Covid-19 projections may be high, but measures may have helped

Modeled projections of numbers of deaths from Covid-19, even modified and moderated projections after more stringent restrictions were increasingly put in place around the world, seem a bit high at this stage, but it’s hard to know what will happen months away or in a year as ongoing bounce backs are expected as restrictions are lifted.

It may be that ‘worst case’ and even more moderate projections spurred governments and health authorities to pull out all stops (or a lot of stops) to limit the spread of the virus and to substantially ramp up health care supplies and facilities. This will have had some impact, but it’s impossible to know how much.

New Zealand seems to have got off relatively lightly. In proportion to population we have a similar case rate as Australia, but we have just one death to date, and Australia now has 48. Australia has had fairly tight restrictions but not as comprehensive as New Zealand.

A week ago US projections were for 100,000-240,000 deaths, but there is a more optimistic but undefined view now, even as the death rate increases at over a thousand a day. The current total is 12.274 which is well short of projections, but the death toll has doubled in less than a week, with 1,255 yesterday and already 1,522 1,681 1,821 1,934 so far today.

The US continues to have about a third of the daily world increase in cases, and a quarter of the daily increase in deaths.

Nearly half of the deaths have been in New York, which may be simply because the virus took hold there in a big way sooner than many other parts of the US. Despite a record number of deaths in the last day things may be plateauing in New York: New York’s Cuomo sees coronavirus plateau approaching even as daily death toll hits high

New York state, the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus, is nearing a plateau in number of patients hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, a hopeful sign even as deaths in his state and neighboring New Jersey hit single-day highs.

In addition, the U.S. surgeon general said the pandemic may kill fewer Americans than had been projected.

New York state’s death toll rose by 731 to 5,489 over the past day, Cuomo said, though he called that a “lagging indicator” illustrating past trends. He said the state was “projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations” due to the coronavirus.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said his state recorded 232 coronavirus deaths in the past day – also a new high – bringing its total death toll to 1,232.

New York state overtook Italy on Tuesday, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.

The tally showed New York has 138,836 reported cases compared with Italy at 135,586. Spain has the most cases at 140,510. In total, the United States has recorded 380,000 cases and 11,800 deaths.

Deaths in Italy and Spain seem to have steadied for now but both are still around 600-700 a day.

The death rate in France is climbing fast, with 833 yesterday but a surge to 1,417 so far today with their current total now over 10,000. And France’s Covid pandemic has not yet peaked, says health minister

“We are still in a worsening phase of the pandemic,” Véran told broadcaster BFM TV. He also said that the country’s lockdown would last as long as necessary.

France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the rate of increase in fatalities – at almost 9,000 – sped up again after several days of slowing.

Neighbouring Belgium has also surged with 403 deaths today.

While the news focus in the UK is Boris Johnson breathing without aid in intensive care the overall picture is worsening, with 439 deaths yesterday and 786 so far today.

And there’s another study: UK will have Europe’s worst coronavirus death toll, study predicts

World-leading disease data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle predicts 66,000 UK deaths from Covid-19 by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak.

The analysts also claim discussions over “herd immunity” led to a delay in the UK introducing physical distancing measures, which were brought in from 23 March in England when the coronavirus death toll stood at 54. Portugal, by comparison, had just one confirmed death when distancing measures were imposed.

But:

The newly released data is disputed by scientists whose modelling of the likely shape of the UK epidemic is relied on by the government. Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, said the IHME figures on “healthcare demand” – including hospital bed use and deaths – were twice as high as they should be.

These studies are informed guesses in a rapidly changing environment, so they will need to keep being revised.

But most news is still of significant problems. Europe toll passes 50,000 as Japan declares emergency

Europe has passed the grim milestone of 50,000 Covid-19 deaths and Japan has declared a state of emergency to curb the virus’s spread, as China declared no new fatalities for the first time since January and lifted the 11-week lockdown of Wuhan.

While Denmark and Norway announced plans to lift some of their physical distancing measures on Tuesday, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared a month-long state of emergency in major population centres, including Tokyo, where the number of cases has more than doubled this week to 1,116.

While studies and projections will continue to make predictions and be contested and debated, two things are not in doubt.

Numbers of cases and numbers of deaths will continue to grow around the world.

And Covid-19 will dominate news and government actions for months at least.

It’s just a matter of how bad and for how long.


Relevant to this: Adjusted coronavirus model predicts fewer people in US will need hospitals, but 82,000 will still die by August

An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Monday, the model predicted the virus will kill 81,766 people in the United States over the next four months, with just under 141,000 hospital beds being needed. That’s about 12,000 fewer deaths — and 121,000 fewer hospital beds — than the model estimated on Thursday.

A “massive infusion of new data” led to the adjustments, according to the model’s maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

But the newest version of the model underscores just how important social distancing continues to be: It assumes that those measures — such as closing schools and businesses — will continue until August, and it still predicts tens of thousands of deaths.

While the analysis has been repeatedly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, the administration’s current guidelines only recommend social distancing through April 30.

Trump considers quarantine as Covid-19 keeps climbing in US and world

|Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he wanted business and congregations back to normal by Easter Sunday, but with Covid-19 cases and deaths climbing in the US he is now considering imposing quarantines in some areas. However the horse may have already bolted, with a lot of people movement around the country over the last couple of weeks, and new cases and deaths surging.

Cases in the US currently are 105,573 (UPDATE half an hour later 112,468), with deaths now at 1,841 and climbing by hundreds each day.

NHS medical director: if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.

On Tuesday Trump’s Easter goal in war on virus a nod to faith, business

President Donald Trump’s “beautiful” idea to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday and pack church pews that day was dreamed up during a conference call among business leaders desperate to get the country back up and running.

But his target date for easing coronavirus restrictions is another outstretched hand to a group he has long courted: evangelical Christians.

Cooped up at the White House and watching the stock market tumble, Trump had already been eager to ease federal guidelines aimed at halting the spread of a virus that had infected more than 55,000 Americans when about a dozen business leaders convened a conference call on Sunday.

His rush to get back to business as usual was questioned – Trump’s plan to reopen the economy by Easter could cause more damage in the long run, according to LinkedIn’s top US economist

However, framing America’s response as a direct trade-off between the health of its people and the health of its economy could ultimately harm both, according to LinkedIn principal economist Guy Berger.

“There’s no economy without people, so getting them healthy is the way to get the economy off the ground,” Berger told Business Insider.

“That’s why the public health measures are so important and why they’re essential, even though they’re hard in the short run, that’s the only way to really end up rebooting the economy,” he said.

Easing lockdowns and social distancing measures too early, while the virus is still spreading rapidly, could ultimately cause more people to get sick, forcing them out of the workforce and causing an even more negative impact on the economy.

The message must have got through to Trump about the risk – to health, lives and to business – of rushing back to no restrictions.

Fox News: Trump mulls coronavirus quarantine on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” he said outside the White House.

“I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short term, two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut.”

He said that if such a move happened, it would be primarily a restriction on residents of those states traveling to other parts of the country.

“This will be an enforceable quarantine, but hopefully we won’t need it,” he said.

The move would be a dramatic escalation of the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and comes on the back of those states essentially shuttering daily life — closing schools, businesses, leisure activities and urging residents to stay at home.

But this could be too late. Movement of people has been a problem elsewhere in the country for weeks.

Fox News: Frightening cellphone ‘heat map’ shows coronavirus’ potential spread as spring break revelers went home

Heat maps that show cellphone location data in the U.S. paint a disturbing picture of the potential spread of coronavirus as the country grapples with lockdown meaures and tries to stem the virus’ tide.

Tectonix, geospatial data visualization platform, working in partnership with location company X-Mode Social, created an alarming map that shows the impact of ignoring social distancing restrictions.

Focusing on just one group of spring break revelers on part of one beach in mid-March when they left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it quickly becomes obvious that the thousands of people who were at the beach ended up all over the country — in the Midwest, the Northeast and other parts of the South.

That’s just one example. Contract tracing must be a nightmare.

Reuters: U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 100,000

The sum of known coronavirus U.S. cases soared well past 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead, as weary doctors and nurses coping with shortages resorted to extremes ranging from hiding scarce medical supplies to buying them on the black market.

Reuters: As virus threatens, U.S. embraces big government, for now

Whatever the motivation, in the scope of two frantic weeks, U.S. elected officials and central bankers have engineered an economic intervention unparalleled outside of wartime.

All in it would supplant perhaps 30% of gross domestic product with government spending and loans, drive the federal deficit as high as needed to make that happen, and broaden U.S. social spending in ways that just a few weeks ago Republicans and President Donald Trump were branding as “socialist.”

In the time taken to put this post together (so far) US cases jumped to 112,468 – that’s how rapidly Covid-19 is growing in the US.


BBC: Number of UK deaths rises above 1,000

The number of people to have died with the coronavirus in the UK has reached 1,019.

The latest government figures on Saturday showed there were another 260 deaths in the UK in a day, up from 759 on Friday.

There are now 17,089 confirmed cases in the UK.

The jump in deaths is the biggest day-on-day increase the UK since the outbreak began. The number of deaths is 34% higher than Friday’s figure.

NHS England Prof Stephen Powis said if the UK were to keep the number of deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, “we will have done very well”.


BBC: More than 900 deaths in a day in Italy

Italy has recorded 919 new coronavirus deaths, its highest daily figure in the outbreak so far.

It means 9,134 people have now died from the virus in the country.

Earlier World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “chronic global shortage” of protective equipment was one of the “most urgent threats” to the ability to save lives.

Italy is the worst-affected in Europe. Almost everything has been closed and people told to stay at home.

Earlier on Friday, authorities warned that restrictions were likely to be extended beyond 3 April.

That seems inevitable.

Deaths now recorded on JHU&M CRC are at 10,023, cases have jumped to 92,472 (they were 80,589 this time yesterday) so the problem is far from over in Italy.


Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 832 in 24 hours, bringing it to 5,690. However, the number of people recovering is also increasing, with a total of 12,285 out of over 72,000 cases

French PM: ‘Fight is just beginning’

The first 15 days in April will be “even more difficult than the 15 we have just left”, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned.

France has recorded 1,998 deaths and has been in lockdown for 10 days, a period which has now been extended until 15 April.

“I want to speak clearly to the French,” said Mr Phil

Total confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa: 3,926

South Africa has 1,170 but it is spreading across the continent.


There are improvements in places that first has major problems,

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, has partially reopened after more than two months in isolation

South Korea says it has more people who have recovered from the virus than infected.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro questions coronavirus deaths, says ‘sorry, some will die’

Following the advice of public health experts, the vast majority of the country’s 26 governors have banned non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the outbreak in their states.

“I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,” Bolsonaro said in a television interview on Friday night. “You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths.”

Bolsonaro said that in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic powerhouse, the death toll seemed “too large.” Sao Paulo has the most cases and deaths so far of coronavirus in Brazil, at 1,223 cases and 68 deaths.

“We need to look at what is happening there, this cannot be a numbers game to favor political interests,” Bolsonaro said.

Earlier on Friday, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a former Bolsonaro ally who many expect to be a rival in the 2022 presidential election, accused Bolsonaro of promoting “disinformation” by launching a TV ad campaign criticizing the restrictions, featuring the slogan “#BrazilCannotStop.”

The slogan is similar to a campaign in Milan before deaths in Italy soared.

Currently 3,477 cases in Brazil with 93 deaths.

 

Brexit – UK leaving EU today

Years after a referendum decision to leave the European Union the United Kingdom will leave the European Union Friday night at 23:00 GMT (midday Saturday NZ time).

BBC – Brexit: UK to quit EU at 23:00 GMT, as PM promises ‘new dawn’

The UK will officially leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT, ending 47 years of membership.

In a video message to be released an hour earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who led the 2016 campaign to leave – will call Brexit a “new dawn”.

Pro and anti-Brexit demonstrations and marches are being held across the country, as the UK flag is taken down from EU institutions in Brussels.

Little will change immediately, as the UK begins a “transition period”.

Most EU laws will continue to be in force – including the free movement of people – until the end of December, by which time the UK aims to have reached a permanent free trade agreement with the EU.

That’s a short timeframe for reaching a free trade agreement, they usually take years of negotiations and politics.

BBC Live – UK gets ready to leave the EU

Summary

  1. The UK leaves the EU at 23:00 GMT on Friday
  2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will publish a video message to hail the “dawn of a new era” at 22:00
  3. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urges the country not to “turn inwards” after it leaves the bloc
  4. A special cabinet meeting has been held in Sunderland – the first place to declare a pro-Brexit vote on referendum night
  5. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Brexit day is a “pivotal moment” for Scotland and the UK
  6. Supporters of the EU held a procession through Whitehall to “bid a fond farewell” to the union
  7. Brexit supporters have been gathering in Parliament Square ahead of a celebration event which starts at 21:00

May played a part, but not a very successful part.

Polls show that UK voters are have mostly been marginally against Brexit.

BBC – Brexit: Do Britons now agree about leaving the EU?

Despite the Conservatives’ election success, polls conducted during the campaign suggested – as they had done for the last two years – that there was a small but consistent majority in favour of remaining in the EU.

On average, the last half dozen polls before the election put Remain on 53% and Leave on 47%

How people would vote in another referendum

But that’s irrelevant. The referendum was the poll that mattered, and although it was very controversial the vote was for leaving the EU:

  • Leave 17,410,742 (51.89%)
  • Remain 16,141,241 (48.11%)

So after three years of political wrangling, including two elections, the split from the EU is happening.

Corbyn claims “we won the argument’

The UK Labour Party had their worst election result since 1935, getting  little more than half the seats that the Conservatives won,  but twice unsuccessful leader Jeremy Corbyn claims that they “won the argument”.

Guardian: We won the argument, but I regret we didn’t convert that into a majority for change

The political system is volatile because it is failing to generate stable support for the status quo following the financial crash of 2008. As Labour leader I’ve made a point of travelling to all parts of our country and listening to people, and I’ve been continually struck how far trust has broken down in politics.

The gap between the richest and the rest has widened. Everyone can see that the economic and political system is not fair, does not deliver justice, and is stacked against the majority.

That has provided an opening for a more radical and hopeful politics that insists it doesn’t have to be like this, and that another world is possible. But it has also fuelled cynicism among many people who know things aren’t working for them, but don’t believe that can change.

I saw that most clearly in the former industrial areas of England and Wales where the wilful destruction of jobs and communities over 40 years has taken a heavy toll. It is no wonder that these areas provided the strongest backlash in the 2016 referendum and, regrettably for Labour, in the general election on Thursday.

Despite our best efforts, and our attempts to make clear this would be a turning point for the whole direction of our country, the election became mainly about Brexit.

We now need to listen to the voices of those in Stoke and Scunthorpe, Blyth and Bridgend, Grimsby and Glasgow, who didn’t support Labour. Our country has fundamentally changed since the financial crash and any political project that pretends otherwise is an indulgence.

Progress does not come in a simple straight line. Even though we lost seats heavily on Thursday, I believe the manifesto of 2019 and the movement behind it will be seen as historically important – a real attempt at building a force powerful enough to transform society for the many, not the few. For the first time in decades, many people have had hope for a better future.

I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate. But I regret that we did not succeed in converting that into a parliamentary majority for change.

There is no doubt that our policies are popular, from public ownership of rail and key utilities to a massive house-building programme and a pay rise for millions. The question is, how can we succeed in future where we didn’t this time?

The media attacks on the Labour party for the last four and a half years were more ferocious than ever – and of course that has an impact on the outcome of elections. Anyone who stands up for real change will be met by the full force of media opposition.

The party needs a more robust strategy to meet this billionaire-owned and influenced hostility head-on and, where possible, turn it to our advantage.

We have suffered a heavy defeat, and I take my responsibility for it. Labour will soon have a new leader. But whoever that will be, our movement will continue to work for a more equal and just society, and a sustainable and peaceful world.

He says that “We must now ensure that the working class, in all its diversity, is the driving force within our party”.  It is more than a little ironic that the working class north of England rejected Corbyn and Labour more than anywhere.

So Corbyn thinks that Labour got their policies right and while he says “I take my responsibility” for a heavy defeat, he blames it more on Brexit and the media.

The media are far from perfect, but they are an overworn scapegoat for the failings of political leaders and parties.

It wasn’t so much Brexit that caused Labour’s defeat, it was Corbyn’s poor positioning on Brexit.

And in particular his general unpopularity.

New Statesman: Why Labour lost – and how it can recover from an epic defeat

Labour entered the campaign with far too many weaknesses to ever have any hope of supplanting the Conservatives.

Foremost among these was Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity – the worst ratings of any opposition leader in polling history (a net rating of -60 in an Ipsos MORI survey). In an increasingly presidential system, leaders matter. A post-election Opinium survey found that 43 per cent of those who did not vote Labour cited its leadership, compared to 17 per cent for its stance on Brexit and 12 per cent for its economic policies.

Corbyn’s unpopularity had many facets: he was never trusted to manage national security (his response to the Salisbury poisoning did particular damage) or the economy, and even polled behind Johnson on public services. He presided over a permanently divided party, many of whose MPs never regarded him as fit to be prime minister, the scandal of anti-Semitism wounded his claim to moral authority, and his equivocation on Brexit undermined his promise of “straight-talking, honest politics”.

Labour’s belated support for a second Brexit referendum is being blamed by many for the loss of Leave seats. But the party did not only lose votes to the pro-Brexit Conservatives (to whom nine per cent of its 2017 coalition defected), it lost an equal share of votes to the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats and Greens (who split the vote in some Leave seats).

In different respects, Labour’s ambiguous Brexit policy managed to alienate Leavers, Remainers and those in between.

Labour’s belated support for a second Brexit referendum is being blamed by many for the loss of Leave seats. But the party did not only lose votes to the pro-Brexit Conservatives (to whom nine per cent of its 2017 coalition defected), it lost an equal share of votes to the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats and Greens (who split the vote in some Leave seats).

In different respects, Labour’s ambiguous Brexit policy managed to alienate Leavers, Remainers and those in between.

Corbyn was right about the popularity of individual policies.

Labour’s individual policies, as Corbyn and John McDonnell have been swift to point out, were often highly popular. As I noted in 2018, for instance, a poll published by the Legatum Institute and Populus found that voters supported public ownership of the UK’s water (83 per cent), electricity (77 per cent), gas (77 per cent) and railways (76 per cent). Around two-thirds of voters supported policies such as higher taxation of top-earners, increased workers’ rights and a £10 minimum wage.

Foremost among these was Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity – the worst ratings of any opposition leader in polling history (a net rating of -60 in an Ipsos MORI survey). In an increasingly presidential system, leaders matter. A post-election Opinium survey found that 43 per cent of those who did not vote Labour cited its leadership, compared to 17 per cent for its stance on Brexit and 12 per cent for its economic policies.

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Response to the hammering of UK Labour

Provisional results from the UK election:

  • Conservatives 365
  • Labour 203
  • Scottish National Party 48
  • Liberal Democrats 11
  • Democratic Unionist Party 8
  • Sinn Fein 7
  • Plaid Cymru 4
  • Green Party 1
  • Other parties 3
  • Brexit Party 0

Share of the vote (which under First Past the Post for electorates doesn’t determine the outcome):

  • Conservatives 43.6%
  • Labour 32.2%
  • Scottish National Party 3.9%
  • Liberal Democrats 11.6%
  • Democratic Unionist Party 0.8%
  • Sinn Fein 0.6%
  • Plaid Cymru 0.5%
  • Green Party 2.7%
  • Other parties 2%
  • Brexit Party 2%

The Conservatives and Boris Johnson are obviously celebrating, and so are those who want to see an resolution to the Brexit debacle.

Johnson is promising to take the UK out of the EU next month “no ifs, no buts”

A lot of response from Labour supporters has been to blame Brexit, the media and voters for being stupid and other things, but Jeremy Corbyn has copped a lot of criticism. He has said he will stay on as leader through a transition but won’t be leader at the next election.

Guardian: Jeremy Corbyn ‘very sad’ at election defeat but feels proud of manifesto

“I have pride in our manifesto that we put forward and all our policies we put forward that actually had huge public support on issues of universal credit, the green industrial revolution and investment for the future,” he said.

“But this election was taken over ultimately by Brexit and we as a party represent people who vote remain and leave, my whole strategy was to reach out beyond the Brexit divide to try to bring people together.”

Proud of a losing policy platform? Brexit was obviously a significant factor but Corbyn was seen to have handled it poorly, so it wasn’t so much that Brexit was the problem, it was that Corbyn wasn’t considered capable of sorting it out.

Some Labour MPs and officials were scathing.

Others not:

Here in Aotearoa there was dismay as the results came in at this ‘you must be deemed a lefty by weka to comment here’ post – Lefties on The Standard: UK election edition

Bill: “Ah well. It’s yellow vest time then, innit.”

Adrian Thornton: “Yes it is, time to get out on the streets.”

If you don’t like democratic elections revolt.

UncookedSelachimorpha:

I hope Labour sticks to a strongly progressive agenda, and doesn’t return to its neoliberal / Blairite ways. Might take a few election cycles before people give a progressive party a go – best to keep working towards that, than simply returning to Tory-Lite.

Weird that public support for individual Labour policies is strong – but they can’t get enough people to vote for the party. I suppose the party is the target of the media smear campaign, while the individual policies are not.

Adrian Thornton:

I am not really sure why anyone who has been following UK politics is at all surprised  at a poor result from Labour, Corbyn has been absolutely and well and truly fucked over by all MSM, and most damagingly by so called ‘liberal media’ who, as I harp on about here all the time, have shown that they are more closely aligned ideologically to the Tories and Boris than they are to a progressive Left project…at this point in this very real battle for the future of  our planet, and a more fair and equal society for all citizens,  they are our No,1 enemy.

Often something or someone else to blame for failings.

The 2017 election here showed that a different leader with much the same policies can make a huge difference. Media have their faults, but in general they give better coverage to better leaders, and poor coverage to poor leaders.’

Sanctuary:

If the exit polls are correct, then this is a really ominous result for Jacinda and her administration of merry and complacent elite politics managerialists.

It looks like the centre has collapsed in the UK, USA etc and that has largely been to the benefit of the far right.

NZ Labour continuing to cling to neoliberal centre will eventually lead to it’s destruction.

An alternative view from Ad, who for some reason was allowed to comment critically against ‘the left’:

The hard left saddos you describe are dying off and only appear here on TS for the occasional ideological burp.

And occasionally at protests like Ihumatao and in socialist youth gatherings numbering no more than two hands.

They’re gone.

Observer:

Drawing conclusions for NZ is frankly pointless (MMP changes everything).

There is now a vast gulf between Scotland and England, between London and northern England, etc. That’s reinforced and exaggerated by FPP.

Poli-geeks like us might view everything in terms of left and right but actually “We’ve had enough” is a major driver of voter behaviour. Traditionally, “we’ve had enough” is about a long-lasting government. This time, it’s Brexit.

There will never be another Brexit election in the UK (there might not even be a UK). So simple lessons “for next time” don’t apply.

I posted a comment that was promptly moved as I’m not deemed left enough (I think i was the only one moved), but that evolved into an interesting to an exchange on Open Mic.

Wayne (ex National MP):

Weka,

I note in your “lefties only” comment item on the UK election that some (you included) are saying Jacinda will loose in 2020 because she is not left enough.

Surely the result in the UK shows that is wrong. Jacinda is successful because she is not seen as extreme. She uses progressive language, but does not threaten an economic revolution. Instead she says things can get better with a moderate amount of social democracy.

Most people don’t want revolution because who knows where it might end up. Revolutions are full of risk. And basically don’t happen in democratic nations.

While there is no doubt Johnson’s simple Brexit message appeals because it offers certainty (in contrast to Labour promise of more confusion), I am also certain that Corbyn’s socialist message did not appeal. What Labour needs is a modern Blair. In fact that is exactly what Jacinda is. Which in my view is why she is successful.

A question, would Blair be reviled if Iraq had never happened, or instead would he be seen as the most successful Labour Prime Minister ever?

Weka:

No, I think Labour will get to form govt next year, but it will be closer than is comfortable for the left. Labour do have a problem in that many people voted Labour last time presumably because of JA (multiple reasons) but may be disappointed in what Labour have achieved. The solution to that is to vote Green, so we’re not in the same situation as the UK.

“I am also certain that Corbyn’s socialist message did not appeal.”

Obviously not enough, but I think the UK election is more about poor voter turnout, people being sick of Brexit back and forth, Labour Leavers objecting to Labour’s second referendum, vote splitting with the LDs, MSM and poll bias and so on. In other words, lots of dynamics going on.

The issue for the left is how to shift the Overton Window in NZ. I agree with you that NZ doesn’t want a revolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to move the centre. The right has done this in the past 35 years without prior approval /shrug.

Blair is hated because of how he cemented neoliberalism. Without Iraq only the neoliberals would see him as a great PM

Wayne:

I know that is a theme with the momentum left, but in truth their views only appeal to a small minority of voters. Some on the left also accuse Helen Clark of also accepting/endorsing neo-liberalism, but most people regard her as a very good PM. Without Iraq wouldn’t Blair be seen in the same light?

In my view NZers (apart from a mysogonist rump) have formed the same view of Jacinda as they did with Helen. A same pair of hands who won’t fundamentally unsettle the economic compact that prevails in NZ (for instance her commitment against CGT so long as she is PM). The major criticism she gets is that she (her government) have not delivered that well on their stated targets. In my view that is fixable with more focus and discipline.

A problem with a place like The Standard is you get a few remaining die-hard (I mistyped that as dire-hard and nearly left it) anti-neoliberal far lefties who make a big noise, aided by their ‘lefty only’ approach, not just as commenting rules but active and often nasty attacks on people deemed not left enough.

But they only represent a small minority of voters.

Weka sometimes says she wants to encourage views from the right but the calls them trolls if they say things she doesn’t like, and warnings and bans strongly favour her left.

Elections won’t be won and lost in blogs, but they can provide an interesting insight to dedicated political activists and their frustrations (there is a similar but more open avalanche of ‘not right enough with more abuse of alternate views at Kiwiblog).

We don’t have strong a strong left or right in Aotearoa. Which I think is a good thing, most voters don’t think as divisively as the political blog remnants.

UK election

The UK election is under way. Polls close at 22:00 GMT (11:00 am NZT), with results due to come out this afternoon our time.

This follows elections in 2015 and 2017 and  tumultuous political period mainly due to the Brexit mess and  virtual hung parliament.

BBC – General election 2019: Voters head to polls across the UK

A total of 650 MPs will be chosen under the first-past-the-post system used for general elections, in which the candidate who secures the most votes in each individual constituency is elected.

Elections in the UK traditionally take place every four or five years. But, in October, MPs voted for the second snap poll in as many years. It is the first winter election since 1974 and the first to take place in December since 1923.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cast his vote – he visited a polling station in central London, taking his dog, Dilyn, along with him, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn posed for pictures when he went to vote in north London.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon visited a polling station in Glasgow, while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson cast her vote at a polling station in East Dunbartonshire, accompanied by her husband Duncan Hames.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price voted in Carmarthenshire and Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley did so in south London.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has used a postal vote.

A post at The Standard by Bill hopes that a late surge of young voter registrations will favour Corbyn and Labour – The Missing Millions.

As Zoe Williams reported in yesterday’s Guardian, none of the predictions flowing from any poll used in the UK incorporates the 4 million new registrations from this year. As she points out, most of those new registrations are from ‘young’ people who are far more likely to vote Labour.

That leaves four million, (registrations in 2019) the majority of whom are young. Even while various pollsters are happy to predict that they will break 2:1 Labour (which is actually quite a cautious estimate: if they’re young, they turn out and they vote tactically, the Labour share could be higher), they have so far been unwilling to build these voters into their predictions.

By my reckoning that’s about 10% of the total number of people who are eligible to vote that have been ‘blanked’ by polling companies.”

I’m almost left scratching my head as to why publication after publication has been been making robust predictions of a Tory victory and a Labour loss based on polling. And here’s the rub. I’m persuaded the predictions are driven by ideology and the polls merely offer cover for that fact.

We’ve heard similar dreams of election miracles and claims of poll and media plots here in the past.

But swordfish suggests Bill’s hopes may be fanciful.

Be nice to think so … but I strongly suspect Zoe is catering to those clutching at straws, Labour having proven unable to narrow the Tory lead over the final week to the extent that supporters would’ve liked.

I think she’s probably wrong for the following reasons:

(1) She is clearly influenced by the widely-held assumption that a similar  Youthquake occurred in 2017. The most authoritative research (by the British Election Study & separately by a few other academics) suggests this was largely a myth … essentially Tremors, yes, but no Youthquake (although the concept still remains popular with one or two Political Sociologists).

(2) My understanding is that Pollsters naturally incorporate newly-registered voters, (in the correct proportion) as they do everyone else, in their samples (& hence in their % & seat predictions).

And – in contrast to 2017, when they were aggressively down-weighting younger voters – almost all UK Pollsters are currently basing their turnout models on respondents self-reported likelihood of voting. Hence, any assumed lower turnout by younger age-groups will be down to a larger proportion of young respondents telling pollsters they’re less likely to vote than people in older age groups.

(3)  Zoe has probably exaggerated the number of new registrations. Chaminda Jayanetti has analysed newly-registered voters across a large number of constituencies (519) in recent days and suggests a much more modest increase – certainly nowhere near 4 million.

(4) Jayanetti certainly argues that newly-registered voters could play a key role in the outcome of up to 20-30 marginals.

But he emphasises that the data compiled from 519 constituencies across the UK, including most battleground constituencies, shows the largest increases in registered voters are generally not located where Labour needs them most – ie in its Red Wall of Northern & Midlands Leave-voting Marginals. The greatest rises tend to be in Metro & student-heavy seats, many of them Labour strongholds & near-strongholds.

Of the 26 most marginal (read: absolute knife-edge) seats in the latest YouGov MRP model predictions … only 9 (according to Jayanetti’s detailed analysis) have experienced the sort of mild-to-significant increases in new registrations that could prove decisive. And of the 41 next-most-marginal, just 1 is showing the sort of substantial rise needed to play a crucial role.

What’s more, a lot of marginals have actually experienced a fall in registered voters. For example, all 4 of the Labour-held marginals in West Yorkshire (each of them a key Tory target) have registered a decline.

So that is some detailed analysis by swordfish, as opposed to cherry picking wishful thinking by Bill, plus predicted odds of various outcomes

I’d say Likelihood:

Small Tory majority: 50%

Larger Tory majority: 30%

Hung Parliament: 20%

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Final UK projections

The four projection models are:

  • FocalData Cons majority 24
  • YouGov Cons majority 28
  • Electoral Calculus Cons majority 46
  • Savanta Cons majority 30

The seat projections are:

  • Conservative 337 to 349
  • Labour 226 to 235
  • SNP 41 to 45
  • Lib Dems 11 to 15

We should find out later today.

 

 

 

Boris Johnson and European Commission agree on Withdrawal Agreement

…but the Democratic Unionist Party has refused to support it.

From Missy:

Boris Johnson and the European Commission have agreed a Withdrawal Agreement, it now has to be approved by the European Council tomorrow, and then the UK Parliament. The Government have called a Saturday sitting to debate and pass the Withdrawal Agreement, however, reports suggest that the opposition will vote against this sitting, despite going to court to ensure that the prorogation was overruled in order to debate Brexit (which they haven’t done at all).

I haven’t had a chance to read into the details of the deal, but my understanding is that the backstop has been removed and changed to an alternative arrangement keeping Northern Ireland in the Single Market, but not the Customs Union, with the biggest change being that there is reportedly a 4 year time limit which can be extended with permission of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It will be interesting to see what the new Agreement says, and how it compares with May’s deal.

Gezza: “Aljaz tv reporter says the DUP’s not happy with it?”

Missy:

No-one seems to be apparently. DUP want WTO Brexit so they won’t be happy with anything. However, it is expected the DUP are playing politics but will come around to voting for it.

Apparently Jean Claude Juncker has said no more extensions which nullifies the Benn Act if he is speaking for the EU. The Government motion for Saturday is apparently that a no in this means no deal, this is it for the UK.

Corbyn is also in a difficult position, he is reportedly doing a three line whip to vote against the deal, has said he won’t agree to a General Election until there is an extension, and he wants a second referendum before a General Election on the deal.

On point 1: he heavily criticised Conservatives for removing the whip from those that voted against the Government so either looks weak or a hypocrite.

On point 2: he has not said what he will do if the EU refuse an extension, just continually that he will agree an election when the extension has been agreed to.

On Point 3: he has given mixed messages regarding a second referendum. He is certainly under pressure to have one from his party, and his sudden support seems to be half hearted and in the view that Boris would lose in a referendum.

This seems to be the end of Corbyn, he has not held a consistent or stable position on Brexit for three years, and he gambled that Boris would not get a deal and have to extend and would subsequently be blamed for the delay. It is a gamble that has not paid off.

BBC: New Brexit deal agreed but DUP refuses support

In a statement, the Democratic Unionist Party, which the government relies on for support in key votes, said: “These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”

People vs Parliament

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9881074/election-choice-johnson-corbyn-majority/

A report from Missy in the UK


At the beginning of September Parliament returned from summer recess and boy has it been interesting. First of all is the news that after a summer of threatening a Vote of No Confidence Jeremy Corbyn, (as I predicted), bottled it and failed to table a Vote of No Confidence, however, it doesn’t mean that Parliament has been short of drama.

The opposition managed to take control of the order paper with the assistance of a number of Remain supporting Conservative MPs, and they passed the Withdrawal Act 2 (also known as the Benn Act), immediately after this passed in the House of Commons the PM tabled a motion for a General Election to be held on 15 October which was defeated.

This Act states the PM must ask for an extension to Article 50 by 19 October, and that it has to be until 31 January at the earliest, however, it also states that if the EU offer a longer extension he must accept it unless Parliament rejects it within 3 days. At first many thought it would be defeated as the Conservative Lords were heading for an epic filibuster on the Thursday and Friday, however, all of a sudden the filibuster was called off amidst reports that Corbyn agreed to vote for a General Election if the bill passed. The bill duly passed and the motion for a General Election was tabled again, however, Corbyn reneged and voted against it, prompting accusations of him being a chicken, the reality is most likely that Corbyn is aware of how badly he is doing in the polls and that Boris Johnson would get a good majority.

Whilst the Party Conferences were taking place after Prorogation, a number of court cases were taken out against the PM for the proroguing of Parliament. In Scotland a number of MPs went to court, and the Scottish High Court found in favour, ruling not only that the Prorogation was illegal but that the PM had lied to the Queen, though how they could say he lied to the Queen without actually calling the Queen as a witness to know what he said to her I don’t know. In England Gina Miller took a case to the High Court, which ruled that proroguing Parliament is a prerogative power making it a political process and therefore non justifiable. Both cases were appealed and last week the Supreme Court ruled that the proroguing of Parliament, whilst legal in itself, was prorogued for an excessive period of time and was therefore unlawful (as opposed to illegal). This means the Supreme Court have set a new legal precedent, and have made the proroguing of Parliament for excessive length of time unlawful.

So, last Wednesday Parliament resumed and despite the MPs saying they had to return to urgently debate Brexit they didn’t spend any time on Brexit. MP after MP lined up to have a pop at the PM and Attorney General, Boris however managed to still get the better of them. On a day that the Leader of the Opposition should have been able to have the PM on the ropes, it was the Leader of the Opposition that was on the back foot and the PM that came off the best.

Corbyn kept saying that the PM should resign, and called on Boris Johnson to resign several times, the response of the PM was to refuse to resign and tell Corbyn that if he wanted to get rid of him to agree to a General Election. The PM gave a one time offer that he would accept a Vote of No Confidence from any party that had the courage to call it, many were hoping the DUP would gazump Corbyn and call the vote, they didn’t however. Despite all opposition MPs saying that Boris Johnson should resign and wasn’t fit to be PM they stopped short of calling a Vote of No Confidence to trigger an election. The Government tabled a motion to recess Parliament for their Party Conference next week, they are the only party who have yet to have their Conference, and predictably the opposition spitefully blocked it, however, the Conservatives will go ahead with their conference in spite of it, but it is rumoured that the opposition will do everything they can to disrupt it.

It was reported today that the SNP have come to an agreement with Labour whereby they will support a Government of National Unity with Jeremy Corbyn as PM in return for Corbyn approving a second independence Referendum. This Government will be formed for a period time to gain an extension, have a second referendum which they hope will vote Remain so they can then revoke Article 50 before holding a General Election. This of course will have to depend on rebel Conservative MPs (who have mostly indicated they would abstain or vote against the Government, some even saying they would prefer a hard left Marxist Government to leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement), and the Liberal Democrats who have indicated they wouldn’t support Jeremy Corbyn as PM, but would support someone else. And here is where we get into the most likely campaign strategy for the Government if they can force a General Election in the next couple of months. Whether or not they extend Article 50 the Government’s strategy is most likely going to be the people vs Parliament angle, with Boris Johnson and the Conservatives on the side of the people and the rest the elitist establishment who want to tie the UK into the EU Empire.

This strategy could work, and I am sure those working in Number 10 are gathering the soundbites, videos etc to use, and the most useful for them will be from the Liberal Democrats. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dems leader, has already stated on the record that she would not accept a second referendum outcome for Leave, which most are using as justification for not supporting a second referendum as they believe she would not implement such a vote if she was leader, further the Liberal Democrats have voted to revoke Article 50 if they become Government without a vote, (so this contradicts their previous policy of a second referendum), lastly Guy Verhofstadt spoke at the Liberal Democrat Conference and his speech talked about the future EU Empire, now it is hard to know if the words were chosen incorrectly due to English being his second language, but regardless it does play into Leavers hands on the future empirical ambitions of the EU.

Boris Johnson’s reference to the Benn Act as the Surrender Act is, I believe, part of them positioning for a General Election campaign, it angers the opposition and the more it angers them the more that the PM uses that phrase and the more support he gets. Surrender Act was trending on Twitter when Boris used it, and many Leavers (not just Conservatives) are using the phrase. That is a key thing, May did not have the ability to bring together people from different political views, Boris however is managing to do that, a number of voters in the North of England who are being interviewed are saying they have never voted Conservative, but will vote for Boris.

All in all, I believe that sometime in the next 2-3 months there will be an election in the UK, and the Conservatives will be using the People vs Parliament strategy, it won’t be a formal or official slogan (that is most likely to be Get Brexit Done – which has also been trending on Twitter) but everything said by the Conservatives will be underpinning that message.

 

Johnson adamant UK will withdraw from Brexit by 31 October, EU not negotiating

Since becoming Prime Minister last month Boris Johnson has been working towards getting the United Kingdom out of the European Union by 31 October.

Negotiations between the UK and EU are at a stalemate, with the EU saying the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for negotiation, .

Attempts are being made by Europhile MPs to stop an exit without the Withdrawal Agreement or to stop an exit altogether.

“It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.”

From Missy in London:


As everyone knows, Boris Johnson became PM about a month ago, and he has moved full speed ahead. As well as a number of domestic policies, he has been adamant that the UK will be out of the EU by 31 October, to this the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has released more funds to spend on preparation for leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement, and all departments have stepped up planning.

Johnson has told the EU he is willing to talk with them, with a view to re-negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, but not until the EU commit to the removal of the backstop. The EU refuse to budge and have stated that the Agreement is not up for negotiation, and only the non legally binding political declaration can be tweaked. So on negotiations they are currently at a stalemate. Whilst some officials, and the Brexit Secretary, have been to Brussels and Europe, Johnson has firmly refused to go, instead he has travelled the country and talked to politicians and people around the UK.

Meanwhile, in the UK Europhile MPs are stepping up their actions to stop an exit without a Withdrawal Agreement, or stop Brexit altogether. Among the actions they have taken is a court case, this has been filed in Scotland as the Scottish courts don’t close for the summer like the English courts do. The court case is to stop the PM from proroguing Parliament in October to force through a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU.

Other actions being looked at include Parliamentary processes, law changes. and a Vote of No Confidence. The last is the most likely action they will take, and is a bit of a gamble on both sides. Johnson currently has a majority of one with the DUP support, and a number of Conservative MPs have indicated they will either abstain or vote against the Government in such a vote, (though some Labour MPs have indicated they would break whip and vote for the Government so it could be balanced out).

If Johnson loses a Vote of No Confidence many are saying he should immediately step aside and let Jeremy Corbyn form a Government, however, by law he has 14 days to try and gain the confidence of the house, after which he can call a General Election, though the opposition also has 14 days to try and gain a majority in Parliament as well. The suggestion put forward yesterday by Jeremy Corbyn was for the Liberal Democrats, SNP and some Conservative MPs support him as a temporary PM to stop Brexit, and then call a GE or second referendum.

The issues with this proposal are threefold:

  1. He requires Conservative MPs to essentially support the installation of a Labour Government, and a hard left Labour Government at that, this will be unpalatable to not only other Conservative MPs, but also Conservative Members and voters. If any Conservative MPs did do this they would essentially be ending their careers. Further, as the Labour Party are currently under investigation for their handling of anti semitism claims, and the accusation that anti semitism is being enabled by the leadership team and their staff, so any Conservative members who vote for Corbyn will be tainted by the anti semitism scandal, (some already are being connected to it by just suggesting they will consider the idea).
  2. Corbyn does not have majority support within Parliament, and a number of his own MPs have said publicly they would not back him in this scenario, it is expected that more Labour MPs won’t back him than potential Conservative MPs will back him, so he won’t have the numbers to pull this off.
  3. Many of the public are more sceptical of a second referendum, with the exception of the hard Remain extremists, most don’t believe it will solve any issues, and even less so after a number of MPs, including the leaders of the Greens and Liberal Democrats, said that unless the vote was in favour of Remain they would not accept or respect the vote. With an attitude like that fewer people actually believe that any vote, except Remain, would be accepted, leaving the country as divided as it is now. On the General Election, there are some that believe Johnson is gearing up for one, and it will most likely be just after 31 October.

Of course, this depends on Corbyn actually calling a vote of No Confidence and not bottling it again. During the Conservative Leadership campaign Corbyn kept saying he would call a No Confidence vote on Johnson’s first day in Parliament, he didn’t because apparently he said he would not have the numbers, nothing has changed in Johnson’s stance, so I am not sure if he would have the numbers still.

One other action that was suggested this week, and whilst not a serious proposition it did come under fire for a lot of ridicule, and that was the suggestion by Caroline Lucas, (Green Party Leader and only MP), for an all Women cabinet of Unity to stop Brexit. Apart from her suggestion amounting to a coup and being unconstitutional and sexist, there was the issue that her Cabinet of Unity was entirely made up of women that think the same as she does, not making it very unifying. Interestingly despite all these issues about it one of the main criticisms was that all of the women were white, and she was heavily criticised for leaving out women from ethnic minorities, and it was this she apologised for whilst doubling down on her idea. For many however, this idea just came across as silly season stuff from an increasingly irrelevant MP during the summer recess.

It has been suggested that the reason the EU has not reached out to the UK, and is not taking Johnson seriously, is because Remain MPs have convinced them that they will win in Parliament and that the UK will not leave the EU, or will leave under the EU’s terms. Of course it might just be that it is August and the EU (and much of Europe) shuts down over August and nothing gets done.

On the other side of the Brexit argument, the Brexit Secretary is set to sign the commencement order to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 within days, bringing it into effect after 31 October, thus ending the supremacy of EU Law, thus meaning that the EU’s rule over the UK will end on 31 October. This has led to some speculating that Johnson might remove the UK from the EU earlier than 31 October, and some have suggested he could do it by the end of August so it is done and dusted by the time Parliament returns in the beginning of September, though I do not think this is the case, I believe that if he is aiming for an earlier date it is likely to be the end of September, but this is also unlikely.

The irony in all of this is that if Gina Miller hadn’t taken the Government to court, to the cheers of Remainers and Remain supporting MPs, and secured a legal ruling that any Withdrawal Agreement had to be ratified by Parliament, the UK would have left under May’s deal and the prospect of leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement would not have entered into play. It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.

The Secretary of State for Brexit has now signed the Commencement Order which repeals the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

Brexit will happen on 31 October 2019.

First vote on UK Conservative Party leadership

Missy reporting from the UK:


On Monday the Conservative Party leadership campaign officially began. Ten MPs officially entered the race, they were:

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Mark Harper.

This morning was the first round of voting by the Parliamentary Party, after a change of rules a couple of weeks ago candidates must get more than 16 votes from fellow MPs in order to progress with the candidates with the lowest number of votes being eliminated if all are over 16 votes, as opposed to previous rules which stated that only the candidate with the lowest number of votes was to be eliminated at each round regardless of number of votes of second lowest. The new rules mean that multiple candidates can be eliminated at once.

In today’s voting Boris Johnson received a higher number of votes than originally expected, this could be due to some polling this week which shows that Boris is the candidate most likely able to win a General Election.

The results from today’s vote is:
Johnson: 114
Hunt: 43
Gove: 37
Raab: 27
Javid: 23
Hancock 20
Stewart: 19
Leadsom: 11
Harper: 10
McVey: 9

The odds for Johnson winning have been slashed to 1/5.

Gove’s campaign suffered a bit earlier this week after he admitted over the weekend to using cocaine about 20 years ago. The admission came ahead of an unauthorised biography due to be released that details his drug use.