Tag Archives: British Politics

Filibustered: Hospital Parking Charges (Exemption for Carers) Bill

Julie Cooper MP tried to help reduce the cost of parking at hospitals for carers. The bill was filibustered. This was her hope:

The Bill makes provision for carers who are entitled to carer’s allowance to park free of charge in hospital car parks in England. The duties in the Bill would also apply to walk-in centres, GP practices and private hospitals. The Bill, if passed, will require health authorities to put in place a strategy to exempt a broader range of carers from paying parking charges within one year of the Act coming into force.

You can read the full discussion, and how it was talked out, here.

Having read the Hansard transcript linked above, these were my thoughts on twitter, as someone that would have benefited if the bill had become law.

Worth noting how Carers UK responded, pointing out Department of Health guidance which may help carers to get concessions:

The Bill failed to win enough support in the House of Commons today to progress to its next stage, making it almost impossible for it to become law.

Despite the outcome of today’s debate on the Bill, carers were given hope when the Department of Health updated its guidance on hospital parking charges to specifically include carers – for the very first time – as a group for which concessions, such as free or reduced charges or caps, should be available. Whilst these are guidelines and not legal duties on hospitals, national membership charity Carers UK believes this is a step towards tackling the unfair burden hospital parking charges place on carers.

They also mention these facts and figures:

  • The UK’s 6.5 million carers save the state £119bn every year; close to the total amount spent annually on running the NHS
  • Hospitals charge anywhere between an average of £11-£131.50 per week in parking charges when their loved ones go in to hospital
  • The percentage of hospitals charging patients and visitors to park has doubled in a decade to 30% in 2014-15
  • Of NHS Trusts that charge patients and visitors for parking in England, almost two-thirds (63%) have increased their charges since last year

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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The Massacre Of Election Night


Nick Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats, said his party was an anchor to Labour or the Tories. Offering various body parts too, brain or heart, as needed. The British electorate responded to the thought of this Frankenstein’s monster coalition by throwing 90% of his MPs overboard. The body part shown to Nick Clegg was the finger.

The least he could do, despite holding on to his seat in Sheffield, was to go down with the sinking ship. It was not liberalism that died at the polls. It died as a national party with the coalition.

Ed Balls, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, lost his seat by about 400 votes. Labour leader Ed Miliband did worse than Gordon Brown. Worse than 2010, following a financial crisis and a leader publicly calling a pensioner a bigot for worrying about immigration. One million people are now using food banks. Disabled people are dead, while a letter comes through their letter box saying they are fit to work.

Those things mattered not as much as these issues for the electorate: ensuring a commitment to pay off the National Debt with big deficit cuts, challenging the SNP in the House of Commons who claimed they would boss a Labour Minority government, and finally letting the British electorate have a say on Europe.


David Cameron has a majority government. I had an inkling it was going to be their night, but not this outright majority. Family members and people I know in care industry were voting Conservative because of those three big issues above – especially regarding SNP. Having voted for the Liberal Democrat (one of those wiped out) candidate in a constituency where Labour only get 5%,  I saw a dead baby chick in the road outside the polling station. The omens and what people were saying, were clear enough.

Ed Miliband has now resigned as well as I write. Labour failed to grasp and deal with realities about narrative on the economy. They failed to look credible as a Government in waiting. Stone pledges, milifandom, proud not to have responded to a tyrant launching chemical weapons, failing to acknowledge national debt was rising under Labour before the financial crisis.

In some ways it is a relief that we do have a majority government, as I wrote in April to avoid the poisoned chalice the SNP offered Miliband. How Sturgeon could say she offered to lock out the Tories with Labour, while advocating the English go out and vote Green  which would prevent effectively doing that. Yet with just one Labour MP, one Conservative MP, one Liberal Democrat MP ultimate victory in Scotland is Sturgeon’s. The massacre of Labour senior MPs was something to behold as the leader of Scottish Labour Murphy went and shadow foreign secretary Alexander to a university student.

David Cameron has to play this well against the SNP, and he has the hand to do it, all be it with a small overall majority. Will he now push for a federal United Kingdom with devo Max to save the Union, or will SNP exploit any chinks that he will be the last UK Prime Minister? Will we end up leaving the EU? Who will be the new Prime Minister when Cameron steps down during this term?

The biggest problem Cameron will have is a leadership candidate wanting to use those above issues to force a leadership contest sooner rather than later. That consideration should rule out thoughts that a Conservative majority will guarantee stability. The political manoeuvring and planning was probably happening as the champagne flowed for the Conservatives.

As David Cameron meets the Queen to confirm he will form a government, the electorate have spoken. Their will be done, and has been to devastating effect. The Conservatives now this second have a majority with 326 MPs, with seven more results to come.

On VE Day, it is a Conservative victory in England and therefore in the House of Commons.

The cartoon of my tweet  was done live here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Awaiting Maajid Nawaz Statement On Being Yesterday “Daily Mail Hatchet Jobbed”

Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club for his stag do – this has been reported in The Daily Mail along with an allegation of harassment. My initial thoughts and analysis of the piece should be read here where the rest of this article follows on as an afterword. If you have already read that post, keep reading.

On twitter I have been aghast by comments to me that strippers need to expect groping, that harassing someone for their number is hardly a serious matter, that as part of their sexual allure this is natural. No it is never ok to harass or grope or assault a women whatever her job, whatever she is wearing.

Belittling a woman because she is a stripper does not help Maajid Nawaz. Rather, you are not standing up for women’s rights. As to feminism and stripping, where adults are consenting regarding a sensual or sexual activity freedom exists. Where coercion, pressure or force is applied in no sense can consent exist. A debate about whether patriarchal cultural attitudes deny that freedom is something I invite others to research and think about.

Since I published my article an edited CCTV time lapsed video has gone on youtube. Regardless of whether you believe it shows harassment, someone just having a lap dance, or is inconclusive, I do not see how Maajid Nawaz politically comes back from the public humiliation. “They’ve got art” as the saying goes, and by saying his behaviour was out of order allowed such images to appear in the public domain. In short, it seems an attempt to show up someone publicly who, perhaps naively, felt their privacy was protected by having a private lap dance.

The accusation of harassment may or may not be true. We can cast dispersions as to motive, though suggesting a strip club owner and manager must be automatically untrustworthy seems ad hominem. Rather, they do appear an unlikely duo to stand up for religious probity. However, the manager claims to have witnessed unacceptable behaviour which he felt went against the public persona (as he saw it) presented by Maajid Nawaz.

Whatever Nawaz’s behaviour was, at no point was he thrown out or the police called. So the accusations do come across as a smear campaign timed for the General Election. What we know for certain is that Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club while a parliamentary candidate. With the kind of opponents he has, this becoming public knowledge should have been seen as very likely.

Public humiliation though is not what anyone deserves for being a parliamentary candidate, even if you do something politically stupid as going to a strip club.

Maajid Nawaz has said on twitter today “Yesterday the Daily Mail article hatchet-jobbed me”, and has promised a statement “soon.” I will link to that in a new blog post when it hits the internet. To be honest we needed the statement Saturday considering Friday night the story broke.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Maajid Nawaz Stag Party At A Strip Club

When you look through still CCTV footage of a candidate for parliament, to see if he is inappropriately touching a stripper while he is on his stag night, we can safely say that the sausage roll voter “bribery” case, Ed Miliband’s dating chit chat on economics, and political slogans on mugs have been eclipsed in the election campaign. We now have close to a sex scandal. The Liberal Democrats. What were the chances?

That this involves Maajid Nawaz has taken me by surprise. The revelations about his behaviour were made in The Daily Mail.

Nawaz has openly said he is a “non devout Muslim” and on Newsnight he made very clear that there are no spokespeople for the muslim community, rather many voices looking to be heard. The problem is how devout a feminist when your spokesperson is reported as saying Nawaz’s “reputation for advocating women’s rights was ‘in the context of Islamic extremism’.” Feminism only an issue when Islam is involved? [1] That really needs clarifying. Seeing strippers during Ramadan, or drinking booze? Between Nawaz and his God.

The stag do was last June; of course this story has waited till now for maximum impact during the General Election. For cynicism that this is a smear hatchet job, there are legitimate concerns. The allegation that Maajid Nawaz was physically and verbally harassing a stripper for her phone number while bragging about himself falls well short of conduct befitting a member of parliament. Or not being a sleazeball while your fiancee waits at home for your return. Nawaz is mentioned in the article as denying touching inappropriately or ever being warned repeatedly about his behaviour.

Who on earth cannot work out the political ramifications of a lap dance while standing as an MP (never mind the logistics of a lap dance while standing)? It suggests at a personal level a reckless abandon. Many hours and money have gone into supporting his candidacy in a very close three horse marginal seat. Usually, you do not risk undermining those efforts if you feel a responsibility to your supporters.

Stag nights and strip clubs are very much connected. In a piece this month, novelist Nicki Salcedo wrote about the shock of two men when she interjected their conversation to give directions one of them needed to a strip club. Writing about her previous experiences at a strip club, and attending a bachelorette party with stripping men, she concludes:

That burly guy was embarrassed to get directions to the strip club from a soccer mom. That’s the real shame. If you are going to go to the strip club, go. Go proud. The fact that he was embarrassed suggests that even he thinks it’s a bit wrong. Those are his issues, not mine.

I don’t worry about it. What a strange funny world. I know how to get to the strip club and other places, too. On a good day, I can give you directions to anywhere you want to go.

Maybe as a feminist in the context of Islamic extremism, Maajid Nawaz saw no political issues going to a strip club then asking female voters for their support. Perhaps, far from thinking that he was above such potential political controversy, he thought he could have a stag do as any law abiding citizen may. Maybe we should live in a world where what adults choose to do together really is none of our business. Such is the dilemma for political and private life.

The electorate of Hampstead and Kilburn will have less than four weeks in which to see how this story evolves and how to use in making a judgment when voting. In a constituency where in 2010 the Liberal Democrats came third, 841 votes behind elected Glenda Jackson MP for Labour. 841 votes.

That is why going to the stripclub was not a good idea if he intended to win the seat. That no one thought – you know if the Daily Mail gets hold of this your campaign will be sunk – suggests either foolish thinking, lack of judgment or irresponsibility to those campaigning for you.

The bottom line is the allegation of harassing women. The Liberal Democrats have not inspired much confidence in this area when investigating. I sense panic at party HQ that a seat they hoped might be in play may well have been lost at the upcoming poll, and how this may play out nationally.

As we await further announcements, I hope the accusations made by the manager and owner of the strip club turn out to be tabloid sensationalism. Even so, I fear that may not undo the damage to the campaign.

Update Sunday 12 April:

[1] Even though my “how devout a feminist” refers to the spokespersons comments about women’s rights in the context of Islamic extremism – what about beyond that context (Daily Mail I suspect rather than spokesperson to blame but needs clarifying I feel), people are interpreting as me saying you cannot be a devout feminist going to a strip club. Which is not what I am saying here.

Afterword

On twitter I have been aghast by comments to me that strippers need to expect groping, that harassing someone for their number is hardly a serious matter, that as part of their sexual allure this is natural. No it is never ok to harass or grope or assault a women whatever her job, whatever she is wearing.

Belittling a woman because she is a stripper does not help Maajid Nawaz. Rather, you are not standing up for women’s rights. As to feminism and stripping, where adults are consenting regarding a sensual or sexual activity freedom exists. Where coercion, pressure or force is applied in no sense can consent exist. A debate about whether patriarchal cultural attitudes deny that freedom is something I invite others to research and think about.

Since I published my article an edited CCTV time lapsed video has gone on youtube. Regardless of whether you believe it shows harassment, someone just having a lap dance, or is inconclusive, I do not see how Maajid Nawaz politically comes back from the public humiliation. “They’ve got art” as the saying goes, and by saying his behaviour was out of order allowed such images to appear in the public domain. In short, it seems an attempt to show up someone publicly who, perhaps naively, felt their privacy was protected by having a private lap dance.

The accusation of harassment may or may not be true. We can cast dispersions as to motive, though suggesting a strip club owner and manager must be automatically untrustworthy seems ad hominem. Rather, they do appear an unlikely duo to stand up for religious probity. However, the manager claims to have witnessed unacceptable behaviour which he felt went against the public persona (as he saw it) presented by Maajid Nawaz.

Whatever Nawaz’s behaviour was, at no point was he thrown out or the police called. So the accusations do come across as a smear campaign timed for the General Election. What we know for certain is that Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club while a parliamentary candidate. With the kind of opponents he has, this becoming public knowledge should have been seen as very likely.

Public humiliation though is not what anyone deserves for being a parliamentary candidate, even if you do something politically stupid as going to a strip club.

Maajid Nawaz has said on twitter today “Yesterday the Daily Mail article hatchet-jobbed me”, and has promised a statement “soon.” I will link to that in a new blog post when it hits the internet. To be honest we needed the statement Saturday considering Friday night the story broke.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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SNP Are Nationalists First – Labour King Makers Second

The SNP will support a future Labour Government on progressive legislation. When it comes to painful austerity measures to bring down the deficit, they would force Labour to have the Conservative side to support them. That way, the SNP can paint Labour as the same as the Tories. Thus, the hope will be to chase Labour out of Scotland as the Conservatives have been as they hang on to one MP.

To read Sunny Hundal’s analysis you would think that Nicola Sturgeon really wants a Conservative Government, to make the case for Scottish Independence that bit stronger. I disagree with his view:

Let me spell this out. I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond want Miliband to be Prime Minister. It would wreck the illusion that Scotland can only prosper and survive independently without working with Westminster. If the SNP and Labour managed to work together it would be the end of that illusion.

Furthermore, the SNP’s ultimate goal still remains independence. Is that achievable more under a Tory government intent on drastic cuts, or a Labour government they could work with? It doesn’t take a genius to put 2+2 together. The Tories are intent on juxtaposing Sturgeon with Miliband, and the SNP are intent on helping them.

The bigger prize for the SNP is to play the game of removing Labour as any serious opposition to them north of the border – to dominate Westminster in a hung parliament and to win in the Scottish Parliament. Hence SNP encouraging the English to vote for the Green Party. Making Labour more dependent on the elected SNP MPs in parliament. In short, the SNP can try and take credit for any legislation that is progressive while claim Labour is working with the Tories on austerity measures.

The deputy SNP leader on BBC Radio 4 Today made clear this Easter Monday the SNP would support Labour on a bill by bill basis, even if the Conservatives have more seats. While this is being sold as keeping Labour honest to left wing policies, the honey trap should be obvious. Labour cannot be completely anti-austerity in government – the extent to which some measures will be done, in a bid to keep interest repayments down and credibility with the markets, will not be fully realised till after the election. Result is SNP can claim Labour are the Tories if they depend on the opposition to pass austerity measures. Ed Balls as Chancellor will be aware of the need himself to play this game himself – I predict the Blair Brown relationship will be nothing compared to the two Eds in Downing Street.

The Liberal Democrats had the most to gain in the leaking of Sturgeon’s supposed comments that Miliband would be a weak premier, and that she wanted a Conservative government to make it easier for the SNP to argue for independence. They want to be seen as the honest broker in any coalition or special voting arrangement. Nick Clegg tried to position him as such in the debate: less cuts than Conservatives, less borrowing than Labour.

The opinion polls did not believe Nick Clegg, as Nicola Sturgeon resonated with people south of the border on progressive policies like zero tuition fees, and offering friendship with England to provide left wing policies. It is a poisoned chalice that many Labour supporters are willing to drink from in the hope that for once, a Labour Prime Minister has to stay on the left.

Government’s are not immune to market’s assessing risk regarding a high deficit, and the relative low interest payments on the national debt are not guaranteed. Britain never was a Greece as Cameron tried to claim, but that is not the same thing as saying high deficits are sustainable or desirable over the long term. That the coalition failed to cut as much as they planned helped the recovery we have had, rather than most of us have felt.

Will Ed Miliband be tough enough to deal with the poisoned chalice, becoming Prime Minister and make the case that if he fails it was Tartan Tories that had it in for him as he seeks a full majority in a snap election? If his whips when in opposition can be as effective in Government, he might yet play the game the way SNP never envisaged.

Up for grabs for the next government is the future constitutional settlement of this nation. After the indy referendum it might be easy to forget that. The problem is to beat the nationalists Labour must be an electoral force to be reckoned with north of the border. That would be best helped by a progressive Labour Government. English voters should consider voting a majority Labour Party is the only way to safeguard the United Kingdom as it is. The risk is a minority Labour Government.

As for a Conservative majority, hopefully they understand the future federal structure necessary to safeguard the union. Hopefully members are listening to Paul Goodman:

What is the alternative, if the Union is to be saved (and Cameron to stay on, for that matter)?  Margaret Thatcher tried to wish the problem away.  John Major sent back the Stone of Scone.  Tony Blair and Gordon Brown tried a devolution halfway house with rotten foundations.  None of these ploys worked.

Only the federal solution remains: unless, that is, one prefers shouting “Boo!” at Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in the hope that they will go away (which they won’t) – while simultaneously bringing closer the very SNP-Labour deal that Team Cameron is rightly warning the country against.

It is time to put the Conservative and Unionist Party name to the test – and prove Peter Hitchens wrong that you would never accidentally on purpose allow a situation where independence happened to lock-in a future English Parliament.

As David Cameron said:

I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain’s success – so for me there’s no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation.

There is no question for me that Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and Alex Salmond in Westminster know how to make that happen in a hung parliament where the Liberal Democrats do not help Labour or Conservative to the 326 majority of MPs. The nationalists do not come at the English with swords and guerilla raids. They come in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie. The smiles and bonhomie cannot disguise that the SNP will do what they can to ensure an independent Scotland happens.

If you thought that the indy referendum had settled the future of Britain, be prepared to wake up to a potential headache after May 7th. The SNP were not knocked out, rather Labour is on the canvas in Scotland as we await the count to start when the polls close. If Conservative voters in Scotland are serious about saving the union they need to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat to keep the SNP out.

The nationalists are coming, and Labour are the ones to blame. For by them losing MPs in Scotland we may well be a step closer to the break up of the United Kingdom. Can anything happen in the next month to change that? Well I expect leaking the memo was an attempt by someone.

England – if you wanted a say in the future of the United Kingdom during the indy referendum, this General Election you have by either returning a Conservative or Labour majority government. Judging by the polls, many things will hang in the balance.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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