General election 2019

The silence of the Scottish unionists

We citizens of the small Sussex village of Etchingham are proud of our clan chief, Julie, who chaired Tuesday night’s encounter between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. So ancient is her surname that it is a chicken-and-egg question about which came first, the family or the village. The headless 14th-century effigy of her forebear, Sir William, lies in the parish church. But local patriotism must not blind us to the fact that even our Julie could not rescue the debate from its dreary game-show format, sometimes witless questions and the lack of actual discussion. It cannot be repeated too often that these shows are symptoms of TV triumphalism and not of a

Do ‘Workington Man’ and ‘Worcester Woman’ decide elections?

National characters How useful is it to characterise an election with a single anthropological specimen such as ‘Workington Man’? ‘Worcester Woman’ was identified by Tory strategists ahead of the 1997 election as a key voter who had helped John Major win, against expectations, in 1992. Worcester was then a Conservative seat. Has the city followed the national trend since? 1992: Con 46% of Worcester vote, Lab 36% (Nationwide, Tory majority of 21) 1997: Lab 50%, Con 36% (Labour majority of 178 seats nationwide) 2001: Lab 49%, Con 36% (Labour majority of 166) 2005: Lab 42%, Con 35% (Labour majority of 65) 2010: Con 40%, Lab 33% (Hung parliament: Con/Lib Dem

Portrait of the week: Bercow steps down, Hoyle steps up and an election begins

Home Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Labour MP for Chorley and deputy Speaker since 2010, was elected Speaker by the Commons. His first words were: ‘No clapping.’ Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, proposed an electoral pact with the Conservatives, but only if Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, repudiated the agreement on Brexit that he had made with the European Union. When this was not forthcoming, he said: ‘We will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales.’ But he declined to stand for parliament himself (which he had done seven times before, without success). Philip Hammond, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, decided against standing as an