Labour party

The Trumpification of the Tory party

Anthony Scaramucci, Donald Trump’s former director of communications, has a phrase that sums up his old boss’s effect on political debate: ‘the universe bends towards him’. In the US, discussion about this year’s election is all about Trump. But he is exerting the same gravitational pull in Britain, both on the Tories as they face opposition, and Labour as it mulls the likely dilemmas of government. Trump is resentful of those who have been ‘nasty’ about him: this includes nearly everyone in the Labour party Theresa May offers a case study in how not to deal with Trump. She hoped to befriend him and acquire some kind of post-Brexit trade

What happened in the Commons chaos last night?

16 min listen

The Commons descended into farce and chaos last night. The SNP were not able to vote on their own motion on their own Opposition Day debate; the Conservatives walked out of the chamber in protest; and Lindsay Hoyle seemed tearful as he seemed to apologise for how the Gaza debate went down. On the episode, Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Chris Ward, director at Hanbury Strategy and former deputy chief of staff to Keir Starmer. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Katy Balls

Could Britain have a farmers’ revolt?

Nine years ago, when Rishi Sunak was campaigning to be the Conservative candidate for Richmond in Yorkshire, he knew his background wouldn’t work in his favour. Here was a millionaire City slicker – fresh from a spell in Silicon Valley – standing in a rural safe seat against local rivals. William Hague, who was retiring from the seat, told him he’d need to do a crash course in country living. Sunak replied that he’d milk some cows right away. Now, the Prime Minister takes great pride in his familiarity with rural issues. He cites hill farming as a passion and boasts to friends of his ‘deep knowledge of sheep’. The

Has Lindsay Hoyle overstepped?

12 min listen

Sir Keir Starmer can breathe a sigh of relief this afternoon, thanks to Lindsay Hoyle. The Speaker has selected Labour’s amendment on a Gaza ceasefire, which means that a likely mass rebellion from Labour MPs will be averted. SNP and Tory MPs are furious at Hoyle, and say that he has tried to rewrite the rules. What’s going on? Katy Balls speaks to James Heale and Isabel Hardman. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Cameron says ‘military action was only option’ in Yemen

David Cameron: western strikes on Houthi rebels are ‘a very clear message’ This week the US and UK launched military strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, following repeated Houthi attacks on Red Sea cargo ships. Speaking to Laura Kuenssberg, David Cameron suggested the strikes sent a message that western countries were prepared to ‘follow our words and warnings with actions’. Kuenssberg questioned whether the strikes would have much impact, given the Houthi rebels’ declaration that they will step up their own attacks. Cameron pointed out that Houthi attacks have been escalating since November, and said military action was the only option.  Cameron: South Africa’s genocide case against Israel is ‘nonsense’

Steerpike

Keir Starmer’s morning of U-turns

Another day, another U-turn from Keir Starmer. Or to be precise, two new U-turns from the Labour leader before midday. Appearing on BBC1’s Laura Kuenssberg show this morning, Starmer tried to make clear his support for the UK military strikes on the Houthis after Sunak sanctioned action on Thursday. However, the part of the interview that has grabbed the most attention relates to two pledges he made during his campaign to be Labour leader. Asked about his plans for a Prevention of Military Intervention Act which would mean military action could only be taken if ‘you got the consent of the Commons’, Starmer decided to water down his pledge. He

2023: The year in review

27 min listen

How well did Rishi Sunak do on his five pledges? Are we any clearer on what Keir Starmer stands for? Is the SNP done for in Scotland? On this episode, Cindy Yu, Katy Balls, James Heale and Coffee House Shots regular Stephen Bush look back on the past year in British politics. Produced by Cindy Yu and Joe Bedell-Brill.

Stella Creasy is wrong about the ‘motherhood penalty’

If you find yourself frazzled by the Christmas rush, spare a thought for Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, who is struggling to balance motherhood and her hectic social schedule. The other day she tweeted: ‘As I walk past everyone going to Christmas parties and drinks on my way to get the kids from nursery, yet again acutely aware the motherhood penalty is just a gift that keeps giving…. Not just flexible working we need but flexible networking too.’ It’s tough, no? Having to put the drinks parties (and remember, half of political life is conducted on the social front) on hold to do the active parenting of two children is a trade-off. But

Cambridge’s China complicity

UK-China Transparency (UKCT) was formally launched this week (see Notes, 16 September). Its aim is in its name. There is sadly little transparency about UK-China dealings, especially in our universities. I first reported this problem early in 2020 when I investigated the behaviour of Jesus College, Cambridge, and its China Centre, run by the CCP apologist Professor Peter Nolan. It is probably not a coincidence that the three founders of UKCT – Sir Bernard Silverman, Martin Village and the young freelance reporter Sam Dunning – are all Jesus alumni. The more they looked, the more uncomfortable they became about their college’s advancement of CCP networking and propaganda and its role

What’s the point of the Covid inquiry?

14 min listen

The Covid inquiry enters its most dramatic week, questioning Martin Reynolds (a.k.a. ‘Party Marty’), as well as former No. 10 advisors Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings. But it seems that the inquiry has gone down more the route of interpersonal drama rather than lessons learnt for government decisionmaking. So what’s the point of it? Katy Balls talks to Isabel Hardman and James Heale. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Keir Starmer’s Israel problem is growing

13 min listen

Today, Keir Starmer held a long meeting with some Muslim Labour MPs over their concern on his stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, first ignited by comments he made on LBC which seemed to justify Israel’s electricity and water blockade of Gaza. The Labour leader has made huge progress to move his party on from the reputation of anti-Semitism forged during the Corbyn era – but can he find a middle way to please all wings of his party on this deeply emotive issue? Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Isabel Hardman. Produced by Cindy Yu.

The Tories didn’t lose Mid Bedfordshire – Labour won it

In 1975 I travelled as an undergraduate to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and finally to Israel. I visited refugee camps and met a Palestinian militant, Bassam Abu Sharif, who had been blinded in one eye by a Mossad parcel bomb. I talked to policymakers in each country and heard a range of Israeli opinion. On return I wrote in the Jewish Chronicle of the need to address the plight of the Palestinians caused by their displacement. I made the case in favour of a two-state solution five years before the 1980 Venice declaration on Palestinian statehood. One of today’s many tragedies is that Hamas’s barbarism has pushed that solution even

Has inflation stuck?

12 min listen

September’s inflation data was released today, and showed that it was at the same level as August. Is inflation getting stuck a problem? Cindy Yu talks to Kate Andrews and Katy Balls. Also on the podcast: Labour’s Israel headaches and a look ahead to tomorrow’s by-elections. Produced by Cindy Yu.

How long can the cross-party consensus on Israel hold?

12 min listen

So far, both major parties in the UK have aligned on their approach to the Israel-Gaza conflict, but can the Labour party really hold their position, considering how much of the party’s grassroots support come from Muslim backgrounds? James Heale talks to Katy Balls and Conservative Home’s editor, Paul Goodman. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Portrait of the week: Starmer’s stall, high treason and the horrors of Hamas

Home At the Labour party conference, cheerful in the hall but overshadowed by the war in Israel, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said that in government he would build 1.5 million homes and a host of ‘Labour new towns’. He wanted to spend £1.1 billion a year on higher overtime payments within NHS England to reduce waiting lists. A protestor poured glitter over him. Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, and Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, also said Labour would ‘rebuild Britain’. ‘Rachel Reeves is a serious economist,’ said Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England. Labour took Rutherglen and Hamilton West in a by-election that the Scottish

Starmer faces tough questions as Labour’s conference begins

Keir Starmer began his big conference interview with the BBC talking about the story that has dominated the weekend – the Hamas attack on Israel. With Israel’s Ministry of Health suggesting at least 300 Israelis have been killed so far and the death toll of Palestinians rising, the Labour leader described the rocket fire and incursions from Gaza as an ‘appalling terrorist attack’ and said Israel had ‘every right to defend herself’. It will be a test for the new-look Labour party as to whether all MPs stay on message in the comings days in Liverpool. The party has long been divided on the Israel Palestine conflict and Starmer could

Why is HS2 so expensive?

Party season Unusually, the Conservatives are holding their party conference before the Labour party. It has become tradition that the Lib Dems hold theirs one week, Labour the next and the Conservatives the week after that, with the latter concluding in the first week of October. The tradition held even in 2020 when conferences moved online due to Covid. But there was a year when the normal conferences didn’t take place: 1974, when the second general election of the year was held during that time. Labour did, however, hold a shorter conference in late November in London. With October touted as a date for next year’s general election, we may

Douglas Murray

At least Britain isn’t that corrupt

Long-time readers may recall that I take a special interest in the art of corruption. And this week America has thrown up a delicious example. Democrat Senator Robert Menendez was indicted last week on bribery charges. This follows a raid on the New Jersey Senator’s home in which federal agents found more than $480,000 hidden in clothing and piled up in his closets. The agents also found 13 gold bars. You have to go back to the 1990s for the last time that parliament was seriously accused of being ‘up for sale’ Menendez denies the charges and said on Monday that it has simply been his habit, for some years,

Will Starmer soften Brexit?

13 min listen

Keir Starmer is in Paris today. It’s a bid to ‘look statesman-like’, Katy Balls says, but also underlines where a Labour government would take British relations with the EU. Oscar Edmondson talks to Katy and Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Could Corbyn thwart Sadiq’s mayoral bid?

Is next year’s London mayoral contest a done deal? When the Tories first started the process of candidate selection, the general sense was that they had little chance of taking the mayoralty from Sadiq Khan. However, as the Labour mayor has faced a voter backlash over his support for Ulez (the ultra low emission zone), the race looks closer than previously thought. What’s more, there is one man who could decide it. Step forward Jeremy Corbyn. The former Labour leader – who is currently banned from standing as a candidate for the party – could deny Khan a third term as London mayor if he decides to run as an