Its a funny old world. The Tories are always keen to condemn those who take advantage of the tax payer except when it is one of their own that is doing the ripping off. So let’s not forget that the Liam Fox invited as guest and speaker by the Salisbury Literary Club / Salisbury Literary Dining Club (which I assume is a local Salisbury Conservative Party fund raising group) is also the same disgraced Liam Fox, ex Defence Minister, who had to resign to avoid further investigation into his abuse of the tax payer’s trust.
Recently David Cameron has revived an often repeated “straw man” argument in which he states that it is not racist to be concerned about immigration. Our own MP for Salisbury, John Glen, in a recent article in the Salisbury Journal, said “Neither do I believe it is racist or xenophobic to want to see limited resources allocated fairly to those who make a contribution in this country”. John Glen, View from the Commons, Salisbury Journal 17th Jan. This straw man argument is meant to distract us from the reality (and perhaps their own guilty consciences?).
I was disappointed to see John Glen use his “View from the Commons”: No Alternative to Universal Credit” 27th Feb Salisbury Journal, to respond to the chorus of criticism from church leaders about government welfare reform without actually addressing any of the issues raised.
The reality is that no one objects to welfare reform or the principle of universal credit. No one disagrees that an effective tax rate of 84% for hardworking low wage earners is criminal and, although much of the justification for the benefits cap is based on misinformation, no one disagrees that the underlying issue – channeling tax payers’ money to landlords charging unaffordable rents because of a catastrophic lack of affordable housing – is anything but unfair to ordinary people.
The reality is that Mr. Glen needs to address the actual criticisms i.e. that the implementation of benefits reform has not just involved bureaucratic failures but has included indiscriminate cuts and punitive sanctions. These and other cuts to local authority spending are causing real hardship to ordinary people who have done all the right things but find themselves at a time of rising living costs and decreasing income unable to make ends meet.
Listening to Britain’s Churches – Salisbury
Conservative Christian Fellowship
Friday, 21 February 2014 from 18:30 to 21:00 (GMT)
Fisherton Street, United Kingdom
(Panel includes Salisbury MP, John Glen and Wiltshire councillor for Salisbury St Francis and Stratford, Mary Douglas.)
The Conservative Christian Fellowship are holding a ‘Question Time style’ event in Salisbury this Friday – here are some suggestions for possible questions:
Two questions for John Glen MP:
- Do you agree with the grave concerns about Government misuse of benefit statistics expressed by an alliance of churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland. Please see their letter to Mr Cameron here: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/146264932?access_key=key-1p73vebysw54vko13cvp&allow_share=true&escape=false&view_mode=scroll
- Do you agree with four major British Churches that David Cameron is factually wrong and misleading on poverty. Please see a summary of their comments here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20188
Cameron’s all white, all male front bench at PMQs today reminded me of this bizarre claim by Salisbury MP, John Glen: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1494
John Glen is very keen to support constituents who don’t want wind farms near their properties but in this question and answer session on BBC Wiltshire local radio he failed to give the same support to those constituents who might have similar objections to fracking.
You can listen to the answer at this link, just move the slider to: 01:31:20 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01np4wq (Unfortunately this is no longer available on the BBC web site).
The question was clear and simple. It did not compare the pros and cons of the two technologies. The question simply asked Mr Glen to assure us that he would give the same support to his constituents worried about fracking as he had already promised to constituents worried about wind turbines. That assurance was not forthcoming.
The reality is that the government wants to give local communities the power to reject wind farms but not fracking projects.
So much for the government’s “Localism Agenda”. In plain English this means that local communities are free to make their own decision only if those decisions coincide with government plans.
Summary (a text book example of double standards and irrationality):
John Glen is against wind farms, against subsidising wind farms and in favour of giving local councils powers to reject wind farms.
John Glen is in favour of: fracking, in favour of subsidising fracking and in favour of giving local councils a financial incentive to approve fracking.
Full letter from MPs to David Cameron on wind power subsidies: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9061554/Full-letter-from-MPs-to-David-Cameron-on-wind-power-subsidies.html
“Blow for George Osborne as Tory council chiefs oppose fracking in Chancellor’s constituency”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fracking/10574951/Blow-for-George-Osborne-as-Tory-council-chiefs-oppose-fracking-in-Chancellors-constituency.html
Fossil fuel generators get six times the constraint payments that wind does. But it doesn’t get reported. (H/T Wiltshire Clean Air Alliance):
Barra turbine could be one of most productive in Western Europe: http://www.stornowaygazette.co.uk/news/local-headlines/barra-turbine-could-be-one-of-most-productive-in-western-europe-1-3267281
Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition – Government officials accused of cheerleading for fracking by sharing ‘lines to take’ and meeting for post-dinner drinks:
UK defeats European bid for fracking regulations – blocks attempts to make environmental safeguards legally binding:
UPDATE 6th March 2014): Eric Pickles guilty of ‘double standards’ over energy planning applications: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/06/eric-pickles-double-standards-fracking-windfarm?utm_source=Energydesk+Daily+Email&utm_campaign=83885435a5-Energydesk_Dispatch5_9_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ad1a620334-83885435a5-50269929
Here we are riding a yet another debt fuelled recovery and house price bubble and once again our MP, John Glen, is unable to think of anything more important or relevant to say at Christmas than to issue a message in support of the Wilton Hunt at Odstock.
At a time when the traditions and livelihoods of ordinary people are being destroyed by a programme of artificially induced austerity, indiscriminately targeted at those who did nothing to cause the financial crisis, perhaps a more conciliatory, less divisive message, would have been appropriate??
Here is my comment from last year: The Hunting Lobby has unlimited funds and ample support from very small but very powerful groups. Hunting foxes with dogs is also a very divisive issue, with many regarding the activity as thoroughly repugnant and unacceptable in the 21st Century. It seems strange therefore that Mr Glen should choose this as the topic of his Boxing Day / Christmas message. Surely a message more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas would have been appropriate?
Here is John’s Christmas message from last year: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1798
Eight in ten people believe fox hunting should not be made legal: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3315/Hunting-Poll-2013.aspx
Perhaps John could use his Twitter account to support the Archbishop of Canterbury as he urges Christians to fight greed and injustice: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10537689/Archbishop-of-Canterbury-urges-Christians-to-fight-greed-and-injustice.html
or he could explain why Ministers are scrapping a £20m scheme to keep elderly warm: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10530467/Ministers-scrap-20m-scheme-to-keep-elderly-warm.html
or he could let us know if he agrees with Iain Duncan-Smith’s criticisms of food banks like the Trussell Trust run by Chris Mould or does he agree with former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who criticises Iain Duncan Smith’s “disturbing” remarks about foodbanks: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Cambridge-University-college-Master-Rowan-Williams-criticises-Iain-Duncan-Smiths-disturbing-remarks-about-foodbanks-20131224060424.htm
There has been much discussion about the planned 11% rise in salaries for MPs but I suggest we should also be considering who should pay for those salaries. Salisbury MP, John Glen, has voted in the Commons 807 times but has never rebelled against his party. He voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Bill which, despite the absence of a democratic mandate and despite promises to contrary, is forcing through a £3.5 Billion top down reorganisation of the NHS and its rapid outsourcing to unaccountable international corporations like G4S. He voted for welfare reforms which indiscriminately hit the low paid and vulnerable. He voted in favour of the current debt fuelled boom in London house prices – yet another bubble that will burst without solving our catastrophic lack of affordable homes.
He was in favour of the appointment of tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby as Tory campaign manager and has done nothing to tone down his party’s vindictive and divisive rhetoric or the accompanying output of misinformation and made up statistics. Recently he voted to down grade commitments to ‘eradicate fuel poverty’. He also voted in favour of the lobbying bill, which will do nothing to prevent big companies and wealthy individuals from influencing government but will stifle criticism from grass roots organizations and charities.
In short, the evidence suggests that Mr Glen has put his party before his constituents.
MPs are in parliament to hold governments to account on behalf of their constituents. If they put party loyalty and ideology ahead of the welfare of ordinary citizens I suggest they should be paid from their party funds not the taxes of hard working families who are striving to cope with a deliberately prolonged period of austerity for which they were not to blame.
Other votes by John Glen:
Tues 7th Jan 2014: Voted against a motion to improve compensation to sufferers of Asbestosis and extend a levy on the insurance industry to pay for research into the deadly disease and its causes. (Bid to increase compensation for asbestos victims fails in Commons: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10919958._/) Northern Echo 8th Jan 2014. (Dr Sarah Wollaston supported this motion as did a few other rebel Tories)
Wed 8th Jan 2014: Voted against a proposal to give local councils greater powers to restrict the proliferation of betting shops containing Fixed Odd Betting terminals (FOBT)s. http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/669/
Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP demonstrates how to hold her own government to account when they get things wrong:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10558580/The-Government-has-failed-to-lead-by-example-on-open-data.html Daily Telegraph 08 Jan 2014.
See also: BMJ investigation reveals the “cosy relationship” between the alcohol industry and the British government http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/article-clusters/alcohol
Here is another example of how MPs should be doing their job. If only we had more MPs in all parties that were prepared to put reason and evidence before party dogma or self interest: “Plain packaging and minimum unit pricing for alcohol killed off – The only winners, big tobacco, big alcohol and big undertakers“. (Dr Sarah Wollaston, July 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/tobacco-alcohol-public-health-minimum-alcohol-pricing
When I first saw this from John I had never heard of Gary Streeter and wasn’t too concerned about the election of a deputy speaker however I thought I would check out John’s recommendation.
It turns out Gary Streeter has some problems with rational, evidence based thinking:
- Believes in Faith Healing: He is one of at least three MPs who appear to believe in faith healing – this is of course barmy and I will not waste time pointing out the deeply irrational and illogical nature of such beliefs apart from expressing my serious concern that an MP such as Gary Streeter, with a first class Law degree can seriously hold such beliefs.
- Irrational: To add to my incredulity, it seems that he wrote a letter of complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency asking it to reverse its decision to stop the Christian group “Healing on the Streets of Bath” from making explicit claims that prayer can heal. That letter (you can read it here) could be used in a year 9 critical thinking class as an example of a totally baseless, illogical, irrational argument . Again it is beyond my understanding how someone intelligent enough to be a lawyer could write this stuff.
- Member of right wing Christian fundamentalist group – CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE) is a fundamentalist organisation in the US style that believes in the literal truth of the bible and seems to act as a lobbying group, attempting to influence political decisions in line with a hard line, rigid belief system. It is anti abortion, anti gay rights and has been in trouble with the Charity Commission and the House of Commons standards watchdog for lobbying activities, specifically related to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
- Homeopathy: Yes you guessed it Gary Streeter is a supporter of Homeopathy and
signed the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals.
- Abortion: He is anti abortion and voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks against scientific and medical advice.
- Climate Science: If you believe in faith healing and homeopathy then you are going to be anti science and yes it is clear from his writing that Gary gets his climate science from anti science blogs and phony think tanks like (failed ex Chancellor of the Exchequer) Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Foundation.
- On the Plus side: In January 2010, Gary Streeter signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. The motion noted that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are currently prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public interest due to the chilling effect of the law.
So now thanks to John Glen I will remember Gary Streeter’s name and follow his career with interest – looking out for conflicts between faith and reality. (As usual please let me know if I have got my facts wrong or made any other error in my thinking)
MPs try to overturn ‘God can heal’ ad ban: http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/314662/mps-try-to-overturn-and39god-can-healand39-ad-ban.thtml
Christian fundamentalists fighting spiritual battle in Parliament: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1975933/Christian-fundamentalists-fighting-spiritual-battle-in-Parliament.html
Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE): http://skeptical-voter.org/wiki/index.php?title=Christian_Action,_Research_and_Education_%28CARE%29
Gary Streeter – Skeptical voter: http://skeptical-voter.org/wiki/index.php?title=Gary_Streeter#cite_note-8
Tim Farron: ‘Prayer Can Heal’ Letter Was A Mistake: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/29/tim-farron-prayer-can-heal-letter-was-a-mistake_n_1387187.html
I would be interested to know if John Glen is still as enthusiastic about Lynton Crosby as he was when he sent out the message below. I think it was Alastair Campbell who once said that when a spin doctor becomes the story it is time for him to go.
The kind of Lobbying carried out by the likes of Crosby defiles politics and is tantamount to legalised corruption involving huge sums of money and conflicts of interest that would not be tolerated in any other walk of life. Both Labour and Tory parties are guilty of allowing this to continue. When in opposition David Cameron said that “Lobbying is the next big scandal”. Now that he is in power he has done nothing about lobbying and is employing one of the most ruthless lobbyists around.
The appointment of Lynton Crosby has been followed by government reversals on many issues but in particular there have been ‘U’ turns on plain packaging for cigarettes, a register of lobbyists and minimum pricing of alcohol. Lynton Crosby is a major lobbyist for the tobacco industry – surely a conflict of interest??
I hope that John Glen has taken note of a fellow Tory MP, the independently minded Sarah Wollaston, who does what MPs are supposed to do and calls governments to account rather than tamely following the party line.
Sarah Wollaston MP (12th Jul 2013): “R.I.P public health. A day of shame for this government; the only winners big tobacco, big alcohol and big undertakers”
David Cameron told to sack strategy chief over link to tobacco giants (Guardian 13th July 2013): http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/13/david-cameron-lynton-crosby-tobacco
Lobbying: “The Next Big Scandal” (and its influence on NHS privatisation): http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=2208
Tobacco firms fund anti-Labor ad campaign (The Daily Telegraph, Australia): http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/tobacco-firms-fund-anti-labor-ad-campaign/story-fn5zm695-1225900798636
David Cameron’s election guru Lynton Crosby uses mysterious offshore tax haven: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lynton-crosby-uses-offshore-tax-2333149
Tobacco lobbying in Australia: http://www.ashaust.org.au/lv4/WhoAreTheTI.htm
Mystery of Salisbury MP, John Glen’s involvement in ‘smear’ campaign against Labour MP for Sedgefield: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=2080
Cigarette packaging: the corporate smokescreen: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/cigarette-packaging-corporate-smokescreen-liberty?CMP=twt_gu
UPDATE 3rd Oct 2014:
In the words of one cabinet minister (in a text message to Tim Montgomerie) “Lynton Crosby has replaced David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party” So that means we have yet another unelected Australian running our country.