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  1. How to follow Newsnight

    We post occasional updates and analysis from the Newsnight team here.

    Other ways you can follow us:

    • Add "Newsnight" as a topic on the BBC News app to follow us online
  2. Could there be Labour defections?

    Allegra Stratton

    Newsnight Political Editor

    Lots of talk of defections in my patch - yesterday the suggestion George Osborne thought he could bring over Blairites, this morning Tim Farron revealing he's received texts from Labour figures in anguish that Jeremy Corbyn is their new leader.

    Speaking to folk on the Tory side of things, and some Labour people in the frame, I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. But there is something going on.

    From Tories, my understanding is that the project they are currently working on is how to bring over "establishment figures on the centre left" to run institutions, inquiries, commissions, maybe even museums. I gather they wouldn't expect them to become Tories, and instead would actively want them to be loud and proud Labourites... All helps create the sense the Tories are now the big tent camped firmly on the boggy unpredictable marshland centre ground of British politics. This is in the mould of John Hutton and Alan Milburn - who took on commissions on pensions and social mobility respectively.

    But the Tories running this process tell me they "do not expect the defections of any sitting MPs". I've spoken to one of the Labour MPs always rumoured to be on the verge of crossing the floor, and when I put this judgment to them they said "I think that's probably right".

    Why? Well, firstly these Tories tell me they can see that Labour MPs need time to figure out how long Corbyn lasts. But secondly, and most importantly, they are aware that being Labour is a central part of these people's identity - Blairite or not. That they will not turn their backs on it easily. If ever. The agony of a by-election for their party, friends and family would be unthinkable for many. There is a reason they are not Tories, a philosophical choice they have made 20 / 30 years ago.

    Labour folks regard the rumours as put about by their opponents to further destabilise their already ricketty party. What I don’t rule out is that perhaps, over the next five years, a current Labour MP would decide Corbyn isn't for them, decide to stand down and then, a short while later pop up doing a job for the Tories. But that is a long way off.

    Then, what about the Lib Dems? This would be a little less of a journey for Labour folk but still I doubt it. Forgive my cynicism but I suspect Tim Farron's decision to reveal he has been approached by Labour folk is probably partially an attempt to frame the narrative ahead of his party conference which kicks off this weekend. It might have been dominated by the idea that Jeremy Corbyn makes things more difficult for the Lib Dems after choosing a left wing leader like Farron over a centrist like Norman Lamb.  

    Now, that's not to say we won't wake up in a year and learn of a defection. Or even sooner than that. But what's going on right now is, in the words of one Tory minister who has had a chat with a Labour MP about defecting, just "banter".

  3. Can the new style of PMQs last?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    A Punch and Judy show

    The first PMQs of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership was certainly different. Many people have found his more sober approach rather refreshing, particularly contrasted with the "Punch and Judy" style which usually predominates and which, as Speaker Bercow never tires of reminding us, the general public hate.

    It's worth remarking, however, that the initial exchanges between leaders are often relatively civil, with at least a cordial "I congratulate the Rt Hon Gentleman on his election as leader and so on and so on." Sometimes it ascends to even headier heights of camaraderie. Here's the first exchange between Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher upon her election as Tory leader in 1975.

    The Prime Minister

    With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, may I say that I know that I speak on behalf of all my right hon. and hon. Friends when I congratulate the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) on her outstanding success in being elected leader of her party. We wish her happiness in and enjoyment of a life which she knows she can expect to be exciting but sometimes arduous and difficult. From a study of the right hon. Lady's speeches, I have formed the impression that there may well be a deep gulf between her and me in our respective political philosophies, but, having worked closely with her three immediate predecessors, as I have, I know that political disagreement between us need not mar the work that we have to do together in Parliament, and I look forward, as I hope she will, to the meetings behind your Chair, Mr. Speaker, and to the informality and, to judge from my experience with her predecessors, the intimacy, which such meetings afford.

    Mrs. Thatcher

    I know that it is important not to speak too often from this Dispatch Box, Mr. Speaker, but may I respond to the Prime Minister's kindness? I know that we shall have hard things to say to one another across the Dispatch Boxes, but I hope that we shall be able to keep the mutual respect of keen antagonists which I think is in the best interests of parliamentary democracy.

    But it should also be noted that it is usually the case that familiarity breeds contempt between political leaders as they face each other week after week and the political pressure on at least one of them builds.

    It will be fascinating to tune into PMQs after the Conference Recess to see how long Mr Corbyn can sustain his approach and how long Mr Cameron can resist letting slip the Parliamentary Dogs of War. 

    If Mr Cameron is the first one to blink, then that will be a huge strategic victory for Mr Corbyn, showing that his demotic, calm approach has unnerved the Prime Minister. If Mr Corbyn is forced to engage in the traditional polemical style, then he will have failed in one of his central ambitions: to elevate the tone of political debate.

    If he does fail, he would hardly be the first leader to do so. Cast your minds back to December 2005. In his acceptance speech to be Tory leader, David Cameron said:

    "And we need to change, and we will change, the way we behave. I'm fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing."

    And what about this, from new Prime Minister Gordon Brown in June 2008:

    "And this need for change cannot be met by the old politics so I will reach out beyond narrow party interest; I will build a government that uses all the talents; I will invite men and women of goodwill to contribute their energies in a new spirit of public service to make our nation what it can be."

    Or Ed Miliband's first speech as Labour leader in September 2010:

    "I stand here today ready to lead: a new generation now leading Labour. Be in no doubt.The new generation of Labour is different. Different attitudes, different ideas, different ways of doing politics."

    Most leaders start off with good intentions. The strain of the job and the need to draw political blood leads many of them to dust off their Mr Punch puppets before too long. 

  4. Why crowd sourced PMQs keep Corbyn in power

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    There are two advantages for an opposition leader to be gained at PMQs. Firstly, to communicate with the electorate, who will see what you’ve said on the bulletins. Secondly, to show your MPs that you’re up to the job.

    Traditionally, the Labour and Conservative politicians scream at each other over the despatch box, each hoping to ridicule the other. The evidence is that this doesn’t score very well with the public. But ultimately, from week to week, most political leaders derive their support from the support of their MPs. If as a leader I choose not to scream and make sarcastic jokes, my opponent has a clear field to ridicule me – and my authority is lessened with my MPs as I’m seen as having been beaten. As such, neither leader can back down. By screaming, they make sure they themselves are not ridiculed.

    So what changed today? Most obviously, Corbyn took his questions from the public. 

    This meant two things. It’s a bit harder for a politician to ridicule a question from a member of the public. But secondly, what’s almost unique about Corbyn is that he derives almost none of his authority from support in the Parliamentary Party. He doesn’t need to – and may not even be able to – please these people. His authority comes from his enormous support amongst the party’s supporters and members who voted for him overwhelmingly. This is how he may be able to keep his own party’s MPs in line.

    As such, for Corbyn, the game is rather different. By asking for questions from the public – realistically, mostly the supporters and members that voted for him – he continues to make that group of people feel valued and involved. From his perspective, this makes absolute sense. So long as the people that put him in power stay happy, his authority over his party remains.  

    For Corbyn, reaching over the heads of generally sceptical MPs to the activists and supporters that deliver leaflets and knock on doors for them isn’t just something that he no doubt believes in doing in principle: it’s arguably an absolute necessity for him to remain in power.

  5. "Out" or "in" - do MPs feel part of Corbyn's project?

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    Former Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt
    Image caption: Former Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt

    A (non-political) friend of mine recognised Tristram Hunt in his local newsagents yesterday morning. He caught Hunt's eye and questioningly held up the front page of one of the papers which were plastered with images of Corbyn. The former shadow education secretary took the paper from my friend's grasp, turned to the page with his own face on it, pointed, and simply said "out".

    An illustration, perhaps, of the mountain Corbyn has to climb with his own party. Hunt isn't the only one that is "out". Liz Kendall is out, Chuka Umunna is out. Many MPs simply flat out refused to serve in a Corbyn cabinet.

    Admittedly, Hunt is exactly the sort of MP you'd expect to be unhappy with Corbyn. 

    But it's not just the Blairites that don't feel part of the project. I spoke to one of the newly anointed shadow cabinet members today who made it clear that "I am not a spokesperson for the Jeremy Corbyn camp. [The] BBC have formed the view I'm a Corbyn camp spokesperson" - and they made it clear that they were not.

    A revealing turn of phrase for two reasons. Firstly, the extraordinary sense of them and us between a newly-appointed cabinet minister and their leader. Secondly, if a shadow cabinet member doesn't speak for the leadership, then who does? 

    Perhaps this marks a new, less authoritarian, more devolved leadership style from Corbyn. Corbyn has a camp - and so does each cabinet minister. Maybe this is a good thing. 

    But when the going gets tough, someone needs to be about to stand up for him in the media...and to the rest of the party. And one wonders whether Corbyn will be left wishing that there were rather more people that felt like they were "in".

  6. Three acceptance speeches in Word Clouds

    From Blair to Cameron to Corbyn

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Here are word clouds generated for three leader acceptance speeches: Tony Blair in 1994, David Cameron in 2005 and Jeremy Corbyn from the weekend.

    The size of the word reflects the number of mentions.


    Word cloud of Tony Blair's 1994 acceptance speech


    Word cloud of David Cameron's 2005 acceptance speech


    Word cloud of Jeremy Corbyn's 2015 acceptance speech

    Spot anything? The same three things stand out from the Blair and Cameron clouds: "Labour/Conservative", "Country" and "Change". 

    Not one phrase (except, perhaps, "society") really stands from the Corbyn cloud. Buried within it you have things like "unions", "movement" and "decent", but you have to have a good stare to discern any pattern.

    This perhaps reflects the extemporaneous delivery from Mr Corbyn compared to the polished image-making performance of Blair and Cameron. Others might argue that those two had a clear trajectory which linked changing their party to changing the country and that any similar path was missing from the Corbyn speech. 

  7. Jeremy Corbyn's acceptance speech in full

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Jeremy Corbyn after winning the Labour Leadership

    Jeremy Corbyn's speech on Saturday was, it seemed, off the cuff and so no copy of it in its entirety has been released for public consumption, not at least that I have seen. 

    So, in the interests of posterity, I have transcribed it. 


    Can I start by thanking everyone who took part in this election, this huge democratic exercise of more than half a million people all across this country?

    It showed our party and our movement passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all.

    And there are many people I want to thank before I say a few more words if I may. First of all, for Ian McNichol, the General Secretary of the Party, and all of the party staff for their incredible hard work during this campaign and the general election campaign and all the other campaigns that we do and will continue to do. Iain, thank you very much and please make sure all our staff are aware of the appreciation we have for all of them. Thank you.

    I want also to pay a huge thanks and tribute to Harriet Harman, who has been our acting leader and our Deputy Leader and before that our acting leader. I’ve known Harriet for a very long time and what I would say of her is her absolute commitment and passion for decency, equality and the rights of women in our society is something we will honour her for, thank her for and we have legislation that’s been brought about by her determination. Harriet, thank you so much for all you’ve done and the way in which you’ve led the party since the tragedy of the election result in May.

    I want also to thank and congratulate Tom Watson for his election as Deputy Leader of the Party. Tom is passionate about communication, passionate about holding the state and unaccountable people who don’t wish to be accountable to account. Tom’s your man to do that.

    I want also to thank Ed Miliband for all the work he did as leader of our party. I had a very long conversation with Ed a couple of days ago and I thanked him for his work as leader of the party. I thanked him for his work as environment secretary and someone who’s passionate at defending the world’s environment against the way it’s being destroyed at the present time. But I also thanked him for the way in which he stood up to the abuse he received by much of our media and the dignity he showed when his late father, the great Ralph Miliband was so brutally abused by some of our media. So, Ed, thank you for all of that.

    I want to thank the fellow leadership candidates. We’ve been, we’re discussing the number, whether it’s 29, 35 or 39 hustings we’ve been to together since this election started.  We’ll discuss that later and exchange diaries. But it’s been a fascinating experience for all of us. And I want to thank them for the way the debates were conducted, the way we were able to put forward political debate and political differences and still come out of it at the end with a group hug. We’re going to reform ourselves as an ABBA tribute band and continue this work in the future.

    Andy Burnham was our Health Secretary and Andy’s passion and determination for a National Health Service as a human right, free at the point of us is something that comes over every time Andy speaks. And his passion for comprehensive education to ensure all children have a reasonable, fair and decent start in life.

    I want to say thank you to Yvette Cooper for all the work she’s done in Government and in the Party but, in particular, over the past few weeks helping to shape and turn round public opinion to show sympathy, humanity towards refugees and the way they’re treated.

    And one of my first acts as the leader of the party will be to go to the demonstration this afternoon to show support for the way that refugees should be treated and must be treated in this country.

    I want to thank Liz Kendall for her friendship during this campaign. For the way in which we’ve managed to have some moderately different opinions on a number of issues. But we’ve managed to maintain a very good friendship and Liz is somebody that I admire because she absolutely stands up for what she believes in, whether it’s easy, simple or popular or uneasy not simple or unpopular. So Liz, thank you very much. Those late night train rides will never be the same again.

    So thank you to my fellow candidates and to the thousands of party members that have attended the hustings events all over the country. And it’s quite amazing that every one of them was completely full, standing room only and many other members and supporters who unable to get along to them. That is a tribute to our party, all the candidates both for Deputy Leader and Leader and the way in which our members want passionately to engage in debate and be able to influence party policy and make our party more inclusive, more democratic and their membership better listened to in the future.

    I want to thank my own campaign team. They’ve been absolutely amazing. We came together after we got on the ballot paper, I appreciate with difficulty. And I want to say thank you to the 36 members of parliament, well 35 plus me – I nominated myself- for nominating me for this position. I know some of them had possibly some reluctance to do so, it is reported. But they did so in a spirit of inclusion and a spirit of democracy and I thank them for that and I look forward to working with all of them after this election campaign because we’ve got great work to do in the party.

    And so our campaign began with very little and we gained support, we gained volunteers and I thank the unions that nominated me: UNITE, UNISON, the TSSA, ASLEF, the Communications Workers Union,  the Prison Officers’ Association, the Bakers’ Union, the Socialist Education Association, the Socialist Health Association and the support received from the RMT Union and FBU and all the other unions that took part in this campaign. We are party organically linked together between the unions and the party membership and all the affiliated organisations. That is where we get our strength from.

    And as a former union organiser in NUPI, now part of UNISON, I fully understand the importance of unions at the workplace, defending people’s rights, standing up for their members and that’s why I don’t appreciate what this Government is trying to do to shackle unions in the Trade Union Bill they’re bringing forward on Monday.

    Our campaign attracted the support of 16,000 volunteers, all over the country. Organisers in each part of the country, that organised all the events and meetings that we have held. And in total we’ve done 99 of those events. Today is the century. And we are here at the end of this very long campaign. And it’s been quite incredible, the numbers of people that have come forward to join our party.

    But before I go onto that, I wanted to say a big thank you, they all know who they are, to my many personal friends, many people, everyone in Islington North Labour Party for electing me to Parliament 8 times until May this year, their fantastic comradeship, friendship and support. It’s been quite amazing and I absolutely value their advice. Sometimes its advice you don’t always want to receive but that’s the best advice you get and I want to say thank you to all of them in Islington North.

    I also say a huge thank you to all of my widest family, all of them, because they’ve been through the most appalling levels of abuse from some of our media over the past three months. It’s been intrusive, it’s been abusive, it’s been simply wrong. And I say to journalists: attack public political figures, make criticism of them. That’s ok, that is what politics is about. But please, don’t attack people who didn’t ask to be put in the limelight, who merely want to get on with their lives. Leave them alone. Leave them alone in all circumstances.

    During this amazing three months, our party has changed. We’ve grown enormously. We’ve grown enormously because of the hopes of so many ordinary people for a different Britain, a better Britain, a more equal Britain, a more decent Britain. They’re fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty; all of those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism. So I say to the new members of the party or those who have joined as registered supporters or affiliated supporters, welcome, welcome to our party, welcome to our movement. And I say to those returning to the party who were in it before and felt disillusioned and went away: welcome back, welcome back to your party, welcome home.

    And as the media and maybe many of us simply didn’t understand the views of many young people within our society: they had been written off as a non-political generation, who are simply not interested hence the relatively low turnout and level of registration of young people in the last General Election. They weren’t. They’re a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted and not attracted or interested in it. We have to and must change that.

    So, the fight back now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace. I’m delighted that Kezia Dugdale is here today, our leader in Scotland. We’re all going to be campaigning in Scotland for Labour in Scotland with those great traditions, those great Labour traditions in Scotland.

    I thank Carwyn Jones for his leadership and the way in which we’re going to fight in Wales and I congratulate them on ending the internal market in the health service in Wales: something we want to do in the rest of Britain. And I say congratulations to Marvin Rees, selected yesterday as our mayoral candidate in Bristol. We’re all going to be down there, Marvin, helping you and supporting you to win Bristol.

    And to my friend Sadiq Khan, who’s been elected as our mayoral candidate for London: Sadiq, we’re going to be campaigning together. And we’re going to be campaigning together particularly on the crucial issue of housing in London. I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by this Tory government and its policies. We need a Labour mayor in London who can ensure we do house everyone in London, we do end the sky high rents, we do end the insecurity of those living in the private rental sector. We need a Labour mayor to bring that about in this wonderful, great city of London and Sadiq’s the man to do it.

    This week, the Tories will show what they’re really made of. On Monday they have the Trade Union Bill to undermine even the ILO conventions and shackle democratic unions and destroy another element of democracy in our society. We have to oppose that.

    They’re also pushing the Welfare Reform Bill, which will bring misery and poverty to so many of the poorest in our society. I want us as a movement to be strong, proud and able to stand up and say “We want to live in a society where we don’t pass by on the other side of those people rejected by an unfair welfare system.” Instead we reach out to end the scourge of homelessness and desperation that so many people face in our society. We’re strong enough and big enough and able to do that. That is what we’re about.

    There are many, many issues we face and many people face desperation in other parts of the world and I think it’s quite incredible the way the mood in Europe has changed over the past few weeks of understanding that people fleeing from wars, they are the victims of wars, they are the generational victims of wars, the inter-generational victims of war, end up in desperation, end up in terrible places, end up trying to get a place of safety, end up trying to exercise their refugee rights. They are human beings just like you, just like me. Let’s deal with the refugee crisis with humanity, with support, with help, with compassion to try to help people trying to get to a place of safety, trying to help people who are stuck in refugee camps but recognise going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems.

    Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world and a force that recognises we cannot go on like this, with grotesque levels of global inequality, grotesque threats to our environment all around the world without the rich and powerful governments stepping up to the plate to make sure our world becomes safer and better. And those people don’t end up in poverty, in refugee camps wasting their lives away when they could be contributing so much to the good of all of us on this planet. We are one world, let that message go out today from this conference centre in London.

    I conclude by this: the Tories have used the economic crisis of 2008 to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people in this country. Those who have seen their wages frozen or cut. Those who can’t afford to even sustain themselves properly. Those that rely on food banks to get by. It’s not right, it’s not necessary and it’s got to change. We need an economic strategy that improves people’s lives, that expands our economy, that reaches out to care for everybody. You can’t do that if, at the same time, you do nothing about grotesque levels of inequality in our society. We need to develop an economic policy that deals with those issues.

    And so, our party is about justice, is about democracy, it is about the great traditions we walk on. Those that founded our party and our movement, those that stood up for human rights and justice: the rights for women to vote, the right for others to vote. We stand here today because of their work. But we go forward now as a movement and as a party. Bigger than we’ve ever been for a long, long time. Stronger than we’ve ever been for a long, long time. More determined than we’ve been for a long, long time to show to everyone that the objectives of our party are intact, our passion is intact, our demand for humanity is intact.

    And we as a party are going to reach out to everyone in this country to take us on that journey together so no one is left on the side, everyone has a decent chance in life and a decent place within our society. That’s what Labour was brought about to achieve. That is what we’re going to achieve.

    This election campaign is, as we see here, about shaping our future. Our party is going to, I hope, become more inclusive, more involved, more democratic and we’re going to shape the future of everyone in this country in a way which, I feel, will be remembered as something which is good for everyone, that brings about the justice that we all crave. And this is what brought us into this wonderful party and this wonderful movement ourselves.

    I say thank you to everyone for all their support, friendship and comradeship during this election process. And I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally for Labour but emotionally for the whole of our society to show that we don’t have to be unequal, it doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable. Things can, and they will, change. Thank you very much.

  8. The Trouble with Labour's Europe Position

    Allegra Stratton

    Newsnight Political Editor

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn

    Hilary Benn, reappointed shadow foreign secretary, this morning said that Labour would campaign to stay in Europe in the forthcoming referendum, despite Jeremy Corbyn being a well known critic of Europe and, in his resignation letter, Chuka Umunna suggesting Corbyn was sticking to Euroscepticism.

    Speaking on the Today programme, Benn said: "Jeremy has made it very clear that we are going to stay to fight together for a better Europe. We will be campaigning to remain in the European Union."

    My understanding is that this is actually not certain. Instead Jeremy Corbyn is due to go in to see the In and Out camp this week.

    The new Labour leader has told Labour MPs active in that campaign that his decision on whether or not to campaign for Out in the forthcoming referendum will be determined at a special conference of Labour members to take place by the end of the year or early next year.

    He is said to believe that Labour members will probably decide to campaign to stay in the European Union, but that he is not sure.

    Over the weekend Corbyn came under pressure after Chuka Umunna left the front bench partly citing difference over the EU referendum campaign with his new leader.

    I've just spoken to Frank Field, one of the MPs who nominated Corbyn in the first place, and he's clear Corbyn can't credibly campaign for Britain to stay in Europe.

    He said: "Given Jeremy's previous position on Europe, I don't see how he can possibly campaign for an In vote".


    Monday 14th September

  10. 'I can't read my own writing'

    View more on youtube

    Thanks for joining us here. We're wrapping up our live coverage of the new Labour leadership. You can follow along for more updates on the BBC Live page.

    Before we go - and in case you missed it - here's the report we ran on the eve of Jeremy Corbyn's victory.

    Stephen Smith and Ruaridh Arrow go in search of the real Corbyn. Turns out he's got a pretty unusual approach to speech writing. Enjoy. 

    We're back on Monday 22:30 on BBC Two. 

  11. Deputy Leader: Recap

    Tom Watson

    The new deputy leader of the Labour Party is Tom Watson. Here's how the votes for deputy leader were cast.  

    Results table of deputy Labour leadership
  12. Labour leadership - a few figures

    A quick recap if you're just joining us.

    Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership by a huge margin.

    Here's how the votes stacked up in the end.

    A table showing the votes cast for each Labour leadership contender

    And here are the figures on the turnout

    A table showing turnout
  13. Written on his face?

    Jeremy Corbyn

    This was Jeremy Corbyn right before the announcement he'd been elected the new Labour Party leader.

    The news was made public at 11:30, but the candidates themselves had been told about an hour before - and sworn to secrecy. Spot any telltale signs?

  14. Better news for Andy Burnham

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

      Following the leadership announcement, Andy Burnham was braced for his day to get even worse:  

      Well, with a few minutes to go, the scoreline is Everton 3, Chelsea 1. Small consolation, perhaps, but at least he can watch Match of the Day with a happy heart this evening. He will have to struggle through the news bulletins first, though. 

    He seems a bit more chipper already: 

  15. Could Corbyn absent himself from PMQs?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Our colleagues at BBC Newsbeat have reported that Jeremy Corbyn might share out his duties at Prime Minister's Questions.

    An interesting bit of background to this comes from a speech by Speaker John Bercow in July 2010:

    "An informal understanding also emerged that the Leader of the Opposition would be called on both days if he wished and have the right to ask a supplementary. Hence the proportion of all questions asked by party leaders rose from 10 per cent in 1967-1968 to 25% in 1987-1988 to 33.4% by 2007-2008. This was not the result of any deliberate action of the House. Indeed, backbenchers would make their irritation known if party leaders were excessive. Margaret Thatcher, when Leader of the Opposition, averaged only 1.6 interventions a session. This was partly because if she was due to speak in a parliamentary debate on a Tuesday or Thursday she frequently would not participate in PMQs at all but also because her team came to the view that if she had not drawn parliamentary blood in the first two questions then it would be counterproductive to strain the patience of the House with a third one. This self-denying ordinance or simple tactical retreat has since gone out of fashion."

    What Mr Bercow illustrates is that it is a relatively recent phenomenon for Leaders of the Opposition to intrude largely at PMQs. Mr Corbyn might be about to turn the clock back.   

  16. More reaction

  17. A taste of the Jez We Can party

  18. Corbyn: The first few days

    Alex Campbell

    Newsnight producer

    Jeremy Corbyn

    Once the euphoria of his movement subsides, the work begins.

    In the coming days, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the TUC conference, assemble and announce a shadow cabinet and address a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party – a meeting he previously made a habit of avoiding in his 32 years as an MP.

    Then comes Prime Minister’s Questions and a clash between two leaders who could not be more divided in their politics, their style or their rhetoric.

    Cameron’s scathing and often personal quips at the Despatch Box are probably emblematic of the “personality politics” Corbyn has railed against.

    But facing inevitable, pithy attacks that he can’t even unite his own party, that his beliefs are a threat to economic survival and even to national security, can the “straight talking, honest politics” of the Corbyn campaign win over the wider public in the 40-second pantomime exchanges that make the News at 10?

    Questioning on the highly sensitive subject of the refugee crisis might be his strategy to avoid being too comfortably swatted on his first outing.

    One thing that it seems Jeremy Corbyn will not be undertaking in his first few days at the helm is a glut of media appearances.

    Rob Burley, the editor of the Andrew Marr programme, tweeted this afternoon that Corbyn has already pulled out of a planned appearance on the show tomorrow morning.

    Given frequent complaints from the Corbyn camp about misreporting throughout the campaign – juxtaposed with the emphatic nature of his victory – could it be that the Leader of the Opposition’s policy on the mass media is simply that he doesn’t need them?

    There’s no denying that Corbyn’s victory is one of the greatest upsets in modern political history. But after the earthquake comes the tidying up, and there’s an awful lot of it to do. 

  19. Thatcher undone?

  20. This isn't 1983, this is uncharted territory

    Lewis Goodall

    Newsnight producer

    Jeremy Corbyn is the most radical left wing leader the Labour party membership has elected in modern times.

    Many cite Michael Foot. But as I wrote some months ago (when all this seemed but a distant prospect) Foot was an entirely different kettle of fish. He was elected only by Labour party MPs, not the membership at large. He was chosen by the PLP as the unity candidate, against the more abrasive Denis Healy, winning the support of 129 of his fellow Labour MPs as opposed to Healey's 119. Corbyn,, by contrast could barely rustle 35 nominations and only did so with a great deal of help from colleagues who had no intention of voting for him. Foot had been a distinguished cabinet minister, an insider, defending the Labour government of Jim Callaghan’s last stand, as Leader of the House in  the 1979 no confidence debate. Up to now, Corbyn's most senior position had been as a member of the Social Security Select Committee.  Foot came to fight the left and the left came to dislike him and nor was he a pacifist, supporting the Thatcher government in its prosecution of the Falklands War.  

    Michael Foot

    Moreover, it seems to me that the Left within the party membership and the trade union movement at large are far more powerful even  than they were in the 1980s. After all, the last time a truly powerful figure of the left contested an election seriously was Tony Benn in 1981 for the deputy leadership election against Healey. Benn lost by the narrowest of margins, “half a hair on a half an eyebrow” as Healey later said. But lose he did, by 0.9%.  The party which had been infiltrated at every level by the entryist left, had in fact voted (albeit by the narrowest of margins) for a man who had just a few years before inflicted a series of austerity budgets as Chancellor.  Today, by contrast, the vast majority of the party (members old and new) voted for the most left wing candidate in modern times as their leader. 

    It’s fair to say that Jeremy Corbyn is the biggest outsider and the hitherto most marginal figure to be elected leader in the party’s history. In the postwar period he is doubtless the most leftist. The electoral schism in the Labour party is and has always been that you can’t run and win from the left. One way or another that dictum is about to be tested like never before.

  21. The press reacts

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    A theme of Jeremy Corbyn's speech (picked up on by his supporters) was the need to stand firm against attacks from the media.

    In some quarters it has already started:

    Daily Mail online frontpage

    You perhaps would not have expected anything different from the Mail. However, it's worth noting that the rest of the press are reporting it in a relatively dispassionate way. The Sun are currently going with the mild pun of "It's Jeremy Corbwin: Leftie lands Labour Leadership",the Telegraph focus on the frontbenchers who are not going to serve (albeit with a Dan Hodges comment piece on "The day the Labour Party died"), the Times are playing it straight. The Guardian and Indy are warm.

    Now they may (particularly the tabloids) be keeping their powder dry ahead of tomorrow morning's front pages, but as reactions go, it's not too bad. Even if the attacks start to intensify, you suspect that Mr Corbyn will wear them like a badge of honour.

  22. More post-match reaction

  23. What now for the 4.5%?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    The four Labour leadership contenders

    As Evan has pointed out, one of the most significant moments in Jeremy Corbyn's speech was the place where he offered warm words for Liz Kendall.

    In all honesty, he could afford to be magnanimous towards the only avowedly Blairite candidate. Her defeat was all but total. It's not much remarked upon, but her achievement in getting under 17% of Labour MPs to support her did not bode well for her chances.

    It ended that she got just 4.5% of the vote, well below even the total that the pollsters were predicting. This is despite (or is it because of?) two high profile interventions from Tony Blair, alongside other dire warnings from figures such as Alan Johnson and Peter Mandelson. 

    Everyone was talking before the result about the effect of the £3 members and how they might sweep aside the views of long-standing members. While they did vote overwhelmingly for Mr Corbyn, even among the members Liz Kendall did very poorly with only 5.5%. 

    So, here is the state of the Blairites as I write:

    • They can muster 17% of Labour MPs
    • They can muster 5.5% of Labour members
    • They can muster 4.5% of the entire Labour selectorate

    All that they have now is the capacity to make a media impact (anything said by Blair, Johnson, Mandelson, Milburn, Clarke et al will be voraciously devoured by the media, including programmes like Newsnight) but this result arguably suggests that they are no longer really relevant to the direction of the party over (at least) the next 2 years.

  24. Who will be Labour Leader at the next election?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Ladbrokes have been quick off the blocks. Before the ink has barely dried on Jeremy Corbyn's acceptance speech, the bookie has stolen a march on its rivals by offering odds on who will be Labour Leader at the time of the next General Election. 

    Good news for Mr Corbyn is that he is 5/4 favourite. Less good news is that Ladbrokes should even see the demand for such a market at this stage. The next favourites are:

    • Dan Jarvis 6/1
    • David Miliband 10/1
    • Chuka Umunna 12/1
    • Tom Watson 14/1
    • Keir Starmer 16/1
    • Alan Johnson 25/1
    • BAR 33/1
  25. That Corbyn victory in context

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Jeremy Corbyn  got 251,417 votes in this contest. By way of comparison, that's over 50,000 more than David Cameron AND David Davis got combined in the final round of the Tory leadership contest of 2005.

  26. Rachel Reeves to stay on backbenches

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Very significant decision. Seems like most of the big hitters are going to declare their intentions to serve under Corbyn or not by end of today.

  27. The post-result scene

  28. The Tory response

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Michael Fallon
    Image caption: "A risk to our nation's security" says Michael Fallon

    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has given us the first Tory comment:

    “Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security.

     “Whether it’s weakening our defences, raising taxes on jobs and earnings, racking up more debt and welfare or driving up the cost of living by printing money – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will hurt working people. 

    “This is a very serious moment for our country – the Conservatives will continue to deliver stability, security and opportunity for working people."

    Mr Fallon is Mr Cameron's preferred attack dog on important occasions. He got into trouble during the election for saying "“Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.”

    What Fallon has just said is in line with the Prime Minister's speech a couple of days ago when he talked continually about security. He was primarily talking about economic security, but Fallon is more explicit in talking about national security. This theme of security will run through Conservative attacks on Labour for as long as Mr Corbyn is leader.

    Tim Montgomerie wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the Tory strategy. See here.

  29. The first "resignation"

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed has tabled his "resignation" from that role in a very interesting letter to new leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    Two things: first, this is not a resignation. It is always the prerogative of a new leader to appoint their own team, so it wasn't really Mr Reed's post to resign.

    Second, he will not be the first of the previous frontbench to refuse to serve. The question is: what exactly is the threshold of take up from people on the right of the party that enables Corbyn to say that he is bringing the party together?

    If that number is just a handful, then he will be fine. If most of the big hitters (Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Liz Kendall, Emma Reynolds et al) on the Blairite wing sit it out, then increasingly it looks like an opposition within an opposition.

  30. Another polling disaster

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    I say this with tongue firmly in cheek, but while YouGov will be breathing a sigh of relief that they correctly picked the winner in this race, it's worth noting that the last YouGov poll (which put Corbyn at 53% on the first round) was still over 6% out from his final result.

    Now, the pollsters would say that this reflects a surge towards Corbyn as the race reached its climax, but it just shows that polling is only really picked up on when you get the overall winner wrong. Misjudging the scale of a victory is very rarely remembered. 

  31. Jeremy Corbyn acceptance speech

  32. The result - more reaction

  33. Did Newsnight call it first?

  34. The result

  35. Now what for Jeremy Corbyn?

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    Chart of challenge facing Jeremy Corbyn

    So Jeremy Corbyn has done it. He's the leader of the Labour Party. 

    It's worth repeating a chart I put up a couple of weeks ago on the challenge for he faces. 

    He's won over the second smallest square - the dark red one. 

    Next he needs to win over the little orange square - labour MPs - to be effective in Parliament. Very few of them nominated him - and there's already some evidence that the rebels are organising. The boost in authority he gets from his endorsement from activists won't last forever.

    Which brings us to the 2015 Labour voters. Remember that there are chunks of these - even in their working class base - that fundamentally disagree with Corbyn on issues like immigration. He's either going to have to try and moderate to accommodate their concerns as Miliband tried, or convince them that they were wrong. This is not an easy thing to do. 

    Finally, the extra voters he needs to win a majority. Fabian society analysis suggested this can't be done from the votes of existing left wingers like the greens. So the obvious conclusion is that he needs to win over Tories - another big ask for a left winger like Corbyn. Now, Corbyn supporters will tell you he can mobilise the fabled non voters into action. But there's no decent evidence I'm aware of that suggests these non voters are any more likely to vote Labour than others. And these people, by their very nature, are harder to turn out than other voters. 

    Corbyn's is a remarkable achievement. But, as this chart shows, this is just the beginning.   

  36. Watson speech

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Leading anecdote is about 1972 Miner's Strike. Thanks the unions.

    Calls Labour the "last line of defence against the Tories". There's only "one Labour", the "guardians of decency". 

    Lots of good crowd-pleasing stuff. Nothing so far that Jeremy Corbyn would disagree with.

    Ah, wait: he talks that there is no conflict between being pro-business and pro-worker. Jeremy Corbyn might apply some caveats to that.

    Now talking about the "old politics". See my previous post.

  37. Leadership result imminent

  38. Watson wins Deputy Leadership

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    He didn't even need to go to the final round. 50.7% after third round. Big job for him ahead.

  39. Deputy Leader vote

  40. Sadiq Khan speaks

  41. Corbyn to win big?

  42. Tweets from the team

  43. Tom Watson to be elected Deputy Leader?

  44. Tweets from the team

  45. Transfer deadline

    Will non-transferred votes be crucial?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    As it stands, nobody is thinking that this race is going to be particularly close. If it is, however, then the transfer of votes from candidates who are eliminated will become crucial.

    In the Labour London candidate election yesterday, 8935 votes were not transferred by the time it came to the run-off between Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell. This was nearly 10% of the total. 

    If this is repeated in half an hour, then this could have a material effect on who wins. Unless, of course, a candidate gets over 50% in the first round. 

  46. The Labour Leadership race in four charts

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    As the saying goes you never seek a poor bookie. If that's the case, then Jeremy Corbyn will shortly be declared Labour Party leader. 

    A perfect way of illustrating this is to look at the chart showing implied probability of winning and volume of bets on Betfair, the betting exchange.


    Betfair chart on Liz Kendall's chances of winning Labour Leadership


    Betfair chart on Andy Burnham's chances of winning Labour Leadership


    Betfair chart on Yvette Cooper's chances of winning Labour Leadership


    Betfair chart on Jeremy Corbyn's chances of winning Labour Leadership

    So, Liz Kendall had an implied chance of winning at over 45% at one stage. Andy Burnham was at over 80% at one point. Yvette Cooper was at 40%.

    But look at that Corbyn steamroller, going from close to 0% to the end point today of (effectively) 100%.

    Incidentally, over £3 million has been staked on this election at Betfair.

  47. The view from the QEII

    Allegra Stratton

    Newsnight Political Editor

    Morning. Myself and Newsnight's programme editors Imogen Walford and Jess Brammar are at the Queen Elizabeth II centre this morning to watch Labour find out who its 18th leader is. 

    Some in Labour are reeling from the mayoral result yesterday - the scale of Tessa Jowell's defeat yesterday has shocked the people who used to run Labour, and the country, to the core. One senior figure believes what is happening to Labour is a "catastrophe". The large margin - 41% to Sadiq Khan 59% was not seen coming. If Jeremy Corbyn's win is also by such a large margin, it gives him a large mandate too. His opponents had hoped it would be a small margin and so limiting his scope for manoeuvre as leader. So we wait to see the scale of his victory.

    Others will feel another new different dawn has broken - including a lady I was chatting to near my house (it is a Saturday, after all, and even us political journalists have things to do before heading to conference centres across the land...) said their 23 year old had voted Corbyn, interested by this election for the first time ever. Into this mix will come the deputy leader - the first announcement this morning. A figure who feels he has to hold the two factions - old New Labour and new Old Labour, if you like - together. That is likely to be Tom Watson but again, let's wait and see. Watson gave a speech this week that is worth a second look - apparently he used it as his last chance to put down a marker of his red lines before this weekend when he is elected and will have to be loyal ie keep schtum. The speech is here - he makes it clear that internally he will fight to defend Labour's historic military and foreign affairs traditions... That means he'll stop Corbyn taking the UK out of NATO. And he'll oppose any plans for mandatory deselection.   

  48. No more Punch & Judy politics?

    Could Jeremy Corbyn as leader succeed where others have failed?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    Punch and Judy

    Ahead of an election result where most expect him to come out on top, Jeremy Corbyn has been setting out the style of leadership that he wants to adopt. 

    He has said: "Fundamentally many people are turned off by a political process when the major parties are not saying anything different enough about how we run the economy, and totally turned off by a style of politics which seems to rely on the levels of clubhouse theatrical abuse that you can throw across at each other in parliament and across the airwaves."

    But some of you might be getting a slight touch of deja vu. Cast your minds back to December 2005. In his acceptance speech to be Tory leader, David Cameron said:

    "And we need to change, and we will change, the way we behave. I'm fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing."

    And what about this, from new Prime Minister Gordon Brown in June 2008:

    "And this need for change cannot be met by the old politics so I will reach out beyond narrow party interest; I will build a government that uses all the talents; I will invite men and women of goodwill to contribute their energies in a new spirit of public service to make our nation what it can be."

    Or Ed Miliband's first speech as Labour leader in September 2010:

    "I stand here today ready to lead: a new generation now leading Labour. Be in no doubt.The new generation of Labour is different. Different attitudes, different ideas, different ways of doing politics."

    It would be a quick job to find other such statements from other leaders over the years. The point is that no new leader has ever made a speech standing up for the "old way of doing politics" and no new leader has ever made a speech where he says that they want to "continue the factionalism and partisanship of the past."

    The problem is that most leaders find it hard to turn that aspiration (even when it is genuine) into reality. David Cameron freely admits that he completely failed in his attempt to abandon "Punch and Judy": indeed, he is one of the most practiced exponents of it in PMQs. Gordon Brown's attempt at a new politics was sunk in the mire of MPs' expenses. Ed Miliband wanted to lead a "New Generation" but was sunk partly by his own association with the past.

    And then there is the party morale bit. Partisan politics may play badly with the electorate but it is deemed essential to keep your own MPs on side. Given the lack of support among MPs that Mr Corbyn has, perhaps his is the best strategy. But week after week of sober performance at the Dispatch Box can contribute to a sense that a leader is under-performing. Iain Duncan Smith tried to make a virtue of this by trying to establish a "Quiet Man" persona. It did not end well for him.

    The question is: would Mr Corbyn break the mould of modern politics and demonstrate that an unshowy, sincere expression on ideas can win people over or would he find out, as others have before him, that image, presentation and showmanship are now essential elements of modern political leadership?

  49. After the election, the honeymoon?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    In case you missed it, earlier in the week I took a look at the honeymoons that other Leaders of the Opposition enjoyed and a few lessons for today's victor.

    More here

  50. The plan for the day

    Welcome to Newsnight Live's Labour leadership special.

    Here's a outline of what will happen this morning:

    • 11:00 Special leadership conference at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Westminster begins
    • The result of the deputy leadership election will be announced first. The candidates are: Tom Watson, Caroline Flint, Ben Bradshaw, Stella Creasy and Angela Eagle
    • At about 11:30, we should get the result of the Labour leadership race
    • The new leader is expected to speak soon after
  51. Written in the stars?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Election Producer

    A difficult day for the four candidates. The losers will have to measure their reaction to defeat adroitly to avoid accusations of sour grapes and disunity. The winner will have to work out how to keep the party together after a bruising contest.

    Some people seek guidance from their daily horoscope. Newsnight does not endorse astrology, but in the interest of serving those people who do believe (maybe even some of the candidates), here are the readings for the four, as provided by the site.

    YVETTE COOPER (March 20)

    Pisces: There could be some confusion, discord, and upset in the air today. There may be arguments and misunderstandings among friends and family. Try not to add fuel to the fire. If a person is getting a little hot under the collar, just listen. Be understanding and empathetic instead of trying to prove that you're right, especially if you are!

    JEREMY CORBYN (May 26)

    Gemini: Today you may feel a powerful need to be with friends, Gemini, but once you seek them out, you may not enjoy their company very much. Someone is in a bad mood, and being with this person could put a damper on your day. It might be better to take some time for yourself, perhaps go for a workout. This will enable you to get some exercise and increase your self-confidence as well.

    LIZ KENDALL (June 11)

    Gemini: See above

    ANDY BURNHAM (January 7)

    Capricorn: You may have been exercising too enthusiastically over the past few days, Capricorn, and today you might wake up with more than your share of muscle aches and pains. You should keep exercising, but tone it down. Forget jogging and aerobics. Go for a little yoga or tai chi, which will enhance fitness with minimal strain. If you can, soak in a warm tub later.


    Saturday 12 September 2015

  53. Who will it be?

    The Labour leadership contenders

    By about 11:30 on Saturday we will know who the new Labour leader is.

    It's been an incredible campaign. 

    The Newsnight team will be here with updates and analysis from 10:00 on Saturday, and also live-tweeting @BBCNewsnight


  55. The Honeymooners

    How long do Leaders of the Opposition keep their new car smell?

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Producer

    Whoever ends up as Labour Leader at lunchtime on Saturday will be hoping and praying for a quick boost to their party's poll ratings to keep their critics at bay and to prevent a media narrative from developing that the party has elected a dud.

    What are the chances of that happening?

    I've looked at the poll ratings enjoyed (or endured) by each leader of the opposition since John Smith in 1992 to see how they have fared. I've taken a moving average of the polls to prevent a single poll from carrying too much weight. For each chart below, you will see two lines that intersect at the point where the person becomes leader. Everything above that line represents an improvement on the position they inherited. Everything below represents going backwards from where they took the job.


    Labour Party Poll Ratings under Ed Miliband

    First point to make is that Labour made up a lot of ground after they lost the 2010 election and before a new leader was elected. Part of this is explained by those more left-leaning Lib Dem voters abandoning the party for going into coalition with the Tories.

    Second point is that, despite a concerted media narrative that the party had elected the "wrong" Miliband, Labour's poll performance did pick up under Ed. It took until the start of 2012 before the average rating went below the one he inherited. After that point it went back up again, reaching the highest point of the Miliband tenure in the summer of 2012.

    It was, however, mostly downhill from there. Around May 2013 he had gone back below the line and, despite another rally, by the end of 2014 Labour were performing well below the levels that they enjoyed when he became leader and close to the levels they were at immediately after losing the 2010 election. 

    This suggests that, while voters might have agreed with Labour on much of their opposition to what the government were doing, the closer the election came, the more focused they were on whether Labour were a viable alternative. We know what conclusion they ultimately reached.

    One additional point that will become clearer when you see the other charts: the sheer density of polling that happened over the past five years compared to prior election cycles. This has the effect that party leaders under fire now face a constant barrage of bad poll news. In another era, there would not have been the sheer attritive quantity of polling to cast doubt on a leader's performance.


    Conservative Party Polling Ratings under David Cameron

    As with Labour after 2010, the Conservatives achieved a bounce (albeit more modest) after their defeat in 2005. David Cameron had a pretty big bounce after becoming leader on the back of a swathe of positive media coverage of him being a different kind of Tory leader. 

    What is surprising looking back, however, is how short-lived his honeymoon was. By around April in 2006, the gains made by the party under Cameron had all but vanished. He bounced back for a year or so, but the arrival of Gordon Brown in 10 Downing Street presaged a well-documented crisis for Cameron. The cancellation of an early election in October 2008 triggered one of the most remarkable bounces in recent political history. 

    For months afterwards, Mr Cameron enjoyed a second honeymoon as Mr Brown struggled with, as Vince Cable remarked, his transition from "Stalin to Mr Bean". But what was true for Ed Miliband was also true for David Cameron: the closer the General Election, the more the Conservative poll ratings were squeezed as people weighed up whether they really trusted them to run the country.


    Conservative Party Poll Ratings under IDS and Michael Howard

    The first of a couple of pairs and possibly the most surprising chart of them all. Iain Duncan Smith is regarded as having been a disastrous leader of the Conservative Party. But looking at the chart above it can be seen that, not only did he steadily increase the Tory Party's ratings but he also never went below the rating that he inherited as party leader. Two caveats: firstly, the Tory Party's ratings at this time were pretty terrible and so improving on them slightly was not the most impressive of achievements. Secondly, he suffered a big crash in poll performance shortly before he was ousted, contributing to a sense that the party got rid of him before he could take the party any lower.

    Conversely, Michael Howard is widely thought to have steadied the ship after the IDS period finished. While it is true that the polls did pick up after he took charge, he had a fairly short-lived honeymoon: around seven months after becoming leader he was below the level IDS left him. He then went on to preside over lower poll ratings than IDS had achieved prior to his fall.


    Conservative Party Poll Ratings under William Hague

    Like IDS, William Hague is not regarded as having been a successful party leader. Like IDS, however, Mr Hague, did slowly improve the Tory Party's ratings from a low base to a slightly less low base. 

    There was a brief moment at the height of the fuel crisis in late 2000 where it looked like he could break through to win an election, but, in common with most of the leaders under consideration, things petered out as the crunch time of an election got close. 


    Labour Party Poll Ratings under John Smith and Tony Blair

    The second pair. John Smith had an unspectacular start as Labour leader, taking a party traumatised by a fourth general election defeat. Black Wednesday and Britain's departure from the ERM gave his leadership rocket boosters by the end of 1992, but, after a year as leader, Labour's ratings were bobbing around the level he inherited. At the time of his death, they were starting to trend upwards again. 

    The time of Tony Blair as Leader of the Opposition was a golden time for the party, regularly getting above 55% of the vote in polls. Even with Blair, though, there was a dripping away of support as the election neared. Blair's average went below the level his inherited just as the General Election campaign got under way.


    The Labour leadership contenders
    1. You will get a bounce as undecided voters give you a fair crack of the whip.
    2. The size of the bounce has to be viewed in the context of how badly Labour did at the election. A bounce from 30% to 33% still leaves you way short of where you need to be. Blair had a relatively small bounce, but Labour were already polling in the 40% territory.
    3. On a related note, improving on what you inherited isn't always enough.
    4. Get ready for a rollercoaster. Both Ed Miliband and David Cameron experienced near-death experiences and against-the-odds comebacks. David Cameron in particular was probably days away from losing an election and his job in 2008. Leaders of the Opposition can often be given a boost by a timely policy (energy price freeze, inheritance tax break) or a timely event (a Black Wednesday, a Fuel Crisis, an Election That Never Was). 
    5. Build up a big lead ahead of a general election: all of the Leaders of the Opposition considered above who made it to an election suffered a big erosion of their support as election day approached. If you're level-pegging with the Conservatives in Winter 2019, the trend suggests that you're going to struggle come May 2020.

    Thursday 10 September 2015

  57. Julian Assange and The Wikileaks Files

    View more on youtube

    Whatever happened to Julian Assange? Yes, he's still at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He's been there for three years now. One of the ways he's been spending his time is commissioning a series of essays, which have been put together as a book, The Wikileaks Files. He agreed to speak to Newsnight's Nick Hopkins on that - and that alone.

  58. UK public 'split' over taking refugees

    According to our poll with ComRes

    Refugees from Syria pray after arriving on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos

    Some 57% of people in the UK are in favour of the status quo, or the government taking fewer refugees from Syria and Libya, a poll suggests.

    Forty per cent said the UK should take in more.

    One thousand people were interviewed by telephone between Friday and Sunday in a ComRes poll for BBC Newsnight.

    There were sharp divisions on class and age - with middle class and younger people more favourable to taking refugees.

    The poll was an attempt to gauge public opinion after the publication of photos showing the body of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi after his family's ill-fated attempt to reach Europe.

    Keep reading here


    Monday 7 September 2015


    From Budapest and Berlin

    Many are calling this the biggest crisis that Europe has faced since the Second War War - how will Europe respond? 

    Will it unravel or come closer together? 

    TONIGHT's programme is dedicated to the crisis - with Emily Maitlis presenting from Budapest, and Mark Urban in Berlin. 22.30 on BBC Two.  

    A man holds a placard reading 'Help Europe' outside the Keleti (East) railway station in Budapest

    Friday 4 September 2015

  62. David Blunkett: UK should take 25,000 refugees in six months

    David Blunkett

    The UK should take in 25,000 refugees over the next six months, former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett has said.

    In an interview with BBC Newsnight, Mr Blunkett said the US and other developed nations should share responsibility for responding to "a global crisis".

    But he said the UK needs to take "very large numbers" of refugees if it is "to be taken seriously" as a nation.

    Those from Syria and women and children should have priority, Mr Blunkett said.

    The former minister's intervention came as the government faced increasing pressure to commit to taking more people fleeing conflict, following the publication around the world of images of a young Syrian boy who drowned and was found on a beach in Turkey.

    Mr Blunkett said: "This time we must be seen not to wash our hands and not to pretend that, good though it is, investment we are making in the camps in the region is an alternative to overcoming the sheer, blinding misery of women and children who have nowhere else to go, who are destitute".

    "I understand entirely people do not want the borders opened and do not want a situation where anything goes," he added.

    "How could I not understand that, having been home secretary at a time when we had to take quite drastic measures? But this is on a different scale."

    Mr Blunkett was home secretary from 2001-2004, during which time he took a hard line stance and significantly reduced the number of asylum seekers accepted into the UK.

    "With united agreement from the developed world and a united front from Europe, we won't have the pictures we have seen this week, we won't have the handwringing," he said.

    Mr Blunkett said the photos of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach have "brought this home to people in a way that all the words that we could ever use could never do."

    Speaking earlier on Thursday Prime Minister David Cameron said that "as a father" he felt "deeply moved" by the images, and said the UK would meet its "moral responsibilities" but he did not give any commitment on numbers.

    Mr Blunkett's suggestion is a significant increase on the figure of 10,000 whichLabour leadership contender Yvette Cooper called for on Tuesday.

    The interview with David Blunkett will air on the programme tonight at 22.30 on BBC Two.


    Thursday 3 September 2015

  64. On tonight... Emma Thompson

    Talking about arctic drilling, climate change and refugees

    Emily Maitlis and Emma Thompson

    Tonight Emily Maitlis speaks to actress Emma Thompson about arctic drilling, climate change and the refugee crisis in Europe. 

    Thompson's own son was adopted as a refugee from Rwanda. 

    That's 22.30 on BBC Two and afterwards on YouTube 

  65. Have we passed the peak era of globalisation?

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    A woman working at a factory in China

    This weekend many of the world's top central bankers met in the picturesque setting of Jackson Hole in Wyoming to debate "inflation dynamics and monetary policy".

    Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was in attendance and his speech "Inflation in a globalised world" is well worth taking the time to read.

    Mr Carney's talk opened with a provocative question: "In this era of hyper-globalisation are central banks still masters of their domestic monetary destinies? Or have they become slaves to global factors?"

    Or, as a cynic might put it, does what the Bank of England decides to do with interest rates really matter? Or is the pace of inflation determined more by events overseas?

    Unsurprisingly, Mr Carney offered a forthright defence of the importance of the Bank of England.

    Keep reading on Duncan's blog

  66. Out of focus

    Reflections on last Friday's focus groups

    Marc Williams

    Newsnight Producer

    View more on youtube

    A good chunk of my time over the past week has been filming and editing the Labour Leadership focus groups film that went out on Friday (which you can watch above). 

    It was clear, not least from looking at Twitter, that there were some Jeremy Corbyn supporters who were less than happy with what was said by the contributors. It's worth making a few observations having watched both sessions in their entirety and edited over three hours down to 14 minutes.

    • Ben Page and his team at Ipsos MORI did a great job in conducting the groups for us. Ben in particular very skillfully guided the contributors through a wide number of areas in a very fair way.
    • Nobody would claim that you can make sweeping judgements about how the entire country feels about Jeremy Corbyn based upon those two groups. That was not, thankfully, the purpose of the exercise. The purpose was to have an in depth discussion with former Labour voters in swing constituencies about what they thought about the Labour Party, the candidates on offer and the chances that any of them could bring them back to Labour. As the name suggests, "qualitative research" like this focuses on the quality and depth of people's views rather than trying to scientifically measure how prevalent they are.
    • The members of both groups were not "True Blue" Tories (all had previously voted for Labour and some voted for UKIP and the Lib Dems in 2015) and did not come with any discernible covert agenda. In fact, they were probably pretty typical of the wider electorate in that they were not familiar with the names of the leadership contenders, let alone the minutiae of the leadership contest.
    • It's true that some of them expressed positive views of Tony Blair, but this is hardly surprising when many of them had voted Labour when he was leader and, in some cases, stopped voting for Labour when he stood down. While it is undoubtedly true that Tony Blair's role in taking the country to war in 2003 alienated him from many voters, it should be pointed out that Labour did win the 2005 general election in the immediate aftermath of the war, post-"dodgy dossier" et al.  
    • There was no question of the panels being led towards a negative view of Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, two of the most negative comments included in the film (Mr Corbyn being the "archetypal baddie" and him having "policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well") came when Ben asked what people knew about the candidates, before they saw anything of Mr Corbyn.
    • Nor did we cherry-pick the negative comments at the expense of more positive remarks. If the point of the exercise had been to "rubbish" Mr Corbyn, there was more material that could have been included. For example, when the discussion came around to what Mr Corbyn stood for and the question of re-nationalisation came up, both groups reacted negatively: in some cases because, although they supported the policy, they were dubious about how much it would cost; in others because these were not deemed "bread and butter issues" and didn't affect them greatly. 
    • It is hard to see how the two clips that we played the groups of Mr Corbyn in action could be construed as leading them in one direction. The first was taken from what was by all accounts a barnstorming performance at a rally in Ealing, where Corbyn denounced "austerity" and the damage that it was causing. The second, from a Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, focused on the question of the Iraq war and Tony Blair's role in it. This is not an issue that Mr Corbyn has shied away from during the campaign: he told the Guardian that one of his first acts as Labour leader would be to apologise to the British public for the war.
    • A key comment in the Croydon group was from a woman who said: "I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles." This chimed with what other contributors said: namely, that they did not necessarily dissent from his diagnosis of the country's problems, but either doubted his ability to afford his solutions or thought that the wider electorate would not think him credible. Several said that he seemed to be very principled, but was more like a "social worker" than a leader and would turn Labour into a "pressure group". 

    Aside from the Corbyn question, there were some other interesting points that arose which didn't make the final cut for reasons of time:

    • Both groups, but particularly Nuneaton, were very exercised by immigration. We left in one reference to the fact that none of the candidates were talking about the issue, but it ran through the discussion like the lettering on a stick of Brighton Rock. In fairness, the leadership contenders have been talking about immigration on the stump, but, with the public's trust in politicians on the issue so low, coming up with a vote-winning policy will be a significant challenge for whoever ends up as leader.
    • Likewise, Labour's management of the economy came under sustained criticism, with several contributors saying that they wouldn't trust Labour again until they apologised for the "Great Recession". This is in the context of most people in the Labour Party (and certainly Team Corbyn) not believing that Labour were responsible.
    • Both groups were pretty scathing of Ed Miliband's performance as Labour leader. Some of the comments closely resembled Conservative attacks on him during the campaign: namely that he was "weak" and that you "couldn't imagine him standing up to Vladimir Putin".
    • As mentioned, there was praise for Tony Blair, but other politicians were also held up as positive examples. Nigel Farage, Barack Obama, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon were all namechecked as leaders that some admired. Interestingly, the Croydon group also expressed disappointment that Chuka Umunna dropped out of the leadership contest.
    • A recurring theme was "safety". Some of the groups expressed concern that they didn't believe that voting Labour was "safe". One woman in Nuneaton put it even more strongly: she said that she felt "safer" under a Tory government.
    • None of the people were really tuned into politics at this time. The prevailing view was that an election had just happened and they would dip back into politics in a few years' time to see how Labour were doing. One contributor made a good point that, with David Cameron unlikely to fight the next election, they would have to look at the competing options come 2020 before making a definitive decision. This is a mixed blessing for Labour. It means that these swing voters, and surely others like them, are open to going back to Labour if the party can present themselves as a compelling alternative to the Tories by 2020. On the other hand, any apparent progress that the party makes under its new leader in the next few years could be illusory, in that voters simply will not be sufficiently engaged for us to say that it means that Labour are set fair to win in 2020. 

    Wednesday 2 September 2015

  68. Cooper tops Corbyn in focus groups

    Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn

    Former Labour voters prefer leadership contender Yvette Cooper to frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn, a Newsnight/Ipsos Mori focus group suggests.

    In-depth discussion groups were held with voters aged 30-50 in the swing constituencies of Nuneaton and Croydon on 20 August and 26 August.

    All had previously voted Labour, but gone with a different party in 2015.

    Although small, focus groups often provide very accurate information due to their qualitative nature.

    The focus group results are in stark contrast to polls, which have suggested that Mr Corbyn is the clear frontrunner in the race for the Labour leadership.

    Keep reading here

  69. To hike or not to hike?

    The tricky choice facing the Fed

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen
    Image caption: No easy choices for central bankers or the Fed chair Janet Yellen

    After a volatile week for global markets, investors' eyes are turning to this weekend's meeting of top central bankers at Jackson Hole in Wyoming. The Federal Reserve's annual symposium is always closely followed - but this one is seen as especially important.

    One of the three main questions facing the global economy that I posed this week, was: "When will the Federal Reserve begin to raise interest rates?" This week should provide some more clues.

    The worry is that the economic recovery in the US (and the UK) has been driven by ultra-low interest rates which have encouraged companies and households to borrow and helped support asset prices - leave that support in place too long and the Fed risks over-stimulating the economy and will, eventually, need to raise rates by more than it would otherwise to prevent overheating, financial instability and higher inflation.

    But withdraw the support too soon (as interest rate doves argue the European and Swedish central banks did) and the Fed will end up having to provide more support later and could snuff out the recovery.

    Keep reading on Duncan's blog

  70. George Monbiot skins and cooks a squirrel

    View more on youtube

    Yes, it really happened... environmentalist George Monbiot butchered a squirrel and ate it on air - together with presenter James O'Brien. The squirrel was accompanied by a fine Chianti. 

    "I want people to be aware of the realities of food production," said Monbiot who had earlier written about why he ate a roadkill squirrel

    You can watch the squirrel segment above. 


    Friday 28 August 2015

  72. Is the House of Lords too bloated?

    House of Lords

    The government has just announced 45 new members of the House of Lords - taking the total to 826 members. Critics say the Upper House is now ridiculously bloated - second in size only to China's National People's Congress. But what would the alternative be? We DEBATE tonight at 22.30 


    Thursday 27 August 2015

  74. What can we learn from #CecilTheLion?

    View more on youtube

    Remember ‪#‎CecilTheLion‬? What can we learn from the way this story exploded? 

    Was it an example of social media democracy in action? Or evidence of social media distorting our sense of perspective? 

    Watch our debate with Brian May, Rosamund Urwin and Rosamund Urwin.

  75. Kids Company warned its closure could cause 'riots'

    Chris Cook

    Newsnight Policy Editor

    Camila Batmanghelidjh at a protest in support of the charity shortly after its closure

    As central government, local authorities and charities pick up the pieces of Kids Company, the charity which collapsed insolvent in early August, new details are emerging of the discussions that preceded the Cabinet Office paying a controversial £3m grant to the charity in late July - just days before it closed its doors.

    BBC Newsnight and BuzzFeed News have learned of a document, emailed to civil servants in the name of Alan Yentob, chair of the charity's trustees, on 2 June. It warned that a sudden closure of the charity would mean a "high risk of arson attacks on government buildings".

    The document also warned of a high risk of "looting" and "rioting", and cautioned that the "communities" served by Kids Company could "descend into savagery". The document was written in language that civil servants across government described as "absurd", "hysterical" and "extraordinary".

    The document was the first part of the case made by Kids Company, which sought to help young people up to the age of 24, for the £3m grant. It was part of a proposal that the financially troubled charity should be restructured into a much smaller "child wellbeing hub", which could survive on a smaller income.

    Keep reading on Chris Cook's blog

  76. What next after China market woes?

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Chinese person holds umbrella whilst walking past boards showing stock price falls

    It's been a rough August for investors. As has now been repeated ad nauseam, trillions of dollars have been wiped off global stock markets.

    And that's left many questioning the underlying health of the global economy and wondering what comes next.

    At heart, anyone grappling with this issue is really asking themselves three inter-related questions: how sharp is China's slowdown? What happens next to commodities? And when will the US Federal Reserve raise interest rates?

    The direction of China's stock market is very much a third order issue - despite all the attention over the last week.

    It matters little to investors outside China, as foreign ownership is still very limited - except perhaps as a gauge of sentiment.

    It matters only a little more to Chinese investors - who are still a tiny subset of the Chinese people.

    Its wild gyrations certainly don't tell us much about the underlying health of the Chinese economy.

    So on to the first real question - how sharply has China slowed? 

    Keep reading on Duncan's blog

  77. How is Labour weeding out its 'cheats'?

    James Clayton, Political Producer

    Labour Rose

    Labour is desperate to make sure they uncover as many non bona fide Labour supporters as possible. So far approximately 3,000 voters have been struck off. 

    But how are they doing it? If you’re an entrist who supports another party and you’ve signed up to vote this is how you’ll be caught.

    ·         Unusual name. This sounds odd but one of the main ways local Labour branches are checking you out is simply by "Googling" you. The odder your name the easier you are to find. One branch claimed they found Tory peer Benjamin Mancroft because “his name was unusual”. Equally, if you’re called Tom Smith, it’s pretty difficult to separate you out.

    ·         Email address linked to social media. Yup, local branches are going through your social media. To have signed up to vote you must have supplied your email address. People who have used the same email address on say, their Linked In profile, are likely to rumbled.  

    ·         More than one social media profile. Some branches are trying to "triangulate" using as much open source data as possible. If you have open Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus accounts etc... branches will be more confident in reporting you to Labour HQ.

    ·         Labour door knockers. Do you remember ever talking to a Labour party campaigner during the General Election? Or getting a phone call from Labour's phone bank? If you responded saying you’d vote anything other than Labour, the party could be onto you. Some local branches are looking at their own internal campaign returns – a system called "Contact Creator". They won’t report you for saying you’d vote for another party per se, but it will put a red flag by your name.

    ·         Views that don’t chime with the "values and aims of the Labour party". Actually although this is a reason for being disbarred, you’re extremely unlikely to be struck off for having fruity opinions on Facebook. Labour is terrified of legal challenge and the general nature of Labour’s own definition – set out in clause 4 – makes it hard to remove your vote on these grounds. A list of reasons given to me by Labour HQ for excluding registered voters include: not being on the electoral register, already being a member, having stood for another party and being a known member/campaigner of other party. Nothing in there about having contrary opinions. 

    And that’s about it. To register as a voter you had to provide so little information that if you have a generic name, you have closed social media profiles (or even better no online social media presence), the email you used is personal and you haven’t spoken to Labour canvassers it is very hard to prove you’re not a Labour supporter.

    The chances of weeding all of the entrists out, as Harriet Harman has suggested, is extraordinarily low. 

  78. How worried should we be about Chinese share price falls?

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Woman in front of share price screens in China

    Chinese shares fell by almost 9% overnight, alongside another broad sell-off across Asia. Global stock markets suffered their worst week in years last week and, so far, Monday has provided no respite.

    The immediate catalyst for China's fall was the lack of a government policy response over the weekend. Investors - both Chinese and foreign - have come to believe that the Chinese government will support prices in the market, and so far they have been right.

    Previous sharp sell-offs have been met with a strong response by essentially banning large institutions from selling to interest rate cuts.

    The lack of a response could be taken as either a bad sign (that China is running out of policy tools to respond, potentially damaging the credibility of a government that has staked a lot of on its rising market) or as a good one (that the government's commitments to market reform are real and are going to stop trying to manipulate their market).

    Although either way, it's not good news for those who have bought Chinese equities which they thought were underpinned by a "Politburo Put".

    Keep reading on Duncan's blog

  79. The strategic choice facing every Labour leadership candidate

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    It's three weeks until we'll find out who's going to become the leader of the Labour party - and I thought it might be worth starting to reflect on the electoral challenge they'll face. Here's a diagram I made (all the squares are to scale):

    Squares showing size of electorate and various Labour groups

    The biggest square, the black one, represents everyone that voted in the last election.

    So far, the leadership candidates have had to appeal to the tiny little orange square - the Labour MPs - to get nominated.

    Since the nomination, they've been appealing to the next biggest square - people that can vote in the Labour leadership. 

    But that's when, numerically, it starts getting really tough.

    They have to reach out to and hold onto that much much larger, bright red square - the people that voted Labour in 2015.

    And then, beyond that, they have to pick up new voters. That's why I've included a dotted line to show what they'd have to do to get as many votes as the Conservatives last time around - which we can use as a very rough approximation of what scraping a majority might look like.

    That's why all the candidates are having to walk a strategic tight rope. 

    If you think that Labour leadership voters have different views from those bigger groups of people Labour needs, then there is a trade off between appealing to that electorate, and the broader ones they need to win the general election in 2020. 

    The strategic calculation for a candidate might be something like this. What is the minimal number of pronouncements that Labour leadership voters will like but the general electorate won't that I can get away with, and still win the Labour leadership election.

    Now Jeremy Corbyn seems to take the view that this number is pretty high - in fact, he'd probably entirely reject the premise that it's impossible to appeal to the wider electorate with very left wing policies, so there's no trade off.

    Liz Kendall appears to think this number is much lower - she has suggested that for Labour to appeal to the general electorate, it needs to take positions that might be seen as less left wing - or at least less comfortable for a left wing party to take.

    Burnham and Cooper seem to sit somewhere between the two.

    Who is right? There's no telling - but I think we'll start to get a pretty good idea once the polls settle down after the leader is elected on 12 September.

    ** A few sharp eyed psephologists on Twitter have noticed that I have defined "the electorate" as being all the people that voted in 2015 - rather than the total number of people eligible to vote. There's an implicit assumption here that turnout will remain closer to 60-70% than 100% at the next election. Of course, if you think 2020 will herald a sudden spike in turnout, you could redraw the a much bigger "electorate" square - and those Labour squares would look a lot smaller.


    Monday 24 August 2015

  81. The women fighters taking revenge against IS

    View more on youtube

    The ongoing war against IS in the Middle East is rarely out of the headlines. Less familiar however is the story of Yazidi women soldiers who have joined the banned Kurdistan Workers Party - or PKK - and its affiliates to take up arms against their persecutors. The BBC's Jiyar Gol has gained exclusive access to one of them to show us how the PKK women learn to fight.   


    Thursday 20 August 2015

  83. Tough outlook for emerging markets

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Bank notes

    So, just to be clear, this is not a re-run of 1997. But that doesn't mean it isn't serious.

    In 1997 much of Asia fell into a severe financial crisis. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea had become dependent on foreign credit, and when it dried up they were severely hit. Currencies crashed, economies tumbled, unemployment soared and there was serious talk of a global financial meltdown.

    The current situation is quantitatively different and rather than being a sudden episode of crisis, it feels like the culmination of some deeper structural changes in the world economy.

    Emerging market currencies have lost value against the dollar and currently stand at a six-and-a-half-year low in aggregate. The Financial Times today reports that almost $1tn of capital has flowed out of emerging economies in the last 13 months.

    Keep reading on Duncan's blog

  84. RIP to the UK's last deep pit coal mines

    Nicholas Jones
    Image caption: Nicholas Jones, who covered the miners' strike for the BBC, at Hatfield - one of the recently closed mines

    The UK's very last deep pit coal mine is about to close. The BBC's former labour and industrial correspondent, Nicholas Jones, reflects on the end of an era.

    Coal heated our homes, fuelled the industrial revolution, and over the centuries provided millions of jobs in coalfields across the UK, but soon deep mining will be no more, and a way of life is about to end.

    "It's absolutely heart-breaking," says Dave Douglass, a former pit delegate and secretary who has spent his life working at the recently-closed Hatfield pit near Doncaster.

    "The only way that a non-professional working class lad could earn a decent living, buy a house and get a decent car and holiday was by being a miner, and being a miner was a very proud thing to be."

    Read the full story

  85. When will interest rates go up?

    Pretty soon, it seems...

    View more on youtube

    When will interest rates start to go up? 

    "I think it's pretty soon," says economist David Miles, who sat on the Monetary Policy Committee for six years, and whose term has just ended. 

    He spoke to Evan Davis on Tuesday night's programme. Watch the interview above. There's lots more on our YouTube channel.  


    Wednesday 19 August 2015

  87. Three reasons why raising interest rates makes sense

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney
    Image caption: The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney

    Inflation rose by just 0.1% in the last year and has been basically stagnant around zero percent for six months.

    Looking at the global economy, there are plenty of reasons to think that there are disinflationary forces at work that will keep headline inflation down - the oil price is flirting with a six-and-half-year low, China's economy is slowing and food prices continue to fall.

    And yet the Bank of England is increasingly signalling that interest rates will soon begin to rise. Given that its target is to get inflation to 2.0%, this has left many scratching their heads.

    There are three reasons why raising rates may make sense, even with inflation (temporarily?) stuck around zero.

    Read Duncan's blog for more


    Tuesday 18 August 2015

  89. Why most of the 'Stop Jeremy' schemes won't work

    It's complicated!

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    Jeremy Corbyn

    Ballot papers are going out this morning for the Labour leadership contest after a weekend of various grandees apparently dreaming up new schemes to stop Jeremy Corbyn. Almost none of these will work. Why?

    Because, on current polling, it all comes down to whether you think the people voting for Andy Burnham or those voting for Yvette Cooper are more likely to put Corbyn as their next preference. And there is no decent publicly available evidence that either of them are. Furthermore, for similar reasons, there is no arithmetic reason why non Corbyn candidates withdrawing would do anything to stop Corbyn.

    Let me explain. 

    Voters in this election will be given the opportunity to rank the candidates in order of preference. The first preferences are counted up, and the person with the fewest is eliminated from the contest - and the votes they received are given to whoever each person that voted for them rated as their second preference. If after that none of the candidates has achieved 50% of the vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and their votes are given to whoever they put as their higher preference amongst the two remaining candidates. By definition, this gives one of the two remaining candidates a majority of the votes.

    Current polling puts Corbyn first, Cooper and Burnham roughly tied in second, and Kendall trailing in third. So either Cooper or Burnham will most likely be the candidate that faces Corbyn in the final round. If you want to stop Corbyn, you'll be voting for some combination of Cooper, Burnham and Kendall as your first three preferences. So your vote WILL end up being for whoever faces Corbyn in the final round, WHICHEVER order you put those three in.

    The only way you can affect the number of votes Corbyn gets is by trying to second-guess the second preferences of people that vote for eliminated candidates. If you believe the polls, Kendall's almost certain to be eliminated first, so you can't affect that. But one of Burnham and Cooper won't be eliminated before the final run off with Corbyn. Whichever one is eliminated will have their preferences redistributed to either Corbyn or his opponent.

    T-shirt of a Corbyn supporter which says: "Hell yes, I'm voting Jez"

    So, in theory, if you, the "stop Corbyn" voter thought that, say, Burnham's supporters are more likely to have Corbyn as their next preference than Cooper's, you should put Burnham ahead of Cooper in your preference list even if you ACTUALLY prefer Cooper to Burnham - because it'll starve Corbyn of the extra votes he'd get if Burnham was knocked out.

    The thing is, I am not aware of any decent evidence that this is the case. We have very few polls on the Labour leadership election - and those that exist (necessarily) have small samples of what Burnham and Cooper's second preferences would be. Very roughly speaking, the polling tables I've seen suggest supporters of both split their second preferences about 30/70 between Corbyn and his opponent. So it's not clear which of these you should give a higher preference to tactically stop Corbyn anyway.

    In other words, there is no obvious way to tactically vote against Corbyn. If you want to stop him he'll be your last preference anyway - and it literally doesn't matter what order your first three preferences are in. Crazy thought though it might be, you can happily vote for candidates on the basis of, y'know, how good you think they are.

    A quick addendum on candidates dropping out

    This actually has implications for people dropping out of the race as well. Ballot papers have already gone out, but Cooper could, for example, tell all her supporters to first preference Andy Burnham instead. In terms of tactical voting, there is NO POINT in any of the three non Corbyn candidates doing this. All their votes will be aggregated to support whoever faces Corbyn in the final round anyway as a result of the preference system. 

    Of course, that's just on the arithmetic. There might be a case for candidates dropping out if they think that a unified anti-Corbyn campaign would be more effective at winning over existing Corbyn supporters - perhaps because they spend less time attacking each other. But this is necessarily pretty speculative, especially this late in the game.

  90. If Corbynmania is not the answer - what is?

    Tristram Hunt needs to know as badly as anyone in the Labour Party

    Alex Campbell

    Newsnight producer

    Tristram Hunt

    Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, due to be interviewed on Newsnight this evening, has been explicit in his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s surge toward the Labour leadership.

    In an impassioned 1,300-word letter to constituents in Stoke-on-Trent Central, Mr Hunt described a Corbyn victory as a “very real risk” to the party’s future and rebuked those supporters who consider it “unfashionable to aspire to government”.

    But could Labour’s shape in his own constituency offer clues about why the renegade candidate has surfaced as an unlikely frontrunner?

    Stoke-on-Trent Central has never returned anything other than a Labour MP. Mr Hunt, initially disdained by some local activists as a beneficiary of “parachuting” by central HQ, has continued this unwavering tradition with convincing wins at two general elections.

    Yet the picture is far murkier than his unhindered victories imply.

    Stoke-on-Trent Central was the only seat in the country where a majority of people did not vote in May. Labour has lost 14,000 voters there since 1997 and Tristram Hunt – while comfortably re-elected – was in fact mandated by a miserly 18.3% of eligible voters.

    The latest bloody nose to Labour is that the party has now implausibly lost its majority on a council which once had a Labour councillor in every single seat. The City Independents, an eclectic assembly of unaffiliated residents elected on a populist anti-cuts mandate, are leading an unlikely coalition with the Conservatives and UKIP.

    This is despite boundary reforms designed to improve council performance by providing “strong governance” and political stability – perceived locally as an opportunity for Labour to govern indefinitely and keep out insurgent parties such as the BNP.

    Clearly, history dictates that Mr Hunt’s constituents want to back Labour – and the collapse of the city’s traditional industries in steel, coal and the potteries have only strengthened this bond.

    But recent developments imply that, in a city whose voters see scant alternative to Labour, the enthusiasm for its message is waning dramatically.

    Mr Hunt is clear in his view that Jeremy Corbyn is not the answer. But given that his is the campaign noted most for spreading hope, passion and excitement amongst its supporters – how does Mr Hunt propose that the same enthusiasm is restored to the disaffected supporters in cities like the one he represents?

    Perhaps tonight we’ll find out.

    Tristram Hunt will be on the programme tonight at 22.30 on BBC Two. 


    Monday 17 August 2015

  92. Yvette Cooper on Newsnight

    It's a "battle for the soul of the party" she tells us

    Kirsty Wark interviewing Yvette Cooper

    TONIGHT. Kirsty Wark interviews Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper. They discuss Corbyn mania, being a working mum and more. 

    The interview will be up after the programme on our YouTube channel


    13 August 2015

  94. Farkhunda: The making of a martyr

    View more on youtube

    On the programme last night, we reported on the heartbreaking story of Farkhunda - the Afghan woman who was falsely accused of burning the Koran, and beaten to death. 

    The film pulled together footage of the attack - and heard from her parents, women's rights activists in Afghanistan, and relatives of those accused of her murder.

    You can watch it again above.

    There's also an extended version of this report on Our World.     

    Credits: Reporter: Zarghuna Kargar, Camera: Elissa Mirzaei, Film Editor: Gordon Watt, Executive Producer: Kavita Puri, Kabul Producer: Maryam Maseh, Producer: Sara Afshar. 


    Wednesday 12 August

  96. Kids Company: Some questions for trustees

    Chris Cook

    Newsnight Policy Editor

    A child with Kids Company written on his cheeks
    Image caption: There are been a number of demonstrations in support of Kids Company

    As local authorities and charities have started helping people stranded by the closure of Kids Company, the big concern is still about how to provide support for young people who used the charity's services, particularly in its south London heartland. A police investigation involving the charity is, quietly, still interviewing former staff members and clients.

    In the medium term, though, attention must turn to the Kids Company's trustees, who have legal responsibilities for the charity. Chaired by Alan Yentob, the BBC broadcaster and creative director, the trustees clearly made strategic decisions that repay some examination.

    Read the full story on Chris Cook's blog


    Tuesday 11 August 2015

  98. 'I prayed - God, don't let me die'

    Our exclusive with stabbed teacher Vincent Uzomah

    View more on youtube

    A 14-year-old who stabbed a teacher and then bragged about it on Facebook has been given an 11-year sentence. The court in Bradford heard there was "clear evidence" the attack was racially motivated. Katie Razzall spoke exclusively to the teacher Vincent Uzomah, who says he has forgiven his attacker.   

  99. Lab leadership - results breakdown blackout

    So that's no detail on voter numbers of members, affiliated supporters or trade union affiliates when the winner is announced. That is going to surprise a lot of people. 

  100. UK dismisses Rwanda spy chief case

    The scene outside the Rwandan High Commission in London
    Image caption: The scene outside the Rwandan High Commission in London

    A UK court has rejected a bid to extradite Rwanda's spy chief to Spain to stand trial for his alleged role in massacres after the 1994 genocide.

    Karenzi Karake was on bail in the UK following his arrest in June on a warrant issued by Spain.

    His arrest strained diplomatic relations between the UK and Rwanda.

    A Spanish judge indicted Gen Karake in 2008 for alleged war crimes. The UK ruling has been welcomed by Rwanda's Justice Minister Johnston Busingye.

    Gen Karake had been the victim of "an unjust case", he said.

    Read more here and follow Newsnight's Gabriel Gatehouse and Ruaridh Arrow on Twitter for updates.

    Rwandan Lieutenant General Karenzi Karake at Nasho Military training school in Kirehe District, in Rwanda's Eastern Province, when he was still a major-general.
    Image caption: Karenzi Karake in 2010 when he was still a major general

    Monday 10 August 2015

  102. A day with a UKIP MEP on a mission in Calais

    UKIP MEP Mike Hookem believes British and French authorities aren't doing nearly enough to stop migrants from coming to the UK. We spent a day with him as he went about his fact-finding mission in Calais. Here are a few stills from the trip.

    Watch Jack Garland and James Clayton's report tonight at 22.30 on BBC Two, or afterwards on iPlayer (UK only)   

    UKIP MEP Mike Hookem climbs a security fence near the Eurostar railway to prove how easy it is to access the tracks
    Image caption: UKIP MEP Mike Hookem climbs a security fence near the Eurostar to show how easy it is
    Watch our report on Newsnight at 22.30 tonight. (for more images follow Jack Garland's Instagram account @jackwgarland)
    Image caption: He made it
    A French police officer threatens a migrant with pepper spray to stop him approaching lorries on a motorway
    Image caption: A police officer threatens a migrant with pepper spray
    A young man hides in a field near the Eurostar railway tracks
    Image caption: A young man hides in a field near the Eurostar railway tracks
    A slip road in between "the jungle" camp and a motorway
    Image caption: A slip road in between "the jungle" camp and a motorway
    Migrants run near a fence leading to the Eurostar railway tracks after being spotted by police
    Image caption: Migrants run near a fence leading to the Eurostar railway tracks after being spotted by police
    Woman rolls "sniper style" across a field near Eurostar railway tracks to avoid being seen by police
    Image caption: Woman rolls "sniper style" across a field near Eurostar railway tracks to avoid being seen by police
    This Eritrean migrant told UKIP MEP Mike Hookem that he'd tried and failed to enter the Channel Tunnel in a lorry, and now wanted to try and jump on a train to travel to the UK instead
    Image caption: This Eritrean migrant told Mike Hookem he'd tried and failed to enter the Channel Tunnel in a lorry, and now wanted to try and jump on a train to travel to the UK instead

    Watch Jack and James Clayton's report tonight at 22.30 on BBC Two, or afterwards on iPlayer (UK only)   


    Friday 7 August