The Senedd reject Boris’ Brexit bill despite Wales voting leave

Yesterday, Cardiff joined Belfast and Edinburgh in rejecting Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement.

This comes after the Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, pleaded with Jeremy Miles, the Welsh Brexit minister, to support the decision taken by the people of Wales in 2016.

Wales’ vote share in favour of leaving the European Union, 52.5%, was marginally higher than the average throughout the United Kingdom, and yet Welsh Labour have actively attempted to obstruct Brexit.

Only 15 of the 60 Welsh assembly members backed the deal, with all representatives from Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the sole independent AM in opposition.

Of the 15 in favour, eleven came from the Conservative Party, where all 11 of their AMs backed the deal. But the Tories were accompanied by the four members from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in support Britain’s agreed withdrawal from the EU.

Paul Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, took a shot at Labour’s decision to refuse consent by saying that: ‘we should be more optimistic and not adopt the Welsh Government’s sometimes dour approach of doom and gloom.’

Despite the decision taken in the devolved parliaments, Boris Johnson is expected to implement his Brexit deal, and therefore, the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union at 11pm on the 31st of January.

Nevertheless, the disagreements between the devolved institutions and Westminster has created two problems, especially in Wales.

Firstly, it could create issues for the Union. Under the Sewel Convention the government is advised not to press ahead with legislation when devolved parliaments have rejected it.

However, this is not the first bill that has not had the consent of Stormont, Holyrood and the Senedd. Research by the Institute for Government found that there have been 352 consent motions, of which 13 have not received complete consent.

Nevertheless, Akash Paun, a representative of the Institute for Government, gave clarity on the legal ramifications of refusing to accept devolved disapproval.

Paun said: ‘Legally it’s true that the UK Parliament is sovereign so if there’s a majority in support of the legislation, which there is in Westminster, then the absence of consent doesn’t actually create any legal obstacles but it’s not to say it doesn’t matter.’

This prompted Plaid Cymru to regard the disagreement as an example of why Welsh independence should be considered as a real alternative, citing that this is not a Union of equals.

Rising star in the Welsh nationalist ranks, Delyth Jewel, declared that the bill ‘threatens Welsh powers, removes parliamentary oversight of the negotiations, takes away the rights of child refugees, workers and EU citizens and unnecessarily rules out an extension to the negotiating process, making a bad deal or even no deal at all the most likely outcome’.

Secondly, Labour’s refusal to support the bill could further Labour’s calamitous performance in Wales and by the 2021 assembly election, the Welsh Conservatives could make significant gains in Brexit-backing constituencies and regions.

While the first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, declared that the decision was ‘not about blocking Brexit’, many Welsh politicians and more importantly Welsh voters perceive this as a continuation of Welsh Labour’s opposition to Brexit.

Mark Reckless, the former UKIP and Conservative MP, reacted to Labour’s decision by saying that this was a ‘futile anti-Brexit stunt’.

He added that: ‘no matter how many times the Welsh people tell you they want Brexit you don’t want to hear it.’ It is this sort of opinion that could spark further breaches in Labour’s Welsh red-wall.

In the December election, Labour lost half a dozen seats in Wales, in what was the Tories best Welsh performance ever.

Boris Johnson’s party gained Wrexham, a seat held by Labour since 1935. And other Brexit-backing seats could fall into Johnson’s hands if Welsh Labour continue to rubbish the decision taken by 854,572 of their compatriots.

By J Walters

Jess Phillips pulls out of the Labour leadership race

The member of parliament for Birmingham Yardley’s decision to quit the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn comes after the candidate released a video on Twitter informing her supporters that she would not be able to unite the Labour Party.

Phillips, who was immensely critical of Corbyn, also took aim at Rebecca Long-Bailey, telling supporters that Labour must start speaking ‘to the country on their terms, not just on ours.’

However, her decision comes after a disastrous leadership campaign. The ‘Speak Truth. Win Power’ movement failed to make any significant inroads in this race.

The 38-year old admitted that her performance at the first leadership hustings was ‘awful’, but, more importantly, Phillips failed to receive any endorsements from local associations or affiliated bodies that would put her on the final ballot.

Currently, Sir Keir Starmer is the only candidate on the final ballot, after receiving the backing of 89 parliamentarians, and sufficient support from affiliate groups and constituency Labour associations.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary has won the support from three trade unions, including Britain’s largest, Unison. The 1.3-million strong union announced their support for the former director of the Crown Prosecution Service earlier in the campaign.

Recently, the Socialist Environment and Resources Association, and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, declared Starmer had their support.

Starmer’s support in Labour associations also appears to breach the Remain-Leave divide that proved problematic in the December election. Of the dozen associations, three, Bolton North East, Ipswich and Leigh, are pro-Brexit seats that Boris Johnson gained.

Lisa Nandy is on the cusp of joining Starmer on the final ballot after receiving backing from two-affiliate trade unions. Under Labour party rules, a candidate needs support from 5% of constituency Labour parties, or the backing of three affiliate groups, including two trade unions.

Last week, the National Union of Mineworkers, infamous for their confrontation with Margaret Thatcher in 1984 and 1985, announced their backing for the Wigan MP.

Nonetheless, the boost to the Nandy campaign came after today’s declaration that the 600,000-strong, GMB union would support her. The union is the United Kingdom’s third largest, and tends to represent workers in heavy industry.

Tim Roache, the GMB’s general secretary, said that Nandy is a ‘breath of fresh air’ and that she has ‘got the scale of the challenge’ that currently faces the Labour Party.

Nandy will need the backing of one more affiliate group to ensure that she will be voted on by the 519,000 Labour party membership.

Rebecca Long-Bailey will be fighting Lisa Nandy for support among the remaining trade unions. The Shadow Business Secretary presently has the support of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union, alongside the Chatham and Aylseford, Kensington, Preston and Warley local Labour associations.

Long-Bailey needs two more affiliate groups to endorse her to secure her advancement in the race. This is expected to be made significantly easier in the next few days as Len McLuskey, leader of Unite, is expected to support the MP for Salford and Eccles.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen are currently divided on who they will endorse. The general secretary, Mick Whelan, sees Starmer as the ‘winner’, whereas the executive prefer Long-Bailey.

Nonetheless, Long-Bailey will be fighting with Nandy and to some extent Emily Thornberry for the remaining endorsements of the 20-or-so affiliated unions.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary has fared far better than Jess Phillips in winning further endorsements since nominations closed earlier this month. The lawyer turned politician has the backing of the Horsham and Newbury associations but will need an additional 31 groups to support her for her name to appear on the final ballot.

If not then the MP for Islington South and Finsbury needs 3 affiliated groups to endorse her. This appears quite difficult, however, she fared well from Clive Lewis’ withdrawal from the race, and therefore, Phillips departure could again sustain Thornberry’s vulnerable leadership bid.

There are just 24-days until the CLP and affiliate nominations close, and by Valentine’s Day the Labour membership will be certain of who the true contenders are to take on Boris Johnson.

By J Walters

Strawman Sanders: Elizabeth Warren goes after Bernie

If we cast our minds back to the 2016 election, its easy to take for granted now that Hillary Clinton won the democratic primary. Despite the fact that she is now generally depicted as a figure of failure, Hillary was undoubtedly the front runner for the nomination. Alas, after riding the wave of equally stomach-churning endorsements from virtue-signalling celebrities and wall street fat cats, she could not even beat Donald Trump. And that is simply because a large constituent of the electorate didn’t like Hillary Clinton, there was no grand conspiracy as to why Hillary lost the election. The lack of votes in key swing states like Iowa and Michigan turned the key battlegrounds, and subsequently the country, red.

This is how the election is remembered by the mainstream democratic media, Trump won, Hillary lost and we’re all going to die. But if we try really hard, we might just remember the man who, without counting the ‘tow the party line’ superdelegate votes, polled better in the primary than Hillary in the swing states of Iowa and Michigan, Bernie Sanders, a man whom most establishment democrats see as an unwelcome outsider, a wasp at the DNC’s picnic, buzzing on about Medicare for all.

Let’s be clear, Bernie would not have won the primaries in 2016 based on the popular vote alone, but it would have been close. Closer than you would expect from a man who was 20 points behind at the beginning of the primaries, closer than you would expect from a self-proclaimed socialist in a country where such a statement is traditionally considered treasonous. Its also worth mentioning that the majority of Bernie’s supporters are under 30, a disproportionate contingency of whom are not democrat members and thus unable to vote in the primaries, partially due to the requirement in certain states of independents having just 25 days to register for the closed primaries, a policy put in place just before this election. Bernie made a statement in 2016, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the younger, more radically progressive members of the electorate, who were quick to accuse the DNC of rallying against Bernie. Citing the convoluted primary system as being structurally biased with its closed primaries and lobbyist superdelegates, a popular rhetoric was spun of the primaries being rigged, and left millions of progressives feeling disenfranchised with the party.
So, Sanders doesn’t have a very good track record with the process of the democratic nomination, but in 2020, things are a bit different. After a gallant performance four years prior in the primaries and Clinton’s meagre presidential campaign, Sanders is leading some of the polls, and narrowly missing out to party stalwart Joe Biden in others. And yet on the dawn of a new decade, Sanders is subjected to another, altogether more brazen political hit piece, an accusation of sexism, and it came at the behest of his closest ideological ally.
Elizabeth Warren, with her campaign steadily receding in the polls just three weeks from the first primary vote in Iowa, chose now to reveal, exclusively to CNN, coincidentally, the holders of the debate, that Bernie had stated that he did not believe a woman could ever win the presidency. Maybe it had simply lapsed her mind up until this point, after all she did previously forget whether or not she her son attended private school. Even if we accept for a brief moment that Warren’s testimony is gospel, considering the statement pertained to a meeting which supposedly took place two years ago, the timing of this revelation appears to be politically motivated regardless where the truth lies. The accusation took centre stage at the final democratic TV debate on January 14th and with CNN’s debate moderator Abby Phillip, a well-versed democratic establishmentarian, having previously worked with ABC and the Washington post, treating the story as fact despite Sanders denials. And then the post-election media coverage further criticising the statement, those who were brazen enough even calling out Bernie for sexism. Bernie Sanders has once again been straw manned, and even Trump can see through it.
It cannot truly be proven either way if it’s true, but even if it is, after 2016’s shock result you can hardly claim that such a statement warrants allegations of sexism. I do not believe that Bernie Sanders would have said this. Firstly, there’s the fact that the only people willing to back up Warren’s accusations were not actually present in the meeting, but as Sanders himself points out it would be strangely out of character. After all, Bernie was initially intending to defer all his support to Warren in the 2016 campaign and it is only when she pulled out, he re-joined the race and began to gather momentum.

The key takeaway from this though isn’t so much the lie claim itself, nor is it Warren’s willingness to lie or slander her self-proclaimed “friend”, after all, she has a track record, but instead the evidential unwillingness of some in the democratic sphere of influence to support a true progressive candidate. It wouldn’t be the first time this election cycle either, with other candidates like Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang being denied a spot on TV debate stages despite strong support in both polls and donations. The fact that the polling numbers of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren added together eclipse all other candidates would surely demonstrate to the Democrats the power of the progressive vote makes whole situation even more sickening for progressive Americans.

Warren was initially accused of backstabbing Bernie and his band of progressives when she didn’t commit to Medicare for all and accepted corporate pact money at the start of the campaign, now she truly has twisted the knife, because the only person that going after Bernie Sanders truly helps is the man closest to him in the polls, Joe Biden. Biden is a candidate that the progressives truly despise, in their eyes, he represents Hillary 2.0, and probably therefore, another Trump victory in 2020. There has already been speculation that Warren’s actions may have been motivated by securing a Vice President on the Biden ticket, subsequently completing her betrayal of progressive politics.

It would seem that the norm in American politics is now hordes of disenfranchised voters begrudgingly waking up on election day and asking themselves, “who do I hate the least”. Last time there was a narrow Trump victory but with faith in their party at an all time low, it may only get worse for American progressives.

By O Gille

Saracens call crisis meeting after Premiership Rugby threaten them with automatic relegation

Last November, the reigning champions of English and European rugby were forced to pay a whopping £5m fine and deducted 35 league points for breaching salary cap rules.

The Daily Mail broke the story after it was found that Nigel Wray had been paying players additional wages through separate business models, which is illegal under Premiership Rugby rules.

On Tuesday, Saracens met with Premiership Rugby in London, and it is believed that the rugby body have issued an ultimatum to Sarries.

The five-times English champions will need to illustrate that they are working to cut that salary budget, to fit into the £7m that Premiership Rugby rules allow for, by the end of the week.

Therefore, Saracens have been forced to call a crisis meeting this morning with players.

There is growing speculation about which players will be departing from the club. The likes of George Kruis, former-Wasp, Alex Lozowski and Michael Rhodes are all expected the leave the club at the end of the season.

Wales and British and Irish Lion star, Liam Williams, has already announced that he will be returning to the Scarlets at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. However, there are rumours that the 28-year old may return to Llanelli before this season ends in an attempt to reduce the size of Saracens’ salary budget.

Nick Tompkins, who was a shock call up to the Welsh Six Nations squad, may also depart from the club that he has played for since 2013, with growing suspicion that the 24-year old may join the Cardiff Blues.

The ultimatum may be deemed as warranted by those at Sandy Park. After the initial news that Saracens had violated the salary cap, Exeter Chiefs chief executive, Tony Rowe, told BBC Radio Devon that the punishment was ‘not severe enough’. He added that the only fair outcome was relegation because “in professional sport in America, if you’re in breach of the salary cap you get thrown out completely.”

Chiefs’ director of rugby, Rob Baxter, told journalists at the Champions Cup launch event in Cardiff that he felt that his club had missed out on numerous Premiership titles that had been ‘unfairly’ won by Saracens. This includes last season’s final where Saracens overturned an 11-point deficit to defeat Exeter Chiefs by 37 points to 34.

Momentum mobilise to support Long-Bailey’s ‘path to power’

Today, Jon Lansman’s 40,000-strong Corbynista pressure group announced its support for the Shadow Business Secretary’s leadership bid and promises to ‘mobilise thousands’ of campaigners throughout the election campaign.

Momentum’s internal ballot showed that 70% of the group would support Long-Bailey as leader of the opposition, with 52% endorsing Angela Rayner as deputy.

Despite an extremely low turnout, with just 7,000 of the 40,000 members actually casting their vote, Momentum have declared that: “our membership has spoken and overwhelmingly backed Rebecca Long-Bailey to be the next leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister”.

Alike to 2015 and 2016, Momentum have been encouraging sympathetic voters to join the Labour Party. As a consequence, 14,700 people have joined the party. Although this is far smaller than the 180,000 members who joined during the Corbyn campaign.

The surge in membership applications came after Momentum posted a video on Facebook and Twitter calling for their supporters to become official members of the Labour Party. The video was viewed by 135,000 people on Facebook, with an additional 22,000 views on Twitter.

This is a major boost for Long-Bailey after Britain’s largest trade union, Unison, endorsed the Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer.

Long-Bailey reacted to Momentum’s decision by expressing that she was ‘proud and beyond grateful to be backed by an organisation that has revolutionised how we campaign.’

This comes just days after Survation coupled up with LabourList in producing the second poll of the leadership race.

The poll, that interviewed over 3,000 LabourList readers, produced a massive swing to Long-Bailey, with the Shadow Business Secretary having 42% support, up from 23% in the YouGov poll.

She displaces Starmer at the top of the first round of voting, with the former chair of the Crown Prosecution Service stuck under the 40% mark. Compared to the YouGov poll Starmer’s support increases by just 1% to 37%.

The remaining candidates are far behind, all in single-digits, with Thornberry and Phillips losing support since the YouGov poll.

Support for the MP for Birmingham Yardley has fallen from 12% to 9%. While, the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s backing has plummeted from 7% to just 1%.

The pollster also asked the 3,800 participants who they would support in the final round of voting. Unlike the YouGov poll that expressed overwhelming support for Starmer, Survation’s indicate that Long-Bailey will narrowly edge it. The Shadow Business Secretary is polled to win 51% of the support, compared to 49% for Starmer.

Nevertheless, Long-Bailey has come under fire from her challengers for leader over abortion. The Salford and Eccles MP voiced concern over a Labour motion to enable a pregnancy to be terminated after 24-weeks if the foetus is known to have a disability.

Jess Phillips, who is also on the ballot, criticised the practicing Roman Catholic, by saying that she will always “trust women to make the decisions about their bodies”.

By J Walters

Exiles Bolster Pivac’s Injury Riddled Welsh Squad

Former-Scarlets head coach, Wayne Pivac, selects five uncapped players in his 38-man squad for his first Six Nations Campaign.

The squad, who kick off their campaign against Italy in Cardiff, have selected a strong team, despite notable Welsh exemptions through injury.

Jonathan Davies, who was nominated as the Lions player of the series in 2017, misses the campaign through injury. As does his brother, James Davies. Fellow Scarlet, Rhys Patchell, also misses out.

Gareth Anscombe, the Ospreys fly-half, who started in all but one of Wales’ grand slam games last season will also miss the Six Nations through an injury he picked up in Wales’ Rugby World Cup warm up match at Twickenham.

To add to the problems Wales have in the back-line, Hallam Amos and New Zealand-born Willis Hallaholo, both of the Cardiff Blues, are unable to pull on the red jersey.

Fellow Kiwi, Jonny McNicholl has been selected in the squad, and may win his first career despite playing and scoring for Wales against the Barbarians last December.

To fill the void, Pivac has turned to young talent in Wales, and to some who are playing in the Gallagher Premiership.

Among the 21-forwards, four currently playing in England. The former Cardiff Blue, Rhys Carrè earned his first cap during the Rugby World Cup warm ups, and is currently playing for defending champions Saracens.

The second is WillGriff John, of Sale Sharks. The tight-head prop moved to the Salford-based club after playing for Pontypridd, Cardiff, Northland in New Zealand and Doncaster. Given the injury to first choice tight-head Tomas Francis, the 20-stone, in form exile may be just the man to strengthen the Welsh pack.

The third forward coming across the Severn Bridge is the London-born, lock Will Rowlands. The Oxford blue has been at Dai Young’s club since 2014 and is eligible to play for Wales through his father.

The final forward is 72-time capped Bath number eight, Taulupe Faletau. The Tongan-born cousin of the Vunipola brothers hasn’t pulled on the red jersey since Wales’ narrow victory against France in 2018.

Among the backline 7 players play outside of Wales. However, only two will be fresh faces within the Welsh squad that will train at The Vale Resort in Glamorgan.

Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit has stamps his mark on the Gallagher Premiership, scoring nine-tries in all competitions for the Cherry and Whites. The Cardiff-born exile was rewarded for his performances at Kingsholm with December’s player of the month.

Possibly more surprising is the inclusion of Nick Tompkins. In 2016 the Saracens centre lifted the Junior Rugby World Cup trophy in the white of England. He even played one game for the Saxons which usually rules a player out of opting for another nation. However, that test was against South Africa A who are not the SARU’s designated second team.

Tompkins qualifies because of his Wrexham-born grandmother, and he made clear that with his cousins living in Cardiff he ‘always felt part Welsh and part English.’

The five remaining exiles in the backline are all capped players, with Dan Biggar accumulating 79 caps since his debut against Canada in 2008.

Liam Williams, who is set to return to Parc Y Scarlets in September, is also selected in the 38-man squad, despite recovering from an injury picked up in Japan.

On three caps are Owen Williams and Jonah Holmes, who both played at Leicester Tigers until Williams moved to Kingsholm in 2017.

The final exile is Rhys Webb. The 31-year old hasn’t had the best time at Toulon. Upon the news he would be returning to Swansea next season, Toulon’s owner lambasted the Lion saying he would never wear the Toulon jersey again.

After Wales play Italy in Cardiff they travel to Dublin to face Ireland, a team that haven’t beaten away from home since 2015.

After a short break the side will face France in Cardiff. French defence coach, Shaun Edwards, will return to the Principality Stadium, a venue he called home for 11-years.

The penultimate game sees Wales and England lock horns at Twickenham. This fixture is the most tightly contested rivalry in world rugby. Over the 134-games played, Wales have been victorious in 59, England in 63 with 12 draws.

Wales’ tournament concludes in Cardiff against a Scotland side led by Exeter Chief, Stuart Hogg. Wales have dominated the fixtures contested between the two sides for some time, with Scotland’s last victory in Cardiff coming in 2002, when their coach, Gregor Townsend, was still a player.

The full Welsh squad for the 2020 Six Nations:

Forwards: Rhys Carre, Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Leon Brown, WillGriff John, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Cory Hill, Aaron Shingler, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric.

Backs: Gareth Davies, Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Williams, Jarrod Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, George North, Josh Adams, Owen Lane, Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonah Holmes, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams.

10 Scarlets, 7 Blues, 5 Dragons, 5 Ospreys, 11 Exiles.

By J Walters

Clive Lewis pulls out, as Emily Thornberry joins three other female candidates in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn

With less than 10 minutes to spare before nominations closed, the Shadow Foreign Secretary joined Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips in the next round of the Labour leadership contest.

This was after the four supporters who previously backed Clive Lewis were able to re-cast their nomination, as the former soldier withdrew from the race. Two of his supporters, including Rachael Maskell who was his first public endorsement, announced that they would now rally behind Thornberry.

The former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Keir Starmer, has increased his lead among the parliamentary Labour Party with over 40% of MPs and MEPs backing the member of parliament for Holborn and St Pancras. Ed Milliband is just one of his 89-nominations. The former Labour leader, who contested the 2015 election against David Cameron, claimed that Starmer had “the best experience and vision to deliver 21st century socialism for the country”.

The two northern contenders have also built upon their support. Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was the bookies favourite on Christmas Day, has narrowly held on to her second-place with 33 of her colleagues supporting the Shadow Business Secretary.

However, the shock runner, Lisa Nandy, has continued to grow in popularity among her colleagues. On the opening night, she had received just two nominations, but after a strong performance in the Labour Westminster hustings, her support has grown. When nominations closed the MP for Wigan totalled 31-backers, just two short of Rebecca Long-Bailey’s support.

Unlike all of the other candidates, Jess Phillips has failed to win any additional support from the parliamentary Labour Party. Having surpassed the 22-nominations needed to enter the next round of the leadership contest on Friday night, Phillips will be disappointed that she has only managed to attract one more nomination from the 212 politicians entitled to cast their vote.

Equal to the MP for Birmingham Yardley is Emily Thornberry. The former barrister will undoubtedly appreciate Clive Lewis’ gesture in enabling her to enter the next phase of the leadership race as it helped her surpass nomination threshold and subsequently winning over 23 of her colleagues.

Labour has the historic opportunity to elect their first-ever female leader. Dame Margaret Hodge told The Daily Telegraph that it was “shameful” that Labour has never selected a female leader, especially as the Conservatives selected Margaret Thatcher to lead them into the 1979 election almost 45-years ago. Nevertheless, the bookmakers appear to project that Keir Starmer will prevent Labour from joining all of Britain’s mainstream parties by electing a female leader.

In the concurrent deputy leadership race, only two of the candidates knew that they had passed the first hurdle prior to the deadline day for nominations. The split in support almost mirrors that of the leadership race. Angela Rayner, who was for a long-time touted as a leadership candidate in her own right, tops the bill with 88-nominations. The only Labour MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, has 34-backers.

Three other candidates joined Rayner and Murray by winning over support from their colleagues in a frantic day of internal campaigning. Dawn Butler accumulated 29 nominations, placing her as the third most popular candidate. Rosena Allin Khan, who previously worked as an A&E doctor in Tooting, managed to beat the threshold by one nomination. And the final candidate, Richard Burgon, scrapped through with 22-supporters. The BBC Politics Live programme claimed that the Shadow Justice Secretary had badgered his colleagues outside of the parliamentary Labour Party office in order to pass the first hurdle in the deputy leadership race.

The next stage of the contest is for the five candidates to win at least 5% of support from Labour associations in the 650-parliamentary constituencies or at least three endorsements from affiliate organisations, including two trade unions. The stage must be completed by Valentine’s Day.

The leadership campaign that culminates on the 4th of April will also see seven leadership hustings. Between the 18th of January and the 16th of February, Labour hopefuls will travel to Liverpool, Durham, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and of course, London.

The frontrunner, Starmer, has written to party officials complaining that Labour is not visiting each and every region of the United Kingdom. In comparison, the Tories hustings in the summer of 2019 saw now Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, visit sixteen different locations, including an additional set of online debates. Under the current plans Labour miss out on visiting the East of England, the South East, Yorkshire and Humberside, the East Midlands and Northern Ireland. These are all places that enabled Boris Johnson to re-enter Downing Street, returning the Tories largest majority to the Commons since 1987.

Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips win support from the parliamentary Labour party

This post was written on Friday night but due to a technical fault has not been published until today.

Last night, three female Labour leadership hopefuls joined Sir Keir Starmer in entering the next round of the Labour leadership race.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips all surpassed the 22 nominations needed from Labour parliamentarians in Westminster and Brussels. However, the Shadow Brexit Secretary support continued to grow.

As of this morning, two-thirds of eligible Labour parliamentarians have declared who they wish to succeed Jeremy Corbyn in leading the Labour Party, and subsequently, Her Majesty’s Opposition.

The former barrister, Starmer, has won the backing of 64 of his Labour colleagues. Potentially, more importantly, Starmer has also received endorsements by Britain’s largest trade union, Unison, and some surprising political commentators.

Sir Max Hastings, former editor-in-chief if The Daily Telegraph, claimed that if Starmer was elected as Labour leader then he could win back millions of ‘disenfranchised’ centrist voters. Boris Johnson worked for Hastings at The Daily Telegraph, and the former editor-in-chief described the now Prime Minister as ‘unfit for office’.

Starmer also has the backing of Lord Andrew Adonis. Adonis served as Transport Secretary during the Blair years, but has since been known for his unequivocal support for remaining in the EU. Last May, Adonis stood for the Labour Party in the EU Elections in the South West. He failed to win his seat, with the Brexit Party winning three of the six seats.

Rebecca Long-Bailey holds onto second-place, but the gap between her, Nandy and Phillips continues to shrink. The business secretary has the support of Corbynite economist Grace Blakeley, but has failed to win over the scale of support Starmer has. Nevertheless, Long-Bailey has the backing of 26 of her colleagues.

The centrist hopeful, Lisa Nandy, has continued to build on the Kinnock-faction of the Labour Party, and has replaced Jess Phillips in third position. Nandy, who served as Shadow Energy Secretary until the Corbyn coup, has surpassed the minimum threshold by one nomination, leaving her on 23.

Outside of the 212 parliamentarians Nandy also has the support from some prominent figures within the Labour Party. Building on the Labour-Leave support, Gloria de Piero has announced she hopes Nandy succeeds Corbyn. The former MP for Ashfield stood down before the election and watched as her Brexit-backing seat voted Conservative for the first time since 1977.

Nandy also has credible support in Scotland and in Wales. Lord McConnell, Labour’s last first minister in Scotland, will be supporting the member of parliament for Wigan. As will, the former MP for Neath, Lord Hain.

The final candidate to cross the first hurdle in Labour’s lengthy leadership contest is Jess Phillips. The 38-year old, who previously worked at Women’s Aid, is just one behind Nandy on 22 nominations. Her external support is broad, varying from former editor of The Spectator, Matthew d’Ancona to Melanie Onn, who failed to retain her seat of Great Grimsby last December.

The two remaining candidates have failed to land a blow in the opening drew days of the contest. With just days until nominations close, and just a third of Labour parliamentarians left to declare, Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry face an uphill struggle.

However, Thornberry’s leadership bid may run close to the wire. Including herself the Shadow Foreign Secretary has 10 endorsements, 12 short of the 10% threshold. But with 70 MPs and MEPs yet to declare it wouldn’t be inconceivable for her to join Starmer, Long-Bailey, Nandy and Phillips.

The same cannot be said for Clive Lewis. The Norwich North MP, who served in Afghanistan, is particularly struggling to make sufficient ground on his colleagues, with just three nominations. It is not impossible for him to get the support of 22 colleagues but given the current trajectory it seems highly unlikely.

By J Walters

Nandy’s hustings success bolsters her support within the parliamentary Labour Party, as Starmer’s lead grows

Yesterday the J-Word reported on Starmer’s surpassing the minimum amount of nominations needed by his Labour colleagues to officially enter the leadership race. In today’s update no other candidate has managed to obtain more than 22 supporters, but there have been significant changes.

GuidoFawkes‘, frequently updates its Who’s Backing Who? page, and with four-days until nominations close, the publication’s spreadsheet suggest that Rebecca Long-Bailey is all but certain to enter the next round, with a hard fought race between Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips in third.

Since the last report the turnout among Labour MPs and MEPs has skyrocketed, from around a one-fifth of the 212 elected politicians to just under half. Undeniably, it is Lisa Nandy who has seized momentum in the early days of this election race. Her support has more than septupled from 2 nominations to 15. The surge in support for the Wigan MP came after several news outlooks reported that she outperformed all of her competitors at the first Labour leadership hustings held in Westminster. Nandy’s supporters tend to stem from critics of Corbyn, who accept that Britain must leave the European, including Stephen Kinnock, Graham Stringer and Jon Cruddas.

However, Sir Keir Starmer has also built upon his supporters. The number of parliamentarians publicly endorsing the Shadow Brexit Secretary has almost doubled to 45 MPs and MEPs. He has attracted many MPs who are considered to be from the centre-ground and Remain-wing of the party. Notably he has built a coalition of supporters who opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election in 2016, including Ben Bradshaw, Bridget Phillipson and Jo Stevens.

The initial front-runner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has witnessed a moderate increase in her support. Her seven, primarily Corbynista backers, have grown to 20, two short of joining Starmer in the next round of this lengthy leadership race. While Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will not be backing any of the leadership hopefuls, his closest allies are clearly aligning to Long-Bailey. John McDonnell, Diane Abbot and Angela Rayner have all announced their support for the Shadow Business Secretary.

Neck-and-neck with Lisa Nandy is the outspoken backbencher, Jess Phillips. The member of parliament for Birmingham Yardley 15 backers include some prominent figures in the party’s anti-Corbyn and pro-EU faction. The likes of Chris Bryant, Margaret Hodge and Wes Streeting have all publicly announced their support for Phillips.

Little has changed at the rear of the pack. Both Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry have failed to put their stamp on the race. Unsurprisingly, the former soldier has built on the zero nominations he had yesterday, with Rachael Maskell announcing her support on PoliticsLive.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary may have trebled her support from one to three, but she will be disappointed that she has not managed to make the same impact that Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy have. The most notable of her trio backing the former lawyer is Nia Griffith, member of parliament for Llanelli and Shadow Defence Secretary.

The deputy leadership race has had more engagement from the parliamentary Labour party with 106 of the 212 politicians in Brussels and Westminster officially endorsing one of the six candidates.

The six candidates to fill the role, vacated by Tom Watson prior to the general election, are: Rosena Allin-Khan, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Khalid Mahmood, Ian Murray and Angela Rayner.

Only Ian Murray and Angela Rayner can be certain of entering the next round of the contest. Murray has 23 backers. He has represented Edinburgh South West on the green benches since 2010 and has witnessed Labour’s decline in Scotland. When he first entered Westminster, Labour was the largest party in Scotland, with 41 of the 59 Commons-seats, today he is the sole Scottish MP who wears a red rosette.

Rayner, who currently serves as the Shadow Education Secretary, has the backing of around a quarter of the parliamentary Labour party with journalists reporting that 52 Labour MPs and MEPs have declared they will nominate her for deputy leader.

Khalid Mahmood lags behind the other candidates with just two supporters. While Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan are level on seven. It is perhaps surprising that the Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, has not managed to win more support from his colleagues. The former solicitor, who starred in a comical ITV election debate, is currently endorsed by just a dozen of his colleagues.

By J Walters

Merseyside’s murder rates halved in direct correlation to a ‘relentless’ stop and search approach

UK homicide rate fell for the first time in five years, but the capital’s rate defies national trend in rising, as Liverpool witnesses one of the most significant declines, in what Merseyside Police deem to be in direct correlation to a rigorous approach to stop and search.

The debate on stop and search led to the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, rolling back on police powers and between 2014 and 2018 the British murder rate grew year-on-year. The measure to water down stop and search was supported by Sadiq Khan in his bid for London mayoralty in 2016. The now mayor referenced social tensions attached to stop and search for the reason to curtail these measures. But as a consequence, London lags behind the rest of the country in tackling violent crime.

The murder rate across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland fell by 16% in 2019, but Liverpool stands out with a decline of 52%. Contrary to the national trend, the capital witnessed a rise of 12%. However, Liverpool was not alone in its murder rate collapsing. Birmingham’s rate fell by 24%, Manchester’s by 39% and West Yorkshire, that includes the cities of Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford, by 46%. The knife problem in the capital has raised question marks over Sadiq Khan’s tenure in City Hall, which may be an important issue when he seeks re-election this Spring.

The BBC report also produces a blow a further blow for Sadiq Khan. Earlier last year, the mayor declared that there was a clear link between poverty and murder. But there is no such correlation in this report. Merseyside Police cover extremely poor areas of Liverpool. The city ranked second, behind Middlesbrough, in having the most deprived areas, with just under half being considered ‘deprived’. Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, was ranked the tenth poorest neighbourhood in England, above any borough from London.

The Assistant Chief Constable in Merseyside, Ian Critchley, cited that the constabulary’s ‘relentless’ stop and search approach has been the main cause for the collapse in the murder rate. The successful detection of knives through stop and search would directly help stem the recent knife epidemic. As of 2019 stabbings resulted in 257 murders. This equates to just under 40% of all murders.

But Assistant Chief Constable Critchley also suggested other merits to stop and search. To the contrary of Sadiq Khan’s suggestion that poverty causes knife crime, the senior Liverpool police officer told the BBC that ‘homicides are related to serious organised crime’. He went further and suggested that stop and search could deter young people from carrying knives and as a result the police could help to stop ‘young people getting into crime in the first place.’ This would also directly attack the leaders of organised crime who use ‘bullying, cowardly tactics to groom young people to carry knives and firearms.’

If the police, with the support of Boris Johnson’s government, continue to increase the successful use of stop and search, alongside the introduction of 20,000 more police officers into the constabulary, then the crime epidemic, that has dominated the news networks in the past few years, can finally draw to a close.

By J Walters