Yesterday we saw another attempt by Keir Starmer to score political points in the middle of a pandemic through Labour’s Opposition Day Debate - when everyone should be working together to support the roll out of the vaccine by staying home, saving lives and protecting the NHS.
You'll have undoubtedly seen Labour MPs claiming that the Conservatives don't care about the vulnerable because of the result of the Opposition Day Debate. This is a ludicrous inference, and all the evidence points to the contrary, but it's entirely understandable that some might believe Labour's misleading spin because the vast majority don't understand how Opposition Day Debates work or the effect they have on law.
What is an Opposition Day Debate?
An Opposition Day is a day in a legislature in which an opposition party sets the agenda. Most days the parliamentary agenda is set by the government; opposition days allow the smaller parties to choose the subject for debate. There are twenty opposition days per parliamentary session. The days are divided among opposition parties with the Official Opposition allotted the most; Labour is given 17 opposition days, and the second biggest opposition party (the SNP) given three days.
Do they change Government policy?
They have no impact on law whatsoever. The results of a vote from one of these debates is non-binding on the Government, it's a conversation or discussion within Parliament - and nothing more. For example, the last Labour Government, on its last Opposition Day, voted against a motion calling for extra university places and apprenticeships.
Why is it misleading?
The Labour party claim they want to act constructively, but yesterday their use of a non-binding Opposition Debate, designed to mislead people and cause division, showed that in reality they are more interested in scoring political points. They've claimed it implies the Conservatives don't care about the most vulnerable in our society when:
- The Government's approach throughout this pandemic has been to support all families – particularly those on low incomes – through a range of measures worth over £280 billion, including:
- The Furlough Scheme – to protect jobs and livelihoods across the nation
- A £500 million Hardship Fund – providing vital relief for vulnerable households
- A £170 million Covid Winter grant Scheme – supporting vulnerable families through the winter months
- And a £7 billion increase to welfare – to support millions of households through this pandemic.
- By contrast, Labour want to scrap Universal Credit – a widely criticised plan that would cost £55 billion and plunge nearly 5 million people into poverty.
This Conservative Government has consistently stepped up to support low income families and the most vulnerable in society throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so.
Watch the excellent video by Ben Bradley MP above to see what the Labour were intending by calling this debate. Parliamentary procedure can be tricky to understand, but if you take the time to do so then you can clearly see Labour's motives for what they are: a deliberate attempt to anger the public through misleading political games. Don't fall for it.