Sunday, 26 April 2015

Joan Ryan: The New Labour years

Every vote is a vote for a person as well as their party so it's fair to look at a candidate's track record. Joan Ryan, my Labour opponent, was an MP for 13 years before Nick de Bois defeated her and you can now see her key parts of her voting record online.

It's not a pretty sight.

Let's start with the good news. She voted for gay rights, higher alcohol prices and to ban hunting with hounds.

Now the rest.

The Iraq War
First and worst she voted for the Iraq war. That was a war for an unjust cause, fought without UN sanction and that was sold to the UN and to the British Parliament and people with lies; most notably the "dodgy dossier". Perhaps she believed the lies - though many of us saw through them even then. But if she believed them why did she not demand a full inquiry? In fact she voted against inquiries in both 2003 and 2009.

Of course government MPs are expected to vote for the government line whilst ministers, Ryan was a Parliamentary Private Secretary and then a whip, are required to. But a decision to authorise killing is above all a moral decision and this decision had extraordinary consequences for Iraq, Syria and the flow of migrants to Europe. If she had disagreed with the leadership she could, and should, have resigned. So I believe that she believed the lies.

And what can we conclude from this? Surely that her political judgement is poor and that she's too ready to follow her party's leaders into folly.

Strengthening the state
Ryan has voted repeatedly for measures that increase the power of the state over its citizens. They include:
  • Identity cards - which help the state to track us.
  • To allow GCHQ to retain data about phone calls, e-mails, etc.
  • To allow ministers to intervene in inquests - to avoid embarrassment to the government.
  • Various 'anti-terrorism' measures which undermine the rule of law.
 Ryan is no friend of civil liberties on matters where such liberties inconvenience the state.

Climate change
Ryan voted against various measures against climate change. For instance:
  • In 2008 she voted against including climate change policies in the  National Policy Statement,
  • and against government powers to set emissions targets for power stations.
  • In 2009 she voted against the government's endorsing the 10:10 campaign.
New Labour did take action on climate change but these fall far short of what is needed to avoid catastrophe.

Of course she voted for and against many other measures but these illuminate her politics.

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