Tag Archives: tom harris

A row with a Labour MP and a wonky crystal ball

Facebook is now giving you more reason to waste time on it by reminding you what you posted on this day in previous years. I’m mostly enjoying it. A random bit of cheek from the much missed Andrew Reeves made me laugh and cry yesterday. Today I was reminded about a post on my own blog from five years ago.

Tom Harris, then MP for Glasgow South had been whinging something chronic about the (then) new IPSA, the body which administers parliamentary expenses, set up in the wake of the scandal. I wrote a post in response which said, basically: Tom, you have a point, but this is how public services generally treat ordinary, often vulnerable people. I then went off on one giving many examples of such horrors.

There might be some who take a bit of perverse pleasure in seeing MPs being treated like that. I’m not one of them, although I have no objection to them having to provide documentary evidence of things. You try claiming benefits or tax credits without providing supporting documents and see how far you get. Most MPs, as I have repeatedly said, are good people – but then so are most people who deal with the Department of Work and Pensions, the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs – and nobody should have to put up with poor systems and bad service.

One thing IPSA hasn’t done yet is lost any confidential data, unlike HMRC under Labour where the details of Child Benefit claimants went missing.

I do have a slight concern about the way in which one MP spoke to the IPSA officials (apparently interns, who have no power in the organisation) when asked to file his children’s birth certificates:

It is not yet known whether the IPSA official in question is even physically capable of performing the act the MP then requested of him, or even if it is legal within the United Kingdom.

.I wonder if this is a bit of poetic licence on Tom’s part but if a benefit or tax credit claimant had spoken to a Government official like that, they would have suffered some fairly severe consequences and perhaps been denied service, however understandable the grievance. I also think Tom would be the first to stand up and defend the relevant Government agency in that instance.

Tom was none too pleased and took me to task in the comments:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Why commission a report if you’re determined to ignore its conclusions?

Last August, the then Labour government commissioned a KPMG report into the future of NHS Direct (along with some other related NHS services). The report has been submitted to the current government, though not published.

So if Labour MPs and members were saying how the government must publish the KPMG report right away to see if it justifies the plans to migrate NHS Direct over to the planned 111 service, fair enough.

But for many in Labour to be demanding that the NHS Direct plans be abandoned without knowing the outcome of the KPMG report is tantamount to saying, “Who cares …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

What prospect for Lib Dem / Labour cooperation in the next Parliament?

The message from Labour-sympathising Guardian columnist Jackie Ashley in this morning’s paper is a stark one: “Labour is playing bad politics.” The reason?

The leadership campaign is turning into a tin-ear, foot-in-mouth competition about who can be nastiest to the Liberal Democrats. As candidates desperately try to prove themselves more true Labour, more tribal than the next guy, they are in danger of missing the big picture about our changing politics. They could end up wrecking their party’s position for the next generation, which is their own.

All political parties sometimes reach for their tribal comfort blanket, especially after a …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Twitter’s fun, but let’s not pretend it’s revolutionising democracy

As a local councillor, I want to reach my constituents and make sure they can reach me.

If I put out a leaflet it costs a bit and takes a while to deliver, and I can reach thousands of constituents.

I write a blog post and then let people know about it by email – that reaches a few hundred (and it’s much quicker and cheaper).

Or I can tweet and reach about ten.

Because, despite the promise of Twitter as providing a great two way link between politicians and those they represent, it’s a long way from achieving that.

The reason? Twitter for …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Shouldn’t Labour MPs just nominate the candidate they think is best for the job?

I’ve been intrigued these past couple of days to see the main Labour blogs fall over themselves to argue that the current three front-runners for the Labour leadership – now they have the MP nominations needed to be on the ballot – should urge their parliamentary colleagues to nominate one of the three also-ran contenders to ensure “the widest possible field of candidates in the leadership election”.

I can understand the principle behind the campaign, of course. Frankly, if I were in the shoes of a Labour member (as I was for a number of years), I …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 21 Comments

A reply to Tom Harris: Lib Dems wait for the voters to speak. (It’s called democracy, and we kind of like it).

Labour MP Tom Harris, bless him, is clearly feeling a little bit insecure, as the Lib Dems enjoy a successful conference with a spring in their step and the full glare of the media spotlight. Tom’s blog is a good, fun read – but like his Tory equivalent Iain Dale, he has a bit of a tribal blind spot when it comes to the Lib Dems.

Here’s what Tom has to say about Lib Dem shadow schools secretary David Laws declining to take the media bait asking whether the party would back Labour or the Tories in the …

Posted in General Election and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

NEW POLL: Is it time to end ‘politically restricted’ jobs?

Blogging Labour MP Tom Harris has an interesting story today, revealing that Tina Stowell, the BBC’s head of corporate affairs “is not only a wannabe Tory candidate, but still has a live website proclaiming her love of all things Cameron.” But Tom doesn’t point this out in order to fulminate or demand her resignation:

And you know something? I don’t have a problem with this. I would much prefer to know the politics of someone I’m dealing with because at least you know where they’re coming from. She wants to become an MP? Good for her! I hope she

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

Britain’s best MP competition: the results

Our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ competition has come to a close with Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich, a clear winner. The final results are:

Douglas Carswell 47%
Gisela Stuart 16%
Tom Harris 12%
Lynne Featherstone 9%
Bob Russell 6%
Jo Swinson 6%
David Howarth 2%
Chris Mullin 2%

I appreciate that the results do not make happy reading for visitors to this site and the results of online polls cannot be taken too seriously, but please don’t dismiss this competition just yet.

Whilst acknowledging that our hope of getting people to listen to the MPs answers and then vote for their ‘best MP’ based on what they heard probably …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 10 Comments

Voting started in Britain’s best MP campaign

You may remember that back at the beginning of December we launched our ‘Best MP’ campaign to highlight the fact that not all MPs should be tarred with the same brush as the ‘expenses cheats.’

We asked users of our website – Yoosk –  to send in their nominations for Best MP and to send us the questions they would like to put to the nominees. All eight nominated MPs agreed to answer and you can compare what they said on our website now and cast your vote in our Poll, which will be ‘live’ until the 31st December.

Here is a sample of how we edited the answers together to make them easier to compare.  This question came from ‘artichelper’ and received most votes from our users:

‘What do you believe is the best change in policy that you, yourself played a significant role in making that change happen?’ And you can view a compilation of the answers below.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

What makes a ‘good’ MP?

Well, there has been plenty in the news recently about what makes a ‘bad’ MP so we at Yoosk thought that it might be a good idea to focus for a while on the qualities of a ‘good’ MP. End the year on a positive note.

And that is why we started our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ campaign two weeks ago. We want to find out who the good MPs are and what differentiates them from the rest. We asked our users at Yoosk to nominate their candidates and these are the people they put forward:

Gisela Stuart (Lab)
Lynne …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Save general election night!

Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported how our traditional general election night is under threat from more and more councils wanting to move their count to a Friday.

Although there are some understandable reasons for this (principally the extra logistical burden of new checks against postal vote fraud), overall losing the drama of Thursday night through to the early hours of Friday morning would be a backwards step because:

Posted in General Election and News | Also tagged and | 15 Comments
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