I have visited Greece twice, the first time in 1980 I was pregnant with Angus and was uncomfortable in the August heat, the plumbing. But from the hotel window I could see the Acropolis, and I watched Spanish dancing and singing in the ancient stadium. After my travel-mate returned to Philadelphia from Athens, I traveled to Olympia, and was there exactly when the Olympic Games were held in Moscow. Wow. Olive trees. I remember olive trees and shady groves and a small Olympic Stadium that captured the imagination of so many in the world.
The second time was in Oct 2001, I was in Athens for an HIV/AIDS conference because right after 9/11, so many were afraid of flying, and I was very happy to fly anywhere.
Rolling coverage of reaction to the Stoke and Copeland byelections results, including Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the road to Brexit
In his interview earlier with ITV John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and key Corbyn ally, suggested that Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were partly to blame for Labour’s defeat in Copeland because of their attacks on Corbyn. He said:
What’s interesting is that the overwhelming number of members of the party, the majority of the party, are saying “unite”. And we can’t have a situation like we did last week when Tony Blair comes out and attacks his own party, Peter Mandelson as well. So we are saying to those people “unite” because people will then see the real Labour party campaigning. And we will win back places like Copeland.
On the Today programme Prof John Curtice, the BBC’s main elections expert, said that since 1945 the government party has only taken a seat from the opposition in three byelections. One was at Mitcham and Morden in 1982, where Labour, which lost, had a smaller majority than in Copeland. The other two were Brighouse and Spenborough in 1960 and Sunderland South in 1953. Labour lost in both, but in both seats it was defending very small majorities.
In Copeland Labour was defending a bigger majority, of 6.5%, Curtice said.
The movement to the Conservatives, the increase in the Conservative vote of around 8.5 points, is the biggest increase enjoyed by the government in any byelection since 1966 when Harold Wilson managed to win the Hull North byelection which precipitated the 1966 general election. So this is very, very rare indeed. The general rule of byelections is that governments, even when popular in the polls, lose ground and oppositions, even if they are not doing that well, gain ground.
Labour now have to look at a set of results, not just the two last night in both of which they lost ground, but in every singe byelection held since the Brexit referendum on June 23 last year Labour’s vote has been down.
I suspect Jeremy Corbyn’s critics will argue than in many a voter’s mind his opposition to the nuclear power industry is also linked to his opposition to nuclear weapons, and actually this is symptomatic of a wider problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, in their view, [which] is that he holds certain attitudes and supports certain things which many a voter does not hold credible.
Committee urges new energy commission that would prioritise low energy bills and security rather than low carbon emissions
Ministers should establish a new energy commission to spur on construction of power stations because successive governments have failed to encourage enough fresh power capacity in the UK, according to a House of Lords report.
Subsidy-backed growth in renewable energy projects, such as windfarms, has deterred the construction of new conventional power plants, the economic affairs committee claimed.
Byelection nights are typically a source of succour for the opposition. Its vote usually goes up while the government almost invariably suffers some kind of reverse.
But this pattern was entirely absent in both Copeland and Stoke. In Copeland Tory support increased by no less than 8.5 points – the biggest increase in support for a government party since Harold Wilson’s Labour government won the Hull North byelection in January 1966 (at the cost, incidentally, of a promise to build the Humber Bridge).
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