Category Archives: House of Lords

Was Conor Burns in line for a peerage as a payoff for silence?

Conor Burns, the formerly-Tory MP who was sacked from the government and suspended from the Conservative whip after an alleged altercation with another man’s thigh, was in line for elevation to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson, it seems.

The reason?

Well, we don’t know for sure – but the smart money says it’s because he was the one who burst in on Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds (as she was then) while he was allegedly (again) having an extra-marital canoodle with her in a government office, some years ago.

Burns didn’t spill the beans on this one, although details emerged later.

It’s a deeply dodgy reason for sending anyone to the Upper Chamber of Parliament – especially somebody who may have a record of sexual inappropriateness.

Yes indeed: sordid.

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Unprecedented and unconstitutional: Tories want to put people in both Houses of Parliament at once

What new devilry is this from the Conservative government?

Here’s the blurb from this A Different Bias clip:

Boris Johnson wants to reward up to eight loyalists with peerages, but this would trigger a number of by-elections for the Tories which could prove highly embarrassing.

So, according to a report in the Times, the plan is to defer the peerages until after the election.

The problem is that this would mean that over half a dozen Johnson loyalists would technically be members of both Houses at once.

This is unprecedented, unconstitutional and would force the King into committing a political act, just as Johnson forced the Queen to do in 2019.

Here’s the clip:

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Labour grandee calls for abolition of the House of Lords

Gordon Brown has published a document calling for a wide range of reforms of the way the UK is governed, including better tax-raising powers for devolved governments and abolishing the House of Lords, to be replaced with an elected constitutional guardian.

Watch:

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What’s the big secret about how Lebedev became a Lord? What did Johnson do?

Buddies: Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev. What public interest issues could possibly justify delaying whether the liar on the left interfered to put the son-of-a-Russian-spy on the right into the House of Lords?

It seems the Conservative government has found yet another piece of important information about Boris Johnson that it wants to hide. That’s right: Boris Johnson.

It concerns the way Johnson’s close friend, the Russian son-of-a-spy Evgeny Lebedev, was ennobled (given a place in the House of Lords).

Parliament voted to instruct the government that it must provide all information on how this happened, by April 28.

But the government has ignored this instruction from the UK’s sovereign institution.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis has argued that he could not give out information where it was “not in the public interest to do so” and the government would need more time to deal with “all the necessary considerations”.

Funny, that. The instruction was given at the end of March so ministers have had a month to sort out any public interest issues. That’s plenty of time.

Also, we all know that the substantive issue is whether Boris Johnson interfered to override concerns about Lebedev by the security services. There’s absolutely no public interest issue around that.

In fact, it seems to This Writer that “Save Big Dog” is the only issue here.

Let’s recap the situation, from This Site’s previous article:

The Guardian revealed back in 2020 that Boris Johnson overruled concerns voiced by the security services in order to give Lebedev a peerage:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

Johnson ignored the concerns and Lebedev became a Lord.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw, after Russians in the UK came under suspicion in the wake of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Lebedev himself has supported publication of the material, saying, “I have nothing to hide.”

But Downing Street insisted that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” – an assertion that failed to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister.

And Johnson himself has denied overruling the concerns expressed by the security services.

If the documents are published and show that Johnson did indeed ignore concerns raised by the security services, then he has lied in his capacity as prime minister. If he uttered those words in Parliament, then he will have broken the Ministerial Code and his resignation will be required.

And the irony is that any security risk posed by Lebedev is tiny in any case – because Lords are not shown “classified” documents.

It seems clear that the Tory government is hiding something, and it seems clear that the only thing they have to hide is interference by Boris Johnson in UK security concerns.

Ellis has promised to publish the necessary information “promptly” on May 10, when Parliament reconvenes.

This will be after the local elections, and I wonder whether the delay is motivated by the possibility that it will influence voters against supporting the Tories. But then, why not just say, “This may affect the outcome of an election”?

Or would that be an admission of Johnson’s guilt?

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The Lords were right to defeat Tory government’s ‘voter ID’ plan to nobble democracy

Voting: did either of these constituents bring photo ID to the polling station?

A Tory plan to restrict voting in general elections to people who have very specific forms of identification has been overturned in the House of Lords – after a Tory suggested an alternative.

Peers decided to widen the range of documents a person could present to get a ballot paper, saying the limited range suggested by the Tory government was too restrictive,

Conservative peer – and former minister – Lord Willetts said documents including library cards and workplace or student ID cards should be added to the list of approved forms of ID because government plans for people without approved ID to get a free photo card from their council would be expensive.

He expressed concern that “hundreds of voters per constituency” could be turned away from polling stations at the next election.

“Imagine if the outcome of the next election is a modest majority… where throughout the day the media story has been voters being turned away from polling stations,” he said.

“That seems to me a very significant political and constitutional risk that does need to be taken into account if this measure is introduced.”

The point is a good one, although it fails to appreciate that the Tories want to introduce voter ID because they are losing voters and fear that, soon, they will only be able to win elections by ensuring that supporters of other parties – who may not have, or be able to afford, the prescribed forms of identification – can’t vote.

Trials in 2018 – in just five constituencies – led to 3,981 potential voters being turned away because they didn’t have the right ID (which isn’t the same as saying they were trying to commit fraud, of course).

Using that as an average figure, if the proposed restrictions had been applied across the UK, more than half a million people would have been denied their constitutional right. And that’s just in local elections that have a lower turnout than general elections.

If applied to general elections, it is thought that between one million and 3,5 million voters would be disenfranchised,

Let’s remember that the total number of voter fraud allegations in the 2017 general election was 28 – of which This Writer seems to recall only one was proved,

The list of those who would be turned away from polling stations includes young people, those with disabilities, ethnic minority communities, homeless people and transgender and gender non-conforming people, none of whom are normally expected to vote Conservative.

More than 40 charities, campaign groups and academics have called on the government to scrap its voter ID plan, including the Electoral Reform Society, Age UK, the RNIB, the Salvation Army, the British Youth Council, Stonewall, Operation Black Vote, Liberty, the National Union of Students and St Mungo’s.

The Tory government has ignored their concerns.

The cost to the public purse of preventing perfectly law-abiding voters from kicking the Tories out of office is projected to be £180 million per decade – £18 million a year,

Bear in mind that this plan will create a two-tier election system in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with some elections banning those without ID, and others remaining open and free.

Two sets of rules about how people take part would apply. Some people would be certain to become confused and fail to take ID – if they had it – meaning they would be excluded from voting in the Westminster election.

Other measures in the Tories’ corrupt Elections Bill – I call it the Voter Restriction Bill – include banning party campaigners from handling postal votes, and stopping people from collecting postal votes from people who are unable to get to post boxes and handing them in.

But the 15-year limit on overseas electors in UK general elections would be removed – to allow Tory donors to continue participating in elections.

The good news is that, as with their decision to upset plans in Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill, peers have made their changes close to the end of the current Parliamentary session.

This means Boris Johnson and his cronies must now decide whether to accept a compromise or risk losing their Bill altogether if “Parliamentary ping-pong” between the Commons and the Lords continues and their differences are unresolved when the session ends.

Let’s hope that happens and this Tory assault on democracy can be killed.

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Lords upset Tory plan to strip people of UK citizenship without warning

Priti Patel: does she look like a reasonable person to you? No? Then she’s not likely to persuade the Lords to accept her racist plan to change immigration law.

Here’s a sticky mess for the Tories – their hugely controversial plan to strip people of their UK citizenship, without warning, has been overturned in the House of Lords.

According to the BBC,

The Nationality and Borders Bill would allow the UK authorities to strip someone of their British citizenship without warning.

But crossbench peer Baroness D’Souza, who argued this would be “unjust”, submitted an amendment which was passed by a majority of 44 votes.

The bill will now go back to the House of Commons.

Until the two Houses can agree on the final wording of the bill, it cannot pass into law.

This is known as “Parliamentary ping-pong” – a frivolous phrase for a process that can cause a huge amount of harm to a huge number of people.

In practise, the government would normally steamroll over the Lords’ objections – but it seems Priti Patel doesn’t have time for that.

The current Parliamentary session is expected to end within the next few weeks, and all its business will end with it – whether it has been concluded or not.

So Patel will need to work out whether she’ll need to make compromises before the Lords give up.

She is adamant that the change is needed as a matter of national security, but we can all see that this is nonsense – can’t we?

Minority groups say the Bill is an attempt to turn them into second-class citizens, to be dismissed from the UK at the whim of an uncaring (racist?) Tory government.

So the Lords are unlikely to cave in if they have a good chance to kill this legislation, and Patel is not known for giving ground in a reasonable way.

This will be worth watching.

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Government to tell whether Boris Johnson overruled security services on Lebedev peerage

Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: 10 days after saying he saw no evidence that Russians were influencing UK politics, Johnson has elevated this Russian to the House of Lords.

Parliament has ordered the Tory government to publish confidential information on how Evgeny Lebedev, the son of a Russian spy, was offered a place in the House of Lords.

The Guardian revealed back in 2020 that Boris Johnson overruled concerns voiced by the security services in order to give Lebedev a peerage:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

Johnson ignored the concerns and Lebedev became a Lord.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw, after Russians in the UK came under suspicion in the wake of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Lebedev himself has supported publication of the material, saying, “I have nothing to hide.”

But Downing Street insisted that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” – an assertion that failed to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister.

And Johnson himself has denied overruling the concerns expressed by the security services.

If the documents are published and show that Johnson did indeed ignore concerns raised by the security services, then he has lied in his capacity as prime minister. If he uttered those words in Parliament, then he will have broken the Ministerial Code and his resignation will be required.

And the irony is that any security risk posed by Lebedev is tiny in any case – because Lords are not shown “classified” documents.

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Raab was wrong: process that made Lebedev a peer can be easily perverted

Dominic Raab: as Foreign Secretary, he refused to return from a foreign holiday when the Taliban took over Afghanistan – and the public reacted appropriately. Should we really expect his comments on Lord Lebedev to be any more reliable than his reaction to that crisis?

We should not be surprised that Dominic Raab has emitted a flurry of falsehoods in defence of Evgeny Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords.

His prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been accused of creating a security risk to the UK by letting the son of a former Russian KGB agent have access to Parliamentary documents via the front door.

So Raab appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Programme spouting a lot of nonsense that “There is a very strict and stringent process when anyone is granted a peerage” and that the rules around the honours process were “applied very rigorously in this case. This was done properly and correctly and we have procedures and systems in place to make sure it is.”

It is possible that he was right in all these statements but they are nonsense because the procedures he described do not prevent people who are a huge security risk from being granted a peerage.

We know about this because The Guardian told us, back in October 2020 [boldings mine]:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

In reality, the security risk has been defined as low – because peers do not see classified documents.

But in reluctantly accepting Johnson’s insistence on ennobling the Russian-born son of a spy, Holac allegedly called on Johnson to examine Russian influence in the House of Lords, something highlighted by parliament’s intelligence and security committee in its Russia Report.

And the security services said Lebedev’s “family links” meant he was still regarded as a potential concern.

So Keir Starmer’s call for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw seemed entirely reasonable and proportionate.

Downing Street’s claim that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” fails to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister. Neither does Raab’s.

So these government representatives, it seems, are deceiving us about their treatment of a potential Russian security risk at a time of high international tensions between the UK and Russia. Fit to lead?

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#PoliceBill: The Lords have blocked the #Tory plan to outlaw #protest

This is a bit huge, isn’t it?

Members of one House of Parliament have shown that they are capable of listening to the public, and have voted to block a plan by the Tory government to outlaw “noisy” and/or “disruptive” organised protests.

The decision to erase this part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has come after a weekend of “noisy” and/or “disruptive” organised protests against this government policy.

And it followed a debate that was punctuated by the noise of a demonstration against the Bill outside the Lords Chamber, to which peers did not object at all.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams tried to persuade peers that police would only use the proposed new powers where “necessary” and “appropriate” – but it seems nobody believed her on that. Once the law is passed, police will be allowed to adhere to its letter, not whatever meaning is being applied to it now. That means they’ll be able to do what they like – and that’s not acceptable in a democratic society.

Baroness Williams tried to gather support by saying the noisy protest outside would not be stopped – which is odd, as part of the Bill would have banned protest from Parliament Square.

Instead, she said noisy anti-vaccination protests outside a school or nursing home were a different matter – and that police should have the powers to intervene if necessary. But such protests are unique to the Covid-19 crisis; they don’t need a permanent law.

So it seems Priti Patel’s Bill is intended to address only current, short-term issues – but will then leave the measures to address them on the statute books in order to oppress people who would otherwise be described as entirely law-abiding exercisers of their democratic rights.

Again: not acceptable in a democratic society.

The Lords also voted to make misogyny a hate crime in England and Wales, in spite of the government’s policy not to.

Baroness Williams reckoned any evidence that a crime was misogynistic would be entirely subjective, and police would get tied up in reporting and monitoring statistics and data which are unlikely to be reliable.

Well, This Writer is not convinced. Misogyny is quantifiable and I’m sure people who investigate crimes will know how to do that. Perhaps Priti Patel could try talking with police sometime, instead of talking at them.

The Bill cannot be passed into law until both Houses have agreed on what it should be – so it will go back to the Commons, where the Tory majority will undoubtedly reverse these changes, along with several others agreed by the Lords.

They won’t think about it; they’ll just nod the stupidity back in.

And so the long year begins.

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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Tory donors pay £3 million for a seat in the House of Lords? Bargain!

Tories will sell anything: or so it seems. This particular Tory seems to have been selling seats in the House of Lords for £3 million a time.

Boris Johnson does it again.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the country that was to become the United Kingdom was plagued with places known as Rotten Boroughs. These were Parliamentary constituencies with very few voters, whose choice in elections could be bought by corrupt politicians.

They were outlawed many years ago but the concept is explored very thoroughly in an episode of Blackadder The Third.

Now we have ‘Rotten Boris’ Johnson who, it seems, has been selling places in the House of Lords instead – at £3 million a pop!

A complaint has been lodged with the Metropolitan Police…

… but will officers investigate?

Some would say the Met, under its current commissioner, Cressida Dick, is as corrupt as Johnson; we have allowed our institutions to degrade to a point where it is impossible to find an honest person who will hold the criminals to account.

I wait to be proved wrong. But I won’t hold my breath.

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/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook