British Press and Social Media
PM Looks at Minor Reshuffle Ahead of Parliament Resumption
LONDON --- Ahead of the resumption of Parliament on Monday, the Prime Minister looks at a minor reshuffle of lower ministry portfolios ahead of the first sitting week, which will put SDLP Leader Sir Keir Starmer under increasing pressure. The Government has looked unflappable and unbothered since winning the 2017 general election and is heading into its third year of existence with uninterrupted leads in the polling since May 2015. When asked about feeling within Cabinet, Education Secretary Jo Johnson had this to say:
"The Prime Minister has encouraged a healthy amount of dialogue while maintaining authority and control as the leader who has won two elections, and delivered us at least seven years of Government. It is a perfect balance of colleague, Cabinet-style authority and authoritative leadership without being authoritarian."
The Government has been quite lucky that it, so far, has not been rocked by scandal or tainted by bad decisions in the polls. The decision to get back into the Dromund Kaas conflict and help end it is entering its third year, and the High Speed 3 links look likely to be delayed by this year's winter weather and the Government's preferred contractor is looking like it is in financial trouble. Perhaps we will see what the Government is made of in 2018.
Politics: Breaking - Labour To Hold Leadership Contest
LONDON --- Emily Thornberry has taken hold of the centre wing of the Labour Party and pushed Sir Keir Starmer into a leadership contest. Labour are behind the Liberals by nearly 10 points right now, which would take them into unseen depths of wilderness since the last long period of Liberal Prime Ministers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major. Guaranteed 7 years in power, Theresa May and her Government have capitalised on their lead by pivoting towards the centre, offering some programmes that would appeal to Labour voters. The British Infrastructure Investment Fund and the UK Business Capital Fund are both institutions that were created by Theresa May to promote infrastructure projects like the National Broadband Network, which was completed at the end of 2017 and the Oxbridge Tech Corridor, promised in the Autumn Budget last November.
These programmes took a lot of the punch out of Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Opposition, and the "right wing" of Labour finally had enough. Emily Thornberry, the Deputy Labour leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary was reported as cornering Starmer and displayed dissatisfaction with him as a leader. The party, also deeply fractured, has much to do to capture back key seats in Scotland and the north of England as they have "failed to stand up for the common man".
The vote is incoming today, but it is likely that Tom Watson will become Acting Leader of the Labour Party and the two will face off in a heated leadership contest.
Quick Headline: Labour Leadership Challenge Begins
THE dates have been set, and the timetable has started. The Labour Party's leadership contest is now underway, and it looks like Sir Keir Starmer will have stiff challenges from Emily Thornberry, who is looking like the favourite to lead the party, Chukka Umunna, and David Miliband, brother of former Prime Minister Ed Miliband. After losing the 2015 and 2017 general elections, Labour is looking to reset and try and find someone who can either knock down some of Theresa May's popularity, which is cruising at the moment at nearly 70% compared to the near 30% for Starmer, and the party's lead in the polls, which is at 42% to the Labour's 35%.
The vote will be from March 22nd to April 26th, with the result announced April 28th.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Goes to the King to Dissolve Oireachtas, Calls General Election
DUBLIN --- In accordance with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Taoiseach went to the King at Dublin Castle and requested that the Sovereign dissolve the Parliament and call for a general election. Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael have waited for this election to since 2012, but with the UK General Election happening in 2017, the Irish election had to wait until at least a year after it. So, with the same Irish Parliament for 6 years rather than 5, the Taoiseach triggered the election to coincide with the local elections across the United Kingdom.
Initial polling suggested that Fine Gael would need a coalition partner to reach another term of government, with Fianna Fail and the SDLP behind a game second and third.
Politics: Thornberry Sets Out Vision for Labour
Tom Sandars: Good afternoon. Today is the 15th of March, and this is the 3 O'Clock news break.
Emily Thornberry, the leading candidate to challenge Sir Keir Starmer for the Labour Party leadership contest has laid out her vision of the Labour Party and its credible plan to get back into Government at the next general election. Here's Laura Kuenssberg with the story.
Laura Kuenssberg (recording): Emily Thornberry sets out her plan to bring the Labour out of Opposition and into Government at the next general election as the leadership contest begins in full force this week. She opened with a launch of her campaign to become Labour leader where she laid out her "Plan for a Better Britain".
Emily Thornberry (recording): With ideas that show the practical, problem solving beliefs that we as Social Democrats, Ordo-Labourites, and traditional Labour members of our party, we can get back into Government. Britain has had three years too many of this Government and the results are shocking. More people in poverty than ever before, more people in part time work, and more people unable to make ends meet when they take home their pay packets. We have seen this Government preside over 30,000 job losses in manufacturing, and Theresa May needs to be held to account over her record. I plan on getting our party and our ideas back into the public sphere and credibly hold this Government to account.
LK: Thornberry, as of now, is a comfortable distance ahead of Starmer, with more of the traditional supporters , what they call the Old Labour Wing of the party appreciating her stance on the economy and working to moderate some of the social tendencies of the party. The remaining candidates, Chuka Umunna and David Miliband, are further to the right, solidly in the Ordo-Labourite wing of the Labour and are expected to push for huge re-nationalisation projects. Thornberry, by comparison, sticks to policies that will bring manufacturing back to the UK like excluding products made by British companies overseas from any tariff-free deals which are considered left-wing and popular among the Old Labour Wing of the party. With Thornberry looking like the favourite right now, all eyes will be on the remaining challengers, including the incumbent, for any further moves. For BBC Radio 4, Laura Kuenssberg.
Ireland 2018: Polling Shows Government Losing Ground
The latest news polling across Ireland with the last week of campaigning ready to go show that Fine Gael (Irish Liberals) has lost ground to Fianna Fail and Irish SDLP. The Irish election could see a hung Oireachtas. The Irish Times/IPSOS poll:
Fine Gael: 28%
Fianna Fail: 25%
Irish Labour: 25%
Irish Progressives: 12%
Poll: Labour Leadership
Who is your preferred candidate to lead the Labour Party?
Emily Thornberry (Finsbury) - 45%
David Miliband (South Shields) - 30%
Chuka Umunna (Streatham) - 15%
Sir Keir Starmer (St. Pancras and Holborn) - 10%
Siobhan O'Rourke: Good evening, I'm Siobhan O'Rourke and you are watching RTE's coverage of Election 2018. Dea-tráthnóna, tá mé Siobhán O'Rourke agus má tá tú ag breathnú clúdach RTÉ ar Thoghchán 2018. We have the exit poll and prediction coming into the studio in a couple of minutes. Who will form the next Irish Government, will it be Fine Gael, the Irish Liberals carrying on more of Theresa May's successes in elections since 2015, or will someone else be in poll position to form government. Perhaps Labour, desperate for a win? Fianna Fail? The Progressives, will UKIP or the Greens play spoiler? Let's find out in a few moments. Joining me in the studio are Australia's dynamic duo of electoral politics, Peta Credlin and Kristina Keneally, and BBC host of Daily Politics, Andrew Neil.
And here is the exit poll:
Labour - 38%
Fianna Fail - 20%
Fine Gael - 23%
Progressives - 12%
UKIP - 7%
Regional Vote - National Forecast:
Fianna Fail (%) 20 Labour (%) 35 Progressive (%) 15 Fine Gael (%) 20 Green (%) 10 UKIP (%) 2
Based on those numbers, we can predict that Labour will have the choice to form the next Irish government, though they will need a coalition partner. At 69 seats, they are short of the 83 needed for an overall majority by 14. They could either talk to the Progressives or Greens as a natural ally, and Fianna Fail if those talks fail. They could also choose a confidence and supply deal.
Fine Gael, the previous government have been reduced to 30 seats, 27 for Fianna Fail, 20 for the Progressives, 19 seats for the Greens and potential zero seats for UKIP, despite a higher vote than they've had in the constituencies.
Irish Parliamentary Election 2018: Labour Largest Party, Looks to Form Coalition
DUBLIN --- The Dail Eirann has been set and including a few overhang seats for the Greens, who had their best result in Ireland ever, the 175 seat Dail will be led by a Labour coalition of sorts. The first coalition negotiations have gone well between Labour and the Irish Progressive Party, and it may result in a confidence and supply measure between Labour and both the Progressives and the Greens. It would be the first Labour Government in the history of Ireland's devolved parliament. Of course, Sir Keir Starmer, who had been preparing for the Irish election before the UK Parliamentary Labour Party decided to start a leadership contest, is touting this as a success of his brand of Labour, while Emily Thornberry says that the credit is due to her ally in Dublin, Brendan Howlin, who is backing Thornberry regionally, as is First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.
"It is a victory that shows that with the right messaging about making an economy that works for the many, we as a Labour Party can win in traditionally conservative areas of the UK like Ireland, the Home Counties, and the southwest," Thornberry said on the Andrew Marr programme. "I am excited for the new Taioseach, Brendan Howlin, and what he can bring to the Irish Government.
This is also seen as the first political setback to Theresa May, who despite winning two elections (2015 and 2017), will see her party's standing in the House of Royal Councillors reduced, which will mean some key legislation in the future will find a bit of resistance. She also campaigned personally in Dublin for the Fine Gael Irish Government. Now, Labour will hold the Welsh and Irish Governments as well as potentially the Northern England Assembly and London.
What does this mean for the Liberals? Their base is not coming out for the regional elections, where a lot of policy decisions closer to home will be made. However, that may work to Theresa May's advantage as now she has a contrast for whomever will lead Labour into 2022 more widely. Add to that the surge of Scottish Liberals in the SNP-controlled Scottish Parliament and an unstable Labour in Wales, she may find herself better positioned after local and English regional elections in May. The way it could break though is currently hanging in the balance.
Ireland 2018: It's a Government! Labour Signs Supply Deal with Fianna Fail
BREAKING: Labour has reached a coalition deal with Fianna Fail to run the next Irish Government. Taoiseach-elect Brendan Howlin will set out the Irish Government cabinet shortly.
Politics: Liberals Looking to Sweep England, Key Councils After Surprising Poll Trend
NEWCASTLE, PORTSMOUTH, and BIRMINGHAM --- New polling looks to deliver Theresa May and key council seats across the UK in the local and English Assembly elections. The three assemblies in England (Southern England [excluding London], Central England, and Northern England) are looking to be swept by the Liberal Party with Labour's leadership election casting much into doubt, with the result being announced April 14th as voting is going on this whole week via post ballots. As such, the Liberal Party have been doing better campaigning around England, with the Prime Minister showing up in key areas of support.
"The UK Government, complimented with Liberal councils and Liberal assemblies will deliver on our promises to bring prosperity and jobs to England and our whole United Kingdom and make sure that we have public services that get the most out of what we pay for them unlike Labour's vision of bloated, inefficient, and oversaturated public services," the Prime Minister said in Portsmouth. Holding power in Southampton, Leeds, and Birmingham is important for the Liberals, 3/7 under their control is not as bad as 2/7, and bowling a century against Labour in the council elections would be a good sign for a popular Government that seemed to overlook the regional election in Ireland.