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Labour chooses a Corbyn critic to fight Copeland and this and the Stoke Central by-elections could be next month

January 19th, 2017

Big developments tonight in the two by-elections where LAB is defending seats where the sitting MPs are standing down to pursue other careers.

According to Kevin Schofield of PoiticsHome Labour is planning to hold the two contests on the same day – something that always seemed likely.

It had been thought that the party would have waited until My 4th – when elections are taking place in many parts of the country and we have the first mayoral elections for George Osbornes’s new combined authorities. According to the report that plan has now been ruled out.

“..party strategists now believe they have a better chance of holding both seats if they mount short campaigns.

Copeland MP Mr Reed will formally stand down on 31 January to take up a job in the nuclear industry, while Mr Hunt will quit before the weekend to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum…”

The other development is that the Corbyn-supporter on the LAB Copeland short-list has not been chosen – instead the job of seeking to become the seat’s next MP has gone to Councillor Gillian Troughton some of whose Tweets on her leader are featured above.

    Her selection means that every single by-election LAB nominee in a seat being defended since Corbyn got the job has gone to a non-Corbyn supporter.

Clearly in Copeland there is going to be an issue with the LAB leader’s widely reported position on nuclear power which the Tories have already got their teeth into.

The husband of the Lib Dem choice in Copeland, Rebecca Benson, is a nuclear engineer.

The worry for Labour is that it is under severe pressure in both Stoke and Copeland. UKIP’s new leader, Paul Nuttall is running on Stoke Central where the party came 2nd in 2015.

Mike Smithson





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Just one council by-election tonight – a CON defence in the midlands

January 19th, 2017

Norton on Bromsgrove (caused by the death of the sitting Conservative councillor)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 18, Labour 7, Independents 3, Wythall Ratepayers 3 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 943 (60%), Labour 467 (30%), Green 166 (11%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 26,252 (45%) LEAVE 32,563 (55%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Michelle Baker (Green), Rory Shannon (Lab), Adrian Smart (UKIP), Michael Webb (Con)
Weather at the close of poll: Clear, 1°C
Estimate: Con HOLD

Compiled by Harry Hayfield



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Timing is everything. A review of Theresa May’s speech

January 19th, 2017

 

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

Whatever else you think of Brexit, we are being led by powerful currents taking us far from familiar shores. Whether we find safe harbour or end up washed up on the rocks is yet to be seen.

Theresa May has grasped this. After months of silence and having insisted that she would not give a running commentary, she has delivered a speech which offers as much clarity as anyone could have wished for about Britain’s negotiating strategy. Her government is to prioritise controlling immigration and as a result she is not going to attempt to keep Britain in the single market. In her words, the future relationship between Britain and the EU will be “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.”

Presented as a strategy, this is in reality an admission of defeat. Some Leaver ministers have spent the last six months skipping like Julie Andrews enumerating some of their favourite things about the EU that they intended Britain to continue to benefit from. The Prime Minister is obviously more securely tethered to reality and has recognised that the EU’s many statements that it would not allow Britain to cherry-pick are not bluffs. She has concluded that controlling immigration is a non-negotiable component of Brexit and is proceeding accordingly. Rather than spend months pursuing the impossible, she isn’t going to make the attempt. Instead, she’s going to cut her losses now.

While this is an admission of defeat, it is also politically sensible. The Prime Minister has called this “Clean Brexit” and a more precise turn of phrase would be “Cauterised Brexit”, burning off some tissue in order to seal the wound. This was for centuries standard medical practice after amputation and entirely applicable here.

The domestic reaction came in two stages. That night, the tabloids were ecstatic. And the next day, HSBC and UBS announced their plans to relocate jobs from London – an early illustration of how Cauterised Brexit may have major costs.

For the first time, the Prime Minister also offered some olive twigs to the rest of the EU. She proclaimed her belief that the vote was not a rejection of shared values or to do harm to the EU itself (she would do well to slap down publicly some of her more excitable backbenchers on this last point). She stated that other Europeans would still be welcome in this country.

Despite the clumsy attempts at veiled threats that Theresa May dropped about how Britain could act in a hostile manner if a deal wasn’t reached, the speech received a moderate reception in the chancelleries of Europe (less so in the European press). The sense of realism and the dialling down of the rhetoric has undoubtedly helped. While there is still an enormous amount of work still to be done even to realise the very restricted Brexit that Theresa May is imagining, the risk of a chaotic Brexit has receded quite a way as a result of this speech being delivered.

The whole effort, however, has been undermined by a major flaw that is potentially very damaging indeed. Quite simply, this speech was far too late. The timetable for Brexit is demanding and Theresa May had long ago committed herself to triggering Article 50 in the early part of 2017. There is nothing that she said this week that could not have been said at the Conservative party conference. It would certainly have been a far better conference speech than the one that she actually delivered. Three precious months have been lost.

And it’s not as though those three months have been valuably or even neutrally spent. In the meantime, the British government has been burning its remaining capital with other European nations, insulting them, belittling them and threatening them. The mood is icy.

Brexit was always going to be a brutally difficult course to navigate. But by her delay, Theresa May might well find that the flood tide has been missed. Shallows and miseries might well be impossible to avoid now.

Alastair Meeks




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This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast looks at Theresa May’s speech and looks ahead to Trump’s inauguration

January 19th, 2017

This week’s podcast is split into two parts.

In part one, Keiran is joined in the studio by Adam Drummond, Head of Political Polling at Opinium. Keiran and Adam discuss all things data in the aftermath of Theresa May’s big Brexit speech. They discuss the public’s reaction to May’s speech, attitudes to ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Brexits (and why numbers are not always what they seem), immigration polling, May’s approval ratings and polling on the NHS. Keiran also explains why he does not think Labour’s polling ‘floor’ is as bad as others make out.

In part two, Keiran is joined on the phone by US political expert (and Polling Matters regular), Jon-Christopher Bua. Keiran and Jon-Christopher discuss Trump’s inauguration, what his transition says about the type of president he will be and what happens next once he takes the oath of office. Jon-Christopher also gives his perspective on the future of healthcare in the US and what a Trump foreign policy might mean for Europe. Finally, Keiran and Jon-Christopher discuss how history will judge Obama’s presidency.

Follow today’s guests on twitter:

@keiranpedley

@jcbua

@AGKD123



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The Sun re-does its classic front page on the day of the 1992 general election

January 18th, 2017

This was from election day in April 1992

Tomorrow’s front page



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Paul Nuttall’s doing the right thing by seeking to join Carswell in the Commons at the first opportunity

January 18th, 2017

 

This could be a tight 4 way contest

The main non-BREXIT UK political news during the day has been that UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, looks all set to become candidate in the Stoke Central by-election – the seat being made vacant by the Tristram Hunt departure. On Betfair the development has caused UKIP chances to move from 29% to 31%

At GE2015 the purples beat the Tories by 33 votes into second place there and look to be in a reasonable position to contest it. There’s no doubt that with the leader flying the flag UKIP would put absolutely everything into it.

I admire Nuttall’s decision because he’s ready to take a gamble. I always thought that Farage made a mistake in 2013 not being candidate in Eastleigh where he had stood previously.

But there’s no question that he has a major challenge on his hands. Labour will be working very hard to defend the seat; the Lib Dems, who were runners-up in 2005 and 2010 are on a roll when it comes to by-elections and carry the pro EU message, and of course, the Tories might fancy their chances.

Another risk is that it is almost certain that there’ll be a big stop UKIP move with one or two of the other parties trying to argue that only they can stop the purples  from advancing. The fact that UKIP will be running a high profile campaign could increase turnout across the board.

UKIP do have a councillor  on Stoke City Council which suggests that they have some form of organisation.

A lot is going to depend on the timing and, of course, how BREXIT  looks at the time of the vote.

 

Mike Smithson




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My 66/1 long-shot bet for the 2020 White House race: Democratic Senator Kamala Harris from California

January 18th, 2017

Could she be the one to take down Trump?

With Trump’s inauguration taking place on Friday there’s been a flurry of betting activity on the newly elected Senator from California, Kamala Harris, for the next White House Race in 2020. This followed a lot of coverage of her part in fighting against Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions.

In November she became the second black woman and first Indian American elected to serve in the Senate. She’s a former Attorney-General for California and is the daughter of an Indian-American mother and Jamaican-American father.

As I’ve found in the past it can pleasurable and profitable backing a long-shot three to four years out and watching their progress. Occasionally you might back a winner.

My reading of the Democratic party 2020 race is that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will simply be too old to contemplate running. Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren (15/2) is currently favourite and she’s likely to play a big part in her party’s opposition to the incoming president. She was strongly tipped to run last year but didn’t. Maybe 2016 was her best chance.

Michelle Obama (8/1) is also being tipped but somehow I can’t see her taking the plunge.

For bets that won’t mature for nearly four years I like long-shots and have 53 year old Harris at 66/1 for the Presidency and 40/1 for the nomination. As I write these odds are still available and might be worth a punt.

Mike Smithson




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Theresa May’s big speech – a round up of reaction

January 17th, 2017