Earlier this month Nicholas Arnold, Margaret Atkinson, Mark Banks, Ben Burcombe-Filer, James Charity, Adrian Cooper, Lisa Crosher, James Foulds, Jeanette Fox, Danny Francis, Jerry Hall, Susan Hall, Patti Hayes, Joy Haythorne, Mike Hughes, Shelagh Lee, Daniel Newcombe, Simon Payne, Gary Phillips, Joan Raistrick, Paul Redding, Albie Slawson, Roger Vivian, Alan Weatherall, and Chris Yates stood as Conservative candidates in the Eastleigh local elections.
As far as I know, only one of them has called for the Prime Minister to go for the Downing Street pandemic parties, and clearly none of them were concerned enough about Johnson’s behaviour to stand as independent candidates.
Eastleigh’s MP, Paul Holmes, a vocal supporter of the Prime Minister, even hosted a campaign visit to Southampton Airport, where Johnson lied about the tax free area only being possible due to leaving the EU.
If none of them had the integrity to challenge their leader’s behaviour when it so clearly breaches the standards expected in public life, how could anyone trust them on local issues? The election results suggest voters didn’t trust them.
Paul in particular has seemed more interested in putting his career, and party leader first, despite the damage being done to his party and the country.
“I understand your concerns about recent distractions from the good work the Government has been trying to do. I am disappointed that certain mistakes have damaged people’s confidence in our ability to deliver on the really important issues which affect all our daily lives.”
He could have done something about the distractions long ago, but chose not to.
“As you will know, the Prime Minister, his wife, and the Chancellor have been fined by the police for breaching lockdown rules by attending a gathering to celebrate his birthday. Like you, I was deeply concerned to read this news, and I will follow further developments closely.”
“You may be aware that the House of Commons recently agreed to refer the Prime Minister to the Committee of Privileges to investigate whether he had knowingly misled Parliament. This motion passed without a vote, which means an investigation will now be carried out.”
“As I have said previously, I believe it is vital that people around the country continue to have faith that those in power in our democratic system are held to account, and that they meet the high standards expected of those who hold public office. I would therefore have voted for this investigation if it had come to a vote.”
“However, I remain of the view that all the processes that are underway must be allowed to run their course. The Sue Gray report has not been published and the Metropolitan Police investigation has not concluded.”
On the plus side, I am pleasantly surprised that Paul hasn’t followed the example of some Conservative MPs and told us all to move on. He has also resigned from his government position, which should allow him to start holding the government, and the Prime Minister to account…
…except he hasn’t yet. Oddly there isn’t actually any criticism of the Prime Minister in Paul’s statement, and no indication that he thinks Johnson should resign.
“It is distressing to me that this work on your behalf has been tarnished by the toxic culture that seemed to have permeated Number 10.”
It’s as if Number 10 was just ambushed by the toxic culture.
At long last Paul Holmes has made a statement in relation to lockdown parties in Downing Street, after reports first emerged towards the end of last year.
“The Prime Minister will be aware that Eastleigh was formed as a railway town and, from producing locomotives and carriages to building gliders for the D-day landings, Eastleigh has a proud railway heritage. Given that pedigree, its excellent transport links and the need to level up the south, does he agree that Eastleigh would make the perfect home for the new headquarters of Great British Railways?”
You might be wondering what that has to do with his views on government parties during the pandemic. The only relevance is that this was Paul’s contribution during Prime Minister’s Questions today, which was dominated by Boris Johnson’s admission that he had in fact attended one of the parties during lockdown after all.
Paul claims that he was merely trying to secure money, jobs and investment for Eastleigh. Even if you believe that he wasn’t just providing friendly cover for the Prime Minister during a difficult PMQs, Paul appears to be appealing to the Prime Minister to influence the new railway headquarters decision when there is meant to be some sort of competition for towns to submit bids. That’s an interesting approach on the day that the government’s VIP lane for PPE contracts was found to be unlawful.
“I did notice, however, that I still have not received a Christmas card from him—[Interruption.] which is shocking. No doubt—I ask him to comment—that is an indication of my standing in his little black book in the Whips Office.”
I don’t think Paul need worry about his standing with the whips after today!
Anyway, I assume Paul will eventually stop ignoring the issue and actually make a statement. I’ll add a link, or the text, here when he does.
“I know many constituents have contacted me about the recent revelations regarding events in Downing Street.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I have not attended any parties in Downing Street myself.”
It’s telling that he starts by clarifying that he wasn’t at the parties. He knows it was wrong.
“The reports we have all seen in the news are deeply disappointing. Not only do I understand your anger and frustration about the reported parties in Downing Street, I share that anger and frustration.”
The Prime Minister said he understood the anger back in December last year: “May I begin by saying that I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing No. 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures?” We had to wait a very long time to hear something similar from Paul.
“These reports raise serious questions about the conduct of people working in Downing Street and like you, I want answers to these questions. I believe Sue Gray’s report will address these points. While I welcome the Prime Minister’s apology, I also believe he needs to address these concerns.”
Paul seems to be playing his part in Operation Save Big Dog already, deflecting blame from the Prime Minister to “people working in Downing Street”. Classy.
While I welcome Paul’s statement, it’s too little too late.
“Fundamentally, there is no excuse for those who make the rules, to break the rules. Those found to be doing so should be disciplined and face the consequences, with no exceptions.”
Well Paul, over to you. Or did you mean no exceptions except for the Conservative Prime Minister?
Update: Paul’s update!
Paul has updated his email template since Sue Gray’s update.
“I appreciate and understand the ongoing anger and frustration around these matters, and I remain clear that anyone found to have broken the rules must face the consequences of their actions.”
It’s already clear that the Prime Minister repeatedly breaks the ministerial code, and has done so since before it was revealed that he broke his own lockdown law. It’s also clear that Paul isn’t interested in those rules, and doesn’t expect the Prime Minister to face any consequences.
Worse, Johnson appears to be lying in Parliament even more regularly than usual in a desperate attempt to cling on to power, and has now even sunk to repeating far-right conspiracies to score political points.
“I have said that I will make a further statement when Sue Gray’s report is published. Given the concurrent police investigation, it has not yet been possible for her to release her full report, which is why only a limited update has been published so far. I look forward to the full report in due course, as well as the outcome of the police investigation, and I will make a further statement then as promised.”
Instead of distancing himself from even the worst of the Prime Minister’s false allegations, Paul is still content to stick to Johnson’s “wait for the report/wait for the police investigation” script.
It’s worth reading Sue Gray’s limited update. The full report should be interesting if the Prime Minister actually ever publishes it.
“I understand that many are calling for decisions to be taken now, but I have always been of the view that the full facts must be known in a case before a judgement can be made. However, I want to assure you that I continue to take this matter extremely seriously as your MP, and that I have heard and taken on board your views and have made them clear to the Prime Minister and Number 10.”
The facts are that Boris Johnson is a liar, and Paul Holmes still has confidence in him.
“I do not support the lobbying activities that Owen Paterson undertook while working as an MP for two companies that he acts as a paid consultant for. This is expressly forbidden in the rules and it is right that he is punished.”
I think most people agree. I also think most MPs agree. I’m fairly certain most Conservative MPs, like Paul, would now publicly claim they agree as well.
I’m inclined to believe them, which makes it even more inexcusable that they allowed the motion to suspended Owen Paterson, who had been found guilty of corruption, for 30 days to be hijacked by the government.
Paul has a government job as PPS to Priti Patel. Angela Richardson lost a similar job for defying the government whip but, as far as I know, Paul did not lose his job. The most likely explanation is that he did not rebel; he just didn’t vote for some reason that was acceptable to the government.
“I did vote for a review into the Standards Regime which was encompassed in the second vote.”
15 hours per month for share options in the “Employment and earnings” section sounds like a second job to me!
He has since revealed more details of his second job on twitter…
“It’s a judging role for a fund to build housing for key workers and NHS workers”
The share options are a £5 discount on the listed share price of £5.50 per share.
Conservative MPs, including Paul, created this scandal themselves, but it’s telling who their anger was reserved for: not the person who broke the rules (Owen Paterson), or the one who tried to rewrite the rules (Boris Johnson).
No, apparently in a WhatsApp message to a group of new Tory MPs, Paul called Chope a “selfish twat” for not allowing the government to make the scandal go away without even a debate in Parliament.
“The attempt by honourable and right honourable members of this House, aided and abetted by the Government, under cover of reform of the process, effectively to clear his [Paterson’s] name, was misplaced, ill-judged and just plain wrong.”
“As a new Member of Parliament, Madam Deputy Speaker, I need to ask your advice. Is it acceptable in the House to use the word “liar”, and to accuse a Member of lying?”
He seems more interested in covering for the Prime Minister’s lies than having a debate on improving standards in public life. Ironically Paul seems to have missed the start of the debate where the usual rules that protect the Conservative leader from proper scrutiny had been suspended.
Perhaps he was too busy with one of his other jobs?
On the 14th September Paul Holmes insinuated that GPs in Eastleigh haven’t been working
may I emphasise to the Secretary of State the amount of anger there is in Eastleigh about not being able to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP? He stood at the Dispatch Box and encouraged GPs to get back to work. If necessary, and if that uptake has not happened, will he instruct them to get back to work, so we can at least have face-to-face appointments for my constituents?
He referred to the pandemic easing when he publicised his question on social media, and talks about returning to normal on his website. Unfortunately this complacency, when deaths are still averaging 1,000 per week and cases are rising alarmingly in schools, is likely to prolong Covid related issues getting face-to-face appointments. Surgeries and schools are not getting the investment they need to improve ventilation and control the virus, and the government seem to have all but abandoned proportionate public health measures to keep cases down going in to winter.
Three days after Paul’s question in Parliament, four members of staff were injured in an attack on GP surgery in Manchester. The BMA said,
The narrative that GPs are refusing to see patients face-to-face is dangerous and inaccurate and it has to stop. We call on the health secretary to speak up openly and unequivocally in support of general practice…
Paul hasn’t issued an apology publicly but has apparently said this on an Eastleigh social media group,
Let me make clear from the start that I respect and thank our GPs for the work they do. I am the first to admit that I was called near to last in that statement after two colleagues raised the same issue. I wasn’t expecting to be called and had to quickly speak. It was unwise to say get back to work. I should have said get back to physical appointments more quickly, and I apologise for the implication of the question.
That seems like a pretty weak excuse to me and, while any apology is obviously welcome, it certainly doesn’t go far enough to counter the narrative that GPs are refusing to see patients face-to-face. They are seeing patients, and have been throughout the pandemic. He should be apologising in Parliament and asking the health secretary to condemn the scapegoating of GPs rather than reinforcing the myth that they aren’t working.
It’s also somewhat misleading to just blame the pandemic for the lack of access to GPs. Thanks to the Conservative party, it has been difficult to get appointments for a long time. My own GP practice has had issues and had to merge with other GP practices to survive. While Paul complains about practices merging as if it’s nothing to do with his government, I’d rather they merged than closed completely.
Somewhat strangely for an MP in the ruling party, Paul is apparently campaigning for better access to NHS services. He shouldn’t be campaigning, he should be demanding to know why his government is failing to deliver. The prime minister personally guaranteed 50,000 more GP appointments in the 2019 general election. They would help. Having fuel to get to appointments would also be useful.
Perhaps the 6,000 new doctors are just like the 50,000 new nurses, or the 40 new hospitals. Just another broken promise from Paul and his party. Just keep blaming someone else for the problems.
Paul told us we should judge him if he was lucky enough to win the election, and that seems like something which is too important to leave until 2024 so here is Paul’s first annual report.
To be frank, I didn’t vote for Paul and I was skeptical that he would be any better than Eastleigh’s previous MP, who had left us so unexpectedly. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised when he replied to my email shortly after being elected. It wasn’t the usual cut and paste response which Mims might have sent. It was a genuine, direct, reply to the question I had asked, and it confirmed unambiguously that he would stand by the commitment he had made in the election campaign. Perhaps he wasn’t going to be a Mims clone after all.
“For me, it is a question of integrity and honesty.”
(Paul Holmes election campaign)
Unfortunately that pre-election commitment didn’t even last a year. For me, Paul has failed on the question of integrity and honesty, but how did he do otherwise.
“Stop lying about what I said I said I’d vote for a deal by Xmas. Which I did.
(Paul Holmes tweet)
Unfortunately Paul has never replied to my requests for him to explain why he thought I was lying.
Even now Brexit still isn’t done and, despite initially voting to sign the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, Paul has even voted to break that international agreement. The irony of openly threatening to break international law while complaining that China and Iran should stand by their international commitments seems to be lost on Paul.
Whether or not the Prime Minister eventually manages to agree his bad deal, we face the most damaging interpretation of the EU referendum result possible. I don’t think it’s acceptable to shrug off the government’s abject failure and carry on as if they have in any way respected the result of the 2016 referendum, or the 2019 election. They have not.
It’s only fair to acknowledge that Paul faced a public health emergency which would have stretched even the most competent government. Unfortunately our government was not selected for its competence and has largely failed to protect lives or the economy.
I actually think Paul started off strongly when it came to the coronavirus pandemic: he set a good example working remotely; he worked closely with the local council, despite their differences; his pinned tweet told constituents to stay at home, “No ifs no buts.”; he produced a fact sheet; he kept at it, reminding people to follow the rules even in the glorious lockdown weather; he sent a leaflet to all his constituents; and he celebrated the achievements of a local school as they stepped in to help with his government’s lengthy struggle to provide protective equipment. For me it was the highlight of his year.
Unfortunately it didn’t last beyond Barnard Castle.
Paul’s statement was mildly critical of the Prime Minister’s advisor and he admitted that situation had undermined the wider messaging around the public health emergency. I agreed and asked him to respond by reinforcing the rules and remind people what resources were available to help them. Basically to continue the good work he had started. His reply was rather abrupt:
“You can find the rules on http://gov.uk as you know well. So look there.”
(Paul Holmes tweet)
He appeared to give up taking Covid19 seriously after that, and even had his own minor Barnard Castle moment later in the year. At least Paul had the sense to apologise on that occasion.
“For me, growing up, it was nothing to do with immigration; I am pro-immigration. It was purely a sovereignty issue. I do not think that we should have stayed part of an organisation which we voted to join in 1975 as an economic trading bloc in which we slowly had the erosion of the sovereign basis to make our own laws. A majority of people who voted in 1975 did not vote for greater European interference and I think that culminated why I voted to leave.”
One issue I think most people will agree with Paul on, is his opposition to a pay rise for MPs. He agreed with Kier Starmer that MPs shouldn’t get a pay rise this year, however Paul appeared to believe that there wasn’t anything MPs could do about it. While it is true that his pay is set by an independent body, MPs could make changes to that independent body through legislation. Parliament is sovereign after all, although I guess that would spoil the illusion of independence.
Perhaps the biggest criticisms for Paul came when he defended the government’s opposition to Marcus Rashford’s free school meal campaign. Aside from some unnecessary party politics, Paul’s statement explains all the things the government are doing, as you would expect. Unfortunately focusing on some superficially impressive sounding numbers isn’t as helpful as concentrating on outcomes. With news that Unicef will be feeding children in the UK for the first time, I think the government has some work to do. Hopefully they will work more constructively with campaigners like Marcus Rashford in the new year.
MPs have some sort of agreement that they will not deal with issues from people outside their own constituency. Unfortunately they don’t seem to afford the same courtesy to local politicians, so Paul frequently seems to get distracted by issues that he doesn’t need to get involved with. Of course some local issues benefit from being championed in Parliament, and it was good to see him raise the long running issue of Hedge End station accessibility in a debate.
Too often though he just uses his platform in Parliament to complain about Eastleigh Council and the Eastleigh local plan. It’s almost as if he’s trying to thwart the local democratic process for some reason.
Other than the Eastleigh local plan, Paul’s most visible local campaign has been in support of Southampton Airport’s application to extend their runway. This is an issue where he actually agrees with the local council however he is still impatient to rush through the planning process and, quite remarkably, he even appeared to suggest that the government should use a special development order. So much for local consultation.
One area that Paul gets positive reviews for is where he has helped Eastleigh constituents with various problems, and obviously it’s a good thing for those people if his office can help.
What’s less obvious is whether the problems he helps with are best suited to an MP. Apparently Paul and his team answer over 100 cases a day, of which around 5% relate to pot holes. That could just be because it’s not obvious who should deal with pot holes, or it could be that Hampshire council doesn’t have the funding it needs to maintain roads.
Similarly, there will be other cases that could be dealt with by Eastleigh council, or Citizens Advice, or some other organisation. Unfortunately MPs are not covered by freedom of information requests but it would be really helpful if Paul could publish a breakdown of what topics constituents contact him about, and how many he is able to help with.
Paul has done a difficult job in a very difficult year, and he is far from the worst MP in Parliament. Overall though, Paul’s support of a dishonest Prime Minister who is clearly not up to the job far outweighs any good he might do locally. Hopefully that might change in the new year.
Most importantly, these are just my personal observations about how Paul has done this year, and I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of things out. If you’d like to add anything, positive or negative, please leave a comment below.
I guess Paul didn’t actually want to be judged after all. (31st December 2020)
I recently asked my MP, Paul Holmes, whether he would be voting to break the Withdrawal Agreement which he had been elected to deliver. I suspect his reply was similar to most Conservative MPs and it confirms that he has decided to break his election pledge to deliver the Prime Minister’s oven ready deal.
“There has been much speculation about the Government’s commitment to treaty obligations and international law. I believe that some of the commentary has misrepresented the situation.”
It is not speculation that the government intend to break international law, it is a matter of record.
“The end of the Transition Period is fast approaching, and with no agreement yet reached, the Government has proposed a safety net to protect the Union and ensure that the UK’s obligations under the Belfast Agreement are met.”
The end of the Transition Period is fast approaching because the government chose not to extend the deadline, despite it being obvious that the UK will not be ready. The Northern Ireland Protocol is the safety net, which was specifically intended to protect the Belfast Agreement even in the case that no further agreement was reached with the European Union. The Government may have finally understood what it signed up to but however much Paul regrets the Prime Minister signing the Withdrawal Agreement, it is too late. You cannot unilaterally change an agreement between two parties without consequences.
“There is no reason why these provisions should undermine the future relationship negotiations with the EU.”
I wonder if Paul might want to reconsider this risible statement after sleeping on it. Perhaps he has noticed that the EU has begun legal proceedings against the UK.
“Remedying the unintended consequences of the Protocol may breach the Withdrawal Agreement in a limited way but the consequences of inaction could break up the UK. I hope you understand that while I remain fully committed to international law, I have a duty to protect the integrity of the Union – the overriding purpose of this Bill.”
Wow, those are quite some contradictions! If Paul was fully committed to international law, he would vote to uphold it. If he cared about the integrity of the Union, he might start by apologising for his complete lack of scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement before it was signed.
Instead of threatening to renege on the fantastic oven ready deal Paul was elected to deliver, the government could still protect the integrity of the Union by reaching a comprehensive deal with the EU which respects the wishes of NI, Scotland, and Wales, which have so far been completely ignored.
Before the election Paul said,
“For me, it is a question of integrity and honesty. I am the only candidate in this election who will deliver on the referendum result and get Brexit done.”
If there was any doubt about why Paul Holmes was dropped in as the Johnson candidate for Eastleigh, there isn’t any more.
Strangely MPs seemed to be debating an extension to the transition period even though the deadline for extending it has already passed, and Paul’s contribution, which he tweeted about, was similarly detached from reality.
“We are here all over again. The ability of SNP Members to focus on their narrow-minded, party interests at a time of national importance is becoming legendary.”
The SNP has a way to go before they can compete with the Conservative party’s world-beating track record of focusing on narrow-minded party interests.
This is a time of national importance, with a great many more lives at stake as winter approaches. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on improving the government’s handling of the current public health emergency, the Conservative Prime Minister decided to waste time, money, and effort on a self imposed deadline that the country will not be ready for. The oven ready deal seems to have been substituted for a no deal Brexit which is certainly not what the majority of people voted for in Eastleigh, Scotland, or the UK.
“If there was ever a sight that shows why we must protect the Union, it was the vision of a Labour party that could not be bothered to show up, with SNP Members behind those Benches. If the Labour party ever has the opportunity to form the next Government, it will be at the price of a referendum on independence to get the SNP onside. Conservative Members do not back that at all.”
I would be very interested to know why Scotland should even need to ask permission to have an independence referendum, when the UK was able to hold the EU referendum without asking.
“The SNP has not changed much in not respecting referendum results. It lost the 2014 referendum, and yet it pursues that agenda, with no thought to getting on with the day job in Scotland. SNP Members lost the 2016 referendum, but they are now trying by any means necessary to thwart the will of the British people.”
The SNP may or may not have changed much since 2014, but plenty of other things have changed. Most obviously, as a result of the 2016 referendum, the UK has left the EU. (Just to clarify that once more, given the accusations of thwarting, the UK has already left the EU.)
It’s also now very clear what Scotland’s place in the Union is.
“This debate is once again a thinly disguised attempt by SNP Members to undermine democracy—nothing else. The irony of that is not lost on me.”
The current Prime Minister unlawfully shut down parliament in a blatant attempt to undermine democracy—nothing else.
“If they voted for a deal when they were offered one—three times—we would not be here today.”
I’m not even sure what Paul is complaining about here. Is he complaining that, like the current Prime Minister and large numbers of Conservative MPs, the SNP didn’t vote for Theresa May’s bad deal?
We would not be here today if David Cameron hadn’t gambled the country’s, and his party’s, future to settle an internal political argument.
“Knowing them, however, we probably would be.
Like any good Unionist, I read the newspapers north of the border. In these difficult times, we all have to spend a few more hours at home, and humour plays an increasingly important role in making sure that we can all get by, so you can imagine my reaction, Mr Deputy Speaker, when browsing The National, I found the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) was quoted as saying that Scottish taxpayers were “footing the bill” as the UK prepared to leave the EU. Indeed, without a hint of irony, SNP Members are trying to claim that they would somehow save money by being out of the Union and part of the EU, when we know that public spending in Scotland is 17% higher than the UK average. Treasury figures, verified by the House of Commons Library, show that per head of population, Scotland receives £11,200; England, £9,200; and my constituents in Eastleigh, £8,600.”
I’m not entirely convinced putting a border in the Irish Sea is the action of a good Unionist. I seem to remember Theresa May having quite strong views on that before the current PM made a sudden u-turn to sign the EU Withdrawal Agreement at the last minute. (Hopefully Paul stands by the international agreement despite comments from one of the previous Brexit secretaries.)
It seems somewhat ironic to be complaining about SNP Members saying they would save money by being out of the Union, when that’s exactly the claim made on the side of a bus in the EU referendum.
“I will always lobby for resources for my constituency, but I accept that that difference is the price that my constituents pay because we are stronger together—and we are stronger together as one United Kingdom.”
I wonder if Eastleigh constituents accept that is a price is worth paying.
“We are stronger together culturally, with our shared history, and we are stronger together economically. It was this Government who introduced the coronavirus job retention scheme, which has protected the income of 630,000 people in Scotland. It was the Government of the United Kingdom who have supported 146,000 self-employed people through the self-employment support scheme, and it was this Government—the United Kingdom Government—who have provided over £2.7 billion to the Scottish Government for rates relief, small business grants and grants for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.”
That’s all very nice but it makes no difference if people in Scotland choose independence. It’s not up to Paul or me what people in Scotland want, and I’m sure they would know what they were voting for.
“We need to ensure that we are prepared for Brexit and that our borders are fit for purpose. That investment will help us to maximise the opportunity created by Brexit as we continue to trade with our European partners and to forge new and exciting trade deals across the world.”
Paul seems to be confusing one small part of the ongoing cost of administering a border with more friction, with an actual investment. He is also somewhat vague about what the opportunity created by Brexit is. Eastleigh’s previous MP was unable to explain what the benefits of Brexit were when I asked, and I doubt Paul ever will either.
“While the SNP like to reject referendum results—the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) said that it was a narrow gap, but I do not think that 10% is a narrow gap—I take the expression of my constituents’ will seriously. It is a shame that the SNP do not do that for their constituents. My constituents in Eastleigh voted to leave the European Union, and I will support the Government as we make good on our promise to leave the EU and seize the opportunities presented by global Britain.”
Just to clarify, here’s some of what Eastleigh constituents voted for over the last few years:
2015 – Five years of Mims Davies as MP and David Cameron as PM (something about not wanting chaos if I remember correctly)
2016 – To leave the EU (54% which polling showed had dropped to 49.3% by 2018)
2017 – Five years of Mims Davies as MP and Theresa May as PM (something about being strong and stable)
2019 – Five years of Paul Holmes as MP and Boris Johnson as PM (something about being oven ready)
We’re getting used to being disappointed; we didn’t even get Mims for the full five years! At no point did we vote for any specific Brexit, and certainly not Brexit at any cost.
The Conservative party has never respected the referendum result, or sought to build a consensus on a new relationship with the EU. Instead they have treated the referendum, the UK, and particularly remain voting Scotland with utter contempt.
As for promises, the Prime Minister made very clear promises to EU citizens during the referendum campaign which has not kept. Similarly, Paul Holmes made a commitment to EU citizens in the last election campaign which he has so far not kept either. The way EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU have been treated by the government since the referendum is beyond shameful.
The increasingly likely no deal end to the transition period at the end of the year is nothing like what was on offer in the referendum.
“The SNP should focus on the day job to fix the lack of educational attainment that harms Scottish children; to fix their dire record in government and public service; and to stop the political gimmicks.”
It would be nice if Eastleigh’s MP could focus on his day job instead of complaining about Scottish MPs representing their constituents, or complaining about decisions made by local politicians. There’s a likely second wave of Coronavirus coming, and the country needs to get ready for Brexit at the same time.
“We deliver; they delay.”
This would be funny if the government’s ongoing dither and delay in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic wasn’t causing thousands of unnecessary deaths.
“It is time to get Brexit done, and I will vote against the motion this evening.”
Brexit wasn’t done by last Christmas, and it won’t be done by this Christmas. We have however already left the EU, and there isn’t anything MPs can do to delay the end of the transition period now even if they wanted to. Let’s hope we don’t all come to regret that.
Well my MP has replied (below) regarding the government’s ongoing quest to undermine its own authority.
On the plus side he did say he wouldn’t have made the same decisions as Boris Johnson’s adviser. That shouldn’t be surprising because most of the country was also much more responsible and didn’t make the same poor decisions. Perhaps the government needs better advisers.
Unfortunately the rest of his reply had nothing to do with my questions, just continuing to promote the defence offered in the unusual press conference. Even so he did concede that the government’s actions have threatened to undermine their own public health rules.
Sadly that was the end of the email. Just follow the advice when some people don’t have to. No commitment to do anything to repair the damage, and not even a call for the government to apologise.
He was even more dismissive on Twitter when I pressed him on what he might do to remedy the damage done.
“You can find the rules on gov.uk as you know well. So look there.”
I had been hoping that Eastleigh’s new MP might be more willing to stand up for his constituents when the government gets something wrong than our previous MP but if he can’t even do it in the middle of a public health emergency with overwhelming public support, it’s hard to imagine he ever will.
Thank you for writing to me about the situation surrounding Dominic Cummings and the public health guidelines during the difficult times we have faced during the COVID-19 crisis.
I have over the last few days faced some hostile criticism for not instantly providing my view on whether Mr Cummings should have resigned from his position, but I do not believe in giving my opinion with half-assessed facts. I wanted some time to look into this myself with all of the evidence and information that I could garner. Over the weekend I have raised this issue extensively with the Government, sought to establish the facts, and put your views across robustly.
I know that the last few months have been tough for everyone in the country and in the Eastleigh constituency. Over the last few weeks my team and I have assisted thousands of people in need of urgent help, in clarification of the guidelines, or to access support for their families or businesses, and we have always done our best to do this as efficiently as possible. I know that you and your family will have had to make many sacrifices as you have followed the guidelines that Government has clearly set out. You have done the right thing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so responsible.
On 24th March at the daily televised press conference, in response to a question about what parents should do if they are both sick with COVID-19, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jenny Harries advised the public that “clearly if you have adults that are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance.” This was, if I have established the facts correctly, a week before Mr Cummings travelled to County Durham. His explanation for undertaking his lockdown in County Durham is the welfare of his young son, and he isolated with his family for 14 days. It is also clear that Mr Cummings did visit Barnard Castle, and he has now given a full account of his actions and his reasons for doing so.
Whilst I have sympathy with this, and it appears to be consistent with Dr. Harries’ statement, I accept the criticism that this is at the very limit of what the guidelines permitted and is likely to be highly controversial. I can also say to you that I would not have taken these decisions myself in these circumstances, and that these rules now need to be clarified so that others do not misinterpret them.
Though I well understand much of the anger there is about this at the moment, bearing in mind the sacrifices we have all been asked to make, I do strongly oppose the behaviour of some who have sought to harass and intimidate Mr Cummings and his family. There is no justification for it. This does seem to have been part of Mr Cummings’ calculation when he decided to travel to Durham.
I have been contacted by a large number of constituents on this matter and I want you to know that I have read each of your emails and considered your views carefully. Many people have legitimate concerns about what has gone on, and so do I.
Though I believe his actions were motivated solely by the desire to protect his family, I believe that Mr Cummings has made errors of judgement, and I would have responded differently given the guidance that Government has issued.
I don’t think that the handling of this situation over the last 72 hours has been the Government’s finest hour, and I believe that the questions posed to Mr Cummings should have been answered earlier. I have raised both your and my own concerns about his conduct and will continue to do so over the coming days.
This is my assessment of the situation as it stands, and sadly I do think that this situation has undermined the wider messaging around this public health emergency. However, the fact remains that we need to continue to follow the health advice to keep people safe. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
My MP has been relatively proactive at helping constituents with government advice during the Covid19 pandemic so, due to poor judgement by a government adviser and some jaw dropping ministerial tweets defending that lapse in judgement, I emailed Paul Holmes earlier to ask him to clarify the rules. (See below.)
Since then the Prime Minister has also, very publicly, defended behaviour which clearly goes against the rules and displayed a shocking lack of common sense by someone who should have known better.
I have been incredibly lucky so far, with a good employer and no close family or friends being seriously ill, or worse. Nevertheless, things haven’t always been easy, and there is no end to the pandemic in sight.
We have all made sacrifices in order to protect one another and the Prime Minister is taking us for fools by not apologising for the behaviour of his adviser.
What’s worse is that his, and his ministers’, attempts to defend a clear breach of the guidelines, puts us all at risk at a critical point in tackling the virus.
I sincerely hope he considers his position carefully.
Dear Paul Holmes,
I know you have made efforts to communicate help and advice to your constituents during the Covid19 pandemic so far, including working closely with the local council, which I appreciate.
Unfortunately a large number of your colleagues, including ministers, have chosen to undermine the government’s own rules by defending an adviser who has broken those rules.
The defence offered is offensive. My wife and I have worried a great deal about how we would look after our daughter should we become ill. My wife has only recently been contacted to tell her she is extremely vulnerable, and I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease last year, but we have still never considered driving any distance to put family members and others at risk if we did exhibit symptoms.
This is a particularly critical point in tackling the virus as the government tries to ease restrictions. The rules in this phase are necessarily going to be more complex than the previous stay at home message and it is difficult to see how we are meant to take any new rules seriously when the government does not appear to be serious about enforcing them.
The country can ill afford another distraction now after delays and distraction at the beginning of the outbreak look likely to have caused many unnecessary deaths.
Please could you urgently work with the council and other organisations in Eastleigh to publicly clarify what the rules are when someone in a household exhibits Covid19 symptoms, and what support and resources are available to them in case they believe that travelling to another location is justified.
I realise you will be under immense political pressure to put your party first, however I would also like you to consider following your neighbouring colleague’s example in speaking out and ask the government why it considers that different rules should apply to government advisers.