This week in politics: Sadiq, subtitles and survation

Week in numbers 297

Week in numbers 297

 

In Numbers
number-9-sep

What the parties said

Theresa May returned from the G20 Summit after the weekend, where she received a lukewarm reception from world leaders. Headlines were dominated with President Obama’s decision to stand form on warnings the UK would be at the back of the queue on agreeing free trade deals. Speaking in the Commons later in the week, she made clear the Government would not be providing a ‘running commentary’ on its negotiation strategy or position on Brexit. After a Civil Service leak earlier this week, May announced the re-introduction of grammar schools, which will be required to take a proportion of pupils from lower-income households or establish a new non-selective free school. The policy is expected to be a central pillar of May’s social reform agenda. The divisive proposals have already met opposition from MPs across the house and those within the industry.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested he did not think the UK needed to remain a member of the single market following Brexit, but rather should look to maintain ‘access’. His comments conflicted directly with the line adopted by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has consistently warned about the ‘substantial’ damage that could be caused as a result of losing single market membership. His comments also prompted backlash amongst moderate Labour MPs already disillusioned with his leadership.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon set out her programme for Government in the Scottish Parliament. Despite not committing to a Scottish Referendum Bill, she said the Scottish Government would ‘consult on a draft bill in case independence is the best or only way to protect Scottish interests’. She placed an emphasis on reforming education and announced plans to unveil a School Governance Report next week and will give more powers to teachers.

What the papers said

Institute for Government has published an interesting interview with Iain Duncan Smith on his experience becoming a government minister. IDS goes through his journey of working out how the Department functions to how he dealt with inheriting a different Shadow Minister’s brief once in Government. The genesis of Universal Credit is explained as well as the Treasury’s decision to ‘kill off’ the idea of transferring tax credit out of the Treasury and into the Department for Work and Pensions. The piece adds colour to what you might already know about IDS in his position as Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions although there are some gaps on the background of some of his more controversial policies.

Elsewhere, The Financial Times this week has had two contrasting pieces about Prime Minister, Theresa May. While other media outlets have led with commentary criticising Theresa May’s lack of plan concerning Brexit, Sebastian Payne has written that we should give May the ‘benefit of the doubt’. Not only that, but Payne says that it is ‘naïve to expect a fully detailed and costed strategy on exactly what the UK wants from Brexit just two months after the vote to leave, and just one month after a change of government.’ Payne expects that we will get further details on Brexit policy at the Conservative Party conference and if May and Secretary of State for Brext, David Davies neglect to do this, then that would be the appropriate time to criticise them.

Meanwhile, another piece in the FT from Chris Giles is more critical. While Giles accepts that that it is understandable that May is still working on the details, he says it is unacceptable for her to dismiss discussion of the choices ahead. He is also critical of her comments that the outcome ‘will work for everyone’ arguing that there always has to be trade-offs in every negotiation. Giles says that May needs to be clear about what the trade-offs will be in Brexit negotiations as by claiming that the resulting Brexit deal will work for everyone, it ‘gives the impression the prime minister does not understand nor care about the losers’ plight.‘

On the benches

 MPs Got Talent
Because MPs are clearly not busy enough word has got out that Will Quince MP is to appear on Britain’s Got Talent. Apparently a man with a fine singing voice Quince is doing it for charity.

So far there is no word on whether he will make it through to the TV show. But we would be very surprised indeed if we did not see Mr. Quince on our TV screens on Britain’s Got talent in the near future. This got us thinking about a future feature for the Intelex Weekly Briefing – Surprising Parliamentarian Talent of the Week. Perhaps allotment growing with Jeremy Corbyn, or horse riding with ex-jockey Guy Opperman?

Green Party talk nonsense
The wildly inaccurate on-screen subtitles displayed at the Green Party conference caused much amusement amongst attendees. Brexiteers were ‘those who voted Lee in the referendum’ and party members were told that ‘a progressive alliance will not be tucked down’, rather than ‘top down’. Other phrases were ‘the common ponds of humanity’ and ‘no nuclear, no mice’. Who said environmentalists had no sense of humour?

Nation under survation
Pity the social media wiz in charge of Owen Smith’s campaign who tweeted a photo of Smith rousing support at a meeting last weekend. While no doubt looking every bit the dynamic challenger to Corbyn, the tweet also displayed to the world the login details of Smith’s campaign phone bank system.

Reaction was split between outrage over the hypocrisy of Smith’s repeated attacks on his rival’s incompetency and his somewhat bizarre choice as ‘survation’ as password, which is also the name of a polling company. Tin foil hats at the ready…

Good week/Bad week


Good week for: Sadiq Khan. Labour hasn’t had much to smile about recently, however, this week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was named as the Evening Standard’s most influential Londoner. Since being elected as Mayor Khan has enjoyed positive approval ratings and, despite Labour woes of late, the party will be thankful for the fact they can point to Khan as a senior Labour figure, in a position of power, who is resonating with voters. All in all it has been a good week for the London Mayor.


Bad week for: Keith Vaz, obviously. 
An honourable mention must also go to Ken Livingstone, who managed to mention Hitler again in a TV interview, obviously. To add to the outcry there is now a website counting down how many days it’s been since Livingstone has mentioned Hitler. Presumably, this counter is set to automatically reset at the end of each day.

Brexit bites

“The ball is now in your court” – Donald Tusk to Theresa May as they discussed Brexit this week

Nigel Lawson on Brexit in the Financial Times

The European Union Committee and its six sub-committees have this week launched a co-ordinated series of inquiries into the key issues that will arise in the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit.

Short inquiries are being launched on the following topics:

  • Brexit: parliamentary scrutiny
  • Brexit: UK-Irish relations
  • Brexit: Financial Services
  • Brexit: future trade between the UK and the EU
  • Brexit: fisheries
  • Brexit: acquired rights
  • Brexit: future UK-EU security and policing co-operation

Tweet of the week

It’s tough being a Labour MP at the moment. Your leader won’t listen to you, your new members want to deselect you and the Conservatives, despite only having a working majority of 17 seem more comfortably ensconced in Government than ever.

Small mercies were provided this week though when Jonathan Reynolds MP won the Westminster Dog of the year competition with Clinton and Kennedy.

This prompted one political researcher to quip ‘Labour have finally won something!’. At least they didn’t make a dogs dinner of this one….

 

tweet-of-the-week-9sep

Advertisements

This week in politics: Sadiq, subtitles and survation

In Numbers

numbers-9-9

What the parties said

Theresa May returned from the G20 Summit after the weekend, where she received a lukewarm reception from world leaders. Headlines were dominated with President Obama’s decision to stand form on warnings the UK would be at the back of the queue on agreeing free trade deals. Speaking in the Commons later in the week, she made clear the Government would not be providing a ‘running commentary’ on its negotiation strategy or position on Brexit. After a Civil Service leak earlier this week, May announced the re-introduction of grammar schools, which will be required to take a proportion of pupils from lower-income households or establish a new non-selective free school. The policy is expected to be a central pillar of May’s social reform agenda. The divisive proposals have already met opposition from MPs across the house and those within the industry.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested he did not think the UK needed to remain a member of the single market following Brexit, but rather should look to maintain ‘access’. His comments conflicted directly with the line adopted by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has consistently warned about the ‘substantial’ damage that could be caused as a result of losing single market membership. His comments also prompted backlash amongst moderate Labour MPs already disillusioned with his leadership.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon set out her programme for Government in the Scottish Parliament. Despite not committing to a Scottish Referendum Bill, she said the Scottish Government would ‘consult on a draft bill in case independence is the best or only way to protect Scottish interests’. She placed an emphasis on reforming education and announced plans to unveil a School Governance Report next week and will give more powers to teachers.

What the papers said

Institute for Government has published an interesting interview with Iain Duncan Smith on his experience becoming a government minister. IDS goes through his journey of working out how the Department functions to how he dealt with inheriting a different Shadow Minister’s brief once in Government. The genesis of Universal Credit is explained as well as the Treasury’s decision to ‘kill off’ the idea of transferring tax credit out of the Treasury and into the Department for Work and Pensions. The piece adds colour to what you might already know about IDS in his position as Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions although there are some gaps on the background of some of his more controversial policies.

Elsewhere, The Financial Times this week has had two contrasting pieces about Prime Minister, Theresa May. While other media outlets have led with commentary criticising Theresa May’s lack of plan concerning Brexit, Sebastian Payne has written that we should give May the ‘benefit of the doubt’. Not only that, but Payne says that it is ‘naïve to expect a fully detailed and costed strategy on exactly what the UK wants from Brexit just two months after the vote to leave, and just one month after a change of government.’ Payne expects that we will get further details on Brexit policy at the Conservative Party conference and if May and Secretary of State for Brext, David Davies neglect to do this, then that would be the appropriate time to criticise them.

Meanwhile, another piece in the FT from Chris Giles is more critical. While Giles accepts that that it is understandable that May is still working on the details, he says it is unacceptable for her to dismiss discussion of the choices ahead. He is also critical of her comments that the outcome ‘will work for everyone’ arguing that there always has to be trade-offs in every negotiation. Giles says that May needs to be clear about what the trade-offs will be in Brexit negotiations as by claiming that the resulting Brexit deal will work for everyone, it ‘gives the impression the prime minister does not understand nor care about the losers’ plight.‘

On the benches

MPs Got Talent
Because MPs are clearly not busy enough word has got out that Will Quince MP is to appear on Britain’s Got Talent. Apparently a man with a fine singing voice Quince is doing it for charity.

So far there is no word on whether he will make it through to the TV show. But we would be very surprised indeed if we did not see Mr. Quince on our TV screens on Britain’s Got talent in the near future. This got us thinking about a future feature for the Intelex Weekly Briefing – Surprising Parliamentarian Talent of the Week. Perhaps allotment growing with Jeremy Corbyn, or horse riding with ex-jockey Guy Opperman?

Green Party talk nonsense
The wildly inaccurate on-screen subtitles displayed at the Green Party conference caused much amusement amongst attendees. Brexiteers were ‘those who voted Lee in the referendum’ and party members were told that ‘a progressive alliance will not be tucked down’, rather than ‘top down’. Other phrases were ‘the common ponds of humanity’ and ‘no nuclear, no mice’. Who said environmentalists had no sense of humour?

Nation under survation
Pity the social media wiz in charge of Owen Smith’s campaign who tweeted a photo of Smith rousing support at a meeting last weekend. While no doubt looking every bit the dynamic challenger to Corbyn, the tweet also displayed to the world the login details of Smith’s campaign phone bank system.

Reaction was split between outrage over the hypocrisy of Smith’s repeated attacks on his rival’s incompetency and his somewhat bizarre choice as ‘survation’ as password, which is also the name of a polling company. Tin foil hats at the ready…

Good week/Bad week


Good week for: Sadiq Khan. Labour hasn’t had much to smile about recently, however, this week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was named as the Evening Standard’s most influential Londoner. Since being elected as Mayor Khan has enjoyed positive approval ratings and, despite Labour woes of late, the party will be thankful for the fact they can point to Khan as a senior Labour figure, in a position of power, who is resonating with voters. All in all it has been a good week for the London Mayor.


Bad week for: Keith Vaz, obviously. 
An honourable mention must also go to Ken Livingstone, who managed to mention Hitler again in a TV interview, obviously. To add to the outcry there is now a website counting down how many days it’s been since Livingstone has mentioned Hitler. Presumably, this counter is set to automatically reset at the end of each day.

Brexit bites

“The ball is now in your court” – Donald Tusk to Theresa May as they discussed Brexit this week

Nigel Lawson on Brexit in the Financial Times

The European Union Committee and its six sub-committees have this week launched a co-ordinated series of inquiries into the key issues that will arise in the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit.

Short inquiries are being launched on the following topics:

  • Brexit: parliamentary scrutiny
  • Brexit: UK-Irish relations
  • Brexit: Financial Services
  • Brexit: future trade between the UK and the EU
  • Brexit: fisheries
  • Brexit: acquired rights
  • Brexit: future UK-EU security and policing co-operation

Tweet of the week

It’s tough being a Labour MP at the moment. Your leader won’t listen to you, your new members want to deselect you and the Conservatives, despite only having a working majority of 17 seem more comfortably ensconced in Government than ever.

Small mercies were provided this week though when Jonathan Reynolds MP won the Westminster Dog of the year competition with Clinton and Kennedy.

This prompted one political researcher to quip ‘Labour have finally won something!’. At least they didn’t make a dogs dinner of this one….

tweet-9-9

This week in politics: Back to school

 

Week in numbers 297

Week in numbers 297

 

The summer holidays are over. New uniforms and pencil cases have been purchased and timetables have been handed out. It’s double Brexit first thing, followed by access to the single market 101, a few school trips to Brighton, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow, and then back to Brexit until the end of the day.

The start of a new term also means that the Intelex weekly briefing is back with a mixture of insight, puns and parliamentary goings on.



In Numbers

Nummbers

 

What the parties said

Senior Conservative ministers headed to the PM’s country pile, Chequers, on Wednesday to brainstorm the best approach to Brexit. May confirmed that there would be no parliamentary vote on ratifying the Referendum decision, nor would Article 50 be triggered until the start of 2017 at the earliest. In committing to making a ‘success’ of Brexit, May stated the UK would secure a ‘unique’ deal for the UK with a ‘positive outcome’ on trade. May also said this week that there would be no general election this year.  Attention then turned to the junior doctors, who have called for unprecedented strike action throughout the autumn, which May denounced as ’playing politics’ and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described as ‘devastating news’.

The anti-Corbyn majority in the Parliamentary Labour Party suffered a further blow this week with the release of a YouGov poll for The Times which suggested 62 per cent of eligible voters will back Corbyn, an increase of three per cent on last year’s vote. Worryingly for incumbent Labour moderates, nearly half of respondents also want MPs to face constituency ballots before the next general election.

The SNP renewed their bid for Scottish independence on Friday, with Nicola Sturgeon declaring MSPs, MPs and MEPs would gather in Stirling for a ‘nationwide listening exercise’, exploring how a new case for independence could be put to voters. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, for the first time, outstripped Sturgeon in the polls, perhaps reflecting last week’s damning GERS statistics on the Scottish economy.

What the papers said

Channel 4 news presenter Cathy Newman writes in the Telegraph about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s recent pledge to introduce all female shortlists to improve representation in the House of Commons, arguing proposed steps to improve gender parity in Parliament provides somewhat of an admission that Labour has a ‘gender problem’ under his leadership.

Andrew Gimson profiled Philip Hammond for Conservative Home, amusingly characterising him as a silky haired Goth following the admission of a school colleague who claimed the new Chancellor once ‘looked like Johnny Depp’, arriving ‘in class in a leather trench-coat with The Guardian under this arm’. Gimson describes Hammond to be fiercely private and a steady hand, with a ‘stern belief in sound money’ and ‘pro-business instincts’, predicting a sensible Autumn Statement with policies that ‘promote economic stability’ and ‘prudent public finances’.

Martha Gill for the Huffington Post writes about the problem faced by the Conservative Party with regards to its shrinking membership base, particularly amongst younger people. She recognises the recent surge in membership following the Brexit vote, but notes its concentration in the over-30s, reporting comment from those who believe the drop in youth support to be a ‘crisis’, referring also to the decision not to revive its official youth group, Conservative Future, following the recent bullying scandal earlier this year.

On the benches

MP4 to rock out
In what is exciting news for political anoraks everywhere a new political chatshow is due to begin this Autumn. Hosted by Matt Forde, former Labour adviser turned comedian the show will take a comedic look at the weeks events.

The best news though is that the MP4 will be the house band for the show. For those not in the know MP4 is a band made up exclusively former and current MPs. Members of the band are: Greg Knight, Ian Cawsey, Pete Wishart and Kevin Brennan.

Expect laughs, bad music and political humour.

Communication Breakdown

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn launched his Digital Manifesto this week at Newspeak House. However, Corbyn’s big launch was ironically marred by numerous electronic errors, including no online copy of the manifesto being made available and the live feed of the event failing. Further embarrassment followed as the graphic tweeted by Corbyn’s personal account throughout the day linked to a web domain which doesn’t exist. After the numerous failures of the day, one journalist suggested the day was more Windows 95 than 1984.

And now a message from our sponsors

We hope you enjoy reading our slightly more irreverent take on the currently upside down world of UK politics each week. However it’s not just cutting humour and avant-garde puns the Intelex team specialise in, we also provide tailored political monitoring.

Intelex is a new type of political monitoring service. We use a unique online dashboard that allows you to keep track of developments as they happen. Timely alerts with expert insight help you understand the implications for your organisation. The Intelex dashboard and mobile app can help you keep track of key developments in real time whilst our expert analysis will help you understand what really matters to you and your business.

The growth of political commentary on Twitter and other social media means that politics is more fast-moving than ever. Whether you’re a major corporate or a small NGO, you need to know how political developments affect your organisation and staying on top of that information can be overwhelming. We cut out the noise, provide tailored intelligence and add insight, leaving you to get on with your job.

So, if you’d like to know more about Lexington and Intelex, or would like to trial the service – Get in contact on 0207 025 2308 or email 
Matthew.Field@lexcomm.co.uk


Good week/Bad week

 

Good week for Ed Balls: The former Chancellor is undergoing somewhat of a revival this week, following the lows of losing Morley and Outwood to Conservative Andrea Jenkyns last year. Balls has built on previous successes on Great British Bake Off, to strut and jive his way down the Strictly red carpet before making his debut on the show this Saturday. The coverage of Balls’ memoirs this week have also been a boon to the former Cabinet Minister, revealing his challenges with his stammer as well as confusion with Gordon Brown over a joint of beef.

Bad week for Nicola Sturgeon. Its been a tough week for Nicola Sturgeon. The Tories don’t usually fare well in Scotland and yet a YouGov poll has shown the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson polling ahead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in personal approval ratings. Not only that, the poll showed the country would vote to remain in the union if another independence referendum was held before the UK leaves the EU, making the poll results a double sting for the leader of the SNP. 

Brexit bites

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, this week announced that the UK will head into negotiations with member states seeking free access to the EU single market. Davis, who will play a lead role in the negotiations, said it is in other countries interest to ‘maintain a good relationship with the United Kingdom’.

Stephen Bush wrote an interesting piece on why the PM could struggle to keep her promises on Brexit.

Two House of Lords inquiries were established this week in the wake of the vote to Leave the EU. The EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee are to focus on the consequences of Brexit for financial services and future arrangements for that sector, whilst the EU Internal Market Sub Committee will focus on trade between the EU and the UK.

Tweet of the week

In what must be the epitome of Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn supporting, Harry Potter reading fans this week equated the man himself with, well, Dumbledore. Corbyn fans claimed that Jeremy was the equivalent of Dumbledore saying that he was another kindly, old, white haired saviour.

Ms. Rowling however was having none of it tweeting out ‘Corbyn. Is. Not. Dumbledore’ and linking to an article showing Corbyn doing work for the Iranian State Televison, Press TV. It made us wonder though, if Corbyn were Dumbledore, who is Harry?

TOTW

In Focus: Back to school

With Parliament returning on Monday for a two week period before the Westminster circus goes on tour to various cities in the UK for party conference season, we look at a few issues which are sure to dominate.

Select committee changes

Both newly created Government departments, international trade and Brexit, require parliamentary scrutiny, so we will shortly see the establishment of two new select committees and jostling among MPs for chairmanships and membership. It’s also expected that the business, innovation and skills and energy committees will merge to scrutinise the newly created Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee requires a new chair after Jesse Norman was made a minister, as does the Science and Technology Committee after Nicola Blackwood’s elevation to the ministerial team at the Department of Health . A number of select committees also require new members following ministerial promotions.

One aspect worth noting is the role of the SNP in the select committee equation. The SNP will look keep their quota of select committee chairmanships, but there is a distinct possibility that the new Committee to shadow the BEIS department will continue to be chaired by Labour MP Iain Wright, leaving the current energy committee chair out in the cold. With the Government or Labour unlikely to want to give up chairing the new committees, space will have to be found elsewhere for the SNP.

Legislation

The Finance Bill, the Investigatory Powers Bill, the Wales Bill, the Cultural Property in Armed Conflicts Bill and the Policing and Crime Bill all continue with their scrutiny over the next two weeks. With new Labour shadow ministers also still finding their feet, the Government will certainly be hoping for a relatively smooth passage for all this legislation so the focus remains on Brexit.

Despatch box debut

Next week will also see a raft of new Secretaries of State and junior ministers make their debut at the despatch box in their new positions. In the case of Liam Fox, it will be his first time answering ministerial questions since October 2011. Ministers have had the summer to become fully au fait with their policy briefs, but their performances will be closely scrutinised by the lobby journalists and sketch writers.

This week in politics: Anyone else feline like a holiday?

Week in numbers 297Week in numbers 297

With the summer recess now in swing, the Intelex weekly briefing will be taking a couple of weeks well deserved rest. Have no fear however, we’ll be back with our mixture of insight and questionable punning later in the month.

In Numbers
Week in numbers 297

What the parties said

Theresa May’s European tour continued this week as she met with fellow heads of Government to discuss the initial stages of the UK leaving the EU. This week the Prime Minister visited Italy, hosted the Irish PM at Downing Street and held talks in Poland and Slovakia. The Prime Minister has stated that she wants EU nationals currently living in Britain to remain. However this, she added, is dependent upon British nationals living in EU members states having their rights guaranteed.

An ICM poll this week compounded Labour woes as it found that 2.5 million Labour voters would prefer Theresa May as Prime Minister when the alternative choice is Jeremy Corbyn. The poll found the Conservatives have opened up an almost unprecedented 16 point lead over Labour with that figure rising to a massive 21 points in the Midlands. The Conservative lead over Labour is now the largest since 2009, one year after the global financial crisis.

The Speaker of the House of Commons was forced to step into a dispute between Labour MP Seema Malhotra and the party’s Leadership team this week. In what was described as a ‘petty’ row Malhotra claimed that members of Corbyn’s staff had ‘broken into’ her office. After receiving a letter form Malhotra John Bercow poured cold water on the complaint saying that he was not satisfied there had been a breach of Commons rules. Regardless, the incident served to reinforce the level of distrust between many MPs and Corbyn’s top team.

North of the border, Nicola Sturgeon was dealt major domestic blow this week, as the UK supreme court deemed her Government’s child protection policy to be illegal under the European Convention of Human Rights. The SNP’s ‘named person’ policy seeks to assign a teacher or social worker to every child under the age of 18 in order to protect their wellbeing. The Supreme Court ruled that it was an unwarranted invasion into family life and stated that the sharing of information about children’s wellbeing, without their parents knowledge, is indeed illegal.

What the papers said

The Financial Times pondered on Jean-Claude Junker’s decision to appoint Michael Barnier as the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator. While the appointment was met with incredulity by many in the City, the FT argues that Barnier and his opposite number in the UK, David Davis, have much more in common than first appears. Both seasoned negotiators whose reputations for testiness belie a track record of striking deals with mutually beneficial outcomes, Barnier and ‘Monseiur Non’ as he was known in the early nineties face the unenviable task of conducting talks with the constant fear of being overruled by their superiors on either side.

Thursday’s edition of The Times featured a foreboding column from Birkenhead MP Frank Field, one of the spattering of pro-Brexit Labour voices. Regardless of who becomes the next Labour leader, Field warns, a far greater concern for the Party is who will next lead UKIP. Labour voters are ‘interested in their sense of identity, how it links to their country and their country to the security of its borders’, a question on which Labour, unlike UKIP, no longer has anything relevant to say. Should Corbyn, a lifelong internationalist with no understanding of the connection between this creed and the detrimental effects of globalisation win in September, the Party is finished.

Martin Robbins, writing for the New Statesman, considers the bunker mentality adopted by Corbyn’s team, the genius of which, he writes, is to extend it to ‘accommodate tens of thousands of their followers’. Corbyn’s leadership has been marked by a sense of paranoia and conspiracy theory, sometimes against the very institutions traditionally seen as friends of the left. Thus the BBC, long bemoaned by the right for being a socialist mouthpiece,  is viewed as the mouthpiece for the Conservative establishment. Like Field, Robbins fears for the future under Corbyn, as for he ‘there is no compromise, only purity and a Red Labour party with 50 MPs is better than a centrist party with 400.’

On the recess benches

Election momentum
Things went from bad to worse for Labour this week when they lost their only seat on South Hams Council ward as a result of not being able to find a candidate to field. The Momentum-dominated local Labour branch instead backed an independent candidate, who had attempted to run for Labour but was ineligible due being a member of the party for less than a year. After the seat was lost to the Liberal Democrats, many Labour MPs reacted furiously, arguing the Corbyn support group is doing the party a disservice.

Summer holidays
With recess now in full swing, MPs have been taking the chance to have some well earned time off. A certain David Cameron was spotted ordering a macchiato and lobster in Dorset this week, Broxbourne MP Charles Walker was in Perthshire buying fishing attire and Hywel Williams was retweeting pictures of local ice cream in his constituency.

 Corbyninside so strong
Regardless of the troubles engulfing the PLP, it is difficult to deny the enthusiasm Jeremy Corbyn creates among the grassroots of the left. The near-evangelical fervour Corbynistas have for their leader was taken to new plateaus this week with the release of Jeremy’s Standing Strong, an inspirational reworking of 80s hit ‘Something Inside So Strong’. Further reworks may include Paul Young’s ‘Love of the Corbyn People’ Karma Corbelion by Culture Club or even Madonna’s ‘La Jeremisla Bonita’

Good week/Bad week

Good week for Gladstone. New kitten on the block, Gladstone has been installed at the Treasury as the Chief Mouser. The former stray has gone from rags to riches gaining the top job and a red bow tie. It remains to be seen how Gladstone will get along with his neighbours at the Foreign Office and Number Ten…

Bad week for Larry. Both Larry and Palmerston, now ousted from importance, have become entangled in a turf war in Whitehall. Chief mouser under Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office, Palmerston, was refused entry into Number 10 this week. Following an earlier spat with Downing Street fixture, Larry, which resulted in an injured paw, Palmerston was forcibly removed from the premises by Downing Street security guards after being caught slipping through the front door earlier that day.

Tweet of the week

With the arrival of Gladstone the cat at the Treasury, could we see a unlikely Foreign Office/Treasury alliance to team up against their Number 10 counterpart?

Week in numbers 297

In Focus: The China Syndrome

Parliament has risen. Voters have gone on holiday. Exhausted by a month of politics more intense than we usually see in a decade, journalists and political commentators were winding down for August when the new Government last night turned another decade-long political certainty on its head when it ‘paused’ the multi-billion pound nuclear investment at Hinkley Point. The decision is important for business not just for reasons to do with energy policy but because it signals that the previous two governments’ trade-focused detente with China is under review. While the Hinkley Point deal is primarily with the French energy giant EDF, it also involves the China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

The decision to review the deal, according to the official line, is about costs but anyone who doubts there is a serious China angle would do worse than read a little-noticed article at the time in Conservative Home by Theresa May’s new chief of staff, Nick Timothy, in October 2015. He attacked the then Chancellor’s approach warning that ‘rational concerns about national security are being swept to one side because of the desperate desire for Chinese trade and investment’. Fortified over six years at the Home Office by security service worries, Mrs May and her circle are well-known Sino-sceptics.

This is but the latest example of Theresa May stamping her prime ministerial authority on post-Brexit politics and signalling that her administration is far from being continuity Cameron. Surprise decisions such as this may add to business uncertainty at a time when confidence is already fragile, but Number 10 is clearly prepared to overrule the Treasury. It underlines how far business will need to go to in engaging not just economic departments but Downing Street and the wider Whitehall network. 

This Week in Politics: Theresa, Trident and Twenty Five Quid

Numbers2

What the parties said

A week of firsts for Theresa May’s new Government; on Monday she delivered her first statement to the House of Commons as Prime Minister, calling on MPs to support the Government’s policy of replacing nuclear submarines to carry Trident missiles. On Tuesday May chaired the first meeting of her new cabinet, reiterating to ministers her call for the Government to operate in the interests of working people, and not ‘just the privileged few’. Wednesday saw May trounce Corbyn in her first PMQs before jetting off to the continent for an amicable meeting with Angela Merkel in which she addressed her rather enchanted counterpart in German. May finished things off with un peu plus tendu meeting with French President, Francois Hollande on Thursday, in which the French premiere took a slightly more hurried stance on the start of Brexit negotiations.  

The contest for who will challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership reached its conclusion this week as Angela Eagle dropped out of the contest. Following a private ballot of MPs on Tuesday, Eagle announced she would be backing former shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith ‘with all her might and enthusiasm’. Corbyn launched his own leadership campaign on Thursday, arguing the Party had become stronger under his leadership much to the chagrin of number of his own MPs. Corbyn added insult to injury when he announced that there would be a full and open selection process for every constituency Labour Party after the boundary review concludes in 2018. A record number of people have signed up to take part in the contest, paying the £25 to become an affiliated Labour supporter.

Nick Clegg returned as close to the frontline of politics that being a Liberal Democrat MP will allow you to go this week, assuming the role of Liberal Democrat spokesperson. He pledged to hold the Government’s Brexit negotiations to account, between intermittent appearances in music videos (see below).

What the papers said

Janan Ganesh published a piece in the FT on the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. Ganesh asserts that there may be more to the ‘accountant’ than realised at first glance, noting his ability to ‘shape-shift’ in order to survive. He stresses that we don’t really know what Hammond might do in the role because Hammond has never left any clues as to what if any ideology motivates his achievements. The first glance of what ‘Hammondism’ will be like, Ganesh asserts, will become clear once he reveals what model of Brexit he prefers and how much he insists upon it.

The FT also reported on the back in fashion Industrial Strategy, noting that she has already implied a change in the rules governing mergers and acquisitions with her expressed view that ‘a proper industrial strategy should be capable of stepping in’ to defend key sectors. Issuing a warning to the approach, the letter written by former Editor of the FT Geoff Owen comments that there is ‘little evidence’ that the revival of industrial strategy in recent years has improved performance. He stressed that ‘no quick wins’ can be expected from industrial strategy and urged the Government to stick to generating a business environment to which foreign investment is attracted.

Elsewhere, Nick Cohen has bemoaned the state of the Labour Party.  In a piece that pulls no punches, Cohen goes for the jugular of Corbyn’s spin-doctor Seamus Milne, stating he could not do a better job of keeping Labour out of power ‘if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.’ Cohen asserts that Corbyn and his allies will speak at length at what they dislike, but say very little on what their plans are, and labels Corbynism ‘vacuus leftism.’ He concludes that ‘if Corbyn does not go, and Labour does not change, it is inevitable that the whiff of violence will be replaced by the stench of its death.’


On the benches

Angela Eagle loves her porridge
Angela Eagle’s campaign for Labour leadership never really took off. Every time she attempted to launch her campaign she was overshadowed by other, more exciting events. As a result, no matter what she did, she never seemed to get the campaign off the ground. None of this was helped by her stilted media performances. It was all summed up in an interview this week with Sky when Eagle inadvertently shouted out the word porridge. Eagle and the team at Sky had been doing some sound testing before her interview but the newsdesk cut to the interview more quickly than she imagined and poor Eagle managed to begin her interview not with some rousing words about saving the Labour Party but instead told us all what she had for breakfast. This eagle didn’t even get a chance to fly too close to the sun.

😉
Andrew Bailey’s charm was turned up to the max during his appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committee earlier this week to give evidence on his appointment as Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority. Relaxed and jovial throughout, his charisma was evident from the get go and appreciated by members from across the political spectrum. Such was so, Bailey even managed to appease the usually stern Committee Chair, Andrew Tyrie, shooting him a wink before answering Chris Philip’s question on the refusal of commercial property funds to issue redemption.

You just can’t escape Pokemon Go
In a week where Pokemon Go has dominated both sides of the Atlantic, it seems even British politics is not safe from the newest craze. Labour MP Anna Turley tabled a Parliamentary Question to DCMS this week asking about incidents of trespassing by players of Pokemon Go in cemeteries and religious sites. Well, it’s clear someone isn’t a true Pokemon master…

Failure to launch.
This week Jeremy Corbyn launched his Labour leadership campaign and Twitter was full of disparaging remarks from Labour MPs.

Good week/Bad week

Good week for: Theresa May. After taking the Prime Ministerial reins last week, Theresa May began her first full week in the job with a thumping victory on a key pillar of national security with the Trident vote on Monday. She followed this by chairing her first Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, before giving a performance at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in which she was widely felt to have eviscerated Jeremy Corbyn. Albeit helped by some weak questioning and a couple of deliveries asking to be hit for six, May gave a cutting performance, perhaps most damningly saying she hoped to face Corbyn for many years to come. On Wednesday afternoon she flew to Berlin, where she surprised her host Chancellor Angela Merkel by beginning their conversation in German, in a meeting which appeared a success as Merkel agreed the UK is right to pause to formulate a negotiating position before invoking Article 50. May got a less positive reaction from resident Francois Hollande of France, who is less keen on any delay. Antagonising the French, however, is unlikely to do May’s high approval ratings in the UK a great deal of harm.

Bad week for: John McDonnell.  John McDonnell has had a hard time this week, although many would argue it was as a result of his own doing. McDonnell has faced a backlash after describing fellow Labour MPs as ‘f***ing useless’, being forced to apologise on national television and admitting he had let himself and Jeremy Corbyn down. McDonnell also had an awkward time on Wednesday, when he led an Opposition Day debate on the Charter for Budget Responsibility and not one of his backbench MPs showed up.
Tweet of the week

Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson this week had quite the spat on Twitter about the building of warships in Scotland. The argument went back and forth for quite a while with each accusing the other of outright dishonesty. The argument ended on rather a nice note though with both leaders saying that they should enjoy their holidays. Quite amicable really, considering they are polar opposites politically and have fundamentally different views of where Scotland should stand in the United Kingdom.

tweet

 

In focus: 

Theresa May traveled to Germany and France this week and, inevitably, Brexit dominated discussions with the countries respective leaders Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. The French President indicated that the ‘sooner’ May triggers Article 50, ‘the better’. May has stated that she won;t be pushed into triggering Article 50 until at least early next year. This week’s in focus looks at the extremely sensitive issue of Britain formally leaving the European Union:

The article 50 decision

The decision to trigger article 50 – the legal route out of the EU – is a monumental step, the point at which Britain opens the exit door and loses control of the process. Unless the UK enters that process with a very clear position and some signal that agreement with the EU is likely to be reached within two years, then it would be risky in the extreme to invoke the legal mechanism. For that reason the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will think very carefully before turning the handle.

Hence while Theresa May has been clear about the overall direction which Britain must follow in the wake of the referendum, she has been much more cautious when discussing the timetable. During Wednesday’s joint press conference with Angela Merkel she said “All of us will need time to prepare for these negotiations and the United Kingdom will not invoke article 50 until our objectives are clear. That is why I have said already that this will not happen before the end of this year. I understand this timescale will not please everyone but I think it is important to provide clarity on that now.”

Importantly for May, the German Chancellor endorsed that approach, saying “it is absolutely necessary to have a certain time to prepare for” Brexit. But that is not the position of many other European leaders including the French President, who wants Britain to quickly commence the withdrawal process. Nor is it necessarily the position of key figures inside her Cabinet. David Davis and Liam Fox are much more bullish on invoking article 50, saying it should happen in early 2017 to pave the way for Brexit by 2019. But even by early next year the situation may be far from clear.

EU leaders, including Merkel, are resolute that there shall be no prior talks on alternative arrangements before the formal withdrawal process is started – otherwise they fear other member states will attempt similar negotiations. That could cause delay and division, which will intensify political pressure. The decision on when article 50 is invoked looks likely to be one of the most significant flashpoints in the life of the May Government.

This week in politics: All change please. This Government will now terminate here. Please ensure you take all your special advisers with you.

In Numbers

In numbers 15.7
What the parties said

Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, after the Conservative Party leadership contest was cut short this week when Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the race prematurely. David Cameron tendered his resignation following Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, after which May met with the Queen. Shortly after she delivered her first speech as Prime Minister outside Downing Street, outlining her intention to pursue a one-nation Conservative social policy agenda in order to create a fairer Britain.

May spent the following twenty-four hours appointing her Cabinet. The headline announcements were Boris Johnson’s appointment as Foreign Secretary and Philip Hammond as Chancellor. David Davis and Liam Fox were given two key negotiation roles in Brexit Secretary of State and International Trade Secretary, whilst Cameron allies George Osborne, Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin and Nicky Morgan all got the sack. After a difficult week for the pair, both the former PM and Chancellor were spotted enjoying a coffee and pastry in Notting Hill yesterday, with Michael Gove reportedly found looking for holiday reading in Waterstones.

The Labour Party’s National Executive Committee confirmed Jeremy Corbyn will now automatically be on the ballot for the leadership challenge. He will face his former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle and former Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary Owen Smith as challengers.

What the papers said

The fallout from Britain’s vote to Leave the EU continued, unsurprisingly, to dominate the headlines this week. Theresa May has said ‘Brexit means Brexit’, however Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail asked ‘will Britain ever leave the EU?’ With the pro-European UK Parliament wishing to retain access to the single market Glover suggests protracted negotiations could last up to 6 years with the EU. As he writes, ‘we are in uncharted territory’.

Britain has a new Prime Minister. Despite being at the top of politics for 6 years, a lot remains unknown about Theresa May in the consciousness of the public. Upon her appointment ITV immediately posted an article giving a profile of the most powerful person in the country. Charting her journey from vicars daughter to party activist to Home Secretary to Prime Minister, it describes her as a force to be reckoned with as she takes over at the very top.

The New Statesman begged the question of whether, after Brexit, the EU should pursue full political union. Tracing the history of the EU, an institution, the article states, that was never designed to deal with a uniquely British problem, Brendan Simms suggests that now the ‘awkward British partner’ has left, the EU should pursue its goal of full political union. He argues that Britain acted as a constraint on this vision and now Germany and France can fully implement their vision of what the European Union should be.

As one Prime Minister was sworn in another left. David Cameron’s legacy, according to most commentators, is Brexit and the fallout from it. A Prime Minister who accidentally led Britain to the brink of the unknown. Renowned columnist, Toby young, however, disagreed writing in the Telegraph that free schools will be the Prime Minister’s enduring legacy. He argues that the policy ‘epitomises’ Cameron’s social justice agenda.

On the benches

Ruth Davidson’s comedy turn
On Tuesday, Ruth Davidson hosted the lobby lunch, holding back no punches on both her own party as well as Labour. Hinting at Leadsom’s departure from the leadership race, Davidson asserted: “Before politics, I single-handedly saved the banking system. Speaking as a mother…” She also called Corbyn a ‘national joke’ and concluded the lunch with a warning that was clearly adhered to: ‘I didn’t say that, you can’t report that and if you do it will be gutter journalism of the highest order.’ Also included was a joke so rude we couldn’t even put it in the Intelex weekly briefing.

Rupa Huq skewers Michael Gove in Justice Select Committee
Despite the machinations of Government and the Labour Party taking priority this week in the news the work of the humble Select Committees continued unabated. Michael Gove, in what transpired to be his last day in office faced the mirth of Labour member of the Justice Select Committee when he appeared before the Committee on Wednesday. Starting off her questioning, Huq noted that she did not expect Gove to have had time to appear before the Select Committee due to his leadership bid. However she said that due to his campaign ‘falling like skittles’ he had found the time to facilitate the Committee in their scrutiny of the Justice Department.

Cameron’s swansong
David Cameron said his farewells to the House of Commons in his last Prime Minister’s Questions, in a humorous though at times poignant session. Making light of his departure, he said ‘other than one meeting this afternoon with Her Majesty the Queen, my diary for this afternoon is remarkably light’ and inverted a line delivered in his first ever PMQs as Leader of the Opposition to then Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying ‘I was the future once’.

Mocking Labour’s ineffectual coup, Cameron noted ‘We’ve had resignation, nomination, competition and coronation; they haven’t even decided what the rules are yet!’. However perhaps his best line was aimed at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s dogged determination to stay in post, invoking a memorable Monty Python scene; ‘I’m beginning to admire his tenacity. He’s reminding me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, he has been kicked so many times but he says “keep going, it’s only a flesh wound!”’ 

Scottish National Party poopers?
David Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s Questions was a light hearted affair. Light hearted, that is, unless you were an SNP MP. With the stony faces of party poopers the world over, the 54 strong group of MPs said Cameron would ‘receive no applause from these benches’. Carol Monaghan MP even suggested his Premiership has been so disastrous it led to a spike in support for Scottish independence. She proceeded to clumsily deliver a scripted joke about Cameron signing up as a member of the SNP on the party’s website. One problem. She got the website domain name wrong. 

  And now a message from our sponsors
 
 We hope you enjoy reading our slightly more irreverent take on the currently upside down word of UK politics each week. However it’s not just cutting humour and avant-garde puns the Intelex team specialise in, we also provide tailored political monitoring.

Intelex is a new type of political monitoring service. We use a unique online dashboard that allows you to keep track of developments as they happen. Timely alerts with expert insight help you understand the implications for your organisation. The Intelex dashboard and mobile app can help you keep track of key developments in real time whilst our expert analysis will help you understand what really matters to you and your business. 

The growth of political commentary on Twitter and other social media means that politics is more fast-moving than ever. Whether you’re a major corporate or a small NGO, you need to know how political developments affect your organisation and staying on top of that information can be overwhelming. We cut out the noise, provide tailored intelligence and add insight, leaving you to get on with your job.

So, if you’d like to know more about Lexington and Intelex, or would like to trial the service – Get in contact on 0207 025 2308 or email
Matthew.Field@lexcomm.co.uk

 

Tweet of the Week

It’s been another crazy week in politics; a new Prime Minister, a new Cabinet, resignations, sackings, leadership bids launched and failed. Spare a thought for those Secretaries of State who got the chop this week though. Not only have they lost their job, so too have their advisers, out on the pavement outside Whitehall with nowhere to go.

One such Minister was John Whittingdale. After just over a year in the role of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, a role he has prized his whole professional political career, Whittingdale got the boot on Thursday.

Upon being asked what his plans were for the rest of the day he told ITV’s Christopher Hope that him and his team were off to get drunk. And off they went to the pub.

Tweet 15.7

In Focus: “You got us into this mess…”

In normal times it would be hard to imagine a Cabinet in which Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox are the leading lights. But these are not normal times and Theresa May’s first appointments underlined the spectre of Brexit which looms over the new government. The new Prime Minister is not going to allow the leading Brexiteers to avoid accountability for their referendum campaign promises. The rest of the Cabinet decisions represent a balance of settling old scores, rewarding allies, achieving better gender balance and bringing on new talent.

The task of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is enormous and overshadows any domestic agenda that the new PM would otherwise wish to pursue. Indeed it has forced her to reshape the very machinery of government. A new Department for Brexit is in the process of being established alongside a new Department for International Trade. More broadly, BIS and the Energy and Climate Change departments have been merged into a new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Higher education and skills have been transferred to the Department for Education.

With Davis and Fox given the critical EU and international trade roles, Boris Johnson has been left to try and forge a new purpose for the Foreign Office in a post-EU world. While he has been appointed to a senior position, in some respects Boris now cuts an isolated figure – distrusted even by Brexiteers.

More widely, the new Cabinet is being seen as powerful assertion of Theresa May’s authority, with a number of new faces in key roles. The removal of a sweep of figures closely associated with the Cameron administration, most notably Osborne, Gove and Letwin, represents a significant reboot of the government and a cultural shift away from the Notting Hill set and towards the traditional Tory right.

This week in politics: Emojis, embellishments and exits

In Numbers

Numbers 8.7

What the parties said

The Tory leadership race has dominated the political agenda this week, with Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom emerging as the final two candidates who will now compete in a vote amongst party members after Liam Fox, Stephen Crabb and Michael Gove were knocked out following a ballot of Tory MPs. While Theresa May remains the frontrunner, although Leadsom is attracting grassroots support for her more traditional brand of Conservatism, despite poor appearances at hustings and in front of the media.

Elsewhere, in a bid to address the post-Brexit market fallout, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to cut corporation tax to under 15 per cent in order to create a ‘super competitive economy’.

The Labour leadership coup came to a halt this week, with leader Jeremy Corbyn still refusing to resign and remaining in post. Peace talks between the leadership team and the Trade Unions took place over the past week and are set to continue over the weekend, however it looks unlikely that a deal will be brokered at this stage. Anti-Corbyn moderates received another blow with the release of the Chilcot Report that gave former Prime Minister Tony Blair a scathing review of his involvement in the Iraq War, determining peaceful options to not have been explored before entering into the conflict. Corbyn faced his own difficulties, forced to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee on anti-Semitism. The only real winner seemed to be Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who announced that a new junior doctors contract would be go ahead as planned in October despite being rejected by NHS staff.

Elsewhere, UKIP leader Nigel Farage resigned and leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson said calls for a second Scottish Independence referendum should not be blocked by Westminster.

What the papers said

The Guardian Long Read this week contained a detailed post-mortem of the Britain Stronger In Europe (BSIE) campaign. Rafael Behr’s piece examines the inner workings of the cross-party group and its failure to convince the electorate to back EU membership. The article sheds light on the tensions inherent in a campaign bringing together staffers from different parties, but also eloquently argues that the Labour moderates – ‘refugees’ from the Corbyn leadership – and Cameroon Conservatives had more in common with one another than with many in their own parties. Intriguingly, Behr writes ‘Pro-Europeanism became a proxy for the fusion of economic and social liberalism that had been a dominant philosophy of the political mainstream for a generation’ and compares this centrist, liberal, internationalist grouping with an unrecognised state ‘partitioned by some insouciant Victorian cartographer’. However, the article is damning in its depiction of BSIE’s failure to react to voter concerns on immigration, to even recognise the existence of many citizens who had rarely if ever voted but backed Brexit, and the bungled handling of the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU – the press reaction to which shocked the Conservatives used to having the newspapers on-side.

Coming before she secured her place in the final ballot of Conservative Party members, Andrea Leadsom’s leadership bid was analysed by Asa Bennett at the Telegraph. He argues that, should she become Prime Minister, UKIP’s entire raison d’être would vanish; it campaigned for Britain to vote to leave the EU, which it has, and positioned itself to prevent any ‘backsliding’ by a Conservative who had backed Remain. A leader who ‘embraces Brexit wholeheartedly’ therefore poses an ‘existential’ threat to UKIP. Leadsom displays such antipathy to the EU, Bennett writes, that many UKIP voters and donors would return to the Conservatives under her leadership.

In the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh writes about the prospects for a split in the Labour Party to echo the formation of the Social Democratic Party in 1981. Ganesh suggests that, contrary to received wisdom within Labour, the SDP ‘won big’ because the past four Prime Ministers have all combined economic and social liberalism with a ‘substantial’ but limited state and support for EU membership. He therefore reasons that if Labour MPs cannot both depose Jeremy Corbyn and replace him with someone much better (he dismisses Angela Eagle as ‘soft left’ and hamstrung by the need to appeal to many of the members who supported Corbyn ), the only course open to them is to resign the whip, take the more moderate staff and activists with them, reach out to donors and let the Corbynite rump wither on the vine. This party would then be in a far stronger position to fight an election, which Ganesh says it should aim to do as quickly as possible. The alternative, he claims, is to be led by Corbyn, a close ally such as John McDonnell or a compromise candidate such as Eagle, ‘creeping along pathetically towards a mediocre destination’.

On the benches

British politics trumps House of Cards. There can be absolutely no doubt that the last three weeks have been some of the most extraordinary political times. Brexit, a resigned Prime Minister, an attempted coup on the leader of the Opposition and backstabbing in the race to be the new Conservative leader. And that’s only the headlines. Indeed such is the surreal nature of politics at the moment many people have said that you couldn’t write the scenes we’ve witnessed in the past few weeks. Well none other than Lord Dobbs, the creator of the original House of Cards said as much this week. And he was only referring to the Conservative Party leadership saga with their magnificent backstabbing, badmouthing and brutal political battles.

Embellished CV. In the weird world that is British politics, Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom has had a week of ups and downs. After coming second in the first leadership ballot to Theresa May, she has since came under scrutiny for apparently embellishing parts of her CV. As is the modern world, Twitter took to this news delightfully. One tweeter defended Leadsom, saying she didn’t have to put up with this type of stuff when she was an astronaut, whilst another defended her role in blowing up the Death Star. Continuing with the weird, following Leadsom’s speech on the economy this week, many public supporters, MPs and even Cabinet ministers took part in what can only be described as a ‘cringeworthy’ march on Parliament in her honour. Leadsom, ironically enough, didn’t take part in the march and chose to drive back to parliament instead.

Labour disunity – Chapter 962. Following Chilcot’s damning report into the Iraq war, and, in particular, Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn took to his feet in the Commons to condemn the ‘disaster’ to which Britain was ‘dragged’ on a ‘false premise’. The release of the Chilcot Report was never going to be an easy day for Labour, and, in particular, for Labour unity. However divisions were starkly exposed when Ian Austin MP shouted at Corbyn, as he spoke, ‘sit down and shut up. You are a disgrace’. Corbyn, characteristically, ignored the heckles from the backbenches.

Caught on camera. Ever since Gordon Brown unwittingly launched Bigoted woman-gate in the 2010 election, media-prone politicians have had to maintain a high level of vigilance while the cameras are rolling. All except Ken Clarke, who was caught out this week waxing lyrical about Conservative leadership candidates to old colleague Sir Malcom Rifkind for a Sky News interview.  While Clarke’s assessment that Theresa May had spent too much time entrenched in the Home Office wasn’t exactly promising, being described by any male Tory politician as a ‘bloody difficult woman’, history tells us, may not be the worst of references…

Good week/Bad week

Bad week for… Amanda Spielman. The Government’s preferred candidate for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector was this week comprehensively rejected by the Education Select Committee. The Committee published a damning report following her pre-appointment hearing, asserting she lacked frontline experience and vision for the future of the education sector.

Good week for… Amanda Spielman. Despite her less than glowing report card, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan maintained her ‘wholehearted’ support and Spielman will still be appointed as Chief Inspector.

Tweet of the week

Douglas Carswell had only an emoji to express his joy at the news of Nigel Farage’s resignation. Sometimes an emoji is worth a thousand words.

TOTW 8.7

In focus: Theresa May favourite to win

We can now say with certainty that on September 9th, we will have a new female Prime Minister. But in an age when Jeremy Corbyn can become Labour leader and Donald Trump the Presidential candidate of the Republican Party, nothing else can be taken for granted.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is both the clear favourite and the overwhelming choice of Conservative MPs. She ought to win easily and the YouGov poll of Tory party members indicates that she will do so comfortably. Also her opponent, Andrea Leadsom, has had what can at best be described as a shaky start to her campaign with repeated questions about just how senior a City bigwig she actually was before entering parliament.

But making political predictions is a dangerous game. Most Conservative Party members voted Leave in the referendum and most are ideologically to the right of their Government. Andrea Leadsom highlighted her unease with gay marriage and her support for repealing the fox hunt ban in the knowledge that these issues, which trouble voters little, are touchstone with the Tory base – especially the influential chairs of Conservative Associations.

There has been some commentary that Leadsom is polling similar numbers to Cameron back in 2005 and how he went on to overtake David Davis. But such a comparison may be misleading. That contest was fought over a longer timeframe, the candidates were different and so too the dynamics. By the time the vote went to the membership David Davis’ campaign was already on a downwards trajectory and Cameron had all the momentum. That is not the case here.