General Election 2017 Part 2: The Full Potato Election-from the sublime to the ridiculous.

************RUNNING BLOG PART TWO************

For part one of this blog, see here. It was becoming a book more than a blog as so much has happened, so thought it best to end at the two-week point, with this (for links and citations go to the bottom of blog part 1)

Here is week three, for week four please see this blog:

may mad eu threats may 5 2017 copy

******Week Three******

After two weeks of perhaps unprecedented highs and lows, the third week of the countdown to the election starts here!

To add to May’s tin foil hattery,  for the EU is not threatening Britain, it’s not wanting to deal with her; there’s a massive difference…and even when they are being dodgy it fell to Barry Gardiner from Labour to complain to the EU Council about it (the Conservatives MISSED IT– see part one of the election blog for more)… she also insists the EU are trying to sabotage the General Election! Wonder what the ‘polls’ will make of this? Well, post local elections we’ve seen what it’s done- a drop to a maximum of 18 points ahead for the Conservatives according to some, a drop to 16 according to others, from 25+, even before the locals, has dropped further to 11! This is as low as it’s been since September 2016. And what was happening then? Labour‘s leadership election, which should have resulted in a huge rise in Conservative support over perceptions that Labour were at a ‘weak point’. The lead has HALVED in two weeks. Is it possible for one party, let alone one person, to make this many insane gaffes in two weeks? If this is a deliberate strategy? Well it’ll get the foamers™ more rabid, and foamers™ do vote. But to say her approach is irresponsible and negligent towards the future prospects of the UK in every area is the biggest understatement since Scott of the Antarctic peered out through the tent flap and declared “Brrrr! It’s a bit nippy out.”

Corbyn’s statement, released just after the potato dropped (04/05/17) was unsurprisingly more measured:

“Theresa May is playing party games with B*exit in the hope of winning advantage for the Tories in the General Election. By winding up the public confrontation with Brussels, the Prime Minister wants to wrap the Conservative party in the Union Jack and distract attention from her government’s economic failure and rundown of our public services.

But B*exit is too important to be used as a political game in this election.

These are vital negotiations for every person in Britain and for the future of our country. But Theresa May is putting party interest ahead of the national interest. The Prime Minister is right that there are those in Brussels who don’t want a deal. But that is also true of leading figures in the Tory party, who want to use B*exit to turn Britain into a low wage tax haven.

The Prime Minister says that no deal would lead to a different economic model for Britain.

In plain terms, that means wiping out employment rights and consumer protections and giving still more tax breaks to the rich and big corporations. That’s the threat and the risk that comes from this Tory Government.

Only Labour can be trusted to negotiate a B*exit deal that puts jobs and living standards first. Labour will negotiate a B*exit for the many not the few.” [my stars and italics]

**********Some seats to watch out for**********

To return to sanity, let’s go back to actual politics and not the perfervid gibberish who, as Shadow Secretary of International Trade and Climate Change Barry Gardiner said earlier today, (03/05/17) may be in a far flung part of this galaxy on this matter.

Ilford North

The Greens have agreed not to stand a candidate in the ‘super-marginal’ seat of Ilford North, currently held by Labour‘s Wes Streeting, in an attempt not to split the vote. His majority is a mere 589 votes, or 1.2%, and the Greens won 1,023 votes at the last General Election there in 2015, with an upswing from 2010 of almost 1%. Created in 1945, Labour Co-op held it that election, but from 1950-74 it was Conservative with a majority that swung from 0.5% to 38%, a trend that had no particular pattern to it. After a brief Labour return from 1974-7 by Millie Miller that was cut short by her sad death, Conservatives held it again from 1977-92. From then on it was a straight ConservativeLabour scrap with majorities varying from 3.8% to 11.5% (5404 votes.)

The odds for Streeting aren’t looking great here. While his LBGT+ and education and taxes record is good, perhaps his foreign policy votes leave a little to be desired; and his intemperate tendency to show his Progress allegiance can get a little wearing. Anyway, this seat will be one to watch come midnight on 8th June.

East Worthing and Shoreham,

Another seat that is of great interest is East Worthing and Shoreham, where trans activist Sophie Cook is standing for Labour against anti-LGBT politician Tim Loughton. He has held the seat since its creation in 1997. Loughton was among 128 Conservative MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act introduced by the coalition government. In fact his voting record is about as ‘far right’ as you can get. His majority is on a high at 14,949 votes (a 30% majority), which is almost half the vote, at the last GE with Labour in second with almost 20% and UKIP a close third. Turnout here is only 69%, so for Sophie’s sake I hope some of those who haven’t voted before do, as even Loughton is saying “In a few days you will have the opportunity to cast your vote in what is the most unpredictable general election I can recall.”‘ But as this is a very safe seat– as most agree- (with the unusually high number of 5000 votes being the consensus cut off between a ‘safe’ and a ‘marginal’ seat) I suspect that, unless Sophie’s tireless activism can increase the turnout, that Loughton is set to keep it.

Liverpool Walton

An interesting development has occurred in the Liverpool Walton seat, from where Steve Rotheram after winning the mayoral election, has stepped down. Labour has confirmed that its candidate  is union aide Daniel Carden (09/05/17). He is an assistant of Unite the Union boss Len McCluskey. He won out over Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and North West Euro MP Theresa Griffin – who also made up the final shortlist. Anderson would have been disastrous in my view, notorious for dodgy dealings on student accommodation and public parks; and being given £89,900 to cover legal fees. His acquisitiveness is the stuff of satire and legend. Griffin seemed a better bet, and it had come down to her- she is committed to the causes of Disability Rights, the Digital Agenda for Europe, Children’s Rights and Well-being, LGBTI, SMEs, Tourism, and Trade Union and Urban Intergroups- and Joe I suspect she’d have that seat nailed on. This seat is about as safe as you can imagine, and has been in Labour hands since 1964, growing from a 7% majority to a staggering 72.3% under Rotheram in 2015 (turnout 61.1%). Someone as perceived ‘left’ as Carden will make a good impression on Waltonians I suggest, despite his relative inexperience compared to the other two candidates, despite the dummies being thrown by Joe’s mates.

South West Surrey

Hitting the headline on the 8th May was the news that the doctor who successfully took health secretary Jeremy Hunt to court is running against him in the General Election. Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham, achieved “overwhelming” support from the three parties to stand in the South West Surrey seat for the National Health Action (NHA) party.

The Green Party has withdrawn its candidate entirely (they gained 3000+ votes there in 2015) while the Lib Dems (3500+ votes in 2015) and Labour (5400+ votes in 2015) have agreed to not campaign in the seat that Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary (post-dissolution of Parliament) has held since 2005. UKIP were second here in 2015 with 5643 votes and currently there is no news on any candidate. And Irvine has beaten him before- after she chaired the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign which defeated the Government at the High Court. Judges found in 2012 that  Hunt had acted unlawfully in the cuts on the hospital; he appealed the decision but lost again in 2013. So how ‘safe’ is Hunt? The area has been held under the Conservatives since its creation in 1983, but previous MP Virginia Bottomley commanded a far higher majority than Hunt does now. When he was elected he lost over 60% of a 70% majority but that has slowly increased and now he holds 49.8% (28,556 votes). Turnout is usually quite high- in the 70% range. I’m not sure what chance she stands but when even the Express is calling Hunt ‘unpopular‘ then perhaps some of the tide could be turning against him…
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Cambridge
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In Cambridge, one of many University towns, and a 74% remain constituency, B*exit could actually be one of the main issues during the general election. Currently held by Labour (Daniel Zeichner) with another super slim majority of 1.2% like Ilford North, against the Lib Dems‘ close second, and has been so since the Conservatives lost the seat in 1987, turnout has slowly reduced from mid 70% to mid 60%. It’s another very old seat, like some others mentioned in part 1 of the elections blogs, and has been in existence since Edward III’s Model Parliament (1295) and had minor boundary changes in 1983 and 2010. Long fought over in the 1700s and 1800s by the Tories and the Whigs, it took till 1945 for Labour to have a breakthrough there (almost 40 years after the creation of the party.) Zeichner is standing again in 2017, and the Lib Dem candidate is the same too- Julian Huppert. The Conservative candidate is John Hayward (the party had 15.7% of the vote in 2015) and for the Greens Stuart Tuckwood (7.9%), both new candidates for the area. No sign of the Greens pulling out of this one as they did for Ilford North (and it’s only because of the rotten system we have that this action is even ‘necessary’). So it appears that voter turnout, knowledge of the actual Withdrawal from the EU process, and how strongly voters feel about this and the other issues at stake (especially education) could swing this seat either way- Labour or Lib Dem, though in 2015 the Lib Dems lost a 12.4% majority in this seat, which is a huge swing.
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For more on ‘safe seats’ and ‘marginal seats’ check out the voting blog as well as part 1 of the election blog for more on important seats across the country.

******************** MSM coverage ********************

Deservedly, the Conservatives aren’t having it their own way this week. At the start of this election Labour were on the back foot, and smears abounded about the main Labour shadow cabinetcy political pasts (debunked-with links and citations- in various blogs on the home page, but this one is perhaps the most relevant here) but now the most Google searched website today is ‘ILikeTheresaMayBut‘, a scouring attack on her and the Conservatives‘ record in power. Whereas the Corbyn version was one made with the aim to combat the smears with the facts, this May one is all out savage. And thus far I cannot find an error in their findings. And documents are being leaked thick and fast now Parliament has been dissolved for the election, that are almost as bad as Roger Mullins’ letter (see here for a copy of this, its context and the results), such as this document from 2015-6. While you’re looking at it, take a guess how many of those people were prosecuted for fraud.

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Yes, it’s HSBC again, (see here for more) and have you fished for a number? The clue is in the first sentence of that document. It’s one. Yes, ONE.

We have already seen in part 1 that the Conservatives are no strangers to letting fraud slide- because they are allegedly doing it themselves. Where in the local election budget are the funds to buy full colour page ads. in local papers all across the UK? Who knows, but they’re doing it. And many journalists are concerned that this is a blurring of lines between editorial content and advertising. How polite of them. One of the ‘offenders’, the Westmorland Gazette in Cumbria, was handed an almost 1,000 signatures strong petition calling for the publishing of a full-page apology.

And their move to disenfranchise students and other people who may move a lot has backfired somewhat. In Part 1 of the election blog I looked at how many people aged 18-25 had registered in the past two weeks and over the past year too. But more important (for this election anyway) is the voter spread of these people. The Guardian today (04/05/17) says:

Support for the Conservatives is low with Theresa May less popular among students than her predecessor David Cameron. Just one in six (18%) of those polled would vote Tory, while the Liberal Democrats, once the most popular party among students, enjoy just 12% support, the Greens 6%, the Scottish National party 3% and Ukip 2%. Men are more likely to be Tory supporters than women – 25% versus 13%.

And provide this handy graphic:

student vote graph copy

The MSM this week do seem to have done a flip for the main part. More straight reporting and much less suppression of news and information about Labour that was harming their election campaign. Let’s see if this continues… the best the Conservatives can come up with is a non existent £45bn black hole in Labour‘s proposed spending, which has already been debunked so many times it’s not funny, most recently by John McDonnell yesterday (03/05/17). This trend continued on the BBC 10 o’clock news tonight (06/05/17) where May was given one minute of B*exit wittering but McDonnell was allowed a full policy statement segment, confirming the pledge that

“If Labour wins power, 95% of taxpayers will see no rise in their overall tax burden until 2022 by ruling out increases to the standard 20% rate of VAT, personal national insurance contributions and income tax rates for those earning under £80,000. [Up from an originally projected figure of £75,000- see the taxes blog for more]
Those earning more than £80,000 will have to pay more, without giving specific details. (At the moment, those earning more than £150,000 pay 45% tax on earnings above that level.)
The choice at this election is very clear on tax as there is currently only one party which is committing not to raise taxes on middle and low earners. The Labour Party is now the party of low taxes for middle and low earners while the Tories are the party of tax handouts for the super-rich and big corporations.”

This is the first time on mainstream prime time news that Labour have been allotted, let alone allowed, a non spin segment. But on the write up, they still mention the ‘black hole’, though in the same tone as they say ‘so-called Islamic State’. This shift might be subtle for some, but this, for someone like me who’s been following all this with a fine tooth comb, the policies themselves are not news (apart from the £80,000 figure, they’d been talking of £75,000) BUT to many others, this WILL be news. The kind of people who say ‘if Labour are really doing that [good thing], why isn’t it on the news?’

Unsurprisingly we’re seeing an outbreak of ‘outrage’ about this. ‘Workers over £80,000 SLAMMED with TAX by Labour’ screamed the Telegraph just for example. Below are reactions I have seen all across the net today (07/05/17) about this announcement.

Excuse me?

  • Um- it’s 2p more.
  • And ‘workers’? Since when ANYONE who are deemed ‘workers’ have EVER earned that much
  • They moan that they worked hard for that money but ‘conveniently forget’ when being ‘outraged’ that THEY ALREADY GIVE 40P INCOME TAX. Some work all the hours too and get pennies as our wages are the most depressed in Europe.
  • They moan they have five kids in Uni and earn this, how will they cope?

 

*cough* Labour will remove tuition fees.

And the Conservatives pushed through a Higher Education and Research Act (that had been knocking around since July 2016, and that Labour opposed) to increase it to £9, 250– and Student loans to pay for the higher fees are already going to be subject to a sharp increase in interest rates – rising from 4.6% to 6.1%- just before Parliament was dissolved.

(Also how on earth do you have five kids all in Uni? Quins? Stop lying.)

NEXT!

EVERYONE earning over £45,000 ALREADY pays 40%. (That should slide scale down to 30%). Only FIVE PER CENT of the ENTIRE country earn over £80,000 but by all the furore, you’d swear only five per cent DON’T. How much are these shills being paid to manufacture this anger I wonder?

  • The 10% tax band will be widened.
  • 80% of people earn, no matter HOW hard they work, less than a 1/4 of £80,000 BEFORE tax, and pay 20%.

All these people moaning online, saying they earn £80,000- er you do NOT. Statistically impossible for the amount of people I have seen today swear they earn this much and that are Labour being so unfair…

It reminds me of the THOUSANDS of people who swear they were at the  first Pistols gig 🤔  🙄

(For those who don’t get that joke)

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Moving on…

They’ll barely notice 2p, and people IN WORK are

  • going to FOODBANKS,
  • or going to work and school hungry anyway
  • or losing their homes,

because they pay 20% plus a whole whack of NI. These people LIVE on an amount PER YEAR that those swearing they earn £80,000 BEFORE tax have never dreamed of only getting in THREE MONTHS.

Lovely how all this talk of a fairer society  disappears as soon as they have to pay 2p more eh. ****holes. 

But I note with some satisfaction that it is getting people talking about the Labour party who would not normal sully their mouths with those syllables 😉 

What do the Conservatives do?

Reveal their tax policy?

Trundle out ‘strong and stable’ RoboMay?

NO.

They release an outright lie on Labour and taxes, for which they were ripped to pieces. They removed the Tweet, but I screenshot it.

Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing 😉 and oops, looks like they’ve accidentally mixed up Labour’s tax manifesto with their own 😉 😉

con lies on tax copy

The Conservatives have also breached of the LAW by refusing to publish the Pensions Act before the election.

Good grief, what do they have planned that would be such a vote loser? 🤔

And meanwhile, the REAL stats on poorer people being taxed proportionally more than the rich by Conservatives are being dug out from where I found them- like the ONS and IFS, and being reported in the MSM. Tide turning? One can only hope.

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*******So back to how tax reform will actually help our country, not harm it*******

Let’s just look at a graphic from the Office of National Statistics as they use facts (*gasp*) to disprove the Conservative‘s constant lies on carping about Labour’s need to borrow to cover the ‘black holes’ they go on about?

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And yet the national debt is rising:

uk-national-debt-20years-600x471

The manifestos aren’t even out yet, and why are the Conservatives doing this instead of getting on with sorting their own manifesto? Because IMO their manifesto is going to be a clusterf**k- so distractification is the name of the game. In part one of the election blog I showed how few policies have been announced and how watery they are. This satirical site is actually more detailed and accurate than what the Conservatives are saying. May saying the Conservative will employ 10,000 more mental health nurses? Er, they’ve cut over 4000 and the MH services were already the lowest funded per patient in need in the entire NHS!

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Here are current pay rates for nurses. These have been cut.

NHSChart

And so have bursaries that help people train to be nurses.

This cut is line with all public sector wage cuts.

psPay

Even surveys on actual pay versus what pay would be show nurses are underpaid. Here’s one from yougov:

Pay Chart UK-3

Nurses are having to go to foodbanks, and May showed on the Andrew Marr show that she does not care about this

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So how are the Conservatives going to pay for these nurses’ training and wages? They’re not, and it’s a lie. Even worse, what they do/will earn even they manage to pay for their own training is going to be taxed more.

Here is a current monthly wage slip for a nurse in MH. (Grade 1, as most of them are.) This is a take home annual pay of £16,392.  Well below the national average. And this is before ANY rent/mortgage, council tax (as this is over the level you can earn to get council tax rebate) food or bills (which have VAT on them) is paid. (For more on taxes, national average wage and VAT see this blog.

With the average rent in the UK rent (February 2017) being £895, for which they would get NO state help, how much is left on which to live?

(By the way, a Labour policy of fairer rents will also be in the manifesto. It was in the 2015 manifesto too. And it has been a Labour policy since 1972.)

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Labour, as I have said, are not going to raise taxes on anyone but those who earn over £80,000 (original figure was £75,000 as I said) (by 2p) and  £150,000 (by 5p); and on big corporations. Don’t forget their 10% tax pledge for lowest earners too that’s been in the manifesto for years. And their policy to bring back learning bursaries, and a pay rise for NHS staff.

Or that it was Labour that put pressure on the Conservatives on their bid to raise NI for self employed people, resulting in a huge U turn. There has been NO announcement by Labour that they will increase National Insurance- quite the opposite: their policy is to FREEZE VAT AND NI.

These are the only people the tax policies will affect. £80,000 and over- 2p more and £150,000 and over (1% of the country) 5p more.

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Here again, are the costings for Labour’s post election plans should they win.

lp costings

********But as the MSM insist on making it a contest between Corbyn and May, let’s have a look at their records, shall we?********

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********Moving on…any policies announced in week 3********

Still not many recent announcements by the Greens on their 2017 manifesto but there’s no reason to supposed it’ll differ much from this pre-election statement, but with more detail.

  • A three day weekend,
  • fair pay,
  • 21 hour working week to benefit people’s health and environmental impact.

Something else the Greens are doing, and rightly so, is challenging the BBC in an official complaint as to why, when they gained 40 Council seats and UKIP lost over 140, why UKIP are getting so much coverage on their stations?

**********Local election responses from party leaders**********

Over the 4th and 5th of May there were local elections in 23% of the seats, 2 mayoral elections, and six new metro mayor elections. For more on this see parts 1 and parts 2 of the blogs on that. But for this blog, let’s see what the party leaders had to say about the results of those elections.

The Greens have more than doubled the number of seats it holds in the local elections. And their reaction appears to be this:

“When the rest of the left is floundering the Greens are taking steps forward. Some had predicted a real squeeze in these elections but we’ve won seats of the Tories and are looking at doing well in Scotland. The Isle of Wight result is particularly sweet – we’re clearly the only challenge to Tory rule on the Island.”

Labour had this to say, by Corbyn, that link is the full VT from the BBC, but unsurprisingly the MSM are cherry picking quotes. When he said “the results were mixed. We lost seats but we are closing the gap on the Conservatives”. He is actually right, see this blog for more. The Mirror transcribed his reaction the best, and provided the VT of his speech at Steve Rotheram’s mayoral win in the Liverpool City Region, noting that there were some unexpected Labour gains, even in Conservative strongholds:

“The results were mixed. We lost seats but we are closing the gap on the Conservatives. I am disappointed at every Labour defeat in the local elections. Too many fantastic councillors, who work tirelessly for their communities, lost their seats.

“We have five weeks to win the General Election so we can fundamentally transform Britain for the many not the few.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn has won two Labour leadership elections
(Photo: Reuters)

“We know this is no small task – it is a challenge on an historic scale. But we, the whole Labour movement and the British people, can’t afford not to seize our moment.

“The British people have been held back for too long. Labour will put more money in people’s pockets with a £10 real living wage, look after our pensioners by protecting the triple lock on state pensions and give everybody the care and dignity they deserve by properly funding our NHS and social care system.

“I urge everyone to vote Labour because things can, and will, change.”

Labour gains in Conservative strongholds were mostly ignored by the MSM. Here’s one example, that Corbyn highlights in a speech yesterday (05/05/17) evening, on a Labour hold in Oxfordshire – David Cameron’s old stomping ground.

“We were defending a county council seat where our candidate, Laura, had a majority of 10. She now has a huge majority because there was a big swing to Labour in Oxfordshire.
Laura Price now has a lead of 126 over the Conservatives in Witney South and Central.

We’ve had results around that country that have been variable. I understand that, we all get that. I congratulate every Labour candidate for all the work they did in the election yesterday and the run-up to it, especially those that won in Cardiff, in Swansea, in Neath and Port Talbot, in Doncaster.
We gained seats in often very unlikely places. I was talking to some friends this evening in Kent, in North Ramsgate, where they gained some seats. Don’t let the media write this story, let us write the Labour story.” [My italics].

He is right to focus on voting swings for each seat. And for swings within Councils. For example, the Labour gain in Castle in Cambridge. Labour have not won there in the last 50 years. The figures of the swings in the local election blog show the real picture, with the voting turnout being about the same as last time- it is the only constant we can work from.

Less ‘sour grapes-ing’ from Simon, who lost the West Midlands mayorals by less than 1% would be useful too. Just because you allegedly pretty much founded Progress, the right wing of the Labour party does not mean you can say things like this without being challenged. What he is really saying is that Labour did not manage to win back the Kippers as they have gone too ‘far left’. Keep your partisanship out of it, Mr Simon, and accept the fact that low turnout in Labour areas due to many factors (see the local elections results blog for more on this) like being too busy working/too tired after a long shift to vote caused your loss, not pushing the Progress agenda. Instead of concentrating on when Labour bombed far worse in the locals, but killed it at the 1997 general elections (where Blair won so I refuse to believe he did not know this- and here’s the Government document to prove it: RP97-82) he said:

We can’t duck the reality of what we heard in the places we won on the streets of cities and towns like Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Sandwell. Traditional working class voters, who we were born to serve, quite simply want to hear a clearer, stronger message about traditional values like patriotism, hard work and a defence of decency, law and order. [source: The Mirror. My italics.]

Simon would have been better off taking a leaf from new Manchester Metro mayor, Andy Burnham, acknowledging the fact that where Corbyn went to campaign, Labour won.

 

Theresa May, had this to say on the BBC, and her very first line was a lie. Net gains in 23% of local Councils in areas that were already Conservative, and grabbing 110 seats from the collapsing UKIP SHOULD have happened. And why is she speaking in a empty factory? The BBC took this robotic snippet from her speech, as it was the ‘best bit’, as usual full of ‘I’ and ‘my’:

“I will not take anything for granted and neither will the team I lead, because there is too much at stake. The reality is that only a general election vote for the Conservatives in 34 days’ time will strengthen my hand to get the best deal for Britain from B*exit.” [my asterisk.]

Who cares about what the Conservatives are doing to the voters of the future eh? NAHT have been forced to make this video, (below is a still) to show a reality of voting blue in June.

school cuts copy

Despite Conservative gains in Scotland, the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called the results there an “emphatic” win for her party, which made gains itself and remains the largest north of the border. And we can’t deny SNP made a net gain of 33 seats despite coming into these elections from a high score in 2013. Though seats don’t = Councils as the SNP lost control of the two they held outright (see the local elections’ results blog for more.)

She called it a “fantastic” series of council election results after the Scottish National party won the most seats in Scotland’s four largest cities, unseating Labour in its former heartland of Glasgow.

The first minister said the wins gave her party “a clear, emphatic election victory”, but the results failed to meet pre-election expectations, with the SNP unable to win any overall majorities in the face of a surge in support for the Conservatives.

After ending 40 years of Labour domination in Glasgow, and becoming the largest party in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, Sturgeon said her party now had “a spring in our step and the wind in our sails”.
She added: “This is a fantastic election victory for the SNP, coming off our election victory last year and the one in the general election the year before that. It gives us a great launchpad for the general election in a few weeks’ time.”

UKIP faced a near total wipeout of its county council seats, with Douglas Carswell – formerly its sole MP – saying the party was “finished” in an article for the Guardian. As the Conservatives have BECOME UKIP, it’s hardly surprising they benefitted the most from the UKIP implosion.

rubbish pa

Or to be more accurate, they have taken wholesale the BNP‘s policies from 2005. Thanks to Craig Murray for pointing this out.

BNP 2005 copy
What did Paul Nuttall have to say? After all, in the county where he’ll be standing, UKIP no longer have a single councillor. UKIP‘s leader had yet to appear publicly to comment on the party’s poor local election results till a brief snippet on the BBC 10 o’clock news tonight (06/05/17) where he said UKIP ‘have to stay on the field’ which is a little unfortunate as that just brings back recollections of him lying about playing professional football for Tranmere- among other easily provable lies.

Plaid Cymru, which made a net gain of 26 in Wales, said it had won a “significant gains”. Its leader, Leanne Wood kept it simple “The story of the night seems to be Plaid and Conservative gains versus Labour and UKIP losses.” However, while this message makes good soundbites, it does ignore the fact they gained no Council controls, merely held onto the one they had pre election. And I do question the wisdom of having any association between PC and the Cons versus Labour and UKIP, especially as those parties have no common ground. But such structure will pin it in the minds of some that a vote for blue gets you two tone green and a vote for UKIP gets you Labour (or vice versa), which proved the opposite of true in the locals. She has decided not to stand as an MP in the GE and explains why here. And the other MPs from all across the parties who are standing down are in part 1 of the election blogs.

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Almost into week 4 of the countdown to the general election and reading back, I realise that just reporting what has been happening is making me sound biased.

  1. If I could find one positive about how the Conservatives are approaching it, I’d add it here as I strive to be fair. I’ve managed to to do that easily for all the other parties (UKIP aside- sorry (not sorry) but nothing will induce me to take UKIP‘s policies or their party seriously as an electoral force and I will lambast the hell out of them.)
  2. I only sound biased because my coverage is for the most part far removed from how much of the MSM are spinning the Conservative ‘performance’ (Overton Window again, anyone?!)

The Conservatives have BECOME the BNP– how can I find anything positive in that? 

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French Presidential Elections 07/05/17

I may or many not write a blog on this, depending on whether I have time or inclination 😉 there’s only so much politics I can do in a day, and here I will examine how it might or might not relate to the upcoming UK one.

  1. We don’t elect a president, but the French do-and whoever wins in France have to get over 50% of the vote département (area) by département. There are 107 of those, and overseas votes too. In the UK there are 650 consituencies and a government gets in that is ‘first past the post‘ and once a ‘majority’ of MPs for one party is declared, that party ‘wins’.
  2. The state exit poll had Macron (the centrist ex banker) winning against Le Pen (bit of a bigot and the old French National Front). So far results look like Macron has it. And the live tracker barely deviated from the exit poll/projected votes as it progressed, which is a little disturbing.
  3. Macron‘s manifesto is basically here but in brief: pro EU, a Public Investment and Spending plan over five years; investment in environmental policy; £50 billion (€60 billion) in public spending savings, £8.4 billion (€10 billion) in unemployment benefits along with job investment; pensions reform; public service modernisation, greater efficiency in the health sector and cuts to local authority spending and controlled immigration.
  4. Le Pen‘s manifesto in full is here but in brief: is for F*exit (sigh), leave the Euro, preference of French firms for all contracts; reject international trade treaties; rights now for all residents, like free education, to French citizens only; higher taxes on companies not employing French workers; more police and jails but halve ‘lawmakers’; leave NATO; almost impossible ‘entry criteria’ to France; cut taxes for households and increase welfare benefits, costed by fighting social security fraud and tax evasion; tax free overtime; and lower pension age to 60.

In short? Not sure I’d like to be French right now, and judging by the high number of spoilt ballots, neither do they all that much. 

How are people™ in the UK going to react? Especially as this is clearly not a left/right fight as they know it?

Corbyn‘s reaction is a study in subtlety: “I am delighted that the French people have decisively rejected Le Pen’s politics of hate.” Leaving left and right out of it, for he knows Le Pen’s fiscal policy is an aping of Labour’s but the context? Kippers are amateurs in comparison to her. Not does he say Macron is the answer. And he isn’t. He later added a cheeky little codicil: “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on your victory in the ‘Presidentielle2017’. I look forward to working with you.” Snurk. And yes, some armchair warriors threw abuse at him for saying it. *Cue shocked face* 😮

Sturgeon was more blunt, but with a similar message to Corbyn: “Vive La France. Congratulations to new President, Emmanuel Macron on his decisive victory over the hard right.” While it’s about time the phrase ‘hard right’ was used here, and not just to describe the Biffers and their ilk, underneath all the bigotry Le Pen had a quite ‘socialist’ financial manifesto…

Leanne Wood said “Diolch o galon/deep gratitude to people in France for rejecting the Far Right. We must defeat their divisive, hateful politics in all countries.” I’m all for a fall in bigotry and division. This from Wood and Sturgeon, as essentially nationalist parties, shows their eagerness to pull apart the gap between nationalism and far right politics.

Lucas goes a step further. “Far right beaten in Austria, Netherlands and, now, France. Fascism isn’t inevitable. We can and must stand up to this evil.” And fair point, this does look like a stall in the rise of the ‘right’ in Europe. This call to action to reject the policies of the ‘right’ (but as we know it in this country) could, if seen by enough people, have some effect.

May‘s office released this statement. “The prime minister warmly congratulates president-elect Macron on his election success,” the statement said. “France is one of our closest allies, and we look forward to working with the new president on a wide range of shared priorities.” I’m seeing words, but I’m detecting no actual meaning… and Macron is a Europhile. What shared priorities exactly? Public spending cuts? At least Macron is suggesting the infrastructure be put in place for jobs and services before he does those.

Farron had this to say: “The liberal values of tolerance, openness and free trade that triumphed in France today can triumph in Britain too.” For his full statement, look here. It is clear the Lib Dems see him as one of ‘them’. Arguably the most ‘honest’ assessment of Macron; would the success of a French ‘liberal’ cause a bandwagon effect of voting over here? Undecided.

Nothing from Paul Nuttall yet. If there is, I will edit.

It would seem that most people™ apart from the political leaders (though of course we do not know their private opinions on the matter) see this election as ‘Tony Blair’ beating ‘Paul Golding’ (Britain First.) For many, especially the further ‘left’ they appear to be, it’s a meh- with the slightly less sh*te centre/ centre-right candidate winning, (like if Hillary had won over trump in the US) which is similar to the reaction of the ‘further left’ in France. And the further ‘right’ they are, the more likely they see the win as a ‘victory for Islam/immigrants’ (and also see below.) I would disagree to some extent, as shown above in their manifestos, and due to the fact that the Conservatives as I have said have moved further right than UKIP and now equated to the now defunct BNP, but in a nutshell? Probably yes to the ‘leftist’ position, but the allegations of the ‘right’? Genuine full potato mode.

And equating ‘the left’  (which some are calling, and others are calling FOR a ‘progressive alliance, not least the Greens) with ‘soft B*exit’ and the ‘right’ (which many are calling a ConUKIP alliance) with ‘hard B*exit’ all over the net hasn’t been so polarised since the result was announced last year. And yes, the insults are flying. For example, ‘Leave EU’, the pro-Brexit pressure group set up by Nigel Farage, tweeted that the French people had once again “rolled over” just as they had done in 1940 – except this time they saved Germany “the bullets and the fuel”. The tweet also included a picture of a newspaper headline from 1940 reporting the surrender of France to the Nazis. No need for such bile. An unfortunate and toxic side effect of every election post-referendum to be honest, and like with the parties here, little discussion of actual policies and manifestos.

There are some European and global reactions here, which are quite interesting.

I guess Macron had better hope his new party, En Marche, get some seats in the upcoming local elections, and perhaps his victory is more a cause for some relief rather than outright celebration… but we cannot ignore that people voted in their millions for a brand new party because the ‘old’ ones weren’t doing anything for them. The same anger in my view pushed the far right vote far higher than what sits comfortably.

The historian Simon Schama commented “The EU will hold; liberal democracy will hold; Theresa May [is] on the wrong side of history; Macron wipes the grin off the face off Brexit.” Now I’m not sure I’d go that far as it’s far more complex that a Europhile versus Europhobe issue, but a vote for Macron seems definitely a vote that’s pro EU at it’s simplest, but also pro EU reform.

And Macron had this to say about Britain and the EU, after he was elected:

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Don’t think that’s going to sit well with the more rabid ‘leave’ voters. Just wish he’d included the Labour approach.

**********************

Another day: another policy released…

(08/05/17). We’ll know the entire Labour manifesto before its published at this rate! This one concerns car parking charges at hospitals. Now it was unethical at best that hospital car parks were sold off to private companies in the first place, and yes for sure some™ took advantage of the previous free parking (and still do, using it when they are not using the hospital), but to charge NHS staff, patients and those visiting the sick every two hours (when you are often waiting 4+ hours to be seen in A&E and this 4 hour target time; so they know people will have to pay at least twice; is not being kept to)- and fining people should they not be able to get back to the car in time to top up- is something I am sure most can agree should stop. This revenue, sometimes up to £120 million across the country, is not put back into the NHS, and while most papers insist the hospitals get that money- they do not, the Trusts do and much of it goes into private firms’ pockets. This was too much even for some Conservative backbenchers and Hunt, the Health Secretary came under pressure from them to put an end to “rip-off” costs back in 2014. It remained ‘free’ for the most part in Scotland, but the ever spiralling charges are something Labour wants to remove should they win the general election. And while May vowed to fight them as far back as 2008, they have not been removed.

corbyn hosp car park charge copyC_TXxDMXYAAnvbp

This policy is nothing new. It was in the 2010 Labour manifesto too. But this move was described as “unworkable” by the Conservative/ Lib Dem coalition when it came to power. “Jeremy Hunt needs to take responsibility for the fact that since then, one in four hospitals has increased parking fees,” shadow health minister at the time, Andrew Gwynne, protested. Bit what appears to be condoned under the Conservatives‘ watch? A ‘two tier National Health Service’, where:

  • A ten-minute phone consultation is £40,
  • a 20 minute face-to-face appointment, 13 minutes longer than the standard NHS one, is £80 and
  • £145 for a 40 minute consultation.

To jump the queue for waiting times. Reasons for this are:

  • a crisis in general practice due to increasing demand,
  • a recruitment crisis
  • a lack of funding
  • as well as news that private provider Virgin Care is taking over practices across the country.

Only being trialled in one or two places right now (from February 2017) this can be nothing but the thin end of the wedge…if we tolerate this

What? May’s going on telly? What a U turn!

(Only it’s on HER TERMS.)

Also today (08/05/17) it appears that May is breaking her declaration that she would not appear on any television debates. Ok, it’s

but it is yet another climbdown. Corbyn will be on the same show as May. It appears that Farron and Sturgeon will not be on that show, but a later one (4th June!), and a ‘seven party’ special will be on BBC One on 31st May- the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and UKIP. She’s on the One Show tonight  (08/05/17) at 5pm too with her husband… why? He’s not an MP or candidate. But he IS under investigation for making pots of money on B*exit related trade deals… and the area round the studio was sealed off by police from ALL members of the public because protesters were planning to picket it. I didn’t watch, but here’s a snippet, where May declares there are ‘boy jobs and girl jobs‘- excuse me? The 1950s called and asked for their trope back... 😡  and it seems apart from that gaffe, and of course her hideous Russell & Bromley £200+ ‘diamond’ studded shoes, it was dull as ditchwater.

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In the meantime, both Channel 4 and Sky News are reporting today (09/04/17) that not only are aides of May (snurk) are making clear in York that if they didn’t state their question in advance then they wouldn’t get a question, but also that they are pulling away the microphone if reporters declare a question but try to ask another one. All the members of May’s York audience are Conservative candidates, councillors & activists, not local York voters. Michael Crick from Channel 4 also added: “I was told by May aide [that] I wasn’t on list to ask May a question, [and that] there was no point in putting my hand up to ask one.” Who was given the first question? BBC’s Elena Garnier. ‘Coincidentally’, her father is a Conservative party politician, and an ideologically unpleasant one at that- here’s his voting record. See part one of the election blog for more and ever escalating examples of Conservative control freakery.

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When she does open her mouth and say something (possibly) unscripted (in Leeds the other day- the event where workers from the plant she was at were banned from attending) we get the news that if the Conservatives are re-elected, they would bring back fox hunting. Something many surveys have shown that a majority (in the over 50% sense) are against. And S*n reporter Matt Dathan is noting that “This is what elections should be like – political leaders in a room of journalists taking questions….Refreshing to see Corbyn do it today.” This is in Manchester. With photos. Here’s one:

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Barry Gardiner, Shadow Secretary for International Trade and Climate Change calls this further tightening of actual free speech “an affront to democracy” and it’s hard to argue that he is wrong.

For the results of the Conservative Electoral Fraud, some of which were decided today (10/05/17), please see this blog.

For facts and opinion on the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto, (10/05/17)please see this blog.

Another day, another Conservative lie…

May is caught going off ‘strong and stable’ script today (11/05/17) by insisting Corbyn has not campaigned beyond 25 miles of his constituency (Islington, in the South East of England.) Even the Daily Mail can call you out on that one. And their graphic shows Corbyn has been in more places than you have- they even provide a map; something that perhaps May needs- in this VT she renames Leeds ‘this particular town‘ as she has no clue where she is (um, it’s a city- failed O level Geography then I take it?)

Pathetic, when even the Daily Mail is more truthful than you.

And pitiful, when even the New Statesman say you are talking nonsense then are quite blunt in telling their readers why. (28/04/17).

campaigns till 9 May copy

And talking of campaigns, May went to her third (or is it fourth?) empty factory today (11/05/17); this time in Southampton. Where are the workers? Not allowed in? On zero hours contracts? ‘Outsourced’ abroad? Or as one Twitter wag suggested: they’ve gone to see Jeremy Corbyn instead.’

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