Ahead of the general election, S&C Ed in Chief, Sarah Cheverton, takes a critical look at MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond’s voting record across a range of issues since her election in 2015, with the help of the full voting records kept by TheyWorkForYou.com.
Voted against allowing a terminally ill person to request assistance with ending his or her life if diagnosed as having less than six months to live, and if he or she had the permission of a high court judge. Earlier this year, The Independent reported that more than 244 terminally ill people have had to travel abroad from Britain to end their life legally.
Voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act 1998 to be replaced with a British Bill of Rights, a move that former Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has argued ‘will silence the vulnerable and leave great swaths of executive action unchecked and unaccountable’.
Voted against calling on the Government to ensure women and protected groups are not disproportionally impacted by tax and benefit changes and against publication of a gender equality strategy to improve the position of women. Research carried out by the House of Commons library last year showing that 86% of the burden of austerity since 2010 has fallen on women, with the Women’s Budget Group concluding the cuts constitute ‘a transfer from the purses of poorer women into the wallets of richer men.’
Voted to reduce the household benefit cap, which think tank Policy in Practice recently reported to Government more than doubles the average gap between housing benefit and rent for families in temporary housing, leaving local authorities like Portsmouth City Council to plug the gap; and is failing as an incentive to encourage people into work.
Voted for reductions in benefits to disabled and ill claimants deemed ‘capable of work’, and to freeze the rate of many working age benefits, a decision described last year by RNIB (A charity supporting people with sight loss) as resulting in ‘poor people…being made poorer and now compensation for the extra costs of disability…effectively being reduced.’
Voted to reduce social rents in England, described by The New Statesman as ‘an attack on social housing’ and by the Financial Times as a ‘contradiction’ in housing policy that ‘risks exacerbating the supply problem’.
Europe and the EU
Voted in favour of a referendum on the EU, and for the UK to remain in the EU before last year’s referendum. Mrs Drummond has consistently voted in favour of leaving since the referendum– see full record here – and in a statement on her website, commented:
‘I am still very disappointed that we lost the referendum, because our automatic rights as EU members will be lost. I have not changed my view, but I voted for the Referendum Act in 2015 so that the people could have their say, and I am obliged to accept the result.’
Voted against EU nationals currently living in the UK retaining rights, including the right to live and work in the UK, following departure from the EU. What happens to an estimated 3 million EU nationals living in the UK will also affect the rights of British nationals residing and working in Europe. In March, a cross-party committee of MPs warned the government against using EU and British nationals as ‘bargaining chips’ in the Brexit negotiations and highlighted that an abrupt reduction in the number of EU workers in the UK post Brexit ‘would cause disruption in a number of sectors’. The House of Lords subsequently voted in an overwhelming majority in March to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK in a vote that saw the biggest turnout in the house since 1999, a move described by the Financial Times as being ‘in defiance of Theresa May.’
Employment and the Economy
Voted for stricter regulation of trade unions, including supporting the Trade Union Act, described by human rights lawyers as ‘an attack on the sizeable minority (almost 6 million people) of the British population that belong to unions – [as well as] threaten[ing] the freedom to protest, freedom of expression and basic principles of workplace democracy.’ The UK is already thought to have some of the most restrictive trade union laws in western Europe, with the United Nations expressing concerns in 2013 over restrictions on the right to strike.
Voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax, which at 19 per cent is already lower than France’s 33.3 per cent, Germany’s 29.7 per cent or Italy’s 31.4 per cent. Campaigners in the UK and beyond have highlighted the costs to the economy of such a move at £2 billion per year with each percentage point cut, with the OECD warning that cutting UK corporation tax further ‘would really turn the UK into a tax haven type of economy’.
Voted in favour of making all schools academy schools, a move announced by George Osborne in 2016. Former head of Ofsted, Michael Wilshaw, has been a vocal critic of some academy trusts, telling the Guardian last year:
‘There are some rogues out there who use the greater freedoms that are given to headteachers and chief executives to line their own pockets. We have seen examples of that.’
The government u-turned on its move to make all schools academy schools by 2022 in May 2016, two months after it was announced.
Privacy and Surveillance
Voted in favour of the Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed by critics as ‘The Snoopers’ Charter’. The Act gives ‘UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world’, including:
- Forcing internet service providers to record and store up to 12 months logs showing websites visited by all of their customers. Law enforcement agencies will then be able to obtain access to this data without any court order or warrant
- Giving police and tax investigators the ability to, with the approval of a government minister, hack into targeted phones and computers
- Permitting intelligence agencies to sift through ‘bulk personal datasets’ that contain millions of records about people’s phone calls, travel habits, internet activity, and financial transactions
You can find out more about the IP Bill here. In December 2016, the European Court of Justice ruled that ‘General and indiscriminate retention’ of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the IP Act. The challenge was led by Conservative David Davis and Labour’s Tom Watson.
Voted consistently against measures to prevent climate change, including:
- Voting in favour of introducing a tax on renewable or ‘green’ energy producers, which treats renewable suppliers on an equal level with those reliant on fossil fuels, criticised for making it harder for business to buy energy from renewable sources, and described by campaigners as part of a broader ‘unfair, illogical and obsessive attack on renewables’ by the government
- Voting against a strategy for carbon capture and storage for the energy industry, which could deliver clean electricity at a lower cost and ‘save consumers billions a year from the cost of meeting climate change targets’. In April the Public Accounts Committee warned that taxpayers “will have to pay billions of pounds more” to meet the emission reduction target, due to the government’s failure to address it
UPDATE – This article was updated on 7th June 2017 as the rate of corporation tax was mistakenly reported at 20% instead of 19% – and the Conservative government have pledged to reduce it to 17% by 2020. Thank you to Nicholas Sebley for spotting and alerting us to the error.
Featured image: screenshot taken from GovFaces Youtube interview with Flick Drummond in 2015.