The Guardian

Also known as the gutter press, the papers present the viewpoints of various segments of society, and give MPs an opportunity to write directly to them.
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The Guardian

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Re: The Guardian

Post by Amelia »

Tory council runs out of money to meet obligations
February 2018


A Conservative-run county council has signalled it is close to effective bankruptcy after admitting that “severe financial challenges” means it is unable to meet its financial obligations during this current year.

Northamptonshire county council issued a section 114 notice, imposing financial controls and banning expenditure on all services except its statutory obligations to safeguard vulnerable people.

A section 114 notice is an admission that a council lacks the resources to meet current expenditure, that it’s financial reserves are depleted, and that it has little confidence it can bring spending under control in the near future. Councils cannot technically go bankrupt, but a section 114 notice is likely to force central government to intervene to ensure local services are sustainable.

The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates councils in England face an overall funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, caused by shrinking budgets, increased pressure on social care, and rising demand for child protection services. Many councils are “close to the edge of financial sustainability, struggling to fund their statutory duties” warned the LGA. It is entirely possible that “more councils issue a section 114 notice in the future, unless there is action to help them close gap”.
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Amelia »

Where Next for Labour?
April 2019


It is a cliche to say that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. Soon to be on their third Prime Minister since 2015, the Conservative Party are injecting instability into the heart of Whitehall. Their vote share is falling and according to latest predictions, the Conservatives would lose 34 seats. The Labour Party would see its seat count rise by 18, and be just three seats behind the Conservatives - despite being nearly 1% in front of them in vote share. Jeremy Corbyn is not handing over a golden baton to the next Labour leader, however: polls indicate a 4.5% fall in voting intention compared to 2017. Labour is only doing better than the Conservatives on vote share - and increasing its predicted seat count - because Theresa May is so unpopular.

So Labour must do more than be closer to government - and still far away - simply because its vote share falls less than the Conservative Party. There is no guarantee that will continue to happen: Theresa May is going and a new PM could have a honeymoon, the Green Party offers an alternative on the left, Change UK offers an alternative in the centre, and the Liberal Democrat’s exist as England’s third party. The SNP in Scotland are surging again, and Plaid Cymru in Wales are moving forward. Over a fifth of the electorate support one of these five parties that are an alternative to Labour as an opposition to the Government.

And what about those shock defeats that Labour experienced in 2017? Copeland remained Conservative after a by-election, and Derbyshire North East, Mansfield, Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, Stoke-on-Trent South, and Walsall North fell after decades of Labour representation. Does Labour have a plan or an aspiration to win those seats back? And can they do so after Theresa May delivered what so many voters in those constituencies: Brexit. The next Labour leader will determine if the Tory MPs become one-termers or if there is a permanent schism between its inner city base and its historical heartlands.

Big challenges face the next leader of the Labour Party before any general election. They will have to unify the restless parliamentary party, harness the support of the mass movement created by Corbyn, and tackle many of the moral failings that have happened over nearly four years.

There is no doubt that tackling anti-Semitism will define Corbyn’s replacement. If the rumours are true, their predecessor resigned rather than tackle the issue head on. There has to be zero-tolerance at all levels, and a commitment to do whatever it takes to root anti-Semitism out. As one Labour MP said, “anti-Semitism does come up when talking to voters. How can we ask them to trust us that we will keep communities safe when we can’t deal with our own members that threaten and abuse Jewish members?”

It was anti-Semitism that led to MPs defecting to Change UK, alongside a perceived ideological incompatibility. Yet many centre-left MPs, while uncomfortable about Corbyn’s lurch to the left, have remained within the party. This is to be commended, and the next leader should ensure a return to the broad church that is Labour’s greatest strength. If Tony Blair can have Clare Short in his Government, then the next Labour leader can ensure that all shades of opinion are represented on their frontbench. There is a need to maintain a radicalism that was rediscovered by all wings of the party over the past four years with a temper of thought that ensures all recommendations are practical and provide value for taxpayers money. If big money is going to be spent Labour has to decide: nationalisation or stronger public services, tackling poverty or larger state control of the economy? Or what is the balance between all these aims.

The next leader of the Labour Party will be the first to serve entirely outside of the EU since Hugh Gaitskell. They will have to deal with the fact that a vocal (but small) section of the membership want Labour to adopt a rejoin message on Europe, while the vast majority of the population - including remainers - consider the matter closed absolutely. In the words of one Labour MP, “Brexit is no longer an issue on the doorstep. All the passion and vitriol appears to have disappeared almost instantly. After four years of debate, people are glad to focus on other issues and want MPs to do so. Reopening the whole issue of Brexit will do no Labour MP any good, whether they consider Brexit to be a historic mistake or the Brexit deal worse than no deal.”

If the cliche about governments losing elections is true, Labour has to place itself in a position to be the beneficiary - and replace the Conservative Party. The next leader has to offer a positive, unifying and deliverable vision of the future under a majority Labour government. The task is sizeable but if they master it, Labour could be back in power sooner than we think.
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Amelia »

A Divided Party
April 2019


Following a leadership resignation in perhaps the bitterest of circumstances, the different elements and wings of the party are preparing for what could be a nasty fight to be Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The party is divided at every level, and whoever wins has got a job on their hands to unite the party fully after four years of change.

Commenting on the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, many MPs have focused on the need for unity and to move on from the previous leadership. Pearl MacBay, the MP for Great Grimsby, said that while “our movement is stronger because of [Jeremy Corbyn]”, the “divisiveness and back-biting need to stop. The people of the United Kingdom need a strong Labour opposition that is ready and able to form government after the next election.” Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary and potential candidate for the leadership, has also called for unity in the party. She said “the enemy is the Tories, not each other. We need to discuss our party’s way forward and take the fight to the Government. They are destroying communities and we’ve got to stop them.”

But whoever is Labour leader won’t have an easy time from the Parliament Labour Party. Expectations are already being set by both wings on what must be done. The former chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Simon Godwin, said the resignation of Mr Corbyn was “a chance to heal the wounds of our party, tackle anti-semitism head on and welcome back those who left with open arms.” Emily Greenwood, the Shadow DEFRA Secretary, told colleagues that for her, “rejecting and combatting anti-semitism is not, and should never be, a factional matter.” Hilda Harrington suggested it is time for people to make a choice on anti-Semitism: “you can either be on the side that has fought against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and wider society, or you can be on the side that has remained entirely silent on the issue until it became clear that their leadership was threatened.”

But with Mr Corbyn allegedly connecting anti-Semitism and his allies, it is entirely possible that Labour sees more division on the issue under the next leadership - not less. An ally of Mr Corbyn in the PLP has suggested that “long-time critics of Jeremy will use anti-Semitism as a pre-text to throw thousands of good, honest socialists out of the party and preventing them supporting a real left wing candidate like Laura Pidcock [the Shadow Minister for Labour].”

Will there be a Corbynism without Corbyn? Comments on Twitter by the Shadow Minister for Schools, James McLaughlin, suggested so. While calling for action on anti-Semitism, “the next Labour leader must continue to work on the basis of the policy set forward in the last 4 years, a progressive socialist vision for the future.” Noted critic of the previous leadership, Bill Davison argued “what I hope is that the days of long ramblings on restructuring the economy and ideology are behind us. People ... want to know what Labour will do for their local hospital, for schools, for their benefit payments. If we can’t answer that succinctly, we may as well hang up our hats.” But many of the ideas pushed by Labour’s frontbench are very popular with the Labour membership, the activist base and the trade unions. Whoever wins will need to decide: can they be the palatable face of radicalism to voters or does there need to be a more through review of policy? Members will not doubt be asking all candidates to support their favourite policy.

And what of the trade unions? Both the General Secretary of Unite and the General Secretary of the CWU have called for the next leadership to maintain the “radicalism and revolutionary change promised by the previous leadership because the vast majority of the public support it - as shown by the 2017 election result and a dramatic increase in vote share.” But Roy Rickhaus, General Secretary of Community the Union, has suggested that “nothing should be on the table when it comes to policy before it has been assessed to meet the needs of working people in this country. We need a bold and modern approach to the future, especially with the changing world of work.” Who the trade unions end up supporting will be crucial to determining the next leadership of the Labour Party.

Difficult times lay ahead for Labour. Divisions abound, and the next leadership will have to balance many plates. The leadership contest will show who has the capacity to win over the membership and then it’ll be time to win over the country. But fortune favours those who can unite The Divided Party.
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Matty Bradford MP »

VOTING TO LEAVE
The Most Difficult Decision of My Life
by Matty Bradford, MP
City of Durham
***

My father, Matthew Bradford, was a MP for nearly 30 years in our constituency. He took a keen interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland, especially since my Mum Eileen was born in Omagh. He stayed out of the spotlight. However, he joked with us at home once about how in just one day he managed to shake hands with Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley and Bill Clinton, and left it to us to determine who was the one with the biggest ego. (Hint: He did not have a brogue.)

His work in Ulster informed so much of my life -- and, especially, the biggest lesson he taught in the dangers of fierce tribalism.

I released a statement after we voted on the latest Brexit negotiations, one where I explained my last-second decision to vote against it and my new support for a Hard Brexit. Previously, it had been discussed that I was in line for a Shadow Cabinet posting, obviously the dream of any aspiring member of the opposition. But I was informed by Labour leadership that my decision and statement would prevent me from ascension. That's a fair decision of me needing to take my medicine as a unified voice must be presented by ministers.

But that does not always equate to leadership. My constituency, just as I did, overwhelmingly voted to Remain. But that does not always mean that I should vote for issues that will poll favourably. I spent a year during my graduate studies in the United States following around the staff of US Senator Amy Klobuchar. Maybe the American in me (note: I have Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run album framed and having in my office) rubbed off too much. And while the States certainly have their decisions, to say the least, there are a lot of members of both parties working behind-the-scenes to craft legislation for the citizens. It's not the laws that make the headlines -- I sat in on discussions about federalizing laws on swimming pool drainage safety. But it's still inspirational.

In my remarks, I was incredibly complimentary to Cossette Griffith. I know UKIP is a hot button party and she is certainly a controversial figure. But do you know what? UKIP and Ms. Griffith have done a wonderful job with their communication. It's clear where they stand on the Brexit issue and why. I certainly abhor their views on immigration. But their views are clear. What are ours? What sense does it make to state that a proposal is terrible and ruinous and no good but then to vote for it at the end? I understand the concerns and worries about a Hard Brexit and how it would ravage our economy.

Calling someone a populist is a slur in many corners of the country. But the voice of populism is here, as made clear by UKIP's surge in the polls. I do not wish to label those who differ in opinion than me as the enemy. I want to listen to their thoughts, explain to them mine, and then go before the public to see whose ideology will triumph at the end.

But I did not just learn the benefits of talking with the "enemy" from my father and his work in brokering the Good Friday Agreement.

I learned that lesson as well from my Mum. And her sister, Agnes. And my two cousins, Bridgette and Nancy.

Because my Mum went home for a visit to Omagh one August. And on a Saturday afternoon, she and my auntie and four-year-old cousins went shopping. They were mere feet from the bomb and were killed instantly.

Those are the dangers of tribalism, and that is one that must be avoided at all costs -- including that of my career aspirations.
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Amelia »

Shared parental leave uptake ‘low’ five years on, research finds
November 2020


Only 2 per cent of eligible couples made use of shared parental leave last year, meaning that uptake was still “exceptionally low” according to Maternity Action based on HMRC figures.

Research revealed that only 13,100 couples applied to use Shared Parental Leave, while nearly 650,000 women claimed maternity pay last year.

The benefit, introduced in 2015, allows couples to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay (worth up to £151.20 per week) between them. But many employers do not provide enhanced pay for fathers on top of statutory entitlements like they do for maternity pay. Few couples were willing to see their primary earner’s income fall significantly, with most couples instead opting to take advantage of company-enhanced maternity leave offerings instead. If the scheme was incentivised better financially, this could help eliminate the gender pay gap and reverse the trend of women taking the brunt of childcare responsibilities while fathers returned to work, Maternity Action said.

Maternity Action called for a substantial increase in the statutory minimum pay, reducing the income loss parents - particularly fathers - face in taking substantial amounts of leave. This “could make a genuine impact on some women’s earnings if they were in a position to return to work more quickly”, argues the charity.

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said that the government must recognise the need to reform the current system, arguing that evidence is mounting of its failure to help parents, children, and employers.

“The case for improving leave entitlements for fathers and partners is now more urgent than ever, and ensuring paternity and shared parental leave is properly paid, and introducing a period on a use-it-or-lose-it basis, is crucial to maximising take-up,” said van Zyl.

“We’re calling for the urgent introduction of a day-one right to paternity leave, and a paternity allowance and adoption allowance equivalent to maternity allowance, to ensure new fathers and partners don’t miss out.”

Nic Hammarling, head of diversity at Pearn Kandola, added that organisations also had a crucial role to play in changing the status quo on parental and paternity leave. She said men were often intimidated by the idea of asking their employer for time off work for childcare purposes as most benefits and initiatives in this area, such as flexible working, were aimed at women.

“The bottom line is that drastic change must take place if we are to address the problems with paternity leave, and the responsibility for ushering that change doesn’t lie solely with one party,” said Hammarling.
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Amelia »

Grammar Disaster Impending
January 2021


Much of the discussion about the Government’s White Paper, Making Education Work, has focused on grammar schools and the return of a tripartite education system. This is, perhaps, understandable. While the changes to universities must be scrutinised, the evidence suggests that earlier stages of education are more important for life changes: schools more important than university, primary more important than secondary, early years more important than primary.

The evidence is clear on grammar schools: disadvantaged children are much less likely than other pupils to attend grammar schools, as are other students from families on below average incomes (or the just about managing families, as Theresa May who also called for an expansion of grammars described them). Disadvantaged white British children were least likely to enter grammar schools, being four times less likely than disadvantaged Indian pupils and fifteen times less likely than disadvantaged Chinese pupils.

The National Education Union (NEU) told the BBC that the Government’s plan was “a return to the 1950s where children are torn apart from their friends, where the life of children are decided at 11, and where many disadvantaged pupils are left on the sidelines by a government that doesn’t care. Teachers oppose selection. Parents oppose selection. The evidence opposes selection. But the Prime Minister doesn’t care about any of those.”

The Sutton Trust, a charity dedicated to social mobility, has called on the Government to improve access to existing grammar schools, and ensuring the evidence that they can deliver for all pupils is there - rather than delivering thousands of new ones. The organisation has called for free tuition for all potential grammar school applications to help level the playing field, and reduce the advantage provided to those who can afford free tuition. They have also argued that grammar schools should be forced to prioritise pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium or additional fund based on SEND in admissions.

The organisation has also called for school improvement to focus on primary schools as well. Citing evidence that a pupil attending a private prep or primary school is ten times more likely to enter a grammar than a pupil on FSM, the Trust said: “there was no focus on improving state primary schools in the Government’s plan. Primary schools matter for whether or not a disadvantaged pupil has the chance of attending a grammar. Those who can afforded to go private early will get a leg up.”

Further, the Shine Trust - a charity dedicated to Northern education - said geographic inequality will deepened as a result of these changes: “With schools being able to pick their pupils from wherever they want, pupils who are bright but who live in areas that have been left behind educationally - rural areas, costal areas, Northern towns - will be pushed out of attending grammar schools in their area by those who’ve attended good primary schools in big cities and who are prepared to travel.” They have called for the Government to abandon eliminating restrictions based on geography.

Educational experts have also questioned other provisions on schools in the Making Education Work white paper. Schools described as “popular, successful and oversubscribed” will have the freedom and support to acquire less successful schools and, ultimately, their funding. They can also tempt away pupils from other schools. At the same time, successful schools are encouraged to partner with less successful ones to encourage “real improvements across the board.” These two aims appear to be in conflict: good schools are expect to partner with, and at the same time take over, less good ones - and try to encourage pupils to move from one school to another.

As the Educational Policy Institute told the Guardian: “what are the incentives for good schools to work with less good ones to improve the education the latter provide? You can’t have competition and collaboration in a system at the same time. Ultimately, we are likely to see oversubscribed schools refuse to support undersubscribed ones knowing that they will be able to take them over with government support. We need more real partnerships in our education system, not government lip service.”

But the Government may struggle to get the votes to pass an Education Act and introduce the changes. The Liberal Democrats are against the proposals, saying: “Grammar schools stifle social mobility for poorer children and are a form of state-sponsored segregation.” They are, according to one Lib Dem MP, “an ineffective use of taxpayers money” and are “far less likely to have students on free school meals or with special educational needs.”

Leading Socialist Campaign Group MP David Pick likened the Government’s plan to JK Rowling’s invention of the Sorting Hat, and suggested that the Deputy Prime Minster should not be taking policy ideas from children’s literature. Pick also warned of real welfare issues with pupil burnout likely to be experienced, particularly for the one-third of the nation’s children who go to grammar schools.

Labour’s Deputy Leader, James Webster, released a statement describing the plan as “continu[ing] the long history of generational poverty in this country.” He further said that “the Government is going to determine the life paths of nearly every new student at 11 years old.” Furthering the Harry Potter metaphor, the Deputy Leader said: “under the Government's plan, when your child is age eleven, a test that has less transparency than Hogwarts’s Sorting Hat will determine if your child can ever go to university.”

The Green Party have also come out against the proposals. Green MP for Brighton Pavillion, Dominic Burrows, said of the Government’s plan: "Selective education is a regressive model of education that will lead us back to a system where the wealthy were able to buy their way into good schools where the poor and unfortunate are left to rot in schools falling down with teachers demoralised by a system that is oppressive. Once again the Conservatives show that their only ideas are ones from thirty years ago."

Nonetheless, the Government is expecting to push ahead with the education white paper with one very senior Conservative Party MP saying “The NEU needs to put up or shut up. This is a reform that parents want and students need. They’ll probably go on strike over all this, and as usual it’ll be the kids that lose out. Some things never change.”
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Matty Bradford MP »

Paying for Parking at a The Hospital in North Tees
By Matty Bradford
MP, City of Durham

Victoria Park has been the home grounds for Hartlepool United FC since the club's founding in 1908. It looks like something Bruce Springsteen would sing about on one of his slower albums. It's faded and has seen better days. But it still remains beautiful when a match is played -- much more so than the grand palaces of football capitalism like the Stadium of Light that my beloved Sunderland calls home.

It was here where I lost the only fight I have ever been in during my lifetime. I went home to Durham for a few days. My schoolmate Jimmy Barstow and I on the spur of the moment decided to make the 30 minute drive to see The Monkey Hangers take on Mansfield Town in its bid to stave off League Two relegation and into the netherworld of Non-League Football. The stadium was obviously tense. Hartlepool has never had much football glory, besides a few famous scalps of Premier League teams in the FA Cup. The highest it has ever been on the table were a handful of decent seasons in League One. It has come close to liquidation until it was purchased by an area real estate mogul who has kept it afloat since.

Things were well until the second half, when a fan who had too many before the match called someone else a homophobic slur. I said something to the steward. The man and his unruly mob were escorted out, but not before lobbing a few threats my way. I didn't think much of it. But after the match ended - a 1-0 victory for Pools - we were walking to my car, which I parked in front of The Corner Flag pub. Wouldn't you know it, but the man who I reported and his friends were across the street and saw me. They came to us with fists already flying and we didn't stand a chance. Thankfully, not much damage was done -- I thought I may have had some broken ribs and I certainly needed stitches above my right eye. Jimmy was also banged up, as he fell awkwardly while attempting to protect himself and rolled his ankle severely. The men, of course, ran off and were never apprehended. (And, yes, this story has been vetted by The Guardian's editors.)

Rather than wait for the police or an ambulance, Jimmy and I rushed into my car and drove to The University Hospital of Hartlepool, parking in the lot right across from the A&E department and entered. We understood there would be a bit of a wait -- our injuries were not life threatening but X-Rays and some procedures were certainly needed. All-in-all, it took about seven hours out of our lives before we could leave -- certainly not the worst of circumstances.

But on the way out, we realized that of course I had neglected to get a ticket or use the phone app. We left without paying. It was only a matter of time before I was informed that I would have to pay a £35 fine.

To me, this was a nuisance. At the time, I had a cushy job working in a London-based think tank. And I also know that I come from some level of privilege being the son of a MP-slash-professor who grew up in a cushy university town.

But Hartlepool ranks as the 10th most deprived local authority in the country, according to The English Indices of Deprivation. Some 36 percent of its neighborhoods are among the most deprived in England. Roughly one-third of the city's children live in poverty. The city's unemployment rate consistently tops the lists as a hard place to find work.

For people in those dire situations -- paying a £35 leads to incredibly tough choices. It's money from the already tight grocery budget. It means one can't top off the tank at the petrol station, which prevents getting to work. It means a missed rental payment. And not paying the ticket? That could lead to more trouble -- a possible court hearing in the future, an impounded car, and just general misery.

The NHS says that £271.8 million was pocketed in hospitals in 2018-2019, with that number not including numbers from nine NHS trusts that did not report their figures. Just about 75% of all parking spots -- for patients and staff and nurses and doctors alike -- at NHS facilities require payment.

The argument made for pay-at-hospitals is that the proceeds go to help pay for upkeep and maintenance. However, the ugly truth is that the ultimate victor in this is big business. ParkingEye is Britain's largest private parking company and it manages parking sites at over a dozen NHS hospital sites as well as many other NHS locations. The company's public filings show that the company booked £21 million in profits on £45.1 million in revenue in 2019 -- continuing its near decade-long streak of increasing its earnings and benefits for shareholders.

Even more telling: global investment bank behemoth Macquarie and international private equity fund MML Capital Partners purchased ParkingEye in 2018 for the tidy sum of £235 million. The previous owner paid a mere £57 million for the right to force England's sick and injured to pay for the bother of parking their car.

Hartlepool United might struggle to stay in the league. Many of its fans will never be able to afford a ticket to see their beloved 11 on the pitch in person. But the rich will always get richer at the expense of people who struggle to get by.
Matty Bradford, Labour MP
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Re: The Guardian

Post by Liam McMahon »

There is a cross party campaign to end conversion therapy. Parliament must take action.

By Liam McMahon

When I think of one of the many things I am proud of this country for, I am proud of its outstanding record on LGBT rights. After decades of LGBT people being stigmatised and a range of homophobic laws from Section 28 to the unequal age of consent in place, we have gone from strength to strength in our commitment to equality and ensuring every LGBT Briton can participate fully in our economy, culture and society.

I am of course proud of my own party’s record, from recognising transgender people under law, to equalising the age of consent, to introducing gay adoption and scrapping 28. However, what makes this country truly great is that the Conservative Party have caught up: they apologised for their role in legislating for section 28 and only recently introduced same sex marriage. In doing so, a cross party recognition that who you love should not affect your life chances in Britain has been formed.

This cross-party commitment to equality is something all Parliamentarians can be proud of, and had led to us being ranked the most LGBT friendly country in Europe. Unfortunately, in recent years complacency has taken hold and our place in that ranking has slipped significantly, going from 1st to 9th place in 2021 according to ILGA Europe.

Tackling homophobia and uplifting LGBT people requires more than passing same sex marriage and calling it a job well done. It requires tackling shocking rates of poor mental health, homelessness and addiction among LGBT people. There is still prejudice and discrimination that needs to be tackled. So much more needs to be done and in recent years the government has been all too complacent.

No example is starker of the prejudice and stigma that still exists against LGBT people than conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is the practice of employing medical efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. At the root of conversion therapy’s theory – that someone’s sexual orientation is an illness that can be cured or corrected – is unacceptable prejudice the government must resist wholeheartedly.

This is the shadowy and obscure practice we believe it is, or perhaps hope it is. In 2017 the government’s own statistics found that of 108,000 UK respondents, 2% had undergone conversion therapy and up to 5% had been offered it. In response to these findings, then Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to end conversion therapy. We have heard little since. Conversion therapy is a cruel and barbaric practice, with the mildest stories centring around humiliating ‘exorcisms’ in front of crowds, with the tales becoming so brutal as to detail LGBT people being forced to undergo electrocution or emetics in order to ‘cure’ them.

It has been recognised by every professional medical body, from the NHS to the British Psychological Association that conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that causes severe distress to those who undergo it. If any other practice were found by such a wide consensus by respected medical bodies to be cruel, the government would swiftly move to ban them. Conversion therapy has remained a strange exception, despite valiant efforts from equalities Ministers such as Maria Miller and Penny Mourdant.

LGBT Britons and their allies deserve more than another meaningless consultation or pledge to end conversion therapy with little action taken. The longer the government is complacent, the more people have to unnecessarily suffer.

Working with a cross party group of Parliamentarians including Layla Moran, Penny Mourdant, Caroline Nokes, Angela Eagle and Dan Carden, we know that a compromise is possible that finally puts a conversion therapy ban in the statue books while making appropriate provisions to ensure spiritual guidance, pastoral support and prayer aren’t unnecessarily penalised or criminalised in sensitive circumstances. That is why we will be proposing the Conversion Therapy (Ban) Act 2021 in Parliament imminently.

By ensuring only “intrusively spiritual” action is clamped down on, we can ensure that law enforcement and the justice system are able to effectively navigate religious nuances whilst ensuring no LGBT minor is forced to undergo the barbaric practice of conversion therapy.

By banning conversion therapy without consent and conversion therapy for minors, alongside the profiting and advertising of conversion therapy, we can ensure consenting adults are able to navigate sensitive issues surrounding their sexuality in professional and religious settings without pressure from either the state or the church.

But we will ultimately ensure that a conversion therapy ban is put on the statute books, and that the cruel practice will be cosigned to a dark chapter in Britain’s history books.

We know there is cross party hunger for such action to be taken. It is the moral imperative of this government to ensure that this bill is debated on and ultimately passed. And if the government is not willing to step up, the Labour Party must fulfil its duties as an obligation and a party which puts equality to its very core in making the bill an opposition day bill.

We know the coalition to end conversion therapy and to clamp down on the barbaric criminals that practice it is there. The only thing that is lacking is the will to do so. Today, we will take that first bold step.
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