Category Archives: Parliament

Conservatives complain about #ToryScum label – but refuse to apologise for behaviour that fits it

Priti scummy: home secretary Priti Patel tweeted abuse against “do gooder” “activist lawyers” that allegedly led to a knife attack in one such solicitors office but none of the Tories complaining about being called “scum” have lifted their voice to complain about this scummy behaviour.

Cognitive dissonance: it seems 113 Conservative MPs have written to Labour leader Keir Starmer, complaining that they, their families and staff have been abused by members of the public after Angela Rayner referred to Christopher Clarkson as “scum” in a Commons debate.

Ms Rayner has already apologised for the “language” she used “in a heated debate”.

The letter, written by Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling, states: “I am sure that you agree that whilst targeting MPs in this way is clearly unacceptable, it is even worse that their relatives and staff members (many of whom are young and beginning their careers) should find themselves becoming targets.”

That depends on the circumstances in which those people attracted such comments, doesn’t it? As my late grandmother said to some other mother complaining on her doorstep about some transgression of my father (a boy at the time): “Ah. And what did THY boy do?”

“Sadly, this is not the first occasion in which the Honourable Member for Ashton-under-Lyne has used such language to describe Conservatives, nor the first time she has behaved with the standards expected of a Member of Parliament.”

I suspect this is a Freudian slip. It is a welcome surprise that the co-chair of the Conservatives accepts that calling her fellow MPs “scum” conforms with the standards expected of an MP.

“When you became Leader, you stated that you would put aside the divisive and combative politics that caused such bitter division in our nation, engaging ‘constructively’, not scoring party political points. We do not believe that this language, Labour’s recent actions in the House of the stream of the abuse this incident has resulted in, delivers on this promise.”

Hypocrisy. Every week the Conservative leader – I believe his name may be Boris Johnson – tries to score party political points against Labour during Prime Minister’s Questions. Starmer’s promise was an attempt to lift that Parliamentary debate above that and Johnson’s behaviour shows that it has failed. So there is no point in continuing. The Conservatives have set the bar low and they should not complain if Labour supporters follow their example.

Worse still, these Tories seem to be suffering from selective memory loss.

Have they all forgotten the Twitter outburst by their own Home Secretary, Priti Patel, against “do-gooder” “activist lawyers” that led to an actual knife attack in one such lawyer’s office?

Where was their indignation against Patel, who brought their whole organisation into disrepute by inciting violent attack against immigration lawyers?

Nowhere to be seen.

And Patel has been at it again.

This time, she tweeted information that could prejudice a major criminal trial. She has deleted it, fearing criminal action against her for contempt of court.

You should note that she is already facing possible prosecution for contempt of court over a previous case.

I won’t be sharing the tweet because

I await contact from Ms Patel’s own lawyers, who may actually try to revise history by claiming that she didn’t do it. That is the level of denial we are seeing from Conservatives at the moment.

It is certainly the level of denial we are seeing from Milling and the 112 colleagues who signed her letter to Keir Starmer.

You see, they are all forgetting – or denying – one simple fact that explains (if not justifies) the abuse they have received.

I haven’t checked, but I think it is reasonable to believe that all 113 signatories voted to deny free school meals to poverty-stricken English children in a debate last week (not the debate in which the “scum” remark was made but one immediately thereafter). Feel free to do some checking yourself, if you like.

I also think it is reasonable to believe that any abuse from the general public will arise from their choice to ensure that hungry children starve – over Christmas, as I understand it.

So it seems to me:

If they don’t want to be called scum, they should not behave like scum.

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Conservatives who rejected free school meal plan have done the impossible: they made Nigel Farage look reasonable

No square meals: vulnerable children will be forced to go hungry during the school holidays because the stingy Tory government wants them to starve.

Conservatives in Parliament have rejected a plea by footballer – and anti-poverty campaigner – Marcus Rashford for the government to fund meals for poor children during school holidays.

Despite some unease on the Tory benches, a motion on providing 1.4m disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021 was voted down.

Conservatives were scathing in their criticism of Rashford, who personally experienced food poverty as a child:

But this attitude is nonsense from a political party that has spent decades depriving working-class parents of the financial ability to feed their children.

The hypocrisy is even stronger during the year of Covid-19 when people are being forced to live on a fraction of their normal wages, or to claim Universal Credit and suffer a five-week delay in payments that pushes them into debt, meaning the amount they receive will never be enough.

Meanwhile, the Tory-funded “gravy train”, pumping money to their chums in business for Covid-19-related measures that don’t work, is chugging along merrily:

Rashford took to Twitter – the social media that was the focus of Brendan Clarke-Smith’s petulance – to spell out his frustration:

But the most biting criticism came from Nigel Farage, the former UKIP and current Brexit Party leader, who said on Twitter that “not being seen to give poor kids lunch in the school holidays looks mean and is wrong”.

The comment went viral, and it isn’t hard to understand the reason:

The strange forces on Twitter that spot anti-Tory tweets and try to mitigate them meant that the very first reply to Farage’s message came from one Helen Thomas, who contradicts herself in her own Twitter bio: “No personal messages, why are the lefties so vile?”

She had to change it from “Why are there so many rude selfish people on Twitter?” – possibly after it was pointed out to her that she is one such person. So we can see where she’s coming from.

Her response was that poor people should forage for food – and it has received short shrift, I’m happy to report:

And it got worse for her after she revealed where she found her apples:

Yes indeed. How devoid of empathy & humanity must you be to make Nigel Farage appear sensible.

But that is exactly what many (although not all) Conservative MPs have done – following their boss Boris Johnson’s lead.

Including your MP, perhaps.

Postscript: Readers in England may wish to note that the devolved governments in Wales and Scotland have both provided funds to ensure that free school meals are available to children who need them:

Source: Marcus Rashford in ‘despair’ as MPs reject free school meal plan | Education | The Guardian

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‘Scum’ Tories use indignation over insult to hide their refusal to support people in Covid-related hardship

If the cap fits: Christopher Clarkson breaks off whizzing through a speech vilifying Labour to wonder why Labour MPs are vilifying him.

What a lot of fuss over such a little word!

Admittedly, I wouldn’t like it if someone called me “scum” while I was making a speech.

But let’s consider the context.

The Labour Party was using its Opposition Day to discuss the criteria under which the government provides funding to jobs and businesses facing its new restrictions, and to demand that the Tories honour their claim that they will ensure workers receive at least 80 per cent of their previous incomes while on the Job Support Scheme extension and facing hardship.

Here’s what prize Tory Christopher Clarkson had to say about it:

You can see why Angela Rayner said what she did, I’m sure!

Clarkson’s complaint cut no ice with members of the public, for whom Rayner’s contribution to the debate had made up for six months of near-silence as Keir Starmer’s sidekick. Here’s part of her speech:

Responses so far show the public overwhelmingly on her side:

And they were quick to call out Clarkson’s complaint as a tactic, intended to distract from the thrust of the debate:

Last word goes to this commenter, who raises the issue of class:

“Spumae”, by the way, is the Latin for scum. Expect to hear it in the Commons – a lot – over the next few years.

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Sharma joins the ranks of MPs who’ve shamed themselves over football

Alok Sharma: this is the only image I have of him and he’s not worth the bother of making another.

Why do they do it?

MPs – especially Tory MPs – seem to think they have to pretend to be “of the people” – and that the best way to establish this pretence is by saying they like, follow and support their local football teams – even though they don’t.

David Cameron tried it and got the name of his team wrong.

Now Alok Sharma:

It was bad enough he tried to cover up Boris Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit by calling it an “Australia-style” deal in the same interview.

This blew any credibility he had left.

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Rosie Duffield’s DARVO: is she trying to rehabilitate herself by blaming her victims?

Rosie Duffield: she broke lockdown to meet her married lover and had to resign as a Labour whip as a result. Now she’s claiming she is a victim of misogynistic abuse.

Former Labour whip Rosie Duffield is trying to reclaim the moral high ground by playing the victim and we need to reject her.

She has given an interview in The Times in which she claims that she is the victim of misogynistic abuse and death threats over her opinions about anti-Semitism, Brexit and – particularly – transphobia.

The article points to her Commons speech about domestic abuse – for which she received a standing ovation from teary-eyed fellow MPs – as a sign that she’s on the side of the angels.

It doesn’t mention the fact that she broke lockdown in order to commit adultery with a married lover last May. Is her new media appearance an attempt to rehabilitate her image?

Many seem to think so, and the article has triggered a storm on the social media – mostly, it seems to This Writer, between opponents on the transphobia issue.

I stay out of that discussion as much as I can. My personal opinion is that the way a person identifies their gender is nobody’s business but their own.

Nobody should receive death threats for the simple holding of a belief; if their belief is against the law, or encourages people to break the law (especially in violent ways) then there are legal remedies. I wonder whether the Times reporter responsible for the article has seen evidence of such threats, though.

I have seen many tweets like this:

I have also seen t

And then I saw these two…

… and it made sense.

If you check the Metro article, DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender“.

It states: “First you have Deny – that’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ll see the person accused of wrongdoing simply denying that that’s the case; ‘I do not hold those views’, ‘I never said that’, ‘I did not do that bad thing’.

“The Deny stage is where gaslighting starts to come into play, with the person often trying to simply deny someone else’s lived reality. ‘No, that doesn’t happen’, ‘no, you’re making that up’, or ‘that might have happened, but it’s not as bad as you say it is’.

“Then there’s [the] Attack bit. This is when the accused person will turn around the criticism to focus blame on the person calling them out. So let’s say a celebrity was called out by someone on Twitter – they might go into attack mode by accusing that person of just being jealous, or bitter, or a liar.

“Finally, you’ve got the Reverse Victim and Offender stage. This is where things get sneaky and subtle. Suddenly, the accused person will turn things around and say that actually, they’re not guilty of doing something terrible. In fact, they are the ones being treated poorly.

“In this stage, you might see someone introduce their own trauma as an excuse or a distraction tactic. They’ll respond to accusations of racism, for example, with a story about how they faced gender discrimination when they were younger. Or they might focus their statement on how they feel ‘bullied’ by the accusations, so those reading feel that the person who has been called out is actually the victim, facing online abuse rather than being challenged on their actions.”

Metro goes on to give an example that is pertinent to Duffield’s case:

“Let’s say an influential person is accused of transphobia. They issue a response in which they deny that they are transphobic – ‘I love trans people! I have many trans friends!’ – then attack their critics – ‘people saying I’m transphobic are just cruel, hateful people who want to cause division’. Finally, they Reverse Victim and Offender: ‘I’m receiving so much online abuse because I’m a woman and we live in a sexist society’.

“Now, as a critic, you’re stuck. If you continue to call that person out, you’re ‘cruel, hateful and want to cause division’. You’re being sexist. You’re piling on the online abuse.”

Isn’t that exactly what Duffield is trying to do?

Source: Rosie Duffield: ‘It feels like Gilead where women aren’t allowed to ask questions’ | Times2 | The Times

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If Starmer hadn’t whipped Labour to abstain on #spycops bill, this support for murder, torture & sex crimes would have been defeated

Keir Starmer: he probably thought he was being smart but all he really did was get it wrong again.

Well, isn’t this interesting?

The tweet isn’t quite correct; only 20 MPs voted against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill that would authorise people from the Financial Conduct Authority (for example) to commit crimes up to and including murder, rape and torture in the course of an investigation – and they were all from the Labour Party.

But only 182 Tories voted for it.

If Keir Starmer had not whipped Labour MPs to abstain – and take note that exactly 182 of them did – then this endorsement of crime by a criminal government would have been stopped in its tracks.

Defenders of the Bill have claimed it isn’t as bad as some of us are saying – that spies working for the various government agencies would need approval to commit crimes before carrying out the acts for which the planned law would grant them immunity.

But the safeguards against abuse are said to be “very vague and very broad” and, as I mentioned in a previous article, there is the issue of “mission creep”: agents will end up committing ever-more-extreme crimes because they are told to do so on the spur of a moment, creating precedents to stretch what is permissible until it covers anything at all.

Take note: Starmer used to be a human rights lawyer.

But he just gave an insult to human rights a free pass to the next stage of becoming law.

And his supporters are trying to flood the social media with claims that he is a good thing. #StarmerOutstanding, they say.

He is outstanding. He is an outstanding threat to the well-being of you, me and everybody we know.

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Johnson’s popularity hits record low – but Bercow says he won’t quit as he’s not ‘accountable’

Speaking out: John Bercow (here piectured at the Bingham Lecture), one of the straight-talkers of recent Parliamentary history.

Boris Johnson won’t quit as prime minister because he leads a government that doesn’t believe in accountability for its failures.

That’s the verdict from former Commons Speaker John Bercow after a poll of Conservative Party members put him second to last among cabinet figures with a record low satisfaction rating of -10.3:

The prime minister recorded a net satisfaction rating of -10.3 in a survey of party members, coming in second to last among cabinet figures.

The prime minister recorded -10.3 in ConservativeHome’s latest cabinet league table, coming in second to last among cabinet figures.

His rating was better only than that of his education secretary Gavin Williamson, who scored -43.1.

I have to include this bit:

Johnson’s rating is likely to be dipping in part because of his initial handling of the pandemic and the number of deaths the UK has suffered.

The urge to be sarcastic and say, “Oh really? Well I never!” is very strong. Of course it’s because he has failed in the principle duty of government which is to protect the people of the United Kingdom.

@RussInCheshire has been brutally funny about it in his regular The Week In Tory tweets:

I’ve quoted some extra tweets in the thread because they support the idea that Johnson doesn’t believe in accountability for himself or his government: he treats us with contempt by repeating a promise that he has already broken; he failed to punish a man (again) for breaking Covid-19 restriction because it was his dad; he treated the deadly threat of Covid-19 as though it was nothing to get het up about; and his own MPs – who are het up about it – turned on him in an expression of frustration at their utter inability to instil in him any sense of responsibility at all.

So we come to former Commons Speaker John Bercow’s appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today (October 6), in which he delivered the home truth we all knew but nobody else seemed willing to say:

(Death Secretary = Matt Hancock, if you didn’t know.)

As if to prove Mr Bercow’s point, Rishi Sunak turned up on Tory mouthpiece BBC Breakfast to sell a load of old tripe to us about Covid-19 tests. He was not challenged on his lie and was therefore not held accountable for it:

Ultimately, the fault for the government lies with us, the people of the UK.

With every new disaster I am reminded of the Joseph de Maistre line, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

The UK had a chance to elect a government that would have been much better than Johnson’s, and didn’t.

I’m thinking particularly of the former “Red Wall” constituencies who switched to Johnson because a majority of people there wanted Brexit at any cost.

Well, they’re getting it. I wonder how many people have to die before they accept that the cost is too high, and their current defiance means my guess is that they will probably have to lose some of their own relatives, or face a risk to their own lives, before the message sinks in.

Source: Boris Johnson’s popularity falls to record low among Tory members

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Nicola Sturgeon can’t stop calling Margaret Ferrier ‘Margaret Covid’; where’s Dominic Eyetest?

Margaret Ferrier: she doesn’t look well, does she?

It’s no more than she deserves.

Margaret Ferrier is an MP for the SNP (whip currently suspended) who took a Covid-19 test on September 26 after experiencing symptoms.

Then, instead of self-isolating (just in case) she visited a gym, a beauty salon and a gift shop.

On September 28, while still awaiting her test results due to the lamentable slowness of the UK’s privatised testing system, she took a train from Scotland to London and spoke in a Parliamentary debate.

That evening she received a positive test result. Then, knowing she may have infected anybody in the gym, beauty salon, gift shop, on the train to London, and in Parliament itself, what did she do?

She took another train back to Scotland and lied to her party whip that a family member was unwell.

She admitted her offences on October 1, in a public statement. Afterwards Ferrier was suspended from the SNP, and referred herself to the police and the Parliamentary standards authorities.

Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has been referring to her as “Margaret Covid” ever since.

The reference may be to Typhoid Mary – a person who carries a disease to many others.

This Writer thinks other key players in the Covid-19 crisis should also be granted appropriate nicknames – and I see that I am not alone:

And if that idea doesn’t amuse you, there’s always Janey Godley:

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Tories have Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results

He fought propagandists – but did he expect his own party to become the enemy? Churchill’s statue stares toward Parliament. If it was the man himself, it would probably turn its back in disgust.

Can you believe this? The Tories have contrived to have the House of Commons Twitter account stopped from tweeting vote results – because Johnson’s party said it was biased against them.

The House of Commons Twitter account has been banned from tweeting the results of votes after Tory MPs complained it was breaking impartiality rules when one tweet went viral.

During the passage of the trade bill, intended to pave the way for post-Brexit trade deals, the Commons Twitter account shared the outcomes of votes on amendments and new clauses: a 326-263 defeat for a clause relating “to parliamentary approval of trade agreements”, and approval without division for amendments about “sharing information and ministerial functions relating to trade”.

The descriptions were taken from the explanatory statement written by the MP who proposed the motion, and the tweet about new clause 17 was no different. That clause, the tweet said, was “intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK”, explaining that it had been defeated 340 votes to 251.

The defeat allowed Labour to argue that Conservative MPs had voted against protecting the NHS from overseas control. The tweet itself was a key piece of evidence, which is why it gained 5,000 likes and almost 17,500 retweets in less than 24 hours.

That drew the attention of Tory MPs, who were bombarded with questions from constituents about why they had voted against such protection. The day after, MPs from the party made a complaint to the clerk of the House, the politically neutral civil servant who oversees the work of the support staff, including the social media team.

They argued that the tweet was in breach of the Commons’ requirement for impartiality. By the end of the day, the Commons team had deleted it and posted an apology.

So it was perfectly permissible for the offending words to be published in the explanatory statement by the MP who proposed the motion; the Tories just didn’t want them to get to the public.

What does that tell us about the Conservative government?

That they don’t want us to have full information about what happens in Parliament?

That they think Parliamentary media should not provide information to the public?

That they want such media to offer pro-Tory propaganda instead?

Johnson and his cronies have really taken the Josef Goebbels method to heart.

But the act has been a huge turn-off to the public – including This Writer (but you’d expect that, I’m sure):

I would have thought the answer was obvious: a would-be fascist dictatorship. But Johnson’s Tories are even failures at that.

Source: Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results | Politics | The Guardian

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Can Parliament’s bars let us know how many post-10pm drinkers catch Covid-19, please?

NOTE: Shortly after I published this story, Parliament’s bars announced that they will stop selling alcohol after 10pm. The reason?

MPs said the rules risked making Parliament look “ridiculous” to the public.

That was very much my intention when I wrote the following:

I think it’s great that Parliament has put up its own bars as testing-grounds for the effectiveness of the 10pm pub drinking curfew.

It seems the bars on the Parliamentary estate – the Members’ Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion, Pugin Room and Members’ Tea Room are exempt as they provide a food and bar service:

A spokesperson for the House of Commons confirmed that the new restrictions on hospitality do not apply to the venues on the parliamentary estate, saying: “As catering outlets providing a workplace service for over 3,100 people working on the Estate, the current regulations on hospitality venues do not apply to Commons facilities.”

Some have said this is another example of Boris Johnson’s cronies setting one law for us and then breaking it themselves. Many of them made reference to Orwell’s Animal Farm (which may soon be banned under Gavin Williamson’s new education rules):

Others disagree with the Animal Farm reference. I haven’t read it so I’m not in a position to comment.

But I do hope that the authorities at the Parliamentary bars keep us appraised of how their brave effort to keep our democracy in alcohol goes.

They will of course be keeping details of everybody who enters, in case Covid-19 breaks out in one, several, or all of these bars.

I expect regular updates. If they show no infections, we’ll know that it is safe to open all the rest of the UK’s pubs for normal hours again. Won’t we?

Source: Parliament bars exempt from 10pm curfew | The Independent