Tag Archives: abstain

Starmer’s farcical Telegraph column actually tries to attack Tories for fence-sitting

Keir Starmer: what you can’t see is that he’s actually sitting on a fence. He’s just been there so long that he’s had a back rest installed.

How did Labour’s (remaining) membership ever elect as leader a man with such a staggering lack of self-awareness?

It’s bad enough that Keir Starmer thinks writing a column in the Torygraph is a good way to build support for his policy-free political party.

But to accuse the Conservatives of “sitting on the fence”, after he spent almost his entire tenure as Labour leader doing just that, is an act of colossal ignorance.

Worse even than that: the issue he raised – flammable cladding on tower blocks after the Grenfell Tower inferno – is not an example of Tory fence-sitting. It’s an example of Tory buck-passing because they’re making us pay to make these homes safe, rather than their landlords.

Starmer is trying to shame the Tories for abstaining on Labour proposals that would – rightly – get the unsafe cladding off threatened buildings and pursue those who should be paying for it, for the costs.

It would be a reasonable course of action – if Starmer hadn’t earned his own nickname “the abstainer” so well over nearly a year.

“Is this satire?” reads one comment on Facebook. “Of all the people to talk about abstentions it’s definitely funniest coming from [Starmer].”

Another stated: “Starmer is permanently sitting on the fence. You know what they say: ‘You will get splinters in your backside’.”

A further commenter resorted to verse: “The ‘Sir’ sat on the fence all day,
“Had nothing to do and nothing to say,
“Now give him a flag and he’ll wave it forever,
“But an honest socialist – Never, Ever, Never!”

But possibly the most biting referred to the fact that Starmer had published his article behind the Torygraph‘s paywall.

It reads, simply: “Sorry but I haven’t worked since the first lockdown and can’t afford to read your article.”

If Starmer hadn’t whipped Labour to abstain, new Covid tier plan would have been defeated

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

Fans of Keir Starmer must be so proud.

He wouldn’t actively oppose Boris Johnson’s revised plan to put England into tiered Covid-19 rules because he said the country needs to have some form of protection against the disease.

And he said he couldn’t support it because it includes measures that would harm the hospitality industry, and the £1,000 support package isn’t enough.

So he whipped Labour to abstain, and the revised tiers – with the pathetic support for pubs – are now law.

But here’s the catch:

With Labour MPs whipped by the leadership to abstain on the vote, 291 MPs in total voted in favour and 78 against the new rules.

Even taking into account the 15 Labour MPs who broke the party whip to oppose the plan, plus Jeremy Corbyn who is still awaiting the restoration of the whip, if Labour’s MPs had opposed Johnson’s plan, it would have been defeated.

Then Parliament would have been able to debate a better plan, that might actually do some good. God forbid, though, that Starmer would ever put his name to that!

Source: Johnson suffers large Tory rebellion as England returns to tiered Covid rules – LabourList

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Keir the Abstainer strikes again: he’ll ensure new Covid tiers happen despite threatened Tory rebellion

Johnson and Starmer: sadly, a more appropriate image would have them both facing in the same direction.

Who was it greeted Starmer’s election as Labour leader by saying, “Finally, a real opposition”?

Those words ring hollow now.

Once again, Starmer is supporting the worst Conservative government, possibly in UK history.

And this time, he’s doing it when even Tories are threatening to rebel.

Here’s the Guardian:

The prime minister is to announce new one-off discretionary funding paid to councils for “wet” pubs and bars which cannot open under the strictest new tier restrictions for England, the Guardian understands.

Starmer will tell his MPs he does not believe Labour should directly oppose the measures because of the need to keep control of the virus. But he will say that, by abstaining, the party can signal that the financial support for hospitality businesses is inadequate.

Coronavirus measures … have become deeply unpopular with [Johnson’s] MPs. On Monday, the environment secretary, George Eustice, acknowledged that up to 100 MPs could rebel.

So, by abstaining, Starmer is showing more support for Boris Johnson than that terrible Tory PM’s own MPs. He has even said he wants to support Johnson…

… But he is refraining from doing so because he wants to curry favour among the hospitality sector and with those who support it.

Nonsense. If he wanted to support the hospitality industry, he’d be joining Tory rebels in voting down the new system in favour of one that provides proper relief.

Twitter knows what’s going on:

Starmer’s latest PR campaign states, “Labour is standing up for Britain.”

How? By lying down and letting Johnson walk all over him?

Source: Labour to abstain in vote on Covid tiers as Tories threaten to rebel | World news | The Guardian

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‘Spycops’ law will be used to spy on Labour, its MPs and trade unions. Why did 167 Labour MPs support it?

Another blunder: Keir Starmer’s insistence on allowing a law that would allow the government to undermine his party has created a rift between him and an ever-increasing number of his MPs.

It is already being labelled as a major rebellion against Keir Starmer’s leadership: 34 Labour MPs defying the party whip to vote against the controversial so-called ‘Spycops’ Bill that would allow government agents to commit crimes.

The real question about it, though, is: why so few?

Labour has been targeted by the so-called Establishment in the UK – probably from its beginnings as a political party. This includes espionage by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

We all know about famous incidents such as the Zinoviev Letter, which contributed to the fall of Ramsay MacDonald’s first Labour government. It was a forged communique allegedly between the government and the Communist government of Russia, written by people whose identities remain uncertain…

… but it was published by the Conservative Daily Mail, and it is widely believed that this was on the urging of the SIS – the intelligence service of the day.

Another famous issue is the MI5 file on Harold Wilson, which was opened when he first entered Parliament in 1945 and recorded his contacts with communists, KGB officers and other Russians.

It was opened because of concerns about his relationships with Eastern European businessmen. Can you imagine MI5 opening a file on Boris Johnson, over his relationships with oligarches from Russia?

Ultimately, none of the information in the file can have amounted to anything because MI5 never tried to use it to undermine him – despite his own paranoia about this in his later years.

Clearly there is a precedent for the security services – which are predominantly staffed by right-wingers – using every resource within their power to find ways of undermining the Labour Party.

And by abstaining on a Bill that allows government agents to commit crimes in order to achieve their aims, 167 Labour MPs including the party’s leader, Keir Starmer, have just handed them another such resource.

It’s undemocratic and dangerous – the kind of legislation created by a dictatorship in order to ensure, by fair means or foul, that no rival organisation can ever topple it.

But some good may come of it accidentally – the possible removal of Starmer as party leader.

Around 20 of his MPs rebelled against his demand to abstain on the Bill’s second reading. Yesterday (October 15), 34 defied his whip – including eight who resigned from front bench roles to do so:

 

Much of this can be attributed to Starmer’s own attitude, which suggests that he actually supports the Bill’s demand that government agents be allowed to commit any crime without fear of prosecution for it later – any crime at all, including the murder of the Tories’ political opponents:

Discontent with his lack of opposition to the worst Tory government in history is growing, and already there are rumours of a leadership challenge in 2021:

Political developments are strange; they don’t happen the way anybody expects – unless that person is very far-sighted indeed.

The Zinoviev Letter led to the fall of a Labour government – but only in a roundabout way. Labour’s vote increased in the general election; it was the collapse of the Liberal vote that allowed the Conservatives their victory.

It would be ironic if now, nearly a century after that attempt to end a socialist government, a piece of legislation that legalises espionage against the party that formed that government actually led to its re-founding as a socialist organisation once again.

That is the only comforting thought I can raise from what is, in all other respects, a disaster for democracy.

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Starmer’s whip cracks and his MPs start walking away from legalisation of crimes like rape by government agents

Bungler: perhaps Keir Starmer thought his decision to support a law that allows government agents to murder, torture and rape people with no fear of prosecution was a show of power. All it will do is turn more people away from the hollow shell he has made of the Labour Party.

Keir Starmer has gone too far and Labour MPs know it.

That’s how This Writer reads the groundbreaking resignation from the party’s frontbench team of rising star Dan Carden.

The now-former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury has only just distinguished himself in Parliament with this speech attacking Tory corruption and cronyism, taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to award themselves and their businesses huge wodges of public money in return for – well, nothing:

Now, after being told that Starmer is whipping Labour to abstain on the heinous Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, he has announced that he will vote with his conscience – and resigned his post as a shadow minister.

He is quite right to do so. Starmer has lied repeatedly about this – or he has been wildly mistaken about what he could achieve.

First he told Labour MPs to abstain on the second reading of the Bill – allowing it to progress through Parliament when a concerted effort by all Labour MPs could have stopped it on the spot.

He told his MPs that there would be a chance to change the Bill, tightening up controls on the kind of crimes that could be committed and the circumstances in which they would be allowed. That has not happened.

And he told his MPs that they would be able to vote against the Bill if attempts to amend it failed. We see now that he is not going to allow this after all.

So Mr Carden did the honourable thing:

Take note of the words in his letter. He states that Starmer has “settled” on his position on “legislation that sets dangerous new precedents on the rule of law and civil liberties in this country”.

He’s saying that, in effect, Starmer is supporting a law that will harm our freedom.

The letter also states that in supporting the harm that will be done to us, Starmer’s position is at odds with the vast majority of his party: “I share the deep concerns about this legislation from across the Labour Movement, human rights organisations, and so many who have suffered the abuse of state power, from blacklisted workers to the Hillsborough families and survivors.”

Mention of the Hillsborough tragedy is particularly telling: in supporting this Bill, then, Starmer is setting himself against the Hillsborough families and survivors – and everybody who supports them and their struggle for justice.

That is not a good look for a lawyer!

The Third Reading vote on the CHIS Bill is this evening (October 15).

Labour-voting members of the public will judge their MPs by whether they support Starmer, or if they choose to support justice instead.

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Fury as Starmer asks Labour to abstain on Bill allowing government agents to commit crimes like murder, torture and rape

Keir Starmer: he’s not left-wing but he’s definitely sinister.

Why is a former human rights lawyer like Keir Starmer asking Labour MPs to let the Tories pass a law that will allow their agents to commit crimes that trample all over our human rights?

The crimes that will be allowed are bad enough – the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill is also known as the ‘Licence to Kill’ Bill. Also allowed would be torture and sex crimes including rape.

But it will also be impossible to mitigate the worst aspects of the Bill with the Human Rights Act, because the Tories stated 11 months ago that, as the state would not be the “instigator” of the crimes, it could not be held responsible for them.

Starmer, a former human rights lawyer, has reportedly convinced some Labour MPs that this is not the case. He must know that this isn’t true.

So why does he want to give government agents – including people from the Environment Agency and the Financial Conduct Authority – a licence for torture, rape and murder?

As This Site documented last week, Starmer already whipped Labour to abstain on the second reading of the Bill.

We were told this was in order to create a chance to modify the legislation, tightening restrictions on using the powers it creates.

This no longer seems to be the case: he is now suggesting that Labour should abstain once again – and let the Bill pass without opposition – if no amendments are made.

As you may imagine, there has been more than a little opposition to this:

But on the same day this information was released, Starmer called a press conference in which he changed his policy on Covid-19 and demanded a “circuit-break” lockdown, across England, for two or three weeks – creating a huge amount of fuss among the media and the public.

Do you think he was trying to hide something?

Source: Keir Starmer facing major rebellion after saying Labour should abstain on ‘Licence to Kill’ bill even if unamended | Evolve Politics

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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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Tory Hoare branded a ‘coward’ for plan to abstain on Bill that threatens peace in Northern Ireland

Should it say or should it go? “Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.” Isn’t Boris Johnson pushing NI towards re-integration with the Republic?

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee is currently taking a drubbing on Twitter after he announced he will abstain on the Third Reading of the Internal Market Bill that threatens the peace there, rather than opposing it outright.

Simon Hoare tweeted that information from the US Congress that its members would not permit any free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. He seemed to believe that this was justification for him to abstain, rather than oppose the Bill that breaks international law by overruling the EU Withdrawal Agreement on trade borders around NI.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.

In abstaining on the Bill, Hoare is effectively saying that he does not want to express an opinion on it – even though he knows it will be harmful to peace in Northern Ireland, and to the Union. It is the position of a coward who is afraid to take a stand when his bosses do the wrong thing.

Even if he really didn’t know that, he is being told it in no uncertain terms:

If he does abstain, Spineless Simon should be ashamed to call himself a human being.

I wonder how many Conservatives will follow his example – doing just enough to salve their miniscule consciences without actually stopping the Bill?

Abstention means allowing Boris Johnson to break international law.

And it means an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

When violence breaks out again, after Johnson does whatever he’s planning to do to the Northern Ireland border, Simon Hoare and all other Tory abstainers will be responsible.

But then we know from past experience that Tories are perfectly comfortable to sit in Parliament with blood dripping from their hands.

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The end of the affair – and does it also herald the fall of a government?

Partners no more? Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, in happier times.

When the Conservative Party announced its marriage of convenience to the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, many of us had tears in our eyes.

We were upset that Theresa May had found some stooges who were willing to prop up a minority Conservative government for the sake of a large bung – £1 billion, almost half of which has been delivered – and we were weeping for the future of the country we love.

The honeymoon period – in which we watched the DUP supporting the Tories’ terrible policies time and time again – was bitterly uncomfortable, and no doubt many of us wondered if we would be able to stomach it for the full five-year term of current Tory governments.

Fortunately, it seems unlikely that we will have to put up with it that long.

And it was the Conservative Party – the partner that needed the alliance to succeed – that was unfaithful.

Theresa May ran off to the EU and promised that Brexit would include a deal on the Northern Irish border that the DUP could not tolerate, as it allots special treatment to NI that is not afforded to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Either she had not mentioned it, or she thought she didn’t need to do so, because Tories have such a monumental sense of entitlement that she probably thought the DUP was lucky to be in a “confidence and supply” deal with her.

That was a huge mistake, and a sign that Mrs May doesn’t know her history, which shows that Hell hath no fury like an Irishwoman scorned.

Yesterday evening (November 19), Arlene Foster’s followers in Westminster pointed this out to Mrs May – by abstaining on Budget votes, and actually supporting the Labour Party on one amendment.

It isn’t the end of the deal between the Tories and the DUP – to continue the marriage metaphor, it’s the equivalent of a slighted partner making their displeasure felt and warning that worse may follow if the other partner doesn’t get back in line.

None of the votes had a serious effect on the Conservatives because they did not have financial consequences for the government.

But the message is clear: The deal with the EU, as agreed by Mrs May, is unacceptable to the DUP and the government will lose its Parliamentary majority – and therefore its ability to function – if the prime minister refuses to change it.

Now for the important part: This puts Mrs May in an impossible position.

The EU will not accept changes to the deal, and it seems unlikely that it will be possible to negotiate a new agreement before the UK decouples from that bloc on March 29 next year.

But the alternative is an effective vote of “no confidence” in the Conservatives’ ability to govern, which traditionally leads to the resignation of the government and the main Opposition party taking office.

The current Tory government is an unscrupulous crowd, and may refuse to honour that convention – but the alternative is powerlessness. What will Mrs May do?

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Have Tories been told not to vote in ANY Opposition Day debates?

Twilight for democracy: The Houses of Parliament are now the home of a dictatorship calling itself a Conservative government.

What blatant disregard for democracy.

It seems Conservative members of Parliament have been told not to bother voting in any Opposition Day debates.

This would explain why the House of Commons supported both the Labour Party’s motions yesterday, without having to go to the vote.

On NHS Pay, the House of Commons decided: “This House notes that in 2017-18 NHS pay rises have been capped at one per cent and that this represents another below-inflation pay settlement; further notes that applications for nursing degrees have fallen 23 per cent this year; notes that the number of nurses and midwives joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council register has been in decline since March 2016 and that in 2016-17 45 per cent more UK registrants left the register than joined it; and calls on the Government to end the public sector pay cap in the NHS and give NHS workers a fair pay rise.”

On tuition fees, the Commons decided: “That the Higher Education (Higher Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1206) and the Higher Education (Basic Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1205), both dated 13 December 2016, copies of which were laid before this House on 15 December 2016, in the last Session of Parliament, be revoked.” It means MPs have decided unanimously (thanks to the Tories’ abstention) that increases in university tuition fees totalling £250 per year should be abandoned.

Jeremy Corbyn celebrated the NHS pay victory:

And so did Labour MP Alex Cunningham:

But it seems they were both premature.

If true, this decision shows contempt for democracy and democratic debate. The Tories are saying they will pay no attention at all to Opposition motions, even when a majority of MPs support them – as they would have in the debates yesterday.

That’s why the Tories abstained, you see. It would be hugely harmful to the government for it to be defeated in a democratic vote, even one that is non-binding – because it would show that the Tories don’t care about democracy.

But the decision not to pay attention to Opposition Day debates show they don’t care about democracy anyway.

The reaction has been incendiary:

A VONC is a vote of “no confidence”. That’s exactly what should have been triggered, but then we would have seen the DUP scuttling back to prop up Theresa May and her cronies.

In a week during which other aspects of a functioning Parliamentary democracy have been thrown away by the Tories – with DUP help – the decision to ignore Opposition Day debates is yet another sign of the drift towards dictatorship:

And let’s admit it – that drift is now almost complete.

This Writer is left to wonder how Theresa May will propose to stop general elections from taking place. My bet is she’ll create an artificial threat of terrorism. What’s yours?


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook