Cometh the hour, cometh the Andy…

The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association. It’s the politics, stupid! When the row over increased funding for Manchester to compensate for the city’s strict lockdown rules erupted a couple of weeks ago, I was impressed by Andy Burnham. I looked at his fresh, still rather boyish features as he appeared on the TV news and he seemed as if he might be another in that long line of intelligent, sensible, sane and humane Labour statesmen: perhaps not quite another Clement Attlee, but up there on the decency podium with such as Frank Field. Continue reading

We cannot go on like this. The response to Covid is destroying lives and livelihoods

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns During a general Covid debate in the House of Commons yesterday, Chris Green, the Conservative MP for Bolton West who resigned as a ministerial aide last week, said: "...I do have an answer to my written question about what action has been taken in relation to the 20,000 fewer referrals from GPs to hospitals this year than last. The answer that came back was: 'No specific assessment has been made.'  "That is 20,000 people in Bolton as a whole whom GPs think should have a hospital appointment of one form or another. I do not know how many of that 20,000 would be in the category of life or death, but I suspect a very significant number. I suspect that this would be replicated right across the country. To get a six word answer —“No specific assessment has been made”—to cover ​that 20,000 is disappointing to say the least. It is also covering a health time bomb that will explode. That is already happening at the moment. Far more needs to be done so. Will my hon. Friend commit to delivering a covid lockdown health impact assessment for every constituency around the country?" Continue reading

An Unholy Alliance: the European Union and the Mitred Atheists

The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association. The UK’s five Anglican Archbishops have pooled their brains to denounce our government’s revised Brexit policy. They have “issued a statement” or, as we speak in the street, they say: “If carefully-negotiated terms are not honoured and laws can be ‘legally’ broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?” In these few words, the Archbishops show that they know as much about politics as the Jabberwock. Their statement is all of a piece with their warm embrace of secular authority in matters of ethical mores about which they have frequently repeated their mantra, “The Church has a lot of catching up to do with secular values.” Continue reading

The Government is paying lip service to democracy

By Andrew Allison Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that "for significant national [Covid-19] measures with effect in the whole of England or UK-wide, we will consult Parliament; wherever possible, we will hold votes before such regulations come into force." Earlier this week the 'rule of six' was debated, and yesterday Covid restrictions in the North East, North West and the North of England were too. The time allocated for each of the debates was a measly 90 minutes.  After Business Questions this morning, Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, raised a point or order with the Speaker. He commented that backbench MPs yesterday had "150 seconds to hold the Government to account. The Government have endless time at the Dispatch Box and in the media, but MPs had 150 seconds. Mr Speaker, may I refer to your statement of 30 September before Prime Minister’s questions? In your opinion, does the Government’s handling and the opportunities they are giving to Back-Bench Members square with your advice on 30 September?"  Continue reading

Westminster's 'City Inspectors' spying through letterboxes

By Andrew Allison When Boris Johnson announced that there would be a new army of Covid Marshals patrolling our streets, I immediately thought of Warden Hodges from Dad’s Army. Hodges was a figure of fun in the well-loved television series, but there is nothing remotely funny about the marshals patrolling our streets waiting to leap on anyone breaking Covid rules.  If you are in the City of Westminster, you may just spot the council’s “City Inspectors”. They are easy to find in their blue fluorescent waistcoats. According to Westminster City Council, the inspectors "perform a variety of roles throughout the City of Westminster, providing a 24/7 service across all wards in the borough. They deal with concerns around anti-social behaviour, irresponsible business practices and licensing issues." Now they are Covid Marshals, too. Continue reading