General Election Week 6: That was the Week That Was

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

In the wake of the Manchester attacks, all political campaigning was suspended till today (25/05/17) for local, and tomorrow (26/05/17) for across country. So for now, this blog will do likewise and just examine some stats on YouGov (with the usual caveats) on all the leaders.

******OPINIONS AND POLLS******

Jeremy Corbyn

Despite the prevalent right-bias, Corbyn is on the up. For more go here.

Theresa May

It’s not looking good for her on the site at all. While both her and Corbyn started in the minus figures when the election was called, her approval rating has slumped further.

Tim Farron

Farron seems to be getting a bit of a kicking too. Here is his YouGov page for more. While the sample for him is much smaller, opinions do seem a little divided.

Caroline Lucas

Unsurprisingly the sample here is smaller still. But her approval rating is in the positives too.

As for her co leader Jonathan Bartley, few seem to know he exists and his approval rating is neutral.

Nicola Sturgeon

Described on YouGov as Scotland’s most popular person, that may not mean much, though she is polling higher than Farron, and with similar numbers of voters, and her approval rating steady, it is still in the minus figures.

Leanne Wood 

Perhaps unsurprising for such a small party as Plaid Cymru, Wood’s figures are low. However, her approval, like Lucas and Corbyn, is in the positive numbers.

Paul Nuttall

And now for UKIP. The manifesto is now out (see blog to come), a reporter at the launch was booed when she accused Nuttall at their  manifesto event (for a full live coverage of their event go here and the UKIP manifesto blog)of making political capital after the Manchester attacks and here are his ratings. Oh dear. While polling numbers are lower than expected, he is the only leader whose numbers are lower than May’s.

It appears that May’s chickens are coming home to roost, or at least as noted in last week’s election blog, now that we’re in the last few weeks of election build up, rules come in that mean media outlets (TV ones at least) cannot keep smearing Corbyn. The ‘polls’ (as ever with caveats) seem to be mirroring the approval ratings of the leaders; the one on the left being YouGov and done between the 23rd and 26th May:

And in Wales, long term poll, post manifesto release and local elections:

labour vote wales post may manifesto copy

Long range polling (YouGov) looks like this:

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If we, as Business Insider has done, extrapolate those polls onto some of the Conservatives‘ most tenuous seats, we

“…would see Labour take eight seats from the Conservatives with May’s party failing to gain any from Labour.” [note how they call it ‘May’s party! And from this the Lib Dems would lose out too.]

poll

 In other news:

“Theresa May has the personal warmth, wit, oratorical ability and attractiveness of an Indesit fridge-freezer which has been faultily connected by a man called Trevor for five quid, cash in hand, and which is now full of decomposing Findus Crispy Pancakes. There is no vision, there is no chutzpah. Just the bland repetition of meaningless phrases. Corbyn is a far better campaigner.” [my italics]

Where might this be from you may wonder? The Spectator of all places! A long time Conservative stalwart outlet. Yes they have a pop at Labour too but that’s par for the course.

 

******MANCHESTER AFTERMATH******

With campaigning underway proper tomorrow (26/05/17) Corbyn, on whom betting odds have gone down as low as 3 to 1 on winning the election from as much as 40 to 1 when the election campaign started (Paddy Power have closed their book on it, William Hill are showing 3/1SkyBet have him at 11/2, Ladbrokes show him as 5/1 and a Labour majority at 12/1), will be delivering this speech in London. In it he will say what he has said for years- and been proven right. Here are some excerpts:

“many experts… have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home. That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and held to account for their actions.

…an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism. We must be brave enough to admit the ‘war on terror’ is simply not working.

we will reverse the cuts to our emergency services and police…we cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap”.

“No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through.

“But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance – to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country, and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won and that terrorists are so determined to take away.”

A Labour government would fund more police and ensure the security services had sufficient resources “to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim- and austerity has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door.”

YouGov responders agree with him (real/super-majority)

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In the Manchester blog, we looked at UK foreign policy being a factor in radicalisation of the bomber of Libyan heritage, as proven by the Foreign Affairs Committee (a Conservative– heavy Government body) and in the Labour manifesto, issues of defence were comprehensively addressed as has been said in the manifesto blog. Here it is in brief, and seems to have a lot to do with the narrowing in the polls.

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Cameron while professing to have learned lessons from Iraq, showed he had not with his 2011 Libyan foreign policy. He was, as shown in the Manchester blog, blamed for causing the rise of IS in North Africa after he went to war in Libya based on an ‘incomplete understanding’ of the situation. Cameron turned what was meant to be an limited intervention into an ‘opportunist policy of regime change’ based on inadequate intelligence.

Small wonder public perception of the media is at an incredible low, as the speech was twisted beyond recognition by various MSM outlets.

DAoUfWXW0AA6G5lThe Telegraph’s headline was harsh and full of foam ‘Jeremy Corbyn condemned over ‘crass’ and ‘appalling’ timing‘- when in fact it was only Ben Wallace who was complaining, saying the timing of Mr Corbyn’s speech, coming just days after 22 people lost their lives in Monday’s terror attack, is “appalling” and “crass”. This is the man who colluded with Dimbleby and two Scottish Conservative councillors in BBC’s Question Time at the end of April to try and smear Corbyn and the Labour party (discussed in part 3 of the election blogs) yet were forced to concede that Labour were only five points behind the Conservatives in in a later article. Here it was reported that Boris Johnson called the speech ‘monstrous’- and according to YouGov 43% of Conservative supporters/respondents must also be ‘monstrous’..

cons calling 43Pc of their own voters monstrous

So ok Boris; what about what you said last month? THAT was true monstrosity-  that your party would bomb Syria without a Parliamentary vote!

BORIS BOLLOCKS TRUMP

But when Michael Fallon (who has been turning up with depressing regularity in the election blogs because he’s such a lying turnip) Conservative Defence Secretary, car crashed again, this time on Channel 4 news, it provided some hilarity about just how empty and desperate the Conservatives are. He railed about Corbyn’s speech when it was clear he hadn’t even heard it, because interviewer and Channel 4 anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy managed to catch him out by reading an old speech of Boris’ when HE said the war in Iraq heightened the likelihood of terror reprisals in the UK

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and Fallon fell for it, believing it was Corbyn’s speech today (26/05/17). As the kids say-owned!

The Daily Mail also tried it on when they said “Dismayed Labour politicians also openly admitted the speech was ‘badly timed’ and muddle-headed.” Who are they?

  1. Alan Johnson (stood down last month, no longer an MP, was shuttled around the cabinet under Blair and Brown; lost the deputy leader election in 2007), was MP Hull West and Hessle from 1997-2015. How did he vote as MP?

johnson votes copy2. Charles Clarke, (MP for Norwich South from 1997 until 2010- so no, not a Labour politician either) and his voting record on UK foreign policy?

clarke voting copy

3. Neil Coyle (former) MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark who will be standing for (re-)election next month. He is no fan of the current leader or Shadow Cabinet, and loudly so, causing him to get a disciplinary warning in April (2017.) He wasn’t an MP during the Iraq conflict but has voted twice for military action against IS/Daesh and the rest is below.

coyle voting copy

4. Mike Gapes, former Labour/Co-op MP for Ilford South and chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said Islamic State terrorists ‘hate us for what we are’, not ‘for what we do’. No, wrong!

picard not how it worksLet’s have a look at your record eh. He hid three times on voting for military action against IS/Daesh but his one vote was for it. And here is the rest

gapes voting copy

Don’t know about you, but I’m noting a pattern in their voting. 🤔 

It was inevitable they would critique Labour’s less aggressive political stance from 2015 on foreign policy, else it would make their voting decisions look bad…

Corbyn is not ‘facing backlash’, just a few grumbles from MPs and ex MPs who would prefer to bomb the sh*t out of the Middle East and have learned NOTHING from Iraq and Libya. So another slapped wrist for the Mail there.

UKIP also pledged to increase security in the wake of the arena bombing by increasing numbers of police officers, troops and border guards (see above links for manifesto and the release event for it). Nuttall said he was not blaming the prime minister personally for the attack, but his deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans said May “must bear some responsibility; all politicians who voted for measures to make cuts bear some responsibility… when 9/11 happened, we should have had a serious rethink about immigration. [Oh there it is…] It didn’t happen.”

May will be at a G7 counter-terrorism meeting as Corbyn gives his speech and she seems to be shifting the blame and the responsibility to Corbyn for which the TIMES of all outlets had this response

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May decided to blame Corbyn, and also social media and other internet sites to crack down on cyber-terrorism 🤔 this wouldn’t have anything to do with the 24/7 debunking bloggers and other commenters have been doing of her disastrous campaign and the seven year Blitzkreig the Conservatives have done on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, young people, schools, the NHS and the emergency services would it now? 🤔

No wonder Merkel considers you, and by extension the UK, now to be unreliable.

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Many online commenters are quietly beginning to say that this was the reason for raising the threat to critical, (and it has been put back down to ‘severe’ by the JTAC, today (27/05/17) for as the Manchester blog says, May lied when she said she did it, she does not have the power so if that is not politicising, I don’t know what is) perhaps a little ‘too soon’ but you can’t help but think they have a point…

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Unsurprisingly, the Greens’ position on the matter is similar to Corbyn’s. Today (26/05/17) on Channel 4 News we see Caroline Lucas make it abundantly clear that she too, and her party, has long been aware of the link between UK foreign policy and increase in terrorist activity. Britain can reduce the terror threat through its foreign policy, she knows, and the country is “to some extent, paying the price now”.

The SNP are also of a similar opinion- agreeing with the substance of Corbyn’s speech. Sturgeon said:

“We must be able to have a robust debate about foreign policy, about security, about how we keep the population safe. I’ve been a long-standing critic of the war in Iraq. The SNP did not vote for the bombing campaign in Syria because we believe that these kinds of foreign-policy approaches have tended to hinder rather than help the process of dealing with the underlying problems.”

However, Farron, leader of the Lib Dems has climbed on the Conservative bandwagon and ‘condemned’ it, despite all the information above that is in the public domain. He just sounds naive and ill-informed.  He said

“A few days ago, a young man built a bomb, walked into a pop concert and deliberately slaughtered children. Our children. Families are grieving. A community is in shock. Jeremy Corbyn has chosen to use that grotesque act to make a political point.”

“I don’t agree with what he says, but I disagree even more that now is the time to say it. That’s not leadership, it’s putting politics before people at a time of tragedy.”

Oh dear, Tim, perhaps you would do well to remember your own words two years ago:

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I don’t think that U turn is going to earn you any approval points as that is not what was Corbyn was doing, and most commenters, even right leaning ones, agree. And Yougov seems to show that too, no spike in ‘approval’ for Tim today.

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Even John Crace, who writes in the Guardian, and is usually slaveringly anti-Corbyn, has this to say about his speech.

Not for the first time, Corbyn rather confounded his critics. After an impromptu minute’s silence for the Manchester victims that was observed by everyone apart from some of the photographers that swarmed around him, Corbyn began by condemning the atrocious violence that had taken so many young lives. He praised the police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses for the work they had done under such demanding circumstances and said the emergency services would get all the resources they needed under a Labour government.

So let’s move on. Corbyn was right. He often is.

 

******COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM EXPOSED FOR THE THE LIE IT IS******

Her lack of real empathy for victims of terrorist attacks and victims of war was brought into sharp focus by Channel 4 on 25th May.

Appeal judges have ruled Theresa May acted unlawfully in refusing to resettle six refugee families who’ve been stranded on a British military base in Cyprus for the past 19 years.

Lord Justice Irwin declared their living conditions as unacceptable and ordered the Home Secretary to allow the families to enter the UK as soon as possible. [my italics]

This is the hovel those poor people have had to live in for years!

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The arrogance of their austerity politics has resulted in these:

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The Telegraph last year, the Independent and the Spectator are reporting in the past two months that May wants Michael Gove back in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland- this is a man who was utterly against the peace process. And there’s also news that the DWP state sanctioned murderer Iain Duncan Smith will be back too. So that’s Northern Ireland the least safe it has been for thirty years under the Conservatives and the man who actually lost the stomach for what even he saw as excessive disability cuts and resigned from the cabinet for it last year, Smith, may return to implement a hard B*exit instead

And when her head of policy is MP George Freeman, who wrote a paper in 2013 arguing that the minimum wage and public sector pay should be “regionalised” we cannot ignore this. The paper, ‘The Innovation Economy Industrial Policy’, which is still proudly announced on his website and co-written with fellow MP Kwasi Kwarteng, suggests reducing the minimum wage in areas where incomes are lower. The ‘party for the workers’ rhetoric we all knew was a lie, but this is blatant.

The Conservatives show similar lack of concern for children in the UK. On 22nd May a damning report came into the MSM showing that between 2010 and 2015, spending on children’s mental health services fell by nearly £50m – more than six per cent in real terms. And in the previous blog, we discussed the cutting of the only free school meals left, which will affect nearly 1 MILLION poor children. And this also means 17,000 school dinner ‘ladies’ and cooks will lose their jobs.

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And these is not the only areas where the Conservatives are collapsing. Their (undeserved) reputation as the ‘party of business’ has taken another knock, as was reported in the Telegraph(!) An ever-smaller proportion of companies support the manifesto, while the Prime Minister’s empty mantra of “strong and stable leadership” achieves little approval. And small firms are distressed by the recent U-turn on social care costs and by the Conservatives’ failure to fully explain how the party seeks to fund its policies. The Telegraph ran their own poll on it and the results were not good for the Conservatives.

I’m sure Corbyn’s speech to the FSB (Federation of Small Bsuinesses) on 11th April helped to gain Labour support too.

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They’re also happy to stuff pay levels, as has been discussed more than once in the election blogs, and as confirmed by the IFS.

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John Prescott, Labour Lord, one time deputy PM and former MP, let it slip today (27/05/17) that

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And in The Sunday Times

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I don’t think many will be surprised by this.

******MANIFESTO FACTS******

The IFS backs Labour’s manifesto over the Conservatives’ too.

The IFS or Institute for Fiscal Studies is an economic research institute based in London, United Kingdom, which specialises in UK taxation and public policy. It is politically independent and produces both academic and policy-related findings.

They made it absolutely clear that the choice between the two parties is huge: more years of austerity with the Tories, stretching well into the next decade – or investment and properly funded public services with Labour

…the Tory manifesto was completely uncosted and now we know why: because they are essentially offering more of the same failed approach as Cameron and Osborne. The IFS say this would mean “big cuts in welfare spending” and “another parliament of austerity for the public services, including an incredibly challenging period for the NHS and cuts to… schools.”

Schools funding will fall by an astonishing seven per cent under the Tories’ plans. After seven failed years of Tory austerity, with public services like the NHS in their worst ever crisis, we simply cannot afford another year like this…

…the Institute, in contrast, showed Labour’s plans would mean significantly more spending than the Tories in higher education, childcare, schools, health, and welfare – which the next Labour will pay for by taxing the top five per cent and corporations…

…their analysis shows that Labour’s plans are fiscally sound. In their estimate, the next Labour government would be on course to both rapidly shrink the deficit on day-to-day spending, and leave the country with a lower debt burden at the end of the next parliament than at its start.

Labour made sure that every single proposal in our manifesto was fully costed, and used independent expert advice to back up every claim we made. All our spending and taxation plans are presented in our “Funding Britain’s Future” document. No other party comes close to offering the same level of detail, least of all the Tories –the only numbers to appear in their manifesto are page numbers.

…A substantial tax avoidance industry has grown up to help those mega-rich and corporations that want to duck their tax obligations to society, as the Panama Papers and other leaks have exposed… [ it is] easier for the Tories to tax ordinary working people through stealth taxes, like the shocking rise in cremation and burial fees, and let their big business backers off the hook…

…IFS also confirmed that Labour’s national transformation fund, ready to invest across the whole country in vital infrastructure like transport, would, when it is well-spent, “increase the productive capacity of the UK economy”… [my italics]

And here is a working of just how Labour could clear the debt/deficit by 2022, from IFS and OBR data.

labour could clear debt by 2022

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******EU ISSUES******

The integrity of Labour on B*exit, based on their seven amendments set back in January, and as explained in the EU blog, have been confirmed today (27/05/17). These have been put forward by Kier Starmer.

  1. He is Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who would be negotiating the deal-should Labour win the election-
  2. along with Barry Gardiner, Shadow Minister for International Trade and Climate Change and factmeister extraordinaire,
  3. and Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Who do the Conservatives have? Casual racist Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade.

Bottom right photo is the full Labour team already having a conflab.

  1. Liam can’t organise a trade deal when he’s actually offered them; and has disappeared,
  2. David was caught lying about the Conservative manifesto again on Channel 4 news,
  3. and Boris was last seen looking as if he were sp**ding off his t*ts wagging his finger in Labour MP Andrew Gwynne’s face the other day on TV.

And the fact that Business Insider consider Starmer’s conditions impossible shows just how weak May’s position would be during the negotiations.

Do they sound unreasonable to you?

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So when Conservative HQ made yet another deliberate Corbyn smear in relation to B*exit on Twitter today (27/05/17), they’ve rightly been burned by commenters.

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They should also bother to read Labour’s manifesto– a full seven pages of it are dedicated to those negotiations (pages 23-30.)

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The Conservatives on the other hand dedicate barely two pages to it (pages 35-37) in their manifesto (also see the manifesto blog) and do not detail what they will do. What little they do detail has already proven to be a lie or is frankly terrifying.

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******FRACKING AND RENEWABLE ENERGY******

‘Business as usual’ goes on with important issues being discussed by all the parties. In the wake of news of the Conservatives pledging ‘unprecedented’ support for fossil fuels after receiving almost £400,000 from oil bosses, fracking and renewable energy seems a hot topic for this week.

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Labour’s position is clear and they also want 60% of the UK’s energy coming from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030. Part of their nationalisation plans for the energy industry are conditional on them going ‘green’. Much more on this can be found in their manifesto.

Pages 31-49 of the Lib Dem manifesto give great detail of the work they would put in to stop fracking and invest in renewable energy. And the SNP go into similar detail in theirs, showing their record in the area over the past few years too.

Unsurprisingly the Greens have a massive commitment to this issue and part of the pledges include prioritising urgent measures to tackle climate change, replacing fracking, coal power and subsidies to fossil fuels, with investment in jobs rich renewable energy technology. They pledge to invest in warm homes for all, with a nationwide insulation programme, and in a Green Industrial Strategy to build resilient national and local economies. A new Environmental Protection Act will safeguard and enhance everybody’s right to a safe environment as currently guaranteed through membership of the EU. We will introduce a new Clean Air act, expanding the mandatory clean air zone network and protect the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Plaid Cymru aim for 100% of ‘our’ electricity to be generated by renewables by 2035.

UKIP are ‘pro fracking’ in principle’ and their manifesto declares they will invest in shale gas exploration. If ‘fracking’ is viable in Britain, they say, ‘we’ will have tapped into a source of energy that is cost-effective and delivers domestic fuel security and stability. They describe the fishing industry as ‘one of our nation’s greatest renewable resources’ but do speak a little sense when they pledge to ‘scrap the green levies currently added to our bills to subsidise renewable energy schemes.’ But this common sense doesn’t last- as they will repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act and support a diverse energy market based on coal, nuclear, shale gas, conventional gas, oil, solar and hydro, as well as other renewables when they can be delivered at competitive prices. They will also withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Page 23 of the Conservative manifesto make their position clear. They are pro-fracking. And they have failed to meet UK targets on renewable energy generation, with take-up of clean fuels for heating and transport falling badly behind aims. There is no mention of renewable energy in their manifesto whatsoever. Again this is no surprise, given the vested interest of fossil fuel giants.

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Feelings are also running high about Conservatives‘ policy on the treatment of animals, not least fox hunting. Though mostly ignored by the MSM, the Evening Standard picked up on it, and described

Thousands of people have descended on Downing Street in a huge protest against the Conservative Party’s stance on the fox hunting ban.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that if the Conservatives win the General Election on June 8, she will offer Parliament a free vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting.

On Bank Holiday Monday the Make Hunting History march, which is expected to be the largest public protest of the entire General Election campaign, saw thousands make their feelings on the subject known. [my italics]

******TV appearances******

Last night (29/05/17) both Corbyn and May appeared on ‘The Battle for Number 10’ on Channel 4 last night. The Conservatives were emailing these pet questions to all on their emailing lists to use for a ‘twitter storm’.

con shill Qs via email for C4 may v cobryn 29May

Unsurprisingly, May was given the gentler treatment (only interrupted 34 times by Paxman compared to 49 interruptions of Corbyn for example) but that did not help. She collapsed, like Eddie Izzard once said ‘like a flan in a cupboard’. One man in the audience mouthed ‘that’s bollocks’ and it is hard to disagree. He was an undecided voter’ on the programme but has chosen Labour after May’s terrible performanceThe Express went full foam and called this ‘mouthing obscenities’. And the commenters on that article are little better calling ALL Labour supporters ‘rude’; and worse.

Corbyn’s segment was a rough ride but he came out of it just fine. When Paxman tried to insist that the manifesto did not contain some of Corbyn’s long held personal opinions he gently reminded him that the LP is a democracy and policies are voted on by all, not dictated from on high. When the plant in the audience, Maneet Kapoor, who pretended to be a small business owner (yeah right, here he is, on almost £1MILLION per year) said ‘why should he vote Labour when he was going to have to pay corporation tax, £10 and hour to his staff and VAT on his children’s school fees’ Corbyn reminded him he’d

  • have no tuition fees,
  • full NHS cover
  • that it was just going back to 2010 levels
  • and a cap on social care spending that would more than cover that.

However I’d go further. Only those getting more than £300,000 PROFIT will be charged 26%. If he’s that high up on the income scale then paying £10 an hour and school fees VAT should make little dent in his money. If he isn’t, Labour has measures in place to help the small business person. And would add this:

thatcher marx high crop taxcorp tax againIFS corp taxtucbank3

May’s segment (yes they were separate, she still refuses to debate Corbyn) was just…dull. Who knew constant falsehoods could be so banal?

  • At least she threw away that ‘strong and stable’ rubbish, I only recall her using the word ‘stable’ once.
  • Her replies to NHS fears were met with ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’.
  • And instead the phrase of the evening (as in their manifesto) was ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.

may evil edna no deal better than bad deal

  • This is rabid, trenchant and terrible business dealings. Only the most obsessed Leave voter will go for that, surely.

sucks and blows

Social media is not being kind. Corbyn’s measured approach, with the audience laughing with him not at him (unlike May) seems to have won over many, from Labour but not Corbyn supporters, to undecideds, to previously Conservative voters. Any credibility she had was surely punctured by this appearance.

The New Statesman, usually unapologetically Conservative said: ‘He was fluent and assured, she was nervous and warbly. It was a misstep even to agree to this event.’ More on this here.

Sky News were quite blunt too. They make the point that Corbyn answered questions but May did not. And on the rare occasion she did, the audience did not believe her.

The Telegraph were quite even handed towards May but not so much to Corbyn. “The Prime Minister was attacked by voters over the so-called “dementia tax” while the Labour leader faced sustained pressure after repeatedly refusing to say whether he would launch a drone strike…” I watched it, and he did. He would want to explore peaceful means first.

UK Business Insider opine “The Labour leader faced tough questioning about his past alliances and views but remained calm and confident throughout. May was laughed at and heckled by the audience over her manifesto pledges but kept her nerve. Corbyn emerged ahead in the biggest TV event of the general election campaign.” This sounds about right, though I would suggest the crumble had already happened, so there was no nerve to lose.

Paxman’s description of May as ‘a blowhard that collapses at the first sign of gunfire‘ has been picked up by many outlets, not least the Mirror in their comprehensive coverage of the programme.

CCHQ scuttlebutt seems to agree with the general social media confirmation of her performance. It is even possible that May is ready to stand down even if the Conservatives win the General Election. If she doesn’t, May could be at risk of a leadership challenge and possible 1922 committee imminent; ‘she’s a calamity‘ said one of the committee members, allegedly. And their website has published nothing on May’s campaigning since the 8th May.

Billboards, posters and bus shelters all over the country are starting to look like this:

******The Polls, they are a’ changin’…******

Just before the show, Survation had the Conservative lead cut by a further three points by Labour, ICM have a 1 point gain, and a prediction from YouGov that the Conservatives will not win a majority of seats in June, and I look forward to more polls out in the next day or so, for comparison purposes. While there is little point relying on such figures, it is an indication of the collapse of the Conservative party. And just after the BBC Debates show (31/05/17), the final four polls in this set were released

Released today (31/05/17) is the latest Times/YouGov poll and it shows as follows:
Con 42 (-1)

Lab 38 (+2)

LD 9 (nc)

UKIP 4 (nc).

But what perhaps is of greater import is what is happening with the other parties. Is it a given that the Conservatives are only keeping their lead over Labour because of the UKIP (post referendum) and Lib Dem (post coalition) collapses.

For example, in the Labour landslide of 1997, these were the polls at the end of May.

lab poll 1997 copy

How does this equate to the actual result?

1997 ge result copy

Pretty accurate huh? How did this translate from votes to seats?

1997 votes v seats copy

This graphic below has been bouncing all round social media and while it’s misleading to take as read, as the voting landscape has changed even since 2010, it is an interesting correlation.

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And interestingly, Business Insider ran a poll on the 17th May, when the Conservatives were 20 points ahead on how ‘electable’ Corbyn was seen for the election. He was the most popular, with a post Iraq Blair described as ‘toxic’.

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However, where UKIP voters go (not a factor in 1997) could make a massive difference to the vote split come June 8th as theirs is the share that has recently decreased the most. The Lib Dems have stabilised this past year on between 6% and 10%, a far cry from 1997 and indeed 2015. This graph below, from the EU referendum to today (30/05/17), could make some sense of both the Labour climb and the Conservative fall.

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Another factor to be considered as has been said before are previous non-voters. By the time the deadline on May 22nd was past, around 2.3 million new voters were on the register, many of them younger first time voters. Survation polled about 1000 respondents on their likelihood to vote this time and the results, despite the 7 million plus that are still not registered, are encouraging.

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If you are someone who is registered but still not sure if you’re going to vote, please check out my voting guide blog. Where you live, what the vote share was in 2015, and who you vote for could make a bigger difference than ever on June 8th.

.

******Uh oh! Full potato!******

Today (30/05/17) and over the course of the week May and her party had more full potato moments as

  • she said this in Wolverhampton, something the Mirror rightly called “desperate“.

“With his position on Brexit , he will find himself alone and naked in the negotiating chamber. I know that’s an image that doesn’t bear thinking about but actually this is very serious.” [my italics]

What is wrong with her? Who says things like that?

This desperation appears all across the right wing rags today, talking of a non existent Labour party ‘plot’ to let ‘lots of immigrations in’. When all the figures show (I have shown them many times but no harm in putting them on again) it is the Conservatives who want to let in cheap immigrant workers to undercut the market.

right wing foam immigrants 31st may copy

Here is the truth and the attitudes behind it, fostered by a toxic mainstream press

mmigration con promise v realitybloody immigrants dictionariesschrodingers immigrantmigration copy

  • While Corbyn was at the Race and Faith manifesto launch with MP Dawn Butler, May visited a homophobic Christian fundamentalist church – how can gay voters trust her now? The Independent ask.
  • And CCHQ seem to be happy to use massive amounts of donors’ money to flood Youtube with Conservative party ads, trying to capture the ‘youth vote’ who have been polled as over 70% Labour supporting. They did this just before the local Welsh elections too.
  • Then more duplicity abounded this week as May admits that putting the ‘Naylor Report’ into place for the NHS will cost ten billion pounds, but implies this will be paid for by additional government investment in the NHS. Under a less profit driven party it could be a good thing- with proper costings and controls, and leaving the buildings in the hands of the NHS trusts and finding use for buildings that cost thousands to run and maintain is something any progressive party or Union could be proud. Under the Conservatives? Nope. What will happen is a ‘BOGOF’ sale of NHS buildings and land to private developers at knock-down prices. The plan will also charge hospital trusts millions if they don’t want to sell. For more on this, check here out.
  • Conservative MP Dominic Raab lied three times in two days on live TV, first when he said people who use foodbanks just have a cash flow problem, didn’t know how much the debt was, and lastely when he said apprenticeships are up, when they’ve been cut by 25%. The Trussell Trust felt they were forced to release this statement for fear of donations drying up, leaving people starving.

trussell trust debunk dominic raab foodbank lie need VT back up

in 2011 he voted against more apprenticeships (from theyworkforyou.com)

raab apprenticeships copy

yet on his website swears he was campaigning for them in 2013!

……even worse (or better depending on how you look at it)……

One Conservative MP who has asked not to be named has said:

“It’s a completely different experience to what it was four weeks ago. It’s made my job a hell of a lot harder. It’s a completely different experience. I’m pretty f*cked off.

“People on the doorstep are telling me: ‘She’s going after pensioners, she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she doesn’t answer questions on the TV.’ I’ve switched from saying ‘vote for her’ to ‘vote for me’. It’s hard to understand how people in London who get paid a lot of money made such a clusterf*ck. [Yes this is verbatim! 😂😂😂 ]

“People voted for her because of what they thought she was like rather than what she is like. It’s totally shattered the confidence of the parliamentary party.

“Colleagues up and down the country are just f*cked off.

“She said she wasn’t going to call a general election, and they’ve totally f*cked it up.

“If you were going to write what not to do in a campaign then running it on strong and stable leadership and changing your mind on everything would be it. It’s like something out of Yes Minister.

“People are now beginning to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. I find that hard to understand.” [er, why do you think???]

Second serious TV appearance:

Pleasant though the One Show appearance was (the only and only time I watched the programme) the serious business starts up again tonight (31/05/17) as the BBC are doing a leaders’ debate. This time Corbyn will be there but May will not. She is sending Amber Rudd, who has been discussed many time in the election blogs and  since 2016 has been under increased investigation and pressure to explain her involvement as director of two companies in the Bahamas. She appears on a leaked list of directors of companies from the Caribbean tax haven, which was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

May as said below is in Bath and Plymouth today (31/05/17-see ‘seats under scrutiny’ at the end of the blog). In Bath May was jeered at as she arrived, and in Plymouth, a local Herald journalist, thrilled to be interviewing May, left disappointed after getting ‘three minutes of nothing’. Here’s an extract from that interview. It’s disjointed and robotic; to the level of non sequitur! Is May even hearing the questions?

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Talking of ‘minutes of nothing’, I really shouldn’t have called this a serious TV appearance by the other leaders (and Amber Rudd.) The BBC Debate was a shambles, the moderator, Mishal Husain, did not do her job.

  • She let that poisonous potato Nuttall speak too much- though he did hang himself a few times (then again he said he’d bring back capital punishment and be the executioner the other day, so…)
  • Farron (a little waspish and funny) and Corbyn (solid, factual, left in the background a little much because unlike some, he has manners) made excellent points when they weren’t talked over,
  • Lucas was great, but she should have used her own slogans (‘bargain basement tax haven’ is something Corbyn has been saying for months, for example)
  • Wood was good when she wasn’t mixing up B******e Labour and post 2015 Labour
  • but SNP Deputy and Westminster rep Robertson was right: ‘this shames us all’.
  • The camerawork was amateurish, or maybe even deliberately bad, with the focus on Rudd- which was unfortunate as she seemed to be tied in knots most of the time. The angles used were not flattering for anyone on the panel and the set was similarly ad hoc and low budget.
  • Labour and the Greens seemed the best received by the audience.
  • Rudd was the clown and patsy- prompted with phrases from the Lynton Crosby jargon book, like ‘strong and stable’ and ‘magic money tree’. Now Corbyn has too good a set of manners to spell out exactly where the tree is, as he dos not do ‘ad hominem’ attacks but it was implied in the manifesto exactly where the money was coming from– and others have gone further and said it outright.
  • Considering Rudd’s father had just died, this was just bad taste. Of course everyone deals with grief differently, and I think this bereavement made the others not attack as hard as they might have, but while I am sure Rudd choose whether to go or not, this reflects very badly on May. Which perhaps was the point. ‘Judge us on our record,’ she insisted to a staggered and hollowly laughing audience. Really? Do you really want us to do that? Ok then…

Shall I go on?

Watching the post election thing on BBC News 24 too, they’re calling it the ‘spin room’- sounds about right. And NO MSM outlet showed Corbyn for up to an hour afterwards outside talking to all those who did not manage to get tickets for the event.

may debates over

******CUTS DON’T WORK- the house of cards is coming down******

And more of her party’s austerity politics have come home to roost.

  • The crash of British Airways’ computer network, leaving thousands of passengers stranded, at the weekend can be linked to four warnings received about the danger of British Airways outsourcing IT on the cheap when she was Home Secretary. The IT glitch was blamed by the company on a ‘power cut’ but the GMB Union begged to differ. And the Daily Mail saw no irony in telling BA passengers that may be their readers how to claim compensation “using EU laws”…
  • And Andrew Neil while trying to grill Corbyn on his show this week, dropped what can only be seen as a massive clanger, confirming once and for all that the debt had increased under the Conservatives, despite all the cuts. He said:

National debt’s already an incredible £1.7trillion… If you borrow to invest… our national debt, which has already soared under the current government, would soar even more under Labour, wouldn’t it? [my italics]

Oops.

**********Seats under scrutiny this week**********

Bermondsey and Old Southwark

Neil Coyle is the (former) Labour MP for this seat, who will be standing for (re-)election next month. The seat was created for the 2010 general election, almost identical to the North Southwark and Bermondsey seat held by Lib Dem Simon Hughes from 1997-2010, so Hughes held the new seat then. Hughes’ majority was a healthy 8,530 votes (19.1%)

  • this was another seat to succumb to ‘spite voting’ post coalition in 2015, and Coyle won out. He obtained a 4,489 vote (8.7%) majority, with a large 13.9% swing to Labour. Known for being very outspoken (like when he called the Conservatives b*stards in Parliament) he is as it says above, no fan of the new leadership or cabinet.
  • The others standing on 2017 are the Conservative Siobhan Baillie, an Independent James Clarke, Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes is back, UKIP’s Elizabeth Jones and for the Greens, John Tyson.
  • In 2015, the Conservatives were a distant third (11.8% and a negative -5.3 swing), UKIP barely half that (6.3 which was a positive +6.0 swing) and the Greens with 3.9% of the vote (positive +2.3% swing.
  • But turnout was low in 2015- just 51,424 votes which is 61.7% (+4.2 increase.)
  • It is 63% white, 16% black African (with a thriving Nigerian community) and 8% black Caribbean. Only 31% of householders are owner–occupiers. The population is quite ‘young’, densely populated and considered the 41st most deprived area in the UK.
  • The area was strongly for remain in the EU referendum- 72.3%/27.7% leave (66% turnout).
  • The seat is too new to see any ‘trends’ but as has been said was a Lib Dem stronghold for almost 20 years. With the high remain vote, they may well gain it back.

Ilford South

Mike Gapes, former Labour/Co-op MP and chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, is the former MP for here and will be standing again in June. He has held the seat since 1992 and his majority has varied from 22%-38%; however it was 2015 that he obtained this 38% all-time high. The Conservatives held it from 1979-87. It has been a fairly straight Conservative/Labour scrap (described as a one time true marginal here) since its creation in 1945. Perhaps a problem for this seat is that turnout is really low- only 58% (which is 4% up from 2010.)

  • Six candidates are standing in 2017. Liberal Democrat Farid Ahmed, Conservative Christopher Chapman, Gapes, Friends Party Kane Khan, UKIP’s Tariq Saeed and for the Greens, Rosemary Warrington.
  • In 2015 the Conservative Christopher obtained a very distant 25.9% of the vote (−1.5 swing); UKIP rose a little by 3% to 5.2%, the Greens (same candidate for 2017) managed 2.9% which was a small positive swing but it was the Liberal Democrats who lost out the worst, part of the 2015 collapse with only  2% (a negative −15% swing.) So you would imagine this seat is safe. All the analysis of trends would suggest it.
  • The area was 69.9% for remain in the EU referendum and the second highest non-white population in the country as well as the second highest proportion of Asian voters. Another young area with only 11.9% of its population being over 65 (much lower than the national average); many people there are renting homes but 54% are in work with unemployment quite low.
  • In it’s old form (Ilford) it was a strong Unionist seat. This is the name for the Conservatives pre WWII (and you may have heard them still being called the Conservative and Unionist Party in Scotland.) With this history and all the misconceptions and lies around Corbyn and the IRA, no wonder Gapes’ stance is belligerent, despite the fact he’s Labour/Co-op– he’s thinking of his voters (or stuck in the past, something Corbyn is often accused of) and it would go some way to explain his aggressive foreign policy stance too (as above).

Ealing Central and Acton

The current MP, Labour’s Rupa Huq, has one of the smallest majorities of 274 votes (0.5%). It is a very new seat, created from Ealing Acton in 2010, where in that general election, Angie Bray, a Conservative, won the seat with a majority of 3,716, representing swing from Labour to the Conservatives of 5%. It is considered a seat to be very much under threat.

  • the Greens have stood down here to aid Huq, and UKIP have done the same to aid the Conservatives, but Liberal Democrat Jon Ball; Huq, of course; Conservative Joy Morrissey are standing.
  • In 2015 the results were close between Labour and Conservative. The Conservatives’ MP Angie Bray managed 42.7 (+4.7% swing) but still lost the seat due to a 13% swing to Huq, the Liberal Democrats lost out again with the ‘spite vote’ and fell to 6.1% (negative swing of −21.5%), UKIP gained 3.8% (+2.2% swing) and the Greens obtained 3.6% (+2.1% swing).
  • It has a highly diverse (in the top three in the country) and densely populated community, with among others: 49% White, 30% as Asian, 15% as Black and 4.5% as of mixed or multiple ethnicity.
  • As of the 2011 census the area has as high as, at 18%, an above UK average of people aged 65 and over. Conservative canvassers are noting a hostility towards the Conservatives’ ‘dementia tax’ and a dislike of the constant smearing of Corbyn rather than pushing their own manifesto, which dents their chances of winning back the seat; and 14% of the people that live here have disabilities.
  • House ownership is middling (51%) but has dropped since the last census, and 25+% of the area are in private rental housing.
  • The area was 60%/40% for remain in the EU referendum and 8% are unpaid carers for family members.
  • 15% of the people in the area are in the motor trade, closely followed by health or social worker.

This is beginning to look good for Huq, and it didn’t a month ago. The Lib Dem surge has not happened, it seems and the Conservative challenge less likely.

.
Chingford and Woodford Green

This is Iain Duncan Smith‘s seat. As one-time head of the DWP, many people have had the misfortune to know of him. And if I’d done this analysis a month ago, I would have described this is a Conservative cert! It had Norman Tebbit as its MP for years (created in 1974) who built up the majority there to 41%. Under IDS it started off with a 36% majority in 1992 but since then his majority has wildly swung from 12.9% to 30.1% with little possibility of predicting it. From 2010 to 2015 it was on a downward swing from that high of 30.1% to just 8,386 votes (19.1%) with a turnout of just 65.7% (which was lower than 2010 too.) So while not a marginal per se, it is not as safe as he would like.

  • Iain Duncan Smith is standing again in 2017. For the Greens there will be Sinead King; for Labour, Bilal Mahmood and for the Liberal Democrats Deborah Unger. UKIP are not standing, and it is a straight four ‘horse’ race. In 2015 we saw Labour (the same candidate as this time) get 12,613 votes (28.8%- a +6.1 positive swing), UKIP gained 12.9% (+10.3% swing), the Liberal Democrats collapsed as we have seen in many other seats to 5.5% (-11.3% swing) and the Greens managed 1,854 votes (4.2%, a +2.7 swing.)
  • In the referendum the vote was marginal- 51% to remain, which could bring some of those seats back to the Lib Dems that they lost. IDS is a vocal, almost rabid Leave MP, which is why UKIP are not standing. As an MP who is not representing the majority (yes I know 51% is crap, but still a majority) he’s on an ‘attack list’ of 20 Leave-supporting MPs drawn up by Remain campaigners as a target for tactical voting by Open Britain who are the successor organisation to the Remain campaign. They hope to mobilise its database of half a million supporters in a bid to vote them out of Parliament.
  • The area is mostly white, with a 10% sprinkling of black; and work-wise: deemed as ‘Professional’ 19.6%, Administrative and secretarial 16.4%, Associate professional and technical 14.8% and Managers, directors and senior officials 12.7%.
  • Unemployment is at 3% and the number of people who work in the care professions is not much higher. About 10% of the electorate is over 65 (approximately 5500 people), which could make a difference in the light of the Conservative manifesto.
  • Canvassing by non Conservative parties is going well, with some of the best turnouts being for Labour. The general turnout has a good window to swell in, and local papers seem apathetic about the upcoming elections. So if Lib Dems swing back, this could be a close affair.

Batley and Spen

This is another fairly new seat having been created in 1983. Unfortunately best known because Labour MP for the area Jo Cox was killed by a far right monomaniac on a mission, it is now held by Labour Co-op MP Tracy Brabin who apparently used to appear in a soap opera (not judging, just have no interest in soap operas! 😉 ) Until 1992 it was a Conservative hold by just a couple of hundred votes, but after that a strong Labour seat with a 9%-14% majority (approximately 5000 votes.) When Cox died the area was (post 2015 GE) Labour 21,826 votes (43.2%, +1.7 swing), Conservative Imtiaz Ameen 31.2%; a −1.8 swing, UKIP’s Aleks Lukic 18.0% -new candidate, no previous figures), for the Liberal Democrats John Lawson with 4.7% (−11.1% swing) and for the Greens Ian Bullock with 1,232 votes (2.4%; a +1.3 swing) and a 64.4% turnout, which is low to middling. This seat is considered to be a marginal historically.

  • It is hard to factor in the 2016 by-election as none of the major parties stood out of respect to Cox. The voters did not show much ‘respect’ as it were, as only 25.8% bothered to go to the booths. Out of those, Brabin obtained 16,537 votes, which was 81% of the turnout.
  • This year Brabin is standing again.  For the Greens, Alan Freeman; an Independent Mohammed Hanif; Liberal Democrat John Lawson; another Independent (previously UKIP) Aleks Lukic; and Conservative Ann Myatt.
  • Myatt may well have scuppered what chances the Conservatives may have had by making this really off colour remark however.

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  • The rural part (Spen Valley) has a mostly white and sizeable retired population, compared to city centres with a lower percentage of social housing is present than the regional average; while Batley has far more social housing and more of residents with South Asian backgrounds, namely Pakistani (9.2%) and Indian (Gujarati) (15.9%). Without trying to be over simplistic, one can see why this seat is marginal as the social levels and diversity has such a wide range.
  • The area was 60% for Leave in the referendum, with Batley as high as 80%. Again without trying to sound simplistic, this is unlikely to ensure any Lib Dem surge.
  • Little is known about Brabin politically, though her voting record shows she is very pro Leave (yet actually voted Remain) but also pro EU citizens keeping their rights in the UK: against reducing benefit payments but also against tax avoidance measures: was pro Corbyn but voted for Smith in the leadership elections. Perhaps she will reconsider, now that she has been quoted as being ‘impressed by the support’ Corbyn has given her fight to preserve her local hospital. This leaves one with the impression she is yet to find her feet politically, and she may not have the time to learn, should there be an upturn in voter turnout in the area.

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport

This one is one of many Conservative marginals, and it here where May is going to try and drum up support today (31/05/17) will that help or hinder? 🤔

In 2015, the figures were like this: the current MP, Conservative Oliver Colvile gained 18,120 votes (37.8%; +3.5 swing); Labour’s Luke Pollard had 17,597 votes (36.7% +5.0 swing); UKIP’s Roy Kettle got 6,731 votes (14.0%; +7.5 swing), the Greens’ Libby Brown had 3,401 votes (7.1%; +5.0 swing) and again we see a post coalition collapse with the Liberal Democrat Graham Reed bringing up the rear on 2,008 votes (4.2%; -20.5 swing.)

  • In 2017 the following candidates are standing: the Independent Danny Bamping, Liberal Democrat Henrietta Bewley; Colvile again; for UKIP Richard Ellison; for Labour Co-op Luke Pollard again, and for the Greens Dan Sheaff. No standing down from UKIP or the Greens here so the voting will be on a knife edge.
  • Colvile’s majority is just 523 votes, which 1.1%. This new seat (from 2010) is comprised mostly of the old seat Plymouth Davenport, held by Labour’s Michael Foot in the 40s and 50s; and by Labour’s David Owen in the 70s and 80s, who went on with the ‘Gang of Four’ to form the SDP. When Owen stepped down it was strongly Labour right up to when the seat was abolished. So historically not a strong area for the Conservatives and you could argue (as shown above with the 1997 election figures) that the collapse of the Lib Dems let in Colvile.
  • A Lib Dem surge seems unlikely as people do seem to be making a lot of the election about single issues- Devonport voted 64% leave and Sutton voted 52% leave in the EU referendum.
  • With a potential electorate of over 71,000 only 65.5% made their voting intentions clear in 2015.
  • So if there’s an influx of new voters in the area this could swing it to Labour. Voters in this area have a wide range of jobs but mostly in the care sectors and skilled trades, with 34.7% (41,600) of residents qualified to degree level. But their average wage is one of the lowest in the south (£24,153) so I imagine would welcome wage rises.
  • With 18% of people in the area dealing with disability and 11% of its people providing unpaid care for someone with an illness or disability, and a higher than average amount of people aged over 65 in the constituency, a Conservative hold is looking less likely as the analysis goes on.

Vauxhall

Held by Labour MP Kate Hoey with 12,708 a vote majority- 26.5% and a  1.8% swing from 2015 but she’s currently in trouble with her own CLP and BLPs for being so pro-Leave, anti-refugee and anti- residency rights of EU nationals when the UK leaves the EU; against the wishes of her constituents. She’s held this Labour stronghold seat since 1989 but has seen her majority on the whole reduce to its current figure.

  • In 2017, the Pirate Party has Mark Chapman; the Greens have Gulnar Hasnain; Hoey of course; for the Women’s Equality Party Harini Iyengar; for the Conservatives Dolly Theis; and for the Liberal Democrats George Turner. In 2015 the vote share behind Hoey (58% of the vote) was: Conservative (13,070 votes, 27.3%- a 5.7% swing); Green (same candidate for 2017 with 3,658 votes, 7.6%- 6% swing); Liberal Democrat (3,312 votes, 6.9%- a negative swing of  18.2%); UKIP (1,385 2.9%, but they’re not standing here as Hoey is pro Leave) and the Pirate’s Mark Chapman had 201 votes (0.4%, new candidate standing). So she does appear safe.
  • The area was a very high 75% remain vote and as it becomes obvious (see part 1 of the election blog) that the EU will be a polariser, the Lib Dems may well get their vote share back, as the pro Remain party, and come back into second place in the result as they were for many elections pre 2015.
  • Rumours are becoming more concertised that she (Hoey) is one of the Labour MPs that may not have a job soon, partly due to their voting patterns, partly due to ignoring their electorate on B*exit, and partly because of their role on the so-called ‘chicken coup- as her local party as has been said has no confidence in her. To be honest the time for this is after the election. You need to keep the seat first. So she’s not as safe as numbers might suggest, and even if Labour do win out here, she may not in the long run.
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