View from the House – 25th January 2019

Friday, 25th January 2019

HELLO and welcome to my weekly View from the House for Tamworth Informed.

After a week of high drama last week, this week has been much more business as usual.  The remaining stages of the Counter-Terrorism and Tenant Fees Bills made their way through parliament with a couple of votes which the Government won comfortably, and several votes on “No Deal” preparations.  It is rather sad that the Opposition (both Labour and the Lib Dems) are trying to block preparations in case we leave the EU without any deal.  Of course, most of us want a deal but we have to ensure the country is ready if there is none.  I think the Opposition is acting very irresponsibly.

Monday brought a statement from the Prime Minister about what she plans to do for the next stage of the Brexit process. She made it clear she was up for cross-party talks and is willing to consider other party leaders’ ideas on all aspects of legislation including workers’ rights and the environment. However, this still was not enough for Jeremy Corbyn who refuses to discuss anything whilst the prospect of “no deal” is on the table.  What he doesn’t seem to realise is that “no deal” IS the table.  Without it you don’t have a negotiating card.  Says a lot about how good he would be negotiating!

On Tuesday, there was a great deal of discussion on the issue of Proxy votes and whether the House of Commons should adopt a system whereby MPs who are away should be allowed to nominate someone to vote on their behalf.  Right now the system we use is to “pair” so someone who can’t vote pairs with another MP who then does not vote – so their votes are both netted off.  But of course it means that if you look at their voting record, technically neither MP has voted on the issue.  Proxy voting needs to be very carefully considered. I quite understand why a new mum (or dad) might want to be able to vote whilst on leave to look after their new child and they might want a proxy. But we need to be careful how widespread proxy voting may become.  What if an MP is in a coma, or is too ill to communicate how they want to vote.  Would someone be able to cast their vote?  And could we end up in a situation that if you’re in your constituency, or on holiday, or watching the football you can still vote by proxy?  Wouldn’t that mean that no one would turn up to Westminster, or hear the arguments in debate?  They would just let their proxy decide for them.  This could be very dangerous if not thought through. I also draw you to the fact that had proxy votes been allowed in 1979 Callaghan’s Government would not have fallen (as a sick Labour MP would have used a proxy voter to save the collapsing Labour Government) and Mrs Thatcher would not have been elected as not only our first woman Prime Minister.  Perhaps that makes you more in favour of proxy votes??  You need to decide, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s more complicated than at first glance and needs proper consideration.

Wednesday brought Prime Minister’s Questions and Thursday more debate on Brexit but nothing out of the ordinary. And Friday I had the pleasure of being on Radio Tamworth for an interview and discussion on all things politics and my story leading up to now. It was an enjoyable experience, perhaps in another life, I would’ve made a Media personality!

So that all but concludes my View from the House for this week. 5 days is certainly a long time in politics. Sometimes it feels like 2 hours is an eternity when the votes are coming thick and fast, and ultimately on a knife edge, as all the biggest ones now are. I look forward to the next few weeks and getting this deal across the line.  Indeed, we’re approaching the crunch point that will determine the next decade, perhaps even the next generation of this country’s future. for a generation.  It’s imperative that we all show up for duty!

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