Politics

Read about the latest UK political news, views and analysis.

Steerpike

BBC presenter grovels after Farage jibe

It seems these days that the BBC is doing a better job of creating the news than presenting it. Today’s row is about one of the broadcaster’s stars entering into a spat with Reform’s Nigel Farage — and losing rather spectacularly… The I’m a Celeb finalist was out today helping promote Richard Tice’s party in Dover as he made his first big speech of the election campaign. At a gathering of party supporters and journalists, Farage spoke of immigration problems seen in Europe. Quoting remarks made by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the Reform founder pointed to ‘the wave of — and I’m using his words not mine — “aggressive, young males” that

James Heale

Police drop investigation into Rayner housing claims

Labour’s election campaign continues to get off to a good start. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has today confirmed that it will take no further action against Angela Rayner after accusations surrounding her living arrangements. Officers from the force launched an investigation into the party’s deputy leader in April after Tory MP James Daly registered a complaint. It followed reports in the Mail which suggested that Rayner might have lived primarily at her then-husband’s address in Stockport, despite registering to vote under her own – a potential breach of electoral rules. But this afternoon GMP released a 121-word statement which says that after ‘a thorough, carefully considered and proportionate investigation’ they

Katy Balls

Who’s winning the TikTok election battle?

12 min listen

Days into the election campaign and parties are scrambling to get their message out on social media. With both Labour and the Conservatives joining TikTok, who has a stronger message? Katy Balls speaks to Sean Topham, co-founder of Topham Guerin who ran the Conservative’s 2019 social media campaign.

Steerpike

Reeves reprises her Wikipedia tribute act

Once we had New Labour: now we have Changed Labour. As part of Sir Keir Starmer’s bid to prove that his party is different (honest!) since the far-off Corbyn days of, er, April 2020, Labour has been out today banging the drum for business. The Opposition is terribly proud of itself for stitching together a letter of support for its economic policies, signed, no less, by some of the country’s leading business experts. What a coup! But Mr S could not help but wonder about some of the names signing the letter that Rachel Reeves touted today in her big speech in Derby. For one thing, there were no FTSE 100

Israel may have to stop its offensive in Rafah

The devastating fire that, according to Hamas, killed dozens of displaced civilians in Rafah and that reportedly started because of an Israeli attack on Hamas terrorists, has come at the worse possible time for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.  Four days ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel must immediately halt activities in Rafah. Although the language used by the court could imply that Israel may carry out some activities in the city as long as it conforms to its obligations under the Genocide Convention, there were international calls on Israel to cease all activities, and warnings of a disaster have sadly come true. Israel’s ability to carry on in

Full list: the MPs quitting their seat at the next election

Labour have selected the bulk of their candidates for the next election but the Tories are still a while way away from that yet. Below is a list of all the MPs from the two main parties who have said they will quit their current seat at the next election. Conservative MPs (77): Labour MPs (29) SNP MPs (9): Independent MPs (8): Sinn Féin MPs (3): Green MPs (1): Plaid Cymru MPs (1):

James Heale

Farage speaks of ‘six-year plan’ as he launches campaign

The Royal Cinque Ports Yachts Club was an appropriate place for Nigel Farage to make his first big speech of the election campaign today. Set on the Dover seafront, it offered the perfect setting for Farage – Reform’s honorary president and spiritual figurehead – to lambast the Tory record on small boats. The Conservatives, he said, had betrayed their 2019 voters by allowing an ‘invasion’ of migrants: ‘If 3,800 boats and 125,000 people isn’t a sort of slow motion D-Day in reverse, I don’t know what is.’ It was the kind of stump speech that we have seen honed in endless GB News monologues, with the familiar cast of villains:

Kate Andrews

Did Rachel Reeves just rule out more tax hikes?

Speaking to business leaders in the East Midlands this morning, Rachel Reeves delivered a fairly uncontroversial speech. In her first major address since the election was called last week, the shadow chancellor insisted that Labour is the ‘natural party of British business’ (a point bolstered by today’s letter signed by over 100 business chiefs endorsing Labour). She said she wanted ‘to lead the most pro-growth, pro-business Treasury our country has ever seen’ – who could argue with that? She then went on to restate her commitment to fiscal discipline and a promise to make the numbers add up. While the dig at free markets won’t have been everyone’s cup of tea, it was

The SNP has finally given up on Greta Thunberg

It is less than three years since Nicola Sturgeon was taking selfies with Greta Thunberg at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Now in this election the climate, if you’ll excuse the pun, has changed beyond all recognition. Gone is the moral posturing and climate alarmism of recent years as the Scottish parties desperately roll back on their climate rhetoric in the face of huge job losses in Scotland’s energy sector. Black is the new green. Oil and gas companies are no longer climate pariahs. It was of course Nicola Sturgeon back in 2021 who made Scotland the first country in the world  to declare a ‘climate emergency’. We cannot

Ross Clark

The truth about pensioners and tax

The Tories’ ‘Triple Lock Plus’ is a pretty blatant attempt to secure the votes of a demographic group which is more inclined to vote Conservative than any other. That much is clear. The party’s proposal would give pensioners a high personal tax allowance to spare them from having to pay income tax as the state pension rises faster than either inflation or average earnings. If the government wants to spare pensioners from having to pay income tax it could, of course, raise the income tax threshold for everyone. But instead, while pensioners are spared tax, the personal tax allowance for working-age people is due to be frozen for another four

Steerpike

Labour takes down Tory attack TikTok video

Another day, another gaffe. Only this time it’s the Labour party in the firing line, not so long after the launch of its brand new TikTok account. It has been live for all of four days and Starmer’s army has been busy getting to work on their latest form of social media self-promotion — posting 30 videos, gathering 75,900 followers and amassing 1.5 million likes. But it’s not all been plain sailing for the Sir Keir’s lefty lot. Labour’s comms team seems to have gotten a little ahead of itself in its rush to take the platform by storm and there are concerns the party may have, er, broken some

Why the Tories’ national service idea is unworkable

When the Tories start talking about national service they really are grasping at straws. The concept might possibly appeal to some older voters nostalgic for an earlier time, but Rishi Sunak’s ideas are quite different from the military conscription of young men that lasted from 1949 to 1963. Let’s put aside the 30,000 or so ‘selective’ military placements for the ‘brightest and the best’. Yes, young people can offer much to the nation’s approach to cyber security and the defence of our IT infrastructure against external threats. Fresh minds see solutions that others may not. But if that isn’t happening already, what has the government been doing for the past

What Nigel Farage gets wrong about British Muslims

Once again, Nigel Farage – arguably the most influential politician in recent British political history – has sparked a furious debate.  What I take issue with is the grand-sweeping generalisations of British Muslims On Sky News and interviewed by Sir Trevor Phillips, Farage said there are a growing number of Muslims who refuse to subscribe to so-called ‘British values’. He took aim in particular at young Muslims at pro-Palestine demonstrations, appearing to suggest that they could in no way be considered British patriots. Perhaps in an attempt to reduce the chances of being accused of racism, Farage went on to celebrate the West Indian experience of integration in the UK

Kate Andrews

The Tory ‘tax-cutting’ agenda is fooling no one

Something has to go badly wrong for anyone to become nostalgic for 2020. But the Tory’s latest election announcement – to create the ‘Triple Lock Plus’ – is just the thing to do it. The first autumn after the pandemic hit, then-chancellor Rishi Sunak was looking at the public finances in dismay, wondering how he might even try to account for the heavy spending that he, his party and Labour had rushed through parliament earlier in the year. But the strange circumstances of the pandemic – including the mandate for young and low-risk people to ‘stay home’ – also created an opportunity to address some outstanding and unfair public policy: the triple

The Conservatives must offer something to young people

Another day, another controversial new announcement from a Conservative campaign keen to show that it has new ideas. Today, it is the so-called ‘Triple Lock Plus’, which will mean that, should the Tories get back in, pensioners’ tax-free allowance will automatically increase in line with the highest of wages, earnings, or 2.5 per cent. The state pension will never be taxed. They claim it would give pensioners a tax cut of almost £300 per year by the end of the next parliament. Younger people expect a quid pro quo from the government, and from older people who have had it pretty good. This follows the national service announcement, and both in conjunction

The Dunkirk Strategy

13 min listen

The Conservatives have unveiled a new pensions policy: the ‘Triple Lock Plus’. What does it mean and what’s the thinking behind it? Will it help shore up the Tories’ core vote?   Katy Balls and Focaldata’s James Kanagasooriam join Natasha Feroze to discuss.  Produced by Natasha Feroze and Patrick Gibbons.

Katy Balls

Rachel Reeves avoids the Miliband trap

Rachel Reeves is out once on the campaign trail once again today as she gives her first major speech since Rishi Sunak called a July election. Addressing business leaders in the East Midlands, Reeves will vow to ‘lead the most pro-growth Treasury in our country’s history’. So far, no surprises – the shadow chancellor has made similar promises before. However, what Reeves and her team will be patting themselves on the back for pulling off is a letter in today’s Times. Over one hundred business chiefs have signed a letter endorsing Labour’s economic plans and saying it is time for change. They include Iceland supermarket founder Malcolm Walker, the TV

Labour needs to be clearer on defence

It used to be axiomatic of British politics that the Conservative party held a reputational advantage when it came to defence and security, and that Labour always had to make a greater effort to reassure the electorate. Opinion polls suggest that’s no longer true, but atavistic political instincts are resilient, and even now Sir Keir Starmer and his shadow cabinet colleagues feel a degree of pressure. Hence the deployment of Yvette Cooper. The Labour party should know what its foreign and security policy goals are, beyond nebulous ambitions of ‘keeping Britain safe’ The shadow home secretary, who is only 55 but one of the veterans of the modern Labour party,

Steerpike

Will Sunak debate Farage on small boats?

It’s a big day for Reform UK as Nigel Farage hosts his first campaign event down in Dover. But prior to his speech this morning, the former Brexit MEP decided to kick things off by throwing the gauntlet down to Rishi Sunak. In his Daily Telegraph column today, Farage challenges the beleaguered premier to have a one-to-one debate on Channel crossings. The honorary president of Reform says that if Sunak refuses to debate him on this ‘national security emergency’, it will prove that he ‘can’t stop the boats’. According to Farage: The Channel crossings must be designated a national security emergency. For two years, we have been promised a Rwanda

National service won’t create real soldiers

There are strong arguments for national service in terms of national solidarity, training and self-discipline. In the end, however, the real question for any army worth the name is: would the soldiers fight? And would their families at home tolerate them being killed? It is indeed grotesque that Britain now has only one brigade immediately available in an emergency; but it wouldn’t help to have 30 brigades if they could not in fact be deployed for war. From this point of view, it is important to realise that national service has always involved an explicit or implicit understanding between citizens and states. It is that conscripts are there to defend the homeland,

Katy Balls

Sunak introduces the ‘Triple Lock Plus’

Another day, another big policy pledge from the Tories – and this time it’s a pitch for the grey vote. Rishi Sunak is pledging to cut tax for pensioners. A Conservative government would increase the personal allowance for pensioners in line with the Triple Lock by introducing a new age-related allowance. It is being billed as the ‘Triple Lock Plus’ whereby both the state pension and their tax-free allowance rise in line with the highest of earnings, wages or 2.5 per cent. As things stand, tax thresholds are being frozen for three years – which would not only drag five million more into higher tax bands but mean the basic