London: When this goes to print candidates will have been selected for all the seats to be contested by all parties in the general election. Candidate selection has been a hot topic since the election was decided. Conservative candidates have been innovatively selected to break the mould or even “parachuted in” by CCHQ, thereby disconcerting some Conservative Associations. 40 Tory MPs have retired or stood down. Thus this could be a large intake. The Government is hoping for a working majority of Leave supporting MPs without it being a hard Brexit takeover, but is facing some controversy about the process and selections. Special advisors (Spads) to the government and other politically related professions seemed to have received preferential selection; not all those selected have obvious experience or an affiliation with the constituency they have been selected in; a few cries of “who do they know” echo across WhatsApp groups. And the wife and ex-wife of two previous MPs have been selected to replace their husbands—Charlie Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths are known sex pests. Since Charles Walker inexplicably left the Conservative Party Board and by default the Candidates Committee, no one is exactly sure who is in charge of selections. Boris Johnson says he only needs 9 more votes than Theresa May in 2017 to have a working majority, presumably sans DUP.
Labour’s news is a popular masterstroke. Labour is offering free full-fibre broadband for homes and businesses by 2030, part-funded by nationalisation and taxes on providers like Google and Apple. Deputy leader Tom Watson left the party due to political differences. There is an ideological conflict about reshaping the party between Corbynites and Corbynsceptics; MP Ian Austin stood down from Labour saying Corbyn was unfit to govern. It looks like Labour has committed to a confirmatory referendum on Brexit and possibly to Remain, it’s not clear yet their Manifesto will be published next week. Labour’s National Executive Committee has mostly controlled selections, the grassroots activists Momentum are pleased that their far-left candidates are placed in marginal seats.
Afraid of losing the diaspora vote, Ian Lavery, Chair of the Labour Party published a statement on the Kashmir motion passed at their conference, saying Labour will not adopt an anti-India or anti-Pakistan position over Kashmir. Labour still has a dodgy record on anti-Semitism and candidates with dodgy records are being awarded seats. Labour has selected only one candidate of Indian heritage despite representations from the Labour Friends of India—they have warned the party not to take the Indian vote for granted. British Indians in the Midlands and in Nottingham have together rejected Labour for their anti-Indian and anti-Modi stance. The UK Dharmic Ideas and Policy Foundation has gone one step further in its election manifesto advising “Vote for Conservative Party in all constituencies, except where the MP has expressed support for the creation of Khalistan by signing petitions, with the intention to partition India again”.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party agreed not to stand against the Conservatives in 317 seats but they are still standing in marginal/target seats, which is likely to split the vote between Leavers for Brexit Party and Remainers for Labour/Lib Dems. Richard Tice, chair of the Brexit Party, alleged “jobs and titles” were offered by “senior Conservative Party figures” to Brexit Party candidates as enticement to stand down and as part of a concerted campaign to undermine the Brexit Party. Rupert Lowe, Brexit Party MEP and candidate for Dudley North, stepped down on Thursday evening saying “I am putting country before party as it is highly conceivable my candidacy could allow Corbyn’s Momentum candidate to win. They are simply not fit to govern.” Lowe went on to suggest “Momentum are the most sinister development in recent British politics mirroring the beginnings of the communist party in the USSR.”
The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament released their “Russia” report to the Prime Minister on 17 October, the members of the ISC expected imminent publication, and it is thought the intelligence agencies have cleared its release, but the Government decided to delay until after the election. Because it is withheld speculation is going wild about Russian meddling in the 2016 EU Referendum, Moscow’s network of political influencers in UK and Russian big donors to the Tory Party, Hillary Clinton made an unwelcome intervention saying it was shameful it had not been released. The opposition commentators are making the most of this news story when combined with Johnson’s chief strategist, Dominic Cummings’ erstwhile sojourn in Moscow and No10’s Director of Policy Munira Mirza’s alleged association with the Revolutionary Communist Party.
President Donald Tusk, during his Keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2019/2020 academic year at the College of Europe, is still hoping it is not too late to reverse Brexit “Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role, only together can we confront, without any complexes, the greatest powers of this world…. I have heard the same in India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa; that after its departure, the UK will become an outsider, a second-rate player, while the main battlefield will be occupied by China, the United States and the European Union.”
Jean Claude Juncker has retired, but UK’s government is unable to nominate the new Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen because the UK is under general election rules. The European Commission reminded the Government that as UK is still an EU member, EU law trumps domestic law. Now the European Commission is authorised by EU leaders to begin infringement proceedings against UK for failing to nominate a new EU Commissioner for the duration of its membership. The Government has till 22 November to respond.