Here is everything Labour should be talking about, according to the Lib Dems

Louis Dor
Sunday 10 January 2016 13:20
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Headlines about the Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle have been prominent in recent days, and the Lib Dems aren't happy about it.

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for what many have described as a lengthy and disorganised reshuffle, which painstakingly dragged out over the course of four days.

After the former shadow foreign office minister, Steven Doughty, resigned live on the BBC's Daily Politics ahead Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour party’s director of communications and strategy Seumas Milne complained to the BBC.

The Liberal Democrats have seized upon this complaint about an "orchestrated and stage-managed" resignation, to highlight how Labour's in-fighting has stolen media attention.

As they put it:

i100.co.uk asked the Liberal Democrats to elaborate, and suggest factors more worthy of media attention this week.

They sent us the following list:

  • EU ministers being allowed to campaign for Brexit

  • The Housing Bill

  • The cross-party commission on the future of the NHS and social care

  • The UK Saudi relationship

  • Threat to block cuts to Universal Credit in the House of Lords

  • The 'sexed up' letter released by NHS England about Junior Doctors

  • North Korea announcing the detonation of a H bomb

  • Calls for an RAF food drop into the besieged city of Madaya

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats told i100.co.uk:

Unlike Labour we don't blame the media for this circus. We place the blame firmly at the feet of the so called Official Opposition. The political lobby, have reported a political story - the implosion of Labour.

There are many, many more stories that would have led all the papers on an average week - from attacking the Tories over being able to campaign for Brexit, to their shamefully muted response over the 47 people killed by the Saudi Arabian government and North Korea, allegedly, letting off a Hydrogen bomb.

Most days these stories would have run and run. Sadly Labour got themselves into a spot where the Culture Spokesman being sacked is more important.

Let's go over their list in a little more detail:

EU ministers allowed to campaign for Brexit

David Cameron said the government would make a "clear recommendation" after ongoing renegotiations with EU leaders, but that Conservative ministers would be free to take a contrary stance should they wish to do so.

Critics warned Mr Cameron he could face cabinet resignations if ministers were prevented from campaigning, however also accused the prime minister of relinquishing collective responsibility.

Did Labour say anything?

Comparisons were made to Labour prime minister Harold Wilson's decision to give his Cabinet a free vote in 1975, during a referendum on the then Common Market.

Politics Home reported Jeremy Corbyn as saying:

He’s really playing politics rather than putting forward the interests of the people of this country

The Housing Bill

(Picture: Getty Images)

The new housing bill, debated in parliament last week, will introduce “pay to stay” charges for council house tenants earning more than £30,000 a year, and will force the sale of empty high value council properties.

The Chartered Institute for Housing said: “Almost 7,000 council homes a year could be lost when right to buy is extended to housing associations if no extra funding is provided.”

Did Labour say anything?

Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate for mayor of London, criticised the bill:

The housing crisis in London is bad now but as a consequence of this bill it will fall off a cliff edge.

It is going to be catastrophic for hundreds of thousands of people who will see rents and house prices rise and a steep decline in the number of affordable properties.

The cross-party commission on the future of the NHS and social care

A letter from 40 organisations, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie, implored the prime minister for an independent, cross-party commission to review the future of the NHS and social care.

The letter pointed out official figures which suggest one in four of the population will be over 65 in just 20 years time:

It is vital that you meet the challenge posed by an ageing society, and an underfunded care system, head on and establish a cross-party commission to review the future of health and social care in England.

The Department of Health said it would invest £10bn into the NHS.

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb put forward proposals for an independent commission to review the future of the NHS, citing experts who claimed there could be a £30bn gap in NHS funding by 2020.

Did Labour say anything?

Not prominently.

The UK-Saudi relationship

The UK's relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has come under scrutiny after the public execution of 47 prisoners, including Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Tim Farron told the Independent:

It is time the Prime Minister came clean about whether the Government supported Saudi Arabia's election to the UN Human Rights Council.

(Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)

It would make a utter mockery of the values we hold dear if they did support them. We must be stronger with our supposed allies and say that systematic abuses of human rights will not be tolerated.

If the Government did support the Saudi bid - it would show once and for all that the Government puts profit above fundamental human rights.

Did Labour say anything?

As the Independent reported on 4 January, the party wrote to justice secretary Michael Gove demanding the agreement between the UK and Saudi governments over judicial cooperation be published.

The ‘memorandum of understanding’ – signed in September 2014 – tied the two countries into cooperating on judicial matters and Downing Street confirmed the cooperation continues, despite Mr Gove cancelling the Government’s £6m prison training contract with Saudi Arabia last October.

Threat to block cuts to Universal Credit in the House of Lords

Lib Dem peers plan to table an amendment which would repeal the Universal Credit (Work Allowance) Amendment regulations passed last year, during a debate on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on Tuesday.

The amendment would derail cuts to universal credit, but would only affect new claimants.

It would also represent another showdown of late, between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

Did Labour say anything?

No, however Lib Dem sources told the Mirror they were confident Labour and crossbench peers would back the bid.

The 'sexed up' letter released by NHS England about junior doctors

This was the exclusive, broken by the Independent on Thursday 7 January.

It revealed a controversial letter, signed by the NHS’s top “independent” medic, which questioned whether striking junior doctors would be available in the event of a Paris-style terror attack, had been backed and signed off by Whitehall officials.

Emails between senior Department of Health staff and professor Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of the independent body NHS England, showed that Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, was given approval on the text of the letter.

It was revised a number of times to ensure concerns about the possible impact of a major incident during the strike were made as “hard-edged” as possible.

After the letter was made public, three thousand medics wrote to Keogh accusing him of using fears of a terror attack for “political purposes”.

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb called for an inquiry into the letter.

Did Labour say anything?

Labour health spokesman Justin Madders said:

The NHS is clearly under growing pressure this winter. Hospitals are dangerously full, patients are waiting hours in A&E and some hospital bosses have had no choice but to close their doors in order to cope.

North Korea announcing H bomb detonation

North Korea claimed to have carried out its first successful hydrogen bomb test.

An earthquake occurred near the country's Punggye-ri nuclear test site at around 10am local time.

State-run television then announced a hydrogen bomb test had been a "complete success".

Did Labour say anything?

Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, said:

There is still uncertainty about exactly what has happened but, if verified, the nuclear test carried out by North Korea represents a clear violation of numerous UN Security Council Resolutions and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Calls for RAF food drop into the besieged city of Madaya

(Picture: Getty Images)

The Syrian town of Madaya is currently blockaded by the Assad government.

On 8 January, Lord Ashdown and Labour MP Jo Cox, a former head of policy for Oxfam, said the UN was not being firm enough in getting aid to the starving families.

The letter read:

We find it astonishing that so little has been done by the international community to break these sieges when life-saving medical and food aid are often only minutes away.

We urge you to push the UN, in particular the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to be far bolder in its aid delivery and stop asking unnecessary permission from the Syrian government.

The government said that the images of starving children are “heart-rending” and funding for more aid to Syrian refugees will be secured at a London conference next month.

For the starving and dying of Madaya, next month is a very long time.

Did Labour say anything?

Labour MP Jo Cox co-wrote the letter.

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