Last night Labour held Stoke Central and lost Copeland to the Tories. As usual, by-elections don’t tell us a huge amount about the bigger political picture, but are very important in setting the political narrative.

By-elections are very unusual beasts. Because they don’t decide who will form the government for the next five years, only who will be the local MP, people are comparatively free to use them to register a protest. They are much more fiercely contested than your average seat at a general election. The constituency itself will also normally have its own local ideosyncracities that mean it can’t just be read as if it is a microcosm of Britain as a whole. So when people ask me what by-elections tell us, I normally say not much: if the change in the vote is in line with what the national polls are showing then it tells us nothing we didn’t already know, if the change is different to the national polls it’s probably just because by-elections are very different to general elections.

Looking at the two results, Copeland is a marginal seat between Labour and the Conservatives… albeit, one that had been in Labour hands for eighty years. The national polls tend to show the Conservatives about 14 points ahead of Labour, the equivalent of a 3.5% swing from Labour to Conservative since the general election. Therefore if Copeland had behaved exactly in line with the national polls it should have been on a knife edge between Conservative and Labour. In the event the Tories gained it comfortably. We cannot be certain why the Tories did better than the national picture would have predicted, thought the most obvious hypothesis is the unusual nature of the seat: Whitehaven is a town wholly dominated by and dependent on one industry – nuclear power – and the Labour party were perceived as being hostile towards it.

On the face of it Stoke Central was a less interesting result – Copeland is one for for the record books, but Stoke saw hardly any change since the general election (only the Lib Dems really saw a significant increase in their share). However it does perhaps give us a idea of the limits to the UKIP threat to Labour. UKIP were perceived as the main challengers from the beginning and it was a promising seat for them: a somewhat neglected working class Labour seat that voted strongly for Brexit, but with a Labour candidate who was remain. They seem to have thrown all they could at it, but with very little success. Again, we can’t be certain why – Paul Nuttall obviously had a difficult campaign and anecdotally UKIP’s ground game was poor, but there are also wider questions about UKIP’s viability now Brexit has been adopted by the Conservatives and without Farage at their helm. By-elections have often been an important route for smaller parties, getting them publicity and a foothold in Parliament. Whenever there has been a by-election in a northern city in the last five years or so there has been speculation about it being a chance for UKIP, but they never seem quite able to pull it off.

So what will the impact of these by-elections be? Copeland will be a body blow to Labour simply because of how incredibly unusual it is. Governments do not normally gain seats at by-elections. Lots of people will be writing about past examples today – 1982 in Micham and Morden (Lab vote split because of SDP defection, and the government got a surge of support during campaign because of the Falklands); 1961 Bristol South East (Tory gain only because the candidate with the most votes – Tony Benn – was disqualified for being a peer), 1960 Brighouse and Spenborough (ultra marginal to begin with). The fact that one has to go back that far to scrape a few examples that generally have extremely unusual circumstances underlines how freakish this is. The political narrative will go back to how Labour are in crisis…but whether that makes the slightest practical difference, I don’t know. Might it provoke another Parliamentary coup within Labour? Who knows. Might it sow some doubts among Corbyn supporters within the Labour party? Again, who knows. The point is, Labour have had terrible poll ratings for a long time, Jeremy Corbyn has has terrible poll ratings for a long time, but this did not stop him being being relected leader last year. The question of Labour’s leadership is one that seems to be a lot more about the opinion of Labour members than the wider public.


909 Responses to “Stoke and Copeland by-elections”

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  1. Colin

    Agreed. At the moment, polls show Mrs May is morepopular the Jeremy amongst working class voters. In fact, she is more popular in this group than she was last July when she took over as PM.
    She needs to use this capital soonest to keep these folk onside.
    A good start would be slashing the overseas aid budget from £11bn to £1bn and using the money to sort out the NHS and social care issues. That would go down well .

  2. Corbyn today “I was elected to lead this party, I was elected to lead this party to oppose austerity and to oppose redistribution of wealth in the wrong direction, which is what this government is doing. We will continue our campaigning work on the NHS, on social care and on housing,” .

    Asked by ITV if Labour’s problems were his fault, Corbyn said “No. Thank you for your question.” McDonnell went further and blamed Blair and Mandelson for undermining the party.

    -The good ship Titanic sails on listing heavily to port.

  3. These were both excellent results for the Tories.However, what I found rather irritating from the commentariat was the constant repetition of ‘this has been Labour for 80 years’ message. In truth , the constituency has only existed in its present form since 2010 – when the town of Keswick and three rural wards were added to the predecessor seat. It is far from clear that the Tories would have won the seat yesterday on its pre-2010 boundaries. Equally the Tories would have won the seat on its present boundaries in 1983 – and probably 1987.

  4. Final Warnings are only meaningful if you spell out the “or else”.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/02/copeland-must-be-labours-final-warning

  5. THE OTHER HOWARD
    “Looking at how the LD’s are performing in local elections, and how they have performed in parliamentary by-elections I expect them to get between 15-25 seat in 2020, but with more than 3 years to go that forecast could change significantly either way. Certainly the Tories should be worried about them”
    _____________

    On current polling, I don’t think the Tories have anything to be worried about. They are polling 3-4% above their 2015 election result and where they might lose a few seats to the Lib/Dems in areas like the West country, this will probably be offset by gains from Labour in other areas of the country.

    On current polling, the only way I can see the Lib/Dems making significant gains in 2020 is in the unlikely event they are building up their VI in formerly held seats rather than a universal national increase which would leave their vote very thinly spread.

    I’ve already called the 2020 election a Tory win with a majority of around 50-60 seats.

  6. GRAHAM

    Sorry, but you really are clutching at straws. Regardless of the past composition of the Copeland seat, the governing party for the first time in decades has won a by-election from a party in opposition.

    North and South, Labour are setting new records all the time….and all for the wrong reasons.

  7. Candy

    Spot on.

    A massive failure of left leaning people – on here and commentators on TV and in the press – is the under estimation of Mrs May and how she is viewed by the people.
    The more the likes of Blair, Mandelson et al bang on about Brexit and keep trying to frustrate it, the more the people are getting hacked off. For good or ill, we voted leave and now is time to get on with it.

  8. @Jim Jam
    ‘ the Michael Howard option is my preference but it has to be someone who knows they will lose with dignity and then step aside for a candidate with a chance in 2025.’

    I don’t believe that the dye is cast to the extent that you imply there. Under a credible leader such as Starmer or Jarvis – maybe Benn too – it remains entirely possible to imagine Labour polling circa 35% in 2020. Three years is a very long time in terms of electoral politics – the Tories improved quite drmatically from 2002 to 2005. Witness too what appears to be happening in Germany currently with the surge in support for the SPD under new leader Martin Schulz.
    As for Harriet Harman – most certainly not! She more than anybody else should bear responsibility for Corbyn’s elevation to the Leadership in 2015. Had she not as Acting Leader got the Shadow Cabinet to abstain on Osborne’s July 2015 Welfare Reforms Corbyn would have been denied the momentun that propelled him to the leadership. Personally I find it difficult to magine how she can live with herself.following such a maladroit decision.

  9. AC
    My point is that the ’80 years of being Labour held’ is stretching things a bit. This seat would almost certainly have been Tory in 1983 and 1987.

  10. Both by election results have confirmed my view that Brexit is far from being the dominant issue in the minds of voters when it comes to casting votes at an election.Nobody is seriously that the Tory win at Copeland had much to do with that issue at all – Nuclear Power and Corbyn were the factors which swung the vote. Hopefully that penny has begun to drop and media obsession will start to subside.

  11. “(I know lots of activists who voted for Corbyn over Smith but would have voted for Jarvis or Ummuna”

    I hope they put one in or Starmer or Lewis.

    That way when Labour are annihilated at the next general election they won’t be able to blame it on Corbyn.

    The problem is the product, not the leader.

  12. Re TM,
    Anyone left or otherwise who does not recognise that she is enjoying an extended honeymoon is failing to face facts.
    What we don’t know is if the extended period of positive ratings is just an extended honeymoon or a more deep seated regard for her.

    Brexit dominates at present and the UK wide party leaders she might be compared to are not too impressive to say the least. (Hence my Carwyn Jones side remark earlier)

    Will this last through to 2020 – probably enough yes but she will have do something about the NHS and imo schools before her support among ‘working class’ voters starts to fall.

    Sadly a currently inept opposition means (from my perspective) means that the Tories can get away with a greater level of trashing of public services than would otherwise be possible as the caring v competence trade-off is currently giving a way bigger competence advantage for the Tories than the caring one for Labour.

  13. Why is it so unreasonable to expect senior professional journalists to know their stuff? The fact is that on present boundaries this seat would almost certainly have had a Tory MP for at least 9 years until 1992. The truth has effectively been significantly distorted – ‘Seat goes Tory for first time since 1992’ sounds much less dramatic

  14. Jim Jam
    ‘Anyone left or otherwise who does not recognise that she is enjoying an extended honeymoon is failing to face facts.’

    I actually have a lot of time for TM myself. There seems to be something of a spiritual dimension to her,and I welcome the way she appears to conduct politics with a straight bat. I feel far more comfortable with her in charge than Cameron, Thatcher , Major or Blair. Nevertheless no honeymoon lasts for ever! Even Thatcher’s post Falkland boost eventually came to an end.

  15. @Graham

    3 years is a long time in politics. The next 3 years are likely to be the longest political three years any of us have ever seen.

    If Brexit goes badly, almost everything people are saying on here could be overturned.

    There are also people on here patting themselves on the back over May who wanted Leadsom as leader.

  16. Gaby Hinsliffe I think has summed it up perfectly:

    Lab: we need to listen to the voters.
    Voters: we think Corbyn is hopeless.
    Lab: yeah not those voters

  17. @Chris Riley

    Indeed. But isn’t the issue within the Labour party that a situation has been engineered whereby the identity of the leader is seen (on all sides) as intimately linked with the direction of the party?

    It might theoretically be possible, but can the Labour party in practice address the “problem” of the leader in isolation of any other issues? The current factional infighting doesn’t suggest so.

  18. @Graham “The truth has effectively been significantly distorted – ‘Seat goes Tory for first time since 1992’ sounds much less dramatic”

    The truth is that this is the first time a governing party has won a by-election from the principal opposition by more than 3% without special circumstances since 1878 however anyone wants to try and spin it!

  19. @CHRIS RILEY – Gaby Hinsliffe

    Yes that sums it up succinctly.

    It’s certainly not a matter of being tone deaf. They aren’t listening. Which can only suggest they are either so utterly self-absorbed to be unable to ascertain the reality around them or more likely they don’t care because they have an agenda to see through that trumps all other considerations.

  20. I think Labour, and specifically Corbyn supporters, are now in a very difficult place. What everyone says about events, time, uncertain futures etc is all valid, but again, as I previously posted, is all contingent on the assumption that a Labour party led by Corbyn can regain sufficient credibility if events move their way. With Corbyn’s personal ratings, I think that is a very big assumption.

    This leaves his supporters with a real headache. It would be as churlish to blame Corbyn for all Labour’s ills as to blame Blair for losing Copeland. Corbyn inherited a party wiped out in Scotland and struggling in many of it’s heartlands, and he has done a lot to attract new people to the party.

    Clearly that is not enough, and I suspect we are beginning to understand one of the the impacts of the internet on modern politics. It’s very easy to sign up to things online, but it’s so easy it actually means very little. If Corbyn had got half a million people to join the party thirty years ago, then yes, we might be seeing this as the tip of a huge movement, but I rather suspect that today it’s just a tiny part of the online world clicking on a few links and not signifying a great deal.

    His supporters will clearly be feeling sore. He wasn’t treated well by either the media or many in the PLP, but do they continue to keep the faith in the face of such dire ratings?

    One of the functions of leadership is to take responsibility, but critically, and this is often misunderstood – that is not necessarily the same as taking the blame. If the organisation’s reputation is so badly tarnished, for whatever reason, the best course could well be for the leader to shoulder the responsibility, and take it away from the organisation through a graceful resignation. Walk away, but make sure that you take away the bile and resentment with you, as best you can, and leave your party free to rebuild.

    If a leader is genuinely engaged with the good of their party, then this probably now is the only realistic option left that can help Labour, but the longer it gets delayed, the harder it will be to leave any kind of positive legacy.

  21. Apart from Corbyn himself, I think one of the reasons that Labour are floundering in the polls is that their policies aren’t clear. For instance I believe that official party policy is pro-nuclear power, but it’s well known that their leader is against it. I don’t follow politics as closely as some on this site, but I’m probably as well-informed as the average voter. I can’t remember the last time I heard a Labour representative mention a specific policy. They have vague platitudes like ‘an end to austerity’ and ‘Save the NHS’, but never seem to say what they would actually DO and how it would be paid for. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but if I have, so have millions of others.

  22. The really interesting question, I think, is when you separate Corbyn from what I’ll lazily shorthand as Corbynism.

    In nett terms, Corbyn as an individual seems an undeniable liability at present. But what about his approach and policies?

    If a significant proportion of his negative ratings stem from the changes he has made to Labour’s direction and not personality politics, then hanging on by his fingernails will be bad for his party. On the other hand, if the bulk of his approach still chimes with those who voted him in (especially the voters of the future), then even if he himself is holed below the waterline, NOT hanging on will be bad for his party if hanging on allows that policy direction to become better entrenched.

    What do the electorate (or the important bits of it) think of:

    * him as an individual/his leadership?
    * his promotion of more left-leaning economic policies than previously?
    * his promotion of more left-leaning social policies than previously?

    In other words even if he is personally toxic, is there a baby in that bathwater and, if so, what is it and will the Labour party save it?

  23. All this blame heaped on JC.He is not to blame.He is the latest salesman of a product that the voters do not want.Voters have not wanted it since 1974.
    Labour and their media friends have told us that there is a “progressive” alliance in this country. But there is not. If anything there is a “conservative” alliance.This country has been right of centre both socially and economically for nigh on 50 years yet the political elite has not.The only political party to grow has been UKIP. The only Labour politician to win an election in that time has been Blair and only when he promised to follow Tory economic policy. When he departed from that in 2000 and in subsequent elections the labour vote fell but wa s flattered by large majorities. Every Labour leader who stood on any other agenda has lost and will lose.
    Even in the 2015 the conservative and UKIP vote exceeded 50% and yet we are still fed the diet of this mythical progressive majority.
    Corbyn to his credit has analysed this and with a clarity lacking in others knows that Labour will not win and cannot win on the non blairite policies espoused by” Moderate”or “progressive” labour. He like the the Tirpitz wants to sally forth under the steam of full blooded socialism for one final confrontation believing it is better to go down fighting than die the death of a thousand election defeats.
    While some ask what is the point of uKIP the same question, he knows, could be asked of Labour.

  24. Sorry to bang on about them., the Lib/Dems.

    From their website.

    “Since May the Liberal Democrats have made 30 council gains across the country, ten times more than any other party. They have won a famous parliamentary by-election in Richmond Park and their membership has almost doubled since the general election. Recently the party has won council by elections in Leave areas such as Sunderland and Rotherham, and two more tonight”
    ______

    So as you can see the Lib/Dems are defining local success with being pro remain and winning in leave areas. That’s like the Tories or Labour in Scotland winning a local by-election in Glasgow and saying they won it in a Yes area!! but they don’t.

    The Lib/Dems are serious opportunists and really are living in a parallel universe. They are spending too much time backslapping each other over diddly local by-elections and yet they are cumming up well short of where they should be in the national polls.

    Interestingly, on Tim Farron’s twitter account he tweets about the Lib/Dems local by-election results last night but has absolutely no tweets on the Lib/Dems performances in Stoke and Copeland.

    I rest my case…

  25. It’s certainly going to be a brutal weekend for Labour and we can expect a bloodbath on the Sunday’s, press and TV.

    On this form the Tories are positioned as the “One Nation National Party”, with opposition split between three others.

    For the time being it’s a bit like the end of the Cold War, we’ve gone from two Superpowers fairly well matched if one weaker than the other to one Superpower and a collection of far weaker powers often rivalling each other more than it.

    On present form neither UKIP or the LibDems seem able to make much of a breakthrough but are probably able to cost labour marginals.

    UKIP won’t take any Labour seats but like in Stoke they could take enough from Labour to let the Tories come from third.

    Similarly I think if they make a recovery the Libdems are more likely to take Labour Seats or stop Labour taking back tory ones than hurting the Government.

    As for Scotland, firstly these results will knock everything Labour is trying to say at it’s spring conference this week end off the front pages, so any chance of using it to start a fight back against the SNP is now gone.

    It was also suppose to be a springboard for the Scotlands May Council elections!

    Secondly the prospect of “Another Decade of Tory Rule!” will suit the SNP fine and set it up to continue to claim to be the only real opposition to the Tories.

    The Tories are clearing doing better in Scotland than they have for decades, but that is unlikely to translate into many extra seats in Scotland and there is still a possibility that even with them polling in the 20’s, voters will still coalesce around the SNP as the anti-tory Party.

    Take the current 650 seat Parliament and reduce it to 600 seat one with the Tories up and Labour down and a slight LibDem recovery and you are looking at something like;

    Con; 340, Lab; 160, SNP; 50, Libdem; 25, UKIP; 3,
    PC; 5, NI; 17….

    There is also an outside chance that the SNP wins every seat in Scotland. Not highly likely but worth considering in the context of Brexit and Indyref2.

    Peter.

  26. PETER CAIRNS (SNP)

    I think you’re spot on with your analysis and I see you’re giving the Tories a majority of 80, slightly more than my own 50-60 margin but I think the Lib/Dems on 25 is way too optimistic..based on current polling but who knows…..what do I know?

    Anyway, great analysis. :-)

  27. Interesting new reserach on North Atlantic cooling from Southampton University. In a new analysis they have suggested that there is a 50% chance rapid cooling of the North Atlantic occuring this century, with the cooling happening over a very short single decade timespan.

    This is perfectly consistent with global warming models (indeed, is caused by the warming) but is counter to the IPCC current scenario of a slow and gradual cooling.

    If this does start to happen, the effects for countries around the North Atlantic will be severe, with an estimated 5C fall in mean temperatures in just 10 years thought possible.

  28. @ peter Cairns SNP
    “Take the current 650 seat Parliament and reduce it to 600 seat one with the Tories up and Labour down and a slight LibDem recovery and you are looking at something like;
    Con; 340, Lab; 160, SNP; 50, Libdem; 25, UKIP; 3,
    PC; 5, NI; 17….”

    I thought SNP policy was an independent Scotland? With a referendum after Brexit which SNP wins?
    That would take your rUK Commons down to 550 members, something like
    Con; 340, Lab; 160, Libdem; 25, UKIP; 3,PC; 5, NI; 17….”
    That’s an overall majority of 130 instead of 80, even with NI all voting against.

  29. The problem for Labour isn’t the policies (even assuming that anyone knows what they are apart from what is implied by vacuous sloganising). It isn’t the leader per se. It is the lack of leaderSHIP.

    Apart perhaps from a literal handful of individuals in Corbyn’s inner circle, no-one has the feintest idea what is supposed to be the party’s underlying philosophy. There is no easily accessible narrative that anyone can be attracted by or have enthusiasm for.

    Most party politics is not about the minutae of policy, it is about identity. Brexit won not because of their “promises”, but because they had the good tunes: “take back control”; “£350/day for the NHS”; “expel the immigrants” (OK that one was very much sotto voce). Similarly Trump. Although Bannon has now made clear Trump is intending to follow through on all his policy pledges, at the time even many of his supporters didn’t believe that would be the case. But he constructed a “look and feel” that swing voters could engage with.

    Corbyn is constitutionally incapable of this. But a change of leader could – in principle – provide an opportunity for very quickly constructing a Labour narrative that could take advantage of the (very substantial) deficiencies in the May government and its approach to Brexit.

    As Alec pointed out, Ed Miliband started to develop a post-New Labour philosophy, until he (or those mis-advising him) lost his nerve. There is a narrative to be made that Labour’s core *and* swing voters could get behind. For instance, it might express things like

    the benefits of collective action (whether by employers, or as manifest in organisations like the NHS, or as part of the EU)
    the role of the state in providing a foundation (e.g. benefits or a citizen’s income, the police, transport infrastructure) on which individuals and individual activity can thrive
    the importance of meaningful investment in technology (e.g. through incentives for research) and people (through e.g. bursaries for nurses and affordable access to higher education) that goes beyond the Tory model of foreign buyouts of UK companies.

    I’m sure other attractive narratives can be found elsewhere within the Labour broad church. But whatever it is, it is the leader’s job to project it. The absence of anything recognisible of this sort is 100% down to Corbyn.

  30. ALLAN CHRISTIE
    “I’ve already called the 2020 election a Tory win with a majority of around 50-60 seats.”
    If there was an election tomorrow I would agree, in fact the majority could be much higher. However I would not consider giving a forecast of the next election until 2019 at the earliest. There is a likely financial downturn to come, part Brexit , part economic cycle, and lots of Brexit negotiations both with the EU and in the HoC.
    I do feel that we can consider the LDs in isolation though and my feeling is that they will target the seats they lost in 2015 plus some with very large Remain votes. I think that strategy would be reasonably effective hence my forecast of a doubling or near trebling of their seats. Very priovisional of course and will no doubt be subject to change as probably your own forecast will.

  31. @ALEC Don’t worry about that.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/632054/Yellowstone-about-to-blow-1-in-10-chance-super-volcano-will-kill-millions
    “Experts at the European Science Foundation said volcanoes – especially super-volcanoes like the one at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, which has a caldera measuring 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km) – pose more threat to Earth and the survival of humans than asteroids, earthquakes, nuclear war and global warming.

    There are few real contingency plans in place to deal with the ticking time bomb, which they conclude is likely to go off within the next 80 years.”

  32. Pete B

    I agree – a lot to do with the lack of explanations for policies. Save the NHS is not a policy, creating jobs is not a policy.

    Interestingly, in Basingstoke a day earlier Labour won a council by election on essentially a one-issue ticket (merger of two educational institutions). But the message was very discerning and precise.

    —–

    If losing the by election was not enough, Labour has done everything all day to appear to be a loser. One prominent Corbyn supporting commentator (not Mason) even blamed the voters saying that they will know that they made the wrong choice when they can’t get to the hospital with the high radiation level (I thought it was a maternity hospital, but anyway) – so not even basic human decency.

    I understand that it is difficult to take (at least some of the) responsibilities for the inaction since September without considering the consequences, but alt-facts (Corbyn is the most beloved leader in the country), blaming, general defensiveness are all obstacles to learning, and corrective actions, while giving the voters even more reasons to switch or not to vote. I expect a further increase in the Con-Lab polls soon.

  33. @ Dave

    The super-volcano under Naples Bay is also waking up, one million people live on top of it!

  34. On volcanos the best source is: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/about.html

  35. On Corbyn’s future, of which there is much speculation here and elsewhere.

    Interesting commentary from Dave Prentis of UNISON in the New Statesman. Whilst still overall supportive of him, it includes this telling quote:

    “Corbyn is the leader of the Labour party, so while he should not be held solely responsible for Labour’s downturn, he must now take responsibility for turning things around.”

    Couple that with the ongoing UNITE leadership election and I doubt that the support he has enjoyed from the TU leaders can be guaranteed until the next general election. Without it, frankly, he is toast; whilst the Tories are the ones with the reputation of the men in dark suits, Labour are capable of the same, so long as their funders are behind it. There is an analogy with Leicester City somewhere but I can’t quite find it.

    I will stick with my prediction that he will stand down, apparently of his own free will, in time for his successor to be anointed at the 2018 conference. Talk of another coup attempt, or of that happening before then are, IMO, wide of the mark.

  36. @Jasper22

    She needs to use this capital soonest to keep these folk onside.
    A good start would be slashing the overseas aid budget from £11bn to £1bn and using the money to sort out the NHS and social care issues. That would go down well .

    It is likely that while that policy change would probably improve Labour’s ratings with some voters, it would put others off, especially those who would want the party to reach out internationally and feel strongly the 0.7% target is kept.

  37. The elections were poor for Labour and T May might want to go for a May election (easy to avoid the 2/3 vote) to give her (or Corbyn?) five years for a reasonable partnership for both sides. Alternatively if she wants to carry on it must surely be a hard Brexit. I believe Corbyn will think he will go before the next election if the MP selection rate goes down to 5% or given a 2020 election he hopes there will be enough MPs to advocate a “left” candidate.
    Last night’s results will certainly get the two party leaders thinking of tactics.

  38. @Jasper22

    Scratch that post please.

  39. I see Farage has been spouting again. “Our real friends in the world speak English”

    Póg Mo Thón as they would say in Ireland (Scots Gaelic speakers would say the same thing, but with slightly different vowel sounds).

    The Australians would seem to favour Irish friendship.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/ireland-can-benefit-from-brexit-says-australian-foreign-minister-1.2988051

  40. @Daibach

    “There is an analogy with Leicester City somewhere but I can’t quite find it.”

    There is with Cameron. May 7th 2015 – greatest Tory election performance for a generation. June 23rd 2016 – out of a job.

  41. OldNat

    We have a FTA lined up with the Aussies already.

    They,and us, have arranged next months Commonwealth Trade Meeting in London.

    Reading the article, seems to me the Diggers are tickling the Irish tummy.

  42. @RAF

    Like it! :-)

  43. Jasper

    If we are bidding to replicate Dad’s Army, then you are making a noble bid to be Mr Cheeseman – or at least the actor’s character, as described by Ken Dodd (with a predictable lack of self awareness!) :-)

  44. @ COLIN

    ‘Final Warnings are only meaningful if you spell out the “or else”.
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/02/copeland-must-be-labours-final-warning

    Dave Prentis supports Jeremy Corbyn in the way that a man with his arm tied up behind his back does. A majority of Unison members don’t think as he does.

  45. @ Neil Wilson

    ‘That way when Labour are annihilated at the next general election they won’t be able to blame it on Corbyn.’

    Pithy and very much to the point.

  46. Looks like the Republic’s PM Enda Kenny will be standing down soon. A shame as he has been a good friend to us.

    Talking to my mick mates in the South, more people in Eire thinking they will follow us out of the EU.

  47. For those who wanted to know the LP policy manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, here is a link to his 10 pledges which have been ratified by the NEC:

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/here-jeremy-corbyns-10-pledges-11703311

  48. “The question of Labour’s leadership is one that seems to be a lot more about the opinion of Labour members than the wider public.”

    Well, yes. We’re the ones he’s leading, after all.

    The odd thing is that the reforms to the voting system that helped bring Corbyn to power in the party were designed to get more of the ‘wider public’ involved and take the decision out of the hands of activists. It doesn’t seem to have worked out like that.

  49. Syzygy

    I have no reason to doubt your assertion that the NEC has ratified these Corbyn pledges – though the August 2016 article says nothing of that.

    Interesting though, that the Wales Online article contains no comment that a PM Corbyn could only apply pledges 2, 4 and 5 (and bits of others) in England – and possibly others if “expanding regional democracy” means anything.

    Policies on those issues in Wales are a matter for the Welsh assembly.

    It seems a bit of a stretch, though, to equate what are declarations of principles to a “policy manifesto”.

    The latter requires to have rather more specifics worked out.

  50. Syzygy
    Thanks for that link, though to me it sounds like a nightmare. No mention of Defence or nuclear power generation, presumably because his views would be unacceptable, or he couldn’t get them past the NEC.

    Also, this struck me:
    ““We will end health service privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly-provided NHS.”

    Does this mean he would nationalise GP practices? That’ll go down well. If it doesn’t mean that, what does it mean?

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