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Ian Warren and Will Jennings: Addressing the needs of towns is key to winning this election

Ian Warren is a data analyst and political consultant. Will Jennings (pictured) is Professor of Political Science at Public Policy at the University of Southampton. They are co-founders of the Centre for Towns.

Towns will decide who enters the door of Number 10, Downing Street on Friday 13th December. Going into this election, around two-thirds of the top 100 marginal seats are ‘town’ constituencies. On current trends we are likely to find most of the closest contests will take place in our towns on election day. This is because Labour continues to pile up large majorities in major cities across England and Wales, whilst the Conservatives dominate in rural and semi-rural communities. What remains are dozens of marginal constituencies in small and medium-sized towns, and which are often highly competitive from election to election.

At the Centre For Towns, we believe the electoral importance of our towns can be leveraged in a positive way to draw specific policy commitments from all political parties. In recent months both Labour and the Conservatives have spoken about the needs of people in towns through policies on devolution, high street regeneration, broadband, and (our particular favourite at the Centre for Towns) buses. We have welcomed the Government’s Stronger Towns Fund and Future High Street interventions but also recognise the Labour Party’s commitments to coastal and post-industrial towns; types of town which face perhaps the most acute challenges of all of the UK’s towns.

On current projections, the Conservatives may find themselves representing coastal towns like Grimsby, Workington, Barrow and Rhyl on December 13th. They could also be representing post-industrial towns in Nottinghamshire, the North East and South Yorkshire. Should Labour manage to hold on to seats like Bolsover, Bassetlaw, Rother Valley, Rotherham and Hartlepool, it will have done so by the skin of its teeth on current polling. Either way, the two main parties will need to confront the desperate needs of those places and deliver both short- and long-term solutions.

Recognising those challenges and identifying the towns with the most pressing needs is only the first step. We require a deeper analysis and understanding of challenges faced by towns than that which, for example, informed the Future High Street fund (welcome though that was). At the Centre For Towns we have detailed how an ageing population has markedly changed the composition of towns across Britain (as shown in the figure below). Places do not age at the same rate everywhere. Our towns have steadily aged over the past 30 years as more and more people live longer and younger generations move away, whilst our cities have grown younger as they have attracted large numbers of young people for work or study.

Westlake Legal Group Towns-age-rate Ian Warren and Will Jennings: Addressing the needs of towns is key to winning this election Young People Towns Tory Manifesto 2019 Strategy policy development Older people Marginals Labour Manifesto 2019 Highlights demographics Comment Coastal Communities Cities 2019 General Election

An ageing population, combined with the Conservatives holding a 40-point lead over Labour amongst older voters, has meant many towns are more friendly to the Conservatives than they were a decade ago. The table below (with data on demographics generated from the Centre for Towns data tool) reports information of the population of some key marginal towns over the last three decades, specifically their increase in the number of over-65s and decrease in those aged between 18 and 24. This reveals a stark pattern. These ex-industrial and coastal towns have aged markedly, while the number of young people has declined, and this trend is projected to continue into the middle of the century. For such areas, these profound demographic shifts will require a response from all political parties.

Westlake Legal Group Towns-demographic-changes Ian Warren and Will Jennings: Addressing the needs of towns is key to winning this election Young People Towns Tory Manifesto 2019 Strategy policy development Older people Marginals Labour Manifesto 2019 Highlights demographics Comment Coastal Communities Cities 2019 General Election

An ageing population diminishes the spending power of a town, often pushing its high street into a spiral of decline as it increasingly caters to discount retail while flagship retailers shut down. It also means larger numbers of older people who enjoy free bus travel and fewer working-age commuters paying full fare. Bus companies close unprofitable routes as a result. The growing number of old people living in towns means shortages of social care provision are felt acutely. Housing needs in older towns are different. So is transport planning and the skills base. The list goes on.

These present fundamental challenges for a government of any colour. What is it about coastal and ex-industrial towns, for example, which has seen a fall in the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds? What can be done to ensure our young people see them as attractive places to make a home and get on in life? We want our young people to fulfil their ambitions wherever that may be, but is it healthy that so many don’t believe their home town offers the sorts of economic or cultural opportunities which make superstar cities so attractive? So, whilst we welcome short term support for high streets, for example, our public policy will need to confront much deeper concerns about the future viability of our towns.

At the Centre For Towns we want politicians from all parties to recognise these challenges and address them with long-term planning that transcends party politics. Crucially, we have consistently asked that our towns’ greatest asset, their people, are given the power and resources they need to tackle some of these challenges themselves. Devolution is still a patchy settlement in England. City-regions are the devolved geography of choice, but vast tracts of land are excluded from city-regions. Indeed, even within city-regions, towns are too often treated as dormitory units rather than places with their own identity and distinct contribution to make. We are hopeful that the party manifestos will commit to hyper-devolution of the kind which empowers people in towns to turn their areas around, giving them a clear sense of agency.

This belief in the power of people in communities should appeal equally to both the Conservatives and Labour. In the coming election, the pivotal importance of our towns to the result should help concentrate their minds. Our hope is that after 12th December the focus moves to long-term planning and devolution of real power and resource to towns themselves. After all, isn’t this what they meant when the public voted to ‘take back control’ in June 2016?

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Large towns are offering a route to Conservative revival. How can we return the favour?

There was some interesting polling analysis carried out for Centre for Towns recently. We are familiar with regional breakdowns of support for political parties. But in this exercise, YouGov was asked to crunch the numbers for villages, towns, and cities. The Conservatives continue to be the dominant force in villages and small towns. By contrast, even with their current dire ratings, Labour would still have a big lead in the cities. December 12th could deliver a huge Conservative landslide, but Labour would still win every seat in Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle.

While the Conservatives are further ahead in the villages and Labour’s lead has fallen in the cities, the contention is that it is the towns where the shift in opinion will be of the greatest electoral impact. Ian Warren says:

“At the Centre For Towns we also categorise places according to their characteristics. We use six main types of towns based on those characteristics: Ex-industrial towns; University towns; Market towns; New towns; Commuter towns; and Coastal towns. Ex-industrial towns included here are important election target towns like Kirkby- and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Barnsley, Bolton, Bury, Burnley, Crewe, Doncaster, Dudley, Hartlepool, Heywood, Mansfield, Redcar, Rotherham, Walsall, West Bromwich and towns across the south Wales valleys. Coastal towns include Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, Workington, Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Morecambe, Southport, Rhyl and Llandudno. University towns includes places like Canterbury, Cambridge, Chester, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Loughborough, Poole and Preston.”

In 2017 “Labour performed very well in university towns and ex-industrial towns…, whilst the Conservatives did very well in coastal towns, commuter towns, market towns and new towns.” The polling suggests that has changed:

“Labour now trail the Conservatives in every place type. Perhaps remarkably, the Conservatives now hold five-point leads over Labour in both ex-industrial towns and university towns whilst extending their leads in the other place types. The Lib Dems are now in second place in commuter towns and market towns.”

In order to get a decent sample, YouGov added together several of their polls. This makes it a bit out of date with it going back to the middle of October. Since then there has been some shift from the Lib Dems to Labour. Warren concludes:

“We are also pleased at how the media are visiting many of our towns; another small example that the towns agenda is cutting through. The Conservatives would be foolish to believe the leads they currently hold are secure, whilst Labour have some time to regain their position in our towns. All of which should mean a higher profile for people in our towns; and that can only be a good thing.”

What are the Conservatives doing to earn their support? In July, the Prime Minister announced “a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns. So that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need.” The first hundred “town deals” have been published. Labour has pointed out that not all are among the most deprived. The claim is that it is skewed to help Tory MPs in marginal seats. The counter-argument would be that  the money should not just be handed over without some clear prospect of it being spent effectively. The local authorities that lost out should put in a better bid for the next round.

What more can be done?

Transport improvements are obviously important. Preston has done well from having a direct motorway link with Manchester and Birmingham. HS1 has helped Ramsgate and Margate.

Provision for higher education is also key. Cornwall has a problem with a lack of universities. Bright, young ambitious people leave to go off to college, then don’t always come back. Huddersfield succeeds partly because it has a university.
There is a University of Brighton campus in Hastings and St Leonards. Derby University is good news for Buxton. Jesse Norman wants a Hereford Institute of Technology.

Planning policy can be very damaging. Housing development is needed to thrive. But it must be beautiful. Souless, ugly new buildings are not places where people would choose to settled down and start a family.

For Conservatives though, the route to prosperity will ultimately rely on free enterprise rather than subsidies and state intervention. A switch towards more self-employed people, with businesses run from home is particularly positive for towns. So is the flexibility of employees working from home a few days a week. If you live in Clacton, for example, and work in London every day that’s a bit much – one or two days a week not so bad. Therefore Clacton is reviving. Brighton and Hove is doing very well. As technology improves this will be easier.

That old Thatcherite idea of Enterprise Zones could be dusted off. When Corby lost its steel works in 1980 it was all looking pretty grim. But the brownfield land was used for new businesses and new private housing. Being an Enterprise Zone helped.

One final thought. The Conservatives should not get too sucked into seeing towns and cities as competing lobby groups. One of the most reliable indicators of a town succeeding is to be near a successful city. Hebden Bridge is a nice place to live but is it crucial that its residents can commute to Leeds or Manchester. Good news for Leeds and Manchester is good news for Hebden Bridge.

We will rise or fall together. Bribes, gimmicks and managerial meddling are not required. It is about getting the fundamentals right. With strong economic growth our villages, towns and cities can all thrive.

Westlake Legal Group CFT_YG_TYPE2 Large towns are offering a route to Conservative revival. How can we return the favour? Transport Towns Regional Aid Regeneration Opinion Polls Local government Enterprise Zones Cities 2019 General Election


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Jack Airey: How to unleash the power of the Union 2) Infrastructure can reinforce the Union

Jack Airey is Policy Exchange’s Head of Place.

“Re-inventing patriotism, refreshing the mandate of the UK nation state and creating a new national consensus,” Michael Gove has argued, “is the Unionist mission of our times.” At Policy Exchange we agree with this sentiment. Regardless of the Brexit arrangements that are ultimately agreed with the European Union and brought into law by Parliament, it has been clear for some time that the case for the Union needs to be made anew.

On Conservative Home, Paul Goodman has suggested a new Department for the Union should lead this strategy of national renewal. After decades of half-hearted support for the Union from successive governments, an effective strategy requires intellectual creativity and greater readiness to challenge nationalist arguments. Convincing younger generations who dislike nationalism but are apathetic to the Union should be seen as the priority. It is they, after all, who would be most impacted by the economic effects of dismantling the UK Single Market. And it is on their shoulders that the responsibility for protecting the Union will eventually fall.

In the second of Policy Exchange’s three-part series on the Union for ConservativeHome, we argue that closer economic integration achieved through better infrastructure should be central to the story of modern Unionism. Upgrading the UK’s infrastructure is an opportunity to bind places closer through trains and trade, as Policy Exchange recommended in its report Modernising the United Kingdom. It can mean we truly live in a ‘one nation’ country.

The Government’s infrastructure strategy should have two focal points, the first of which is improving cross-border infrastructure. Devolved administrative boundaries should not in principle artificially hinder cross-border growth, yet in practice too often they do. Projects of this nature have been mooted in the past. They have, however, been driven by other necessities. For instance, in an attempt to get Northern Irish Unionist MPs to abstain in a 1979 confidence vote on James Callaghan’s premiership, Roy Hattersley urged (unsuccessfully) the then Prime Minister to build a pipeline from mainland UK to Northern Ireland.

A number of projects are possible, both ones that the Government can deliver on its own and others that can be delivered in partnership with devolved administrations. Enhancing road capacity to better link North Wales to Merseyside and Greater Manchester, for instance, will be a no-brainer for Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, and Ken Skates, the Minister for Economy and Transport in the Welsh devolved government. Whatever the case, the Treasury should take a more ambitious approach to funding new transport infrastructure projects across the whole of the UK, rather than just those that begin and end in England.

Priority should be given to investments that support jobs and prosperity, opening up labour markets and also those that encourage more sustainable, greener use of transport, as well as improving the amenity of communities. Some projects might not literally span two sides of a border, but their delivery would yield benefits across the UK. For example, improving the capacity and quality of road networks around Belfast Harbour and Cairnryan Port would make life easier for people using the ferry service that runs between north-eastern Northern Ireland and south-western Scotland.

The Government’s ambition to connect the UK better should not be confined to transport. It should also launch a new Forest of Britain project: a green spine running the full length of Britain. This would consist of a single, unbroken, two mile-wide line of protected natural habitats from John O’Groats to Land’s End, via the east of Wales. It should aim to connect as many existing nature conservation sites as possible along its route. As one of the longest rewilding projects in the world, it would attract tourists to areas along its route for walking, riding and other activities.

The second focal point of this strategy to better connect the UK should be giving places more control over how infrastructure funding is spent in their area. It is local people and local businesses who know the projects that will make the most difference to their daily lives and operations. Local leaders should be entrusted to decide how money is spent rather than Whitehall civil servants. The best returns on infrastructure investments, after all, tend to come from smaller projects that improve connectivity in communities and within towns and cities.

Increasing local control over spending on regional infrastructure is essential to a wider programme of devolving economic powers post-Brexit – what the Government has already called its “levelling up” agenda. Places across the UK should be given more powers actively to shape their local product and labour markets, taking more responsibility for improving economic efficiency. But as part of the bargain, policy makers must also raise their game in terms of analysis and audit. Systematic evaluation is needed to identify what works from what disappoints, along with consistent financial reporting across local authorities and devolved institutions across the UK.

Demonstrating the value of the Union and making the case about why it matters to our future is a chance to appeal to voters who resent nationalism and separatism. Closer connection between nations and places through better infrastructure is a critical part of that. It must be at the heart of today’s Unionist mission.

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Ian Lewis: The Conservatives must not give up on Manchester, or Sheffield, or Liverpool…

Cllr Ian Lewis is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Wirral Council.

For all political parties, you’re only as good as your next election. Currently, things look better than they have for a while.

As many of my colleagues and friends head to Manchester, for what is hopefully the last Conference before a General Election, many will be buoyed by the latest polls.

No doubt there will be much talk of the ‘bounce’ since the new Leader was elected, contrasting with the increasingly public rows among the Corbynistas.

As soon as one election is out of the way, we start again by focusing, understandably, on the next election. But, too often, as a Party, we look at our performance judged by the current cycle and the current alternative.

Yet, if you put our position into perspective or, as some of us call it, the real world, consider this:  there won’t have been this many Conservatives in the City of Manchester since, well, the last Conference.

Others are more qualified than me to talk about the historical trends and the reasons why some areas of the country are now more, or less Conservative, than 20, 40, or 50 years ago.

40 years ago, at the council elections held on the same day as the General Election, we still came out with 33 seats on Manchester City Council. In Sheffield, we had 22 councillors. And in my nearest city, Liverpool, we had 21. Now, 40 years later, we have none. Not one. Zero. Nil. And any fair-minded assessment would say we’re nowhere near getting one.

How can a ‘One Nation’ Conservative Party, the most successful political Party in history, have ZERO councillors in so many of our largest cities?

The other day there was a council by-election in Liverpool, caused incidentally by a Labour councillor and the City’s Mayor being forced to resign after a racist video emerged. In that by-election, our Party stormed to last place with 96 votes, while Labour, despite all their woes, won 1,153. So what, you may say. But, as one of our Party’s greatest campaigners, Andrew Kennedy (him of leafy Kent), pointed out, when he was involved in Liverpool’s politics, we held that Ward.  You could say things went downhill after he left. Look at the increasing demographic shifts in the cities – more students, growing ethnic diversity and LGBT communities – coupled with long-term residents who have often lived through industrial decline – and you can see why the traditional Tory message struggles to resonate.

The historic trend away from the Conservatives in our biggest Northern cities isn’t a problem that will be contained within those cities. Nowadays, people move home more often, as we see from the constant battle to maintain VI data on VoteSource every month. Sometimes people are leaving the cities because the services (in Labour councils), not least the schools in many cities, are simply not good enough.

The Right to Buy, arguably the most successful policy introduced after 1979, also enabled and encouraged more people to move. When people move, they take their voting intention with them. So that’s why the war for the ‘Metropolitan vote’, having been lost in the cities many years ago, is increasingly being fought in the places that could still elect Conservative MPs. Many of the people moving out of the Tory-free zones don’t move that far – sometimes to the neighbouring suburbs – such as Sefton and Wirral – which is still commutable to the city.

Until 1986, Conservatives ran both those Merseyside councils. We’ve never had a majority in either since then and we struggle to elect a single MP. As always, there are exceptions – such as Chris Green MP in Bolton West and Damian Moore MP in Southport – and the leadership of Robert Alden on Birmingham City Council – but we (the Party) need to address this and recognise that reversing our Metropolitan decline is a (very) long-term, but necessary, project.

One of the great reforms to the Party by Michael Howard was establishing the Conservative Foundation, to secure our long-term finances.  For our metropolitan areas, it’s time we had a long-term political plan. We may not get a council seat soon in any of those cities, but could we win a polling district?  Short-term sticking plasters like the ‘City Seats Initiative’ or the PR-driven efforts of David Cameron have zero lasting impact and won’t suffice.

Our message and our approach to the issues in the cities needs to be improved and yes, that will take cash. Money that would, no doubt generate an earlier, and bigger, win in the nearest ‘marginal’. But look back – and today’s ‘marginal’ may well have once been a ‘safe’ seat – Sheffield Hallam (in the news now for all the wrong reasons) had a Conservative MP in 1979 – with a 15,000 majority.

Enjoy your Conference in Manchester. But look beyond the Secure Zone and ask what we need to do to re-establish ourselves.


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Neil O’Brien: How to rebalance Britain’s unbalanced economy – by levelling up, not levelling down

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

Even Brexit, it turns out, is about location, location, location. Ben Ansell, an Oxford professor, has found that in wealthier areas, where the price of a house averages £500,000, 70 per cent voted to remain. Poorer areas, where the average house price was £100,000, were an exact mirror image, with 70 per cent voting to leave.

Like a disclosing tablet, the EU referendum highlighted the different economic experiences of different places over recent decades: booming London and the most prosperous home counties voted to Remain, as did Scotland, the next richest part of the country. The reviving cores of our large cities did likewise. But smaller towns and cities, the countryside and coastal places voted overwhelmingly to Leave, as did Wales.

In response, Boris Johnson recently set out his ambition to “level up” poorer areas in a fantastic speech in Manchester. It’s the right thing to do – and it makes political sense too. The 2017 election saw us losing ground in wealthier-but-Remainy areas, and gaining former Labour seats in the midlands (and north) which we’d never gained before. We have huge potential to win in seats where people have felt taken for granted and left behind for many decades.

The economic case for levelling up is clear too. There are no G20 countries which have a more regionally imbalanced economy than the UK and are also richer than the UK. Conversely, all large countries that are richer per head than the UK have a more balanced economy.

In other words, a more balanced economy is a stronger one. In a highly unbalanced economy, resources like land and infrastructure end up overloaded in some parts of the country, and under-used in others, which is costly and wasteful. Given that workers (particularly lower skilled people) don’t simply move away from their families in the face of local economic problems, having greater distances between unemployed workers and job opportunities may well compound problems matching people to job opportunities. There might even be compounding mechanisms: if some areas have high unemployment that can lock in patterns of worklessness.

But to bring about a more balanced economy, there are two big lessons that the Prime Minister must draw from previous successes and failures.

First, the crucial thing is to attract private sector employment – particularly jobs that are knowledge and investment-intensive. The work of academics like Enrico Moretti and think tanks like the Centre for Cities shows how gaining “brain jobs” in the private sector has a much bigger multiplier effect than just moving public sector jobs to an area.

Tax breaks for inward investment can be very effective in attracting in new investment, which is why most other countries offer them. Within the UK, probably our most successful ever regional intervention was Margaret Thatcher luring Nissan to Sunderland with a mix of investment tax breaks, lobbying and the offer of cheap land (an old airfield). It’s now one of the most successful plants in the world.

When people think about regeneration, they often start with plans for a new tram or shiny cultural facility, which tend to be popular, and can indeed help growth in areas that are already motoring along. But such investments aren’t going to do much for areas where the economic engine has rusted up and needs restarting. Detroit famously built a fancy monorail intended to fight its economic decline: but in a city where every factory was gone it remained largely unused, drifting through a city that looked like it had been bombed flat. Without private sector investment, there’s no demand for it or anything much else.

Second, different things work in different places and a different set of policies are needed for our towns than our city centres. During the 1970s and 1980s the “inner cities” were a byword for decline. But in recent decades capital cities and the centres of other larger cities have outperformed other areas, right across the world. The shift from a manufacturing to a professional services economy (plus the growth of universities) revived the centres of our cities.

There are still many problems to solve in our cities, but the places that have struggled the most in recent decades have been rural areas, smaller towns and cities, and the outer parts of large cities (even outer London). Places on the coast and places without a university have suffered particularly badly from a brain drain. Labour have tried to capitalise on their discontent with glossy ads like their film “our town”.

What to do for towns is even trickier than helping big cities grow. Though there are trendy small towns from Hebden Bridge to Hay-on-Wye, simply copying ideas from big cities, like “culture-led regeneration”, is often a recipe for failure in small towns.

Improving connections between city centres and towns might help – Tom Forth has highlighted just how bad we are at this in Britain. The Prime Minister’s new fund to help regenerate town centres is a good move and will make them more attractive. We should do things like re-examine funding historic funding formulas for government spending on science, transport and housing, which are still heavily geared towards supporting London and other areas that are already growing fast. And we should offer devolved economic powers to counties, not just big cities.
The more we can use free market mechanisms to help poorer towns, the more likely we are to succeed.

Looking at Britain as a whole, chronically low investment rates are a big part of our long-term productivity problem. We should cut taxes on business investment across the whole country, and make the UK’s capital allowances among the most generous in the world (at present they’re among the least).

But to level up poorer areas we should go further, and have even more generous tax breaks for investment there, where the problem of low investment and low productivity is most severe. We should also empower the Department for International Trade to take part in the same aggressive tax competition for inward investment that countries in Asia, the US, and our neighbours in Ireland do so successfully. And we should use those tools to encourage inward investment into poorer places.

More generous capital allowances would help lagging regions anyway, even if introduced across the board. While manufacturing accounted for around a quarter of productivity growth nationally since 1997, it provided 40–50 per cent of productivity growth in poorer regions like Wales, the West Midlands and North West. Manufacturing requires roughly twice as much capital investment as the rest of the economy, so an investment-hostile tax system hits poorer places harder.

Ever since the referendum, there’s rightly been renewed focus on how to help poorer places. Helpfully there is decades of evidence about what does and doesn’t work. If we can join up an energetic new Prime Minister with the bit between his teeth, plus a new agenda for left-behind places, then we can really get things moving.

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

Why Are We Allowing Communist China to Sell Subway (Spy) Trains to American Cities?

Westlake Legal Group 13556907-sculpture-dragon-in-china-flag-620x414 Why Are We Allowing Communist China to Sell Subway (Spy) Trains to American Cities? Trains rail prc NTA National Security metro Infrastructure Front Page Stories Front Page Economy dc metro CTA crrc Communist China Cities

We Should Stop Riding the Dragon


It’s as if we’re willing if not eager to say to commuters nationwide:

“Your next scheduled ChiComm Spy Tubes arrive at….”

All day, every day.

God bless Donald Trump.  As a businessman for decades – he raised the issue of Communist China’s very negative influence on our national security and economy.

And then he decided to run for President.  And then he won.

Trump arrived in a DC – in the midst of a half-century, yuan-funded slumber.

Most of DCs Swamp Creatures have been either too sleepy or too well fed with Chinese take out – to have ever said anything about Communist China’s ongoing, increasing, evil influence in and on our country.

Watching the defenders of the status quo rapidly evolve to Trump’s position – if not his prescriptions – has been hilarious.

They went from “Communist China is no threat at all” – to “China is a real threat – but Trump is dealing with it in all the wrong ways” – in about a year.

Talk about rapid transit.

The ChiComm problems – are everywhere.

Trump is considering banning from the US – Chinese telecom company Huawei.

Because having a Communist Chinese company intrinsically integrated into our wired and wireless Internet and communications networks – is insanely stupid.

Huawei is in neck-deep with the Chinese Communist Party.  Because of course it is.

You can’t open a noodle stand on the corner of 主要街道 and 埃尔姆街 in any rural town in any Chinese province – without being neck-deep with the Chinese Communist Party.

There is no way any Chinese company goes international – without owing everything to the Chinese Communist Party.

Trump should follow all the way through – and completely bar Huawei.

Another example:

As if our colleges weren’t already Communist enough….

Controversy Surrounds Confucius Institutes at American Universities:

“Since 2005, the Chinese government has been funding Confucius Institutes (CI) in the United States—a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. For example, it gave $4 million to Stanford University as a onetime gift.

“What is behind the largesse? Does the China regime just want to promote Chinese culture or is there something more insidious about its intentions?”

They’re Communists – what do you think?

FINALLY, in February 2019 (thank you yet again, President Trump)….

Senate Inquiry Finds Problems with China-Funded Confucius Institute at U.S. Campuses

You think?

Here’s another thought:

Having our political and business personnel – in our major cities all across the country – traveling to and from work on ChiComm subway cars…is a REALLY bad idea.

Imagine the conversations to which the ChiComms could listen – in DCs Metro system.  Or in New York City’s Subway system (“你好, Wall Street”).

It is clinically insane to think we would allow that to happen, right?

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet CRRC:

“CRRC Corporation Limited (known as CRRC) is a Chinese publicly traded rolling stock manufacturer and is the largest rolling stock manufacturer in the world eclipsing Alstom and Siemens….

“The parent company of CRRC Corp., Ltd. is CRRC Group, a state-owned enterprise that was supervised by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.”

And great news: CRRC has a manufacturing plant – right here in the US.  In Springfield, Massachusetts.

Even better news – CRRC has already been selling US cities its train cars.

Because of course.  This isn’t a fair economic fight.

This isn’t multiple competitors competing on equal footing in a free market – and the best company winning.

The Communist Chinese government – subsidizes the daylight out of their companies and products when they go international.

And they ridiculously rig their currency – lowering its value whenever they deem it necessary to screw the rest of the planet.

The ChiComms thereby artificially lower their prices.  Thereby undercutting everyone else.

And for the last half-century, we have been the biggest gaggle of the planet’s Useful Idiots.

We have time and again blithely ignored the economic and national security implications – and simply said “Wow…look how cheap this ChiComm stuff is.  Sold!”

We have time and again proved Russian Communist Vladimir Lenin correct:

“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

The noose is tightening.

Boston Buys $567 Million in Subway Trains from Chinese Company (CRRC)

These trains are already deployed for spying and timely shutdown purposes.  Oops, I mean in use in Boston’s system.

Boston was the first local gaggle of Useful Idiots.  They are nowhere the last.

China’s CRRC Lands $1.3 Billion Chicago Rail Car Project

Oh – and even better in the Windy City….

Losing Rail Car Bidder Says CTA Rigged Contract Process:

“The losing bidder for a $1.3 billion CTA rail car contract has filed a protest with the agency, saying that the bidding process was rigged in favor of a Chinese firm that promised to bring manufacturing jobs to Chicago, at the direction of (Democrat, natch) Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

Way to play for the home team, Rahm.

CRRC to Build Rail Cars for Los Angeles

CRRC Wins Subway Deal in Philadelphia

We can be really, REALLY stupid.

To wit: Some DC Denizens – are REALLY slow on the uptake.

US Rep. Richard Neal, Citing Springfield CRRC Jobs, Says Ban on Buying Chinese Rail Cars ‘Misguided’

Neal isn’t selling the ChiComms rope – he is GIVING it to them.

But a growing number of DCs Denizens – are awakening from their slumber.

And trying to at least make it a little more difficult for our cities – from cutting all our throats for us.

And it has led to a sighting of a DC politics Unicorn – bipartisanship.

Bipartisan Rouda Provision Blocking Federal Transit Dollars to Chinese State Sponsored Companies Passes House in National Defense Authorization Act

And there’s hope for the bill in the Senate – given New York Democrat Chuck Schumer’s concern for NYC.

U.S. Senate’s Top Democrat Calls for Probe of CTA’s Chinese Rail Car Supplier

And pockets of political resistance are arising in the nation’s hinterlands.

Fifteen state-level elected officials in New York – are with Schumer.  They wrote a letter to the heads of the New York City Transit Authority and the Metro Transit Authority saying in part:

“Over the past five years, a Chinese state-owned enterprise has won four major contracts to build metro cars for transit systems….

“(T)he prospect of a government-controlled entity doing so in such a widespread fashion is alarming – and we share the concerns raised by many of our colleagues in cities such as Washington, D.C.”

And the Bay State is contemplating an effort to put the genie back in the bottle.

Massachusetts Considers Banning Future Contracts with Chinese Rail Companies

ChiComm CRRC is starting to feel the political heat – so they are dumping money on K Street.  Just this summer….:

“Squire Patton Boggs has signed…CRRC, a Chinese railroad company that has pushed to keep Congress from passing bills that would make it harder for U.S. transit systems to buy its trains.”

Crossroads Is Working on the Chinese Railroad:

“Crossroads Strategies represents China’s CRRC North America, the unit of the world’s largest maker of railroad cars, as it seeks to fend off moves to ban it from US contracts.”

And ChiComm CRRC – continues to look to expand its footprint.  Including, inarguably, the worst place of all for US.

China to Bid on D.C. Metro Rail Deal

That should be an immediate, hard “No.”

And we should take this rare bipartisan coalition – and derail CRRC everywhere in the country.

And send them back to Communist China – as rapidly as possible.

The post Why Are We Allowing Communist China to Sell Subway (Spy) Trains to American Cities? appeared first on RedState.

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Andrew Carter: An urban manifesto for the next Prime Minister

Andrew Carter is the Chief Executive of Centre for Cities

The race to be our next Prime Minister is almost at an end.

His legacy will inevitably hinge on his ability – or lack of – to deliver Brexit. But he must not allow this to distract him from the important domestic issues that have been allowed to fall by the wayside since the referendum. Social care, housing, education, and infrastructure are all in urgent need of attention.

Cities are central to addressing these issues. Despite accounting for just nine per cent of UK land, cities are home to 54 per cet of people, 60 per cent of jobs, and 62 per cent of Gross Value Added. The Conservative Party’s heartlands may be out in the leafy shires, but anybody hoping to govern as a One Nation Prime Minister must have a programme for government for Britain’s thirty six million city-dwellers.

Doing this will have an additional national benefit; studies have shown that the prosperity of Britain’s towns is intrinsically linked to the economic performance of their nearest cities, where many town dwellers work.

To improve the lives of people living in both cities and towns, here is what he should do:

Fix the council funding crisis

A decade of spending cuts has been hard on councils. Despite being home to just over half of the population, urban councils have shouldered almost three quarters of local government cuts. This works out as a £386 cut in services for every city resident, compared to just £172 per person elsewhere.

Some of these cuts have made councils leaner and more efficient. But they are now limiting their ability to deliver public services or support economic growth. Their social care responsibilities are also making a bad problem worse as councils are cutting non-statutory services to pay for care.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have both pledged to spend more money on public services; this must also apply to local government. But councils’ funding problems are not just about money – they are also about power. Currently, local authorities have limited discretion in how they raise and spend money. The next Prime Minister should give them more freedom to manage their finances. This includes giving them the power to levy new charges such as tourist taxes, and allowing them to set multi-year budgets.

Improve urban transport

The transport debate is dominated by plans to better connect cities: HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and a third runway at Heathrow all serve this purpose.

These are important projects, but 85% of people working in England’s largest conurbations also live in them. Their commutes are all too often expensive, uncomfortable and congested; a reality that should not be overlooked by the next Prime Minister.

Franchising buses, bringing suburban rail networks under metro mayoral control, and simplifying fares may not offer politicians their high-vis and hard hat photo opportunity, but they are essential steps to improving the commute for millions of people. Getting more people out of their cars and onto public transport will also improve cities’ air quality.

Target housebuilding where it is needed

The next Prime Minister should understand that the housing crisis is not a ‘national’ challenge, and plan new homes accordingly. The cost of living is relatively affordable in many parts of the country. But several high-demand cities have been unresponsive to the influx of new residents.

To address this problem, the next Prime Minister should overhaul the planning process and move towards a flexible zonal system, similar to that used in Japan. This will remove unnecessary bureaucracy and silence many of the Nimbys holding back the building of much-needed homes in high-demand areas.

He should also reassess the Government’s commitment to mass homeownership. I know that this will be a difficult pill for many Conservatives to swallow, but measures to subsidise homeownership, such as Help to Buy, are inflating demand and pushing up housing costs. It is time to step up efforts to build more affordable, secured, rented accommodation in high-demand places such as London, Bristol, Cambridge, and Brighton.

Sell cities as global destinations for investment

A final thing that the next Prime Minister must do to improve the lives of people living and working in cities is to champion them as world-leading places to invest and do business.

He should take advantage of the world-leading status of cities, such as London, Cambridge, and Oxford, and make clear that all of Britain’s cities are open to overseas investment – especially cities outside the South East. Encouraging more private investment into cities across the country will be vital if we are to solve Britain’s productivity problem. Currently just two cities outside the South East boast productivity above the national average. Supporting more investment in high-skill jobs and firms will help address this, and will deliver on the ‘Global Britain’ we have been promised.

It is ironic that, at the same time as Brexit distracted Westminster from the domestic agenda, this Government’s enthusiasm for devolution of domestic issues dried up. Encouragingly, both leadership contenders have confirmed their support for more devolution, and for the first time in history, the likely next prime minister is a former elected mayor.

Boris Johnson’s time as London Mayor gives us some clues about his plans for devolution: he was a vocal supporter of the need for greater fiscal devolution to councils. He should not forget this if he gets the keys to Number 10.

Irrespective of who wins this leadership race, the next occupant of Downing Street has a big to-do list waiting. If he champions devolution as part of the solution, then the challenge of dealing with it does not have to fall just to him – he should seize it.

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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.

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George Freeman: Our new book. In which forty Tory MPs band together to help revive conservatism

George Freeman is the founder of the 2020 Conservatives Group, the Big Tent Ideas Festival and Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum. He is MP for Mid-Norfolk.

The Conservative Party is in a hole. We need to stop digging. And start thinking seriously about the real causes of the EU referendum result, the grievances it spoke to – and set out a plan to honour that referendum result by leaving the European Union and setting out a bold programme of domestic reforms.

The EU referendum was a massive vote to reject the political status quo and embrace radical, small c conservative reform. The 17.4 million Labour, Conservative and unaligned voters who voted Leave were voting for radical change. The genius of the Leave campaign was its call to “take back control”. It spoke powerfully to huge swathes of the country feeling marginalised by a potent mix of globalisation, post-Crash austerity, an influx of low paid labour from Eastern Europe, the decline of traditional market towns and high streets, fear of economic marginalisation from automation and the gig economy and a deepening despair at a sense of injustice at the gap between the “unaccountable elites” and the ordinary citizen.

Brexit spoke to – and has enshrined – the principle divide in Britain which is no longer between Left or Right, or North and South, but between those with comfortable lives and those on the margin.

This is hardly surprising. After eight years in office overseeing painful local public spending cuts, in the wake of the £700billon bank bailout, MPs expenses scandal and Blair’s dishonest Iraq war dossier which have entrenched a sense of Parliament dangerously detached from the people it serves, the Brexit referendum was a roar for reform. A number of us had been warning David Cameron and George Osborne it was coming.

Handled properly it could – and should – have been a catalyst for that most difficult of political challenges: renewal in office. But Cameron misjudged the mood and treated Leavers with contempt. Theresa May misjudged the mood as a mandate for a toxic combination of hardline anti-business UKIP rhetoric and bureaucratic Brexit bungling.

Now we choose a new leader in the teeth of a deepening public anger and pressure – whipped up by Farage and Banks – the Dick Dastardly and Mutley of British politics – to embrace the “kamikaze” approach of an anti-business No Deal Brexit.

Get this wrong, and we risk the destruction of the Conservative Party for a generation: losing our professional, business, metropolitan and liberal supporters to the Liberal Democrats, our Leave supporters to the Brexit Party and those who just want competence in office to stay at home in despair.

If we are to avoid gifting a broken Brexit Britain to Jeremy Corbyn, John Mcdonnell and Len McClusky, the next Conservative leader has to do three things:

  • Deliver an EU Withdrawal which a majority of moderate mainstream British voters in the centre ground can support
  • Embark on some bold domestic reforms to tackle the legitimate grievances which fuelled the Referendum vote
  • Restore some grip, vision, inspiration and unity to a divided country and Party.

The scale of the revolt against the status quo demands bold reform. Not the technocratic tinkering and endless self-congratulatory initiative-launching of Ministers looking busy on Instragram, but real reform.

This is a 1975, 1945, 1905 moment of profound disruption. The old order will be replaced by a new order. The only question is who will shape it? Can the Conservative Party make this a moment of bold and inspiring renewal in the same way that Mrs Thatcher and Keith Joseph did in 1975, Attlee, Churchill, Beveridge and Butler did in 1945, and Churchill and the Liberals did in 1905 to see of socialism by creating pensions and national insurance?

Too often, we forget that the great institutions we cherish as permanent were once mere ideas – whether the NHS, the BBC, the London Docklands, universal suffrage, the Right to Buy or the privatisation of the old state industries. They were bold ideas which reshaped a whole generation and quickly became permanent fixtures.

When was the last time any modern politician had an idea on the scale of any of these? We now face a genuine battle of ideas with a resurgent hard left and we need urgently to rediscover the power of political imagination.

So what would a bold programme of Conservative reform look like today? In our book Britain Beyond Brexit: a New Conservative Vision for a New Generation, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, I and forty MPs from all sides of the party – Leave and Remain, North and South, left and right, urban and rural – have set out a collection of pieces to frame that programme.

Our book sets out a range of policy proposals across six defining themes we believe must be at the centre of a coherent and compelling narrative for the New Conservatism: identity, opportunity, enterprise, social justice, security and citizenship.

Of course, many may ask: is the Conservative Party capable of that task, amid the seemingly endless and deepening divisions of the Brexit civil war?

The successes and failures of a post-Brexit new conservatism will be based on understanding the profound societal, economic and technological changes coming at us. Not how we return to the old dividing lines of the 1980s or 1950s, but how we address the profound challenges of our age: issues such as globalisation, digitalisation, genetic engineering, sustainable development, religious extremism and the traumatic rupture of the crash and its legacy on our public finances.

We have got to be brave enough to tackle the big issues of the day. Low and fragile growth. A fragmented health and care system. Structural deficit. Intergenerational unfairness. Deepening anxiety, disillusionment and despair. Rising pressure on weary public servants in creaking public services. Stubborn ghettos of low aspiration and deprivation. Housing unaffordability, homelessness and small town decline. Sluggish infrastructure. Bad planning.

For our elderly – and the families and community of carers who look after them, we need a fair system of funding and providing elderly care. For the young, the urgent priority is addressing housing and the wider issue of economic disenfranchisement. Put simply, we’ve built an economy where the principal mechanism for building economic security – owning a home – is getting beyond the reach of all but the most privileged. Is it any wonder that a whole generation of millennial voters – with little or no chance of acquiring a house or any capital – are seduced by the rhetoric of anti-capitalism?

We face a genuinely historic challenge: are we going to make Brexit a moment of catalytic renewal of conservatism and our nation? Or a moment of annihilation by a new alignment of a new generation of voters?

To avoid a decade of decline in a post-Brexit Britain run by Corbyn, we urgently need a new conservatism for a new generation.

I hope our book will help light the way.

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

Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats

Westlake Legal Group poll-plurality-supports-releasing-detained-immigrants-into-sanctuary-cities-including-a-third-of-democrats Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats Trump The Blog survey sanctuary republicans poll monmouth immigration democrats Cities border asylum

Westlake Legal Group t-15 Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats Trump The Blog survey sanctuary republicans poll monmouth immigration democrats Cities border asylum

Go wake up Dan Scavino and tell him this is the poll he should be touting on Trump’s Twitter account, not the latest bogus approval numbers from perpetual outlier Rasmussen.

Imagine how much Democratic support there’d be for Trump’s proposal if a “permission structure” existed anywhere among their congressional leadership or presidential field in favor of tighter borders. Apart from occasional boilerplate about funding generic “border security,” every bit of rhetorical energy among prominent leftists is aimed at criticizing Trump’s immigration policies. And the further left you go, the more that decays into overt support for open borders. Beto O’Rourke, who’s by no means the most progressive candidate in the field, was lately heard attacking Barack Obama’s deportation policies for being too strict. If there were a-ny-one in a position of influence signaling to rank-and-file Dems that it’s not racist to agree with Trump that Americans should control how many people enter the country, this might be a 50 percent proposition even in that party.

It’s all down to Bernie, I think. He’s the only one still putting up even the pretense of a fight against open-borders lefties.

Westlake Legal Group s Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats Trump The Blog survey sanctuary republicans poll monmouth immigration democrats Cities border asylum

There’s more net support among independents than there is among Republicans! And there are no sharp racial divisions on the question. Whites split 48/42 in favor of dumping illegals on sanctuary cities. Nonwhites split 44/44.

If you’re thinking that the 31 percent of Democrats who support Trump’s proposal is a fluke result specific to this question, think again. Monmouth found a solid 30 percent or so of Dems sympathetic to other recent Trump arguments about the border crisis. Here’s the result when people were asked if they thought asylum-seekers are genuinely being persecuted back home or trying to game the system:

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Once again a plurality sides with Trump and the GOP, as do independents and 30 percent of Dems. How about the administration’s attempt to warehouse asylum-seekers in Mexico while their asylum applications are pending in the U.S.?

Westlake Legal Group fds Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats Trump The Blog survey sanctuary republicans poll monmouth immigration democrats Cities border asylum

A familiar result. Indies tilt towards the White House’s position along with approximately 30 percent of Democrats, handing Trump a clear majority this time among the overall population.

I’m left wondering here if Joe Biden, who’s scrambling to become the Great Centrist Hope for Dems spooked by Sanders and the DSA, would dare inch towards a *somewhat* harder line on border enforcement than the rest of the field. Obviously his platform would be mostly orthodox liberalism — DREAMers should be legalized yesterday, the rest of the illegal population should be legalized eventually, family separation at the border is obscene, etc etc. But if he added in a little rhetoric about making admission to the U.S. more “orderly,” with some low-key verbiage about catch-and-release being a genuine problem, how would that play? The left will be mad but Biden undertook this campaign knowing that they’ll spend every waking hour making him a hate object, the last intraparty obstacle to the socialist revolution’s path to power. If he thinks there are enough centrist Dems out there to hand him the nomination in a death match with Bernie, immigration should logically be a part of his message.

Be sure to skim all of the results from the Monmouth poll, by the way, not just the ones I excerpted in case you’re under the mistaken impression that all of Trump’s immigration proposals have majority or plurality support. Despite the obvious crisis at the border, the wall remains a 42/56 proposition. Just 21 percent of Americans agree with Trump that illegals are more likely to commit violent crimes; among independents it’s 19 percent and just seven percent among Dems.

The post Poll: Plurality supports releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities — including a third of Democrats appeared first on Hot Air.

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