PoliticsUK - 2001

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Agnes Hamstead

If the Chancellor doesn't think his remarks are sexist, perhaps he ought to talk to his own colleague, Emily Kennedy, who called him out for his comments. Of course, though, the Chancellor didn't address the fact that his own party is less than impressed with his display of sexism, and his attempts to spin the issue will fail. What he ought to do is admit his lack of sensitivity, apologise and try to do better. Failing that, perhaps the Chancellor ought to resign and let the adults get on with the job.
The Chancellor's refusal to even recognize the damaging nature of his comments demonstrate his arrogance and unwillingness to accept wrongdoing - not only will he deflect legitimate questioning from women in the chamber as 'screaming', but furthermore he attempts to deflect his own wrongdoing onto the leader of the opposition who like many conservative women in the chamber, including myself, abstained on the Companies Pay Equality Act not because we are sexists - but because the proposed legislation was weak and did not go far enough. Not only has the chancellor accused women of screaming in the chamber today while questioning him, he too ignored women's criticism of the Government's legislation - so much for standing up for women, more like standing up to them.
The Conservatives are so absolutely terrified of engaging in real productive debate and expressing their real views that on every attempt they seek to engage in personal attacks and fabricated storylines. In the words of Adlai Stevenson, a hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation. Dr Lynwood attempts to portray herself as a fighter for women's rights, but her voting record on the Companies (Pay Equity) Act exposes her as the hypocrite she and the Tory political machine are.

Agnes Hamstead

Ms. Kennedy needs to decide: does the Chancellor need to clarify his remarks as she said in the House, or is this just a political game as she just said? The crux of the issue is this. Labour introduced a weak pay equity bill that falls far short of where cross-party consensus was on the issue. And despite issues being raised, Labour plowed ahead—even though they talk a good game about Parliament needing to work together. So while Ms. Kennedy can't make up her mind, Tories have: we would never support a half-hearted bill that accomplishes nothing. And they can pout about that all they want: the reality is, on pay equity, Labour half-assed it.
I'm glad that sexism in politics is becoming a salient, national issue. As it should be. I am proud of our party's record on advancing the rights of women in our society. We are the ones who have made leaps of progress for women's political representation with all-women shortlists: something the Tories opposed. We are the ones who extended maternity leave so that women don't have to choose between a family and a career. We are the ones leading once again on pay equity. The Tory criticism that we didn't work hard enough on pay equity doesn't hold water when they sent only one woman to debate the bill and then over two-thirds of their party didn't even show up to work for the vote. I welcome their words on these issues, but I won't hold my breath for them until they join us in action.

Agnes Hamstead

Lillian Nichols decries sexism but then refers to our Shadow Chancellor as "one woman". Indeed she did participate in the debate, indeed she did raise flaws in the bill and indeed she did do her job; well, I might add. So Nichols might be pleased to see sexism become a debate issue, but she does herself a disservice by dismissing the Shadow Chancellor as "one woman." She knows full well the pay equity bill didn't go far enough. She knows full well it fell far short of the cross-party consensus, and she knows full well that her government bungled the issue. That failure is on them, and her dismissive attempts to say otherwise show that Labour is content to pay lip-service to women's issues, but actually do very little to benefit women in our society. 
Not long ago Michael Kirton attacked me, asking rhetorically how do I do any work for my constituents as I was "more content to preen for the press every opportunity", despite me having spoken in Parliament on more ocassions, and for longer, than he has. Mr Kirton also said it's my party "tell[ing] one story to the press, another to voters and when it comes to actually governing, do next to nothing". Today karma hits back with Mr Kirton visiting every TV programme claiming how he and his party support taking steps to tackle the gender pay gap, but when it came to the vote in Parliament he abstained - is the Tory party afraid to be open with voters?

Agnes Hamstead

Emily Kennedy, the "I know you are but what am I?" MP has zero grasp of the facts. I will tell you why I didn't vote for the bill Labour presented: because it didn't go far enough. And I'll tell you why she knows that to be true—the cross-party consensus on this bill was clear, but Labour shrugged, decided to pay lip service to the issue instead and now when they're caught out, they moan and whinge that they are the only ones taking any action. She still has yet to answer the question: does she agree the Chancellor ought to clarify his remarks, as she said in the House, or does she think his comments were hunky-dory as she told the press? 

The reality is this: Labour likes to talk about taking action. But instead of being bold, they do half-hearted work and call it a day. I think anyone who believes in women's rights, especially in the Labour Party, ought to be furious that their government is merely doing half the job. 

Agnes Hamstead

Labour's Local Government bill is the epitome of how lazy this government has become. It is so unclear in its intent that it doesn't refer to what Secretary of State is responsible, and leaves the door open so widely on academic appointments that the government might end up appointing someone with advanced degrees in biology to the committee they propose, just because they are an academic. Conservatives have raised these criticisms in the House. It is time for the government to work with us to amend their lazy bill and, in the future, be clear in their intentions.
The electoral reform commission bill is yet another Labour plan taken to action to ensure greater equality in Britain - whether it is voting weight equality, gender equality or you name it, the government is leading the UK forward despite the outcry of a Conservative party that has lost its leadership and its direction. Michael Kilton's constant attempts to inflict wounds on the British government, using whatever tactics and words, have proven an absolute failure. Not only is he a as hypocritical as a Tory MP can be, but his lack of understanding of how lawmaking works raises questions of his suitability to be in the House of Commons.
The Local Government Electoral Reform Commission is a tremendous opportunity for collaborative thinking on this issue on strengthening local governance. I applaud the hard work from my colleague Emily on the bill and look forward to cross-party support for its passage and implementation. While we may not agree on the exact measures, we can agree that the best step forward on this issue is one where we are reflective of the voices and interests of the people of this country. This Labour government is taking steps to make local councils more representative and more responsive to local concerns. That's provable action for the good of the country.

Agnes Hamstead

Emily Kennedy seems to think that criticism of her bill means that I don't understand the law making process in the United Kingdom. Yet, Ms. Kennedy presented a bill that was so vague in its wording that it would have allowed for people with advanced degrees in irrelevant fields to be appointed to her committee, simply because they are part of academia. I am fine to have policy debates—which is exactly what I did in the House of Commons by raising the question and attempting to work with her to understand her intent. But how dare she question my abilities when, based on the required amendments to her shoddily written bill, it is perhaps her who ought to read up a little more on how to make a law that actually accomplishes what it sets out to achieve. 

Poorly written legislation for the sake of passing a bill is not an approach to good government and that is why I raised my concerns, and will continue to do so. Labour ought to realise the job of the opposition is to raise said concerns. Instead of having a tantrum about their shortfallings, Labour should do what they once said they wanted to do: work with those who raise concerns to make Parliament work.
If you go anywhere in the world, you will find that the name Savile Row is instantly recognizable as the standard in quality garment-making. This is because for over one hundred years, men and women, many of them immigrants to the United Kingdom, have worked diligently to produce high quality, bespoke clothing for people of all nationalities, classes, and backgrounds. Names like Huntsmen, Gieves & Hawkes, and more recently Tommy Nutter and Maurice Sedwell are viewed from across the globe as being the absolute leaders in their field. However, recently, some new operations have opened and have sought to use the recognition and praise rightly heaped upon the tailors of Savile Row to gain unjustifiably what they have not worked to create. I, therefore, have introduced an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons which calls on the Government to grant the same protections to Savile Row tailors as is granted to Scotch Whiskey--that it has a specific designation and seal and that anyone who uses the name must meet certain criteria of eligibility. This is about protecting the commercial and cultural strengths of our country, and ensuring that we are able to maintain the highest degree of standards in the world market. I look forward to the day when "Savile Row Tailor" is a protected and description, just like Scotch Whiskey or Champagne.
The Shadow Cabinet i have established today is one of the most progressive and forward thinking in generations - of the four major great offices of state never before have three, shadow or government, been held by women. Furthermore, we welcome the first British Muslim shadow Foreign Secretary - the first British Muslim to hold a shadow great office of state along with the first Black British Deputy leader of the Conservative Party. In a gender balanced shadow cabinet led by the Conservative Party's second female leader in our history i think Conservatives can be proud to say we are leading in the politics of equality. We setting an example for young men and women from across Britain that everyone, given the right amount of hard work, can achieve anything in public life - the fundamental basis of our party's beliefs and ethic of our country.
The legislation introduced today by the Conservative Party marks a clear agenda for the opposition - for too long have politicians been the focus of mistrust and valid concerns about vested interests, it is time to get money out of politics entirely and go further down the path that the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 set us on. If Labour believes in meaningful reforms to restore faith in British politics they will wholeheartedly support this legislation and the inquiry that will follow it.
General Press Cycle Week 10ish: "I like girls more than you do"

Labour: 27

Alright then.

Your co-ordinated attack on the Opposition's abstention was excellent. And to be clear, the question is not relevant to whether or not Tory MPs were in the chamber or not. But as you rightly point out, this was Tory policy. So why did they abstain, and why on earth didn't they explain it firsthand?

The Chancellor's comment then dented a strong showing, but it wasn't quite "calm down dear".

Conservative: 23

You needed to be making your policy case on the pay bill more strongly. No one cared about the technicality of whether you walked through both lobbies or didn't turn up. Defend why you didn't vote for your own policy. That got better, with good statements from Kirton and Blakeley. But you should have made that point pro-actively: so while we made some of this up with later statements and with the Chancellor's gaffe, you were the party on the backfoot to start with.

Influence Points Awarded to: 

Alwyn Thomas: "Saxon is happy to ask a woman to vote for him in the election, but he sure as hell won't vote for you in the Commons." - who runs the world?

Alice Robertson: "Not only has the chancellor accused women of screaming in the chamber today while questioning him, he too ignored women's criticism of the Government's legislation - so much for standing up for women, more like standing up to them."  - you will not be lectured on misogyny by this man

Caroline Blakesley: "It's a half-baked, half-hearted measure from a government that only sees half the problem."  - no one wants to go halves
I was interested to receive a transcript of Ms Flair's speech to the Electoral Reform Society today. She spoke eloquently about her party's plans for an elected upper chamber and while there were some interesting points about regional representation, what really struck me is that this is simply an attempt by the Liberal Democrats to gain for themselves more power in the legislative operations of the government. Having read her comments, it is very clear that it is dripping with envy at the electoral success of other parties, and I for one think that is a very shaky ground on which to tear asunder our constitutional traditions. Perhaps the most evident example is in Ms Flair's calls for the use of proportional representation, which we know makes for weak governing institutions prone to breaking apart regularly and requiring very frequent elections. If we follow the Liberal Democrat's path of reform, then we will end up with a fractured, ineffective upper chamber with yet more power to disrupt the legitimate governing agenda of the Commons. If we want strong, stable government in this country, then we must persist in the only method of voting available to us which gets it: first past the post. Anything else represents a gain for the Liberal Democrats and a loss for good government in the United Kingdom.
As flattered as I was to be called an eloquent speaker by Mr Stonewood I do passionately believe that he has gotten the completely wrong end of the stick. This is not about the Liberal Democrats as a party this is about fixing our broken democracy. The idea that unelected individuals could enter our legislature and have the ability to frustrate the will of the democratically elected Government is, to my mind, utterly abhorrent. It is essential that we fix our broken democracy and introduce proper accountability and democracy to the upper chamber now so that we may fix what is currently broken. The Tories may not like to talk about change to their retirement home, and why would they? They get a very good deal out of it, but reform to our archaic institutions that are no longer fit for purpose is something we must do as a nation to continue to progress as a democratic society.
Ms Flair and the Liberal Democrats can say it until the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is the hereditary peerage is in nowise a retirement home for Tory MPs. The entire concept would be laughable if it weren't so duplicitous. The hereditary peerage is a necessary defense against partisan politics in Britain and one which we will continue to defend against the ravages of populist demagoguery.
There you have it folks, the Tories are no longer the party of merit, they are the party of inheritance. The Hereditary Peer is a throwback to the days of absolute monarchy and feudalism, it has no place in modern British society. The United Kingdom is a democracy, it has no place for people in our Parliament by virtue of an accident of birth or by virtue of political appointment. Our Laws should be deliberated on by people who were elected to represent the people and who are accountable to those same people, not by those who were born into privilege or appointed by political grandees.

The Shadow Secretary of State for the Constitution defends hereditary peers calling them a defence against partisan politics. The Tory Party are devoted to hereditary peers, the only way to defend our democracy is to say "no thank you" to the Tory Party and their elitist and outdated politics
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