Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 23 November 2014

1. Mark Reckless wins by-election for UKIP (unit 1 Parties)
The much anticipated by-election has resulted in a victory for UKIP’s Mark Reckless, winning over the Conservative candidate by 2920 votes. In his victory speech, Mark Reckless said “The radical tradition that has stood and spoken for the working class has found a new home in Ukip.” He went on to remind UKIP activists that as Rochester and Strood had been declared UKIP’s 271st most winnable seat “if UKIP can win here, we can win across the country”.
Ladbrokes have opened up odds for which Tory MP to defect next- with Philip Hollobone at 2/1.
However all is not good news for UKIP,  the margin of victory was tighter than expected, Reckless only winning by 42.1% of the vote on a turnout of just 50%. The Conservatives were only slightly behind on 34.8%. This has led David Cameron to state confidently “I am absolutely determined to win this seat back at the next general election”. So UKIP’s position in Westminster is not secure yet.

2. Emily Thornberry resigns from Shadow Cabinet (unit 1 Democracy)
The bad result for the Conservatives in Rochester  has almost been overshadowed by another scandal in the Labour party. The Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and a close ally of Ed Miliband, Emily Thornberry has resigned from the Shadow Cabinet after posting a controversial tweet of a man with a white van in his drive flying three different English flags with the caption “Image from #Rochester”The tweet was read by many, to be snobbish and mocking working class people who were proud to wave the english flag. Ed Miliband said the tweet made him feel “angry” and the view of working class patriots conveyed in the tweet “never will be our view”. However her senior position in the Labour Cabinet before Thursday have left many thinking that, secretly, it is the view of many people in the Cabinet.

3. SNP to form “Anti-austerity” bloc in Westminster (unit 1 Elections)
The SNP hopes to form an “anti-austerity” alliance with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, Scotlands First minister says. With all three parties expected to do well next year, they could form a significant block for the alternative left in the Houses of Commons. The SNP’s membership has nearly quadrupled from 25,000 to 92,000 since the referendum, and they are expected to gain the majority of Scottish MP’s in the next election. Should this anti-austerity coalition succeed, they could seriously influence public policy, especially so if no party gains a majority at the next election.

4. 20% of crimes are not recorded (unit 2 Civil Liberties/ unit 3 Law & Order)
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has released a report saying that more than 800,000 crimes  or 1 in 5, crimes reported across the 43 police forces in England and Wales are not recorded. This information is based off of an audit between November 2012 and October 2013. Failure to record these crimes usually result in no investigation into them.  A breakdown into individual crime categories is even more disturbing,   26% of reported sexual offences are not recorded, including 200 rapes, and 33% of violent crimes are not recorded. Theresa May has called the findings “utterly unacceptable” however the police have said things have gotten better since October 2013, although evidence they have for that is sparse.

5. Gordon Brown to resign as MP.
Gordon Brown is to resign as an MP before the next General election,  one of his closest political allies has revealed. He is expected to make the formal announcement before Christmas, citing his desire to spend more time doing charity work. The former Prime Minister has been an MP for 32 years and is credited with saving the Better Together campaign at the Scottish referendum back in September. He is not expected to take a seat in the House of Lords, continuing his job as UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

By Theo Cox Dodgson

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