May loses Brexit vote badly, now faces no confidence vote

As expected the Withdrawal Vote (Brexit plan) was defeated in the UK parliament, the only surprise being how badly the loss was:

  • Ayes 202
  • Noes 432

That’s the worst defeat by a Government in Britain in 95 years. In normal times that degree of humiliation would result in a rapid resignation by the Prime Minister, but these are not normal times. Theresa May is hanging on defiantly.

Soon after the loss Jeremy Corbyn and party leaders tabled a vote of no confidence:

This will be debated and probably voted Wednesday in the UK (Thursday NZ time). It is predicted that May may survive this, but her Government and the Brexit plan (or lack of) are both in tatters.

Telegraph:

Theresa May’s future rests in the balance after Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no-confidence motion on Tuesday night, just minutes after the Government suffered an unprecedented defeat over its Brexit deal.

With MPs voting by 432 to 202 to reject the draft withdrawal agreement, Mr Corbyn raised a point of order requesting that a vote be held on Wednesday,  after Prime Minister’s Questions.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Corbyn highlighted that the defeat was the largest inflicted on any Government since the 1920s, adding that Mrs May had “lost the confidence of this House and this country.”

We may find out by morning, NZ time.

Morning update from BBC:

  • Government faces vote of no confidence after PM’s huge parliamentary defeat on Tuesday
  • The Commons rejected Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agreement by 432 votes to 202
  • MPs now debating Labour’s no confidence motion ahead of vote at 19:00 GMT
  • Government expected to survive, with DUP and Tory Brexiteers backing PM
  • Labour says further no-confidence votes could follow if this one fails
  • European leaders have reacted with dismay at the voting down of the deal

Guardian – Brexit: MPs debate no-confidence motion after May’s deal defeat

MPs should be given indicative votes on what happens next, says Brexit committee

Next move ‘has to come from London,’ says EU

It isn’t just the Conservatives who are divided.

John Woodcock, who was an elected as a Labour MP but who now sits as an independent after leaving the party because of his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn, has told the Commons that he will not be voting for the motion of no confidence in the government this evening. He said he thought Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, were not fit to hold high office.

Here is the full transcript of what Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told the European parliament this morning about the Commons Brexit vote. He said “the risk of a no deal has never been so high.”

Brexit vote imminent, no win situation for May and UK

No matter what the outcome of the crucial Brexit vote in the UK Parliament this week the outcome may be bad.

There is the potential for financial catastrophe if the deal passes, and the complete decay of democracy if it fails. The country voted in favour of Brexit in a referendum and democracy-wise Parliament has a duty to act on that majority decision.

 

Missy:


Tomorrow is the ‘meaningful vote’ on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

It is getting a little complex with machinations of some of the MPs trying desperately to stop Brexit. A group of MPs are reportedly going to use the Parliamentary Liaison Committee, (a committee of the chairs of all 32 select committees), to take power away from the Executive to manage Brexit. I am not sure if this is possible and haven’t had a chance to read up on the Standing Orders around this, but it is being described as a coup by some.

A Government whip has resigned in order to vote against the Government on the deal, and it is reported that at least 112 Government MPs have declared they will vote against the agreement.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that if the Government is defeated he will be calling a vote of No Confidence in the Government. Conservative MPs have been told if they vote against the Government in a Confidence vote they will have the whip withdrawn and be kicked out of the party. The DUP have previously stated that they will vote with the Government on a Confidence vote if it is called in the event of the withdrawal agreement being voted down. In theory the Government should win a vote of No Confidence in these circumstances.

If the agreement passes it has been suggested the DUP will call a vote of No Confidence in the Government in which they are likely to either vote against the Government or abstain. This will no doubt depend on Labour and how confident they are going into a General Election knowing that there is a deal they voted against already agreed. If they want to bring down the Government at any cost then the DUP will either hold their nose to vote with them, or most likely abstain, (since they have said they will never vote with Labour on matters of Confidence, and would abstain first). This also will depend on the Greens and Lib Dems, and what chance they think they have of stopping Brexit altogether.

In the event of a General Election Article 50 can be delayed until after the election.


In response to Facing loss on Brexit vote May warns of catastrophic failure:

Higher likelihood of catastrophe if the agreement is passed than not, higher likelihood of complete decay of democracy in the UK if the agreement is not passed.

It is a no win situation, May has botched this completely and put herself, and worse her Government, in a tenuous position.

Alan Wilkinson:

Surely it is impossible for her Brexit to pass? Everyone hates it. She seems to have stacked her Cabinet with Remainers and failed to get them on board anything approaching a saleable Brexit. Every move she has made seems to have weakened her position.

It is seemingly impossible for it to pass, but there are some unknowns in the mix.

1. numbers on the Conservative benches are based on rumour and estimates, and to be honest the media have been shocking at reading how some of the MPs will vote.

2. No one is sure how the Lib Dems and Greens will vote.

3. Despite Labour saying they will vote against the deal there may be some that are anti Corbyn and will vote for it in the hopes it will prevent a Confidence vote and GE. There are only about half a dozen Labour MPs for sure that will vote against the deal.

4. No-one is sure what the Tory rebels will do. They may vote for the deal as a least worst option, or they may try to go for the nuclear option and vote against to try and force Article 50 be cancelled.

May’s UK play in disarray

Developments with Theresa May and Brexit suggest a growing degree  of disarray in the UK.

RNZ: British PM Theresa May pulls vote on Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal because she said it “would be rejected by a significant margin”.

She said MPs backed much of the deal she has struck with the EU but there was concern over the Northern Ireland backstop plan.

Mrs May said she believed she could still get the deal through if she addressed MPs’ concerns and that what she intended to do in the next few days.

However, Speaker John Bercow – who chairs debates in the House of Commons – called on the government to give MPs a vote on whether Tuesday’s vote should be cancelled, saying it was the “right and obvious” thing to do given how angry some MPs were about the cancellation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was in “complete chaos” and urged Mrs May to stand down.

The pound fell sharply in response to the reports earlier of a likely delay.

The deputy leader of the DUP – the Northern Ireland party whose backing Theresa May needs to win key votes – Nigel Dodds, said the situation was “quite frankly a bit of a shambles” and the PM was paying the price for crossing her “red lines” when it came to Northern Ireland.

And it appears to be affecting more than the UK:  Dow slides 500 points on Brexit drama, bank selloff

Brexit chaos and sinking bank stocks are combining to deal the stock market another blow.

The Dow fell 500 points, or 1.9%, on Monday. The index tumbled below the 24,000 level. The S&P 500 retreated 1.7%, while the Nasdaq lost 1%.

US stocks hit session lows after Prime Minister Theresa May said she would delay a crucial vote on her Brexit deal. The British pound extended its losses, plunging 1.6% against the US dollar. Sterling is on track for its worst close since April 2017.

“We seem to have taken a turn for the worse because of the Brexit news,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Capital. “Any news that isn’t good is immediately treated as terrible.”

The Brexit chaos reinforces one of Wall Street’s biggest fears: slowing global growth. Germany and Japan are already in economic contraction, while China’s economy has suffered from a wave of tariffs.

 

 

“I’ve always felt Corbyn is maligned by the mainstream media”

A lot of politicians think that they don’t get a fair go from media. Seeing politicians speaking in person can either confirm or change perceptions of them.

I heard John Key speak once, and he was very good, he probably came across better in person than on TV.

I went to one of Andrew Little’s public meetings and he was as flat and uninspiring as  he was when appearing on TV.

I saw Winston Peters speak at an NZ First conference and he was much as expected – he repeated a lot of stuff he had done before for years, including ‘jokes’. One of the more notable aspects of that experience was a young supporter sitting in front of me, she seemed to hardly listen to Winston’s speech, too busy yapping to neighbours, but whenever there was clapping she turned towards the stage and cheered.

Peter Dunne was good in person, seemed genuine and spoke well.

Metiria Turei was popular at Dunedin campaign meetings and was obviously respected and listened to intently.

David Clark was a journeyman political reciter at campaign meetings.

John Banks was better than expected when talking at an ACT regional conference.

David Seymour impressed at another ACT event before he was elected MP for Epsom, but then ACT leader Jamie Whyte was disappointing.

Here is William Sutcliffe’s impression of  UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

I’ve always felt Corbyn is maligned by the mainstream media, so I went to this – to hear him speak in a non-confrontational setting. What I learned is that he is flat, uninspiring, repetitive, dreary, inarticulate and vague. Bitterly disappointing and enraging.

In response to almost every question, the needle fell into the same groove about inequality. No vision or broad view of complex issues. He claimed to be anti-Brexit, but I got the feeling he would have said the opposite if the event had been in Sunderland.

His longest and most engaged answer was to an audience question about 70s leftists in Chile. I hoped to find a Corbyn who would contradict the parodies of him. I left with all my worst fears confirmed. This is a country without an opposition.

A university student asked him for a list of books that would inspire her politically. He rambled on (again) about inequality and failed to name a single book.

Sutcilffe’s Twitter blurb: “Author of books for children, young adults and old adults. Are You Experienced?, The Wall, Concentr8, etc. We See Everything”out now in paperback.

Missing million and Corbyn fantasies

There are some on the left who seem to think that a magical transformation in popularity when hundreds of thousands of people who have no interest in politics or voting suddenly choose to support one party, and Andrew little suddenly transforms into Andrew Corbyn and changes all Labour’s policies.

Not having anything solid to pin their hope on fantasies are about all they have.

Danyl Mclauchlan:  The myth of the missing million

I used to believe in the missing million – the idea, if not the exact number. Voter turnout in New Zealand used to be around 90%. In 2011 it was 74.21%. Almost eight hundred thousand registered voters failed to vote. Obviously, I felt, these were people who agreed with my political beliefs but refused to vote because none of the choices presented a genuine alternative to the status quo.

I did have a few doubts about the missing million theory. Like:

If turnout is low because people don’t feel the existing parties represent real choice, why was it really high under FPP, when there were only two parties in Parliament and the only votes that really counted were a handful of swing votes in marginal electorates?

If non-voters wanted a radical change to the status quo why didn’t they vote for the Progressive Party or Mana or the Greens, who all, over the years, denounced neoliberalism and campaigned on platforms of radical change to the status quo?

In 2014 the Department of Statistics published a report on non-voters in the 2008 and 2011 general elections based on their General Social Survey – a study of 8,795 residents from randomly selected households. They found that a very high proportion of non-voters were neither woke-but-alienated radicals nor shiftless sexting millennial deadbeats. Instead the single highest predictor of being a non-voter was identifying as a recent migrant to New Zealand.

It is likely that recent migrants don’t know enough about the candidates and parties to make a decision on election  day.

Is Metiria Turei trying to target them with her attacks on Winston’ Peters’ ‘racism’ and her veiled attack in Labour for the same?

“All right,” you might say. “But what about what Jeremy Corbyn has just done in Britain?” Under Corbyn, British Labour openly embraced socialism and rejected the neoliberal status quo. The youth vote surged and he almost won the election! We know that some non-voters are young non-migrant New Zealanders. Why can’t Labour do the same thing here?

This is the argument that left-wing commentators and Young Labour activists have been blogging and tweeting and Facebooking about, and maybe even talking about verbally ever since Corbyn’s near-victory. They might be right! They’re definitely indulging in the Pundit’s Fallacy, in which commentators insist that a political party can win votes by doing whatever it is the commentator desperately wants them to do anyway, and cherry-picking data points to prove it.

Cherry-picking datapoints to support what one desperately wants seems to be common.

But when you look at the political attitudes of non-voters in the New Zealand Electoral Survey, a longitudinal study of voting attitudes and behaviour, the results are not wildly encouraging for the left. When non-voters in the 2014 NZES were asked to rate the National government’s performance, over 70% thought that the government was doing a good job. This doesn’t mean they’d all vote National – 43% of Labour voters also thought the government were doing a good job. But it doesn’t point to the simmering discontent we’ve seen in the British and US elections.

Maybe things have changed since the last election? Maybe there is something in the air? According to Roy Morgan the percentage of people who ‘think the country is heading in the right direction’, is at 62%, almost exactly what it was before the 2014 election. Prior to the recent British election the government’s ‘right direction’ rating was literally half that.

The political situation in New Zealand is very different to that in the UK.

Labour’s strategists seem to feel that they tried the Corbyn route last election, under Cunliffe, who embraced socialist rhetoric and led them to an historic defeat.

NZ Labour seems to be caught between wariness over past failures and the sort of success of Corbyn and Labour in the UK (except they failed).

They are probably closer to Hillary Clinton’s campaign where she should have won easily but stuffed up badly.

 

Corbyn, Little and political atheism

Chris Trotter has long despaired (intermittently) about the chances of a proper socialist leaning Labour Party and government in New Zealand.

He has just spent some time in the UK and likes the growth of Corbyn support, but despairs about anything similar here with Andrew Little.

Chris Trotter: Hard to imagine Andrew Little inspiring Corbyn-like passion

It was hard to imagine Corbyn-like passion inspiring many in the UK a couple of months ago.

“Oh, Jeremy Corbyn! Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” The half-chant, half-song rose out of the Glastonbury crowd like the roaring of the sea borne on a rising wind.

The slightly built 68 year old received it all with the aplomb of a veteran rock-star. Microphone in one hand, a sheaf of speech notes in the other, he delivered an address that mixed soap-box oratory with the poetry of Shelly: “Rise like Lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number/Shake your chains to earth like dew/Which in sleep had fallen on you/Ye are many – they are few.” How the young lions roared!

Now, delivering a speech is not the same as delivering a government, and Glastonbury is not Britain, but there there’s no disputing that Jeremy Corbyn has redrawn his country’s political map.

In large part because Theresa May handed Corbyn the opportunity on a platter.

Labour looms so much larger now than it did just two months ago when the British commentariat was predicting electoral catastrophe on a scale not seen since the 1930s. Were an election to be held in Britain tomorrow a sweeping Labour victory is the most likely result.

In New Zealand, however, it’s a very different story.

We don’t have Brexit, and we don’t have Theresa May.

Here, with a general election less than three months away, Labour is languishing in the political doldrums. When Kiwis mutter “Oh, Andrew Little!”, it is with a mixture of exasperation and despair.

There is quite a bit of that. Bill English left a large opening after stumbling over the Barclay issue, buy Little wasn’t able to capitalise, in part due to the coincidental timing of Labour’s intern embarrassment.

If we had a Glastonbury, it’s hard to imagine our own Labour leader receiving the same rapturous reception as the Brits’. Hard because the voters’ ability to imagine a better tomorrow is critically dependent on their political leaders’ ability to describe a future worth living in.

Little is not an exciting or inspirational speaker. I saw him in person in Dunedin a couple of months ago and he was uninspiring.

I watched a video of Little speaking to a meeting on the North Shore three weeks ago and it was just as lacklustre. He has learned his lines better, but fails to fire interest or passion.

As one young festival attendee at Glastonbury remarked when asked for an explanation for Corbyn’s extraordinary popularity: “He’s brought Labour back to its old self again.”

And that, of course, is precisely what Labour in New Zealand hasn’t done.

Trotter wants New Zealand Labour’s ‘old self again’ but I doubt that’s what most voters want. the world has moved on over the last century.

The question that arises whenever three or more Kiwi leftists gather together in the name of social-democracy is: Why?

What is it that holds Little back from making the same sort of unequivocal, old-fashioned Labour promises as Corbyn?

Probably because it wouldn’t be popular here. Competing with the Green and Mana Party for votes is not a winning strategy here under MMP (the UK doesn’t have MMP).

What does he think he has to lose – apart from an election which nearly all the polls say he cannot possibly win?

It’s quite possible Labour could lose even more support, especially if they suddenly lurch towards Trotter’s old fantasy.

Labour in New Zealand – like the Democrats in America and the New Labour Party of Tony Blair – are locked into the politics of subtraction. All their energy is devoted to shifting voters from the Government’s column to the Opposition’s.

Because that’s how MMP elections are won.

They have forgotten that the parties of the Left have always and only been about the politics of addition: of bringing new social classes and forces into the electoral equation; of adding new and exciting possibilities to the lives of ordinary citizens.

Politics isn’t a profession – it’s a calling. And when a political leader answers that call with sincerity and love – oh how the people respond!

I see two major problems with that sermon.

  1. Andrew Little. He is sincere enough, but has shown no sign of inspiring loving devotion.
  2. Kiwis. Only a very small minority seem to have been ever enraptured by evangelical religious or political leaders.

Trotter and a small cadre of socialists from last century may wish for the second coming of Labour as much as they like.

But just as religious atheism is on the rise in New Zealand, so too is political atheism.

Campaigning has changed from last century’s corralling the political flock to the modern day trying to herd cats.

Politicians now need to appeal to people on the basis of competence, and on the understanding of merit based policies, not fire and brimstone political bible bashing.

Comparing Corbyn with Little

Some Labour supporters in New Zealand have been encouraged and even excited by Jeremy Corbyn’s massive improvement in last week’s UK election.

UK Labour were polling 15-20% behind the conservatives a month out from the election, came a lot closer by election day (but still lost), and polls since put them ahead of the Conservatives.

NZ Labour will hope for a similar transformation, but it is being pointed out that:

  • The political situation on New Zealand is much different
  • UK Labour moved left while NZ Labour is trying to fight for the centre
  • Corbyn impressed with his authenticity and straight talking, while in contrast to his claims of being a straight talker Andrew Little has largely become a phrase reciter.

Bernie Sanders pushed Hillary Clinton for the US Democratic nomination last year with a similar straight forward left wing authenticity to Corbyn.

If Little wants to emulate them he needs to change his style substantially, but it looks like that would take a major change of approach by Little and his media managers.

From  NZ POLITICS DAILY: Corbyn’s success highlights NZ Labour’s inadequacies

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Read more: https://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-politics-daily-corbyns-success-highlights-nz-labours-inadequacies
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According to Tracy Watkins, Labour are failing to emulate Mr Corbyn’s bold and authentic approach: “The Labour team seems to think this [staying on message approach] is the same as the Corbyn strategy, or for that matter the Bernie Sanders strategy, of running a campaign around a small number of big, bold ideas. But as May showed, there’s a big difference between big ideas and trite sound bites.

Little had the advantage of having little political baggage as a relatively new MP and being able to run on the anti-politician ticket but seems to be squandering it.”

Watkins seems unconvinced that Andrew Little is in any way like Mr Corbyn: “When Little has got into trouble lately it’s for dodging questions by sticking to patsy answers and one-liners rather than speaking to the heart of an issue.

This is not because Little lacks authenticity or doesn’t know the answers; it’s a deliberate strategy from the Labour team. Little has even explained it to me. It’s about staying on message apparently” – see: Expecting the unexpected the new situation normal.

I see two major problems with “staying on message”.

First, that’s the sort of politics that turns off voters and especially those who choose not to vote. There is a major left wing campaign to get out the non-voters, especially young voters. A similar campaign seems to have been successful in the UK, but Green and Union campaigns last election failed in New Zealand.

Second, trying to stay ‘on message’ is a major reason why Little sounds uncertain and fumbling – when interviewed he often pauses, seemingly to think what messages he should divert to rather than giving a straight forward answer.

And if NZ Labour want to emulate UK Labour they will have to change their direction from populist and centre seeking to being a genuine left wing party.

Edwards:

Andrew Little’s strategists have been very upfront about their desire to keep Labour in the centre of the political spectrum. Labour’s chief strategist, Rob Salmond, has blogged about this in the past, suggesting Mr Corbyn’s approach is an unpopular “hard left” one, and that elections are still won in the centre – see: In defence of the centre.

Gordon Campbell in On the lessons from Corbyn’s campaign.

Mr Corbyn’s relative success with getting young and alienated public to vote, highlights the inability of Labour here to mobilise the missing million: “Corbyn and his Labour team ran an inspirational campaign that did in seven weeks what the New Zealand Labour Party has talked about doing since 2011, but never remotely looked like accomplishing.

Andrew Little’s Labour team has been trying to outbid New Zealand First (eg on immigration and law’n’order) for the votes of the reactionary right.

Unlike Corbyn, the parliamentary centre left leadership here seems afraid to stand up in public for the agendas they profess (in private) to hold dear. It won’t end well.”

Whether moving left can be done now in New Zealand, it is getting late in the campaign game for a major shift.

Little and Labour may be able to do a Corbyn-like rise from the poll ashes, but they will have to rethink and refocus their efforts substantially. This in itself has it’s risks, it will be hard to claim authenticity after a major change.

But Little has to be himself, bold and become confident if he is to break out of his media managed mangle.

 

UK election aftermath

The UK election is over, resulting in a hung Parliament, about the worst thing that could have happened with Brexit to deal with shortly.

But despite her quest for more power and dumping a snap election on Labour backfiring Theresa May has not mucked around.

The biggest losers, apart from May’s credibility, were UKIP, who lost 108% of the vote. They dropped to just 1.8% and lost their only seat.

Labour increased their share of the vote by 5.5% to 42.4%, while the Conservatives increased their’s by less, 5.5%, but still got the most at 42.4%.

BBC:  May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority.

In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

So for now at least all the speculation and demands that she step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister were meaningless.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

They gained a lot of votes (9.5% up to 40.0%) and some seats (up 29 to 261) but still lost the election. They still have Jeremy Corbyn as leader, hailed as an election hero and it will be difficult to budge him now, but still out of government possibly for the next five years.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn says May ‘underestimated’ voters

Jeremy Corbyn has said Theresa May “underestimated” voters and the Labour Party after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in the election.

He said people had voted “for hope” after his party secured 261 seats in Parliament.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to resign after the Conservatives were left eight seats short of a majority.

“Your vote for us was a vote for change, a vote for our country and a vote for hope,” he said.

“But she underestimated the Labour Party, and more importantly, she underestimated you.”

He went on to say Theresa May called the general election “in her party’s interests, not in the interests of the country” and thought she could “take your vote for granted”.

To an extent Corbyn is correct, May made a silly decision to call a snap election and campaigned terribly, but Corbyn and Labour are still in opposition for now at least.

Not enough of “the people” chose to ditch May and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

BBC:  Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go

Theresa May must resign and Brexit negotiations should be put on hold, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

He said talks about leaving the EU should be delayed until the new government sets out its plans to the public.

And he insisted there would be no deal to prop up a Tory government.

“Like David Cameron before her, our Conservative prime minister rolled the dice with the future of our country out of sheer arrogance and vanity,” he said.

“It is simply inconceivable that the prime minister can begin the Brexit negotiations in just two weeks’ time.

“She should consider her future – and then, for once, she should consider the future of our country.”

But it was a mixed election for the Liberal Democrats. They gained 4 seats (now 12) but lost some MPs and votes, dropping half a percent to 7.4%.

Mr Farron’s comments came after a night which saw the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lose his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 election.

But former ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson both won back their seats after losing them in 2015.

And Mr Farron kept his seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale, although his majority fell from 8,949 to just 777.

The big question now: Who are the Democratic Union Party?

They won 10 seats, up 2, and 292,316 votes, 0.9% of the total.

Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the DUP, though it is not clear what kind of arrangement this will be.

Despite party leader Arlene Foster warning it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in No 10, discussions are certainly going on behind the scenes.

The party has moved on to the political centre stage but most people will be in the dark about what it stands for.

The DUP website crashed on Friday morning after a surge of interest, and DUP was also one of the most searched terms on Google.

Basically, they are pro-union (not Europe but UK), pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a bit of a reputation for its strong and controversial views.

It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Mervyn Storey, the party’s former education spokesman, once called for creationism – the belief that human life did not evolve over millions of years but was created by God – to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

In December, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke was criticised by Sir Elton John after the politician admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity explained the facts to him.

Fairly conservative then, on social issues at least.

Then there’s the party’s historical links to loyalist paramilitaries.

During this general election campaign, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly received the endorsement of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Although the DUP said it did not accept their support, in her acceptance speech, Mrs Little-Pengelly thanked those who came out to vote for her, singling out several loyalist working class areas in Belfast.

The DUP was a wholehearted supporter of Brexit and got heavily involved in the Leave campaign.

After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland becomes an EU frontier and the DUP is not in favour of a so-called hard border. This means no checkpoints or intrusive enforcement.

So no hard border but in the round, the party’s vision of Brexit is a fairly hard one – it was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of UKIP.

The party also wants to leave the EU customs union – their manifesto says there should be “progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world” – and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ensuring that in future British law is supreme.

One red line is the idea of Northern Ireland being granted some sort of “special status” when Brexit comes to pass – the DUP will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Its 2017 manifesto set out its position on Brexit and other issues, including:

  • Further increases to the personal tax allowance – similar to Conservative Party policy
  • Continued rises in the national living wage – similar
  • Renew Trident – similar
  • Revisit terrorism laws – similar
  • Abolish air passenger duty – different from the Conservatives
  • Cut VAT for tourism businesses – different
  • Call for “triple lock” on pensions – different

Its key slogan during the campaign turned out to be rather prescient: “A vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence”.

It looks like DUP may have real influence now.

Corbyn on London attacks

The BBC on Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the London terrorist attack.

‘They want our election to be halted’Commenting on his return to campaigning, Mr Corbyn said the election had now turned into more than a fight between the Tories and Labour, calling it a “struggle between terrorism and democracy itself”.

“The mass murderers who brought terror to our streets in London and Manchester want our election to be halted,” he said.

“They want democracy halted. They want their violence to overwhelm our right to vote in a fair and peaceful election and to go about our lives freely.

“That is why it would be completely wrong to postpone next Thursday’s vote, or to suspend our campaigning any longer.”

Corbyn: Police should ‘take whatever action is necessary’

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour’s priority is public safety, pledging to “take whatever action is necessary and effective” to protect the UK.

He said he agreed with giving “full authority” to the police to use “whatever force is necessary to protect and save life, as they did last night [and] in Westminster in March”.

Mr Corbyn then reiterated his party’s manifesto pledge to recruit another 10,000 police officers.

And Corbyn has gone political on it too:

Can’t protect public ‘on the cheap’

In an attack on Theresa May, Mr Corbyn said “you cannot protect the public on the cheap” and called for the police and security services to “get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.”

“Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of crying wolf”, he added.

The election is in a few days time.

“Labour’s Looming Train Wreck”

The gloves are off as parties position themselves for the election.

Peter Dunne Speaks: Labour’s Looming Train Wreck

Dunne tries to draw parallels between UK Labourt and NZ Labour, and between Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew little.

For those who follow British politics, the prospect of the coming General Election turning into a major train wreck for the British Labour Party looms large. Barely a day passes without another set of contradictory views or comments emerging from senior members of that Party.

Most of the criticism inevitably finds its way back to the Party’s veteran socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a man who, in a long political career has never been chosen to hold any Government office. For afficiandos, it is all fun and games, happening sufficiently far away not to be too bothered about.

However, there are some similarities with the New Zealand situation which should not go unremarked upon.

And remark upon them he does.

Jeremy Corbyn was never elected leader of the British Labour Party by the Party’s MPs – indeed, only a few months ago, they passed overwhelmingly a vote of no-confidence in his leadership. Yet he remains, having twice been selected by the Party at large and its trade union base to be Labour’s standard bearer.

New Zealand Labour has a similar selection system – current leader Andrew Little was installed in his role in 2014 with the backing of well under half his MPs, and then only narrowly because of the union vote.

As with Mr Corbyn, Mr Little knows that the key to his retaining the leadership, lies not with his MPs, but with the Party’s trade union affiliates. He has already shown his recognition of that by his installation of trade union officials as candidates in a number of seats around the country. Many are likely to feature high up on the Party’s “democratically” selected list.

And, like Mr Corbyn, he has eschewed any prospect of Labour claiming the centre ground of politics, indeed going so far as to dismiss the political centre and those who occupy it as “irrelevant.”

Both Mr Corbyn and Mr Little believe naively that there is a latent Labour majority out there – the missing million voters New Zealand Labour keeps talking about – that has only to be offered a “true” Labour Party for them to return home, and that in the meantime, there is therefore no need to reach out to any other voting group

As the Antipodean Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Little must have groaned when Teresa May called Britain’s election for early June. New Zealanders are going to be able to watch a preview of his performance and likely fate, well in advance of our own election.

And when the inevitable blood-letting takes place after the British train wreck, New Zealand Labour will struggle to avoid the spotlight being turned on its own Jeremy Corbyn, and his journey down the same track.       

Dunne and others will no doubt try to have the spotlight shone on similarities between Corbyn and Little, and between UK Labour and NZ Labour.