UNCUT: The headlines missed the real Bercow story. He’s de facto implementing last week’s Benn amendment: the Commons now has the lead in deciding what get’s voted on for Brexit

19/03/2019, 10:35:15 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The headlines from John Bercow’s intervention yesterday might have been about his refusal to countenance another Meaningful Vote on an unchanged deal, but the real story, was elsewhere. Two words, one number: Standing Order 24.

In his response to a question from Labour MP Helen Goodman, the Speaker virtually set out how he would support the Commons in seizing control of the parliamentary agenda, allowing binding votes on different Brexit options such as a referendum or Norway+.

Here’s the key exchange from Hansard.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are obviously right that the House does not wish to vote on the same proposition over and again. Equally, I am sure that you will be aware of the fact that some hon. Members were interested in meaningful votes because at that time, they would be able to vote on amendments on matters that we have not yet considered. If the Government are unable to make any changes to their proposition, I seek your guidance on how we might secure opportunities for voting on those alternative propositions. I heard you talk about urgent questions, but of course, there is no vote on an urgent question or a statement, and a Standing Order No. 24 motion is in neutral terms. The Government have not been very generous recently in offering Opposition day debates either, so I seek your advice on how hon. Members might proceed.

Mr Speaker

Obviously, it would be helpful to the Opposition if Opposition days were supplied. That has not happened recently and I have no way of knowing whether the Leader of the House has it in mind to provide for Opposition days. I think that colleagues would think that it was a democratic and seemly thing to do to ensure that the principal Opposition party had the requisite allocation of days. So far as other business is concerned, the hon. Lady should look closely at the Standing Order No. 24 procedure. What she says about it is true, but I think that she should reflect upon the opportunities that the Standing Order No. 24 procedure presents, because the opportunities are fuller than has traditionally been acknowledged or taken advantage of by Members of the House of Commons.

The Speaker bends over backwards to needle Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House and highlight Standing Order (SO) 24. This is the SO that enables emergency debates to be requested by MPs.

Traditionally, emergency debates are phrased neutrally. They always use the formulation, “That this House has considered…” This is because the purpose of SO24 is to enable debate, to consider a motion, not direct action following the debate.

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UNCUT: TIG have shown the courage of their convictions. Silence from so-called Labour and Conservative moderates on the disaster of Brexit is contemptible

09/03/2019, 10:11:56 PM

by Robert Williams

So, we’re approaching the endgame of the Brexit disaster part 1 (the next 10 years or so will make up part 2), and it’s worth a recap. We have a government that wants to renegotiate its own deal and backstop inserted because of its own red lines.

We have a Labour opposition that still cannot describe what, exactly, its policy is. When it does say anything, it is the same unicorn based fantasies of “negotiating a better deal”.

Let’s not delude ourselves. The Long Night of the Amendments in February was a total disaster for anyone who voted remain and thinks leaving the EU is madness. The Spelman amendment is non-binding and means nothing.

In January, MPs’ put their terror of telling the truth to their constituents ahead of the needs of the country by not backing the Cooper amendment. They were cowardly and spineless. What we got instead was the Brady amendment – fantasy-based, and a waste of time when we have precious little left. Since then nothing. It makes a no deal Brexit significantly higher. There seems to be no prospect of a second referendum. Not enough MPs support one. Not enough MPs support anything that might make them think and make decisions that are based in reality.

What we saw, what the world saw, was that almost the entire political class in the UK are a pathetic, cowardly disgrace.

There are exceptions, but they are few. 11 MPs from the Conservatives and Labour have quit their parties and set up the “Independent Group”.

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UNCUT: Exclusive: Why I left the Labour party

02/03/2019, 09:28:13 AM

by Mike Gapes

On February 18 I resigned from the Labour Party and joined The Independent Group of Members of Parliament. This was the most difficult decision of my life. I never ever thought I would leave the Party I joined as a 16 year old when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. For over 50 years I was an active member. I held office at all levels, local and national. I spent fifteen years at Labour Party Head Office in Transport House and Walworth Road working in the Organisation, Research and Policy departments. I was a Labour and Co-operative MP for twenty seven years.

I decided early last year that I could not in all conscience stand again as a Labour candidate and support the prospect of a Corbyn led government. But it took me months of agonising to finally make the break. I have been Labour to my core. I have many good Labour friends. I care passionately about Labour values.

I never followed a leader blindly and have had differences with every leader in the past. It is no secret that I had long been unhappy with the direction of the Labour Party under the Corbyn leadership. I did not support Corbyn as leader in 2015. I also made clear that I had no confidence in him in 2016. When the unexpected early election was called in 2017 I sent my activists to help Wes Streeting in neighbouring Ilford North. I bit my tongue and did no media appearances. I based my election campaign on my record as a hard working local constituency MP.

I made no mention of Corbyn or the National Labour Manifesto in my election address which was delivered to every single voter. I pledged to be a strong pro-European voice and to campaign to stay in the Customs Union and Single Market. It was always clear to me that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be Prime Minister. When I stood for re-election in 2017 I could honestly tell my constituents that there was no prospect of that. The priority was to stop Theresa May getting a landslide for her hard Brexit.

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UNCUT: Corbyn moved on a second referendum because of TIG

25/02/2019, 10:39:16 PM

by Jonathan Todd

After a week, the Independent Group (TIG) can claim some successes: more Twitter followers than Momentum, higher opinion poll scores than the Liberal Democrats, and now a significant Labour move towards a second referendum.

From “funny tinge” to weak rebuttals to by-elections calls, jarring with their People’s Vote push, there have been less auspicious moments.

More fundamentally, these MPs remain trapped between the rock of being unable to advocate either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May for prime minister and the hard place of an electoral system that makes it a political reality that the prime minister will be either the leader of Labour or the Tories.

They are challenging this reality and in doing so, making a pitch for Corbyn’s brand: insurgent.

We can judge insurgency in different ways. If it means adopting the most traditionally left-wing and statist policies, it is likely that, while TIG are yet to outline a policy programme, Corbyn will win this contest. If it means taking the biggest personal risks, and positioning most defiantly against political convention, TIG trump Corbyn.

In running against convention, TIG are changing the weather, most of all in the Labour party. Over the weekend, it was understood that Corbyn was under pressure to respond to TIG by:

  • Reviewing Labour’s approach to anti-Semitism
  • Heading off attempts to trigger the deselection of MPs
  • Backing a second referendum

On the last of these, after months of reluctance, Corbyn has moved. It will be worth reading the small print but the advocates of a People’s Vote are clear: this is a big deal.

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UNCUT: Exclusive: “Hard left takeover,” “Bullying, “Hostility to Jewish people” Full text of Labour councillors’ resignation letter

25/02/2019, 02:15:08 PM

Yesterday, 15 Labour councillors and former councillors left the party. Published for the first time here is the full text of their letter, leaving the party

Dear Sir,

We are Labour councillors and former Labour councillors. We have, after many years of dedicated membership, resigned from the Labour Party. We are writing to express our support for the former Labour MPs over their decision to resign and establish the Independent Group.  Having witnessed up close the hard-left takeover of Labour, we believe that their harsh, uncompromising and dogmatic approach to politics poses a genuine threat.

In the last three years, we have seen hard-left campaigns destroy efforts by Labour councils to help our communities. Local authorities have faced impossible financial pressure and a growing demand for social care and housing.  Many Labour councillors have been prepared  to look beyond the state for solutions.   All too often, this has resulted in them being subjected to fierce and dishonest campaigns from within the Labour Party membership.  This leads us to believe a hard-left Labour government would severely harm the economy, threatening local services.

In the last three and a half years, the atmosphere within the Labour Party has changed beyond all recognition.   A culture of bullying, intimidation and hostility towards Jewish people becoming common-place. Having seen this unfold locally we now believe Labour, in its current form, poses a direct threat, economically, socially, and culturally, should it ever come to power. Britain is facing huge challenges in the months and years ahead, not least due to Brexit. To have any chance of meeting those challenges, politics need to change. We therefore welcome the new Independent Group.’

Yours,

Cllr Warren Morgan, Former Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council

Cllr Rowan Draper, Stafford Borough Council

Cllr Dany Louise, Hastings Borough Council

Cllr Frances Weetman, North Tyneside Council

Cllr Jess Brayne, London Borough of Barnet

Cllr Danny Hackett, London Borough of Bexley

Cllr John Ferrett, Portsmouth City Council

Jon Clempner, former Leader of Labour Group, Harlow District Council

David Sullivan, former Leader, Lewisham Borough Council

Ken Ferrett, former Councillor, Portsmouth City Council

Aiden Gray, former Councillor, Portsmouth City Council

Stephen Brimble, former Councillor, Exeter City Council

Adam Langleben, former Councillor, London Borough of Barnet

James Patterson, former Councillor, London Borough of Haringey

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UNCUT: Can the Labour breakaway escape our General Melchett leadership?

18/02/2019, 10:57:03 PM

By Jonathan Todd

“If nothing else works,” General Melchett (Stephen Fry) insisted in Blackadder Goes Forth, “a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.”

Donkeys again lead lions. Theresa May won’t face facts about parliamentary arithmetic. Jeremy Corbyn won’t face the facts raised by 7 ex-Labour MPs.

For Melchett “seeing things through” came at tremendous human cost. As business investment plummets and the UK’s international reputation degrades to the shambolically pitiable, May and Corbyn are also callously aloof.

Brexit does nothing to solve the problems of the UK, while creating many new problems. At a minimum, a “good Brexit” would avoid these new problems. More ambitiously, it would somehow address the problems that the UK harboured in June 2016. No such Brexit exists.

We might choose to minimise the scale of economic damage caused by Brexit (by staying in the single market and customs union) but this comes at the price of being rule takers to the EU. Since June 2016, Labour has never confronted this trade-off.

The Irish backstop features in debate in the UK as if the border issue is a potentially temporary challenge, but any future divergence between Northern Ireland and the EU customs union and single market likely necessitates a hard border.

If the UK were, for example, to have lower tariffs than the EU customs union, a Northern Ireland with an open border to the Republic would create a way to avoid tariffs when bringing goods in to the EU. If these goods were to fall below EU regulatory standards, this EU backdoor would undermine the single market, as well as the customs union.

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UNCUT: Wavertree CLP’s rotten leadership shines a light on the party’s

15/02/2019, 07:39:55 AM

by Rob Marchant

It has been said during the last week, and not by Labour-watchers accustomed to hyperbole, that this might have been the week when a party’s split became irrevocable.

While that may or may not be true, it is difficult to remember a time when the parliamentary party was in such disarray, even in the mad 1980s, or the late 1950s’ nadir.

Perhaps this is partly because of Jeremy Corbyn’s true, Eurosceptic colours on Europe finally becoming clear, to all but the most avid Kool-Aid drinkers in the strange party that is now Labour.

The Labour leadership’s Janus-faced position on Brexit is both embarrassing and terrible for the country, particularly if it leads, as seems quite possible, to a hard Brexit, which will undoubtedly hurt the country for years, perhaps decades. But that is a situation which can, in some sense, be rectified. It is a function of the leadership, not local parties.

The current situation with anti-Semitism, however is not so easy. A stain on the party’s previous good name for anti-racism is a deep wound, one from which it is perfectly possible it will never recover. And it has by now infested many local parties, which are much more difficult to fix, as any witness to the party’s slow purge of Militant will tell you.

There have been many, many CLPs have been suspended over the years, mostly for subverting the party’s internal democracy, via fiddling votes or entryism. But never can one recall a local party having been suspended for rampant racism, as the party’s Deputy Leader and others have called for Liverpool Wavertree to be.

Luciana Berger, its decent and competent MP, has been targeted by her own local party in a vicious campaign of racial harassment. It is hard to overstate the freakishness and sickness of some of the comments to be found on Facebook and Twitter, many by people who are clearly party members, local and not. One Twitter account I reported on Monday was wishing her unborn baby dead. And there are many, many more.

Now, some say that Berger has not worked her local base hard enough and is now paying the price. There may even be some truth in it. But it’s hardly the point.

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INSIDE: The party needs to tread carefully replacing its estranged MPs

05/02/2019, 09:52:03 PM

How is Labour handling the tricky round of parliamentary selections in seats where a sitting MP has either quit or been expelled from the party?

This is always a tricky subject. Local parties can become deeply divided over the fate of their estranged MP (who can often be like family to long-serving members) while party chiefs need to make a careful judgement about the individual seat and whether claims of a personal following for the MP might translate into a personal vote if they were to stand as an independent.

The received wisdom, however, is that independents struggle, regardless of whether they are sitting MPs. In the 2017 election, Simon Danczuk received just 1.8% of the vote in his Rochdale seat, after he was expelled from the party.

Still, in a marginal seat the possibility that a former MP might stand, clattering into a new candidate and gifting the seat to another party, is very real. So how is Labour responding in those seats with MPs that have resigned or been forced out of the party?

In Sheffield Hallam, the deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, Olivia Blake, was recently selected as a replacement for the suspended Jared O’Mara from an all-women shortlist (AWS). This made sense, given the allegations against O’Mara for his juvenile sexist postings on social media. (A hipster university seat, Hallam is reputed to have the highest number of people with a Phd in the country).

However In Barrow and Furness, where John Woodcock resigned from the party following allegations – (and they are just allegations) of sexual misconduct – the party did not impose an AWS, selecting former soldier and Network Rail employee, Chris Altree, from an open shortlist on Saturday to defend Labour’s wafer-thin majority of just 209.

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UNCUT: The case for Remaining needs saving from Remainers

17/01/2019, 10:02:41 PM

by Kevin Meagher

There’s a fabulous scene in the recent Channel Four drama, ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War,’ where Rory Kinnear, playing David Cameron’s director of communications, Craig Oliver, storms into a focus group meeting of average voters and starts arguing with them in sheer frustration that the Remain campaign’s message just isn’t getting through.

As metaphors go, it’s just about perfect.

Stupid people don’t understand the issues or what’s at stake, so the swells need to barge in, shouting and finger-jabbing until the plebs acquiesce.

There’s no real mystery as to why the Brexiteers triumphed in 2016.

Remainers fluffed it.

Through the combination of a truly terrible campaign and their own unjustified sense of providence, they ‘lost’ Europe.

On the wrong end of a fair fight, Remainers have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from the experience.

All we have had for the past two years is incessant moaning about the manner of the loss, which, boiled down, usually amounts to “their lies were better than our lies.” Not to mention the daily epistles on Twitter from people like Andrew Adonis which long ago scaled the heights of self-parody.

We’ve had carping about the Leave campaign’s infamous bus and the hooky pledge to redirect the £350 million a week we contribute to EU coffers to the NHS instead. As though it’s the first porkie told in a political campaign.

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UNCUT: The main party leaders are useless. We need a parliamentary League of Grown-Ups to tell the British public the truth on Brexit

16/01/2019, 10:28:02 PM

by Rob Marchant

What happens if normal party politics has broken down? One suspects this is the question most commentators have been asking themselves for the last several months, consciously or unwittingly, as British politics lurches from one unprecedented situation to another.

If we needed proof, it is surely in the bizarre events of the last couple of days.

First, Theresa May suffers the biggest parliamentary defeat since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s, on the deal that she has diligently shepherded through Parliament.

Then, miraculously, she survives a vote of No Confidence the following day, in a way that surely no other Prime Minister has ever done after even much lesser defeats.

Apart from the unlikeliness of these record-breaking feats being what any PM would like to be remembered for, this is clearly not parliamentary business as usual.

Most disastrously, we now have the leaders of both major parties entrenched in fantasy positions: May’s, that some kind of Brexit deal not unlike hers can still be salvaged, to save us from No Deal, and Corbyn’s that we can still negotiate something better with the EU in time for tea.

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