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Know Your Tory MP – Know Your Labour Party

There comes a time in the political career of even the most loyal Westminster foot soldier when there will be a choice tluke_hallo be made between towing the party line or standing on principle. Whilst obeying the party whip is the default, a well-chosen moment of tactical rebelliousness can earn respect from allies and adversaries alike. The former rarely receives the fulsome reward hoped for, and the latter often earns kudos with interest. Based on his ovine performance thus far, it seems that Thornbury and Yate has not been blessed with an MP of the latter variety.

Being an MP belonging to the party of government it is perhaps unsurprising that Luke Hall’s voting record indicates a strong adherence to the government line. However, the otherwise loyal MP does have opportunity to demonstrate what his inner motivations are when it comes to voting on amendments. Success or failure of an amendment rarely threatens the principle of a Bill, but does often influence the focus and impact of the legislation which follows.

For instance, Luke Hall voted against an amendment to the 2017 Queens Speech which called for recruiting more fire and police officers and a fair pay rise for emergency and public service workers. In fact, during the entire period for which figures are available (to December 2017) Luke Hall has never rebelled against the Tory line. It is a kowtowing pattern of behaviour seemingly repeated at every opportunity:-

On ‘Equality and Human Rights’ Luke Hall voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act 1998, and against plans to save the steel industry including fast-tracking infrastructure projects requiring large amounts of steel.

On Foreign Policy and Defence Luke Hall consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system, and generally voted against more EU integration.

Luke Hall almost always voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK, and against UK membership of the EU [but still campaigned for the remain side in the EU referendum!].

Labour policy in this area will be to not “scapegoat migrants” and will not set a cap on immigration. Labour believes in “reasonable management of migration” but “will not make false promises on immigration numbers”

Labour policy is to accept the EU referendum result and “build a close new relationship with the EU” prioritising jobs and workers’ rights.
To guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and work to “secure reciprocal rights” for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
To Keep EU-derived laws on workers’ rights, equality, consumer rights and environmental protections.
Seek to maintain membership of European organisations which offer benefits to the UK such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency.
Will not allow Brexit to be used as an excuse to undercut UK farmers and flood Britain’s food chain with cheap and inferior produce.

On Welfare, Benefits, Taxation and Employment Luke Hall consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability, consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits, consistently voted for reducing capital gains and corporation tax, and consistently voted against higher taxes on banks.
Labour policies in this area are to raise minimum wage to “at least £10 per hour by 2020”, set the 45p income tax rate at £80,000 and re-introduce the 50p rate of tax on the highest earners (above £123,000). Labour will also move to charge companies a levy on salaries above £330,000. The triple lock for pensioner incomes will be guaranteed.

Labour will also legislate to ban unpaid internships and zero hours contracts, clamp down on bogus self-employment, and extend rights of employees to all workers. Trade Unions right to access workplaces will be guaranteed, and all workers’ rights to trade union representation will be enforced.

On Education Luke Hall consistently voted for academy schools.
Labour Policy in this area includes reintroducing maintenance grants for university students and abolish university tuition fees. overhauling existing childcare system introducing free school meals for all primary school children to be paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.

On matters of Constitutional Reform Luke Hall voted consistently against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords, against transferring more powers to the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies, and consistently against a lower voting age. On Home AffairsLuke Hall consistently voted for mass surveillance and retention of information about communications activities, and a stricter asylum system. On Environmental Issues he consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change, against greater public control of bus services and a publicly owned railway system. On Housing Luke Hall consistently voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life.

Labour policies in these areas include building over one million more homes, with at least half for social rent, providing an additional 4000 more beds for rough sleepers, and providing interest free loans for home improvements. Labour will also legislate to ban letting agency fees for tenants.

So far so predictable, that is until the reader reminds their self that our MP is elected to represent the best interest of all the constituents of Thornbury and Yate. Therein lies the potential for irreconcilable conflict between party loyalties and duty. Even amongst the true blue diehards in Thornbury and Yate, some Tory government policy will not be perceived to be in their best interest.
Navigating a course of action between loyalty and duty can be a severe test the for the most seasoned politician. For the self-serving lick spittle it often proves to be a task for which they are ill-equipped to manage. Ultimately, the shortcomings in their suitability for the job are revealed.

by David Evans,
from an original idea by Carl Redgrave,
and with data published by ‘TheyWorkForYou.com’

Luke Hall – School Funding In A Post Truth World

Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall responds to analysis by the IFS and ‘School Cuts’ that show education spending will fall in real terms until 2019-2020.

Spending per pupil is expected to fall by 6.5% in real terms between 2015–16 and 2019–20.” feb. 2017[note; subsequently re-allocated funds may reduce the severity of this percentage figure].

High amongst the privileges conferred by election to the office of MP is a public platform. Similarly there are corresponding expectations amongst  the electorate relating to those privileges. When exercising the first, the great British public rightly tend to assume the second.

The School Cuts campaign group recently published a report that shows per pupil school funding in South Gloucestershire will be the lowest in the country by 2020 after accounting for inflation. Their analysis is predicated on raw data published by the Dept. for Education* and a forecast of inflation published by the Office for Budget Responsibility**.  Clearly, these findings will be of great concern to residents of the South Gloucestershire Local Authority area. Similarly, Luke Hall will feel duty bound to respond publicly in his capacity as local MP.

Luke Hall has indeed responded, and sought to dismiss this report out of hand. However, Luke Hall’s chosen line of attack raises more concerns than it succeeds in allaying. It might be supposed that the report would be sunk by a meticulous scrutiny of the methodology if it revealed fatal flaws in the argument and a presentation of a more plausible and robust interpretation put forward in it’s place.  Instead, Luke Hall seems not to have acquainted himself with the substance of the ‘School Cuts’ report, or to have sufficient grasp of the details surrounding School funding in our local authority area.

Post Truth
Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. oxforddictionaries.com

Luke Hall is attempting to shape public opinion by expression of an emotion without reference to facts.

Quote “I haven’t seen these figures myself but they sound incorrect” [Yate and Sodbury Gazette, 2 November 2017].

Well Mr Hall, you should consider it your duty to know weather or not they are incorrect before passing comment; emotional opinion devoid of a basis in fact has no place in discussions of such weighty importance.


*The data is available here:-https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs

**The forecast of inflation used in the analysis is published by the Office for Budget Responsibility here:-https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs The OBR was created in 2010 to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances.

Tory Plan Throws Education Funding Into Crisis

The controversial Tory re-working of the formulas for calculating school funding in England* were first announced before the 2017 general election.

The mainstay of this policy is the National Funding Formula (NFF) which is to be used to calculate funding allocations to every school according to qualifying criteria.

Whilst the rationale was to establish a country-wide level playing field in terms of funding like-for-like schools, the creation of winners and losers was inevitable. The situation is only exacerbated by the reduction in value of the overall budget, leading to some school budgets taking a double hit.

This plan prompted an immediate backlash which has been justly emboldened by the damning election result for the Tories. Education Secretary Justine Greening has had her hand forced. She has tried to quell the outrage by diverting money from other area’s of the education budget, and proposing additional short-term measures intended to soften the blow.

  • A cap on the limit of reduction suffered by any one school.
  • Grant of some flexibility for Local Authorities to adjust settlements (probably) according to the loudest out-cry and local political expediency.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

The redistribution from within wider education spending can only come from reduced capital expenditure and caps on ancillary budgets. This merely kicks the can down the road and stores-up problems for the future.

In the meantime, the IFS has calculated that the newly revised DoE school’s budget will amount to a freeze on spending in real terms, and contribute to the overall reduction of education spending between 2015 and 2020 of 4.6%

Impact on schools in the Thornbury and Yate constituency

Analysis by the National Education Union (NEU) of Government data in the public domain uncovers the grim reality of Tory plans for education spending cuts.cuts_1

See the full analysis of all schools in the Thornbury and Yate constituency here.

*education in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales is devolved to their respective assemblies.

Jnc 18a ~ A View From The Yate Observatory

Scope

The M4 Jnc18a consultation is a product of the findings presented in the ‘Emerging Transport Vision’(ETV), which is itself a study commissioned in support of preparations for the Joint Transport Plan (JTP). The ETV study concerns all transport systems across the region in the context of a strategy for growth, of which road transport to the North East of Bristol is only part.

Compare, Contrast, and Omit

It must be noted that the ETV study illustrates a central route for a link road from the A4174 to the M4, with a further onward link toward Yate connecting with the A432 Badminton Rd at some point between Yate and Coalpit Heath.

All routes. click to enlarge.

Jnc 18a all routes

Further, it is reasonable to infer a) that the Eastern and Western options are variations for the purpose of exploring some of the finer detail and to gauge opinion, and b) that the principle of a new road connection from the proposed Jnc18a to the A432 Badminton road remains an integral part of the scheme in the long-term.

The Jnc18a consultation presents two options which are in stark contrast:
Option 1. The obviously ‘bonkers’ Eastern Route through Pucklechurch, and
Option 2. The apparently ‘reasonable’ Western Route north of Emerson's Green.

Perhaps what is obviously ‘bonkers’ is intended to divert attention from any misgivings about the apparently ‘reasonable’ option which may emerge if it was subjected to minute scrutiny? All other routes from the A774 ring road as it runs along the eastern fringe of Emersons Green (including a central route) have been set aside for reasons unknown.

Grand Designs Need A Plan

The ETV plan is a far-reaching and ambitious proposition with the objective of delivering a truly integrated transport infrastructure. It will require a tremendous expenditure of political capital and financial investment on a grand scale. The planning process will be interminable, the undertaking burdensome, and the time scale long. Much debate and argument will ensue, but to resist and reject is to deny the ever worsening state of regional and local transport infrastructure we experience around and about us every day.

The Local Perspective...and never will!

It will not go unnoticed by residents of Yate that none of this civil engineering extravaganza, even at it’s full proposed extent, comes near to joining with the ‘Road To Nowhere’. This must surely be the nail that concludes the long goodbye to that forlorn strip of tarmac. The time has arrived for our Johnny-come-lately Tory MP to abandon his whimsical crusade to resurrect hope for the Road To Nowhere and accept that it will never come to serve it’s purpose.

Ahoy there Mr Hall, bring your ship of fools about; set a course back to reality, and acquaint yourself with what the residents of Yate really need from their MP.


Our survey is still open, and includes space for comment if you wish Click here and put down your marker.

David Evans

M4 junction 18a ~ your opinion counts

South Glouscetershire Council has launched a public consulatation on proposals for a new junction on the M4 motorway where it passes to the north of Emersons Green and Pucklechurch. This need has been identified by the Joint Transport Study (JTS) which is a colaborative project to develop a long term strategey for transport in the region.

The scheme evisages a new M4 junction 18a with  link to the  A4174 ring road, plus future potential to develop an improved link with Yate. The purpose of this is to improve access to the M4 for the north east fringe of Bristol (Downend, Emersons Green, Yate, and Coalpit Heath, etc), and reduce congestion.

The consultation is exhibiting two proposed routes, neither of which is identified as 'preferred'.

Western option:- From the Lyde Green roundabout where the A4174 ring road meets the Westerleigh road, a new link road would join with the M4 at a new junction (18a).

Jnc.18a ~ East and West options

click map to see larger view

Eastern option:- From a new junction on the A4174 ring road a link heading east to Pucklechurch would bear north around the town or follow the route of the B4465 through the town. Either of of these would join with the M4 at a new junction (18a).

A full list of list of public exhibitions is

here.

how to respond to the South Gloucestershire Council consultation:-

  • Complete our online questionnaire
  • Download and print a copy of our questionnaire, and return to us using the Freepost address below - no stamp necessary
  • Alternatively comments can be emailed to transport.policy@southglos.gov.uk
  • Comments and paper questionnaires can be posted to (no stamp required): Freepost RTXL-YHGY-GSYS, South Gloucestershire Council, E&CS M4J18a consultation, Council Offices, Badminton Road, Yate, Bristol, BS37 5AF.

There will be further public consultation as a preferred route emerges and more detailed design work progresses.


In the meantime, Click here and put down your marker. This link takes you to our own brief survey.

David Evans

Tories deny the right to democracy

The Tory leader of South Gloucestershire Council was interviewed by the Yate and Thornbury Gazette in connection with the Dodington (North West Ward) Parish by-election. He is quoted “…it’s a shame that the Labour Party is so determined to waste money by calling for a by-election.”

Representation by democratic election at every level of government is a cornerstone of our society. It was hard won and should be cherished dearly; we should not allow it to be taken from us on the pretext of cost saving.voting

Our tradition of democracy is the guard against the risk of allowing a cosy cabal of like mined individuals gaining control and excluding all others. It must be acknowledged that occasionally it will be appropriate to co-opt a new councillor to a vacant seat, but when there is more than one candidate then the choice should be made by the electorate at the ballot box. Democratic elections and not shady back room deals are the best way to ensure that none of the many and varied needs of our entire community are ignored.

We strongly urge everybody to vote for the candidate who best represents their needs in every election where they are eligible.

In this election on 24th August we hope you choose to vote Hurley and Malone.

David Evans.

crash and burn

when is a re-launch not a re-launch? answer, when it's a crash landing!

The latest attempt to re-launch Theresa May's Premiership see's her adopt a strategy which is anathema to the Tory ethos. She is seeking support from politicians of every stripe for consensus policies on Brexit issues.

Lichtenstein ~ blamIn different times and handled with more subtlety, this manoeuvre could be passed-off as a cold dose of pragmatism. Today's political landscape is radically changed, the spectacle playing out before us is a cynical ploy to shore up a lost cause while personal support withers and authority evaporates around her. For the PM, this is desperate measures in desperate times.

alternatively, is this a cunning plan?

Theresa May's catastrophic failure in the general election to achieve the mandate she craved has indeed radically changed the political landscape. Theresa May's premiership is in doubt, but the survival instincts of the Tory party machine are formidable.

Lichtenstein ~ drowning girlWhilst the PM flounders like a drowning man reaching out for consensus on the policies to deal with the great challenges of our time, Tory grandees keep her suspended in torment. She may yet be cut loose and cast in to the political wilderness, but this will not happen (if at all) until such time as best suits the Tory party's own interests.

Until that moment is upon us, the Tories will be deploying their tried and tested tactic of divide and rule. For all Tory opposition, now is a time for vigilance; to be distracted by this apparent weakness is to court disaster. In seeking consensus under the cover of Brexit concerns, the Tories are attempting to peel off layers off opposition and create division.

Tories are Tories and ever will be. Those amongst them that speak the words of consensus and of 'reaching out' do so without conviction. These cynical gestures ring hollow because the Tory heart and soul lies elsewhere.

David Evans

election 2017 ~ winners and losers

the nationwide result

This election has been a tale of two halves. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party stood on a manifesto which captured the imagination of the electorate, and campaigned hard on a message of hope and change. The Tory party failed to engage with people and promised to deliver more of their swingeing austerity with no end in sight.
The Labour party did not win the most seats, but Jeremy Corbyn won this election by any other measure.

The Tory party won the most seats, but Theresa May squandered the Tory lead and returns to parliament as a lame duck PM.

the local result

A lavishly funded Tory campaign won a share of the vote which was greatly bolstered by the absence of a UKIP candidate. The Tory cause also seems to have drawn-in some of the disenchanted LibDem voters who are still drifting away despite that party's best efforts.
The Labour party started their campaign from a distant fourth. In the face of low expectations the local party has made good progress by dint of hard work. Labour is inspiring new voters and winning back others who tactically 'lent' their vote to the LibDems in the past.

The Labour party message is resonating with people from every walk of life across the nation.
The Labour party is working for the many not the few.

The table below compares the results of the 2015 and 2017 election campaigns.

  2015 2017
Labour 3775 (7.77%) 6112 (12.06%) +4.29%
Tory 19924 (41.02%) 28008 (55.25%) +14.23%
Lib Dem 18429 (37.94%) 15937 (31.44%) -6.5%
Green 1316 (2.71%) 633 (1.25%) -1.46%
UKIP 5126 (10.55%) no candidate -10.55%
turn out 48570 50690 (74.62%)

Chalk and Cheese Showdown

The BBC ‘Question Time’ question and answer show presented by David Dimbleby with Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May was a meeting of opposites in more ways than one.inface to face

The format of the show was a familiar ‘face the invited audience and answer the questions + some moderation from the ring master’. So far so much the same as always, but what happened next was most definitely not same-old-same-old.

Jeremy poured out Labour party policy, pledges and promises in direct un-spun answers to every question put to him. Whilst Theresa May to her shame did the exact opposite for the most part, filling her microphone time with meaningless platitudes and side stepping uncomfortable questions.

As a labour supporter, is this just my biased opinion?

interveiwWell no, it would seem not. May’s propensity to speak a lot of words and say very little has not gone unnoticed. (see left: TV critic, Times 27.05.17 Andrew Neil/Theresa May interview)
Elsewhere, Robert Peston has retweeted the Plymouth Herald ‘interview’ with Theresa may under the heading ‘3 minutes of nothing’. See the original here
This woman has form and it’s not just me who’s noticed.

David Evans.

Shameful

This post relates to the current debate surrounding proposed changes to Child Tax credits which is greatly exercising the Scottish devolved parliament. Most contentious is what has become known as the ‘Rape Clause’; the mere contemplation of which is abhorrent. Tory attempts to defend there position once again reveal them for what they are. North and South of the border they’re still the nasty party.
For background on the issue see this message from Kezia Dugdale:-

“Last night I made a speech to the Scottish Parliament.
I’ve made hundreds of speeches in Holyrood since becoming an MSP – but I’ve never been as angry standing up in that chamber as I was last night.
I’ve never been more proud to tell the story of an exceptional woman.
This woman had a child through rape. She relied on tax credits for the first year of her child’s life.
Tax credits, which Labour introduced, kept this woman’s head above water. But she told me she could never fill out, what she called, that ‘awful form of shame.’
That is the reality of the Tory rape clause. That is what their two child cap on claiming tax credits means.
That is what Ruth Davidson supports. Don’t let anyone tell you that the Tories are anything other than the Nasty Party.
I will make sure that Ruth Davidson will have to defend this rape clause every single day of this General Election campaign.
Here’s my speech. Please share it and let people know what the Tories stand for.”

Best wishes
Kezia Dugdale
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party