What about free speech, asks Chris Moncrieff

n If the House of Lords has a death wish – which I very much doubt – it is certainly going the right way about it. Earlier this month, the some 200 peers successfully voted to make it much harder for newspapers to investigate corruption – a move which has been universally attacked and, it is hoped, the elected House of Commons will soon correct.

House of Lords – death wish?
House of Lords – death wish?

The penalties planned against newspapers by people who claim to be victims of newspaper harassment include, unbelievably, the payment of the aggrieved person’s costs even if he loses the case. What kind of justice is that?

What makes this decision by the House of Lords even more sinister is that many of the peers who voted for it have themselves been exposed by newspapers, either for expenses wrongdoing, or sexual misbehaviour, among other misdeeds. No wonder they want a toothless press to enable them to get on with their crimes without serious challenge.

The House of Lords is not supposed to be at war with the House of Commons, but be a revising chamber. However, it is beginning to look very much that hostilities are breaking out. One hopes that the Commons, when the time comes, will overturn this gross injustice.

The unelected Upper Chamber should seriously watch its step, otherwise the elected Commons will be tempted – even with a Conservative Government in power – to drastically reduce their powers, at the very least.

For British Parliament to have passed such a monstrous course of action is unbelievable and must be remedied, otherwise the media will be as hidebound and subject to Government controls as was the case with the Soviet press during the cold war. Whatever happened to free speech?

n Is the Conservative Party sleepwalking towards defeat at the next general election? There is a growing fear that the party is not being assertive enough in Government, notably in its Brexit dealings with the hard-faced EU negotiators.

Nick Boles, a former Tory Minister, claimed the other day the party was far too timid for its own good. What he was really telling them was to wake up and behave like a Government that has the gleam of victory in its eyes.

The fact a group of Remain MPs, including a number of dissident Tories, travelled to Brussels to confer with EU leaders, looked, on the face of it, like an act of gross disloyalty especially on the part of the Conservatives involved.

Some people were hoping the Prime Minister would, during her recent reshuffle, have moved David Davis, from his role as chief Brexit negotiator. Davis is a very clever and principled man, but he just seems too laid-back in his dealings with his tough counterparts in Brussels. So the growing message from worried Tories is that the parliamentary party will cease bumbling about, roll up their sleeves, and show that they mean business.

n Things are not exactly all sweetness and light in the Labour Party, either.

Traditional Labour Party members, including many MPs, have become alarmed at the fact the hard-line left-wing campaigning body Momentum, have gained a firm foothold in the National Executive Committee, the Party’s highly-influential and and principal policy-forming group. It is no secret that Momentum (which has never, so far as I am aware, been criticised by Jeremy Corbyn) wants to ‘deselect’ moderate Labour MPs and replace them with candidates who share their own hard left views.

This, of course, makes a mockery of the much-quoted epithet that Labour is a broad church, capable of assimilating all views from right to left. Momentum seem even more determined than even the militants who tried to infiltrate Labour during Neil Kinnock’s leadership. Kinnick managed to drive them away. It will be much harder to crush Momentum, especially if Corbyn is ‘relaxed’ about them. Trouble, almost certainly, lies ahead.

n Donald Trump has now completed his first year in the White House - and it has been 12 months like no other presidential period. As expected, it has been a jolting nerve-wracking ride, full of thrills, spills - and anxiety. Trump seems adept at falling out in a big way with some of his most senior aides.

But one pledge he has blatantly failed to honour is over golf. He sneered at his predecessor Barack Obama for the time he spent on the golf course during his presidency. Trump said he would have no time for golf - he would be fully occupied attending to the needs of the American people. In fact, Trump has spent one day in four playing golf, far more than Obama ever did in his first year. Just imagine if a British Prime Minister had spent that amount of time playing golf on supposedly working days. He would have been verbally lynched in the Commons. Trump should consider himself a lucky man.

:: Trust Boris Johnson to come up with a project - however hare-brained or not - which will grab the headlines for days on end. The Foreign Secretary says a bridge should be built across the English Channel to produce further physical links between the United Kingdom and France.

Heaven help us! This project, although deemed possible, would run into billions of pounds. Don’t we already spend millions trying to safeguard our shores from an ‘invasion’, including probably many illegal migrants - as well as possible terrorists - from Calais, without making it even easier for these highly determined people?

If this plan were ever taken seriously - as I admit it one day might, when and if circumstances change - I suspect those so-called economic migrants, who are not really refugees at all, would send a vote of thanks to Boris for assisting their often illegal passage. Anyway, don’t we already face more than enough problems and expense in protecting the Channel Tunnel?

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