Tag Archives: committee

Will committee set to decide Johnson’s fate be replaced entirely?

Recused: Chris Bryant can’t chair the Commons Privileges committee while it examines Boris Johnson’s behaviour because he has already called the prime minister a “proven liar”.

The House of Commons Privileges Committee – that will decide whether Boris Johnson deliberately lied to MPs about Partygate – could be temporarily replaced with an entirely new membership for the job.

Committee chairman Chris Bryant has already recused himself because he has publicly accused Johnson of being a “proven liar”.

The Labour Party must now appoint a new chair, and is said to be looking for a ‘grandee’ to take Bryant’s place.

And there are concerns that that three of the four Tories on the committee – Laura Farris, Alberto Costa and Andy Carter – are on the Government payroll as ministerial aides.

It is entirely possible to replace the whole committee in order to ensure fair process – as happened for the Parliamentary inquiry into Tory former Cabinet Minister Damian Green.

The process may be slightly disrupted if, as is being reported, seven Conservative MPs defect to Labour over Johnson’s Partygate criminality and alleged dishonesty (Dehenna Davison is the only possible defector to have been named).

Obviously they could not be nominated onto the committee but defections would make it harder for the Tories to find candidates.

Source: Boris Johnson ‘plots early general election to see off leadership rivals’ as Partygate trundles on | Daily Mail Online

Nadine Dorries appoints new charity regulator – the wrong way

Nadine Dorries: wrong again.

If you heard a job had become available because a candidate had failed, went for it, and then found you weren’t considered because the bosses couldn’t be bothered to do it all again, wouldn’t you be upset?

If so, you can understand why the House of Commons Culture committee refused to endorse Nadine Dorries’s decision to make Orlando Fraser the new chair of the Charity Commission.

Mr Fraser was only appointed because Dorries’s original choice – Martin Thomas, who was reported to be a long-time friend of Boris Johnson – resigned after just a week in the job over allegations of inappropriate behaviour in a previous post.

She simply went back to her shortlist and appointed the candidate who was next on the list – to the disgust of the Culture committee:

Withholding its approval for Mr Fraser’s appointment, the cross-party Culture Committee said in its report that Ms Dorries should have initiated an entirely new selection process at that point, rather than picking another candidate from the existing shortlist.

The “slapdash” failure to rerun the process raised “serious concerns” about the selection process and the lack of diversity in the shortlist, the committee said.

The controversy has cast a shadow over Mr Fraser’s tenure, before he even started in the job.

No matter what he does now, he will always be considered a second-best choice who only get the role because a government minister couldn’t be bothered to do her job properly.

Source: Nadine Dorries appoints new charity regulator in face of objections from parliamentary committee

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Raab was wrong: process that made Lebedev a peer can be easily perverted

Dominic Raab: as Foreign Secretary, he refused to return from a foreign holiday when the Taliban took over Afghanistan – and the public reacted appropriately. Should we really expect his comments on Lord Lebedev to be any more reliable than his reaction to that crisis?

We should not be surprised that Dominic Raab has emitted a flurry of falsehoods in defence of Evgeny Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords.

His prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been accused of creating a security risk to the UK by letting the son of a former Russian KGB agent have access to Parliamentary documents via the front door.

So Raab appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Programme spouting a lot of nonsense that “There is a very strict and stringent process when anyone is granted a peerage” and that the rules around the honours process were “applied very rigorously in this case. This was done properly and correctly and we have procedures and systems in place to make sure it is.”

It is possible that he was right in all these statements but they are nonsense because the procedures he described do not prevent people who are a huge security risk from being granted a peerage.

We know about this because The Guardian told us, back in October 2020 [boldings mine]:

Two days before Johnson met Lebedev in March [he did this on March 19, right after telling us all to stay in our homes because of Covid-19, so this happened on March 17], the House of Lords appointments commission (Holac), which scrutinises all nominations, wrote to the prime minister. It is understood to have expressed concerns about Lebedev’s proposed peerage and asked Downing Street to reconsider.

The commission, made up of cross-party peers, carries out “propriety checks” on candidates. It does not have the power of veto. But it can suggest that a party come up with an alternative, which is what is understood to have happened in Lebedev’s case.

Peers were apparently alarmed following a confidential briefing from the UK security services. They told the commission Lebedev was viewed as a potential security risk because of his father, Alexander Lebedev, a one-time Moscow spy. During the late cold war period, Lebedev Sr worked undercover at the Soviet embassy in London. His real employer was KGB foreign intelligence.

In reality, the security risk has been defined as low – because peers do not see classified documents.

But in reluctantly accepting Johnson’s insistence on ennobling the Russian-born son of a spy, Holac allegedly called on Johnson to examine Russian influence in the House of Lords, something highlighted by parliament’s intelligence and security committee in its Russia Report.

And the security services said Lebedev’s “family links” meant he was still regarded as a potential concern.

So Keir Starmer’s call for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to review all the reports on Lord Lebedev that Holac saw seemed entirely reasonable and proportionate.

Downing Street’s claim that “all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission” fails to acknowledge that Holac can’t veto an appointment, which always remains within the gift of the prime minister. Neither does Raab’s.

So these government representatives, it seems, are deceiving us about their treatment of a potential Russian security risk at a time of high international tensions between the UK and Russia. Fit to lead?

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#ForeignOffice admits it was wrong to deny #BorisJohnson authorised Afghan animal evacuation

The Foreign Office has admitted misleading MPs over whether Boris Johnson authorised the evacuation of Pen Farthings dog rescue charity Nowzad from Afghanistan last year.

But you won’t realise that from looking at the BBC report!

Foreign Office boss admits error over Afghan animal evacuation reads as though Johnson had nothing to do with it.

And you have to read a long way into the story to discover that Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, was saying that he had not seen emails sent within his department, indicating that Boris Johnson did indeed authorise the evacuation.

If he did, then he lied about it to the media afterwards, when it was suggested that he had prioritised animals over human beings.

People the UK abandoned in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over have since tried to reach this country via the refugee route – crossing the Channel – and this has led to at least one death.

Appearing before the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Nigel Casey was asked if he knew whether the PM had intervened “in the evacuation of Nowzad staff or animals” and replied: “Not to my knowledge.”

In  written evidence to the committee, published on Wednesday, Sir Philip denied that Mr Casey had received “any correspondence referring to the prime minister’s intervention in the Nowzad case”.

This was contradicted in leaked emails published by the committee subsequently.

And BBC Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha has seen two emails with the subject heading “Pen Farthing and dogs”, showing the Foreign Office and Mr Casey sought guidance from No 10 over the issue.

So now Sir Philip has had to write back to the committee, apologising for misleading its members.

But he stuck to the part of the story covering his involvement:

“As Nigel said to the committee on [Tuesday] he has no recollection of having seen emails in which staff attributed this decision to the prime minister. Nor do I.”

Downing Street is saying that the decision may have been interpreted as coming from Johnson when that was not the case – but it has provided no evidence to support this claim.

So Labour’s Chris Bryant, a member of the committee, is well within his rights to say (as he did on BBC Breakfast News): “All I want to know is who made the decision?”

We all want to know that, Chris. At the moment it seems clear that Johnson has lied again and our civil servants are disgracing themselves in their haste to cover up for him.

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Leading left-winger quits Labour’s ruling body over hostility to socialists

Laura Pidcock (right) with Jeremy Corbyn: there’s more genuine for-the-people politics in this image than in the whole of Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

Keir Starmer will be happy to see her go – but that is a mistake.

Laura Pidcock, one of the leading lights of Labour’s left wing, has quit the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, citing “irreconcilable differences” between the behaviour of the party’s current leadership and the traditional Labour principles on which she was brought up.

In a statement, she said Keir Starmer’s leadership had made Labour “hostile territory for socialists, from those of us on the NEC, to those in CLPs across the country”.

“What I have witnessed on the NEC has been immensely frustrating,” she wrote.

“This leadership is devoid of ideas, lacking vision. I can’t and won’t negotiate with these people any more. The summit of their ideas are just small tweaks to the status quo.

“They challenge virtually nothing, but are noticeably determined when it comes to rule changes that alienate the left. They have demoralised thousands of people who were awakened to politics for the first time in their life. I am sure this is part of their larger strategy.

“When there is so much devastation caused by this Government and the economic system we live under, when poverty is endemic, when people are hungry, when finance capital is tightening its grip on the NHS, with a Government entrenching the hostile environment, and when the ravages of climate decay are obvious for all to see, we cannot go on giving our energy to people who want to block fundamental, positive change.”

She stated that her unease with the Labour leadership was “crystallised” by the cheering of Tory right-winger Christian Wakeford (“an MP who has voted against everything we believe in”)  as he crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join Starmer.

“What I immediately felt was pain for all of those who are forced to use food banks, all of those who are going through the punitive ‘social security’ system, for all of the amazing activists protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, including Gypsy and Traveller people, who are also at the heart of resisting the racism in this legislation — some of the many reasons why this whooping by elected representatives of my own party, on that day, was so inappropriate and jarring for so many,” she wrote.

And she said attempts to restore the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn were futile under Starmer’s leadership: “Perhaps with the best of intentions, some people seem to think that we can negotiate our way to justice by appealing to the right of the party to do the right thing. That has never worked and certainly will not work in the current circumstances.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “We thank Laura for her service and respect her decision.”

It will be interesting to see how Ms Pidcock is replaced; under current Labour Party rules, her position would be taken by the runner-up for her seat at the last NEC election – Ann Henderson.

But she is also a left-winger like Ms Pidcock. Should we expect Starmer to seek a loophole that will allow him to install one of his right-wing cronies instead? (I think we should.)

Ms Pidcock’s resignation has triggered a wave of support for her from other politicians, commentators and organisations. Here are some of the comments:

Their words are undoubtedly echoed in the thoughts of many thousands of people across the UK.

And therein lies Keir Starmer’s dilemma – because he relies on the votes of left-wingers and socialists across the UK to keep himself and his fellow right-wing squatters in Parliament, and in power within the Labour Party.

His belief is that the Left has no alternative other than to vote for his Tepid Tories; the First Past The Post voting system means that is the only way to get the Tories out.

But genuine left-wing organisations are springing up across the UK to challenge him; its representatives calling on those socialists remaining in Labour to desert Starmer’s hollowed-out zombie party and join a movement where their achievements will not be neutered by his suffocating presence.

The first test of his ability to resist the new wave of socialism will be the local elections in May – but it won’t be the last.

Is Ms Pidcock’s resignation the first pebble-fall leading to a landslide that will bury Starmer and his traitors forever?

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Labour leaders keep Corbyn out of Parliamentary party after welcoming right-wing Tory

Philosophical: Jeremy Corbyn may not have regained his place in the Parliamentary Labour Party but he retains the high ground.

Leaders of the political party that falsely claims to provide an alternative to the hard-right Conservative government but welcomes the most right-wing of Tories to its ranks with open arms has voted to extend Jeremy Corbyn’s banishment from its Parliamentary membership.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee agreed by 23 votes in favour, 14 against and one abstention not to restore the party’s Parliamentary whip to Mr Corbyn after hearing from Chief Whip Alan Campbell, who said the party’s former leader had not apologised nor addressed any of the issues raised against him when his membership was suspended unilaterally by party leader Keir Starmer in November 2020.

Starmer decided to throw Mr Corbyn out after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had found that Labour had not been institutionally anti-Semitic under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, but right-wing factionalists had interfered with the party’s handling of complaints in order to bring the socialist then-leader into disrepute.

The EHRC examined 70 cases, of which 42 (60 per cent) were found not to have been investigated in line with the party’s policies at the time.

Mr Corbyn’s response to the EHRC’s finding was wrongly said to be offensive to Jewish people by Starmer. Let’s just check that…

So, right-wingers – with whom Starmer aligns – had tried to mislead the public into thinking Mr Corbyn was responsible for failures to address complaints of anti-Semitism when in fact they were to blame, having done so in order to falsely create an impression that the amount of anti-Semitism in Labour was far greater than was in fact the case – and Mr Corbyn was suspended as a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party for pointing this out?

If anybody should apologise, it seems that person’s name is “Keir Starmer”.

His resignations as party leader, MP and Labour member should follow (in This Writer’s opinion).

But we know that isn’t going to happen. He has spent far too much of the nearly two years he has been leader perverting the party’s rules and procedures to favour himself and his cronies to ever do that!

There is an alternative, though:

Mr Corbyn himself retains the higher ground:

This Writer would certainly agree that it is time for Mr Corbyn to join the left-wing movement that rising outside the Labour Party, which needs socialists far more than they need tepid Tories.

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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#ShaunBailey: Former London Mayor candidate quits police committee role after rule-busting Christmas party

Shaun Bailey: he was the Conservative candidate for Islamophobia, sexism and misogyny. Now he has resigned from a police committee after breaking rules on attending Christmas parties last year.

Remember Shaun Bailey?

I do.

He was the Tory racist and sexist who stood as their candidate in the London mayoral election that Sadiq Khan won.

Here‘s the BBC:

A former Conservative mayoral candidate who attended a Covid regulation-breaching Christmas party has quit as chair of a police and crime committee.

Shaun Bailey’s team organised the gathering at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters on 14 December 2020 when London was under Tier 2 restrictions banning household mixing.

He has now stepped down from the role but remains a member of the committee and the London Assembly.

Note that Bailey would have been quite happy to stay on the London Assembly’s Police and Crime committee if a photo of him at the rule-busting party had not been published in the Mirror.

And he’s happy to remain a member of the committee, even now!

These Tories. There’s not an ounce of integrity in any of them.

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Johnson’s crony Con club: his government ignored 171 other candidates to employ his chum

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson appointed his former Bullingdon Club colleague to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog, over 171 other applicants. It seems clear he did it to ensure that he would never be found guilty of the many corruption accusations made against him.

We all screamed “foul” when it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s government had appointed his Bullingdon Club chum Ewen Fergusson to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

Was he put in the Committee on Standards in Public Life to rubber-stamp Johnson’s offences as being within reasonable standards of behaviour, we asked (or at least, This Writer did).

Now we have more evidence, and it suggests that he was.

Why else would Johnson’s government have appointed his friend over 171 other applicants who were not directly and personally linked to him – in the face of objections that the connection should disqualify Fergusson altogether?

As The Independent puts it,

The longtime friend of the prime minister was appointed to scrutinise him.

By the way: final say on who got the job went to Boris Johnson. He chose his friend for the position.

If you wanted an honest verdict on your own actions, would you appoint a personal friend to provide it? I wouldn’t. My friends would tell me if they thought I was going wrong, but they’d never voluntarily say so to strangers.

And this was pointed out by the Labour Party (even though it shouldn’t have to be):

Labour said friends of the prime minister should be disqualified from the role on the Committee on Standards In Public Life, given the nature of its job scrutinising members of the government, including Mr Johnson.

“Being Boris Johnson’s chum from the Bullingdon Club does not qualify you to sit on the watchdog that is supposed to crack down on sleaze and cronyism in our politics. In fact, it should disqualify you,” deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told The Independent.

“This appointment is an utter joke, and out of 173 applicants of course the Bullingdon Boy fits the job description of marking the prime minister’s homework.

It is a joke. And next time Johnson gets accused of corruption, and his Bullingdon chum green-lights it, he’ll be the one laughing at all of us.

Source: Government passed over 171 candidates to pick Bullingdon Club ‘chum’ of Boris Johnson for sleaze watchdog role | The Independent

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Tory cronyism: Johnson appoints Bullingdon chum to ethics committee. Contradiction?

Two-fingered salute:: Boris Johnson’s answer to those of us who accuse him of cronyism.

We point out their corruption by taking them to court for giving cash to their cronies, and the Tories simply shrug and do it again.

Boris Johnson has appointed a former Bullingdon Club colleague, Ewen Fergusson, to sit on Whitehall’s “sleaze” watchdog – the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Is this so his friend can rubber-stamp all Johnson’s own offences as being well within reasonable standards of behaviour?

Questions have already been raised about the appointment, which was approved by Johnson, as you can read in this Guardian article.

And the reaction outside the Tory bubble has been… as one might expect:

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook