Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’

The real story of the Commons Brexit vote was the leadership’s disingenuous positioning

18/09/2017, 10:27:22 PM

by Rob Marchant

“Dennis Skinner…votes with Tories” ran the headline. But the truth is that Dennis Skinner actually voted for what he believes in: that Britain is better-off outside the EU. He only did what Jeremy Corbyn had already done hundreds of times (about five hundred, reportedly): vote with the Tories against his own party. As did six of his backbench colleagues (interestingly, Caroline Flint MP, who abstained, seemed to get more grief on social media than Skinner, who voted for the motion. We leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to why that might be).

Corbyn’s calculation, in contrast, was based on what it usually is: what he could get away with. Does anyone seriously believe that he has changed his opinion on the EU after over three decades opposing it as an MP?

Of course not. The calculation was that he could not get away – either with the public or his own party – with asking the PLP to support the Tories in a hard Brexit, so he allowed Keir Starmer to lead the charge and got out of the way.

And so we ended with the bizarre spectacle of two long-time, hard-left colleagues on opposite sides of the fence: one because he actually believed the same of the Tories, for once; and one because he also believed the same as the Tories, but couldn’t say so.

There was a helpful, complicating factor: that the Tories had come close to overreaching themselves, in insisting on giving themselves a muscular authority over governmental decisions which went so far as to pretty much break the principle of separation of powers between legislature and executive.


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Rather than shedding tears for Mrs.Thatcher, Tory Ministers should apologise for their coalfields’ legacy

04/01/2014, 11:01:45 AM

by Michael Dugher

With the release of the cabinet papers on the 1984 miners’ strike, one of the more shameful chapters of our history has once again been exposed – and it’s time today’s Tory ministers apologised for the sins of their fathers.

Yesterday cabinet papers from 1984 revealed that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government did have a secret hit list of pits earmarked for closure.  Despite denials by the then government and by the National Coal Board, we now know that Tories planned to close 75 mines at the cost of some 65,000 jobs.

The papers also revealed that the previous Conservative government did seek to influence police tactics and put pressure on them to escalate the dispute.  Government ministers at the time pressured the Home Secretary, Leon Britton, to ensure chief constables adopt a “more vigorous interpretation of their duties”.

Shockingly, the cabinet papers also show that the Tories were willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency and deploying the Army in order to gain victory over the striking miners and the unions – confirmation that it was a central tenet of government policy to regard tax-paying, law-abiding colliery workers, locked in struggle to defend their jobs and their way of life, as (to use that awful phrase of Margaret Thatcher’s) “the enemy within”.

Far from viewing people from these coalfield areas, such as in Barnsley where I represent, as ordinary, decent, hard-working people employed in a valuable and vital part of our economy, they presented the striking miners as dangerous ‘revolutionaries’ to be defeated. It is extraordinary to think that a British Prime Minister would seriously consider deployment of the British Armed Forces against ordinary British communities to further her domestic political ends, but this is the ugly truth of the Thatcher administration.


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The damage has been done. Inside the coalition, it’s now personal

31/01/2013, 07:00:51 AM

by Peter Watt

Relations have been strained for some time now, but events on Tuesday in the House of Commons have now made it personal.  In essence, as far as the Tories are going to be concerned, the Lib Dems have increased the chances of them losing their seats at the next election.  And the numbers of Tories on the government benches assuming that the next election is now lost will rise further.

But think back.  Both the Lib Dems and the Tories had proposals to reduce the size of the House of Commons in their manifestos.  The Lib Dems linked this to a change in the voting system.  For the Tories though it wasn’t just about principle it was also a matter of pragmatism.  For election after election they had been screwed by the electoral arithmetic of uneven constituency boundaries.  The result was that it took far fewer Labour votes to get a Labour MP than Tory ones.  It made winning elections even harder for the Tories and it made them pretty cross.  To be fair, from their point of view you can see why!

So unsurprisingly the Coalition agreement contained a commitment to introduce a referendum on AV, a commitment to reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600 members and to equalise the size so that there were approximately 76,640 voters in each one.  It also contained a commitment to reform the House of Lords.  And the stated assumption was that both sides in the coalition would support all of the measures it contained.

To risk incurring the wrath of John Rentoul and his ‘banned list’ – the coalition agreement wasn’t a pick-n-mix.

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 duly introduced the referendum on AV and also the aim of reducing the number of constituencies to 600.  It all started to go a little wrong when the Lib Dems felt let down by the way that the Tories campaigned against AV in the referendum.  The referendum was lost but at that point the Lib Dems could still point to House of Lords reform as a sign that their constitutional reforming zeal was far from being finished.


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