The Times

Also known as the gutter press, the papers present the viewpoints of various segments of society, and give MPs an opportunity to write directly to them.
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The Times

Post by Blakesley »

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Re: The Times

Post by Macmillan »

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown

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The Tories are electing their third leader in four years and more so perhaps than any other Tory this century they will have unprecedented power to define the party for a generation, whether they use this power well or with the utmost stupidity will underpin the party's every move.

In 2005 David Cameron was swept to power in the party pledging to modernise and liberalise the Natural Party of Government to get them back where they belong. Mr Cameron bet the House on winning seats like Bedford, Battersea, and Brighton Kemptown; seats with young people, with wealthier minorities, and with many university graduates. The gamble paid off and in 2010 he was able to form a Government with the Liberal Democrats. By 2015 the Cameron Coalition was forced to evolve by one Nigel Farage. The upsurge of support for his UKIP (which still won nearly 15% of the vote at the election) forced Mr Cameron to amend his pitch to one of more quiet and respectable nationalism. Promising an in/out referendum on EU Membership may have won him a majority of 12 in 2015 but it alienated much of his new base. Brighton Kemptown fell to Labour, Bedford would have fallen to a better campaign by the reds, only Battersea extended its majority.

Smash cut to the 2017 election. Mr Cameron was toppled by his own hubris as Project Fear backfired and saw him relegated to the number 10 bus rather than in Number 10 Downing Street, not that he's ever actually ridden a bus. Mrs May attempted to double down further on the Brexit zeal but she also dropped much of the rest of Cameron's classical laissez-faire Liberalism in favour of more red ideas, ideas that may as well have come straight from the Manifesto of one Ed Milliband. Deficit reduction, while present, took a back seat and bold "new" ideas such as giving workers representation on company boards took centre stage. There was an admission that taxes could go up to pay for social care, but which taxes nobody could point to, in short the Cameron Coalition was dead and the May Coalition was born. Unfortunately for Mrs May it was a difficult birth and her majority was wiped out forcing her back to the negotiating table, this time with the DUP. The Tories manage to add nearly 7% of the population to their voting bloc, focusing heavily in the working classes and former UKIP voters, providing the Tories with their second pathway to Government. To further illustrate just how much the Cameron Coalition has fallen apart, Bedford and Battersea both fell to Labour in 2017.

The main issue facing the Conservative Party is that they have a coalition in conflict and a Parliamentary Party having a paddy. Most of the current crop of MPs were elected in the noughties and inherently favour the Cameron Coalition's ideals of the small state and the free individual, unfortunately a lot of the current Tory voters favour the more Mayish way of doing things. The road back to a majority must straddle both of these coalitions and walk the tightrope between them. Tory target number one in England is Kensington, which Labour hold by 0.05%, but the second target seat is Newcastle-under-Lyme a far more Midlands-esque endeavour. If you were to flip the script and look at the seats the Tories hold that are vulnerable you find a similar picture. Key defence number one is Richmond Park with a majority over the Lib Dems of 0.07%, unfortunately for the Tories just up the road with a majority of 0.7% is Thurrock, a seat made famous by UKIP's almost effort in 2015, indeed it was the party's best result in 2017.

The next Conservative Party leader must be ready for anything, the natural hustle and bustle of Conservative Party life includes as much regicide as it does trips to the regatta, but playing it cautious is no longer an option if the Tories wish to take 12yrs in power and make it 17. Even the strongest dynasties can fall and right now the Tories are not a strong dynasty. The new leader has about a half dozen options ranging from trying to reassemble the Cameron Coalition or continuing the May Coalition right the way through to creating their own stamp on the British political psyche. With Local Elections due next month it is perhaps unfair to expect a running start but the backbenches will demand one anyway. Will we see more intervention or less? What role will the deficit play? The new leader will have an opportunity to reset the discussion, but with opportunity comes risk and Labour are on the hunt.
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Re: The Times

Post by Blakesley »

The Milk Snatcher Moment

The first thing any government does is bound to draw significant attention. This, of course, makes the decision to cancel Heathrow expansion and embark on the very 2012 "Heathwick" proposal by Sir Arthur and Sir James seem puzzling. Airport expansion in the South East is a third rail of British politics - the addition of a railway only electrifies the issue more. That the government would choose to revisit it after a contentious debate over Heathrow expansion last year, much less for their first act, is even more puzzling.

That is not to say it is necessarily a bad policy. Yes, it is opposed by most - the opposition from the airlines themselves is particularly strong. The business case for Gatwick expansion versus Heathrow expansion goes back and forth depending on the day or the data analysis used. The Airports Commission report clearly favours Heathrow's third runway. A subsequent Department for Transport report shows that, over the very long term, the benefits of Gatwick's second runway are marginally better than a third runway at Heathrow. Accepting this report is not the issue - a case can be made that it is better than the Airports Commission report (the converse is also true). Their hearts are, fundamentally, in the right place.

The problem is the politics. If airports in the South East are a third rail, Sir Arthur and Sir James are grasping it with both hands and holding tight. The fundamental trade off is who likes what. Environmentalists, the soft Liberal Democrats whom David Cameron sought to court, oppose all airport expansion: all airline emissions are bad. Business groups, by and large, backed Heathrow expansion. However, Heathrow expansion was opposed by a collection of west Londoners and other locals. In choosing Gatwick expansion and Heathwick rail, the Government traded the Heathrow local opposition for the Green Belt local opposition, while earning the odium of the business community. The problem with Green Belt local opposition is that they are (or were?) reliably Conservative voters. That might trouble Sir Arthur, particularly with local elections coming up.

The final dilemma is the path of the Conservative Party. Mr Cameron sought to create a more environmentalist party in an attempt to win over the more classic liberal wing of the Liberal Democrats - the centre strategy. Mrs May sought to create a more worker-oriented party, with the goal of winning over the socially conservative, but traditionally Labour, voters of the North of England - the worker strategy. The Heathwick strategy, uniquely, appeals to neither of these groups. For the soft Liberal Democrats, airport expansion is anathema and building on the Green Belt taboo. For the northern workers, this is another multi-billion pound investment in the South East while the North is left out in the cold. The path of Stanleyism, it seems, doesn't know where it's going quite yet.

The end result is a "milk snatcher moment" for Sir Arthur and Sir James. In reopening the issue of South East airport expansion, they generated the maximal amount of political odium. In return, Gatwick may be more beneficial over the very long term. But the gain is, at best, marginal. It was, in the truest sense, the minimal gain. And that was the lesson learned from the milk snatcher controversy: it is unwise to trade maximal odium for minimal gain.

Of course, Sir Arthur can look to the future with some hope: milk snatcher was hardly the end of Mrs Thatcher.
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Re: The Times

Post by Macmillan »

Protests Mark Government Decision on Jerusalem

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Thousands of protesters gathered outside Downing Street, Parliament, and other London landmarks to call on the British government to not move the British embassy to Jerusalem over the weekend. Activists waving flags, banners and placards, featuring messages including 'Hands Off Jerusalem', 'Free Palestine' and less savoury anti-Semitic slogans took to the streets of the capital to make their voices heard and stop the move. There was also a smaller counter-protest arguing for Israel's right to have an embassy in Jerusalem

Former Labour Jeremy Corbyn was in attendance along with several Labour backbenchers including Richard Burgon, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Laura Pidcock, and Dianne Abbott, addressing thousands of demonstrators who gathered in the city. But it is understood tensions flared when police attempted to escort away a small group of pro-Israel counter-protesters. At one point, footage appears to show a demonstrator seemingly deliberately landing on top of two counter-protesters. Apparently jumping down from above the activist plants both feet on the back and neck of the two counter-protesters before being accosted by officers. The demonstration in London, held opposite Downing Street and on College Green, attracted thousands following recent protests in Palestine against the Embassy's move.
A Headache for the Government...?

The protests outline the strength of feeling in some communities which the Government has seemingly ignored. Smaller, more peaceful, protests erupted in Birmingham, Bradford, Oxford, and Brighton as a mix of university students, ethnic Arabs, and proponents of the two-state solution came together to rally against the Government's decision. In all organisers claimed around 50,000 protestors across the country although the actual number is more likely to be around 7,500. Throughout the day hashtags such as #FreePalestine and #EndTheApartheid were trending as issues surrounding broader Israeli policy were brought under the microscope. A day of disruption in multiple cities shows just how strong the feeling is and how carefully the Government should tread going forward.

... Or a Headache for the Opposition?

During the protests multiple Labour MPs made statements to the crowds sharing the platforms with prominent Palestinian rights organisations however some of what was said has caused some controversy online and some consternation in Labour circles. Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his support for the Palestinian people citing the "many friends he has" working towards Palestinian statehood. Richard Burgon meanwhile chose to call on the British Government to "immediately and irreversibly" recognise Palestinian Statehood along the 1948 borders accusing the Israeli Government of a "genocide up there with the genocides of the 20th Century", a clear allusion to several crimes against humanity including the Holocaust. Finally Dianne Abbott, former Shadow Home Secretary, argued for the "end of the Israeli apartheid and the international isolation of the racist colonial state". Onlookers have acknowledged that it will be interesting to see how the Leader's Office deals with these comments in the wake of the party's attempts to de-toxify the party's brand with British Jews. Already discussions online have been arguing over whether what was said is Anti-Semitic or not. In all 7 Labour Party MPs and 3 SNP MPs were present at the protests.
The Government's decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem marks a breaking with decades of British foreign policy consensus and has been condemned by senior officials in the Labour Party. Leader of the Opposition, Emily Greenwood tweeted "I can't believe how the Prime Minister just disqualified an entire side of the peace process as terrorists. He is doing untold damage to the peace process and through it to Israel as well as the Palestinians. Apparently statesmanship is another we can add to the list of prime ministerial qualities he doesn't seem to have." to which the Prime Minister responded "Labour’s universal condemnation of recognizing Jerusalem for what it is, the capital of the state of Israel, is wholly unsurprising." and "Their former leader, after all, called Hamas his “friends.”" But the highlight of the Twitter engagement so far has come from Labour MP Sam Berman who tweeted: "The Prime Minister has repeated his strenuous claim that Labour MPs act at the whim of the terrorist group Hamas. Does that go for the many Jewish MPs that sit on these benches, @WillCroft ?" As of yet there has been no response from the Prime Minister's Twitter account.

The protests in London began broadly peacefully but that all changed when a pro-Israel counter-protest arrived a few streets away. Several scuffles broke out between extremists on both sides and the Metropolitan Police have confirmed that 15 arrests have been made for assault and/or battery. Further lawlessness was present at both the Whitehall/Downing Street and College Green as multiple statues and historical landmarks were vandalised. Multiple individuals urinated on a statue of Winston Churchill before spray-painting graffiti on several of the statues whilst on the other side individuals in masks threw red paint on the Cenotaph. Several chalk and painted swastikas were also found in the middle of the road. Police are still making inquiries and spent multiple hours utilising a tactic known as "kettling". Under this tactic protests are locked down and individuals are released slowly over time, details such as names and addresses were being taken by police under orders from the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London to assist with the collection of evidence and arrest of those responsible. So far the number of arrests from the day is at 18 and expected to rise.
Out of Character: This event is entirely fictitious as a response to in-game events (the Government's moving of the embassy to Jerusalem and some really bad dice rolls). It is not intended to be taken as fact and no individuals named in this article have done the things reported in the recent past to the A-Team's knowledge. Please don't sue us.
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Re: The Times

Post by Macmillan »

Love Labour's Lost?

Prime Minister caught in love affair with Prominent Opposition MP

William "the Love Rat" Croft has often been seen as the heart breaker of Westminster, dashing but ambitious, a forked tongue with a silver spoon to match but very few outside of Hollywood could have predicted the bombshell allegations which the Times have been made aware of today. The document sent is a paternity test from the 13th August 2005 with the child's name given as "Anita". While we do not know the name of the mother the father in the test is clearly detailed as "William Henry Croft", now Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. To many this will be a surprise since Croft's eldest legitimate child was born in 2006 leading many to conclude that "Anita" is a love child.

While the previous allegations are salacious Mr Croft would not be the first MP to have had an affair, what makes it all the more problematic for him is the allegation posted with the anonymous paternity test, that the mother of the child is a prominent Opposition MP. Whilst we do not know precisely who there are whispers in Westminster alleging it is anyone from Harriet Harman (who doesn't like an older woman?) to Caroline Lucas (hippy phase for Mr Croft?) to Astrid Goldman (think of the trips with a Shadow Foreign Secretary). Whilst the Times newspaper is unable to substantiate the rumour or definitively answer the question of who the mother is we are extremely confident in the assertion that the father of this "Anita" is William Croft and the mother is not his wife, Gabriella.
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Re: The Times

Post by Juliet Manning MP »

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Rt Hon. Mrs Juliet Manning MP
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