are a lot of very selfish people in the country.

And the only way to take voters away from the Tories is to explain why Tory selfishness doesn’t work and to have the principled political policies that would provide a better future – given the chance.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn was such a threat to the status quo. He had the principled policies and people realised it. That’s why Labour, under him, had the highest membership of any political party in western Europe.

It is also why right-wing politicians and their client news media spent years undermining him with lies (most commonly the false claims that he was an anti-Semite and a supporter of terrorism).

Starmer doesn’t have the policies; he doesn’t have the principles; and he doesn’t have the patience.

And there’s something else he doesn’t have, too: he doesn’t have a chance.

Source: Labour failing to win back enough Tory voters, officials warn | Labour | The Guardian

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If the long-awaited Environment Bill has to be delayed, why not use the time to make it useful?

Pollution: the Bill will contain provisions to improve air quality – but not in the immediate future, and the watchdog body it will set up is unlikely to have any teeth.

Do you think it’s bizarre that our government(s) tell us constantly that their actions are for the good of the country, but they always seem to postpone anything for the good of the planet?

The case in point is the decision to postpone, yet again, an Environment Bill that has been waiting for a reading in the House of Commons since 2018.

Campaigners say the delay will harm action to lessen air pollution and improve water quality.

Ministers say the delay is necessary because of the amount of time being taken up by the Covid-19 crisis.

Dispassionate onlookers might say this discussion seems pointless anyway, as Boris Johnson’s government has resoundingly failed to cope with the pandemic on any meaningful level.

The Bill sets out a framework by which ministers can impose new targets on vital issues like air pollution and water quality, waste, resource use and biodiversity, which were previously regulated under EU directives.

But the bill as it stands makes these into long-term targets, meaning direct efforts to cut pollution may be left in limbo.

If passed into law, the legislation will create a new Office for Environmental Protection – a watchdog body that campaigners fear will not be sufficiently independent or powerful under the current bill.

The bill also includes measures to ensure consumers in the UK no longer contribute to the destruction of vast swaths of forested land overseas, through new rules intended to stop the import of goods to the UK from areas of illegally deforested land. UK businesses will need to show that the products they source that could come from at-risk areas – wood, but also soy, palm oil, beef, leather and other key commodities – are from supply chains free from deforestation. Breaches of the rules will incur fines.

So all in all, the Bill looks like reducing, rather than increasing, environmental protections.

It seems to This Writer that, if it must be delayed, then this is an opportunity to do some background work.

I remember hearing that US president Lyndon Johnson used to do much of his work in the backrooms of Congress, persuading (I won’t speculate on his methods) Congresspeople to support his laws – or finding ways to make them acceptable.

Perhaps if the Tories currently working on the Environment Bill – Rebecca Pow is named in the Guardian report – spend the spring and summer polishing it up to ensure that there are quantifiable short- and medium-term targets, and their new Office for Environmental Protection actually has the clout to live up to its name, then the amount of discussion time in Parliament could be cut down, the Bill could sail through and everybody will be (belatedly) happy.

But that may be too much like common sense.

Source: Fury as long-awaited UK environment bill is delayed for third time | Environment | The Guardian

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Conservative Party ‘racially profiled’ 10 million voters illegally before 2019 election

Questionable behaviour: the party that once put out the above as an election communication has been gathering information on UK voters by race and religion. What harm do you think they were going to do with it?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party bought tools to work out voters’ race and religion and used it for “racial and religious profiling” of 10 million people before the 2019 election, the Information Commissioner’s Office has revealed.

The Open Rights Group has said the data could have been used for “voter suppression techniques”, and referred to Tory Zac Goldsmith’s 2016 London Mayoral campaign, when he was criticised for ethnicity-targeted leaflets aimed at Hindu, Sikh and Tamil voters.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Tories used the information in any specific way in the 2019 election campaign.

The Open Rights Group has released this video, in which ICO staff explain that it was illegal to collect ethnicity data:

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, said the revelation that the party in government – that is due to impose new, discriminatory voter identification laws – had been using illegal means to gather information is serious cause for alarm:

“The Conservative Party’s illegal misuse of ethnic race data – a characteristic protected by law – is deeply concerning.”

“With the government’s discriminatory Voter ID laws due to come into law this year, such racial profiling by the Party that is in charge of upholding our data protection laws raises serious alarm bells.”

Why would the Tories want to gather information that the law forbids them from taking, if not to give themselves an unfair electoral advantage?

What were they planning to do with it?

And why have they not even been punished?

We don’t know whose voter information received this “racial and religious profiling” treatment, so I think we all need to ask the Tories what they have been finding out about us.

We should all send a Subject Access Request to Conservative Central Office, demanding full disclosure of all information they have about us.

Source: Conservative Party ‘racially profiled’ 10 million voters | openDemocracy

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MPs – including Tories – demand Universal Credit uplift retention after misleading Tory tweet

The Big Lie: Labour won a vote calling on the Tory government to extend the £20 Universal Credit uplift – and this is the tweet the Conservatives sent before the debate.

MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have urged Boris Johnson to extend an uplift of Universal Credit beyond its planned end date.

The non-binding Labour motion passed by 278 votes to none, with six Conservatives defying a Tory whip to abstain.

They were Robert Halfon, who appeared on TV vowing to support Labour’s motion…

(He has some strange ideas about the so-called ‘benefit’ but he did the right thing so we’ll cut him some slack this time, right?)

… along with former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, Peter Aldous, Jason McCartney, Anne Marie Morris and Matthew Offord.

Personally, This Writer thought their decision was more impressive when contrasted with the behaviour of whoever writes the official @Conservatives Twitter feed.

Before the vote, a message appeared there, saying

Keir Starmer wants to scrap universal credit, withdrawing vital support from millions of people.

Experts say Labour’s plan would would [sic] be disruptive and cause chaos.

Conservatives are investing £7.4bn to help those who need it most.

It is a sickening distortion of the facts, as Peter Stefanovic makes clear:

But wait! The plot thickens:

He is.

That’s like paying them the uplift for 25 weeks, all at once – and it’s a dangerous thing to do.

The people receiving it are in dire straits financially. That’s a given, because otherwise they would not be on benefits.

They probably got into debt while waiting the mandatory five weeks before payment of UC began, and probably took out the advance loan of UC that is offered to people in that situation.

This means those who did this have been receiving less than even the government says they need on which to live, because they have to pay off that loan.

Now suppose they get that £500 payout. What do you think they’ll do with it?

They’ll pay off their debts and treat themselves with some – or all – of what’s left, most likely. It’s a relief reaction: “We’ve got some money; let’s enjoy it.”

And then they’ll find themselves back trying to make ends meet on UC – with £20 a week less on which to live. In fact, if they do pay off the debt, they’ll probably be in more or less exactly the same position as they are now.

And let’s just put this into context:

That’s right. The sum we’re discussing is less than one-third of the amount a member of the House of Lords gets, simply for turning up.

Finally, let’s be clear about what Universal Credit is.

Grateful?

That would be hugely overstating the obligation, considering we all fund UC with our taxes. And what do claimants of the so-called benefit get in return?

See for yourself, if you can bear it:

Labour does want to scrap Universal Credit – because it is a diabolical travesty of social security.

But Labour wants to replace it with something better. That can’t happen at the moment because we have a Tory government, with ministers who put forward the view of it that Robert Halfon expressed (above).

Retaining the £20 per week uplift is the least those Tories can do.

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In London’s mayoral race, UKIP pins its hopes on Gammons

Once again, the UK Independence Party has made itself the butt of the joke.

You’ll be familiar with the expression “gammon”, meaning “a middle-aged or older white man with conservative, traditionalist views, stereotypically characterized as having a red or flushed complexion”. It has been linked with supporters of UKIP for many years.

Today (January 15) we all discovered the name of the party’s candidate in the London mayoral election… and the fun began:

We all had a few giggles about the coincidence:

But the real punchline is the fact that this is not the first time UKIP has been ham-strung (sorry) by an unfortunately-resonating name:

This Writer, for one, is grateful to Mr Gammons.

He has brightened up an otherwise miserable day.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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‘I’m backing Brexit!’ says Starmer. But will he take his MPs with him?

About face: Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer have performed an astonishing turnabout to support Boris Johnson’s Brexit – even though they don’t have to; it will become law anyway. Why are they insisting on tying Labour into responsibility for it?

Keir Starmer has given us yet another reason to distrust him:

Yes, that’s right. The politician who demanded that Labour pursue a policy that would put the UK through another EU referendum – and that lost the 2019 general election – has performed a complete about-face and was backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal before he had even read it.

That doesn’t seem very “forensic” to This Writer!

Here’s the proof:

That statement was made a matter of hours after Johnson announced that a deal had been reached; he would not have had time to read the 1,200-page agreement and its 800 pages of appendices.

It is impossible for those of us in the know not to say “we told you so”…

But the question now arises: should Labour back Johnson’s deal, that has cost hundreds of billions of pounds and promises nothing more than to make us all worse-off?

And the answer is obvious: no.

The deal will go through; the Conservatives have a very comfortable majority in the House of Commons, thanks to Starmer’s own daft election policy. It doesn’t need Labour’s support.

And of course, Starmer has outed himself as a hypocrite, considering the number of times he has told his MPs to abstain on Tory policies.

It raises once again what has become a perennial question:

Perhaps in an attempt to head off criticism, deputy leader Angela Rayner has tried to say Labour will vote for the deal, but won’t take responsibility for it – and will hold the Tories to account for broken promises:

That is not reasonable. If Labour supports the deal, then Starmer (and Rayner) take as much responsibility for it as Boris Johnson and the Tories. That’s what their vote means:

The plan confirms Starmer’s Labour as pale-blue Conservative cheerleaders:

One criticism that may strike home is that Starmer has turned the House of Commons into an imitation of the Russian Parliament, the Duma, in which the opposition party votes with Vladimir Putin on everything (apparently).

Note that Rayner says that Labour with vote for the agreement “against no deal” – but there is no possibility of that, now. The Conservatives can vote it through without Labour’s help. ‘No deal’, it seems, was nothing more than an invented bogeyman after all – a threat to hang over us so we wouldn’t compare what we are getting with what we are losing.

In Rayner’s case, it seems to have worked.

But will she – and Starmer – take the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party with them?

Chris Bryant may find it hard, for one, after his comments about Jeremy Corbyn…

Yes indeed. And it seems more trouble is brewing, according to the Telegraph:

A series of Labour MPs are set to revolt against Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to whip the party in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal.

Rupa Huq, Kevin Brennan, Neil Coyle, Geraint Davies and Clive Efford were among those who criticised the deal and signalled their refusal to vote for it, according to sources present on [a briefing] call.

It is not clear whether they will vote against the deal or abstain, but who can blame them for rebelling? They’re probably thinking something similar to David Rosenberg:

Depending on what happens and how badly the public take it, This Writer thinks James Foster’s prediction may bed horrifyingly accurate:

Whatever happens, one thing must be made clear:

Keir Starmer knows what he is doing. He should be judged on that basis.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

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