Tag Archives: UKIP

Tony Blair’s strategic move to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Contrary to popular opinion, Tony Blair is not an idiot – idiots don’t win three general elections. Furthermore, Blair isn’t out of sync with the British people either. A classy manipulator, the former prime minister used his anti-Brexit speech not to orchestrate an uprising against Britain’s departure from the European Union, but to strike a blow closer to home.

Blair’s move is a bold and strategic effort to oust Labour leader and destructor Jeremy Corbyn, by dousing petrol on an already rip-roaring fire.

There’s no coincidence that he gave his high-profile whinge less than a week before two crunch by-elections – one in Copeland, the other in Stoke-on-Trent. The former went 62 percent for Leave while the latter chalked up a whopping 70 percent Brexit vote. Both are, at least for a few more days, Labour-held constituencies. If Blair has his way, neither will be come 24 February.

Why does Blair want Labour to lose? Because two by-election losses by a party in opposition would undoubtedly spell doom for their leader, especially as a Stoke-on-Trent Central defeat equates to a UK Independence Party and Paul Nuttall triumph. With UKIP promising to leech on Labour’s northern, working class vote, a Stoke win would knock the first brick from the wall.

Bookmakers have Copeland trending towards the Tories, while Labour are narrow favourites in Stoke following Nuttall’s Hillsborough gaffe, which is appropriately now old news. In 2015, the combined UKIP-Tory Stoke vote bested Labour, making a purple heist and a first home-grown UKIP parliamentary win realistic.

Blair has no stock as a positive influence – you’ll struggle to find a more loathed British politician, and he’s not blinded by narcissism enough to be unaware. However, being loathed brings a few benefits, not least Blair’s ability to be a negative influence.

With more than two decades’ experience in understanding and capitalising on the public’s psyche, Blair, like President Donald Trump, knows exactly what to say to get exactly what he wants. Give it a fortnight and no one will care what this political has-been said, but for the next few days it’s juicy content.

What better Brexit rallying cry than a detested ex-PM who wants to thwart the will of the British people? It’ll likely be even more effective in Stoke, since immigration concerns are invariably blamed on Blair and Labour. Brexiteers are already cashing in, their obvious narratives sure winners. We may even see a Blair piñata before the show’s over.

It’s unlikely there’d ever be an era suited to a Blair comeback, but you won’t find tougher than this anti-establishment one. But Labour rightly realise that Calamity Corbyn has to go, and anything which can bring that reality closer will be secretly cheered – there’s no way Corbyn critic Tristram Hunt wasn’t aware of the implications when he resigned from Stoke either.

For all the talk of a strong democracy having a strong opposition, the last thing Conservatives and Brexiteers need at this moment is Corbyn’s resignation. His haplessness gives Theresa May and her government the necessary breathing space – and huge polling lead – to handle the country’s trickiest negotiations in generations.

An effective opposition would be primed to cash in on perhaps inevitable Brexit fallout with their vision for the nation. Instead, Corbyn, a closet Brexiter who choked and campaigned to Remain, took months to try and establish his party’s position on the issue – not helped by a poorly-timed leadership contest – before leaving many incandescent after giving May a “blank cheque”.

For Labour, the party’s survival is much more important than backlash from Moany Tony’s speech – short-term pain for long-term gain. If Blair’s blathering compromises Labour next week, Corbyn could be out soon after, starting a difficult but not impossible search for a talented leader in a talentless party.

Brexiteers should hold off on the celebrations for now.

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Miliband could be in trouble in Doncaster North

UPDATE: A recent correction from Lord Ashcroft showed Labour’s share of the vote in Doncaster North was actually 54%.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how best the Conservatives could tackle the Labour threat in the north of England. Quite simply, they should stand aside.

The latest round of constituency polling from Lord Ashcroft today rather eloquently proved my point, that very method could hit Labour where its hurts most – in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat.

The Labour leader has failed to connect with many typically Labour voters and nowhere is that more apparent than in his own constituency. Today’s polling revealed whilst Miliband is leading on 40%, the UK Independence Party and the Tories are not without range, reaching 28% and 23% respectively.

Let us hypothesise. Imagine the Tories decided not to field a candidate and urged all of their voters to back a UKIP candidate. The combined figure between the two parties today tallied at 51%, which would be more than enough to unseat Miliband.

Conservative voters in the North must surely realise that whilst their own party has become something of a toxic brand and is of little threat to the Labour-dominated heartlands, the purple and yellow brigade is. The Heywood and Middleton by-election in October saw UKIP get to within 600 votes of snatching the seat.

If the Conservatives are realistic and make the bold decision to lose a battle to win the war, they may just be able to wreck Labour and Miliband’s aim of reaching Number 10.

Miliband’s failure to connect with his own voters could have devastating consequences.

FARAGE STRUGGLING IN THANET SOUTH

It wasn’t all good news for UKIP today though with an Ashcroft poll in Thanet South revealing party leader Nigel Farage is lagging five points behind the Conservative candidate.

Polling after the European Elections had Farage holding a narrow lead, but a lack of appearances in the constituency over recent months could be swaying voters away from the charismatic leader.

In Farage’s defence, he is the leader of a party which in the past three months has seen two Conservative MPs defect, force by-elections and duly reclaim their seats in the House of Commons. It has been a busy period.

Statistics also noted that 49% of Farage’s support in the Kent seat comes from previously non-voters, who are notoriously harder to get to the ballot box on election day.

It’s still far from a lost cause though with the margin very narrow. The Conservatives lead on 34%, UKIP are second with 29%, whilst Labour are trailing in third on 26%. UKIP will of course be plowing copious resources into Thanet South in the run up to next May, with the seat being a must-win for the party. It will be one worth keeping a very close eye on over the next few months.

CLEGG ALSO IN TROUBLE

Not much is going right for Nick Clegg these days and the Liberal Democrat leader has found his lead slashed to a mere three points in Ashcroft’sSheffield Hallam poll.

Clegg is narrowly ahead on 31% with Labour second on 28%. The Tories come next gathering 19% while UKIP and the Greens picked up 11% and 10% respectively.

If the Lib Dems are to bow out next May, their leader could well be going with them.

A masterstroke or just a bit Reckless?

Nigel Farage and UKIP produced another promised earthquake on Saturday with the defection of Conservative MP Mark Reckless – culminating in him standing down and triggering a by-election in his Rochester and Strood constituency.

Reckless becomes the second Tory MP to defect to UKIP in the past month following Clacton’s Douglas Carswell in late August. Carswell also stood down and called a by-election which will be held next Thursday where he is widely expected to become UKIP’s first elected MP.

MP defections aren’t all that unusual – many have “crossed the floor” over the years – but these two are extremely significant. Both Carswell and Reckless have seeked the permission of their electorate to represent them under different colours in the form of a by-election – something that hasn’t happened for decades. Not to mention that UKIP currently have no representation in the House of Commons.

Unlike Clacton, the stakes are much higher for both the Conservatives and UKIP in Rochester and Strood. Carswell has built up a firm following over the past 10 years and Clacton has been labeled one of the most receptive constituencies for UKIP in the country. Reckless will not be afforded this luxury. He was only elected as an MP in 2010 and the seat has a near 10,000 Conservative majority. Moreover, Rochester and Strood didn’t originally feature in UKIP’s top 250 target seats.

Many Conservative activists in the area feel betrayed by Reckless, who had previously told them that he would not be defecting. The reception Reckless has received on return to his constituency hasn’t been as welcoming as Carswell’s according to the media anyway. Yet his decision to call a by-election instead of just sitting under a UKIP banner is a noble act. He could very well lose, although I imagine that he has research telling him he has a strong chance of re-election.

A loss in Clacton for the Conservatives could be brushed aside as something of a one-off. Indeed, Carswell is seen by even his former party as something of a one-off, albeit somebody who has commanded a great respect. But if Reckless carries Rochester and Strood, the Tories UKIP headache will develop into a severe migraine. Potential other Tory defectors – Farage assures us there are some – may think they’d be better off on a UKIP ticket next May.

And you wouldn’t blame them. Staunch Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party are surely only still there because of the 2017 referendum promise. It’s clear that David Cameron has no intention of pulling the UK out of the European Union. If he is still in office in 2017, he will claim some bogus renegotiation before begging everyone to vote to stay, in a campaign that will be based on fear.

For UKIP, a win in Rochester and Strood is the only option. A failure and momentum is halted, other potential defectors will become doubtful over whether they could hold their seat standing as UKIP. However, if they win it will be something of a game-changer and their biggest success to date. The likelihood of more defections will increase and belief that UKIP may win enough seats in Westminster to hold the balance of power next year will strengthen. The prospect of one or two UKIP MPs could genuinely develop into 10 to 20 – particularly if Cameron maintains his weak stance over the EU.

Early betting has Reckless around a 1/2 favourite to win back his seat but much will remain a mystery until some opinion polls are released. Expect the Tories to plough millions into this by-election as they did in Newark back in June. They will believe that winning here is very possible, as much as it is a necessity. Staving off the UKIP assault here would be a major boost.

Yet something tells me the UKIP juggernaut will roll on and that Reckless will win. For those whose priority is Europe, they are the only option. Cameron has kicked the issue into the long grass for far too long, and the only thing that would keep a genuine Eurosceptic with the Tories is the fear of letting Ed Miliband in to 10 Downing Street.

But Labour are also threatened, many Old Labour voters are flocking to UKIP in their droves despite the notion that they are a right-wing party. UKIP’s recent conference aimed to appeal to those Old Labour people, and if they could win the by-election coming up in Heywood and Middleton, UKIP will be as much a Labour problem as they are a Tory one.

The Establishment as they are so often labelled these days are extremely worried. Farage has teased further defections, with another potentially coming on Wednesday, when Cameron will give his conference speech to the Conservatives. No one knows when they will happen, who they will be, and the impact it might have. We are in very exciting times.

Do Sweden Democrats gains set the tone for 2015 General Election?

The Swedish Elections may have resulted in an overall shift to the left, but the big story of the night was the rise of the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna).

The Sweden Democrats (SD) took an unprecedented 13% of the vote – up over 7% from 2010 – to become the third largest party in the country, and increase their representation in the Riksdag to 49 – up 29 seats from 2010. The party famed for it’s anti-immigration stance polled far higher than both opinion and exit polls suggested, whilst the Feminist Initiative who were predicted to be on the cusp of the 4% threshold required to gain seats in Parliament, fell short with 3.1%.

In an attempt to distance themselves from the Swedish Democrats, alliances from both left and right have been ruled out. Social Democrats leader and Prime Minister-designate Stefan Lofven has announced a desire to form a group with the Greens and other “anti-racist” parties. Meanwhile the Moderate Party, the big losers from the Election, have also refused to co-operate with the Swedish Democrats.

The results rather confirms the mood from May’s European Elections. Euroscepticism and concerns over immigration are continuing to grow, reflected in the rise of the sometimes unfairly dubbed ‘far-right’. Media bias and smears have failed to turn voters away from them, if anything they have strengthened their support.

The news has come as a shock to many, particularly around the rest of Europe. Yet with Sweden’s liberal immigration laws – an estimated 80,000 asylum-seekers will enter the country this year – the rise of a party like the SD, rightly or wrongly should have been anticipated, particularly after the European Elections. The fact that these Elections have been reported as such a shock is further proof that the growing concerns of the public are still being ignored. Branding people who hold these opinions as xenophobic and racist is foolish and has only served to further alienate ordinary people from mainstream politics.

Looking from a UK perspective, the news from Sweden will come as a boost to the UK Independence Party. The Sweden Democrats and UKIP form part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the European Parliament.

Opinion polls in Britain show UKIP consistently polling at around 15%, slightly higher than the Sweden Democrats. However due to the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system in the UK it is highly unlikely that UKIP will garner anywhere near the representation in the House of Commons that the Sweden Democrats have in the Riksdag. Similarly, if Sweden operated under FPTP, votes for the Sweden Democrats would almost certainly not have translated in to seats in the numbers that they have.

Does this indicate a significant problem in the UK voting system? Well not if you support either Labour or Conservative, or hold a dislike for UKIP. Based on current voting intentions for the General Election in 2015, the likely scenario is that UKIP will pick up around 15% of the vote yet no more than around five seats. Labour are currently predicted to gather around two and a half times the popular vote of UKIP, which predictions suggest would give them around 350 seats. Two and a half times the vote, 70 times the number of seats. This isn’t a case of being sympathetic to UKIP. In 2010, the Liberal Democrats polled 23.2% of the vote, compared to Labour’s 29%. The Liberal Democrats won 57 seats, Labour 258. The Conservatives took 36.1%, which gave them 307 seats.

Without getting too technical, the Riksdag in Sweden more or less equally represents the popular vote. If we applied this to the current opinion polls in the UK, UKIP would be on course to make up around 100 of the 650 MPs in the House of Commons in 2015 – a whole 20 times more than what they are currently on target for. Using this system for 2010, the Liberal Democrats would have won around 150 seats (up 93), Labour 189 (down 69), and the Conservatives 235 (down 72). A far more accurate representation of how the public voted.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to decry calls for an electoral system to be changed providing it doesn’t affect a party you support. Everyone knows the Greens like a good shout, if it were they who were picking up a sixth of the vote but facing less than one hundredth of parliamentary representation, you can guarantee you wouldn’t be able to move in the liberal hotbeds for weeks.

In a democratic society, if the public vote for something they have the right to be heard, no matter their opinions. It is time outdated systems which serve to protect the Establishment parties who have little interest in offering any real change left or right were abolished.

Euroscepticism, immigration concerns and a desire to regain sovereignty is on the rise across Europe. But not all countries will show it.