Some MPs more equal than others as carers left out of voting

Earlier this week MPs decided hybrid sessions, allowing some MPs to take part in person and others from the safety of their own homes during the pandemic, could not be allowed to continue.

Lack of scrutiny couildn’t be allowed, Jacob Rees-Mogg said.

The in-person queue to cast those votes stretched all the way outside the labyrinthine parliament and it took the best part of an hour to finish.

We’ve now found out that one of those in that queue, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, has coronavirus symptoms and is waiting for his test results.

He was visibly struggling during Commons sessions on Wednesday, when he was seen to mop his brow.

The news has given weight to those fears expressed by MPs from around the UK who did not want to be forced to go back into London and onto the parliamentary estate.

They revealed fears for their constituents, as well as their families — would they catch it, would they spread it around?

And if they had to isolate at home, would they be denied a vote and denied the chance to represent their constituents?

Some change has now come — MPs at high coronavirus risk due to underlying health problems and those caring for babies or adopted children are to be given proxy votes.

But the exemptions don’t extend to those with caring responsibilities for adults.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Ross says that will disenfranchise people in areas like his.

The LibDem MP has been a carer for his wife for 21 years.

Failing to grant MPs like me a proxy vote speaks volumes about this Government’s attitude towards carers across the UK.

He says his constituents have had their voice “silenced for this farce” of Rees-Mogg’s making.

 

Writing on the PoliticsHome website, he has accused the Tories of having “forgotten about carers”.

That sentiment will probably shared by the many thousands of carers living across Scotland and throughout the UK.

Stone went on: “They still want to silence me and my constituents. 

“It seems to me desperately unfair that my personal circumstances should preclude me from voting. What message does that send to the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross? What message does that send to carers of disabled adults across the country? 

“The Government is clearly not in touch with people on this. Denying me a vote isn’t really about me, the MP, at all. It’s about the rights of my constituents to have a voice in Westminster. It’s about the rights of carers to not be ignored – to not be an afterthought.”

It’s as Joanna Cherry said before the vote on Tuesday: “If the Government get away with this today, we will be left with a situation where, although all MPs will be nominally equal, some will be more equal than others.”

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