Earlier this week, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to standards chief Lord Evans urging a fresh inquiry into the Priti Patel bullying row, slamming Patel’s conduct and insisting “that the watchdog takes a fresh look into this […] to make sure that the Home Secretary is properly held to account [for] breaking the Ministerial code.” Yet another letter from the shadow front bench for Evans to sift through – the poor man’s in-tray can only take so much.
Today, Evans responded with a few choice words for the Shadow Home Secretary, reminding Symonds – as he reminded Anneliese Dodds – that the Committee on Standards in Public Life
“…does not have a remit to look at individual cases. I said this in my reply to your letter of 19 November 2020 and have made this clear a number of times in correspondence with the Labour Party during the past year.”
“We have not, as you state in your letter, issued any findings that the Home Secretary had broken the Ministerial Code. Sir Alex Allan, former Ministerial Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, reported earlier this year that ‘her behaviour has been in breach of the Ministerial Code, even if unintentionally'”
Which is a polite way of telling Symonds he’d managed to complain to the wrong person. By the next paragraph, Evans was more curt:
“You may find it helpful if your office spoke to our secretariat in advance of sending letters to the media to ensure they are addressed to the appropriate body.”
This is not the standards adviser you’re looking for…
Read the letter in full below:
Labour LGBT+ have held packed fringe events for the past two days at Conference, and Guido’s noticed a bit of a pattern: the high-profile shadow cabinet panelists (Rayner, Thomas-Symonds, Dodds) have all conveniently left their respective sessions early. Usually just before they’re confronted with awkward questions about Rosie Duffield…
Busy as no doubt they are, this sort of behaviour doesn’t appear to be happening as much at other fringe events; Guido noticed Anneliese Dodds had plenty of time to field questions with the Fabian Society yesterday, and Angela Rayner is, of course, perfectly happy to spend her hours calling the Tories “scum” in front of Labour activists. When it comes to acknowledging the transphobia row in their own party, though, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Thomas-Symonds did at least offer an anodyne soundbite about standing for trans rights in response to one question yesterday, though he soon left afterwards – the Q&A continued for about another 15 minutes.
Credit where it’s due, party veteran Angela Eagle did stick around today, although her vague response didn’t address Duffield by name:
“It’s very important that we treat each other with respect, and that we save a safe space so that we can educate people who may not have come across this before so we don’t drive them away before we’ve faced them with the realities that they may not have thought about…”
Back to school for Duffield it is…
Speaking to LBC on this morning’s media round, Nick Thomas-Symonds was asked what the current minimum wage is for UK workers. Could he answer Nick Ferrari’s classic (and incredibly basic) question? No. Unbelievably.
“Erm, yes, erm.. Well… It’s below £10 – I don’t know off the top of my head.’
Nick must’ve been a student at the Diane Abbot school of numeracy…
Yesterday, Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to Priti Patel demanding the Windrush Compensation Scheme be placed under “an independent body“, claiming “the mishandling of the Windrush Compensation Scheme by Conservative Ministers has heaped insult upon injustice” and arguing the entire scheme needs to be overhauled.
This is a peculiar attack on the compensation scheme – which has already offered £30 million in compensation over the last two years – given it was actually designed with the independent oversight of Martin Forde QC. The same Martin Forde Labour’s NEC believed to be independent enough to put in charge of its inquiry into the leaked antisemitism report…
In April the Home Office also announced Professor Martin Levermore MBE had been appointed as a new “Independent Person to advise on the Windrush Compensation Scheme”, a move the department promised would be “one of a series of measures” to “right the wrongs” of the Windrush scandal. It’s not just Guido’s sources claiming the scheme is now on an improved footing – Jacqui McKenzie, who’s representing victims, also claimed improvements on today’s Politics Live:
A Tory source says: “On Windrush Day it’s a shame the Labour Party are attempting to play politics and divide people. The Windrush scandal was one which plagued successive governments and that’s why the government is doing all it can to right the wrongs.” The party of hindsight strikes again…