Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch

Shamik Das looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.

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• Labour won councils and councillors across the board in yesterday’s local elections, with the Tories performing badly and the Lib Dems terribly.

From results thus far, Labour is projected to win 38% of the national vote (up 3 points), the Conservatives 31% (down 4 points), and the Liberal Democrats 16% (unchanged) – though in absolute terms they have shrunk to below 3,000 councillors, the lowest since they were formed.

Overall, Labour have gained more than 700 seats, the Tories have lost nearly 400 seats, and the Lib Dems have lost more than 200 seats.

Reacting to the results, David Cameron said:

“These are difficult times and there aren’t easy answers. What we have to do is take the difficult decisions to deal with the debt, deficit and broken economy that we’ve inherited and we will go on making those decisions and we’ve got to do the right thing for our country.”

Ed Miliband said he was determined to show Labour could “deliver Britain the change it needs”, that:

“We are a party winning back people’s trust, regaining ground, but there is more work to do.”

And Nick Clegg, describing himself as “really sad” so many Lib Dem councillors lost their seats, commented:

“I am determined that we will continue to play our role in rescuing, repairing and reforming the British economy. It’s not an easy job and it can’t be done overnight but our duty is to boost jobs and investment and to restore a sense of hope and optimism to our country.”

Restrained joy for Miliband then – a lot done, a lot to do and all that – while for Clegg and Cameron, serious times, it seems, call for desperate measures: the PM and his deputy are planning a Rose Garden reprive, rather than a recession reversal, to resurrect their fortunes. Just what’ll detoxify the Lib Dems!

The best news of the night, though, comes from the BNP’s utter humiliation last night; as Hope Not Hate report, every BNP candidate who stood in yesterday’s elections has lost – including all BNP councillors up for re-election.

The BNP defeat means there is no BNP councillor in Burnley for the first time in ten years. Other previous BNP strongholds like Calderdale, Rotherham, Amber Valley, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Three Rivers and Epping Forest are also now BNP free zones. This leaves the BNP with just three councillors, down from a high of 57.

 


This week’s most read:

1. Under fire over hacking? How do you prove you’re fit and proper? By mocking Roy Hodgson Shamik Das

2. Author of new climate sceptic report was set to receive $1000 a month from oil lobby group Joss Garman

3. Vote 2012: How to vote in the London Assembly and Mayoral elections Malcolm Clark

4. Charity survey shows up shambolic work programme Ben Phillips

5. Wrong again: The Daily Mail claim wind farms change the weather Reuben Balfour-Brown, IPPR


 

• The mayoral referendum results, meanwhile, continue to come in – with the majority of cities voting “no” to an elected mayor.

Though Bristol has, it was announced this afternoon, voted “yes”, by 53.35%:46.65%, this morning it was revealed Bradford, Coventry, Manchester and Nottingham had all voted “no”, with Coventry the most emphatic – 63.58%:36.42%.

Counts in the remaining five cities to declare – Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and Wakefield – are taking place this afternoon, with the results expected from around 5pm.

On Left Foot Forward over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the referendum debates taking place in all ten cities, exploring the arguments for and against elected mayors: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Wakefield.

Meanwhile in London, which has had an elected mayor for 12 years now, Boris Johnson is the favourite to defeat Ken Livingstone, though Labour are predicted to perform better in the Assembly elections. The results will be announced late tonight.

• Earlier this week, the Commons culture, media and sport select committee released its long-awaited report (pdf) into phone hacking – with explosive results.

By a majority, the cross-party committee concluded Rupert Murdoch “is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company”, accusing him of “wilful blindness” to the criminality being conducted under his nose, in his company.

It described James Murdoch as exhibiting a “lack of curiosity… wilful ignorance even” at the time of the negotiations surrounding the 2008 Gordon Taylor phone-hacking settlement, and concluded it was “simply astonishing” he did not realise the “one ‘rogue reporter’ line was untrue” until late 2010; and of Rebekah Brooks, it said she must take responsibility for “the culture which permitted” unethical newsgathering methods over Dowler in 2002.

Brooks and Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former director of communications, will appear before the Leveson Inquiry next week, it was revealed (pdf) yesterday. Coulson will take the stand on Thursday from 10am, Brooks on Friday from 10am.

For more on this week’s report, see our article here, read Cormac Hollingsworth on the need to change corporate law following the “wilful blindness” verdict, and read our piece on The Sun’s descent back into the gutter with their coverage of Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England boss.

Progressive of the week:

President Obama, who this week marked the anniversary of killing of Osama Bin Laden with a surprise visit to Afghanistan. He signed a new pact with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, heralding “a future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins” and saying “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end”.

For more on Obama’s visit read our report here and see the World Outside Westminster below.

Regressive of the week:

The author of a new climate sceptic report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Indur Goklany, which claimed climate change “might be bad for your health” and “global warming does not currently rank among the top public health threats”. As Left Foot Forward reported this week, Goklany is linked to a number of oil industry funded US lobby groups.

It emerged earlier this year he was set to receive a payment (see pdf) of $1,000 per month from the Heartland Institute – which in turn received millions of dollars to promote climate change denial from some of the most polluting companies in the world. He has previously been caught peddling misinformation about malaria.

For more on Goklany read our report here, and read our rebuttal of the Daily Mail’s crazy claims wind farms change the weather.

Evidence of the week:

NIESR’s latest Economic Review, published this morning, which concluded persistently weak demand is maintaining high unemployment, and may lead to a permanently higher rate of joblessness, and that by 2016, the equilibrium unemployment rate will “gradually decline to 6.4 per cent” – still a whole percentage point above the pre-crisis level.

For more on the NIESR report, read our article here.

The Week Outside Westminster by Ed Jacobs:

Scotland

As Alex Salmond spent the week defending his links to News International, the Murdoch stench continued to linger. At the start of the week, Salmond used an interview on the Today programme to outline how he wanted to have a “good professional relationship” with Rupert Murdoch. On Monday he took to the airwaves again, declaring there was “no quid pro quo” in his relationship with Murdoch.

Despite this, however, it emerged the SNP leader began trying to discuss News Corp’s bid for BSkyB with UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt just a day after it was confirmed the Scottish Sun would support his party in last year’s Holyrood elections.

Meanwhile, it emerged former first minister Jack (now Lord) McConnell and his children had had their phones hacked by the News of the World. It was later reported Salmond’s own parliamentary aide, Joan McAlpine had also been hacked.

And during a lively First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Salmond himself refused to say if his phone had been hacked; it later emerged he would be appearing before the Leveson Inquiry on June 13th. Salmond is refusing to launch a full Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into the allegations, as urged by Tom Watson and Scottish opposition leaders.

Following the publication of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report into the affair, Labour’s Tom Watson called on Salmond to launch a full Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into the allegations a point  echoed by Scotland’s opposition leaders.

Northern Ireland

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness used a lecture  at the LSE to call for a severance of the links between Northern Ireland and Westminster. Citing as an example the 1916 Easter Rising – which effectively drew a curtain on the British Empire – McGuinness argued the 1998 Good Friday Agreement marked the end of the British Union.

He also used his conference speech to outline how Sinn Fein sought to cut UUP leader David Trimble loose in negotiations over the peace process in 1997, and said of Tony Blair’s belief DUP leader Ian Paisley would not be prepared to share power with Sinn Fein:

“I challenged him directly on that. I told him that his plan to revitalise the UUP was going nowhere. I told him that I believed that we could reach an agreement with the DUP and that was what the British Government needed to focus on.

“I also told him I thought agreement with the DUP would be possible – difficult, yes – impossible, no.”

Wales

Plaid Cymru’s leader at Westminster had egg on his face as he confidently predicted an independent Wales would be achieved in his lifetime.

Speaking alongside Alfred Bosch, a leading figure in the Republican Left of Catalonia, Elfyn Llwyd, 60, argued:

“Yes, I do believe in my lifetime I will see a Wales that is independent. And I believe that the game-changer will be the Scottish referendum when there will be a [re-thinking] of where all the nations in Britain [interact] with each other, how they fit in with each other, and so on.”

His views, however, came after polling for the Welsh Governance Centre by YouGov found 62% of respondents disagreed with the idea that if Scotland were to become an independent country so should Wales.

The Welsh government, meanwhile, hailed the coming into force of a new duty on Welsh ministers to have due regard to the requirements of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in all the decisions they make about new legislation, policies and changes to existing policy.

The World Outside Westminster by Tom Rouse:

An end to the presence of US troops in Afghanistan looks to be in sight. President Obama made a surprise visit to the country on Tuesday and staged talks with President Karzai, which resulted in the two men signing a partnership agreement, outlining the future security of the country.

In a speech made during his visit, Obama pledged to finish the job and told US troops they would not be in the country for more than a single day longer than the US’s national security required, that “by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country”.

***

Marco Rubio has forced immigration back onto the agenda, launching his own proposed version of the DREAM Act. Rubio, who is considered by many as one of Mitt Romney’s most credible options for VP, has proposed allowing children of illegal immigrants the chance of a legal right to be in the country, providing they meet certain criteria.

His proposals are far more limited than those supported by Democrats, but represent a considerable softening of the Republican position and that of Rubio himself, who has previously been accused of taking extreme stances over immigration.

***

Polling continues to suggest the November elections are going to be a close-run race. Although Obama continues to enjoy on average a 3-point lead over Romney when the two are compared head-to-head, Democrats look set to struggle in both the Senate and the House, where generic ballots routinely give Republican candidates a 1-3 point lead.

Obama’s approval ratings continue to impress. Having consistently seen his disapproval rating outrank his approval for much of last year, Obama has seen the trend reverse this year, with the latest data from Gallup showing his approval rating has settled above the 50% mark.

More importantly for the President’s chances, US job creation is now at a 4 year high and with getting people into work a key battleground, this is only likely to further strengthen Obama’s ratings.

***

Documents discovered in Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan have given a compelling insight into the inner workings of al-Qa’eda. A summary of the documents (pdf) has been released by the US military and reveals how concerned the organisation were to retain the sympathy of moderate Muslims.

A letter from Bin Laden to his subordinates in the Arab Gulf warned them off from attacks on Yemen’s citizens and forces, instead urging the cell to focus their efforts on US security forces.

The documents also reveal the terrorist organisation’s fascination with the US media and whether they could use it to build narratives. Fox News is dismissed as “it falls into the Abyss” but ABC’s was considered to be their best potential channel.

***

Relations between China and the US have come under strain after the flight of noted dissident and activist Chen Guangcheng from his home, where he was kept under house arrest, to the US embassy. Chen has since left the Embassy, after expressing fears his wife would be killed if he did not.

His flight came at a politically sensitive time, and it has been suggested the US did not to do more to aid Chen’s flight from the country due to the forthcoming visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US have rebuffed these suggestions and pledged to ensure Chen and his family remain safe from harm.

Mark Toner, deputy spokesman at the State Department, said:

“We are going to continue to monitor his case very closely. We’re going to continue to seek assurances that the commitments that were made in this case become reality or are followed through on. And going forward, we are going to make sure that we keep a very close eye on it.”

***

While all eyes at home have been distracted by the appointment of Roy Hodgson, Europe’s preparations for this year’s European Championships have been distracted by the Ukraine’s treatment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko is currently on hunger strike in Jail after being sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for “abuse of office”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened to boycott the tournament and other European countries are expected to follow suit.

All three of England’s group games will be played in the Ukraine and ministers have yet to decide whether or not they will attend the matches.

 


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26 Responses to “Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch”

  1. Shamik Das

    Look Left – #le2012, mayoral referendums and #Murdoch: http://t.co/WAtPuJWc by @ShamikDas #Vote2012

  2. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch http://t.co/Q885iteO

  3. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and http://t.co/YkNrXbUQ

  4. Luz Aguirrebena

    Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch: • Labour won councils and councillors across … http://t.co/TfYJXPQe

  5. David Gillon

    "The best news of the night, though, comes from the BNP’s utter humiliation" http://t.co/p4b7hDhu That gets my vote 😉 #bbcvote2012

  6. Anonymous

    Labour didn’t do well. The Tory vote was well down. It mobilised for the referendum, it’ll mobilise for the generals.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, Labour, you need the left.

  7. Mr. Sensible

    I don’t agree with that, Newsbot9. Well done Ed, I say.

  8. Ed's Talking Balls

    London has spoken. It doesn’t want a hypocritical tax avoider, with his dubious friends and undeliverable promises, as mayor. Good thing too.

  9. Political Planet

    Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch: Shamik Das looks back at the week’s politics,… http://t.co/W2UJyoUz

  10. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch http://t.co/V1baFeA3

  11. Anonymous

    Of course, HRMC’s guidance makes you a tax avoider. Gotta justify your personal tax evasion.

    And gotta pump up those transport fees ever-more to purge the poor. OH YEA SOCIAL CLEANSING (never mind we condemn other countries for the same thing, never mind AMERICA uses rent caps)!

    I didn’t vote Ken, wouldn’t vote Ken, but your kind of politics of division are pathetic, when Boris scraped through and faces a hostile assembly who won’t approve his spending sprees.

    Don’t worry, itching and hatred of anyone ideologically “pure” develops soon after in the Litany of Lies. You’re working along that track just fine.

  12. Anonymous

    It’s called reality, Mr. Sensible.

    In general, and the turnout was low, the Labour vote is down by 10-20%, the Tory vote by 40%. Ed should be panicking.

  13. Foxy52

    Look Left – Local elections 2012, mayoral referendums and Murdoch http://t.co/1U5xIeHG David Cameron (cont) http://t.co/ed1sy5Lm

  14. Selohesra

    Scary really that Livingstone came so close – just showing how many out there are keen to have other people’s money spent on them which is as much as the bankers a cause of the current problems.
    It also shows that had Milibland had a spine and shown some leadership by putting a credible candidate up such as Alan Johnson or Kate Hoey we would this morning be looking at a coalition in crisis and a Labour mayor

  15. Anonymous

    Oh yes, really, it’s quite reasonable for someone who raised transport fees by 50% and is committed to further large raises to get support from the poor, at a time when wages are stagnant.

    Labour didn’t do well. That’s BECAUSE they’re ignoring the left.

  16. Mike43

    Kate Hoey is the most odious person and a reason why many of us will never support the Labour Party. She chairs the Countrtyside Alliance bloodsports organisation. Appalling on every level. Basically a Tory.

  17. Ed's Talking Balls

    Livingstone’s pie in the sky policies couldn’t have been effected, even if people had been stupid enough to vote for him. At least Boris is committed to investing in the tube system. Wasn’t it Gordon Brown who used to bang on about the importance of investment (even if he did, all too often, conflate it with simply spending)?

    He tried to wriggle, and you can continue making your excuses for him, but on tax he wasn’t whiter than white. And he needed to be, given his well publicised comments on his fellow tax avoiders. Silly man.

    Whether Boris scraped through or not is immaterial. He beat Ken by a perfectly satisfactory margin, given how well Labour performed elsewhere (and in London’s local elections too). With a different candidate, Labour might have pulled it off. Thankfully they stuck with a dinosaur. Lord Sugar, Dan Hodges etc were right. And if you can’t convince members of your own party, you’re really in trouble.

  18. Anonymous

    My own party? You mean “none of the above”. I see.

    BNP (since you can’t understand I’m not Labour. I’ll be as accurate as you) trolls like you were wiped out, and rightly so.

    And your economic policy has caused a double dip. More, you’re going to kill more of your own kind with starvation than those dirty “foreigners” who’ll help each other.

  19. Ed's Talking Balls

    Please re-engage with reality, assuming you ever were among us. Labelling people as BNP voters, as you seem to be fond of doing, is just bizarre.

    I know you’re not a Labour voter. You’re a “left winger” – I get it. I didn’t mean ‘your’ party. I could, more accurately, have typed ‘one’s party’, but thought that would be too stuffy. Honestly, if I’d known you’d take it so badly I’d have written in a more formal fashion!

    I don’t have great faith in Cameron et al. I just happen to think that they’re the best of a very bad bunch. I’d probably join you in the “none of the above” party. Just as there is no party to cater for the left in Britain, so too are the right unrepresented.

  20. Anonymous

    Ah yes, “re-engage with reality”, i.e. be a right winger. Typical. The second a FRACTION of your hyperbole is used you hop up and down and scream about PC.

    It’s no difference to your labelling. And of course I’m going to take it as an insult you lump me in with a party who I have very little in common with!

    And simply because you don’t choose one of the varied options (Tory, LibDem, BNP (or soon EDL, UKIP…) doesn’t mean that there are not right-wing options.

    There are NO left-wing options for the English voter. (And no, Centralist Labour and the Anti-Science Green are not left-wing options)

    The situations are not even remotely the same!

  21. Patrick

    The kind of left you support will never be elected in this country. There simply aren’t enough of the people who swing elections who believe in it. That was the reason for New Labour in the first place.

  22. Anonymous

    Oh, really?

    Because, again, Labour’s vote is utterly stagnant, while millions of the moderate left, MY kind of left, sit at home.

    What you mean is that your gerrymandering and anti-Union tactics will ensure your One True Party wins every time. Just gotta shed those pesky Scots and Welsh…

  23. Patrick

    Yes, really.

    Consider the maths. Most people remain loyal to an ideology and party and do not change their vote. These people are therefore irrelevant in deciding elections, and all political parties know this. The only people that matter in deciding elections are people who swing between parties. But these people don’t swing wildly between extreme ideologies. Conservative or liberal democrat voters don’t swing over to the extreme left. Similarly, labour voters don’t swing to the extreme right. Those are facts, and they explain why neither the BNP nor the Socialist Workers will ever be elected as a government.

    It was the reason why Labour had to remove the militant element -simple maths indicated that it was impossible for them to be elected when they were perceived as extreme. It was only the movement to the middle ground under Blair that meant they were electable, because they could appeal to swing voters.

    The comments you have posted on these on these boards concerning markets, state control, taxation, wealth redistribution are not ‘moderate’ statements. You may consider that they are, in relation to some of your more extreme friends, but your view of how moderate they are isn’t the measure that counts. It is how they are viewed by the swing voters. And by that measure they certainly are extreme, and therefore it is impossible that they could ever be adopted by an electable party.

  24. Anonymous

    Patrick, the MODERATE left are sitting at home. It’s why the Labour vote collapsed, and is not recovering nearly as strongly as they need it to.

    Keep advocating centralist shadow-boxing, it’ll lose you the election.

    That you can dismiss my views as not entirely moderate just shows how lost to sense you are. Keep on supporting social cleansing, accepting the Tory cuts and bashing “scroungers. Labourite.

    But hey, inconvenient truths. It’s very much at the stage where most of the party belong here little more than the Tories, sadly.

  25. Patrick

    Let me ask you this. If the policies you advocate would so clearly win elections, why has no-one adopted them?

    Incidentally, let me remind you of just one of your “entirely moderate” views -a trebling of inheritance tax to 75%.

    I’m not inviting a debate on the merits of that policy. I’m merely pointing out that is not a moderate position; an overnight trebling of anything is an extreme position.

  26. Anonymous

    Er, plenty of countries have adopted them. The more successful countries. Indeed, the French president who was just elected is far more extreme than I am.

    You’re of course completely unable to defend on the merits anything which is not “gimmie”. Moreover, you’re of course using your own revolutionary ideology, rather than my gradualist one.

    The fall of New Labour is directly related to their abandonment of left-wing ideals. The fact that Labour are not recovering is also due to the same.

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