Tag Archives: whips

Starmer’s Tory-supporting crackdown on his own party makes him a danger to people with disabilities

[Image: @Rachael_Swindon on Twitter.]

Apologists for Keir Starmer who reckon he’s easing the way for Tory legislation to make them “own their mistakes” will have a hard time justifying this.

Starmer and his team are working behind the scenes to stop Labour MPs from criticising the Conservatives.

After significant rebellions against one-line Labour whips on the Overseas Operations Bill and the Covert Human Intelligent Sources Bill (the so-called ‘Spycops’ bill that allows government agents to commit crimes including murder, torture and rape), the whips office has broken party protocol to issue written reprimands to the rebels.

The letters stipulate a reprimand period of six months, to be extended to twelve if the recipient continues to break the whip.

They have been shared with Labour’s parliamentary committee – a group of backbench MPs elected by the parliamentary Labour party (PLP), and currently dominated by the right – which will determine whether to inform the MP’s constituency Labour party (CLP), as well as the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

This information could then be considered when an MP seeks reselection ahead of a general election.

“That’s the fear factor,” one MP told Novara Media. “This could impact your reselection [and] it might be over a one-line whip. It’s intimidation plain and simple.”

A number of those who received letters are seeking legal advice from union representatives, the MP added.

But that’s not all.

It seems someone in Starmer’s office has taken it upon themselves to water down criticism of the Tory government’s failure to protect people with disabilities by reducing the disability employment gap and mitigating the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on them, and in its new COVID-19 guidance for people placed in the “clinically extremely vulnerable” group.

Someone in the office of the shadow minister for people with disabilities, Vicky Foxcroft, sent a draft of her comments to John Pring of Disability News Service which differed significantly from the official version of her comments released by the Labour Party.

The changes include the removal of a reference to the “vital” role played by trade unions in protecting disabled people from discrimination, along with any reference to disability discrimination.

Read the DNS article and see for yourself. It states,

Responding to the new pandemic guidance… her official statement said that disabled people were just “anxious” rather than “extremely worried”. Her call for disabled people who might need to shield again needing to be “properly compensated and not left without enough money to survive” had vanished.

This represents a serious policy change from Labour – back to the indifference to anti-disability discrimination that marred the New Labour years and Ed Miliband’s leadership.

People with disabilities can no longer rely on Labour MPs to stand up for them because it seems the party leadership now supports the Tories’ campaign to punish them, just for existing.

Starmer seems determined to let Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tories do whatever they want – harm whoever they want – while threatening to sabotage the careers of anybody in his own ranks who dares to protest.

The big question is: What is to be done about this?

The union Unite has already cut its funding to the Labour Party by 10 per cent, and the decision to remove a supportive reference to trade unions from an official comment could be interpreted as an attack – or even a retaliation. Should that union – and others – cut support for Labour even more?

And what about constituency Labour parties? The threat to MPs – which includes sanctions that could lead to their deselection (to be replaced by right-wingers parachuted in by head office, no doubt – that was Tony Blair’s practice) – is also an indirect attack on the power of members to choose their representatives.

Will they act? Should they?

What do you think?

Source: Keir Starmer Has Launched an Unprecedented Crackdown on Rebel MPs | Novara Media

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Brexit: Are Tory whips threatening their own MPs after bid to win Labour support failed?

Theresa May: Her back is against the wall. Expect her to lash out against her own MPs.

Theresa May’s hopes of gaining cross-party support for her brainless Brexit deal were dashed when only 26 Labour MPs bothered to attend a briefing led by Bash Street Kid Gavin Barwell.

She had been hoping her chief of staff would be able to encourage a large number of Labour representatives to rebel against that party’s stated decision to vote against her agreement with the EU on December 11, offsetting the 90 or so Conservatives who are likely to rebel against her.

However:

And fewer than half that number of Labour MPs were ever likely to vote against their own whips, according to some sources:

The Evolve Politics article lists the possible Labour rebels as: Caroline Flint (who has said she will support Mrs May’s deal), John Mann, Jon Cruddas, Ian Austin, Ronnie Campbell, Sir Kevin Barron, John Spellar, Jim Fitzpatrick, Laura Smith and Kevan Jones (all undecided).

A report on the meeting published by Politics Home, which claims to have obtained an exclusive recording, stated that one Labour MP suggested Mrs May’s agreement could be defeated by 150 votes.

And it suggested that the decision to seek support in the Labour Party had infuriated Conservative Brexiteers…

… so it seems the Conservative Party whips have resorted to dirty tricks:

It is now well-known that the Tory whips hold information on the alleged misdemeanours of MPs – the so-called “sex spreadsheet” was a cause of much discussion around this time in 2017.

But even those Tory MPs who are guilty of such activities may decide to defy the whip in any case – and then brazen out any revelatory reprisals by dismissing them as falsehoods put about by a failing leadership.

Rachael Swindon (above) is right. If true, this threat really is an act of desperation.

Tick tock, Tory Theresa – your time is running out.

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Pestminster: Fallon’s confession means nothing – he isn’t even on the Tory sex spreadsheet

UPDATE 15:44 OCTOBER 31: Owen Jones has just clarified that it is the Sun story about Michael Fallon that is not on the sex spreadsheet. That document is now available publicly, if you know where to look, so you can find out for yourself whether Mr Fallon is included for other reasons.

Michael Fallon: If he’s looking worried, think how the other Tory MPs on the ‘Pestminster’ sex spreadsheet feel – not to mention the prime minister who had weekly briefings on their activities and did nothing to stop them.

It seems This Writer was mistaken in speculating that Michael Fallon was a particular person mentioned on the spreadsheet of 36 Tory MPs and their sexual indiscretions – Owen Jones, Aaron Bastani and Ash Sarkar (among others) have seen the unredacted list and he isn’t on it.

Some of us live a long way from the Westminster bubble and aren’t afforded these privileges.

This information has led to speculation on the reason for Mr Fallon’s confession – on a very narrow spectrum, as it seems obvious:

Mr Fallon’s confession was a distraction from the far more serious crimes committed by other people who are named on the spreadsheet.

“Deeply disturbing.”

“Gross misconduct in public office.”

“Pervasive abuse of power at the highest level of govt.”

“Deluge of terrible acts.”

“Ranges from unprofessional to criminal.”

“Culture of callousness, unaccountability and the blurring of political and personal power – with devastating effects.”

“The culture of grooming, exploitation, hypocrisy and intimidation – backed up by political and economic capital – is the real story here.”

“If Prime Minister was in receipt of even a tiny fraction of information in that document, she has to resign.”

“May can’t maintain basic decency.”

We know Theresa May received all the information in that document.

Therefore, it seems clear, she must resign.

But there is nobody in the Conservative Party to replace her.

With nobody named – they must all come under suspicion.

One more pleasant footnote is the fact that The Sun has blundered badly by publishing Michael Fallon’s confession.

People everywhere have dismissed it as collusion with the minority Conservative government to distract attention away from the real monsters:

And remember:

At least now we can suggest a reason for Mrs May’s silence after Michael Gove made his appalling rape joke (if it can be called that) on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.


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‘Pestminster’ scandal means Theresa May must tell us – IMMEDIATELY – what she knows and when she was told

Theresa May: The minority prime minister has serious questions to answer [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

Michael Fallon has owned up to touching Julia Hartley-Brewer inappropriately, marking him out as possibly the first sex pest on the Tory spreadsheet to be identified.

Perhaps he thought there was no point trying to deny it – after all, we already know he had to be peeled off a female Russian agent while drunk, and also that he referred to a female journalist as a “slut” – to her face, not recognising who she was.

To This Writer, it suggests that he is the person described as “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women” on the spreadsheet.

I may be wrong! In that case, I stand ready to be amazed at the name of someone whose behaviour is even worse.

The recipient of Mr Fallon’s unwanted attention was Julia Hartley-Brewer, a very strong supporter of the Conservative Party who has played down the incident:

Note that her tweet clearly identifies Mr Fallon as the man the Sunday Times claimed “placed his hand on the thigh of a senior female journalist in full view of his frontbench colleagues at a party conference dinner some years ago and announced: ‘God, I love those tits.'”

But Ms Hartley-Brewer stated: “I believe it is absurd and wrong to treat workplace banter and flirting – and even misjudged sexual overtures – between consenting adults as being morally equivalent to serious sexual harassment or assault.

“It demeans genuine victims of real offences… I have not been a victim and I don’t wish to take part in what I believe has now become a Westminster witch hunt.”

Others may have a strong opinion about that!

Perhaps Ms Hartley-Brewer was able to put off a sex pest, but others – in a similar situation – may not be able to do so. Perhaps she did not consider that when she wrote her tweet.

As a man writing about this subject, perhaps I should pause and make it clear that I have spent a considerable time thinking about what may be deemed appropriate behaviour, and what may not.

I would agree that workplace banter should not be equated with serious sexual harassment or assault – but what do you call workplace banter? I would imagine it would be joking about another person – perhaps about their sexual nature, life or abilities – in a way that the other person does not find offensive (or at least, they can get their own back), and I would strongly suggest that it would be with at least one other person present and aware of the behaviour in question. Even then, there is a danger that it could cross the line. Workplace banter should not be a sexual advance, I think.

Flirting should be obvious as such, and it really shouldn’t be possible for anyone to infer threat from it. I have enjoyed flirting with other people very much, and would be absolutely desolate if any of the people with whom I enjoyed those moments considered them anything more than humorous and complimentary. The key is that both people should be at their ease, I think.

As for misjudged sexual overtures – would inappropriate touching come under this heading, or is it going too far? I think the answer to that question is found in the overall demeanour of the person making the overture. If they’re aggressive in any way, then perhaps it’s a little more serious than a misjudgement.

In the case of Mr Fallon, we have examples of the language he is alleged to have used – and it seems entirely inappropriate to me. If I was trying to attract a woman sexually (and I admit it has been a while, as Mrs Mike and I are quite happy in that department, thank you very much), then I would not make a habit of using words like “slut”, or phrases like “God I love those tits”!

Also mentioned by Ms Hartley-Brewer are the words “witch hunt”. Let’s consider that aspect of this story.

The Independent has run an article claiming: “May knows she can’t sort this out: she’s the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream ‘Witch hunt!’ if she ever dared to try”.

The piece imagines that Mrs May takes a dim view of various potential shenanigans, before making the very serious point that bemusement at the behaviour of her errant MPs is “no excuse to tolerate abuse”.

It continues: “While the case of Mark Garnier, minister for ‘Brexit trade’ … has no criminal implications [he described his behaviour as “good humoured high jinks], it is less hilarious than our more Neanderthal MPs will think. In the hours since the Mail on Sunday broke the story, the gallant Garnier has admitted addressing his secretary as “sugar tits”, and sending her into a Soho shop to buy a brace of choicest vibrators on his behalf.

“Even Chuckles Gove, the Rumpelstiltskin of sexual wit, couldn’t spin that into comedy gold. And whether or not this is a relatively trivial abuse of the power imbalance between male boss and female employee, it simply isn’t funny.

“With Stephen Crabb … it is worse. Having quit his leadership bid when outed for sexting, Crabb now fesses up to having sent “explicit messages” to a woman of 19 he interviewed for a job in 2013 when a minister for Wales.  What he calls ‘foolish’, I call ‘an abuse of power for which the Speaker should drag him from the Commons by the penis, promising to remove it with rusty garden secateurs if he ever tries to return’.”

And the article concludes, in agreement with This Writer, that the problem lies in a whips’ office that covers up MPs’ behaviour – especially if it is criminal – in order to use it for political gain.

Theresa May, who receives weekly reports on these “Ins and Outs”, is a part of this process.

The Independent piece states – again rightly – that “wherever there is strong evidence of a sexual offence, moral or criminal or both, it should be removed from the whips’ safe and exposed to the cleansing light of day… But I don’t imagine May will do that. She can’t afford to, as the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream “Witch hunt!” if she did, and the hostage of a tottering Government that could fall at any time for any number of reasons.”

I think the Independent is far too lenient on Mrs May. She has serious questions of her own to answer – starting with how long she has known about the sexual harassment allegations against her MPs and cabinet ministers – of whom we are told at least six are implicated, among 21 serving ministers, ex-Cabinet ministers and a permanent private secretary.

Will Downing Street answer? No.

A spokesperson for Theresa May today repeatedly refused to say when the prime minister first heard about dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour made against Conservative MPs and serving cabinet ministers.

May’s spokesman told Business Insider that May acted once the allegations were “made public” but was unable to say when the prime minister was first informed about them.

So she was quite happy to let these people carry on with their nasty pastimes while the wider public remained unaware – and is only acting, half-heartedly, now that the revelations are starting to fly. Now that they – and she – have been found out.

This fits the “boys’ club”/”witch hunt” scenario, certainly – but then there’s the allegation that her advisors, silenced a survivor of historic child sexual abuse in order to keep Mrs May’s way clear to Downing Street during the 2016 Conservative leadership selection process (we can’t call it an election).

Sharon Evans claimed that the contracts panel members were made to sign by the Home Office were used to stop them from speaking openly about “very serious allegations about very public figures” – allegations which she says were taken back to the inquiry leaders, but ‘nothing was being done about” them. She said:

I suggested that we wrote to Theresa May, who was the Home Secretary, to express our concerns. At the end of the day I was taken to one side and it was made clear to me – this is what I was told – that Theresa May was going to be Prime Minister, that this inquiry was going to be part of this, and that if I didn’t toe the line and do as I was told, if I tried to get information out I would be discredited by her advisors.

If true, why would Theresa May do this?

As the evidence mounts, it seems reasonable to conclude that the rot is not limited to “workplace banter”, “flirting”, or even “inappropriate sexual advances”, but goes much further and involves people in positions of enormous power – possibly even the person with the most power.

That is why it now seems increasingly possible that this so-called “Pestminster” crisis could topple the minority Conservative government.

Not only has the Conservative Party lost its credibility as a responsible party of government but serious questions – indeed, the most serious questions – must now be asked of that party’s, and the government’s leader. Now – not at her convenience.


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Are accusations against Lord Sewell simply politically-motivated ‘revenge’ attacks?

Lord Sewel, smoking, as seen from below. The Sun on Sunday is clearly anxious to confirm its ownership of this inoffensive photograph - along with more incendiary evidence against the formerly-Labour peer. But was its release timed to damp down public reaction to allegations about late Conservatives?

Lord Sewel, smoking, as seen from below. The Sun on Sunday is clearly anxious to confirm its ownership of this inoffensive photograph – along with more incendiary evidence against the formerly-Labour peer. But was its release timed to damp down public reaction to allegations about late Conservatives?

Isn’t it convenient for the Conservative Party that the ‘drugs and prostitutes’ allegations against a former Labour peer have been made so soon after four of their own were implicated in child sexual abuse?

A matter of days after ‘lost’ Cabinet Office files relating to the activities of late Conservative politicians Leon Brittan, Sir Peter Hayman, Sir William van Straubenzee and Sir Peter Morrison became public, the Conservative Party-supporting Sun newspaper released photographs and footage, allegedly showing Lord Sewel taking drugs with prostitutes.

An update today (July 27) appears to show him making disparaging remarks about other politicians – although his alleged descriptions of David Cameron as “the most facile, superficial prime minister there’s ever been”, and Boris Johnson as “a joke” seem more likely to win him support than disapproval.

Coincidence?

Of course, it’s possible – and we should not ignore that.

But it is also possible that The Sun may have been holding the evidence, or may have been given it, to try to control damage to the Conservative Party that will be caused by the child sexual abuse allegations.

We know, for example, that the Conservative whip’s office has held information on criminal activities by that party’s MPs, and used it to ensure their loyalty to party policy.

Who knows how many other organisations run a so-called ‘dirt book’?

Considering the opportunities available, it seems obvious that a newspaper like The Sun would have one.

What a shame that such behaviour has nothing to do with bringing criminals to justice and everything to do with blackmail or political advantage.

David Cameron ordered that the Conservative whips’ ‘dirt book’ should be made available to the investigation against historic child sex abuse in January. Nobody seems to have paid any attention to the fact that the mere existence of this book criminalises Cameron’s party as accessory to an undisclosed number of crimes.

The legal reference is in R v J.F.Alford Transport Ltd (1997) 2 Cr. App. R. 326. It was held a reasonable inference that a company, knowing that its employees are acting illegally and deliberately doing nothing to prevent it from being repeated, actually intends to encourage the repetition. This will be a natural inference in any situation where the alleged accessory has the right to control what the principal is doing. We may, therefore, infer this in the case of the Conservative Party.

Isn’t it time all political organisations and national media were ordered to deal up their own ‘dirt books’ – or had them taken away forcibly by the police?

It isn’t good enough that allegations such as those against Lord Sewel are allowed to dribble out when it creates an advantage for their political opponents.

If evidence is held that shows criminal behaviour by the so-called “great and the good”, then let’s get it out into the open now – and clear the filth from both the Green and Red Benches.

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