Author Topic: UK Politics 2022  (Read 956 times)

Jubal

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UK Politics 2022
« on: January 19, 2022, 12:29:03 PM »
New year, time for a change of thread!

And we have a bit of political excitement for the New Year, too: Boris Johnson is finally severely tanking in the polls, and everyone (everyone who's an enormous nerd anyway) is watching avidly to see when enough letters to the Conservative 1922 committee get sent in expressing no confidence in him, such that there's an actual confidence vote among Conservative MPs. There will also be one fewer of those MPs, as the member for Bury South today crossed the floor and joined the Labour benches about ten minutes before Prime Minister's Questions.

Johnson may yet see off a confidence vote if his potential replacements - including my MP Liz "Pork Markets" Truss, Matt "I've got an app" Hancock, Jeremy "don't mispronounce the surname" Hunt, and chancellor and probable front-runner Rishi Sunak - don't feel ready to jump into a contest. But he's looking more and more damaged by the day, honestly.
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Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2022, 11:26:49 AM »
William Wragg, the Conservative chair of the public accounts committee, has all but explicitly said on camera that Johnson's government is committing criminal blackmail of its MPs by threatening to push embarrassing stories into the press, and breaches of the ministerial code by threatening to rewrite parliamentary boundary changes and withdraw government funded projects from MPs constituencies, in order to pressure Conservative MPs not to vote No Confidence in Johnson. Story here.

I mean, I don't think "Johnson prepared to do a bit of crime to hold his office" is hugely surprising, but the point at which his own MPs are surfacing to point that out is rather more eye-opening.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2022, 07:52:44 PM »
It is a truth universally acknowledged that its not the crime that gets you, its the cover-up (see also: never break two laws at the same time).

Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2022, 01:09:57 AM »
So it's Lib Dem conference weekend. The biggest internal party news is probably a major set of reforms to the Federal Board and its structures: we will not have a much smaller federal board with a scrutiny council, which I'm sceptical will prove effective.

My main pushes on policy issues both passed. First, I helped push through a revised version of a paper on Public Debate which I'd referred back to committee with a vote at the previous conference. The new version may not be perfect but I think it's fairly good and I was pleased that the working group were very willing to work on the improvements that were needed. Here's a thing about it that I wrote:
https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-nature-of-public-debate-a-win-for-conference-70100.html

And this evening, with help from the Young Liberals' policy officer Janey Little, I also got an amendment through on restorative justice which advanced our policy somewhat. Explanation on blog here:
https://thoughtsofprogress.wordpress.com/2022/03/10/restorative-justice-time-to-talk-it-over/
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Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2022, 06:30:20 PM »
Local elections coming up shortly! All the Welsh and Scottish locals, a lot of English councils (this year's round is probably the most urban-heavy one in England, including all the London boroughs). There's also the Northern Ireland Assembly coming up.

Things likely to be of interest below. Note that if I'm a bit waffly about flipping vs "doing well in" councils, that's on purpose and because I've not had time to check the 2018 results everywhere to see exactly what can or can't actually flip in places with 1/3 of councillors up for election.
  • How badly do the Tories do, and where are they losing seats? More losses in affluent areas to the Lib Dems will spook the party in a different way to if they have a lot of losses to Labour in the north. The polls have been horrible for them for some time, and though the government's well-recieved response to the Ukraine crisis may have steadied the ship anger over partygate, a massive cost of living crisis, and botched handling of other policy areas seems to be taking its toll. Overall people are talking about maybe 500 seat losses for the Tories, so we'll see how true that is.
  • Does Starmer actually work for regaining the north? Labour is defending more ground than it's attacking this year due to the urban nature of what's up, but if Starmer's fairly centrist strategy is working then Labour should make a good repository for current dissatisfaction with the government. Flipping Wandsworth in London is on the cards, which would be a bit totemic as a longstanding Tory bastion but on the other hand much of that sort of urban turf has been trending away from the Tories anyway. More interesting to watch will be Starmerite performance in more working-class areas like Dudley (Tory controlled since 2018). If the Conservatives are really trending into 1990s scales of loss, places to watch should include Amber Valley, northern London boroughs like Hillingdon, and also southern councils where Labour now has more presence like Adur.
  • The Lib Dems' strategy under Ed Davey has been very focused on councils and ground campaigns, but this might not be the best year for that: there isn't that much of the suburban and rural affluent southern English turf that Davey-ites prefer to campaign on, and where that is up we're largely defending it (South Cambs and St Albans are big all-up defences, with places like Mole Valley, Eastleigh, and Cheltenham also with LD majorities to defend). That said, if Ed's strategy is really making inroads there are councils that ought to be vulnerable: if the LDs do well and make inroads in or flip Gosport, Maidstone, West Oxfordshire, Woking, Fareham and Tunbridge Wells those are the sorts of places the party needs to start racking up more council majorities to make the Davey strategy work.
  • I know much less about Scots and Welsh council elections - in Scotland I'm largely going to be watching to see how heavily the SNP are running up the score: Scottish councils are proportionally elected, but the SNP polling over forty percent on first preferences might indicate they're going to get some majorities in places like e.g. Dundee. That said, there are a lot of independents in most Scottish council elections, which makes any calculus pretty hard.
  • Wales also has a lot of independents, but Labour are the party of power there: they'll be aiming to recapture some councils, though in a number of their obvious targets they're already running minority administrations.
  • Northern Ireland could be really, really interesting: chaos in the Democratic Unionist Party (hard right-wing social conservative Unionists) has led to them slipping behind somewhat in Northern Irish politics since the last election, they've typically been the top running party in recent years. Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist (that is, left/Catholic/unite Ireland) party, have gone for quite a bread-and-butter campaign and stayed steady, meaning they're very likely to come first. The big winners from all this have not been the moderate unionist and republican forces of the Ulster Unionist and Social Democratic & Labour parties, but the liberal non-sectarian Alliance, who look likely to be very clearly the third largest party and have even run neck and neck with the DUP in some polls: APNI overtaking the DUP would massively change the face of NI politics in ways I'm not sure I could predict very easily, given how heavily the system is predicated on the top Unionist and top Nationalist party being presumed to be forced to share power.
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Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2022, 12:09:38 PM »
Outcomes!

  • Significantly better Lib Dem performance than expected - but not necessarily where one would expect. Some big gains were in existing areas of strength: big numerical gains around Wimbledon and Richmond Park in London, or in South Cambridgeshire, or St Albans: in some of these areas the party practically wiped the Tories off the map. Other areas in the "blue wall" saw mixed results: flipping the councils in Woking and Gosport and making gains in Tunbridge Wells, but standstills in demographically similar areas like Tandridge, Reigate & Banstead, Fareham, or Hart. So the advances there seem to mostly be a factor of local party capacity.

    Conversely, there were big advances in Somerset and Westmorland, the sort of more outlying rural areas where the party retreated in the mid 2010s, and in Hull, which the party used to control but which as a Labour-facing area was somewhere the LDs got knocked back a lot. Now all those places are back under Lib Dem majority control, which is both an opportunity and a problem for a party that's spent an awful lot of time focusing on the southeast and affluent suburbs - if those actually aren't our best areas of potential we need to pivot message & strategy to account for that (disclaimer, I have been calling for us to pivot message to account for higher areas of strength in these sorts of areas for years but I do feel a teensy bit vindicated on that right now).
     
  • The Tories did indeed lose about 490 council seats between England, Scotland, and Wales: Wales was probably where they took proportionally the worst shellacking, but some big new unitary authorities which they'd made to split up LD and Labour controlled districts in England actually turned out to be poisoned chalices for them, with Westmorland and Somerset both going Lib Dem. as mentioned.
     
  • Labour made decent but modest gains, took some councils back... they're not really shattering the Tories' dominance in older and whiter midlands areas like Dudley or Amber Valley, and their best wins were actually in the south, winning more London boroughs and taking control of Worthing and Southampton, so that might be a sign of where Labour should realign its efforts. Scottish Labour had a pretty decent night and took control of a council (difficult to do under Scotland's STV system), and Welsh Labour had a really resurgent night and knocked a lot of seats off the Tories and Plaid Cymru.
     
  • In Wales Plaid Cymru had an interesting night - in recent years they'd been making a lot of gains and building footholds in the Welsh valleys and other parts of southern Wales, which were almost wholly wiped out by Labour's resurgence... but they took some gains in their traditional heartlands and actually consolidated control of several council areas, so they lost seats overall but gained control of three councils, which is pretty quirky as an outcome.
     
  • The SNP seem to have had solid but not stellar results, and took control of Dundee. Not sure there's much else to say on that front.
     
  • In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein do indeed look like being the first party, in part because the unionist vote was more split, and whilst occasional polls showing Alliance neck and neck with the DUP were well wide of the mark, Alliance do seem like they'll have a solid third place and it'll be interesting to see how they use that.
     
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dubsartur

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2022, 04:12:46 AM »
In Northern Ireland, are unionists advocates of union with the rest of Ireland (and separation from union with the UK)?

Glad to see someone sticking it to the Tories.

Glaurung

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2022, 09:08:32 AM »
In Northern Ireland, are unionists advocates of union with the rest of Ireland (and separation from union with the UK)?
No - Northern Ireland unionists advocate for the continuation of the union with the rest of the UK (with varying degrees of vehemence and in occasional cases violence). On social issues they're generally extremely conservative, and their trademark slogan is probably "No Surrender!" - 'surrender' in this case being almost any perceived change to the status quo. They're drawn from the Protestant community in Northern Ireland, who are mostly descendants of English and Scottish folk "planted" in Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - hence the attachment to union with the UK. The desire of this group to remain within the UK was of course the reason why Northern Ireland was created in the first place, when the rest of Ireland gained independence from the UK.

The group in Northern Ireland advocating for (re)unification with the rest of the island is the Nationalists - largely Catholic, descendants of the people already in Ireland before the "plantation" process started.

As a political term within the UK, I'm fairly sure "unionist" always implies continuation of the existing union, and "nationalist" implies the independence of one or more of the UK's parts: Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. The Conservatives often promote themselves as "Conservative and Unionist" in Scotland, and sometimes in Wales - a particular irony given how much their recent actions have done to promote the nationalist cause in both countries.

Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2022, 10:23:46 AM »
I wrote up some thoughts on the election results, and specifically the implications for the Liberal Democrats, as a post on my blog:
https://thoughtsofprogress.wordpress.com/2022/05/08/2022-election-results-new-liberal-opportunities/

Also, sorry to see the Cambs results, Glaurung. Looked pretty rough for us :/
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Glaurung

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2022, 08:32:35 PM »
Also, sorry to see the Cambs results, Glaurung. Looked pretty rough for us :/
Err, yes, losing a quarter of our council seats is a bit painful; I'm not sure whether it's made better or worse by the fact that LibDems in many other parts of the country, including our immediate neighbours in South Cambridgeshire, have made substantial gains.

Glaurung

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2022, 05:29:22 PM »
For those who aren't up to the minute with UK news, Boris Johnson faces a confidence vote as leader of the Conservative Party this evening - those voting will be Conservative MPs. If he loses the vote, there will be a Conservative leadership election, and if Johnson loses that, he will be replaced as Prime Minister by the new leader. Apparently, we will know the result of the confidence vote around 9pm (UK time).

Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2022, 11:18:44 PM »
While the PM "won" the vote, it was 211 to 148, so giving Johnson just under 60 percent of his own MPs: that is, under a third of the House of Commons actually thinks he should stay in office.

He'll do his best to bluff it out, but he is very much in a mess now: that's a really difficult state from which to govern.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2022, 11:11:41 PM »
From the day David Cameron resigned to whenever BoJo got in, there was intense fighting within the Tories over who would be PM (and who would have to lead the country into the glorious sunlit uplands of Brexit).  Is there any sign of that again?

Jubal

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2022, 10:07:15 AM »
I think there's maybe fewer challengers but more anti-incumbent sentiment. A lot of Tories loathe Johnson in a way that wasn't true of their previous leaders, but nobody's been very effective at signalling themselves as a possible alternative candidate and pressing that claim.
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dubsartur

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Re: UK Politics 2022
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2022, 09:12:35 PM »
So the Times of London published a story that Boris Johnson tried to appoint his mistress Chief of Staff on a public salary in 2018, then called the papers back and re-issued them with a filler story about Priti Patel on that page. This story previously appeared in the Daily Mail in Feb 2022 but the reporter at the Times got more testimony from MPs.

Have you ever heard anything like that before?  If the Times was not confident of their right to publish, they would not have prepared the story.

Edit: and per the Guardian, the original source was a biography of Carrie Johnson by a senior Tory ... so if you wanted to suppress it, why not go after him?  It sounds like many 2018 Conservatives agree that Johnson tried to appoint her Chief of Staff while she was his mistress.

Edit: The PMO has confirmed that people at Downing St. asked The Times to pull the story https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-carriegate-times-story-b2105025.html
« Last Edit: June 21, 2022, 03:35:07 PM by dubsartur »