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 Daily Mirror: Tory austerity has caused “social murder”, an academic paper claims.
Bed-bound MS sufferer has disability benefits halved ‘because he could touch his nose with his finger’
From iNews: After an assessor came to visit Paul, who has MS, over his claim for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), his mobility car was taken off him – which left him virtually housebound in a remote village with no public transport links.
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 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 the Daily Mirror: The reality of life on Universal Credit has been laid bare by struggling families who say it “simply does not work”.
From Welfare Weekly: Working people in some parts of the UK have been hit by the longest squeeze to the wage packets in more than two centuries, with some earning up to £100 a week less in real-terms compared to 2008, shocking new analysis reveals.
These are the findings of new research by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), who say average take home pay is still well behind pre-crisis levels.
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.
From The Guardian: Monday’s Commons debate on Theresa May’s decision to call off her Brexit vote ended in high drama as a Labour MP seized the ceremonial mace in protest.
The mace represents the Queen’s authority in parliament; without it, parliament cannot meet or pass laws.
As the government formally declared it would not continue with the debate on the withdrawal agreement, Lloyd Russell-Moyle marched forward to grab the mace in protest and held it up in the centre of the chamber to widespread outrage from the Tory benches.
Conservative MPs shouted “Disgrace” and “Expel him” as he raised the five-foot silver gilt object aloft.
This is the moment Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle picks up the mace and walks it over the line during proceedings in the…
Ian Lavery writes in the Guardian: “Theresa May has bottled it. She’s realised her deal is so disastrous that she has taken the desperate step of delaying her own vote at the 11th hour.
“For weeks, she has insisted that her Brexit deal is the best possible deal, even though it’s opposed by most people in her party and across the country.
“Four days ago the prime minister confirmed the vote would go ahead, and her cabinet and spokespeople spent the weekend insisting it would go ahead as planned. The government is in such disarray that one of its ministers found out about the cancelled vote live on television, while sitting on the BBC’s Politics Live sofa.
“Her efforts to win round MPs have had the reverse effect, driving up numbers in the ever-growing list of Tory MPs attacking the deal. However, May has finally managed to bring the country together. People on all sides of the Brexit debate who have been bitterly divided since June 2016 have united in opposition to her deal.
“We have known for at least two weeks that the prime minister’s worst-of-all-worlds deal was going to be rejected by parliament. So why did she stick her head in the sand, only to pull out at the last minute?
“I’ve had deja vu from when she insisted for months that she would not call a general election, and then suddenly moved to dissolve parliament. We can’t trust a word she or her team say.”
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 the Daily Record: A seriously ill woman was refused benefits after DWP officials mixed up sensitive medical information with notes from a complete stranger.
Amy Rose Baddeley writes… “My son Ben is 14 & sufferers from cerebral palsy. He needs crucial treatment that unfortunately is NOT funded on the NHS due to [Tory] funding cuts, leaving us to pick up medical bills of between £1,000 & £2,000 every month.
“My husband & i are trying everything we can to fundraise, work overtime & find the funds to pay for Ben’s crucial treatment because without it his muscles & nerves can’t develop correctly as he grows leaving him in pain on a daily basis.
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 the Daily Mirror: Amber Rudd has been busy dismissing concerns about poverty in the UK and the cruelty of the Universal Credit system. While she addressed the Commons as Work and Pensions Secretary for the first time, the Mirror gave some of her battling constituents the chance to speak up themselves.
From the Morning Star: Teachers face having to fight a “three-headed dragon” of workload, accountability and insufficient funding that turns teachers’ jobs into a “nightmare,” the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) has warned.
The union’s president Andy Mellor urged the government to be more aware of how the pressures combine to form a barrier to recruitment and retention of staff.
Speaking at the NAHT’s Primary Conference in Birmingham, Mr Mellor said: “On a good day, teaching is the best job in the world. The trouble is, there are not enough good days.
“As a result, too few graduates are choosing teaching as a career and too many experienced professionals are leaving the profession prematurely. […]
“Nine out of 10 primary and secondary schools are facing real-terms funding cuts. An overhaul of the way Ofsted plans to inspect schools is being rushed through. And workload has never been higher, thanks to year after year of government changes.”
Nearly 80 per cent of school leaders in the NAHT said that they found recruitment to be a struggle last year and 67 per cent said their staff left for reasons other than retirement.
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?”
From Morning Star: A Windrush National Day of Action will be held next year to press the Tory government to fulfil its pledges to Commonwealth-born British citizens who have suffered as a result of heavy-handed immigration policies.
The day will coincide with the United Nations International Day for Social Justice on Saturday February 23, it was announced at the second national Windrush conference that was held over the weekend.
Windrush action groups have demanded a public inquiry into the Windrush scandal that saw the government being forced to apologise after British citizens were deported, detained and threatened with removal, as well as losing their jobs, benefits and right to use the NHS.
Chair of the conference David Weaver said: “The government needs to recognise the anger, tragedy and despair caused by this unprecedented and gross violation of black British citizens’ human rights.
“This conference puts the government on notice that victims will not be silenced or intimidated by the racism they’ve faced. On the contrary, both Windrush victims and the country at large are rightly appalled at the treatment they’ve been forced to endure.”