Tag Archives: Tim Farron

Brexit trade debate turns into farce because May doesn’t understand her own plan

Backroom bunko: Theresa May.

Let’s get this straight:

Theresa May proved she did not understand her own ‘Chequers plan’ for a future relationship between the UK and the European Union on Sunday (July 15). Andrew Marr demonstrated to her that it would prevent the UK from making trade deals with other nations because it would tie us into a ‘common rulebook’ with the European Union.

She compounded this misunderstanding in the House of Commons yesterday (July 16) when she caved in to four Trade Bill amendments by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s far-right-wing European Research Group (ERG). The change in the most controversial of these would effectively rip up the so-called ‘common rulebook’ and demand that, if the UK collects duties and VAT on goods for the EU – and at EU rates, then the EU should reciprocate, collecting UK duties and VAT at UK rates.

The ERG amendment was intended to wreck Mrs May’s plan for a customs compromise with the EU27, in the belief that Brussels would reject the measure – but Mrs May then argued that the EU had only ruled out collecting UK duties and tariffs at its border, and it would be necessary to have other reciprocal financial systems with the EU to refund businesses in the event that there were differing customs arrangements. She said the amendments were “consistent” with the Brexit White Paper – even though they weren’t.

If it looks like fudge and tastes like fudge, it probably is fudge. That is what the 14-strong group of Conservative Remain-supporting MPs decided after learning of Downing Street’s decision to support the four ERG amendments – whipping Tory MPs to vote against the government’s own proposals.

This group had already been betrayed by Mrs May over the EU Withdrawal Bill, so it is unsurprising that its members voted against the ERG amendments as supported by the prime minister yesterday.

But – and this is where it gets really bizarre – the amendments passed anyway, with the support of three current Labour MPs and former Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, and due to the absence of Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and that party’s former leader Tim Farron.

Labour MPs who turn down a chance to defeat the Conservatives are, of course, traitors to their party and their voters – and the Liberal Democrats have once again shown their Tory-supporting colours by betraying their own anti-Brexit position.

Mr Farron was giving a speech in Sherborne about how he reconciles his evangelical Christian beliefs with being a Liberal Democrat politician, and Mr Cable was at a meeting off the Parliamentary estate. The Liberal Democrats said both were absent because nobody had expected the vote to be so close – except it had been all over the news for days.

Labour MPs Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer have no excuse at all. I await a decision on their punishment from the Labour whips’ office.

The whole farrago means that the government won its votes with nothing more than luck.

And Theresa May knows it – that is why she has proposed bringing forward the Parliamentary summer recess to Thursday (July 19) – five days early. There currently seems little hope that any Brexit deal currently on the table could command the support of a majority of MPs, and this makes a ‘no confidence’ vote in Mrs May’s leadership more likely.

Going to recess on Thursday would cut the time available to call a confidence vote, and then Mrs May would have the long summer recess in which to try to talk her MPs into giving her yet another chance.

This is not principled politics – it is backroom bunko.

If Mrs May does any deal with her rebellious MPs, it will be to give them something they want in order to push a bad deal on the people of the UK that will make us all much worse-off.

But remember: There will be no referendum on whether Brexit should go ahead. Mrs May has been adamant about that. Clearly she sees an advantage in it for herself.

And in Theresa May’s world, she is all that matters. The rest of the UK can rot. And that’s no way to run a country.

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Lefty political activism is on the rise while the Tories are the party of the living dead

A Jeremy Corbyn rally – a sign of a revitalised party membership [Image: Twitter].

This is a timely reminder, as Labour goes into its national conference.

Fair enough, Tim Farron did a good job bringing members back into the Liberal Democrats.

But the real mystery is how, with a declining and aging membership, the Conservative Party has still managed to win more seats in Parliament than anybody else.

Apparently the Labour Conference is to receive a report advocating proportional representation as a way of building left-wing representation in Parliament.

Considering the current stranglehold on democracy by the zombies, maybe it can’t happen too soon.

One of the greatest achievements of Jeremy Corbyn has been to revitalise political activism in Britain.

According to a report in the House of Commons library active membership of political parties fell to its lowest ever recorded proportion of the population – at 0.8 per cent – in 2013. It was virtually teetering on near extinction. It had also veered to the right – with UKIP going from now nowhere to 74,000 members.Labour in 2013 was also at a low before Corbyn won the leadership of 190,000 members.

After Corbyn’s leadership victory in the autumn of 2015 membership of the Labour Party had soared to 388,000. Under his leadership, despite a hostile press, it grew again to 544,000 by the end of last year. Since then it has risen to 552,000 in June. And on the eve of the party conference now stands at 569,500.

To do him credit the other person who revitalised an ailing party was Tim Farron. Fuelled by their Remain stance the Liberal Democrat party moved from 61,000 members in December 2015 to 78,000 by the end of last year and to 102,000 by May this year. though this is dwarfed by Labour.

Between the two of them they have increased membership of political parties to 1.7 per cent of the population – still small – but more than double the numbers in 2013.

The real mystery is the Tories. They say their membership is 149,000. But this figure has never been updated since 2013 as no political party is obliged to publish its membership numbers in its annual report. Their shyness in producing any new membership figures since then – suggests that they may have suffered a decline in membership.

It has recently come out that the average age of Tory members is 72 which suggests that while there have been enormous increases in Left and Centre parties – the Tories could well be in terminal decline and turning literally into the party of the living dead!

Source: How Jeremy Corbyn (with a little help from Tim Farron) brought political activism back from the living dead | David Hencke


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Tory promise to stop re-assessing benefit claimants with lifelong illnesses was a LIE

Tim Farron with benefit claimant John Heaton and his carer Kath Dunning [Image: Cumbria Crack].

How could we have expected more from the Party of Liars?

Well-deserved congratulations go to former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron for exposing then-Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green as having lied when he said assessors from private companies would no longer re-assess claimants who have long-term illnesses.

At the time, Mr Green said it was “pointless” and “only adds to their anxiety and difficulties”. So why is the minority Conservative government still doing it?

The answer to that, of course, is in the information provided to Mr Farron:

The Tories could never stop re-assessing people with long-term illnesses because the Department for Work and Pensions simply does not make a note of which claimants have them.

Damian Green must have known this when he made his statement last October.

In fact, it confirms what This Writer suspected when I published this article, at the time – and this article, one month later.

So we knew Mr Green was lying at the time; the Conservative government of the day was criticised for it – and did nothing.

Is it time to pressurise the new, minority Tory government to keep its promise – or sling its hook?

Tim Farron has slammed the Government for lying to local people over plans to stop re-testing benefit claimants who have long-term chronic illnesses such as Huntingdon’s, MS, and Parkinson’s.

Back in October last year, the then Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Damien Green, said that they would no longer reassess benefits for those who have long-term sickness as it is “pointless” and “only adds to their anxiety and difficulties”.

However, a freedom of information request from Tim Farron has revealed that the DWP never intended to carry out this proposal as they do not even record data which would allow them to pull out the group of claimants who have chronic illnesses.

An example of someone who the Government has broken their promise to is John Heaton. John has a degenerative brain disease and severe obstructive pulmonary disease of which he has a sick note to cover him from his doctors. He is also suffering from a hip injury and extreme weight loss for which his dietician nurse makes home visits.

Kath Dunning, who is John’s carer, said: “I received a letter from the DWP saying that John had missed a medical assessment. I rang the relevant authorities to tell them that I hadn’t received a letter about the assessment.

“They told me to put it in writing which I did. They then replied four weeks later after numerous phone calls from myself to say that they were upholding their decision. This meant that I would have to take it to a tribunal and John would have to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance.”

Read more: Farron slams DWP over breaking promise to stop re-testing claimants with lifelong illnesses


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ANALYSIS: Sleaford suggests flooding a constituency with campaigners really DOES get results

New Conservative MP Dr Caroline Johnson [Image: Joe Giddens/PA].

What are we to say about the result of the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election? That you can get a good result – even if you can’t spell the constituency’s name – by flooding a constituency with campaigners and hassling people for their vote?

If so, we would have to qualify that by saying the tactic only served to give UKIP a smaller drop in voter numbers than Labour. If you look at the chart showing what happened to voter numbers between last year’s General Election and yesterday, you’ll see…

… the Conservatives lost almost half the votes they had in 2015, making them both the winners and the biggest losers of the by-election.

Labour’s drop to fourth place makes the party look terrible, but there is a difference of just 1,063 votes between the second- and fourth-placing parties, making the result statistically useless if any attempt were made to use it to predict a general election result.

In effect, Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are neck-and-neck.

Liberal Democrats don’t care about the good of the UK – they care about being in power.

But the Lib Dems managed to increase the number of voters they had – and this is significant as turnout, at 37.1 per cent of the electorate, was 33.1 per cent lower than at the general election last year.

It indicates that voters are continuing to return to the Lib Dems after punishing them for five years of coalition with the Conservatives at the 2015 election.

It indicates that the Lib Dems, who claimed to have run their biggest campaign ever in Lincolnshire, are also following the tactic of flooding a constituency with campaigners – but, with them, it paid off better.

It also indicates that voters are choosing to ignore the fact that the Lib Dems would happily go right back into coalition with the Conservatives if it gave them another whiff of power.

In a recent interview, Mr Farron said: “Any serious politician who rules out going into power isn’t a serious politician.

“It’s not up to me to choose who the Liberal Democrats go into power with if the Liberal Democrats don’t get a majority. That’s up to the electorate [and] that’s how the arithmetic worked out in 2010.”

Voters should remember that: Liberal Democrats don’t care about the good of the UK – they care about being in power.

Here’s how the Daily Mirror reported the story:

“The Conservatives have comfortably held the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat with Ukip the runner-up in the parliamentary by-election.

“Tory candidate Caroline Johnson will be the new MP after winning 17,570 votes, beating Ukip’s Victoria Ayling, who had 4,426.

“It was a bad result for Labour, slipping from second place at the 2015 general election to fourth, behind the Liberal Democrats.

“The Tory majority of 13,144 is far lower than the 24,115 secured by Mr Phillips last year but represents a comfortable hold for the Conservatives in a by-election with a turnout of just 37%.

“Dr Johnson won 53.51% of the votes, down 2.68% on the share in 2015, while Ukip won 13.48%, down 2.21%.

“Labour’s Jim Clarke won 3,363 votes, a 10.24% share, down 7% on 2015, while Liberal Democrat Ross Pepper’s 3,606 votes gave him a 10.98% share, up 5.33% from the general election.

“Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said … ‘With Labour yet again nowhere, and after losing their deposit in Richmond, the Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government.'”

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The Richmond Park by-election, the upset – and the spin

Sarah Olney smiles after winning the Richmond Park by-election [Image: PA].

Sarah Olney smiles after winning the Richmond Park by-election [Image: PA].

Congratulations to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney on her narrow win against Zac Goldsmith. It shows that if you flood a constituency with supporters and pester the public hard enough, there’s nothing you can’t get them to do.

Of course, it isn’t very pleasant – but then, Liberal Democrats aren’t.

Party supporters flooded into Richmond Park, making nearly 100,000 attempts to speak to the constituency’s 82,500 voters, and stuffing their letterboxes with pamphlets.

Many constituents said they had been annoyed by the bombardment of Lib Dem propaganda.

The Liberal Democrats had two advantages in any case: Firstly, Richmond Park had been a Lib Dem seat until 2010, so voters had a natural inclination in their direction. And the constituency had voted Remain in the EU referendum, with 72 per cent of voters opposing Brexit.

Party campaigning was therefore focused on a promise to oppose Tory plans to quit the EU, with Ms Olney vowing to vote against any move to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that might be put through Parliament.

Where does that leave Labour?

Many commentators will want to assure you that this is evidence of Labour’s disappearance from the political mainstream. You’ll see it in all the newspapers that are run by right-wing businessmen who want you to vote in their best interests.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, came up with this scurrilous nonsense in his comments to the BBC: “Clearly a concern to voters was they desperately wanted a moderate, decent alternative to the Tories now Labour has shuffled off the main stage.”

Again, this is a comment from a man with a vested – indeed, desperate, considering the Liberal Democrats now have a grand total of nine MPs – interest in talking down the Labour Party.

Hopefully his comments will come as a sharp reminder to those within Labour who said that party should not field a candidate, that it had a duty to do so – and that failing to do so would have worsened the criticism from opponents like the schoolboyish Farron.

Clive Lewis, Lisa Nandy and Jonathan Reynolds had argued that Labour had little chance of winning in Richmond Park and should not field a candidate, but This Writer agrees with Peter Edwards of LabourList.

He wrote: “Avoiding the fight entirely would have resonated around the country. Labour needs to show people who struggle under the oppressive and unjust weight of a Tory government that it is fighting for them, even when its chances of success are slim to minuscule.”

Quite correct. Labour’s position on Brexit – that the EU referendum is done, the people have spoken, and we have to get the best out of it that we can – was never going to be popular in Richmond.

But Labour had to be there to show that the party opposes – in all parts of the UK – the dangerous right-wing policies of Zac Goldsmith and, until the dissolution of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, Tim Farron; policies that led to the death of a man in freezing Birmingham earlier this week.

And after Mr Goldsmith’s disgustingly racist campaign to be London Mayor, how would it have looked if Labour had not fielded a candidate against him? The party would have been accused of backing away from the fight or – worse – condoning the racism employed by the Goldsmith campaign.

This is a tricky time for Labour.

The party has a hugely popular leader who has, at long last, put forward policies that a majority of the public support.

The Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the SNP and most of the people you’ll see on the BBC’s Question Time are terrified of this.

So their strategy is to starve Labour of the oxygen of publicity by putting forward warped claims about the party and denying it the chance to respond.

Notice, for example, that there is no comment from a Labour representative in the BBC’s article, quoted below.

That is not an accident.

So beware.

These so-called Liberals and Tories and their allies in the media will spin you into voting for another extreme right-wing government if they possibly can.

The Liberal Democrats have caused a major upset in the Richmond Park by-election, overturning a 23,015 majority to oust ex-Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

Mr Goldsmith stood as an independent after leaving the Conservative Party in protest at the government’s decision to back a third Heathrow runway.

But Lib Dem Sarah Olney, who is also opposed to Heathrow expansion, fought the campaign on the issue of Brexit.

Labour’s Christian Wolmar lost his £500 deposit as he trailed a distant third.

Ms Olney polled 20,510 votes to Mr Goldsmith’s 18,638.

The Conservative Party, UK Independence Party and Green Party did not field candidates.

Source: Zac Goldsmith ousted by Lib Dems in Richmond Park by-election – BBC News

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Tory Democrats withdraw Bedroom Tax support – too little, too late?

140402libdembedtax

According to The Guardian, the Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron is set to withdraw his party’s support for the Bedroom Tax today (Wednesday), saying it has caused “huge social problems”.

It is too little, too late from the Party that Likes to Change its Mind – and one must question the timing. The newspaper states that “the Liberal Democrat conference agreed to review the bedroom tax” in September last year, but this is inaccurate; the conference passed a motion that official Liberal Democrat policy must be condemnation of the Bedroom Tax.

According to the newspaper: “In a speech that will distance the Lib Dems from the controversial tax, Farron condemns what he describes as attacks on the poorer members of society. ‘The onslaught of divisive rhetoric that demonises the poor can never help us to create a fairer society,’ he will tell the Centre for Social Justice. ‘The bedroom tax causes huge social problems and distorts the market – we as a party cannot support this.'”

But the Tax has already been in place for a year and the damage has been immense. Hardly a day goes by without a new report of victimisation. Why didn’t Farron make his move sooner?

Could it be more likely that, with elections on the way, it now seems like a good idea to get on the public’s side?

Back in the autumn, Vox Political wrote: “The tax was really brought in for several reasons: It is partly a reaction against the increase in the Housing Benefit bill to accommodate people with jobs whose wages are below their cost of living – this is due to greed on the part of employers; it is partly intended to clear housing – not for people on any waiting list but as a form of social cleansing, getting the riff-raff out of attractive parts of our towns and cities; and it is also another attempt to spite people on sickness, incapacity or disability benefits, who must either face the extra cost and inconvenience of removing special adaptations to their houses and reinstalling them elsewhere if they are able to move, or must lose the company of carers who use spare bedrooms when they have to stay over, or must pay the tax and live without food or heat, thereby risking their health.”

Nothing has changed since then.

Let’s hope the voters see this pathetic display for what it is.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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