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May 17, 2015

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Jim Murphy yesterday announced he intends to stand down as Scottish Labour Party leader next month, after narrowly surviving a no confidence vote. Murphy said he will present a list of suggested reforms to be made to the party, including changing the system for electing party leader to one member, one vote, upon offering his resignation at the next meeting of its national executive in June. Murphy also said he will not stand for the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 and will “do something else”.

Jim Murphy in 2009.
Image: Steve Punter.

At a meeting in the Scottish city Glasgow yesterday, the party’s national executive held a vote of no confidence in Murphy; he won by 17 votes to 14. “Today I received more support in the executive vote than I did from members of the executive when I stood for election five months ago”, Murphy said. Murphy became Scottish Labour leader in December 2014, following Johann Lamont‘s resignation from the role. Until Scottish Labour holds a fresh leadership election — its sixth in a span of eight years — Kezia Dugdale, currently the party’s deputy leader, is to assume the role of acting leader for the time being. Murphy cited concerns about Scottish Labour being divided as a contributory factor to his decision. “Scotland needs a strong Labour party; Scotland needs a united Labour party”, he said yesterday. “We have been the greatest force for change in our nation’s remarkable history. The Scottish Labour party will rise again. It will be under someone else’s leadership and I am confident about my party’s future.”

The announcement came nine days after the party lost all but one of its 41 Scottish seats, including Murphy’s East Renfrewshire constituency, to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in a UK general election, and eight days after Ed Miliband said he would stand down as leader of the UK Labour Party.

There was controversy regarding whether Murphy should retain his role following this performance. Labour Party supporters were reportedly asked to sign a letter supporting Murphy’s leadership, to be presented at the executive meeting yesterday. Calls for Murphy to resign came from multiple quarters, including trade unions Unite and ASLEF, as well as Labour MSPs Alex Rowley and Elaine Smith. Earlier in the week, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said “the anti-Scottish card that was played by Lynton Crosby and the Conservatives” had caused them to win a majority in the general election, before going on to say: “I lay the blame for that very squarely at the feet of Scottish Labour. Not only have they lost Scotland but I think they’ve been responsible for making certain that the Conservatives were back in power in Westminster.” However, trade unions USDAW and Community were amongst those supporting Murphy’s continued leadership.

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In a speech, Murphy suggested he did he did not want the party to be divided as a result of his leadership. “It is clear that the small minority who didn’t accept my election as party leader by the majority five months ago also won’t accept the vote of the Executive today and will continue to divide the party if I remain”, he said. Murphy singled out McCluskey for criticism, claiming to have “been at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of the Unite union in blaming myself and the Scottish Labour party for the defeat of the UK Labour party in the general election. That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party.” He went on to criticise what he called McCluskey’s “destructive behaviour”, commenting that: “Whether in Scotland, or in the contest to come across the UK, we cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one prominent man. The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.”

Reacting to the news, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I wish Jim Murphy all the very best for the future. Leadership is not easy and he deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.” Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Credit to [Murphy]. He stepped up and energetically campaigned for his beliefs. I wish him the best for the future.” Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the UK Labour Party, said Murphy had been a “hugely important figure” for them, adding: “Jim has given so much to the Labour Party over the last twenty years. He, I know reluctantly, took the responsibility for leading Scottish Labour at the most difficult election they have ever faced. He did so with incredible energy, purpose and dignity […] He leaves with the best wishes and thanks of our movement.”

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie was more critical in his response, arguing the Greens should be the opposition of the Scottish Parliament instead. Harvie said Murphy’s resignation was “almost inevitable, but even as he announced it he promised to further weaken Labour’s relationship with the wider labour movement. People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles. Without a clear sense of purpose, it has seemed to care only about holding office instead of creating new ideas for a better society. It’s clear that the Scottish Parliament needs an opposition that’s creative and challenging, but which can act constructively too.”

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Jim Murphy announces a managed exit in order to help the party, which is to his credit. But leaves a tough gig for whoever comes next.”

Wikinews asked Unite the Union to comment on the story and has yet to receive a response. However, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scotland leader, earlier stated: “Jim has done the decent thing. Scottish Labour needs to recover, re-engage and reform. It can now begin that process.”

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May 11, 2015

UK Independence Party reject leader\’s resignation

UK Independence Party reject leader’s resignation

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Monday, May 11, 2015

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Nigel Farage today reversed his decision to stand down as leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) after its National Executive Committee (NEC) rejected his resignation. Farage had previously said he would stand down as leader because he did not win the South Thanet seat in last week’s UK general election.

“This offer was unanimously rejected by the NEC members who produced overwhelmingly evidence that the UKIP membership did not want Nigel to go”, UKIP chairman Steve Crowther said in a statement. “The NEC also concluded that UKIP’s general election campaign had been a great success. We have fought a positive campaign with a very good manifesto and despite relentless, negative attacks and an astonishing last minute swing to the Conservatives over fear of the SNP [Scottish National Party], that in these circumstances, 4 million votes was an extraordinary achievement. On that basis Mr Farage withdrew his resignation and will remain leader of UKIP. In addition the NEC recognised that the [in-out EU membership] referendum campaign has already begun this week and we need our best team to fight that campaign led by Nigel.”

Cquote1.svg I realise now that the party comes before me, and indeed, that this country comes before both Cquote2.svg

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Farage said he had been reluctant to continue being party leader but, in the face of evidence presented to him by the NEC, “I breathed deep, and thought for as long as I possibly had, given the meeting was ongoing, and still is, at my time of writing this. I decided that as much as I had earned my holidays. As much as I wanted to spend the summer fishing, walking, and of course, in the European Parliament where all hell is currently breaking loose — that I owed it to the party that got me here. There are some huge battles about to take place, and as much as I had thought that taking at least the summer off was in my best interests, I realise now that the party comes before me, and indeed, that this country comes before both.”

Highlighting some issues UKIP supports, including UK withdrawal from the European Union and electoral reform, Farage said: “I feel the need to stay involved for just a little bit longer, to add my voice to those who want Britain to be a country that trades and deals with the world, rather than ties itself to a post-WWII mind set about Europe and the political union.” In concluding remarks, he wrote: “Have I done the right thing by my party and my country? I think so. And I’m sure many people will have their opinions on the matter. All I can say is that I’m ready for the challenges ahead. The fight starts here.”

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Nigel Farage, 2014.
Image: Diliff.

Farage, who has lead the party since 2010, announced his resignation on Friday, with the recommendation that Suzanne Evans serve as interim leader. “I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders”, he commented at the time. After intending to “take the summer off, enjoy meself a little bit, not do very much politics at all”, Farage said, a UKIP leadership election would happen in September; he would decide whether or not to stand again as leader at a later date. On the same day, Ed Miliband had announced he would stand down as Labour leader, while Nick Clegg said he would resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

UKIP achieved a 12.6% share of the vote at the general election, an increase of 9.5% on their 2010 performance, placing them third behind Labour and Conservatives in terms of popular vote. However, the party gained only one seat out of 650, taken by Douglas Carswell. Farage has claimed these results illustrate how first-past-the-post, the electoral system used in UK general elections, is “bankrupt because one party can get 50% of the vote in Scotland and nearly 100% of the seats, and our party can get 4 million votes and just one seat. […] For those reasons there are a lot of angry UKIP people out there. They’re not giving up on UKIP, but absolutely determined that we get a fairer, more reflective system.”

Farage was once a Conservative Party member but left the party, objecting to the UK’s decision to sign the Maastricht Treaty creating the European Union, and became a founding member of UKIP in 1993. He was elected as an MEP for South East England in 1999 and began his first stint as party leader in 2006. He stood down in 2009 in an attempt to challenge House of Commons Speaker John Bercow in the 2010 general election; after this challenge proved unsuccessful, he was re-elected as party leader.

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May 8, 2005

UUP leader loses seat in 2005 UK General Election

UUP leader loses seat in 2005 UK General Election

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Sunday, May 8, 2005

In a surprise result, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, has lost his seat in the UK general election. Beaten with a margin of over 5,000 votes by his opponent David Simpson of the Democratic Unionist Party, Trimble resigned.

Upper Bann was one of four seats lost by the UUP lost in the 2005 General Election, the others being Lagan Valley, South Antrim, and East Antrim. Its one remaining UK Parliament member is Sylvia Hermon, representing North Down.

David Simpson of the DUP said that his victory in Upper Bann “sends out a very, very clear signal that push-over unionism has gone forever”.



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May 6, 2005

Surprise win for RESPECT Party in UK 2005 General Election

Surprise win for RESPECT Party in UK 2005 General Election

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Friday, May 6, 2005

In a victory that has come as a surprise to commentators, George Galloway, candidate for the RESPECT The Unity Coalition party, has won the election in Bethnal Green and Bow in the UK general election, 2005 with a majority of just 823. The seat had been held by Oona King, and with a majority of 10,057 in the United Kingdom general election, 2001, it had been considered to be a safe Labour Party seat.

RESPECT also took second place in East Ham and West Ham, pushing the Conservative Party into third place in both constituencies, and in Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath, pushing the Liberal Democrats into third place.

In an interview with BBC News, Tony Banks stated his belief that the large Muslim population in the constituency had voted against Oona King “because she is a black woman” and that he believed that George Galloway would have seen a far different result if he had “come to West Ham”. (In West Ham, Lyn Brown later beat the RESPECT candidate, Lindsey German.)



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British Conservative leader Michael Howard to step down

British Conservative leader Michael Howard to step down

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Friday, May 6, 2005

Speaking in Putney, London, where the Conservative candidate won the seat from Labour, Michael Howard has announced that he will not fight in the next General Election.

The Conservative leader stated that he would be 67 or 68 by the time of the next election, an age he believed to be too old to lead a party into power. Therefore, he would be making way for a successor so he or she can be well-established before the next election.

Howard stated that he would first reform the selection process for a new party leader before resigning, to avoid long debates about the party’s leadership.

He added that the Conservative party could “hold its head high”, after gaining thirty seats in the General Election.

Many of the Tory party members and journalists gathered at Putney expressed their surprise at his decision.



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May 2, 2005

UK Staffordshire South 2005 election postponed

UK Staffordshire South 2005 election postponed

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Monday, May 2, 2005

Josephine Harrison, the Liberal Democrat candidate for both the Staffordshire South parliamentary constituency in the UK general election, 2005 and the Kinver seat in the South Staffordshire local government district election, has died of an illness.

Because the death occurred after the close of nominations, and because postal voting has already commenced, the returning officer is required to declare that the polls for the Staffordshire South parliamentary seat and for the Kinver local council seat be abandoned. Fresh General Election and local council election polls, under the same writs of election, will now take place 28 days after the returning officer has seen proof of the death of the candidate. Under election rules, the existing nominees are entitled to remain nominated, although other, new, candidates may be nominated.

Other local council elections in Staffordshire South apart from Kinver, scheduled for Thursday May 5, 2005, are unaffected and will occur as scheduled.

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April 29, 2005

UK Party leaders questioned on BBC \’Question Time\’

UK Party leaders questioned on BBC ‘Question Time’

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Friday, April 29, 2005

With the UK general election on May 5, three party leaders from the largest parties in the election answered questions live on the BBC at 19:30 UTC Thursday. Charles Kennedy (Liberal Democrats), Michael Howard (Conservative Party, currently Opposition) and Tony Blair (Labour Party, incumbent) were asked questions by an audience representative of the British public. The politicians were given no advance notice of the questions. David Dimbleby hosted the discussion, as he has other Question Time debates.

Topics that were raised included taxation and the new 50% top rate of tax proposed by the Lib Dems, immigration and controls proposed by the Conservatives, the largely negative campaigning launched by the Tories, and the legality of the Iraq war. Also, bullying and discipline in schools, further education and public health were issues raised.

Charles Kennedy’s period in the “hot chair” was notable for the largely benevolent questions posed to him, and considerable support evident from applause and cheering at the end of several points made. He attacked the British First Past the Post electoral system as “perverse” and said that he would support a proportional voting system if he got into power. When questioned as to whether, upon pressure from the US, he would go to war again in the Middle East without sufficient evidence, he replied strongly “No.” Further, he said he could not see the Liberal Democrats in another coalition with any other party that may come into power.

In contrast, the opposition leader entered accompanied with less enthusiasm, including several cries of “Howard is evil!” by several unidentifiable members of the audience. Michael Howard revealed during the debate that, if that he knew all of the things he knew now, he would have supported the invasion of Iraq with Tony Blair. However, he still upholds the illegality of the war and the way it began, and the apparent lies on the part of the Prime Minister to the people as primary reasons to vote for his party.

Tony Blair’s interview period was highlighted by the decision to go to war on Iraq, and the Attorney General’s advice in a recently leaked dossier. Difficult questions relevant to the amount of consultation he made with his Cabinet members and the Intelligence groups, and the amount of division within his cabinet with regards to the Iraq War were raised. The Prime Minister was visibly under pressure, and was openly surprised at several statements made by the public present. Upon hearing that local surgeries did not allow appointments to be booked until less than 48 hours before an available time in order to meet government targets, he was unprepared and appeared surprised.

Toward the end of the discussion, hecklers in the front row interrupted the rounding up of the program.

Considering the content of Question Time, it would seem that the problem of Iraq, and whether the British public can trust the current Prime Minister, may overshadow political debate concerning domestic issues.

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April 23, 2005

Immigration and asylum turn voters off UK Tories

Immigration and asylum turn voters off UK Tories

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Opinion polls are showing that the Conservative Party’s tough stance on immigration in the UK general election is turning more voters away than it is winning.

The policies of tighter border control and quotas on asylum seekers are part of the big five promises in the Conservative manifesto and have featured prominently in the party’s advertising campaign and party election broadcasts.

The policy has increasingly been an embarrassment for the Tories, however, since a Guardian/ICM opinion poll last week showed that floating voters and those on the liberal side of the party were being put off by the policy, and that only 8% of voters consider immigration a significant problem.

This was followed by the revelation that tighter border control would apply only to the country’s largest air and sea ports.

The Tories’ Australian election strategist, Lynton Crosby, is widely credited with having prompted the unpopular policy, so similar to that used to swing voters by previous employer the Australian Liberal Party in a recent Australian election. The tactic, harping on supposed xenophobia of the average voter, has been called ‘Dog Whistle’ politics.

Intellectual debate was completely bypassed in the Australian election, when Labor, the major opposition party, failed to tackle the subject through rational debate, but instead competed with the government, scrambling to tackle the supposed external threat.

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April 13, 2005

Tory candidate in election gaffe

Tory candidate in election gaffe – Wikinews, the free news source

Tory candidate in election gaffe

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

London, UK — Britain’s Secretary of State for Health, John Reid, is amongst those calling for the withdrawal of Conservative candidate for Dorset South, Ed Matts, after he doctored photos in campaign literature.

The photo in question originally showed Matts and the Conservative front-bencher Anne Widdecombe campaigning on behalf of an immigrant family living in Weymouth, in the Dorset South constituency, in March last year.

When the photo appeared in Matts’ campaign literature, the people in the background were removed from the photo and a slogan calling for the family to be allowed to stay was replaced by one calling for immigration control.

The seat, taken by Labour’s Jim Knight in the 2001 general election, is one of the most fiercely contested in the country, being Labour’s smallest majority.

Conservative leader Michael Howard condemned Matts’ behaviour but refused to sack him. Conservative shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, from neighbouring Dorset West, said that the message on the doctored photo was consistent with conservative policy.

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Britons urged not to vote by post

Britons urged not to vote by post – Wikinews, the free news source

Britons urged not to vote by post

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

United Kingdom — The British Electoral Reform Society, Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers have discouraged the British people from using the postal voting system, and asked campaigners in the general election not to take part in applying for or returning postal votes.

The call comes one week after a Labour Councillor in Birmingham was jailed for election fraud, after party campaigners collected blank ballot papers from confused voters in a trial of a postal-only election.

On Sunday the judge in the trial of Muhammed Hussain, Richard Mawrey QC, described the postal voting system as hopelessly flawed, and said the government was in denial about the problems.

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