US-UK trade deal “very very quickly”

Donald Trump said that a very very big trade deal with the UK will be done very very quickly, but others are very very dubious.

“There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries. We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal – a very powerful deal, great for both countries – and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”

“Prime Minister May and I have developed a very special relationship and I think trade will be a very big factor between our two countries.”

That sounds very very Trump but Theresa May was less certain.

May said she would not be sceptical about the Trump offer but remained “optimistic”.

Others were more sceptical. Thomas Bernes, who has dealt with the US in a major trade negotiation and is now a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation:

“I was involved in the Canada-US trade agreement and it was extremely complicated. No one will be interested in a trade deal until you know where the UK is vis-a-vis the European Union and until that point is reached you can have plenty of goodwill but it is nothing more than that.”

“I think it is political puffery. There will be no fast US-UK trade agreement.”

The Guardian Trump expects trade deal with UK to be completed ‘very, very quickly’:

Trump’s comments are unlikely to signal any confirmed trade deal being announced soon. The US president has consistently pledged to put American interests before those of any ally countries and a UK-US deal remains a long way from being agreed.

A senior Downing street official said no date was being announced for a visit by Trump, but added: “The invitation has been extended and will be set out in due course.” They suggested there were no plans for an imminent visit.

The official described a “very good atmosphere” in a 50-minute meeting, in which a “significant proportion” was dedicated to the trading relationship.

“They agreed to prioritise work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU. They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU,” he said.

The conversation did not go into any specific detail of what a trade agreement might look like, he added, but “was talking in broad terms about the determination to get a good deal for both countries”.

Maybe Trump will just very very quickly build a trade deal and insist that the UK pay for it.

 

13 point ultimatum for Qatar

Qatar has been issued with a 13 point ultimatum and has been given 10 days to comply as Saudi Arabia and their allies pile the pressure on top of the blockade.

Guardian:  Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.

The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region.

Ordering a shut down of Al Jazeera on it’s own should be of concern to Gezza, and anyone who values free press.

Qatar has become reliant on Turkey and Iran for food imports since the embargo was imposed on 5 June and insists with its huge wealth it can survive the embargo for an indefinite period.

Qatar is the richest country in the world per head of population.

In a sign that the UK does not regard the demands as reasonable, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday: “Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic.

“The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of de-escalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region.”

Sounds sensible but ineffective.

US policy towards Qatar so far has been marked by confusion. President Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for the Saudi embargo and described Qatar as a haven for terrorism.

By contrast, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has twice upbraided Saudi Arabia’s approach to Qatar and questioned its true motives in sparking the diplomatic crisis.

In recent days the State Department has been pressing Saudi to specify the actions Qatar must take to see the embargo lifted, but warned that those demands need to be “reasonable and actionable”.

The US has a large military base in Qatar. It also has an unpredictable president.

The demands:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10.  Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11.  Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
  12.  Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  13.  Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

I really don’t know much about how things work in the Middle East but that list seems highly hypocritical, and must be designed to be impossible to comply with because some of those demands are not just ridiculous, they would amount to Qatar being controlled by foreign dictat.

Cyber attack on UK Parliament

The Telegraph: Parliament hit by ‘sustained and determined’ cyber attack leaving MPs unable to access their emails remotely

Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack that has left MPs unable to access their emails if not in Westminster.

MPs were alerted to the hack on Friday night and have reported problems getting into their email accounts on Saturday.

The attack comes just days after reports that passwords of ministers were being flogged online after hacking groups managed to gain access.

An email sent by parliamentary authorities to those impacted by the incident described the attack as “determined”.

The email stated: “Earlier this morning we discovered unusual activity and evidence of an attempted cyber-attack on our computer network.

“Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords.

“These attempts specifically were trying to gain access to our emails.

“We have been working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to identify the method of the attack and have made changes to prevent the attackers gaining access, however our investigation continues.”

The war online continues.

So far there is no sign that New Zealand has been targeted. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t care about what happens in our election, but there’s nearly three months to go until the election.

A UK rethink

While UK Labour are resurgent under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Conservatives are trying to manage a mess of their own making.

ODT editorial:  Political lessons not learned

British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on to power with the slimmest of margins and, if predictions from her own MPs are to be believed, she is categorised as a “dead woman walking”.

Mrs May has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by calling an early election, seeking a stronger mandate to trigger a hard exit from the European Union — Brexit.

Instead, she witnessed a resurgent Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man previously so reviled in his own party he had to win two leadership challenges and watch as some of his MPs resigned before the election in the “secure knowledge” Labour was doomed.

The snap election was one of the biggest political misjudgements ever.

Mrs May had no need to call an early election; she was secure for another two or so years.

Already Mrs May has been forced to sack key advisers. One of her challengers, Michael Gove, has been reappointed to Cabinet and the other challenger Boris Johnson, instead of being sacked as expected, retains his Foreign Ministry role.

This is a complete shambles for a woman who staked so much on the result of an early election. Her power as Prime Minister and party leader has been eroded.

There are lessons in British political history of parties coming second in the Commons ending up forming a minority government.

The Tories based their election campaign on fear — fear of immigrants, fear of EU influence in the courts and, selfishly, fear of losing control. The electorate rejected the fear politics and looked for a new approach. There is no appetite for more austerity or a hard exit from the EU in Britain. A rethink has been forced by millions of voters.

May is remaining staunch. She has just told the Conservative caucus that she got them into their current mess and she will get them out of it.

But she has lost the confidence of many in her own party.

The final step will be another election later this year.

She has also lost the confidence of voters. If as many predict another election will be necessary soon May could make an even bigger misjudgement staying on as leader – it’s on the cards she would end up taking the Conservatives from a position of strength to a chaotic and embarrassing lost of power.

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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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.

 

Trump won’t visit UK if there’s protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he won’t come to the UK on a state visit “until the British public supports him coming”, according to a Guardian report but apparently claimed as ‘false’ by the White House..

This probably ensures protests against him visiting.

It’s not a good time for him to visit the UK anyway, there’s enough turmoil there as it is without him stirring things up more.

The Guardian:  Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

That’s an open invitation for protests and threats of protests if Trump says they will keep him out of the UK.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His remarks came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayor’s message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khan’s office pointed out Trump’s error later but the president responded by accusing London’s mayor of making a “pathetic excuse”. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trump’s invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Guardian’s report was “false” but added that the White House “won’t say when Trump plans to go to the UK”.

Now is not a good time anyway. May and the UK have enough of their own problems to deal with.

Whether the claim that Trump said he won’t visit if there are protests is true or not it probably guarantees protests if any visit is scheduled.

Trump is not popular in the US, with RCP average disapproval currently 16% more than approval. He is probably less popular in the UK.

UK’s YouGov ratings for Trump:

  • Volume: 3rd Public Figure of 2307 tracked
  • Positivity -74:  2,165th Public Figure of 2255 tracked

May in UK: chaotic and unpopular

There are reports of chaos in the UK as Theresa May puts together her new Cabinet, and a post-election poll puts the Conservatives behind Labour.

The Telegraph:  Labour take five-point lead over Tories in latest poll

Labour have gained a five-point lead over the Conservatives following a disastrous general election night, according to the latest poll.

A Survation study puts Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 45 per cent and the Tories on just 39 per cent.

A month ago a Survation poll had the Conservatives 18% ahead on 48% to Labour’s 30%.

The dramatic reversal in the Labour leader’s fortunes comes after the most damaging 48 hours of Theresa May’s career.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has also revealed almost half of Britons believe Mrs May should quit as Prime Minister.

A total of 48 per cent of the 1,720 people interviewed between June 9 and 10 thought she should stand down, with 38 per cent saying she should stay.

Mrs May is still reeling from the unexpected loss of seats at an election that she called to “strengthen her hand” for Brexit talks.

The Telegraph: Theresa May begins Cabinet reshuffle as DUP deal descends into chaos

Ireland’s prime minister warns Theresa May DUP deal could put Northern Ireland peace process at risk

Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, has said he is “concerned” about Theresa May’s plan to cut a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up a Conservative minority government.

Mr Kenny, who has served as Ireland’s Taoiseach since 2011, said he feared the deal could put the peace process in Northern Ireland at risk.

“Spoke w PM May -indicated my concern that nothing should happen to put GoodFridayAgrmt at risk & absence of nationalist voice in Westminster,” he said on Twitter.

Also:

 

UK: Labour “should have won”

There are lessons from similarities and differences between the UK snap election and New Zealand’s general election.

There has been a lot of left wing rejoicing after Jeremy Corbyn led the UK Labour Party from a predicted drubbing to a respectable loss.

Here in New Zealand some at The Standard have been ecstatic :

Labour excels in the UK

Labour’s performance in the United Kingdom is phenomenal compared to expectations from even three weeks ago. What are the lessons for New Zealand Labour?

Lessons for NZ Labour?

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour just reshaped the political landscape of the UK.

Lessons for NZ?

Lesson 1 – in politics, as in sport, a loss is a loss. In sport “four more years” is a common retort to a losing world cup team. In the UK Labour could face five more years in opposition if the Conservatives manage to survive.

While Corbyn deserves some credit it’s fair to ask whether Labour there could have one the election with a less left wing and unliked (until the victorious election loss) leader than Corbyn. They started a long way behind due to turmoil in Labour under Corbyn’s leadership.

The Guardian:  Labour should have won against May’s ‘open goal’, says MP

NZ Labour ‘should’ win against a nine year Government whose popular leader resigned. But they are still a long way behind National.

Labour missed an “open goal” to beat Theresa May and should not pretend it achieved a famous victory, a former shadow chancellor has said.

Chris Leslie, who was Labour shadow chancellor during 2015, labelled it an “OK result” after Jeremy Corbyn’s party secured a higher-than-expected 262 seats and significantly boosted its vote share.

He added that Labour still lost the election, leaving his Nottingham East constituency, which he held in the election, with a Conservative government “they do not need”, and the party with questions about how to convince voters it can move from “protesting about a government into being the government”.

NZ Labour has similar questions to answer (as do NZ Greens and NZ First).

“We shouldn’t pretend that this is a famous victory. It is good, as far as it’s gone, but it’s not going to be good enough.

“Five years of Conservative government: I just can’t, I’m afraid, be a cheerleader for that particular outcome because this was an open goal for all of us. We should have been getting in there.”

Corbyn has been widely praised for running a good campaign and closing the gap between Labour and the Conservatives, but a loss is a loss.

Challenged if Labour could have won under another leader, Leslie said: “I’ve never known a more beatable prime minister than Theresa May – brittle, I think, very, very wobbly and shaky indeed.”

And at a very shaky time for the UK, which is in the process of exiting from the European Union after a close referendum result supporting ‘Brexit’.

Leslie said a lot of people see Corbyn as a credible prime minister, though stopped short of giving his endorsement.

He said: “We’re in an era of open, honest politics. I’m not going to pretend that I have suddenly changed my views about this.

“You know that I’ve got disagreements with Jeremy on particular issues, whether it’s security, economy. I think we’re past the period where we should be asking people to pretend they’ve got different views.”

So UK Labour does not appear to be exactly united in defeat.

On whether he would join Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Leslie said: “My worry is, if I was to serve in the shadow cabinet there would come a moment where something would come up which I would disagree with, and these are my principles, whether it is to do with security or the running of the economy.

“I might have to then resign. Who knows what happens?”

Labour united during the \campaign to try to defeat a common enemy, the Conservative government.

But the enemies within the party, or at least significant differences within, haven’t disappeared with a sort of successful election loss.

NZ Labour could learn from this, and especially those to the left of the left who may be convinced that staunchly swinging left is the way to victory.

New Zealand doesn’t have Brexit to deal with, we don’t have anything like Britain’s immigration issues and don’t have their terrorism tensions. And we don’t have Theresa May as Prime Minister. And we don’t have a snap election, we have a routine general election coming up.

We have had 9 years of a national led government, we have a less charismatic Prime Minister after John Key’s resignation last year, we have growing signs of arrogance, and we have a lack of progress on housing issues and Auckland infrastructure (Auckland City Council is at least as responsible for that as the Government).

NZ Labour ‘should’ be in a good position to win this election. However they conceded last year they would require the support of at least one other sizeable party after joining campaign forces with the Greens. And going by recent polls they are still well short of beating National.

Recent elections and referendums around the world suggest that polls and campaigns and election results are increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

UK voters punished May’s Conservatives for an arrogant power play calling a snap election, and an arrogant and poor election campaign – but they were well short of dumping them altogether.

Under MMP New Zealand voters have never given one party a clear majority, they have always chosen to require support from other parties to govern – this is probably partly by voter design and partly by accident.

That’s the most likely outcome of our September election – either National or Labour+Greens will require at least one other party to be able to form the next government.

When National ‘won’ (with the help of some minor parties) the election in 2008 one could have presumed that Labour ‘should’ win back power by 2017, but at best for them it looks like being at least Labour+NZ First or Labour+Greens, and while an Opposition coalition ‘should’ be in a prime position to win they are not, yet at least.

Some Labour in the UK are rejoicing their improvement in an election defeat, and some here in New Zealand applaud that also and hope that it is a good sign for their chances here.

But there are also signs that the Greens in particular and to a lesser extent Labour are resigned to a loss this year and are simply trying rebuild enough now so they can launch a real bid for power in 2020.

Corbyn and UK Labour probably went into their election with a similar longer term view, but reacted well to a pathetic Conservative campaign offering a virtual ‘open goal’. But they didn’t do well enough.

Labour here can’t bank on National stuffing up their campaign as badly as May – National should have also learned from the UK experience.

Labour supporters also can’t bank on their ability to score if presented with an open goal, some of their pre-campaign strategies have been questionable and unsuccessful – several ‘game changers’ have been left floundering at half way at best and have not got anywhere near the goal.

Labour are far from being in a position to win the election here. At best under our MMP system they may be able to put together a multi-party coalition despite the likelihood they will have fewer seats than National.

Labour and the Greens and NZ First are trying to defend three disparate goals, while National has to defend just one, patched up with a few bit players.

The outcome of our election will end up being determined by who voters think are most deserving of and capable of running New Zealand.

Unless voters effectively decide ‘a pox on both their houses’ as they have done in the US and the UK.

A sad indication of the sorry state of Western democracies is that voters are left trying to decide the least worst rather than the best.

That’s certainly how it looks to me in the US and the UK.

Will it be any different here in three months time?

What does the UK election mean for NZ?

What does the UK election result mean for New Zealand politics? Not as much as some enthusiasts for a Labour revival here seem to think. The situation in the UK is vastly different to here in New Zealand, except perhaps that they both had unpopular leaders of parties struggling to be liked.

Brexit

New Zealand has nothing like Brexit. The UK is planning to go through a massive change by severing it’s European Union ties, while New Zealand is chugging along fairly well and uncontroversially.

Terrorism and Immigration

New Zealand doesn’t have a terrorism problem, and we also don’t have anywhere near the level of immigration issues that the UK has (many of their immigration issues are closely tied to being in the EU).

UKIP and SNP

The collapse of the UKIP vote and the significant losses for the Scottish National Party (they lost a third of their vote share and over a third of their MPS) and the redistribution of votes to Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives has no obvious parallel here.

FPP versus MMP

New Zealand has the moderating influence of MMP, under which no party has ever held an absolute majority and coalition governments are normal and expected.

This is in contrast to the UK which has the archaic FPP system still and the ‘hung Parliament’ scenario was big news. A governing  arrangement between the Conservatives and probably DUP is seen as potentially weak and there have been suggestions the UK may have to go to another election sooner rather than later.

The rise of Corbyn

Some on the left here are seeing Corbyn’s rise, albeit short of a victory, as a great ‘win’ for the left and will be encouraged.

No doubt there will be more and louder calls for NZ Labour to swing further left and campaign on similar issues that were successful for UK Labour. This may well influence Labour here, but it may not turn out to be wise.

Health

One issue in the UK that seems to have been important is their health system. Labour here have health as one of their key issues. Andrew Little has lost credibility over his persistence in talking up (erroneously) health cuts.  I presume Labour will keep trying to get some traction on it.

Housing

Housing doesn’t seem to have been a significant issue in the UK, but it is here, especially in Auckland. That is as much a local body issue as a national political issue but is likely to be a factor in our election in September.

Snap Election

One message that should have been clearly received by New Zealand parties and leaders is the folly of calling a snap election for no good constitutional reason. We haven’t had a snap election under MMP and are unlikely to in the foreseeable future.

Polls

Another key message is that polls are an approximate indication of support only, and they can move quite quickly in a short time in an election campaign.

There are signs also that a significant proportion of voters either don’t give accurate responses to pollsters, or change their minds late.

English and Little

I think in our election a lot will depend on how Bill English and Andrew Little shape up.

English is not very colourful but has vast political and governing experience and has an in depth knowledge of economic issues and a wide range of other issues.

Little is dour. He may find a way of connecting during the campaign, but I think his biggest weakness contrasts with English’s strength – he doesn’t seem to have picked up a huge amount of in depth knowledge of issues, and he is poor at thinking on his feet during interviews. Unless he masters this he may get caned in debates with English, and that may well decide this election.

In fact May campaigned poorly, avoided debates and was strongly criticised for bland recitals rather than sounding intelligent and being on top of the issues. That sounds more like how Little is.

Labour here will get a lot of confidence from the resurgence of UK Labour and the improvement of Corbyn. Little badly needs a confidence boost. He may lift himself after the UK result.

National should also have learned from the UK result, from May’s poor performance, a poorly run campaign, and arrogance.

There are some things to learn here from the UK experience, but there are also  significant differences.

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.