From The National: 2018 has been, hands down, the most juvenile period of time I have ever witnessed in politics. Granted, I’ve only been heading to Westminster for a few years at this point, but even my colleagues who have been there much longer than myself will tell you that this year was one for the books.
From The Guardian: A future Labour government would oversee an economic revolution to tackle the climate crisis, using the full power of the state to decarbonise the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in struggling towns and cities.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary who is driving the party’s climate agenda, said the UK’s “entire society and entire economy” needed to be refocused to meet the looming challenge of ecological breakdown.
“It could not be made clearer to us and people are starting to realise how incredibly dangerous this situation is,” said Long-Bailey. “There is no option but to radically transform our economy.”
But, in an interview with the Guardian, she said the crisis was also an opportunity to bring well-paid, highly skilled jobs and economic regeneration to some of the most marginalised communities in the country.
“We have to tackle climate change in a really radical way, the evidence is crystal clear,” said Long-Bailey. “But this is also a wonderful opportunity to invest in those towns and cities that have felt neglected for a very long time … this has to be – and will be – a genuine transformation of the economy.”
From Morning Star: The Tories are shamefully fabricating a “mini-riot” over whether Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May a “stupid woman”, say senior Labour figures.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the row was overshadowing the rest of politics with fewer than 100 days until Brexit.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, TV cameras had caught him saying something inaudible to those opposite him after Ms May likened his tabling of a confidence vote in her to a Christmas pantomime, while making panto-themed jokes.
He was recalled to the Commons immediately after the session ended over the incident, and he told MPs he used the phrase “stupid people.”
Opposition MPs had criticised the fake outrage over the allegation of misogyny that a number of prominent Conservative MPs were themselves guilty of, or worse.
From The Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn takes to social media the day after the “stupid people/woman” row, to say: “Yes, I did call them stupid people”.
From PoliticsHome: Parliament’s Christmas recess should be scrapped if the vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal is delayed until 2019, the Lib Dems have said.
The party said it would be “an insult to the British people” if MPs went on holiday without the issue finally being resolved.
Tom Brake, the Lib Dems’ Brexit spokesman, spoke out after Commons leader Andrea Leadsom all-but confirmed there will be no meaningful vote before Parliament rises for a two-week Christmas break on 20 December.
He said: “At a time of so much uncertainty caused by this Brexit mess, it is an insult to the British people that Theresa May is happy for MPs to go on holiday without voting on the biggest issue in generations. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.
Sturgeon offers to unite with Corbyn to topple ‘shambles’ government after Theresa May calls off vote on her Brexit deal
From The Independent: Nicola Sturgeon has appealed to Jeremy Corbyn “work together” to topple Theresa May’s government after a crucial vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal was abandoned, promising the SNP will support a motion of no confidence if it is tabled by Labour.
Disabled people remain unequal in almost every part of life – Universal Credit will only make things worse
From HuffPost UK: Marsha de Cordova, Labour shadow minister for disabled people, writes…
“[Monday was] the UN International Day of Disabled People. Although the Government tends to pay lip-service to the day itself, the promotion of the rights of disabled people has reached a grinding halt in this country.
“In October, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that one in five disabled Britons have their rights violated. Twenty-six years on from the first UN day, disabled people in Britain are still unequal in almost every part of life; whether its access to transport, education, employment or vital social security support. And with the roll out of Universal Credit, things are about to get a lot worse.
“Approximately 1.3 million people have moved onto Universal Credit, of whom a significant portion are disabled. This system is the clearest embodiment of the Government’s austerity programme and is another vehicle for cuts to disabled people. In the words of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty last month, the Government’s flagship scheme is ‘fast falling into Universal Discredit’.
“The recent case of Emily Lydon shows the shocking reality facing disabled people under Universal Credit: a severely disabled woman, whose mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease, is facing homelessness because her social security has been more than halved under Universal Credit, despite being unable to walk or talk.
From HuffPost UK: Karen Lee, Labour’s shadow fire minister, writes…
“The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire announced on Thursday that the government will ban the use of combustible cladding on new buildings above 18 metres. This follows widespread concerns over revelations that a high number of buildings with combustible materials have still not being identified. It is appalling that we are now 17 months on from the Grenfell Tower fire and lessons still have not been learnt.
“New details of the Conservatives’ cladding ban, combined with industry projections of the number of at-risk buildings which have not been identified, mean that it is unlikely the government’s reforms will go far enough to prevent another Grenfell.
“This may look like a positive step, but the details of the ban barely begin to address the risk posed to many vulnerable communities across the UK. Not only is the ban restricted to specific building types, but also the ban will not be enforced retrospectively and will only apply to new buildings or refurbishments.
“Alongside refusing to address the threats posed by faulty fire regulations, the government has displayed a worrying lack of urgency in removing dangerous cladding. The Tories have repeatedly kicked the issue into the long grass.
From WalesOnline: Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price met with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as their parties work to come up with an alternative to Theresa May’s plan for Brexit.
Mr Price argues that the two-year process which is due to see the UK leave the EU on March 29 regardless of whether an exit deal has been agreed should be extended.
He hopes this could pave the way for a second referendum or continued membership of the EU’s single market.
From BBC News: Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed her SNP MPs will vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The First Minister rejected claims her Westminster MPs could abstain on the vote in the House of Commons. The SNP leader said it would be “deeply irresponsible” for any MPs to endorse the prime minister’s agreement, published last week. And she revealed she will be heading to London to talk to opposition parties about alternatives in the coming days.
Speaking on the BBC’s Marr programme, #NicolaSturgeon criticised the 585 page draft deal between the UK and the EU.
She said: “The withdrawal agreement has lots of flaws within it, and fundamentally, there is no clarity whatsoever about the future between the UK and the EU. The House of Commons is going to be asked to effectively endorse a ‘blindfold Brexit’, where all the difficult issues that have dogged these negotiations for two-and-a-half years are simply kicked further down the road. I think it would be a mistake and deeply irresponsible for the House of Commons to endorse that.”
The Labour leader said his party could negotiate a better deal that would be in the interests of workers in Britain, pointing out the hollowness of the government’s “vague” Brexit plans during an appearance on Sky News.
Jeremy Corbyn said in the interview on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “We’ll vote against this deal because it doesn’t meet our tests.
“We don’t believe it serves the interest of this country, therefore the government have to go back to the EU and renegotiate rapidly.
“There’s 500 pages in this document much of which is quite vague. Where’s the guarantee on environmental protections, where’s the guarantee on consumer protections, where’s the guarantee on workers’ rights?”
“The problem is it has to come to parliament, and all we know about the views of different people across the political spectrum is a deal of this kind is not going to get through,” Cable told the BBC.
From the Morning Star: Tory ministers have held more than 30 meetings with leaders of the controversial fracking gas extraction industry — but not one with opponents.
The cosy get-togethers have even included discussions with a Home Office policing minister.
Anti-fracking campaigners have demanded the same face-to-face meetings with ministers that the industry’s bosses have been afforded.
Labour, which exposed the meetings today, accused the government of “working hand in hand with the fracking industry while ignoring all the evidence and failing to give a fair hearing to local people affected.”
Labour revealed that over the last three years fracking company bosses had 31 meetings with ministers from six government departments, including the Treasury and the Home Office.
Labour blasts Tory response to tax-dodging private firms locking up people with learning disabilities
From the Morning Star: People with learning disabilities are having to put up with Bedlam-like conditions in institutions that should have been shut down years ago, shadow health minister Barbara Keeley said today.
The current situation was “nothing short of a national scandal” with patients being treated in a way that has “no place in the 21st century,” while private operators of the institutions profit and squirrel millions of pounds in offshore tax havens, she added.
She made the demand after reports emerged last month that an autistic teenager called Bethany was locked for almost two years in solitary confinement and fed through a hatch, which reignited calls for immediate closure of such institutions.
The news led Sir Stephen Bubb to claim the government had “ignored” his independent report into the 2011 abuse scandal at Winterbourne View, which recommended a dramatic reduction in the use of institutions for people with learning disabilities.
Asking an urgent question on the issue in the Commons seven years after the original scandal, Ms Keeley called for immediate action to “rid the country” of these institutions.
She said: “Can the minister tell us why the NHS is still sanctioning the use of settings which expose thousands of vulnerable people to abuse at a cost of half a billion pounds despite the government pledging to close them?
From The Independent: The ‘catastrophic’ privatisation of Britain’s railways has cost the taxpayer £5bn per year and driven up fares by 20 per cent, Labour has claimed.
The party is calling for a “Free Time Index” and says that time spent outside work and commuting is a better measure of how well the UK is doing than GDP.
Co-leader Sian Berry told the BBC work-life balance was “in crisis” and more people were working while commuting.
The party also said it wanted paid training leave for all workers to boost skills and reduce staff turnover.
Calling for new free time indicators to be included in the next Budget, Ms Berry told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Work-life balance is an incredibly important indicator of people’s well-being and it is in crisis at the moment.
“People are constantly ‘on’, even when they are commuting. There’s an enormous amount of unpaid caring going on which doesn’t get measured, which doesn’t leave people with very much free time either. We have got a mental health crisis and we think we should be measuring this.”
From BBC News: Adam Price has won the Plaid Cymru leadership contest, taking nearly 50 per cent of the vote.
The assembly member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr defeated Rhun ap Iorwerth and former leader Leanne Wood in a ballot of party members.
Despite leading the party for six years, Ms Wood came last.
In his victory address at the Novotel in Cardiff, Mr Price said: “This election shows we are ready to lead again. Our time has come.”
He told party members: “Our message must be simple. Yes, Wales can.”
The AM is the first openly gay assembly party leader in the history of the institution and leads the third largest group in the Senedd, behind Labour and the Tories.
Mr Price, who has vowed to put independence at the core of his party’s message, said: “There will be no second class travellers on our journey to a prosperous, self-confident and independent Wales.”
“We must become the hope of those without hope.”
From BBC News: Jeremy Corbyn will promise to “kickstart a green jobs revolution” if Labour wins power, in his closing speech to his party’s conference.
He will point to Labour’s commitment to reduce the UK’s net carbon emissions by 60% by 2030 – and to zero by 2050.
To achieve that, 400,000 skilled jobs will need to be created, he will tell delegates in Liverpool.
The move will be part of a “radical plan we need to rebuild and transform Britain”, the Labour leader will say.
Much of the money to pay for the policy will come from the public purse – such as the £12.8bn Labour says it will set aside for subsidies to insulate homes in Labour’s first term.
The party says this policy alone will create 160,000 new jobs. There will also be subsidies for offshore and onshore wind and solar energy.
From Morning Star: Britain is on the brink of “social collapse” after “eight years of uninterrupted austerity” caused by brutal Tory spending cuts, Labour council leaders warned today.
Twenty-six leaders of Labour-controlled councils have signed an open letter calling on the government to “recognise the catastrophic impact” that #austerity has had on local authorities across Britain.
The statement, released under the banner of Councils Against Austerity, says budgets have been squeezed by direct government cuts and other pressures.
Pointing out that the shortage of funding has had a “disastrous knock-on effect” on services, the council leaders said that nearly half of all local authorities nationwide have experienced serious setbacks in their daily operations and increasing numbers are cutting all services to a bare minimum.
The leaders warn that many councils will soon be unable to perform the basic level of service expected of them, with street cleaners, park maintenance workers, library staff and other municipal workers facing an uncertain future.
From BBC News: Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley have been elected joint leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales.
Mr Bartley had shared the leadership role with MP Caroline Lucas, but she decided not to stand again.
London Assembly member Ms Berry will now serve a two-year term as co-leader of the party alongside Mr Bartley.
Ms Berry and Mr Bartley won 6,239 of a total 8,379 votes cast.
The co-leaders said they wanted the party to be “the opposite of vapid, old school centrist politics” by responding to the “big challenges of our time – from Brexit to climate breakdown and the housing crisis, to automation and the broken world of work”.
They also promised “fiercer Green resistance” against fracking and the HS2 rail project.
Ms Lucas, the party’s only MP and its figurehead for many years, was arrested during a fracking demonstration in 2013.
The new co-leaders said they wanted to see Green representation on every council in England as part of their ambition of becoming the “third political party” in Britain.