Tonight saw the latest in a seemingly endless stream of craven and unedifying Tory behaviour since the General Election reduced May and her party to a spineless, shifty wreck.
Facing almost certain defeat in today’s debate and vote over Labour’s motion to at least postpone the continued roll-out of the Tories’ enormously cruel and damaging Universal Credit (UC) benefits system, which is impoverishing huge numbers of people, the government decided that running away and hiding was the better part of
It was one of the direst and most contemptible displays of political cowardice you will see – even more so because the vote was to try to bring respite to some of our most vulnerable people; people who cannot hide and have no choice but to face the consequences of Tory actions and cruelty.
When the Tories are afraid to face the far more minor consequences of their decisions.
So pathetic was the Tory display that Labour MPs were forced to shout ‘No!’ to their own motion merely in order to force a vote – if the Speaker had not heard any cries against the motion, he would have had to declare it passed without contest.
So deep was the government’s corwardice that Speaker Bercow was visibly angry that convention was ignored – a government defeated in a vote is expected to send a minister to explain to the House what it will do next, but the Tories were too busy cowering in broom cupboards. Bercow does not have the power to compel them to do their job.
Theresa May would rather lose to nil than try to fight for what passes for her convictions and still lose – so she imposed a ‘three-line whip’ on her MPs. Not to vote against Labour’s motion, but not to vote at all. This was to deprive MPs of even the opportunity to rebel.
Some 25 MPs were said to be ready to rebel against May – but that supposed backbone and humanity evaporated as all but one MP obeyed the whip in a move that added insult to the grievous injury the government has done and continues to do to those already in poverty, hardship and distress.
The result brought shame on our Parliament and on our country:
Labour wins a symbolic vote against the Govt (after that govt 3-line whip to abstain): Ayes: 299 Noes: 0 https://t.co/vAYweckkvo
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 18, 2017
So gutless are the Tories that they daren’t even answer for their spinelessness after it’s done. DWP Secretary David Gauke was scheduled to appear on the BBC’s Newsnight programme this evening, but pulled out less than 3 hours before because of ‘changed circumstances, as Newsnight editor Ian Katz tweeted:
Work + Pensions secretary David Gauke pulled frm #newsnight 2.5 hrs before scheduled interview on universal credit…"circumstances changed"
— Ian Katz (@iankatz1000) October 18, 2017
The sole Conservative MP who showed moral courage tonight was Sarah Wollaston, a GP as well as MP for the Devon constituency of Totnes. She disobeyed the three-line whip to support Labour’s motion in defence of the defenceless.
Dr Wollaston has some form for doing the right thing. When Theresa May lied – yet again – in Prime Minister’s Questions about the government’s NHS spending and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called her out on the lie, Wollaston was caught by BBC Parliament cameras nodding and agreeing with Corbyn’s correction to May’s truthlessness.
The SKWAWKBOX applauds Dr Wollaston for this show of humanity and moral spine. And we condemn absolutely the cravenness of a government that is content to impose terrible consequences on those can’t defend themselves – yet is too cowardly even to take a few lumps to stand up for what is supposedly believes in.
The Tories’ contempt for democracy and the people of this country are exposed once again. How long will they be allowed to piss on all that’s good about our country and democracy for the sake of their own narrow, pathetic interests?
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