Tag Archives: House of Commons

Sherlock Holmes Fawkesd

Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and the MoustacheI wasn’t exactly disappointed by The Empty Hearse: though I was disappointed that Mark Gatiss ducked out of actually providing the answer to how Holmes did survive. (It’s possible that Gatiss will provide the answer in episodes 2 or 3, but I’m not counting on it.) But I’m looking forward to The Sign of Three.

Moving on to the actual plot – (spoilers follow) Continue reading

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Violence in House of Commons bar

MPs can get drunk in the House of Commons more cheaply than anywhere/anyone else in London.

Last night an MP entered the Strangers’ Bar in the House of Commons, shouted abuse, and violently attacked one or more fellow MPs. I anticipate wincingly that, given the kind of abuse the MP shouted, that this is going to turn into a discussion about anti-Tory feeling among Scots or about the appalling behaviour of a Labour oik.

For several years running, the LGBT Tories have shown up to Pride fairs and marches in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Given how Scots feel about Tories, and given how LGBT people feel about Tories, they’re not a big group and they’re not a very popular one. But they have their stall at the Pride fair or they march with their banner, and while I doubt if they’ve convinced anyone in the crowd to vote Tory, no one has ever – to my knowledge – used abusive language to them or been violent. Pride marches and fairs are loud, cheerful, and sober parties.

From PoliticsHome, last night:

Conservative Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, was reportedly head-butted and punched in the incident which happened just after 11pm tonight in the Stranger’s Bar, a Commons bar which is reserved for MPs and their guests.

Mr Joyce is alleged to have “just started lashing out at people”, according to one eye-witness who asked not to be named.

The eye-witness told PoliticsHome that Mr Joyce, a former Army officer who represents Falkirk, pushed a Tory MP and then started punching some of the other Conservative members seated at the back of the bar. Drinks were thrown over other bar partons.

I could be wrong but I think the evidence strongly suggests that Eric Joyce has a drinking problem – he was banned from driving in November 2010, after an incident near Grangemouth where he refused a breathalyzer test. (And he also has an expenses problem.) I have no comment to make on his blog about Vodka stats and the Scots but I expect plenty of other people will.

Not that this excuses the violence last night – I strongly agree with David Allen Green:

How wonderfully amusing. Someone we disapprove of is headbutted. What a laugh, eh? He must have been asking for it, so funny.
Because having one’s head smashed is just a joke, isn’t it?
Why are peeps calling it a “brawl” when the only current information is that it was one-sided? Makes the headbutt ok, does it?
By calling it a “brawl” the implication is that the victim has blame as well as the attacker. So we can laugh at alleged physical assault. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Though I disagree that taxpayers should subsidise their food, there’s every reason why MPs should have somewhere to go have a meal in the House of Commons, as should everyone who works there. I’d rather subsidise the food for the civil servants who work there than the MPs – anyone who gets a salary of £64K can pay for their own dinner. I’m not suggesting that the restaurants should be unlicenced. But the taxpayers subsidise four bars in the House of Commons, and I’m failing to see why we should pay for even one. Nor do I see why MPs should be able to buy as “souvenirs” bottles of wine or spirits at a subsidy of nearly 20% from the taxpayer.

If Eric Joyce is an alcohol addict, he needs help. For all the other MPs who work there, alcohol addicts or not – close down the bars, end the “souvenirs” subsidy, and set your own House in order. Though I doubt if David “Tiger-Tiger” Cameron, Bullingdon boy, will make any speeches in support of that.

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Filed under Drinking, Scottish Politics

The CSA saved by the House of Lords

Every government since 1993, when the Child Support Agency was founded, seems to think they can reform the CSA, and the coalition government is no exception.

Starting from 2013, the Conservatives/Liberal Democrats propose charging:

  • £100 as an upfront fee (or £50 for parents on benefit) for those who want to use the future CSA. Only “Victims of domestic violence” will be exempt (although there is no detail on how this will be proved or checked).
  • An on-going charge of between 7% and 12% on any maintenance paid to parents who rely on the future CSA to collect their child maintenance, as well as an extra 15-20% charge added to the non-resident parent’s payment.

How, exactly, is this going to help?

When the Child Support Agency was launched in 1993, it rapidly became the object of “more concentrated hatred than any other modern UK institution except the poll tax”. Partly that was because the formula established for the CSA by Act of Parliament for the first time set mandatory levels of child support payment equivalent to what a single mother got when she signed on the dole. Before the CSA, it had been the job of the judge in the divorce court to determine how much maintenance a divorced father should pay his children, and the judges – either out of ignorance for what children cost to bring up, or misplaced compassion for the poor man being divorced – generally set that rate far too low: maintenance of £10 or £20 a month per child. And low as it was, there was no mechanism for a mother to collect it except by taking her ex-husband to court.
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Filed under Benefits, Equality, Poverty, Uncategorized, Women