2011 - Another Year for British Politics

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Darth_Asabrush, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Good to see the Lords sitting bright and early this morning!

    It's worth taking into account that the Lord's are essentially volunteers. MP's are paid and ordered by the whips to be there all night if needed. The Lords are not, they were there to vote on principle.

    This whole process actually warms my heart a little and increases my faith a little in our Parliamentary process.

    Me too.

    If only we could get some closure on the reform of the Lords and put this "elected" House of Commons "overturning" the unelecetd Lords argument to bed once and for all!

    This week has shown exactly why I don't want an elected upper house. The strength of the Lords as a revising chamber is based on it's independance from the executive. An elected chamber would compromise this.

    For the record. That was the longest sitting in House of Lords and the third longest sitting the House of Commons since records began.
  2. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
  3. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    I saw the 'burden of proof' amendment as far more important than the 'sunset clause', because it would have made a great difference to the substance of the legislation.

    As passed, the Act makes 'non-derogating' orders look like they're judicially imposed (unless the Home Secretary think's there's an emergency and issues one himself), but in reality leaves the decision in the Home Secretary's hands. The court will still apply "judicial review principles" when it makes a final decision on the Home Secretary's application--so to defeat the application, the person in question must still show that the Home Secretary could not reasonably believe himself to have reasonable grounds for suspicion, which without knowing all the evidence against him will probably be impossible.

    (The threshold for refusing the application at first, at the initial ex parte hearing with only the Home Secretary involved, will be even higher, and even more comical: his decision to apply for a control order will have to be "obviously flawed"--i.e., there will obviously have to be no reasonable grounds to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the individual of being a terrorist. That's a high threshold if ever there was one.)

    Not only did the 'burden of proof' amendment attempt to raise the standard of proof for non-derogating orders from reasonable suspicion to the balance of probabilities, but it would have removed the gloss of judicial review principles--ensuring that the court took the decision itself, rather than just deferentially rubber-stamping one made by the Home Secretary.

    This remains a very bad bill, and I conclude by saying that whatever Michael Howard says, a promise to review the legislation is not remotely a sunset clause.
  4. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    I saw the 'burden of proof' amendment as far more important than the 'sunset clause', because it would have made a great difference to the substance of the legislation.

    I agree. As the Lib Dem's constitutional affairs spokesmen David Heath repeatedly said, the 'burden of proof' amendment was an issue of principle where as the 'sunset clause' was a matter of procedure. The more I have thought about it the more I wished that the conservatives had held their ground on this ammendment, especially as the Lib Dem's were clearly willing to carry on fighting on this issue. The irony is that the Lib Dem's looked like backing down on the sunset clause and this might have forced the conservatives to accept the deal as oppossed to being defeated on the issue.

    As passed, the Act makes 'non-derogating' orders look like they're judicially imposed (unless the Home Secretary think's there's an emergency and issues one himself), but in reality leaves the decision in the Home Secretary's hands. The court will still apply "judicial review principles" when it makes a final decision on the Home Secretary's application--so to defeat the application, the person in question must still show that the Home Secretary could not reasonably believe himself to have reasonable grounds for suspicion, which without knowing all the evidence against him will probably be impossible.

    (The threshold for refusing the application at first, at the initial ex parte hearing with only the Home Secretary involved, will be even higher, and even more comical: his decision to apply for a control order will have to be "obviously flawed"--i.e., there will obviously have to be no reasonable grounds to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the individual of being a terrorist. That's a high threshold if ever there was one.)


    It seemed that some Labour MP's, most notably Win Griffiths whose original ammendment had nearly defeated the government, were very confused on this issue, actually believing that a judge would make the decision in all cases. Some of them who lacked legal knowledge were clearly duped by the government. Others like Vera Baird (who clearly are not lacking in legal knowledge) were persuaded into line through other means. The rumour is that she will become Solicitor General after the election.

    This remains a very bad bill,

    Agreed.

    and I conclude by saying that whatever Michael Howard says, a promise to review the legislation is not remotely a sunset clause.

    It might not be a sunset clause but in the circumstances it has a similar effect, it is not simply a review (although the legislation will have a annual review as well). If a genuine sunset clause had been passed the government would have brought forward new legislation. Instead it has promised to bring forward new legislation (which it has provided a timetable for) which will have such scope as to ammend any aspect of this bill.
  5. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    I am extremely concerned about people being duped by the "judicial review principles" provision. It is quite likely that they will think it is the judge who is making (or at least reviewing) the decision for himself, whereas in reality he will apply a very deferential standard of review (judicial review) which is the lenient standard applied to review executive decisions that the government has primary responsibility for making.

    Vera Baird had the nerve to claim, on Newsnight, that the so-called 'burden of proof' amendment was not a major issue of principle. As an experienced barrister she must, in fact, know that there is a vast difference between a judge deciding whether a person is proven to be a terrorist on the "balance of probabilities", and whether the Home Secretary could reasonably consider himself to have "reasonable suspicion".

    It's interesting that Vera Baird has now taken the position she has, considering she was originally pointing out to the House of Commons that judicial review principles do not involve a decision on the merits of the case.
  6. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    There are no two ways about it, Vera Baird sold out. Whether her reward will be the job of Solicitor General or something else we will have to wait and see.
  7. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    Those pesky Lords are annoying the government again...

    Peers defeat judicial reform plan

    Peers have inflicted a defeat on the government over its plans to shake-up the judicial system.
    The Lords voted 215 to 199 to insist that the lord chancellor must be a member of the Upper House, in a debate on the Constitutional Reform Bill.

    The government wants to separate the lord chancellor's roles as top judge, Lords speaker and government minister.

    But the Tories say only the lord chancellor's high office can defend the judiciary from political interference.

    The government was defeated a second time when peers called for the lord chancellor to be a lawyer. Voting was 209 to 195, a majority of 14.

    The current lord chancellor, Lord Falconer, drew up the government's reform plans.

  8. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Those pesky Lords are annoying the government again...

    Expect to see more of this over the next few weeks. If as we expect the election is held on May 5th the government has very little time to get it's remaining legislation through as parliament must be disolved on April 11th to allow for the statutory 17 working days between disolution and an election. When you consider that parliament rises for the Easter recess on March 23rd and doesn't return until April 4th it means that there is only 10 days of the session left (excluding the day of dissolution). With a huge number of bills outstanding the government has no chance of getting them all passed and we could see a few more ping pong matches. I expect that the governmebts top priorities will be Serious organised crime and police bill and Constitutional reform bill. The former because amongst other things it makes incitement to religious hatred an offence (a sop to muslim voters angry over the iraq war) and the later because quite simply so much time and effort has gone into it that even in it's watered down and battered state the government will probably want to pass it.
  9. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    So then guys, what do we think to Mr Browns 9th (and if Tone has his was, last [face_laugh] ) Budget? Theres a lot of hullabaloo about this being a give-away, but to be honest, I don't think he's giving much away at all. It seems to me that he's doing what he always does, giving with hand and taking away with another. Also, there still seems to be the spectere of quite large tax rises being needed for the next budget, so I can't see that this is the election sweetner most commentators have been ahiling it as.
  10. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    Yeah, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Unfortunately much of the public will believe they are gaining more than they are losing [face_plain]
  11. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Well, it had to be too good to be true. The Tory Election Campaign has now been plunged inot a typical crisis of their own making. The Howard Flight affair (has anybody ever heard of this guy, BTW? [face_laugh] ) Is just what you would expect for a party that ALWAYS seems to shoot itslef in the foot.

    Never underestimate the Tory Partys ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! [face_laugh]
  12. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    This issue will probably blow over. The only people who are getting exited are the ones who didn't believe the tories spending plans anyway. The average voter has never heard of Howard Flight so his comments are not that damaging.

    If anything it has given Michael Howard the oppurtunity to look strong and decisive by withdrawing the whip and preventing him standing at the next election. The punishment is frankly so OTT that it is absurd but in election season it is better to look tough than weak.

    Anyway, on to the good news. After a disapointing poll in the Guardian earlier in the week two consecutive polls paint a more cheerful tory picture.

    Mori/Financial Times

    Con 37
    Lab 37
    LD 20

    YouGov/Daily Telegraph

    Lab 35
    Con 34
    LD 22
  13. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Actually, all the polls have been moving in the right direction for a long while, havent they? :D

    If the Conservatives had opposed the war, I think they would be heading for an election victory right now. :(
  14. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Actually, all the polls have been moving in the right direction for a long while, havent they?

    Mostly

    If the Conservatives had opposed the war, I think they would be heading for an election victory right now.

    Sadly I think that it would have torn the party to pieces.
  15. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Mind you, although I would like to see Blair booted out of office (wouldn't you just LOVE to see his ashen/shocked face on May 6th as the removal lorries pull into Downing St?) I don't think a Tory victory at this election would really be helpful long-term to the Conservative Party. Don't get me wrong, I want a Tory victory at the election, but in terms of the party, I really don't think they are ready to govern the country.

    The best result for the Conservative Party, would probably be one more term in opposition, with the Labour Government only getting back in with a very slim majority-Say no more than 30. In that situation you could imagine the government falling apart in office, whilst the Conservative Party gets stronger and stronger. Very much like what happened from 92-97 only reversed.
  16. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Is that a shortened version of Matthew Parris' article in the Times two weeks ago?

    Either way I agree. If the tories somehow win this election it will be with a tiny majority and a leader who, inspite of his considerable talents, will make a poor Prime Minister. Much better to see a Labour majority of 10-20 and watch them self-destruct.
  17. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    I've heard of Matthew Parris, but I would never read The Times-Or any Murdoch press for that matter. ;)
  18. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    I've heard of Matthew Parris, but I would never read The Times-Or any Murdoch press for that matter.

    I check out the Times website on a daily basis because despite it's extremely pro-Labour news coverage it has some superb columnists.
  19. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Well, it stands to reason that the tory psrty can't really go from being a complete bunch of no-hopers in 2003 to a party fit to govern in 2005. Unfortunatly it doesn't work like that, IMO. What the Conservatives need is TIME. Time to really become the deadly opposition they have started to turn into. To do this, they need to slash Labours majority, which looks more and more likely by the day.

    Also, I think that by 2009/2010 people will be much happier to look at far more radical policys on tax and spending and the NHS-The Tories will be able to push a truely radical agenda, I feel.
  20. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    The Tories may have to wait for their "grey" members to die off before they can get too radical.
  21. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    Today's the day!

    Tony Blair will be off the Buckingham Palace today to ask the Queen to disolve Parliament for the election on May 5th (The worst kept secret in Westminster).
  22. Darth_MacDaddy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2003
    star 4
    Well no surprise about the date of the GE, but some food for thought about the opinion polls released this morning, particularly the MORI poll. Not the fact the Tories are ahead in it, but the fact that this poll represents the voting interests of those who are certain to vote. Is apathy going to be Labour's torn-in-the-side at this election? Personally I feel apathy helped them in 2001, and I hope it does the opposite this time round.

    Channel 5 predicted this morning that based on the present polls Labour's majority would be reduced to 92 seats. I will be using this a datum from which to watch the election campaign.

    Let battle commence!

    [face_monkey]
  23. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Yep, Today is the day. However we should not be allowed to forget what happened yesterday at the end of the 'electoral fraud' case in Birmingham.

    Labour councillors sacked for vote fraud

    Birmingham Labour Party is attempting to come to terms with a damning High Court judgment which found six councillors guilty of corruption and a systematic attempt to rig the 2004 city council elections.

    Richard Mawrey QC, the Election Commissioner, said he was in no doubt there had been a Birmingham-wide campaign by the local party to use thousands of bogus postal votes to counter the adverse impact of the Iraq war on Muslim communities in inner city wards.

    Labour candidates and supporters set out to steal, forge and fiddle ballots in huge quantities and were helped by the almost total lack of security checks on postal vote applications.

    In the first finding of fraud and corruption by an elections court for more than 100 years, Mr Mawrey sacked six councillors in Aston and Bordesley Green, cutting Labour's strength from 53 to 47 seats.

    He decided the six - Shah Jahan, Shafaq Ahmed and Ayaz Khan in Bordesley Green and Mohammed Islam, Muhammed Afzal and Mohammed Kazi in Aston - were guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

    The six, who deny the accusations, immediately ceased to be councillors and cannot stand for election for five years. By-elections will be held in both wards.

    Costs of the court hearing were awarded against the six, who face financial ruin in meeting legal bills estimated at more than £200,000.

    Details of the case were passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions and criminal charges may follow.

    In a 192-page judgment, Mr Mawrey was scathing about the system for postal voting on demand, introduced by the Government in 2001.

    The Commissioner, in a report to the High Court, will say it is his "melancholy duty" to warn there is every prospect that the General Election is likely to be marred by the types of fraud that occurred in Birmingham in 2004.

    Referring to a previous Government statement which said there were no proposals to change the rules governing election procedures for the next ballot, Mr Mawrey told the packed courtroom at the Birmingham and Midland Institute: "Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising."

    Labour responded to the judgment by suspending the party membership of the six and appointing Mike Griffiths, who heads Labour's National Organisation Committee, to oversee the General Election campaign in Birmingham.

    Mr Mawrey was critical of the council's elections office and returning officer, Lin Homer, who allowed "corners to be cut" when sorting and counting postal votes.

    But he said her decision was understandable given the quantity of postal ballots, which Mrs Homer and the elections officer John Owen could not have foreseen.

    Although Mrs Homer's decision to allow postal ballot papers to be transported to the count in plastic shopping bags was "the direst folly", it was not a serious enough breach to declare the result unsafe.

    Faced with an impossible position and the very real possibility that the count might have to be abandoned, the elections office "threw the rule book out of the window", although the election was conducted substantially in accordance with electoral law.

    The Department for Constitutional Affairs last night said officials would be writing to all electoral returning officers to reinforce action against fraud and there would be additional funding to improve ballot administration at the General Election.


    It is frankly obvious to anyone who cares about democracy that serious changes to the postal voting system need to be made.

  24. G-FETT Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    So, as we're at the first day of the campaign, lets have your predicitions for the result.

    I say Labour win. Majority somewhere around 50.
  25. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    This was my prediction from 30th Januray.

    Labour - 352
    Conservative - 195
    Lib Dem - 70
    SNP/PC - 10
    Independant - 1
    N Ireland seats - 18

    Labour Majority of 58

    For now I stand by that