The True Cost of Proroguing Parliament By Kelly Grehan

Brexit has brought much harm to this country: it has brought to light divisions that we always hoped were not there, it has somehow legitimised hatred and it has, (for reasons I am not sure I will ever understand) led to circumstances which have caused us to have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

It has also led to the numerous other harmful policies of the government to escape scrutiny by the media and therefore the members of the public whom are not directly impacted by them miss knowing they exist.

Now we must add another tragedy to the list of consequences: prorogation has damaged Parliament’s ability to fulfil its primary purpose: to bring about legislation -all laws going through Parliament were automatically dropped when Parliament in effect, shut down on Monday.

I saw the impact of bad government legislation first hand earlier this year. I was privileged to join campaigners from the Motor Neuro Disease Association at an event in Parliament marking the publication of a damning report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Terminal Illness. The report found the current rule – that a person must have a life expectancy of six months or less to get fast access to benefits – is ‘outdated, overly-time consuming and demeaning.’ 60 MPs attended the event so it seemed Madeleine Moon’s MP’s Private Members’ Bill to #Scrap6Months could become law, but the proroguing of parliament means it has officially fallen. This means the hope that those diagnosed with a terminal illness would no longer have to prove they had under 6 months left to live is over. This is cruel for any person facing up to terminal illness and particularly gruelling in the case of anyone with an illness like motor neuro disease, which has no cure or treatment and for which the decline in health is rapid.

My heart breaks for the campaigners I met who worked so hard to bring attention to this situation.

Other scrapped bills include:

– The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which would have allowed people to divorce without needing to accuse their spouse of wrongdoing or wait several years.

– The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which would have increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.

And

– The Domestic Abuse Bill which would have made it illegal for abuse suspects to cross-examine their victims in court.

With no idea if and when these bills will now come before Parliament there is now a real risk that they will be lost forever.

When people think about Boris Johnson’s first 6 weeks as Prime Minister, no doubt his losing 6 votes out of 6 will always be the main memory, but we must also, always remember the harm his cowardice in prorogating Parliament has caused by preventing progression in stopping important legislation progressing which would have improved lives.

80 Years Ago Parents Said Goodbye To Their Children To Keep Them Safe – Today Many Face The Same Awful Choice By Kelly Grehan

“They were so brave.”
“It must have been awful sending them away knowing you might not see them again.
“It would have been painful, but you would have done it; it was the best way of keeping them safe.
80 years ago Operation Pied Piper saw children voluntarily sent by their parents to live with strangers. Over 3,000,000 people, mostly children were moved from the cities where they lived to the countryside towns which were thought to be safe from the bombing campaigns which were sure to begin with the outbreak of the second world war.

The evacuation of Britain’s cities at the start of World War Two was the biggest and most concentrated mass movement of people in Britain’s history. It seems probably some people living in the places where the evacuees were taken to felt ‘swamped,’ worried for their way of life and about the impact on the schools and services they used with such an influx of people.
The children, labelled like luggage, were taken from everything they knew to places so alien they may as well have been in another country. Life in different regions was markedly different across 1930s Britain, with accents so pronounced they could be difficult for outsiders to understand and diets full of food that was unfamiliar and a way of life that was far removed from anything they had experienced.
When children did arrive in their new destination they were lined up and waited to be chosen by someone to take them home.
The thought of sending your children away to an alien land, to strangers you know nothing about sounds traumatic doesn’t it?
Then there is the thought of the ongoing suffering the parents must have endured with, sometimes, years of contact only through letter, no real control of how they are raised, no idea how they are changing physically and emotionally as they were not there to see it.
70 years on we hear stories of evacuees and their parents and it’s impossible not to feel empathy for every family split up by a war they had no control over.
…… it’s impossible not to feel empathy for every family split up by a war they had no control over.
That sentence I just wrote isn’t true is it?
Because where as I hear the sentences from the top of the page when people discuss the World War 2 evacuees I hear very different comments about those who try to get their children out of war zones around the world into safety.
“They should stay where they are and fight.”
“Any parent who would send their child somewhere they cannot protect them doesn’t deserve children.”
“Freeloaders coming here to scrounge.”
The pain of giving your child away, of sending them away from everything they know, including your love and protection cannot be imagined.
It’s a decision someone should never have to make.
Unaccompanied refugee children will have seen horrors that cannot be imagined: they have seen their homes destroyed, loved ones killed, been tortured or trafficked. They have taken long, terrifying journeys to reach safety and they will probably never see those who love them again.
Unicef say worldwide there are nearly 31 million children who have been forcibly displaced. Children under the age of 18 made up about half of the global refugee population in 2018, including many that were unaccompanied or separated from their parents – and, as such, at risk from abuse and exploitation.
But it often seems that people view these children with hatred and greet any attempts by others to help them with outright revulsion. Indeed I expect to receive some nasty messages once this article is published because every time I have commented in support of refugees abuse has followed.

The Dubs Amendment, passed in May 2016 required the government to act “as soon as possible” to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. Britain promised to take 3,000 refugee children. So far it’s taken 220

Currently, unaccompanied minors in Europe who have relatives in the UK can apply to join them.
It is a lengthy process, with children often waiting months or even years to be moved to Britain after submitting their applications, There are currently an estimated 30 children in Northern France and 25 children in Greece known to have been approved for protection under, the Dubs Scheme who have been waiting more than 2 months to be transferred.
Why does the thought of those children alone and displaced not fill people with horror or sympathy?
The current system of transferring asylum-seeking children in the EU to join family members in Britain is set to come to an end in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
I don’t see any outrage about this.
Paddington Bear begins with Aunt Lucy telling Paddington “Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.”
Sadly, I don’t think that is true.

Why Labour Must Prevent A Future ‘Hippo Out Of The Hat’ Situation By Ikechukwu Onyeadi

I have been a member of the Labour party for long enough. Even when the party was hit by a wave of mass-decampings, especially amongst the younger members, I stayed.

I stayed because I know I am a socialist through and through.

I stayed because I had faith that a true socialist would someday come along and present a platform radical enough to warrant a chance with the disenchanted electorate.

Over the years I have watched Labour slowly turn away from what it is; a movement for workers. It suddenly became so engrossed in infiltrating traditional Tory regions that it forgot to properly represent workers.

Of course, Education and wealth are universal aspirations, but when we have Labour politicians that come from Oxbridge-educated, very wealthy, ‘never-worked-ever’, Reese-Mogg type backgrounds; preaching socialism, then the white van, traditional working-class Labour voter cannot help but view them with suspicion.

When Ed Miliband came up with those brilliant, brilliant policies in the run up to the 2015 General Election, voters simply did not trust him in his £1000 suits. I remember one of the numerous polls held in 2014, summarised by Peter Kellner and published in the Guardian by Mathew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo on July 7, 2014, pointing out that although polls showed that The Labour Party was on course to win the 2015 General Election; the major obstacle to that happening was Ed Miliband himself. His image as a ‘posh boy’ just failed to convince anyone, including traditional Labour voters.

The subsequent wipe out of the Labour Party in Scotland and the Tory party’s 328-seat majority win, one that was brilliantly described by Boris Johnson as David Cameron “pulling the most colossal rabbit out of the hat” served to buttress the point made by the pollster.

For Tory Politicians, it seems that the ‘posher’ one is, the more likely they are to advance politically.

For Labour, the electorate seem as though they would like a ‘no-bullshitting’, regular but very ‘street saavy Joe’ that one is highly likely to run into at the local chippy in Swancombe every Friday evening.

That is why, for the Labour party, image should be everything.  

To digress a little from the central discussion here, in the past the Labour Party have used positive inclusion techniques to encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds such as women and ethnic minorities to stand as Labour candidates. Perhaps this approach could be used to encourage today’s disenchanted youth to run for office, thereby injecting more charisma and vigour into the whole electoral debate. If one looked around Labour CLPs in the Southeast these days, they are chuck-full of people who were teenagers when Elizabeth was crowned Queen and who-no matter how hard they try, simply do not understand the world as it is today.

It would perhaps be wiser that those who will decide our future have sound knowledge on Technology in this country and the role of Artificial Intelligence in the future of our species. An idea of who Bixby is would be a great start!

What Jeremy Corbyn brought to The Labour party is nothing short of the breath of fresh air that this country has so badly yearned for since the heartless conservative Government took an axe to social service funds and benefits.

His policies so far seem to be coming straight from the mouths of regular people who go to work every day and go through all the challenges of living in today’s cash-strapped Britain. His policy on nationalising the rail network is direly needed to control the unreliability we have come to expect from the rail network.

His insistence that austerity is just a fiscal choice and not necessity is very economically sound.

A perfect scenario would be to imagine that banks imposed daily withdrawal caps of £200 on its customers because it simply refuses to borrow money to do business, although that option is readily available to it.

Mr Corbyn thus presents as the perfect candidate, with the perfect credentials and the perfect image. The young love him, the old women think he is adorable and his policies agree with any true socialist that believes in a more even system of wealth “redistribution”. His policies also agree with most people in this country who have seen their quality of life deteriorate steeply since the conservatives came into power in 2010 and desperately want something different.

However, we risk another ‘Tory Rabbit’, nay, a ‘Hippo’ this time because Theresa May does not enjoy even half the support that David Cameron did during his premiership, being pulled out of the next General Election Hat!

The reason for my prediction is The Labour Party’s stance, or lack of, on door-step issues. On Brexit. We know we will vote with The Government to make Brexit a reality, according to the wishes of the majority of The British Electorate during the referendum, but we have no clear red lines.

In the negotiations following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, British politicians should band together and present one front, just like the EU 27 is doing. The different opinions and the UK politicians who preach even greater doom than Michel Barnier, create the cracks that The EU is now exploiting.

It is right for Jeremy to whip the Parliamentary Labour Party into supporting The Government on Brexit.

Perhaps this delay on defining a stance on the single market has helped The EU with establishing both the ammunition and the high ground. It is however encouraging that Jeremy seems now to be clear on his stance with leaving the Single Market, despite criticism from Pro- European Labour MPs.

On Immigration, Labour has no clear policies either. The concerns on the doorstep that uncontrolled Immigration suppresses wages, is changing the dynamics in many cities and is pushing the NHS to breaking point, are all very valid and very evidence-based.

The fact that a European National living in Britain can bring their non-EU family members to join them in Britain with no requirements other than exercising treaty rights but British citizens looking to bring their family members to join them in Britain are subjected to requirements on earnings is simply ridiculous, no matter what one’s political affiliations are.

In addition to Jeremy Corbyn, what the Labour Party needs is re-orientation for its Politicians. We desperately need to move with the times. No matter what one’s principles are, we need to become a winning party again.

Jeremy can have all the best policies but if the Tories are willing to get their hands ‘dirty’ by discussing and addressing the real issues on the doorsteps, whilst Labour continues to abstain from these discussions; they will pull every animal species in London Zoo out of all foreseeable General Election Hats.

I suggest that the re-orientation start from ward level.

Let us try something radical.

Let us-only for one season try to use positive inclusion techniques to council seats to encourage under 40s, especially women under 25.

In doing so we would invariably draw a lot of young people into politics and they will supply fresh ideas to deal with the issues facing us right now.

My young neighbours in my street worry about the fact that the last time anyone saw a street cleaner around our street was 9 months ago! They are grateful for the playground that Tan Dhesi fought for many years ago but are now particularly worried for their children’s safety since some juvenile delinquents have decided to use the playground as a racetrack for their noisy Motorbikes.

They wonder if our Labour Councillors even care as no one ever sees them at the doorstep. They never write their constituents to update them on what they are fighting for and usually make important decisions without consulting everyone in their wards. If we want to win, we must change.

National Labour has labelled Gravesham an “unwinnable” seat or something along those lines but I see this borough as very winnable.

We are not able to win because the reality is that outside London, when people are given the opportunity to choose between a Labour party that is stuck on principles that do not reflect the challenges faced by ordinary citizens in today’s Britain, they will vote a Tory. That is because the Tories have managed to stick The Labour party with several tags including that of “The Borrowing” party and so far, we have had the weakest comebacks.

I am no stranger to criticising our policies within The Labour Party and those of the Government for that matter but the essence of criticism is to point out that improvements are required and not a demonstration of disloyalty.

Above all, I want The Labour party to get back to its winning ways with Gravesham as its Crown Jewel.

To do that we must support Jeremy Corbyn.

We must change our strategies.

We must become more radical.

We must represent workers and

We must encourage Jeremy Corbyn’s advisers from a wider range of candidates with young and vibrant British workers who live in today’s reality and not an elite within the party who all own their own homes and have sizable savings which their children will inherit.

By Ikechukwu Onyeadi

** All views are the writer’s own and do not represent the views of The Avenger

Are The Tories Really This Desperate? By Lisa Mulholland

‘Desperate times call for desperate measures’ as the saying goes, but just how low can you go? It seems the Tories have no bottom limit. And no shame. And no moral compass.

Yes the Tories have brought Anne Marie Morris back into the fold, and not just the fold, but she is now Conservative whip.

You know, the Tory MP who received a slap on the wrist for casually using a racist phrase ” N***** in the woodpile” during a meeting to discuss Brexit. The Tories are so desperate for votes that they have to rely on her to make up the numbers (let’s not forget the £1 billion vote gap filler deal made with the DUP).

It is the year 2017 and yet here I am about to try and define why Anne Marie Morris, the Conservative MP for Newton Abbott needed more than a suspension for her ” N***** in the woodpile” comment while discussing Brexit during a meeting.

This is a phrase that I have never heard before now and a quick search reveals it is a term used to describe when ‘Something is not quite right’.

Taken from Wikipedia “A n****** in the woodpile or fence is a figure of speech” originating in 19th Century America to describe fugitive slaves to mean “some fact of considerable importance that is not disclosed or that something suspicious or wrong”.

Could Morris not have just said that she felt that something was amiss, or that something did not add up?

Did she really need to use this phrase with slavery connotations to illustrate her point?

It is one thing for a nasty racist thug (that isn’t a member of the Conservative Party) to say that word, even in private, disgusting and outrageous that would be too. But it is quite another more serious matter for a Minister of Parliament to do so, and so publicly too.

As an MP, she has been elected to represent thousands of people in her constituency at the highest level in the United Kingdom. She has sat in Parliament, since she was elected in 2010 and in doing so she has been given the enormous right and more importantly, responsibility to vote on matters that concern the British public and be part of the policy making process.

As a Minister, she can vote on Bills that, after a series of processes and votes can eventually become British Law, whilst sitting in a grand building steeped in hundreds of years of history.

A place where numerous laws have been debated, voted on and became part of our British history.

The most prominent in my mind is the Race Relations Act of 1965 that made it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race.

This law would have gone through many different stages before being granted Royal Assent to become British Law. Those debates and conversations would have taken place in the very room that she sits in.

Anne Marie Morris was just 8 years old when the law finally came to pass. So where has she been hiding for the past 52 years?

What shocks me even more is her party’s response to this. Yes, Theresa May has suspended her. But since that suspension other MPs, media and supporters jumped to her defence. And now bringing her back in to the fold. Did she think we would forget?

The Spectator, in their article entitled “A vicious reaction to a very bad word” talks about Morris’ comments and called it an ‘outdated idiom’.

Yes, over 100 years out of date and apparently died out by about 1930.

That is of course if you aren’t a member of the Conservative party. Because on closer inspection and research, this we only have to go back to 2008 when Lord Dixon- Smith, a Conservative Party Minister under David Cameron used the exact same phrase.
According to The Telegraph he was said to have used the phrase, when forced to apologise he admitted, that “the unfortunate phrase had “slipped out without my thinking”, and added: “It was common parlance when I was younger, put it that way”.

Treating Morris as though she is a naughty child who doesn’t know what she is saying and just to be chastised is not acceptable. She is a 60-year-old, Oxford educated woman who chose a career in Politics.

I dread to think what she says in private if she thinks it is acceptable to state this publicly because N word is more than just a word.

It is a concept that encompasses 500 years of white rule. It is a vulgar term that is very rarely ever used these days. It has no place in our society even when stemming from the lowest forms of insult, or so I thought.

Theresa May has made a mockery of the last 52 years where we have had a law that is designed to protect the British people from racism (including all the acts and statutes that have been passed in recent years to strengthen that law) and she seems to have forgotten that this actually means something.

I wonder what depths she will sink to next to cling on to ‘power’?

Brexit- It’s Not Set In Stone By Helen Hill

By Helen Hill.

Yesterday, Lord Kerr, the author of the infamous “Article 50” made some big headlines when he made a speech that many of us were more than a little surprised by. He said he wanted the British people to know that just because Article 50 has been written and submitted; triggering a British exit from the EU 2 years from the date of submission, that actually, it does not mean we have to leave!

Now I am sure that many of you are as surprised as I was by this revelation because whilst I knew the referendum result was not legally binding, I was under the impression that once the result had been accepted by the Government and Article 50 had been submitted – there was no going back – it was signed, sealed and delivered so to speak and we had to be out of the EU within 2 years of that date.

Lord Kerr explained that actually we can revoke Article 50 at any point and simply change our minds! 

He added that the 2 year time scale we have all come to view as a deadline is also not set in stone and that we are entitled to extend this period, if we so wish. He added that he had felt compelled to come forward, as the author of the document, to address many of the misconceptions that the public seemed to be under, he said he simply felt that the British public had a right to know that we have not made an irreversible decision and that with all of the new evidence that has come to light that if we decide we have made the wrong decision we still have the option to remain.

I
feel that it was honourable of Lord Kerr to come out and inform the public of where they stood because given the revelations since the election about how our exit from the European Union is forecast to negatively impact us in terms of jobs, the economy, the cost of living and travel, people may well want to reconsider. 

The campaign was fought and won on lies spun from the battle bus about money that does not exist and ill information about immigration alongside a patriotic rhetoric of how we could “Make Britain Great Again” when in fact all that has come to light so far is how much worse off our country will be as a direct result of our exit. 

Add to that the fact that those who have been sent to negotiate the terms of our exit are doing a terrible job of it and the fact that we are now looking at the type of hard “No Deal” Brexit that nobody, including the leave campaign wanted, and it is easy to see why Lord Kerr felt he needed to speak out. 

I think it is wonderful that the British people now know that they still have a choice, but I also think we have to be very careful not to undermine democracy – after all a vote was cast and the results were accepted. 

Yet at the same time the election was not won by huge margin, just a couple of percent in fact and had the voters been better informed about the realities rather than the rhetoric that was proven the very next morning to be lies, it is very possible that the vote would have swung the other way. 

We all know people who voted Brexit who now regret it and feel like they were conned into it by lying politicians and a media with their own hidden agenda. 

I think it would be undemocratic to stop the process now and simply revoke Article 50 but I do believe that once the negotiations are over and people know in clear and certain terms exactly what Brexit will mean for them, they should be consulted on whether they accept the terms of it and then make a final, well informed decision based upon cold had facts and figures, not political spin.