Frankly, they are Grandstanding

Opposition supply days exist to raise subjects that are not addressed by existing or proposed legislation or funding. They provide time for short debates with non-binding votes and do not commit the government of the day to any additional expenditure. In recent years, these supply days, twenty a year since 1992, have been used more for publicity purposes, particularly now that the UK has an administration with a clear majority. Here are some examples:
1) Animal welfare: Labour called a debate on this in 2018, almost implying that there are no animal welfare standards in this country. There are, of course, and they are already being strengthened.
2) Food standards: Recently, another Labour motion was implied that food standards in the UK would by harmed by withdrawing from the UK. The Agriculture Bill already makes clear that this will not be the case as we shall revert to WTO standards.
3) Free school meals during holidays: Labour would have us believe, from calling two such debates so far, that low income families are not being recompensed for this expense in October and over Christmas. In fact, when they were during summer, this cost £120 million through the Covid Summer Food Fund, or £20 million a week. For the three subsequent weeks, the greater sum of £63 million has been paid through local authorities, together with a £15 million food voucher system, £16 million given to food charities and a £20 a week increase in the Universal Credit threshold. Quite apart from being a higher sum, this can be targetted locally and towards those more in need, instead of a flat rate uniformly paid across a wide range of low incomes, as Tom summarises here. Now we have the Covid Winter Grant Scheme (£170 million) together with the Holiday Activities Food Scheme (£220 million extension) as well.
It might still have been possible to take Labour’s attention-seeking seriously, were it not that they rejected the same idea twelve years ago, without supplying a suitable alternative. They abstain so often, I sometimes think they would do so if a Bill of Attainder were proposed against Sir Sneer.
 

Should Capital Punishment be reinstated in the UK?

I am in favour of the death penalty. Perhaps I’m in the minority and that would be understandable. But I stand by the belief that those who have committed some of the most heinous and despicable acts against humanity should face the ultimate punishment by the state.

Thoughts on this subject recently arose when I found myself watching an old episode of the American crime-drama series Law & Order. In a season six episode entitled ‘Savages’ first broadcast in 1995, the District Attorney’s office of New York debate whether a businessman named Paul Sandig, who was involved in murdering an undercover cop and about to expose his multi-million dollar money laundering scam, should be sentenced to death.

At the time the episode aired, the state of New York had in real life reintroduced Capital Punishment earlier in the year. This had obviously inspired the writers of the show to examine the decisions and consequences of using the death penalty. In the story, the state attorney’s Jack McCoy & Claire Kincaid (played by actors Sam Waterston & Jill Hennessey respectively) were in disagreement as to whether they should apply the penalty. McCoy was in favour, Kincaid was against.

The strongest point that is made during the show is when McCoy articulates the principle that when one forcefully and violently removes a person’s life against their will, they themselves forfeit their own right to life.

I have to say, I find it hard to disagree with that assessment. It’s logical, it’s understandable, it’s hard to argue against.

Supporting a position where the state should consider killing a human being as a form of judicial punishment is not something to take lightly – and rightly so – this is a delicate and controversial matter at the best of times. Like abortion or euthanasia, anything that involves legal termination of human life will always be passionately debated and in some cases ruthlessly so.

But at least our Parliament debates and/or legislates for abortion and euthanasia. This has not been the case in regards to the death penalty. Since 2004, falling into line with European Union policy connected with the European Convention on Human Rights, our Parliament has not debated Capital Punishment in any form since 1994.

Great Britain has not implemented the death penalty since 1964, and in the following year it was removed as an option for the crime of murder. Anyone serving time on death row since then has had their punishment replaced with a mandatory life sentence. Capital Punishment wasn’t officially abolished in the UK until 1998.

Since 1964 we’ve had more than our fair share of grotesque, headline-grabbing murderers & sexual predators:

The “Moors Murderers” – Ian Brady & Myra Hindley – were responsible for the deaths of five children during the mid-1960s. Both were well versed in Nazi Propaganda, with Brady – later declared a psychopath – often committing sexual acts over his victims (aged between 10-17 years) before murdering them.

Serial killers Fred & Rosemary West were responsible for up to ten murders. The victims included Fred’s previous spouse, their eldest daughter, Heather, and several young girls who’d been lodgers at their property in Gloucester. The couple often subjected them to sexual abuse before killing them.

But one of the most horrific acts of serial murder in the UK (and also perhaps in the western world in general) went by the name of Dr. Harold Shipman. The General Practitioner was convicted for fifteen murders, with the inquiry estimating that he’s likely responsible for up to 250 deaths of his patients – many of which were elderly women. His motivation being to access their fortunes through their Will & Testament.

More closer to home was the “Suffolk Strangler”: the serial killings of five women in Ipswich by Steve Wright during the winter of 2006. Wright was sentenced to life imprisonment and he’s not expected to ever be released.

But it’s not purely about the amount of killings, it’s also the way in which they commit the crime. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson abused and tortured a young three-year-old boy to his death. Much of which took place in full view of the public, in a Liverpool shopping mall in 1993. The victim’s name was Jamie Bulger.

Whilst many of Britain’s most horrific criminals have been convicted, some were able to cheat the system: Venables and Thompson, who were significantly under-age anyway, were in prison for only a handful of years due to the inadequate laws at the time. Dr. Shipman hanged himself in 2004, as did Fred West nine years earlier. Jimmy Saville died before his deplorable acts were publicly exposed.

There are also serial murderers that have been creating an even greater threat to this country on a more disturbingly regular occurrence: Terrorists. The killings along London Bridge and the bombing at Manchester arena just a few years ago sent shockwaves in the UK.

Surely of all the criminals that exist in this country, it is those that commit terrorism that should face the ultimate punishment by the state?

Now we are no longer in the European Union, I believe it is time that we demand our government to reproach the debate on Capital Punishment. Obviously in light of the many deaths due to the coronavirus, 2020 may not be the best time to tackle the subject, but this grey area of our society will need to be dealt with sooner or later.

Going back to our episode of Law and Order, Mr Sandig was eventually declared guilty of his crime. During the sentencing hearing, Mr Sandig admitted that what he did was terribly wrong, regretting his actions sincerely and begged for mercy on his life, before breaking down into tears.

His pleas fell on deaf ears however and the jury decided he should face the death penalty. I have to admit that, whilst money laundering and shooting a police officer six times is a deplorable crime (one that should probably face a life sentence), had this been real, and I’d been on the jury, I would not have been in favour of handing this particular individual the needle – given that there was only one death and the party accused expressed genuine remorse for their actions.

But then, this example doesn’t really matter because none of it was real. It was all staged in the name of prime time entertainment. To give us a taste of what a trial for Capital Punishment might look like.

If the person sitting in the dock were an Ian Brady, a Jon Venables or a Harold Shipman, would I be as forgiving or as considered in my deliberations? I’m not so sure, but I do know that I would not be weeping for them.

Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill

Last month, I spoke in support of the Animal Welfare Bill which will increase the maximum prison sentences for animal cruelty from just 6 months to a far more appropriate 5 years. This is a private members Bill which is being brought forward by my colleague Chris Loder MP. A large part of the debate was spent discussing his own Springer Spaniel, Poppy. Before I spoke, Chris described how Poppy had been left injured and abandoned by the side of the road on a stormy night in January and left to fend for herself. But Chris rescued her, and although I haven’t been able to meet Poppy in person yet, I’ve seen photos of her and she looks like a very happy and well-loved dog.

Chris and Poppy’s story is a moving one and honestly when I was elected to Parliament and I didn’t expect to spend a great deal of my time in Parliament discussing animal welfare issues. But having taken up the campaign for tougher sentences for pet theft as well and having learnt more about crimes involving animals these past few months, it’s become clear how this is one of the types of crime where the gap is biggest between the what the public expects punishments to be and what the law says they should be.

I also used my speech to expand a bit more on the pet theft debate I led on Monday. Currently the sentences handed out to pet thieves are mainly determined on the monetary value of the pets they have stolen. This is what so often results in pet thieves getting nothing more than a slap on a wrist and a paltry fine. But talk to any pet owner and they’ll tell you that the monetary value of their pet is what matters least to them. It’s the invaluable and irreplaceable companionship they offer which is so important and this is what needs to be reflected in pet theft sentencing. I called again for the Secretary of State to write to the Sentencing Council recommending they update their guidelines to reflect this after I’ve met with him and written to him about it recently. Increased sentences for animal cruelty and pet theft should go hand in hand. And both are crucial changes that must happen if our laws are to mirror our views towards animals in modern society.

Two Years, One Nation

By Tim Buttle

September 15th 2020 marked 80 years since the Battle of Britain was won. It was a defining moment in our nation’s history when disaster was averted after many months of uncertainty and when everyone’s future seemed to be hanging by a thread. Sound familiar?
Fast forward 80 years and we find ourselves in the midst of another battle. A war has been raging for several months now against an equally sinister airborne enemy. Just as wave after wave of Luftwaffe planes crossed the Channel in the spring and summer of 1940 we are now dealing with waves of the deadly virus, Covid-19.
In 1940 Radar was in its infancy and new airfields were built throughout the country at pace. Planes were hastily constructed from melted pots and pans in factories that were rapidly repurposed to serve the war effort. The RAF were understrength, but made up of brilliantly dedicated men and women from around the world. They became known as the “few”.
In 2020 we have seen a similar “fight or flight” response to a National emergency. New hospitals have been built in weeks and entrepreneurialism has ensured that vital equipment did not run out. Track and trace systems, vaccines and new drugs are being developed in “real time”. The NHS workers have risen to the challenge magnificently. It really is incredible how during a warlike situation technological advancement and human endeavour goes into overdrive.
As in 1940, mistakes have been made. Lives have been lost through inexperience and ignorance of the enemy’s strengths and its behaviour. Of course with the benefit of hindsight we would have lost far fewer pilots and civilians during the battle of Britain, and likewise if we were dealing with Covid 19 with the knowledge we have now, we might have taken a different path.
1940 had started relatively positively and whilst war seemed to be raging elsewhere, there was a high level of confidence amongst the Allied troops stationed on the supposedly “impregnable” Maginot line. However a sleight of hand from the German Army cleverly drew the Allied forces into Holland and Belgium before attacking through the lightly defended Ardennes. This decisive move led to victory for the Germans in the Battle of France resulting in the British Army and its Allies hastily retreating from Dunkirk and other ports across France.
2020 started on a hugely positive note, the country had decisively rejected Marxism in the December 19 General Election and a Government with an 80 seat majority seemed poised to break the impasse on Brexit after nearly 4 years of divisive politics which was tearing our nation apart. But just as we were caught by a “sucker punch” through the Ardennes in 1940 we have suffered a similar fate in 2020 with the Global pandemic.
Of course some will argue that had the reconnaissance reports of the German’s advance through the Belgian forests been acted on we would have had a different outcome to the Battle of France. Similarly if we had done things differently in January 2020 when the disease first broke out in China we might have found ourselves in a different position now. In reality I believe we were dealing with two largely unstoppable forces. Both needed to be assessed at peak strength, both needed a different response to any conventional response we already knew existed. Both enemies needed time and new found knowledge to be defeated.
On the beaches of Northern France the term “Dunkirk Spirit” was born and will be forever etched on our nations psyche. A new level of appreciation for our battle weary troops was gained as was an unmovable sense of fortitude for the struggle ahead. The Royal Navy and Little ships, who heroically rescued our stranded army stopped a defeat becoming an all-out disaster, captured our nations hearts.
Fast forward again 80 years and the term “Clap for our Carers” will indelibly be linked with this period of history and the already loved NHS workers are now rightfully referred to as our modern day heroes.
If the NHS are the Armed Forces of today’s battle against Covid, then the civilian volunteers who have similarly sprang into action are the little ships. Where would we be without the thousands of people who, up and down the country, have stepped up for our elderly and vulnerable?
History doesn’t just teach us about our past, it can also tell us much about our present. How we should react in adversity, how we should temper our thoughts and be measured in our judgement of our leaders.
1940 was a seminal year in our nation’s history, 2020 will also be. The future will be watching….

Goodbye Food Banks and Hello Community pop up shops

By Councillor Nadia Cenci

I had the pleasure of being invited to The Community Pop Up Shop founded by Graham Denny of the Basic Life Charity at All Hallows Church in Landseer Road, Ipswich.
This is open every Tuesday at 11am.
The idea behind it is to collect donations from several supermarkets for anyone who is happy to donate £2 for a bag which they then use to fill from the array of foods available.
No means test, no referrals, just anyone who wishes to buy. I loved this idea.
Graham told me that there are 5 locations in Felixstowe and that their success has resulted in one single food bank referral in 2 weeks, at the time he contacted me.
For me this is a much better way to help people and gives them dignity without them having to jump through loops.
It was very evident from the moment I arrived at 10.30am when I saw a queue already forming, that this was also a community activity, bringing people together at the same time to chat while they waited to go in. I decided to talk to them to find out what it meant to them.
The first woman I spoke to simply answered ‘It means I get to eat, not just my children who always get fed but it means I get fed properly too.’ It was a powerful and stark statement.
Other reasons are varied including anxiety going into a supermarket, feeling they have dignity and are giving something back by donating themselves as well as paying £2 and, of course, feeling connected.
I met Rev. Kieran who is very supportive of this community pop up shop and as he played some church music I took a moment to look around the church. As I paused near the alter the people who had been waiting came in quietly and in an orderly manner, ensuring social distancing. I have to say it was rather emotional and I had a bit of a moment. Everyone was considerate of those further down the line and took only what they needed from each area like milk, tea, coffee, soup, pasta sauce, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Graham is extending this across Ipswich and will be opening in Whitton, The Waterfront, Rushmere and Dickens Road area, as well as Chantry and I wish him well. It’s just such a great idea.
If you wish to assist in anyway the website is here and I’m sure you’d be welcome anytime.
Tom will be attending in the future and I will post updates.

Why are so many local authorities anti-motorist?

This Daily Mail article summarises the national situation. The Department of Transport has allowed  local government to narrow some roads and close some others at one end to allow pedestrians and cyclists to “socially distance” more effectively in the short term. 

In Suffolk, the County Council has worked with residents and local councillors in only delivering road closures that are supported by local councillors or local people. For example, in Milner Street, residents had long campaigned for such a move to make their neighbourhood quieter and this has been achieved as part of the scheme. Having received feedback, the Conservatives are resisting calls for a multiple number of closures in east Ipswich and at Bramford Lane as it is clear these would have been unpopular with local people.  Furthermore planters make roads inaccessible to emergency vehicles.

This is in contrast to some Labour-controlled London councils and the Green-controlled Brighton council where measures have been draconian and amounted to “hemming-in” local motorists and residents. That was not the purpose of the legislation. A common sense approach is what is needed and that’s why Conservatives will listen to local people rather than be controlled by dogma.

We know this all too well in Ipswich. Under the ironically named Cllr. Smart, Labour have pursued an anti-motorist policy for about three decades. Had they backed the Northern bypass thirty years ago, it would already be in operation and traffic that didn’t need to come into Ipswich wouldn’t have to. However, their deathbed, or even post-mortem, conversion to the idea came far too late, leaving residents of north-west Ipswich to suffer from “rat-running” along otherwise quiet suburban roads, even before “Northern Fringe” construction begins. Similarly, their wilful destruction of our airport at the turn of the century has made the situation far worse by eliminating another option for the traveller.

Conservatives will act only on the wishes of local people.

Supporting Veterans

Brought up the excellent Combat2Coffee project in the Commons last week, which does vital charity and community work supporting local veterans in Ipswich. When I visited the new coffee shop on Princes Street in February, I was clear to the founder, Nigel Seaman, that the project and the people it helps have my full support in Parliament.

One of the things Nigel has raised with me since then is the bureaucratic health assessments veterans often have to go through to get the pensions and benefits they’re entitled to. This can be a distressing process for those who are living with physical and mental injuries they got serving on our behalf and it risks putting veterans off accessing the support they’re entitled to. I urged the Minister for Veterans to ensure the process is streamlined to protect against this as much as possible, and I’ll be monitoring the roll out of the Government’s plans to move parts of the process online very closely.

THE SILENT MAJORITY, THEN IN 2012 AND NOW IN 2020

THE SILENT MAJORITY, THEN AND NOW, IN 2012 AND 2020, THE UK IS A GREAT COUNTRY.

The United Kingdom is a tolerant, open and ambitious country

Despite what left wing organisations such as the Labour Party , the Marxist organisation known as “black lives matters”, the criminal-damage-creating members of “extinction rebellion”, and other snowflakes who take great exaggerated offence at any remarks of anyone they disagree with, I believe our country is a place of tolerance and freedom. Even the BBC with the furore over the possible removal of patriotic songs at The Last Night of the Proms, now has to be grouped directly into this group of out-of-touch organisations.

In July, some of the London Olympics 2012 was repeated on the BBC (national events is about all that the BBC is good at) and (along with the Paralympics that year which was broadcast on C4), 2012 demonstrated the best of our country and “Inspired a Generation”, as Lord Coe promised.

It brought together people of all different ethnic and social backgrounds in harmony and with a sense of national pride which brought together the whole country, in our common desire for our participants to succeed.

British participants , like all nations that summer, were not judged by their ethnic origin or where they come from, but their ambition. When they won, we cheered. We celebrated some nations sending female contenders for the very first time.

The opening ceremony celebrated British history and the image of the statue of Churchill saluting Her Majesty in her helicopter ride to the Stadium with James Bond is not diminished by those people who don’t understand who Winston was and his strength of character and how he helped us win the War.

Her Majesty the Queen showed her sense of humour in this unique portrayal before she apparently parachuted into the stadium.

At the time, not even Captain Hindsight’s predecessor Red Ed Miliband, talked the Olympic effort down (despite him spending the previous 2 years talking down the economy).

But Labour members have spent the last 5 years turning their organisation into a student protest lobby, since the bearded Comrade Corbyn turned it into an anti British laughing stock which is beyond repair. The current leader is incapable of reversing this trend as a large portion of the membership seems to consist of a mindset which remains thoroughly anti British. The leader himself, Sir Sneer, tried to stop Brexit because he doesn’t understand British thinking. Why on earth did the bearded one appoint someone who didn’t believe in his shadow portfolio to be Labour’s chief spokesman?  And we all know about Lady Nugee’s distaste of national pride.

However, outside the metropolitan North London bubble elite, the real people of this country retain those values demonstrated so eagerly in 2012. The negative impression Labour and their media outlets known as the BBC’S Laura Kuensberg (who had to be security protected at Labour’s Conference because they hate her so much), Robert know-it-all Peston and Beth droaning-moaning Rigby bears little resemblance to reality.

The Conservatives under Boris Johnson were re-elected last year because we share those values of national pride and tolerance and celebrate our pride in our Wartime leader and our real Bristish values.

It’s time for Boris Johnson and the Government to swat away the left wing cynicism, bash down the awful TV journalists in their endless attacks and say to the Left: We Won The Election. You do not represent the majority.

I don’t pretend everything is perfect and yes, many do suffer from discrimination and unfair behaviour. But the country has NOT turned into some loony rascist country since 2012. We are one of the most diverse countries in the world and welcoming to people who wish to contribute.

Lefties and so-called liberals launch protest groups , launch tirades on twitter and march on Parliament Square if they don’t like something (whatever it is this week).

People of small c conservative thinking , don’t try to shove their dislikes down other people’s throats so visibly. Instead we might write a letter to the paper or switch off the TV and do something else. We are the silent majority.