Preston MP Mark Hendrick votes against the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and makes a point of insulting the successful Leave campaign

Yesterday the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons, an important step towards becoming law.

This bill is a necessary part of our leaving the EU. When passed it will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972, the Act of Parliament that first took us in (without any referendum), while maintaining continuity with existing EU regulations, incorporating them into British law so they can be approved, amended or repealed by our own parliament.

The Labour Party voted against this necessary bill, under a “three-line whip” – strong internal pressure on MPs to toe the party line. Only seven Labour MPs defied that whip; Mark Hendrick was not one of them. Perhaps that goes without saying: he always does what his masters tell him, and his masters are the Labour whips, not Prestonians. So his failure to act in the interests of the country and his constituency is not a surprise.

But the terms in which he did so are remarkable. He doesn’t often speak in the Chamber, but he did so last night. You can read what he had to say in Hansard, and watch him at parliamentlive.tv He protests that he accepts the referendum result (although his speech makes it clear that he still doesn’t, really – just listen to it) but says “the Leave campaign told a pack of lies”. Extraordinary! I’d like him to substantiate that slur, and the implicit slur on those of us who he thinks fell for these “lies” and who he thinks will come to what he thinks are our senses some time in 2019.

To finish, the magnificent seven are Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, and Graham Stringer. (source: The Sun)

Save the Dinner Lady

I didn’t attend the UK against Hate march in Manchester recently. But Rachel Booth did, and was suspended from her job as a dinner lady at Moor Nook Primary School as a result. I have signed a petition to Suzanne Clough, Headmistress at Moor Nook, asking for Rachel to be reinstated and for an apology to be made to her and to her children, some of whom attend Moor Nook School. I hope you will sign it, too.

Update at 8 o’clock, Thursday evening:

I agree with John Redwood…

…when he says There is no soft or hard Brexit:

I do not know how many more times I have to argue the obvious. There is Brexit, or there is staying in the EU. The EU has made it crystal clear you cannot stay in the single market without accepting freedom of movement and paying contributions, two things the people clearly rejected in the referendum and again in the General election. You cannot stay in the Customs Union if you want to have free trade deals with the rest of the world.

The Labour Manifesto in 2017 stated  they accepted the decision of the referendum. They set out policies to negotiate a range of new free trade and investment agreements with non EU countries that assume we are leaving the single market and the Customs Union. The Manifesto talked positively about a new trading relationship they wished to negotiate, again assuming the current one stemming from single market and customs union membership had gone. Their document  stated that “freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU”. The Conservative and DUP Manifestos also made clear we will be leaving the single market and Customs Union and looked forward to new free trade deals around the world.

So we have overwhelming agreement, endorsed by 86% of the voters in the election, that the UK will run her own immigration policy and her own trade policy on leaving. People in the UK have to grasp that arguing amongst ourselves about what our negotiating position should be, when the government  has already set one out, can only help those in the EU institutions who wish to harm the UK. Fortunately most of the member states want access to our market and want good relations with us for a wide  variety of reasons. Fortunately also the Lisbon Treaty has in Clause 8 a clear legal requirement that the EU itself seeks an “area of prosperity and good neighbourliness” with us. We know how keen Commissioners are to stick to the law of the Treaty.

I am optimistic about the negotiations. It would help our country if more people got behind the government’s stance. After all what the government wants is what all say they want – good access to the single market, and many collaborations and joint workings based on bilateral agreement. To change stance now would undermine us. We negotiate with the rest of the EU, not amongst ourselves!

My email to the Labour Party

A few weeks ago I signed up to notifications from the Labour Party. I wanted them to let me know when their manifesto was published. Of course I’ve been spammed by them ever since, with a range of amusing begging letters. They’ve just sent me this:

There it is. It’s been an incredible effort today and we’ve done
everything we can. All that’s left to say is….

…thank you Simon.

<snip />

Thank you for all you’ve done for this campaign.

When this election was called we knew it would be tough — the Tories wouldn’t have called it otherwise. But together, in less than eight weeks, the Labour movement has achieved so much.

Because no matter how high-tech and well-run this campaign was, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Record breaking donations, huge crowds and thousands of members and supporters campaigning for the first time. We left no stone unturned.

So thank you to the thousands who knocked on doors today and throughout the campaign. The thousands more who made calls, organised campaign centres and helped people to polling stations. Who shared our message online, reminded friends and family to vote, donated and campaigned for what we believe in.

You’ve done the Labour movement proud — both today and over the past 51 days — and we can’t thank you enough for that.

Team Labour

Here’s my reply:

Dear Labour Party,

The time has come for me to reply to your spamming and let you know that my aim over the last six weeks has been to unseat your candidate in Preston, Mark Hendrick. It’s a tricky thing to do in six weeks; Preston has been a Labour sinecure for seventeen years or more.

I used be a member of the Labour Party, but haven’t supported you for a long time, not since some point between the death of John Smith and the beginning of the Blair Terror. I can’t imagine what could possibly convince me to vote Labour ever again; the party no longer represents the ordinary people of Britain. You are irresponsible and dangerous, for Britain and for the world.

Yours very sincerely,

Simon Platt

Interesting …

I’ve just seen, or at least heard, Mark Hendrick on my street (in Preston constituency, of course) for only the second time in 17 years. The first time he was in a posse of canvassers during an earlier general election campaign (it must have been 2001, I think). Just now we heard his disembodied voice as we sat down to tea. “Mark Hendrick… Mark Hendrick… today is polling day”. Rushing to the window, there was a white car – looked like a minicab – at the junction at the end of the street, pulling away. Of course I shook my fist and shouted “boo”, but it was too late. And I’m not sure whether it was really him, or just a recording. (I didn’t actually see him, but I’ve come to recognise his voice, of course.)

That is very encouraging. It suggests a level of concern. We’d just been discussing whether yesterday’s attack ad in the Evening Post was significant. In the conversation, someone had said “he must be worried”, just before we heard him, and that person is convinced of it now. It was also pointed out that the Labour Club opposite our house hasn’t put up its usual “vote Labour” posters this year.

So go out and vote UKIP, if you haven’t already. There’s a couple of hours left.

General Election Pledge for Israel

I received an email asking me to endorse a Pledge for Israel:

If elected to the United Kingdom Parliament I Pledge…

  • To oppose the extremists who challenge Israel ’s right to exist.
  • To support the right of people in the United Kingdom to enjoy Israeli culture and promote business, educational, religious and other connections with the Jewish State without fear of discrimination, boycotts, harassment and/or intimidation.
  • To support those who genuinely seek to promote and establish a permanent, just and comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours.
  • To celebrate the fact that Israel is a free society and parliamentary democracy that extends to all its citizens the right to practice their religion and have access to religious sites in Jerusalem.
  • To support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
  • To encourage HM Government to promote trade with Israel that will increase investment and jobs for people in both countries.

My reply was as follows:

I didn’t know about this initiative. I’ll look at it more closely.

I have had time to read through the pledges, though, and it’s disappointing that more candidates haven’t supported them. I hadn’t heard of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, and so I’d need to look at that before I could comment on it specifically, but all the other points are very clearly things that I would strongly support. I think it would be very poor for any candidate not to support them.

I’ll be busy for the next couple of hours but will respond further, later.

I have since had a look at the IHRA working definition of antisemitism I find that it goes like this:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

I don’t think it’s very well  written (I would say something like “hating people because they are Jews, or treating them badly because they are Jews”, but who am I to decide?) It reads like it was written by a committee, which I suppose it was. But I think the sentiment is clear and I’m very happy to support it, as well as to endorse all the other parts of the Pledge on Israel. I think it would be very poor for any prospective MP not to endorse the pledge.

My position on Life Issues ahead of the General Election

I have received the following request via a pro-life direct democracy site, www.wheredotheystand.org.uk:

Dear Dr Simon Platt,

I am a constituent of Preston and I’m writing to find out how you would vote on certain crucial issues.

The brief questionnaire below details hypothetical Bills. Each Bill allows for one of three possible answers: yes, no, abstain – the same three answers available to Members elected to Members of Parliament.

In each case I am asking you to declare how you would vote on the policy of the Bill, that is, whether or not you would agree with its stated aims in principle. Please respond to all questions.

I care very deeply about these issues and your answers may affect my vote.

Your answers and explanations may be published on www.wheredotheystand.org.uk. I would prefer an electronic response, if practicable.

Thank you,

I’m very happy to have been able to respond entirely positively, as follows:

Thank you for your email. I’m very happy to be able to reply to say that I am strongly pro-life. I’ve been a member of SPUC since I was 18 and have participated in many Life and SPUC activities over the years – leafletting, pro-life chains, White Flower Appeals, etc.
I’m answering the questions below in the most pro-life way I can. Where proposed bills are inadequate, I’m answering them with a pragmatic view of saving as many lives as possible – that’s how I’d vote in parliament.
If I am elected you can be sure that I would be a strong pro-life voice in parliament. I think I am the only pro-life candidate in Preston.
I should be very pleased if you would pass on my replies to as many people as you see fit.

My answers were given in the email and are available online at http://wheredotheystand.org.uk/t/preston/simon-philip-platt (green is good).

I care about Animal Welfare

Here’s the text of a message I received, asking me “Do you care about animal welfare?” and asking me to complete a survey from the “League Against Cruel Sports”:

Dear Simon Platt,

I am writing to ask your views about animal protection.

Britain has some of the strongest animal welfare laws in the world, but we now risk falling behind:

  • The Hunting Act, which protects wild animals from being chased by packs of dogs, is under threat, despite 84% of the public supporting the ban.
  • Sentences for animal cruelty offences are extremely lenient, with a maximum six months in prison, compared to two to five years in most countries.
  • Court orders banning those convicted of animal welfare offences are unenforceable due to a lack of records.

As a voter who treasures Britain’s animals and natural environment, I would really appreciate if you could take a moment to fill out this survey about your views. [link removed]

Kind regards,

Here’s my reply:

Yes, I do care about animal welfare, very much, and have done since my early childhood. I can’t remember when this subject wasn’t important to me. But I can’t understand why you think “we now risk falling behind”. Could you explain?
I followed the link to your survey, but found it to be from the League Against Cruel Sports. I’m afraid that I do not support that organisation. I think they are misguided and intolerant, and I shan’t be participating in any of their activities, not even completing an online survey.