Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

20 May 2019
Trophy Hunting

Clearly we cannot ban trophy hunting overseas, and it is not our place to do so. But we could reduce demand for it, writes Zac Goldsmith

Global nature is in crisis. We have just had sight of the most comprehensive-ever assessment of the state of nature, the IPBES report, and it makes for truly grim reading. A full 25% of all animal and plant species in the world are at risk of extinction.  It is an environmental tragedy, but it is also a threat to humanity on at least the same scale as climate change, and we urgently need to act. Clearly trophy hunting isn’t the main cause of this disaster – but it matters. It matters because it shows in the plainest possible way how we have failed to put a meaningful value on the natural world.  Morally, trophy hunting horrifies the vast majority of the British public. It is depressing if the best we think we can do for beautiful and endangered creatures like lions, elephants and rhinos is for wealthy Westerners to pay thousands of pounds to shoot them. And when we see horrific stories like that of the shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in 2015 or of hunters posing...
Zac Goldsmith MP
20 May 2019
Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage today accused Gordon Brown of peddling a “disgusting smear” after the former prime minister raised questions over Brexit Party funding.

The Labour ex-leader said the new anti-EU outfit was making “questionable claims” about the source of its war chest and demanded a probe by election watchdogs. He raised concerns about the numerous small donations the party has received, which do not need to be registered with the Electoral Commission and are said to make up the vast majority of its funding stream. But the Brexit Party boss told PoliticsHome: "This is a disgusting smear from Gordon Brown, the man who worked alongside Lord Levy when Labour donors went to the House of Lords in large numbers. "We are complying with electoral law in every way. The establishment are jealous of our rapid growth." Mr Farage has previously been criticised for taking cash from insurance tycoon Arron Banks, who is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over campaign funding during the 2016 EU referendum. At a speech in Glasgow, Mr Brown noted that donations to the Brexit Party could be made through PayPal using any currency. "You can...
20 May 2019
Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is set to announce that he could use new powers to ban British nationals from travelling to Syria.

Speaking to senior security officials on Monday, the Home Secretary is expected to warn that a new counter-terrorism act could ban Britons from heading to the war-torn country or face up to 10 years in prison. Mr Javid - who is thought to be considering a run for the Conservative leadership when Theresa May steps down - will say that UK citizens without good reason should be “on notice” for travelling, or remaining, in certain areas. The move comes as British nationals who have joined terror group Islamic State (IS) in Syria have sought to return to the UK. Mr Javid is expected to say: "I've asked my officials to work closely with the police and intelligence agencies to urgently review the case for exercising this power in relation to Syria, with a particular focus on Idlib and the north east. "So anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice." He will add that the police and security services "have worked tirelessly" to identify people attempting...
20 May 2019
Theresa May

Former Number Ten director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa looks at the Prime Minister’s dwindling options for introducing her Withdrawal Agreement Bill

We now know that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be voted on the w/c 3 June. It is likely to be defeated not only because of opposition to the PM’s deal but because briefings from No.10 have suggested a willingness to accept amendments at Committee Stage and that whatever Parliament decides – so long as it decides – would be tolerated by the Prime Minister. This in effect has made the Withdrawal Agreement Bill into a Trojan horse for Conservative MPs – they don’t know what they’ll end up with, but once the Bill starts to progress though parliament, it could become the vehicle to bind the UK to a permanent Customs Union or a second referendum. We also now know that after the second reading the PM will sit down with Graham Brady “to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader”. The implication is that the second reading vote will serve as a proxy for a vote of confidence in the PM, incentivising Conservative MPs, already unhappy with what has been negotiated with the EU and...
Nikki da Costa
20 May 2019
Customer at ATM

A cashless society could see vulnerable individuals and families become more financially excluded and alienated from society, writes Seema Malhotra

According to the Access to Cash Review published in March 2019, ten years ago, six in ten transactions were made in cash. Today, that figure has halved to three in every ten transactions. Similarly, our infrastructure has step by step pivoted away from cash transactions so that even for those who may want or need to pay in cash, the option is too often no longer there. LINK, the UK’s largest network of ATMs, reported in March 2019 that there are now 4,500 fewer ATMs in their network than at the peak in 2017. There is also a growing trend, especially in metropolitan areas, of retailers and service providers refusing to tender cash payments. This is a steep decline, which is set to make life harder for millions of citizens who may not have a bank account or credit card or be hesitant to do so. New research estimates that 17% of British people would “not cope” in a cashless society. With this group disproportionately composed of the most vulnerable: the elderly, the disabled, and...
Seema Malhotra
20 May 2019
Police outside Parliament

MPs and their staff are on the receiving end of more direct and indirect threats than ever before. We must fight to preserve the integrity of our system, writes Simon Hart

In the last year or so the number of reported threats against MPs has risen by 126%. These are not just any threats, but those which are sufficiently serious as to warrant police action. What’s more they aren’t just directed at MP’s but at staff, family and volunteers too.  There are plenty of people out there who think this is all part of the rough and tumble of politics and even self inflicted – let’s face it, we don’t exactly behave with much decorum in the Commons chamber and this, coupled with the claim that we ignore public sentiment anyway, creates an environment where it is easy to say we deserve everything we get.  But my debate on Tuesday is not about protecting famously brittle political egos. Never has politics (at all its many levels) needed to attract the best of society more than it does now. Elected office should be revered across the land, with long waiting lists for the privilege of serving our communities. The motive should be driven by a public service...
Simon Hart
20 May 2019
Child with teddy

Dealing with the fallout from sexual abuse is a moral duty for the country – and sound public policy, writes Sarah Champion 

The scale of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom is difficult to comprehend. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, seven per cent of people aged between 16 and 59 report that they were sexually abused as a child. This equates to over two million survivors. This is a significant portion of the electorate, present in every constituency in the country. It is to be welcomed that in recent years public consciousness of child sexual abuse has increased, largely because of reports of large-scale sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, ordained members of the Catholic Church, football coaches and in constituencies like my own, Rotherham. As a result, efforts by political actors and public bodies have understandably focussed on preventing the abuse of children and on securing the convictions of perpetrators. Less thought has been given to supporting survivors who are struggling to cope with the traumatic effects of abuse. The APPG for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse,...
Sarah Champion
20 May 2019
Jess Phillips and Baroness Newlove

After more than six years as the Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove will leave the post at the end of this month. She talks to Jess Phillips about her fight for victims rights  

Baroness Newlove is not your ordinary Whitehall apparatchik and she is certainly not your ordinary peer of the realm either. I arrive at her office in a perfectly normal Ministry of Justice Office building on petty France. No bells and whistles here, just an office building much like any in the country, which I suppose is fitting for a woman who was given her role as the Victims Commissioner for England by virtue of her ordinariness. In 2010 after the announcement that she was to enter the House of Lords, Helen Newlove commented that she was “just an ordinary woman, propelled into high profile by a set of horrifying circumstances which I wish with all my heart had never occurred”. In 2007 Garry Newlove, her husband and the father of her three daughters was murdered outside their home in Warrington, Cheshire. He had confronted a gang of youths who were vandalising her car. This had not been an isolated incident but a long-running campaign of youth gang crime in the ...
Jess Phillips
20 May 2019
Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has called on Britain's electoral watchdog to investigative whether the newly-formed Brexit Party has left itself open to "dirty" donations.

The former Prime Minister has written to the Electoral Commission demanding that the watchdog examines whether the website used by Nigel Farage's new outfit opens the door to "underhand campaign finance". The Guardian reports that the Labour heavyweight will use a speech in Glasgow on Monday to take direct aim at Mr Farage, whose party is ahead in the polls as this week's European elections loom. The Brexit Party's website allows anybody to hand over donations of between £5 and £500 with just a PayPal account, rather than requiring detailed personal information from those giving money. Under electoral law, only donations above £500 have to be declared to the Commission. Mr Brown is expected to warn: "Nigel Farage says this election is about democracy. "Democracy is fatally undermined if unexplained, unreported and thus undeclared and...
20 May 2019
Hands on computer

The Open Knowledge Foundation marks its 15th anniversary and its Chief Executive writes: “The next 15 years and beyond are not to be feared. We live in a time when technological advances offer incredible opportunities for us all”.

Fifteen years ago, the Open Knowledge Foundation was launched in Cambridge by entrepreneur and economist Rufus Pollock. At the time, open data was an entirely new concept. Worldwide internet users were barely above the 10 per cent mark, and Facebook was still in its infancy. But Rufus foresaw both the massive potential and the huge risks of the modern digital age. He believed in access to information for everyone about how we live, what we consume, and who we are - for example, how our tax money gets spent, what’s in the food we eat or the medicines we take, and where the energy comes from to power our cities. From humble beginnings, the Open Knowledge Foundation grew across the globe and pioneered the way that we use data today, striving to build open knowledge in government, business and civil society - and creating the technology to make open material useful. We created the ‘Open Definition’ that is still the benchmark today – that open data and content can be freely used...