1832, 1906, 1945, 1997. If you are immersed in political history then these dates may be familiar to you. If you are a normal person, then probably not. So let me explain: it was in these years that the Conservative Party suffered its most brutal electoral shellackings. After each of these results, the long-term existence of the party was questioned.
Tomorrow, we will learn which of the ten Conservative MPs standing for the UK leadership will achieve the necessary support to advance to the next stage. By the end of next week, two names will go forward to the party membership. As a member of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, and someone who is hugely frustrated that the massive strides it has made north of the border are potentially threatened by the grim spectacle on the other side of the wall, I will have a vote to dispense.
Some people hope that whoever emerges as the new leader in little over a month’s time will be the one to oversee the death of the party. With a really poor European election just past and some shocking current polling, it’s easy to see why. The situation is serious but I’m going to disagree with the apocalyptic predictions and urge a bit of perspective.
On each of the previous occasions it has been hammered, the party has been vastly out of touch with the majority of those able to vote.
- The post-Napoleonic War call for radical social change found a home with the Whigs and helped drive their massive post-Great Reform Act victory in 1832.
- By 1906, the rapid industrial progress of the late nineteenth century and the gradual extension of the voting franchise had created a movement that propelled the Liberals forward.
- 1945: the ashes of the Second World War paved the way for a reforming Labour government, whose greatest achievements are still with us today.
- And in 1997, Tony Blair, who we now choose to forget was really, really, really popular, looked and sounded like the baby boomer generation which was steering the country towards a new millennium.
Each of these watershed moments supposedly heralded the end for the Tories. On each occasion the Tories (eventually) adapted to the new reality and (eventually) returned to power.
I don’t believe the party is so out of step with the British mainstream today as it was then. It’s certainly divided and, at a UK level, it may well deserve some time on the sidelines. But where is the positive long-term alternative, the driving force that creates the conditions for a long-term Tory existential crisis and forces change?
So, let’s not confuse some very tough times and a potential upcoming spell in opposition with a death knell. It’s certainly not a great advert for the party I have always voted for that the weaknesses of others should help its survival. But survive this party has, in one guise or another, for a very long time.
The UK’s Charity Commission has published a highly critical report into Oxfam and specifically the charity’s handling of allegations into the conduct of some of its aid workers following the 2010 earthquake. The commission found that Oxfam “repeatedly fell below standards expected, had a culture of tolerating poor behaviour and... failed to meet promises made on safeguarding, ultimately letting everyone down”.
The UK Government has confirmed that it will seek to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act to incorporate even tougher goals, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to almost zero by 2050. Britain is the first major nation to propose this target.
Shinzo Abe will arrive in Iran today, the first such visit by a Japanese Prime Minister in more than four decades. Part of his trip will be to see if there is any way of bridging the gap between Iran and the United States, as he enjoys good relations with both countries. Mr. Abe will meet both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
Business & Economy
Creditors and landlords of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group will meet today to vote on revised proposals to save the retail conglomerate. A vote was initially meant to be held last week but it became clear that some landlords – such as Intu – would refuse to back it. Sir Philip has warned that Arcadia could go into administration if the proposals are not voted through.
In the US, T-Mobile’s $26bn takeover of fellow telco Sprint is now being challenged by ten states, who are unhappy that approval from the Department of Justice would leave the country with just three nationwide wireless operators. The ten states are New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virgina, Wisconsin and District of Columbia.
At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday, Elon Musk came under some pressure surrounding his antics over the past year, ranging from the row with one of the divers in the Thai caves last September to an apparently baseless claim that he had enough capital to take the company private if he wished. Mr. Musk focused instead on the positives, stating that Tesla’s Model 3 was selling faster than they can be built and offering a preview of the forthcoming Model Y, which is a lower cost SUV.
What happened yesterday?
In the US, all three main indices closed slightly lower, with the prospect of rate cuts making some investors more cautious. The S&P 500 ended a winning streak of two months, being dragged down by industrial and utility stocks.
Elsewhere, the prospect of a new government stimulus in China was a positive factor in European and Asian markets. The FTSE 100 was up 0.3%, the Dax 30 advanced 0.9% and the Europe-wide Stoxx 600 rose 0.7%. China’s CSI 300 was up 3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 0.8% higher. Infrastructure stocks were particularly strong performers, after the Chinese government encouraged local administrations to use special bonds for projects.
Currency-wise, the pound rose 0.3% against the dollar to $1.27, off the back of strong jobs data.
Filta Group Holdings
London & Associated Properties
Hellenic Telecom Industries SA ADS
Plant Health Care
Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings
Steppe Cement Ltd
Witan Pacific Inv Trust
International Economic Announcements
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Consumer Price Index (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times
Columns of Note
In The Times, Alice Thomson uses the recent shocking case of two gay women being attacked on a bus to suggest that we may be going backwards when it comes to attitudes on same-sex couples showing affection in public. Despite the undoubted progress made in just a couple of decades, she remains concerned about some populist efforts, in places as diverse as the UK, India and Brunei, to raise homosexuality as a negative campaigning tool, leading to incidents such as the aforementioned bus attack.
In The Guardian Rafael Behr states the direction the candidates for the Conservative party leadership are taking demonstrates that Brexit as a positive vision is dead. His argument revolves around Brexiteers previously presenting an exit from the EU as the start of a glorious new chapter, whereas they have now abandoned this rhetoric. He highlights his disbelief about the way “Tory mania has mutated, from a belief that Brexit can work wonders, to a state of not really caring what it achieves as long as it is done”.
Cartoon source: The Times
Did you know?
The shortest recorded war in history was the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896, which lasted for 38 minutes. In that time, around 500 Zanzibari troops were killed, and one British soldier was injured.
House of Commons
Women and Equalities (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Parental Leave (Premature and Sick Babies) - David Linden
Opposition Day Debate
Inequality and Social Mobility; Discrimination in Sport - Jeremy Corbyn
Cornish wrestling - Scott Mann
House of Lords
Support among UN Member States for the UNs Security Council Resolution on sexual violence in conflict - Lord Collins of Highbury
Supporting the government of Rwanda in its preparations for hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2020 - Lord Popat
Reducing delays in probate being granted to non-professional claimants - Baroness Browning
Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill - Third reading - Lord Dholakia
Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill - Committee stage - Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury
Report from the Constitution Committee 'The Legislative Process: Preparing Legislation for Parliament'; Report from the Constitution Committee 'The Legislative Process: The Delegation of Powers' - Baroness Taylor of Bolton
Report from the Communications Committee 'Regulating in a digital world' - Lord Gilbert of Panteg
S5M-16939 Miles Briggs: Love Your Lungs Week
Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2017
Update on Veterans Strategy
Stage 3 Proceedings
Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
S5M-16487 Johann Lamont: New Report Calls for More Housing Co-ops in Scotland
House of Commons
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Mel Stride
General Debate on Social Housing - Matt Western
General Debate on making Parliament a more modern, family friendly and accessible workplace - Ellie Reeves, Ms Harriet Harman, Mrs Maria Miller
Transfer of services from University Hospital in Coventry to Birmingham and Worcester - Mr Jim Cunningham
House of Lords
Request by the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to introduce compensation for victims of Historical Institutional Abuse - Lord Empey
EU announcements regarding air travel, haulage, visas and safety certificates should the UK leave the EU without a deal - Lord Lilley
Phonographic Performance Ltd's tariff increase for their Speciality Entertainment licence - Lord Smith of Hindhead
Ensuring unpaid carers receive the support to which they are entitled - Baroness Brinton
Inequalities in income, wealth and living standards in the United Kingdom since the 2008 financial crisis; the Institute for Fiscal Studies Deaton Review; and the report of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - Lord Dubs
Impact of the increased use of referenda on the functioning of representative democracy in the UK - Lord Soley
Provision of free public transport and television licences for older persons as a means to alleviate loneliness and isolation and of the case for maintaining well-funded public services to support care for the elderly - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
First Minister's Questions
S5M-17329 Gillian Martin: World Environment Day 2019
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Questions
Government business and constitutional relations
Disclosure (Scotland) Bill
Stage 1 Debate
Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill
Legislative Consent Motion
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
Parliamentary Bureau Motions