Tag Archives: UK Parliament

Eleven years after 9/11: what is Margo MacDonald thinking on?

11th September is the day in 1997 when we went to the polls to vote yes/yes to a Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers: a Parliament that had already been crowdsourced and mutually agreed to over seven years of debate in Scotland. Tony Blair later claimed to have “given” it to us, but however much that may rankle, it isn’t every day that an MSP suggests we arrest him.

Margo MacDonald holds a special place in Scottish politics, when in 2003, discovering that her party did not intend to have her re-elected by pushing her down the Regional list of candidates, she stood as an Independent. And won. And has continued to win ever since. She has a solid reputation for independent thinking and common sense. The SNP may well feel that their attempt to cut her out of Lothian and Scottish politics was one of the worse mistakes they’ve made since they decided not to get involved with campaigning for devolution.

Motion S4M-04022: Margo MacDonald, Lothian, Independent, Date Lodged: 06/09/2012:

That the Parliament agrees with Archbishop Desmond Tutu that Tony Blair should be tried for waging aggressive war against Iraq and further believes that the Scottish Government should take the opportunity afforded by the independence of Scots law to complete the incorporation of international criminal law by introducing a simple amendment making illegal the waging of aggressive war with the intention of regime change so that Tony Blair could be brought to trial in Scotland.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Scottish Politics, War

Lying to select committees: the penalty

On Monday 19th March, Chris Grayling was asked by the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Anne Begg. [Update: Anne Begg was in hospital, apparently the Chair on this occasion was Harriet Baldwin.] if a person who is in the Work Programme could be forced to work against their will as a matter of policy. The question was phrased as “another possible area for confusion”:

Say you are in the Work Programme and are in one of the black boxes; is it possible that some of those black boxes contain mandatory work experience and that is where some of the media confusion is coming from?

In answer, Chris Grayling told an unblushing lie. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Benefits, Economics, Poverty

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Drinking, Scottish Politics