Category Archives: Parliament

Budget response by the Leader of the Opposition to the Tory Government

Here it is.

It is particularly enlightening where it refers to the Member for Hayes & Harlington:

You didn’t really expect this to be a video of Keir Starmer, did you?

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ANYBODY could have predicted that Dido Harding would be wrong on Covid-19 mutation. Here are some of the funniest responses

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding.

Brace yourself because this is a doozy: Dido Harding, the wife of the Tory anti-corruption minister who was corruptly appointed to head the government’s Covid-19 test and trace organisation has just explained exactly why she should never have been allowed anywhere near it.

In front of a Commons select committee, she said, “Nobody could have predicted that the virus would mutate.”

This is a fact that is taught to seven-year-old children:

Doctors and scientists have been tracking Covid-19 variations since last spring – before Harding was appointed to run Test and Trace:

Her comment has created a torrent of hilarity:

This one is particularly pertinent:

And of course there is only one conclusion to be drawn:

She won’t because she doesn’t have to. No Tory ministers have been harmed by her stupidity.

Although, considering their own mentality, would they even understand it if they were?

But you and I need to know that imbeciles like this are responsible for our Covid-19 response and that is why the UK is the laughing stock of the world.

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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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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‘Slave plantation’ MP Drax shamed over non-payment of minimum wage

Richard Drax.

Why do villains like this always get away with the harm they do?

Worse, why do they insult us by standing for Parliament – and why do we self-harm by voting them in?

It’s insanity.

So Richard Drax – allegedly the wealthiest landowner in the House of Commons – is a director of the Morden Estates Company and signed off on the underpayment of 43 workers there.

This has put his firm on a list of 139 businesses … in a government press release headed “Rogue employers named and shamed for failing to pay minimum wage”.

How did Drax’s family get so rich? From recent headlines it seems they profited from slavery:

He has recently been facing calls to pay reparations over the Drax Hall Plantation in Barbados. His ancestors had a slave workforce there for nearly 200 years.

Some people never change, it seems.

Drax himself has said

the “technical infringement” concerned “beaters” – people who drive game birds out of their cover at shooting events. He said they traditionally took part for enjoyment but had been paid a “modest sum”.

Nobody, it seems, has tracked down any of these beaters to ask if the MP’s information is correct. It seems that, because he is an MP, and a landowner, and an employer, he is automatically allotted the last word.

Note also that fellow Tory Richard Jenrick has recently launched a plan for legislation to protect monuments to historical slavers.

If those statues represent the ancestors of colleagues like Drax, the motivation seems clear.

Source: MP Richard Drax’s family business “shamed” over minimum wage | Bournemouth Echo

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If the Brexit deal is so wonderful, why are Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg blocking scrutiny of it?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: not only does he look shifty – he’s acting shifty too.

It seems the Tories set up a committee to examine their Brexit trade deal, before it was signed – no doubt in a bid to reassure the nation that we would have a chance to check whether it is any good.

Now we see them reneging on that promise.

Are we to draw the logical conclusion – that is isn’t any good and we really need to examine it, line by line?

The government has been accused of undermining parliamentary scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal after Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered the shutdown of the cross-party committee examining Britain’s relations with the EU.

The move blocks a planned six-month inquiry into the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), grilling key players in televised evidence sessions at parliament before producing an authoritative report assessing the merits and flaws of the deal in rigorous detail.

And it means there is no Commons committee with a specific remit to monitor the implementation of the deal and the activities of the plethora of partnership councils, committees and working groups which it has created.

Committee member Joanna Cherry said the 21-member panel was being disbanded because “the government don’t want to hear the truth” about Mr Johnson’s deal.

Source: Government accused of undermining scrutiny of EU trade deal, as Jacob Rees-Mogg shuts down Commons Brexit committee | The Independent

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Humiliation for Starmer as Labour MPs refuse his call to support Johnson’s bad Brexit deal

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

Keir Starmer stood humiliated in Parliament after his reasons for supporting Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal were ridiculed on all sides, and almost one-fifth of Labour’s MPs rejected his call to join the Tory government in voting for it.

In total, 36 Labour MPs who do not currently have the party whip suspended abstained from voting for the deal. Two more, from whom the party whip is currently suspended – Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe – also abstained. And Bell Ribeiro-Addy went further, voting against the deal.

Perhaps they all agreed with these words:

He means there was no opportunity to change the deal – it was a matter of taking it or leaving it (“no deal”) so the rights of the UK electorate to have it discussed in a democratic way were trampled.

Mr Corbyn’s decision is particularly embarrassing for Labour’s Chris Bryant, in the light of this:

Do I have to point out the obvious – that Bryant did indeed support Johnson’s deal, and Brexit, while Corbyn did not?

But Bryant’s embarrassment is just a symptom of the about-turn that Labour has made under Keir Starmer:

Starmer himself came badly unstuck when he spoke in the Commons debate on the deal.

It seems his rationale was that any deal is better than no deal at all, But there is a flaw in that argument:

It is indeed a poor excuse, as was pointed out to Starmer by Independent MP Jonathan Edwards:

I am afraid the leader of the Labour party has accepted the spin of the Government that this is a binary choice between deal and no deal. It says a lot about the way his position has changed over recent weeks.

He also made a point of noting that Starmer had turned his back on Corbyn’s pledge that Labour would only support a deal that passed six tests:

He used to have six tests for any Brexit deal that he would be willing to support. How many of those tests does he believe the agreement actually meets?

Starmer could not answer.

It got worse.

David Linden (SNP) said,

If he can point out to me in the Order Paper where I am voting for no deal, I will be very happy. Will he tell me what page that is on?

Starmer could not. He could only make the vain claim that Linden was hoping to avoid the consequences of his “no” vote with the belief that the deal would be passed without his support.

The problem with that is, everybody knew that this would happen. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable for MPs to show their disagreement with the legislation by voting against it.

Indeed, a vote that – although positive – shows significant disagreement would leave a message for history that the legislation was controversial. Starmer’s demand for Labour to support it may be seen as an attempt to sabotage that.

Perhaps the knockout blow for Starmer’s credibility came from Theresa May:

She said:

I did listen with some incredulity to what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said he wanted a better deal. In early 2019, there was the opportunity of a better deal on the table, and he voted against it, so I will take no lectures from the Leader of the Opposition on this deal.

May is widely considered to have been the worst UK prime minister since Lord North (a dubious accolade that she inherited from her immediate forerunner, David Cameron). If that is the case, what does it say about Starmer that he allowed her to have the upper hand in this?

Yes. It says that his loyalties lie more with the Conservatives than with the members of his own party – the vast majority of whom wanted the Corbyn-led government that he helped to ensure could never be.

As for the threat of “no deal” – well:

The problems with the deal – and with Keir Starmer’s demand for Labour MPs to support it – were highlighted by Clive Lewis in his speech, most of which he has repeated in this video:

Starmer ended up in the worst of all possible worlds:

Yes, the deal passed, which is what he wanted.

But he was made to look a fool for supporting it and the 39 Labour MPs (with or without the party whip) who did not follow him have emerged as principled, moral … and right.

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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.

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As both Starmer and Johnson try to strike hits, last PMQs of 2020 becomes a battle of (half)wits

Johnson v Starmer: it really doesn’t matter who scores the most points in their regular weekly confrontations as they’re each as daft as the other.

Did an element of end-of-term fever enter into the last weekly clash of UK political party leaders of 2020? One would assume so, from the quality of this exchange.

It seems Keir Starmer was hoping to get one over on Boris Johnson with his final submission to yesterday’s (December 16) Prime Minister’s Questions. He said:

This is the last PMQs of the year, and I for one often wonder where the Prime Minister gets his advice from.

Well, now I know, because I have here the official newsletter of the Wellingborough Conservative party. It is not on everyone’s Christmas reading list, but it is a fascinating read, because it gives a lot of advice to wannabe politicians.

It says this: “Say the first thing that comes into your head… It’ll probably be nonsense… You may get a bad headline… but… If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, you can get away with it.”

The December edition includes the advice: “Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time.”

So my final question to the Prime Minister is this: is he the inspiration for the newsletter, or is he the author?

As attempted put-downs go, you have to agree that it wasn’t bad.

Sadly for Starmer, Johnson’s retort was better:

I think what the people of this country would love to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in this season of good will is any kind of point of view at all on some of the key issues.

This week, he could not make up his mind whether it was right for kids to be in school or not, and havering [whatever that means] completely.

He could not make up his mind last week whether or not to support what the Government were doing to fight covid, and told his troops, heroically, to abstain.

He could not make up his mind about Brexit, we all seem to remember.

We do not know whether he will vote for a deal or not.

He cannot attack the Government if he cannot come up with a view of his own.

In the words of the song, “All I want for Christmas is” a view, and it would be wonderful if he could produce one.

Alas, we all know – thanks to the diktats released by Starmer’s (acting) general secretary David Evans – that the Labour Party is now not allowed to have any views on anything at all, for fear of offending the legions of ‘snowflakes’ covering the UK (even in this, so far, mild winter).

Starmer was defeated. The loss will be all the more galling to him because Jeremy Corbyn was never so soundly thrashed by either Theresa May or the current incumbent.

And Johnson will go to his Christmas break happy to have won that round of the regular battle of wits.

But then, given the quality of the participants, it would be more accurate to describe it as a battle of halfwits.

Source: Engagements – Wednesday 16 December 2020 – Hansard – UK Parliament

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Bryant admonished by Hoyle over ‘face-pulling’ during PMQs. Shame it was nothing to do with Johnson

Chris Bryant: what did he do?

Politics has come to a pretty pass when Chris Bryant pulling faces at the Speaker is more interesting than Prime Minister’s Questions!

That’s what appears to have happened today (December 9).

During the weekly exchange between Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle halted proceedings and addressed Bryant:

It seems Bryant had left the chamber but returned later, standing next to the Speaker’s chair for a hushed discussion, at the end of which, Hoyle was heard saying, “Mr Bryant I think we need this conversation later.”

Bryant shrugged. Some say he was heard saying, “Fine.” And then he left the chamber.

Speculation about what it was that Bryant actually did to cause such ire in the Speaker has been rife:

Some of the news websites are claiming that Bryant’s offence was simply standing in front of a door.

According to Politics Home,

One backbencher who was sat in the Commons said the row was about where Bryant was standing, allegedly in front of a door that had been left open for ventilation.

The MP said: “The speaker told him to move and he wouldn’t. They then had a face pulling and finger pointing contest.”

If true, it is a shame. Bryant’s reputation would have soared if he had been pulling faces at Johnson, as this now-deleted tweet indicates:

It reads: “Good to see Chris Bryant chased out of the House by the Speaker for pulling a slightly quizzical face which was clearly putting the Prime Minister off from telling his intergalactic lies.”

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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