Guy Opperman’s Voting Record: Pt 2

In the second of his series of articles examining Guy Opperman’s voting record, Nick Morphet looks at how the Hexham MP has voted on Brexit, home affairs and welfare. You can read part 1 here.

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BREXIT

It is clear from Mr Opperman’s voting record that he is partially to blame for the mess that we currently find ourselves in. He voted four times in favour of an overly simplistic in/out Brexit referendum, and since the referendum he has voted twice in favour of Brexit itself. Furthermore, he has consistently voted against a Right to Remain for EU nationals already living in the UK.

The Green Party would hold a People’s Vote (a second referendum on Brexit, enabling voters to choose between a specific Brexit deal and remaining within the EU). It would also campaign for EU reform. The Green Party believes that it is better to make changes from within than to simply run away from the problem.

HOME AFFAIRS

Mr Opperman has consistently voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules and a stricter asylum system. He voted against contributing to the resolution of the European refugee crisis in both 2015 and 2016. He has also voted against banning the detention of pregnant immigrants, against guidance on the detention of vulnerable people and against giving asylum seekers permission to work if their application decision takes over 6 months.

The Green Party values migrants. It would provide migrants with access to Legal Aid, legal advice and childcare. It would put an end to the indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. It would also abolish the requirement for a UK citizen to earn at least £18,600 in order to bring their non-EU partner to the UK.

WELFARE

Mr Opperman’s voting record on welfare makes for quite unpleasant reading. He has voted repeatedly for a reduction in spending on benefits, and repeatedly against higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability. He has also voted against raising benefits in line with inflation. He has voted repeatedly for the “bedroom tax” (for the reduction of housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have too many bedrooms) and repeatedly against spending public money to create jobs for the young and long-term unemployed. He has voted four times to restrict the scope of Legal Aid. In 2012 he voted against “the provision of legal services that effectively meet the needs of the individual”, against making Legal Aid available in social welfare cases and against making Legal Aid more widely available to children.

The Green Party would increase disability benefits and restore the Independent Living Fund. It would increase the Carer’s Allowance and create carer’s leave rights for those in employment.

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In part 3 Nick examines Guy Opperman’s voting record on funding for local government, education and transport.

Guy Opperman’s Voting Record: Pt 1

The brilliant TheyWorkForYou website allows members of the public to scrutinize the voting record of MPs. In this, the first of a series of articles, Tynedale Green Party’s Nick Morphet takes a look at how Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham has voted on some key issues.

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Guy’s Opperman’s voting record makes for a fascinating but disturbing read. Here I summarize how Mr Opperman has voted on a number of policy areas. Each summary is followed by a brief explanation of Green Party policy in that area, by way of comparison. I hope to make it implicitly clear that the people of Hexham constituency would benefit enormously from having a Green Party MP to represent them in Parliament. The Green Party is proud to speak truth to power and to hold government to account.

 FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENCE

Mr Opperman’s voting history in this area speaks loudly of his appetite for war. He has voted in support of air strikes in Iraq and Syria and he has voted against an investigation into the Iraq war. He has voted in favour of renewing the UK’s nuclear missile submarines, in favour of renewing the UK’s “Trident” nuclear weapons system and in favour of spending £200 billion on the new weapons. On one day in June 2015 he voted in favour of spending cuts and in favour of spending on new nuclear weapons.

The Green Party would cancel the renewal of Trident (saving £110 billion over 30 years) and initiate international negotiations on a universal nuclear abolition treaty. It would curb the arms trade by ending subsidies and stopping the sale of arms to regimes which violate human rights (such as Saudi Arabia). It would wage peace not war.

THE ECONOMY

Mr Opperman’s economic policies are highly regressive, serving only to increase inequality. He has voted for a rise in the higher rate income tax threshold, and he has repeatedly voted against increasing the “additional” tax rate for incomes in excess of £150,000. He has voted three times against a “mansion tax” on properties worth over £2 million which was designed to fund tax cuts for those on low and middle incomes and/or fund the lowering of the basic rate of income tax to 10%. He has repeatedly voted against a bankers’ bonus tax designed to fund the creation of 100,000 new jobs for the young, long-term unemployed and/or fund the building of 25,000 affordable homes.

Mr Opperman is a close friend of big business, at the expense of ordinary citizens – having repeatedly voted to reduce the rate of corporation tax, while failing to consistently vote for measures to avoid tax avoidance. In 2016, for example, he voted against giving the Financial Conduct Authority duties to combat abusive tax avoidance arrangements (e.g. by ascertaining the beneficial owners of trusts). It’s not just Mr Opperman’s fiscal policies that are regressive – he’s also repeatedly voted for more restrictive regulation of trade unions.

The Green Party would implement a Green New Deal (a just transition to a sustainable economy that would reverse austerity and create jobs) and introduce a Universal Basic Income (a non-means tested monthly payment to all citizens). It would also introduce a four-day working week, put a stop to gender and race pay gaps and limit pay ratios (between the highest and lowest paid within a company) to 10:1.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr Opperman’s voting record on human rights is nothing to be proud of. In 2013 he voted to remove the duty on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to “work to promote the development of a society where people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination, and where there is respect for human rights”. In 2016 he voted in favour of replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 with a British Bill of Rights – even though this would have run counter to the UK’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. Although the British Bill of Rights was touted as a way of expanding and updating protections, it quickly became apparent that the government’s goal was to limit the application of human rights and prevent courts from properly enforcing them. In 2018 he voted against retaining the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights upon Brexit, despite a warning from the EHRC that this will lead to a weakening of human rights protections within the UK.

The Green Party is committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Green Party would strengthen human rights protections, stand up for LGBTIQA+ rights and seek the incorporation into law of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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In part 2 Nick examines Guy Opperman’s record on home affairs, welfare, and funding for local government (and the Green alternatives).

Tynedale Greens choose Nick Morphet for 2019 election

TYNEDALE GREEN PARTY DECLARES PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE FOR HEXHAM CONSTITUENCY

Veterinary surgeon, environmental campaigner and care worker turns parliamentary candidate.

Tynedale Green Party has selected Acomb resident Nick Morphet to be its parliamentary candidate in the Hexham constituency.

Tynedale born and bred, the 43-year-old veterinary surgeon recently decided to dedicate his life to social and environmental issues. He now splits his time between wildlife veterinary work, conservation volunteering and caring for people with learning disabilities.

After being selected, Nick said: “The Green Party has a bold vision for a better future, and it will be an honour to spread the Green message. All our policies are geared towards improving people’s lives while simultaneously benefiting the environment – it’s the ultimate ‘win-win’ situation. One example would be ‘rewilding’ the uplands, something that I’m particularly passionate about. By encouraging trees to grow, we can combat climate breakdown and the wildlife crisis while also creating new jobs and opportunities for recreation, as well as preventing flooding downstream. Changes such as these are urgently needed, but fortunately Northumberland has enormous rewilding potential. A second example would be improving rural public transport to fight climate change – again, everyone’s a winner!”.

He added: “The Green Party is strong on the economy too – our Green New Deal will create a ‘just transition’ to a cleaner, greener world that makes us all healthier and (spiritually, as well as materially) wealthier. Ask me about it on the campaign trail”.

Nick has clear views on Brexit: “I won’t pretend it’s not a mess. The overly simplistic in/out referendum was a mistake, and the only way to solve the problem now is to hold a second referendum where we get to choose between a specific deal and remaining in the EU. A good tailor measures twice and cuts once! Brexit has exposed the dishonesty in UK politics, but the Green Party remains a bastion of integrity. You can trust me to represent the Hexham constituency to the very best of my ability”.

Despite his environmental concerns, and his dim view of the current government, Nick is optimistic: “Awareness of climate breakdown and the wildlife crisis is at an all-time high, and the Green Party has more councillors and MEPs than ever before. I’m really looking forward to riding the Green wave, and I hope to take as many people with me as possible”.