2015 general election

Which polls are you going to believe?

Today’s ICM phone and online polls are a reminder that the polls aren’t going to offer much certainty about the result of the EU referendum. ICM’s traditional phone poll has IN ahead 47 to 39, and with the don’t knows excluded up 55% to 45%. This would suggest that IN is on course for a fairly comfortable victory. But its online poll has Out up 47 to 43, and with the don’t knows excluded ahead 52% to 48%. Phone polls are generally regarded as slightly superior to online ones, they are certainly more expensive. So, I suspect that most people in Westminster will take these polls as a sign that

Trying to analyse the election spending data? Follow Deep Throat’s advice…

The publication of expenses for last year’s election is a useful reminder of the reality of much of politics. It turns out it’s not all barnstorming speeches and televised debates. There are an awful lot of invoices involved too. The claim everyone is obsessing about is that Labour spent just £16,000 on Facebook adverts, compared to more than a million spent by the Conservatives. Indeed, Labour seems to have spent less on Facebook adverts than each of the Liberal Democrats, Ukip, and Greens. No one disputes the fact that the Conservatives outspent Labour on digital campaigning. For public consumption, Labour used to pretend that this didn’t matter – and that their grassroots

2015 Labour leadership contest — who’s nominated who

The Labour leadership contest is in full swing, with Labour MPs announcing who will they be backing to be the next leader. Under new rules, each candidate requires the backing of 35 MPs to make it into the ballot paper. Four candidates have made it onto the ballot paper: The candidates MPs backing Bookies’ odds YouGov poll Andy Burnham 68 (on the ballot) 4/5 10% Yvette Cooper 59 (on the ballot) 11/4 4% Liz Kendall 41 (on the ballot) 3/1 7% Jeremy Corbyn 36 (on the ballot) 25/1  4% Who’s backing who Andy Burnham Yvette Cooper Liz Kendall Jeremy Corbyn Mary Creagh (dropped out) Unknown Alan Meale Adrian Bailey Alison McGovern Andrew Smith

Labour’s left and right wings want Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper

Jeremy Corbyn is adding some unlikely excitement to the Labour leadership contest. Although he does not have enough MPs yet to make it onto the ballot paper — he needs another 16 nominations at the time of writing — there is still a sense he might make it into race. As I wrote earlier in the week, the other campaigns are open to ‘loaning’ Corbyn some of their nominations if he nearing the magic 35 threshold. Typically, Corbyn is sticking to his principles and has told Total Politics he is not keen on the idea of other candidates helping him: ‘I’m not particularly into charity nominations. I want to see a proper debate within the

Despite winning a majority, Cameron will be remembered for how he handles Europe

At 6.30pm on election-day, the Cameron invited their guests out into the garden for a drink. It was a very English occasion. Everyone was in their coats, huddled on the patio trying to pretend it was 10 degrees hotter than it actually was as they sipped their glass of wine. The mood was, understandably, nervous. The prospect of defeat was on everyone’s mind. David Cameron even read out his resignation speech to the assembled gathering. I’m told that the reaction as he did so showed that many of those present feared he would be doing it for real in less than 24 hours time. Now, obviously, things turned out very

Podcast: The Last Christian and David Cameron’s solemn election night

Will 2067 mark the point when Christianity dies out in Britain? In this week’s View from 22 podcast, Damian Thompson and Freddy Gray discuss this week’s cover story on the crisis facing Britain’s churches. Is the rise of secularism a problem for just Anglicans, or all Christian denominations in Britain? Is the Church of England particularly to blame? What comparisons are there to what is happening with religion in America? And if these projections are correct, will Christian values continue to underpin British society, long after the religion itself disappears? James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson reveal what David Cameron did on election night. Although the Tories are revelling in their victory, it is clear that neither

Harriet Harman and Tristram Hunt knife Miliband in the front

The fear and loathing within Labour continues with the admission from Harriet Harman that its voters were relieved it didn’t win the election. The party’s interim leader is interviewed in the Independent this morning, claiming that voters were ‘not massively enthusiastic’ about voting Conservative but ‘settled for the devil they knew’: ‘Sometimes after an election, you get a sense that people think ‘Oh my God, that is terrible, what a disaster.’ A lot of people felt that because we got nearly 40,000 new party members who were very disappointed. But there is an even greater number of people, even though they were not enthusiastic about David Cameron or the Tories, who feel relieved that

Eurosceptics fear the ‘In’ campaign will get off to a head start

As David Cameron predicted, we are hearing all sorts of ‘noises’ on whether or not his European renegotiation will succeed or fail. But under the noise, as James explains in the magazine this week, the ‘Yes’ campaign to stay in the European Union has already begun. The ‘Yes’ side has many advantages, not least because it has the positive word and is defending the status quo, both of which appeal a little more to voters. It can also enjoy the support of both the Whitehall and EU machines, which is not unimportant. Meanwhile, the frustrations in the ‘No’ or ‘Out’ camp largely focus on timing. Ukip are particularly annoyed that

Liz Kendall: the ‘change everything’ Labour leadership candidate?

The Labour leadership contest will heat up in the next few days. Tomorrow, the Fabian Society will host a hustings with all of the declared candidates. Liz Kendall is set for a grilling on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. On Monday, all of the candidates will address the Parliamentary Labour Party before heading to Dublin for the GMB union’s annual conference. And at noon on Tuesday, the nomination process officially begins. Each of the candidates has something to prove over the next few days. Andy Burnham needs to demonstrate whether he is standing as a reformed Blairite or a Miliband-esque defender of public services. Yvette Cooper needs to prove she has

Tim Farron: I want to make the Liberal Democrats the party of small business

When you’re a smaller party I think it naturally gives you an understanding of what it feels like to be an underdog, and a passion to level the playing field. For too long, small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) – independent traders, the self-employed, local businesses – have been neglected by the two bigger parties. Labour remains in hock to the trade unions; the Tories genuflect before big business. The liberal tradition is anti-monopoly, pro-competition and supports the promotion of fairness for all. So which party will stand up for the UK’s 1.2 million small businesses? The plumber who gets up at the crack of dawn to do their accounts, the young

Nigel Lawson: Cameron will hold Tory party together over EU

Renegotiating substantial change in Britain’s EU relationship is a problem for David Cameron. On the one hand, the Eurozone is facing an unknown challenge with a Grexit on the horizon. But many in the Tory party believe the Prime Minister’s efforts are smoke and mirrors, and he won’t achieve the change they crave. Michael Gove is one, and Nigel Lawson is another. The Tory grandee spoke to Newsnight about what he expects from the renegotiations. Not much, it seems: ‘I think that the odds are we will see a repetition of what happened in 1975. I think it’s likely that the changes that David Cameron will secure will be inconsequential, of no significance at

The Electoral Commission needs reforming. Will anyone dare try?

The Electoral Commission (ElCom) is an institution with a lamentable record of failing to fulfil its role as guardian of our political system. After so many contrary and arguably politically partisan decisions in recent years, one has to ask:  Who guards this guardian? Its chairperson Jenny Watson, as a former women’s rights activist and former member of Liberty and Charter 88, has a strong left-wing influence in her background. Why Watson was ever considered an appropriate candidate for such a politically sensitive role is open to question. She began in the role in 2009, appointed by the Labour Government under Gordon Brown’s premiership, which perhaps explains a great deal. What is less easy

Why not settle the issue of MPs’ pay on the floor of the House of Commons?

Now that the fashionable thing for all MPs to do is to announce that they won’t be ‘taking’ the 10 per cent pay rise planned by IPSA, the government has decided to write a letter opposing the extra £7,000, just in case anyone might accuse any MPs of having their snouts in the trough. Chris Grayling argues in his letter (below) that ‘we continue to believe that despite the welcome signs of progress, the continuing structural deficit shows the job is far from done’. This is quite a compelling argument, particularly given the ongoing public sector pay restraint. But regardless of whether you think MPs should get a pay rise

James Forsyth

Ed Miliband returns to the Commons as Osborne announces £3bn of more cuts

Ed Miliband has wasted little time in returning to speaking duties in the House of Commons. George Osborne came to the Chamber to announce £4.5bn of savings – made up of £3bn from non-protected departmental Budgets and £1.5bn from asset sales, including the disposal of the government’s remaining 30 per cent stake in the Royal Mail – and Miliband was in place to hear him. Once Osborne’s duel with the new shadow chancellor Chris Leslie was over, Miliband rose to speak. Unlike when he was leader of the opposition, Miliband was heard in respectful silence — Tory backbenchers, perhaps, took their cue from Osborne who declared that Miliband had earned

Nigel Farage rejigs his team and hires Michael Heaver as press aide

Nigel Farage has made made some changes to his core team. After the Ukip wars, his senior aide Raheem Kassam left the party and has been replaced by Michael Heaver. From today, he will be dealing with media queries for the leader’s office and running his social media accounts. Heaver previously worked in the party’s press office, before standing as an MEP last year and subsequently running Tim Aker’s campaign in Thurrock. I interviewed him last year about what it’s like to be a young kipper. Heaver however will not be taking over all of Kassam’s responsibilities. Chris Bruni-Lowe, who was Head of Campaigns during the election campaign, will continue to

Five things we’ve learnt from the Guardian’s profile of Ed Miliband’s campaign

Ed Miliband’s general election campaign was clearly dysfunctional, but now we have an insight into just how bad it was. The Guardian’s political editor Patrick Wintour has produced a fantastic long read on the undoing of Miliband, revealing the fear and loathing inside his operation. The piece is such a fascinating read it’s worth buying a copy of the paper for. If you aren’t able to make it to a newsagent, here’s a summary of the five most interesting things we’ve learnt from it. 1. The Edstone went through ten approval meetings The Edstone (pictured above) will be Miliband’s legacy. If he is remembered for nothing else, it will be for engraving his pledges onto a 8ft 6in piece of limestone. Incredibly, Wintour reveals that


Alex Salmond tells Anna Soubry to ‘behave yourself, woman’

Alex Salmond’s reintroduction to Parliament has hit a few bumps in the road this week. He was criticised on Tuesday when he appeared to use Charles Kennedy’s death as an opportunity to push Scottish independence. Now, Salmond has told Anna Soubry, the small business minister, to ‘behave herself, woman’. During a House of Commons debate last night on devolution, he stopped his speech and scolded Soubry for her behaviour in the chamber: ‘Luckily the honourable lady is on the front bench so therefore won’t be standing for chair on one of these select committees, otherwise she would have done her chances no good whatsoever. The Treasury bench should behave better in these debates,

Drugs are a waste of time, but so is the Psychoactive Substances Bill

The Conservatives might have gone in softer than Russell Brand and the gang predicted, with very little change announced in the Queen’s Speech last week, but they didn’t fail to cause a stir. The proposed ‘Psychoactive Substances Bill’ is designed to provide a blanket ban on all substances which produce a mind-altering effect, with several allowances made for booze, fags and chocolate. The idea is to protect the public from any psychoactive substance that ‘affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state’. Rather than replying to a public demand for such drastic measures, the Home Office stated the purpose of the bill was simply to ‘protect hard-working citizens’. Admittedly, most of my knowledge of