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Louise Stewart, Political editor, South East

Louise Stewart Political editor, South East

This is where you can find updates on all things political from Westminster to Whitstable, and my thoughts on how they affect you

What does the Scottish referendum mean in the South East?

1 September 2014
Saltire and union flag
Scotland goes to the polls in less than three weeks' time

The South East of England is geographically closer to France than to Scotland but since the Act of Union in 1707 England and Scotland have been inextricably linked - sharing taxes, borders and crucially currency.

But that could all change on 18 September. Scots who no longer live there can't take part in the referendum but Stuart Harvey who has lived in Margate for the past 15 years has no doubt how he'd like to vote.

He tells me: "I would vote Yes if I was up in Scotland - my concern is if it's not taken now then that's the chance gone for generations."

He admits the decision for many is based on emotional rather than practical concerns and says funding for the NHS and the nuclear weapons based on the Clyde are real concerns for Scots.

North of the border the issue of whether Scotland should be independent has been debated for months now - with heated exchanges in TV debates between Alex Salmond and the former chancellor Alistair Darling.

Whitstable and East Renfrewshire

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Rail fare increases have become a political football

19 August 2014
Train ticket generic

Commuters across the South East - who already pay some of the highest train fares in the country - are bracing themselves for average season ticket price rises of 3.5% in January, following the announcement of the July inflation figures.

That means commuters travelling from Dover Priory to London, who already pay £5,012 for a season ticket, could face an increase of £175.

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Lord Howard wants fewer terminally ill people dying in hospital

Michael Howard, Lord Howard
Michael Howard, before his peerage, was Conservative leader during the 2005 general election

A hospital ward should be the last resort at the end of someone's life - not the first one, according to the Conservative Peer and former party leader Lord Howard.

Currently, around 250,000 people each year die in hospital.

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Louise Stewart blog: The spread of caste discrimination?

Villagers collect near tree where the girls were found in Badaun
Residents of the village of Katra Shahadatganj accused the local police of 'caste' discrimination

There was worldwide condemnation when two teenage cousins were gang raped and murdered in India in May.

The father of one of the victims said police refused to help search for his missing daughter because she belonged to the Dalit caste - formerly known as the untouchables.

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Will London Bridge work mean misery for South East rail commuters?

London Bridge station
The rebuilding of London Bridge station is set to cost £1.6bn and take years to complete

London Bridge is one of the busiest railway stations in the capital with 120,000 passengers passing through it every morning - many having started their journey from towns and villages across Kent and Sussex.

Most of them now face months of disruption as the majority of trains won't be stopping at London Bridge station during the building works taking place there over the next three years.

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State Opening of Parliament: Coalition 'fizzing with ideas'

The Queen and Prince Philip at the State Opening of Parliament
The Queen delivered her speech at the State Opening of Parliament

With the usual pomp and ceremony the Queen arrived for the annual State Opening of Parliament - this time in a brand new coach, gifted to her for her Diamond Jubilee.

But the other traditions - Black Rod knocking on the Commons door which is then slammed in his face - remained the same.

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European elections: UKIP strong support in the South East

Nigel Farage
Does Nigel Farage have plans to stand as an MP in South Thanet when Laura Sandys stands down?

Throughout the recent election campaign the UKIP leader Nigel Farage had promised his party would cause an "earthquake in British politics" beating Labour and the Tories in the European elections.

Today he celebrated as UKIP topped the polls in most of the council areas across the South East. From Dartford through to Dover and Crawley.

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Local elections: South East battlegrounds

Polling station
UKIP predicted a "political earthquake" but had mixed fortunes in the South East

I think the local election results in the South East are significant as the Conservatives lost control of two councils - Maidstone and Crawley.

Labour won control of Crawley, which was a real boost for them - they'd pushed hard there - Ed Balls and Ed Miliband had both been campaigning in the town - it's one of their key target seats in the South East.

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European Elections: UKIP's chances in the South East

24 April 2014
Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage claims to represent the "biggest threat to the political establishment" in modern times

It's just four weeks until May's European elections which will be the last big electoral test for all the parties ahead of next year's General Election.

They will be a key test for the South East MEP and UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He used his conference speech earlier this year to tell activists that his party could top the polls in May's European elections.

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Budget 2014: Chancellor's plan aims to change 'more ebb than fleet' housing

19 March 2014
George Osborne

George Osborne had largely managed to keep this year's budget under his hat after last year's debacle when the Evening Standard ran most of its contents in advance.

The silence led most political journalists to assume that meant the chancellor was going to pull a big rabbit out of the hat - a giveaway no one was expecting.

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More Correspondents

  • Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

    Analysis and thoughts on politics in the south of England

  • Deborah McGurran, Political editor, East of England Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

    Analysis and updates on politics in the East of England

  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick

About Louise

Louise joined the BBC as a news trainee when she graduated and has held a variety of roles from TV reporter to radio and television presenter in Scotland, political reporter based at Westminster and most recently - since September 2010 - political editor for BBC South East.

Louise's career highlight was covering the last general election at Westminster.

She was the late reporter the night Gordon Brown came out of 10 Downing Street and announced he was stepping down, and when David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrived. She also covered the coalition agreement, emergency budget and has been following the spending cuts.

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