Recent News Articles
“Our driving force is to ensure Cameron cannot undermine the gay marriage bill with this amendment” – a senior Labour source told Liberal Conspiracy this afternoon.
That sentiment underlines what is likely to be a day of complicated manoeuvring in Westminster.
Here’s why it is complicated. Tory MP Tim Loughton has tabled an amendment calling on civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples too. Scores of rebel Tory MPs are expected to support it.
The government opposes this and calls it a ‘wrecking amendment’ because, they claim, it would delay legalisation of same-sex marriage and incur extra costs (of up to £4bn they say).
So what is Labour doing?
Remember this is a free vote. I asked senior sources how much pressure was being put on Labour MPs, but they declined to offer more detail. I have clarification on how Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband are voting. The rest of the party are likely to follow but it’s not guaranteed.
First, Labour are tabling their own amendment to the same-sex marriage bill. The amendment will not delay the bill but demand an immediate consultation into extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex partners, and take a closer look at the cost projections.
Labour say this offers the government a way out, by committing to move on extending civil partnerships while having no excuse to delay the bill. Yvette Cooper told BBC’s World at One that said she did not want the government to “use this amendment as an excuse to delay or wreck the bill.”
Second, they will not vote against Tim Loughton’s amendment as a matter of principle. The leadership say they will most likely abstain instead. But Miliband/Cooper are leaving on the table a threat to support the Loughton amendment if the government does not support Labour’s own offer.
The aim, Labour sources say, is to pressure the government to keep the same-sex marriage bill moving while looking closely at extending civil partnerships.
Yvette Cooper on R4′s WATO
Tories to support Labour Equal Marriage Bill amendment. Top Labour source: “Pleased they’re still capable of at least some rational thought”
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) May 20, 2013
Nigel Farage published this ad in the Telegraph today, urging Tories to defect to Conservatives
The Telegraph also reports that Local Conservative party campaigners, including the chairman of one constituency association, will this week pledge their support for Nigel Farage after one of David Cameron’s allies described grassroots Tories as “mad, swivel-eyed loons”.
As I’ve written before, Farage would be better off trying to usurp the Conservatives as the main party of the right than going into an alliance with them.
This ad escalates that coming war. IT’ll be interesting to see how the Tory leadership respond if more activists and members defect to UKIP.
If David Cameron expected voters to respect him for firming up his commitment to a referendum on the European Union, YouGov’s latest polling for The Times will disappoint him.
Most Britons, including a majority of those who voted Conservative in 2010, think he is acting out of tactical calculation rather than because he feels deeply about the issue.
That’s the copnclusion offered by Peter Kellner today.
And this chart shows it.
Peter Kellner adds:
Voters, and especially floating voters, tend to decide which party to support on character more than policy. Parties and their leaders attract more support if they are regarded as principled and competent. If they are thought to be driven by tactics rather than belief, they risk being seen as weak and losing respect and votes.
That is the risk that Cameron now faces over Europe. He could end up losing more votes by appearing unprincipled than he gains from adopting a stance on the EU that appears to be closer to the public mood. In contrast, the popularity of UKIP and Farage is being driven not just by his stance on the EU, but also by respect for being thought to restore principles to politics
This entire EU Referendum episode has been a disaster for Cameron.
An MP for the ultra-right Golden Dawn party was ejected from Parliament today he shouted Heil Hitler during session.
Panayiotis Iliopoulos condemned fellow MPs as ‘wretched sell-outs’ and ‘goats’, swearing as other Golden Dawn MPs also walked out.
At the :36 mark in this video you can hear a member of the party shout “Heil Hitler.”
Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking today on the rising cost of living and companies paying their fair share, said:
People will be shocked by the evidence that Google is going to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
It comes on top of other firms apparently engaging in similar practices.
It is evidence of a culture of corporate irresponsibility among certain firms which is totally unacceptable.
And of course we have now seen allegations about petrol fixing as well.
It comes at a time when ordinary families are seeing services cut, their taxes rising and so many businesses are struggling to make ends meet and are actually doing the right thing and paying their fair share of taxes.
As so often under this Government, I think it is evidence of one rule for those at the top and another rule for everyone else.
David Cameron says we have to just wait for international action. He is wrong.
Tory MP Nadine Dorries’s tweet stream was a sight to behold over the weekend.
No further comment needed.
London’s Metropolitan Police have been criticised today for reports that they are buying two water cannons to target protesters.
The report in today’s Times says:
The Metropolitan Police has asked the Home Office to approve the acquisition of two German-made water cannon vehicles, capable of holding 9,000 litres each, which would be used to soak rioters with powerful jets of spray.
The purchase of a third cannon, which would be held as a “national asset” available to other police forces for deployment in emergency situations, is also being considered.
The Metropolitan Police had hoped to have the vehicles for next month in case of disorder arising from protests which are planned for London before the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
It is understood that, although Home Office ministers are broadly in favour of the proposal, they have asked for more details on how the riot control weapon would be deployed.
The plans were slammed as “deeply worrying” by London Labour today, who are asking the Met Police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe to fully consult with the public before purchasing the water cannons.
London Assembly Member Joanne McCartney has written to the Commissioner asking for clarification on the proposals.
In a statement sent to Liberal Conspiracy today she said:
A monumental decision like this cannot be snuck through under the public’s nose. We need a full public debate on this move. This is deeply worrying and it’s an indication that the Met are unsure whether they could cope. We have a low number of police officers with 2,682 lost since May 2010 and 1846 PCSOs.
The evidence for the effectiveness of water cannons is very unclear. Against the widespread rioting we saw in London water cannons would have been of very limited, if any, use.
The Mayor and the Met also need to do more to improve public trust and confidence in the police and prevent trouble starting in the first place. I would be extremely concerned if we were to see water cannons used on London’s streets against the public.
She says she has written urgently to London’s Mayor too, asking if these reports are accurate, and what evidence they had that water cannons were effective.
As others pointed out on Twitter
“including lack of manoeuvrability, quick exhaustion of water supply, and vulnerability to attack.” Home Office written answer in 1987.
— Brian Williams (@BriW74) May 13, 2013
Transport for London (TfL) last week owned up and made public the actual purchase price of the New Bus For London (NBfL), aka Boris Bus.
And that price, at £354,500 per vehicle, makes the NBfL around £50,000 more expensive than a comparable off-the-shelf hybrid double decker. So, despite Bozza’s promises, the NBfL will not be price competitive with alternatives.
As there are to be 600 production examples of the NBfL, this gives a premium of £30 million. Added to this is the cost of the eight prototypes, which, at £11.77 million, gives a premium over eight comparable hybrids of £9.37 million.
We cannot validate the claims for superior fuel consumption, as TfL have thus far declined to release the figures. So that’s a running premium total of £39.37 million.
For that money, Londoners could have had another 131 hybrid double deckers. And it gets worse: far from being the “greenest ever” bus, the NBfL will have to be retro-fitted with the means to enable it to meet 2014 emissions standards. So that means a further extra cost.
However, TfL would benefit if the design were to be sold to any other potential customers. What are the prospects of this? Sadly, they are precisely zero. This can be gleaned from the unwillingness of operators to take the vehicles on: uniquely for London, TfL is having to purchase them outright and then impose them on operators.
But it is in running costs that the truly scandalous scale of waste can be seen. Each NBfL requires a second crew member when its rear platform is in operation, and this has been estimated to add a cost of £62,000 per vehicle per year.
Do the math, as they say: over the 14-year lifetime of the 608-strong fleet, this will land Londoners with a whopping £527.74 million bill in total.
That’s an awfully large premium payment for Bozza’s vanity legacy.
The question begs itself as to how he has been allowed to get away with it: spraying £567 million up the wall merely for something that is “different”, “iconic”, or which may impress a few tourists.
In 1989, 17 year old mother Sabrina Butler had to rush her nine month old baby boy to hospital in the American state of Mississippi after he had stopped breathing. On the journey there Butler attempted to administer CPR in the hope that she could save her baby’s life.
The next day her baby died. Bruises left from the attempted administration of CPR led the hospital staff, and subsequently the police, to question the young mother about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death.
Just one day after the death of her baby, Sabrina was arrested and interrogated.
She was then charged for the capital murder of her son, Walter Butler. On the 8th March 1990 Butler’s case went to trial. Prosecutors sought to prove that she had inflicted the wounds intentionally and caused the death of her baby.
She was convicted of both child abuse and murder and became the only woman on Mississippi’s death row at the time.
None of the facts presented by the prosecution were seriously contested by Butler’s attorneys during the trial, no defence witnesses were called and no other evidence was offered on her behalf.
By August 1992 the Supreme Court of Mississippi reversed and remanded Butler’s convictions declaring the “prosecution had failed to prove that the incident was anything more than an accident.”
She was exonerated in 1995.
Sabrina’s story is one of the ten stories covered in a series of short films, as part of the One for Ten project (we covered it on Liberal Conspiracy a few months ago)).
The tells the stories of 10 exonerees in the US that have been freed from death row after their innocence has been proven.
One For Ten are currently crowd funding to raise the money to make the last two films in this series. To read more about the cases featured in the last two films, have a look at their website here. If you want to make sure their work continues, you can contribute here.
Leading Muslim groups, in tandem with child protection, victim support and civil rights organisations are launching a cross-community response to the problem of ‘on-street grooming’ by gangs in Bardford.
The Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) and anti-fascist group Hope not hate (HNH) plan to launch ‘Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation’ (CAASE) in Bradford on 10th May.
CAASE say they will meet the challenges raised by child sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls and women head-on.
The initiative is being supported by groups including the Church of England, Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Youth Helpline, Muslim Community Helpline, Federation of Muslim Organisations, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), Faith Associates, the Christian Muslim Forum, City Sikhs Network, plus women’s rights networks including Inspire, the Henna Foundation, and Making Herstory.
Professional guidance will be provided by Victim Support, plus STREET, which works with at-risk young people, and NAPAC (the National Association for People Abused in Childhood) which specialises in support for abuse survivors.
Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain, Julie Siddiqi, says:
There are few crimes more horrific than the sexual exploitation of young women: these girls have been let down by everyone. I have been sickened reading about these cases. There should be no excuse, no hiding place, for those who perpetrate such crimes.
Nick Lowles from Hope not Hate said:
We want to encourage all our partners to help us remove the veils of secrecy and control that allow abuse to flourish. We also need to ensure that the media, and far-right groups, do not promote an anti-Muslim agenda over so-called ‘grooming’ trials either. HOPE not hate will focus on busting myths that groups such as the EDL and BNP like to promote in their quest for hate and division.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim Council of Britain added:
Some of those perpetrators who have recently been convicted happen to be from the Muslim community, so we need to be at the very front of the voice that is condemning this. It is important that leaders of religious communities speak out against this deplorable and abhorrent behaviour by adults toward vulnerable children.
Working with child protection services, local authorities, schools, faith communities and the police, CAASE say they hope to develop a proactive response to the growing problem of on-street grooming, raising awareness, educating and developing community-led responses.
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