Yesterday (18/04/17) Theresa May made the perhaps not so astonishing announcement that her and her Cabinet had decided to call a snap General Election for the 8th June 2017.
What did she make it about? LEAVING THE EUROPEAN UNION. Um, didn’t we have a referendum for that? Look at what she DIDN’T mention, as detailed below. Look at her body language in the VT. This looks like a person on the edge.
This is a bl**dy General Election!
Make no mistake, this is NOT a chance to vote again on that, we had our chance and now that’s gone, there’s an ACT now and the progress of A50 has started.
Time to look at that process and even offer a final say before A50 in full goes to the EU AFTER the election.
DON’T BE DISTRACTED!
So let’s let that bit sink in before I move on.
Let’s forget all the times she said she would not do this…
Actually, nope, let’s list them. ALL OF THEM.
30 June 2016
“There should be no general election until 2020,” said Theresa May when launching her Tory leadership campaign.
4 September 2016
Appearing on the BBC’s flagship political show, May refused to answer Andrew Marr’s suggestion that she must be “tempted” to hold an early election.
AM: Let me make this very clear, because again it’s very important. Under current law the next election will be in 2020. No ifs, no buts, no snap elections, no changing the law. Under you, is that absolutely certain, that we’re not going to see an election before 2020?
TM: I – I – I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020.
1 October 2016
In an interview with the Sunday Times, May reiterated her belief that an election would cause “instability”.
2 October 2016
A month later, Andrew Marr had another go at getting her to open up, but still no dice.
Andrew Marr: It just seems to me in terms of the brutal politics, there are lots of opposition MPs who for their own reason might want to vote this down and there are a lot of Tories on the so called soft Brexit argument who might want to vote it down. You may well not be able to get this through, and if you can’t, isn’t that the trigger for another General Election? I know you’ve been through this, we’ve been talking about this before.
Theresa May: Well, Andrew, let’s just look – as I’ve just said, when parliament voted for a referendum on staying in the European Union, parliament voted six to one to say to the British people this is your choice. We’re going to ask you this question. You give us your voice. The British people have determined that we will leave the European Union and I think anybody who’s looking at this Repeal Bill, which will repeal the European Communities Act, will make us that independent sovereign nation once again, able to determine our own laws, anybody looking at that should remember that this is about delivering for the British people. And it’s – to me it’s not just about leaving the EU, it’s about that essential question of the trust that people can have in their politicians. The people have spoken, we will deliver on that.
7 March 2017
“It’s not going to happen. It’s not something she plans to do or wishes to do,” says the prime minister’s spokesman, after William Hague writes a column suggesting a snap election will give May a mandate for Brexit negotiations.
30 March 2017
“There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election,” said the prime minister’s spokesman.
18 April 2017
“Since I became Prime Minister I have said there should be no election until 2020 but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take,” said Theresa May this morning.
Let’s not remember that there are up to THIRTY Conservative MPs under CPS investigation for electoral fraud…
Nope, let’s bring this into sharp and repeated focus!
The CPS has told Channel 4 News that the snap General Election announcement has no impact on them whatsoever – and that their only concern is to consider the evidence and decide whether charges should be brought.
Ah well, that’s that distractification scuppered isn’t it? And Dennis Skinner in Parliament today forced her to admit ALL those MPs (apart from George Osborne, the Tatton MP who’s already sodded off to The Standard) being investigated ARE standing in June. According to The Pileus, the findings are coming out on the 9th MAY (just after the local and mayoral elections)
I can’t help but think of this clip from Yes Prime Minister: if this is not a soft coup Ides Of March style by her own Cabinet then I’ll buy a hat and eat it.
Let’s ignore the fact that she’s done this to happen a MONTH after local and mayoral elections.
Nope, let’s NOT.
There are quite a few seats up for grabs in May– make sure you are registered to vote and make a difference! Turnout is usually LOW, just a few hundred could swing a seat towards the party of your choice.
Let’s ignore the fact that this has knocked talk of another Scottish referendum off the front pages!
Nope, let’s NOT.
The question has to be asked: “If ‘now is not the time’ for a Scottish referendum, how is it the time for a General Election?”
As iNews say:
A solid mandate vs. a rushed decision
The Prime Minister was quick to reject Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a referendum between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019. This was timed to give enough time for the deal on Brexit to become clear before voters in Scotland went to the polls again. It was measured, considered and had a solid democratic mandate from both the people and parliament. No one needs reminding that Brexit was overwhelmingly rejected by Scottish voters.
In contrast, May’s decision for a snap election seems rushed, opportunistic and cynical. [my italics.]
The Independent, last month, go one step further:
“Now is not the time” for a second referendum on Scottish independence, said Theresa May on Thursday. Tactfully, she didn’t add, “and it never will be”, but that is what she means.
Let’s ignore the fact May seems to be becoming more paranoid and controlling by the day,
nope, let’s NOT.
Eoin Clarke on Twitter summed it up perfectly in the graphic below.
The MSM really are at a loss on how to spin all this. So for the most part they are ignoring it. Each bullet point on the graphic above is examined below:
- We get a brief glimpse on Wiki about Katie Perrior’s resignation. Also in January (2017) THREE Con spin doctors did a runner. And from where did May get one of her replacements? From the DAILY MAIL! Bower (being replaced by political editor of the Mail James Slack) is moving to the Foreign Office; Gordon-Farleigh, is leaving to join PR firm Edelman; and deputy spokesperson Swift is leaving to be head of communications at the Department for Exiting the European Union. Perrior and Bower did not get on, so Bower went. Yet Perrior lasts barely THREE MONTHS after Bower’s resignation? And now formerly from The SUN, Dylan Sharpe, has joined the Conservative media team, creating more opportunities to accuse the media and the Cons of bias. THIS IS A TOTAL MESS!
Imagine if this had happened in the Labour Party’s staff- it’d be all over the media. But when it happens to the Cons? Barely a blip.
And Perrior had already been in trouble for not giving up her PR jobs in February 2017, creating a conflict of interest. Now this did raise heads in the media, but the MSM were decidedly sycophantic. For example: The Guardian headline on this matter was
Theresa May’s spin doctor gets paperwork right after questions over conflict of interest
Really? REALLY? A clear conflict of interest twisted into ‘well, she’s sorted it now so don’t worry?’ Well, I DO worry. I worry about a LOT the Conservatives have blatantly got away with…
Again we have to look at more neutral sources–
This came just days after Labour raised questions of a potential conflict of interest.
Perrior had only notified Companies House in December 2016 that she had stepped down as a director of iNHouse PR, iNHouse Connex and Hersay Ltd, all three of which she co-directed with former Conservative Party staffer Jo Tanner. She blamed her failure to register these resignations with parliament on an ‘administrative oversight’.
Since joining Downing Street, Perrior has appeared at several of iNHouse Communications’ official events, including a press event for lobby journalists held to promote a West End play organised by the PR agency.
And she’d only lasted since December 2016, having been Boris Johnson’s PR chief before that!
Also, on 23rd April, a third Advisor, this time to Philip Hammond (Chancellor of the Exchequer)- Hayden Allen- has decided to call it quits. The MSM haven’t bothered to even comment on this one as yet.
- Now as for point 2, the media did pick up on the fact she refused to debate on TV with Corbyn, indeed BBC AND ITV are going ahead with TV debates anyway, as are Channel 4, with or without her. Corbyn and McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, have been making up a lot of ground exposing this refusal, and rightly so. Even the usually innocuous Radio Times are reporting on a petition for May to attend debates, that at the time of reporting had been signed by 86,000 people (in less than 3 days!) There appear now to be two petitions, this one on about 25,000 signatures; and this one on almost 120,000 signatures now. If you wish to add your name to this, I suggest you sign the larger one, or indeed both. The larger petition has already reached the 100,000 target that means the Government have to discuss it- problem being that Parliament has been dissolved (shut) as it always is when a General Election is called.
Corbyn appears to have said (26/04/17) that he will not go on the debates if May does not attend, which has had a mixture of responses, but seems to be at a ‘sources say’ level right now.
And of course social media posters have been making their feelings known too.
Cameron tried to refuse to do this as well, during the referendum, and the MSM were all over that (here’s just one of many examples, from The Telegraph)- and that did not go well for him, did it? Lynton Crosby, now a Sir (*sigh*) and an Australian political strategist who has managed election campaigns for right-of-centre parties in several countries; the man behind the ‘racist’ London Mayor campaign, is now spearheading May’s election campaign has either suddenly become incompetent (doubtful) or he’s engineering a massive fall for May.
- Now point 3, May has banned the public from her campaign events. When she went to Bolton, by helicopter and armoured car with full police presence no less, the Northern Echo presented it as May considering Bolton to be a prime Conservative target and noted
Bolton North East was Conservative until New Labour won it in 1997 with a 12,669 majority. Since then, the majority has eroded away to 4,377, and it is now Mrs May’s 48th most winnable seat. Mrs May would only launch her campaign in a seat she is confident of winning…
If this is the case why was her CLOSED meeting, held in a church, filled with Conservative councillors and a dozen party faithful holding pre-made banners, all looking half asleep? Who is that talking to? Notice the extreme close up photo op from the Bolton News? How many people were there? 40?
And I quickly noticed (as did the WirralInItTogether site) that she’d scoured the country for Con supporters as who turns up in the shots? Con councillor from Wirral, Lesley Rennie! (See far right *ahem* above and pointed out in more detail below.) Also Wirral Con Councillors Paul Hayes (next to the guy in the light blue jacket above, bottom left, but been cut out of this photo, but this handy photo below shows him very clearly) and Ian Lewis (hiding at the back at the top centre). Wirral is over 50 miles away from Bolton, and a minimum one hour even by car.
Anyone recognise any of THEIR local Councillors?
Message me and I’ll add them… Just from how far and wide did her press team scour for ‘supporters’?
Then compare it to when May is actually talking, again in extreme close up, this time from the Daily Mail…
She accused Corbyn of ignoring and betraying Jewish voters yet afterwards, ignored the questions of any locals or reporters, including a local blind Jewish man. And as she left in her cavalcade, some Bolton residents made their feelings known about her not being welcome in the area- maybe this is why she refused to take questions from the public?!
- Ok now for point 4, banning journalists from May’s photo-op. She’d started this trend at Bolton by not taking questions, but she even banned the Telegraph, and paper notorious for supporting the Conservatives. Unsurprisingly, the Telegraph itself is quiet on this matter- stunned I imagine.
But should we be surprised?
May is a fan of bans- she banned Nicky Morgan from number 10 after a spat over a handbag, and dumped her from her position of Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities.
She has refused press questions before too, like last year when a German reporter asked her why she gave Boris Johnson a Cabinet appointment as reported even in the rabid Express.
- Point 5, her Press Secretary quits. Lizzie Loudon has indeed resigned and has given no reason why. This is the closest we get to a reason:
“I always thought and intended that my departure from Government last year – to work on the Leave campaign – would be final, and I would move on to other things,” she said.
“None of us expected a leadership campaign, but I was honoured to be asked to work on Theresa’s campaign, and to come into Government.
Now, if the MSM are losing their minds over the stepping down of some Labour MPs and the like, some of which, like Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham, had said they were going to do months ago, for reasons that had nothing to do with any ‘turmoil’ in the Labour party, why is the MSM not all over this? Why are they reporting it as straight news (like they should on Corbyn and the Labour party too, but do NOT)? Well, I think we all know why…
- Point 6, where May could not have a closed meeting for her election campaign, the factory workers present at today’s event (21/04/17) were forbidden to talk to the press, or ask her questions. This is according to Michael Crick, the Channel 4 political correspondent who in general has more integrity and chops than most of the MSM today. Is this not a further move towards authoritarianism?
- Point 7, is there proof she has pushed for the deselection of one of her MPs? Well we already know Osborne (MP for Tatton) under investigation for election fraud (as are over 20 others) has fled to his job at the Standard but it is hard to ascertain whether he knew this was about to blow and jumped, or was gently pushed after complaints from his constituents. If any more details emerge on this, I shall edit.
- And as for point 8, locking her MPs into a triple manifesto pledge (this is on B*exit, i.e. leaving the EU) ironically (perhaps) one of the first papers into that is the Standard, where Osborne now works! But the rest of the MSM are not far behind. For a woman that campaigned for Remain, she seems terribly set on a ‘Hard B*exit’! And this information was LEAKED to the press too. And what are these three pledges?
leaving the single market,
ending free movement and
removing EU judges’ power to meddle in ‘our’ affairs.
As the Persian ambassador to Leonidas of Sparta said in the film 300:
So, in the meantime, what are the opposition doing?
Well, we have already seen the LP reaction to May’s refusal to have election public debate, above. What else have they been doing?
We cannot help but compare Theresa May’s grim Bolton affair with Corbyn’s exuberant ad-hoc get together in a Croydon high street…
And while Theresa May was ordering factory workers not to speak to the press, Corbyn was in Bristol showing support for the mayoral elections today (21/04/17) and talking to primary school children
then on to Cardiff North for an election event.
Let’s look at Labour Party policy then.
For the past two weeks, LP HQ have been very busy releasing policy statements (that at the time were pledges) on all of Corbyn’s 10 Points for a Better Britain.
On the website, ILikeCorbynBut a clever counter narrative to all the MSM created concerns has been addressed. And the LP website last month finally added all of Corbyn’s visions for Britain (as has been discussed on other blogs here) which will become the 2017 manifesto. Their current manifesto like all the other parties is from 2015:
But all LP members and voters can go to the Labour Party forum and add their suggestions for policies to come. This helps to negate at least some of the (perhaps deliberate) slowness of Iain McNicol in updating the party’s website.
Something some voters find problematic is the MSM engineered perception that Corbyn is woolly and naive on defence, both domestically and globally. Well he was right about Emwazi wasn’t he?
And regarding the outright lie about his approach to the domestic shoot to kill policy, the BBC have released a tiny retraction to this. Helpfully I have a screenshot here of that retraction. Yep 18 months ago they retracted it yet it’s still doing the MSM rounds…
The Green Party has rightly criticised the Conservatives‘ declaration on 23rd April that they would ‘fire first’ with nuclear arms. Here is the Conservative Defence Minister, Fallon, in his handy non-explanation of why their government would use ‘first strike, on tape. The same man that lied about this Trident misfire.
The Green Party has accused the Conservatives of “fanaticism” after the Defence Secretary admitted that Theresa May could start a nuclear war.
Michael Fallon had said the Prime Minister could launch a nuclear attack against another country, even if the UK was not under nuclear attack, in “the most extreme circumstances”.
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, branded the position “immoral” because it would lead to the deaths of countless civilians.
And yes, this policy’s about as ‘good’ as the scuttlebutt that the Conservatives are going to remove the pensioners’ triple lock (Labour have made it clear they will keep it) and increase taxes for low earners, and raise VAT again by 2.5% (for their record on VAT see my blog) all of which break their 2015 manifesto pledges.
However, Bartley’s critique of Labour when they said that for now they would keep nuclear capability
- ignores the fact that while we are in NATO, we are obliged to spend 2% of the GDP on defence.
- ignores the fact that Corbyn has said that the Labour Party will NOT ‘fire first’.
And Conservative policies?
BUT where is the actual Conservative Manifesto rather than just rumour? Where in fact are any Conservative MPs- they seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth! You know, the party that actually called for an election? The party who (you’d assume) actually had all the pieces in place before they did this?
Still in the future. I note today (23/04/17) with some hilarity that this parody is currently doing the rounds. Very clever exercise in neuro linguistic programming. Never have I seen ‘strong and stable’ so many times on one page! *applauds* If and when the ‘real’ one emerges, I will add it here!
Probably the same place as the lack of Conservative candidates ready to stand in key marginal seats, as reported in the BBC rolling blog on 20th April. And I was talking on Twitter to the editor of Conservative Home, Mark Wallace, last night (20/04/17) and he insisted he had no idea about any of this, then went rather quiet…
So not a lot.
Let’s go back to Labour then.
Corbyn, McDonnell and other members of the Shadow Cabinet like Andrew Gwynne and Richard Burgon have hit the election campaign ground running. And Barry Gardiner is being his usual precise and polite self and holding the fort in TV interviews for the party, nailing first Sky’s Adam Boulton to the wall then calling attention to all the problems with May and her government on the BBC today (21/04/17). Dawn Butler did her best but it went a bit wrong, it’s going to be a steep learning curve for newer MPs in this VERY snap election. And amongst others, Corbyn said this:
But if the Labour Party are going to get anywhere and prove the ITV poll right (now on 100K on still very pro Labour)
and the bookies right, who have had such a surge of bets on Labour and Corbyn in two days that Betslip at least have suspended betting
the PLP need to stop d*cking around and show some unity. (Yes, I’m looking at you Wes Streeting, John Woodcock, and Chuka Ummuna, for starters! You too Yvette Cooper, knock it off! The time for another leadership campaign-where you came a distant THIRD last time- is NOT NOW!) If Tom Watson can come from actively trying to undermine the party (see the blog and also here) to saying this today (21/04/17) then the rest of you have to suck it up or step down.
Some of them have stepped down already but many are NOT because of opposition to Corbyn
though we do need to note
- how many are in LFI,
- who voted to bomb Iraq/ Libya/ Syria and did not vote to stop support for Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen on humanitarian grounds and
- how many are in Progress– the ‘right’ of the Labour Party.
When I tried to access their site I got this friendly little message 😉 What’s with all the purple, guys?
Let’s have a look at the MP Top Three Hundred (ish) then.
Who is going? Andy Burnham (Labour) for example is running for mayor and Alan Johnson (Labour) said months ago he would not contest a future general election.
Here are the steppers so far, from ALL parties, with their seats:
Conservatives ( 3% of total MPs):
Angela Watkinson – Hornchurch and Upminster
George Osborne – Tatton
Simon Burns – Chelmsford
Gerald Howarth – Aldershot
Eric Pickles – Brentwood and Ongar
Alan Haselhurst – Saffron Walden
Andrew Tyrie – Chichester
Peter Lilley – Hitchen & Harpenden
Edward Garnier – Harborough
David Macintosh – Northampton South
Andrew Turner – Isle of Wight(forced to stand down today (28/04/17) after describing homosexuality as “wrong” and “dangerous to society” to A level students in the Isle of Wight)
Labour (5% of total MPs):
Alan Johnson – Hull West and Hessle
Andy Burnham – Leigh
Gisela Stuart – Birmingham Edgbaston
Jim Dowd – Lewisham West and Penge
Tom Blenkinsop – Middlesborough South and East Cleveland
Rob Marris – Wolverhampton South West
Pat Glass – North West Durham
Iain Wright – Hartlepool
Andrew Smith – Oxford East
Fiona MacTaggart – Slough
Dave Anderson – Blaydon
Michael Dugher – Barnsley East
Graham Allen – Nottingham North
Lib Dems(11% of total MPs):
John Pugh- Stockport
Michelle Thomson (was SNP)- Edinburgh West
Natalie McGarry- Glasgow East
(ex) UKIP (100% of total MPs):
Now it is quite normal for some MPs to step down before a General Election, some as they’d like to try new work; some because they are ill (like Watkinson); some because they are going into other areas of politics (like Burnham and Rotherham) but this is the first election the MSM has had such a beady eye on it. (Ask yourself why it should be, and why it is all the Labour MPs that get the spotlight on it, and not the others.) If any more MPs step down, I will add them here.
Who is coming back or standing in those seats? This is the more pertinent question, perhaps.
Zac Goldsmith (He lost Richmond Park to the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney in 2015, who is standing for re-election, but is re-selected to fight that seat.)
Esther McVey lost her Wirral West seat in 2015 to Labour’s Margaret Greenwood (who is standing again) but McVey has been selected to stand in George Osborne’s former Tatton seat.
Sir Vince Cable was defeated by Conservative Tania Mathias in 2015 after the Lib Dems lost dozens of seats. Ms Mathias is expected to stand again, and so will Cable.
Sir Simon Hughes will stand again in the Bermondsey and Old Southwark seat in south London, which he lost to Labour’s Neil Coyle in 2015. Mr Coyle is standing again.
Sir Ed Davey is to stand again for election in Kingston and Surbiton. The seat was won by Conservative James Berry in 2015, with a majority of 2,834. Mr Berry is standing again.
Jo Swinson (Scottish Liberal Democrats, ) was elected to East Dunbartonshire in 2005, but was ousted in 2015 by the SNP’s John Nicolson, who is standing for re-election.
Former Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, Sir Bob Russell, is to stand again, after his defeat in 2015 to Conservative Will Quince.
Former Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Nick Harvey will be seeking re-election after losing his seat in North Devon in 2015 to Conservative Peter Heaton-Jones.
Quite a few seats (six) that the Lib Dems could hold or grab (back) there.
- Goldsmith was a Conservative anomaly (2010, 2015) after many years of Richmond Park being a Lib Dem stronghold since its creation as a seat in 1997. So despite the close result in 2015, Olney could very well hold.
- Tatton has been a Conservative hold since its creation in 1993 (holding a 20-40% majority) so it looks like McVey, who so happily carried out Duncan-Smith‘s DWP eugenics, could have an easy ride there.
- Cable‘s seat was safely his for 18 years till his very narrow defeat by Mathias in 2015.
- For Bermondsey and Old Southwark it’s harder to call as this seat has only existed since 2010- then the LDs won with a 19.1% majority. This seat was battled over by Labour and the Lib Dems since 1983 when it was only Bermondsey. Coyle now has an 8% majority (4489 votes.) Coyle has been loudly and virulently anti-Corbyn so depending on the feeling about the Labour leader in the area and how much B*exit will feature (72.3% remain vote here) could be factors. (Yes, GEs should be about policies, but we know they rarely are.)
- Kingston and Surbiton has existed as a seat since 1997. Davey had a massive majority- 32%- in 2001 but that was slowly eroded since 1997 (he held the seat from 1997) so the fact the Conservatives won in 2015 is typical of the swing to be honest. So another close one and we can’t ignore the ‘spite voting’ in 2015 for the LDs being part of the coalition (though I’ve said before and have said again, why vote Conservative if you were Lib Dem but didn’t like the coalition?) I predict the LDs could gain this seat, especially as Berry has been implicated in the election fraud.
- East Dunbartonshire was created in 2005, from East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire. A one time Labour stronghold from 1950-70, it went blue and SNP in 1974, then back to Labour when the area was changed. Swinson had held it from 2005, but like Davey slowly lost her 8% majority over time and the SNP hold it by 4% (2167 votes). Another good possibility of a regain here again because of the situation in Scotland.
- Colchester is a very different proposition. It has existed as a governmental area since the Model Parliament in 1295 during Edward I’s reign and has sent MPs to Parliament since 1312. In more recent history though the seat has changed hands many times between Whig, ‘Tory’ and Radical and more recently still, from 1985, mostly Conservative, once Liberal and once Labour. The approximate area was rejigged in 1997 and Russell held it from then till 2015. Losing the seat and a 15% majority in 2015 must have been quite a shock, for while his majority fluctuated it was always quite healthy. It is a narrow ‘Leave’ area (53%) so this too could be close. I think Russell has a good chance though.
- North Devon is another area that has been around for a long time, since the 1830s, and in its early days was very much Whig/Liberal. More recently it has been a straight Conservative/ Liberal/ Lib Dem fight, the most ‘famous’ of its MPs being Jeremy Thorpe. Harvey had held it since 1992 and it could be seen as an LD stronghold. Harvey lost an 11% majority in 2015, the highest he’d ever had. Now it’s Heaton-Jones’ turn to try and hold a 13% one. Historically you’d say home run for the LDs. The area is a close ‘Leave’ vote (57%) and it’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out. If people™ want to vote on a General Election and not B*exit, and they vote true to normal, Harvey has this.
As more seats are confirmed, I will add to this later in the blog on who is standing in the place of MPs that are stepping, as they happen.
So, what are the other opposition parties offering?
Here is the Green Party’s election manifesto but it’s from 2015. Will add the 2017 one when it is published and I hope they change their slogan as it’s just a tiny bit Dumbledore/Grindelwald-ish:
The same goes for the Lib Dems– their manifesto is still from 2015 and say a 2017 one will be published in due course. Their slogan could possibly due with a bit of work too as it just sounds like Labour‘s. And as Tim Farron refused to rule out another coalition with the Conservatives in Parliament yesterday (20/04/17) that’s not really appropriate is it?
- Banning the burqa or niqab (again) in public on the grounds of it being a barrier to integration and a security risk.
- Possibly undertaking not to stand against B*exit-supporting MPs.
- And in their ‘Integration Agenda‘ released on 24/04/17 they also want to implement forced school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.
- They want to ban all Muslim schools but say nothing about other ‘faith schools’.
Wedged in with this, scarily, are some valid points like fraud in postal voting. It’s like a raving bigot and a pragmatist wrote them separately and someone at UKIP HQ merged the documents without reading them o.O
HOW is this ‘integration’?
NOBODY is saying FGM is a good thing, but this is victim blaming and shaming, not attacking the root of the problem- the practitioners. And it predates Islam and Christianity, though countries with either of those predominant religions practice it all across Africa.
It looks like they’ve gone full Islamophobic potato. NEVER go full potato.
SNP are also still in 2016 in relation to their manifesto.
As for Northern Irish parties, as the assembly (as noted in Parliament yesterday by DUP MP Nigel Dodds during the general election vote) is currently not even functioning, with first the resignation and then death of Sinn Fein MP Martyn McGuinness, and thus will have a lot to do before June 8th. Dodds predicted a speedy conclusion to this issue despite issues with Sinn Fein. The Labour party in my view are missing a trick not ‘allowing’ Labour MPs to stand in Northern Ireland, but the NEC have said no, though Corbyn as far back as September 2016 has expressed a wish to have Labour MPs there. Once they have done their Assembly Elections and have complied their manifestos, I will include them here.
It does appear that the Conservatives have done this to try and catch all the opposition parties on the back foot. Doesn’t look like Labour has been caught out…and as Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams noted this election is being voted on not to ‘crush her opposition’ (as some of the MSM insist, with the Mirror being the lone voice saying she didn’t call for an election to do this) but to remove opposition within her own party.
In other news…
In the meantime Len McCluskey won the UNITE election after the suspension of Gerard Coyne (see my Tom Watson blog for more) by the NEC for bringing the union into disrepute. Turnout was only a disappointing 12%, and people were still allowed to vote for Coyne: McCluskey (45.4% of the vote), Coyne 53,544 (41.5%) and grassroots candidate Ian Allinson 17,143 (13.1%), the union announced. This is seen as good news for the ‘left’ of the Labour Party.
This of course will be the breaching of the Data Protection Act by taking Labour Party members’ details without their permission and texting and emailing them asking for their support during this election. In my opinion this should become a CPS matter too.
Let’s have another look at how campaigning is going…
But it is clear that many bets are off about keeping campaigns clean as this horrendous and rubbish photoshop job was plastered across social media yesterday (22/04/17) reportedly from Theresa May’s communications office headed by Suzan Walsh.
Even the Express, where this picture was on 8th April, who we know are as ‘on the right’ as can be, didn’t sink so low as to ‘shop a solidarity fist into a V sign.
All the original photos can be found on Getty Images here.
The LABOUR voter USED here, Catherine Finney, would be well within her right to sue as this is defamation of character! This is a tactic that organisations like Britain First use. And the Skwawkbox have set out their stall on this very well- their headline asks: IF CORBYN HAS NO CHANCE, WHY ARE TORIES SPREADING #FAKENEWS ABOUT HIM?
Here is an actual encounter between Theresa May and an older voter in the Midlands, as reported in the Express and Star. The entire encounter seems somewhat surreal.
Now I’m not trying to imply that it looks like May is trying to throw the election, but the effort being put in compared to Corbyn does seem somewhat lacklustre. (Bristol was a mayoral campaign event, but still, busy busy…)
And we see that environmental and social protections are already being disregarded by the Conservatives, even before A50 is completed, having
and on food poverty (this is the Parliamentary record of that), despite the fact the use of food banks has gone up even more under May than it did under Cameron- below are the Trussell Trust’s own figures:
and increased the National Debt again last month.
Where is all this money going?
- ensuring fair wages, and
- on having as many immigrants ‘steal jobs’ that’s for sure.
The ILO or The International Labour Organisation, is a United Nations agency dealing with labour problems, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all came up with the damning statistics below.
The UK is on there at -1%.
And this decline started in 2010. Who was voted in in 2010?
The only EU country lower than us is Greece and they’re bankrupt! :O
The ‘myth’ of but (for example, and I use this example as they are the largest EU migrant group according to the ONS- see below)
‘all those Poles coming over here so they can send their money back home and not pay tax…’
Er why would they all be doing that? Look at their wage growth compared to the UK..and in fact Polish workers have stopped coming here in great numbers. Up at 600,000 in 2006, in 2016 they only numbered about 853,000, which is a huge decrease % wise, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Population of the United Kingdom by Country of Birth and Nationality report.
The likelihood of a Pole taking ‘your job’ is now 853,000: 37,100,000 or 1 in 435. Sounds like good odds not to be a Polish person…
Now what about the EU (yes, it can’t be ignored but must NOT be the single issue of this election)?
As we know the Conservatives are trying to make it all about B*exit, as I said at the top of the blog. Here’s the Shadow Minister for the EU, Keir Starmer’s announcement on that today… which essentially promises to bring back the SEVEN Labour amendments that they wanted on the Withdrawal from the EU Bill in the first place (see my blog for more on those)
- rights for EU citizens
- right for Parliament to have full say on the process, and providing for srcutiny documentation that all can see on every aspect of the process, which includes the Scottish Welsh and Irish assemblies
- rights for ALL workers, backed up by their election promise to reverse the repressive Trade Union Bill and the 10p tax drive, and human rights for ALL
- environmental protections
- keeping EU laws that stop the proliferation of tax evasion and avoidance
scrapping the White Paper that the Conservatives took weeks to even make, and it is not fit for purpose and replacing the Great Repeal Bill with a Bill of Rights instead. Neither Starmer or Gardiner (SC Minister of International Trade and Environment) are ruling out a second referendum at the END of the A50 process either, which is sensible. That would be like taking a job without having signed a contract or read the job description.
- What have the Conservatives said about the process? Well, the opposite of Labour. UKIP too are going for the ‘hard, clean break’ approach while emphasising that the Conservatives do not have a plan for Leave.
- The Green Party are in general agreement that the Labour approach is the one with more merit, as this press release from them shows.
- But at present I cannot find any press release from the Lib Dems on the matter- when I find one I will add it here, but it seems odd that the remain party is not on the ball on this.
- The SNP seem to be in two minds about the EU as a whole host of mainstream press releases appear to show, and set alongside rumours that there will be a surge of tactical voting for the Scottish Conservatives, but again don’t believe the MSM and I will add their stance on it as soon as it is released.
- And despite Plaid Cyrmu‘s push for remain last year, Wales on the whole voted to leave. Their 2017 stance also seems to be wavering, again in the face of a possible Conservative surge.
- Now Northern Ireland voted remain by 56% to 44% . Their political parties: Sinn Féin; TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice); Alliance Party (Northern Ireland); SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party); UUP (Ulster Unionist Party); Green Party (Northern Ireland) and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) seem to have a range of approaches on the EU. Again when individual manifestos are released, I will provide links to them here.
There also seems to be activism by pro-Remain group ‘Open Britain‘ to launch a bid to oust 20 B*exit -backing MPs from Labour, the Conservatives and the DUP, who voted ‘out’ when their constituencies voted remain, whilst putting on-the-ground support for 20 ‘Remain’ MPs. For more on this go here. At least if you’re going to make B*exit an issue, doing this has more merit than foam voting™.
So for now, can we please wait till all the manifestos are out and vote on policies PLURAL and not make this General Election solely about the EU?
Let’s also not continue not to forget about that Election Fraud, concerning 30 Conservative MPs (watch their seats with interest!) for which a full list is now available.
as Dennis Skinner reminds Parliament today (25/04/17) the findings for which are coming out on the 9th May 2017- yet what do we get? The Neuro Linguistic Programmed answer of ‘strong and stable’ government from Liz Truss? (Basically, brainwashing.)
What evidence is there of any strength and any stability?
Where is the evidence that Conservative MPs are still even on the face of the planet? 😉
Sue Hayman, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was meant to be on the BBC last night (24/04/17) debating climate and the environment with her opposite number Andrea Leadsom? (Remember her? She ran for Conservative leader.) The programme had to be cancelled because Leadsom did not show up.
If I find any proof, I will in the interests of fairness add it here.
An example of the ‘strong and stable’ repetition was in May’s campaign speech today (25/04/17) from a closed event in Bridgend (Wales.) Still no policies. Still no questions allowed. ‘Give me a mandate’ was also repeated. Give ME? Still playing dictator and making it about ‘personalities’ not policies. The blooper where she refers to ‘terrorism’ as ‘tourism’ cut out of the VT. Luckily, I still have that. Of course the BBC here ^ are falling over themselves to repeat the slogan too. But that’s all it is- a slogan, and not backed up by any manifesto STILL.
************Ok, week 2:************
Countdowns to elections are being published. Here’s a good one. All MPs and candidates have till May 11th to sign up or withdraw for each seat. Oh that’s two days AFTER the CPS will be producing their findings on the Electoral Fraud, isn’t it?
Let’s have a look and see if the campaign has become any dirtier shall we?
Good old Boris Johnson, Conservative Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, thought he’d got away with saying that if Trump asked ‘us’ to bomb Assad without a parliamentary vote, and that Theresa May agrees, as ‘we’d’ ‘find it very hard to say no’ by calling Corbyn a ‘mugwump’. Yet another own goal, sorry Boris. This tendency to want to bypass Parliament (like with A50, where May was forced by a Supreme Court judge to put it to Parliament is really worrying.) Gina Miller, the lawyer who helped that come about, is helping to crowd funding the ‘Open Britain’ campaign (see above.)
And the PM is still making gaffes. In Parliament yesterday (VT here, from 12:33:01) she implied that rape and the children that may result from rape are a ‘choice’ that working families and women on benefits need to make, and will not be rescinding the rape form for women. Here is a critique of what that could mean for 1000s of women. And in PMQs (26/04/17), she directed millions of people to the ‘I Like Corbyn But’ website (so many it crashed!) that ANSWERS all the usual accusations about the Labour leader, using it to accuse him of issues that have already been debunked instead of answering questions from teachers, WASPI women, parents worried about their 20+ year old children being unable to find a home to live in and so on, from Corbyn. The site responded by putting this up, addressed to the PM. The site will hopefully be back online soon, but for analysis of it and other sources, go here.
So far during this election there appear to be a quadrumvirate of mud slinging against Labour and/or Corbyn and his political colleagues.
- Firstly, terrorist sympathiser. Been so annoyed with that lie that I made a blog on that- here it is.
- Secondly, that Corbyn/Labour will ‘throw all the nukes in the bin’. (Blog here as to why this is impossible and why it will not happen) allied with ‘But Labour are warmongers’ (to be addressed in the same blog). Apart from being b*llocks, which it is then? *sigh*
- Thirdly that Labour/Corbyn are ‘antisemitic’- unsurprisingly one blog, actually, two blogs, have been created on that too, as the explanation is not a 140 soundbite or even do-able in other forms, because it’s a lot harder to cite sources.)
- And finally ‘betrayal on B*exit’; again with this one I was moved to write a blog as I was so sick of repeating myself.
So if anyone here does not know the answers to this piffle, please do read the blogs. I’ve even touched on it in this blog, with references to LFI, Progress and destabilisation of the Middle East, above.
Can we please focus on what the other party/parties are/ are not doing instead, or at least as well?
Is it improving at all for UKIP? Er…nope.
UKIP‘s election campaign launch today (28/04/17) at London’s Marriott County Hall was flooded by protestors due to UKIP’s anti-Muslim stance but even Nuttall is finding it hard to justify possible UKIP candidate Anne Marie Waters‘ online statements- “the only ‘evil’ we have legalised is Islam” and allegedly calling on people to “insult Islam”. And Nuttall after locking himself in a room to escape journalists has finally stopped umming and ahhing and says he will stand as a candidate.
Possibly in Hartlepool as there they’re only 7.7% behind Labour, but other seats have also been mentioned. The Labour MP there Iain Wright is standing down. Almost solidly Labour since 1945, Wright held the seat from 2004 and this is Peter Mandelson‘s old seat. On the whole his majority has slipped over the years, and as he slipped by 7% from the 2010 GE, a UKIP gain is possible. The Labour candidate is Mike Hill, a Unison regional organiser, seems pretty ‘socialist’, has very strong opinions on the crisis in NHS and social care and recently backed Jeremy Corbyn’s call for Britons to be granted four more bank holidays. For more on him, read here.
Today (29/04/17) however this appears to be moot as he has declared he’s running for Boston and Skegness instead. Hunter-Clarke ran there in 2015 and UKIP have a 10% majority to try and take from Conservative Matt Warman (4336 votes.) With the Labour falloff here (after a strong start when the seat was created in 1997), this seems unlikely despite a huge UKIP gain from 2010-2015. Perhaps Nuttall decided Hartlepool wasn’t his bag after two women had a scrap outside the venue he’d booked for a talk today (29/04/17) which led him to cancel his event.
Nuttall seems to be the kiss of death though- a one time Conservative who Liverpool rejected in 2002 at Council level, he joined UKIP in 2004, stood for Bootle (Liverpool) in the 2005 GE and got 4% of the vote, and has bumbled through one lie after another. More recently he failed at the Stoke Central by-election against Labour MP Gareth Snell and is under police investigation over his necessary residency in Stoke. He’s currently MEP for the north west and his maiden speech was about his issues with the forced banning of light bulbs in favour of energy saving ones. So watch this space on that front.
Let’s have a look at what the ‘opposition’ to the Conservatives have been up to this week…
Jeremy Corbyn has performed well all week and not just at his public rallies.
- On Wednesday he made a strong speech on PMQs, hacking at the Conservative ‘strong and stable’ mantra- that Theresa May answers every question with, no matter what the question might be- his reply was ‘strong against the weak and weak against the strong‘.
- And today (29/04/17) his speech, urging young people especially to vote seems a far cry from the UKIP chaos of yesterday.
- Tim Farron doesn’t seem to have made an election speech yet, not according to the Lib Dem website anyway. Though yesterday (28/04/17), he appears to have made a speech attacking Corbyn but was light on actual policy. “Britain needs a decent, strong opposition and my job is to ask the British people to give that job to me,” he said. Hmmm, just a little similar to May at Bridgend, no?
Despite this tactic, I do think it’s unethical that a comment of his, that had nothing to so with the election, but did happen whilst he was campaigning in Cambridge, has been jumped on by the MSM and social media, using ‘smell my spaniel’ to turn him into some kind of Alan Partridge caricature today (27/04/17). Farron does actually have a spaniel and he was talking to some bloke about his dog, that might be able to smell Jasper (just like dogs do.) Genuinely think this is bl**dy stupid.
- And talking of Theresa May, she has done no specific speech on the election since 18th April apart from her carefully selected events after that announcement and some article in the Telegraph (when I can find it again, I’ll add it.)
- Can’t find any that Nicola Sturgeon has made yet either.
- The Greens however, made one on 20th April, with pledges to scrap tuition fees, extend the vote to 16-year-olds and protect the environment.
Should any of these people actually make one, and of course, the other party leaders, I will add links to them here.
Let’s have a look at what seems like Labour on socialist steroids 😉
barely an hour goes by without some new declaration on policy and stance.
Seems like the Labour press office has finally got going- and perfect timing.
“Even for those who have never read a line of Bentham, he will always be associated with […] the principle of `the greatest happiness of the greatest number’. This, however, was only his starting point for a radical critique of society […]. He was an outspoken advocate of law reform, a pugnacious critic of established political doctrines like natural law and contractarianism, and the first to produce a utilitarian justification for democracy. He also had much to say of note on subjects as diverse as prison reform, religion, poor relief, international law, and animal welfare. A visionary far ahead of his time, he advocated universal suffrage and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. By the 1820s Bentham had become a widely respected figure, both in Britain and in other parts of the world. His ideas were greatly to influence the reforms of public administration made during the nineteenth century, and his writings are still at the centre of academic debate, especially as regards social policy, legal positivism, and welfare economics.” [my italics]
- Barry Gardiner, the Shadow Minister for International Trade and Climate Change, has suggested in an interview with the Independent today (29/04/17) that Britain could push for arms sales only to countries that did not have repressive regimes. The more the Labour package is revealed, the more I like it, I will say. And this would be in line with many YEARS of cross-party with SNP, the Lib Dems and Greens (but not Conservative from what I can see, and I’ve been through dozens of them) early Day Motions to stop arms sales to such countries on humanitarian grounds.
- And on the same day the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announced a policy that would end zero hour contracts. The fact these are forced on people has to stop- it makes it impossible to budget or buy anything beyond food. Sometimes not even food as the above food bank figures show. This appears to be part of a twenty point Workers’ Charter (released on 30/04/17) that including the ban on any new ZHCs are:
- Full employment rights from day one for all workers (part and full time)
- No foreign cheap labour to undercut workers at home.
- Interns are paid
- All workers have the right to be represented by trade unions
- £10 an hour minimum wage by 2020
- Ending the pay cap on public sector workers
- Bosses of firms bidding for government contracts banned from earning more than 20 times that of their lowest-paid worker (the ‘maximum wage’ idea).
- It will become against the law for women to be made redundant because of pregnancy or child commitments
- Paid paternity leave will be doubled to four weeks.
- Workers fighting unfair dismissal at tribunals would no longer have to pay fees
- Unions would get access to all workplaces
- Workers and pensioners would be protected in takeovers
- Repeal of the Trade Union Act would bring back collective bargaining
- Public inquiry would be launched to ensure union activists could not be blacklisted by their industries
- There would also be four extra bank holidays a year
- Giving workers equal rights from the day they are employed means no time spent qualifying to get them.
- More rights for agency workers- they can be denied equal pay, holidays and maternity leave until they have been in the post 12 weeks.
- Anyone currently in a zero hours contracts job would have their hours guaranteed and be paid compensation when shifts were suddenly cancelled.
- Foreign workers would be given the same fair wage and rights as any other worker.
These were collated from thousands of Labour members and anyone who accessed the policy forum website (see above) putting to Labour what they felt was needed in the workplace too- which in my opinion is a type of true democracy in action.
- There also seems to have been an expansion released on education policy: bringing back EMA; Maintenance Grants returned for University Students and also the return of the £160m Pupil Arts Fund so poorer pupils can learn music again- but can’t find a reference as yet though I think it was declared at Corbyn’s meeting with the Headteachers Conference in Telford today, yes that’s a Sunday (30/04/17). Adding this to no tuition fees and free school meals for all to opt in, we are seeing quite a comprehensive education pledge develop. Once their manifesto is out, full analysis will be most interesting.
can we please stop this ‘power stance’ stuff? All I can think of is this…
Though to be honest, perhaps they were just showing their true selves 😉 .
Let’s look at what we know so far about candidates for seats this week.
We are also seeing May allies being parachuted into ‘safe’ Conservative seats rather than going through due party process, the Telegraph was happy to reveal, which is not going down well at local level (usual snide comments about Labour and Corbyn aside). When we saw Labour parachute in MPs in the 1990s, (the ones after 1997 dismissively called ‘Blair’s Babes‘) in the name of at least getting some parity in representation from women, has caused issues long term, especially when the local candidate was not only swindled out of due process but even labelled as ‘militant’ and ejected from the party, like in Wallasey. Many of those put in lost a large percentage of the seat’s majority and even their seats (for example Candy Atherton of Falmouth and Camborne, Helen Brinton of Peterborough and Charlotte Atkins of Staffordshire Moorlands all lost their seats by 2005, and some did by 2001.)
So here the Conservatives should take parachuting as a warning not an example- but they’re not. Voters do appear to want the candidate to be long term local, as well as locally allied first over Westminster lackey-ing. And on a Parliamentary level, the cost of short term allies history has shown to have a long term backfiring effect, not least when that leader steps down.
So while the NEC for Labour did make an emergency ruling on candidates for this election only due to time constraints imposed by May, and yes some CLPs are unhappy about being cut out of the loop, it will stop being policy under Corbyn from what he said above to Sky.
- Stephen Parkinson, the Prime Minister’s political secretary for Saffron Walden, which has a Tory majority of 25,000 votes.
- Alex Burghart, Mrs May’s social justice policy adviser is on the shortlist for Brentwood and Ongar, which has a majority of 22,000.
- Chris Brannigan, director of government relations who liaises with businesses, made the list for Aldershot, (majority 15,000 votes).
- Neil O’Brien, advisor to May on the ‘northern powerhouse’ and industrial strategy, is also seeking a seat.
Local Conservatives appear to be particularly aggrieved about Aldershot because party bosses refused to put forward Daniel Hannan, the leading Eurosceptic, despite their demands. And note the utter lack of women, or people of colour, or LGBT+, in the new candidates. May is known to oppose any candidate lists that favour women and voted against it in Parliament, or BAMEs.
And it looks like mega-donor Michael Foster is rearing his head again, threatening to stand against Corbyn in his seat if he does not ‘stand down’. Do not confuse him with this Michael Foster, one time Labour MP.
Yep, the guy who called Corbyn supporters “Nazi stormtroopers” (and who is a Jew- why on earth use that analogy of all things), the guy who in July 2016, took legal action against Labour‘s general secretary Iain McNicol, challenging the NEC‘s decision of 12 July 2016 that the incumbent leader is automatically included in the leadership contest.
So badly that the court ruled he must pay Corbyn’s legal costs and the Labour Party’s costs.
And he was suspended from the Labour party in September 2016 for such comments.
Islington North, Corbyn’s seat, has been a constituency since 1885, and a Labour stronghold almost constantly since 1937. Currently holding a 43% majority (21,194 votes) Corbyn’s majority has never been lower than 15% and that was when he was first elected, in 1983, which was actually a swing to Labour of 4%.
Michael Foster was unsuccessful in standing at the 2015 General Election as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Cornish constituency of Camborne and Redruth, coming second to the Conservatives with 11,448 votes (25%)- a Conservative hold since its 2010 creation, and whose majority under George Eustice increased to 15% when Foster stood, while the latter had a 8% swing to Labour.
In my opinion, Foster is a fatuous fool. It must have been so galling for him that after his suspension, most people forgot he existed and this smacks of desperation- what would be the point of standing in one of England’s safest seats? He’s one mask and cape away from being melodramatic to the point of risibility. Does he think so little of the Labour electorate that he thinks Islington would swap to some kind of Independent? For, if she’s still suspended, he can’t stand for Labour. He doesn’t stand for Labour in any sense; maybe he’s worried about the above mentioned maximum wage cap and a reduction in his corporation taxes… He needs to understand that his money, all £400,000 of it, no longer buys him power within the party and GO AWAY.
Today (01/05/17) Labour have ruled that suspended-since-2015 Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk will not be allowed to stand in the election full stop. Considering what he did (see link) that is no bad thing, though he was praised for his work with constituents and instrumental in bringing to light child abuse claims against the late MP Cyril Smith. No candidate has been chosen for the area as yet, (the cut off date for that for Labour is 3rd May for NEC debating and 5th May for confirmation, well before the final date allowable) but it’s a fairly ‘safe seat’. In the 2015 election he was well ahead of the UKIP candidate who won 8519 votes, closely followed by a Conservative with 7742 votes, so while the area lost a 2.3% of its swing, it’s still at a healthy 27.4% majority (12442 votes.)
Policies released so far.
Anyway, enough of Foster, and back to policy. This will be part of Labour‘s manifesto for 2017, and is an approximate summary of what has been discussed above:
The Liberal Democrats are giving little away pre manifesto, but this is what we know so far:
The Conservatives as has been noted, have been very woolly on policy, but this is what we know, as well as cuts to the police, other emergency services and armed forces, national debt UP as mentioned, net immigration UP and corporation tax for big businesses DOWN:
Here is a handy list of charts and graphs as to what results these above policies have already had. This will not improve.
The Green party are opposed to the Conservative’s ‘hard B*exit’, want open global trading and protection of the environment. Their Six Key policies are unlikely to change.
I have talked of some of UKIP‘s ‘policies’ above, so not about to repeat those, and they also have ‘Six Key’ tests, published on 29th March 2017, but they’re a little different to the Greens, and all concern a ‘hard B*exit’. I can’t bring myself to type them, as Parliament has always has ‘sovereignty’ so here’s a link.
The SNP have so far pledged to resist Conservative cuts, have ruled out the use of private companies in benefits assessments, and of course, a second referendum for Independence.
Currently, that’s all I can find before the release of all the parties’ manifestos. But here in the Mirror is a summary of all that has been released so far and their ‘guesses’ on what else might be on the manifestos.
A look at marginals, new candidate announcements and analysis
In my voting blog I have explained what a ‘marginal seat’ is, and here are some to keep an eye on as the election approaches.
But are the papers even looking at such things? Nope. Instead, more distractification abounded today (02/05/17) when Labour Home Secretary Diane Abbott mixed up hundreds of thousands with millions on LBC radio today in relation to police funding. She said £300,000, she meant £300,000,000. Yep, that’s a gaffe and she did sound flustered and not very competent. For an analysis on this issue, please check out this blog.
Let’s ignore the massive bombshell announced today (02/05/17) that HSBC bank allegedly laundered £200 MILLION and the Conservative Party directly responsible for £5 million of this!
Here are some of the ledgers:
Ever more trivialities are smothering the essentials of the election…
Never mind that Theresa May’s ‘Chipgate’ is another ‘bacon sandwich’ moment.
Corbyn’s seat however, is anything but marginal, as said above.
Ed Miliband’s North Doncaster seat appears to be ‘safe’ too, with a 29.8% majority (11,780 votes) It has been as high as 55%, but did increase from the 2010 election despite the fact Labour lost that contest. It has been a 100% Labour stronghold since its creation in 2005.
Theresa May’s seat, Maidenhead, also appears to be ‘safe’. She had a 54% majority in 2015 (29,054 votes) and her majority has risen every election. It has been hers since its creation in 1997.
But which seats aren’t ‘safe’?
Well, the above seats, for starters. We could call these ‘super marginals’. But this election could be very different, as said above. Many commenters think that any MP with a majority smaller than 5,000 could be at risk. This could explain the more-than-usual campaigning a lot of MPs are doing.
But this must not be framed as a ‘calamity’- as the General Elections were beginning to resemble Mercedes at the F1: barely any point watching ‘cos you already knew who’d win. In the F1 Ferrari are on the comeback (red cars, anyone? 😉 ) and suddenly people™ are more engaged. It could bring those who used to vote, but stopped, back. The ‘bandwagon effect’ in action… (see below.)
We have seen a huge spike in voter registration this past two weeks, and this is following a trend noted by the ONS last year too:
The total number of UK parliamentary electors increased by just over 1 million (2.3%) between December 2015 and December 2016, this partly reflects high levels of public engagement with the EU referendum.
The total number of UK local government electors also increased by just over 1.1 million (2.5%) between December 2015 and December 2016.Of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK, 583 (90%) had an increase in parliamentary electors between December 2015 and December 2016.
The number of UK parliamentary and local government electors increased in England, Wales and Scotland but decreased in Northern Ireland.
We can see it was the referendum that kicked off voter engagement last year.
Another possible issue is the potential collapse of support for UKIP that could benefit the Conservatives because May has taken on many of the party’s policies, like hard B*exit and grammar schools. (To be blunt, she’s moved the party further ‘right’.) UKIP seems to acknowledge this and have made noises about not fielding some candidates, to help out in a Conservative seat. But we cannot assume anyone moving away from UKIP will move to the Conservatives. Many Labour voters moved to UKIP or the Greens when it became clear that ‘New Labour‘ no longer represented them; haemorrhaging over three MILLION voters (though regained 700,000 votes at the 2015 GE.) With our First Past the Post system (see the voting blog) if parties are too similar it ‘splits’ the vote and could let in someone they don’t want. The Greens did the same when they did not field a candidate in Ealing (for example) so as not to split the Labour vote.
Many pollsters opine that Labour‘s vote too will decrease. Here are some of the figures collated. The most pessimistic prediction appears to be the loss of 52 seats at the general election and 125 across local elections which is based entirely on analysing polling data whose samples are very small, just a couple of thousand (see the rolling blog for the locals and mayorals) and four out of the eight mayorals, though most are seeing it as likely that all but one of those elections will end up in Labour hands. I do think some of the suppositions used by pollsters and analysts are using flawed data however. They are not considering
- the large spike in voter registrations, especially among 18-25 year olds (‘traditionally’ the lowest percentage of voters, and also, ‘traditionally’ and proportionally, the most ‘left leaning’.)
- the increase in ‘lapsed voters’ (those who are registered but don’t vote) returning, not only to being more engaged, but actually joining political parties, most notably for Labour and the Lib Dems
- the anger many still have over the referendum clusterf**k, with ‘democracy’ (or lack of) being very much the trending buzzword
- the increasing polarity of ‘right’ and ‘left’ reversing years of the moving ‘right’ of all the parties as shown by the Overton Window– which is a range of policies that people™ will find acceptable- with unprecedented levels of overt ‘Othering’ towards the unemployed and the disabled, linking to
- the years of media bias against anything seen as ‘left’ or even ‘liberal’
- and a perhaps expected backlash against this ‘right’ tendency, with a swing among many lower income people towards the ‘left’ after years of ‘all parties looking the same’ followed by austerity measures.
The consequence of this seems to already be much fewer ‘floating voters’.
The above graphic is a typical pre-referendum/pre-2015 voter spread, with the main parties colour coded; and the grey areas are non voters.
This is why the definition of ‘marginal seats’ has been widened to 5,000, unthinkable before the referendum on a national level.
While this should not be a single/double issue election
- the party leader (and this applies to all parties)
to many it is, although such gestures are de facto pointless as leaders are never directly voted for in a GE- party members do that, and we’ve already HAD the EU referendum. Yet both are issues many feel strongly enough about to ensure they go and vote. Though I don’t think the Lib Dems will grab as many ‘Remainers’ as they would wish, and I can’t see them reaching pre 2010 levels any time soon.
The constant polling is not doing any of the parties any good from what I’ve seen, especially the Conservatives, but currently their ‘lead’ (shrinking at an average of 1% per day) is such that the ‘bandwagon effect’, as a significant number of people may decide to vote for the party which is in the lead in the pre-election opinion polls, regardless of its politics. D*mned stupid way to vote if you ask me, but psychologists proved years ago that humans are susceptible to conformity, compliance and obedience. You may have seen this expressed more strongly than this as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’.
So right now it really is a question of
(sorry, pundits!) and that election campaigns could be the most important they have ever been. And we have seen that the campaigns from the two ‘main’ parties could not be more opposite.
Perhaps the ‘bookies’ have the best idea, as well a larger sample of consumers and the odds have lengthened for May to 1/18, odds for Corbyn shortened from 12/1 to 8/1, the same going for a Conservative majority (lengthened to 1/14) versus a Labour majority (25 and 20/1; when the election was declared it was at 45/1), 6/1 for a hung parliament (no majority) and a Lab/Lib/SNP coalition at 10/1. This paints a somewhat different picture.
We’ve talked of the two leaders’ seats and how ‘safe’ they are- how about the Lib Dems, the Greens and SNP?
Well today it was announced that in Tim Farron’s seat, Westmorland and Lonsdale, that Labour have selected Eli Aldridge to stand. He’s 18, and said “I’m overjoyed at the prospect of representing Labour in the area that I have lived my entire life. Labour has a strong record in Cumbria. The county council, which is Labour-led, has implemented a lot of initiatives that have positively affected the lives of many in Westmorland and Lonsdale – despite a programme of austerity imposed by a Tory government. I believe that a Labour government would strengthen our community and work for the many not the few.” He was born in the constituency and has lived there all his life. Other candidates are Urswick farmer James Airey (Conservative) and as yet none others have been selected. If/when they are, they will be added here.
What chance does Eli have? The Conservatives held it till 2005, slowly bleeding their majority, and Tim won it for the Lib Dems with only a 3.5% swing so it was close. He has stood there ever since. From only winning then by 267 votes, his majority rose to 12,264 votes (23.8%) but decreased to 8,949 votes (18.3%) in the 2015 GE. So by all the definitions above and on the voting blog we can’t call this marginal, but Farron should not consider himself ‘safe’ (if only from the Conservatives). Labour are usually a distant third or fourth here. (1500-3000) and usually take an erratic share of the vote (10-20%). Bigger swings have been lost by an incumbent, but not usually to a party with a 20% vote share in the past. Turnout is usually high here (75%ish) but plenty of wiggle room for non voters to make their opinion known.
Well the constituency was created in 1983, and has been a straight Conservative– Lib Dem fight ever since.
Brighton Pavilion is a constituency represented since 2010 by Caroline Lucas who on election became the first MP for the Greens in the UK. It has existed since the 1950s and held exclusively by the Conservatives till 1997 when David Lepper of the Labour Co-op won with a 15.4 % swing. Then we see what is a typical loss of majority till Lucas won the seat with an 8% swing and 2.4% majority that she increased to 7,967 votes (14.6 %) in 2015. So not quite marginal. Since Lucas took over, it is Labour that have been a creditable second and the Conservatives a more distant third. The other parties are pretty much nowhere.
This year (26/04/17) the Lib Dems chose not to field a candidate, endorsing Caroline Lucas instead due to their shared pro-EU stance. Michelle Thew is standing for Labour. No other candidates have been announced yet. On voting ‘trends’, Lucas appears fairly safe and turnout here is quite high (71%.)
Sturgeon has been SNP leader since 2014, and has held the seat of Glasgow Southside since 2011. The swing to SNP then was 14%, and her majority was 4,349 voters (19.2%). Turnout was low at 43%. In 2016 at the last Scottish elections, she won by 9,593 votes (38.5% majority) with a 19.3% swing but again turnout was low: just 47.8%. Scotland, like many parts of England and Wales, are having both local and general elections. Her seat appears safe but the Conservatives are targetting ten seats especially Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk as the SNP’s majority is just 0.6%. It is possible, as a ‘super-marginal‘ that Calum Kerr may lose his seat. Other possibles are Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine (majority of 7,000) and Dumfries and Galloway (majority 6,500) despite the 5000 ‘safe seat’ cut off collated above. I think 10+ might be a tad ambitious however. Labour have one seat in Scotland- Edinburgh South, and it has a 5.4% majority (2,637 votes).
EU-‘ere we go again…
Joining UKIP in their full potato GE policy mad dash (in UKIP‘s case, towards forced genital inspections of Muslims girls in schools) is Theresa May this evening (03/05/17); and the MSM have run out of ways, in two weeks, to spin her bizarre, elusive and mechanoid election antics- no press, no public, no pronouncements. Here is her announcement today, that has emerged from beyond the pages of blogs (not that there’s anything wrong with those 😉 ) and RT, right into the Independent. Calling it ‘EU gossip‘ just two days ago, she’s escalated it beyond parody. The Indy call her ‘rattled, if not a little unhinged‘ and she is being more than a tad tin foil hat, claiming ‘threats against BRITAIN [note the language] have been issued by European politicians and officials.’
Um… don’t know about you, but surely Gibraltar, rich but 96% for remain, isn’t worth this much posturing 😉 Seriously though, their position is vulnerable, with Spain and Britain having been in conflict over the area since War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), the area might be small (and did I mention rich?!) but it’s not a small matter. I am reminded of her 1976 speech, long before Thatcher’s declaration of war on the Falklands, where she declared “dismantling our defences at a moment when the strategic threat to Britain and her allies from an expansionist power is graver than at any moment since the end of the last war”. But May’s speech today was on steroids, or maybe meth, with a side order of potato and *cough* mango. Or perhaps Wotsits.
Thatcher sounds sane in comparison, using rhetoric and actual diplomacy (22 soldiers did actually ‘go missing’), not conspiracy theories and I never thought I’d write that sentence. Despite the fact Thatcher threatened to ‘nuke’ Argentina…oh god. Now there’s a train of thought along which I do NOT want to go. President Mitterand at the time said of Thatcher “One cannot win against the insular syndrome of an unbridled Englishwoman. Provoke a nuclear war for a few islands inhabited by three sheep as hairy as they are freezing! But it’s a good job I gave way. Otherwise, I assure you, the Lady’s metallic finger would have hit the button.” Theresa May does NOT have this amount of clout, and words of similar rigidity from her, said in public rather than behind closed doors, sound like a woman who, aping her ‘mentor’ wants to be known as a ‘difficult woman‘, is instead regarded by the EU council as ‘deluded‘. But Thatcher was called the ‘impossible woman‘: May is a pale, Poundland copy, with the same vanity- but all mouth and thousand pound leather trousers.
I only hope she doesn’t get us all killed.
For weeks three and four of the election coverage countdown, go here.