Labour leader has accused the Conservatives of a ‘secret plot’
The Labour politician Jim Callaghan famously remarked to his colleagues in 1970 that a referendum on Europe might end up being “a little rubber life raft” into which they all might one day have to climb. Just five years later they did so, holding a vote that ensured the UK remained a member of what was then the EEC for more than four decades.
The decision taken two-and-a-half years ago in the 2016 referendum reversed the verdict the public arrived at back in 1975. But so controversial has it become, and so difficult to implement, that many are calling for what would be a third “people’s vote”.
Opposition to another referendum is intense – and not just among those desperate to see the UK leave the EU. Many who would, in their heart of hearts, prefer to remain in the EU worry that seeking to overturn the 2016 result would send a damaging message to “the people”.
For some, the so-called Norway-plus option, which would see the UK remain in the customs union and the single market, is now the safest life raft available. Prime Minister Theresa May has lost the meaningful vote, and it is increasingly clear that parliament, by hook or by crook, is going to do its damnedest to prevent a no-deal departure. We can therefore expect to hear a lot more in the coming days about Norway-plus – and about the EEA, EFTA, “cross-party consensus”, and a so-called “soft” (or “softer”) Brexit.
Whether any of this is feasible – at least in the time available and with May still prime minister – who knows? But what we do know is that, if it is to stand any chance of working, then advocates of the Norway-plus option are going to have to work very hard and very fast to persuade both the public and the members of Britain’s two biggest political parties that it’s something worth trying. How much chance do they have?
Just before Christmas, Our ESRC-sponsored Party Members Projectsurveyed 1,034 Labour Party members and 1,215 Conservative Party members, together with a representative sample of 1,675 ordinary voters. We asked all three groups of respondents how they would feel if Britain “ended up leaving the European Union but remaining in the single market and customs union – an arrangement that is sometimes called Norway-plus”. Their answers suggest the latter won’t necessarily be an easy sell – but that it shouldn’t be written off.
Source: Would a Norway option break the Brexit stalemate? Here’s what new polling tells us : The Conversation
“I’m a Muslim woman who chooses to wear the niqab — and every day I have to plan ahead. ‘Am I going to be attacked today or am I going to be abused today?’” added Shamin, from the West Midlands. “But it’s my right to be wearing it.”
Under the hashtag #MyHijabMyChoice, women have been calling to be left to make their own, personal decision about whether or not they wear a veil, without the interference of politicians.
In total, there are around 2.7 million Muslim people in the UK. While there are no official estimates of the number of women who wear veils, it’sreportedly very few. In France, for example, which has a larger Muslim population than the UK, it’s no more than a couple of thousand women.
But this debate about burqas stretches significantly further. Against a background of Brexit, which has already divided the nation, it’s become about migration, integration, and Islamophobia — with some raising concerns that it has the potential to encourage violence.
Source: Beyond Burqas: The Issues Facing British Muslim Women We Should Really Be Talking About : Global Citizen
There is a profound unfairness in the way the state supports families with pre-school children. Whilst significant support is rightly offered, in the form of tax-free childcare and 30 hours of free childcare a week, to couples in which both parents work, nothing is offered to families in which one parent chooses to remain at home, caring full time for their children. This is not only deeply unjust, but it utterly undervalues the important work done by those – often, but by no means exclusively, women – who make this choice.
Many people argue that the Government should not impose one form of lifestyle upon families. But the status quo, by embedding such a large disparity in support, does precisely this: it strongly encourages a family in which both parents work and discourages the equally valid choice in which one parent chooses to look after their own children. All subsidies distort choices, and at over £5,500 a year – about a fifth of the median household income – the level of disparity is of a scale to fundamentally distort the choices and options available to most families.
In reality, every family is different. In some families, it is absolutely right for them that both parents go back to work. In others it may be better, both for the parents and for the well-being of the children, if one parent – whether they are a man or a woman – stays at home to look after those children. It all depends on both the talents and inclination of the parents and the nature and needs of the children concerned. In an ideal society, each family would be able to make that choice depending on what was best for them and their children; however, under our current system, only the former is given support. This means that many parents are forced back to work as the only affordable option, even if when that is neither economically efficient nor what they wish to do. Increasingly, caring for one’s own children is becoming a luxury available only to those that have at least one high-earning parent.
On Friday 15 June, Sir Christopher Chope blocked the progress of a law to make upskirting illegal. Although Chope later claimed not to know what upskirting is, his track record on both women and progressive politics is dire. It’s also Chope’s responsibility to understand what he’s objecting to. And as such, it’s difficult to feel sympathy for him becoming the poster boy of privacy violation.
People have found ways to fight back, though. Including one woman who thought of the most brilliant protest at Chope’s constituency office:
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just won a court case. It is one which will now set a staggering precedent. Because it effectively means the DWP can ignore benefit claimants’ human rights when it comes to the welfare state.
Back in November 2016, Jacqueline and Jayson Carmichael successfully beat the government in court over the so-called “bedroom tax”. They argued the tax was discriminatory under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as Jacqueline cannot share a bedroom with her husband because of her impairments. And the court agreed, setting a precedent for other claimants.
But as politics.co.uk reported, it was back in court in February. The DWP was using the Carmichaels’ case to try and stop tribunal judges using the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to rule in favour of benefit claimants. Essentially, it’s saying that, if people claim it has broken human rights laws, this evidence will not be admissible under tribunals. And on Tuesday 20 March, a court agreed, ruling that benefit claimants can only argue against the DWP on human rights grounds in the High Court, not at tribunal level.
Ignoring human rights
By STEVE TOPPLE
Amid the frenzy of the autumn budget, from ‘millennial rail cards‘ to ‘sticking plasters‘, there was one word that for me was glaring by its omission. And considering it represents 20% of the UK population, you’d think that Philip Hammond and Jeremy Corbyn would have given it a mention. But they didn’t. And that word is ‘disability’.
Missing in action
Too many are experiencing… long-term economic pain. And the hardest hit are disabled people, single parents and women.
But otherwise, that was it. And for me, it sums up the political attitude to disabled people entirely. That is, important when politicians want to look good; not so important in what they view as the grand scheme of things.
A “budget speeches”
There are an estimated 13.3 million disabled people in the UK; 20% of the population. And for seven years, this community has been subjected to what the UN called “grave” and “systematic” violations of its human rights, at the hands of successive Conservative-led governments. The situation is so serious that one UN representative said the government had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people in the UK.
Figures from 2015 showed 90 people a month were dying after the government told them they were ‘fit-for-work’, when in fact it should have been supporting them. This is how far the rights of disabled people have regressed in the UK. Yet neither politician felt the need to dedicate any part of their speeches to disabled people.
What’s good for the goose
At the heart of the dispute are alleged breaches of the Equality Act 2010, because disabled people can’t just ‘turn up and go’ at every station; at some, they have to book assistance 24 hours in advance.
Now, imagine if the BAME or LGBTQ+ communities were told that, if they wanted to get a train quickly, they couldn’t. There would (rightly) be a public outcry. But politicians, companies and much of the public think it’s fine for disabled people because, well – y’know. They have wheelchairs and stuff, right?
Wrong. The situation encapsulates what’s known as the “social model” of disability. It says that disabled people are only disabled because society makes them so – for example, companies not investing properly in the railways so disabled people can get a train like everyone else. Or disabled people not being able to enter a building because it only has a flight of steps.
No person is disabled because of their disability. They are disabled in spite of it. And it’s that which the public and politicians, by and large, fail to realise. They are happy to see disabled people as a sub-species, now so far removed from the social model it’s untrue.
Killed by wilful ignorance
My friend and activist Paula Peters summed it up best recently. She called Theresa May a “murderer”, and she’s not far wrong. Politicians’ wilful disregard for disabled people is killing them. And by ignoring the community in both their speeches, Hammond and Corbyn have, to me, declared their positions: they are fine being seen allowing disabled people to die.
I’m tired of writing about this, but I’m more tired of ignorant politicians and their supporters ignoring my friends and loved ones. Enough is enough.
– Read more from The Canary on the autumn budget.
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Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.
We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy. But it’s a whole lot harder for them.
I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also…
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The Tories’ new coalition partners are deeply socially conservative.