The British electoral system is both cruel and crude. In a winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post setup, many votes are wasted, the main parties are overrepresented in the House of Commons and if people want to make a difference, they often have to ignore their first preference and vote tactically for their second. It’s a third-rate system, but it’s the one we have. Twenty two years ago, when I edited the Observer, we published polls in 20 key constituencies on the Sunday before the 1997 general election, urging voters to put aside their first preference and vote tactically for the most likely challenger to the incumbent Conservative party. Our work did make a difference, triggering the Michael Portillo moment, for example, when one of the leading Eurosceptics lost his ultra-safe seat as Lib Dem voters set aside their first preference because of the evidence that Labour was the challenger. Today, the stakes are much higher. Again, the Observer is publishing a guide, compiled … [Read more...] about Tactical voting helped rescue Britain in 1997. We can do it again
Eu parliament votes
This is a historic election, the most important choice voters have faced in decades. The result will determine whether Britain as we know it exists in a generation or whether the union will have splintered beyond repair. It will shape the nation’s economic wellbeing: whether we make countless lives harder by cutting ourselves off from our biggest trading partner or maintain our close relationship with the EU. It will influence the type of society we are: whether the number of children who grow up in abject poverty and the number of people sleeping rough – stains on our collective conscience– will continue to rise. It will decide the sustainability of the world we bequeath to our children and grandchildren. Yet there is no disguising that this is an election of last resort, the product of an unedifying journey through months of parliamentary gridlock. None of the options inspires enthusiasm; the campaign has been underwhelming and uninspiring. But the gloomy sense it … [Read more...] about The Observer view on who to vote for in the general election
Labour has denied it would automatically move to back a second referendum if Theresa May rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s offer of support for a revised Brexit deal, despite a shadow minister suggesting that would be the next step. The shadow Brexit minister, Matthew Pennycook, said that if the government rejected the offer from Corbyn, made in a letter to the prime minister on Wednesday night, the party would have “no other credible options” but to back another public vote. Labour sources denied it was the party’s official position but said the option of a public vote was still on the table, as per the policy agreed at the party’s conference. Corbyn is expected to move to reassure party members after the letter he sent to the prime minister sparked an angry backlash from some backbenchers and party members. In his letter to the prime minister, Corbyn called for the government to rework the political declaration with the EU to offer five commitments, including … [Read more...] about Labour denies second vote is next step if PM rejects Corbyn’s Brexit letter
Boris Johnson today bowed to pressure and agreed to take part in a live televised Tory leadership debate after being accused of being a coward and hiding by rivals as the race to replace Theresa May turned nasty. But the former foreign secretary has snubbed the first planned multi-candidate programme, due to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday, saying he will instead appear in a second event the BBC on Tuesday. The move means he will will face a less crowded field of opponents. It takes place almost immediately after the next round of leadership votes, in which several of the six remaining candidates are expected to fail to meet the 33 vote target to progress to round three. Mr Johnson's announcement, made to the BBC, came after he was taunted by Jeremy Hunt over his failure to commit to going head-to-head with other challengers for the Tory leadership. Mr Hunt claimed that his rival had to be a 'little bit braver' amid anger at Mr Johnson's 'submarine' strategy of avoiding … [Read more...] about Boris WILL join TV debate… but only AFTER the next round of voting – by which time contest could be virtually decided
In agreeing a deal to guarantee the Irish border remains invisible, with no checks fuelling inter-community tensions, the UK is moving the border to the Irish Sea. But the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) fears it will create an unwelcome new Brexit burden in Great Britain, forcing manufacturers to take on a mountain of paperwork and breaching Theresa May’s promise that east-west trade would remain unfettered. While the DUP softened its previous opposition to such an outcome, Sammy Wilson, the MP for East Antrim, raised concerns about the impact facilitating Boris Johnson’s new deal would have on businesses exporting from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Why is a barrier in the Irish Sea being discussed? If all goods entering the island of Ireland are checked before arrival for standards and tariffs, then cross-border trade can continue to flow unimpeded. It will also protect the single market and reduce the chance of suspect goods making their way to the continent via … [Read more...] about The ‘Irish Sea border’: what does it mean for GB business?