Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

16 May 2019
Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May will hold talks with senior Conservatives today amid mounting calls for her to spell when she plans to quit as Prime Minister.

The Tory leader will meet the executive of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives at lunchtime, just weeks after the group narrowly avoided changing the party's leadership rules to make it easier to oust her. Under the current set-up, Mrs May cannot be challenged again until December after surviving a party confidence vote before Christmas last year. But the Tory grandees have previously considered changing the date for a fresh challenge to just six months - and there are renewed calls for the Prime Minister to spell out her exit date or face a shake-up. A move to curb the timeline for a challenge could give the Prime Minister until just June 12 before MPs are able to again try to remove her. The meeting comes after Mrs May confirmed that she would press ahead with a Commons vote on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month, regardless of the outcome of talks between Labour and the Government. According...
16 May 2019

Ministers have been accused of overseeing a Brexit “gold rush” for private firms as official figures showed a sharp increase in government spending on outside consultants in the past year.

Government data released to Labour shows that ministers spent more than £1.5bn drafting in help from beyond Whitehall in 2017/18 – a 60% leap on the previous year’s figures. The move comes despite a long-running government pledge to rein in the use of costly external consultants. In 2010, then-Prime Minister David Cameron described such spending as “outrageous” and brought in new rules to tackle a £1.68bn annual taxpayer bill for outside help. According to the National Audit Office spending watchdog, that drive saw Whitehall's consultancy costs tumble to £346m by 2011/12. But the latest figures - released following a parliamentary question - show that the amount of cash handed over to outside experts has again ballooned in the wake of the Brexit vote. By 2016-17, departments and agencies were spending a total of £964m on consultants - with the figure soaring to £1.549bn by 2017-18, the most recent year for which data is available. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett told...
16 May 2019
electricity pylons

Labour are set to unveil fresh plans to renationalise the energy grid in a "dramtic" bid to tackle climate change.

The radical shake-up would see the UK's entire £60bn energy network stripped from private investors in an effort to drive down energy costs and improve investment in renewable technology. Shadow Energy Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey will announce the plans later today which would see the FTSE 100 giant National Grid replaced with a series of state controlled bodies as part of a "green industrial revolution". Instead, a new National Energy Agency would be tasked with leading decarbonisation efforts in a bid to hit Labour's climate goals of 60% renewable energy by 2030 as well as treating access to heat and electricity as a "human right". Meanwhile, 14 Regional Energy Agencies would be handed statutory responsibility for reducing fuel povery and expanding access to affordable energy. Speaking in Yorkshire later today, Ms Long-Bailey will accuse energy bosses of "insult and injustice" for banking almost £13bn in dividends over the past five years instead of investing in renewables. "...
16 May 2019
Chris Grayling

Probation services are to be brought back under public control after the Government scrapped controversial reforms introduced by Chris Grayling.

In a major government U-turn, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that the National Probation Service will once again take responsibility for managing all offenders. While filling the same Cabinet post, Mr Grayling announced plans to part-privatise the service by setting up 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies to manage low or medium risk offenders. But the changes were a flop, with the companies racking up multi-million pound losses and a rise in the number of offences carried out by those they dealt with. Earlier this month, a damning report by the Public Accounts Committee said the "breakneck" introduction of the reforms left services underfunded and lacking the confidence of the courts. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice's attempts to fix the problems by cancelling contracts 14 months early has landed taxpayers with a bill for £467m. Confirming the renationalisation of all offender management, Mr Gauke revealed that up to £280m will be made available for the voluntary and...
15 May 2019
Appleby Horse Fair

Abuse against Gypsies and Travellers has accurately been described as the last acceptable form of racism, and as politicians we must take care with the language we use, writes Kate Green

As chair of the APPG on Gypsies Travellers and Roma, I’m often alerted to offensive and derogatory language used to describe these groups in public life and in the media. Sadly, sometimes that can come from fellow politicians – local, regional and national, and from across the political spectrum. On occasion, I’ve heard parliamentary colleagues refer to the ‘problem’ of Travellers, implicitly pitting their interests against those of settled communities. Others have talked of Travellers as ‘an expensive menace’, or ‘like a disease’, used the language of ‘invasion’ and ‘plague’, or have sought to divide them into ‘genuine Travellers’ and imposters, using language reminiscent of the debate on asylum seekers. If this type of discriminatory language were used about members of any other minority there would be outrage, and rightly so. Characterising a whole community in this way is not just offensive and wrong, it’s also contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which defines...
Kate Green
15 May 2019

The Prime Minister failed to set a date for the publication of the long-awaited Green Paper on adult social care after she was challenged by a Tory MP. During PMQs, Andrew Lewer (Northampton South) asked Theresa May for a "definitive and unalterable date" for the release of the Green Paper on adult social care.

Mrs May responded to say “"We will be publishing it at the earliest opportunity and it will set out those proposals to ensure that the social care system is sustainable in the longer term." In the March 2017 Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government would publish a Green Paper on social care.  Sally Copley, Director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Time and time again people with dementia are being let down by an underfunded, broken social care system. “Whether it’s poor quality of care, being unable to access the required support or having to spend everything they have to get it, through our helpline we frequently hear that people affected by dementia are left with completely inadequate care and support. “With long term reform of social care kicked into the long grass, we need Government action now to end the unfairness people with dementia face in paying higher care costs and improve access to good quality dementia care...
15 May 2019

Responding to the IBA's new report on sexual harassment and bullying in the legal profession, Sam Mercer, Head of Diversity & Inclusion and CSR at the Bar Council, said:

"We have made clear that this behaviour is unacceptable, and are keen to see greater adoption of anti-bullying and harassment policies and uptake of training across the legal profession to address these issues. "The Bar Council is proactive on this agenda and we must continue to invest time and effort into tackling these issues. Leadership is key. We have developed a full programme of work designed for the chambers context - policies, guidance, training, and working with the regulator to support reporting, and those making a complaint. We have seen increased recognition and willingness to engage through our range of support services. Specific training, especially facilitating conversations on this topic in chambers proves helpful for those who have faced harassment and bullying and can help clear up concerns and confusion over what is and isn't acceptable behaviour. Most importantly however we find it gives members and staff permission to call unacceptable behaviours out.” Richard...
15 May 2019
Jeremy Kyle

MPs have launched a probe into the impact of reality TV following the death of a man who appeared on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee will look at whether TV companies offer enough support to potentially "vulnerable" participants before and after filming. ITV announced on Wednesday that it was axeing the Jeremy Kyle Show after Steve Dymond was found dead on 9 May, a week after failing a lie detector test on the show. Two former contestants on Love Island, another ITV reality show, have also died in the past year. The DCMS committee said it will look at whether shows should be forced to provide a more comprehensive duty of care to those involved and the possibility of stricter regulation to ensure it is enforced. It will also look at what psychological support producers currently offer, whether the design of the shows puts “unfair psychological pressure” on participants and what the genre’s future is at a time of growing awareness around mental health issues. DCMS committee chair Damian Collins MP ...
15 May 2019

A Tory MP told Theresa May party activists want her to quit - but not many Conservative colleagues turned up in the Commons to see it. 

15 May 2019
Muslims praying in London

Ministers have been criticised after it emerged they will not adopt a definition of Islamophobia demanded by MPs and Muslim groups.

In December, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims called on the Government to accept guidelines on anti-Islamic abuse which states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” In a Commons debate on Thursday however ministers will say that unlike the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition on anti-semitism, which it supports, the proposal on Islamophobia “has not been broadly accepted”. “Any hatred directed against British Muslims and others because of their faith or heritage is utterly unacceptable,” a Government spokesperson said. “We are conscious that the APPG’s proposed definition has not been broadly accepted – unlike the IHRA definition of anti-semitism before it was adopted by the UK Government and other international organisations and governments. This is a matter that needs further careful consideration.” The...