Tag Archives: argument

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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Tory Brexit drama is a DISTRACTION. They want you to forget that you will get NOTHING

Theresa May in the Commons: She’s talking about Brexit so she is lying through her teeth.

In case you haven’t noticed, the so-called ‘Brexit dividend’ was a lie; there will be no money coming to the UK to create a post-Brexit golden age.

The claim that businesses would move into the UK to create a post-Brexit golden age was another lie. They all know it will be more expensive to stay in the UK after the country leaves the European Union and the only reason they would possibly do so is a massive government incentive – funded by working-class people, of course.

In the absence of such incentives, firms are moving out. Car manufacturers like Jaguar Landrover are refocusing their operations away from the UK and even banking giants like Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are moving specific roles away from the Square Mile in order to maintain profitability.

That is a significant point. Banks are saying the UK will not be profitable after Brexit, and other corporates will follow their lead.

The UK’s Tory government cannot even guarantee it will be able to secure the UK’s borders. Nobody mentioned the Irish question in the run-up to the EU referendum; we must conclude that the main players in that fiasco either had no idea it was important – which is irresponsible in the extreme – or they knew, and hid the importance from us in order to get what they wanted – which should be criminal.

In Parliament on Monday (July 2), Theresa May said the EU Withdrawal Act’s provision that it is illegal to do anything that would introduce a hard border in Ireland, did not make a no-deal Brexit illegal because the UK could decide for itself what it did with the border. This was at best a lie; at worst, she was making it up as she went because a no-deal Brexit means the UK goes to World Trade Organisation rules and all the borders close, including those in Ireland.

I could go on and on.

At every step of the Brexit process, the people of the UK have lost.

But Mrs May is dragging her Cabinet to Chequers in order to iron out the dramas and differences between their demands about the conditions in which we leave the EU.

Has it not occurred to anybody to ask who, exactly, these talks will benefit? They won’t help us!

It seems to This Writer that all the drama in the Conservative government is nothing but a distraction – they want to divert our attention away from the fact that Brexit will take from us far more than we even knew we had.

I have an inkling that they are probably all rejigging their personal investment portfolios like crazy, moving their money out of the empty shell they are making of the UK.

None of this is being reported – possibly because the news media don’t want us all to wake up and ask why our government is shafting us all so badly.

Instead The Guardian, for example, has gone with a personality drama about Boris Johnson siding with Jacob Rees-Mogg to demand the most extreme form of Brexit from Theresa May – a matter that makes very little difference to ordinary people; we lose everything anyway.

It’s time we stopped paying attention to this drivel.

It’s time we started asking the relevant questions.

We could start with: Why is our government distracting us with irrelevances and when will it consider ways of safeguarding our prosperity?

Will it be soon?

Will it ever happen at all?

I think we know the answer to that one already. So why are people still supporting this self-destructive stupidity?

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This message is typical of Brexit supporters, but the UK is still leaving the EU [STRONG LANGUAGE]

Most of the messages on the social media, by people who support Brexit, are as belligerent, illiterate and nonsensical as this:

This is the level of the argument.

Remainers say: “Brexit will be hugely harmful to the UK because of these reasons…” and reel off however many they can remember off the top of their heads.

Leavers respond: “Democratic vote! A whole quarter of the population want to leave the corrupt EU and we’re taking everyone else with us whether you agree or not! It doesn’t matter if the Leave campaign lied to you – you voted for it and it’s too late now! Remoaners! If we get a bad deal it’s because of Remoners (sic) even though they’re nothing to do with the negotiations! Remoners have low intellgence (sic) they cannot undetstand (sic) DEMOCRACY!” And they swear a lot.

But the referendum was influenced by lies.

And Brexit will harm the UK – not because of “remoners” but because it can’t do anything else.

But we’re still leaving the EU because of people like the person who posted the message above.

Insanity.


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Will PFI campaign be derailed by MP’s spat with blogger?

Stella Creasy [Image: Nicola Tree/ Getty Images].

This is all a little silly.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has launched a campaign to stop companies that have signed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals with the government from benefiting from falls in the rate of Corporation Tax.

Ms Creasy says it is important because, when these deals are signed, the rate of tax companies will pay is directly part of deciding if they represent value for money.

On her Facebook page, she explained: “If I buy a toaster and then its on offer a week later I don’t get the difference back so why should these companies get such a windfall – either they come to the table to renegotiate these contracts and the cost of them to the public sector or we should be willing to legislate. Help us secure support from more MPs for this.”

She linked to a Guardian article which elaborated:

Companies that built and run NHS hospitals under private finance initiative (PFI) contracts will have made about £190m in unexpected windfall profits by 2020 because of George Osborne and Philip Hammond’s cuts to corporation tax, research suggests.

Analysis by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest found that more than 100 PFI operators in the NHS collectively saved an estimated £84m between 2008 and 2015 and are due to gain another £106m between 2016 and 2020 because of the falling corporate tax rate.

The PFI companies are making bonus profits because the corporation tax rate has fallen from 30% when the majority of their contracts were negotiated to 19% now and is due to drop as low as 17% by 2020. Some companies may be deferring their tax liabilities to later in their contracts when the rates will be lower.

She also discusses the matter in a Twitter thread:

For many of us – especially those who never like the idea of PFI in the first place – this is a worthwhile cause. These companies are already making a fortune at the taxpayer’s long-term expense; why should they receive millions more – apparently in breach of their contracts – because of Tory tax changes?

But there’s a snag.

Ms Creasy’s campaign seems to have been overshadowed by her inability to answer a simple question: Whether she thinks it is acceptable for Labour MPs to be friends with – and socialise with – Conservative MPs.

Our fellow leftie blog, the Skwawkbox, raised this issue a couple of days ago after discovering that Ms Creasy had attended a gig with Tory MP Therese Coffey on December 16.

In light of Ms Creasy’s fellow Labour MP Laura Pidcock’s well-publicised belief that Labour MPs should not “hang out with Tory women” who are “no friends of mine” and “an enemy to lots of women”, Skwawkbox blogger Steve Walker asked for Ms Creasy to comment.

In response, he received a torrent of evasion – and, to be honest, abuse. See for yourself, here and here.

Her bizarre attitude has been bolstered by an article in the Huffington Post that supports her attitude of indignation that a blogger should call her out on this matter.

Isn’t this hypocritical of the HuffPost, which was quite happy to quote the Skwawkbox interview with Ms Pidcock, where she first made her comments about Labour MPs fraternising with the Tories? This Writer thinks so.

It seems the aim is to divert attention. Ms Creasy seems so desperate to avoid telling us whether she thinks it’s okay to hang out with her political enemies, she’ll try to point us at anything else.

So she has claimed Skwawkbox was attacking her taste in music, then that the blog is misogynist, and finally that the blog was trying to undermine her PFI campaign.

I’m sorry, but it seems Ms Creasy has managed that, all by herself.

And it seems she has succeeded in hoodwinking people. Look at the following tweet, from another respected blogger, Tom Pride:

The issue isn’t musical taste, Tom.

It’s whether this particular person on the Left actually has any interest in opposing the Tories.

From my point of view, there is a simple way out, of course.

It is for Ms Creasy to swallow her pride, apologise for making a mountain out of a molehill, answer the question she was askedand clarify exactly whose side she’s on.

Then, perhaps we can all get behind her worthwhile campaign.


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Duncan Smith’s speech was full of Tory false arguments and hid the homicidal facts

131010benefitdenier

Tories are very good at making broad statements – claims that many people would support – and then using them to justify unreasonable policies.

Iain Duncan Smith gave a fine example of such behaviour in his speech yesterday.

He said disabled people should not be considered “victims to be sustained by government handouts” – and many people might accept this statement. We should not write anybody off automatically; everybody should take the opportunity to earn their own living, if they can.

What the Gentleman Ranker didn’t say was that his Conservative Party has been removing those opportunities, along with state support – so disabled people are being deprived of their benefits while also being denied any chance of getting a job. Does that seem fair to you? Does that seem reasonable behaviour from an organisation that is trying to re-brand itself as the ‘party of working people’?

Duncan Smith’s speech was riddled with falsehoods or false arguments based on selective observation.

“Almost half of people on ESA have been on the benefit for more than two years – this is despite the majority of ESA claimants saying that they would like to work,” he said – implying that people who say they would like to work must be able to do so. This is a false assumption. It assumes that these people have been wrongly classed as too ill to work, simply because they want to. They’ve been classed as too ill because they are too ill; whether they want to work or not is nothing to do with it.

Let’s also bear in mind that the work capability assessment system for ESA is fatally flawed and attempts to ignore medical evidence as much as possible in order to find as many people ‘fit for work’ as possible and clear them off the benefit books. Iain Duncan Smith ordered changes to the appeal procedure because the skyrocketing number of successful cases was an embarrassment to him and his department.

“The ESA has Labour’s essential mistake at its heart – that people are passive victims,” he babbled – but he did not provide any evidence to prove this. It’s just an unsupported claim.

“Of course if you treat people as passive that’s what they’ll become.” Oh really? What about all the people who’ll take offence at the implication and do the exact opposite?

“It’s no wonder, when the system makes doctors ask a simplistic question: are you too sick to work at all?” This is a flat-out lie, of course. While the benefit’s provision is based on whether a person is found to be ill, the finding is based on a large number of questions that are said to be intended to find out whether the claimant really is too ill to work (although, as already mentioned, the assessment system is fatally flawed). Medical evidence is also said to be taken into account, but this claim – by the Conservative Government – has been proved false.

“Conservative philosophy is rooted in human nature – not in Utopianism or in empty pity but in the yearning of people to make a better life for themselves and their children. That’s why we don’t think of people not in work as victims to be sustained on government handouts. No, we want to help them live lives independent of the state.” There is so much to be questioned here that one hardly knows where to start. Perhaps at the end, where he claims he wants people to live “independent of the state”. This is true – but not in the way he expects us to assume. Iain Duncan Smith wants to cut people off of the benefits they deserve, and leave them to manage in whatever way they can – it won’t be any of his concern.

That is why many thousands of people, cut off from incapacity benefits, have been dying of malnutrition, of their illnesses, or of despair – committing suicide because they cannot see a future for themselves under Tory tyranny.

So perhaps it would be more accurate for him to say: “We think of people not in work as victims to be culled by the deprivation of benefits.”

“The evidence of our reforms is that people respond to incentives. They take opportunities. They adapt to a changing environment.” This is argument by selective observation – a false argument that cherry-picks the ‘hits’ and ignores the ‘misses’. Never mind the thousands of deaths – a few people have been able to get themselves into jobs, for the relatively short period the DWP counts as a success. What is it, now? Six months? And what kind of jobs are they? Zero-hours contracts that don’t pay the rent? No comment on that from the Gentleman Ranker!

“Many people who are sick or disabled want to work. We need to help them find the work they can do.” Again he assumes – evidenceless – that they can work, just because they want to work. Not only is it a false assumption – it is homicidal, for the reasons listed above.

The speech went on to attack the relative poverty measure, starting with the lie that it was a Labour device (it’s actually the standard in most countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) – but, again, there are uncomfortable issues to be considered.

The use of tax credits to push working people above an arbitrary poverty line – as practised by the Blair and Brown governments – is questionable. It’s a stop-gap measure that doesn’t solve the main problem, which is that employers have been paying far too little to working people.

Let’s not hear any quibbling that the money isn’t there – we all know of employers paying themselves hundreds of times as much as employees, and the richest employers in the UK are now twice as wealthy as they were in 2009, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. That comes from taking more than their fair share – nothing more or less.

Is the Conservative Government, of which Iain Duncan Smith is a part, doing anything at all to encourage employers to pay a living wage? No. George Osborne’s re-branded minimum wage is a living wage in name only and will not cover workers’ costs, as we have all see in news coverage about the forthcoming tax credits cut.

So Iain Duncan Smith has attacked Labour for a policy that failed to address somebody else’s poverty measure, while failing to acknowledge that he is planning to make matters worse for millions of working people.

The really appalling aspect of this is that this article is now well over 1,000 words long and has addressed only a fraction of the Work and Pensions Secretary’s speech.

If he is to be congratulated on any part of it, it should be for managing to present a completely false summary of the situation facing the unemployed, sick and disabled – in a way that too many people will accept without question.

Labour must turn and fight now – or give up its electoral hopes altogether

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party's narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us 'One Nation' again, rather than hanging on David Cameron's neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party’s narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us ‘One Nation’ again, rather than hanging on David Cameron’s neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

The political debate is all about the Labour Party again today – as it has been since the Budget.

The newspapers and websites are full of advice for the party, which is now clearly seen to be struggling to gain any kind of a foothold with electors who have become disillusioned at what might best be called the Party of Very Little Opposition.

Labour “must adopt new principles” according to an alliance of thinktanks and party intellectuals who have written to The Guardian; Ed Miliband has been told “don’t play safe” with the party’s manifesto according to an article on the same paper’s site.

The BBC News site has words from left-wing MP John Mann, calling on his party leader to stop trying to be “too clever” and be “much clearer” in setting out his policies.

We can probably discount the Telegraph article by Dan Hodges, claiming that Labour is “closed for business”. It plays to right-wing readers’ prejudices just a little too much.

Will Ed pay any attention to these pleas? Evidence suggests he will not.

I should clarify from the outset that, as a Labour member, I want the Party to win in 2015 (and also to gain the lion’s share of the vote in May’s European elections).

But Miliband seems to be living in a world of his own, insulated from the rest of the Labour Party – not to mention supporters of Labour ideals who are not members – by a small group of (not-so-special) advisers who, it’s claimed, intercept any decent ideas before they get to the party leader and spin them until they turn to drivel. Whether this is true or not seems immaterial as this is the perception of the general public.

And perception is everything.

As I write this article I have just received a comment stating that “Miliband’s strategy for the next election seems to be a) to accept the Tory frame of reference for any given argument and b) to then concede the field of battle on that issue, whatever it is, without a shot being fired.” This is a common complaint, and Labour has no answer to it.

Why do Miliband, Balls, Tristram Hunt (notably), Rachel Reeves (lamentably) and all the other Labour frontbenchers blithely accept the Coalition’s terms of reference on any issue, against the wishes of their own backbenchers, their party as a whole and the public at large?

Are they really just a gang of greedy moneygrubbers, determined to screw the country for whatever they can get? That in itself would be a betrayal of Labour Party ideals and their constituency parties should deselect them if members believed that to be the case for one moment.

Are they a gang of neoliberals, their political philosophy so close to that of the Conservatives that you can’t get a credit card between them? This rings threateningly true in the cases of Oxford PPE graduats Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, ex-Bank of England employee Rachel Reeves and Tristram Hunt. But Ed Miliband is (famously) the son of a Marxist. He, above all, should know better.

The trouble is, David Miliband is the son of the same Marxist and he was as much a part of the neoliberal New Labour Red Tory deception as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Oh look – another comment has just arrived. “More people don’t bother to vote because they feel that we as a people have moved on and all we really want is people who will represent us honestly, by majority and with no hidden agendas, backhanders or lobbyists pulling the strings. I don’t see any evidence that the present government or the Labour Party are capable or willing to do just that… They should have the courage to change and become the voice of the people.”

Become the voice of the people. The meaning is clear – Labour is not currently representing anybody at all.

Is this true? Let’s look at some of the other comments on my (left-leaning, let’s not forget) blog. These are from people who are generally sympathetic to Socialism and who should, therefore, see Labour as the natural home of their vote. What do they say?

“[Is it] any wonder [that] 1. People don’t vote because they are seen as “all the bloody same”? and 2. The perceived differences have become so minuscule?”

“Until Labour wakes up and realises it is the welfare cuts that are a major concern to most of us and to anyone who has a conscience, they will lose the next election due to apathy.”

“Labour have to do something different to what they have up to now but they don’t seem to want to. Are they scared of being in government over a country in the state it is?”

“Labour have had four years to do something – anything – to fight against the welfare cuts, and to help the people they are supposed to be the party for! They’ve really done nothing when all is said and done.”

If Ed Miliband was reading this, I would be asking if he was getting the message yet (are you, Ed?) and what he proposes to do about it. You think not? Let’s have some more comments from people who should be supporting Labour – I’ve got plenty of them!

“There has been absolutely no fight in this opposition and I am ashamed of them.”

“People need a reason to apply their votes to Labour and Miliband-Balls are not providing them with one. They are sleepwalking into another hung Parliament and a very real risk of the Tories teaming up with UKIP. Then we’ll really see Nazism grip this country.”

“The would-be voters demand change and need bold new policies to blunt the Tory cutters. If the Labour Party cannot come up with policies which are radical then they don’t deserve to be in power at the next election, or ever.”

“Ed Balls worries me because he seems intent on copycatting Osborne. For example Osborne says he will run a surplus by the end of the next Parliament and Balls promises the same. Osborne say he will be introducing a Benefit Cap on social security spending on working age benefits (which could have devastating effects and lead to real terms cuts in benefits for years on end) and Balls says that Labour will vote with the Coalition to introduce it.”

“Surely we need some clear red water between Labour and the Tories? Surely Labour needs to differentiate itself more from the policies of the Coalition?”

“I sent an email to the Labour Party asking for its policy on TTIP (the rightly-feared Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will force employment standards down to third-world levels, or below), amongst other things. They were decidedly equivocal and I felt no reassurance at all. I think it’s about we faced facts, Labour aren’t being coy in a pre-election year to avoid frightening the horses, they really are just another pack of neoliberals.”

This is how left-wing voters (and the squeezed-middle waverers to whom Ed Miliband keeps trying to pander) see the modern Labour Party: Carbon-copy Tories with no fresh ideas who aren’t worth the effort of voting.

If any of Ed’s shadow cabinet is okay with that description, he needs to sack them and bring in someone with a clue. And he needed to do it last year.

If the Conservatives win in 2015, it seems clear that responsibility will lie as much with Labour’s failure to provide any clearly-visible alternative.

We have already seen carnage inflicted on the poor, the sick and disabled, and a Conservative-only government (or in collaboration withUKIP) would increase that bloodshed tenfold (senior citizens take note: the bribe you were given last week was a trick and if you vote Conservative, many of you will not live to rectify your error at another election).

Unless Ed Miliband sorts out his party – pronto – that blood will be on his hands as well, and the people will not forgive him.

Note that I did not say they won’t forgive Labour. I said they won’t forgive Ed Miliband.

Words cannot describe the way people feel at what has been done to them by the Coalition. If Labour reveals even the slightest element of complicity, I wouldn’t give a farthing for Miliband’s safety.

That goes for the rest of the shadow cabinet too.

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