Posts Tagged ‘Expenses’

Christopher Chope Blocks Bill to Outlaw FGM

February 11, 2019

What can decent people do about Christopher Chope, the Tory MP for Christchurch? Apart from either waiting for him to be voted out at the next general election, or having him committed to Broadmoor as a dangerous lunatic whose twisted view of democracy is a threat to the safety of vulnerable women and girls?

Yesterday Mike put up a piece reporting that Chope talked out a bill on Friday intended to safeguard girls and women against Female Genital Mutilation. His decision to do so was in direct opposition to his government’s own stance against this repulsive practice. Mike’s article quotes a tweet from Tweezer herself, who said

Female genital mutilation is an abhorrent practice and we will not accept it. We’ve strengthened the law on FGM, leading to the first UK conviction last week, and we’re helping communities around the world to end this appalling crime.#EndFGM

Chope declared that the reason he did so wasn’t because he was in favour of FGM, but because he hated Private Members’ Bills. But in the instance, as Mike pointed out, his professed principles amounted to pure egotism as he placed them before the wishes of his government, party, nation and parliament. Mike asked in his article whether Chope would have been quite so keen to block the bill if he knew someone, who had suffered from FGM, or if it was a form of mutilation and torture he might also have suffered if he had been born into a culture that practiced such barbarity.

Mike also goes on to say that he first learned about it at school, and it turned his stomach. I was about the same age when I first heard about it, and Mike’s right – it’s horrific and revolting. I think it can very in terms of severity, and has been described by feminists as ‘female castration’. There are absolutely no medical benefits to it, and, apart from the horrific nature of the operation itself, it can also be a positive danger to women’s health. It isn’t just the national government that is worried about it. Local authorities are too. A few years ago there was an article on the local news for the West Country on the Beeb, Points West, about concerns by activists and medical professionals about girls in Bristol being taken out of the country to their families homelands to have it done.

As for Chope himself, last year he also talked out a Private Members Bill to prevent upskirting, which Mike suggests means that he seems to have an unpleasant attitude to stop women protecting their private parts. And public opinion was very definitely against Chope. Mike quotes two Tweets from Dangerous Hero Rachel Swindon, who said

Following on from his upskirting disgrace, Tory MP Christopher Chope MP has just shouted to object to the Female Genital Mutilation Bill.

There is seriously something wrong with this guy. Abhorrent individual.

And also pointed out that he was one who believes in denying government aid to the many, while being very glad to avail himself of it.

Tory Christopher Chope doesn’t just derail upskirting & FGM bills. He voted –
•12 X for the Bedroom Tax
•44 X to cut benefits
​•9 X against bankers bonus tax
•19 X to reduce Corporation tax

He used £10,000 expenses to fix his roof, a £2,600 bathroom & £881 to repair a sofa

Mike stated that, thank to his principles, the provisions of this bill will now have to be included in a formal government bill. Which means more time putting more women and girls at risk. He asks

Will Mr Chope accept responsibility for their pain and humiliation? If not, perhaps any such victims should take out a private prosecution against him.

Mike also concludes

So perhaps we should simply accept that he blocked the Bill against FGM because this principled man believes in the principle behind FGM: That those with power are entitled to do anything they like with those who have none – and do all we can to remove this dinosaur, and his prehensile principles, from Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/02/10/childish-chope-blocks-anti-fgm-bill-because-he-doesnt-know-any-better/

Chopes’ decision to block the bill seems to be part of the same attitude of a certain group of far-right Tories and Kippers. There was a scandal a few years ago, I seem to recall, when some UKIP MEPs tried to block or voted against a similar bill intended to protect women from either sexual assault or FGM, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which. And in some cases their actions have been extremely hypocritical.

I don’t know what Chope’s attitude towards Islam is. I’m not aware that he’s a bigot. But there is a very strong element of pernicious, systemic islamophobia in the Tory party. And one of the issues islamophobes have seized upon to try to show that Islam is incompatible with British culture and should be heavily legislated against and discouraged is Female Genital Mutilation. Yes, it goes on in Islam, but it is not commanded in Qu’ran. I think it’s one of the practices that entered Islam from outside, and is most widespread outside the Middle East in sub-Saharan Africa. Certainly the women’s rights activists, who spoke about it on the Points West piece cited cases were girls were being taken there. There is an Islamic feminist movement, and I’m absolutely sure that there are campaigners against it in the Dar al-Islam. But many of the same Kipper MEPs, who voted against the European parliament’s attempts to outlaw it were also bitterly islamophobic, which made them both religiously bigoted and misogynist. Islamophobe or not, by blocking this legislation Chope has also undermined the efforts of Islamic and BAME feminists to protect women. But then, as Dangerous Hero Rachel Swindon and Mike have pointed out, Chope doesn’t believe in supporting the health and welfare of the poor and underprivileged, only in giving even more to extremely rich White men like himself.

As for his precious principles, they’re clearly undemocratic. Private Members’ Bills always have been part of parliamentary democracy. He can hate them all he likes in principle, but it should not be his right to obstruct parliamentary democracy. Especially when it puts women and girls at risk of horrific mutilation.

You hope it won’t be too long before there’s a general election and he, and the rest of his party of thugs and bigots, are thrown out and a proper Labour government installed instead.

Quentin Letts and the Tory Attack on Short Money

January 21, 2016

Last week or so Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece about the Tories wishing to abolish Short money. This is the funding given by the state to opposition parties. I’m not actually surprised the Tories want to get rid of it. They’re authoritarians anyway, who hate any kind of opposition. But I’m particularly not surprised they’ve decided to attack Short money, as it’s one of the issues criticised by Quentin Letts in his 2009 book, Bog Standard Britain (London: Constable and Robinson Ltd).

Letts is the parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Heil. He’s been one of the panellists at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, and also on at least one edition of Have I Got News For You. Here’s what he has to say about it in his book:

Our political class has a horror of losing its perks. Nothing new. In 1970, soon after losing the general election, Harold Wilson was seen queuing for a taxi late one night outside the Members’ Entrance to the Commons. Friends of Wilson were distraught. A few days earlier he had been Prime Minister but there he now was, waiting for a cab like the rest of humanity. Instead of seeing this, as they should have done, as eloquent testimony to the ephemeral nature of elected office, Harold’s cronies secured him a state-paid limo and chauffeur.

We have been paying ever since for Leaders of the Opposition to be thus pampered. In 1974, having regained the premiership, Wilson returned the compliment by slipping the shadow cabinet a wad of public money. This ‘Short money’, named after Edward Short, the Labour minister who presented the proposal to Parliament, is now worth some £7 million a year to the Opposition parties. short money was given on the premise that an Opposition would be improved by having researchers who could prepare meaningful policies. It would result in better government. Nice one! In practice, Short money allows an Opposition to save its money for election campaigning. This creates an arms race of electoral fundraising which in turn results in dodgy donors being given undue pre-eminence over the political parties’ mass membership. Short money also allows Opposition spokesmen to keep large retinues which makes them feel important and saves them having to do so much thinking for themselves. Result: an overblow secretariat, lazy parliamentarians, hefty bills which have to be picked up by the taxpayer. Short money is an expensive con. All it has done is expand a professional political class. And all because socialist Harold’s friends thought it was improper that he should have to queue for a taxi. (pp. 219-20).

Letts’ party political bias is evident here. He despises ‘Socialist’ Harold Wilson, for having money given to him and his party after he left office. I’ve no idea whether the story about the limo and Wilson waiting at a taxi stand is true. I assume it is. But that’s not the reason the Tories want to get rid of it, nor is the explanation that it’s all about curtailing the bloated retinues and pomp of the political class. If that were the case, then Cameron would be happy to see greater clarity of the political process through the Freedom of Information Act, and by quite happy to see MPs’ expenses scrutinised by the press.

In fact, the opposite is the case. Cameron and his hand-picked cronies, including Jack Straw, are doing their best to rip the guts out of FOIA. They don’t like people challenging government decisions, and particularly not when it comes to MPs’ expenses. Hence the government got very huffy when the Independent asked for them under the Freedom of Information Act. Campaigners and journalists making such requests have been told that the Act is to allow people to understand how government decisions are made, not for them to challenge them. So shut up, run along, and do what we tell you. We’re back to the old slogan of Mussolini:

Believe.
Obey.
Fight.

As for forcing parties to rely on their grassroots’ members’ subscriptions, rather than contributions from wealthy donors, that’s a load of hogwash as well. The Tories are raking huge wads of cash from their backers in business, as well as corporate largesse from courtesy of lobbyists. And they have absolutely no interest in what their ordinary members have to say. The local, constituency parties have complains again and yet again that they are ignored at Westminster. The effect of corporate funding on the parties has been that they’ve all shrunk, both Labour and the Tories. The Tories are now under 100,000 members. That’s a massive fall for the party that was, not so long ago, Britain’s largest, with at least a quarter of million members.

They simple fact is that the Tories want to stifle the opposition anyway they can. And they’re trying to do it by starving them of funds. This explains the latest Tory attack on the union levy. And simply by their attack on the Freedom of Information Act, it seems to bear out that the Short money must actually be doing the task for which it was intended, namely, allow the Opposition to frame policies better. That’s clearly a danger as they’re trying to stop people using the Freedom of Information Act, not just by narrowing even further what may be released under it, but also by raising the fees charged.

This is clearly a very, very frightened government.

Well, if Cameron wants to play that game, then I suggest Labour also plays it too. Mike suggested that Labour should immediately cease any co-operation with the Tories, such as the pairing agreement, which states that if one Tory MP can’t make it to a debate, his Labour opposite number must be drop out as well. The Tories only have a majority of 16. Let’s make it impossible for them to govern.

Way back in the 1970s and ’80s, any government that consider cutting Short money could count on being told by the Mandarins in Whitehall that the policy was ‘very courageous’. Meaning, to those who used to watch Yes, Minister, that it was likely to lose them election. Let’s put that into practice, and make sure that it does.

Private Eye on Government’s Attempt to Destroy Freedom of Information Act

November 15, 2015

This fortnight’s Private Eye has a piece attacking the government’s attempt to neuter the Freedom of Information Act. It takes apart their claims they are doing so ‘because newspapers are using it to generate stories’, and gives the email address for people to contact the Commissioners to express their opinions on the issue. The Private Eye article makes much the same points Mike over at Vox Political and the other bloggers have done.

I’m posting up the article as you have to email the commissioners before the end of Friday, 20th November. This means that if you feel so strongly about this issue that you want to state your case to the commissioners, you only have about five days or so left.

FOI
Cry Freedom

The government’s “Independent” commission of the great and not so good on the future of the Freedom of Information Act is looking for views on if and how the rules should be changed. The mood music is not encouraging.

First there was the appointment of former cabinet ministers with little interest in the full truth emerging – Lord (Michael) Howard and Jack Straw – while no campaigner for more openness was invited on the commission. Then last week the leader of the Commons, Chris Grayling, complained that the law was being used by the media to “generate stories”. How appalling!

Among the “stories” that would not have come out were it not for the legislation, and might not again if it were watered down or subject to financial charges, are MPs’ expenses and several exposed in the Eye over the past ten years, including: the recent mapping of English and Welsh property owned by offshore companies; the “shameful” (the Coalition’s word) privatisation of part of the UK’s international development fund CDC; rampant junketing by the country’s public spending watchdog; the scale fo the “tax gap” (extent of the tax dodging in the UK); the schmoozing of Whitehall mandarins that forced the open publication of hospitality registers; and New Labour’s prolific and ruinous spending on management consultants and the disastrous NHS IT project – to name just a few.

Readers who think such matters should continue be exposed, or indeed if they think they should be covered up, can write to foi.commission@justice.gsi.gov.uk by the end of Friday 20 November.

The Guardian Adds a Few More Details on Jonathan Stanley’s UKIP Resignation

March 20, 2015

I posted an article yesterday about the resignation from UKIP of Jonathan Stanley, a Scotland-based surgeon. Mr Stanley was their candidate for Westmoreland and Lonsdale. He resigned citing racism and sectarianism in the Scottish party as his reasons for leaving, along with the party’s failure to publish documents he had written about the deaths of eleven babies and a mother in the University Hospitals of the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

The Guardian today published an article reporting Mr Stanley’s resignation as one of three blows and scandals to hit the party. The other two were the investigation of Janice Atkinson for fiddling her expenses from the EU, and the suspension of Stephen Howd, a barrister, and their candidate for Scunthorpe, over allegations of harassment at his workplace.

The Guardian’s report says little about this. Most of the article is about Stanley’s resignation and Atkinson’s fraud, adding a few more details about why he resigned. In addition to the sectarianism and culture of bullying, he also strongly objected to the party’s use of ‘the language of English nationalism’. He felt it was damaging and corrosive to the Eurosceptic and Unionist cause.

He also took issue with part of Farage’s plan to exclude migrants from state support for five years after they came here. Along with his other reasons, he stated he could not support the exclusion of migrant children from state education and medical care.

Stanley’s absolutely right. It is totally unacceptable that migrant children, in particular, should be punished and left vulnerable because their parents came here in search of a better life. It’s also a move that is absolutely certain to do immense harm. If you exclude children from state education, and they cannot afford the immense fees of private tuition, then automatically you create an unskilled underclass, who will have no other recourse but crime. Especially if they cannot claim dole or other benefits.

I’ve similarly reblogged material from Vox Political, where Mike has produced the opinions of doctors and social workers that if migrants are excluded from the NHS, then it could lead to more infectious disease going untreated. You think of the chaos and suffering that could arise, if someone contracted Ebola, because they came from or visited West Africa, and were excluded from state medical treatment and couldn’t afford to go privately.

Or more prosaic problems and deaths that could arise from more ordinary problems going untreated, like meningitis or appendicitis. And does anyone really want to see women left to give birth without proper medical care, especially after the rave reviews of the Beeb’s Call The Midwife? That programme showed exactly the problems women faced bearing children in the East End slums in 1950s austerity Britain. No-one should want that privation and poverty to come back.

Except, it seems, Farage, and the rest of the Kipper, Tory and Lib Dem goons, who crave to see the NHS carved up and sold off.

The Guardian’s article is at: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/20/ukip-faces-crisis-two-parliamentary-candidates-suspended-one-resigns

UKIP and Corruption: The Party of Repeat Offenders

March 20, 2015

This is another fine piece of anti-UKIP material from the Hope Not Hate site, The Real UKIP. It’s a reminder that the current scandal over Janice Atkinson and her attempt to fiddle her expenses is certainly not, by any stretch of the imagination, an isolated incident.

Kipper Repeat Offenders

To paraphrase the titles of TV’s Porridge, ‘UKIP are a recidivist criminal, who treat arrest as an occupational hazard. I have no choice but to sentence you to five years.’

Unfortunately, Farage and his army have none of the Cockney wit, dignity or fundamental human decency of Norman Stanley Fletcher. One cannot, for example, see them ever being friends with the Black Scots character, played so memorably by Tony Osoba.

But on the other hand, we wouldn’t be sorry to see them all do a bit of time in the slammer.