Tag Archives: suspend

Former Tory chairman says Sunak should suspend Zahawi – but why not ‘drain the swamp’?

Jake Berry: his BBCQT appearance needs to be seen to be believed.

The BBC’s flagship Question Time programme featured an extraordinary display of backstabbing by a Tory MP against his Cabinet replacement.

Former Tory chairman Jake Berry, asked whether his successor Nadhim Zahawi should stay in post after revelations about his tax affairs, started out with a classic ‘resume statement’, praising his party colleague – but then veered off-topic sharply, saying a mechanism should be in place for Zahawi to step back from government while he was being investigated, and be reinstated if vindicated.

It’s not a bad idea but it has been around for some time – it’s called suspension. He would not lose his job as an MP, and could come back later.

Berry then manufactured an argument with Tracy (“Drain the swamp!”) Brabin over the role of independent ethics advisor Sir Laurie Magnus.

Probably the best comment from an audience member came from a GP who said there had been so many similar scandals in the Tory government that it seemed impossible to trust anybody in the party at all.

The debate ranged across all the information that has come out so far and I have tried to ensure that these are all included in the clip, so we can all refer back to it.

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Tory Bridgen facing Commons suspension over lobbying – but is the penalty strong enough?

Suspension threat: Andrew Bridgen.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen may be suspended from the House of Commons for five days after he failed to declare a financial interest in a firm while writing to ministers about it.

The Commons Standards Committee found that Bridgen had breached lobbying rules “on multiple occasions and in multiple ways” – and that he had also made an “unacceptable attack on the integrity” of Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

A BBC report stated:

The committee said Mr Bridgen had called the integrity of Ms Stone into question on the basis of “wholly unsubstantiated and false allegations, and attempted to improperly influence the House’s standards processes”.

According to the BBC (again),

It was recommended he be suspended for three days for this – in addition to two days for three breaches of the code of conduct, including failing to declare a relevant interest in emails to ministers.

The committee said Mr Bridgen should have told ministers and officials he received a donation and a funded visit to Ghana from the Cheshire-based firm Mere Plantations, and had a £12,000 contract to be an adviser.

Bridgen appealed against the decision, but a panel has dismissed this, saying the proposed penalty was appropriate. MPs will vote on whether to uphold the recommended five-day suspension.

It seems Bridgen had had questioned whether his reputation as an outspoken critic of then-prime minister Boris Johnson could have influenced Ms Stone’s findings:

He wrote to her saying: “I was distressed to hear on a number of occasions an unsubstantiated rumour that your contract as Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is due to end in the coming months and that there are advanced plans to offer you a peerage, potentially as soon as the Prime Minister’s resignation honours list.

“There is also some suggestion amongst colleagues that those plans are dependent upon arriving at the ‘right’ outcomes when conducting parliamentary standards investigations.

“Clearly my own travails with Number 10 and the former PM have been well documented and obviously a small part of me is naturally concerned to hear such rumours.

“More importantly however you are rightfully renowned for your integrity and decency and no doubt such rumours are only designed to harm your reputation.”

The committee said Mr Bridgen’s email “appears to be an attempt to place wholly inappropriate pressure on the commissioner” which is “completely unacceptable behaviour”.

In his appeal, it seems Bridgen criticised the investigation as “flawed”, arguing that it had not fully considered the motivations of the person who had made the initial complaint.

He also said he had been carrying out the duties of a constituency MP.

But the Independent Expert Panel, that had been asked to consider his appeal, concluded that the motivations of the complainant were “completely irrelevant” and that an exemption for an MPs constituency duties did not apply in his case.

Its members added that sanctions “could properly and fairly have been more severe”.

Then why weren’t they?

There are three fairly serious misdemeanours here:

  • he failed to follow lobbying rules (on multiple occasions, we’re told);
  • he tried to exert pressure on the Standards Commissioner by attacking her integrity; and
  • he tried to claim the investigation was part of a personal attack by whoever made the complaint about him.

So this is not just about lobbying, and possibly benefiting financially from such activities; it’s also about bullying and deflecting blame.

If a five-day suspension is the worst sanction that the Parliamentary standards system can impose, then perhaps there should be legislation to formally criminalise this behaviour, with jurisdiction on any punishment handed over to the courts?

Or would this simply give the police another opportunity to kowtow to the Conservatives?

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Lord faces suspension for taking cash from firm he lobbied for

Not a backhander: in fact, Lord Shrewsbury seems to have been open in his dealings with the government and the firm for which he was lobbying. But the activity was not permitted and he should have known.

Crossbench peer Lord Shrewsbury may be suspended from the House of Lords for nine months after he was paid £57,000 after lobbying for the government to buy a firm’s products during the Covid-19 crisis.

What about the Tory peer who (allegedly) took £29 million under similar circumstances, then?

According to the BBC,

The Earl of Shrewsbury was found by the Lords Conduct Committee to have approached ministers on behalf of a company marketing Covid-19 sanitiser products, which he worked for.

The committee recommended he should be suspended for nine months, which is subject to a vote by the upper house.

He was paid £57,000 by healthcare company SpectrumX for his work as a consultant over a period of 19 months between 2020 and 2022.

In 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic, the firm was seeking regulatory approval for products including hand sanitisers and a walk-in disinfectant tunnel.

The peer approached ministers, including then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock to promote the company’s tunnel in return for a £3,000 monthly retainer, the committee’s report found.

He referred himself to the commissioner following allegations about his conduct in relation to the company in the Sunday Times.

Dare we hope that this recommendation indicates the direction of travel for members of either House of Parliament who are found to have broken lobbying rules in such a way – with an increasingly-severe scale of penalties for those found to have broken the rules, depending on the amount of money they took and the effectiveness (or lack of the same) of the product they were touting?

That would be useful with regard to that other case, mentioned above.

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Labour Party suspends member who’s facing eviction after psychiatric problems and job loss

For the many? It seems Labour is pursuing many people with questionable accusations that may seem like misbehaviour but don’t actually amount to it.

The UK’s political party that should be standing in solidarity with people facing serious life problems has just suspended a member in exactly that situation – for no very good reason.

Liam Stephen has spent the last seven Christmases fundraising and running food drives for the homeless in his hometown of Scunthorpe.

He also once ran his own charity providing free musical opportunities and instruments to disadvantaged children called Songbooks and Glory.

But he was left facing eviction after losing his grandfather, his partner and his job, and having treatment for psychiatric problems.

The left-wing YouTube programme Not The Andrew Marr Show learned of his troubles and launched a crowdfunder that has paid his rent – for the moment.

Liam was a member of the Labour Party – but then the show’s creators learned of another bombshell that hit his life:

It’s the reason for the suspension that is dumbfounding: “discussions and associations with previous suspended members”.

There’s no reference to the reasons these people’s part memberships were suspended, and no suggestion that Liam has even shown any sympathy with whatever offences these other – alleged – people were said to have committed.

You may wish to donate to Liam’s crowdfunder here: https://gofund.me/8e0aff9d

Well done, Keir Starmer! Way to kick a man when he’s down.

One really has to question the direction the Labour Party has taken under this man.

It seems to have gone from being a party that supports people through unjust accusations and hardship to one that makes such accusations and inflicts such hardship.

Fortunately people – whose beliefs actually coincide with those on which the Labour Party was originally founded – have taken up Liam’s case and are helping him.

But how many more are being deliberately targeted by the right-wing husk of a once-great organisation that has been hollowed out by a leader who got where he is under false pretences*?

*Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership after making a series of 10 “pledges” in support of socialist ideals – all of which he has since broken.

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Conor McGinn suspended from Labour under new rules. Will it be poetic justice?

Suspended: Conor McGinn.

Watch this article on YouTube:

An MP who was believed to have co-ordinated a series of resignations from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in 2016, in an effort to undermine the then-Labour leader, is now facing disciplinary proceedings under new rules.

The new procedures were brought in by current leader Keir Starmer to make Labour seem more responsive to complaints, after the party was criticised for apparently being unresponsive to allegations of anti-Semitism during Mr Corbyn’s time as leader.

It is ironic, because any lack of response had been shown to be due to foot-dragging by right-wing factionalists at Labour’s head office who were trying to drag Mr Corbyn down. Now the procedures their actions hustled in may bring down a right-wing factionalist.

McGinn himself was said to have “choreographed” the flurry of resignations in the summer of 2016, according to Sophy Ridge of Sky News.

It was significant because at that time he was one of Mr Corbyn’s Whips – tasked with ensuring party discipline.

Some might say he had been an unsafe choice for Mr Corbyn because he was part of a network of Blairite Labour politicians who had opposed Corbyn’s leadership of the party from the beginning.

Despite his role in the so-called ‘Chicken Coup’, McGinn did not resign for another four months, finally leaving his Corbyn-appointed role in October 2016, after a couple more very odd incidents, as described by This Site at the time:

This is the man who, in an article on PoliticsHome titled I can no longer tolerate Jeremy Corbyn’s hypocrisy, claimed fellow whips had told him the Labour leader had threatened to telephone his father, a former Sinn Fein councillor, over comments made by Mr McGinn (Jr) in an interview.

It very quickly transpired that none of his allegations are substantiated by factual evidence. There is no record of the content of the call he allegedly received from the Whips’ Office and he does not say how “it transpired” that Mr Corbyn was going to phone his dad.

Shortly afterwards, Mr McGinn was embroiled in a row with his own Constituency Labour Party members, after a group of women was excluded from a meeting to discuss a vote of confidence in Mr Corbyn.

It would appear that this group of members had been fed incorrect information about the venue for a CLP meeting; that McGinn and local councillors/delegates had conducted the meeting behind locked doors, and when questioned shrugged off members’ genuine concerns.

But in his report to the police – yes, the police – about the incident, and in a subsequent article on PoliticsHome, it seems Mr McGinn claimed that a group of thugs had ransacked his office and threatened him so severely that he required police protection.

What? I mean, that last claim was bizarre in the extreme.

Details of the allegation against McGinn have not been provided.

As he has lost the Labour whip, he will sit as an Independent MP – although one doubts that he will choose to seat himself next to fellow Independent and former Labour MP… Jeremy Corbyn.

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Commons suspension update: NO ACTION over Ministerial Code breach?

Could anything else so succinctly demonstrate the power that Parliament has to hold the government to account – or rather the lack of it?

Commons Speaker Lyndsay Hoyle suspended a sitting of the House of Commons on Thursday (December 8) after discovering that Michael Gove had failed to deliver a full copy of a ministerial statement on the opening of a new coal mine, either to him or to Opposition parties.

This meant the Speaker was unable to select the MPs who would question the minister on the decision, because nobody had the information needed to inform such questions.

This is a breach of the Ministerial Code and by rights, Gove should have resigned.

But, as Maximilien Robespierre observes in the video below, he’s not going to resign.

He won’t be punished by prime minister Rishi Sunak.

And the Commons sitting was suspended for just five minutes.

Pathetic. Toothless. Pointless.

Here’s the clip:

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Speaker suspends Commons session after government breaks the rules AGAIN

They were warned.

Time and time again, Tory ministers have been told that their statements to the House of Commons have to be made in a very particular way, which is:

  • not after announcing what they’re doing to the media first, and
  • not without giving Opposition parties full access to the contents of their speech.

But Michael Gove – who has been in government on and off since 2010 and therefore should know better – broke those rules yet again, and this time Commons Speaker Lyndsay Hoyle had had enough.

He suspended the sitting of the Commons – firstly for five minutes and then for a longer period, in order to investigate Gove’s reasons for failing to supply more than a brief summary of his long speech before he delivered it and to provide Opposition parties with a chance to absorb what he had said and formulate questions on it.

Was Gove trying to avoid letting his fellow MPs have the chance to ask pertinent questions?

Or is he just incompetent?

As always, it’s hard to separate idiocy from intent with this lot.

The whole saga was captured on video, so you can watch it for yourself:

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Special adviser to Liz Truss suspended in ethics investigation over ‘sh*t’ comment

Liz Truss: Jason Stein worked for her during her campaign to become leader of the Conservative Party.

A top aide of Liz Truss has been suspended with an investigation to follow.

Jason Stein, a supporter of new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, is being investigated by the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics unit over briefings from Downing Street sources over the weekend.

It was alleged that these briefings led reporters to believe Ms Truss was of the view that the former Chancellor and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who had been thought to be in line to replace Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor, was “shit”.

Mr Stein worked for Truss during her Tory leadership campaign.

Source: Top Liz Truss aide ‘suspended amid ethics investigation’

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Labour MP Christina Rees loses party whip – but is she really a bully?

This Writer is familiar with Christina Rees, from my time as a member and officer of the Brecon and Radnorshire Labour Party.

I find it hard to believe that she would engage in any activity that could be described as bullying.

She was Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Wales secretary, though, and I wonder if this is another attempt to discredit a member of his team.

A senior Labour MP has been stripped of the party whip after allegations of bullying her constituency staff, the Guardian can reveal.

Christina Rees, who was shadow Wales secretary during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader, will now sit as an independent in the House of Commons.

It is understood that there will be an internal Labour party investigation into the allegations and Rees, the MP for Neath, will have her party membership suspended until the case is resolved.

Local party members claimed that several of her staff had made detailed statements, which they said were backed up with evidence, to Labour headquarters about claims of bullying.

In a statement, Rees said: “There has been a complaint made against me to the Labour party, which is under investigation and I am therefore under an administrative suspension until the process is concluded. I’m not aware of the details of the complaint but I am fully cooperating with the investigation.”

Perhaps we should follow this story carefully.

Source: Labour MP Christina Rees loses party whip after alleged bullying | Labour | The Guardian

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The shabby story of Conor Burns

Conor Burns.

A Tory minister was unceremoniously sacked from his government job and suspended as a Conservative MP amid claims of misconduct that have yet to be entirely clarified – two days later.

Conor Burns, who was a friend of the late Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher in her later years, was dumped by the party on Friday.

It has since been suggested that the claims concern Burns touching another man’s thigh in a Birmingham hotel bar during the Conservative Party conference last week:

Allies of the MP claim he had injured his ribs the weekend before the party conference and was on heavy medication to manage the pain.

They suggested the prescribed medicine made the effect of the alcohol worse.

It is not disputed by the former minister’s friends that he had been drinking or that he flirted with the young man who had joined him, who, we understand, was not known to Mr Burns.

The MP was sufficiently drunk that he had to later be taken back to his hotel by a friend.

We understand that Mr Burns is strongly of the view that the flirting was consensual, but the BBC has not yet spoken to the man the former minister was with to hear his account of events.

Burns has protested his innocence – but this produced an unexpected knock-on effect:

Professor Tim Wilson has vlogged about this, and raises an interesting question: is this just a ‘dead cat’ to distract attention from Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng?

He provides further analysis here:

I think we can all agree with his final sentiment.

We should all be truly ashamed of the Conservative Party.

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