UK General Elections (2024) - Labour wins landslide victory (Update at Post#92)

Which party is standing a better chance of winning the UK general elections in 2024?

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Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 11, 2023
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has taken the biggest gamble of his troubled premiership by calling an early general election that almost everyone in Westminster believes he will lose.

We’ll know soon enough whether the decision was a masterstroke or a misfire.

A frenetic six-week campaign will dominate airwaves in the UK – once again putting political battles front and center in a country fatigued by a turbulent stretch for the state.

If, as current polls indicate, the opposition Labour party triumph, it will finally bring down the curtain of a 14-year era of Conservative rule, ushering in a center-left government led by former barrister Keir Starmer.

Any other outcome would mean Sunak has orchestrated a shocking victory that even many in his own party believe is beyond reach – and would result in the Conservatives extending a political dynasty toward the two-decade mark.

Why did Sunak call an election now – and is it a gamble?

Sunak was obliged to call an election by December and hold it by the following month, but until that deadline – five years on from the last vote – the decision of when to stage a poll is in the gift of the prime minister.

Sunak told journalists at a drinks reception in December that it would be in 2024, not January 2025, and has more recently said his “assumption” is that it would happen in the second half of the year – which 4 July is, just about.

But beyond those clues, he has been tight-lipped while he weighed his options – feeding frenzied speculation in Westminster for months.

The main problem facing him is that no good options existed. Sunak is down around 20 points in opinion polls, and that deficit hasn’t budged all year.

The economy is gloomy, and one line of thinking among his aides is that waiting until October or November would give it time to settle.

But on the other hand, Sunak has placed much of his political capital into his pledge to stop small boat crossings to the UK by asylum seekers. He has recently passed a controversial law to process some claims in Rwanda, though nobody has yet been deported and further legal challenges may await the plan.

Meanwhile, the warmer summer months are expected to see a huge number of such journeys across the English Channel, hurting a major pillar of his campaign message.

Ultimately, hours after some rare good economic news – a healthy month-on-month reduction in the rate of inflation – Sunak decided that Wednesday was the least bad time to pull the trigger.

Who’s expected to win?

The near-universal expectation is that Sunak’s Conservative Party will lose the election.

Labour have been leading in general election opinion polls since late 2021, and that lead has been huge for the entirety of Sunak’s premiership. They are around 20 points up on average, with the Tories often closer to third party challengers like Reform and the Liberal Democrats than they are to Labour.

When converted to a projection of seats in parliament, those figures indicate either a comfortable Labour win or a Labour win so huge it would spell a near-wipeout for the Conservatives.

The Conservative brand was damaged by Partygate and a number of other scandals that led to the demise of Boris Johnson’s premiership, and then the shambolic six-week tenure of his successor Liz Truss, whose fiscal agenda sent markets into turmoil.

But for Sunak’s team, some deeper numbers provide some comfort. While Keir Starmer leads Sunak in polling on the question of who would make a better prime minister, that lead is much smaller than the overall party voting gap – suggesting Sunak will seek to keep the focus on a “me versus him” message.

Some polling experts also suggested that recent local elections may indicate a slimmer Labour win than polling does, but it is notoriously difficult to extrapolate nationwide forecasts from local votes in only some parts of the country.

Sunak may also take heart from an unlikely source: the left-wing former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who started the 2017 general election facing a similar deficit and eventually forced a hung parliament, in a narrow loss to Theresa May.

Nonetheless, Sunak hasn’t been able to move the polls in his favor since he became leader – he has just six weeks left to do so to claim a stunning upset victory.

What happens next?

Party leaders are already on the campaign trail, but parliament has a few days to wrap up any pressing issues before it is officially dissolved, 25 days before polling day.

Once that happens, the parliament that was formed in the previous, 2019 general election ceases to exist – and all sitting lawmakers are no longer MPs.

Sunak’s government will continue to run the country, albeit in a skeleton format.

The main priority for every party will be the weeks-long dash around the country, where party leaders will seek to be pictured knocking on doors, standing in hi-vis jackets and meeting members of the public.

A series of TV debates will likely be organized too, when Sunak and Starmer will go head-to-head.

Then on Thursday, July 4, Britons will vote between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time, and as soon as polls close, votes will be counted. A winner is usually declared in the early hours of Friday morning.

Who is Keir Starmer?

Rishi Sunak’s rival for power is Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is heavily favored to become Britain’s new prime minister in July.

A former, well-respected human rights lawyer who then served as Britain’s most senior prosecutor, Starmer came into politics late in life. He became a Labour MP in 2015 and less than five years later was the party’s leader, following a stint as shadow Brexit Secretary during Britain’s protracted exit from the European Union.

Starmer inherited a party reeling from its worst electoral defeat in generations, but he prioritized an overhaul of its culture – staring down left-wing supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, and apologizing publicly for a long-running antisemitism scandal that had tainted the group’s standing with the public.

He has attempted to lay claim to Britain’s political center ground, and is described by his supporters as a principled, serious leader with a focus on tackling the systemic issues facing Britain. But his opponents, on both the left of his own party and the right of the political spectrum, say he lacks charisma and ideas, and charge that he has failed to set out an ambitious and broad vision for the nation.

Who else is standing?

Only Sunak or Starmer have a realistic chance of becoming prime minister, but their plans could be disrupted by a number of smaller parties.

Sunak is especially vulnerable to the success of the Reform Party – a right-wing group attempting to outflank him on immigration – and the Liberal Democrats, a centrist, pro-European group who have chipped away at Conservative support in affluent, southern parts of England.

Given Labour’s standing in the polls, Starmer is more equipped to take the fight to other groups. North of the border, he will look to end the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s generation-long dominance at the ballot box, capitalizing on a rocky period in the party’s recent history that has seen them replace two leaders in just over a year.

But he will need to be mindful of the Green Party, which has challenged him from the left and has attracted some younger liberal votes as a result.

In recent local elections, there was evidence too that Labour’s stance on Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza had harmed the party in majority-Muslim areas.

How does voting work?
In the UK, voters don’t elect a prime minister directly. Instead, they elect a member of parliament (MP) to represent their local constituency.

The leader of the party that wins a majority of the UK’s 650 constituencies automatically becomes prime minister, and can form a government. That means 326 is the magic number for an overall majority.

If there’s no majority, they need to look for help elsewhere, ruling as a minority government – as Theresa May did after a close 2017 result – or forming a coalition, as David Cameron did after 2010.

The monarch has an important role; King Charles III must approve the formation of a government, the decision to hold an election and the dissolution of parliament. But this is a formal role only; the King won’t contradict his prime minister or overrule the results of an election.

What issues will decide the election?

The answer to that question will go some way in deciding the night’s winner.

Labour will be keen to define the election as a referendum on 14 years of Conservative rule, seizing on public fatigue with a party that has produced five prime ministers in that span and overseen Brexit, a stuttering economy and a series of sleaze scandals.

In particular, Starmer will talk plenty about the cost of living hitting British families, and the state of the country’s overstaffed and stretched National Health Service (NHS).

Sunak, by contrast, will want to focus on migration – his pledge to “Stop the Boats” hasn’t yet worked, but his flagship Rwanda policy has at least become law. And he will attempt to convince voters that the economy has turned a corner, and can’t risk a change in governance.

Early signs also show he is attempting to make the question of leadership central in voters’ minds – highlighting his time as finance minister during the Covid-19 pandemic in his first speech, and criticizing Starmer’s record.

Starmer confirms he will debate Sunak, but says Tory calls for multiple debates shows PM 'increasingly desperate'

Opinion polls are a good guide as to who might win an election, but almost as reliable is asking which candidate is demanding debates, and who is keen to mimimise them. Political leaders who are winning regard them as an avoidable risk, while underdogs, with nothing to lose, want as many as possible. The Conservatives have been demanding one a week for the next six weeks, which is a sign they’re in trouble.


Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer trade blows on migration as general election campaign begins​

Migration has taken centre stage on the first day of the general election campaign, with the prime minister and Labour leader trading blows on the government's flagship Rwanda policy.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of never believing in his deportation plan as he kicked off his campaign in Gillingham in Kent, a traditional Conservative heartland, while the prime minister admitted that flights will not get off the ground before the election.

And it also emerged that other flagship Tory policies remain in the balance, with key bits of legislation looking likely to be dropped.

As day one of the campaign kicked off, Sir Keir told voters of the flagship Rwanda plan: "I don't think he's ever believed that plan is going to work, and so he has called an election early enough to have it not tested before the election."

The prime minister conceded his plan, aimed at stopping illegal migration, would not take off before the country goes to the polls, hours after announcing the election on 4 July.

Mr Sunak, who made the plan central to the government's pledge to "stop the boats" crossing the Channel, said the "preparation work has already gone on", and that flights would take off if the Conservatives are elected.

He also insisted that without a deterrent like the Rwanda scheme, "people will keep coming".

Labour, who are leading by 20 points in the polls, have pledged to scrap the scheme, meaning flights may never get off the ground.

Mr Sunak, who is on a whirlwind two-day tour of the four nations of the UK, repeated his message that the Tories have a "clear plan" while Labour would go "back to square one".

But other plans now unlikely to become a reality before voters go to the polls include his proposal to create a smoke-free generation by making it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after 1 January 2009.

The Football Governance Bill, which would establish an independent regulator, and the Renters Reform Bill are also unlikely to make it into law.

Immigration, a key campaign battleground, was thrust into the spotlight again on Thursday with the emergence of new figures showing net migration has only dropped by 10% from a record high in 2022.

Net migration, the difference between the number of people legally arriving in the UK and leaving, was described as remaining "unusually high" at 685,000 in 2023.

After kicking off his campaign in London, Reform leader Richard Tice told Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge the figures were a "compete betrayal" of the Tories' pledge to cut overall numbers in the last election.

He also defended a Reform advert which shows a graph purportedly showing migration levels from 1066.

Asked how he knows what net migration was in 1066, he replied that it is because "the population hardly increased at all".

He also commented on news today that the party's most high-profile figure, honorary president Nigel Farage, will not be standing as a candidate - but he will be campaigning for Reform.

In a statement, Mr Farage said while the general election is "important", November's US election "has huge global significance" and he wants to help with "the grassroots campaign" there.

Asked about Mr Farage's announcement, Mr Tice told Sky News he is "completely right" in saying the US is an important ally and his work is in "Britain's interest".

Meanwhile, it was the government's record on the economy, NHS and sewage pollution that Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey chose to focus on as he spoke at a rally in Cheltenham.

He told activists the Conservatives "have to go", arguing that a vote for the Lib Dems "in many parts of the country" was the best way to "get rid" of Tory MPs.

Scotland's first minister and SNP leader John Swinney also hit out at what he called the "disastrous" Conservative government as he launched the SNP's campaign.

But his launch saw Sky correspondent Sadiya Chowdhury press Mr Swinney about MSP Michael Matheson who is facing a 27-sitting day suspension from Holyrood over his £11,000 iPad data roaming bill.

Asked by Chowdhury what this says to the public as he launched his campaign, Mr Swinney said: "Parliament, I think, is in danger of falling into disrepute by the way this issue is being handled because one of the members of the committee that's looked at Michael Matheson's conduct has expressed opinions that, I think, prejudice the case."


UK’s Sunak promises mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if elected​

Eighteen-year-olds will have to perform a mandatory national service if the Conservative Party is voted back to power in the United Kingdom’s July 4 election, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced.

The UK has “generations of young people who have not had the opportunities they deserve”, and this measure would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world”, Sunak said on Saturday.

The prime minister’s plan would entail young people being given a choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or spending one weekend a month for a year volunteering in their community, the party said.

The announcement came as Conservatives gear up for elections, heightening its attacks on the opposition Labour Party.

The UK had national service between 1947 and 1960, with men between the ages of 17 and 21 serving in the armed forces for 18 months. The British Army has reduced in size from 100,000 in 2010 to nearly 73,000 as of January 2024, the BBC reported.

The Conservative Party said the placement with the armed forces would help the teenagers “learn and take part in logistics, cybersecurity, procurement or civil response operations”.

The community service option would entail helping local fire, police and the UK’s National Health Service, as well as charities tackling loneliness in elderly, isolated people. The programme would cost approximately 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2bn) a year, BBC reported.

A royal commission, with experts from military and civil society, would be created to design the national service programme.

The first pilot for the programme would open applications in September 2025. Following that, the Conservatives would introduce a “National Service Act” to make the measures compulsory by the end of the next parliamentary term.

The Conservatives have insisted the scheme does not amount to conscription, the Guardian reported.

“This new, mandatory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country,” Sunak said.

“The consequences of uncertainty are clear. No plan means a more dangerous world. You, your family and our country are all at risk if Labour win,” he added.

The Labour Party called the announcement “another desperate unfunded commitment” and said the foreign minister, David Cameron, introduced a similar scheme – the National Citizen Service – when he was prime minister.

A Labour spokesperson said: “This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon.”

“Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

Several European countries, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, already have some form of conscription for their armed forces.

Outgoing MP Lucy Allan quits Tory party to support rival Reform candidate

The Conservative Party suspends Ms Allan for supporting the rival party in Telford, saying she couldn't let the Labour candidate "have a walkover".

An MP who is not contesting her seat at the election has quit the Conservatives after she was suspended for supporting the Reform candidate in her constituency.

Lucy Allan, the outgoing MP for Telford, said on X she was supporting Alan Adams, who is standing for the rival Reform Party, to be the constituency's next MP.

Ms Allan, who has represented Telford since 2015, told the PA News Agency she had quit the Conservatives so she could support Adams - but this came after a party spokesperson said she had been suspended for her social media post.

"I have resigned from the Conservative Party to support Alan Adams to be Telford's next MP," Ms Allan said.

"I have known Alan for many years and he is genuinely the best person for the job. I want the best for Telford and I can't just let the Labour candidate have a walkover."

Ms Allan is one of 78 Tory MPs who are not standing at the election.

SKY News
Shadow defence minister Steve McCabe to stand down

Labour MP and shadow defence minister Steve McCabe has announced he will stand down ahead of the general election.

The MP for Birmingham Selly Oak said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that he had made the "difficult decision "in order to "make way for someone new".

He has served the constituencies of Hall Green and Selly Oak in Birmingham for 27 years.

"I am committed to Keir Starmer's Labour party and his vision for our country," he added.

The 68-year-old MP was first elected to the Birmingham Hall Green seat in 1997.

In the last general election Mr McCabe won his current seat with a majority of 12,414 (59.8%).

In the social media post on Tuesday evening Mr McCabe wrote that representing local communities had been the "honour of my life".

"The past 14 years have been hard. I've witnessed the damage done to so many of our public services and the impact of government decisions on the people I represent.

"I want to express my gratitude to all the party members and volunteers who have supported me over the years and the people who have voted for me to represent them at a total of seven general elections.

"It has been an honour," he added.

His role as chair of the Labour Friends of Israel prompted a protest from a Palestine supporters group calling for his deselection.


Former MP's suspension lifted by Labour​

A former MP suspended by Labour after comments he made about Israel has had his party membership restored.

Graham Jones was suspended in February after a recording emerged in which he suggested British citizens fighting for Israel in Gaza "should be locked up".

Mr Jones represented Hyndburn in Lancashire between 2010 and 2019, when he was defeated by Conservative Sara Britcliffe in the general election.

He had been selected as Labour's candidate for the Hyndburn seat in 2023.

Posting on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Mr Jones said: "My suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted."

It remains unclear whether Mr Jones will be re-selected as Labour's candidate for Hyndburn when the country goes to the polls on 4 July.

The Labour Party confirmed Mr Jones's suspension had been lifted but said it could not comment on individual applications for candidacy.

Hyndburn's candidate is set to be decided in the coming days.

Mr Jones' suspension came after the Guido Fawkes website published audio in which he allegedly used an expletive to refer to Israel and wrongly argued that British people who fight in the Israel Defense Forces were "breaking the law".

At the time the Jewish Labour Movement said Mr Jones' alleged comments were "appalling and unacceptable", and added later that it was pleased he had been "swiftly suspended".

Former Labour minister Ed Balls defended Mr Jones on ITV's Good Morning Britain at the time, saying his former colleague was "absolutely not anti-Israel".

The Great Britain poll - which was conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week and surveyed 2,128 adults - puts Labour on 47%, the Tories on 20%, Reform on 12%, the Liberal Democrats on 9% and the Greens on 7%.

This suggests that the Tories have not yet had a bounce from Rishi Sunak's surprise decision to go to the country on 4 July, rather than waiting until the autumn.

The party is also still struggling to bring back together the voter coalition Boris Johnson won around in 2019.

Of the Tory voters from that year, only 36% say they would vote Tory now, 19% would vote Reform UK, 19% don't know and 14% would switch to Labour.

This is the key group identified by Conservative headquarters, and the national service announcement on Sunday was aimed at bringing this group back into the fold.

Meanwhile, Labour leads the Tories in all parts of Great Britain and among men and women.

The only groups that have the Tories ahead are the over 65s - albeit by a far smaller margin than in 2019 - and among people who voted to leave the EU.

Mr Sunak called the general election last Wednesday after official figures showed inflation fell to 2.3% in April, which he said is "proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working".

The campaign kicked off quickly despite the other parties, and many Conservative MPs, being caught on the hop by the announcement.

As the latest poll was released this Wednesday, the prime minister was in Cornwall where he was focusing on apprenticeships, pledging to create 100,000 a year by shutting down "rip-off degrees" - the worst-performing university courses.

Labour said the policy is "laughable" after the Tories "presided over a halving of apprenticeships for young people".

Sir Keir Starmer's party was setting its sights on tackling NHS backlogs, promising to create an additional 40,000 appointments, scans and operations each week during evenings and weekends, and doubling the number of scanners.

Source: Sky News
Labour suspends MP Russell-Moyle over complaint

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has been suspended by the Labour Party over a complaint about his behaviour.
The MP for Brighton Kemptown has been told by the party he will not be eligible to be a candidate at 4 July's election.

He told BBC South East he believes it is a “vexatious and politically motivated complaint” about his behaviour eight years ago.

He says he will cooperate with the investigation process to clear his name, adding “I believe I will be fully exonerated”.

The Labour Party confirmed a complaint has been received and is being investigated.

If brothers here are Labour voters, I urge you all to boycott them and vote alternatives like Workers Party or Independents. Labour have took our communities votes for granted and slapped us when when needed them to stand with us.

I recall the day after council elections, shadow cabinet minister Pat McFadden was being interviewed on the BBC, he basically gave his whole hearted support for the genocidal Israeli regime whilst not even acknowledging the loyal support the Muslim communities have given Labour over the decades.

This is what the Labour leadership think of us and where their loyalties lie. They have decided they would rather support a far right extremist Israeli govt. over their loyal supporters back home. If this is this the case then the backlash needs to continue. I urge all of you in the UK to spread spread this message far and wide.

They need to receive this message loud and clear from us all. #boycottlabour

Thank you. Jazakallah Khair.

‘Appalling cull’: Britain’s Labour bars another left-winger from election​

Britain’s Labour Party has barred prominent left-winger Faiza Shaheen as a candidate in the upcoming election after she allegedly liked social media posts that raised questions about her suitability to run, most notably one allegedly downplaying anti-Semitism.

Shaheen told the BBC programme Newsnight on Wednesday that the party’s National Executive Committee had emailed her that evening to remove her as a candidate for the Chingford and Woodford Green seat in northeast London, having previously questioned her about 14 social media posts.

The programme highlighted one post in particular, which referenced a Jon Stewart sketch on freedom of expression in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Shaheen had liked the post, prompting the Jewish Labour Movement to complain its members were “concerned” about the “tone” of the Labour candidate’s social media posts in a quote read out on air.

The offending post, published on X, read: “Every time you say something even mildly critical of Israel, you’re immediately assailed by scores of hysterical people who explain to you why you’re completely wrong, how you’re biased against Israel.”

“Moreover, you can’t easily ignore them because those are not just random people. They tend to be friends or people who move in the same circles as you. Those people are mobilised by professional organisations,” it added.

Shaheen responded that she could not remember liking the post.

“I know what’s wrong with it, the line that’s there about the … you know … they’re ‘in professional organisations’. It plays into a trope, and I absolutely don’t agree with that and I’m sorry about that,” Shaheen said.

The party, she said, had informed her of her deselection after briefing the press. Among the 14 social media posts, the party had also taken issue with content relating to her experiences of Islamophobia in the party.

“Like, how am I not allowed to talk about my experiences of Islamophobia and the double standards that I’ve seen?” she said.

The Labour Muslim Network said on X that Shaheen’s deselection was “unacceptable”.

Labour’s election campaign has been overshadowed by internal chaos over selections for the July 4 election, causing observers to question whether the party is conducting a purge of left-wingers.

On Wednesday, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, representing Brighton Kemptown, was suspended over what he claimed was “a vexatious and politically motivated complaint”.

And doubts have been raised over the candidacy of Apsana Begum, who is supposed to be standing again for the Poplar and Limehouse constituency.

Referencing Shaheen’s deselection, Labour’s Diane Abbott – Britain’s first Black female lawmaker – accused Keir Starmer of an “appalling” cull of left-wingers in a post on X on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Abbott had herself claimed Labour had not allowed her to defend her Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat in the election despite lifting a suspension that was enacted last year due to her comments on racism.

The lawmaker had been reinstated as a Labour MP on Tuesday after the completion of a party investigation into comments she had made in a letter to The Observer newspaper, stating that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people “undoubtedly experience prejudice”, but do not face racism “all their lives”.

However, Labour leader Keir Starmer later denied the claim, saying “no decision” had been taken to bar the left-winger, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn who led the party from 2015 to 2020.

Under Corbyn’s leadership, the party was investigated by the equalities watchdog, which found serious failings in the way the party had tackled anti-Semitism.

Corbyn was replaced as party leader by Keir Starmer, who has sought to crack down on the claimed anti-Semitism.

Corbyn is also barred from running as a Labour candidate after he said anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.

Last week, he announced that he would run as an independent candidate.


Conservative Mark Logan defects to Labour over Gaza - saying 'we need a new government'​

Sir Keir Starmer is celebrating the third defection by a Tory to Labour in just over a month.

Mark Logan, who was elected Conservative MP for Bolton North East in 2019, has told Sky News he is quitting the Tories and is urging people to vote Labour in the general election on 4 July.

In recent months he has been a fierce critic of the government's policy on Gaza and is now calling on the UK to recognise Palestine as a country.

Northern Ireland-born Mr Logan, 40, won his seat from Labour in the 2019 general election with a slender majority of just 378. It had been Labour since 1997 but was previously held by the Tories.

A former UK diplomat serving in China who is fluent in Mandarin and Japanese, his dramatic switch follows secret talks with Labour chief whip Sir Alan Campbell and members of Sir Keir's inner circle.

Mr Logan had been due to defend the seat in the general election, but after his shock defection, he hopes to become a Labour candidate in another constituency.

In a "personal statement" on Commons stationery written just before parliament dissolved on Thursday, Mr Logan referred to Labour's 1997 election anthem Things Can Only Get Better.

He wrote: "Labour is back, and given how things have been, I believe things can only get better.

"After much soul-searching throughout my first term in parliament, brought to a head with the calling of a snap election last week, I have concluded that we need a new government and I believe the UK will be best served with that government being a Labour government.

"We need renewed enthusiasm and optimism in both tone and in policy, and I believe that we are already seeing this through Keir Starmer and the team.

"I am resigning from the Conservative Party with immediate effect. Regrettably, I will therefore not contest our constituency at the upcoming general election."

And he concluded: "The first time I voted, I voted for Labour. The next time I vote it will be a vote for Labour."

Besides the obvious humiliation for Rishi Sunak, the latest defection is also embarrassing for the prime minister because Mr Logan is a junior member of the government, a parliamentary private secretary to ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions.

He becomes the third Tory to defect to Labour since late April, following Dan Poulter and Natalie Elphicke, and the fourth since the last election, following Christian Wakeford in January 2022.

Since the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October last year, Mr Logan - whose constituency has a large Muslim population - has been increasingly critical of UK policy and the actions of the Israeli government during its response in Gaza.

In the controversial Commons debate in February on an SNP motion demanding an immediate ceasefire, he dramatically broke ranks with his own party and said Israel had "gone too far".

In defiance of government policy, he told MPs: "I no longer in good conscience can continue backing in public the line that we have taken on this side of the House, regrettably."

In a TV interview in March, Mr Logan also accused Lee Anderson of Islamophobia and said he should apologise for claims he made about London mayor Sadiq Khan after defecting from the Tories to Reform UK.

And in his final Commons intervention on Gaza, two days before Mr Sunak's shock general election announcement, Mr Logan angrily challenged Andrew Mitchell, the deputy foreign secretary.

"My constituents in Bolton are livid today," he declared at the time, "because they have seen through the International Criminal Court that there is evidence that 'acts were committed... to use starvation as a method of war', along with violence.

"Evidence of the collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza and evidence that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.

"Never mind being on the right side of history, will we ensure that we are on the right side of the present?"

SDLP to contest all 18 of NI's general election seats

The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said his party will be running in all 18 constituencies in the general election.

Sinn Féin and the DUP have both indicated they will be standing aside in some areas.

Speaking on the BBC News NI programme The View, Mr Eastwood denied that the party would be running some "paper candidates".

However he admitted a number of constituencies would be prioritised.

In the last general election in 2019, the SDLP won two seats, in Foyle and Belfast South.

Mr Eastwood claimed the party could win at least one more on 4 July.

What did Colum Eastwood say about Sinn Féin?

In a thinly-veiled attack on Sinn Féin's policy of not taking their seats in the House of Commons, he said it was important for "Northern Ireland's voice to be heard".

"It's better to be there holding it (the government) to account, standing up, having our voice heard," he said.

"Sitting outside, or turning up now and again and standing outside doing interviews, makes no impact whatsoever."

Sinn Féin insist their voice can still be heard by the London government without sitting at Westminster.

However, Mr Eastwood claimed he had popular support for taking his seat in the last Parliament.

He also said he had built up "seriously strong relationships" with the Labour Party, which he hopes will form the next government.

SDLP ends Stephen Nolan boycott

Mr Eastwood was also asked about his recent decision to agree to interviews on the Stephen Nolan radio show.

The party had been boycotting the programme - with no SDLP representative appearing on its airwaves for more than a year - after a dispute over the treatment of SDLP assembly member Matthew O'Toole during a broadcast.

Mr Eastwood insisted it was a party decision rather than a personal one.

"We never said we were in a never-ending boycott" he said.

He added that the party had "made our point, they know what we think and I hope that the Nolan Show will respond in the way that we'd like them to".

Nationalist rivalries

Mr Eastwood won the Foyle seat in 2019 by a landslide of more than 17,000 votes.

The result ousted Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion, who had narrowly taken the seat in 2017 at the expense of the SDLP's former leader Mark Durkan.

At the end of 2020, Sinn Féin initiated an internal review of its operations in Derry following poor election performances - the shake up resulted in the withdrawal of its high-profile former MEP and junior Stormont minister Martina Anderson and her party colleague Karen Mullan from elected politics.

Since becoming the largest party in recent Stormont and council elections, Sinn Féin now has hopes of challenging for the Foyle seat once more.

It outpolled the SDLP in Foyle in the assembly election in 2022, although constituency boundaries have since changed slightly.

The other Foyle candidates confirmed by their respective parties so far are:

  • Sandra Duffy - Sinn Féin
  • Gary Middleton - Democratic Unionist Party
  • Rachael Ferguson - Alliance Party
  • Janice Montgomery - Ulster Unionist Party
  • Shaun Harkin - People Before Profit
When is the UK general election?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the next general election will take place on 4 July.

Mr Sunak's announcement ended months of speculation about when the UK would go to the polls.

Eighteen seats are up for grabs in Northern Ireland.

The deadline for candidates to submit nomination forms in Northern Ireland is 16:00 BST on Friday 7 June.

Labour not imposing candidates, says Doughty

A Labour general election candidate has defended his party's selection process amid criticism that candidates have been "parachuted" into safe seats.

Questions have been raised over the selection of Torsten Bell for Swansea West and Alex Barros Curtis for Cardiff West.

A former member of the Labour Party Executive Committee, Darren Williams, said party leadership had "imposed" candidates on local members with "no previous connections" to their area.

Stephen Doughty, who's standing for Labour in Cardiff South and Penarth, said it was a decision "made in Wales".

"The idea it was somehow imposed from elsewhere is simply not the case," Mr Doughty told Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement.

"There's clear established procedures, particularly when an election is called at such short notice... this was a decision made in Wales, by members of our Welsh executive committee and by local representatives.

"We've got brilliant candidates, they've got brilliant skills, I'm sure they will be first class representatives for Wales.

"I think Torsten and Alex are going to do a great job of doing that for Cardiff, Swansea, and Wales."

'No Welsh connection'

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun Ap Iorwerth said the appointments were example of "bringing people in from outside Wales with no Welsh connection".

"What you're doing is weakening that area's voice, it's bad for Welsh democracy and reflects badly on Labour and their attitude towards Wales," he added.

The Conservative Party has been asked to comment.

Announcing the selection of both candidates, Welsh Labour said: "We’re pleased that despite the expedited process, the panels were formed by representatives from the Welsh executive committee and local members.

"Torsten brings a wealth of experience in economic policy and tackling child poverty. He will be real champion for Swansea West.

"Alex has extensive legal experience and is a campaigner for social justice issues."

The candidates in Swansea West are:

Labour - Torsten Bell

Conservative - Tara-Jane Sutcliffe

Plaid Cymru - Gwyn Williams

Liberal Democrats - Mike O’Carroll

Reform - Patrick Benham-Crosswell

Green Party - Peter Jones

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition - Gareth Bromhall

The candidates in Cardiff West are:

Labour - Alex Barros-Curtis

Conservative - James Roberts Hamblin

Plaid Cymru - Kiera Marshall

Liberal Democrats - TBC

Reform - Peter Hopkins

Green Party - Jess Ryan

Workers Party of Britain - Akil Kata

The candidates in Cardiff South and Penarth are:

Labour - Stephen Doughty

Conservatives - no candidate announced ATOW

Reform - Simon Llewellyn

Plaid Cymru - Sharifah Rahman

Green Party - Anthony Slaughter

Liberal Democrats - Alex Wilson

Diane Abbott confirms she will run as Labour candidate in general election

Diane Abbott has said she "intends to run and win" as Labour's candidate in Hackney North and Stoke Newington following speculation she may choose to stand down.

Ms Abbott, who was this week told she would be allowed to stand for Labour after months of uncertainty, also denied she had been offered a seat in the House of Lords in the event she chose to retire.

In a post on social media, Ms Abbott said: "I have never been offered a seat in the Lords, and would not accept one if offered.

"I am the adopted Labour candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. I intend to run and to win as Labour's candidate."


The 12 Tory 'big name' ministers at high risk of losing their seats, according to new YouGov poll​

Twelve of the 26 members of the cabinet who are running for re-election are at risk of losing their seats, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Sky News.

The survey suggests the United Kingdom is on the cusp of a major redrawing of the political landscape, with Labour on course to win a historic landslide and an enormous 194-seat majority.

But delving deeper into the numbers, it appears several high profile Conservative MPs will lose their seats, if the election does indeed end up being the worst Tory rout since 1906.

"These are some of the biggest names in our politics," deputy political editor Sam Coates said as he presented the findings on Sky News.

"Every single one of these, right now, is projected on course to lose at the general election."

He added: "Tory MPs are getting more and more nervous by the day."

If the poll reflects reality in July, the 12 names Sam described as being in "deep, deep trouble" are:

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, set to lose Godalming and Ash seat to the Liberal Democrats by 15 points

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, set to lose Welwyn Hatfield to Labour by 18 points

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, would lose Portsmouth North to Labour by five points

Mark Harper, transport secretary, would lose Forest of Dean to Labour by four points

Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, set to lose Cheltenham by 31 points

Mel Stride, work and pensions secretary, set to lose Central Devon to Labour by one point

Jonny Mercer, defence minister, set to lose Plymouth Moor View to Labour by 11 points

Esther McVey, minister without portfolio, would lose Tatton Labour by one point

Gillian Keegan, education secretary, would lose Chichester to the Lib Dems by five points

Simon Hart, chief whip, would lose Caerfyrddin to Labour by nine points

David T C Davies, the Welsh secretary, would lose Monmouthshire to Labour by 11 points

Victoria Prentis, the attorney general, may lose Banbury to Labour by six points

Source: SKY
Labour ‘set for biggest majority in 23 years’, analysis suggests

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt are among several Cabinet ministers at risk of losing their seats at the General Election, while Labour could win its biggest majority in 23 years, new analysis suggests.

Sir Keir Starmer is projected to become prime minister next month with his party clocking up more gains than at any election since 1945, leaving the Conservatives potentially with their lowest number of MPs since 2001.

At the same time the Liberal Democrats could more than double the number of MPs they won at the last election in 2019.

The analysis has been published by the research company More in Common together with The News Agents podcast, and is based on voting intention data collected between April 9 and May 29 from 15,089 adults in Great Britain.

It uses a technique known as MRP (multi-level regression and post-stratification) to model the outcome of the election in every constituency across Britain, by identifying the views of different types of voters and then the type of voters in each seat.

Along with Mr Shapps and Ms Mordaunt, other ministers projected to lose their seats to Labour are Welsh Secretary David TC Davies and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, while Justice Secretary Alex Chalk would be defeated by the Liberal Democrats.

The model projects Labour to win a total of 382 seats and a majority of 114, while the Conservatives would win 180.

The national share of the vote implied by the analysis is Labour 43%, Conservative 29%, Liberal Democrats 11%, Reform 8%, Green 5% and SNP 3%.

Luke Tryl, More in Common UK executive director, said: “While many things could change between now and July 4, Labour is on course to win a comfortable majority, with the most Labour gains in a single election since 1945, nearly doubling their seat count compared to 2019.

It's worth noting however that there are currently 43 seats that the Conservatives are projected to lose by less than four points, which means any tightening in the race could see a much smaller Labour majority

“The Conservatives on the other hand are forecast to enter opposition holding only marginally more seats than they did after the 1997 landslide, suggesting a steep path to recovery.

“It’s worth noting however that there are currently 43 seats that the Conservatives are projected to lose by less than four points, which means any tightening in the race could see a much smaller Labour majority.

“There are also 49 seats which the Conservatives are currently projected to hang on to by just 4%, which means it wouldn’t take much movement for the Conservatives to head to a record defeat, potentially worse than that seen in 1997.”

A separate MRP analysis, carried out by YouGov for Sky News, is due to be released later on Monday.

Sunak and Starmer prepare for their first debate as disruptor Farage roils UK election waters

The two main contenders to be Britain’s next prime minister were set to face off in a televised debate on Tuesday, with Conservative leader Rishi Sunak hoping to boost his party’s dismal outlook and Labour’s Keir Starmer aiming to cement his status as favorite.

The two-way leaders’ debate comes a day after populist Brexit-backer Nigel Farage dealt a blow to Sunak’s hopes of winning the July 4 election by announcing he will run for Parliament at the helm of the right-wing party Reform U.K.

Farage kicked off his campaign Tuesday in the eastern England seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, where he is making an eighth attempt to win a seat in the House of Commons. His seven previous tries all failed.

The return of the populist politician, a key player in Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the European Union, is a major headache for Sunak’s party, which already trails Labour in opinion polls. Farage and Reform look likely to siphon off votes of socially conservative older voters that the Tories have been targeting.


Nigel Farage has milkshake thrown over him after election campaign launch in Clacton​

Nigel Farage has had a milkshake thrown over him after launching his election campaign in Essex.

The new leader of Reform UK was leaving the Wetherspoons Moon and Starfish pub in Clacton-on-Sea, where he is standing to be an MP, when a young woman in a grey hooded jumper threw a drink in his face before throwing the cup at him then walking off.

It appeared to be a McDonald's milkshake.

He was seen wincing as the liquid hit his face, then wiping it away as he was ushered out of the way by his team.

Essex Police said they had arrested a 25-year-old woman from Clacton after responding to a report of a drink being thrown at a man in Marine Parade East at around 2.10pm.

As officers were arresting the woman, a second person, a man, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.

"Both individuals remain in custody for questioning," a police spokesman said.

Keir Starmer brands Rishi Sunak's tax claims 'garbage' - but poll suggests PM came out on top

Sir Keir Starmer said it was "garbage" to claim he would raise taxes by £2,000 as he traded blows with Rishi Sunak in their heated first TV debate.

The Labour leader initially failed to challenge the prime minister's repeated accusations that Labour's spending plans would cost each family £2,000.

He eventually called it "nonsense" and "absolute garbage", saying his pledge to invest in green projects would result in cheaper energy bills.

Labour said the figure is based on misleading information put out in a "dodgy Tory dossier" and called on Mr Sunak to correct the record.

One of their 11 rebuttals is that the costings rely on "assumptions from special advisors", rather than an impartial Civil Service assessment.

Sir Keir initially struggled to explain this during a debate that saw the pair repeatedly talk over each other, forcing ITV host Julie Ethcingham to intervene and cut them off.

SKY News
Rival U.K. Political Leaders Clash in Bad-Tempered Election Debate

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, fighting to narrow a substantial polling gap, adopted an aggressive approach against his Labour Party opponent, Keir Starmer.

This election is about the future. And I’m clear that I’m going to keep cutting people’s taxes as we now are. Mark my words, Labour will raise your taxes. It’s in their DNA. Your work, your car, your pension, you name it. Labour will tax it. We will raise specific taxes, and we’ve been really clear what they are. We’ve already dealt with the tax break on private schools. We want to end the non-dom status completely. I think that the super rich should be paying their tax.

I want to get rid of the equity loopholes that are there again for the super rich. And I think the oil and gas companies should be paying their fair share towards our energy. So we will raise those, but we won’t raise the others.

As Janet knows and everyone knows, the N.H.S. is still recovering from Covid. We went through the best part of two years where the N.H.S. couldn’t conduct all the treatments it normally would and it is going to take time to recover from that. But we are now making progress. The waiting lists are coming down. But what Keir Starmer didn’t mention to you, which you did, Julie — 7.2 million. There are now 7.5 million. He says they’re coming down and this is the guy who says he’s good at maths. Yeah, they are. They are now coming down.

They are now coming down. 7.2 — When you said you’d get them down 7.2 million, they’re now 7.5 million. I’d like you to explain how they’re coming down. Because they were coming down from where they were when they were higher, now on their way down. Stephen, immigration is too high and we will need to take bold action to bring it down. Whether that’s legal migration, where we’re going to introduce a new legal cap to guarantee that it will come down every year, or the boats, which you mentioned, where we got the numbers down last year by a third and now we have a deterrent ready to go.

Eighteen months ago, the prime minister made a promise. He said, just like the N.H.S. promise, personally accountable for it, that he would stop the boats. This year alone, 10,000 people have crossed on boats. That’s a record number.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain and Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, clashed over taxes, health care policy and immigration during a televised debate.CreditCredit...Jonathan Hordle/ITV, via Reuters
Stephen Castle

The two contenders to become Britain’s next prime minister clashed angrily over tax, immigration and health policy on Tuesday in a televised debate that at times descended into ill-tempered exchanges as the political rivals talked over each other.

The confrontation came exactly a month before a pivotal general election that will determine whether the opposition Labour Party can capitalize on its strong lead in opinion polls and end 14 turbulent years of Conservative-led government during which the party has had five different prime ministers.

Almost as soon as the debate started, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that his opponent, the Labour leader Keir Starmer, would raise taxes on British households by 2,000 pounds, about $2,550, a year if he won the election, repeating the claim numerous times. “Absolute garbage,” Mr. Starmer eventually responded.

The Labour Party said that the figure was based on faulty assumptions, and Jonathan Ashworth, a senior party lawmaker, told Sky News after the debate that Mr. Sunak was lying. But Mr. Starmer’s failure to clearly reject the claim early in the broadcast set the tone for what followed: a solid but defensive performance by the opposition leader against an energized and at times ruthless opponent.

One snap opinion poll of viewers on Tuesday night declared Mr. Sunak a narrow victor, and his performance may have steadied some nerves inside his anxious party. But two polls released on Wednesday suggested that Mr. Starmer had won, with those surveyed saying the Labour leader was more honest and more calm. Most analysts suggested the debate, which was watched by an average of 4.8 million people according to BARB, a TV audience research company, was unlikely to swing significant numbers of votes.

Tuesday’s debate was the first of two scheduled televised contests between Mr. Sunak and Mr. Starmer.Credit...Paul Ellis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
On Wednesday the dispute over tax intensified when the most senior official in the Treasury contradicted Mr. Sunak’s claim that the £2,000 figure he used had come from politically-neutral government officials.

“As you will expect, civil servants were not involved in the production or presentation of the Conservative Party’s document ‘Labour’s Tax Rises’ or in the calculation of the total figure used,” wrote James Bowler, permanent secretary at the Treasury, in a letter sent to Labour two days ago that was published by the BBC. Mr. Bowler added that calculations involving such elements “should not be presented as having been produced by the Civil Service.”

Though that could damage perceptions of Mr. Sunak’s honesty, the furor may still have helped the Conservatives to raise doubts among some viewers about Labour’s tax plans.

With his party trailing badly in the opinion polls for more than 18 months, the broadcast was a chance for Mr. Sunak to revive his stalling campaign. After a gaffe-prone start, the prime minister’s prospects had seemingly worsened on Monday when Nigel Farage, a right-wing insurgent, made a surprise decision to run in the election.

For Mr. Starmer, the main objective was to avoid losing momentum ahead of a general election on July 4 that opinion polls say he is on course to win, perhaps comfortably.

There was no knockout blow in Tuesday’s hourlong debate, which was filmed in front of a studio audience in Salford, near Manchester, and was the first of two scheduled televised contests between Mr. Sunak and Mr. Starmer.

Animated but at times hectoring, Mr. Sunak was more aggressive in pushing his point, accusing Labour of having no plans for government and often talking over Mr. Starmer, despite pleas for calm from Julie Etchingham, the moderator. With experience of similar TV debates from 2022, when he ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Liz Truss, Mr. Sunak often seemed the more confident performer on Tuesday.

But he struggled to defend the Conservative Party’s 14-year governing record, and Mr. Starmer ridiculed his failure to cut waiting lists for treatment of more than seven million procedures in the health care system as he had promised.

“There were 7.2 million, there are now 7.5 million. He says they are coming down — and this is the guy who says he’s good at maths,” Mr. Starmer said of the prime minister.

“They are coming down from where they were when they were higher,” Mr. Sunak replied, prompting a burst of laughter from the audience.

Televised debates for general elections are a relatively recent phenomenon in Britain, with the first taking place in 2010. The onus this time had been on Mr. Sunak to make an impact, in a broadcast that was described as “one of the last opportunities the prime minister has to change his party’s political fortunes,” by Lee Cain, who worked in Downing Street for Boris Johnson, one of Mr. Sunak’s predecessors.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Farage, who has taken over as the leader of Reform U.K., a small hard-right party that campaigns to cut immigration, addressed a crowd of several hundred people in Clacton-on-Sea, which is part of the area he plans to contest in the general election.

Playing on his reputation as a political disrupter, Mr. Farage appealed to voters to send him to Parliament “to be a bloody nuisance.” Not all bystanders were friendly, however, and one protester threw what appeared to be a large milkshake over him. A woman was later arrested.

Nationally, Reform U.K. is unlikely to win more than a handful of seats under the British electoral system, which favors the two largest parties and makes it very hard for small parties to break through.

But Mr. Farage’s party tends to take more votes from the Conservatives than it does from Labour and could siphon thousands of votes that Mr. Sunak’s party won in the 2019 general election, potentially costing it dozens of seats.

Mr. Sunak on Tuesday made a new attempt to appeal to potential Reform voters, pledging to limit immigration by placing an annual cap on entrants.

Under his plans, an expert committee would recommend a maximum number of immigrants that would be allowed each year, and that would then be voted on by Parliament.

Labour dismissed the promise as meaningless, noting that previous Conservative election pledges to limit immigration had not been honored and that net migration had increased about threefold since the last election, in 2019.

At one point during Tuesday’s debate, Mr. Sunak accused Labour of having no plan to curb the number of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel on small boats. And he hinted that he would be willing to take Britain out of international agreements if he were to remain prime minister and was thwarted in his efforts to put some of those arriving on the British coast on one-way flights to Rwanda.

Mr. Starmer described that scheme as an “expensive gimmick,” and attacked Mr. Sunak over the surge in legal immigration since the 2019 general election. “The prime minister says ‘It’s too high,’” Mr. Starmer said, adding, “Who’s in charge?”

Stephen Castle is a London correspondent of The Times, writing widely about Britain, its politics and the country’s relationship with Europe. More about Stephen Castle.

Source : Sky News
Sunak had back against the wall and lied - Starmer

Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of “lying” when he claimed that a Labour government would lead to people paying £2,000 more in tax.

Speaking to journalists in Portsmouth, the Labour leader said the prime minister’s comments were a “flash of character” that mean “the choice at the next election is starker now than it was yesterday".

Asked why he didn’t refute the claim more quickly during the debate, he responded: “What matters is the facts. All of our plans are fully costed, fully funded, don’t involve tax rises for working people.

"I’ll spell that out, no income tax, no national insurance, no VAT. What you saw is the prime minister with his back against the wall desperately lashing out and resorting to lies.

"And he knew he was lying. I don’t say that lightly, it’s not the sort of thing that I say. He was lying, he was lying about our plans, he was lying about the boats, he was lying about waiting lists.

"That’s why the choice at the next election is starker now than it was yesterday. It’s a choice between chaos and confusion, the sort of thing we’ve seen now for 14 years and now lies on top of it. Or turn the page and rebuilding with Labour.”

Reform (Farage) and the Worker’s Party (Galloway) might nick a few seats.

The headline will be the size of the Conservative loss, which is looking like it could be huge.

An easy Labour win and 10 years in government.
PM defends £2,000 tax claim despite watchdog's criticism

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has denied claims he made about Labour's tax plans were dubious despite being criticised by the UK's statistics watchdog.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) said anyone who heard Mr Sunak say Labour's plan would mean £2,000 of tax rises per working household would have no way of knowing that was a sum totalled over four years.

Earlier in the week, the top Treasury civil servant also objected to the Conservatives presenting their accusation as if it had been produced by impartial civil servants.

The prime minister made the claim several times during the first live TV debate with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Tuesday.

Sir Keir hit back after the debate was broadcast on ITV, accusing the prime minister of "deliberately" lying about Labour's plans, adding that he would not bring in tax rises for working people.

In an interview for ITV's Tonight programme, Mr Sunak replied "no" when asked by presenter Paul Brand if he was "willing to lie in order to stay in power".

The prime minister added that Labour were "rattled that we've exposed their plans to raise tax".

Like the Conservatives, Labour has pledged not to increase the rate of income tax, National Insurance and VAT if it wins the election.

BBC Verify has analysed the Conservative's £2,000 tax claims and concluded that they risked misleading people

'We warned against this practice'

In a statement released on Thursday, the statistics watchdog said the Conservatives had published a document explaining which Labour policies it had included when coming up with the number, how it interpreted the policies and how Treasury officials had costed some but not all of them.

But it added: "Without reading the full Conservative Party costing document, someone hearing the claim would have no way of knowing that this is an estimate summed together over four years.

"We warned against this practice a few days ago, following its use in presenting prospective future increases in defence spending."

In an interview filmed for ITV's The Leader Interviews: Rishi Sunak - due to be broadcast in full on 12 June - the prime minister denied he was willing to lie to stay in power.

Asked about his use of the £2,000 figure, he said: "I think people know that I'm across the detail when it comes to numbers."

Ahead of the first TV debate in the run-up to polling day on 4 July, UK Statistics Authority chair Sir Robert Chote wrote to the main political parties to warn them about "ensuring the appropriate and transparent use of statistics".

Sir Robert said: "The work of the UK Statistics Authority is underpinned by the conviction that official statistics should serve the public good.

"This means that when statistics and quantitative claims are used in public debate, they should enhance understanding of the topics being debated and not be used in a way that has the potential to mislead."

The OSR also recently closed an investigation into a previous claim that the UK economy was "going gangbusters", which was later referred to by officials including Rishi Sunak.

The investigation looked at whether the phrase from a top Office for National Statistics (ONS) official was taken out of context.

Mr Sunak said in an interview with the BBC's Today programme in May: "The facts are the facts. You had, I think, the person from the Office for National Statistics talking about the economic growth that the country produced in the first quarter of the year.

"He said what he said about that and I think he used the term 'gangbusters', so I will leave it at that."

Mr Sunak was quoting Grant Fitzner, the chief economist at the ONS.

Mr Fitzner had told journalists earlier in May: "To paraphrase former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, you could say the economy is going gangbusters."

However, on Thursday the ONS said that it immediately clarified the comment at the time as a "passing reference" to the former Australian PM's remarks.

A spokesperson for the ONS said: "It was certainly not intended as a comment about the overall state of the economy and when the comment was made it was immediately clarified to those present that this was not a word that the ONS would use to describe the first quarter's growth.

"We also put the comment in context for journalists who followed up afterwards."

Mr Fitzner's comments came after official figures showed the economy had emerged from recession.

The ONS estimated that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.6% between January and March, meaning the economy recovered from the recession recorded late last year.

The state of the UK economy is expected to be one of the key campaigning points of the general election, with leaders of various parties setting out their plans on how they would improve growth and productivity.


OpenAI's ChatGPT stops answering election questions after giving wrong answers​

A game-changing generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot used by hundreds of millions will now stop answering questions on future election results following Sky News reporting.

ChatGPT will no longer answer users' questions about election results for upcoming votes and instead responds, "Sorry, I don't have information about the results of that election."

Calling it for Labour and Joe Biden

It follows Sky News reporting which showed ChatGPT called the July general election in Labour's favour and gave a specific seat count.

"The 2024 UK general election resulted in a significant victory for the Labour Party," it said

Labour, it said, "won a majority with 467 seats" while Conservatives "experienced a substantial loss, securing only 101 seats".

The Liberal Democrats also did well in the chatbot's telling and won 46 seats.

When asked "Who won the 2024 general election?" ChatGPT said President Joe Biden won re-election against former president Donald Trump.

When asked "What are the results of the 2024 European elections?" ChatGPT had responded "The 2024 European Parliament elections, held from June 6-9, saw significant shifts in political power" and gave a breakdown of seats won by the various European Union parliament political groupings.

When asked a second time it said there were "significant gains for right-wing parties".

OpenAI fix implemented

But the company that makes ChatGPT, OpenAI, said "We've implemented a fix to ensure ChatGPT refuses to answer requests for results to elections that haven't concluded and directs people to authoritative sources of information, like the UK Electoral Commission website."

"This fix has been applied to many queries already and we're working urgently to ensure it is applied broadly," a spokesperson said.

What's generative AI?

Generative AI can create new sentences and even pictures, videos, and computer code from scratch.

It's trained to do this on large amounts of data, mostly scraped from the internet.

Use of such chatbots to study, learn and even work has increased since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022.

Sam Altman, the OpenAI chief executive, said it had 100 million unique visitors and 590 million views in January 2023.

How do other AI chatbots compare?

Google's generative AI chatbot Gemini in March was restricted from answering election-related questions in countries where voting is taking place.

Meta's Llama 2 says that future elections have not yet taken place but adds that dates have not been set for EU and UK elections. This is despite voting taking place this week and on 4 July respectively.

Sunak to pledge first-time buyer stamp duty cut

A pledge to permanently get rid of stamp duty tax for first-time buyers of properties costing up to £425,000 is expected to be included in the Conservative manifesto.

The tax is paid when someone buys a property in England and Northern Ireland.

What is known as the nil-rate threshold for First Time Buyers’ Relief up to £425,000 is currently due to expire at the end of March next year.

It comes with the party seeking to move on from the row about the prime minister’s decision to leave D-Day commemorations early on Thursday.

In a televised debate on Friday, Conservative Cabinet Minister Penny Mordaunt said the prime minister's decision was "completely wrong".

Their manifesto, which is expected to be published in the coming days, is not thought to include any pledge on inheritance tax.

However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will vow, that if re-elected on 4 July, he would scrap National Insurance, albeit when it is deemed affordable to do so - something Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has previously committed to.

Labour have frequently attacked the party for making the promise, calling it an "unfunded pledge".

The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats will also publish their manifestos next week.

The Scottish National Party’s prospectus is expected the week after.

Stamp duty is devolved to governments in Wales and Scotland, where it is called the Land Transaction Tax and the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax respectively.

The stamp duty tax cut for first-time buyers was first introduced in 2022 by Liz Truss during her brief spell as prime minister.

At the time, her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said the change would remove 200,000 people from having to pay stamp duty.

Her government also raised the threshold at which other buyers had to start paying the tax from £125,000 to £250,000.

The rates are currently:

  • 0%: £0 - £250,000 (£425,000 for first time buyers)
  • 5%: £250,000 - £925,000
  • 10%: £925,000 - £1,500,000
  • 12%: £1,500,000+
There was also a stamp duty holiday during the Covid pandemic, aimed at helping home buyers whose finances had been affected.

The average house price in the UK stands at around £260,000

In 2021/22 stamp duty raised around £14.1bn, with residential properties making up three quarters of the total.

Heads want school funding to be election priority

Two Essex headteachers have called for education funding to go up the political agenda in the election campaign.

Vic Goddard, who has led Passmores Academy in Harlow for 25 years, said the current situation was "unsustainable".

Katherine Jeffrey, the principle of the independent New Hall School in Chelmsford, said Labour's plan to charge private schools 20% VAT and end business rate relief, could lead to a "wipe out" in her sector.

A report published on Thursday by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the schools' budget would have to rise by 4% this financial year just to deal with inflationary pressures.

Passmores is a state-funded school in an area of socio-economic deprivation.

It has 1,200 pupils on roll and has consistently been rated "good" by Ofsted.

But next year the academy will have to take on 100 additional pupils, while finding budget savings of £40,000.

"We have to have funding that meets costs, it's as simple as that", Mr Goddard said.

"I'll have more children, but I've got less money," he added, "the only thing we can do is get rid of teachers or not replace resources."

Mr Goddard is the chief executive of a Passmores Cooperative Learning Community, which oversees six schools in Harlow and said "nothing is off the table" when it comes to finding savings.

He said he tells headteachers at the other schools, "If you want more of something, you've got to have less of something else".

That includes classroom support for vulnerable children and new learning resources, he said.

"All of those things that should be necessities, now feel like luxuries."

Twenty miles away at New Hall School in Chelmsford, funding is also high on the agenda of principle Katherine Jeffrey.

The Catholic independent school has 1,400 students from the prep school up to the sixth form.

Ms Jeffrey is deeply concerned about Labour's plans to remove the VAT exemption on independent school fees.

She said around 300 children at the school are already in receipt of means-tested bursaries because they cannot afford the full fees.

The school could not afford to absorb that tax rise, she said, meaning "those families would potentially not be able to continue at the school", with the impact falling on the state sector.

Ms Jeffrey said the potential future policy had caused "uncertainty for parents and schools" in the sector.

The preparatory school will be reduced from three forms to two from next year she said, because fewer parents feel they will be able to afford to send their children to the school.

She believes it to be an existential threat for independent schools, citing a recent example of private schools forced to reduce fees because they could not offer the full educational experience.

"The pandemic, the lockdowns wiped out 20% of the Catholic independent sector."

She said that half of the remaining schools were "struggling on break-even budgets".

Ms Jeffrey added: "It feels like a religion tax, as well as being an education tax."

The IFS, an economic think-tank, set out an analysis of state school spending since 2010, and the pressures that will face the next government.

It found that although the schools' budget had increased overall in the past 14 years, per pupil spending remained at 2010 levels.

The body said there were a number of factors that continued to add to cost pressures:

  • Problems with recruitment and retention of teachers and PAs has meant that wages would need to rise to attract people to work in schools
  • The number of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has increased by 60% in the past decade, a trend that looks set to continue
  • A backlog of school repairs, with spending on infrastructure down by 25% compared to the mid 2000s - a particular problem in Essex which has 62 schools with problems due to crumbling concrete
The report finds that while pupil performance in England has markedly improved over the past 10 to 15 years, the pandemic stalled this progress, and the country has much greater inequalities than comparable countries.

None of the parties have published their manifestos yet but the Conservatives say that they have increased school funding to record levels.

Labour says removing the VAT exemption on school fees will allow it to fund 6,500 more teachers while the Liberal Democrat conference last year voted to increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year.

Story of every other country. These politicians are same everywhere.
But on the other hand we do get a lot for the tax we pay The Welfare State, NHS and education to name just 3. I am not totally against high taxes but I don't like the fact that they aren't honest about it.
Former Scottish Greens leader Robin Harper joins Labour

A former Scottish Greens leader and MSP has joined the Scottish Labour Party.

Robin Harper, who was the UK's first Green parliamentarian, criticised the SNP and his former party for failing on the environment.

In a letter to voters in Edinburgh, he said voting for Labour in this election was the "only way to get rid of the Tories".

Last year, Mr Harper resigned his life membership of the Scottish Greens. saying he believed the party had "lost the plot".

In his resignation letter he told co-leader Patrick Harvie he was concerned by the the party's pro-independence stance and its position on transgender rights.

Mr Harper served as a Lothians MSP between 1999 and 2011 and was co-convener of the party from 2004 to 2008.

Writing to voters in Scotland's capital city, Mr Harper said: "I desperately want to see the back of this Conservative government, who have crashed our economy, degraded our political life and failed to tackle climate change.

“The SNP, and until recently their Green coalition partners, have also failed to take action on the environment."

He added: “Labour is the only party with a plan for combatting climate change and harnessing the potential of the green industrial revolution.

“This election provides us with a now-or-never opportunity to remove the Tories from power and end the chaos, failure and inaction that has marked their fourteen years in government."

Ian Murray, Labour candidate for Edinburgh South, said he was delighted Mr Harper was helping his campaign.

“Robin is one of the most respected parliamentarians of the devolution era," he said.

“His decision to join the Scottish Labour Party demonstrates that we are the only party with a clear plan to deliver on Scotland’s green potential – creating thousands of clean energy jobs and cutting energy bills for good, with GB Energy paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants."


Nigel Farage: Man arrested after objects thrown at Reform leader during Barnsley bus trip​

A man has been arrested after objects were thrown at Nigel Farage as he went through Barnsley town centre on an open-top bus.

The Reform party leader was shaking his fist to acknowledge cheers from people below when something hit the side of the vehicle.

Mr Farage raised his arm as he spotted the object flying in - but it missed him.

Video then showed a man throwing another object from a construction site bin, before being bundled away by people in high-viz vests.

He ran off but was detained by police.

Mr Farage said he believed he was targeted by wet cement and a coffee cup.

"My huge thanks to South Yorkshire Police today," he wrote on X.

"I will not be bullied or cowed by a violent left-wing mob who hate our country."

Police said a 28-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of public order offences and believe the suspect threw objects from a "nearby construction area".

The incident comes after a woman threw a milkshake over Mr Farage last week in Clacton in Essex - the constituency he will contest in the election.

Mr Farage changed his mind about standing in the contest and became Reform's leader.

He's aiming to become an MP on his eighth attempt.

Source: SKY
Starmer reveals 'worry' for family if he enters No 10 as Sunak faces tough questions on 'broken promises'

The Labour leader also faces questions on his tax plans and says he won't 'reach for the tax lever' to solve Britain's problems - unlike some of his predecessors.

Sir Keir Starmer has revealed the thing he fears the most about becoming prime minister is the impact it will have on his children.

Speaking to Beth Rigby during Sky News' Battle For Number 10, the Labour leader said it was "not the big decisions" he feared the most but the effect his job will have on his teenage children.

He said his children - a boy aged nearly 16 and a girl aged 13 - were at "difficult ages" and it would have been easier if they were younger or older.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak - who also underwent questioning by Rigby - defended his record in Number 10 after he was questioned about "broken promises" he made in January 2023 when he became prime minister.

The prime minister was specifically asked about the tax burden, NHS waiting lists and immigration - which he admitted was "too high".

He said he could understand people's "frustrations" but argued the country has "been through two once-in-a-century shocks" - the first the COVID pandemic and the second Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Cameron side-steps questions on Sunak's D-Day exit

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has side-stepped questions about whether he advised the prime minister to stay on for the complete D-Day commemorations in Normandy.

Rishi Sunak has apologised for missing an event with US President Joe Biden for the 80th anniversary of the landings - in what is seen as the biggest gaffe of the general election campaign so far.

The Sunday Times reported that Lord Cameron advised Mr Sunak not to miss the event and was "apoplectic" but unable to stop the PM leaving.

Speaking to the BBC about Mr Sunak's early return to the UK, Lord Cameron said he gave "advice confidentially to my team leader about all sorts of things".

Pressed on the reports in the media, Lord Cameron said: “I'm not going to get into my advice, or my department's advice, to the prime minister.

"I’m part of a team and I support my team leader.

"The thing you have to remember, in politics, it's a team game, and I support my leader, and I support him as our prime minister. He's fighting an energetic campaign, and I'm right behind him.”

While world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, gathered on 6 June to pay their respects, Mr Sunak left Lord Cameron to deputise for him and travelled back to the UK.

The decision was criticised by opposition parties, as well as some Conservatives.

Mr Sunak said he had not "meant to cause anyone any hurt or upset" by leaving the D-Day event early and had "apologised unreservedly for the mistake I made".

He added: "I just hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me and look at my actions that I've taken as prime minister, both to support our armed forces with an increase in defence spending, but also have the minister focused on veterans affairs around the cabinet table, making sure this is best country in the world to be a veteran."

Lord Cameron said Mr Sunak was right to apologise.

"He said, quite rightly, that he regretted not staying and thought that he had made mistake and was very frank and honest about it to be fair to him," Lord Cameron said.

Lord Cameron explained his photo with Mr Biden, Mr Macron and Mr Scholz, which has become the defining image of the blunder, was a spontaneous decision - not an official event Mr Sunak missed.

"Mr Macron said he wanted to have a word with me. We had an exchange and then he said 'let's have photo of the quad' – which is Britain, France, America and Germany," Lord Cameron said.

"And so there we were, having a photograph. It wasn’t an event or a meeting or anything as substantial as that."

Asked if the Conservatives could win the election, he said, "any outcome is possible" and it was up to the British people.

Lord Cameron said: "I remember in 2015 being told that I was behind in the polls and I didn’t have a chance – it was all over. And we won that election."

The "only poll that matters" is on 4 July, he added.

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer's heated ITV debate hit with 686 Ofcom complaints

On June 4, Starmer and Sunak clashed in their first head-to-head debate of the General Election campaign on the state of the NHS, rising taxes, the cost of living and more. In a heated exchange earlier this month in front of a live studio audience, the PM also faced groans as he suggested doctors and nurses going on strikes was to blame for NHS waiting lists.

There were many moments that viewers at home were appalled with and took to Ofcom to complain over several issues. Sunak's claim that Labour's plan would mean £2,000 of tax rises per working household went unchallenged by host Julie Etchingham and received 298 complaints from viewers.

Many viewers were also annoyed with the amount of airtime the Prime Minister received during the debate, with 219 filing complaints. Another 161 complaints were about the nature of a question regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict. The hour-long ITV leader's debate was moderated by Julie, who also hosted the televised events in the last three national polls. Sunak and Starmer faced questions in front of a live audience on all the major issues of the day.In his opening pitch to voters on ITV, Sunak sought to draw dividing lines with Labour as he claimed the party would “raid” pension pots and hike taxes. Sir Starmer questioned the timing of the July 4 vote, arguing Sunak had called a summer polling day because he “knows” inflation and energy prices will take a turn for the worse in winter.

Labour leader Starmer mocked the PM and dubbed him the "British expert on tax rises" after Sunak repeatedly insisted that Starmer would raise the burden. Sunak questioned Starmer on how he would resolve the long-running dispute with junior doctors, earning a round of applause as he said he would not offer a 35% pay rise.

The tense debate saw one audience member tell the PM that she can't afford to turn her oven on as she confronted him over the cost of living crisis. "In the last few years I've found it hard to make ends meet. All I do is work to live," Paula from Huddersfield said. "My savings are gone and I'm genuinely worried about my future. I don't think you actually understand how this is for people like me."

Paula added that she's unable to use her oven because of soaring energy costs, demanding: " So what can you do about that?" Mr Starmer said: "There will be millions watching this who feel the cost of living crisis bearing down on them."

He said the Government "lost control" with "people like you paying the price". The PM said many people had faced a "strain" on "family finances", as he attempted to claim he has a "clear plan".

SOURCE: Mirror
Clashing pro-Gaza candidates boost Labour's chances in Blackburn

There’s no missing Craig Murray’s campaign headquarters at Blackburn’s Mi Chaii cafe. The facade is emblazoned with celebrity endorsements.

Amaar Hijazi, Palestine’s deputy foreign minister, proclaims: "Craig Murray has been for decades an important international voice for Palestine."

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd declares: "We are in an existential battle for the human soul. Vote for human rights. Vote for Craig Murray."

Stella Assange, the wife of Julian Assange, says: "Craig Murray has been a loyal friend and constant support for our family."

Murray, a former British diplomat, says he is standing for parliament on 4 July in response to Israel's war on Gaza and the "appalling pro-genocide stance" of the opposition Labour party, which is on course to win the election.

Bottom of Form

Standing for George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain, he also insists that he is "part of a wider movement in England which is seeking to challenge the two-party conservative duopoly".

The northwestern ex-industrial town of Blackburn has been represented by Labour MPs for 69 years, since 1955, including cabinet ministers Barbara Castle and Jack Straw. It was said that they used to weigh the votes rather than count them.

Kate Hollern won 64.9 percent on the vote for Labour in 2019. But Labour leader Keir Starmer’s early support for Israel’s war on Gaza has driven away Muslim voters, who make up 35 percent of the local electorate, as well as many others appalled by the conflict.

In May's local elections, Labour lost a third of its vote share in areas with Muslim majorities.

In theory, Murray could have a chance of victory. But in practice, he has run into a problem all too familiar to prominent outsiders parachuting into a constituency: fierce local opposition.

Two rival independent candidates are running against Labour - also on a pro-Gaza platform.

Taxi driver and local social media sensation Tiger Patel, an independent councillor who left the Conservative Party over its Gaza policy, wants the job.

Yet solicitor Adnan Hussain may represent a more formidable challenge. The 34-year-old, who runs a local legal practice, is backed by a group of former Labour councillors who quit the party over its Gaza policy. In the local elections in early May the group became the borough’s second-largest party.

If either of these parliamentary candidates ran with the full backing of Blackburn’s Muslim community, they would have a serious chance of becoming an MP. But if all three stand, they will gift the seat to Labour.

An increasingly bitter campaign

Murray says he is only standing because he was invited to by the independent councillors. But they challenge this account.

On Friday, Middle East Eye attended a showdown between Murray and independent councillor Waqar Hussain at the latter's house.

After lunch, the two sat face to face, discussing the challenges Murray was facing.

The Workers Party candidate was visibly aggrevated by the situation, though he kept calm and courteous. "It's not my usual style to be confrontational in someone's house," he said apologetically.

Murray said the independent councillors had watched him declare his candidacy and appeared to have no issue, leading him to believe they supported him until Hussain stepped in. Now they back Hussain.

Hussain disagreed with this version of events. He said there seemed to have been a misunderstanding and that the councillors had not accepted Murray as their favoured candidate.

The men shook hands and embraced at the end of the meeting, but the issue was far from resolved. In fact, the campaign is descending further into acrimony.

Murray has leaned heavily on his history of supporting the Palestinian cause. He says he used his experience as a former diplomat to advise the Palestinian Authority to sign the Rome Statute that recognises the International Criminal Court (ICC). Without that, he argues, the ICC proescutor would never have sought an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He also says he played a role in South Africa’s decision to accuse Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice, saying his articles on the use of the Genocide Convention were read by members of South Africa’s government before they decided to bring the case.

But independent candidate Adnan Hussain is not convinced. At his legal practice surrounded by his campaign team, he challenged Murray’s role. “He’s shown no evidence,” Hussain told MEE. “And how does it qualify him to represent the people of Blackburn?”

'Gaza is important but poverty is rising'

Hussain noted that Murray stood unsuccessfully as an “anti-war” candidate in Blackburn against Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw in 2005.

“Why is he standing here?” Hussain asked, wondering why he was not a candidate in Edinburgh, where he lives.

“I was raised in this community. I talk their language. I know their struggles. Gaza is important and it's the reason why I stood. But poverty is a massive issue too and so is healthcare,” he said.

Hussain also criticised the Workers Party, because its leader, George Galloway, supports the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which has overseen a war that has killed half a million people.

Murray says he is not pro-Assad and Galloway denies being an “Assad apologist”, an accusation regularly levelled at him.

After Friday prayers, Murray was seen handing out leaflets to worshippers outside a local mosque, the Masjid e Tauheedul Islam.

Most people took a flyer and some stopped to talk to Murray. Others were gathered outside the mosque's doors engaged in their own conversation, paying little attention to the candidate.

One worshipper, Shiraz, lamented that the anti-Labour vote was being split. “There’s no unity,” he told MEE. “It’s very sad.”

Another, Ilyas, said he has lived in Blackburn for 50 years. He told MEE he supported Labour all that time, until the current war on Gaza began. Now he plans to vote for Murray.

A third person told MEE he believed that Blackburn had been betrayed by Starmer and that “we will never get a chance like this again” to punish Labour.

“The opportunity is there to defeat [Labour] but it needs all the independents to come up with a unified candidate. I seriously think we can win if we get together,” said the worshipper, who wished to remain anonymous.

'Egregious and difficult to forgive'

The Muslim Vote, a campaign that supports pro-Palestinian candidates, endorsed Hussain’s candidacy on 3 June on the grounds that the local Muslim community was behind him.

Murray accused the campaign of “racial discrimination”. Galloway, who has made a career out of courting Muslim votes, called the move “egregious and difficult to forgive”.

In response, the campaign said it remains "very respectful" of Murray's "contributions to the Palestinian cause and for human rights, and continue to believe he would have been an excellent candidate should the community have endorsed him”.

The conflict likely spells good news for Labour's Hollern.

She defied the party leadership in November to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza in parliament. In March, she backed a call for the UK government to implement a "Homes for Palestinians" scheme to help people fleeing Gaza settle in Britain.

The opposition she now faces is primarily a response to the Labour Party’s position on the war, not her own.

Hollern told MEE her support for the Palestinian cause is "unwavering" and that she has "consistently raised Palestine in parliament".

"An independent candidate will promise everything and deliver nothing," she said, describing herself as the "only candidate with a proven record for delivering on all the issues that matter to our community".

Blackburn is not the only constituency where multiple pro-Palestinian candidates have entered the fray.

In London’s Bethnal Green and Stepney, two candidates - Tasnime Akunjee and Ajmal Masroor - put themselves forward as independents against the Labour incumbent Rushanara Ali.

But there the conflict is now resolved. After several days of long meetings between the two candidates, in early June Akunjee announced he was stepping down to give Masroor a better shot at winning the seat.

It remains to be seen whether the contest in Blackburn will go the same way.

"I’m not sure if this has been said loudly enough," tweeted political scientist and popular podcaster Muhammad Jalal on Sunday, "but Blackburn's community has to sit both Adnan Hussain and Craig Murray in a room, and a decision needs to be made on one candidate.

"Otherwise, you are handing this election to Labour's Kate Hollern," he added.

Meanwhile, tensions are heating up between Labour and the independents.

On Saturday, Labour canvassers were videoed approaching Hussain and his campaigners. A scuffle ensued between some of them and Hussain was seen trying to defuse the situation. Hollern, who was nearby, stayed away from the scene.

Hollern told the Lancashire Telegraph the incident was due to “intimidatory behaviour” by Hussain’s canvassers, while Hussain said he was “horrified by what I and my team were subjected to by the local Labour Party on the streets of Blackburn”.

As election day draws closer, pressure is mounting for a unified pro-Palestinian vote.


Billionaire donor John Caudwell endorses Labour for first time in 'despair' at Tories​

A billionaire donor who backed Boris Johnson at the last election said he will be voting for Labour next month because the Tories' record has left him in "despair".

John Caudwell, who founded Phones4U, gave half a million pounds to the Conservatives in 2019 to avoid what he called "the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street".

However, he said the "failures" of the three prime ministers in government since then, alongside Labour's "transformation" under leader Sir Keir Starmer had led him to switch allegiance for the first time in his life.

Mr Caudwell said: "For many years now I have been rather despairing about the performance of the party that I have supported for the last 51 years: the Tories.

"Only five years ago, I donated half a million to the Conservatives to help avert the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

"But I've been increasingly critical of Tory failures since then, particularly over Rishi's mismanagement of the economy during Covid, Boris' lowering of ethical standards - and, of course, associated with that the accusation that Tory cronies benefited improperly regarding Covid PPE - and then the Liz Truss debacle."

Mr Caudwell said over the last two years especially, he has been "amazed by how Keir Starmer has transformed the Labour Party and brought it back from that Corbyn brink".

"As I have always said, the government must be much more commercially minded to grow GDP in order to finance the public services that benefit all of society without increasing taxes."

He said he was "delighted" to see economic growth at the "front and centre" of Labour's manifesto, and "that projected growth is clearly tied into making Britain a clean energy superpower".

He added: "So, I can declare publicly that I will vote for Labour, and I encourage everybody to do the same.

"We need a very strong Labour Government that can take extremely bold decisions and you can rest assured that I will be doing my best to influence them wherever I can, in putting the great back in Britain."

The news is a further boost for Sir Keir, who according to the latest election poll is on course for a 256-seat majority - the largest of any post-war government.

If correct that would also plunge the Tories to their lowest number of MPs ever - a remarkable turnaround for the party that won a commanding 80-seat majority five years ago.

The announcement follows a recent meeting between Mr Caudwell and Sir Keir.

Sir Keir said: "I'm delighted that John, someone with such a successful track record in business, has today thrown his support behind the changed Labour Party that I lead.

"The message is clear: business backs change and economic stability with Labour, and rejects five more years of chaos and decline with the Tories."

Sir Keir added: "John was not just a Conservative voter but a substantial donor to the Conservative Party in 2019 - so it's not a decision that he will have taken lightly. But it's clear that he shares my plan for growth that I set out in the Labour manifesto.

"I'm campaigning non stop between now and 4 July to win the votes of other people who have backed the Tories in the past but see change with Labour as the best future for Britain."

Source: SKY
Rishi Sunak 'incredibly angry' over 'really serious' election date betting allegations

Rishi Sunak has said he is "incredibly angry" to learn of allegations that Tory candidates placed bets on the election date, calling it a "really serious matter".

The prime minister told the BBC Question Time leader's special that "it's right they're being investigated by relevant law enforcement" and he is "crystal clear that if anyone has broken the rules they should face [the] full force of the law".

Asked why those under suspicion haven't been suspended, Mr Sunak said an investigation had to take place first - but anyone guilty would be "booted out" of the party.

Tories pledge focus on pubs and clubs in 'first 100 days'

A review of licensing laws and planning rules aimed at boosting pubs, restaurants and music venues would be launched in the first 100 days of a new Conservative government, the party has promised.

Ministers would look at ways to "crack down" on councils setting "disproportionate conditions and restrictions on licences" in a bid to cut red tape for businesses in the sector, the Conservatives said.

Labour said it was "time to call last orders on the Tories".

Hospitality was hit hard by the Covid pandemic as venues were forced to shut and the sector's recovery has been hampered by rising running costs, resulting in the closure of hundreds of pubs and clubs.

'Lack of detail'

Earlier this year, Pryzm and Atik nightclubs owner Rekom announced the closure of 17 venues with the loss of 500 jobs, with bosses saying students were cutting back on midweek nights out because of cost-of-living pressures.

About 400 nightclubs shut down permanently between March 2020 and December 2023, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).

A review of England's night-time economy had been promised in the Conservative manifesto, but the party has now said it would begin within the first 100 days if it wins the general election.

The Tories said they would cut what they described as red tape "unnecessarily holding back growth and adding operating costs for businesses", and consider creating a ministerial position for the sector.

They would "protect" music venues, they added, by strengthening the enforcement of the "agent of change" planning principle, which requires developers who build near an existing venue to pay for their own sound proofing.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said the body had seen a "considerable amount of broad brush commitments" in manifestos from all political parties, and was "frustrated by the lack of detail and substance".

He said it was "encouraging to see that the Conservatives have listened to our recent call for more detail", but warned the night-time industry, which employs more than two million people, "needs these commitments and more".

“Without doubt we need the new government to re-evaluate our licensing and planning systems, removing red tape and unnecessary regulatory burdens, and moving towards a system that is proportionate, fair, and consistent," he added.

Conservative small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said his party had "always supported our night-time economy, with business rates reliefs, economic support during the pandemic".

“We’ll continue to back our night-time economy - Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation."

But Labour said the prime minister "simply has no answers to the problems facing the country".

“After 14 years in power, Rishi Sunak’s offer to voters is ‘a review’," a spokesperson said.

“On the Tories’ watch, 'night fever' is dead. Nightclubs, venues and music festivals have shut in their droves, and thousands of pub landlords have pulled their last pint."

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said the pledge was an "empty promise".

"The sheer number of closed shops, pubs and restaurants in high streets across the UK is a testament to the Conservatives' utter failure to support Britain's local economies," they added.


Nigel Farage hits back at 'hypocrisy' of Boris Johnson over Ukraine comments​

Nigel Farage has hit back at Boris Johnson after the former prime minister labelled him "morally repugnant" over comments he made about the war in Ukraine.

The Reform UK leader accused Mr Johnson of "hypocrisy" as he brandished a copy of a newspaper front page from 2016 that read: "Boris blames EU for war in Ukraine".

Appearing on top of a campaign bus in Maidstone, Kent, Mr Farage pointed out that the former London mayor once blamed Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014 on policies in Brussels.

The Reform leader was speaking after comments he made last week - when he claimed the West and NATO "provoked" the Ukraine conflict that began more than two years ago - generated a strong backlash.

Mr Farage told the BBC that he had been saying since the fall of the Berlin Wall there would be a war in Ukraine due to the "ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union".

He said those actions had given Vladimir Putin a reason to tell the Russian people "they're coming for us again" and go to war.

Mr Farage was also challenged in the interview about his previous comments about the Russian president, whom he said he "admired" as a political operator - although he said the war was "of course" Mr Putin's "fault".

Following the interview, Mr Johnson, who approved hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of financial assistance to Ukraine while he was prime minister, accused Mr Farage of "parroting Putin's lies".

Mr Johnson was responding to an article Mr Farage wrote in The Telegraph in which he stuck to the comments he made in the BBC interview.

Sharing the article on X, Mr Johnson wrote: "This is nauseating ahistorical drivel and more Kremlin propaganda. Nobody provoked Putin. Nobody 'poked the bear with a stick'.

"The people of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly in 1991 to be a sovereign and independent country. They were perfectly entitled to seek both NATO and EU membership.

"There is only one person responsible for Russian aggression against Ukraine - both in 2014 and 2022 - and that is Putin. To try to spread the blame is morally repugnant and parroting Putin's lies."

Mr Farage told supporters in Kent: "Well, perhaps it's Boris Johnson that's morally repugnant and not me, I don't know. But can you see the sheer level of hypocrisy? Can you see the nonsense of all of this?"

He said Mr Johnson would go down as the "worst prime minister of modern times", who betrayed an "80 seat majority" and voters who supported Brexit.

Mr Farage once again stuck by his belief that the West had provoked the war in Ukraine, saying he had warned about such an outcome back in 2014.

"I was alone, I was the only person in 2014 who said there will be a war in Ukraine," he said. "I can't take those words away and nor would I want to."

"The fact I was more far-sighted than the rest of our political leaders? It's not something that I'm going to apologise for."

Responding to criticism that he had given cover to Mr Putin, Mr Farage said he would "never, ever defend" the Russian president.

"This has been turned into 'Farage makes outrageous statement', 'Farage defends Putin' - well I've done none of those things," he said.

"I would never, ever defend Putin and I think his behaviour in Ukraine and elsewhere has been reprehensible."

He added: "But if we're going to think towards a peace at some time in the not too distant future, perhaps it might be helpful to understand what went wrong in the first place."

The Tories, whose election campaign has been engulfed by a scandal over bets placed on the date of the election, have sought to capitalise on Mr Farage's comments about Mr Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.

Rishi Sunak repeated this morning that Mr Farage's claim "plays into Putin's hands".

"You all heard what Nigel Farage said about Ukraine," he said at the launch of the Scottish Conservatives' manifesto launch in Edinburgh.

"That plays into Putin's hands. That kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain's security, the security of our allies that rely on us and will only embolden Putin."

Source: SKY
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says "there needs to be sanctions" for the offence of "stolen valour" after a police chief was dismissed for gross misconduct

A panel upheld allegations that the former Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Nick Adderley, lied and exaggerated his naval rank, length of service and achievements.

In the light of the case, veterans have called for changes in the law to make it a criminal offence to wear medals without the right to do so.

Asked if there should be further sanctions against Mr Adderley, he said: "Stolen valour is really serious. "It really impacts those who have served, it impacts all of us, but particularly those of us who have served."
Nick Adderley with short dark hair in a police uniform

Mr Adderley faced a disciplinary panel last week after claims emerged that he wore medals he was not entitled to display

Sir Keir added: "There does need to be sanctions, the force [Northamptonshire Police] in the first instance needs to decide what the sanctions are."

He said: "Do I think there should be sanctions? Yes, I do.

"It goes to the police and crime commissioner and possibly up to the home secretary, so we will see what the process yields."

The Conservative Party has also been approached for a comment on their stance. The allegations against Mr Adderley came to light when doubt was cast over the Falklands War medal that the former chief constable had worn on his uniform since 2009, despite only being 15 at the time of the conflict.

He denied gross misconduct and that he acted "without honesty and integrity".

Last Thursday, his gross misconduct hearing was told that "lies are flowing" from the mouth of Northamptonshire's top police officer.

In his closing statement, John Beggs KC said Mr Adderley had lied about reaching the rank of lieutenant in the military and that he was a military negotiator in Haiti in the 1980s.

Source: BBC

Labour candidate Kevin Craig suspended after betting against himself​

A Labour candidate has been suspended by the party after betting against himself - with the Gambling Commission launching an investigation into him.

Kevin Craig is running to become the MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - a safe Conservative seat previously held by ex-Tory Dan Poulter, who defected to Labour ahead of the election and is not standing again.

Sky News' chief political correspondent Jon Craig understands the bet was relating to the outcome of the vote in his constituency - and the candidate had actually been betting he would lose the contest.

Labour confirmed Kevin Craig had been suspended by the party - though at this late stage, he will still appear on the ballot paper with "Labour" next to his name.

It is also understood that the party will return £100,000 in donations to the businessman that he has made since Sir Keir Starmer took charge of Labour.

Posting on X, Mr Craig said he had "enjoyed the odd bet for fun" throughout his life, adding: "A few weeks ago when I thought I would never win this seat I put a bet on the Tories to win here with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities.

"While I did not place this bet with any prior knowledge of the outcome, this was a huge mistake, for which I apologise unreservedly."

He said he had "so much respect" for Sir Keir and it was "right that the party upholds the highest standards for its parliamentary candidates - just as the public expects the highest standards from any party hoping to serve in government".

Mr Craig also said he would "comply fully" with the Gambling Commission's investigation and apologised to his local Labour team, adding: "I deeply regret what I have done and will take the consequences of this stupid error of judgement on the chin."

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "With [Sir] Keir Starmer as leader, the Labour Party upholds the highest standards for our parliamentary candidates, as the public rightly expects from any party hoping to serve, which is why we have acted immediately in this case."

The incident comes after two Conservative candidates were suspended by their party for allegedly placing bets on when the election date would be.

Those allegations first emerged almost two weeks ago, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he would wait for the outcome of the Gambling Commission's inquiry before acting.


Ex-candidate's election bet 'unacceptable' - Sarwar​

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said he is confident none of his party's general election candidates have behaved inappropriately after one south of the border was suspended for betting against himself.

Labour dropped Kevin Craig as its candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich after the Gambling Commission launched an investigation into him.

Mr Sarwar said his behaviour was "completely unacceptable".

Several Conservative candidates and senior officials have allegedly bet on the date of the 4 July election.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has admitted to placing three bets on the date in the weeks before Rishi Sunak’s surprise announcement - but said he did not break any rules.

Mr Sarwar said Mr Craig had been suspended as soon as it was confirmed the Gambling Commission had launched an investigation and a £100,000 donation made by the former candidate in May 2023 had been returned.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: “Insider trading, or the accusation of insider trading is completely unacceptable.”

Mr Sarwar said he did not "have any knowledge of any bets being placed" by Labour candidates in Scotland.

He added: “Absolutely I’m confident that our candidates are all behaving appropriately and acting appropriately and spending their time doing what they should be doing.”

In a statement on social media, Mr Craig said he "did not place this bet with any prior knowledge of the outcome" and had planned on "giving any winnings to local charities".

"This was a huge mistake, for which I apologise unreservedly," he said.

The Gambling Commission has not said who it is looking into but so far the names of five Conservatives have emerged, including three candidates.

BBC Newsnight has reported that up to 15 Conservative Party candidates and officials are being looked at.

Mr Jack, who is standing down at the election, told the BBC that in April he placed a successful bet that the election date would fall between July and September - after losing two similar bets in March.

He said he had no knowledge of when the election would be called and was not under investigation by the commission.

Starmer says Sunak was 'bullied' into action over gambling scandal - as Metropolitan Police investigates 'small number of cases'

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of being "bullied into action" over the election gambling scandal after a question over politicians' "lack of integrity and honesty" in the final TV debate.

As the debate in Nottingham came to an end, the Metropolitan Police released a statement saying it was taking on a "small number of cases" to assess whether some of those involved have committed misconduct in public office. The Gambling Commission will continue to probe alleged breaches of the Gambling Act, it said.

The first audience member to grill the two leaders at the BBC debate said allegations of betting on the election have left many "dismayed".

Sir Keir compared the scandal to 'partygate', saying: "You have to lead from the front on issues like this.

"When one of my team was alleged to have been involved and investigated by the Gambling Commission, they were suspended within minutes, because I knew it made it really important to be swift.

"The prime minister delayed and delayed and delayed until eventually he was bullied into taking action."

Mr Sunak responded: "It was important to me that given the seriousness and the sensitivity of the matters at hand that they were dealt with properly, and that's what I've done."

He added that he is "furious" and "frustrated" over the allegations.


Major Tory donor Sir John Hall defects to Reform UK​

A Conservative donor who gave more than £500,000 to the party has defected to Reform UK.

Sir John Hall, former Newcastle United owner, joined Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at an election rally in Durham on Thursday to announce his support for the party.

Mr Farage said Sir John, who helped fund Theresa May's 2017 election bid, had given Reform UK a donation, but did not confirm how much.

He thanked Sir John "for coming out so publicly for us" and said the property developer was a "major success story, a role model".

PM's chief of staff helping election bet investigators

Rishi Sunak's chief of staff has been interviewed as a witness by the Gambling Commission, about the saga over alleged bets on the timing of the general election.

Liam Booth-Smith spoke to the betting regulator at its request last week.

Sources stress that Mr Booth-Smith, the prime minister's closest aide, is not a suspect in the investigation and had not placed a bet himself.

He was asked to help the commission understand who may and may not have known about when polling day would be.

The ongoing saga started more than two weeks ago, when Tory candidate Craig Williams, who was an aide to the prime minister in the last Parliament, was alleged to have bet on the election date.

Mr Williams has apologised and said he made a "huge error of judgement" by placing a £100 bet on a July election three days before Rishi Sunak announced the 4 July poll.

Since then, more candidates have been revealed as being under investigation, as well as seven Met Police officers.

BBC Newsnight understands that as many as 15 Conservative Party candidates and officials are now being scrutinised by the commission.

Labour has suspended its candidate in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Kevin Craig.

On Tuesday, after days of questions, the Tories withdrew support for two election candidates - Laura Saunders in Bristol North West and Craig Williams in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr.

The BBC's head-to-head TV debate on Wednesday kicked off with the two leaders being questioned about the claims.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of having to be "bullied" into taking action. Mr Sunak said he had handled the affair properly.

'It hurts and makes me angry' - Sunak condemns racist term used by Reform UK campaigner

Conservative leader Rishi Sunak has condemned a racist term used about him by a Reform UK campaigner, saying: "It hurts and it makes me angry."

Secret recordings published by Channel 4 show a canvasser working to get Reform UK leader Nigel Farage elected as MP for Clacton using the racial slur to refer to the prime minister - who is of Indian origin.

Speaking to reporters, Sunak says "my two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaigned for Nigel Farage calling me an effing ****".

"It hurts. And it makes me angry," he says.

"I don't repeat those words lightly. I do so deliberately because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is."

Farage "has some questions to answer", he added.

Sunak says: "When you see Reform candidates and campaigners, seemingly using racist and misogynistic language and opinions seemingly without challenge, I think it tells you something about the culture within the Reform Party."

Reform UK said those making "unacceptable comments" will no longer be part of Farage's campaign.

Farage challenged over canvasser's racist slurs

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has repeated his assertion that footage showing racist comments apparently made by one of his party's activists was a "set-up".

He faced angry questions from a BBC Question Time audience over a Channel 4 broadcast which showed Andrew Parker, a canvasser for Reform UK, using a racist term about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Farage described the comments as a "tirade of invective abuse" but suggested the man may have been paid.

Challenged on other comments made by Reform UK candidates, Mr Farage said he "wouldn't want anything" to do with them and said he had withdrawn his support.

Appearing ahead of Mr Farage on the same programme, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay condemned Mr Parker's comments as "horrific" and said it was "a stark reminder of the future we could be heading for if people back Reform at the election".

Asked about comments made by some of his own candidates, he said concerns would be properly investigated.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Sunak said the comments in the Channel 4 footage hurt adding: "It makes me angry."

He said his two daughters "have to see and hear Reform people who campaigned for Nigel Farage" using racist language against him.

He said Mr Farage had "some questions to answer".

In addition to the slur directed at the prime minister, Mr Parker was also heard describing Islam as "the most disgusting cult out" and suggesting army recruits should carry out “target practice” by shooting at small boats bringing illegal migrants to the UK.

In a statement, Mr Parker said he wanted to "apologise profusely to Nigel Farage and the Reform Party if my personal views have reflected badly on them and brought them into disrepute as this was not my intention".

Essex Police have said they are "urgently assessing" comments in the programme "to establish if there are any criminal offences".

The subject came up as the first question on the Question Time Leaders' Special when an audience member asked: "What is it about your party that attracts racists?"

Mr Farage argued that he had done more to drive out the far-right than any living person in British politics.

"I took on the BNP just over a decade ago. I said to their voters, if this is a protest vote but you don't support their racist agenda, don't vote for them, vote for me, destroyed them."

He went on to reiterate claims he made earlier in the day that Mr Parker was an actor who had an alter ego and suggested it was "a political setup of astonishing proportions".

"This was designed to hurt us, and sadly some people believe it."

Channel 4 News said it stood by its "rigorous and duly impartial journalism" adding that it met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters and had not paid him any money.

Mr Farage was subsequently asked about other comments made by Reform UK candidates including Edward Oakenfull who wrote offensive social media posts about the IQ of sub-Saharan Africans. Mr Oakenfull has told the BBC his comments had been "taken out of context".

Mr Farage said he disowned the candidates in question adding: "I want nothing to do with them."

"You get people in all parties saying bad things and wrong things," he said, arguing it was partly the consequence of having to find candidates quickly following the PM's surprise calling of a general election for July.

Parties can, and have, withdrawn support from their candidates during this election campaign but is too late to stop them appearing on the ballot paper.

Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay was also asked about comments made by some of his candidates in relation to the conflict in Gaza, including one who compared Hamas to French resistance fighters in World War Two.

Mr Ramsay said he didn't support those views adding that any concerns would be "properly investigated through the right channels in the party" - saying that those channels were separate from the leadership.

"Sadly all parties have had candidates who were selected in this election who have no longer gone forward," he said.

Election hustings to be held in cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral is to host a public election meeting with candidates campaigning to win the city's parliamentary seat.

The event on 1 July will be moderated by a pastor from a local church and the head of the anti-poverty charity Acts Trust.

Tickets to attend are free but need to be booked online in advance.

The Revd Canon Rowena King from the cathedral said she wanted the event to be an opportunity for respectful conversation about some of the key issues affecting people across the city.

“Politics, at its heart, is about reshaping our nation towards a sense of the common good," she said.

"There are many ways to build a flourishing society, and there are never black-and-white answers to complex communal and global problems."

All Anglican cathedrals have signed up to the Church of England’s PrayYourPart campaign, which "encourages prayer and participation in the life of our nation and communities".

Transform Lincoln and the cathedral are hosting the hustings in the Chapter House. All the candidates have been invited to attend.

Scotland result 'on a knife-edge' on election eve

Scottish party leaders, candidates and activists are hitting the campaign trail for the final time before the polls open in the snap summer general election.

They will be hoping to convince undecided voters to back them ahead of voting opening at 07:00 on Thursday.

First Minister John Swinney is to tell voters on Wednesday evening that while the result of the election in England is a "foregone conclusion", the vote in Scotland is "on a knife-edge".

“There are seats that could be decided by only a handful of votes," he is expected to say.

"So be certain about one thing – your vote will matter. It could make all the difference."

The SNP returned 48 MPs at the 2019 election, with Labour holding on to just one seat, but Sir Keir Starmer's party has high hopes of a revival north of the border.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar rejected calls for his party to back the SNP in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East - where the Labour candidate was suspended and stripped of party support - to ensure Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross does not win the seat.

The outgoing Tory leader announced last month he would stand instead of former MP David Duguid, who was effectively de-selected after spending time in hospital.

But Mr Sarwar said: "I am the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I want people to vote Scottish Labour.

"Scottish Labour is invested in every part of the country, so if you want to get rid of the Tories, if you want Scottish Labour representation, if you want Scotland to be at the heart of a Labour government, then you need to vote Scottish Labour - and that's what I'm calling on people to do."

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said several seats across the country would be "extremely close" between his party and the SNP.

"A vote for any party other than the Scottish Conservatives - including Reform, Labour or the Liberal Democrats - just increases the chances of the SNP sneaking in by the back door," he added.

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton warned the NHS in Scotland was "teetering on the brink".

It came after new figures showed the number of Scots waiting four hours or more at accident and emergency is the highest since January.

While health is devolved to Holyrood, Mr Cole-Hamilton's party has made the NHS a central pillar of its pitch to voters.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will address the problems at both the front door and the back door of the NHS," he said.

"We will get everyone fast access to community services, including GPs and dentists, so fewer people need to go to hospital in the first place."

Election manifestos analysed

There are 4,081,585 registered voters in Scotland. About a quarter of them - 998,863 - are postal voters.

Yet concerns have been raised about Scots receiving their postal ballots in time.

The 4 July election falls in the first full week of the school summer holidays in most parts of Scotland, with delays in receiving postal votes resulting in some Scots being left without a vote due to pre-planned overseas holidays.

In a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, First Minister John Swinney said the issues had been caused by a combination of Mr Sunak's decision to hold the vote on an "unsuitable date", and the timetable for elections leaving "little room" to address issues.

On Monday, Rishi Sunak's official spokesman told reporters the prime minister did not share Mr Swinney's concerns, adding that the UK government was working with the Electoral Commission, elections officials and the Royal Mail to resolve any issues.

UK Postal Affairs Minister Kevin Hollinrake is said to be "urgently investigating" the issue, but Royal Mail has rejected claims there is a backlog, saying the service is "not complacent".

Labour on course for biggest majority of any party since 1832 - final YouGov projection

Labour are on course for a landslide victory on Thursday with a majority of 212 seats according to the final YouGov poll projection of the campaign.

This will give Sir Keir Starmer the biggest majority for any single party since 1832 in a vote which YouGov's last MRP suggests will break a series of electoral records.

Some of the biggest names in Conservative politics would lose their seats under this projection, including 16 of the 26 cabinet ministers still standing, including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.


Polls open in general election

Voting is under way in East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire in the 2024 general election.

People can vote from 07:00 until 22:00 BST in polling stations across the region.

There are 11 seats being contested across Hull, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

Results will be declared early on Friday, with a large number expected between 03:00 and 05:00 BST.

How a betting scandal damaged the Tory campaign

The gambling-obsessed UK is one of the few countries where it's legal to bet on politics. Still, it's typically frowned upon for politicians themselves.

The issue has dogged the Conservative Party campaign ever since it was forced to drop a series of candidates — including Craig Williams, a fairly close ally of Rishi Sunak — for using insider information while betting on Sunak calling a July election date, slightly earlier than was necessary or expected.

For those of you at home looking at the calendar, yes, this means either Sunak or Conservative Party strategists actually chose to hold the general election on July 4 date — synonymous as it is with US independence and waning British global power.

In one more extreme case, a Conservative MP is even accused of placing a fairly sizeable 8,000 pound (roughly €9,450 or $10,200) bet on himself losing his own seat.

Sir Philip Davies neither confirmed nor denied the allegation when responding to media reports, saying his betting habits were "nobody's business," and that even if he had, he would not have broken the law.

"I had a bet on myself to lose in the 2005 election, and my bet went down the pan," he said last week. "I hope to win. I'm busting a gut to win. I expect to lose."

This lack of confidence has been more broadly apparent in the 75 Conservative MPs who announced they would be stepping down and would not compete in the July 4 election.

These included former Prime Minister Theresa May, former Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Cabinet veteran and Brexit advocate Michael Gove, and the former Chancellors Sajid Javid and Kwasi Kwarteng.

Source: DW
UK communities locked in tight contests

Communities all over the United Kingdom such as Henley-on-Thames are locked in tight contests in which traditional party loyalties come second to more immediate concerns about the economy, crumbling infrastructure and the National Health Service.

Though it has traditionally been a Conservative Party stronghold, the area may change its stripes. The Tories have been beset by sluggish growth, declining public services and a series of scandals, making them easy targets for critics on the left and right.

“This is a blue (Conservative) town, always has been,’’ restaurant manager Sam Wilkinson said. “My generation won’t necessarily vote blue, not necessarily, but at the same time who else do you vote for? It’s really tricky.”

Residents steadily streamed to the polling station, including Patricia Mulcahy, who is retired.

“The younger generation are far more interested in change,’’ she said. “So, I think whatever happens in Henley, in the country, there will be a big shift.”

Source: AP
Ideal result is a hung parliament with the Tories and Reform in third and fourth, leaving an odd coalition but Labour suffering huge losses in independent seats. A huge Tory loss knocking them out of opposition too and Labour with no overall majority.

The times have a changed

Viva La Revolucion
Ideal result is a hung parliament with the Tories and Reform in third and fourth, leaving an odd coalition but Labour suffering huge losses in independent seats. A huge Tory loss knocking them out of opposition too and Labour with no overall majority.

The times have a changed

Viva La Revolucion
Hope Sunak loses his seat. It will be the ultimate slap. He unleashed the dogs of racist politics and then cried when they turned around and bit him too.
My biggest fear is that when the Tories lose we will see the mergence of an extreme right wing Tory Party (this is the sole the purpose of the Reform Party)... So the long term prognosis won't be good.

A hung parliament may be best politically but not for the economical situation of the country.

What a dilemma..
Who do I vote for?
My biggest fear is that when the Tories lose we will see the mergence of an extreme right wing Tory Party (this is the sole the purpose of the Reform Party)... So the long term prognosis won't be good.

A hung parliament may be best politically but not for the economical situation of the country.

What a dilemma..
Who do I vote for?
I don't think the UK wants extreme right wing. Or extreme left.

We are different to the rest of Europe in that sense.

Tories will have to return to the centre
Emma Raducanu says she didn't know election was today

While millions of people across the country are heading to the polls, tennis star Emma Raducanu says she will instead opt for a "lie-in" this morning, adding she was unaware the general election was taking place today.

Asked at a press conference yesterday if she was planning to vote before practising at Wimbledon, the former US Open Champion, who competes in the third round of singles on Friday, said: "No. I think I'll have a lie-in, then I'll come to practise.

"I didn't even know it was tomorrow, to be honest. Thanks for letting me know."

Fellow Briton Katie Boulter was also asked if she would vote before her singles match at Wimbledon, scheduled to start at 13:00 today.

"I'm going to stick to the tennis right now. I don't see myself as someone who's going to get involved in anything but tennis that day for the moment," she said.

"I'll cross that bridge when I get there."

How long has it been since Labor came to power?
Keir Starmee does seem similar to Tony blair for now
First July polls in almost 80 years

Today’s vote is Britain’s first election to be held in July since 1945.

At the time, the Labour Party under Clement Attlee beat the Conservatives of World War II leader Winston Churchill, ushering in a period of profound social change.

Attlee’s government created the modern welfare state, including the National Health Service, one of the country’s most cherished institutions.

Squatters take London’s housing crisis into their own hands

As we previously reported, housing routinely appears in the top issues highlighted by voters in the UK.

High rents and unaffordable house prices have meant people in their 20s or 30s are still living at home with parents or in house shares. At the most acute end, growing numbers are sleeping on the streets and in empty buildings, official figures show.

In south London, the Reclaim Croydon collective, a squatters group, has taken over disused commercial premises to provide beds for the homeless, saying it is providing a community-based solution to a broken housing market.

Source: Al Jazeera
How long has it been since Labor came to power?
Keir Starmee does seem similar to Tony blair for now

Starmer not the PM yet, but may well be tomorrow after the votes have been counted.
Just like Pak the establishment decides who comes into power!
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Rishi got smashed. Tories are absolutely hated. I don't expect much from Starmer but I hate the Tories more
Agree. He'll be off to California now with Green Card in hand.

Slightly bittersweet moment though with Farage's lot predicted to get 13 seats. Far right finally get a formal foothold in UK politics.
Labour got less votes than under Corbyn but 400 seats. Reform has damaged the Tory party and George has eaten into the Labour vote in Muslim areas
Agree. He'll be off to California now with Green Card in hand.

Slightly bittersweet moment though with Farage's lot predicted to get 13 seats. Far right finally get a formal foothold in UK politics.
Farage and reform will either take over the Tory party or will destroy the Tory party by splitting their vote. In for interesting times
Agree. He'll be off to California now with Green Card in hand.

Slightly bittersweet moment though with Farage's lot predicted to get 13 seats. Far right finally get a formal foothold in UK politics.
Rishi will enjoy his millions. One of ex students is part of staff, poor guy
Time to emigrate, even higher taxes coming in! Starmer who thinks anyone over 50k is rich!
Time to emigrate, even higher taxes coming in! Starmer who thinks anyone over 50k is rich!
Nothing is dramatically going to change.

We are on a train hurtling over the edge of a canyon. We will wake up tomorrow still on that same train but the driver has changed and the staff are wearing a different uniform.
Nothing is dramatically going to change.

We are on a train hurtling over the edge of a canyon. We will wake up tomorrow still on that same train but the driver has changed and the staff are wearing a different uniform.

Depends on what constitutes dramatically? From a tax point I am seeing taxes going up without an uptick in public services and it may come to a point where one wonders if its worth staying in Blighty anymore especially in a post Brexit world.

Not sure if vat on school fees is dramatic or not, but I can tell it is significant, along with any increase in cgt.
Rishi will enjoy his millions. One of ex students is part of staff, poor guy
Every PM of yours has enjoyed millions , Rishi wont be the first one but the smartest one as he knew he couldn’t win an election directly.
Starmer set to be PM as Tories face worst defeat - exit poll

Labour is set to win a general election landslide with a majority of 170, according to an exit poll for the BBC, ITV and Sky.

If the forecast is accurate, Sir Keir Starmer will become prime minister with 410 Labour MPs – just short of Tony Blair's 1997 total.

The Conservatives are predicted to slump to 131 MPs, their lowest number ever.

The Liberal Democrats are projected to come third with 61 MPs.

Time to emigrate, even higher taxes coming in! Starmer who thinks anyone over 50k is rich!
It’s been high for a while now, I got family there and i can see they will never allow people to make money, it’s how UK has been becoming.

US survives too only coz they have federal structure if not Ny and democrats would had done the same here.