Tag Archives: jack straw

Opinion: a British Bill of Rights should include judicial review of legislation

British people’s attitude to fundamental rights is deteriorating alarmingly. Liberal Democrats in government have a key opportunity to reverse the trend.

When the incoming Labour Government issued ‘Bringing Rights Home’, in the wake of the UK having the worst human rights record in terms of adverse judgments except Turkey, we all applauded.

But the weasel words of the Human Rights act, which explicitly ruled out judicial review of legislation (as happens in Canada under the Charter, and has happeed in the USA since Marbury -v- Madison) has created a climate where the majority of the British people now think that fundamental …

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Votes for (some) prisoners to get a vote in Parliament

The BBC’s Nick Robinson reports:

David Davis and Jack Straw have got their way. The Commons will get the chance to vote – probably in the middle of February – for a motion to defy the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting…

The prime minister welcomes the plan for the Commons to hold a debate on whether prisoners should be given the vote as demanded by the European Court of Human Rights and believes that it “could be helpful”, I’m told. David Cameron is said to want as few prisoners as possible to be given the vote and is still

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Fixed-term Parliaments: better by standing orders?

Last week Malcolm Jack, the Clerk of the House of Commons, got a little flurry of media coverage for his evidence before a Parliamentary committee considering the proposed legislation for fixed-term Parliaments. “Parts of the government’s plans to bring in fixed-term parliaments are vulnerable to legal challenge” was how the BBC reported it.

It is understandable why that got the headlines, but lurking in the detail are important questions about how Parliament operates and whether its administration is competent. Jack’s evidence, and concerns about the legislation, really fall into three parts.

First, as might be expected from an official whose …

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Guardian verdict on voting reform: “Mr Clegg spoke for progress; Mr Straw for reaction.”

The Guardian has not always been kind to the Coalition since its formation; still less to the Lib Dems. But its stinging rebuke to Labour’s “opposition for opposition’s sake” — with its attempt last night cynically to torpedo the Lib/Con government’s electoral reform measures — might perhaps give the new party leader pause for thought.

In the topsy-turvy world of Coalition politics, two parties which do not support the alternative vote last night voted to endorse a referendum on it; while the party which pledged to introduce it in its manifesto decided to jettison that promise.

It was an irony …

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LibLink: James Graham – Labour’s accusations of gerrymandering are self-defeating

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website earlier this week, Lib Dem blogger James Graham dismissed Jack Straw’s overblown accusations that the Coalition is ‘gerrymandering’, and urged the voting reform bill to receive the more serious scrutiny it deserves. Here’s an excerpt:

Every time a Labour politician uses the word “gerrymandering” a puppy dies. … Gerrymandering is the act of deliberately fixing a boundary in order to give a political party an unfair advantage. Yet the proposed changes will not to lead to any more political interference in the boundary review process. …

One of the main effects of the

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Guardian: Labour’s involvement in illegal abduction and torture of British citizens

Today’s Guardian reports the involvement of senior Labour figures, including Tony Blair and Jack Straw, in the illegal abduction and torture of British citizens by the secret services:

The true extent of the Labour government’s involvement in the illegal abduction and torture of its own citizens after the al-Qaida attacks of September 2001 has been spelled out in stark detail with the disclosure during high court proceedings of a mass of highly classified documents.

Previously secret papers that have been disclosed include a number implicating Tony Blair’s office in many of the events that are to be the subject of the

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Thanks Jack: Tory right finds a friend in Labour

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is calling for cuts in Britain’s prison population, following the agenda set by the Lib Dems and previously opposed by both the Conservatives and Labour.

Those Labour activists still clinging desperately onto the idea that the Lib Dems are mere cheerleaders in the coalition are going to have to twist themselves into yet more contortions – or simply  ignore the facts – as they continue to push their line.

As Jack Straw writes in The Mail:

has allowed his government’s penal policy to be dictated not by his own common sense but by Justice Secretary Kenneth

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Clegg makes “impressive” debut at despatch box as DPM, sets out radical political reform plans

Nick Clegg debuted in front of the House of Commons today in his new role (yes, it is still new: it’s only a month since the election) as deputy prime minister. And he used the occasion to set out how the new coalition government will make good the political reforms radical political reform plans that languished neglected during Labour’s 13 years in government. The government’s plans include:

    * A referendum on the Alternative Vote
    * The right to recall MPs who break the rules
    * Fewer, more equal-sized constituencies

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Nick Clegg to get his own Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time

The Times reports that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to get his own Question Time:

The event, which has the broad agreement of the Speaker but is yet to be signed off by the new government, is likely to take place on Thursdays and be “bolted on” to Business Questions, where the agenda for the Commons is outlined. This will be seen as a sop to the Lib Dems who now sit on the government benches and lose the rights of opposition parties to cross-question the Prime Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions will take place once a month rather than …

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Opinion: Cold comfort for the Lib Dems in the dawn of the new politics

On Thursday night we saw the dynamics of the New Politics unfold.

For the first time, advocates of the Lib-Con pact came face to face with opponents and the general public in a very public forum. On Question Time, Simon Hughes MP and Lord Heseltine defended the new government against a tirade of abuse from Lord Falconer, Mehdi Hasan and Melanie Phillips, while the audience expressed exasperation and dismay. Get used to it. This is the New Politics, and if Cameron and Clegg are to be believed, this is what we have to look forward to …

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Blackburn Conservative leaflet stirs up controversy

The Guardian reports:

The Conservatives last night withdrew a leaflet targeted at Muslims that claimed Labour was complicit in “a whole saga of atrocities” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon.

The leaflet, published by Tories in Blackburn, where their candidate, Michael Law-Riding, is up against the justice secretary, Jack Straw, also predicted Straw would be likely to criticise Muslim beards and caps, after he asked Muslim women to remove the veil in his constituency surgeries.

It was distributed carrying the name of the Blackburn Conservative party agent…

A spokesman for the Conservatives stressed the leaflet had not been sanctioned by headquarters and later said

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Lords reform: cynicism wins the day

In March, the House of Commons voted in favour of reforming the House of Lords making it either wholly or 80% elected.

In March too, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced the a draft bill to reform the Lords would be published within weeks.

Only one problem. The first March was in 2007 and the second 2010. Three wasted years when that terribly modern and cutting edge idea of electing the people who sit in our Parliament could have been introduced. But instead we’re left with this political cynicism:

Although the plan is unlikely to become law before parliament is dissolved, Labour strategists

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Was the Iraq war illegal?

STV reports:

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says that the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War has provided enough information to suggest that the war was illegal.

Speaking on Radio Tay on Friday morning at the same time Prime Minister Gordon Brown was facing questions at the inquiry in London, he said: “I’m not a lawyer, but my view is that now there is sufficient evidence to sustain the claim that this was illegal.”

“A Dutch inquiry into the Iraq war came to the conclusion that it was indeed illegal, and flew in the face of international law…

“It is not a court of

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It’s Brown vs Brown on electoral reform

In a weird display of the mutual weakness at the top of the Labour Party, the Prime Minister and Chief Whip are in disagreement over Gordon Brown’s plans to legislate for a referendum on AV (which would be held after the general election).

Earlier this week the Parliamentary Labour Party debated the proposal and ended up divided and without agreement.

Whilst Gordon Brown and, rather surprisingly given his views on the Liberal Democrats, Jack Straw are both in favour, prominent opponents include Chief Whip Nick Brown. He seems to be particularly motivated by fears that under AV he would lose …

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What the papers say…

Ministers are trying to get their hands on hospital charity-cash … Labour kick up over calls for an immediate by-election … a quarter of all MPs now  plan to quit … and there are 20,0000 council officers with the powers to search your home.

Tories trying to buy power, says Straw – The Independent, 30.12.09

David Cameron is today accused by a senior Cabinet minister of attempting to “buy” victory at the general election with a US-style campaign dominated by advertising. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, predicts the Tory campaign will the most lavish in political history and …

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More provisions of the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 kick in

In a written answer in Parliament this week, Jack Straw confirmed that several more parts of the Polities Parties and Elections Act 2009 are now kicking in or will do so soon. There don’t look to be any surprises in the list and dates he’s given. Most importantly, the new election expense provisions with a long and short campaign period are taking force as expected.

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

The plans to cut election expenses may be dead but there are still lessons to learn

Blink and you might have missed it: first details of a discussion about ways to cut the costs of running elections are leaked and then Jack Straw promptly disowns them and kills off the discussion.

Given how weak the proposals were – and the relatively small sums involved – I think that was the right decision by Straw and, although he and Liberal Democrats are usually not the best of friends, I think there’ll be widespread agreement in the Lib Dems with his comment, “Democracy has to be paid for”. Ideas such as replacing the general election freepost leaflets with one booklet would go quite against the current appetitie from the public to hear more from individual candidates about what the believe and what they want to do.

There are, though, three lessons to learn from the ideas that were floated.

Posted in Election law and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 22 October 2009 #bbcqt

It’s Thursday, it’s 10.35 pm … it’s BBC1’s Question Time.

It is, of course, the most highly anticipated Question Time ever with a colossal media storm surrounding the invitation of BNP leader Nick Griffin. The evening news says that there are massive protests outside BBC TV Centre, with twitter reports that staff are almost under siege. Across the country, protests are happening at regional BBC offices.

For the Liberal Democrats, it’s leadership contender and Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne taking up cudgels for the yellow corner. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi will be in the blue corner, and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw …

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Daily View 2×2: 6 September 2009

Welcome to the Sunday edition of The Voice’s Daily View. And as it’s a Sunday, it’s also time for a multimedia chocolate extra. But first…

Big Stories

Straw admits Lockerbie trade link

Trade and oil played a part in the decision to include the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer deal, Jack Straw has admitted.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the UK justice secretary said trade was “a very big part” of the 2007 talks that led to the prisoner deal with Libya.

However, Mr Straw’s spokesman accused the press of “outrageous” innuendo. (BBC)

G20 papers over cracks on bank capital, pay

The G20 made progress on Saturday in toughening up financial rules but vague compromises over bank capital and pay curbs indicate that fundamental issues remain unresolved.

The crash of Lehman Bros that brought the world’s financial system to its knees last September was uppermost in minds at the April G20 meeting, which adopted pledges to make it harder for banks to mess up economies in future.

Translating pledges into concrete action is proving to be more painstaking as vested national interests emerge and economic recovery takes the heat out of pressures to reform.

Still, the mood music at Saturday’s meeting contrasted with the tense summit five months ago when fear stalked the corridors of governments and banks were on tenterhooks as to their fate.

(Reuters)

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

(Both of these posts have been selected from those which appeared on Lib Dem Blogs on Saturday. To read more from other Liberal Democrat blogs, take a look at the Lib Dem Blogs website and to see what Lib Dems have been saying on Twitter, take a look at Liberal Tweets.)

Sunday Bonus

Men eating chocolate. It’s what YouTube was invented for.

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Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism #7: The Megrahi Documents

The Megrahi case has ripped apart the peace of the Scottish Parliamentary recess, with even some former Lib Dem leaders taking a differing view to our leader in Holyrood. Today the UK Government and Scottish Parliament have released papers relating to the discussions that have gone one over the last two years. It ranges from correspondence between Westminster and Holyrood, to memos of meetings with Libyan officials, to the compassionate release request listing medical conditions.

These start chronologically with the first letter from then-Lord Chnacellor Lord (Charles) Falconer to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond outlining the Memorandum of Understanding that Westminster had set up with Libya regarding a number of judicial issues. The Memorandum was drawn up to look at increasing bilateral co-operation covering, amongst other things, commercial and criminal issues. The legal issues were not exclusively about Mr Al Megrahi, but looking at the bigger picture of co-operation between the two nations at large. However, Lord Falconer did say that nothing could be ruled in or out, but that co-operation and consultation between Westminster and Holyrood would be carried forward.

However, it the path of the UK’s justice secretary Jack Straw’s correspondence that sheds a lot of light on the situation, especially considering the Labour response in Holyrood.

Posted in Europe / International, Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 30 August 2009

2 Big Stories


Sunday Times: Lockerbie bomber ‘set free for oil’

Today’s Times has the big story:

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal. Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release. The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

The Lib Dems Ed Davey – who has been leading the campaign for full disclosure over Mr Al Megrahi’s release – is quoted by the paper:

This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”

Brown’s surprise Afghanistan trip scuppers Cameron

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Has David Cameron gagged David Davis?

I only ask because, you see, when the Freedom of Information legislation was going through Parliament, David Davis was one of the MPs who opposed the idea that a Government minister could veto the release of information:

A cross-party alliance of senior MPs was formed yesterday to attack the Home Office for giving ministers wide-ranging powers of veto in the Freedom of Information Bill … Others who joined the call for fellow MPs to back cross-party amendments to the Bill included David Davis (C, Haltemprice and Howden) (The Independent, 31 March 2000)

So now that Jack Straw has used the

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Conservative bloggers don’t like their party’s support for Jack Straw’s Iraq veto

Iain Dale: So the Tories are backing the government’s plans for the Post Office and Jack Straw’s decision to block publication of the Iraq war cabinet minutes. It’s probably just as well I have been too busy today to do much blogging.

Dizzy Thinks: I thought I would just pass a quick comment on Jack Straw’s decision to veto the Information Commissioner on the issue of Cabinet minutes on the decision to go to war in Iraq. Firstly, the Tories are bloody idiots to support the Government on this…

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Cabinet minutes on Iraq 2: Can you guess what Dominic Grieve said next?

So there he was, sat in the House of Commons listening to Jack Straw announce his decision to veto the Information Tribunal’s decision that the Cabinet minutes of the decision to go to war in Iraq should be released.

Up he then got, and this is what Dominic Grieve said:

The Secretary of State’s decision to use his powers of veto in this case classically illustrates what has been wrong with the Government’s approach to freedom of information.

and

The public have had their expectations about openness raised by Labour’s spin and propaganda, only to be brought down to earth.

and

Does

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Cabinet minutes on Iraq 1: Straw vetoes, Lib Dems oppose

The big Parliamentary news yesterday was the announcement by Jack Straw that he was over-ruling an Information Tribunal ruling and taking the unprecedented step of withholding information they had ordered should be released – the minutes of the Cabinet meetings which decided to go to war with Iraq.

The move was opposed by the Liberal Democrats, with David Howarth leading the charge:

The decision to go to war in Iraq was momentous, controversial and disastrous, especially for this country’s reputation as an upholder of international law.

There never has been a full and comprehensive public inquiry into the decision to go

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Straw vetoes release of Iraq minutes: a nearly-LDV exclusive

There is a lot of cynicism out there about Twitter, and, yes, for some time I was one of the realists.

No longer, for a couple of hours ago Twitter almost provided Lib Dem Voice with a genu-ine world exclusive shock horror with bells on.

Jo Swinson tweeted from the Chamber at 15.39 as follows:

in Parl hearing Jack Straw vetoing releasing Cabinet minutes of Iraq war even though FOI tribunal ordered it – shocking

Now, if only I’d been farting about on Twitter like I should have been and not doing productive things like speccing for new work, I’d have

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Labour ‘scrap plans to block wealthy donors’ spending in marginal seats’

From today’s Guardian:

Ministers have abandoned plans to block wealthy Tory donors such as Lord Ashcroft from spending huge sums of money in marginal seats between general elections. … The amendment scraps a planned “trigger” which would have meant that would have meant that, the moment a candidate was adopted, their campaign spending would have been subject to restrictions.

The Guardian understands ministers have been warned that the rules would be very difficult to police. In its place, the government has set a date – 55 months after the new parliament first sits – when new restrictions, set at £25,000 per

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What will the political fallout from the peers lobbying scandal be?

An intriguing report in today’s Sunday Times:

PEERS who avoid tax or have criminal convictions – such as Lord Archer and Lord Black – are to be expelled from the House of Lords in the wake of the lords for hire scandal.

The reforms are being drawn up by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, in an attempt to restore the Lords’ battered reputation after last weekend’s revelations in The Sunday Times. He plans to enact the legislation necessary to expel them before the general election…

Lord Ashcroft, the billionaire Tory donor, has repeatedly refused to confirm his tax status, while Lord Laidlaw,

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Donation news round-up: Hain, Straw and UKIP

Peter Hain has been found guilty of “serious and substantial” failures for failing to register donations to his Labour Deputy Leadership campaign. More here.

Jack Straw has been found guilty of a “clear, albeit inadvertent, breach” of the rules for failing to register a donation. More here.

And the Electoral Commission has won the right to appeal over a decision that UKIP only had to forfeit a small portion of the illegal donations it had received. More here.

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Latest pension scandal to rock government

Rupert Jones reports for the Guardian:

… government ministers’ pension pots are defying the stock market slump and are up by 10% in a year, it emerged this week. Research by the Liberal Democrats revealed that high-profile ministers have pension pots worth more than 10 times the average in the private sector. Gordon Brown has a personal ministerial pension pot of £274,000. Justice secretary Jack Straw’s is £294,000 and chancellor Alistair Darling’s is £235,000. Lib Dem work and pensions spokesman Lord Oakeshott says: “Ministers and mandarins live in a pensions time warp. They look like the first world war general

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    I find the whole argument extremely odd that "we are not unionists" and that the distinction between the status quo and federalism has been blurred....
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    Oh yes, and a better picture would have been a still from the Constitutional Peasants part of Monty Python and the Holy Grail - which...
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    Unlike many of the comments above I think that this a poor article. I reads like a party appratchik waling out, saying....'will you think about...
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