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

What does a July election mean for the SNP?

12 min listen

We have spoken a lot on the podcast this week about how a July election could be disastrous for the Conservatives, but what about the SNP? With arrests, investigations, resignations and a recent leadership change, it looks as though a snap election couldn’t come at a worse time for the Scottish nationalists. Katy Balls speaks to Lucy Dunn and Fergus Mutch, former head of communications for the SNP. 

Is the Labour lead as big as it seems?

13 min listen

Both major party leaders are hitting the road today and campaigning in Scotland, which will be a major battleground in the coming election. Labour looks comfortably in the lead, but is that number accurate to what’s happening on the ground? Cindy Yu and Katy Balls talk to Focaldata’s James Kanagasooriam about their latest analysis. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Stephen Daisley

Are the Australian election results a bad sign for the Tories?

Scott Morrison’s Liberals were absolutely thrashed in the Australian elections this weekend. The party’s vote collapsed, and there were big-name defeats, with the man touted as Morrison’s successor – Josh Frydenberg – ousted in Kooyong, a suburb which had been in the party’s hands for 121 years. Whatever went wrong for the Morrison government, Saturday’s results might have relevance closer to home, even if teasing out domestic lessons from elections on the other side of the world is problematic. Australia is a different country, with a different political culture and a different electoral system. Scott Morrison was also an unloveable figure — stolid, gaffe-prone and not outwardly empathetic. When women marched

The deluge: Rishi Sunak’s election gamble

53 min listen

It’s a bumper edition of The Edition this week. After Rishi Sunak called a surprise – and perhaps misguided – snap election just a couple of hours after our press deadline, we had to frantically come up with a new digital cover. To take us through a breathless day in Westminster and the fallout of Rishi’s botched announcement, The Spectator’s political editor Katy Balls joins the podcast. (01:35) Next: Our print magazine leads on the electric car bust. Ross Clark runs through all the issues facing electric cars today – from China flooding the market with discounted EVs to Rishi Sunak dropping the unrealistic target of banning new petrol car sales by

Is an election about to be called?

11 min listen

Westminster is awash with rumours today that the Prime Minister is about to call an election. On this episode, Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Fraser Nelson about where this speculation is coming from and how seriously to take them. Produced by Cindy Yu.

My vote winner? Banning ‘fun’ runs

One of us must once have told a political pollster: ‘I really have no idea at all who I’m going to vote for.’ A moment of mild exasperation put us down as ‘Don’t knows’. Forever afterwards, the prospect of an election, whether for Wandsworth council, the Mayor of London or the Battersea parliamentary constituency, brings them out. The doorbell goes, and there is a bright-faced, footsore, ill-dressed but dedicated party activist, clutching a clipboard. Without exception, each is firmly convinced that he knows what you are going to complain about. ‘Why do runners need compulsory declarations that something is “fun”, and amplification, and techno?’ ‘Do you have any concerns about

Why Trump can’t be stopped

36 min listen

This week: can anyone stop Trump?  The Spectator’s deputy editor Freddy Gray takes a look at Trump’s ‘second coming’ in his cover story. He says that despite Trump’s legal troubles, he is almost certain to receive the Republican nomination. Freddy joins the podcast alongside Amber Duke, who also writes in the magazine this week about the brides of trump: the women hoping to receive the nod as his running mate. Also this week: the old trope is that there is nothing more ex than an ex prime minister, but what about an ex MP?  In the magazine this week, The Spectator’s political correspondent James Heale says that Tory MPs expecting to lose their

Cindy Yu

Taiwan can’t escape China’s shadow

The Taiwanese rock band Mayday – ‘the Beatles of the Chinese-speaking world’ – are being investigated by the Chinese Communist party for the crime of lip syncing. Local authorities are combing through recordings of Mayday’s Shanghai concerts from November looking for evidence of ‘deceptive fake-singing’, as the CCP calls it, which has been illegal in China since 2009 (although the law is rarely enforced). Last month, an anonymous Taiwan-ese government source told Reuters that the investigation had been cooked up because the pop stars refused a request from Beijing to say something nice about China in the run-up to Taiwan’s election this Saturday. The band found itself at the centre

Meet Millennial Millie, the new swing voter

An election looms and political parties are already talking ‘voter demographics’. Every few years, the wonks of Westminster pick a social stereotype and decide it represents a crucial group of swing voters. We’ve had Mondeo Man, Waitrose Woman and Pebbledash Person. Who will it be in 2024? It could be Deano, a snooty term used to describe aspirational lower-middle class blokes. Deano is proud to own a new-build house, a car bought on finance and a perfect set of pearly whites. He has had a bit of a tricky time recently, watching interest rates shoot up. Deano might have once voted Tory from his Red Wall seat, although after that

The case against a snap election

Unless Her Majesty throws us all a curveball, Liz Truss will be the next prime minister. So let’s knock something on the head here and now: she is under no obligation to call an election before January 2025. The replacement of one prime minister with another in the middle of a parliamentary term is not a democratic deficiency. It is parliamentary democracy in action. The prime minister and their cabinet colleagues are the Queen’s ministers and when one ministry replaces another, power does not transfer directly but through the sovereign. It is the Queen who issues an invitation to form a government in her name and she does so on

What will the anti-Boris rebels do now?

Looking at these Tory losses, it is hard not to conclude that the rebels would have got the 180 votes they needed to oust Boris Johnson if they had been organised enough to wait until after the by-elections before going for a vote of no confidence. But having had a vote two weeks ago, it is not credible to suggest changing the rules immediately to allow another one. However, judging from the conversations I have had with Tory MPs this morning, more of them would now like the option of having another vote sooner than a year from now. Some talk about the autumn, others about March. In a way, Oliver

Even if he wins Macron could be facing disaster

Unaccustomed as political scientists are to florid language, they have nevertheless come up with the ‘theory of the dyke’, to explain the continuing success of the nationalist and identitarian Rassemblement National. A dyke can hold back the flood for so long, but once water has overflowed there is no getting it back. When in 2002 Marine Le Pen’s father, against all odds, beat the socialists to go through to the presidential run-off against Jacques Chirac, there was no reversing the flow. Marine Le Pen’s score of 23.1 per cent in the first round of the election this week is the highest in the nationalist right’s 50-year history. Now we are

PMQs: Boris let slip his election attack lines

Covid is ancient history. And Ukraine has ceased to dominate PMQs. Today, ideological warfare between the parties broke out again. The old politics is back. Sir Keir Starmer accused the Chancellor of fibbing during last week’s bogus budget. Tax hikes had been camouflaged as tax cuts. Boris denied this and praised his Chancellor for delivering a historic bonanza of golden giveaways. ‘The biggest cut in fuel duty ever. And the biggest cut in tax for working people in the last 10 years.’ Sir Keir silenced him. ‘Cut the nonsense and treat the British people with a bit of respect.’ The tax burden is soaring, he said, and for every pound

No. 10 is gearing up for the next election

As the Conservative party’s Spring Forum gets underway in Blackpool, attention is turning back to domestic politics, with cabinet ministers publicly suggesting partygate is over – or more specifically that it is ‘fluff’ according to Jacob Rees-Mogg. A debate about tax is also underway on the fringes as Rishi Sunak continues to insist that he is a low tax Tory despite much of his behaviour since entering No. 11 suggesting the opposite. When the Chancellor unveils the spring statement next week, MPs hope there will be an indication of Sunak’s alleged tax cutting preferences. While the National Insurance hike is now viewed as baked in, there’s speculation that there could

Team Boris’s scorched earth strategy

Jacob Rees-Mogg is now arguing that the UK system has become so presidential that a new prime minister would feel obliged to call an election. The message to Tory MPs is clear: depose Boris Johnson and you’ll be going to the country in months — and do you really want to do that given the polls? Rees-Mogg’s argument is being used by the shadow whipping operation too. It has, from what I have been hearing, had some effects on new intake MPs. But among older intakes, there is a bit of a backlash to it.  There is a view that the argument takes them for fools. Yes, Labour and the

Gove gets into gear

‘This government ends if the red wall reverts back to type and we lose 45 seats then end up in hung parliament territory,’ warns one secretary of state. This comment is a reminder of how vital it is for Boris that levelling up is seen to be a success. The rewards of getting it right are considerable. The Tories’ reward for that would probably be another decade in power: one cabinet loyalist says, ‘The boss wants to see a world where Labour are shut out. We consolidate the red wall.’  Michael Gove and Andy Haldane have found inspiration in 15th-century Florence But fixing regional disparities isn’t easy: it is hard to find

Why the early election rumours won’t go away

The Conservative party doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to early elections — MPs are still scarred by Theresa May losing the Tory majority after going for a snap poll in 2017. But that hasn’t stopped talk of an early election building in recent weeks. This isn’t about a vote tomorrow or next month but instead whether Johnson opts to go to the polls in 2023 rather than 2024.  There are compelling reasons that could tempt Johnson to go early The conventional wisdom is that Johnson won’t even consider going early — he’s already lost too much time to Covid and needs to deliver on levelling up. Meanwhile, few

The sad circus of the German election

The German election campaign has been entirely lacking in substance. Laschet, Baerbock, Scholz: none seem to grip the public’s attention. None are good enough to stand out, yet none are bad enough to drop out as the media and the opposition struggle to land definitive blows. Amid the monotony of political circus and sclerosis, the German press’s tactics are becoming increasingly outlandish, as two 11-year-old children asking questions about land requisition processes on television showed. A particular segment on the talk show Late Night Berlin is responsible: the idea is that children ask politicians questions. In the last episode, broadcast on Tuesday, Merkel’s would-be successor Armin Laschet was made to

The German Greens can’t make up their mind on Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan has suddenly dominated the debate in the middle of a sluggish German election campaign. Candidates to succeed Angela Merkel are having to declare their positions. Military intervention is out of the question without US backing. The question then becomes a repeat of the Syrian crisis: will Germany once again open its doors to potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants? It’s an unequivocal ‘nein’ from the government. ‘There will not be another 2015’ came the strong response from the ruling coalition of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the SPD. The Green party, currently in opposition but the second strongest party in most polls, are fudging the