I don’t know Ellie Cumbo, but she makes all the right points here.
Zac Goldsmith was a disaster for his constituents – voting the wrong way on the EU, local government, human rights, education, the NHS and who knows how many other vile Tory policies.
Just about the only thing he got right was his resignation.
Labour can’t leave it to the Liberal Democrats to make these points. They are almost as bad as the Conservatives, having supported their government during the Coalition years.
Labour must make these points – on the doorstep and in the media.
Because Labour should seize every chance it has to win.
When I saw from my trusty Twitter feed that our party was seriously considering not standing a candidate against Zac Goldsmith, I thought my head was going to explode. Even though the case was being made by people I hugely respect, I felt immediately that that would be the wrong decision for people in Richmond Park, and for Labour.
Goldsmith resigned because of the threat posed to the environment by Heathrow expansion (it isn’t clear, of course, what alternative policies he supports to boost jobs and growth). But in voting for Brexit, unlike a whopping 72 per cent of his constituents, he has happily waved through the biggest threat in his political lifetime to our economy, to open, harmonious communities, and-yes- even to important environmental protections.
He has also, of course, voted through … Tory policies which are of huge concern to Richmond Park voters- from ripping local government funding in half to expanding divisive, life-scarring grammar schools. And while his deplorable mayoral campaign may thankfully be over, it should serve to remind us how important it is that progressives always stand up for their values. Labour must not dream of outsourcing that job to the Liberal Democrats- a party which cared more about its doomed AV referendum than protecting housing benefit for low-income families, or support for sick and disabled people, or the legal aid many rely on for access to justice.
Most importantly of all, a strong Labour performance on December 1 absolutely does have the potential to deliver huge benefits locally for Richmond Park.
Jeremy Corbyn likened Theresa May to Baldrick, saying her “cunning plan” was to have no plan at all [Image: Daily Mirror].
Forget Brexit or Heathrow’s forthcoming new runway – Prime Minister’s Questions today was all about mental health.
Karl Turner told a packed House of Commons that his 25-year-old nephew, Mattie, had recently died while waiting six months for a ‘talking cure’ appointment to help him handle depression. He said these treatments were often a dangerous waiting game and a postcode lottery, and asked what Theresa May was doing to sort it out.
She stuttered through a non-answer about having established parity of esteem between physical and mental health treatment but accepted there was more to do, and moved on – only to be stopped in her tracks by Labour’s Alison McGovern, who wasn’t satisfied.
The Conservative manifesto promised shorter waiting times for people with mental health problems, but prescriptions for anti-depressants are on the rise and waits for treatment are lengthening, she said. Was the Tory manifesto just words, or would the PM ever deliver?
Mrs May, out of her depth, reiterated her previous statement.
Help came – too late, from Tory MP Helen Whately, who quoted Mrs May’s commitment to improved mental health on the day she became prime minister, and asked a hastily-prepared planted question about the Tory government’s five-year plan for mental health.
Mrs May responded with words from a piece of paper that had been slipped to her, showing an increase in appointments of 40 per cent since 2010, but the damage had been done. If she needs a planted question and the help of hastily-scribbled statistics to get her out of a hole, she won’t hold public confidence.
There were other disasters. Fellow Conservative Dr Tania Mathias backstabbed Mrs May over her decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow, when air pollution standards were already being breached.
Mrs May said air quality standards could be reached, but bizarrely reached toward road transport to help justify herself. Apparently electric vehicles on the roads will help Heathrow airport meet its air quality requirements!
It wasn’t all grim, though. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed rubbishing Mrs May’s strategy on Brexit. After hearing her stuttering about “being very clear” on her aims for Brexit (while being about as opaque as she could be, he said: “I thought for a moment the prime minister was going to say ‘Brexit means Brexit’ again. I’m sure she’ll tell us one day what it actually means!”
Some commentators have accused Mr Corbyn of missing an open goal by neglecting to ask her about her speech to Goldman Sachs bankers, in which she outlined her concerns for business of the UK were to leave the EU after the referendum that, at the time, had yet to be held. But Mr Corbyn was skilful to avoid that; critics would only have attacked him on the grounds that times have changed.
A much better tactic was to say: “When you’re searching for the real meaning and the importance behind the prime minister’s statement, you have to consult the great philosophers. The only one I can come up with is Baldrick, who says, ‘Our cunning plan is to have no plan’.”
Mrs May’s attempt at a riposte – that the actor playing Baldrick (Tony Robinson) was a member of the Labour Party – was subsequently torpedoed by her own supporters, who gleefully undermined their leader by showing that Sir Anthony does not support Mr Corbyn.
Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome, showed how far out of his depth he was by re-tweeting this comment from Sir Anthony:
To those tweeting me about 'MSM', Corbyn faces no more hostile media than every Lab leader in history. He's just inept at dealing with it
Activists from Reclaim the Power and Plane Stupid block a mock runway on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament [Image: PA].
This was a decision that could have been taken by David Cameron last year – but he delayed it in order to allow Zac Goldsmith to run as a London mayoral candidate earlier this year.
Mr Goldsmith had said he would not campaign to be London’s mayor – and would quit as an MP – if a new runway at Heathrow was approved.
Now he has acted on that promise – there will be a by-election for his Richmond Park constituency. Some might say it should have happened last year, considering the Islamophobia that marred his mayoral campaign.
Meanwhile, the pundits and social media chatterboxes have been having a field day. it seems everyone has something to say. Here’s Marcus Chown:
Only good thing about Heathrow expansion is that Boris Johnson promised to lie down in front of bulldozers. RT if you'd like to drive one.
No doubt it is continuing as I write this. Let it.
Here’s a note of caution from the Daily Mirror:
Even if MPs vote to give the go-ahead next year, work is unlikely to start before 2020, which realistically means the runway not opening until 2025.
That is before we take into account the expected opposition from environmentalists, possible legal challenges and lengthy delays in the planning process as residents under the flight path and local councils fight the expansion.
Four local councils have indicated that they are ready to fight Heathrow expansion, and others will join them. Also London’s Gatwick and Stansted airports could mount legal challenges to the decision.
With only two runways, air pollution around Heathrow already exceeds European Union limits. A third runway would add 300,000 extra flights and around 25m extra road journeys per year.
Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’
“You would be correct on all three points.
“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”
The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.
That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.
Now let’s translate that to politics.
We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.
Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.
My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.
This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.
Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.
The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.
“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”
He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.
Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.
Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”
Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.
So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.
That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?
Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?
It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.
As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.
“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.
“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”
Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.
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