Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

11 November 2019

A National Retrofit Strategy is needed to boost the domestic repair and maintenance sector in construction, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the construction ONS data published today which shows a 3% decline in private housing repair and maintenance.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Homeowners are holding off upgrading and improving their homes due to political and economic uncertainty. The increase in construction output seen in Quarter 3 masks the fact that the repair and maintenance sector has contracted, the bread and butter sector of the construction industry and one which keeps thousands of builders active and in work. This contraction in the private domestic sector even led to a fall in output in September, compared to the previous month. The UK has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe, that urgently needs upgrading. At a time when the Government has set an ambitious target of net zero carbon by 2050, we need to be rolling out energy efficiency measures across our existing housing stock, full steam ahead. The uncertainty is holding us back.” Berry concluded: “In order to boost consumer confidence, the new government must create a National Retrofit Strategy that sets out how to encourage home...
11 November 2019
Northern Ireland border

A majority of Britons would not mind if Northern Ireland left the UK so long as they got their preferred Brexit outcome, a new poll has found.

A fresh study by YouGov finds that four in ten mainland Brits (41%) say they "don't care very much or at all" about the fate of Northern Ireland, despite months of wrangling over its fate after the UK leaves the EU. An identical figure of 41% meanwhile say they "wouldn’t be bothered if Northern Ireland left the UK", although a further 41% said they "would be upset if it broke away". Given the choice, 58% of those asked said they would choose their preferred outcome on Brexit to Northern Ireland staying in the Union. Just 18% of those polled chose Northern Ireland staying in the UK over their Brexit option. The figures are similar regardless of where voters sit on the Leave-Remain divide. More than half (58%) of 2016 Remain voters said they would rather have their way on Brexit than maintain the Union, while just under two-thirds (64%) of Leave voters said the same. The figures come despite just one in seven Brits telling the polling firm that they had never met someone from...
11 November 2019
Boris Johnson addressing his Cabinet

Boris Johnson will make an election pledge to amend the Human Rights Act in an effort to stop military veterans being prosecuted over killings that took place during The Troubles.

The Prime Minister is expected to use the Conservative manifesto to promise to end the legal pursuit of ex-service personnel being probed by the Historical Investigations Unit over their role in the Northern Ireland conflict. As both main parties marked Armistice Day with a raft of pledges, the Tories promised to "protect former soldiers from vexatious claims" if elected with a majority. A Conservative source said: "We have been clear that we need to end the unfair trials of people who served their country when no new evidence has been produced and when the accusations have already been exhaustively questioned in court.  "We will amend the Human Rights Act 1998 to specify that it doesn’t apply to issues - including any death in the Northern Ireland Troubles - that took place before the Act came into force in October 2000. This restores the intended scope of the Act." Successive Prime Ministers have faced calls to scrap the Historical Investigations Unit, which was was a key part of...
11 November 2019
Keith Vaz

Labour's Keith Vaz has announced that he will not run to become an MP again after being handed a six-month Commons ban for causing "significant damage" to its reputation.

The disgraced party veteran said it had been an "honour and a privilege" to represent Leicester East since 1987 as he confirmed he was stepping down. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile paid tribute to Mr Vaz's "substantial and significant contribution to public life". The MP was handed a six-month Commons ban last month after the Committee on Standards said he had shown "disregard for the law" and caused "significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole". Mr Vaz was forced to step down from his role as Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016 after the Sunday Mirror obtained a recording of him offering to buy cocaine for two male escorts. The damning Commons report said: "The Committee finds that by expressing willingness to purchase cocaine for another person to use, Mr Vaz showed disregard for the law, and by failing to co-operate fully with the inquiry process, he showed disrespect for the House’s standards system." The...
11 November 2019
Tom Watson

Dods People draws together a list of appointments in Westminster politics, the devolved administrations and the public affairs sector in the last week.

Houses of Parliament: House of Lords Baroness Wilcox of Newport was introduced as a Labour life peer on 4th November. Baroness Blower was introduced as a Labour life peer on 4th November. Lord Choudrey was introduced as a Conservative life peer on 5th November. Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick was introduced as a non-affiliated life peer on 5th November. House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle was elected as Speaker.   Government Departments: Wales Office Alun Cairns resigned as Secretary of State for Wales. Home Office John Woodcock appointed as the UK special envoy for countering violent extremism. Northern Ireland Office Drainage Council for Northern Ireland - Alan Strong, Andrew Wilson, Brendan Kerr and Bernie Lafferty had their appointments as specialist members extended, Beth Adger, Bernice Swift, Billy Webb, Samuel Cole and Cadogan Enright had their appointments as local council representative members extended, and Jonathan McKee and Angus Kerr appointed as...
11 November 2019
Boris Johnson announces election

An election will not offer a conclusive answer to the Brexit question and there is a very real possibility that the UK will be left with another hung Parliament in which there is no clear mandate, no majority, and no consensus on the way forward, says Dods Monitoring's Laura Hutchinson. 

Overview It’s been over 1,200 days since the UK voted 52:48 to leave the European Union. 3 Prime Ministers, 3 delays and 4 exit deadlines later, and the UK remain within the European Union. Brexit held the 2017 Parliament captive for 29 months, with MPs lurching from paralysis to crisis week by week.   MPs have now, by an overwhelming majority, voted to for a snap December election. However, an election will not offer a conclusive answer to the Brexit question and there is a very real possibility that the UK will be left with another hung Parliament in which there is no clear mandate, no majority, and no consensus on the way forward. Download the full report, here. The current state of play Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned jubilant from Brussels. He had secured a new Brexit deal and it looked as though he could pass it through Parliament: the end was in sight and the UK was leaving on 31st...
11 November 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Labour would ensure every child has access to mental health support at school if the party wins the general election, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.

The Labour leader promised his government would "start treating mental health as seriously as physical health" as he outlined plans for an £845million-a-year Healthy Young Minds fund to help the one in eight children suffering from a mental health disorder. The party is vowing to recruit a qualified counsellor for each of England's 3,500 secondary schools, with a network of drop-in hubs providing further support for kids who are struggling.   The Mirror reports that the hubs will be set up in every local authority in a bid to ensure nationwide coverage for state school children. Mr Corbyn told the paper: "Our society is fuelling mental illness on a huge scale and our young people are not getting the support they need. "We have to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health." The vow comes amid signs of increasing strain on child and mental health...
Matt Honeycombe-Foster
10 November 2019
Lord Mawhinney

Former Conservative Cabinet minister Brian Mawhinney has died at the age of 79 after a long illness, his family have announced.

The Belfast-born peer, who stepped down from the House of Lords in 2005, served as an MP from 1979 to 1997. He took on a number of roles in John Major’s Tory government, serving as health minister and Transport Secretary. He chaired the Conservatives from 1995 until their election defeat in 1997. In a statement his family said: “His death brings an end to a life dedicated to public service and rooted in an unwavering Christian faith. "He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather and a friend to many. He will be much missed." Lord Mawhinney was knighted in 1997 and became a life peer in 2005. After stepping down from frontline politics, he took on the role of English Football League chairman for seven years. In a statement, the EFL said it was “devastated to learn of the passing” of its former boss. The organisation said: “Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this incredibly sad time.” Stewart Jackson, who succeed Lord Mawhinney as MP for Peterborough, meanwhile...
10 November 2019
Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid has confirmed that a long-promised Conservative inquiry into Islamophobia will now be broadened out to include "all types of prejudice".

The Chancellor - who made headlines in the Conservative leadership campaign by getting all fellow contenders to sign up to a probe on anti-Muslim abuse in the party - said it now "makes sense" to broaden the inquiry out. But the comments come amid anger over the Tories' handling of allegations of Islamophobia, with former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi accusing a minister of "whitesplaining" racism to her and Labour claiming a "spectacular betrayal" of the original pledge. During the Tory leadership race, Mr Javid forced his rival candidates to back "an external investigation into the Conservative Party on Islamophobia" after a string of councillors and self-declared Conservative members were suspended over anti-Muslim remarks on social media. As recently as this week, Cabinet minister Michael Gove told the BBC that the party would  "...
10 November 2019
Sajid Javid

Chancellor Sajid Javid has defended the Conservatives' election claim that a Labour government would usher in more than trillion pounds-worth of extra public spending over the next five years.

​The Cabinet minister insisted the party had given "the true cost of Corbyn's Labour" amid anger from the opposition over the £1.2tn claim. But he refused to be drawn on the Tories own tax-and-spend plans, and said the party had "in some cases" used its own estimates for the cost of Labour's plans. The 35-page Conservative dossier claims that Labour would increase government spending by 30% - equivalent to £650m a day - over the expected five-year length of the next Parliament. The Tories claim the cost of Labour's 2017 manifesto pledges amount to £600bn - with a further £590bn of "reckless promises" made since then. The figures include Labour's pledges on renationalising rail, energy, water and postal services, and the Conservatives use a £196bn figure from the CBI business group which has been strongly disputed by Labour. It also assumes that Labour would immediately sign up to a 32-hour working week, a trial the Centre for Policy Studies think tank has said would...