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Politics | The Guardian

Latest Politics news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 15:04:24 GMT2017-02-25T15:04:24Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

David Miliband: Labour's move to the left is a mistake

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:14:37 GMT2017-02-25T13:14:37Z

Former foreign secretary says party is further from power than at any time in last 50 years because of lack of substance

David Miliband has said the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is further from power than at any time in the last 50 years and has refused to rule out a return to British politics.

As Corbyn made clear he did not believe his leadership contributed to Labour’s byelection defeat in Copeland, Miliband said he was “deeply concerned that Labour is further from power than at any stage in my lifetime”.

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Nigel Farage stands by Paul Nuttall despite loss in Stoke byelection

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 12:21:09 GMT2017-02-25T12:21:09Z

Former leader says incumbent is ‘the right man’ to lead Ukip despite failure to overturn Labour majority in pro-Brexit city

Nigel Farage has offered renewed support to Paul Nuttall, his successor as Ukip leader, despite warning that the party’s failure to overturn Labour’s majority in pro-Brexit Stoke revealed it needed radical reform to become electorally viable.

Nuttall, who was widely tipped to take Stoke-on-Trent Central in Thursday’s byelection, was forced to dismiss the idea that he might step down as Ukip leader after he polled just 79 more votes than the third place Conservative candidate.

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Tom Watson stands by Jeremy Corbyn despite Copeland defeat

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:32:39 GMT2017-02-25T14:32:39Z

Party must take ‘long, hard look’ at what is not working after byelection failure, deputy leader tells Scottish Labour conference

It is not the time to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader despite the “hugely disappointing” defeat for the party in the Copeland byelection, Tom Watson has said.

The party must take “a long, hard look” at what is not working following Thursday’s electoral blow, the deputy leader told Scottish Labour’s conference in Perth on Saturday.

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Jeremy Corbyn told not to 'pass the buck' after Labour defeat

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 05:38:03 GMT2017-02-25T05:38:03Z

Senior party figures tell leader that he must take some responsibility after historic byelection loss in Copeland

Jeremy Corbyn has come under intense pressure to take some personal responsibility for Labour’s historic byelection defeat in Copeland from senior party figures, including trade union leaders and even members of his own shadow cabinet.

The Labour leader was urged not to “pass the buck” or sugarcoat the result after Theresa May’s Conservatives secured the first byelection gain by a government since 1982, in a Cumbrian seat that had been held by his party since 1935.

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Nigel Farage says Brexit and Trump win are 'beginning of global revolution'

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:15:50 GMT2017-02-24T19:15:50Z

The former leader of the United Kingdom Independence party (Ukip) spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday near Washington DC

Nigel Farage addressed the biggest conservative conference in America on Friday, claiming that Brexit and the election victory of Donald Trump were “the beginning of a great global revolution” that would continue on throughout the west.

“We’ve got some very exciting elections coming up in the Netherlands, in France, in Germany,” the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence party (Ukip) and one of the leading figures in the campaign to win Britain’s referendum on leaving the EU told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

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DUP spent £282,000 on Brexit ad that did not run in Northern Ireland

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 11:49:36 GMT2017-02-24T11:49:36Z

Advert in Metro newspaper included in party’s £425,000 spend on EU referendum campaign that dwarfed its election outlay

The Democratic Unionist party spent £282,000 on a pro-Brexit advert in a newspaper that is not published in Northern Ireland, according to documents released by the Electoral Commission.

The advertising cover wrap appeared in the Metro elsewhere in the UK as part of a total DUP spend on the EU referendum campaign of £425,000, more than seven times the party’s declared expenditure of £58,183 on the 2015 general election.

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Sadiq Khan: nationalism can be as divisive as bigotry and racism

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:01:46 GMT2017-02-25T00:01:46Z

London’s mayor implies fresh Scottish referendum would be as destabilising as Brexit vote and Trump presidency

Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, has risked causing a row over Scottish independence by warning that nationalism can be as divisive as racism and religious bigotry.

Related: Scottish Tories accuse SNP of seeking to weaponise Brexit vote

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Tory MP in 90-minute attempt to talk out domestic violence bill

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:44:24 GMT2017-02-24T16:44:24Z

Self-styled champion of men’s rights Philip Davies introduced 47 proposed new clauses in a failed attempt at Commons filibuster

A Conservative MP with a reputation for targeting bills protecting women’s rights has broken his own record by talking for more than 90 minutes in an attempt to derail a measure demanding the government ratify a treaty on domestic violence.

Philip Davies, who represents Shipley in West Yorkshire, talked without a break for an hour and 31 minutes as he introduced 47 proposed new clauses to the bill about the Istanbul convention, which was signed by the UK in 2012 but not yet ratified.

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Fast-track degrees may hit education standards, government warned

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:27:44 GMT2017-02-24T13:27:44Z

Plan to introduce two-year courses costing same as three-year course would lead to lifting of £9,000-a-year tuition fee cap

Plans for fast-track degrees with higher annual fees risk adversely affecting the quality of education received by university students, the government has been warned.

The two-year degrees proposed by the government will cost the same as a three-year course, meaning annual fees for them will be higher. Ministers are expected to table a bill to lift the current £9,000-a-year cap on tuition costs so universities can charge higher annual rates.

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Government intervention has led to higher energy bills, claims Lords report

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 11:09:06 GMT2017-02-24T11:09:06Z

Committee urges new energy commission that would prioritise low energy bills and security rather than low carbon emissions

Ministers should establish a new energy commission to spur on construction of power stations because successive governments have failed to encourage enough fresh power capacity in the UK, according to a House of Lords report.

Subsidy-backed growth in renewable energy projects, such as windfarms, has deterred the construction of new conventional power plants, the economic affairs committee claimed.

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Dutch minister calls on UK to join safe abortion fund after Trump ban

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 11:15:42 GMT2017-02-24T11:15:42Z

Twenty countries aim to raise $600m to fill gap left by Donald Trump’s ban on funding for pro-abortion NGOs in developing world

The Dutch government has voiced hope that the UK will join 20 countries to set up a safe abortion fund to fill the gap left by Donald Trump’s “global gag rule”.

Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch international development minister, is leading an international campaign to raise $600m (£480m) to compensate for the Trump administration’s ban on funding for NGOs that provide abortion or information on the procedure to women in developing countries.

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Labour scents hope of Brexit guarantee for EU citizens in UK

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:00:00 GMT2017-02-23T22:00:00Z

Tory peer backs article 50 bill amendment, fuelling optimism that cross-party support may draw concession from Theresa May

Labour is increasingly optimistic it can force concessions from the government over the status of EU nationals in post-Brexit Britain, after securing cross-party backing for an amendment to the article 50 bill.

Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, said: “My sense is there’s real momentum behind this one, and my sense talking to peers across the house and listening to the debate is this is something that the House of Lords would support, cross-party.”

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Stop being sentimental about child refugees, says Tory MP

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:45:54 GMT2017-02-23T19:45:54Z

Pauline Latham tells Commons debate on child refugees from France that it is not the UK’s job to look after them

Critics of the government’s decision to close the door on refugee children from Calais have been urged to “stop being sentimental” by a Tory backbencher.

Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for mid-Derbyshire, said other governments across Europe should be looking after the children in their jurisdictions, not Britain.

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MPs call on Theresa May to release 'kill list' for UK drone strikes

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:52:43 GMT2017-02-23T16:52:43Z

Letter signed by former DPP also calls for release of report into 2015 strike that killed Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan in Syria

Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, has co-signed a letter to Theresa May calling for greater transparency on the UK’s use of a “kill list” for drone strikes targeting British fighters in Syria and elsewhere.

The letter calls for the release of a report by parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) into the British drone strike that killed Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan in Syria in August 2015, as well as the names of any further targets killed in the name of self-defence.

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Minister says he cannot reveal details about 'British suicide bomber'

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:36:26 GMT2017-02-23T11:36:26Z

Ben Wallace answers question on former Guantánamo Bay detainee Jamal al-Harith, who apparently blew himself up in Iraq

A Home Office minister has said the government cannot reveal details about the fate of Jamal al-Harith, the former Guantánamo Bay detainee who appears to have blown himself up in Iraq.

Challenged by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, about the case of Harith, Ben Wallace cited “the longstanding policy of successive governments not to comment on intelligence matters”.

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Michael Gove refuses to say if Murdoch sat in on Trump interview

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:37:59 GMT2017-02-23T14:37:59Z

Ex-minister does reveal he regrets entering Tory leadership race and says he has not spoken to David Cameron since Brexit vote

Michael Gove has refused to say whether Rupert Murdoch sat in on his interview with Donald Trump, but admitted it had been a mistake for him to enter the race to become prime minister.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Christian Today website, the former cabinet minister also said he had not spoken to David Cameron since the Brexit referendum, though he has been in touch with Boris Johnson, whose Tory leadership bid was scuppered by Gove announcing his own candidacy.

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UK's £100m response to South Sudan famine comes from cash already allocated

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:59:21 GMT2017-02-23T15:59:21Z

Initial optimism quashed after it emerges that announcement of ‘new’ government support for famine-hit country refers to funding already in place

The British government is facing questions after announcing it was responding to the declaration of famine in South Sudan by allocating £100m of new money that had, in reality, already been reserved for the stricken country.

On Wednesday, the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) released a statement trumpeting what it described as “new humanitarian support” for South Sudan.

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Government 'watering down' pollution limits to meet Heathrow pledge

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 00:01:48 GMT2017-02-23T00:01:48Z

MPs say ministers are not doing enough to demonstrate how third runway would meet obligations on noise and air quality

The government is set to “water down” limits on aviation emissions and is shifting targets to meet its pledge to mitigate the environmental impact of expanding Heathrow, MPs have said.

The cross-party environmental audit committee said ministers were not doing enough to demonstrate a third Heathrow runway could be built without breaching laws on air quality and carbon emissions.

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Tom Watson given £500k in donations by Max Mosley in past year

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:01:09 GMT2017-02-22T23:01:09Z

Register of MPs’ interests shows that former Formula One boss gave money to support Watson’s office as deputy leader and shadow culture secretary

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has received half a million pounds in donations from Max Mosley in less than a year, official records show.

The latest register of MPs’ interests reveals that Watson registered a donation worth £300,000 from the former boss of Formula One this month. It was made via the party to support Watson’s office as deputy leader and shadow culture secretary.

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Prisons shakeup to give governors more control over rehabilitation

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 00:01:47 GMT2017-02-23T00:01:47Z

Legislation to tackle jails crisis will hand staff greater powers over education, employment and health budgets

Prison governors are to be held to account for getting offenders off drugs, into jobs and learning English and maths under new powers to be detailed in the justice secretary’s flagship legislation to tackle the prison crisis.

The prisons and courts bill, to be published on Thursday, will give governors control over their budgets for education, employment and health and introduce a new system of league tables and performance standards.

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Tony Blair attacks Daily Mail's 'hypocrisy' over suicide bomber

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:12:01 GMT2017-02-22T18:12:01Z

Former PM denies his government paid compensation to British jihadi who died in Iraq and says Mail campaigned for his release

Tony Blair has denied that a Labour government paid compensation to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee who went on to blow himself up in Iraq, with a strongly worded statement in which he accused the Daily Mail of hypocritical coverage over the Manchester-born jihadi’s death.

The former prime minister said compensation, estimated to be in six figures, was paid out under the Conservative-led coalition government in 2010 and criticised the tabloid for blaming him and Labour instead.

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MPs launch official inquiry into universal credit as criticism grows

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:38:41 GMT2017-02-22T13:38:41Z

Investigation into benefits system comes amid mounting evidence that payment delays have left thousands facing eviction

MPs have launched an official inquiry into universal credit amid growing concerns that design flaws in the new benefits system are leaving thousands of low-income claimants facing eviction and reliant on food banks.

The Commons work and pensions committee said it was compelled to launch a full investigation after mounting evidence that built-in payment delays and administrative blockages were creating severe problems for claimants and landlords.

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Paul Nuttall's troubled relationship with the truth finally catches up with him

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-02-25T07:00:05Z

Whether it’s lies about being a footballer, having a PhD or losing close friends at Hillsborough, the Ukip leader always has someone else to blame

In 1999 David Renton, a history lecturer at Edge Hill college in Lancashire, asked his undergraduates to write an essay about the causes of the Holocaust.

Renton recalls how one of his students – a bright and outspoken man who, at 23, was older than others in the class, handed in an essay in which he suggested there was an argument to be made that Jewish people had brought it upon themselves.

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Blame Labour MPs and grandees for the lost byelection, not Jeremy Corbyn | Letters

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:37:43 GMT2017-02-24T18:37:43Z

Irrespective of the results from the Copeland and Stoke byelections (Report, 24 February), it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors were preparing to impose their chosen narrative, whether on victory or defeat. What is striking about their criticism is not the strategic disloyalty, paucity of political alternatives, or the fact that in both seats the previous incumbents – having presided over sharp declines in Labour’s polling – left their constituents for the noble pursuit of personal enrichment. Instead, it is the wilful disregard of their own records, embodied in the entitled impunity of Lord Mandelson, that exposes the cynicism of the party’s critics. Did Corbyn trigger the haemorrhaging of Labour’s share of the vote from 1997? Did the Labour left foster the collapse in the authority of a political elite so mired in complacency and ideological stasis that an alienated and angry minority has found comfort in the rhetoric of the far right?

No doubt Momentum, highly visible on the streets of both constituencies, will be blamed for the historic shifts that have atomised working-class communities and consciousness. If Labour is to stand a chance of successfully communicating its transformative agenda to an electorate reeling under the iron heel of austerity, MPs and party grandees must end their unrelenting destabilisation of the frontbench, acknowledge their own culpability in Labour’s troubles and support every effort to restore a reputation they themselves are responsible for squandering.
Mike Cowley

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Lord Waddington obituary

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:34:37 GMT2017-02-24T18:34:37Z

Loyal home secretary under Margaret Thatcher who blamed himself in part for her downfall

Being home secretary is never an easy job, but David Waddington’s brief tenure in that great office of state at the tail-end of Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister was more tempestuous than most. Plucked from being chief whip at the age of 60, Waddington, who has died aged 87, had to deal with a string of serious problems. There was a prison siege, poll tax riots, miscarriages of justice for the Birmingham Six, a contentious war crimes bill, and broadcasting legislation that established satellite television. He lasted only 13 months, from 1989 to 1990.

Waddington, a barrister and crown court recorder on his local north-western circuit in Lancashire, was a Tory loyalist, unostentatious to the point of greyness: diligent, competent but uninspiring and uncharismatic, whose entire ministerial career was served under Thatcher. At junior ministerial levels he took on some of the least rewarding jobs in government, including trade union reform and immigration and asylum issues, and was able to mollify and reassure Tory backbenchers that he was on their side with his robust rightwing views, in favour of hanging and corporal punishment.

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Theresa May: Copeland victory shows Tories are governing for everyone

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:21:22 GMT2017-02-24T17:21:22Z

PM visits scene of byelection win to hail ‘astounding result’ and signals intention to challenge Labour in its northern heartlands

Theresa May has claimed the Conservative byelection victory in Copeland shows her party is governing for every part of the country, as she signalled an intention to challenge Labour in its northern heartlands.

Visiting the Cumbrian constituency for a victory speech, the prime minister said it was an astounding result and a “wonderful victory for the Conservative party and also the people of Copeland”.

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New Tory MP will have ‘the ear of government’, says Theresa May – video

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:12:11 GMT2017-02-24T17:12:11Z

Prime minister Theresa May makes a victory speech during a visit to the constituency of Copeland, which was won by the Conservative party in Thursday’s byelection. May points out that the “wonderful victory” is the first time a governing party has won a byelection seat from the opposition since 1982 and says the result proves the Tories are a “government that is working for everyone”

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The NHS is struggling. Labour must offer a credible health policy

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 09:30:01 GMT2017-02-25T09:30:01Z

The Copeland defeat shows ‘save our NHS’ will not be enough to save Labour. It must stop writing its plans on a placard

Labour’s attempt to terrify the voters of Copeland with talk of dead babies has failed. Now it needs to get serious about developing a credible health policy.

In north Cumbria the NHS faces difficult choices on maternity care. It has been struggling to maintain the support services and staffing necessary for consultant-led maternity care of acceptable quality in both Whitehaven and Carlisle. This means Whitehaven may lose its maternity service. Both staff and public are anxious about the risks.

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Copeland shows Corbyn must go. But only Labour’s left can remove him | Jonathan Freedland

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-02-25T06:00:04Z

The party leader’s supporters should ask themselves how long they can allow the Tories, unchallenged, to wreak intolerable damage on the country

Let’s remind ourselves what’s at stake. Unchecked, Theresa May and her government are leading Britain through the narrowest, harshest exit from the European Union, taking the country out of not only the EU but also the single market, and in all probability, the customs union too.

In the process they could well jeopardise a two-decade peace in Northern Ireland and trigger a second Scottish referendum that would unravel the United Kingdom. At the same time, May’s government is presiding over a calamity in the NHS, a crisis in social care, and an eighth year of shrinking budgets for local councils – which means more cuts to already starved libraries, parks and services for the most vulnerable.

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The Guardian view on the byelection results: a test for Mr Corbyn | Editorial

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:05:58 GMT2017-02-24T19:05:58Z

Labour is ceding territory on the centre ground of politics to the Tories, not because of Brexit but because of the Labour leader’s unwarranted optimism. The reality is that voters are not buying what he is sellingWhat happens when you know all about an impending catastrophe but somehow cannot take it seriously? Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is in danger of finding out. It cannot be much cheer that the opposition won just one out of two seats it has held for more than half a century. Last night’s capture of Copeland for the Conservatives is a big political event by any measure. Copeland – and its predecessor seat – had been Labour since 1935. It was the first time a sitting government had won a byelection since 1982. It is an exceptional result for Theresa May and a humbling one for Mr Corbyn. Some of that is down to local factors, in particular the Labour leader’s dislike of the nuclear power industry on which west Cumbria is so economically dependent. It is worth recalling that even when Labour ran on a more visceral anti-nuclear manifesto in 1983, voters in Copeland backed the party. The region is one of many in which traditional Labour voters still balk at switching to the Tories, but when so many jobs are at stake it can happen. Copeland is also a whiter, wealthier constituency than average – and also importantly one with a larger manufacturing base than that usually found. It is the sort of seat that Labour needs to keep hold of in the north. The Tory win underlines Mrs May’s and the Tories’ growing ascendancy. It also hints at the larger potential of Mrs May’s conservatism to capture the centre ground of English politics – though she will have to persuade her party too.Parliamentary byelections always tell an important story, but care is needed in putting those stories into a national context. Labour held on in Stoke Central, a contest in which many initially wrote them off. The Liberal Democrats’ recent surge was not repeated either. In some ways the biggest loser this week was Ukip. When the two byelections were triggered, many assumed that the two seats, Stoke in particular, might be Ukip’s for the taking. Perhaps they might have been if the view that Brexit has revolutionised everything had been right. But it wasn’t. Ukip’s arrogance, divisions and obsessions were not what the voters turned out to want. Paul Nuttall, the party leader, staked his future on winning in Stoke. His flaws were ruthlessly exposed, in the press and on the stump. His future must therefore be in doubt. Another round of the Ukip leadership soap opera may beckon. Ukip is not dead. But claims that it is poised to sweep Labour aside have underestimated the good sense of the voters. Yet the byelection results support a second important conclusion as well. They seriously undermine the lazy assumption, peddled especially by some of the rightwing press but swallowed also by some in the Labour party, that the Brexit referendum has redefined British party politics at a stroke. Both of these constituencies were very clear Brexit supporters in 2016. Yet their votes for Brexit did not give the byelections a new shape. Instead their shape is recognisably an old one. In Stoke, the shifts in party share of the vote between 2015 and 2017 were small.[...]

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Eyes on the pies: blame the bookies not a goalie for a storm in a teacup | John Crace

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:00:10 GMT2017-02-24T19:00:10Z

Vilifying Sutton reserve goalkeeper for his FA Cup snacking is like berating windy Doris for Labour’s byelection defeat


A 60-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh has revealed that personality is not, as had previously been thought, immutable. This may be good news for all those in their 20s and 30s who wake up most days feeling anxious and are hoping it won’t last forever, but it’s not so great for those of us who have reached our 60s and detect no discernible difference from our younger selves.

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Paul Nuttall says he’s not going anywhere. For once he’s right | Marina Hyde

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:18:32 GMT2017-02-24T17:18:32Z

The Ukip leader’s failure at the Stoke-on-Trent Central byelection has revealed a truth about post-referendum politics: the party has no reason to exist

What an interesting adventure Paul Nuttall has had in Stoke. But like Mr Benn, Mr Nuttall must now return his tweed Nigel Farage suit to the proprietor of the fancy dress shop.

If that costumier is erstwhile Ukip money-man Arron Banks, my feeling is that Paul will not be allowed to borrow the suit again. You’ve soiled the suit, Paul. The election was won by a candidate who declared someone “should sod off back to where he came from”. You were the sod-ee. There’s off-brand, and then there’s … that.

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The Guardian view on byelections: as much about Labour as Brexit | Editorial

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:57:45 GMT2017-02-24T13:57:45Z

A humbling loss to the Tories in Copeland and an unimpressive performance in Stoke underline the woes of Jeremy Corbyn’s party, even if Ukip were in some ways the biggest losers

Parliamentary byelections always tell an important story, but care is always needed in putting those stories into a national context. Yesterday’s two byelections in formerly deep-dyed traditional Labour seats fit that mould. The big headline is Trudy Harrison’s capture of Copeland for the Conservatives. The Tories and their press supporters will understandably be cock-a-hoop. Labour dismay at the loss will trigger more recriminations. Yet Labour held on in Stoke Central, a contest in which many initially wrote them off, and even increased their margin of victory compared with 2015. The threatened Ukip landslide, widely taken for granted beforehand, never happened. The Liberal Democrats’ recent surge was not repeated either.

The Conservative victory in Copeland is without question an exceptional result for Theresa May and a humbling for Jeremy Corbyn. Some of that is down to local factors, in particular the Labour leader’s dislike of the nuclear power industry on which west Cumbria is so economically dependent. The region is one of many in which traditional Labour voters still baulk at switching to the Tories, but when so many jobs are at stake it can happen. No governing party has won a byelection from the main opposition party since 1982 and yesterday was only the fourth time this has happened since 1945. The Tory capture of Copeland thus sends a big message. It underlines Mrs May’s and the Tories’ current and growing ascendancy in English politics. But it also hints at the larger potential of Mrs May’s form of conservatism to capture the centre ground of English politics – though she will have to persuade her party too .

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Blair is right on Brexit: parliament must have a democratic debate | Anatole Kaletsky

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:54:19 GMT2017-02-24T12:54:19Z

We must restore the principle of parliamentary sovereignty – Theresa May does not have an open-ended mandate

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s recent call for voters to think again about leaving the EU, echoed in parliamentary debates ahead of the government’s official launch of the process in March, is an emperor’s new clothes moment. Although Blair is now an unpopular figure, his voice, like that of the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, is loud enough to carry above the cabal of flatterers assuring Theresa May that her naked gamble with Britain’s future is clad in democratic finery.

The importance of Blair’s speech can be gauged by the hysterical overreaction to his suggestion of reopening the Brexit debate, even from supposedly objective media: “It will be seen by some as a call to arms – Tony Blair’s Brexit insurrection,” according to the BBC.

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Jeremy Corbyn, you broke it – now you must own it | Rafael Behr

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:24:44 GMT2017-02-24T08:24:44Z

In Copeland and in Stoke, Labour voters felt the party was insulting them with a leader who may not even want to be prime minister, let alone be up to the job

Jeremy Corbyn is running out of excuses. Losing a seat that has been held by Labour in every election since 1935 certainly signifies a break from the old politics, but not the one that was advertised to Labour members.

The explicit promise of Corbyn’s leadership campaigns was reconnection with the party’s founding spirit and values, leading to a recovery of votes in places that had drifted away from Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. But Miliband’s Labour party held Copeland.

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Remain voters must now be Labour’s top priority – Stoke and Copeland prove it | John Curtice

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:45:08 GMT2017-02-24T07:45:08Z

From leafy Richmond to windswept Copeland the message is the same: the party is struggling to hang on as it misguidedly tries to stave off Ukip

Byelection nights are typically a source of succour for the opposition. Its vote usually goes up while the government almost invariably suffers some kind of reverse.

But this pattern was entirely absent in both Copeland and Stoke. In Copeland Tory support increased by no less than 8.5 points – the biggest increase in support for a government party since Harold Wilson’s Labour government won the Hull North byelection in January 1966 (at the cost, incidentally, of a promise to build the Humber Bridge).

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Be fierce, furious, and fight! Join the Raccoons of the Resistance! | First Dog on the Moon

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 22:39:48 GMT2017-01-30T22:39:48Z

The Raccoons of the Resistance will help you channel your anger against the actual literal coup in the USA with this handy coup-resisting guide

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London must remain open to the world

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 11:55:27 GMT2017-01-31T11:55:27Z

The capital should have its own migration system to help it to help Britain survive leaving the EU

There are always exceptions. Since the nation voted to leave the European Union, the mayor of its capital city, Sadiq Khan, has declared that “London Is Open”, but he wouldn’t mind it being closed to Donald Trump. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners sympathise, judging by the map of signatories of the petition to stop the US president paying a state visit and making life difficult for the Queen.

This isn’t typical behaviour. In general, the capital welcomes foreigners, including those who, unlike Trump, plan to stick around and do something useful. About two million of the city’s work force of five million were born overseas, of which at least half come from elsewhere in the EU. London-haters find this frightening, a foretaste of foreignness eating the green and pleasant land. They hope Brexit will stem the alien tide, buttressing a fading Britannia of yore. They may not have yet grasped how damaging for them a cut in incomers from overseas could be.

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Should economists share the blame for populism? – Politics Weekly podcast

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:09:14 GMT2017-02-23T14:09:14Z

Heather Stewart is joined by Andrew Lilico, Ann Pettifor, Jonathan Portes, Rachel Reeves and Vince Cable for an extended discussion at a Guardian Live event in London

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There’s a word that’s suddenly part of almost every political discussion going on in the democratic world: populism.

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Forget Copeland – what people want is a bigger, brighter, better Jeremy | John Crace

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:30:13 GMT2017-02-24T16:30:13Z

Just because voters would rather die from hospital closures than back Labour, there was no cause for concern, Corbyn mused

We happy fewer. Just hours after Labour had lost the safe seat of Copeland in a byelection, Jeremy Corbyn was in London to speak to the party of European Socialists at the Institute of Electrical Engineers. After the faintest ripple of applause had greeted his entrance, the Labour leader took the stage. Yes, things were catastrophic. But at least they weren’t serious. Sometimes losing was a sign you were winning.

Labour’s victory in Stoke-on-Trent Central had been a major triumph, he insisted. Now was the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of Stoke. No other party could have held off the forces of darkness to hold on to a seat they had held since it was created in the 1950s. Today was a day to rejoice.

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Three-minute election: How did David Cameron and the Tories do it? And what happens now? – video

Fri, 08 May 2015 11:05:00 GMT2015-05-08T11:05:00Z

Columnists Jonathan Freedland and Matthew d'Ancona discuss the general election result: a bloody night for Labour and the Lib Dems and a stunning victory for David Cameron. How were the media and political class beguiled into believing that Labour could get away with being behind on the economy? And are the Conservatives as surprised at the result as everyone else? Continue reading...140x84 trailpic for Three minute video - What just happened? And what's next for the Tories?140x84 trailpic for Three minute video - What just happened? And what's next for the Tories?

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Theresa May to offer more security for renters

Sat, 04 Feb 2017 23:44:42 GMT2017-02-04T23:44:42Z

White paper will promise greater rights for tenants as Tories accept the system is ‘broken’

A major shift in Tory housing policy in favour of people who rent will be announced by ministers this week as Theresa May’s government admits that home ownership is now out of reach for millions of families.

In a departure from her predecessor David Cameron, who focused on advancing Margaret Thatcher’s ambition for a “home-owning democracy”, a white paper will aim to deliver more affordable and secure rental deals, and threaten tougher action against rogue landlords, for the millions of families unable to buy because of sky-high property prices. Ministers will say they want to change planning and other rules to ensure developers provide a proportion of new homes for “affordable rent” instead of just insisting that they provide a quota of “affordable homes for sale”.

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Stoke and Copeland byelections: Unison boss suggests Corbyn partly to blame for historic defeat - Politics live

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:57:52 GMT2017-02-24T16:57:52Z

Rolling coverage of reaction to the Stoke and Copeland byelections results, including Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the road to Brexit

Thanks for following the blog today and for all your comments. Here is a summary of the day’s events:

Despite the historic nature of the Conservative win in Copeland, on the Prospect website, Jay Welwes argues it was a pyrrhic victory for the prime minister:

It looks like victory, and in the short-term, it is. But in the longer-term, its effects work against [Theresa] May, not for her. Because the more powerful she becomes domestically, the more confident the pro-Brexit Tory core becomes and the further it drives them into their error of mistaking domestic prowess for foreign influence.

The by-election victory will only boost the expectations of the eurosceptics, who will see in their domination of British politics license to take a tough negotiating line with the EU. But what they are really doing is setting themselves and their prime minister up for a catastrophic fall. Copeland will, in its way, boost the Conservative Brexiters’ confidence. The “mandate creep” towards hard Brexit continues. And the higher the expectations of the Brexit brigade, the more painful will be their eventual and inevitable landing.

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Labour ousted by Tories in Copeland byelection but sees off Ukip in Stoke

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:14:47 GMT2017-02-24T09:14:47Z

Byelections bring mixed fortunes for Jeremy Corbyn, who loses heartland seat but fends off Paul Nuttall’s ambitions in Brexit-supporting Stoke Central

Labour has suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Conservative party in Copeland, a heartland seat dominated by the party since 1935, just half an hour after seeing off the Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, in a bitter battle for Stoke Central.

Related: Tories overturn Labour majority to win Copeland byelection

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The view from Copeland: 'Lifelong Labour voters want Corbyn out'

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:37:26 GMT2017-02-24T16:37:26Z

The day after the byelection, voters explain why Labour lost its eight-decade hold on the west Cumbrian electorate

The Labour canvassers have all gone home, their leaflets blown away, but the party’s biggest problem remains front and centre on Whitehaven’s picturesque marina.

“Just about everyone – Labour people – I’ve spoken to does not like him,” said Christine Curtin, who described herself on Friday as a dyed-in-the-wool Labour voter. The “him” is Jeremy Corbyn.

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EU states back call for UK to agree €60bn exit bill before trade talks

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:06:20 GMT2017-02-24T17:06:20Z

Czech, German and Italian politicians support European commission line that Britain must agree to pay up before talks

EU member states are backing a European commission demand that trade talks can only start once Britain has agreed to pay a hefty Brexit bill, despite fears of a backlash from Theresa May.

The Czech Republic has joined Germany, Italy and France in insisting the UK must come to an arrangement on the divorce settlement, expected to come to about €60bn (£50bn), before any substantive negotiations on a future relationship.

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Corbyn says he is not to blame for Copeland loss and will not resign

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:10:07 GMT2017-02-24T17:10:07Z

Labour leader responds to question by saying he had not looked in the mirror and asked if party’s problems were his fault

Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that he does not believe his leadership contributed to Labour’s byelection defeat in Copeland and will not be stepping down.

The Labour leader admitted he was disappointed by the result in the Cumbrian constituency, which has been held by Labour since 1935 and represents the first byelection gain by a governing party in 35 years.

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PPE: the Oxford degree with a lot to answer for | Letters

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:07:40 GMT2017-02-23T19:07:40Z

I began studying economics at night school in Leeds in the 1950s and continued, at various institutions, as an external student of London University. Our courses were broadly, but not uncritically, Keynesian. We abjured fancy equations and sprinkled our essays with phrases like “a tendency to” and “pressure towards” this or that as a consequence of some other event. As a teacher I have tried to keep reasonably up to date, and learned in the early 70s, for example, to regard most monetarist nonsense as the fantasies of “Friedmaniacs”.

With this background, and aware of the influence on our leaders of Oxford’s PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) course, I have often wondered what on earth they taught them. Andy Beckett’s article (The degree that runs Britain, 23 February) gives the answer. PPE graduates are “intellectually flexible”. Or, to put it another way, they sway with the wind. And the winds of monetarism and arrogant attempts to make human behaviours as subject to mathematical predictions as the laws of physics, have captured economics academia for the past 40 years. Conservative, Labour and, to our eternal shame, Liberal Democrats have been equally culpable, as the damage done to the bottom 20% in this country, and to 80% of the population of Greece, so clearly demonstrates.

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Corbyn's choice to fight Copeland byelection rejected by local party

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:08:50 GMT2017-01-20T14:08:50Z

Gillian Troughton’s selection revealed just before Labour announced Copeland and Stoke Central polls will take place on 23 February

Labour will fight its two testing byelections on the same day in February, the party has announced, giving activists a month to campaign in Stoke Central and Copeland, where the party faces tough challenges from the Tories and Ukip.

The poll will take place in a month’s time on 23 February. Labour sources said they were keen for a short campaign, particularly in Stoke-on-Trent, where the Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall is expected to be a candidate. The constituency voted strongly to leave the EU in last June’s referendum.

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'Labour’s existential crisis': readers on the Copeland and Stoke byelections

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:15:24 GMT2017-02-24T13:15:24Z

Corbyn seen as part of the problem as Guardian commenters discuss the implications of Labour’s loss in Copeland

Labour held off a challenge from Ukip in Stoke-on-Trent, but suffered a historic defeat in the Cumbrian constituency of Copeland.

A Labour heartland seat dominated by the party since 1935, the loss in Copeland led to questions about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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Byelections: Labour defeated by Tories in Copeland, but wins in Stoke – as it happened

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 04:06:07 GMT2017-02-24T04:06:07Z

Related: Labour ousted by Tories in Copeland but sees off Ukip challenge in Stoke

Labour’s Cat Smith, the shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs, has got a remarkably upbeat take on the Copeland result. This is from ITVs’ Daniel Hewitt.

Labour's Cat Smith just told me "to be 15-18 points behind in the polls & to push the Tories within 2000 votes is an incredible achievement"

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