Garters in a Twist 641

The House of Lords broke no constitutional conventions in referring back Osborne’s vindictive tax credit cuts. The Tories and their media supporters are talking utter garbage on the question. Taking Britain’s appalling “constitution” for what it is, the arcane rules of procedure were not breached.

Ever since David Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith forced, by threat of massive creation of peerages, the 1911 Budget through and with it the start of National Insurance and the demise of the workhouse, there has been a convention that the Lords do not oppose or amend Finance Bills.

But the tax credit cuts were not in a Finance Bill. Osborne instead tried to sneak them through by statutory instrument. This is secondary legislation whereby a Minister signs off laws under powers delegated to him by primary legislation. Secondary legislation gets much less parliamentary time and committee scrutiny. If Osborne had put the tax credit proposals in a Finance Bill, as they certainly should have been – it is Osborne who was breaking parliamentary convention here – rather than sneak them under the table as secondary legislation, the Lords would indeed not have been able to stop them without breaching constitutional convention. Which just goes to show it doesn’t always pay to be a weasel.

Osborne is hoist by his own petard.

Aah, Tories say. But there is another convention that the Lords do not block secondary legislation.

They are making that one up. There is no such constitutional convention and there are plenty of examples of the Lords blocking secondary legislation. There is a huge quantity of secondary legislation, thousands and thousands of laws – ministers continually are signing off legal changes.

But the entire basis of the secondary legislation is that parliament has delegated to ministers, in Acts, powers to sign off uncontroversial matter. This can be, for example, the detail of regulations needed technically to enforce primary legislation, and the occasional updates needed. Only a very low percentage indeed of secondary legislation ever gets queried by the Lords, but that is not because of a constitutional convention. That is because most of it is dull stuff. But when the government abuses its authority and tries to smuggle vital changes through secondary legislation, the Lords not only has the constitutional right to challenge this abuse, it has the constitutional duty to do so.

I wish they would do it more often. For example, when the Labour Party used Westminster secondary legislation to cede 6,000 square miles of Scotland’s sea to England without parliamentary scrutiny.

Finally, there is a constitutional convention that the Lords do not oppose manifesto commitments on which a government has been elected. But the Tories rather carefully did not put tax credit cuts in their manifesto, and indeed in campaigning said they would not do it.

The British constitution is appallingly undemocratic. The fact that an undemocratic chamber has fended off a proposal from an undemocratic executive which gained the votes of only 37% of the voting electors, is not a blow struck for democracy. It is however a temporary victory for human decency in mitigating an attack on the poor.

It is also an achievement for Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody can truly believe that Labour peers would have been organised to do this under Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall.

UPDATE Wings Over Scotland has a very different take on the Labour Party performance. That the Labour Party was not radical enough to go for the “fatal” option I am afraid I find unsurprising. It remains a deeply conservative institution. But I had not previously encountered the argument that 90% would lose the money from universal credit anyway, and it is stunningly cynical. But on close consideration, I cannot work out what it means. Either there must be some additional cut to universal credit, or that those who lost tax credit could have regained it on universal credit anyway. If anybody could explain that one further, I should be grateful.

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641 thoughts on “Garters in a Twist

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  • Alcyone

    Good Lord, RoS you really are wearing me down like a little child. I only ever smacked my son once in all his years and that too on his wrist. But you, you keep putting yourself forward for yet another whipping. A bit like Pavlov’s dog, I could be forgiven for wondering whether you are offering yourself to be my bitch or even Krishnamurti’s bitch. With all the whipping you’ve had, and with no help from Habby, your behind is beginning to look a little red, so I’m going to call you RoSy hereon. At least as long as you continue to be chidish and immature.

    Criticise any piece of Krishnamurti’s words, written or spoken and I shall join you. Adhere to your friend, the stoned Californian sage: Don’t shoot the messenger, deal with the message. If you are capable, try these extracts quoted in Zeitgeist, the movie:

    ” We were saying how very important it is to bring about, in the human mind, the radical revolution. The crisis is a crisis in consciousness, the crisis that cannot anymore accept the old norms, the old patterns, the ancient traditions and considering what the world is now, with all the misery, conflict, destructive brutality, aggression and so on. Man is still as he was, is still brutal, violent, aggressive, acquisitive, competitive and… he has built a society along these lines.”


    ” What we are trying in all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind. *Not accept things as they are* – but to understand it, to go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind with every thing that you have to find out. A way of living differently. But that depends on you and not somebody else. Because in this there is no teacher, no pupil. There’s no leader, there is no guru, there’s no master, no savior. You yourself are the teacher, and the pupil, you’re the master, you’re the guru, you are the leader, you are everything! And, to understand is to transform what is. ”

    Too much to read, listen here:

    I suspect all too much for you; over your head.

    Now, good night, RoSy

  • Alcyone


    ” JSD, sorry to hear, or rather not hear, your sound has broken down on your desktop. ”

    Another deficit in comprehension!

    Did JSD say his sound was broken down?


  • giyane


    “She also said that he was at such an “elevated” level that he was incapable of forming “normal personal relationships”

    After jettisoning the mysteries of Trinity as incomprehensible and before reverting to Islam, I was reading a US born, Eastern trained quack guru who maintained that it was only by having frequent sex with his female followers that he was prevented from drifting off into his elevated form in a higher sphere.

    This put me off all Eastern religions for life, especially Sufism which uses the Eastern quack trick of placing the scholars on pedestals with special powers.

  • giyane


    “Twat” maybe an Ad Scottem, except the word Scott always reminds me of a poor overweight scotty dog I had to carry back from on a Scottish Highland.

    You needn’t have used this euphemism anyway : William Dunbar First printed obscenity:

    Dunbar has the curious distinction of having been responsible for the first printed use of the word “fuck”: his 1503 poem “Brash of Wowing” [Collected Poems, ed. Mackenzie SEE ‘In secret place this hyndir nycht’] includes the lines: “Yit be his feirris he wald haif fukkit:/ Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.” He thus established a long and noble tradition of which some critics of Kelman or Welsh appear to be quite unaware. The powerful word which Dunbar put into print in 1508 was not decriminalised until 1960.

    His The flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie also contains the term cuntbittin (meaning afflicted with venereal disease), the first known use of the word cunt in literature (although Chaucer used queynte as a euphemism for the word in the Canterbury Tales). This poem also contains the line [38] ‘Wan-fukkit funling, that natour maid ane yrle’.

    Either word would be an insult to a troll, which has no reproductive organs. It is sterile.

  • Mary

    So what will Lord Strathclyde, aka Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, have to say or do about the Tory troubles in the Lords?

    ‘Number 10 announces a new review led by Lord Strathclyde into the House of Lords. The spokesperson said that the review will be led by Lord Strathclyde and a “small panel of experts’

    Doing well for himself.

    Register of Interests

    Category 2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.

    Member, Lloyd’s of London (non-life insurance)
    Director of the Supervisory Board of Trafigura Beheer BV (a global trading company)
    Director, Galena Asset Management
    Adviser, Battersea Power Station Development Company (restoration of Battersea Power Station)
    Adviser, The Good Governance Group, G3 (strategic advice consultancy) (interest ceased 1 May 2015)
    Adviser, J C Bamford Excavators Ltd (manufacture of earthmoving equipment)
    Adviser, Ferrero UK (confectionery)
    Adviser, the AECOM Corporation (with whom URS merged; engineering, construction and technical services)
    Adviser, C5 Capital (private equity)
    Adviser, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) (accountants and management consultants)

    Category 4: Shareholdings (b)
    Auchendrane Estates Ltd (property ownership and management of farmland, forestry, commercial and residential property in Scotland)

    Category 10: Non-financial interests (a)
    Director (unpaid), Barskimming Estates Ltd

    Category 10: Non-financial interests (b)
    Governor, Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire

    Category 10: Non-financial interests (d)
    Chairman, Carlton Club

    Category 10: Non-financial interests (e)
    Board Member, Centre for Policy Studies

    ‘Lord Strathclyde is a director of Auchendrane Estates Ltd, a landowning company in Scotland. His wealth is estimated at £10m.

    He was a non-executive director on the board of Trafigura’s hedge-fund arm, Galena Asset Management, from 2004 until 2009. Trafigura defended court actions during the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump scandal and The Guardian suggested his appointment may be an attempt to de-toxify the Dutch company globally.’

    He was the leader of the Conservatives in the Lords until 2013.,_2nd_Baron_Strathclyde

    He will have a good understanding of the need for some to be helped by the state. He assisted a young penniless mother in her battle with the Child Support Agency.

  • Alcyone

    Thank you for chiming in Lysias, Guano was going to have me fooled for a minute with his faux-erudite ramblings

    Well, we we all learn from each other, except people like RoSy who isn’t given to learning. Over the hill?

    Lysias, why were you wasting your time in the US Navy? Well, actually, as my father was in the RAF, perhaps I shouldn’t be asking the question. But then, that was during The War.

  • giyane

    Lysias: Troglodyta

    Not all trolls are troglodytes, but UK MSM are reporting that Luddite factions are appearing in the back-rooms of Corbyn’s Labour party, demanding re-selection for New Labour MPs. I think this is just a way of demonising Corbyn on the principle of where there’s smoke there’s fire.

  • giyane

    It was a scotty dog I carried on my Scottish ramblings, not a faux, Alcy1. One is white with white stools and the other is reddish brown with grey stools. You’re obviously not an observant nature-lover like our Mary who can spot a landed rogue in the heather at 1000 metres.

  • Mary

    Wee Ginger Dug writes with such wit and astringency about the rotten system under which we live. He cares about his fellows.

    ‘It’s been a strange week in the Ruritanian kingdom of Ukovia, where politics is a game played by rich people and Lords and Ladies dripping in ermine who debate austerity. The elected government, elected that is by 24% of those eligible to vote, decided in its wisdom that it’s unfair that the poorest paid workers receive such a pittance from their employers that state intervention is required to allow the lowest paid a basic standard of living. You’d imagine, in a normal country in a normal universe, that this undesirable state of affairs would lead the government to increase the minimum wage so that it really was a living wage, and not a sum that won’t cover the essential expenses. But we don’t live in a normal country, we live in Ukovia.’

    Constitutional Necrosis
    27 October 2015

    See this comment.

    This is a reference to the wallpaper mentioned!

  • Alcyone

    Hahaha “observant nature-lover like our Mary who can spot a landed rogue in the heather at 1000 metres.”

    She’d wish!

  • Janet

    Having looked into the matter, I must admit that I prefer Wings’ account of how the Labour Lords behaved.

    Essentially, HMG will get its cuts in due course.

    The poor will always be with us. What is the purpose of Labour if it will not protect the poor?

    By the way, George Robertson’s chum, Lord Weir, did rather well out of PFI, and in turn, Baron Robertson has done rather well out of Weir plc! Why did Labour foist on us these PFI contracts for ancillary services when all we wanted was the infrastructure?


    Who owns your local hospital, Craig?

  • BrianFujisan

    Cheers For the other Richard Boyd Barrett video Mary

    I have seen a Mr Denis Curran ( the Loaves and Fishes food bank )…. speak Twice.. the man sure has a way of breaking a Very large gathering’s hearts –

    ” I say to myself, an MBE just for feeding people? It’s a privilege to get it but there are a lot of people who do a lot of work. To get an MBE- its good to be recognized, it’s a fantastic honour but it’s morally wrong. I don’t think, I know it’s morally wrong. That in an educated country we have people starving… It’s sad because people are too proud to ask for something and they get to that point that it’s the worst before they ask for help. It’s so, so, so sad. But you know you go to a house and a lady opens the door and has eyes sunk in the back of her head, despair, and you give them a bag of messages, and there’s a wee glint in the eye and you’ve gave them hope. And relief that they can feed their family for another day. I don’t decry other charities but I don’t agree with giving them X amount because they don’t want people to get dependent on us. Well they are dependent on us.”

    A remarkable man.

  • nevermind

    what is it about ‘garters in a twist’ that makes bored people/apes spew hatred?
    this is not a competition, but and informative exchange of thoughts, hints and facts.
    jeez somebody placed the nut in the wrong place, I can’t crush it, its not in the right position….aaaarrrggh

  • lysias

    Just as it is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. soldiers who called in the air strike against the hospital in Kunduz were well aware that it was a hospital.

    On Monday, the Associated Press published a report providing further confirmation that the facility was targeted and bombed by US military personnel with full knowledge that it was a functioning hospital. The attack lasted for an hour, destroying the building and killing 30 people, including at least 13 MSF staff members and 10 patients.

    According to the AP,

    “A day before an American AC-130 gunship attacked the hospital, a senior officer in the Green Beret [Army] unit wrote in a report that US forces had discussed the hospital with the country director of the medical charity group, presumably in Kabul, according to two people who have seen the document.”

    A report from “a senior Green Beret officer from 3rd Special Forces Group” on October 2 stated, “MSF report that they have personnel in the trauma center,” according to the AP, citing two sources who have seen the report.

    The AP states that it was the Green Berets, the Special Forces division of the US Army, that called in the attack.

    According to the AP, the Army believed that the hospital was being used by the Taliban, which had recently taken control of the city. This has been repeatedly denied by MSF, both before and after the attack.

    The report also cites MSF spokesman Tim Shenk, who notes that in the days before the attack, “an official in Washington” asked the group “whether our hospital had a large group of Taliban fighters in it.” Shenk continues: “We replied that this was not the case. We also stated that we were very clear with both sides to the conflict about the need to respect medical centers.”

    The involvement of “an official in Washington” raises questions as to whether personnel in the Obama administration played a direct role in selecting and targeting the hospital.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    27/10/2015 9:16pm

    Aw, that’s all right: it’s been like that so long I have forgotten why.

    Thanks for the link: Osborne’s face is hysterical, and he is on something for sure.

    Kind regards,


  • John Spencer-Davis

    27/10/2015 10:36pm

    I used to work for a charity which referred people to a food bank. The clients referred were permitted three referrals in a lifetime, no more. To be truthful, I never really thought it through at the time. But what use was that? It filled their bellies three times in a lifetime. No doubt very welcome at the time…but really…

    Kind regards,


  • Kempe

    ” The clients referred were permitted three referrals in a lifetime, no more. ”

    Seems particularly mean. Some agencies permit five referrals in any 12 month period for three days supply.

  • Alcyone

    Austerity is far deeper than owning only a few things

    “You are always a guest on this earth and have the austerity of a guest. Austerity is far deeper than owning only a few things. The very word austerity has been spoilt by the monks, by the sannyasis, by the hermits. Sitting on that high hill alone in the solitude of many things, many rocks and little animals and ants, that word had no meaning. Over the hills in the far distance was the wide, shining, sparkling sea.

    We have broken up the earth as yours and mine – your nation, my nation, your flag and his flag, this particular religion and the religion of the distant man. The world, the earth, is divided, broken up. And for it we fight and wrangle, and the politicians exult in their power to maintain this division, never looking at the world as a whole. They haven’t got the global mind. They never feel nor ever perceive the immense possibility of having no nationality, no division, they can never perceive the ugliness of their power, their position and their sense of importance. They are like you or another, only they occupy the seat of power with their petty little desires and ambitions, and so maintain apparently, as long as man has been on this earth, the tribal attitude towards life. They don’t have a mind that is not committed to any issue, to any ideals, ideologies – a mind that steps beyond the division of race, culture, that the religions man has invented.

    Governments must exist as long as man is not a light to himself, as long as he does not live his daily life with order, care, diligently working, watching, learning. He would rather be told what to do. He has been told what to do by the ancients, by the priests, by the gurus, and he accepts their orders, their peculiar destructive disciplines as though they were gods on this earth, as though they knew all the implications of this extraordinarily complex life.”

    Krishnamurti to Himself

    And then there is:

    “Barclays says to pay new chief Staley up to 8.2 million pounds a year”

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Re. RobG –

    The investigation and fine themselves would be unexceptionable if the spending of the No campaign had also been examined, and it is very briefly noted in the article that it had. The main interest to me in the piece is the wholly onesided reporting by the Guardian of the matter.

    Still, thanks, Grauniad, for linking to WoS three times in one article, and to another piece of its own in which it reluctantly mentions something called the British Commonwealth Party, (with no clue as to its orientation wrt independence, but guess….) fined £1000. And if that’s the same as the faintly batshit Commonwealth Party, no, it hasn’t been wound up as the Grauniad alleges.

    Neither this nor the Better Together investigation got a Guardian headline to itself, or a critique of its methods.

  • J Galt

    An “Achievement” for Jeremy Corbyn!

    Hardly – rather a further exposure of who he is.

    The mysterious Chuka Umunna episode now falls into place.

  • Mary

    Like a rubber ball, Cameron bounces up to Iceland today.

    EU referendum: PM Cameron makes reform case in Iceland

    ‘Mr Cameron is expected to have talks with the leaders of both Iceland and Norway at the Northern Future Forum, a grouping which also includes EU members Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden.

    The prime minister’s official spokeswoman said the meeting in Iceland was an opportunity for Mr Cameron to have discussions with EU leaders about the UK re-negotiation.’

  • Mary

    A couple of days ago, someone tried to assassinate Mustafa Barghouti.
    Here is an email from his wife regarding the attack and his condition. Greta

    “Many thanks for your email and support. Mustafa is fine, attacked from the back with a sharp object, wounded on cheek, close call though as wound is hardly 2 cms above the carotid artery, could have killed. I am answering on his behalf to thank you and to let you know that he is recovering and OK.
    Thanks again

    Greta Berlin, Co-Founder, the Free Gaza movement
    Editor, Freedom Sailors

    The Israelis would certainly like him out of the way. He is the leader the Palestinians have never had. Instead they have the ageing PA USUKIs stooge Abbas.

    Palestinian activist Barghouti claims Israeli ‘agents’ attempted his assassination

  • Mary

    The Kunduz thread is way back now.

    The Medialens editors have written:

    ‘I Would Have Refused Such An Order’ – Former RAF Pilot Gives His View Of US Bombing Of MSF Hospital

    as a sequel to

    There is a thread of readers’ responses to the latest piece.

    Just one from Australia disapproved.

  • Mark Golding

    “Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin “direct action on the ground” against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive.

    America is to set plans in order to create an international incident on the ground in Syria if Russia refuses to halt airstrikes on ISIS in view of US boots trampling over the ruins according to a Chatham House insider who knew of the booby trap.

  • fedup

    Mark, is it not a game of bluff?

    Yanks are pretty upset that their best laid plans have come to naught and the slow burning war in Syria has just petered out due to Putin taking a leak over the Daesh mercenary terrorists.

    Fact is Obama administration at the minute is a passenger in the plots of the CIA, and is most certainly in disarray over any intervention there in Syria. However the more pertinenet question is, who in Obama administration has a stake in the Golan oil? Do you know of any?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Note this:

    As the ichor-dripping Eton Tendency plots to prevent the Lords from so much as commenting on its proposals to boost the market in beggars, and howls about the unelected nature of their Lordships, who does it appoint to dig up the playing field? Why, Lord Strathclyde, Thatcher’s old minder in the upper house, and

    in 2008 when he was Tory leader in the Lords, he and other Conservative peers voted to defeat proposals by Gordon Brown and his Chancellor Alistair Darling on national insurance contributions.

    Which is exactly what Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne are complaining about the Lords doing now. No doubt Labour will remind Lord Strathclyde of his voting record in the weeks ahead.

    Not only that: he’s unelected He’s a hereditary. Unless being retained while the hereditaries were culled, on the strength of his unelected Tory chums’ votes, can be considered democratic in any wider context.

    Not that self-contradiction has ever worried Camborne.

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