ITV’s Joe Pike says Boris Johnson is not giving interview to regional media on his visit to South Yorkshire.
Boris Johnson is in South Yorkshire inspecting areas affected by the flooding. Sky News is showing some live footage. To a casual observer it might look as though he is following in the footsteps of Jeremy Corbyn, who was in the region yesterday, but Johnson also paid a visit to a flood-affected town last week. That trip was notable for what it revealed about his inability to use a mop properly.
These are from YouGov, the polling organisation.
Politicians have always been sceptical of these questions – they think the people’s theoretical willingness to pay more in tax to for better public services is not matched by their actual enthusiasm for this – although when Gordon Brown increase national insurance in his 2002 budget to raise more money for the NHS, the decision turned out to be extraordinarily popular. (Brown’s move remains a textbook example in how to win popular consent for a tax rise; he did it by orchestrating a year-long public debate showing why the NHS needed the money.)
As my colleague Peter Walker reports, the Liberal Democrats are facing a revolt from activists in Canterbury, where local members are unhappy about party HQ’s decision to select a new candidate to replace Tim Walker, who stood down to help Labour hold the seat where it had a majority of just 187 at the last election. Walker and other local Liberal Democrats are worried that if their party stands Labour’s Rosie Duffield, a remainer, will be defeated and replaced by a pro-Brexit Tory.
According to the BBC’s Chris Doidge, Guy Kiddey, the Lib Dem candidate in High Peak in Derbyshire is also planning to stand down in solidarity with Tom Walker. High Peak is another Labour/Tory marginal, where Labour had a majority of 2,322 in 2017. Two years ago the Lib Dem candidate in the seat got 2,669 votes.
BBC Scotland has rejected a request from the Scottish Greens to be included in its live election debate two days before polling day, claiming the party has insufficient electoral support.
The BBC debate at 8pm on Tuesday 10 December is expected to feature the leaders of Scotland’s four main parties – Nicola Sturgeon for the Scottish National party, Jackson Carlaw for the Conservatives, Richard Leonard for Labour and Willie Rennie for the Lib Dems.
The Scottish Greens are putting up 22 candidates for the general election, leaving the majority of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats uncontested. They have six Holyrood seats, one more than the Lib Dems, and took part in the BBC’s 2017 general election debate alongside Ukip.
However, the BBC has ruled this year they and the Brexit party have insufficient popular support in a Westminster election to justify inclusion: in the 2017 snap general election, the Scottish Greens only polled 0.2% of the national vote, down 1.1 percentage points on the 2015 general election.
It is understood BBC executives are annoyed that in 2017, the Scottish Greens said they were contesting a large number of seats but eventually put up only three Westminster candidates. The BBC had set a threshold of 10 candidates to merit inclusion in 2017; the party admits its scarce resources were overstretched fighting a council election that May.
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens co-leader, said the BBC decision meant there was no candidate to challenge the stance of the main parties on the climate crisis. He said:
All four parties support extracting fossil fuels until 2050 and beyond. They all want to expand major roads and aviation. Only the Greens recognise this can’t happen.
But it’s not just on climate. The Scottish Greens are the most influential opposition party in Scotland. We have changed the tax system, granted new powers to councils and only last week, John Finnie’s bill on the equal protection of children received royal assent. To leave us out of the debate is ridiculous.
The Michael Gove/Nick Robinson exchange may not have shed much light on the Conservatives’ policies on Brexit, or on anything else (Gove firmly rejected the suggestion that a no-deal Brexit was possible at the end of the transition period, but without properly explaining why), but it did feature what is probably a general election first – a Today programme discussion about the similarities between contemporary politics and masturbation.
Here is the key exchange.
NR: The prime minister has got some colourful language in a speech today. He warns of onanism, which for those who are not familiar with their Bible may not realise is a posh word for self-gratification. Would that word not be better applied to those of you who have obsessed with our membership of the European Union, rather than getting on with the people’s priorities.
MG: I’m glad that you say we should get on with the people’s priorities. If you want to have a pointless, repeated, self-indulgent activity perpetuating, then we can have a parliament with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister in which we have pointless, repeated and self-indulgent referenda, rather than, as you say, quite rightly getting on with the people’s priorities.
The question was prompted by this extract, release overnight by the Tories, from the speech that Boris Johnson will give later today. Johnson will say:
We face a historic choice. At this election the country can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity, or it can disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far left Corbynism.
We can honour the wishes of the people, or else we can waste more time, at the cost of a billion pounds per month, and have two more referendums, one on Scotland and one on the EU – an expense of spirit and a waste of shame, more political self-obsession and onanism.
(Johnson’s own expertise on this subject, at least according to one of his biographers, may be limited. In her excellent book Just Boris, Sonia Purnell writes: “Sex, sexual organs and sexual conquests are Johnsonian mainstays of conversation. Later, Boris infamously told a girlfriend that such was the number of his sexual partners that he hadn’t had ‘to have a wank for 20 years’.”
Former Tory chair Lady Warsi says she is ‘disappointed’ party’s Islamophobia inquiry has been broadened out
During his combative Today interview with Nick Robinson, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, was asked why the proposed Conservative inquiry into Islamophobia in the party had turned into an inquiry into Islamophobia and prejudice. Robinson said that when Gove was on the programme only last week, he said it would be an Islamophobia-only inquiry. Gove denied this.
A bit later on the programme Robinson offered a clarification. He said that at one point in his interview last week Gove implied it would be an Islamophobia-only inquiry. At another point in the same interview he implied it would be a more general inquiry.
Lady Warsi, the former Conservative party chair and a longstanding campaigner for a specific inquiry into Islamophobia in the party, told the programme:
Well, I welcome any form of inquiry. I’ve got to the point where beggars can’t be choosers any more. But I am disappointed that the party, having now realised that there is a real problem in relation to a specific form of racism, is still trying to absolve its responsibility by trying to dilute what it is that it’s going to look at …
The fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party has been on the issue of Islamophobia.
A report by my colleague Simon Murphy, saying that 25 sitting and former Tory councillors have been exposed for posting Islamophobic and racist material on social media, has highlighted the extent to which this remains a problem for the Conservatives.
Agenda for the day
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Simon Murphy.
Amongst all the campaigning today, there are two headline media events.
11am: John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, speak at an event to launch Labour’s £26bn “rescue plan” for the NHS.
4.30pm: Boris Johnson is giving a speech on Brexit in Warwickshire.
And Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning in Scotland, where he has events organised in Glasgow (at 10.30am), in Hamilton (at 12.15pm) and in Coatbridge (at 2.30pm.)
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has refused to accept that no deal is effectively back on the table with a new Brexit deadline of the end of 2020 for a trade agreement.
Gove’s friend and former colleague David Gauke, who is running as an independent after having the Tory whip removed as punishment for rebelling, warned earlier that “we will leave the implementation period without a deal with the European Union on WTO terms, in effect on no-deal terms”. (See 8.38am.)
Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I’ve got a lot of respect and affection for David but I think in this one particular area he’s wrong because what we have is a Brexit deal that’s been negotiated, a withdrawal agreement which will make sure we safeguard the rights of UK citizens abroad and EU citizens in the UK and also a political declaration that spells out a future relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation.