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After Brexit, should the UK just join the EEA?

Written by Christopher McCrudden.

As Brexit negotiations get underway, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how the UK can pursue its former “have your cake and eat it” strategy, particularly when it comes to a trade deal.

Some of the most ardent Brexiteers want a totally clean break from the EU. Under this model, the UK would leave both the customs union and the single market. But after the general election, this “hard Brexit” now seems highly unlikely.

Continue reading After Brexit, should the UK just join the EEA?

Ruth Davidson, the Queen of Scots who will be the Tory party’s saviour?

Written by Mark Stuart.

While the Prime Minister licks her wounds in England, another female Tory leader north of the Border has emerged as the new star of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. Last Thursday, Ruth Davidson presided over a dozen spectacular gains for the Scottish Tories.

Remarkably, after years in the wilderness, Davidson engineered her Party’s best performance since 1983, including the spectacular toppling of former SNP leader, Alex Salmond in Gordon and the scalp of Angus Robertson, the Leader of the SNP’s Westminster MPs in Moray.

Continue reading Ruth Davidson, the Queen of Scots who will be the Tory party’s saviour?

For Jeremy Corbyn, the hard part of being Labour leader has only just begun

Written by Steven Fielding.

Suddenly, the Labour party is in a much stronger position than even many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters believed possible. Only a few weeks ago, Unite leader Len McCluskey said if the party ended up with just 200 seats that was good enough for him. Others argued that if Labour only slightly improved on the 30.4% of the vote it received in 2015 Corbyn should remain leader. It wasn’t just the media predicting disaster for the party when Theresa May called an election.

But having added a remarkable 9.5% to its 2015 share and with 30 more MPs, what should Labour do now? For while Corbyn campaigned unexpectedly well, Labour remains 64 seats short of a House of Commons majority.

Continue reading For Jeremy Corbyn, the hard part of being Labour leader has only just begun

Jeremy Corbyn will explain Labour’s 2017 defeat by going back to 1983

Written by Steven Fielding.

“… for the first time since 1945 a political party with an openly socialist policy has received the support of 8½ million people. … the Labour manifesto commanded the loyalty of millions of voters and a democratic socialist bridgehead has been established from which further advances in public understanding and support can be made. …It is no wonder that the establishment still fears the Labour Party and its ideas so much. For they know that it is the only real challenge to their privileges.”

No, this is not a leaked draft of Jeremy Corbyn’s concession speech, one all the polls suggest he will need to deliver on June 9th. It is an excerpt from a Guardian article written by Tony Benn published within days of Labour’s cataclysmic 1983 defeat. That election – coincidentally held on June 9th – saw the Conservatives win a 144-seat majority and reduced Labour to 27.6 per cent of the vote, just 700,000 ahead of the Social Democratic Party-Liberal Alliance, and to a mere 209 MPs. It was Labour’s worst result since 1935. Continue reading Jeremy Corbyn will explain Labour’s 2017 defeat by going back to 1983

Conservative immigration policy: a tragicomedy in two parts?

Written by Helen Williams.

It’s been a bruising week for Mrs May’s Team. Mocked for her non-appearance at the BBC debates and visibly uncomfortable at press conferences, the Prime Minister should be very clear that what once appeared to be a guaranteed Conservative landslide in the 2017 General Election is now increasingly in danger of becoming a hung parliament.

After a disastrous public response to the social care proposals (deftly dubbed the ‘dementia tax’), Mrs May appeared to completely rebrand her campaign, attempting to shift the focus back to Brexit and immigration. Gone is the prominent slogan ‘Theresa May: strong, stable leadership in the national interest’ (with the words Conservative Party difficult to locate); now it’s ‘Theresa May and the Conservatives: a Brexit deal for a bright future’. Continue reading Conservative immigration policy: a tragicomedy in two parts?

General Election 2017: Will Wales wake up feeling blue on June 9th?

Written by Siim Trumm.

The electoral pendulum is in full swing in Wales. Only in the course of last few months have the polls gone from showing a narrow Labour lead to suggesting a historic Conservatives’ majority to indicating a Labour triumph. Whether a lot of Welsh voters will wake up on June the 9th feeling blue because the country is not blue enough or too blue seems to be anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain, this is gearing up to be one of the most unpredictable elections in Wales. Continue reading General Election 2017: Will Wales wake up feeling blue on June 9th?

Immigration in the 2017 General Election: Families

Written by Helen Williams.

As the Remain campaigners were perhaps too slow to recognise, the real battleground of the EU Referendum was immigration, not the economy (although the two are, of course, inextricably linked in practice). Immigration has remained the focus of Theresa May’s approach to Brexit, underpinning her oft-repeated stance that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’ (Conservative manifesto (hereafter CM), p. 36) – a statement that cannot make sense if speaking from an economic perspective. Labour’s manifesto directly counters this: ‘In trade negotiations our priorities favour growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets’ (Labour manifesto (hereafter LM), p. 28). This is also a direct swipe at the Tories’ continued commitment to reduce annual net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands (CM, p. 54). Both parties’ statements on migration address Brexit, the economy, healthcare, students, and families. The position they take on each of these show remarkable differences. This blog specifically looks at the issue of family migration. Continue reading Immigration in the 2017 General Election: Families

The Red Tory manifesto?

Written by Helen Williams.

Theresa May’s manifesto for the Conservative and Unionist Party in the 2017 general election has faced a critical, if generally favourable, reception. One of the more remarkable evaluations is that it is a ‘Red Tory’ manifesto. An alternative to ‘Blue Labour’, a Red Tory manifesto blends social conservatism with economic policies tailored to workers.

To what extent does this resonate with the contents of Mrs May’s manifesto? Continue reading The Red Tory manifesto?

Corbyn’s Labour and the general election: is it to be Heaven or Hell?

Written by Steven Fielding.

When Theresa May called a snap election she did so for two reasons. The early summer is her last chance to hold a contest before the start of Brexit negotiations. And the Conservatives’ commanding lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party meant May was confident she could win a big Commons majority that would see her through the tricky Brexit process and beyond.

Labour could do nothing about the timing of Brexit negotiations but has only itself to blame for the weakened state in which it currently finds itself.  The 2015 election was devastating for Labour: the polls had incorrectly predicted a hung Parliament. But the silver lining was that David Cameron’s unexpected Conservative government had a majority of just 12 seats and was about to hold a referendum on the EU about which it was seriously divided. If Labour members had elected a more adept leader to replace Ed Miliband, one with greater credibility in key voters’ eyes, the party had some hope of rebuilding itself during the new Parliament. For while Miliband’s leadership was flawed, his talk of the ‘squeezed middle’ and ‘One Nation’ resonated with the public. Continue reading Corbyn’s Labour and the general election: is it to be Heaven or Hell?