Tag Archives: majority

The end of the affair – and does it also herald the fall of a government?

Partners no more? Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, in happier times.

When the Conservative Party announced its marriage of convenience to the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, many of us had tears in our eyes.

We were upset that Theresa May had found some stooges who were willing to prop up a minority Conservative government for the sake of a large bung – £1 billion, almost half of which has been delivered – and we were weeping for the future of the country we love.

The honeymoon period – in which we watched the DUP supporting the Tories’ terrible policies time and time again – was bitterly uncomfortable, and no doubt many of us wondered if we would be able to stomach it for the full five-year term of current Tory governments.

Fortunately, it seems unlikely that we will have to put up with it that long.

And it was the Conservative Party – the partner that needed the alliance to succeed – that was unfaithful.

Theresa May ran off to the EU and promised that Brexit would include a deal on the Northern Irish border that the DUP could not tolerate, as it allots special treatment to NI that is not afforded to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Either she had not mentioned it, or she thought she didn’t need to do so, because Tories have such a monumental sense of entitlement that she probably thought the DUP was lucky to be in a “confidence and supply” deal with her.

That was a huge mistake, and a sign that Mrs May doesn’t know her history, which shows that Hell hath no fury like an Irishwoman scorned.

Yesterday evening (November 19), Arlene Foster’s followers in Westminster pointed this out to Mrs May – by abstaining on Budget votes, and actually supporting the Labour Party on one amendment.

It isn’t the end of the deal between the Tories and the DUP – to continue the marriage metaphor, it’s the equivalent of a slighted partner making their displeasure felt and warning that worse may follow if the other partner doesn’t get back in line.

None of the votes had a serious effect on the Conservatives because they did not have financial consequences for the government.

But the message is clear: The deal with the EU, as agreed by Mrs May, is unacceptable to the DUP and the government will lose its Parliamentary majority – and therefore its ability to function – if the prime minister refuses to change it.

Now for the important part: This puts Mrs May in an impossible position.

The EU will not accept changes to the deal, and it seems unlikely that it will be possible to negotiate a new agreement before the UK decouples from that bloc on March 29 next year.

But the alternative is an effective vote of “no confidence” in the Conservatives’ ability to govern, which traditionally leads to the resignation of the government and the main Opposition party taking office.

The current Tory government is an unscrupulous crowd, and may refuse to honour that convention – but the alternative is powerlessness. What will Mrs May do?

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Brexit shambles: Latest poll shows clear – and widening – majority for staying in the EU

This is no accident.

The utter failure of the UK’s government to get to grips with the decision to leave the European Union in any meaningful way, other than to attempt to use it as a power grab and a means to extinguish citizens’ human and workers’ rights, has led to a shift in popular support – against leaving the trading bloc.

The satirists are already having a field day with the revelation:

But This Writer is willing to bet you know a Brextremist who has already tried to rubbish the result.

Well, sure – BMG isn’t Survation, but…

A lead that large is usually taken as conclusive.

The British public has swung behind staying in the EU by its largest margin since the referendum, with those backing Remain outstripping Leavers by ten points, a new poll has revealed.

The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research showed 51 per cent now back remaining in the union, while 41 per cent want Brexit.

Once “don’t knows” were encouraged to choose one way or the other, or excluded, the Remain lead rises to 11 points. Either way, it is the biggest gap since the June 2016 vote.

Source: Brexit: Britons now back Remain over Leave by 10 points, exclusive poll shows | The Independent


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Proposed Brexit law is such a stinker, even Tories won’t support it

Protesters say the proposed bill is undemocratic [Image: Reuters/Peter Nicholls].

Maybe you don’t think it’s a big thing that Tories won’t support the Tories’ flagship Brexit Bill. If so, you’d be wrong.

Conservative rebels are numerous enough to overturn the slender Parliamentary majority held by Theresa May’s government, even in alliance with the DUP.

This is a huge embarrassment for Mrs May – yes, another one.

Remember, she called her vanity election on the pretext that she needed a larger Parliamentary majority to push through her plans for Brexit.

Now, even her own party is trying to deny her the opportunity.

No 10 has been forced to delay its flagship Brexit bill after Conservative rebels backed a series of hostile amendments.

Ministers had planned to push the EU Withdrawal Bill, which has passed its second reading in the House of Commons, through to committee stage next week.

But the timetable has slipped after the Tory whips decided they needed more time to strike compromises with rebel MPs in order to avoid a series of damaging defeats.

In total 300 amendments and 54 new clauses have been tabled to the bill, which transfers European law onto the domestic statute book after Brexit, underlining the resistance within the Commons from both opposition parties and some Conservative MPs.

Thirteen amendments have enough support from Conservative MPs to overturn Theresa May’s working majority of 13, which is causing obvious headaches for chief whip Gavin Williamson.

Source: Hostile Conservative rebels force No 10 to delay flagship Brexit bill


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Who says the Tories’ anti-democratic changes to Parliament are legal? We need a judicial review

Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP. These two think they have stitched up democracy; let’s see what the courts think of that [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

Let’s have a judicial review on the minority Tory government’s decisions to give itself the power to alter primary legislation without votes in Parliament, and to stuff public bill committees with Conservatives in order to control the debates.

Remember when the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013, which retrospectively legalised the Tory/Liberal Democrat Coalition’s actions in forcing benefit claimants to do unpaid work, was ruled illegal after a judicial review?

That legislation had been passed after the rules forcing claimants to stack shelves for companies like Poundland had been ruled inadmissible by a previous judicial review.

There are other examples of judicial reviews showing up Tory legislation as failing to meet the required standard.

So why not examine the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in the same way, if it is passed into law? How about examining the vote on committee membership now?

It seems to This Writer that any decision by Parliament to disregard the democratic will of the people by granting one political party over-representation on public bill committees must be wrong in law.

And a decision to allow ministers to change primary legislation – laws that had to be voted onto the statute book by MPs – using statutory instruments must also be in breach.

Let a judge decide.


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If the DUP is supporting the Tories, why do they need to rig committee membership?

We should not be surprised that the far-right DUP is supporting Theresa May’s bid to stuff committees set up to oversee Parliamentary Bills full of Tories.

They’ll do anything the Tories say, if it gives them the balance of power and keeps that £1 billion (or is it £1.5 billion) bung coming – legal or not.

But everybody should be aware that there really is no justification for it at all. The Tories really are trying to rig Parliament, after they lost their majority in the general election.

Democracy demands that, where a hung Parliament has been elected, a minority government shall have representation on committees that is proportionate to the number of MPs it has – meaning it won’t have a majority.

This would normally mean a minority government would have to be very careful about the proposals it put forward, as it would need to persuade the other parties. The legislation produced might therefore be expected to be very well-balanced.

The fact that Mrs May is – corruptly – trying to fill committees with her yes-people indicates that she knows her legislative programme is deeply offensive to anybody with a brain and a conscience. She is trying to avoid having to justify her far-right-wing excesses.

And, with the DUP supporting her, why does she need to have a Tory majority on committees? There simply isn’t any need for it.

Unfortunately for democracy and for the people of the UK, the DUP’s decision means the committees won’t be the only things getting stuffed.

You will be, too – by a Tory government that is using corrupt means to take what it could not win at the general election.

I wonder if the people who voted for the Conservatives have even noticed that they have enabled a slide into dictatorship? They probably haven’t even realised that is the purpose of the vote, which takes place today (September 12).

The DUP will back the Conservatives in a vote later on changing the make-up of committees which scrutinise government legislation, the BBC has learned.

The government wants to ensure there is a Tory majority on the committees – even though the party does not have a majority on its own in Parliament.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has accused ministers of an “unprecedented attempt to rig Parliament”.

But a senior DUP source described the party’s support as “uncontroversial”.

The row was sparked by a motion which will come before MPs for a crunch vote on Tuesday.

Tabled by Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, it states that Commons rules will be changed so that “where a committee has an odd number of members, the government shall have a majority”.

And “where a committee has an even number of members, the number of government and opposition members shall be equal; but this instruction shall not apply to the nomination of any public bill committee”.

If MPs back the rule change, the public bill committees, which scrutinise legislation line by line, would no longer mirror the make-up of the Commons, but have an in-built Conservative majority instead.

This would allow Mrs May to force through legislation without fear of opposition amendments if Tory committee members remain loyal.

Source: DUP say backing Tories on committees vote is ‘uncontroversial’ – BBC News


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Tory tyranny: Now they want to overrule the result of the general election

The plan was detailed by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservatives’ leader of the Commons [Image: PA].

What do you do if you’re a Tory MP whose party has flung away its Parliamentary majority in a vanity election? Hold another poll, to try to get your majority back?

NO! You try to nullify the will of the people by corruptly stuffing Parliamentary committees with your fellow Tories!

That is what Andrea Leadsom is proposing.

She – together with her boss, Theresa May – knows that the other parties in Parliament would never tolerate the huge injustices that they intend to perpetrate on working people and the poor, while continuing to grab power and wealth for people who don’t need it (their own supporters and donors – but only those who are very rich).

So they intend to force Parliament to accept more Conservative MPs on Parliamentary committees than the election result justifies.

Presumably they are hoping they can rely on their far-right Northern Irish allies the DUP to force the vote through, even though it is an affront to democracy and a slap in the face for every single voter in the UK.

Like it or not, the people have spoken and we have a hung Parliament.

In that situation, the party governing by minority rule must accept that, if it wants to get any legislation passed, it must persuade the other parties to support it.

The resulting laws would tend to be more balanced than in Parliaments with outright majorities for any party.

By trying to bypass that situation, the Tories are saying they wish to impose dictatorship on the people of the UK.

They’re saying our vote didn’t matter; they will grab power for themselves and use it to enrich themselves. The rest of us can go to Hell.

And it seems we must rely on the DUP to save us from this fate.

If the Tories get their way, I think we should have a general strike.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have accused ministers of seeking to subvert democracy by proposing a rule change that would guarantee the government a majority on crucial committees that scrutinise legislation.

Jeremy Corbyn said the proposal, published on Friday and to be voted on next week, amounted to an “unprecedented power grab” by the government.

The plan, detailed in a motion by Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, seeks to change the rules on membership of public bill committees, often referred to by their former name, standing committees.

As part of the progress of a bill through the Commons, a committee is set up to scrutinise it in detail. This is often the period when the most amendments are made and potential problems addressed.

The party makeup of such committees is based on the composition of the Commons, meaning that since the election in June, when Theresa May lost her majority, newly formed committees would seek a political balance.

However, Leadsom’s motion, to be considered on Tuesday, says that while parity should be sought on other types of committee, this would not happen on public bill committees.

The rules should be interpreted, it reads, such that “where a committee has an odd number of members the government shall have a majority, and where a committee has an even number of members the number of government and opposition members shall be equal; but this instruction shall not apply to the nomination of any public bill committee”.

Corbyn tweeted: “An unprecedented attempt to rig parliament and grab power by a Conservative government with no majority and no mandate.”

Source: Opposition condemns government’s Commons committee ‘power grab’ | Politics | The Guardian


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Nicola Sturgeon’s intellectual dishonesty exposed in her failure to say ‘Don’t vote Tory’

150421SNPmanifesto

Isn’t the similarity between the SNP manifesto and Labour’s astonishing?

Shall we count some similarities? Yes, let’s.

Both parties want to scrap the bedroom tax and zero-hours contracts, reverse the privatisation of the NHS, increase NHS spending and integrate health and social care.

They both support a 50p top tax rate, the mansion tax, the bankers’ bonus tax,  abolishing non-dom status and ending the married couple’s tax allowance.

They would both increase the minimum wage to more than £8 (although Labour would promote the higher Living Wage as well), and both want benefits to rise in line with inflation.

Both parties would cut tuition fees across the UK and increase free childcare (to 25 hours per week (Labour) or 30 hours (SNP)).

Both would set a target for house-building, although Labour’s – at 200,000 – is twice as high as that of the SNP.

Both would oppose any moves to take the UK out of the European Union, and both support the current level of overseas aid spending.

Both Labour and the SNP would abolish the House of Lords.

And both would implement the Smith Commission’s proposals in full, along with further powers for Scotland (differing on the details – Labour would not wish to grant full fiscal autonomy due to fears of a £7.6 billion ‘black hole’).

With so many similarities, it seems strange that Nicola Sturgeon has claimed an alliance with the SNP is necessary to “pull Labour leftwards”.

Isn’t it more likely that she is hoping to claim success in this regard, during a future alliance, despite having done nothing to achieve it?

All she’d have to do is wait for Labour to put through the relevant legislation, after all.

But what seems most strange, considering the overwhelming similarity with Labour, is the similarly-overwhelming negative campaign against Labour, on the grounds that Labour is too right-wing! There’s simply no justification for it – other than a hunger for power. This leads to another question:

If the SNP wants a louder voice in the whole of the UK, and wants to “lock the Tories out of government”, then why hasn’t the SNP told the electorate not to vote Tory?

Nicola Sturgeon is perfectly happy to tell Scottish voters not to vote Labour. About the Tories? Not a word. Perhaps she thinks they’re not a threat but there were nearly half a million Conservative voters north of the border in 2010 and with Labour and the SNP at each other’s throats, the right-wingers have freedom to campaign without hindrance.

To the best of this writer’s knowledge, Nicola Sturgeon has never said: “Don’t vote Tory.”

The motive seems obvious: She needs a large Parliamentary Conservative Party, with many seats in England and Wales, blocking Labour from its majority – she she can blackmail Ed Miliband into a deal with the SNP. Considering the similarity between their manifestos, an alliance of any kind between Labour and the SNP isn’t really necessary anyway, so this can only be about one thing:

Power.

Ms Sturgeon is desperate for the SNP to gain the balance of power in Westminster, so she can blackmail Labour into providing what she wants.

And what does a nationalist political party always want?

Mark these words.

If the SNP has its way, we’ll be looking at the break-up of the UK again very soon. It’s the only way her actions make any sense.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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For the doubters: Iain Duncan Smith forced blind man to beg

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDHmXfdt2kU&feature=player_embedded]

This video shows Members of the Scottish Parliament hearing how a blind former health worker was reduced to begging as a result of the UK government’s welfare changes (I still refuse to call them reforms).

It is the gentleman’s personal account, in a letter being read to MSPs.

I’m publishing it here because I have received a couple of comments from another gentleman, putting forward the belief that the vast majority of those on disability benefits are scroungers. It’s a view that, polls suggest, is still held by a majority of the British public.

That view needs to be countered.

The video is nearly 10 minutes long. I urge those of you who might not want to spend that amount of time watching it to have patience; the information is good and it is worth hearing.

It’s only through finding out about what’s going on that people will ever be motivated to do something about it.

Otherwise, the vast majority of disabled people in the UK can look forward to a future as beggars.