Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

7 November 2019
Jo Swinson

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have agreed to step aside for each other in 60 seats in a bid to boost the chances of pro-Remain candidates being elected.

The three parties have signed off on the tie-up, which covers 49 seats in England and 11 in Wales, after months of talks aimed at thrashing out an anti-Brexit pact. The agreement was struck under the 'Unite to Remain' banner, led by outgoing Liberal Democrat MP Heidi Allen. The former Conservative told The Guardian: "With a single Remain candidate in 60 seats we will return a greater number of Remain MPs to Parliament. This is our opportunity to tip the balance of power away from the two largest parties and into a progressive Remain alliance." Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said she was "delighted" that an agreement had been struck. "We would like to thank Unite to Remain for making this possible," Ms Swinson added. "This is a significant moment for all people who want to support Remain candidates across the country." The Unite to Remain group...
7 November 2019
Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson has accused Labour bosses of a "capitulation" as he vowed to stand as an independent candidate after being blocked from running for the party.

The MP confirmed he was resigning from Labour and would fight the Derby North seat under his own banner. Mr Williamson was one of three former Labour MPs informed on Wednesday that they will not be candidates for the party on 12 December following a decision by Labour's ruling national executive committee. He had the whip withdrawn and his membership of the party suspended earlier this year over what officials described as a "pattern of behaviour".  He had triggered an outcry among Labour MPs when footage emerged of him telling a meeting of supporters that the party had been "too apologetic" about its handling of anti-semitism.  In a letter sent to the party's general secretary Jennie Forbmy following the NEC's decision, Mr Williamson accused Labour of being influenced by "apartheid apologists" "After almost forty-four years of loyal service and commitment, it is with a heavy heart that I now resign my membership of the Labour Party and declare my intention to stand as an independent...
7 November 2019
Classroom

Anyone who has special educational needs has to fight for the support they need from the local authority and is hindered by considerable financial costs in a difficult legal system, writes Lord Addington. 

Currently there is much legislation saying that anyone who has special educational needs (SEN) and is in the state system should get help; this ranges from the Equality Act the Children and Families Act and the SEN Code of Practice. The problem is that to get this help you are dependent on a determined and aware parent fighting through a system that is reluctant for a variety of reasons, mostly financial, to implement that help. Even though we now have some awareness training for special educational needs in initial teacher training, this is often under a day for all the most commonly met conditions encountered in the classroom. Teachers do not have sufficient training to deal with the different learning patterns, for instance someone who has Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, or Attention Deficit Disorder. I know that parents of dyslexic children are being told by schools that they must be two years behind their peers in literacy. This means your child must be so severe and making no progress...
7 November 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of "dancing to the SNP's tune" as he vowed to block a second independence referendum if he wins the election.

The Prime Minister will visit Scotland on his first full day on the campaign trail, and will herald the 12 December snap poll as "crucial" moment for Scotland's future. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants "Indyref2" to take place next year, and will request what is known as a Section 30 order giving Holyrood the legal power to set one up. While Scottish Labour is officially opposed to a second vote, a UK party spokesperson last week opened the door to a Jeremy Corbyn government allowing one to take place. Speaking ahead of his visit north of the Border, Mr Johnson said: "A vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to stop a second independence referendum and to get Brexit done so we can spend 2020 taking back control of our fishing waters, getting a fairer deal for our farmers, and investing in public services to give people better healthcare and better education. "The other choice is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn who would spend next year dancing to the SNP's tune, wasting...
7 November 2019
John McDonnell

Labour will pledge to hand local decision makers £150bn over the next Parliament as part of an “irreversible” power shift from London to the north of England.

The Shadow Chancellor is expected to announce a new Social Transformation Fund to help “upgrade and expand” schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses if the party takes power after next month's election. Mr McDonnell will say the money would be divided up by a National Transformation Fund, based in the north, which would ensure that key decisions about investment in that part of the country are made there. A “powerful section of the Treasury” will also be supported by local bodies for each of England’s regions, with funds “ring-fenced for infrastructure projects decided and developed at a local level”. "Our aim as a Labour government is to achieve what past Labour governments have aspired to," he will say at a speech in Liverpool. "An irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people. That means change means investment on a scale never seen before in this country and certainly never seen before in the north and...
6 November 2019
Tom Watson

Tom Watson is to quit Parliament and as Labour's deputy leader at the general election, he has announced.

In a bombshell move, he said it was time to "start a different kind of life" away from the political frontline. He insisted it was a "personal, not political" decision and not connected to the well-documented differences he has had with Jeremy Corbyn over Labour's left-wing direction. Mr Watson, who has been the MP for West Bromwich East since 2001, revealed his decision in a letter to the Labour leader on the first day of the general election campaign. He said he wanted to devote his life to "campaigning to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis", as well issues such as gambling reform and press reform. "The last few years have been among the most transformational of my personal life, second only to becoming a proud father of two beautiful children," he wrote. "I’ve become healthy for the first time, and I intend to continue with this work in the years to come. "I want to thank you for the decency and courtesy you have shown me over the last four years, even in difficult...
6 November 2019
Vote Labour poster

Labour officials have been accused of mounting a "smear campaign" against one of the party's election candidates after she was dumped just days after being selected.

Sally Gimson was last week chosen by party members in Bassetlaw to contest the Labour-held seat on 12 December. However, Labour's ruling national executive committee refused to endorse the move after allegations were made about her behaviour at a branch meeting in Holborn and St Pancras, where she lives. It is understood that one of the accusations is that she shouted at a disabled party member. Denying the allegations against her, Ms Gimson tweeted: "Thanks so much everyone for their support. Just to be clear I do not recognise the allegations which are vague and part of a smear campaign against me.  "I’m backed by the Labour party in Bassetlaw and by Holborn and St Pancras and will continue to engage with my lawyers." In a statement, Holborn and St Pancras CLP said: "[We are] aware that members of the Labour NEC chose to go against the wishes of Bassetlaw Labour members and not endorse Sally Gimson as their Labour candidate. The CLP understands this decision was taken on the basis...
6 November 2019

House of Commons must lead by example in protecting staff wellbeing and ensuring a positive working environment. 

The British Safety Council has called on the Speaker of the House of Commons to set an example of leadership in promoting the wellbeing of all MPs and their staff. In a letter sent today, Mike Robinson, Chief Executive, and Lawrence Waterman OBE, Chairman, congratulated Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley, who was elected Speaker of the House of Commons by his fellow MPs yesterday. They used the letter to ask the Speaker to “ensure the health and wellbeing of MPs, their staff and families and the staff of the House”.  The House of Commons has come under significant scrutiny in recent years, with multiple allegations of bullying and harassment against MPs and other staff. It will be for the new Speaker to take forward reforms safeguarding health and wellbeing of staff and bringing about a culture change in parliament. Mr Hoyle pledged in his campaign to become Speaker that he would expand the provision of health and wellbeing services in parliament. In their letter to the new Speaker...
6 November 2019

Mates in Mind highlights mental health statistics as a stark warning to employers of the cost to workers and businesses if workplace mental health is not properly understood.

Following the release of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual figures for Great Britain, the Managing Director of Mates in Mind urges employers to ensure that they are investing in their people rather than paying lip service to addressing mental health. This comes as the HSE reports the number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or longstanding) in 2018/19 has remained at 600,000 cases – the same as reported for 2017/18. The HSE has stated that in 2018/19 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.  The report highlights that the total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2018/19 was 12.8 million days, equating to an average of 21.2 days lost per case. James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates in Mind said: “This latest report by the HSE further reinforces the importance of our charity’s aims to drive change across UK workplaces and...
6 November 2019
John Bercow

John Bercow has branded Brexit the "biggest foreign policy mistake" since the Second World War in an explosive intervention just days after stepping down as Speaker.

He said he thought it would be better for the UK to remain in the EU "power bloc". The comments are likely to provoke fury from Conservative Brexiteers who repeatedly clashed with Mr Bercow in the Commons over his rulings, accusing him of giving pro-Remain MPs the opportunity to scupper Brexit. In his first comments since quitting as Speaker and an MP, Mr Bercow told the Foreign Press Association:"I'm no longer the Speaker, so I don't have to remain impartial now.  "But if you ask me, honestly, 'do I think that Brexit is good for our global standing?', my honest answer is 'no, I don't'.  "I think that Brexit is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period. That is my honest view." In comments first reported by La Repubblica, Mr Bercow added: "I respect Prime Minister Boris Johnson but Brexit doesn't help us. It's better to be part of the [EU] power bloc." But the former Conservative MP hit back at suggestions he showed bias during his decade in the...