Tag Archives: critic

POLL: Is Commons Speaker John Bercow right to voice his own views on Brexit?

Speaking out: John Bercow at the Bingham Lecture. Is he right to make his opinions known?

John Bercow, the soon-to-retire Speaker of the House of Commons, is being criticised for voicing his opposition to Boris Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit.

Critics are saying he should be impartial and has no right to attack the prime minister and his policies.

Supporters say it is important for him to stand up for Parliamentary sovereignty.

Now he has said he may bend Parliamentary rules – in response to efforts by BoJob and his advisers to go around them.

And he has voiced support for the idea of a written UK constitution, to ensure that the kind of shenanigans we have seen from the Johnson administration (and the May ministry before it) cannot happen again:

John Bercow has threatened Boris Johnson that he will be prepared to rip up the parliamentary rulebook to stop any illegal attempt by the prime minister to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

In a direct warning to No 10, the Speaker of the House of Commons said he is prepared to allow “additional procedural creativity” if necessary to allow parliament to block Johnson from ignoring the law.

“If we come close to [Johnson ignoring the law], I would imagine parliament would want to cut off that possibility … Neither the limitations of the existing rulebook or ticking of the clock will stop it doing so,” he said, delivering the annual Bingham lecture in London. “If I have been remotely ambiguous so far, let me make myself crystal clear. The only form of Brexit that we have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”

He also proposed a written constitution to stop “executive malpractice or fiat”, which could potentially have avoided the constitutional crisis that the UK has found itself in over Brexit.

Simple question: Do you think Mr Bercow is right to speak out? Or should he keep his mouth shut?

Source: John Bercow: I’ll stop Boris Johnson breaking the law on Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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Want to know what was wrong with Labour’s Euro election campaign? Here’s your answer

John McDonnell: He made Labour’s position perfectly clear last year. Why, then, did other politicians and media types try to muddy matters?

It seems there have been a few recriminations – inside and outside the Labour Party – over its performance in the European Parliamentary elections.

Many people are saying the party came a distant third behind the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party because the message from the leadership wasn’t clear enough.

Silly, silly people.

I can show you the problem in a short sequence of tweets:

That is the problem, right there.

Labour had a very clear message to put out; one that made sense. It wasn’t divisive – it wasn’t “Remain at all costs!” or “Leave without delay!”

It was that Labour wanted the best deal for everybody. If that was impossible to achieve, it would be because of Parliamentary arithmetic – the opinions of MPs – and that could only be changed by a general election, so Labour would campaign for a GE to change Parliamentary arithmetic, making a better deal possible.

And if that didn’t work/happen, it would be because Parliamentarians were determined to make a mess of the matter. In that circumstance, Labour would campaign for the matter to go back to the people.

Simple. Practical. Clear-cut.

And then a bunch of tom-fools – in the press, in the Party itself, and on the social media – waded in with mealy-mouthed questions designed to muddy the water.

“Why haven’t you mentioned…” when Labour had mentioned it.

“When will you support…” when Labour already had.

“Why won’t you rule out…” when Labour had ruled it out.

“It won’t be clear until you say…” As John McDonnell wrote, above, he said it very clearly a year ago.

What’s most saddening is that some of the people pulling this nonsense out of their collective rear ends would have claimed This Writer’s respect before they did so.

I have had a lot of time for David Schneider in the past. I’m sure he still makes sense on many other issues – but he lost my respect on this.

If you recall anyone pulling this stunt – or hear it in the future – they should lose yours. And you should tell us who they are.

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Straight-talking university conquers critics of refugee scheme with this great response

The University of Reading is This Writer’s alma mater so I am proud to report this particular story.

The university announced a plan to offer up to 14 sponsored places to refugees living in the Reading area, on June 19 – developed in partnership with Reading Refugee Support Group and the university’s own students’ union.

Unbelievably, this laudable scheme has attracted enmity – from small-minded little-Englanders, one can only conclude.

Its response is what make me a happy alumnus today:

“Tough. Jog on.” Right on!

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Schrödinger’s Labour leader | TheCritique Archives

[Image: The Critique Archives.]

This is excellent from Martin Odoni – not least because it smashes the reputations of some of our most pretentious commentators:

Labour centrists just cannot help themselves, can they? JK Rowling – she who has gained barely-explicable recognition as one of the world’s ‘great’ authors – last week describedthe current Labour Party as a ‘solipsistic personality cult’. (On that evidence, I am not even completely sure she understands what the word solipsistic means, only adding to my doubts about her status as an author.) Nick Cohen, the Guardian writer singly most unable to distinguish between a fairer world and a world torn apart by all-pervading warfare, added his own clamour of contempt a couple of days later, calling the Labour Party Conference, ‘The cult of St. Jeremy’.

The damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t quality of trying to please the so-called ‘centre-left’ – really just conservatives with somewhat queasier consciences – is brought most sharply into focus by how bizarrely unaware they seem to be of their own contradictory mindset. For almost two years, their overriding objection to Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader was that, “He’s unelectable because he doesn’t engage with the electorate.”

Step aside, Schrödinger’s Cat. Step aside, Schrödinger’s immigrant. We now have Schrödinger’s Labour leader. How can someone who does not engage with the electorate draw a large cult-following from the electorate?

Mr Odoni goes on to make the point that those of us on the Left who have been campaigning since before Mr Corbyn’s election as Labour leader for a return to true centre-ground politics (with a mixed economy and working welfare state) have been saying from the moment the critics started spouting their drivel:

The frustration of these contradictory insults is partly because, in truth, very, very few of Corbyn’s supporters see him as an ‘object-of-worship’ as such. They admire him for having the courage to smash the Overton Window of the last forty years and speak again ideas that were considered unthinkable thanks to Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch, and finally bring Keynesian social democracy back into the mainstream. Yes, there is affection for Corbyn, but for better or worse, it is the ideas he stands for that are important, and not just the man himself. Corbyn, it should be emphasised, is among the first to say that.

Those are the facts, and the likes of Ms Rowling and Mr Cohen can’t change them – no matter how often they try, or how contradictory their efforts.

You can read more facts here: Schrödinger’s Labour leader | TheCritique Archives


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Food bank charity told to stop criticising benefit system or face shut-down – by the government

131219foodbanks

What would you do in that situation?

It seems that food bank charity The Trussell Trust has been making too many waves around the Conservative-led Coalition government’s policies regarding benefits, social security and welfare.

Readers may recall how the charity warned that Coalition policies had created a need for a huge expansion in the number of food banks across the UK. The Tories countered this by accusing the trust of “misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking”, and also of “aggressively marketing [its] services”.

After this failed to make a dent in public opinion, the Daily Mail tried to discredit the trust by claiming it was handing out food parcels without checking whether the people claiming them were bona fide.

But it turned out that the paper’s claim of “inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, after a reporter obtained three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizens Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed” was not true. The reporter in fact committed fraud by telling a string of lies in order to falsely claim his food parcel in a flagrant abuse of the system.

The public response was immediate – donations to the Trussell Trust’s fundraising appeal shot through the roof.

Now the government has tried a different tack: blackmail. Instead of trying to justify the government’s position or undermine that taken by the trust in public, it has been revealed that, recently, “someone in power” told trust bosses that the government “might try to shut you down” if the trust continued to cause it embarrassment.

This detail was revealed while Trussell Trust chairman Chris Mould was giving evidence to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector this week.

The Trussell Trust is in a fairly robust position with regard to government interference; a 2005 decision by the charity’s trustees to avoid seeking government funding means it is in a better position to resist pressure.

But the trust has to consider the worst-case scenario. If the government did manage to shut it down, hundreds of thousands of people would starve.

That is the real threat posed by the Conservative-led government. Shutting down the Trussell Trust won’t hurt anybody who runs the charity or volunteers for it.

But it could kill food bank users across the country.

It is exactly the kind of covert, backstabbing move we have come to expect from the likes of Iain Duncan Smith.

Oh, come on! You knew RTU (it means Returned To Unit and is our tribute to his Army career) would figure in this article somewhere.

According to Mr Mould, he received a phone call from “someone” in the office of the Secretary-in-a-State about Work and Pensions, back in 2011. He said it was “basically to tell me that the boss was very angry with us because we were publicising the concerns we have over the rising number of people who were struggling as a consequence of delays and inefficiences in the benefits system”.

Unfortunately – for sly abusers like Duncan Smith – the kind of threats recorded above are really only useful when they are kept secret. The idea is always to present the victim with a double-bind – in this case, not only would food bank users suffer, but the Trussell Trust would get the blame for having withdrawn the service (whether voluntarily or not).

Now that we all know the government itself is putting the screws on – and is doing so in retaliation against the Trussell Trust’s entirely legitimate attempts to raise awareness of government policies’ disastrous effects – it would be electoral suicide.

That being said, watch Iain Duncan Smith on Question Time today.

He’s probably stupid enough to go through with it anyway.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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