Shabby? Not on your Nellie!

Another day, another attack on the Labour Party…
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After LP lords are accused of ‘abstaining’ on PIP rule changes, (here is the Act in full) the word ‘SHABBY’ blares across the usually neutral Disability News Service, (trying to rack up sales of your book ‘Longcare Survivors: The Biography of a Care Scandal’ are we John Pring? ūüėČ ) hurriedly echoed by such outlets as Real¬†Media (oh hello again John) who proclaim (perhaps ironically in this case)
Real Media is a cooperative of journalists dedicated to public interest journalism and challenging mass media distortion. We believe the large media organisations, as they currently exist, largely serve the interest of a small establishment ‚Äď their owners, their advertisers and the governments that they get most of their information from. This pattern of ownership and structure results in a narrowing window of debate and the decline of public interest journalism. We exist to challenge this state of affairs.
and reblogged and/or reposted by many who genuinely believed what Pring had to say. And why not? After all, the man has a brilliant record of activism and of exposing unethical governmental practices against the disabled. The problem is, this time he is in error, or perhaps if we wish to be more charitable, has not reported the full story.
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Now there isn’t a blog long enough to show every single block the Labour and Lib Dem peers tried to do on every aspect of the Welfare and Reform Bill since January 2016 (many succeeded and the Commons were forced to debate again on aspects of the Bill that did go through due Parliamentary process despite Con peer opposition), but the Public Whip has them all on record.
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Firstly WHY is nobody critiquing the CON Peers?
They-almost 100% (145 out of 147)- voted to abandon the motion of regret and all 148 voted against the motion to annul!
This £3.7 BILLION cut, that will see over 200,000 people in need lose over £2000 a YEAR!
And not for the first time, Osborne cut £1.2 billion in the 2016 Budget too.
Even The Telegraph reported that this cut was part of a proposed £12 BILLION in cuts to social care, to be spaced out between 2016 and 2020.
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What has also sneaked in under the radar is the despicable nay vote of the Cons in rthe Commons to stump up the money they promised to the NHS too, this January, as noted in the NHS and Social Care Funding Bill ¬†put forward by the Labour Party (poor showing by the SNP helped¬†the Cons a majority to block it, but EVEN IF THEY’D ALL ATTENDED AND VOTED, THE CON MAJORITY IS SUCH THAT IT WOULD HAVE GONE THROUGH ANYWAY- see below for an example of this) and last November in the LP motion to give the funds they promised to adult social care too (on which the SNP could not vote, which could have made all the difference) :¬†all part of their plans that they think are Machiavellian -but are actually Baldrickian- to kill the poor. If the Labour Party had more consistent cross party support (but only if it¬†included Con backbench rebels), this opposition, one of many, could have won.
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Since 2015, there have been TWENTY TWO¬†attacks by the Cons on ‘welfare’ alone, across the British Isles. This ranges from ESA, work assessments, DLA (now PIP) tax credits, housing benefit caps and the horrendous ‘third child rape’ clause (see my blog on that).
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TIME AND AGAIN, only the Conservative majority pushed these through, with ALL the other parties for the most part voting nay when they had the power to do so. Here’s one example, the¬†Welfare Reform and Work Bill ‚ÄĒ Removal of Limited Capability for Work Component from Universal Credit ‚ÄĒ Impact Assessment from March last year (the ‘missing’ votes were ‘paired‘).
welfare march 2016 copy
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See this link for their votes on the motion of regret, which will be discussed first, as that’s the one that ‘made the main papers’ for example the Mirror and BBC News.¬†
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Secondly, let’s look at the motion¬†of regret itself:¬†
This is a vote on critiquing some aspect of a statutory instrument but in no way requiring the government to take action. This is described as following on parliament.uk as

9.04 First, an amendment or motion may be moved regretting some aspect of a statutory instrument but in no way requiring the government to take action. This provides an opportunity for critical views to appear on the order paper and be voted upon which would otherwise simply be voiced in the debate. Such motions are invitations to the House to put on record a particular point of view. Even if carried, the motion or amendment has no practical effect: the House passes the instrument in any event. [my italics]

It was thus essentially an empty vote. A last resort by the non-Con Lords to show their solidarity to people in need. I’ll say it now, and keep repeating it- if the measure is in the Budget, it did not go through due process and cannot be vetoed by anyone except the PM and/or the Chancellor. (More detail on this below.) As the PIP measures are negative in connotation (i.e. will have a negative effect upon the people against which is legislates), a motion to regret was the Lords’ only option. Parliament.uk has this to say about negative measures

Fatal and non-fatal motions in the House of Lords

18.As the vast majority of statutory instruments laid by the Government cannot be amended, the main options available to the House of Lords are to approve or reject them under the affirmative procedure, or to annul them under the negative procedure. The House can also express its views through a ‚Äėnon-fatal‚Äô amendment to a motion to approve an instrument or through a regret motion on a negative instrument.

The motion to regret was brought forward by LP peer Baroness Sherlock  (more details here) and ALL the LP Lords that attended were for this motion of regret to stand.

motion regret copy

Yes attendance was low, which to the outsider looking in is not on, so that would have been a valid criticism. But those few that attended did not abstain, as Pring attests.

And the outcome, of the motion of regret at least, as stated even in the MSM was a majority of 8 so the motion to regret stands.

I REALLY wish people‚ĄĘ would learn to Parliament before they write news articles. Pring seems most capable as an activist, but as a political historian, not so much. Nowhere in any of his articles written after the event does he even mention this motion to regret. And this motion puts a very different complexion on things. So at best Pring didn’t know about the second motion (regret) and at worst, he has his own agenda here for being mendacious about the Labour Party, what I do not know. Maybe he will amend his own article, and if he does I will add it here.
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Thirdly, can we please differentiate between the motion to annul and the motion to regret?
The motion to annul this PIP Amendment was indeed, as Pring says, done first in the Lords (lost by majority of 89 thanks to the Cons however, NOT because of any abstentions- all the LP Lords who attended voted as the link below shows) I cannot argue that this and the motion to regret were¬†worryingly low-attended, but by ALL the parties. Again, doesn’t mean abstaining. ¬†If Pring had¬†put badly attended then fine as IMO the attendance was bad but this sounds like they deliberately went but didn’t vote. And when he did not continue with the motion of regret that came after this motion was rejected, that was when I began to have doubts about his motives for writing his article that he promptly spread across the net via multiple outlets without fact checking.
motion annul copy
So why, let’s ask, was attendance low?
Most likely low because the PIP amendments have already gone through in the Budget and the Lords were debating LP MP Debbie Abrahams’ (Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) emergency measure, not the actual Bill or amendments- and because these¬†amendments had not gone through Parliament but were shoehorned into the Budget 2017 disguised as a ‘cut’. Thus their hands were tied (also see the blockquotes above from the parliament.uk site). Many Lords made this point in the debate, that they could not support the LD peer motion to annul because of this exact pre-emption.
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What is pre-emption exactly?
It is a rule of law that if the government¬†has enacted legislation on a subject matter it shall preclude any¬†laws or amendments against¬†the same subject if the government¬†has specifically stated it has “occupied the field.” And putting this ‘cut’ into the Budget instead of giving it due process through Parliament is most definitely “occupying the field”. ¬†Only the Chancellor or the PM can in practice veto the Budget content (as happened with the National Insurance contributions section, yet another Con U turn.)
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The Liberal Democrats and Labour peers that attended almost all supported the annulment as can be seen in the graphic above from the Public Whip despite the pre-emption (only two Liberal Democrats did not vote for annulment- Baroness Manzoor and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne), but the Con peers held the majority. It was not spite or a failure to support the disabled that stopped many peers from voting- but a point of law. If they started ignoring the law to uphold the law, then the wicket we are on would be a hell of a lot more sticky. The ones that did vote for did it as a protest as they knew the Non-Contents (Cons) would outnumber any Contents anyway.
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So it was after that vote loss on the annulment (and this is the bit Pring missed out) that it went to the LP Peer’s motion of regret which and Labour and all but one¬†LD peers supported- which was just enough to win against the Con peers. This motion only¬†registers disapproval of the PIP amendments and a request for the Cons in the Commons to rethink. Thus¬†as this motion won, the Commons HAVE to discuss it again. Not do anything about it mind, but it does mean till it is debated again the measures are temporarily stalled.¬†I don’t see how this is ‘shabby’ as Pring is¬†screaming. The Lords aren’t the Commons and they don’t have the power to overturn, as explained above, only to ping pong it back to the Commons.
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Finally, what did the Commons opposition do about it?

Apart from Ms Abrahams’ SO24 emergency measure and subsequent discussion on that there was¬†the Early Day Motion (again not mentioned by Pring) sponsored by Tim Farron and secondarily sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn et al to annul amendments to the Social Security (PIP) put in the 2017 BUDGET, so this was the only chance to oppose, as I keep saying, after the fact. Now you may not have heard of Early Day Motions¬†but these useful procedures are¬†formal motions submitted for debate (in this case a direct appeal to the Queen. Why? Because it had not gone through parliament so only she-theoretically anyway in terms of parliamentary law-and only the PM and the Chancellor, in practice- can challenge any legislation in the Budget.) EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause and obtain individual signatures to have on record exactly how strongly the MPs that signed it feel about the issue.

So all in all the LP, SNP and the Lib Dems did a good job-and the only job they legally could- of trying to block this legislation sneaked through Parliament without proper due process in the form of a Budget CUT by the CONS.

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This is not a failure to oppose. Below are my thoughts on the CONSTANT wail of people‚ĄĘ on the lack of ‘opposition’ to the Conservative government:

opposition logic fail copy

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Let’s put the criticism RIGHT BACK WHERE IT’S DUE THANKS. On the CONSERVATIVES.

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Let’s focus on the fact that they are becoming more authoritarian as May’s tenure progresses and are taking all the chances they can to bypass due process -and not just on this issue- and even their own mandate in order to **** over the poor and disabled.

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The only ‘shabby’ thing about the whole business was pushing this punitive measure against disabled people through as a fait accompli in the Budget, not what the Opposition did before and afterwards to try and thwart it.

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The CONSERVATIVES are the ones that do not care if even more of the poor and disabled end up on Calum’s List– a bleak and ever increasing LIST OF THE DEAD¬†due to Conservative social policy.

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