Newslinks for Sunday 15th December 2019

Johnson sets agenda in Sedgefield: “We are not the masters, we are the servants now.”

‘In a signal of his intent to colonise the centre ground of British politics, Johnson yesterday visited Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s former seat, which the Tories won on Thursday. Appropriating language used by New Labour, which Blair depicted as “servants of the people”, Johnson said: “When we get down to Westminster and we begin our work, remember we are not the masters, we are the servants now. Our job is to serve the people of this country.” The prime minister called in senior civil servants, including cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, on Friday afternoon and announced that the whole government had to shift its focus to improving the lives of the working-class voters in the north of England who backed Brexit and switched to the Tories.’ – Sunday Times

  • There’ll be a mini reshuffle this week – Mail on Sunday
  • Then a much bigger restructuring of the Cabinet and the state in February – Sunday Times
  • Gove could control a merged DEXEU and DIT – Mail on Sunday
  • Sedgefield Tories are already working on how to dig in and hold the seat long-term – The Observer
  • How the Tees Valley mayoralty sparked a revolution – Sunday Times
  • Does Johnson mean this talk of healing and unification? – Tim Bale, The Observer
  • ‘We don’t need the ERG any more’ – Sunday Times

Editorials

>Today: ToryDiary: “Get out of London.” Now watch Johnson and Cummings turn the country upside down. Or try to.

>Yesterday:Video: Johnson visits Sedgefield to thank the new Conservative supporters

How the Conservative campaign imported Vote Leave’s targeting and message

‘They were the lifelong Labour voters on whom Jeremy Corbyn was supposed to be able to rely – even if he failed to sell his vision to a new market. But to Dominic Cummings and Isaac Levido, the masterminds of Boris Johnson’s landslide victory, they became known as “persuasion ones”: a category of voter whose allegiance to Labour had been profoundly shaken by Mr Corbyn’s leadership and his party’s involvement in blocking Brexit. Ultimately, the identification and targeting of those voters helped caused an electoral upset that shocked even some of the Conservatives’ most senior figures. The phrase emerged from some of the most intensive use of focus groups and polling ever seen in a UK election campaign. The approach taken by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) mimicked the constant testing of public opinion that took place under Mr Cummings’ leadership of the official Vote Leave campaign in 2016. “About a week or so before polling day it became really obvious that so many more of the people CCHQ labelled Persuasion One, or Labour leavers, were coming in our direction than anyone else,” said one of Mr Johnson’s 109 newly-elected MPs, who was elected in the North.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: James Cleverly on Comment: I want to thank you and all our Party members for your hard work in this election campaign

Queen’s Speech on Thursday: Withdrawal Bill, £34 billion for the NHS…

‘The Queen’s Speech on Thursday, setting out the Government’s agenda for the new Parliament, will give legislative force to the policy priorities which secured Mr Johnson’s landslide win – delivering Brexit and pumping billions of extra pounds into the NHS. When the new batch of MPs assemble to listen to Her Majesty, they will hear her announce the plan to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Brexit before Christmas, and to pledge that the Government will enshrine in law the first multi-year funding settlement for the NHS leading to a £33.9 billion per year increase in the health service budget by 2024…The Queen’s Speech will also include measures to strengthen the justice system, with tougher sentences for serious criminals; restrict trade union strikes affecting vital services such as health and transport; offer more security of tenure for renters; and crack down on Left-wing local authorities which boycott products from other countries – such as Israel – on political grounds.’ – Mail on Sunday

…and Cummings gets his radical reform of Whitehall

‘Boris Johnson is plotting a dramatic overhaul of Whitehall after his landslide election victory, in a drive to demonstrate that the Government “works for the people”. Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief aide, is to spearhead plans for radical reforms to the civil service, including a review of the processes for hiring and firing officials, to ensure Whitehall delivers the Prime Minister’s agenda. He has previously complained that “almost no one is ever fired” in Whitehall, during a lecture in which he set out a “to-do list” he had maintained in case “I ever manage to get control of No 10.” It suggests Mr Johnson’s programme for the next five years is likely to be much more radical than the agenda he set out after taking over from Theresa May in July. Separately, Downing Street dismissed suggestions from Brussels and pro-Remain campaigners that the Prime Minister would angle for a closer trading relationship with the EU.’ – Sunday Telegraph

A stereotype-smashing new generation of Tory MPs

‘“I’m everything a Tory shouldn’t be,” says Dehenna Davison, the newly elected MP for Bishop Auckland, who grew up on a council estate in Sheffield, the daughter of a self-employed stonemason and a nursery nurse. Davison embodies a new type of young Conservative MP in the 2019 intake: state school-educated, working class, Brexit supporting and socially liberal. She is one of eight Tory MPs under 30 who have been dubbed “Boris’s Babies”, a label they are quick to reject as “patronising”. Looking at this youthful group gives a fascinating insight into the future of the Tory party. There is not an Old Etonian in sight, and 24 are openly gay or bisexual, the most of any party. Labour has at least 18 — boosting the total to more than 50 LGBT MPs. Westminster is now the “gayest parliament in the world”.’ – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A revolution has taken place in the Conservative Party

Corbyn: I’ve been reflecting on the result, and have concluded I won the argument

‘In the first general election I contested as Labour leader, our party increased its share of the popular vote by 10 percentage points. On Thursday, on a desperately disappointing night, we fell back eight points. I have called for a period of reflection in the party, and there is no shortage of things to consider. I don’t believe these two contrasting election results can be understood in isolation… I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate. But I regret that we did not succeed in converting that into a parliamentary majority for change…The media attacks on the Labour party for the last four and a half years were more ferocious than ever – and of course that has an impact on the outcome of elections.’ – Jeremy Corbyn, The Observer

The Labour leader’s summary of the campaign: “Oh well.”

‘Jeremy Corbyn intends to remain as Labour leader until at least April despite pressure from his family to step down sooner, it can be revealed. A source close to the Labour leader said it was “basic maths” that he would lead the party for months because a leadership contest takes at least 12 weeks and the deputy leader role is vacant. Corbyn’s third wife, Laura Alvarez, is said to want him to quit sooner, amid concerns about media pressure and his emotional state… According to a source, Corbyn spent the early hours of Friday at party headquarters watching the BBC’s election coverage and repeating the phrase: “Oh well.”’ – Sunday Times

Labour: The race to succeed Corbyn as leader begins

‘Two of the likely candidates in what will be a 12-week contest that is expected to begin in January – Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy – break cover with articles in the Observer, expressing their anger and dismay at the party’s crushing defeat, and calling for a far-reaching post-mortem to ensure Labour reconnects with the millions of working people who rejected it. Seven MPs, six of them women – Phillips, Nandy, Emily Thornberry, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner and Yvette Cooper – are understood to be thinking of joining the contest, making it likely that Labour will for the first time elect a female leader. Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, is also likely to join the race… On Saturday senior Labour figures said that Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, was already being promoted by the Corbyn circle as his favoured successor.’ – The Observer

‘We’ve lost, Brexit is going to happen,’ Heseltine concedes

‘Remainers suffered such a heavy defeat in Thursday’s election that the issue of EU membership is dead for 20 years, former Tory minister Michael Heseltine admitted today. The pro-EU former Cabinet minister, who helped topple Margaret Thatcher in 1990, admitted ‘we’ve lost’ and ‘Brexit is going to happen’ after Boris Johnson’s comprehensive election victory. Lord Heseltine, who sparked uproar when he switched allegiance to the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats before the election, spoke after Mr Johnson walked away with an 80-seat Tory majority that will allow his to steamroll Brexit laws through Parliament before the end of January. Asked whether the Remain fight is over on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Heseltine said: ‘Well we’ve lost, let’s not muck about with the language. We’ve lost, Brexit is going to happen and we have to live with it.” – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Winners and losers of the General Election

Curtice: North of the Scottish Border, the picture is very different

‘The Scottish Conservatives find themselves in an all too familiar place. Their colleagues in England and Wales have emerged victorious — but none of the stardust has made its way across the border. At 25%, the party’s vote is down nearly four percentage points on 2017. While it is still a better result than at any other election since 1992, it does mean that the party’s recent revival has come firmly to a halt. Just six in number, the party’s MPs will be but a tiny voice within the much-expanded ranks of 365 Conservatives at Westminster. The tally could have been lower. If the four-point drop in its vote had been replicated everywhere — together with the eight-point increase in SNP support – the party could have found itself with just three seats.’ – John Curtice, Sunday Times

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Author: Mark Wallace


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