THE NUMBERS AREN’T LYING
The Guido spreadsheet attracted record daily viewings yesterday and surely stands as the most authoritative tally of MPs’ voting intentions in the election.
The showrunners of the three contenders will have their own spreadsheets, but they are secret, highly-guarded documents. As a result, there will be names featuring in all three lists. They are dealing, after all, with “the most sophisticated electorate in the world” (pause for hollow laughter).
The spreadsheet has empty green cells indicating MPs who have contacted the site to declare their allegiance but who cannot – for reasons of official position in the party – declare themselves.
Sunak has six backers in this category out of his total of 105, and Boris has 17 out of his total of 69. Ignore this finding if you prefer, but all have been verified and constitute the most complete knowledge to date.
This exchange was broadcast this morning on the BBC’s Today programme.
ROBINSON: “Forgive me, [Rishi Sunak] has broken 100, has he?”
RAAB: “Well, I’m going on the public declarations as recorded by the Guido Fawkes website.”
ROBINSON: “We’re at 93 at the BBC.”
As the old English proverb says: You’re either in front of Guido or you are behind.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE PM
Among the undeclared Tories are 45-odd MPs associated with the Brexity Right of the party. Of their ilk, a further dozen have come out for Rishi and a score or so have come out for Boris.
It’s pretty clear Boris – currently 30-odd short of the hurdle – is going to make the final two, perhaps in second place. Equally clear is that the membership would choose him over Rishi – perhaps more narrowly than he’d like.
Is the premiership – this premiership – really what Boris wants? The Government is a famous shambles. Old people will die of cold in their homes this winter. A long recession seems probable, a depression not impossible. It’s far more likely than not the Tories will lose the next election.
Add to that – if Boris failed to lift the Tories with an immediate poll bounce from their historic 14% … It doesn’t bear thinking about. The whole party will experience something akin to the last moments of the Hindenburg.
It just doesn’t seem like anything Boris would want to be associated with.
But how can he back out now?
If the declarations are narrowly similar, and he’s below Rishi, maybe he could concede the contest in return for a job he would enjoy. Rebuilding Ukraine, for example, on behalf of the UN.
Would he go for that? There is a rumour – or at least, a rumour of a rumour – that he would.
Is the rumour true?
All that can be said is: it’s true there’s a rumour.
RENDERING UNTO CAESAR
Archbishop Welby has all sorts of opinions unconnected with the spiritual welfare of his parish, the latest of which concerns the top rate of tax. He called the ill-fated proposal to reduce it “immoral”.
The Archbishop’s view on optimal tax rates is as relevant to the debate as Richard Dawkins’ views on the existence of God.
It’s the modern disease. Experts of all sorts breach their circumference, and use their position in one field to elevate their opinions in another. They feel themselves to be laureates but are actually Men in Pubs saying, ‘And another thing.’
When Jesus was asked the famous trick question by Pharisees, ‘Should we pay taxes to Caesar?’ He said (after asking for a coin, and after asking whose face they saw), “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”
The normal episcopal charge for Bible lessons is £25 a lesson. For archbishops, it is double. The invoice is in the mail.
LAFFER FOR LEFTISTS
Does no one believe in Laffer anymore?
The theory, described by economics guru George Bush Snr. as “voodoo economics”, asserts that lowering taxes can increase tax revenues. The increased rewards incentivise greater efforts, more activity, more wealth to tax. Everyone’s better off.
Large sections of the Left like higher taxes whether they produce more revenue or not.
But they might like a bit of Laffer when it comes to the minimum wage.
The Right say a higher minimum wage will increase unemployment. However, there are times when the act of increasing wages above benefits creates an incentive to get back into the workforce, resulting in an increase in employment.
Same for optimal tax rates. There are occasions, depending on where you are on the Laffer Curve, when lower taxes produce more revenue.
It all depends on where you are on Laffer’s Ingenious Curve.
Next week: Trickledown.
Senior Labour figures are not happy with shadow mental health minister Rosena Allin-Khan. Khan has been hyped as a potential future leader by soft left voices for years, and her coming second to Angela Rayner in the 2020 deputy leadership has only emboldened those backers. This afternoon anger is finally bubbling to the surface after Survation published a poll for LabourList testing out perceived leadership qualities of Labour figures. Accidentally, one section had been labelled “ROSENA QUESTIONS”.
The Times’ Henry Zeffman was the first to spot Survation’s cock up, with the New Statesman’s Rachel Wearmouth piling on pressure by reporting “Lots of shadow cabinet ministers angry with what appears to be leadership manoeuvres from Rosena Allin-Khan”.
A clarification from Survation’s Damian Lyons Lowe has done little to stop the runaway train of anger from Starmer loyalists, with Lyons Lowe claiming “this was an error due to the survey script using questions from a template from work done for the 2020 Deputy Leadership election”. Unfortunately for Rosena, this doesn’t prove a wholly solid defence. Lowe goes on:
“ These questions are for some new @LabourList polling that will be out next week.”
A shadow cabinet source, however, points out to Guido that Rosena Allin-Khan’s big financial backer, David Kogan, is a director of LabourList, and gave her £7,500 in February according to her register of interests. So while Allin-Khan may not be directly behind the cock up, one of her key backers responsible for commissioning the polling may have ulterior motives…
The anger continues. The Sunday Times’ deputy pol-ed Harry Yorke is told “the growing consensus in the shadow cabinet is that Rosena Allin-Khan should resign or be sacked over this”. Politico’s Eleni Courea is told by a shadow cabinet member that “they were once sitting on a train to London from Manchester when Rosena and her team boarded and sat a couple of rows in front… and overheard her asking them go round and “say something you’ve done this week to help me become Labour leader”.” When Guido asked a shadow cabinet source their response to the Survation defence, the reply was the eternally pithy: “bollocks.”
Boris’s surprise trip to Ukraine to meet with Zelenskyy set a pretty impressive trap for his opponents to fall into. Between the announcement of his pulling out and the revelation of his international visit, some on the left implied Boris was on the run. Labour lecturer Thom Brooks said it looked like the PM was “giving up on the North again”; Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said “I suppose his one saving grace is that @BorisJohnson recognises when he’s really not helping”; Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said “Boris is going to be such an asset in the Scottish independence campaign”; Business Insider’s Cat Neilan tweeted the move “allowed a prospective rival a free hit. And yet LEADERSHIP”, referring to the day’s No. 10 grid. The jewel in the crown, however, was undoubtedly Wes Streeting…
Absent leadership pretty much sums up this Government’s approach to the country’s problems. https://t.co/n5dfDarPRz— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) June 17, 2022
Wes’s latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease comes shortly after having to apologise to the Shadow Cabinet for expressing public sympathy with the rail strikes, though allies insisted he only apologised for the “bad publicity that resulted from the remarks”, earmarking him out as someone with even fewer principles than the current Labour leader. It also follows him being shown up by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves for pocketing LBC presenting cash while she donated hers to charity. Centrists really do believe Wes Steeting is Labour’s best hope among the candidates to be next leader…
Starmer’s Marr interview on Sunday saw the Labour Leader claim that the public’s perception of Boris saw a perception of dishonesty “priced in”, saying the PM was “untrustworthy”. Moments earlier, however, Sir Keir revealed he was rowing back on a major pledge to nationalise energy firms:
This got Guido wondering – how many of his other pledges has Starmer said he’ll stick to since becoming leader? Let’s look through them…
1. Economic Justice
In strictly Labour terms this means putting up taxes. Sir Keir and his top team have struggled to articulate their policies here. Last year the now-shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves repeatedly refused to back Starmer’s promise to increase taxes on those earning over £80,000.
In his latest 14,000 magnum opus, Starmer came across as so low-tax the Taxpayers’ Alliance invited him to join them as a member.
Starmer promised to reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax, however when Rishi raised corporation tax in his last budget Labour voted against the measure.
2. Social Justice
While Starmer has stood his ground on abolishing universal credit, last year his shadow work and pensions minister angered the left over his “divisive” language in describing his vision for a “two-tier” benefits system.
Conference has also been rocked by the resignation of shadow employment minister Andy McDonald over Starmer’s refusal to back the social justice cause of a £15 per hour minimum wage. Shadow DWP secretary Jonathan Reynolds has this morning claimed “you can’t simply pick a figure out the air”
Starmer also promised to “defend our NHS”, though his 14,000 word essay hinted at a renewed public-private partnership for healthcare.
3. Climate Justice
This conference Labour members passed a motion to back a Socialist Green New Deal, which includes a swathe of left-wing policies from public ownership of energy (not happening, see above), debt relief for low-income countries and rights for climate refugees. The policy package, according to the pressure group leadership, would come to £85 billion – however Starmer “won’t even commit to that”.
4. Promote Peace & Human Rights
Admittedly Sir Keir hasn’t yet started any illegal wars though John Healey was appointed his shadow defence secretary who was a junior minister under Blair and consistently voted in favour of Iraq.
In May Labour Palestinian members accused the party of “ignoring them” over a growing feeling the party is and was “drifting away from its anti-racist and anti-colonial principles”. In June 2020 Starmer refused to be drawn on sanctions against Israel, though opposed annexation. Labour’s conference just voted in favour of an appalling motion on Israel/Palestine which Lisa Nandy has already said will be ignored. Quite rightly.
5. Common Ownership
As mentioned above, Sir Keir’s now come out against public ownership of energy, though it wasn’t the first indication of a major policy backtracking. In September last year Lisa Nandy told Politics Live that public ownership was just “one way” and “another way” is “giving people more control”.
At the CBI Sir Keir refused to commit to Corbyn’s policy of renationalising BT.
6. Defend migrants’ rights
Just yesterday shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves confirmed that Labour will not bring back freedom of movement.
Starmer also angered members of the left, including Diane Abbott, last year over the party’s stance on migrant channel crossings after attacking the government’s incompetence at stopping them rather than defending their right to claim asylum in Britain.
7. Strengthen Workers’ rights and trade unions
Starmer’s relationship with the unions is hardly going well, not least regarding Unite, whose newly-elected Trotskyist leader has already turned against Starmer after he proposed scrapping one member one vote. She may even end up campaigning outside his house after Labour’s finances required the potential sacking of 90 Southside employees…
It wasn’t the first time Unite fell out with Starmer, given they voted to cut their funding to Labour by around £1 million in October.
8. Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity
Far from embracing devolution, Sir Keir wrote an op-ed in September 2020 under the heading “we can’t have four nations pulling in different directions”. Many left-wingers will also be dismayed that the Labour Party conference voted against adopting proportional representation in their next manifesto.
While Sir Keir may have adopted the left-wing mantra du jour that it’s wrong to say only women are born with cervixes, he’s continuing to wind up the LGBT+ community by refusing to respond to Rosie Duffield’s supposed transphobia. He infamously described Black Lives Matter as “a moment”, saying the group’s demand to defund the police was “nonsense”, angering the hardest of the hard left.
10. Effective opposition to the Tories
It was telling Starmer left this one until last. Guido will let co-conspirators draw their own conclusion on this pledge…
As the voters of Batley and Spen potentially determine the fate of Keir Starmer, The Times and The Sun this morning report multiple sources saying Rayner’s people are putting out feelers for support if she takes a tilt at a run for leader. The other candidate reportedly mulling over her chances is Lisa Nandy, who will undoubtedly have another run at the leadership. Let’s not forget that Yvette Cooper has widespread PLP support, if not actual membership support, which might temper her ambitions…
You’d have expected newly-elected Sadiq Khan’s diary to be pretty full given the problems facing London; unexpectedly, however, the mayor decided to spend today in Yorkshire. Ahead of the visit, he wrote an op-ed in the Yorkshire Post pledging to help heal the north-south divide:
“Contrary to what some people might think, I know that as a Londoner I have a lot in common with people across Yorkshire. Not just a passion for cricket and cups of tea, but things that are much more fundamental – a desire to see the next generation do better than the last, a desire for dignity in old age, and a desire to see decent, secure, well-paid jobs being created for our communities.”
Whilst the crude stereotypes about tea and cricket make Sadiq sound precisely like the alien Londoner he’s trying to avoid, it’s impossible not to question the real motives behind the trip. Visiting a North Yorkshire bus station with Tracy Brabin looks far less about his current job, and much more about future Labour leadership ambitions that would depend on northern support.
The timing comes shortly after his (arguably) biggest rival, Andy Burnham, started a weekly column in the Evening Standard; again, blatantly laying the groundwork for a national leadership attempt post-mayoralty. With Yvette Cooper also refusing to deny leadership ambitions on Sunday, Guido reckons there are more than a few runners and riders secretly hoping Sir Keir loses the Batley & Spen by-election…