Part 3: Week 4 of General Election 2017- The ‘Oo, well aren’t you a fibber Mrs May’ election

********Week Four********

**********ROLLING BLOG**********

For weeks 1 and 2 check out this blog, and for week three, this one.  🙂

Here are all the places the leaders have visited up to this week. If I find one for the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru I will add it here. (The Northern Irish assembly I believe has not been re-formed yet.)

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And at the start of this week, those ever-present polls run as follows, and it can’t be denied that despite the methods of sampling respondents and the haemorrhage of Kippers to the Cons, the gap is closing:

 

If you’re thinking you can see a drop in Conservative support, you’d be right.

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Or as the parody site ‘Brian Elects’ put it:

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So, we now enter the fourth week of the build up to the General Election, as well as the leaked  Labour manifesto and Footgate™ and surely some of the madness will stop? 🤔

Only if you like your irony sour.

Firstly we see May accusing Corbyn of not standing up for “proud and patriotic working class people” (11/05/17). More divisive claptrap, if you ask me,

  1. looking to solidify the collapse of UKIP and the defection of 90% of those voters (if the locals are any indication) to the Conservatives.
  2. trying to capitalise on Corbyn’s ‘jaw not war’ approach to foreign policy.
  3. trying to divert attention away from the rumours of division between May and former Chancellor Hammond over the 2% defence spend and not raising tax or National Insurance (Hammond wants increases: May went ‘off script’ and said there wouldn’t be any.)

Now we have already seen that Corbyn and Labour discredited for contradictory reasons- here: where the Labour is supposed to be starting WWIII by being a warmonger and a peacemaker, and that Corbyn is constantly being deemed ‘unelectable’ by the establishment that does not want him to pursue his tax avoidance and tax evasion reform. For sure, some are going to believe this. Some people would believe that Spiderman created the moon if May said it was true. Both Barry Gardiner and Jeremy Corbyn have called out the bias and stated quite clearly the position of both Corbyn and Labour on defence as the Labour policy of keeping Trident and spending 2% of the GDP on defence is not enough for these people.

Bottom line-if Britain was under direct military threat, then of course defence procedures would be implemented and to suggest otherwise is defamatory. Otherwise, negotiation would always be the first, not the last act.

Secondly, Where did May choose to hold her closed campaign meeting today (12/05/17)? At a community centre the Conservatives tried to close– The Linskill Centre in North Shields was earmarked for the bulldozers thirteen years ago until it was saved by a Labour and Friends of Linskill and Associated Groups (FLAG)-led campaign, says the Mirror and the Chronicle. Now thanks to Lottery funding it is 100% safe(I hope!). I think the local residents remember this all too well if their reaction towards her as they left is any indication. Despite trying to leave through a fire exit, she received a cavalcade of boos and jeers, and a call for democracy. Then we have a faked photocall:

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Not the first time May has tried to look like her numbers are up *cough*. In part 1 of the election blogs I looked at the Conservative councillors bussed over 90 miles from Wirral to her closed meeting in Bolton by the ‘aides of May’ (I will coin this as a phrase even if it kills me 😉 )  too… I’d be surprised if this hasn’t happened every time.

Thirdly- more on the theme of ‘do they really think we’re stupid, or what’ blatantly took place on BBC Question Time last night (11/05/17).

The councillor on the left was allowed to address the panel THREE times (unheard of!) and make at least three replies. Plus his affiliation and the fact he was a politician for the Conservatives was never mentioned, but host Dimbleby was heard to call him by his first name- Eric.

Check it out on iPlayer but be careful! They make you sign up now AND seem to know your postcode just from your email address… He was allowed to

  1. lie about nationalisation
  2. and the NHS,
  3. and led the show by being given the primary question and what was that? The Labour leaked manifesto 🙄 giving an obvious ‘in’ for the Conservative on the panel, Ben Wallace, to peddle the ‘chaos’ soundbite… and oh the ‘must live within our means’ cliché. Oh really? Let’s have a look at some of Wallace’s declarations shall we?

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Well, who’d have thought? Bad enough that his words were taken at face value because at the time nobody knew he was a Conservative councillor, but allowed all that airtime? Even the Huffpost picked up on it.

And no, this is not supposition, SCHQ admitted in it a phone call to Nye Bevans News!

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Like May’s handpicked election audiences, as has been discussed in the first two election blogs this is not the first time viewers have picked up on audiences being biased towards Conservatives, or indeed B*exit. There are no claims discoverable on the net of audiences being biased towards any other party, apart from UKIP.

 

I noted in the leaked manifesto blog the almost constant caterwaul from right leaning publications that ‘Labour is taking us back to the 70s.’

Hope they’ve wiped up all the foam now, else it could be a Health and Safety nightmare! 😉 Or perhaps they’ve been busy at their local ‘club’ watching the strippers (and no that’s not a condemnation of strippers) at a mere £15 a ticket…

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An excellent and searing response to this harped about and risible 70’s narrative comes from Mark Steel in the Independent. Despite its humorous intent, it holds many nuggets of truth, for example:

The Royal Mail would be taken back into public ownership as well, which is another extreme measure that goes back to the 1970s, when a state-owned mail service was supported only by deranged left-wingers such as Maoists and Margaret Thatcher and her anarchist mates. [my italics]

Back to policies again- after all, this is a General Election!

  • In the meantime, the Liberal Democrats have unveiled a manifesto pledge to let shops and social clubs sell cannabis – raising up to £1billion in tax. This would include a complete legalising of it; and allow it to be sold on the general market if they win the general election. The Conservatives still consider it ‘harmful’ and would never consider this policy. Labour‘s stance is to decriminalise medical marijuana and Holyrood voted strongly to do the same last year so SNP are on a similar line to Labour on this issue, and so did Ireland in February 2017. First considered by the Lib Dems in November last year, this now appears to be official for the general election. And the MSM seem to be quite neutral about it, even the Daily Mail.

Are people™ already suffering from policy fatigue? Usually any mention of the dreaded ‘weed’ creates a huge uproar, but I have noticed even in the tabloids a softening of attitudes towards this currently class B drug over the past two years. So perhaps election apathy hasn’t yet set in.

Or perhaps any anger is directed elsewhere-

  1. at B*exit,
  2. at the NHS crisis
  3. at all the media lies and bias
  4. at a wide polarisation of opinion on the leaked Labour manifesto draft
  5. at the electoral fraud findings
  6. at the lacklustre campaign of May versus Corbyn’s dynamic approach. I’ve already talked of Conservatives wondering what on earth was going on too… The New York Times call her tactics “disconcerting”, an attempt to “destroy two-party politics as Britain has known it since 1945” and slogan rich but policy poor.
  7. at (as it often is) taxes. More and more info is coming out that it is not Corbyn that wants to make families worse off

The IFS have made it clear that the hysteria against revoking the corporation tax cut the Conservatives implemented (that would fund a proportion of the proposed Labour reforms) is unfounded, too, and the scaremongering that ‘business would leave and the jobless totals would soar’…is yet another blue lie.

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And to top it off, leaked proof that the ‘we spent £10 BILLION on the NHS’ parroted by May every week in PMQs was utter rubbish.

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This starving the NHS of vital funding from the coalition days to this day is backed up by the IFS and the BBC also published this data.

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This was a clear and present danger even from 2014, and was the main cause of the cyberattacks by ‘ransomware’ that affected up to FORTY NHS authorities across the UK yesterday (12/05/17). And yes, the Government knew about it. Here’s yet another leaked letter. Being on Windows XP was something that was supposed to have resolved by 2012.

Bit hard to do that when there’s no funding and the NHS are forced to lay off IT staff isn’t it? Dr Ben White agrees, and he should know- for he has run local level NHS IT improvement projects in different trusts.

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The MSM did report on this, back in 2014 and 2015. The BBC in 2011 released a ‘hackers’ warning too. Below is just one example. But it was swept under the rug as usual. So which party is actually causing the ‘chaos’ here?

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So today (13/05/17) when Amber Rudd, former Home Secretary (and where is Hunt the alleged Health Minister?) declares the NHS has to ‘learn lessons’ from this, and upgrade, this rings smugly hollow.

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And to cynics like me, this was too timely- the day after Corbyn talks of defence (against all attacks) and says “The biggest threat to our current national security is from hacking” and the following morning at the Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs open Q&A; and this happens in the afternoon? Or is this part of the pervasive ‘we need to privatise the NHS’ narrative backed up by deliberate cuts? But Corbyn also had this to say about the attacks and demand for ransom on the NHS today (13/05/17). I am gratified (though I shouldn’t be: it should be a given) to see some of the MSM finally reporting immediately what Labour are saying on anything, rather than making it up, but why did it have to take a GE and an NHS meltdown for this to happen?

Jeremy Corbyn has “nothing but contempt” for the perpetrators behind the NHS cyber attack.

The Labour leader let rip against the purported attackers, who launched the ransomware assault against at least 70 different countries, as “unbelievably disgusting”.

So far some 40 NHS Trusts have been affected, resulting in a major incident being declared.

“What we’ve now got is a bunch of 21st Century highway robbers that have hacked into our NHS and are basically offering protection money to get the information back in order to treat cancer patients or anybody else,” Mr Corbyn said.

“It’s unbelievably disgusting and I’ve got nothing but contempt for those people that have done it, and I’m sure all of you would share that.”

Mr Corbyn was also critical that there had not been a renewal of certain NHS protection systems since 2014, leaving them “not upgraded and not protected”.

He added “I’ll tell you this, a Labour government would NOT leave our NHS’s very vital information systems unprotected. We WILL protect them.”

The human cost of this systems breakdown is terrifying, and I can only hope there have been no deaths as a result. There have already been accounts of tests and records being lost, and staff doing their best but struggling to cope, operations cancelled, life saving machines not working properly or at all, and while assurances have been made that patient records have not been accessed (but how can they know that?), they are not available to the people who need them to most- the doctors, nurses and consultants. Yet Rudd later conceded some records could be lost forever.  Jon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, is right today (15/05/17) to call the Conservative‘s response to the shutdown “chaotic“.

And this was a global attack!

Researchers with security software maker Avast said they had observed 57,000 ransomware infections in 99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

What is perhaps even more horrific is that it appears that the Trident submarines are all run on the same Windows XP system!

Where is Theresa May today? (13/05/17) At the Balmoral Show in Ireland. Yet she would not go to the Irish peace talks this year. And she has made it clear that there will not be a Cobra meeting over the NHS data attack as “ministers are all over the country”. Unbelievable! (Actually no, it’s par for the course for the Conservatives who have proved over and again they do not care about ordinary voters.)

Oh wait, there has been a policy announcement in response- a promise to have a law that ‘lets’ people delete all internet history from before they were 18 😂  er, ok, you can do that already! ALL social media platforms have ALWAYS had that function! And any good IT person can dig out your net history no matter how well you clear out your cache. So, NHS funding swerved, let’s do this instead, May says today (13/05/17):

‘Unlike a coalition of chaos and instability led by Jeremy Corbyn, a Conservative government led by me will get on with the job of making life in the United Kingdom even better. [me me me, you are leader of a PARTY, not a dictator no matter how much you want to be; and thanks for the ‘chaos’ litany, too busy looking at flowers in Ireland to hear the Labour defence announcements today then…]

‘That means we are prepared to face up to the big long-term challenges facing this country. [meaningless soundbite- what about the NHS and Trident being run on XP?]

‘The internet has brought a wealth of opportunity, but also significant new risks which have evolved faster than society’s response to them. [Yes cybercrime is ahead of the police’s ability to tackle it with law and staff-power but you shouldn’t have slashed police staffing then should you? And you were HOME SECRETARY for SIX years! Why did you do NOTHING about it then?]

‘We want social media companies to do more to help redress the balance and will take action to make sure they do [they do already]. [my additions in italics].

I get it though not laughing 

It’s clear that nurses aren’t buying this either. With this and yet another insulting 1% pay rise, for the first time since the NHS was created, they have voted to go on strike this summer. 

  • Another policy the Lib Dems have declared is an extra month of paid paternal leave, the same as Labour; and the Greens go further: to “Introduce shared maternity and paternity leave for the first month after birth or adoption, then provide for 22 months, which must be shared so that the parent taking less time takes a minimum of six months, except for single parents. This is to be paid at 90% of salary up to a reasonable level.” In the coalition days, this was a Lib Dem policy too, and was in the original coalition agreement – but some Conservative MPs ‘worried’ that ministers may go too far in allowing parents to switch between who stays home and who goes back to work in the early months of their children’s lives.

How far is too far? The current paternity leave- a month- is rubbish. Women can have up to a year but there are lots of ifs and buts that surround that law.

What are the implications here? That women aren’t as much ‘use’ in the workplace so they didn’t want the ‘dads’ staying at home? Are those 1950s ‘boys and girls’ jobs’ tropes espoused by May on the One Show rearing their heads again?

And ‘allow’? Really? Surely it should be a family by family choice on who stays home and why?

  • All but the Conservatives appear to want to pledge to accept more Syrian refugees, though some of them warn against this throwing of the Dubs agreement in the bin. The Lib Dems want to double Dubs’ commitment to 50,000. Yvette Cooper of Labour has also criticised the terrible accommodation for refugees once they are here, in the face of a critical parliamentary report back in January but as yet there seems to be no pre-manifesto *cough* announcements on this. The SNP and Scottish Greens seem to be of similar mind.
  • All parties except the Conservatives are declaring that they will reform/ revoke the new pension laws (Labour as I have said guaranteeing the triple lock) and the Greens have pledged to support especially the WASPI women.
  • Labour will revoke the minimum income rule for foreign spouses. Immigration rules currently require British citizens to earn more than £18,600 before their foreign partner can join them on a spouse visa, which would exclude 80% of workers who are British citizens! The Greens also pledge to do this, as do the SNP. As the Conservatives forced this through in the first place, they will not revoke it, and UKIP wouldn’t either- they consider this rule to be ‘common sense’.
  • The Conservatives announced last week that they want to increase the defence budget so it is on a par with the USA’s (and as I said in the first part of the blog) would bomb Syria as a US ally with or without a Government vote. What they’re not saying is how much it would cost- £60 million PER MISSION. And that’s the minimum it would cost.
  • The Greens have introduced a policy of decriminalising the sale and purchase of sex as part of its manifesto. This measure, follows UN and Amnesty International recommendations and would keep sex workers safe. They are also promising to end asylum detention, starting with the release of vulnerable female detainees. Corbyn has often spoken in favour of this too but as yet, with the manifesto not out, there’s no official Labour policy on sex work; but has been in favour of the latter since 2015. The SNP seem to be of similar mind. The Lib Dems agree on revoking the detainment asylum seekers and want to extend it to children. They too are pro decriminalising sex work and pledge that under them, crimes against sex workers should be treated as hate crimes. The Conservatives have no intention of doing any of this; even UKIP‘s stance is less harsh than the Conservatives on sex workers, or was, in 2015. Unsurprisingly neither UKIP nor the Conservatives show any willingness to extend empathic treatment towards vulnerable asylum seekers.
  • On housing Conservative Brandon Lewis, former MP for Great Yarmouth was forced to admit there’s no detail behind the promise of more housing in their manifesto, on the Daily Politics today (14/05/17)! The BBC provide more detail here, apparently there’s been £1.4 BILLION already earmarked for this in the Autumn Budget last year! Utter rubbish! Hammond actually said in the Autumn (yes, I read Parliamentary statements, but someone has to, to catch these b*ggers out) that

Government infrastructure investment to unlock land for housing with a new £2.3 billion housing infrastructure fund to deliver infrastructure for up to 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand. To provide affordable housing that supports a wide range ​of need, we will invest a further £1.4 billion to deliver 40,000 additional affordable homes. [my italics]

If they’ve had this money since last Autumn, then why is this still happening?

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  1. That’s WILL invest, not HAVE invested. Where is it? Not in the housing programme, where it belongs.
  2. So yet another lie from Trident liar and known apartheid supporter and Conservative defence Minister Michael Fallon (already being used across social media as the epitome of mendacity: “Fallon-level b*llocks” )- and what’s this land unlock?
  3. And finally- affordable? The Conservatives made this term meaningless over a year ago.
  4. And as recently as September 2016, we learned that the Conservatives refused to build social housing because it would ‘create Labour voters’, Lib Dem leader at the time, Nick Clegg, admitted.

If this had been any of the opposition parties, being both vague and mendacious about costing, especially Labour… Corbyn has been pledging a Secure Homes Guarantee for two years, since he was elected leader, and Labour’s 2017 housing policy is a reform of legal standards to help renters; building a million homes over the next five years; and and regulating the private rented sector. Just the proposed reversal of corporation tax could bring in 45 times that £1.4 billion. But just in case people need reminding 🙂

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The Lib Dems‘ policy is for 300,000 new homes  and a Housing Investment Bank. The Greens watch-phrase on housing is ‘affordable, secure and comfortable’ using a Land Value Tax and other duties to fund it. UKIP as ever start off reasonably, but soon tail off into potato-hood by declaring ending any rights to buy for most foreign nationals. The SNP have already spent more that the Conservatives ‘promised’, in Scotland alone,and their 2017 manifesto pledge is to invest £3 billion to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent.

As the LSE rightly say, whether a party even has a housing policy for 80% of the country depends utterly on where on the political spectrum they are:

As one might expect, the focus of each party’s housing policy depends on which side of the political spectrum it lies, with Labour, Plaid Cymru, [Greens] and the Liberal Democrats placing far greater emphasis on social and affordable housing than the Conservatives and UKIP.

Is it really any wonder that Corbyn’s election speech today (13/05/17) is a no-holds-barred indictment of the Conservative administration?

“The Tories want the next four weeks to be a coronation, not an election.

No debates. No discussion of the big issues.
Make it all about Theresa May and don’t mention the Conservative Party

But the British people know that Theresa’s Tories are still the nasty party.

The Party of ruthless cuts to the National Health Service, and of longer waiting lists.

The Party of food banks.

The Party of insecure and unstable jobs

The Party of falling incomes

The Party of homelessness

The Party of soaring class sizes in school

Of course the Conservatives remain a very nice Party for the rich and big business. The people who are their priority in a Tory Brexit.

And let me share a secret with you, one the Conservatives seem to want to keep quiet.

Theresa May is the leader of this nasty party – her words, not mine.

She may talk of bringing the country together. But everything her government does is pushing people apart.

A year ago she promised action on grotesque boardroom pay.

Nothing has happened– pressure from fat cats has seen to that.

A year ago she pledged a new deal at work, including worker representation on company boards

Nothing happened – her backbenchers nipped that in the bud.

And of course she promised that there would be no early election.

Her own ambition has added that to the list of broken pledges.

And the Tories try to tell us she is decisive.

The truth is that this Lady is for turningas long as it is in favour of the vested interests the Tories hold dear.

Politics is crying out for honest and decent leadership, for the many and not the few.

We will never get that from the Nasty Party.”

  • Labour have backed this up with more detail on tax avoidance and evasion reform

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including a ‘Robin Hood Tax‘, described as a ‘raid’ by the Telegraph and the Mail (no surprises there). So clearly it’s *too soon* to reform a tax duty that’s not been touched for 📜 322 YEARS 📜 then. 🤔

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The Greens are equally vocal on tax evasion. The Lib Dems too are pushing for fairer taxation and have a history of wanting an end to tax evasion. As do the SNP. UKIP did too, back in 2015. But how do the Conservatives react? By talking of the measures they have in place (that as have been shown are rarely enforced)?

NOPE.

By bringing up a 31 year old IRA smear against Corbyn AGAIN. Emily Thornberry (Labour) soon put that straight on the Andrew Marr show today. Here’s the excerpt from my Corbyn blog on the matter (full citations on that blog).

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  • Another policy announced by the Conservatives today (15/05/17) is to give people the ‘statutory right’ or legal entitlement to take time off work to look after for loved ones on a full-time basis, for up to a year. You cannot be sacked for doing this, but you will not be paid. No mention of any state help in the form of any financial aid. It is apparently to be based on the Irish model, where they call it ‘compassionate leave’. There it says “Your employer doesn’t have to pay you for time off for dependants, but they may choose to do so.” So already, not like the Irish model. That link has no mention of how carers would support themselves financially. Here we see more information, talking of the 2001 Carer’s Leave Act, and it says:

You may be eligible for Carer’s Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance which is a means-tested payment. You can take carer’s leave even if you do not qualify for either of these payments. [my italics]

And again, just like the ‘internet history’ announcement, this already exists in UK law (but for emergencies only)!  And even the Telegraph admit that more than ‘six million people are [already] acting as unpaid carers, with a third of them spending more than 50 hours a week looking after their loved ones.’ The equally vague ‘new rights’ for self-employed and temporary employees in the “gig economy” has also been pledged. This just seems to be a way to temporarily free up jobs as someone would have to do the work while they’re away, or to make others in the company take on more responsibilities, again with no mention of pay. And where is the support for those who choose to be carers? Will they be allotted carers’ allowance? (Probably not, considering the obsession with ‘benefit cuts’.) Can’t they just return the money they slashed from social care instead? Labour have a full and detailed plan for putting money back into social care. Both they and the Greens seem of similar mind, and both want to repeal the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. The Lib Dems want more choice in how this is done, and a cross party think tank among other details. And here are the SNPs policies from 2015. And even UKIP sound sane when compared to the Conservatives in this area. This is in my view just another way to get people to work for free and to avoid funding social care– and is not, as Theresa May calls it ‘ the “greatest expansion of workers rights” by any Conservative Government in history’, or, considering their record in this area, perhaps it is! 🤔 

If she believed in workers’ rights, why did she

  1. vote for the repressive TRADE UNION BILL (which became an Act)?
  2. Or for higher fees for complainants at employment tribunals?
  3. Or to extend the time one should have to wait for any outcome of your workers’ rights? (see slideshow below).

This ’11 point workers’ charter’ is just smoke and mirrors. If they were so bothered, why have they done nothing about zero hours contracts? Or Workfare? In the slideshow are Liam Fox’s view and a parody manifesto based on what they have done so far, which is closer to the truth. And less than twelve hours later, even the £9 minimum wage pledge has fallen apart. Workers will get just over 60% of that by 2020 IF THEY’RE LUCKY.

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How the Conservatives really see the ‘workers’ (in this case nurses) has already been shown by May’s reaction when she was told some were having to use foodbanks (see this blog) but also when she ignored an invitation to come to the Royal College of Nurses conference today (15/05/17). Corbyn attended and made a comprehensive and well-received speech. Tim Farron of the Lib Dems also attended, and also gave an impassioned speech on how nurses have been unfairly treated under the Conservatives. Both pledged a minimum spend of £35 billion.

More ‘media appearances’

also appear to be on the cards. The ‘Q&A’ Facebook on Monday 15th May will be part of ITV News Leaders Live – a special online series with the political party leaders in the run up to the general election on June 8th. And it’s May that will get the ball rolling. Here is the link for more info as well as how to access ITV’s Facebook page. Wonder if it’ll be anything like this suckup fest on LBC on May 11th? (15/05/17) Looks like it wasn’t.

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Corbyn managed to get a question in too, and the host asked it of May (as yet I don’t know how she responded, when I do I’ll post it- well colour me shocked- she refused.)

This is some awesome shade throwing. 🎤

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She’s getting a grilling, with over 22,000 questions asked and the following reactions to her answers

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and I lasted two minutes; where May said she ‘wanted to’ seal rights of EU citizens but couldn’t give a timeframe. That’s why she not only voted against that Labour amendment to guarantee the RIGHTS OF EU CITIZENS in the Withdrawal from the EU Bill’s final reading, but also imposed a THREE LINE WHIP so  all but 15 of ‘her party’ did too, obviously! Of course! It all makes sense now! 🤔 📝  Yet another ‘they must think we’re stupid’ moment…

And in an amusing but history-making announcement we see that Lord Buckethead is making a comeback and standing in May’s contesting of her seat, Maidenhead, after having previously stood against Thatcher and Major. Let’s hope they doesn’t lose their deposit. 👍🏻

Then a couple of hours later Sky News/Channel 4 announce that May and Corbyn will face questions from a live studio audience in a Q&A (not a debate) hosted by Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam on 29th May. They will also be interviewed afterwards, separately, by Jeremy Paxman, the former BBC Newsnight presenter. Interestingly it has been titled ‘May v Corbyn Live: The Battle For Number 10’ so apart from the boxing parlance that will not happen because May won’t debate, this shows how far the MSM tide has turned towards Corbyn in the past couple of weeks. Even a week ago a ‘Tory landslide’ was the phrase of the time…now? Not seeing that any more.

And from this week (16/05/17), just hours after the ‘real’ Labour manifesto was released, Corbyn’s odds of becoming PM have shortened from 12/1 to 5/1 according to Oddchecker and from 25+/1 to 14/1 with other bookies.

 

Seats under scrutiny this week

Barrow and Furness

John Woodcock, the current MP for Barrow and Furness (Labour) is probably feeling a bit silly now basing his anti-Corbyn stance on Trident. Anyone ‘in the know’ would already be aware that the 2% commitment of the GDP to defence is a Labour policy, has been for some years and indeed has to be because of the UK being part of NATO. His seat is a super marginal, with a majority of just 795 votes (1.8%). He’s managed to lose 10% of the Labour majority since 2010, and a further 5% from long standing Labour MP there, in 2005, John Hutton who at one point had a 30% majority. When this constituency was created in 1983, a Conservative won the seat and held it till Hutton defeated him in 1992. And all the main parties are standing in 2017, including Woodcock: for the Lib Dems, Loraine Birchall (2.7% of the 2015 vote);  for the Conservatives, Simon Fell (who was a super close second in 2015- 40.5%); for UKIP Alan Piper (11.7%); and for the Greens Rob O’Hara (2.5%). Turnout here is quite low- 63%, but that’s up in recent times. So Woodcock is not safe.

Derby North

This time a Conservative super-marginal, and another seat the Greens have announced they will stand a candidate down from, this seat is held by a tiny 41 votes by Amanda Solloway. She won over Labour MP Chris Williamson in 2015, who held the seat in 2010. A Labour stronghold from 1992, and on and off since 1950 (mostly Labour) when the constituency was created, it has always seemed a fight between blue and red here. Chris and Amanda are standing again. The Liberal Democrats have Lucy Care as their candidate (she received 8.6% of the votes in 2015), and UKIP have Bill Piper (a new candidate; the previous standee obtained 14.6% of the vote). Turnout last time was 69% so non voters previously could make a difference here too. And while the Labour share of the vote was up 3.5% in 2015, the Conservatives‘ rose by 5%, which was enough to win the seat. This seat could go either way, especially as the Greens made up 3.6% (1618 votes) of the vote in 2015. While it is a huge shame that Green voters are being deprived of a candidate, we need to blame the FPTP system not the party.

Hastings and Rye

Only a marginal in the previously discussed sense of 5000 and less that seems to be the consensus before a safe seat becomes a marginal, Amber Rudd (as mentioned above, the former Home Secretary) holds this seat by 4,796 votes which is a 9.4% majority. The Greens have agreed not to have a candidate here as well. Hastings and Rye was held by Labour from 1997-2010 and by the Conservatives from 1983 (when it was created) to 1992. The MP who won in 1983 had been MP of just Hastings since 1970. Both times their majorities varied but with no discernible trend. Now the Greens only gained 3.8% of the vote in 2015 (which would be just over the swing needed to win the seat for Labour), but UKIP, if they are standing, could be the game changer as they had 13.3% of the vote in 2015; a swing of over 10% from 2010 (as ever, assuming people would just switch votes) which could help Labour by splitting the vote. If Labour could pull this off it would be significant, not least because before the dissolution of Parliament, Rudd was a senior member of the Conservative Cabinet. Turnout here rose a little to 68% in 2015 but previous non voters could also make a difference here and Rudd cannot consider herself ‘safe’. And yougov polling today (01/06/17) suggests my prediction is correct.

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Telford

A seat created just in 1997, (split from the Wrekin seat) it was held by Labour till 2015 but in 2010 was a super marginal for Labour. That MP, David Wright, seemed a little erratic in his voting especially in finance and foreign policy. Now the same goes for the Conservatives– just 730 votes: a 1.8% majority. This seemed to be part of a general swing to the ‘right’ as in 2015 UKIP won 7,330 votes (18%) which was a 12.2% swing to them, new Green candidate Peter Hawkins  won 930 votes (2.3%) . Here the Liberal Democrats lost out with only 927 votes- a 13.2% negative swing. Both the Greens and UKIP are standing in 2017 too. Understandably this is a target seat for Labour to take the seat back from Conservative Lucy Allan, and they’d be best off trying to reach non voters as turnout here is low, barely 60% and has been in the low 50s in the past. Allan is not safe. Such a shame, as she sounds like such a nice person…

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Wirral West.

Another Labour super-marginal, and long time Conservative outpost before this new seat was formed in 1983, from the northern part of the former Wirral constituency. Conservative till Stephen Hesford  of Labour gained the seat in 1997 with a 5.8% majority, it climbed as high as 10% only to drop to 2.7% (1097 votes) in 2005. Esther McVey (Conservative) gained a 3.4% swing to obtain the seat in 2010. She only lasted till the next general election, where Margaret Greenwood of Labour won it back with a 3.6% swing. Her majority is 1% (417 votes). She is Shadow Work and Pensions Minister. So it’s important for Labour to keep this seat, just like Rudd’s seat (above) is important for the Conservatives. Historically, she is not safe, but she appears to be a well-liked and active MP in the area, so you never know. UKIP are not putting up a candidate here- to ‘aid’ the Conservative candidate- but the others are: for the Conservatives, Tony Caldeira; the Greens John Coyne; and for the Liberal Democrats Peter Reisdorf. Local scuttlebutt is that Coyne is standing in Wirral after failures in Liverpool, and the bone of contention is the golf course at Hoylake, about which both Greenwood and the Greens have campaigned against very publicly. A potential vote split is possible here at Wirral West and turnout is already high, at just over 75%.

Lincoln

Back to a Conservative super marginal here, with a majority of just 1,443 votes (3.1%), this seat is held by Karl McCartney and turnout here is a medium-low 63%. This is another seat that has existed since the Model Parliament but in more recent history (post WWII) almost 100% held by Labour from 1945-1974. 1979-1992 saw the Conservatives back and in but those eras turnout was a lot higher- in the mid to high 70%. As is quite usual, a tail off in majorities occurred just before there was a change of party at the helm. The same happened for the Labour candidate from 1997-2010 though her majority was a quite healthy 12.5% (4613 votes) when McCartney won the seat in 2010. Under McCartney from 2010-2015 no real gains in majority have happened, which is unusual for this seat, perhaps indicated by the lower turnout that the local electorate weren’t particularly enamoured with any of the candidates. And I can’t imagine this letter he sent to all the candidates standing this year threatening legal action if any of them even mention the electoral fraud will help matters for him. He was one of the MPs under especial suspicion by the CPS and his action is all over the local papers. Current candidates for this seat are (and McCartney is standing again): two Independents, Iain Scott-Burdon and Phil Gray; Labour‘s Karen Lee (Labour obtained 39.6% of the vote in 2015); UKIP‘s Nick Smith (12.2% in 2015), Liberal Democrat Caroline Kenyon (4.3% in 2015); and for the Greens Ben Loryma (they did not stand last time). With the second highest expenses in Parliament (he only has to get from Lincoln to London, the SNP MPs have to travel just a tad further! And the person at the top is not contesting her seat after an expenses irregularity case), what appears to be low local public opinion, a large scale attack on his seat by almost all the parties, and a true Conservative voting record (see link on his name above)

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it may well be he will no longer have a seat come the 9th June. a 1.54% swing to Labour and a maintaining of the UKIP vote should do it 😉

Talking of UKIP, they have decided not to stand in 29 seats, for similar motives to the Greens (in 24 seats) but with the aim of trying to boost the Conservative vote. Here are the seats in which they are not fielding a candidate:

UKIP NOT STAND copy

Now, like with the Greens‘ gesture, you can’t guarantee that those voters will switch to the ‘nearest party’. In Ealing Central and Acton, the Green party – which got just 85 votes less than UKIP in 2015 – has also chosen to not field a candidate, to try and aid Labour‘s Rupa Huq.

Again we must- if we are to blame anyone- blame the system, not the parties for this. It is, sadly, the only way the smaller parties can make a difference when the marginal seats are this close and (for the most part) a straight Labour/Conservative fight.

If say, 10% of UKIP voters switch to blue, Labour could lose 4 seats- IF the turnout stays the same.

The massive spike in new voter registration since April 19th however could be a game changer- almost 1 MILLION (May 7th) and rising to 1.6 million by May 15th (110,000 on that day alone!)

new voters copy

For the votetracker go here. Add to that the fact that there are 42 seats Labour are targetting with similarly slim majorities where the swings could be equally small, and it makes this election a lot closer and more interesting than any poll is suggesting.labour seat targets 1-42 copy

In Gower, for example, the Conservative‘s least safe seat, Labour are the party in very close second (see graphic above) and UKIP are standing- and in the 2015 General Election they obtained 4,773 votes (11.2%) which was  a +9.6% swing to them from 2010.

The second one is the aforementioned Derby North, where they are standing.

The third? Croydon Central, Labour are the second party, and again UKIP are standing; in 2010 they obtained 4,810 votes (9.1%) which is another positive swing from 2010 of +7.1%.

This trend continues onwards. (See Lincoln above for example, that is at number 15.) Let’s choose another at random- say, Thurrock, and yes the same is happening here too. Labour are the close second and in 2010, UKIP were close third with the same candidate who is standing again; Tim Alker. He obtained 15,718 votes, which was 31.7% of the total, and was a +24.3% positive swing from 2010. Here perhaps they hope to win the seat outright as opposed to being a ‘clearance sacrificial castle’.

So this ‘grand UKIP gesture’ in 29 seats seems increasingly empty and the logic more frail.

It looks more like they wish to be the fly in the ointment of both parties. And while it is true that locals aren’t generals- turnout and issues being voted on are usually very different, we cannot deny their showing at the locals was shockingly bad, in areas that they should have done quite well.

Perhaps this is why the Conservatives are disregarding UKIP‘s gesture (not that they play well in ‘coalition’ anyway) due to fear of a ‘progressive alliance’ (Greens/Lib Dems). The Greens have now stood down to help Labour or the Lib Dems in 29 seats now (15/05/17) and the Lib Dems in two (to help the Greens). So if you hear any increase in the phrase ‘coalition of chaos’ this is why. They’re terrified the left and centre will succeed in getting Corbyn into Number 10… 

What, more dodgy dealings?

A disturbing development reached the pages of the MSM today (14/05/17). City asset manager Jeremy Hosking, who donated more than £1.5MILLION to the pro-Leave cause last year, has announced his intention to donate £5,000 each to Conservative candidates in 138 mainly Labour-held seats where the majority of voters supported Brexit, but the MP voted Remain. He’s put his hand in his pocket for the Conservatives in the past too- donating £100,000 at the last election.

More proof if we needed it, that electoral reform is long overdue, as this is ‘legal’ (as it’s a separate application that can circumvent the spending limits loophole) but not ethical.

What I am also concerned is the motive- as I said at the start of the very first election blogWE HAVE HAD A REFERENDUM. THE GENERAL ELECTION IS NOT ANOTHER REFERENDUM. MPs voting intention on it are on public record but this was supposed to be a democratic vote (it wasn’t, but let’s move on) and that vote has been cast. For some rich Leave obsessive to come along and push his agenda in this manner

  • when an MP is entitled to vote how they wish in a referendum just like anyone else and
  • no matter which way they voted it’s not going to match 100% of their constituents

is unscrupulous at best. And a contortion of the democratic process. Now I’m not fooling myself, we do not live in a democracy, rather; a bureaucracy. But when rich men are allowed to do this, just because they have a vested interest in ensuring something happens that they desire, we are on the way back to the corruption of rotten boroughs, which were rightly outlawed in the 1832 Reform Act. I am of similar mind to the aforementioned ‘Best for Britain’ organisation, led by Gina Miller, (as discussed in the first election blog) that wanted to crowdfund be able to offer funds to those MPs who were for Remain and are against ‘Hard B*exit.’ While a crowdfund is arguably more democratic, (being a consensus from a fund provided by like minds and not by some chancer who sees a chance to make a killing in B*exit deals) this for me is not how an election should be subverted. If we had not had a referendum, ok. But we did.

But hey I guess we should be grateful he’s not offering £5000 to have Miller run over, right? Well Rhodri Philipps, the 4th Viscount St Davids, has done just that… 

************Manifestos************

Labour‘s came out on the 16th May (already in the public domain) as did Plaid Cymrus‘ (here)- they call it an ‘action plan’; and some of the Conservatives‘ came out today (17/05/17) ‘only’ seven days late (Damian Green on Question Time on the 27th April said it would be out on the 11th) at the Canary Wharf Conference- apparently the manifesto event is in Halifax tomorrow (18/05/17). There is no way on their website to get a copy  probably because they’re too busy bashing Labour (the ‘black hole’ slogan is a lie) and the £80,000+ tax increase affects 5% of the country.

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or that they’ll delay publishing to the last minute even though it’s law, or at the least, precedent, (though the Electoral Commission and gov. uk seem foggy on this) to publish it. This precedent was set under the First Minister (later called Prime Minister, and the first to hold such office) Robert Peel in 1834 with the ethos that voters are entitled to know what politicians intend to do in government before they cast their ballots.

The Lib Dems‘ manifesto is also due out today and it too is out in the public domain. The Greens‘ is not out yet, but you can sign up to get a copy. Can’t find anything to show the SNP‘s manifesto as yet but will update when this changes. There will be separate blogs on all these manifestos as they are usually very long and detailed. Here’s part 1 (as ever, a set of rolling blogs). As ever, we’re seeing MSM pottiness and BBC bias as to what just about everyone’s manifestos will mean, except the Conservatives‘. Just one example:

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Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed‏ made an ‘error’ of 10.4 magnitude on prime time BBC News last night (16/05/17) when he was describing what the tax increases as proposed in the Labour manifesto would mean for those earning over £80,000- look at the graphic. It clearly says a £23,000 LOSS OF INCOME when the extra tax would cost £2200 per year on top of what they already pay (c £21,000). He got away with putting a retraction on the 10 o’clock news (too late by then, it’s gone round the MSM like wildfire) and a half hearted acknowledgement on Twitter.

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