The Reader: Parliament won’t work if we don’t all follow rules


    hen the independent Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards decides that an MP has broken the rules then all parties must vote to accept the findings and punishment. It’s like accepting the referee’s decision in sport. It’s what reasonable people do.

    Parliament (like society) doesn’t work unless there are rules, most stick to them and people accept punishment when they don’t.

    Former prime ministers don’t enjoy criticising their successors. So John Major must have been angry to say Mr Johnson’s government was “politically corrupt” and “behaving as if we are the masters now”. But he’s correct. Mr Johnson hates losing and can’t face accountability. That’s why he did this.

    Sir John Major has been a persistent critic of this administration so his latest attack was hardly a surprise, but he was right nonetheless. It was obvious, well before the Government’s U-turn, that the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner’s verdict needed to be upheld. This dismal episode has inflicted a needless stain on too many of our politicians.

    Martin Bentham, Home Affairs Editor

    Will COP26’s legacy be more empty pledges?

    COP26’s first week heard promises to end deforestation, phase out coal and mobilise trillions for green investment, but there is a huge gulf between proclamations and the emissions cuts required. There is a glaring disconnect between inflated pledges and genuine progress. Declarations melt in the light of day with finance the crunch issue.

    Developing nations demand the West make good on decade-old promises to give $100 billion a year. The UK is trailing 1.8C as a COP26 achievement but it is based on vague net-zero plans with virtually no short-term emissions targets. Most of the net-zero pledges are void of content with emissions going in the wrong direction. All COP26 is likely to produce is inflated reporting of financial sums, re-hashed spending pledges spun as new and claims warming can be limited to 1.8C on the basis of actionless pledges.

    In my (many) pessimistic moments, I feel a lot like you. Climate change does not care about our pledges, only about the composition of carbon in the atmosphere. And you are right to say that exaggeration and inflated sums will get us nowhere. There are reasons for cautious optimism, and the signal to markets and the public that the path to net-zero is one-way will be vital. But time is against us. Emissions will need to fall 45 per cent by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5C. They are set to rise.

    Jack Kessler, Leader writer

    Paterson is clear case of sleaze

    The attempt by the Government to get their mate off all sanctions for egregious parliamentary offences represents a stunning instance of sleaze.

    This saga, which casts doubt over the democratic integrity of the UK, lies squarely at the Prime Minister’s door. Boris Johnson clearly doesn’t have time for regulations or the rule of law.

    Make masks mandatory again

    If West End bosses want people to shop, eat and have fun in central London, they need to tell the Government to make the wearing of face masks mandatory on transport and in shops. Until this happens, thousands of people will not dare to go.

    Good on M&S for introducing pronouns on their badges

    Marks & Spencer are giving staff the choice to put pronouns on their badges. In the entertainment industry and the writing industry, people have pseudonyms, names they would rather be known as. JK Rowling for example. That’s their choice. Why shouldn’t people choose how they want to be addressed? It means something to those people who often get called words that they don’t identify as. I’m all in favour if it makes people feel comfortable in the workplace.

    Good on M&S. A simple change of policy that can really improve life for some of their staff.

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