Kathryn Stone Attacked Again

Kathryn Stone is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of the House of Commons.

In November of last year I wrote about The Commons Select Committee On Standards and Owen Paterson’s lobbying that resulted in him resigning as an MP. Before that happened, the then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that he believed she should review her position after her suspension of Owen Paterson was blocked by Parliament.

As I said then, Kwasi Kwarteng was wrong. He was wrong on facts because Kathryn Stone didn’t suspend Owen Patterson. It wasn’t ‘her’ suspension at all. She reported to the Committee and they suspended him.

So now today we have a new matter, and you would have thought that having had their noses bloodied once, the Conservatives would have learned to back off from Kathryn Stone. But no, now we have the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. He was suspended for five days for serially breaching the lobbying rules. He appealed and failed to convince the The Independent Expert Panel to overturn the suspension.

According to the IEP report, in his appeal Bridgen criticised standards commissioner Kathryn Stone’s investigation as flawed for multiple reasons. Plainly, neither she, nor the Standards Committee, nor the Independent Expert Panel agreed. So Kathryn Stone is in good company.

The Independent Expert Panel was chaired by a retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Irwin. He didn’t mince words saying the Mr Brigden offered no evidence and simply said that the sanctions were excessive. Sr Stephen said “We disagree. Indeed, in our view the sanctions for breach of the rule against paid advocacy and for the email letter could properly and fairly have been more severe.”

No Gas? Burn Lignite

Lignite, sometimes called ‘brown coal’, is a soft, brown sedimentary rock that is essentially compressed peat and is used almost exclusively as a fuel in steam-electric power stations.

Lignite is a poor fuel. Compared to other types of coal it produces less heat and more carbon dioxide and sulphur. Some brown coal contains toxic heavy metals that get burned off or remain in the fly ash.

Lignite Or Bust

But if it’s all you’ve got then that’s what you burn, up and until someone points out what a bad idea it is environmentally.

The Garzweiler surface mine in Germany is an opencast lignite mine. It’s huge, a long scar stretching north west to south east covering 48 square km.

And now for the news. It’s going to get bigger.

Because Russia turned off the gas tap, RWE who own the mine, need more space so it can mine more lignite. That means dismantling an array of eight wind turbines near the Garzweiler mine.

Under its licence, Energiekontor, which owns the wind turbines, has to dismantle the turbines by the end of 2023. Why, I don’t know. Three turbines have gone, already.

I guess that if the lignite mine did not need the space, then eight new wind turbines could have gone up.

But that’s not what’s happening.So no gas, but lignite.

Putin’s War

How can we look at the invasion of Ukraine? In the short term, there is all the death and destruction that is polluting the environment. In the future there will be rebuilding and more pollution.

On the plus side, the move to cleaner fuels has a new urgency.

What is the overall balance of environmental cost between gas and lignite? It’s worse, that’s clear. How much worse, I don’t know. But lobbyists at COP27 are promoting gas as a clean fuel.

Report It Or It Didn’t Happen

I read about the plan to increase the Garzweiler mine, and I thought about the news in Britain in December last year when Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Cove granted planning permission for a new coal mine in Cumbria. And I thought about how, if the EU were to object that it endangers the environment, that Michael Gove could point to the Garzweiler plan, and tell the EU to mind its own shop before it criticised Britain.

There have been protests in Britain about the new coal mine. Where were the protests in Germany? That’s when I caught the news printed in The Week, 14 January 2023 edition on page 5, that protests against the lignite mine have been going on since 2020.

Report it, or it didn’t happen.

Lützerath, Germany Mine standoff. Hundreds of climate activists who’ve occupied the site of a 35sq km lignite mine in Germany were engaged in a showdown with police this week, as eviction orders came into effect. The village of Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia was evacuated of its last residents some years ago, to allow for an extension of the Garzweiler opencast mine adjacent to it. But in 2020 activists moved in, occupying abandoned buildings and constructing tree huts. Although Germany is trying to wean itself off fossil fuels, about a third of its electricity currently comes from coal-powered plants.

The Smile On The Face Of Liz Truss

It was an accident, Guv’nor, unintended consequences. Who could have predicted it?

Ah, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng introduce a mini budget that sends the pound reeling. Wealth Funds short the pound and win big. Of course, they only win big with these newly cheap pounds. What is needed now is for the pound to rise again. Rishi to the rescue, and the pound begins its march back to solvency. It will be tough, lads, but we have to bite the bullet to get Britain back to its proper place at the big table.

What if the two premierships were a plan from the outset. First we let the Conservative populace decide on Liz, as we knew they would. She pulls the plug on the economy and then she steps aside for the man of the hour. And it’s a home run because this time we don’t let the Conservative populace decide, because that would risk the plan falling apart.

Looked at this way, the pound sinks and the pound rises, and some rich people make money along the way. Perfect. And it is not over yet because the British people have to bite the bullet for years.

Do you remember the smile on Liz Truss’ face when she stepped away from the lectern after resigning?

Of course, I am not being serious. Who would hatch such a plan to the detriment of the British public and the gain of a few? No one in their right mind, if only for fear of being found out. There again, such a plot has a certain British feel to it.

They Love Me But My Colleagues Do Not

This is effectively what Boris Johnson said when he declared that he would not enter the leadership contest that Rishi Sunk won. Johnson repeated what he said when he was dismissed as leader – that the broader membership of the Conservative Party loved him, but his backstabbing, self serving colleagues did not, more fool them. The implication is that the real worth is in the party members up and down the country, that only they know the true worth of Boris Johnson.

“In the last few days I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who suggested that I should once again contest the Conservative Party leadership, both among the public and among friends and colleagues in Parliament.
“I have been attracted because I led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago – and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now.
“A general election would be a further disastrous distraction just when the Government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.
“I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 – and tonight I can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.”
“There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.
“But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.
“And though I have reached out to both Rishi (Sunak) and Penny (Mordaunt) – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.
“Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds. “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”

The fact is that Johnson would have caused a collective depression, a sigh of wonderment that we are back here in this whirlpool nadir once again.