The dramatic feminisation of the political world
Today, just a week after the referendum, there’s expected to be big developments over the Conservative and Labour leaderships.
Nominations for the successor to Cameron close and reports suggest that Angela Eagle will announce that she’s seeking the 51 required nominations to contest the Labour leadership.
The latest YouGov poll of Conservative members, the group that will ultimately decide the party leadership and next PM, has unexpectedly found that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has a substantial lead over the ex-mayor, Mr Johnson. In a head to head match the pollster found that Theresa is 17% ahead of Boris. The widespread assumption before was that his biggest leadership challenge was going to be getting onto the ballot not whether he would win with the membership.
With Labour’s leadership crisis continuing and the hapless Corbyn clinging on in spite of being rejected by his parliamentary colleagues the next move looks set to be Angela Eagle making a formal challenge. If that happens and she wins then we could have both Conservative and Labour leadership elections taking place at about the same time with new leaders in place in September.
All this occurs, of course, in the run up to November’s White House race with US polls pointing to widening leads for Hillary Clinton over the presumptive Republican nominee, Mr. Trump.
An enormous amount, of course, could happen as all these contests unfold but there must be a reasonable chance that these three posts could all be held by women.
I wonder whether there might be a spin-off effect. Could the prospect of a woman CON leader and PM make it easier for Labour to choose a woman for the first time?
Whatever we’ve got another interesting political day ahead of us.
A big thank you to those who've contributed to the financial appeals for PB. This is helping us to maintain the viability of the site and enable us to cope with the huge spike in demand on the technical infrastructure that we've been seeing.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments on avoiding further fighting and conflict along the border between those countries.
And what I want to say about July is:
Hey, I’m still not done with the books, so I’m probably going to stick to the semi-hiatus schedule a little bit longer. It seems to be working reasonably well for me, and in particular trimming comment threads back to two days has made things substantially more manageable (it seems to keep in check the folks who like to draw out threads purely for argument’s sake). And the schedule hasn’t kept me from popping in and saying pointed things when I think they need to be said (see: political discussions over the last few weeks). So, in all, it’s been pretty congenial to my working life.
So: Let’s just assume that until further notice I’m going to keep this schedule. When will that further notice be? Well, the books have to be in by the end of August, so: Probably then. If they get done earlier, then earlier.
Thanks to the current quick pace of technological advancement, our society is constantly trying to keep our laws relevant to the weird new things humans are constantly trying. One area that I find particularly interesting is with regards to drones. Yes, there are a lot of thorny ethical considerations about using drones in warfare, which is one of the few times that I ever agree with people who are heavily critical of Obama, but there are even more tricky nuances to how we use personal drones. They’re getting cheaper and cheaper, and at the same time they’re getting more and more fun, which means they’re also getting more and more dangerous. Should we regulate them, and if so, how? And most importantly, should the FAA be able to stop us from strapping flame throwers to our drones and using them to cook turkeys in our backyards?
That’s not a hypothetical situation, by the way: that’s an actual case that is playing out right now. A teenager in Connecticut scored two viral videos last year by strapping weaponry to a drone and filming it. In one case, it was a flame thrower. In another case, it was a legitimately terrifying handgun. I mean, the flamethrower is scary in terms of pure visual appeal, but a drone holding a handgun and firing it is some next level Terminator shit.
The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, is generally in charge of anything that flies, and so they’ve subpoenaed the teen and his family to gather any and all evidence related to the drone, the weapons, and the videos they’ve made in advance of pursuing a possible court case against them. The family have hired counsel and are resisting the subpoena. Drone enthusiasts who previously hated this teen for making them look like psychopaths are now supporting him because they feel the FAA is overstepping.
For the record, I agree with them. I’m very anti-gun–I don’t think most people should even be allowed to own one, let alone strap one to a poorly controlled flying robot. But the FAA has absolutely no right to tell anyone what they can and cannot “fly” in their own backyard at about head height. If they do have that ability, it could drastically affect the way private citizens use drones, and it could also affect the way scientists use drones.
Drones can play an incredible role in helping scientists, whether they’re tracking herds of endangered animals, spotting unique plant life in hard-to-access mountain nooks, or diving deep underwater where humans have difficulty going for long periods of time. If drones as a whole are suddenly considered to be subjected to the whims of the FAA, that adds a lot of pointless red tape and restrictions that will negatively affect scientific progress.
It’s a ridiculous stance for the FAA to take, especially considering that they don’t even categorize ultralight planes, which actually can fly around with humans in them, as “aircrafts,” as they want to categorize personal drones.
If the FAA wants to take drones’ guns, they’ll have to pry them out of their cold, robotic hands. Or talk to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, since that’s their job. Or the cops. Or just about any other government agency that already covers weapons.
Taken from here: http://www.red-lang.org/2016/06/061-rea
The first poll of members has big CON member backing for the Home Secretary
First YouGov CON members poll has Theresa May with big lead over Johnson pic.twitter.com/K64gpyrVuk
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) June 29, 2016
YouGov CON members poll match-up between main contenders pic.twitter.com/uiAXFSKei2
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) June 29, 2016
At the 2001 and 2005 CON leadership elections YouGov member polls got the final outcome almost dead on
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) June 29, 2016
Let us lust remind ourselves how the CON leadership election works. There will be a series of secret ballot of MPs until they get down to a final two – then the choice will be made by party members in a postal ballot.
So of all the polls the ones we should pay most attention are those tonight from YouGov which has very good news for May and disappointing news for the long term front-runner, Mr. Johnson.
Of course it might be that these will not be the final two and in the past the Tory election process has thrown up surprises. In 2001 the big favourite, Michael Portillo, did not make the final cut and the Tories ended up with IDS who was ousted two years later.
I think that Johnson suffers from not having been a cabinet minister and in this election the party is choosing the next PM.
Tomorrow’s Times has a poll of Conservative party members about the forthcoming leadership election, showing Theresa May ahead of the supposed favourite, Boris Johnson. Asked who would they would prefer as party leader May is on 36% to Johnson’s 27% (Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb are both on 7%, Liam Fox is on 4%). Party members only actually get to vote on the final two candidates of course, and in a straight contest between Theresa May and Boris Johnson current support stands at May 55%, Johnson 38% – a seventeen point lead for May. The full tables are here.
Theresa May appears to have had a good EU referendum campaign or at least, by standing a little aside from it her reputation has survived intact while most other Tory politicians have been damaged. When YouGov asked Tory members if they had positive or negative impressions of various politicians 72% were positive about May, up 4 from before the referendum. In contrast Boris Johnson was at 58% (down 18 since the referendum), Gove 63% (down 6), Sajid Javid 42% (down 8), IDS 54% (down 9), George Osborne 47% (down 21). She is also one of relatively few figures who is positively regarded by both those members who supported remain and those members who supported leave.
Part of the turnaround appears to be the perception that Theresa May is better placed to unite the party – 64% of party members said this was one of the most important considerations (up twenty points since Febrary) and May has a thirty point lead over Johnson on who would be better able to unite the party (46% to 16%). Given the current political and economic situation, she also has a lead over Johnson on ability to handle a crisis (49% to 18%), taking tough decisions (46% to 18%) and negotiating with Europe (32% to 22%).
Boris Johnson’s own strengths are still apparent though – he is seen as by far the best media performer and the candidate who best understands how to win an election. Both he and Stephen Crabb are ahead of Theresa May on who party members think would be most in touch with ordinary people. While the poll shows him losing in a May -vs- Johnson run off, they still suggest Boris would win in a run-off against Stephen Crabb (by 54% to 31%) or Liam Fox (by 52% to 29%).
This is, of course, a very early poll – it was conducted between Monday and Wednesday, so before nominations opened or the final list of candidates was confirmed. Party members don’t yet know what pledges and promises the candidates will make, what their detailed stance will be on Europe or other key issues. For less well known candidates like Stephen Crabb many members won’t know much about them at all. As the race begins though, Theresa May has the early advantage.
I have not been reading any books or short stories. I have instead been reading way too much stuff about my country's current glorious political situation, mostly via Twitter and Facebook. Have some highlights:
Happy Now pretty much covers my current emotional state (spoiler: not happy)
Brexit was a Con is a thoughtful comparison to the Scottish referendum
Things we can do:
On LJ, my friend strange_complex wrote about things to do to "[try] to make this country the best place it can possibly be, given the hand we are now holding"
Two different guides to speaking up in response to hate speech: I sincerely hope not to need this, but I also know that preparing by thinking through my possible responses is the best way to avoid being part of the bystander effect. The Guardian last November ran "How do I ... respond when I see racial abuse in public? and UNITED for Intercultural Action provide a leaflet Who, if not you? which covers similar ground.
More general again: good advice about how to argue with people if you actually want to persuade them rather than "win".
What I'm reading next:
Charles Stross's latest, The Nightmare Stacks, where I can escape into a world where the existential threat to my country is merely an alien invasion of Leeds. Also I have now logged out of Facebook entirely on my phone, and hidden the Twitter shortcut, in an attempt to stop the negstimming.
Today's bird: Moorhen
This is in response to a report showing that 60% of NZ's wealth is owned by 10% of the population while the bottom 40% of the population own 3% of the wealth. In the interview, he compares NZ to Australia, the UK and America. He calls them comparable countries, though doesn't say why they are. My guess would be because they have comparable taxation systems, unlike some of the countries in Europe with much higher taxation and much better standards of living for those at the bottom of the heap. (And who conveniently don't speak English.)
In the 80s the US had Reaganomics, the UK Thatcherism, NZ Rogernomics and Australia something or other similar. These were all major swings to the right in economic policy. The Brexit vote in the UK and the rise of Trump in the US can probably be blamed on the inequality those policies have given us.
On Saturday, I flew to New York City with such_heights (via Newfoundland*) to eat pizza with raven, shinyjenni, andrew, soupytwist and purplefringe.
On Sunday, we went to the Strand and discovered the Guide for the Jewish Homemaker c. 1967. Education, apparently, is very important for both boys and girls. We rode the Staten Island Ferry and cheered the ACLU at Pride.
On Monday, I introduced raven to matzoh ball soup. We wrote in the Public Library.
On Tuesday, I introduced raven to latkes. Also in the evening I think we all went to see a play or a musical or something? (AAAH WE SAW HAMILTON WITH THE ORIGINAL CAST AAAAH)
And now it's Wednesday, I'm sitting next to my lovely wife in a Starbucks as we laugh-while-the-world-is-burning at Corbyn memes on twitter and I pretend to work on my novel.
[*We diverted because of a medical emergency. Our captain had a little bit of a Martin-from-Cabin-Pressure moment on the intercom -- "We've refuelled, done the flight checks, and our flight plans are winging their way towards us. Um. Electronically, that is. So that's all very good. The medical emergency is, well, the paramedics are still working very hard, so that's, well. If you could all please remain seated, that would be very much appreciated." The only bad thing about the whole affair was that before we took off again THEY MADE US WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO AGAIN WHAT IS THIS FRESH HELL?]
From the Lib Dem website with a few light edits:
Nominations are now open for this year’s Party Awards. These awards are voted and decided by party members, with the winners announced at our Autumn Conference.
The awards recognise the fantastic work our members do in our communities and this is your chance to tell us who we should be rewarding.
The following awards are open for nomination:
President’s Award – open to any Party Member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.
Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award – open to any Party Member never elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment.
Belinda Eyre-Brook Award – to recognise the efforts of people working for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees, to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MPs’ constituency offices.
The Dadabhai Naoroji Award – for the local Party that has done most to promote BAME participants to elected office.
Nominations can be made by downloading the nomination pack below, or simply by filling in the online form. Please direct any questions to the Party’s Governance Officer Chris Adams, who can be reached at: email@example.com.
The deadline for nominations to be received is 8th August 2016.
Here’s what the Greens are calling for:
The Green party has written to the leaders of Labour, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru to propose an anti-Brexit alliance to oppose the Conservatives in any snap general election.
The letter argues that centre-left parties clubbing together to avoid challenging each other in certain constituencies is the best way to counter the iniquities of the first-past-the-post electoral system, which allowed the current government to be voted in by 24% of the electorate. [The Guardian]
Of course, one problem with considering a deal involving Labour is the huge uncertainty over what sort of Labour party, or even parties, there will be at the general election.
But more generally, there are many issues on which Labour, Greens and Lib Dems disagree and they are not minor matters. Cross party cooperation has many roles, but electoral deals require too much uniformity for that diversity – and always risk being hugely counter-productive in an environment where so many people are angry at ‘the politicians’ telling them what to do.
What do you think?
I recently reviewed Kenneth Carty’s “Big Tent Politics, the Liberal Party’s Long Mastery of Canada’s Public Life”, which was published after Justin Trudeau had become Liberal leader but before his sensational win in the General Election. Liberals went from 34 seats to 184 seats and majority government.
As I noted in the review of Carty’s book, in his analysis the key planks of Liberal dominance of Canadian politics were expressing liberal values as national identity (being Canadian and liberal are the same thing, and we alone speak for all parts of the country), having a winner’s mentality (we will do whatever it takes to win, such as dropping unpopular policies even if they are close to the party’s heart), being a brokerage party (a big party that brings different groups together and finds fair compromises between their interests), and having popular leaders who build up a successor to hand over to.
This chart plots opinion polls throughout the 2015 election campaign and the rise from 3rd to 1st place.
To help understand the story of this election I read Christian Basu’s “One Voter’s Diary”. Basu is a Canadian blogger. He has a background as a financial trader and author but worked for the elections commission on their helpdesk during the campaign (answering voters’ questions about where and how to vote, and so on). He says he has generally voted Conservative but doesn’t see himself as a die-hard Tory. He was briefly a Conservative member but only attended one meeting.
His diary is not a campaign insider’s account. It is a daily account purely from a voter’s point of view. He records the parties seemed to be doing each day, what was reported in the media, what polls indicated, how televised debates went and how social media was reacting or influencing the campaign. It makes for a fascinating account.
The common ground between the Canadian Liberals and British Liberal Democrats’ values is clear. But it was also clear to me that in 2015 the parties approach General Elections in very different ways.
Of course we had different starting points. We were in coalition government. They were in opposition. Both of us were in third place with a similar vote share and proportion of seats at the last election (2010 here, 2011 there). They went into the election around 20% in the polls, we were down around 8%.
Basu’s book made apparent to me differences in positioning in the course of the campaign:
|UK Liberal Democrats 2015 campaign||Canadian Liberals 2015 Campaign|
|Tax||We will cut tax for the lowest paid.||We will tax the richest 1% more. We will cut taxes for the middle class.|
|The deficit||We will continue to cut the deficit. We have started work on this in coalition.||We might run a deficit if we take office. The key thing is to invest in the things that will create growth in the long term.|
|If no party wins a majority||We won’t work with the SNP.
We might work with Conservatives or Labour.
We won’t work with the Conservatives.
We could work with the NDP or Greens.
Basu’s book may be an interesting addition to summer reading lists.
* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.