Tag Archives: overrule

Planning corruption: it seems Jenrick isn’t the only Tory accused of breaking the rules

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he has also been mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

The evidence is mounting against planning minister Robert Jenrick in the scandal over the Westferry development – and interest in the controversy has revealed further potential corruption.

It seems Robert Jenrick was induced to overturn the refusal of the Westferry planning application after property developer Richard Desmond showed him a promotional video for the £1bn development. Here’s The Guardian:

“What I did was I showed him the video,” Desmond told the Sunday Times, adding that Jenrick had watched it for “three or four minutes”, and adding: “It’s quite long, so he got the gist.”

Jenrick subsequently overturned a decision by a local council and the government’s planning inspectorate in order to approve a 500-apartment, 44-storey development at Westferry Printworks, a former printing plan in east London.

Viewing the video would appear to constitute lobbying by Desmond, potentially giving rise to a conflict of interest.

Labour will use the opportunity of a three-hour opposition day debate on Wednesday to discuss the controversy.

That’s today – June 24.

Meanwhile, according to The Mirror

A Tory former planning minister is reportedly under investigation for failing to declare an interest in a hotel development in his constituency.

Sir Bob Neill wrote a letter to his local council in December 2018, urging them to approve the redevelopment of The Royal Bell – a neglected hotel in his Bromley Constituency.

But he failed to mention in his letter that he was on the payroll of the Substantia Group – the firm handling the planning application for the hotel.

Sir Bob has been paid £50,000 by the firm for “strategic consultancy advice” since 2016, according to the register of members’ interests.

But his links to the firm were not explicitly outlined in the letter.

Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury said: “It beggars belief that a former planning minister would not be aware of the obvious conflict of interest in this case.”

And the Telegraph today reported Sir Bob had intervened in another planning application being handled by the same firm – again without mentioning his paid position.

MPs voted in 2018 for investigations by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to remain secret. Some might suggest that this was an offence against justice, which must be seen to be done.

But it has been reported the Commissioner has launched an investigation into Sir Bob’s involvement in the project after receiving a complaint.

Source: Jenrick under growing pressure after fresh Desmond revelation | Politics | The Guardian

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Poll: If EU court rules on whether MPs can halt Brexit, will it make any difference?

At first I thought this was a pointless effort because MPs simply won’t vote to annul Article 50.

But then it occurred to me that Conservative “rebels”, who disagree with Theresa May’s “Chequers” plan, might find it more palatable, despite what Brexiter voters may think of them.

So, I don’t know; what do you think?

Anti-Brexit campaigners have been given permission to take their case to Europe’s highest court as they seek a ruling on whether it can be halted.

The cross-party group of politicians argue that Article 50 can be revoked if MPs vote to do so.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh had previously rejected their bid to have the case referred to European judges.

But they have now won an appeal, and the European Court of Justice will be asked to give a definitive ruling.

The panel of appeal judges at the Court of Session said the “urgency of the issue” – with the UK due to leave the EU on 29 March – meant its request to the European Court was being done under expedited procedure.

Source: European Court to rule on whether UK can halt Brexit – 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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Is it wise to combat Islamic extremism in schools by sending in Tory extremists Theresa May and Michael Gove?

Extremists: Theresa May (left) and Michael Gove. [Image: BBC.]

Extremists: Theresa May (left) and Michael Gove. [Image: BBC.]

The alleged rift between Michael Gove and Theresa May over claims that Muslim extremists have taken over 25 Birmingham schools is bizarre.

These are government ministers who most closely share the extremist attitudes that the ‘Trojan Horse’ school governors are said to have; their methods are the same, even if their aims are different.

Consider this. The claims made about the Birmingham school are that:

  • A ‘Trojan Horse’ (stealth) takeover of schools in Birmingham, by Islamic extremists, has taken place.
  • Governors were installed who undermined and then replaced school leaders with staff who would be more sympathetic to their agenda.
  • Boys and girls have been separated.
  • Assemblies put forward extremist Islamic views.
  • Other religions are downgraded.

Now let’s look at Theresa May, who:

  • Took part in a backdoor (stealth) takeover of the UK government after the Conservative Party failed to win a majority in the 2010 general election.
  • Wants to repeal the Human Rights Act as it protects UK citizens against some of her favourite policies:

The duty to refrain from unlawful killing, investigate suspicious deaths and prevent foreseeable loss of life runs against the results of the Coalition’s changes to incapacity/disability benefit assessment which led to the unnecessary deaths of 73 people per week between January and November 2011.

The prohibition of slavery, servitude and forced labour is contrary to the government’s mandatory work activity schemes.

The right to a fair trial contradicts the changes the government has been making to Legal Aid.

The right to respect for one’s privacy, family life, home and correspondence runs against the “snooper’s charter” that Mrs May wished to impose.

And so on. The Tories would dearly love to remove your rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, as that means they could outlaw this blog and abolish trade unions.

  • Authorised a plan to use a fleet of advertising vans telling illegal immigrants to “go home”, which split the London communities in which they were used and led to false accusations against British citizens.
  • The phrase “go home” on the vans attracted criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority as it was a reminder of an extremist racist slogan.

And Michael Gove:

  • Took part in the backdoor (stealth) takeover of the UK government.
  • Has imposed an army of independent advisors on his education department, to overrule the opinions of expert civil servants, grind down their morale and force them out of their jobs.
  • Planned to give a Bible to every state school in the country, clearly implying an intention to assert the supremacy of Christianity over every other religion practised in the UK, with others downgraded.

They’re all as bad as each other.

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Why is Tristram Hunt in the Labour Party?

'U' for effort: Why should parents vote 'Labour' if Tristram Hunt won't repair the disastrous harm that Michael Gove has been inflicting on our school system - and our children's future?

‘U’ for effort: Why should parents vote ‘Labour’ if Tristram Hunt won’t repair the disastrous harm that Michael Gove has been inflicting on our school system – and our children’s future?

According to shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, Labour will not repeal Michael Gove’s major – useless – changes to the British school system if it wins the next election. In that case: Why vote Labour?

Gove has proved to be the stupidest education secretary of recent history. His divisive ‘Free Schools’ vanity project is a disaster that has increased costs for children who must get their education miles away when there is a school next door to them, while standards of teaching have plummetted at the new establishments – with unqualified teachers and calamitous Ofsted inspection reports.

Not only has he created appalling imbalances in the school system, but Gove has also de-stabilised his own department, bringing in unqualified ‘advisors’ to overrule seasoned civil servants on major decisions. The result has been wide-scale demoralisation, with many experts leaving the profession, their experience lost forever.

The agenda, as far as it is possible to see one, seems to be to maim the state education system so badly that it will be unable to compete with privately-run schools on any level, meaning the sons and daughters of the rich will be able to beat state school pupils to the choicest jobs.

Now, Tristram Hunt – whose political beliefs appear to be so amorphous that he could belong to any one of the major political parties – says he won’t sort out any of the problems Gove has been creating. He says that would be “tinkering”.

Many of Gove’s reforms “built on” Labour ideas, he told the BBC.

Those were bad ideas, Tristram. For a man who is supposed to be well-educated, you don’t seem to notice much, do you?

We currently have a system stuffed with so many kinds of school it must be impossible for parents to work out what’s best for their pupils, even if they have a decent choice available to them.

In practice, it seems, there is little difference between them as none seem capable of providing the education that people need. As a writer, I have seen the quality of written English nosedive over the past 30 years. Tristram Hunt will do nothing to change that. So why vote Labour?

Instead of having Free Schools, academies, grammar schools or whatever silly name people want to give them, why can’t we just have schools?

Hunt does put forward some useful ideas in his BBC interview but – having seen what he thinks of the Gove policies – it is hard to have faith that he can carry them out adequately.

He says the Free Schools policy has been wasteful in adding new places where there is already a surplus – and any new schools should be built where there is a shortage.

Also, Labour would put resources into technical and vocational education in a change from previous policy – which attempted to funnel half of school leavers into university, whether they deserved the extra education or not.

These are practical ideas, but if the system is not based on solid principles, they will not make any difference at all.

Mr Hunt is himself an educated man and must be made to see that his policies are ridiculous. He should receive a ‘U’ for effort and be made to take his exams again.

And, while Ed Miliband is putting people like this on his front bench, the question remains: Why vote Labour?

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The biggest threat to democracy since World War II – and they tried to keep it secret

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the 'little' people - the populations they are treading on - are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is bitter pill for anyone to swallow, if they have spent any time defending Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The partnership between the EU and the United States would open America to the kind of free trade deals that have been going on in Europe ever since the original Economic Community was formed – but there is a problem.

It isn’t a problem for businesses; they are in line to get a deal better than anything ever experienced in the world of trade. Citizens and national governments, on the other hand – you, me, and the people who represent us – will be railroaded.

This is because the agreement includes a device called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, which allows corporate entities to sue governments, overruling domestic courts and the will of Parliaments.

In other words, this could be the biggest threat to democracy since World War II.

In the UK, it could be used by shale mining companies to ensure that the government could not keep them out of protected areas, by banks fighting financial regulation, and by cigarette companies fighting the imposition of plain packaging for cigarettes. How do we know? Because these things are already happening elsewhere in the world.

If a product had been banned by a country’s regulators, the manufacturer will be able to sue them, forcing that state to pay compensation or let the product in – even if this undermines health and safety laws in that country.

It seems that domestic courts are deemed likely to be biased or lack independence, but nobody has explained why they think the secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers will be impartial. Common sense says they’ll rule for the profit, every time.

Now ask yourself a question: Have you ever heard about this?

Chances are that you haven’t – unless you have read articles by George Monbiot (one in The Guardian this week prompted this piece) or have insider knowledge.

The European Commission has done its utmost to keep the issue from becoming public knowledge. Negotiations on the trade and investment partnership have involved 119 behind-closed-doors meetings with corporations and their lobbyists (please note that last point, all you supporters of the government’s so-called Transparency of Lobbying Bill), and just eight with civil society groups. Now that concerned citizens have started to publicise the facts, the Commission has apparently worked out a way to calm us down with a “dedicated communications operation” to “manage stakeholders, social media and transparency” by claiming that the deal is about “delivering growth and jobs” and will not “undermine regulation and existing levels of protection in areas like health, safety and the environment” – meaning it will do precisely the opposite.

Your Coalition government appears to be all for it. Kenneth Clarke reckons it is “Scrooge-like” to inflate concerns about investor protection and ignore the potential economic gains – but if the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement is any yardstick, exports will drop and thousands of jobs will be lost.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has published an early day motion on the issue – signed by a total of seven fellow Parliamentarians so far.

Labour MEPs are doing their best to cut the ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ out of the agreement, but they are fighting a lonely battle against the massed forces of greed.

So now ask yourself a second question: Why is the European Commission lying to Britain when we are already halfway out of the door?

Britain is not happy with the European Union or its place within that organisation. People think too much of their national sovereignty – their country’s freedom to do what it wants – is being stripped away by faceless bureaucrats who do not have the best interests of the population at heart. Now the European Commission is trying to foist this upon us.

For Eurosceptics in Parliament – of all political hues – this is a gift. For those of us who accept that we are better off in Europe – as it is currently constituted and without the new trade agreement – it is a poisoned pill.

Are we being pushed into a position where we have to choose between two evils that could have been avoided, if only our leaders had had an ounce of political will and an inch of backbone?

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