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Wow, who knew Bulldogs could master skateboards?

Yet, here we are with two examples, captured in video:

Fascinating.

Apparently, Bulldogs do not like walking.

That’s probably not surprising, given their build: a lot of bulk on small legs.

Although they look rough and tough, the Bulldog is actually not only quite gentle but can also be prone to skin allergies and breathing problems, as this owner relates (emphases in the original):

They can also be prone to hip dysplasia, as Dog’s Health explains, including a bit about the history of the English Bulldog (emphases mine):

Bulldogs are dependable, loyal and obedient. They have remarkable patience and tolerance and get along very well with other dogs and young children. One would assume that a breed of dog with such short legs would never be susceptible to hip dysplasia or arthritis. The truth is that hip dysplasia in Bulldogs is one of the most common health issues this breed is prone to.

This is the fascinating history of the English Bulldog:

Bulldogs were bred in England for hundreds of years and were originally used in the 17th century for bull baiting –a gambling sport in which dogs fought bulls in a ring.

When bull baiting was outlawed in 1835, Bulldog breeders began to breed dogs that were kinder, heavier, and more relaxed, making them more popular as pets.

They are loyal and friendly. While they do not make good guard dogs, they do tend to chew on your furniture:

Wrinkled faces, fierce and tough looking, friendly and loving, easy to train, mellow and easygoing, courageous and sturdy. This is the description of a Bulldog, the ultimate buddy and an affectionate companion to a single person or a family. Bulldogs may look tough as nails, but they make sweet and gentle pets.

Apartment dwellers and couch potatoes might find Bulldogs the perfect pet: They don’t need too much space and are well-suited to living in apartments.

A pet Bulldog will hang out on the couch with you and watch hours of football or movie marathons. What you watch is of no concern to them, they simply want to be as close to you as possible and are very patient if you’re a rabid channel surfer.

But be advised, they can be very persistent when trying to get your attention, and if you ignore their hints to play and cuddle, they will pester you until they get what they want. They also tend to snore and snort so you’ll need to get used to their rude noises.

They are experts at forming close attachments with their owner or owners and sometimes this bond grows so strong, they’ll stay inside the house until you insist they go out to take care of their biological functions.

Bulldogs are not a good choice for a guard dog though. They can easily intimidate strangers just by their appearance and steady gaze, but they’re just as likely to cozy up and lick the hand of a stranger who acts friendly towards them.

Bulldogs like to chew on things. If you don’t want your furniture and personal things chewed to shreds, be sure to have plenty of ruggedly constructed doggie toys so they don’t start chewing your personal belongings.

That said, you probably want to know more about Bulldogs and skateboarding.

The Daily Wag! has a post about it. Excerpts follow.

Some Bulldogs are better suited than others for it. If a Bulldog has a problem with skateboarding, s/he might have an underlying health issue:

Bulldogs have been skateboarding for a long time and you might be wondering, can your Bulldog compete? Probably not, but you two can have fun training for it

A Bulldog’s center of gravity is low, which makes it easier for them to control their weight and balance on a skateboard. While some people train their dogs to go on skateboards, other dogs just step on and shred. Skateboarding Bulldogs became widely recognized once YouTube was accessible, but it had been happening for years before.

While a Bulldog doesn’t know his skateboarding video has gone viral, he’ll still notice the attention he is getting from his in-person viewers. An attention loving Bulldog might realize that when he is on the skateboard, everybody looks at him and gives him praise. This positive reinforcement will encourage this skateboarding habit to be repeated for years to come.

Exercising doesn’t entice a Bulldog, but being outside, seeing, and smelling things are still enjoyable. When a dog is on a skateboard, he moves much faster and takes in a lot more smells than he would on his slow walk. He gets to see more of the street without having to walk and the breeze probably feels good, too. When dogs move at higher speeds, like in cars, their noses pick up so many different smells. It’s probably not as fun as a car ride, but gliding down the sidewalk has its perks …

If you are determined to have a skateboarding dog but struggling to train your Bulldog to shred, consider visiting a trainer. The trainer can give you tips on teaching commands and integrate them into your daily routine for optimal effects. If you notice your dog is having persistent balance issues, either on or off the skateboard, call the vet as it may be a health problem. He may have a joint problem, infection, or other health problem that needs attention. A vet can diagnose and treat a problem. Unfortunately, not every dog can be a skateboarder. If you’re trying to make a viral video, there are plenty of other tricks to try that don’t require balance on a skateboard, but still get a great response.

I always thought that, if I were to get a pet, I would buy a Bulldog. It’s a pity to discover that they are not good watchdogs.

That said, they are among Man’s best friends.

Over the past two weeks, retail shops were allowed to open in England and in Wales.

Shops in Wales opened a week later than in England’s because of the devolved government. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also operating their own reopening timetables for the same reason.

England

The government encouraged shops to remove as much risk from COVID-19 as possible. Certificates are available for shops that do so.

On Monday, June 15, a number of retail shops reopened.

Primark was the biggest draw.

These were the scenes in Birmingham:

It was the same in Liverpool …

… and Bristol …

… and Hull:

These are Primark’s in-store guidelines:

If you need a laugh, this is a great video about Primark’s guidelines:

Oxford Street in London was the same. There is obviously something about Primark, as can be seen from this photo of Berlin:

Here’s a shop in Oxford Circus. Also note that some secondary schools reopened and that face masks became compulsory on public transport in England:

Oxford Street was busy in places:

These were Selfridge’s first shoppers on that beautiful Monday morning:

More waited in the queue outside:

For some, social distancing was so last month:

Grandparents still cannot hug their grandchildren, but there was a workaround for that. I believe this was outside the Nike Store:

Apparently, not everyone was happy with non-essential retail shops opening for the first time since March:

How true:

Mandatory face masks on public transport have been causing concern for some:

Transport for London trusts passengers who say they cannot wear face coverings:

Public transport was a mixed bag with regard to masks:

Things were more relaxed in Bristol:

I had to wear a mask indoors today for a while. I walked home in it just to see what would happen. While the mask was comfortable, I was getting short of breath after my five-minute walk home. Was it hypoxia? I would not recommend walking the streets with a mask for that reason:

We have more reopenings to look forward to on Saturday, July 4, which will be an Independence Day of sorts for us, too.

Wales

Shops in Wales reopened on Monday, June 22.

Everything was much quieter there.

Wales Online reported that shops had made a lot of adjustments.

Cardiff has redesignated thoroughfares in the main shopping area:

Some shops did not reopen until Friday, June 26. Here’s Primark in Cardiff:

Schools in Wales can reopen next week, with social distancing measures in place:

We had a splendid week of warm and sunny weather. Unfortunately, it brought out the worst in some people:

Even the First Minister Mark Drakeford remarked on unauthorised mass gatherings and the lack of social distancing:

In brighter news, an online #IAmOpen campaign kicked off today:

Just another step forward to normality:

More reopening updates will follow in the weeks ahead.

In case anyone missed them, here are Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series about the British public’s suspicion over the continuing coronavirus lockdown.

The June protests vexed Britons who were trying to do the right thing: staying at home and social distancing when outdoors.

All of a sudden, that flew out the window. Protesters had pride of place, yet, the rest of us still had to obey the social distancing guidelines.

That rankled, especially as we had been told we were selfish because we wanted to hug our loved ones who didn’t live with us. Think of grandparents and grandchildren.

What about people who just needed to get outdoors in the fresh air by themselves?

What about children who longed to see their friends? This former barrister and co-editor of Conservative Woman nails it:

And what about the people who freaked out over a very limited reopening of schools on Monday, June 1?

What about the average law-abiding person?

Yes, those people are ‘the problem’. We are made to feel guilty through no fault of our own.

The frustrating hypocrisy of it all:

Then we had Piers Morgan taking issue with Boris’s top adviser for trying to care for his little boy and with Labour MP Barry Gardiner for attending the demonstrations. Yet, Piers applauded his own son for taking part in the protests:

But I digress.

There was no social distancing during the protests. In fact, some police officers in London were assaulted.

However, even though Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised that the rules be kept in place over the weekend of June 6 and 7:

… the lack of social distancing was acceptable:

It was for a cause.

Health ‘experts’ said so — 1,200 of them, in fact:

Tucker Carlson had an excellent editorial on this on Friday, June 5. Anyone complaining about social distancing and protests is ‘the problem’, not the protesters and rioters. Well worth a watch. You could not make this up:

But what about the people told to leave London parks because they were sunbathing by themselves? What about Piers Corbyn who was arrested twice for advocating against lockdown? Where were the Metropolitan Police during the protests? On hand, but either taking a knee or standing by doing nothing:

Boris didn’t do anything, either. We have a Home Secretary. He could have got in touch with her.

This is what he issued on Saturday, June 6, the day of yet another protest in London over an American who died on home soil in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

‘The evils of fascism’. Don’t make me laugh, Prime Minister.

Things were no better in Northern Ireland …

… or Scotland, where thousands were expected to attend a protest on Glasgow Green:

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, was a bit slow on the riots. Didn’t he know that American cities were being destroyed and shops across the country looted? President Trump never stopped peaceful assembly:

Anyway, there is some good news in all of this. More people in the public eye have noticed that continuing lockdown in the UK is a bad idea:

Unfortunately, a number of ‘senior figures’ from the NHS do not see it that way, primarily because of the close proximity of protesters in early June. That is not the fault of the British public and is likely to make them even angrier. They were not among the protesters. They are eager to get back to work.

In fact, said ‘senior figures’ will probably make the British public all the more suspicious about the protests. Were they timed to prevent lifting of lockdown? We’ll never know.

In any event, this concludes this series with a few key points to keep in mind:

It’s going to be a long, hot, tense summer here in the UK.

Before reading this, here are Parts 1, 2 and 3 of a series on coronavirus and lockdown.

It seems that the British silent majority were largely fine with obeying the rules that Boris Johnson’s government set until the end of May.

By then, they began asking questions about the duration.

During the first two months of lockdown, they understood that the reasons were not to put too much pressure on the NHS.

However, as Boris and his ministers are taking only ‘baby steps’ (Boris’s words) to release us, many wonder what the real plan is.

Rightly or wrongly, suspicion is rife:

There is also the question about the NHS and the need for treatment outside of COVID-19.

Those of us who watch the daily coronavirus briefings from the government can’t help but notice the messaging, especially from Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

I missed this little titbit from the coronavirus briefing on Friday, June 5. Hancock said, ‘As the NHS reopens’. Hmm:

Yet, Britons are still missing out on non-coronavirus NHS treatments that are urgent:

I couldn’t agree more with this next observation from Prof Karol Sikora:

Then we have the unknown consequences of Big Data intrusions into our lives:

This is now climbing up the chain to stain Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the champion of his soi-disant ‘Government of the People’:

The goalposts have clearly shifted since Boris’s stonking victory in December 2019:

Lockdown has now gone on too long:

Despite what the government and scientists say on the weekday coronavirus briefings, other statistics find their way through the established narrative:

Yet, part of the blame also lies with the proportion of the British public who are afraid of re-engaging with society the way they did before lockdown:

Those who are afraid can stay at home. Let the rest of us get back to real life.

This London Assembly member from the Brexit Party is spot on. Lockdown must end:

Social distancing will end up being a killer, too:

One hopes it doesn’t come to this:

One wonders whether there is such a thing as conservatism any more:

Or is the WHO driving this? They must think we are stupid. Perhaps we are:

We will never be in a risk-free, virus-free world.

Ending on Boris, for now, this is something I missed. Then again, I don’t listen to BBC Radio 4. Even if I had, I would have thought that Boris’s father Stanley was voicing his own views, not his son’s:

Boris is still better than his Labour counterparts — Jeremy Corbyn (then) and Keir Starmer (now).

However, his polling will take a dive unless he restores what he called the People’s Government.

More tomorrow: coronavirus and the June riots.

See Parts 1 and 2 of this series before reading more about Britain’s silent majority who are angry about lockdown.

At present, here we are, unable to shop, get our hair cut and must still practice two-metre social distancing. Masks are optional except on public transport:

Whether we are old or young, we are treated like dirt:

And what if this coronavirus were dirt, rather than a virus?

If that is true — and I’m not saying it is — what then?

It couldn’t be, could it? After all, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, has briefed the Queen on COVID-19:

But what about all the deaths in care homes and the lives lost?

What about people’s businesses going to ground?

Thank goodness for the government’s generous furlough, but …

And what about travel?

This is going to be dire:

No more on board delicious dining for you:

What if you cannot reasonably travel with a face covering?

What about everything else in life?

Who wants to live like that?

This is turning the apolitical into political activists:

Is this ever going to end?

If so, how?

Perhaps it is a giant reset.

After all, we are told this is (shudder) the ‘new normal’:

The ‘new normal’ could be green:

Didn’t we all enjoy the bluer skies on those sunny May days? We could keep them. ‘Fewer holidays for you’, the government could say:

One does have to wonder about government advisors from the public sector:

These people do not encounter the everyday man or woman. They live in their own scientific, misanthropic bubble.

They do not care what happens to us. After all, they have a guaranteed salaries and gold-plated pensions.

To be continued next week.

See Part 1 in this series about the anger in Britain over lockdown.

One or two tweets below might have salty language. The rest do not.

There is much anger by a proportion of the population at the government:

MPs, except for one, are largely silent on the subject. Luckily, John Redwood has been an MP for decades. He might be our only hope:

Most are like Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, however. She was one of the first MPs to get coronavirus. Her aged mother, who also had it, helped her recover. I was sorry to see her tweet this:

Yesterday, I left off on masks. On Thursday, June 4, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said they would be mandatory on all public transport in England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock repeated the order the following day:

Someone in the know saw this coming in April (never mind the reply):

This is so irrational. Earlier this year, the WHO advised against it:

Exactly.

I’m looking forward to the first lawsuit when someone is unable to breathe on public transport:

The above advice applies to England.

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are on their own track.

However, Scotland is no better:

This is what they are doing in Singapore. Simon Dolan, incidentally, is suing the British government over lockdown. Good man:

It seems masks are only the beginning. In the UK, we haven’t fully got off the ground with the track-and-trace app.

More from Simon Dolan about Singapore:

Track-and-trace is also getting up people’s noses:

Then there’s the R rate that SAGE and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty discuss daily on the coronavirus briefings:

But that’s nothing compared to the wacky modelling from Imperial College’s Prof Neil Ferguson which brought about lockdown:

Yet, at least one London hospital is ignoring masks and social distancing:

Shouldn’t only the vulnerable be sheltered?

Picking up on the railway platform, here’s the latest on international transport …

… and the latest on public conveniences:

Why doesn’t any of this make sense?

Similar madness holds true for local buses:

Meanwhile, unlike protestors around the world complaining during coronavirus about the death of an American ex-convict thousands of miles away, when you’re Piers Corbyn (pictured with the policewoman in a mask), an eccentric weather forecaster as well as the brother of the last Labour leader, and say that climate change is caused by the sun’s activity and you’re protesting lockdown with like-minded people, you can be arrested twice at Hyde Park in London:

The sheer hypocrisy of it all is mind boggling.

More tomorrow.

As we continue coronavirus lockdown in June 2020, Britain’s silent majority is becoming increasingly angry.

Fortunately, they are venting online rather than mobbing in the streets.

Below is a lengthy selection of tweets about coronavirus, lockdown, the riots and more.

One or two have salty language but most do not.

This was the state of play on Wednesday, June 3:

This lady comforted a young woman who, understandably, doesn’t know what to make of it all:

I fully agree with this perspective:

The protests spelled the end of social distancing for many of us:

We still obey it, largely out of consideration for our neighbours — and fear of a fine or worse:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said we might be welcoming up to 3 million Hong Kong refugees soon:

It’s a great gesture but, first, something must be done about the boat people being escorted to our shores from France by our own Border Patrol:

On Thursday, June 4, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg took a question from an MP who asked when hairdressers would reopen:

On Friday, June 5, Ipsos MORI published a poll showing that although we were pretty angry about Boris and the government’s handling of the pandemic, we still preferred him to the Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer:

The Global Vaccine Summit was held the day before, albeit virtually:

This is what concerns me about Boris now. Had you told me this at the beginning of the year, I would have said, ‘Never!’ Yet, here we are. He’s still better than Labour, though:

That day, the silent majority became restive.

We were deeply unhappy with London’s Metropolitan Police’s response to the riots:

We were angry when Health Secretary Matt Hancock told us in that afternoon’s coronavirus briefing we would have to wear masks or some type of face covering on public transport:

To be continued tomorrow.

It is unclear what is wrong with the Church of England that it appoints so many unsuitable men to become Archbishops of Canterbury.

Justin Welby is the current incumbent.

On the back of protests in Britain about an American who suffered an outrageous death at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Welby makes this the problem of a large segment of Anglicans in England.

It is inexplicable, all the way round, from protests to finger-pointing at those who live an ocean and a bit away from the source of the problem.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, he tweeted something that got very negative responses:

Someone mentioned church closures during the coronavirus outbreak, a decision the C of E took on its own:

Yes, it’s true.

I can empathise with this next comment, too:

People found his tweet presumptuous and patronising:

That is true. It took from 1833 to 2014 for Britain to purchase the freedom of all slaves in the Empire, paid for by taxpayers’ money.

But I digress. Back to the aforementioned prayer:

There are many more comments criticising the CofE’s blind eye to child abuse, becoming increasingly secular and drifting to left-wing politics instead of religion. Others said they would question their giving to the Church, which is sad but understandable.

Someone tweeted about a Muslim family that converted to Christianity in the Church of England several years ago. They took a lot of abuse, including expensive property damage, as the Daily Mail, among other newspapers, reported in 2015. Where was the Church of England then? Nowhere. I do not know what became of them but I pray they are living in safety. The Anglican hierarchy washed their hands of this family (emphases mine):

Over the last year, Mr Hussain has had his car windscreen smashed six times at a cost of £5,000. His eldest son, a final year medical student, has also had his windscreen smashed.

A neighbour was convicted at Bradford Crown Court of a public order offence and bound over to keep the peace after one of Mr Hussain’s children recorded him on a mobile phone making threats in a furious rage in the street.

Mr Hussain insisted he has never been violent towards his tormentors but he was given a police caution for an incident last year when he lost his temper and made an abusive comment in response to a threat from the man.

Mr Hussain had worked as a hospital nurse but was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and has been unable to work. He owns several properties and now lives off rental income.

Although their faith remains strong, Mr and Mrs Hussain no longer attend church. ‘We have given up on the Church of England, they have done nothing for us,’ said Mr Hussain.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Looking at you, Archbishop.

Overnight, at the end of May, social distancing disappeared in big cities in the United States once the riots over George Floyd started.

Social distancing then disappeared in Paris and London the following week, as those cities had sympathy protests for the same cause.

It is a strange development:

This is how twisted the logic gets. Mark D Levine chairs the New York City Council health committee:

All of a sudden, it was acceptable for tens of thousands of protesters to gather together.

Yet, at the same time, a large family cannot share dinner together in a restaurant:

And it is against the law for more than ten people to attend a funeral:

These are the conversations taking place with regard to funerals versus protests. There is an unbelievable lack of empathy with this man, who is mourning the loss of his own mother:

Uh oh.

Reread the last sentence of that final tweet.

Online journalists, such as Mark Levin, also think that the coronavirus lockdown was a ruse, ginned up by the media:

Here is The Federalist‘s Sean Davis:

This is from an eye doctor, retinal specialist Dr Brian C Joondeph:

Dr Joondeph writes (emphases mine):

these riots have unintentionally shown us that Trump rallies are safe and that the Chinese virus is no longer a serious threat. Mail in ballots are dead too since if people can leave their homes to loot and riot, they can leave their homes to vote.

Notice how quickly concern about cities and states opening too quickly has been forgotten as thousands take to the streets, in contradiction to everything the smart set has been advocating. This is lost, or willfully ignored by the media, now focused back on Trump’s latest tweet.

Completely agree.

Social distancing is done and dusted:

Time now, whether in the US, England or France, to open everything up — pronto.

On May 29, I wrote about the end of the successful ‘hybrid’ model the UK’s House of Commons used for several weeks during the coronavirus crisis.

The Commons allowed both in-person and remote participation. A few votes were even accomplished during that time, including remotely.

When the Commons reconvened on Tuesday, June 2, an amendment was proposed to resume the hybrid model. It is currently difficult for Northern Ireland’s and Scotland’s MPs to get to Westminster to work. With flight and other travel restrictions during the coronavirus setback, journeys can take up to 18 hours, one way.

Other MPs — including a few Conservatives — have absent themselves, as they are self-isolating, either for themselves or immediate family members.

The amendment failed.

A subsequent division — vote — took place on whether the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, should be allowed to determine the way Parliament works during the remainder of lockdown. That vote passed.

Therefore, MPs are expected to be in situ in the Palace of Westminster.

Both divisions made for compelling television viewing on BBC Parliament.

Despite the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, making clear what MPs were expected to do, many of them were unable to follow simple instructions. A schoolchild could have done better.

Apparently, the Speaker issued the instructions in writing before MPs reconvened. Then, before the first division, he announced that there would be two voting stations in front of the clerks: Aye and No. MPs were to announce their name at those voting stations, which were right in front of him, and their voting intention. They were allowed to voice votes for absent MPs in the same way.

Many BBC Parliament viewers were aghast at how many MPs, regardless of party affiliation, could not follow these simple instructions:

Guido Fawkes has the video in full. You could not make this up:

Not all 650 MPs were there to vote: over 400 were.

In order to abide by social distancing rules of two metres, they had to begin queueing across the street then progress to Westminster Hall, which is adjacent and connected to the Palace of Westminster, and, finally, to the Commons chamber.

The Telegraph has a photo of them queueing in Westminster Hall. They then had to be outdoors for a while. Fortunately, the weather in London was perfect that day.

Political sketchwriter Michael Deacon described the process, which MPs dubbed the Mogg Conga (emphases mine):

The queue to vote was almost a mile long. It snaked halfway round the parliamentary estate. Beginning inside Portcullis House, it tumbled down an escalator, spilled out into a courtyard, then ran up on to the New Palace Yard green – at which point, the line disintegrated into a mad squiggle, with bemused and/or irked MPs chatting in not at all socially distanced groups, and police officers trying helplessly to shepherd them in the right direction.

MPs did not appreciate having to queue for so long. Yet, that is what the rest of us have to do if we want to shop at the supermarket, DIY shops and garden centres. For thee, but not for me:

As the sun blazed down on exposed necks and scalps, consternation reigned. “Ridiculous!” harrumphed MPs.

I’m glad they could experience what their constituents do every day: queue and wait — for ages.

Once they reached the chamber, many stopped in their tracks. Why? The Speaker had to urge them on:

a despairing Speaker was gesticulating frantically and bawling, “Come on! COME ON! Let’s keep it moving!”, as if coaching a hapless primary school football team.

As the above video shows, that was only the beginning:

All each MP had to do was pass down either the right-hand side of the central table (if voting No), or the left-hand side (if voting Aye). They then had to pause, say their name, and add either “Aye” or “No”. But even this was a mess. Numerous MPs forgot to say their name; others remembered their name, but forgot to say Aye or No; and some forgot to say anything at all, and had to be called back by a clerk.

From start to finish, this festival of absurdity lasted 45 minutes – and that was just for the first division. Another division was due straight afterwards. So they had to go back and do it all again. This time, Stephen Crabb (Con, Preseli Pembrokeshire) accidentally voted Aye on the No side – and then attempted to correct himself by voting No on the Aye side.

Even our brainy Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, couldn’t manage it.

They will have to vote in this way until the day when social distancing stops:

The most farcical thing of all, though, was that – on the order of the Tory whipsa majority of MPs actually voted to keep this hilarious new system. So now they’ll have to do it all the time.

I wonder if this will hasten the end of social distancing. It could well do. Imagine standing outdoors in pouring rain.

Rees-Mogg said that a ‘pairing’ (proxy) vote system would be in place for those who cannot attend in person. It still doesn’t seem right, although I can understand that the hybrid system did not allow for actual debates. Instead, MPs made statements about proposed legislation.

The New Statesman interviewed four MPs who are having difficulty attending Parliament.

Robert Halfon (Conservative, Harlow) explained his situation and his disappointment that Rees-Mogg, who has a home in Belgravia, within walking distance of Parliament, couldn’t appreciate it:

Robert Halfon has a disability and is one of several MPs who have been shielding, on government advice, during the pandemic. He is considering travelling into parliament to vote in person in favour of an amendment to the legislation on parliament’s return, which would allow online voting to continue. 

It would be taking on a big risk, and goes against the advice of his own government — and party — on shielding. But it’s the only way he will have a say in the matter of his own disenfranchisement, and, by extension, the disenfranchisement of his constituents. 

“I’ve described it as my ‘democratic hood’ being snipped away,” he says. “I’m in essence a parliamentary eunuch. If I can’t vote, I don’t have a choice to vote, I’m a parliamentary eunuch.

“It’s wrong to have a vote on hybrid voting, and yet not allow MPs to have the vote online. At the very least, this vote should have been online to make it fair.”

He continues: “I’m fascinated by a virtual parliament, by the technology, but that is another argument for another day. I’m very happy to return to the traditions that they want so much, if, temporarily, we can get the vote and not be disenfranchised.

“I’ve discussed it with Jacob Rees-Mogg, I’ve discussed it with the chief whip, and I’ve discussed it with my whip.” The response? “Just parliament should be back, it’s got to go back to normal, and to vote in parliament you’ve got to be there.” 

I don’t think he [Rees-Mogg] understands why I feel so strongly about it. I want to do my duty, I want to have the choice whether to vote. I may not vote in everything, but I want to have the choice. Because I’ll then have to explain to people why. Why do I have to go round explaining to residents why I’m not voting, when they look at my voting record? 

There’s no understanding when people like me have a disability. I try to be as independent as possible and not be a victim and not complain and moan. I just want to do my job.”

The other MPs interviewed also have medical issues or are caring for those in their households.

On Thursday, June 4, Tuesday’s vote came up during the Business session, which Rees-Mogg presides over as Leader.

Rees-Mogg defended the vote queue …

… making a good point:

A Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael, responded with this:

Carmichael applied for an emergency debate on the matter, which was held Monday, June 8:

The arrangements became even more contentious when it looked as if Business Minister Alok Sharma, who had a difficult time at the despatch box last Wednesday, was suspected of having contracted coronavirus. His test turned out to be negative, fortunately, and he was back at work the following week, presiding over the daily coronavirus briefing today (June 9):

Pairing and proxy voting came up in Thursday’s discussion, too. The arrangements are secret:

Conservative MP Gary Streeter was paired with a Labour MP:

I agree with him on abandoning the ability to vote remotely so soon. The virus is still active. Furthermore, technical staff put in days of work in order to create a viable system — a first in the Palace of Westminster:

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone said there was no voting provision for carers who could not be present:

He is correct:

This means:

What a mess.

On Friday, June 5, the Speaker of the House sent a lengthy letter on future participation for those who cannot make it to the chamber in person. (Also see Parly’s Twitter thread.) Those MPs had to let him know by the end of the day whether they wished to be at home. They can participate virtually in some proceedings but not debates. During the time they have applied to participate virtually, they cannot then come to the chamber in person.

On Monday, June 8, Alistair Carmichael presented his arguments in introducing his emergency debate on the matter. It was a lively, sometimes spiky, discussion.

I agree with MPs who want a proxy vote. As they explained, it’s not just for them, it’s to represent their constituents — voters.

I agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg in saying that those absent from the chamber cannot participate in certain debates, e.g. on legislation. It would be impractical, because of the nature of ‘interventions’ — interrupting an MP to present an additional or opposing argument.

It looks as if Carmichael might have won this argument:

Rees-Mogg is likely to extend proxy voting:

Oddly, on June 8, the House of Lords, considered to be fusty and musty, moved to a hybrid system, including future online voting.

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