NZ Mental Health Will Worsen If Dope Legalised

Source: Family First

Media Release 14 February 2019 
Family First NZ says that the latest study on the effects of marijuana prove that New Zealand would be foolish to legalise marijuana in any way, and that the illegality of the drug and other drugs is vital as we fight the devastation its use causes on both the users, their families, and society in general.

The study, published in the latest edition of JAMA Psychiatry summarised 11 studies comprising 23,317 individuals. The research said, “the high prevalence of adolescents consuming cannabis generates a large number of young people who could develop depression and suicidality attributable to cannabis. This is an important public health problem and concern.”

This is consistent with the Christchurch Health and Development Study research which has shown that the use of cannabis was associated with increased risks of a number of adverse outcomes including: educational delay; welfare dependence; increased risks of psychotic symptoms; major depression; increased risks of motor vehicle accidents; increased risks of tobacco use; increased risks of other illicit drug use; and respiratory impairment. These effects were most evident for young (under 18-year-old) users and could not be explained by social demographic and contextual factors associated with cannabis use. Regular or heavy cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of using other illicit drugs, abusing or becoming dependent upon other illicit drugs, and using a wider variety of other illicit drugs.

Research led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (including New Zealand researchers) analysed results of three large, long-running studies from Australia and New Zealand involving nearly 3,800 people. Teenagers who start smoking cannabis daily before the age of 17 are seven times more likely to commit suicide, the study found.

Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased since the legalisation of marijuana. This disturbing trend is, unfortunately, not surprising, as daily marijuana use among youth who begin before the age of 17 significantly increases the risk of suicide attempts.

“A sensible drug policy should recognise three pillars – similar to the successful approach towards SmokeFree NZ

  • supply reduction – target the dealers and suppliers
  • demand reduction – promote a drug-free culture
  • harm reduction – ensure addiction services & support are available for those who genuinely want to quit. The primary purpose is not to keep users using, but reduce and help them exit drug use.

A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. Keeping marijuana illegal through an appropriate application of the laws that cater for ‘youthful indiscretions’ and which focus on supply and dealers is as much a public safety policy as it is a public health policy,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“But at a time when New Zealand’s mental health system is bursting at the seams, we should go no further and legitimise a mind-altering product which will simply add to social harm? It’s patently obvious to most people that legalisation will increase its use, and harm.”

“Drug use is a major health issue, and that’s why the role of the law is so important. This is not a ‘war on drugs’ – this is a defence of our brains and mental well-being. People should always come before profits.””

If the government is in to a ‘well-being’ budget, legalising marijuana should be nowhere on the agenda.
ENDS

MIL OSI

Billboard Campaign Encourages Nope To Dope

Source: Family First

Media Release 10 February 2019
A billboard campaign is warning families and encouraging them to think deeply about the possible legalisation of marijuana, and to vote against the proposal in the 2020 referendum. The first billboard has been put up in Christchurch, with further billboards to be used around the country.

Family First NZ has also released a 24-page Briefing for Families, and there are also 1-page Briefing Sheets on specific issues.

Topics covered include:

  • what are the known health harms of marijuana?
  • why is the referendum much more than just being able to ‘smoke a joint’?
  • the problems with statements like “the war on drugs has failed” and “it’s a health issue, not a legal issue”
  • what effect will legalisation have in the workplace, on road safety, with pregnant mums and young people, on family violence & child abuse, and will it really get rid of the ‘black market’ and gang involvement?
  • is growing marijuana ‘green’?
  • what’s the next step in this drug agenda?

“Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In US states that have already legalised the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashesyouth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh tax revenues from marijuana. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana. Portugal has seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) in the last five years,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Families simply don’t want marijuana plants being grown next door by dope dealers in view of the children, tinnie houses on street corners and pot shops in local shopping areas, an increase in drugged driving, or marijuana being disguised as lollies and edibles as has happened overseas. Colorado, for example, has more marijuana businesses than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.”

“Legalising marijuana and the rise of Big Marijuana is the wrong path if we care about public health, public safety, and about our young people. There are too many health risks including the effect of marijuana on cognitive ability, cardiac function and psychosis.”

“It remains highly ironic that at the same time as we tear the labelling off cigarette packets, price them out of existence, and ban them from being smoked within breathing space of any living creature, supporters of marijuana are peddling the same myths that we believed for far too long about tobacco – that marijuana is harmless. But of course, a new business market is all very exciting – especially one based on addiction. Could our current mental health services cope? They can’t even cope now.”

www.SayNopeToDope.org.nz will inform families about the attempts to legalise marijuana, and to help them speak up in the public debate.
ENDS

MIL OSI

Taxpayer Should Not Fund Sex Change Operations – Poll

Source: Family First

Media Release 10 February 2019 
Independent polling by Curia Market Research has found strong opposition to taxpayer funding of sex change procedures.

In the poll of 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed, respondents were asked “Do you think the taxpayer should fund surgery and hormone treatments for people who wish to change their sex?”

63% opposed taxpayer funding, 27% supported it, and a further 11% were unsure or refused to say.

The strongest opposition came from males, younger people, those in high deprivation areas, and NZ First & National voters.

“Taxpayers seem to be strongly of the view that the health budget should be focused on hip operations, unilateral mastectomies, treatment of endometriosis, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer procedures, amongst others,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“As stated in the recent reportChildren Transitioning: Childhood gender dysphoria – A paediatrician’s warning to New Zealand” written by Professor John Whitehall who is Foundation Chair and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Sydney, there is no scientific evidence in medical literature to support the massive interventions of the medical pathway. To the contrary, there are multiple expressions of the need for evidence, and lamentations about its lack. The medical pathway is based only on ideology, and claims of ‘success’ reflect beliefs, not science. Even worse, these beliefs are not negotiable: they have become coercive. And the government appears to have become a victim of this ideology and its coercion.”

The government recently lifted the cap on gender reassignment surgery. Under the previous National government, the state funded three male-to-female surgeries and one female-to-male every two years. Associate Health Minister and Green MP Julie Anne Genter announced that this will now be the minimum number of surgeries to be performed every two years.

New Zealand’s chief medical officer has said there were 111 people waiting for surgery: 84 male to female, and 27 female to male. Ministry of Health figures put the average cost of male-to-female surgery at $53,382, with individual surgeries costing between $25,587 at their lowest up to $81,975. The costs for female-to-male surgery are higher, averaging $218,892, with a range of $45,169 to $525,034.

The nationwide poll was carried out during December and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

READ THE FULL POLL RESULT
ENDS

MIL OSI

1 in 3 Support Families Opting In, Not Out, For Sex Ed

Source: Family First

Media Release 7 February 2019
A third of parents have expressed support for children only being given sex education at schools if the parents specifically ‘opt in’ to the programme. Currently, parents have to notify schools if they want their children excluded, but many families have complained that they have not been aware of the programmes taking place until after it has been presented, and have been concerned by its content.

In the independent poll of 1,000 New Zealanders by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked: “Some schools teach sex education. Would you prefer that the law be that this is to be taught to children unless their parents opt out, or that it only be taught to children whose parents opt in?”

34% said they wanted parents to “opt in”, just over half of respondents were happy with the status quo, and 11% were unsure or refused to say. Those in low socio-economic areas were almost evenly split on whether parents should be able to opt in or out.

This poll follows on from a poll in 2016 that found that almost four out of five parents are confident of their ability to teach their own children about sex and sexuality issues, and 2/3’rds believe that parents should be dictating any school-based teaching, not the government or groups such as Family Planning and Rainbow Youth.

“Parents have rightly been horrified at groups coming in to schools and undermining the role and values of families with sex education resources targeted at children as young as five which fail to take into account the emotional and physical development of each child and the values of the family. We believe that the number of parents wanting the right to opt-in will actually be much bigger when offered the opportunity,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“There seems to be a basic and ironic assumption that parents know nothing about sex and that only groups like Family Planning and Rainbow Youth do. This is a myth and is rejected by Kiwi parents – and it seems that an increasing number of parents are wanting a default setting of not having sex education for their children.”

“The state is promoting a curriculum where children are indoctrinated on ‘gender identity’ ideology and the harms of gender stereotypes, and given dangerous messages that they’re sexual from birth, that the proper time for sexual activity is when they feel ready, and that they have rights to pleasure, birth control, and abortion. Most schools, along with parents in that school community, are rejecting the extreme elements of the new sexuality education guidelines released at the end of 2015.”

“Studies show that the biggest protective factors for coping with puberty and sexual involvement are married parents, family values, parental supervision, and parental expectations for behaviour. What happens at home is the greatest determinant of the outcomes for the young person.”

Family First released a report in 2013 “R18: Sexuality Education in New Zealand – A Critical Review” by US psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman which warned that the sex education resources fail to tell the full facts and compromise the concerns and wishes of parents, and the safety of young people.

The nationwide poll was carried out during December and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

READ FULL POLL RESULTS
ENDS

MIL OSI

Jakarta Post: Free radical cleric linked to Bali bombing – why now?

Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir … controversy over presidential plan for his early release. Image: YouTube still

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says a radical Muslim cleric linked to the 2002 Bali bombings would only be released from jail if he pledged loyalty to the state and its ideology, following news he would be freed unconditionally sparked criticism – including a stinging editorial in the country’s national English language daily.

President Widodo had declared last week that Abu Bakar Bashir, 81, would be freed on humanitarian grounds, citing his age and poor health.

But a presidential statement said yesterday it would be a “conditional release”.

READ MORE: Indonesia backtracks on ‘unconditional’ release of Bashir

Condemning the release decision, The Jakarta Post said: “The timing and circumstances of the President’s decision are so suspicious that one wonders whether his health condition was a factor at all.”

Bashir was convicted in 2010 under anti-terrorism laws for links to militant training camps in Aceh province and jailed for 15 years.

-Partners-

Although linked to the Bali attacks and a bombing at Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel in 2003, Bashir was never convicted for them and denied those ties.

The Jakarta Post’s editorial board published the following opinion article:

‘Wrong on so many levels’
“There is nothing wrong with granting an old and ailing felon conditional release or even a pardon on humanitarian grounds. But President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s decision to approve the early release of 81-year-old terror convict and firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is wrong on so many levels.

“It is not impossible to pardon the ailing cleric on humanitarian grounds, but the timing and circumstances of the President’s decision are so suspicious that one wonders whether his health condition was a factor at all.

“The call came only months before the April presidential election in which Jokowi will square off against his old rival, Prabowo Subianto, in a bid to secure a second term.

“Prabowo has been touted as the more Islamic candidate by hardline Islamists, while Jokowi is struggling to convince voters he is not a communist, even after naming the leader of the nation’s most influential Islamic institution as his running mate.

“Given the political backdrop, it is too easy to believe the move was just another attempt by Jokowi to win Muslim votes.

“Yusril Ihza Mahendra, the lawyer for the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin campaign, has dismissed such speculation. Mahendradatta, Bashir lawyer, has also claimed that his client’s release has nothing to do with politics, that it is not a ‘political gift’ from Jokowi.

“The claim is hardly convincing. Bashir’s lawyers had long cited Bashir’s deteriorating health as the primary reason for his release, or him being put under house arrest. The government had ignored the request. So why the change now?

“Moreover, the Jokowi administration has been far from transparent in explaining the legal basis for Bashir’s release.

“Days after the decision was made public, officials said it was unclear if Bashir was pardoned or granted conditional release. It is hard to say which.

Presidential pardon not sought
“Neither the cleric nor his lawyer have ever sought presidential pardon. The cleric is neither eligible for conditional release, despite having served two thirds of his prison sentence, because he refused to sign a letter of loyalty to the state ideology Pancasila — a requirement for all terror convicts.

“Yusril argued Jokowi could just change or ‘ignore’ the policy, as it is only stipulated in a ministerial regulation, not a law. While it is possible to tweak the regulation, one wonders why Jokowi needs to go through all that for Bashir.

“This leads to another issue: fairness.

“The President has often pledged to not interfere with the law. Only recently, Jokowi cited the exact argument to reject calls for him to grant clemency to a housewife jailed for inadvertently exposing the man accused of sexually abusing her.

“Jokowi is also merciless to drug convicts. Last July, a terminally ill Pakistani drug convict on death row died in prison. The man claimed innocence and Jokowi refused to free him despite his health condition and plea for justice.

“The President has the prerogative to pardon convicts, but he is obliged to justify his action before citizens. His decision on Bashir was poorly timed, legally flawed and insensitive. It sent all the wrong messages to many of his supporters as well as the international community.”

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL Analysis+Reportage – EveningReport.NZ

MIL-Evening Report: Bangsamoro Islamic troops choose peace via historic Philippines vote

By Sofia Tomacruz in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao

Battle-scarred they might be, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have faced their toughest campaign yet.

Armed with nothing but a first-time vote, young troops from the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces prayed they would win the decades-old struggle for autonomy and independence through yesterday’s ballot.

More than 150,000 former combatants of the MILF are among the 2.8 million people who have registered to vote in the plebiscite, where the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the creation of a new, expanded Bangsamoro region will be decided.

WATCH: Sofia Tomacruz’s video reports and live updates from Rappler

New role? MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim (left) will likely become the Bangsamoro region’s chief minister if the organic law is ratified in yesterday’s referendum. Image: Malacañang file

MILF leader Al Hajj Murad Ibrahim cast his vote for the first time in the historic referendum seeking to ratify the law that will give more autonomy to the Philippines’ Muslim minority.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is seen as the solution to the decades of separatist conflict in Mindanao, a region plagued by poverty and violent extremism, reports Arab News. More than 120,000 people have died in the conflict.

-Partners-

“This is my first time to vote,” said Murad. “During the height of the war, we never thought that this would happen. But after the progress of the peace process, we see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

It took the leader of the MILF, formerly the biggest Muslim group in the country, only a few minutes to case his “yes” vote.

First time vote
“I am happy that at least for the first time, I have exercised my right of suffrage,” he later said, adding that his participation in the voting signals the commencement of their transition from a revolutionary into the democratic process.

Like Murad, thousands of MILF fighters, along with their families, also trooped to polling centers yesterday to take part in the voting process, many of them for the first time.

“We are hoping that with this development, we can finally achieve the aspiration of our people for peace, progress and a good life in this part of the country and in the entire country,” Murad said.

Murad said that after the plebiscite, “hopefully the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the transitional government, will be immediately established and we will start to organise our government structure and after the BTA, a regular government in 2022.”

Murad said that once the BOL is implemented, their priorities would be education, medical services, social services,and infrastructure, adding that education was their top priority.

“For more than 50 years of war, many of our people have not obtained education. We cannot really progress if our people are not educated,” he said.

Murad said that as long as the vote is conducted in a fair manner with no manipulation, intimidation or cheating, they are “determined to accept whatever is the result.”

Chief minister
A chief minister will head the BTA and this position will likely go to Murad.

Before he talked peace with the government, Murad was a fearsome MILF commander.

Murad’s decades of rebellion began in 1972 when he joined the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by former University of the Philippines professor Nur Misuari.

A group within the MILF disagreed with Nur over a peace deal with the government and broke away in 1981. This group became the MILF.

Murad became the head of MILF’s army, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). He commanded at least 12,000 men.

When MILF’s then-leader Hashim Salamat died in 2003, Murad took the reins.

After years of fighting government forces, the MILF began peace talks with the Arroyo and then the Aquino administration.

Signing witnessed
In 2012, Murad witnessed the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which laid the groundwork for the BOL.

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country but Mindanao has a significant Muslim population.

Many regard the region as their ancestral homeland, dating back to the 13th Century when Arab traders first arrived, and over the decades various rebel groups sprang up demanding the right to self-rule.

Mindanao has seen a huge amount of violence in recent years – mainly between the army, Muslim separatists and other rebels.

The violence has left Mindanao one of the poorest regions in the Philippines.

The entire region of Mindanao is still under martial law, which was implemented in 2017 after clashes between the army and militants linked to IS.The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country but Mindanao has a significant Muslim population.

Ancestral homeland
Many regard the region as their ancestral homeland, dating back to the 13th Century when Arab traders first arrived, and over the decades various rebel groups sprang up demanding the right to self-rule.

Mindanao has seen a huge amount of violence in recent years – mainly between the army, Muslim separatists and other rebels.

The violence has left Mindanao one of the poorest regions in the Philippines.

The entire region of Mindanao is still under martial law, which was implemented in 2017 after clashes between the army and militants linked to IS.

If a majrity of the millions of voters from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Cotabato City voted “yes” include their areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), a second voting day will take place on February 6.

This time, in Lanao del Norte – except Iligan City – and 7 towns in North Cotabato.

If a majority of voters in all areas agree to their inclusion, the new BARMM will be comprised of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Cotabato City, 6 towns in Lanao del Norte, and 67 barangays in North Cotabato.

MIL OSI AnalysisEveningReport.nz

MIL-OSI UK: May snubs compromise as Labour moves to ‘third phase’ of Brexit policy

Source: Labour List UK

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Just days after the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal – the largest defeat of any government in modern history, let us not hesitate to repeat – Theresa May is expected to return to parliament with the same plan. In a conference call last night, the Prime Minister reportedly told her cabinet that she doesn’t intent to change course. Instead, she will aim to win enough Tory and DUP support to get her deal through by seeking assurances on the backstop. Sound familiar? Possibly because that’s exactly what she vowed to do over Christmas.

How will she do it? The EU hasn’t, as hoped, changed its mind on the backstop after watching MPs reject the deal – after all, Ireland is still a member, and the backstop was actually May’s demand in the first place, and it only survives as an idea due to her red lines. There are rumours that she’d like to amend the Good Friday Agreement, which is clearly not viable. Another scheme involves a bilateral treaty with Ireland, which the Irish government has already quashed.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to turn down May’s invite to Brexit talks last week? According to our latest survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, 60% of LabourList readers think he made the right call. It’s clear that the cross-party discussions were indeed a “stunt” and the PM had no intention of changing course until having at least one more go at convincing her party and confidence-and-supply partner. She knows that opting for customs union membership would split the Conservative Party, and why risk being that Tory leader? But, in her statement to the Commons today, May will no doubt place the blame on Corbyn for the failure of cross-party talks. Labour can only hope the public realise she is prioritising party unity above the national interest.

Over the weekend, Labour’s Brexit position developed when Keir Starmer gave a speech at the Fabians conference (read the full text here – note that LL gets a mention – and our key takeaways here). The headlines are that Labour is at the ‘third phase’ of its policy set out at conference, i.e. the alternative Brexit plan or backing a public vote. Again, the leadership won’t be moving swiftly onto the latter now that May has rejected compromise, but will instead wait to see how long her stubborn approach holds.

What’s clear is that Labour considers Article 50 extension “inevitable”, to quote Starmer, and this is important in deciding whether to support Yvette Cooper’s latest amendment. Although the opposition wants to make clear that responsibility for delaying Brexit lies with the government, Labour also wants to block ‘no deal’. Cooper’s move would give MPs a vote on whether to extend Article 50 if no agreement has been reached by the end of February, i.e. stop May running the clock down any further.

In what could become crucial in any future cross-party agreement, Starmer conceded on Marr the next day that “at this stage, any deal probably does require a backstop”. But if May does succeed in getting her ‘Plan B’ through with Tory and DUP votes, it is the Shadow Brexit Secretary’s other admissions that matter. “It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” he said of the key pledge about all options remaining on the table. The idea of another referendum, which has “significant support” among Labour members and some MPs, “has to be an option for Labour”, he added.

While answering audience questions, Starmer described himself as “a fan” of the Brexit citizens’ assembly idea, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”. These are all largely shifts in tone rather than substance, but many MPs like to point out that Starmer has succeeded in softening the Labour position at every crunch moment. Could his backing for a further “injection of democracy” in the Brexit process break the camel’s back, or ultimately – like the backstop and extending Article 50 – become inevitable?

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn right to refuse talks with May, say 60% of LabourList readers

Source: Labour List UK

Over 60% of our readers believe that Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse “substantive” Brexit talks with Theresa May last week, the latest LabourList survey has found.

After the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal, then survived a no-confidence vote called by the Labour leader, the Prime Minister invited opposition party leaders to engage in talks.

But Corbyn said no “positive” discussions could be had unless she took ‘no deal’ off the table, which May refused to do. Labour MPs were divided on the issue, with some agreeing that talks were pointless without the assurance and others concerned about public reaction.

The results of the weekly LabourList survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, showed 60.3% of readers agreed with the Labour leader’s recent decision on the cross-party talks, while almost 34% said they disagreed with his position.

The poll also found that around 52% of readers believe the Labour Party’s priority should be to stop Brexit. 2,438 respondents, just over 44%, said alternatively that Labour should prioritise securing the best deal.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the questions and readers’ responses.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to refuse “substantive” talks with Theresa May until she rules out ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

  1. Yes – 60.3% (3,333)
  2. No – 33.9% (1.871)
  3. Don’t know – 5.8% (323)

Other than force a general election, what should be Labour’s top priority?

  1. Try to stop Brexit – 52.1% (2,880)
  2. Secure the best Brexit deal –44.1% (2,438)
  3. Don’t know – 3.8% (209)

Who are your top three shadow cabinet members?

First choice:

  1. Keir Starmer – 2,171
  2. John McDonnell – 1,877
  3. Emily Thornberry – 519

Second choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,244
  2. Keir Starmer – 1,171
  3. Tom Watson – 1,023

Third choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,372
  2. Tom Watson – 855
  3. Keir Starmer – 713
1st 2nd 3rd
Andrew Gwynne 12 23 49
Andy McDonald 2 11 37
Angela Rayner 100 178 258
Barry Gardiner 65 158 211
Christina Rees 2 3 8
Dan Carden 2 15 25
Dawn Butler 9 29 90
Diane Abbott 137 505 482
Emily Thornberry 519 1,244 1,372
John Healey 8 20 48
John McDonnell 1,877 762 629
Jon Ashworth 37 52 120
Jon Trickett 4 11 23
Keir Starmer 2,171 1,171 713
Margaret Greenwood 1 13 20
Nia Griffith 21 74 245
Rebecca Long-Bailey 21 117 165
Richard Burgon 22 72 114
Sue Hayman 19 28 31
Tom Watson 495 1,023 855
Tony Lloyd 3 11 22

The aggregated results show that Keir Starmer, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry were the most popular Labour frontbenchers among LabourList readers last week, with 4,055, 3,268 and 3,135 votes respectively.

A small number of readers got in touch to say that they did not notice the scroll bar when answering the third survey question. We will therefore aim to run the most popular shadow cabinet members question again this week in a different, clearer format.

The survey was open from 4.30pm on Thursday 17th January until 8pm on Sunday 20th January. Thank you to all 5,625 readers who took part.

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MIL-OSI UK: Sunday shows round-up: Starmer, Benn, Lammy and Cooper on Brexit

Source: Labour List UK

The Andrew Marr Show

Keir Starmer expressed many of the same views set out in his Fabians conference speech on Saturday, including that delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 is now inevitable and that Labour’s policy is in its ‘third phase’. He also conceded that any Brexit deal at this stage would “probably” require a backstop.

  • On Theresa May’s deal: “I have said for two years we will faithfully look at any deal that is brought back, which is what we did on Tuesday.”
  • On compromise and cross-party talks: “If she… said, my red lines have gone, I’m not going to hold a gun to your heads about no deal, that would shift the position incredibly.”
  • On the backstop: “At this stage any deal probably does require a backstop, and we’ve got to recognise that… There are problems with this backstop and we have got to recognise that. But because we are in this stage of the exercise, nearly two years in, the chances now of a deal that doesn’t have a backstop are very, very slim.”
  • On extending Article 50: “It’s extremely difficult to see how the Prime Minister can achieve what needs to be achieved in 68 days and therefore I think it is inevitable Article 50 is going to be extended. And the blame with that lies with the Prime Minister.”

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central and Brexit select committee chair:

  • On reports that in his office on Monday “backbench plotters” will meet to give control of the Brexit process to the Commons: “MPs doing their job are not plotters, they are trying to sort out the mess the Prime Minister has created. We are facing a national crisis and there are many MPs in the House of Commons whose first priority is to ensure that we do not leave without a deal. And therefore finding ways when we come to table amendments this week and debate on the 29th January how we stop that.”
  • On accusations that Commons officials have acted with bias: “To attack House of Commons clerks and suggest they’re part of a conspiracy is a disgrace. Our clerks are resolutely impartial.”
  • On breaking the deadlock: “I think we have to compromise because parliament is deadlocked and the Prime Minister can’t get around that.”
  • On indicative votes: “I’m in favour of parliament voting on a series of options to see if there’s one that can command majority support.”

Ridge on Sunday

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham:

  • On securing a Brexit deal: “I would prefer a soft Brexit, somewhere like Norway, to Theresa May’s botched deal… I could only vote for it on the basis that there was a final say referendum.”
  • On Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit position: “He’s moving the goalposts and I’ve been very clear on that… It seems to me there is no point in continuing with votes of no confidence, throwing darts and missing the board… I think that Jeremy has been hedging.”
  • On a Labour split: “There is a small group in our party who are so frustrated, who have so much grievance, the fear is that they are going to go off and form another party.  I personally reject that but the danger is, just like 1983, a new party built around basically a relationship with Europe keeps the Labour Party out of power for a generation.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and Shadow Local Government Secretary:

  • On Labour talks with May: “In terms of opening the door to meaningful negotiations with us, all she’s got to do is give us a verbal commitment that she will do everything possible to prevent a no deal.”

Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley:

  • On the way forward for Brexit: “Get ‘no deal’ off the table, but get Remain off the table as well, so we can focus on what needs to be done. There’s too much shenanigans, too much process, not enough substance going on amongst politicians.”

Westminster Hour

Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, who has a new bill and an amendment (with Nick Boles) to take ‘no deal’ off the table:

  • On her bill to allow parliament to demand an extension of Article 50: “If we’re still in this paralysis by the end of February, we just have to be sensible and recognise that we may need more time… The plan is to put forward a simple amendment to the Prime Minister’s Plan B motion that there was parliamentary time for [the bill].”
  • On the length of Article 50 extension: “It proposes an extension until the end of the year, but that’s amendable.”
  • On support for her bill: “I’ve talked to the [Labour] frontbench… My understanding is that there are government ministers who also want this bill to pull through.”

Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington and shadow Brexit minister:

  • On Labour supporting Cooper’s bill: “That’s a decision for Nick Brown and the shadow cabinet… I think there will be widespread for this in parliament.”

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MIL-OSI UK: What we learnt from Keir Starmer’s Brexit speech today

Source: Labour List UK

Keir Starmer delivered a 2,000-word speech and answered the questions of Labour activists at the Fabian conference this morning. The frontbencher covered the failures of the Tory government during the Brexit negotiations and the next steps for Labour policy. Here’s what we learned…

Labour will keep trying to force a general election.

“Wednesday’s no confidence vote was just the beginning of Labour’s efforts to secure a general election – not the end,” Starmer said in his speech. “Securing a general election is – and always will be – our priority as it’s the only way to deliver the radical change this country needs.”

After the government survived the no-confidence vote on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson did not rule out tabling another such motion at a later date, possibly before the Prime Minister has returned to parliament with a substantive ‘Plan B’ for Brexit.

“Motions of confidence can happen more than once,” the spokesperson said earlier this week. This was confirmed again as the Labour leader’s line in his Hastings speech: “We will come back with [a motion of no-confidence] again if necessary.”

Labour will keep its conference motion commitment.

At Labour conference in September, the Brexit composite motion unanimously passed by delegates pledged: “If we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”

Following phase one (voting down Theresa May’s deal) and phase two (seeking an election), Starmer confirmed that we are now “at the third phase of our policy”. He went on to describe the key pledge about “all options remaining on the table” as “a very important commitment”.

“It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” Starmer promised in his speech today.

Four options have been ruled out: May’s deal, no deal, Canada model, hard Irish border.

Starmer ruled out two options today. First, supporting the Prime Minister’s deal, “or any tweaked version of it that may materialise”. The Brexit spokesperson explained: “The deal is so flawed, it is so far from meeting our tests, and the parliamentary opposition to is so great that this can no longer be considered a credible option. A majority of 230 speaks for itself.”

It is of some interest that he said “this can no longer be considered a credible option” – as if it were a credible option at one point. There had been rumours towards the end of 2018 that Labour could countenance backing a version of May’s deal, particularly as many argue (and Barry Gardiner has acknowledged) that only the non-legally-binding political declaration part of the divorce deal would need changing.

Second, leaving without a deal. This one came as no surprise, as the entire parliamentary Labour Party agrees (apart from Kate Hoey). “No deal simply is not acceptable to us – it never has been. The damaging impact of no deal to people across the country is so profound that no one should be casual about it,” Starmer said.

Third, the Canada model favoured by some Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. “A free-trade deal along the lines of CETA – the so-called Canada model – is not acceptable,” Starmer said. “A CETA-style deal would weaken workers’ rights, consumer and environmental standards. It wouldn’t protect supply chains which are vital for our manufacturing industry. And it wouldn’t prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.”

Finally, any Brexit deal that lead to a hard Irish border.

Two options remain: Labour’s alternative plan and a public vote.

Starmer clearly set out that after ruling out all of the above, there are only two options for Labour: “1) Instructing the Government to negotiate a close economic relationship with the EU” and “2) As our conference motion sets out, the option of a public vote”.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary conceded that Labour’s alternative plan is “far from perfect” and “involves trade-offs and compromises”. He also acknowledged that the other option, a fresh EU referendum, has “significant support” among Labour members and some Labour MPs. He emphasised that this “has to be an option for Labour”.

Responding to audience questions on a ‘people’s vote’, Starmer said: “We’re no longer in the position we were in two years ago. We’re asking a different question, which is how to crash out without a deal. In those circumstances, we have to consider the options laid out in my speech.”

Starmer thinks we probably won’t leave the EU on 29th March.

“We also need to recognise that – whichever of these options we pursue – the 29th March deadline looks increasingly unlikely to be met,” he said. Listing the pieces of legislation still needing MPs’ approval, Starmer concluded that Article 50 extension is “inevitable”.

Asked whether the EU elections taking place this year would affect that extension, Starmer replied: “It’s a pretty open secret that the EU have at least discussed extending until 1st July.” European Labour Party leader Richard Corbett has similarly advised in the past that extension until July would be feasible without the need to hold European parliamentary elections in the UK in May.

Starmer is interested in the idea of a Brexit citizens’ assembly.

Last month, Neil Lawson of Compass called for a Brexit citizens’ assembly, whereby a representative sample of the public would make a recommendation on the outcome. The idea has since been supported by MPs including Lisa Nandy and Stella Creasy. Starmer revealed today that he is “a fan”, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”.

Keir Starmer reads LabourList.

We already knew that. But he has now also quoted a LabourList piece in a key Brexit speech. He said:

“But as Andrew Harrop pointed out in LabourList last weekend: “In this moment of national crisis, [Labour] has a responsibility not just to oppose but to offer a constructive path forward.” I agree. It’s now time for an open and frank debate about how we break the deadlock.”

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