How do we feel about this?
I've been asked about the deportation flight, with Qs about a letter which was signed by 60/650 MPs.
As a Shadow Cabinet member, I wasn't able to sign it, but it doesn't mean that I don't care deeply about the issue.
See a full explanation here: https://t.co/ZN8MmhzzkT
— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) December 4, 2020
Dr Allin-Khan is referring to a letter by Holly Lynch, signed by more than 60 Labour MPs, deploring Priti Patel’s decision to deport more people including, it was said, at least one person who was of the Windrush generation or descended from it.
I've written an urgent letter to the Immigration Minister.
There are serious concerns that the injustices of Windrush could be repeated. We've asked for answers to a series of urgent questions. pic.twitter.com/5QDNln0y3U
— Holly Lynch MP (@HollyLynch5) November 28, 2020
On her website, Dr Allin-Khan adds:
“As a member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, my role is to intervene in matters related to mental health (because I am the Shadow Minister for Mental Health). Members of the Shadow Cabinet do not speak in debates, sign letters, sign EDMs or intervene in matters which are not related to their role. This rule has been in place for as long as I know, it was the same when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.
“I have noticed that my name was put on a list along with 12 colleagues, suggesting we were the only people not to sign this letter. No member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet signed the letter, indeed, almost three quarters of Labour MPs didn’t sign the letter. Does that mean that they don’t care? No, of course not. Sometimes they miss the deadline to sign, sometimes they can’t sign, sometimes they make representations in different ways. It’s very disappointing that some would single out me and 12 other colleagues, suggesting we were the only ones not to sign – simply to fit their political agenda.
“My background has seen me work in war torn countries, disaster zones and refugee camps helping the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable people. I always care deeply about these issues and to suggest otherwise is incorrect. I’ll continue to liaise with my colleagues in the Home Affairs team with regards to this, and other important issues.”
My recollection is that Dr Allin-Khan is distorting the issue. Shadow Cabinet members weren’t criticised for being the only Labour MPs not to sign and it seems to me that she was deliberately creating a “straw man” argument with a ready-made response (that other Labour MPs also failed to sign).
As for her claim about Shadow Cabinet members:
Maybe that is true.
Perhaps it should change.
It seems Shadow Cabinet members are using their position to avoid expressing opinions on the most important matters of the day – the actions of the Tory government – abrogating their responsibilities as members of Her Majesty’s Opposition.
Meanwhile they line up to vilify members of their own party when they are accused – falsely, as we learned in the case of Jeremy Corbyn – of breaking party rules that are so badly-written that they can be made to mean whatever the current leader desires.
Isn’t that, you know… wrong?
Some people seem to think so:
“As a Shadow Cabinet member, I wasn't able to sign it…”
Title more important than purpose?
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) December 6, 2020
Oh, and it seems Shad Cab members like Dr Allin-Khan can’t even face the responses their protests attract:
Cowards in the shadow cabinet now avoiding all accountability by muting replies. These people are living in an amoral bubble, and they know it. All Labour MPs should have signed this, as all should have opposed this legislation. How do they sleep at night? @DrRosena https://t.co/IV9BwRLrz7
— Phil Gould (@bongosaloon) December 6, 2020
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has taken the opportunity provided by this failure of opposition to attack critics of the flight, saying it involved the deportation of “vile criminals” and was nothing to do with the Windrush scandal.
In that case, why did the flight contain only 13 people after last-minute legal challenges succeeded in gaining a reprieve for 23 others?
Oh, that’s right. As Ms Patel said, it was all the fault of “do-gooders” and “lefty lawyers”.
She comes across as a bad Scooby-Doo villain, after the mask has come off: “I would have got away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky lefty lawyers!”
Sadly, in her case, the significance of the mask is reversed. In Scooby-Doo it was always a fright mask being replaced by the villain’s rather ordinary face. With Ms Patel, it is the genuine, hate-filled, face that is the horror.
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