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WATCH: PMQs – “You have failed the test of leadership…apologise, now”

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BBC Caves To Iran, Won’t Report On Iran On BBC Persian

Westlake Legal Group iran-nuke2-620x412 BBC Caves To Iran, Won’t Report On Iran On BBC Persian Media journalism Iran Front Page Stories Featured Story Censorship bbc persian BBC Allow Media Exception

In pushing a media blackout of coverage within its borders, the Republic of Iran set conditions on BBC, essentially telling them they can’t report on anything happening Iran’s borders on BBC Persian.

The BBC agreed to the terms, angering workers at the station.

Yashar Ali of Huffington Post reported on the agreement, noting that it is a “capitulation to a government that has been hostile to press freedom.

The email, sent Saturday to all BBC Persian staff by a BBC Persian digital editor, said that BBC foreign correspondent Martin Patience and his team were in Iran “and due to leave on Sunday.”

The email goes on to say, “It is absolutely imperative that none of their material is run on BBC Persian TV, Radio or Online now or in the future. That includes any official BBC Persian social feed retweeting or forwarding the coverage. Please do not use the material and stories produced in Iran on any platform or in any format.”

It’s unclear who at the BBC agreed to the exclusivity terms.

The BBC responded to the Post:

All international media are subject to reporting restrictions in Iran. We accepted some limitations on this occasion in order to provide our audiences with rare insights from inside the country and this is signposted in our coverage. As ever, the BBC maintains full editorial control over what we broadcast. These reports – our first from inside Iran in 5 years – do not change our unwavering commitment to our BBC Persian staff and their families, who have suffered completely unacceptable harassment from the Iranian authorities since 2009.

According to Ali’s reporting, the revelation of the agreement with Iran has angered BBC Persian staff, who have been targeted by Iran in the past. The capitulation comes two years after Iran targeted current (at the time) and former BBC Persia staff by freezing their assets.

In 2017, the Iranian government froze the assets of 152 current and former BBC Persian staff.  Iran also opened up a criminal investigation into the 152 individuals and accused them of a “conspiracy against national security.” BBC Persian staffers have been subjected to death threats by the Iranian government, haven’t been able to return to Iran for fear that they will be arrested, and their family members living within Iran have been subjected to harassment and threats from the Iranian government.

In 2017, the BBC filed a complaint with the United Nations, stating, “This is not just a campaign against BBC Persian staff but against fundamental human rights, and the BBC calls on the government of Iran to end this legal action immediately,” Tony Hall, the director-general of the BBC said, at the time.

The BBC appears to have changed its tune and is now being fully compliant with the Iranian government’s efforts to censor coverage within its borders. Staffers at BBC Persian feel the agreement is just further persecution of them and their jobs.

Journalism, when done right, is supposed to shine a light on the good and the bad of the world. It isn’t meant to hide what’s going on. The BBC is allowing Iran to hide what’s going on with this decision, and it’s making a mistake in doing so. It’s a shame that they have decided to capitulate here.

The post BBC Caves To Iran, Won’t Report On Iran On BBC Persian appeared first on RedState.

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33 per cent? 45 per cent? 71 per cent? What’s the true leadership election turnout?

The results of our latest survey of Party members, published yesterday, appear to have produced an interesting reaction.

This week’s survey asked for the first time how many members have already voted. Seventy-one per cent of those on our panel say they have cast their vote, which if the voting intentions are accurate would make it mathematically impossible for Jeremy Hunt to win via a late surge.

Shortly after that finding was published a range of leaked official turnout figures started to crop up. Beth Rigby of Sky News was told the figure was ‘less than half’ by three sources, including one who claimed the figure was lower than 33 per cent. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg had been tipped off sufficiently firmly to assert that ‘Fewer than half of Tory members have so far voted in the leadership contest and sent back their ballot to party HQ – the assumption that they would all make up their mind in a flash has turned out to be wrong’. Francis Elliott of The Times has also been told ‘fewer than half’.

In short, there is quite some discrepancy. At one end is our survey figure of 71 per cent. At the other end is that Rigby source claiming somewhere below 33 per cent. And the other Rigby sources, Kuenssberg’s source and Elliott’s source, who say ‘fewer than half’ are in the middle somewhere – let’s assume around 40-49 per cent.

The reasons such a discrepancy might arise are interesting in their own right, but the truth is also politically important. It alters the tone and nature of the rest of the contest, if you believe either that most selectors have voted or most are still up for grabs.

The source of the numbers is key. It seemed likely from Rigby and Kuenssberg’s reports that their figures had come from inside the Conservative Party’s structure. Electoral Reform Services are the outside company contracted to run the leadership ballot, and while the election is formally overseen by the 1922 Committee, ERS’ contract is with – and bills paid by – the Conservative Party itself. So it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that ERS would provide regular progress reports on the running of the ballot to its client – not, of course, on how people are voting (the votes for each candidate are yet to be counted), but on whether people are doing so, whether ballot papers are being successfully received by post, and so on. On initially hearing the BBC and Sky numbers yesterday, I assumed that the figures were from just such a progress report, and were therefore most likely to be leaking from somewhere inside CCHQ or somebody in turn briefed by them.

Elliott’s report in The Times today confirms this assumption to be correct, specifying the source as ‘the internal turnout assessment passed to CCHQ from the Electoral Reform Society’.

By contrast, the ConservativeHome survey is a survey of Party members on our panel – 1,319 of whom answered the turnout question.

Anecdotally, we have other sources who echo it. An experienced organiser within the Johnson campaign tells us that in their area the Get Out The Vote operation has so far turned out 75 per cent of Johnson supporters. A Cabinet minister who has been following their local members’ decision-making estimates association turnout to be 80 per cent. A senior member of the voluntary party estimates the national figure to be around 70 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, we believe our figure to be closer to the truth than reports of only a third, or a minority, of votes having been cast, and it seems that various people closely engaged with the process tend to agree.

But the discrepancy still exists, and must be accounted for. How has it arisen, and might it be possible to navigate the various numbers to get at what is really going on?

We can dismiss the baseless allegations of untruth that have become all-too common. We do not know if any of the journalists reporting the contents of an ERS briefing have seen a document, or simply been told of it, but there’s no reason to believe that they are doing anything other than accurately reflecting information from sources they trust. Let’s engage with all the numbers on the basis of good faith.

Looking at our figure first, are there factors which could lead the ConservativeHome survey figure to be too high?

Bluntly, yes: it’s a survey, not a weighted poll, and by definition a Party member reading this site and subscribed to our panel is likely to be somewhat more politically engaged than the average member. Plus, we’re sending them regular surveys about the leadership election, which could spur some to vote by the simple effect of reminding them.

We won’t be catching negative answers from people who are ill, on holiday, et cetera. And anyone getting two ballot papers – as a member of two associations – but obeying the rules and only voting once will appear as a voter in our numbers but would only appear as 50 per cent turnout (one vote cast, the other not) in the ERS/CCHQ figures.

But even after considering those selection effects, the fact remains that our survey’s findings about opinions within the Conservative grassroots tend to map pretty closely to YouGov’s polling of the membership, so the panel doesn’t seem to be so wildly disproportionate as to account for discrepancies as large as those listed above.

So might there be factors which make the reported ERS figures an underestimate of the true turnout? Again, yes there are.

First, the ERS reports to CCHQ are effectively sampling an earlier stage of the election than our survey. It’s a postal ballot, so included in our figures are people who have recently posted their vote who won’t appear on the ERS tally until their ballot papers have been delivered, separated from personal data (eg the donation slips which were sent out at the same time) and tallied up. There could be a lag of two or three days in that process, which is not inconsiderable in the course of a week’s voting time.

Then there’s the question of how often the ERS submit these reports, and what data they are compiled from. If they’re daily, do they use the tally from the previous day’s postal delivery? Or are they less than daily? Again, this is a question of when these snapshots effectively date from.

We also don’t know when the reports being cited were submitted to CCHQ – they might be from yesterday (ie Wednesday’s tally data) or earlier. Indeed, that could even account for the difference between ‘less than a third’ and ‘under half’. If Rigby’s lower end source was citing earlier numbers than those who gave a mid-range number to her, Kuenssberg and Elliott, they could both be accurate but for different points in the last week – just as our survey, conducted on Wednesday, will include voters who won’t make it into the ERS tally until today or tomorrow.

There’s another effect that I suspect is at play. We’ve all put a letter in an envelope, stamped and addressed it, then left it on the side until we next know we’ll be going past a post box. There are likely to be quite a lot of Conservative leadership election votes in exactly that limbo right now. For good reason they won’t appear on the ERS tally of votes received, but I’d guess quite a few of those voters would regard their vote as having been ‘cast’ – on the basis that they’ve put the X in the box and it’ll be sent in very soon. They aren’t in the ballot box, but they’re out of contention for the candidates to win over – take your pick of whether they should be counted as having voted or not.

In short, it seems likely that our figure might be over by a bit, but that the low-ball claims are likely under by a decent bit – or, in the case of the lowest, by a lot. They aren’t necessarily untrue; instead, in effect the point in the race they illustrate is earlier on than the snapshot provided by the survey.

Of course, in the long-run this will prove academic. But for now it matters – and it’s worth noting that currently the interests of both leadership campaigns and CCHQ itself are all aligned in emphasising that turnout is lower than expected. Hunt and Johnson must activate their supporters as much as possible and avoid either depression or complacency setting in, while the Party’s authorities want to deliver a high-turnout leadership election to display their own effectiveness and deliver the new Prime Minister the largest possible grassroots mandate. Those conditions, more than anything else, underlie this debate on where the race currently stands.

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Mark Harper: If the Conservative Party is not the party of sound money, then what on earth are we for?

Mark Harper is a former Chief Whip, and is MP for the Forest of Dean.

Recently, I made my first ‘appearance’ on BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers, where they said that the only interesting thing about me was being a Chartered Accountant.  Now, this may not make me Box Office – but at least I know how to balance the books.

As the Conservative leadership race has gone on, both candidates have increased the amount of taxpayers’ money they have spent. Between them, adding up estimates by the independent and respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the two remaining candidates have already clocked up tax and spending promises of around £51 billion per year.

The recent BBC documentary series on Margaret Thatcher reminded me of a fundamental truth that she talked about at the 1983 Conservative Party Conference: ‘If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. It is no good thinking that someone else will pay—that “someone else” is you. There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money’.

And that truth is one of the reasons why I’m a Conservative. If the Conservative Party is not the Party of sound money, then what on earth are we for?

What do I mean by sound money?  There are two effective checks on state spending: it’s Government committing to live within its means, and ensuring people keep more of their own money.

In other words, reducing debt as a share of the economy, and reducing the tax burden.

Living within your means is clearly something that Labour doesn’t believe in – you only have to look at their policies. Take John McDonnell’s plan to nationalise the water industry in England for instance; according to the Social Market Foundation, that could cost as much as £90 billion and add five per cent to the national debt.  Lots of cost with no benefit to consumers or citizens.

When we came to power in 2010, taking over from Labour, the Government was borrowing £1 in every £4 we spent.  The budget deficit was just under ten per cent of the size of the economy, at £150 billion a year.  We had to make difficult decisions to get the public finances back under control and Labour opposed us every step of the way.

Despite Labour’s opposition, we have reduced the cash deficit to £42.9 billion—down by over 70 per cent —and the deficit as a proportion of the size of the economy is down by 75 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

We should remember, and stick to, our 2015 and 2017 Manifesto commitments to reduce national debt as a share of GDP.

The tax burden is at a 50 year high.  That’s not a comfortable place for a Conservative Government to be. As Conservatives, we want to reduce the tax burden over time to allow hard working people to keep more of their own money. Recent polling by the Onward think tank showed that the majority of people, both young and old, want to keep more of the money they earn.

We do not help people with the cost of living by putting their taxes up. Our focus should be on reducing taxes for lower and middle income earners. We should always remember that the purpose of taxes is only to raise what is necessary to pay for public services and things which only the state can do, such as defence and security.

As Conservatives, we should also recognise that there is a difference between rates of tax and how much revenue is raised from them.  Conservative chancellors from Nigel Lawson to George Osborne have recognised that cutting tax rates, reducing allowances and simplifying the tax system can lead to collecting more tax revenue. Lawson did this with income tax, Osborne with corporation tax.

There are always many pressures on public spending. We need to invest in social care, our schools and colleges, policing and the NHS.  One of the biggest challenges facing the new Prime Minister will be their approach to public spending and the need to set priorities.

A good policy to follow would be to go back to the pre-financial crash Conservative policy to share the proceeds of growth between tax cuts, spending increases and reducing debt. Each year we should look at the growth and tax forecasts made independently by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and the pressures on public services to reach a balanced approach.

These decisions need to be taken in a careful, thoughtful way using methods which already exist like a Comprehensive Spending Review and the annual Budget. The Government has already announced a Comprehensive Spending Review which will set out spending plans for the next few years, until just beyond the next General Election. It’s going to require some very tough decisions, to be made by the new Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It is perfectly reasonable for leadership candidates to set out their preferred direction of travel in specific areas of tax and spending, but the scale of those commitments should be determined by the new Prime Minister and Cabinet in a proper, balanced process.

The new Conservative Leader and Prime Minister has three tasks – deliver Brexit, govern as a Conservative, and beat Labour at the next general election. Key to defeating the Labour Party will be to win the argument on the economy. And winning the argument on the economy means winning the argument for lower taxes, for sensible levels of public spending (which involves making tough choices) and for reducing the burden of national debt.

As this leadership race comes to an end, we should not lose sight of the real finishing line – the next general election. We need to ensure that we finish this leadership contest in a better position to win it.

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John O’Sullivan: Neil is the one iceberg I see which could sink Johnson

John O’Sullivan is National Review’s Editor at Large, and is a former adviser to Lady Thatcher. 

The Tory leadership campaign continues to be “the most colossal bore”, and for the same reason: Boris Johnson is sailing to an almost inevitable triumph.

Almost no-one believes the reports that Jeremy Hunt is catching up him, still less that Johnson’s team is worried by this anti-Boris trend. The Tory activists (blue-rinsed ladies or apoplectic colonels according to taste) will simply turn deaf ears to almost anything hostile written or said about him. They want Johnson and Brexit by return of post.

The media has a professional interest in pretending otherwise, and they invent or amplify any incident that pops up to make the horse-race look like a two-horse one. As the rival contender, moreover, Hunt can depend upon a favourable headline by attacking Johnson.

He performs that role quite well, but he tripped up this week with his Uuturn on hunting. And Fleet Street’s voracious need for stories seems to me to have liberated reporters and commentators to denounce Johnson – not politically, as they do with Jeremy Corbyn, but in the most personal terms. I’ve rarely seen more stories that do little other than list a public figures low qualities in the harshest language. It illustrates the establishment’s deep hostility to him – and that’s why it’s not working.

Indeed, the fates have played into Johnson’s hands this week in the form of YouGov. Its poll showing that Labour now gets only 18 per cent support from the voters, thus running third after the Liberal Democrats, was bad for Corbyn but catnip to the front-runner. It demonstrated clearly that the Tories now have less to fear from Labour or the Lib Dems (the Left is now split in three) and more from the Brexit Party. Johnson is the candidate who represents a Brexit-First Strategy.

But there’s an iceberg ahead. Most commentators see his best hope as Prime Minister being to get a Brexit deal agreed with the EU and passed by the Commons before an election. In fact any such deal can only be a variant of May’s Withdrawal Agreement, and so unacceptable both to the activists who support Johnson today and those who have already joined Nigel Farage.

And a more immediate iceberg has emerged in the distance that could well result in the Unsinkable Boris being, well, sunk. I don’t say that it will happen, but it’s a possibility, and if he is sunk, it will be because he has freely embraced an avoidable error.

Johnson has agreed to be interviewed by Andrew Neil.

Neil is the World Heavyweight Interviewing Champion. It will be an epic interview, and the candidate risks becoming high-grade mincemeat. Neil will slice up Hunt too, but since everyone expects that, it won’t count.

Johnson may be badly wounded in this encounter. But if he survives it unscathed, or even with credit, it would be a signal that contrary to his media critics, he may have the qualities to be Prime Minister. And the leadership race would no longer be the most colossal bore.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Video: Inside China’s nightmarish Potemkin Village reeducation camps

Westlake Legal Group r-4 Video: Inside China’s nightmarish Potemkin Village reeducation camps uighur Trump transformation thought The Blog sudford reeducation Muslim correspondent Chinese China BBC

Since America’s chattering class has spent a freakish amount of time this past week debating what does and doesn’t count as a “concentration camp,” here’s something much closer to the traditional definition. This is more accurately regarded as an internment or reeducation camp, I suppose, since the goal is brainwashing, not hard labor unto death. But the scale of the concentration is vast: Last August the Journal that upwards of one million Muslim Uighurs, roughly seven percent of the population of China’s Xinjiang region, had been packed off to 1,300+ camps for “reeducation.” A more recent estimate by CFR says the number may run as high as two million. It’s a modern-day gulag, being operated on an industrial scale, and you scarcely hear about it. Including and especially from Muslim governments abroad, which are more interested in preserving their economic relationships with China than in human rights for members of their faith.

It doesn’t take much to get thrown in the camp, and it’s not just the camps that one has to fear in Xinjiang:

Most people in the camps have never been charged with crimes and have no legal avenues to challenge their detentions. The detainees seem to have been targeted for a variety of reasons, according to media reports, including traveling to or contacting people from any of the twenty-six countries China considers sensitive, such as Turkey and Afghanistan; attending services at mosques; and sending texts containing Quranic verses. Often, their only crime is being Muslim, human rights groups say, adding that many Uighurs have been labeled as extremists simply for practicing their religion…

Experts say Xinjiang has been turned into a surveillance state that relies on cutting-edge technology to monitor millions of people. Under Xinjiang’s Communist Party leader, Chen, Xinjiang was placed under a grid-management system, as described in media reports, in which cities and villages were split into squares of about five hundred people. Each square has a police station that closely monitors inhabitants by regularly scanning their identification cards, taking their photographs and fingerprints, and searching their cell phones. In some cities, like Kashgar in western Xinjiang, police checkpoints are found every one hundred yards or so, and facial-recognition cameras are everywhere. The government also collects and store citizens’ biometric data through a required program advertised as Physicals for All.

What could the Soviets have done with 2019 surveillance technology? We’re finding out.

Although the monitoring methods are new, the indoctrination methods are not. From the WSJ’s report:

The prisoners were awakened at 5 a.m. each morning and after a 45-minute run, shouting “The Communist Party is good!” were fed thin soup and steamed bread, he said.

Next came political classes, which included reading Communist Party documents, watching videos about President Xi Jinping and singing patriotic songs such as “Without the Communist Party, there wouldn’t be a new China!” for up to four hours daily…

“They said we should give thanks not to Allah, but to Xi Jinping,” said one Uighur former inmate, who declined to be identified.

A sign at one camp in Turpan reads, “Sense the party’s kindness, obey the party’s words, follow the party’s lead,” which reads like a parody of “1984.” Reportedly, those who fail to make “satisfactory progress” are punished with “solitary confinement, food deprivation, being forced to stand against a wall for extended periods, being shackled to a wall or bolted by wrists and ankles into a rigid ‘tiger chair,’ and possibly waterboarding and electric shocks.”

The camps have been around for at least five years but the Chinese government began expanding them rapidly in 2017. Only recently, however, were western journalists finally allowed to visit them. Or, I should say, some of them: What you’re about to see is obviously the Chinese version of a Potemkin Village, far cheerier and more sociable than the reality for most prisoners. (The Nazis played this game too.) I wonder if a glimpse at the brutal reality in most camps would be as frightening as the smiley, zombified dancing for the camera in the Potemkin Village, since the latter leaves you wondering what sort of unspeakable horror might have been inflicted on these people to get them to play along to this extent.

If they were released tomorrow, would they drop the act and speak up about what they suffered? Or would their new “programming” continue to guide their thoughts?

Bear in mind as you watch that this is the face of the camps China *wants* to present to the world. This is what they think will put western critics at ease — Uighurs “happily” chanting hymns to the party as government minders watch from the back of the room.

The post Video: Inside China’s nightmarish Potemkin Village reeducation camps appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group r-4-300x159 Video: Inside China’s nightmarish Potemkin Village reeducation camps uighur Trump transformation thought The Blog sudford reeducation Muslim correspondent Chinese China BBC   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Damian Flanagan: What drives the Conservatives’ underlying problems? For answers, ponder our exile from the cities of the north.

So why am I even writing about this secretive group of no-hopers? Because they happen to be called “The Conservative Party” – and it currently runs the country. Also, I happen to be one of them, having recently taken over the running of the newly reformed Manchester, Withington Constituency Conservative Association.

The position of the Conservative Party not just in Manchester, but in cities across the North of England is so dire that it is probably beyond the imaginings of people in the rest of the country and certainly seems to be a blind spot for Conservative Campaign Headquarters. There hasn’t been a single Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for over 25 years, and until two years ago, the council was a hundred per cent Labour, with no opposition whatsoever – leading to zero scrutiny of any Council policies.

In the recent local elections,t he Conservatives sunk to a new low in Manchester, attracting just 6.5 per cent of the vote, half that achieved by both the Greens and Liberal Democrats, and barely 1/9th of the 58.8 per cent achieved by Labour.

The opposition to Labour in Manchester now consists of three Liberal Democrat councillors (who recently complained that the council was too “right wing”). There is also not a single Conservative councillor on the councils in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle…

So why should people elsewhere care about this? If Northerners like Labour so much, shouldn’t they just be allowed to get on with it?

You could argue that the local elections were an aberration and that people were venting their frustration with the Brexit stalemate in Westminster, that two unrelated issues – local government and national government – were being conflated.

Yet the crisis over Brexit and the full-scale retreat of the Conservative Party from many cities in the north of England are profoundly connected.

Think back to the last time that the Conservative Party enjoyed thumping majorities of over 100 in the House of Commons and was able to act decisively. You have to go back to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s, a time when the Conservatives still had MPs in urban constituencies in places like Manchester, had a considerable group of representatives on the council there and could appeal to voters in northern cities.

Since being rooted out of those northern cities in the 1990s, the best the Conservatives have been able to hope for are slim majorities in general elections, leaving them highly vulnerable to party divisions over Europe.

Having the vision and doggedness to produce policies that re-engage with the inhabitants of places like Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, Tyneside and Newcastle has seemingly not been in the mindset of anyone in the Conservative Party. That needs to change urgently.

The fact is that the Conservatives have for over 22 years been incapable of ruling without the support first of the Liberal Democrats and now of the Democratic Unionists. Parliament has been paralysed, Brexit frustrated and finally the Conservatives went begging to Labour for agreement with their policies. All these things are intimately connected to the fact that there has not been a Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for 25 years.

Imagine, though, that the Conservatives were to declare their determination to win back these “lost” Northern cities, starting by setting up a permament office in Manchester and sending some of their best people to find out what exactly is going on and to find a solution to the ingrained antipathy to Conservatives. Supposing we were to make it a marquee policy that we will not, as Conservatives, accept the age-old, north-south wealth divide – why should we? There is no reason whatsover why the north should be poor.

Let’s commit ourselves as Conservatives to those neglected northern cities by taking radical measures: offering tax incentives for companies to set up there and moving government departments north – the relocation of sections of the BBC to Salford and the creation of Media City there has been transformational in the economy of that area.

Let’s commit ourselves to the end of failing, inner city northern state schools which trap many children in a cycle of ignorance and poverty for life, and demand that minimal standards are met instead, and that we will closely monitor and put in targetted resources to these areas until that happens.

Imagine if people in the North began to think of the Conservatives not as the “Nasty Party” only concerned with their own interests and support base in the south, but rather as the visionaries who lifted them, once and for all, out of relative poverty and offered unprecedented opportunities, rediscovering the entrepeneurial drive and world-beating heritage of these post-industrial cities.

In Manchester, the populace are constantly told, over and over, that the source of all problems are “Tory cuts”. It is a matter of almost existential, religious belief.

The local governments of such cities as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle – cities which once led the world as centres of invention and industry – tend to focus on a culture of welfare. There is little sense that a spirit of enterprise, self-reliance and sense of public good is required to guarantee a prosperous future: it’s this compassionate and engaged Conservative vision that the North needs to rediscover.

As Conservatives, we need to support and nurture such a vision. But we are not going to manage it as a London-centric organisation that just views the cities of the north as largely unwinnable provincial backwaters.

The Conservative revolution that needs to begin in cities across the North should also transform the Conservatives nationally. The Conservatives cannot be merely a party of the South and the countryside: it must strongly engage with the interests and concerns of England’s northern cities.

Many people think the great irresolvable fault line in British politics lies between Britain and the EU or else on the border of the Irish Republic. But delve further into what exactly is causing the underlying weakness and reliance on coalitions in Conservative governments, and you will see that it is the long Conservative exile from the cities of the North which is a chief cause of what is stopping the UK advancing forward with decisiveness and unity as a nation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: Dark arts, Williamson – and how vote-lending stuffed Raab, Stewart…and Gove

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

So it’s to be Bozzer v Jezza. Will it be Tory Wars – or a campaign which can in some way bring the party together? One thing is for sure, it will be very different to the Parliamentary side of the campaign. There won’t be any vote-lending for a start.

Now we move on to the campaign in the country, where the final two candidates will speak at a series of hustings organised by CCHQ. Many of you will be attending them, and help put the two finalists through their paces.

I’ll be compering ten of these hustings, up and down the country, starting in the West Midlands tomorrow. It promises to be quite an experience.

We will never know how much ‘vote-lending’ went on in this election, but it’s a fair bet to assume that it happened far more than in any previous contest. In some ways, when there is a candidate whose vote total far outstrips any other, it is inevitable, especially when the campaign’s chief ‘whipper in’ is someone as skilled in the dark arts as Gavin Williamson.

At least, that is what many Tory MPs are assuming. Vote-lending has allowed Boris Johnson, in effect, to choose his opponent in the final round. The Raab campaign is convinced that their man was targeted in the second round of voting. They believe that at least eight Johnson supporters were encouraged to lend their votes to Sajid Javid, in the hope that he would get through to the next round at the expense of arch-Brexiteer Raab.

In that round, Raab’s vote went up from 27 to 30, while Javid’s soared from 23 to 33, therefore just squeezing across the line. Job done. Raab was out.

It is also suspected that the almost doubling of Rory Stewart’s vote from 19 to 37 was in part down to vote-lending too. Given that in the next ballot his vote plummeted by 10, it’s easy to see why. Keith Simpson is right. It really is the most duplicitous electorate in the world! Stewart’s campaign is understandably a bit vexed about this turn of events, but in the end, both he and Raab didn’t get through for the simple reason that they didn’t have enough votes.

Both Stewart and Raab may be out of this contest, but both have burnished their reputations. It’s inconceivable that Raab won’t be offered a major cabinet post by whoever emerges triumphant.

Stewart’s quixotic campaign was very effective in that he is now a major national name, even if it irritated many of his colleagues. He’s the new media darling, with such commentators as Robert Peston viewing him almost as the second coming. He became box office, because he knew how to play the media, and it was only too willing to dance to his maverick tune.

Having ruled out serving in a Johnson cabinet, and on the assumption that the latter wins, Stewart has placed himself firmly as the head of the leader of the internal Tory opposition.  And believe me, there’s quite some competition for that post. If everything goes wrong with a Johnson premiership, Stewart can emerge and say ‘told you so’, having kept his hands clean.

In the last two days of the campaign, however, he vastly overplayed his hand to the point where even some of his admirers were left wondering how much this was all about principle and how much it was about ego. The dramatic taking off of his tie two minutes into the BBC debate was a great act of symbolism. Was it spontaneous, or was it pre-planned? He hoped that it would demonstrate his man of the people credentials. All it did was make him look a bit odd.

A lot has been said about the direness of the BBC debate, so I won’t dwell on it for too long here. I couldn’t watch it as it was broadcast during my radio show. We had asked the BBC if we could simulcast it, but they refused. It’s the unique way they’re funded, you see.

As it turns out, we had a lucky escape. All we were allowed to broadcast was a total of four minutes afterwards. And believe me, my producers struggled to find four minutes worth putting out. Dreadful hardly covers it. The format was wrong, the set was wrong and the question selection was bizarre. It made the Channel Four debate look like a blockbuster event by comparison.

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This week I completed my interviews with 9 of the final 10 candidates in this leadership contest. The long form one hour format really worked, with me interviewing them all for half an hour followed by half an hour of listener calls. The final two interviews, with Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove on Wednesday were, I thought, perhaps the pick of the lot, but as the host, perhaps I am the wrong person to judge.

I felt these interviews got far more out of the candidates than any debate format ever could. I still remain in hope that I’ll be able to complete the set over the next couple of weeks and that Boris Johnson will grace the LBC studio with his presence.

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WATCH: “We’re talking about combining forces” – Stewart says he’s in discussions with Gove

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