Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 January 2019
British Plastics Federation

The British Plastics Federation Director General has drawn together several different academic reports published in the UK, the USA & Canada which all concluded that plastic is the most environmentally-friendly packaging material, in stark contrast to a great deal of press coverage in the UK, which questions the choice of plastic. 

More than fifty academics from sixteen UK universities have called for better public understanding of the benefits that plastics bring by warning that replacing plastics with alternative materials could lead to greater environmental damage.  At the end of 2018, in an open letter co-signed by the British Plastics Federation (BPF), eighteen academics from fifteen universities drew attention to the role plastic plays in lowering environmental impacts through the low amount of energy used in its production, its light weight in comparison to alternatives and the resources used in its manufacture. Following this, Herriott Watt University in Scotland independently released a similar statement, signed by forty academics from a range of...
18 January 2019
John Bercow

John Bercow is set to be denied a peerage over his ongoing feud with ministers over Brexit, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the Commons Speaker could be passed over for elevation to the House of Lords when he eventually decides to stand down. That would mark a major break with long-established tradition, which has seen successive Speakers given peerages by the Prime Minister after their time in the chair comes to an end. Mr Bercow has angered the Government over a number of contentious decisions over Parliamentary procedure as Theresa May struggles to win backing for her Brexit deal. Two weeks ago, he overturned centuries of precedent by allowing a government business motion to be amended by MPs to slash the time the Prime Minister had to respond after her deal was rejected. That led to an hour-long series of Commons points of order, during which Mr Bercow was forced to deny being anti-Brexit. And earlier this week, the Speaker raised eyebrows by only choosing four amendments to the...
18 January 2019
Powell, Kinnock and Halfon

Where once it was an idea on the fringes, support for a Norway-style Brexit has entered the political mainstream. With Theresa May clamouring for a solution, supporters of a Common Market 2.0 believe they have the solution to get the Prime Minister out of a deep hole. Sebastian Whale sits down with three of the group’s backers, Lucy Powell, Rob Halfon and Stephen Kinnock

“Shall I go first?” asks Stephen Kinnock. “I’ve been the one who’s been banging this drum for about two years now.” I’m sat in the dimly lit and curiously atmospheric surroundings of Conservative MP Rob Halfon’s office. It is the ideal hideout for a cross-party alliance to congregate, both from a practical and aesthetic perspective. In contrast to the homogenous and characterless parliamentary offices in Portcullis House, Halfon’s nook – on the ground floor of a largely untrodden part of Parliament – is moody with mahoganies and dark greens. Present are Halfon, sat comfortably in a conspicuous yellow armchair, Labour’s Lucy Powell and Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon, who walks me through the background to this unlikely coalition. The trio back the so-called Norway Plus option, an arrangement that has the support of Tory MPs including Nick Boles, Nicky Morgan, Sir Nicholas Soames and Sir Oliver Letwin. The wider group meets once a week, usually in Soames’ office (which has the benefit...
17 January 2019
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

Theresa May has condemned Jeremy Corbyn after he urged Labour MPs not to hold talks on Brexit with the Government.

The Labour leader emailed his party colleagues after he said he would not accept Theresa May's offer of a meeting unless she ruled out any prospect of the UK quitting the EU without a deal. But within minutes, senior Labour backbenchers Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper defied their boss to hold talks with Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, the de facto deputy Prime Minister. In his email, Mr Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister has offered to open talks with opposition parties, however I have been absolutely clear that any starting point for talks about breaking the Brexit deadlock must be on the provision that the threat of a disastrous 'no deal' outcome is ruled out. This is a position that has now been adopted by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. "I urge colleagues to respect that condition and refrain from engagement with the Government until 'no deal' is taken off the table." But in a letter to Mr Corbyn urging him to reconsider, Mrs May said he was wrong to...
17 January 2019
People's Vote march

Organising a second referendum would take more than a year, Downing Street was warned MPs.

A paper drawn up by civil servants makes clear the Government's view that having a so-called "People's Vote" before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March would be impossible. The one-page document was shown to MPs during talks with the Prime Minister and other senior government figures as part of efforts to break the Brexit deadlock. A copy of the paper was obtained by ITV and showed that according to the civil servants, it would take seven months for a referendum bill to pass through Parliament. A further 12 weeks would be needed for the Electoral Commission to test the question, followed by six weeks to pass secondary legislation, six weeks for the designation of campaigns and 10 weeks for them "to use their benefits". NEW: Government guidance on timeline for second referendum given to selection of MPs involved in the Brexit talks today. — Dominique Heckels (...
17 January 2019

Increased awareness about periods is the best way for industry to improve its working practices. 

Unite the union has conducted a survey of 2,000 women working across the construction industry about their experiences with period dignity.   65% of those who responded said their employer had failed to make adjustments to accommodate their needs as female workers.    A lack of sanitary bins and clean toilets were highlighted as major concerns.   Unite are calling for four policies which they believe can make a significant improvement to the lives of female construction workers:   1. Designated female toilets, always accessible, regularly cleaned and lockable  2. Handwashing facilities with running water and soap provided  3. Sanitary bins provided which are clean and regularly emptied  4. Sanitary products provided in a dispenser in a discreet location and ideally free. The National Federation of Builders (NFB), the trade association for SME constructors and house builders, welcomes the campaign’s effort to increase awareness about period...
17 January 2019

BANT (British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine) was interested to read ‘Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. 

Whilst the organisation fully supports considerations that contribute to the urgent environmental debate, it feels obliged to sound a note of caution on some of the specific nutrient recommendations made.   BANT has reiterated many times in the past that its practitioners do not suggest ‘one-size-fits-all’ advice but take into account individuality that enables personalisation of dietary advice based on the most up-to-date research available.  BANT practitioners are made up of omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans amongst others, and they support clients who also have a range of dietary preferences that are equally diverse. The key is to respect our client’s health, whilst encouraging sustainable and respectful eating to save our planet. BANT supports the report’s recommendations that half a person’s plate should be comprised of vegetables, a quarter whole grains and a quarter protein, this indeed, is what the organisation has been promoting since the launch of...
17 January 2019
The risks of the Brexit ticking clock eroding a vital scrutiny mechanism appear all too real, reports Emilio Casalicchio

Support for overturning the Brexit vote has hit its highest level since the 2016 referendum, according a new poll.

In a major boost for pro-EU campaigners, Brits said they would opt to stay in the bloc by a 12-point margin, the YouGov survey commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign found. Some 56% of respondents said they would vote to Remain, with 44% saying they would vote to leave, once those who said they were unsure or would not vote were eliminated. Veteran pollster and former YouGov president Peter Kellner said: “No longer can it be said that opinion has not moved significantly since the referendum.” In the 2016 vote, 48% of the country opted to remain in the EU while 52% chose to leave. Labour MP and People’s Vote campaigner Chuka Umunna said: “This snap poll shows more than ever why the Government needs to change course and hand this decision on Brexit back to the people. “There is now a clear and expanding majority for staying in the EU and an even bigger one when voters have the chance to look at the real options for leaving.” Elsewhere, the poll found some 78% of Labour party...
17 January 2019

Baroness Thornhill has expressed her disappointment on how permitted development rules remain an example of top down planning. 

She argued that elected councillors and officers are better judges than ministers or civil servants on balancing the need for employment space with providing new homes. The Liberal Democrat peer referenced her own time as mayor of Watford, when she saw the number of office-to-residential conversions rising, despite the quality of these homes being below acceptable standards and her council’s “ability to scrutinise outcomes of these conversions […] at best limited, at worst non-existent.” The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes efforts to deliver good quality homes, but believes that Baroness Thornhill’s assessment of how we get there is inconsistent. The Government introduced permitted development because it was dissatisfied with the decisions taken by councillors and officers when planning their communities. Too few homes are planned for, site allocations are politically motivated and building up is seen as more acceptable than building out. For NFB members, local...
17 January 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn today accused Theresa May of a political "stunt" after she reached out to him on Brexit.

The Labour leader lashed out at the Prime Minister after she invited opposition parties for talks in Downing Street to find a solution to the parliamentary deadlock. The offer came after the Brexit deal she clinched with Brussels suffered a thumping defeat in the Commons on Tuesday, with some 320 MPs voting to reject it. But she bounced back by winning a vote of confidence last night - and chose that moment to reach out to warring MPs to come to a consensus on the way forward. Other senior MPs have met with the Prime Minister already, but Mr Corbyn has refused to take part in talks unless the Government rules out Britain leaving the bloc without a deal. At a speech in Hastings today he doubled down on his red line and attacked Mrs May over what he branded a “phoney” attempt to build a compromise. “Last night’s offer of talks with party leaders turned out to be simply a stunt, not the serious attempt to engage with the new reality that’s needed,” he told Labour activists in the seaside...