The latest YouGov polling gives a clear indication to Labour of the impact of the continued attempts by centrist MPs, MEPs and candidates to push a new referendum in spite of the NEC’s decision this week to reject any commitment to a public vote in the party’s European election manifesto.
YouGov polling usually understates Labour support, but the headline figures show the new Brexit party leading strongly:
Brexit Party 30%
Fib Dems 10%
Change UK 9%
Anti-Brexit and pro-referendum campaigners are already attempting to spin away the significance of the results, claiming that the Brexit party’s strong showing is a result of a cannibalised Tory vote. However, the detailed results do not bear that out.
It’s here! The Republican Convention — the big show we’ve been waiting for. I’m sure it’s the hottest thing to hit Cleveland since 1997 when they won the American League Pennant but lost the Series.
This first day wasn’t quite the thrilling event pundits have been touting, though it had its moments, at least a few of which will become sound bites on the late news.
No shootings, no riots worth noting, in or outside the convention hall. Trump didn’t say anything wildly outrageous, or at least nothing I remember. Frankly, after last night, when Trump declared Obama as personally responsible for the shootings in Baton Rouge while his so-called running mate said Hillary Clinton invented ISIS, he’d be hard put to top that.
This is about how our electoral system does — and doesn’t — work. It’s a rewrite of a post from last March when we were in the early stages of political self-destruction. We…
With approaching local council and London Mayoral elections, as well as the EU referendum, we want disabled people to have a clear understanding of their voting rights and options.
We know that in the past disabled voters have struggled to cast their ballot. We want to make sure all voters, disabled and non-disabled, have the right to vote independently and in secret. If you are registered to vote, you cannot be refused a ballot paper or the chance to vote on the grounds of mental or physical impairment.
How to vote
Registering to vote
The deadline to register to vote in the London Mayoral and local elections has now passed. If you have registered to vote, you should receive a polling card in the post. You can still register to vote in the upcoming EU referendum on the 23rd June.
Poles voted on Sunday in an election likely to usher the euro-sceptic conservative opposition into power, ending nearly a decade of stability in central-eastern Europe’s biggest economy and setting Poland at odds with some of its European allies.
If opinion polls are correct, the ruling Civic Platform (PO), a pro-market, centre-right grouping in power for eight years, will lose to the conservative Law and Justice opposition party (PiS), run by the twin brother of late president Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw.
Most polls show PiS as the frontrunner on more than 30 percent. PO is second with just over 20 percent.
Distrustful of the European Union and an advocate of a strong NATO hand in dealing with Moscow, PiS opposes joining the euro zone in the near future, promises more welfare spending on the poor and wants banks subject to new taxation.
Michal Zurawski, in his mid-30s, who voted for PiS in the morning in central Warsaw, said he backed the party’s anti-corruption narrative and economic programme.
“Their offer is targeted at those who are less affluent and that suits me. Taking care of this group and creating better social and labour conditions for them is good – will benefit Poland’s economy and the country as a whole,” Zurawski said.
Poland’s election body said nearly 16.5 percent of those eligible had cast their votes by midday on Sunday, compared with around 10 percent at that time usually.
Higher turnout has in the past been less favourable to PiS and may be good news for several smaller parties also running, who span the political spectrum from ultra-right to liberal and extreme left.
PiS opposes relocating migrants from the Middle East to Poland, arguing they could threaten Poland’s Catholic way of life – raising the prospect of tensions with the EU on the issue.
On the campaign trail, Kaczynski and other PiS leaders have sought to tap into anger that the economic success is not more evenly shared out and into nationalist sentiment fanned by immigration fears, particularly among young voters.
Poland, a country of 38 million people, has seen its economy expand by nearly 50 percent in the last decade. It was the only EU member not to slide into recession after the 2008 financial crisis. But pockets of poverty and stagnation remain.
“There is a broader phenomenon of a return to national, religious, community values being seen all across Europe,” said political analyst Aleksander Smolar. “PiS uses clear … language in this respect.”
PiS also advocates a robust Western approach towards Russia following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. That might complicate any future bridge-building between the EU and Russia.
WILL SMALLER PARTIES GET IN?
Opinion polls show that only the two main rivals – PiS and PO – look certain to pass the threshold of 5 percent of the vote for being seated in parliament.
Among the smaller ones seeking to win seats is Nowoczesna (Modern), a new free-market party run by former World Bank economist Ryszard Petru. On Sunday, Nowoczesna got the backing of a middle-aged entrepreneur who came to the polling station with her daughter.
“I’ve long voted for PO, but I am fed up now. I want someone new, with a strong economic programme and able to represent us decently abroad,” said the woman, who declined to be named.
Pensioner Jadwiga Horus said she voted for PO Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz: “I prefer people who have proven themselves. Even if they make mistakes – PO is way better than the shameful PiS.”
PiS’s Kaczynski raised eyebrows in Poland and some European capitals this month by saying migrants fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa may bring diseases and parasites to Poland.
Kopacz later quipped that Kaczynski, a known cat lover, wasn’t too worried about owning cats even though they can carry diseases dangerous to people.
Another newcomer to the Polish parliament would be Kukiz’15, a grouping run by former Polish rock star Pawel Kukiz, who ran in a presidential race in May, winning a surprising 21 percent. He now wants to tax “bank gangsters” and says Poland is a “colony of foreign governments”.
“I hope we enter parliament in such numbers that it will allow us to make a crack in the system, allowing the citizens, the nation to win back control over the state, which has been taken away from them,” Kukiz told a campaign rally.
The fringe parties mean PiS, even if it wins, may have to seek coalition partners to rule, raising the possibility of extended talks in the weeks after the vote.
It also leaves room for PO to retain its hold on power, if PiS fails to form a functioning majority in parliament and the centrists secure the support of leftist groupings such as United Left (ZL) or the liberal Nowoczesna.
Polls opened at 0700 BST and are due to close at 2100 BST.
An exit poll, conducted by the IPSOS pollster on a representative sample of some 90,000 people, will be available immediately after voting ends. The pollster estimates its margin of error at below 2 percentage points.
More election stories:
(Additional reporting by Wiktor Szary, Writing by Justyna Pawlak and Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Richard Balmforth) …………………..’
The independent elections watchdog and regulator of party and election finance
‘………….*Voters with a disability are reminded there should be no barriers to them casting their vote on 7 May
News release published: 01-05-2015
Voters with a disability are being reminded by the Electoral Commission that there should be no barriers to them casting their vote at the General Election on 7 May.
Acting Returning Officers (AROs), who are responsible for the conduct of the poll, must ensure that the voting process is accessible to all. The Electoral Commission has provided guidance to AROs to help them meet their equality obligations and ensure that everyone who is entitled to cast their vote can do so. Polling station staff should also have received training on the assistance that is available to any voter wishing to vote in person at a polling station.
This year, in addition to the Commission’s own public information line (0333 103 1928), the first dedicated helpline for anyone with a learning disability who has questions about casting their vote, or experiences any difficulties in doing so, has been set up by Mencap, a partner of the Electoral Commission.
The helpline is also available to the families and carers of people with learning disabilities and polling station staff. The helpline number is 020 7696 5588. In addition, the Commission has produced a joint factsheet with Mencap to remind voters of their rights.
Andrew Scallan, Director of Electoral Administration at the Electoral Commission, said:
“Anyone who’s eligible to vote on polling day should be able to do so in a confident manner. Polling station staff are trained to provide assistance to any voter who asks for it. If a voter has had a negative experience of casting their vote at a polling station in the past, I’d urge them to get in touch with their local Returning Officer in advance of polling day to ensure their needs will be met on 7 May.”
Vijay Patel, who has a learning disability, is an assistant for Mencap’s Me and My Vote project. He says:
“When it comes to voting, some people with a learning disability are told they can’t vote when they enter their local polling station. This is wrong. It doesn’t allow them to have their say. It is their right that they are allowed to vote and it’s discrimination if they are stopped from voting in the election. I think the helpline is a good idea. It will help people with a learning disability on election day – if they are turned away from a polling station, they can call us and we can make sure they can vote. I will be voting on election day and I hope people with a learning disability will be too.”
The right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper. This could be asking the Presiding Officer at the polling station to mark the ballot paper for them; bringing a close family member who’s over 18 to help them vote; or bringing someone’s who eligible to vote at the election. For example, a support worker, as long as they are entitled to vote themselves.
A tactile voting device. This is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people can mark their ballot paper in secret.
See a large print version of the ballot paper for reference. This should be clearly displayed in the polling station and a copy can be given to a voter to take into the polling booth. But, a voter must still only mark their ballot paper.
Assistance to gain access to the polling station. Returning Officers must consider accessibility requirements when planning for elections and polling stations are selected in consultation with local disability groups. If a voter can’t enter the polling station because of a physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the elector.
The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
For more information on the secrecy provisions that a Presiding Officer must follow, see our Polling Station Handbook from page 20 here.
To see the Mencap and Electoral Commission factsheet for people with a learning disability, click here
To see the Electoral Commission’s factsheet on disabled people’s voting rights, clickhere ……………’
Their prominence in the general election campaign was given a boost by Nicola Sturgeon’s performance in the TV debates. Since then, speculation has grown that the SNP could have a significant influence by making deals with Labour in order to help them pass legislation.
But what areas could Ms Sturgeon and the SNP influence – and how will the rest of the UK be affected by their sudden rise in British politics?
Stopping the Tories’ Universal Credit welfare reforms
Labour says it supports the Government’s behind-schedule Universal Credit welfare reform in principle, but that it would “pause” the programme if elected because of implementation problems.
The SNP takes a harder line against the benefit reform and has called on the Government to completely end the project “sooner rather than later”.
Without SNP support or Labour enthusiasm the project could end up on the scrap-heap during the next parliament.
Raising the minimum wage faster
The SNP could also push Labour to raise the minimum wage faster.
Labour says it wants to raise the rate of the wage floor to at least £8 by 2020, but the SNP has said its MPs would vote to take it to £8.70 by the same year.
In 2010 SNP MSPs voted in support of introducing proportional representation at the UK parliament in Westminster.
The SNP is doing very well out of Westminster’s current voting system and they may not rush change it – but they do support electoral reform in principle.
Despite a recent failed referendum on changing the voting system the question of electoral reform may rears its head again when people see how disproportionate the election results are.
Trying to block more nuclear weapons
The SNP says it would not support renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system, while Labour supports building more of the bombs.
Since the SNP and Labour are more likely to have an informal supply-and-confidence arrangement than a fully fledged coalition, Labour would still be able to bring forward proposals to renew the massively destructive weapons – which are nearing the end of their lifespan.
The SNP would probably not be able to block Trident renewal , however. The Tories, and to some extent the Lib Dems, also support renewing Trident – Labour would thus be able to rely on their support in parliament.
50% tax rate for the rich
The SNP was initially coy on the reintroduction of the 50% top rate of income tax for the very richest when the policy was first announced by Ed Miliband.
The party has now confirmed that it “absolutely” supports the top rate of tax and says it would work with Labour to re-introduce it in the event that it held the balance of power, however.
Scrapping the bedroom tax
Labour says it would scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ charge on social tenants claiming housing benefits with extra rooms. The SNPalso agrees that the policy needs to be scrapped, meaning the two parties would likely make ending it a priority.
Trying to prevent an EU referendum
SNP MPs would block any EU referendum and insist that any one that occurred would include a provision where England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would all have to vote in favour for the UK to leave.
Ed Miliband has said he probably won’t offer an EU referendum anyway, unless the European bloc sees major treaty change.
But in that event, Labour would probably be able to find support from other parties – including the Tories – to get the vote past parliament.
The SNP would be very likely push for more powers for Scotland. What form that would exactly take is up in the air at the moment.
Though Labour introduced devolution, it has since been more coy at devolving certain things like income tax to the parliament in Holyrood. This subject would be a matter of intense debate in post-election deal negotiations. …………’
I am happy and proud to be a Nigerian at a time like this. A time where the incumbent president congratulates his opponent who is defeating him at the polls even before the final results where released!
Before now, it is ‘unafrican’ for the incumbent president to congratulate his opponent even before the final results have been announced. I am proud of President Goodluck Jonathan who is ready to vacate his office come May 29th 2015 because the people say so!
Most African incumbent presidents will rig the elections to their favor and when that does not work, he will cancel the elections and throw the country into confusion and war in many cases. But GEJ has been man enough to call and congratulate his major opponent at the polls. This shows that he has accepted the wish of the Nigerian people that they want a change of leadership.