Chuka’s first parliamentary question as a Lib Dem

Chuka Umunna is no stranger to holding the government to account. He spent four years opposing the Business Secretary, one Vincent Cable. The effect of that seems to have been the formation of a close friendship.

Today he asked his first question as a Lib Dem on a touchstone liberal issue – the benefits of immigration and the awfulness of the Tory Government’s policies:

The King’s Fund says that the earnings threshold in the Government’s immigration proposals, which was mentioned earlier, will definitely impact on the ability to retain and attract NHS staff. The proposals for a transition period during which many social care workers would only be allowed to come here for a limited time with no entitlement to bring dependants will, again, negatively impact on the ability to retain staff. When will this Government realise that immigration is good for our public services and good for our country, and that badly thought out policy in this area that impacts on the retention of NHS staff is wrong and nonsensical?

It’s nice to see him down as a Lib Dem in Hansard, too.

Welcome, Chuka.

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14 Comments

  • Yep. Good to see.
    There’s an interesting academic paper about the Euro-elections, just published by Matthew Goodwin. On twitter he summarises the main findings as:
    – The Brexit Party didn’t hurt the Tories much; picked up 2014 UKIP vote
    – Lib Dems hit the Tories hard
    – Leavers have a turnout problem
    – Lib Dems not just a Remain backlash, more complex
    – Farage hurt Lab in left-behind areas
    – Labour’s 2017 coalition eroding fast
    – No easy way out for Lab & Con now
    The full paper is at http://www.matthewjgoodwin.org/uploads/6/4/0/2/64026337/a_rebooted_revolt_on_the_right-11.pdf

  • Thank you to Tom McLean for the link to the paper he cites.
    I have now read – or at least skimmed – the paper. Not sure what it shows. Except that the electorate will react to how they see the world. The days when political parties knocked on doors during elections and on the day helped to give elections to those with local resources. Today the internet plays a large part, so the geographical part is less important.
    The objection to that theory is that I have just made it up, or more probably read it somewhere and forgotten the source.
    The question is though how to test it. If we only test theories that are easy to test, then we will not progress.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Jun '19 - 8:10am

    All good news for my bet that at the next General Election we can win North Wiltshire, which in the 2017 election we gained just 17.7% of the vote to the Tories 60%.

    So tell me we don’t need a new looser approach to targeting if we are to exploit the present political situation.

    Last night the BBC did their very best to kill off the Tories … we have to make the narrative (before Labour gets in there) that we are the ones to stop Farage.

  • Mark Seaman 19th Jun '19 - 9:03am

    So Chuka kicks off with an entirely mistaken speech about the way to tackle NHS staffing shortages. The problem is that successive governments, Labour, Coalition and Conservative have gone down the short-term cheap route of bringing NHS employees into the UK from abroad, rather than training people in the UK to do the jobs. The training courses that do exist here are constantly over subscribed, and so the UK has a far higher proportion of foreign workers in the health service than other European countries do.

  • @Mark Seaman

    Training (as opposed to importing) more healthcare personnel will not solve the problem.

    When it comes to NHS staffing shortages THE problem is retention. Working conditions in the NHS are appalling, such that large numbers of locally trained personel leave (either through emigration or change of profession). Just an anecdote, but from the flat I shared in final year of medical school, none of us 4 work in the NHS (either choosing an alternative healthcare employer, a new profession, or another country to work in). All of us would like to work in the NHS, but the working conditions are just so bad and job satisfaction so low that it’s just not worth it in spite of the good that it does for its users.

  • Mark Seaman 19th Jun ’19 – 9:03am
    So Chuka kicks off with an entirely mistaken speech about the way to tackle NHS staffing shortages.

    The speech is not about NHS staffing shortages. it’s about the economic and social benefits of immigration.

    That’s obviously not incompatible with training and retaining more British nurses and doctors.

  • Paul Pettinger 19th Jun '19 - 2:09pm

    Disappointed to see Chuka have published an article this week in defence of centrism (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/chuka-umunna-liberal-democrats-change-uk-centrism-brexit-second-referendum-a8962671.html). Centrists are an important part of our coalition, but centrism is a terrible strategy for most liberal parties, and it is out of step with the middle ground of remain and liberal opinion in Britain, which leans towards the left on economic issues.

    The failure of Change UK demonstrated a lack of understanding of challenges faced by smaller parties. I had therefore hoped Chuka would at the least enter into a period of listening during a period of transition and show more humility, but he is already writing as if little has changed and is regurgitating conventional wishing that is inappropriate and unhelpful for us. We already experimented with Blairite cargo cultism and it nearly finished us.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jun '19 - 3:32pm

    Paul

    A rather uncalled for, if I am allowed to say it, iliberal criticism, as you in your own piece recognise those in the centre are a significant , I would say majority, in our party.

    Chuka calls it, ” progressive, liberal, radical centre.”

    So he did not call it progressive liberal radical centre left, because he has left a party where you are only as good as your allegiance to the leftist agenda, for a party where he can say and be what and who he is.

    Give the guy a break!

    He did more in a day on antisemitism than much of the parliamentary party, he marched and demonstrated with the Jewish mps and community groups, against his own party and the leadership.

    What as radical have most mps of any party done?!

  • It’s not often I agree with Jeremy Corbyn, but I think he’s got a point that from a Labour point of view that if he tacks to remain there are a lot of seats he would lose or fail to win. He s best bet might be to tack further towards leave and argue that Labour would renegotiate Brexit. This way the leave vote is split 3 ways but crucially he won’t let the Tories or BXP into Labour seats.

    Meanwhile he opens the door to giving the Lib Dem’s a free run at remain seats. Assuming a bug Parliament then emerges he can then put a referendum on the table. If he tacks towards remain all he will do is split the vote further unless we can agree not to fight each other.

  • My objection to the use of the word centrism is that it doesn’t mean anything in the field of politics. It is essential to at least try to look for defining features in political parties. That is assuming we see a value in them.
    The fact is that most people do not see a value in the labels we give to parties. There are substantial advantages for the two large parties. The advantages are centred around resources. It is accepted that there are two parties which attract substantial funds in England and Wales. One from the Trade Union movement the other from business. Resources result in being able to employ staff, to plan national campaigns. This provides a continuity when things are bad. This is an important disadvantage for the Liberal Democrats.
    The debate about centralism shows that there are different ways of looking at the world. I do not see my fellow as being objects to be labelled, but as individuals whose views will change according to their view of their changing world. Others obviously see the world differently with people who subscribe to different sets of views which will tell us how they will put an x on a ballot paper.
    To me it would be very helpful if someone could explain this, to me, strange world view.

  • @Christian: The labour strategy on EU should not just be about votes, it’s about leadership. As was said on Newsnight last night, we need to persuade people that to remain is the best chance for dealing with ‘austerity’ and the inequality affecting less well-off people.

  • @Christian There’s two things to remember about the referendum. It was probably won by a group of people who had never voted before (and perhaps may never vote again). The other is that, just because a lot of Leave voting constituencies are Labour, it doesn’t mean it was Labour voters voting Leave. I live in the North East. The anger against the EU is palpable but on street stalls we often hear, ” it was the first time I voted and I’ll never vote again.” Many Labour voters come to us and say Jeremy Corbyn needs to come of the fence.
    The tragedy is that Brexit will not resolve the issues that led many people to vote Leave. They’ll still be left behind, a lot poorer and angrier.
    Boris Johnson giving tax cuts to the rich will not improve things.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Sep '19 - 8:46pm

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