The Home Office: only a fool would believe its publicity material.
So much for the lockdown. So much for social distancing. So much for any suggestion that the UK’s Tory government is interested in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
And so much for the lie that the “hostile environment” policy has ended.
The Home Office chartered a private plane to deport dozens of EU nationals during lockdown, despite government stay-at-home instructions stating that people should not fly unless it was essential.
The private jet, understood to be from Titan Airways, took off from Stansted last Thursday, 30 April. The flight to Poland was chartered at a time when air travel had fallen by 95%.
A woman on the flight said there were about 35 passengers, accompanied by around 40 to 50 Home Office escorts and plane crew.
The woman, who was placed into quarantine on her arrival in Poland, questioned whether it could be defined as “essential travel” and said it was impossible to adhere to physical distancing rules during the flight.
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.
According to Larry the Cat’s Twitter account, “The cabinet stand like this because a body language expert thought it would be a laugh to see if they would.” And on his first day as Home Secretary, Sajid Javid was stupid enough to do it.
The Tory Powerstance Workout Video – Featuring Sajid Javid [Image: The Agitator].
“Ladies and gentlemen,” wrote Gary Barker, “I give you your new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid and your surviving (just) Prime Minister Theresa May.”
Worse than that, he used his first appearance in the Commons, in his new role, to promise to “do right by the Windrush Generation” – and then lied to everyone.
Responding to a question from Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, on whether he would restore the protections that were taken from the Windrush migrants in the 2014 Immigration Act, he said: “No such protections have been removed. People who arrived pre-1973 – they have the absolute right to be here and that has not changed.”
Ms Abbott begs to differ. Refused the opportunity to respond in the House, she took to Twitter with this:
UK removed legal protection for Windrush immigrants in 2014 https://t.co/j6nOl5fbKL Yet new Home Sec @sajiddavid tells MPs no protections against deportation were removed in 2014
The Guardian report shows that a clause giving longstanding Commonwealth residents protection from enforced removal was taken off the statute book by the 2014 Act. The Home Office claims it was redundant – but who’d believe it?
Mr Javid also said that he disliked the term “hostile environment” as a description of Home Office policy relating to immigrants and would not be using the term – which shouldn’t be too hard, as the Home Office ditched it a while ago.
Instead, he said he preferred to talk about having a “compliant environment”.
Interesting word choice.
“Compliant” means “disposed to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree; acquiescent; meeting or in accordance with rules or standards” [Boldings mine].
So Mr Javid wants to create an environment in which everybody slavishly obeys the rules he makes up – no matter what they may be.
And what of the rules that are already in place – the really ugly, racist rules that mean thousands of people, including British citizens who have been unjustly accused of being illegal immigrants?
When the law expired at the end of 2016 it was replaced with The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), which continued to give the Government most of the same surveillance powers it had under DRIPA.
While a separate legal challenge to the IPA will be heard at the end of February, today’s judgement has established that many of its provisions are unlawful and must be changed.
The Court of Appeal ruling found that, because DRIPA powers were used for purposes other than to fight serious crime, and access requests were not subject to prior review by a court or some other independent body, the legislation was in breach of human rights law.
Today’s decision by the Court of Appeal means that the government will almost certainly have to amend the Investigatory Power Act to protect our human rights.
We all know the answer to that question: It will if it harms people on middle or low incomes, and benefit claimants. The rich will be safe.
So David Cameron’s promise not to cut tax credits was a lie that will harm the hard-working people of the UK, even as the Public Relations Prime Minister works so hard to convince them that they’re better-off under him.
“The Conservatives are the party of the workers” – what utter nonsense!
Meanwhile, George Osborne has U-turned over ‘fiscal responsibility’ laws. Here’s what he had to say about them in 2010:
That was in response to a Labour law that the Conservative-led Coalition government repealed in 2011.
Now he has a ‘fiscal responsibility’ law of his own. What does he have to say about it?
“After all that Britain has been through, it is remarkable that the proposition in this Charter for Budget Responsibility should even be contentious. It states that now the economy is growing we should be reducing our exorbitant debts, and that we should do that each year by reducing the deficit until we eliminate it altogether and run a surplus. Once we have achieved that surplus, in normal times we should continue to raise more than we spend and set aside money for when the rainy days come.”
A child’s economics.
If a government is raising more than it spends, then it is taking money out of the economy; making the economy smaller.
If the economy was growing at a substantial rate – for example, due to the style of investment that Labour is advocating – then it would be possible for a government to achieve this without causing substantial harm. But the economy isn’t doing that. Tory austerity policies have limited the economic recovery since 2010.
Actually, no. Let’s not call them austerity policies any more. Let’s use the term a Vox Political reader rightly chose to describe them: Subjugation.
Subjugation, because the Tories are using their time in office to further enrich the privileged few with tax cuts, taking money from the poor to pay for them.
Subjugation, because the Tories hold themselves unaccountable, refusing to consider any challenges against their policies.
Subjugation, because the Tories intend to use their ‘fiscal charter’ – something George Osborne ridiculed before he took office – to inflict bitter poverty on the hard-working people of the world’s fifth-largest economy.
So let’s learn our lesson – and the lesson is this:
The only Tory promises you can believe are promises made to the rich.
George Osborne: During the debate on the Charter for Budget Responsibility, one person on Twitter suggested, “George Osborne would be better off coming to the despatch box & folding a towel into a swan than talking economics.”
The only difference is that, in 2015, a Conservative had suggested it.
Tuesday’s ‘fiscal charter’ debate in the House of Commons was full of these hilarious U-turns.
The one that’ll be in all the news media will be John McDonnell’s decision to reverse a policy he announced two weeks ago and oppose George Osborne’s Charter for Budget Responsibility. It is bitterly unfortunate for him that, trying to be heard over the usual Tory catcalls and childishness, he repeated the word “embarrassing” four or five times. That’s what the right-wing media will quote.
And that’s a shame, because he also put to bed – definitively – Tory claims that Labour was responsible for the financial collapse of 2007/8/9 and the global crisis that came with it. He said (boldings mine): “Over six years, the Conservatives have managed to convince many people that the economic crisis and the deficit were caused by Labour Government spending. It has been one of the most successful exercises in mass public persuasion and the rewriting of history in recent times. Today I am going to correct the record.
“The Conservatives backed every single penny of Labour’s spending until Northern Rock crashed.
“The average level of spending under Labour was less than it was under Mrs Thatcher.
“It was not the teachers, the nurses, the doctors and the police officers whom Labour recruited who caused the economic crisis; it was the recklessness of the bankers speculating in the City, and the failure of successive Governments to ensure effective regulation.
“In opposition, this Chancellor and his colleagues wanted even less regulation of the banking sector that crashed our economy.
“The deficit was not the cause of the economic crisis, but the result of the economic crisis.”
John Redwood tried to claim the Tories had warned about the possibility of collapse but, having read numerous accounts of those times, This Writer finds his comment unconvincing. For the record, he said: “I chaired the economic policy review for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and there was strong advice that tougher regulation was needed on bank cash and capital. We expressly warned that the banks were over-borrowed and over-geared and that the whole system was very shaky, and I remember the Opposition constantly warning about excess debts in the system.”
An economic policy review does not necessarily equate to Conservative Party policy, but nevertheless his claims will have to be checked. Isn’t it interesting that nobody has mentioned this in seven years since the crash happened?
Mr McDonnell also warned us about the consequences of Tory economic policies. Responding to criticism by former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, he said: “His Budgets balanced, but when they balanced, there were 40,000 homeless families in London. People were dying on waiting lists before they got their operations. Those were the consequences of his economic policies.”
He said if he were Chancellor, he would reverse tax cuts that favour the richest.
He would empower HM Revenue and Customs to chase tax avoiders and end the ridiculous situation that allowed Facebook to pay just £4,500 in its annual tax return – less than many low-income earners.
And he would invest in the UK economy to grow us out of debt.
Let’s have another U-turn – the SNP. According to Stewart Hosie, it now opposes the Charter for Budget Responsibility again. That’s nice, after Nicola Sturgeon’s little speech in support of it on May 26.
In seriousness, Hosie gave a cracking little speech. This Writer’s favourite part was the response to Tory James Cartlidge. Hosie said: “I will happily give way to the hon. Gentleman if he can tell me why he is going to support the economics of the madhouse.
Cartlidge’s reply was: “He talks about punishing the poor, but last week the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of workless households is at the lowest level on record. Does that not show that our strong economy is delivering not only stability, but social justice?”
Not according to Hosie! Without hesitating, he said: “I am absolutely delighted when workless households get one or more people into a job and have the opportunity to better themselves, but what I am not prepared to tolerate is people who work harder than us having £1,300 a year cut from their tax credits, which stops making work pay.”
Also U-turning were the Liberal Democrats, whose Tom Brake told the Commons the party would not support the fiscal charter. This is strange, since the Liberal Democrats helped introduce it, while in coalition with the Conservatives before the general election. Now reduced to just eight MPs, it’s a little late for them to have seen the error of their ways.
But the biggest U-turn was, of course, that of George Osborne and the Conservative Party itself. In 2010, quoting economist Willem Buiter, he said: “Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.” At the time, 181 of his Conservative Party colleagues agreed with him.
Yesterday, he said: “This budget charter provides the discipline we need along with the flexibility we might require” – and again led his Tory colleagues through the lobby in support of his argument, which was a clear and utter contradiction of their position in 2010.
Making hypocrites of themselves yesterday were:
Amess, Sir David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Burns, Sir Simon
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Sir William
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C.
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Duncan, Sir Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Sir Roger
Garnier, Sir Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Sir Oliver
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Howarth, Sir Gerald
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Sir Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Osborne, Mr. George
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pickles, Sir Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Watkinson, Dame Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wilson, Mr. Rob
I make that 92 Tories who are quite happy to throw their principles to the wind.
Oh… There was a question of whether a large number of Labour MPs would abstain in a gesture of defiance against the party’s new direction, and there were a very few abstainers – 21, in fact.
They were: Rushanara Ali, Ian Austin, Adrian Bailey, Ben Bradshaw, Ann Coffey, Simon Danczuk, Chris Evans, Frank Field, Mike Gapes, Margaret Hodge, Tristram Hunt, Graham Jones, Helen Jones, Liz Kendall, Chris Leslie, Fiona Mactaggart, Shabana Mahmood, Jamie Reed, Graham Stringer, and Gisela Stuart.
Some of these names were expected, such as those of Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt, Simon Danczuk – all of who have earned rebukes from This Blog for behaviour unbecoming of a Labour MP. Jamie Reed resigned as a shadow health minister, practically the instant after Jeremy Corbyn was named the new leader of the Labour Party. And Gisela Stuart covered herself in ignominy when she proposed a “grand coalition” of Labour with the Conservatives, prior to the general election. The SNP had a lot of fun with that one.
Clearly these chumps are out to cause trouble and their future behaviour – or misbehaviour – should be watched very closely. They need to be told in no uncertain terms that their future membership of the Labour Party may be jeopardised if they continue to be embarrassments.
What do their grassroots members think of these antics?
As MPs prepare to debate George Osborne’s new ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ – a legally-binding document demanding that the government must balance the books by the 2019-20 financial year – let us consider his words on the subject in 2010.
In January that year, while he was still Shadow Chancellor, Osborne tried to block Labour’s Fiscal Responsibility Act.
He said: “Let us remember what one of the economists whom the Prime Minister himself appointed to the Monetary Policy Committee has said about the Bill. Willem Buiter has said: ‘Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.'”
Really? Why is Calamity George trying to inflict one on us all now, then?
Osborne went on to quote Michael Saunders of Citibank, who he described as one of the City’s leading economists, thus: “The government’s plans for legislation to cut the deficit are not convincing and are probably just camouflage – a sort of ‘fiscal figleaf’ – for the lack of genuine action.”
A ‘fiscal figleaf’, indeed! Would the ‘Towel Folder-in-Chief’ apply that title to his own work?
Let us hope that somebody in Her Majesty’s Opposition is as clued-in as the Vox Political reader who pointed out these words to This Writer – and points out to the Conservative Government that 182 Tory MPs voted against a Fiscal Responsibility Act in 2010, after their current Chancellor described such legislation as a “fiscal figleal” and a “con”.
Did they believe Osborne, Buiter and Saunders were right in 2010?
If so, then surely they must believe he is wrong – and hypocritically wrong – now.
Mr McDonnell in Redcar with shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and constituency MP Anna Turley [Image: Ian Forsyth for the Mirror].
The shock and anger professed by some Labour MPs at shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s decision to oppose George Osborne’s Charter for Budget Responsibility – in line with Labour’s anti-austerity policy direction – defies belief.
Mr McDonnell has claimed his decision was triggered by a meeting with steel workers in Redcar, where the factory is to be closed down after the Conservative Government wouldn’t lift a finger to save it.
He said: “Originally what I said to people was, ‘This charter is a political stunt; it is a political trap by George Osborne; it is virtually meaningless; he ignores it himself time and time again.
“‘He never meets his targets, so this is just a stunt. Let’s ridicule it in the debate and vote for it because it’s a meaningless vote’.”
But then he went to Redcar. “I met the steelworkers and I had families in tears about what’s happened to them as a result of the Government failing to act, failing to intervene.
“I came back and I realised, as the consequence of the Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure, in skills, the cuts that are going to start coming now, I realised that people actually are going to suffer badly.
“It brought it home to me and I don’t want the Labour Party associated with this policy.”
This Blog has already reported that the change of heart was also prompted by the worldwide economic outlook. The Charter commits the government to balancing the books within three years, provided there is not another global crisis. Mr McDonnell announced in a letter to fellow Labour MPs: “In the last fortnight there have been a series of reports highlighting the economic challenges facing the global economy as a result of the slowdown in emerging markets.
“These have included warnings from the International Monetary Fund’s latest financial stability report, the Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, and the former Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers.”
According to the BBC, former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie criticised the U-turn and said Labour should set out its own motion: “To go from one extreme to the other is wrong in economic terms but also it sends the wrong message to the general public as well.
“I think to be fair to John McDonnell this is a very difficult balancing act, it’s a very difficult topic, but it’s incredibly important that he is clear and consistent and explains fully not just what Labour’s position is but also why he backed George Osborne’s surplus a couple of weeks ago and is now against it apparently.”
But Mr McDonnell had already explained his reasoning in the letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party and, according to Paul Mason of Channel 4 News, he had indeed planned to move its own alternative to the charter, and to table amendments – but “both these possibilities have been ruled out by the clerks of the Commons.”
The Guardianreported the responses of Labour MPs John Mann and Mike Gapes: “In a comment piece written for the website Politics Home, Mann said “There has been no debate, nor any consultation within the Labour Party.”
But the new developments Mr McDonnell cites all happened within a very tight period. When was there time for a consultation or debate, prior to last night’s meeting?
Mann continues: “The reality is that to have voted with Osborne would have led to political meltdown in Scotland… New Corbyn supporters would have been bemused and demoralised. It would have been a political disaster with huge consequences.”
On one aspect of this, it seems likely he is correct. SNP supporters, ignoring the vacillation of their own party’s leader on this subject (she opposed it – and Labour – during the election campaign, then supported it after the Tories won. Now it seems she and her party are opposing it again) have leapt to the attack in any case, claiming – improbably – that it is Labour that has wavered, in denial of the fact that a new leadership has brought new policies with it.
New Corbyn supporters are anti-austerity, though. They will be delighted by Mr McDonnell’s decision.
The Graun continued: “Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South since 1992, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to condemn his party’s state. ‘There is now no collective Shadow cabinet responsibility in our Party, no clarity on economic policy and no credible leadership,’ he wrote. Challenged by another user of the social media site to show loyalty to Corbyn, Gapes responded: ‘I will show loyalty in the same way as he was loyal to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Beckett, Miliband and Harman. Ok?'”
No. How about showing loyalty to the majority of the party who support Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell and the policies they are promoting?
All in all, it seems the Labour leadership won’t be able to do right by these ‘rebels’ (if they can be called that) no matter what they choose to do. McDonnell was criticised on the pretext that supporting the CBR was against his anti-austerity beliefs (and never mind the fact that he explained his reasons for it) and now he’s being criticised for opposing it, in line with his anti-austerity beliefs.
Do these people – Messrs Leslie, Mann and Gapes – realise that they aren’t making sense?
Surprised? This Writer was – but perhaps we shouldn’t be.
Labour’s position on the Charter for Budget Responsibility, which was trailed by the Tories in the run-up to the general election, has been interpreted and reinterpreted to death by the party’s political opponents.
Initially, under Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, the party supported the charter – on the assumption that the Tories weren’t going to win the election and wouldn’t have a chance to put their idea of what it means into practice.
Others, such as the SNP, immediately claimed that this meant Labour supported the Tory plan to cut £30 billion of public spending. This was nonsense, as This Blog pointed out at the time.
In fact, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon herself performed a U-turn within weeks of the election. On May 26, she said: “The Charter for Budget Responsibility allows the UK government flexibility to increase spending over its current plans, while still reducing the deficit and debt.” This is a far cry from her previous claim: “The cuts that are required to meet the fiscal criteria in the Charter for Budget Responsibility is £30 billion over the next two years.”
In fact, the Charter does not mention any money figures at all.
Now the SNP – and all the others – will be accusing Labour of U-turning, and of copying the Scottish nationalists; both will now be opposing the Charter and publishing their own alternative proposals.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has announced his reasons in a letter to fellow Labour MPs. The Charter commits the government to balancing the books within three years, provided there is not another global crisis. Mr McDonnell wrote: “In the last fortnight there have been a series of reports highlighting the economic challenges facing the global economy as a result of the slowdown in emerging markets.
“These have included warnings from the International Monetary Fund’s latest financial stability report, the Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, and the former Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers.”
The parlous state of the global economy seems to have provoked a change of heart from Mr McDonnell – or given him an opportunity to underline Labour’s new economic policy. He wrote: “As the nature and scale of the cuts Osborne is planning are emerging, there is a growing reaction not just in our communities but even within the Conservative party. The divisions over the cuts in tax credits to working families are just the first example of what we can expect as the cuts in other departments are exposed and the failure to find additional resources to bridge the growing expenditure gap in service areas like the NHS is revealed.
“I believe that we need to underline our position as an anti-austerity party by voting against the charter on Wednesday. We will make clear our commitment to reducing the deficit in a fair and balanced way by publishing for the debate our own statement on budget responsibility. We will set out our plan for tackling the deficit not through punishing the most vulnerable and damaging our public services but by ending the unfair tax cuts to the wealthy, tackling tax evasion and investing for growth.
“We will rebuff any allegation of being deficit deniers by publishing for the debate our own statement on budget responsibility. We will set out our plan for tackling the deficit not through punishing the most vulnerable and decimating our public services but by ending the unfair tax cuts to the wealthy, tackling tax evasion and investing for growth.
“I have consulted members of the economic advisory council … and the general view is the same. Although we need to continue to bear down on the deficit, they believe that this is not a time in any way to undermine investment for growth strategies.”
According to Paul Mason of Channel 4 News, Labour had planned to move its own alternative to the charter, and to table amendments – but he wrote: “I understand both these possibilities have been ruled out by the clerks of the Commons.”
According to the BBC, George Osborne said Labour’s economic policy had “lurched from chaos to incredibility
“Two weeks ago they said they were going to vote for a surplus – now we know they want to keep on borrowing forever. That would be a grave threat to the economic security of working people.”
Interestingly, Vox Political has already published a response to these claims:
Mr McDonnell’s decision cements Labour’s position as an anti-austerity party – eliminating criticisms from several areas of the political arena, not least the Labour Party itself. But they’ll try…
Reyaad Khan (L) and Ruhul Amin (R), who were killed in a drone strike by the RAF in August.(YouTube)
Someone should tell David Cameron that getting his retaliation in first is not an act that is recognised by the law; people need to commit crimes before being punished for them, and even then the punishment must be appropriate according to the law.
It seems strange to be discussing the Cameron-supported killing of Reyaad Khan, a Cardiff man alleged to be a member of Islamic State, so soon after This Blog expressed concern over the legality of the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US troops, supported by President Obama – but that is how recent events have transpired.
Cameron has told us that Khan was planning terror attacks on the UK, so the Conservative Government ordered his death in a drone strike on August 22.
How do we know this man was planning terror attacks on the UK? Where is the evidence? Is it in another ‘dodgy dossier’, similar to that in which, according to Tony Blair, he had evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
Had this man participated in previous terror attacks? If so, when? Where is the proof that shows him taking part?
Cameron said the UK had taken action in “self-defence”, invoking the right to do so under Article 51 of the UN charter – but Article 51 specifically states that an “armed attack” must take place against a UN member state before any such response.
Apparently, under the ‘Caroline principle’, a pre-emptive strike is permissible if the “necessity of self-defence was instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation”. We have no evidence to show that this was the case.
“It’s extremely alarming that the UK has apparently been conducting summary executions from the air,” Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director told International Business Times. “In following the United States down a lawless road of remote-controlled summary killings from the sky, the RAF has crossed a line.”
On the information we have, she’s right. We’ve seen no evidence of any prior attacks, nor have we seen evidence of the need to prevent future attacks.
All we have seen is an act of murder against a UK citizen by his own government.
Even more worrying is the claim that defence secretary Michael Fallon has a “kill list” of alleged terrorists operating in the Middle East. He is on record as having said the Conservatives “wouldn’t hesitate to do it again”.
Until we see the evidence of terrorist activity, the British public should not see the death of Reyaad Khan as anything other than a war crime.
The onus on David Cameron, Michael Fallon and their co-conspirators is to deliver this evidence at once – or deliver themselves to The Hague for trial.
This is not a good week to be a supporter of the Scottish National Party or its two-faced leader.
She and her party, turned, turned and turned again over whether to vote on the Tories’ forthcoming vote on repealing the fox hunting ban. Does anybody know what the SNP’s current position is? Will MPs vote, despite it being an issue that doesn’t affect Scotland, or will they abstain – despite the fact that this makes them worse than the Labour Party the SNP pilloried for abstaining from votes that were much less important in comparison?
Last Friday we discovered that the Cabinet Office had ruled that a memo, suggesting she had lied about wanting to support a minority Labour government led by Ed Miliband – because he’s not “prime minister material” – and would prefer David Cameron to continue, was not a fake but was real, and the civil servant who wrote it believed the information in it to be correct (although he did express reservations as to whether his informant had correctly understood what she was saying).
Yesterday (Tuesday), she U-turned again – this time on her claim that the Charter for Budget Responsibility, which Labour supported, would require that party to support £30 billion of government spending cuts during the 2015-20 Parliament.
This blog made it perfectly clear that the Charter itself requires no such thing – and, now that Labour has been defeated, it seems Ms Sturgeon feels the coast is clear enough for her to admit the same.
The Times is saying she has reversed her opposition to the Charter, and the Financial Times states: “Nicola Sturgeon said the Conservatives’ own ‘charter for budget responsibility’ contained enough flexibility to allow higher-than-planned spending while still reducing the UK’s deficit.”
Here’s Patrick Wintour of The Guardian:
The difference is written clearly in the graphic at the top of this article. On April 7: “Cuts that are required… £30 billion”. On May 26: “Flexibility to increase spending.”
Clearly, young Nicola owes the Labour Party – and former Shadow Chancellor (now ex-MP) Ed Balls – a rather hefty apology.
Of course, this doesn’t just show that Sturgeon was lying when she lambasted Labour for showing the same support for the same Charter that she’s showing now.
It shows that she was lying when she claimed the SNP would support a minority Labour government. She and her party did everything they could to ensure that such a government would never be elected – in this case, casting doubt on its financial reliability.
And that, of course, makes it all the more likely that she really did say she wanted Cameron to continue as Prime Minister, in that oh-so-hotly-disputed conversation with the French ambassador.
The SNP’s most ardent members and supporters will never admit this, of course. They hate any criticism (as has – again – been noted by this blog; read the article and the comments) and refuse to pay any attention to rational arguments.
But the evidence is clear for everybody else. It seems the Tories have another set of 56 new allies in the House of Commons.
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