Tag Archives: Commons

‘Scum’ Tories use indignation over insult to hide their refusal to support people in Covid-related hardship

If the cap fits: Christopher Clarkson breaks off whizzing through a speech vilifying Labour to wonder why Labour MPs are vilifying him.

What a lot of fuss over such a little word!

Admittedly, I wouldn’t like it if someone called me “scum” while I was making a speech.

But let’s consider the context.

The Labour Party was using its Opposition Day to discuss the criteria under which the government provides funding to jobs and businesses facing its new restrictions, and to demand that the Tories honour their claim that they will ensure workers receive at least 80 per cent of their previous incomes while on the Job Support Scheme extension and facing hardship.

Here’s what prize Tory Christopher Clarkson had to say about it:

You can see why Angela Rayner said what she did, I’m sure!

Clarkson’s complaint cut no ice with members of the public, for whom Rayner’s contribution to the debate had made up for six months of near-silence as Keir Starmer’s sidekick. Here’s part of her speech:

Responses so far show the public overwhelmingly on her side:

And they were quick to call out Clarkson’s complaint as a tactic, intended to distract from the thrust of the debate:

Last word goes to this commenter, who raises the issue of class:

“Spumae”, by the way, is the Latin for scum. Expect to hear it in the Commons – a lot – over the next few years.

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Tories have Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results

He fought propagandists – but did he expect his own party to become the enemy? Churchill’s statue stares toward Parliament. If it was the man himself, it would probably turn its back in disgust.

Can you believe this? The Tories have contrived to have the House of Commons Twitter account stopped from tweeting vote results – because Johnson’s party said it was biased against them.

The House of Commons Twitter account has been banned from tweeting the results of votes after Tory MPs complained it was breaking impartiality rules when one tweet went viral.

During the passage of the trade bill, intended to pave the way for post-Brexit trade deals, the Commons Twitter account shared the outcomes of votes on amendments and new clauses: a 326-263 defeat for a clause relating “to parliamentary approval of trade agreements”, and approval without division for amendments about “sharing information and ministerial functions relating to trade”.

The descriptions were taken from the explanatory statement written by the MP who proposed the motion, and the tweet about new clause 17 was no different. That clause, the tweet said, was “intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK”, explaining that it had been defeated 340 votes to 251.

The defeat allowed Labour to argue that Conservative MPs had voted against protecting the NHS from overseas control. The tweet itself was a key piece of evidence, which is why it gained 5,000 likes and almost 17,500 retweets in less than 24 hours.

That drew the attention of Tory MPs, who were bombarded with questions from constituents about why they had voted against such protection. The day after, MPs from the party made a complaint to the clerk of the House, the politically neutral civil servant who oversees the work of the support staff, including the social media team.

They argued that the tweet was in breach of the Commons’ requirement for impartiality. By the end of the day, the Commons team had deleted it and posted an apology.

So it was perfectly permissible for the offending words to be published in the explanatory statement by the MP who proposed the motion; the Tories just didn’t want them to get to the public.

What does that tell us about the Conservative government?

That they don’t want us to have full information about what happens in Parliament?

That they think Parliamentary media should not provide information to the public?

That they want such media to offer pro-Tory propaganda instead?

Johnson and his cronies have really taken the Josef Goebbels method to heart.

But the act has been a huge turn-off to the public – including This Writer (but you’d expect that, I’m sure):

I would have thought the answer was obvious: a would-be fascist dictatorship. But Johnson’s Tories are even failures at that.

Source: Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results | Politics | The Guardian

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Commons Speaker refuses bid to debate government diktats – but it may IMPROVE democracy

Speaking up: Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t quite this active in his speech, but his words were strong.

What was the point of Lindsay Hoyle’s intervention about Boris Johnson treating Parliament with contempt?

He spoke up to say the way the government has used secondary legislation – statutory instruments – to exercise power in the Covid-19 crisis has been “totally unsatisfactory”.

But then he said he’s blocking an amendment of the temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – that allows Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to use those powers!

See for yourself:

He did say that he’ll be extremely sympathetic to motions that call for the government to send ministers to the Commons to defend undemocratic moves to restrict citizens’ freedoms in the future.

And it seems likely that Tory backbenchers will take advantage of this; all is not well between Downing Street and the Tory backbenches.

It raises a crucial question:

Could Tory rebels bring Johnson down – in the middle of a national health crisis – in the name of democracy?

Amazingly, because of Keir Starmer’s assurances of support, it seems the government is more likely to be defeated by members of its own party than by Her Majesty’s Opposition – and that’s an unhealthy position for a Labour leader.

The public will see that Starmer is not doing the job for which he was elected and will turn further against him.

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If this is how Tory MPs regard #socialdistancing they can’t expect us to do as they say

#ToryLawBreakers yet again: this time Tory MPs ignored social distancing to push to the front of the queue to vote – on a Bill that would break international law if passed.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised: as MPs voted to break international law, they also broke their own rules on social distancing.

How can they expect us to obey those laws – including the new “rule of six”, when they set such a bad example?

Here’s what happened, via the Enfield Independent:

Pass readers in the division lobbies used by MPs to record their votes stopped working.

They instead had to queue up, walk through the chamber and pause at the despatch box to announce their name and vote.

The problems emerged during a vote on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, with MPs asked to approve clause 46 – which is at the centre of a devolution row.

SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford [stated that] there was a “total failure” of social distancing in Parliament for the vote.

In a tweet, she said: “Now pass-readers aren’t working in either voting lobby so we see the Rees-Mogg conga in all its glory – with obvious crowding in members lobby & total failure of social distancing! Interesting that wearing of #Facecoverings limited to Welsh, NI & Scots MPs.”

Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw added: “More chaos in the Commons voting lobbies tonight as the card reading machines that replaced the previous perfectly good electronic voting system break down again & arrogant Tory MPs push to the front of the long queue completely ignoring social distancing rules.”

Were there no police on the Parliament estate, to arrest these lawbreakers?

If not, why not? There’s supposed to be a police presence there, just to protect our democratically-elected representatives from lunatics and terrorists.

There is a clear precedent here, though:

As Conservative MPs clearly do not accept the need for social distancing – or masks – in circumstances decided by their own whim, we don’t have to either.

Clearly everybody in the real world that isn’t Westminster Never-Neverland needs to use their judgement, but if we get challenged on apparent law-breaking we can simply invoke the Clause 46 precedent.

You never know – it might become as popular as the Cummings excuse that came before it.

Source: Total failure of social distancing during House of Commons vote, claims MP | Enfield Independent

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Is this plan for daily Covid testing of MPs simply to shore up support for Johnson?

Speaker: Lindsay Hoyle in action.

Why is the Commons Speaker, who is supposed to be neutral, suggesting a plan to re-fill Parliament with braying Boris Johnson loyalists?

Johnson made a fool of himself at Prime Minister’s Questions last week when his pre-scripted attack on Keir Starmer about a spurious connection with terrorism exposed him to ridicule.

Some commentators said Johnson was finding it hard to stand up to Starmer without the support of hundreds of Tory backbenchers behind him, egging him on.

So now Lindsay Hoyle has proposed a plan to pack the screaming mob back in:

MPs could be tested daily for coronavirus to allow them to safely fill the chamber of the House of Commons, the Speaker has suggested.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told Times Radio he had spoken to the NHS and government about getting “a quick turnaround of tests” to allow more MPs in.

Of course, some of us have been asking why MPs have been saying it is safe for our children to be packed back into schools when they are still working from home because they fear catching the virus so much.

It is possible that a return to full attendance at the House of Commons will encourage some of them to claim that it was a silly criticism.

If so, we’ll have to remind them that the situation isn’t the same – because I don’t see the government authorising daily testing of every school attendee. Do you?

Source: Coronavirus: Test MPs for Covid-19 every day, says Speaker – BBC News

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Police refuse to investigate House of Commons racist who targeted sports commentator

Dan O’Hagan: he was targeted with a racist email, sent from the House of Commons.

It seems racists in the House of Commons know they are above the law and are happy to rub the fact in our faces.

Otherwise, you might expect racists in high places to keep their prejudice to themselves at the moment. Clearly that is not the case on the Westminster estate.

Here’s sports commentator Dan O’Hagan, who has worked for the BBC, Eurosport and ESPN:

“You cannot be allowed to belittle, mock and intimidate working class white men, whilst peddling your bourgeoisie [sic], privileged leftism in your highly paid career.

“Football is not for white elites like you. It belongs to working class men of all colours.” [Spot the sexism that’s slipped in there too!]

“Send me your address now and we can discuss this further in person.”

It was signed “David” – although This Writer has a doubt about whether that’s the person’s real name.

What had Mr O’Hagan said to provoke this malicious communication (of which more shortly)? See for yourself:

Information that came with the email showed that it was sent from the House of Commons, hence Mr O’Hagan’s request for the authorities there to locate the person responsible. Here’s the response:

He also contacted the police…

But – how normal – they recoiled from investigating anybody at the House of Commons:

It says – as This Writer pointed out very recently – that people working in our corridors of power are above the laws they make.

Now take a look at the image on the right, in the tweet directly above. Here it is in full:

It is illegal in England and Wales to “send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety”, and this also applies to electronic communications.

That’s unless you work in the House of Commons – as a high-ranking politician or someone working for them, of course.

Even Mr O’Hagan has admitted he doubts the identity of the culprit will ever be revealed:

Sadly I’m sure we won’t get a name. The last few months judging the Government record, I have no faith of anything coming from this.

“It might get put on to the most junior person they can blame for it, that’s what might happen. But if there is a name, a big name, I doubt they will admit this I’m afraid.”

The same article quotes the police:

“Officers received a report yesterday (Tuesday 9 June) after a man in his 40s had allegedly received a threatening email.

“Enquiries into the incident found that no criminal offences had been committed and the investigation has therefore been closed.

Apparently they’ve never heard of the Malicious Communications Act, then. 

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MP falls ill in Commons, days after lockdown eased. What if it’s Covid-19?

The Conservative Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, has fallen ill after contributing to debates in the House of Commons – with symptoms that resemble Covid-19.

His illness occurs just days after MPs were forced to return to the House of Commons rather than participate in online debates, in a plan devised by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, who claimed that online voting slowed debates unduly. Apparently queuing 2km around the Parliamentary precincts and down the road to vote causes no delay at all.

Nobody can say that Sharma caught his illness – whatever it is – in Parliament. The question now is, how many people will he have infected by attending?

If it is Covid-19, then we won’t see the first infections from contact with Sharma for another fortnight at least.

The reaction on Twitter has been uniformly condemning:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1268294820876955648

This is a very good point. We have a high-profile case here, that we can use to model the effect in schools if a pupil, parent or teacher turns up with the virus. Of course, if they do, then by the time anybody finds out it will be too late – so all we can do is try to quantify the damage.

There is an upside (there’s always an upside):

What a great opportunity to get the beleaguered “Track and Trace” programme back on track – showing how it works by using MPs as guinea pigs!

It will necessitate Jacob Rees-Mogg falling on his proverbial sword – with a full apology for endangering everybody. Some of us can’t wait for that.

And what about this?

Will Rees-Mogg – and Boris Johnson – revert to locking down MPs?

Will they have the choice, if many are infected?

Or will they insist on keeping it open, endangering not only their colleagues but our democracy?

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New Parliament voting system is a farce that turns MPs into targets

Jacob Rees-Mogg: the image makes him look serious but don’t be fooled – he’s an idiot.

What if a terrorist gets among MPs while they’re queuing to vote, in their “conga line” as the SNP describes it, all spaced two metres apart, two buildings down the road from the Palace of Westminster?

I know it’s not entirely likely, what with the Covid-19 lockdown and all, but anybody could go among them and cause chaos. Security is impossible, thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg and his silly attempt to cling on to tradition.

Just take a look at this video by Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyles:

Anybody could get in amongst them – as indeed they appear to do in the clip.

Not only that, but the plan deliberately excludes MPs who must continue to “shield” from Covid-19 because they have medical conditions which demand that they do so:

The article states: “When returning from recess, MPs will have to vote on the proposal which could see them forming kilometre-long ‘conga-line’ queues in order to obey social distancing rules – despite the Lords planning a move online.

“Robert Halfon is among the senior Tories who say the move will turn individuals who, like him, are shielding and those who are ill, self-isolating or based far away from Westminster into ‘parliamentary eunuchs’.

“He is backing moves to allow digital voting to resume in amendments to Mr Rees-Mogg’s motion led by Conservative former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley.”

Rees-Mogg has reluctantly announced plans to offer shielding MPs a “limited” role in Commons proceedings.

It isn’t good enough.

Our MPs were elected to play a full role in Parliamentary proceedings and if the Leader of the House of Commons tries to limit it then he is acting in an unconstitutional way and should be challenged, in court if necessary.

If such a challenge were to win, then any decisions made under the Rees-Mogg system would have o be voided.

So it would be better all around if no decision were taken until all challenges have concluded.

And that, Mr Rees-Mogg, would slow down Parliament more than digital sessions ever did.

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MPs must physically attend Parliament again from June 2. Let’s see how THAT works for them…

Jacob Rees-Mogg: he wants a return to the way Parliament was conducted long ago and he doesn’t care if MPs die as a result.

MPs have voted to end the “virtual” Parliamentary proceedings they have been enjoying since the lockdown started.

From June 2, they will have to attend in order to take part in debates – even though the limit of 50 people in the Commons chamber at any time will remain.

How’s that going to work, then?

Jacob Rees-Mogg, laughably the current Leader of the House, reckons the change will restore sufficient scrutiny of policy matters, but it is difficult to understand his reasoning.

With fewer people allowed in the Chamber, there will be less opportunity for our representatives to have their voices heard.

Rees-Mogg whined that virtual proceedings slowed down debates to one-third of normal pace – but isn’t that better than excluding MPs from debates altogether?

And then there’s the question of whether the decision is effectively one to “euthanise” MPs:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been told by a senior Conservative backbencher that an attempt to return to a “physical” parliament will in effect “euthanise” MPs who are sick, shielding and self-isolating.

Former minister Robert Halfon said the proposals would discriminate and threaten the lives of some MPs.

“Is it really morally just to say in effect to MPs, because you are not Tarzan-like and able to swing through the chamber, beating your chest shouting to your constituents: ‘Look, I am here!’ that you are effectively euthanised from the Commons?

“MPs who are disrupted by this awful pandemic are not just old horses to be sent to the knackers’ yard,” he said.

Some of you may be confused by Mr Halfon’s speech.

It seems he was not suggesting that MPs would catch the coronavirus and die in what some members of the public might consider a mercy-killing (as far as the UK’s citizens are concerned).

Instead, it seems he was suggesting that MPs would be excluded from proceedings, meaning they might as well be dead as far as the good of their constituents is concerned. It’s opaque.

More to the point, perhaps is a letter signed by 35 MPs, arguing that a return to a “physical” parliament could mean that those in high-risk categories including BAME MPs, older MPs or those who are pregnant will be disproportionately restricted.

One very dangerous aspect will be the return of physical voting, in which MPs will be packed into small spaces as they file through the “aye” or “no” lobby. That creates a threat of contracting Covid-19, that could be fatal for some.

But Rees-Mogg was never likely to listen to arguments against it. That is the traditional way in which MPs vote and, as the “Member for the 18th Century”, his emotional tie to it far outweighs any concern for the wellbeing of others.

ADDITIONAL: A reader has just reminded me that MPs were all given £10,000 to facilitate working from home. Are they going to give any of that money back? Ten big ones for just eight weeks’ lockdown seems exorbitantly excessive to This Writer!

Source: MPs told to return to Parliament by June 2 despite health concerns – ITV News

Tory MPs were happy for us to go back to work – but are they frit of returning to Parliament themselves?

House of Commons: here’s a scene that won’t be allowed while the coronavirus crisis continues. But Boris Johnson called for others to go back to work, ensuring that they would be packed like sardines into public transport whether he wanted it or not.

Little did This Writer know, when I reported that Jacob Rees-Mogg wanted MPs to go back to work, that he was going to insist on it.

It seems that, as Leader of the House of Commons, he is determined that MPs should set an example for others who are being asked to go back to their jobs by Boris Johnson:

It’s certainly true that  some MPs aren’t too keen:

Valerie Vaz, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, said she was “alarmed” by Mr Rees-Mogg’s announcement and asked why parliament should “contradict” the government’s own health advice by returning to “business as usual” in June.

The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said it was a “fantasy” to believe that physical sittings could resume in June without special procedures being in place.

He asked what should happen to MPs considered among those most vulnerable to coronavirus, or Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs, whose devolved governments have not yet eased any lockdown measures.

Rees-Mogg, of course, instantly seized on this as a way to run down the opposition:

He said: “How can we say to our schoolchildren, ‘you’re safe going back’, some of them, but that we’re not, that we’re going to hide away whilst schoolchildren are going back – is that the right message to give to our constituents?”

Yes!

MPs have every right to be afraid of returning to Parliament, if they can’t be assured that social distancing rules will be maintained, or that they won’t be exposed to a risk of catching the coronavirus from other people working on the Parliamentary estate.

And of course those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have those countries’ “no movement” rules to consider; they aren’t actually allowed out to attend Parliament.

Clive Lewis is right about the motivation for Rees-Mogg’s decision:

Yes – but will it trump Tory self-interest?

We’ll find out when we see how many of them turn up after the Whitsun break.

It’s a “win-win” scenario for everybody who isn’t a Tory, of course.

If they don’t turn up, they’re cowards who are afraid to support their own government’s policy; if they do, they’ll probably catch Covid-19 and spend some time in hospital.

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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