Tag Archives: peer

Peers’ vote of ‘no-confidence’ in Corbyn called off | The SKWAWKBOX

Anti-Semitic: Lady Hayter.

It seems more level heads have prevailed over those Labour peers in the House of Lords who thought it would be a good idea to hold a vote of no confidence (VONC) in Jeremy Corbyn.

Perhaps the peers who advocated the vote have realised that, with 179 Labour representatives in the Upper Chamber, they might not get the result they wanted.

According to Skwawkbox, it seems a vote in support of sacked peer Dianne Hayter may still take place.

This still seems off-colour. Lady Hayter compared Mr Corbyn’s leadership to the “bunker mentality” in the “last days of Hitler”.

A Labour spokesperson rightly responded that this was “grossly insensitive to Jewish staff in particular.”

Indeed. Some would call it anti-Semitic.

It seems entirely likely that the VONC was called off because of this double-standard – that peers would be claiming anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn by supporting an anti-Semitic statement by one of their own.

So how can they be still contemplating a debate and vote in her support?

Source: Peers’ no-confidence vote called off | The SKWAWKBOX

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Tory corruption: Rich MPs get food and drink debts written off. If you’re poor, you have to pay!

Parliament: Apparently it’s not where the country is governed, but actually a place in which the filthy rich are encouraged to steal money from the very poor – nowhere more blatantly than in the bars and restaurants.

It’s the highest office in the land, yet who do we vote into it? The lowest excuses for humanity.

The Torygraph, of all mainstream rags, has revealed that four MPs, along with a peer, 21 tradespeople and a member of staff at the Houses of Parliament, have had outstanding food and drinks bills written off, to the value of more than £17,000.

They had refused to pay.

MPs earn a minimum of £77,379 a year, and peers take home £305 for every day they attend Parliament. But apparently that isn’t enough for them and they need to default on the bills in that organisation’s bars and restaurants – establishments that are subsidised by your taxes, remember.

Imagine if you had racked up a huge bill at such an eaterie – and then failed to pay. Do you think the owners would write off your bill?

No?

Do you think you’d be taken to court and forced to pay a lot more instead?

It seems more likely, doesn’t it?

So the question arises: Why are these – unnamed – culprits being allowed to force us – the taxpayers – to foot the bill for their gross indulgences?

I don’t know about you but I think that’s misuse of my tax money. We already pay these entitled oafs enough, especially considering the state of the nation, which is thanks to them.

It’s another example of Tory corruption. They allow this because they think our money belongs to them.

We need to find out who the thieves – yes, they’re thieves – are.

And we need to clear them out of Parliament.

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Right choice, wrong reason: Andrew Lloyd-Webber resigns as a Tory peer

Andrew Lloyd Webber has not spoken in the House of Lords since January [Image: David Parry/PA].

If only he had announced his retirement from writing musicals as well.

The theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has quit as a Conservative peer, saying his busy schedule is incompatible with the demands of the House of Lords with crucial Brexit legislation ahead.

Lloyd Webber, whose musicals include Cats and Phantom of the Opera, was given a peerage in 1997 but has not spoken in the House of Lords this year and only votes occasionally.

In a letter sent to the Conservative chief whip, Lloyd Webber said he was currently in the busiest period of his career, including long periods in the US, which meant he was unable to commit to attending key votes in the future.

Source: Andrew Lloyd Webber quits as Conservative peer | Culture | The Guardian


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The arrogance of Theresa May – a public servant who thinks she can sideline the Queen

Buckingham Palace is said to have been irritated by the Prime Minister’s ‘lack of courtesy’ [Image: AFP/Getty].

No wonder Buckingham Palace was furious – Theresa May displayed utterly inappropriate arrogance in claiming that she had formed a government, when it is the Queen’s prerogative to ask a prospective prime minister to do so.

Furthermore, Mrs May initially had no right to claim that she even had the ability to form a government, as there was no deal with the DUP until 17 days after she claimed it had been sealed.

It looks like a stitch-up – and a surprisingly successful one, considering the Tory prime minister’s ineptitude at everything else.

And what about a “Royal source” and their claim that the DUP “buggered Mrs May about”? What does that say about the Palace’s attitude to the government Mrs May has created.

It seems she cannot rely on her party’s support in the House of Lords – and, considering her treatment of the monarch, nobody should be surprised.

Buckingham Palace was infuriated with Theresa May after she misled the Queen about the progress of negotiations as she sought to form a government, it has been reported.

Tensions are said to have arisen between senior courtiers and Downing Street after the Prime Minister said she had secured the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), only for it to take another 17 days before a deal was finalised.

The palace was reportedly further irritated by Ms May breaching protocol as she announced her intention to form a government on the steps of Downing Street, The Sunday Times reported.

A Tory peer told the newspaper: “She said, ‘I’ve formed a government’, not ‘The Queen has asked me to form a government’. The palace was alarmed by her formulation of words.”

The Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, is said to have repeatedly made his frustrations clear.

“It is certainly true the palace was being given a greater sense of certainty about the deal than was accurate, because the truth is that the DUP buggered Mrs May about longer than she thought,” said a royal source.

A Conservative adviser… said Ms May did not intentionally misled the Queen, because her chief whip, Gavin Williamson, “thought he had assurances he didn’t have” from the DUP.

Source: Queen ‘furious at being misled by Theresa May over DUP deal’


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Rona Fairhead’s record should disqualify her from public office, but the Tories have found her two. Why?

Rona Fairhead: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens? [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock.]

Rona Fairhead was well-known to be a Conservative when she was appointed as chair of the BBC Trust. I commented on her political persuasion here and here.

It turns out she was also chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank was mired in tax avoidance and money laundering scandals. It also transpires that George Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned the US government not to press criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars.

One has to question whether Mr Osborne would have – if he had been editing the Evening Standard at the time – discouraged reporters there from writing about HSBC, as happened at the Daily Telegraph. Ah, but of course the Torygraph had recently benefited from a stonkingly huge HSBC loan – £250 million. That kind of money can seal a lot of laptops.

But then again, it was alleged earlier this year that HSBC laundered £5 million into Conservative Party hands, in advance of the 2010 general election. Would that be enough to buy George Osborne’s loyalty? I leave that to your own judgement.

Meanwhile, Ms Fairhead is now the Tory minister in charge of trade and export promotion, after being rewarded with a peerage for… well, for being involved in lots of scandals, apparently.

Tories have ‘form’ in this respect – former HSBC chairman Stephen Green quit his job (after the bank was involved in the scandals listed above) to become a Tory peer and minister of state for trade and investment in 2011.

Stephen Green: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Here‘s the Guardian‘s piece on Ms Fairhead’s appointment:

The former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been appointed as an international trade minister with a life peerage, Downing Street has announced.

Fairhead will replace Mark Price, the former Waitrose managing director who quit after a year as trade policy minister. The MP Greg Hands has taken over the policy role, and Fairhead’s title will be minister for trade and export promotion.

Fairhead was the chief executive of the Financial Times Group before taking on the BBC role, from which she resigned after Theresa May indicated that she would have to reapply for the job to which she had been appointed by David Cameron.

Fairhead was the chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank admitted to “past compliance and control failures” in the group, after it was mired in a tax avoidance row uncovered by the Guardian’s HSBC files investigation.

The Graun reported that Labour’s Margaret Hodge had attacked the appointment, saying it was “not down to her capabilities”. And she’s not the only one with issues:

It seems clear the Conservative government has a problem understanding the concept of trustworthiness.

A person who has been involved with a business that has regularly and unrepentantly engaged in criminal activities should not have been made chair of the BBC Trust, as David Cameron did. It casts doubt on the reasons for the appointment and raises questions about interference with BBC current affairs coverage.

Theresa May was right to demand that Ms Fairhead re-apply for the job, under those circumstances. But now she has shown a colossal error of judgement in giving the same person a peerage and ministerial appointment. Why? One has to ask what is behind this decision.

Whatever the answer to that question, we can be sure that Ms Fairhead’s appearance in the House of Lords can only undermine what little faith is left in the Conservatives as a party of government.


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Cameron’s honours list cowardice: Too many corrupt Conservatives?

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Not the only Tory suspected of wrong-doing, then?

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Not the only Tory suspected of wrong-doing, then?

David Cameron is planning to postpone the announcement of the next honours list until after the election, because he is worried that Conservatives he nominates might be embroiled in a scandal before polling day, according to The Independent.

According to that paper, “A Whitehall source said: ‘Cameron is petrified of someone on the list having done a Rifkind and finding that a week or two before the election a newspaper has done a number on some [Conservative] grandee.’

“It is thought that the recent cash-for-access sting involving Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Labour’s Jack Straw has influenced No 10’s thinking” regarding the release of the Dissolution Honours nominations.

Doesn’t this say everything you need to know about the Conservatives?

Cameron got into trouble last year because he handed out peerages to people, not because they had done great work for the United Kingdom, but because they had done a lot of work to support him personally.

Now he is afraid to give prior notice of the names on his latest list, for fear that any transgressions they have committed may become public before May 7 and hurt his election chances.

Clearly, corrupt and immoral behaviour among Tory MPs is expected by the Conservative leadership.

Are you really going to give it your approval at the general election?

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Foiled! Lords veto Coalition bid to make being ‘annoying’ an arrestable offence

140108ipna

The Conservative-led Coalition government has suffered a major setback in its plan for an oppressive law to criminalise any behaviour that may be deemed a nuisance or annoyance.

The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was intended to allow police the power to arrest any group in a public place who constables believe may upset someone. It was rejected by 306 votes to 178, after peers on all sides of the House condemned the proposal as one that would eliminate carol-singing and street preaching, bell-ringing and – of course – political protests.

It seems the Lords are more interested than our would-be tyrants in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Cabinet in the basic assumption of British law – that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

The politics.co.uk website, reporting the government’s defeat, said the new law would have introduced Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) to replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).

It explained: “Whereas an Asbo can only be granted if a person or group is causing or threatening to cause ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ to someone else, an Ipna could be approved merely if a judge believes the behaviour in question is ‘capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person’.

“Opinion could have been swayed by a mistake from Lord Faulks, the Tory peer widely expected to shortly become a minister who was asked to give an example of the sort of behaviour which might be captured by the bill.

“He described a group of youths who repeatedly gathered at a specific location, smoking cannabis and playing loud music in a way representing ‘a day-by-day harassment of individuals’.

“That triggered consternation in the chamber as peers challenged him over the word ‘harassment’ – a higher bar than the ‘nuisance or annoyance’ threshold he was arguing in favour of.

“‘I find it difficult to accept a Conservative-led government is prepared to introduce this lower threshold in the bill,’ Tory backbencher Patrick Cormack said.

“‘We are sinking to a lower threshold and in the process many people may have their civil liberties taken away from them.'”

It is the judgement of the general public that this is precisely the intention.

Peers repeatedly quoted Lord Justice Sedley’s ruling in a 1997 high court case, when he declared: “Freedom to only speak inoffensively is not worth having.”

It is interesting to note that the government tried a well-used tactic – making a minor concession over the definition of ‘annoyance’ before the debate took place, in order to win the day. This has served the Coalition well in the past, particularly during the fight over the Health and Social Care Act, in which claims were made about GPs’ role in commissioning services, about the future role of the Health Secretary, and about the promotion of private health organisations over NHS providers.

But today the Lords were not fooled and dismissed the change in agreement with the claim of civil liberties group Liberty, which said – in words that may also be applied to the claims about the Health Act – that they were “a little bit of window dressing” and “nothing substantial has changed“.

A further concession, changing the proposal for an IPNA to be granted only if it is “just and convenient to do so” into one for it to be granted if it targets conduct which could be “reasonably expected to cause nuisance or annoyance” was torpedoed by Lord Dear, who rightly dismissed it as “vague and imprecise“.

That is a criticism that has also been levelled at that other instrument of repression, the Transparency of Lobbying Bill. Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan police commissioner, invited comparison between the two when he described the Antisocial Behaviour Bill in the same terms previously applied to the Lobbying Bill: “This is a piece of absolutely awful legislation.”

The defeat means the Bill will return to the House of Commons, where MPs will have to reconsider their approach to freedom of speech, under the scrutiny of a general public that is now much more aware of the threat to it than when the Bill was first passed by our allegedly democratic representatives.

With a general election only 16 months away, every MP must know that every decision they make could affect their chances in 2015.

We must judge them on their actions.

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‘Gagging Bill’ put on hold as government fears defeat

[Picture: PR Week]

[Picture: PR Week]

The Coalition government’s latest attack on democracy has been halted before it reached the House of Lords, after ministers realised peers weren’t going to put up with it.

The ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration’ Bill was due to be discussed by peers this week, but the part dealing with third-party campaigning such as that carried out by charities and popular organisations has been put back until December 16 after a threat to delay the entire bill for three months.

The government wants to “rethink” its plans to restrict campaigning by charities, it seems. Hasn’t it already done so twice before?

Andrew Lansley tabled a series of amendments, including one reverting to wording set out in existing legislation, defining controlled expenditure as any “which can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success”, on September 6.

But the plan was still to “bring down the national spending limit for third parties, introduce constituency spending limits and extend the definition of controlled expenditure to cover more than just election material, to include rallies, transport and press conferences”, as clarified by the government’s own press release.

Lansley published further amendments on September 26, claiming that these would:

  • Remove the additional test of “otherwise enhancing the standing of a party or candidates”. This is to provide further reassurance to campaigners as to the test they have to meet in order to incur controlled expenditure. A third party will only be subject to regulation where its campaign can reasonably be regarded as intended to “promote or procure the electoral success” of a party of candidate,
  • Replace the separate listings for advertising, unsolicited material and manifesto/policy documents with election “material”; this is the language used in the current legislation that non-party campaigners and the Electoral Commission are already familiar with, and on which the Electoral Commission have existing guidance,
  • Make clear that it is public rallies and events that are being regulated; meetings or events just for an organisation’s members or supporters will not be captured by the bill. “We will also provide an exemption for annual events – such as an organisation’s annual conference”,
  • Ensure that non–party campaigners who respond to ad hoc media questions on specific policy issues are not captured by the bill, whilst still capturing press conferences and other organised media events, and
  • Ensure that all “market research or canvassing” which promotes electoral success is regulated.

But this blog reported at the time that anyone who thinks that is all that’s wrong with the bill is as gullible as Lansley intends them to be.

As reported here on September 4, the bill is an attempt to stifle political commentary from organisations and individuals.

New regulations for trade unions mean members could be blacklisted – denied jobs simply because of their membership.

Measures against lobbyists – the bill’s apparent reason for existing – are expected to do nothing to hinder Big Money’s access to politicians, and in fact are likely to accelerate the process, turning Parliamentarians into corporate poodles.

Where the public wanted a curb on corporations corruptly influencing the government, it is instead offering to rub that influence in our faces.

In fact, the Government’s proposed register would cover fewer lobbyists than the existing, voluntary, register run by the UK Public Affairs Council.

And now a bill tabled by Andrew Lansley has been given a “pause” for reconsideration. Is anybody else reminded of the “pause” that took place while Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act was going through Parliament? In the end, the government pushed it through, regardless of the screams of outrage from the medical profession and the general public, and now private health firms are carving up the English NHS for their own profit, using Freedom of Information requests to undermine public sector bids for services.

In the Lords last night, according to The Independent, ministers were pressured to include in-house company lobbyists in the proposed register, if it is to have any credibility.

But Lord Wallace said the proposed “light touch” system would be more effective and the register was designed to address the problem of consultant lobbying firms seeing ministers without it being clear who they represented – in other words, it is intended to address a matter that isn’t bothering anybody, rather than the huge problem of companies getting their chequebooks out and paying for laws that give them an advantage.

We should be grateful for the delay – it gives us all another chance to contact Lords, constituency MPs and ministers to demand an explanation for this rotten piece of legal trash.

If they persist in supporting this undemocratic attack on free speech, then they must pay for it at the next election.