With most of political debate focused on the EU referendum or most recently, the Panama papers, it’s easy to have missed some of the significant events or trends that have happened in politics over recent months. To help, PAC has picked out five things that you might not have noted…
A Tory Resurgence in Scotland
With only one MP in the whole of Scotland, you probably wouldn’t have given the Conservatives much hope going into this May’s Holyrood elections.
The chaos in the Scottish Labour Party has left a political vacuum that the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, appears to be filling. For one thing, she’s not your typical Tory: openly gay and straight talking, she has challenged the Westminster Government on a number of occasions, most notably over tax credits.
A recent poll for the Times asking voters who would be the most effective leader of the Opposition in the Scottish Parliament gave Ms Davidson 33% a significant lead over Labour’s Kezia Dugdale at 18%. Recent polls ahead of May’s election have shown that the Conservatives are projected to have more seats than Labour. If that were to be the case it would be an amazing turn around in the Party’s fortunes North of the border since the dramatic decline in support that started under Margaret Thatcher.
Race for London Gets Personal
In London, the Mayoral election has become a real street fight.
The language has started to get very personal with Team Goldsmith accusing his opponent of having links to extremists. Team Khan, and in particular Yvette Cooper, have hit back claiming that such accusations are a “full-blown racist scream.”
The launch of Goldsmith’s manifesto was somewhat side-tracked as he was forced to deny claims that he is a racist. He turned the tables arguing that Khan is “a man who has given platforms, oxygen and even cover — over and over and over again — to those who seek to do our police and capital harm.”
Polls show that Khan has a comfortable lead over Goldsmith, and in a left leaning city the smart money would be on him to win in May.
The Resurrection of Michael Gove
Disliked by teachers and side-lined to the role of Chief Whip before going to the MoJ after the election, Michael Gove’s political career might have been perceived as having peaked.
Instead, according to a recent survey by Conservative Home, he is the person that Conservative members most want to be their next leader. He has over taken both the previous front runners, George Osborne and Boris Johnson, and his position may be further strengthened if calls for him to be made Deputy Prime Minster are successful.
Whatever the outcome of the EU Referendum there will be much healing required in the Conservative Party and it is suggested that making Brexiteer Gove Deputy PM would make a major contribution to the process.
UKIP in Chaos
You would think that an imminent referendum on EU membership would unite UKIP behind the one issue in which they all unanimously agree. Think again.
Key figures such as Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans have joined the more mainstream campaign to leave the EU, Vote Leave, while the UKIP leader Nigel Farage has shared a platform with George Galloway by campaigning for the rival group Grassroots Out.
The fallout in UKIP has been made even more public as Suzanne Evans was given a six-month suspension for bringing the party into disrepute. One of the more capable and articulate of the party’s members, she claims to have been bullied.
It now appears quite possible that post-referendum, UKIP’s only MP, Carswell, will leave the party and sit as an Independent.
Corbyn More Popular Than Cameron
Just as the backbench sharks were getting ever more frenetic with their circling of the Labour Leader, saying that there will definitely be moves against him before the party conference in September, the latest opinion polls show that Jeremy Corbyn is now more popular than David Cameron and Labour is ahead of the Conservatives in voting intention.
This is a surprising turnaround for Corbyn, who only a few months ago had the worst satisfaction ratings of any new Labour leader and was the first to score a net negative satisfaction rating.
Whether this is enough to dampen down criticism of his leadership in the longer term will depend on Labour’s performance at the local, Mayoral and devolved elections, but recent events can only be helpful to the Party.