Kate Allen

Campaign website 38 Degrees has become the bane of many MPs’ lives for the vast tide of correspondence its 3m members generate. But its founder David Babbs hopes it will come to be seen as a benefit to British democracy. Here he discusses with FT political correspondent Kate Allen how the site came about, its greatest victories to date – and how he’s now turning his members’ fire on the corporate world …

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Kate Allen

More than 26,000 British farmers have not yet received annual European subsidy payments and many are facing financial difficulties as a result, a committee of MPs has been told.

Britain is facing £180m fines a year over the failure by the Rural Payments Agency to distribute the cash because of overruns on a big IT project. Read more

Sebastian Payne

Ed Miliband delivers a speech on the economy.

Today has been something of a post-mortem into the 2015 general election. First, the inquiry into what went wrong with the opinion polls has released its initial conclusions — sampling too many Labour voters was primarily to blame. Second, former deputy Labour leader Margaret Beckett has released a report on why her party lost the election. The four reasons are: Read more

Sebastian Payne

Can the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign keep its promise to not run another “Project Fear”? The lead group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU has promised not to repeat what Better Together did during the Scottish referendum, but the signs so far suggest fear will be a core component of its message after all.

Take Stronger In’s new mail shot for example. This leaflet entitled “Europe & You” will be sent out to 10m households this week: Read more

Sebastian Payne

Junior doctors on the picket line outside the Royal London Hospital in east London, as a doctors go on strike for 24 hours in a dispute with the government over new contracts. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Today’s junior doctor’s strike differs from other industrial disputes for a simple reason: people like doctors. In recent times, the government has managed to paint Tube drivers as dinosaurs who are standing in the way of technological progress. But it’s much harder to do that with doctors, so the public is firmly behind the strikers. Read more

Sebastian Payne

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on 'the future of the European Union and Britain's role within it', in central London, on January 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL

When will Eurosceptic ministers be allowed to speak their minds? Not for a while, according to a letter David Cameron has sent to his Cabinet today. The Prime Minister has set out four rules for ministers who plan to campaign for Brexit — some of which have caused concern among Eurosceptics in his party. Read more

Sebastian Payne

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband (left) with MP Stephen Doughty, who quit the Labour front bench in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle

One of the highlights from Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle this week was the resignation of Stephen Doughty. The former shadow foreign affairs minister decided he’d had enough after the sacking of his colleague Pat McFadden and quit live on the BBC’s Daily Politics. It was a principled position and a straightforward scoop — but not apparently in the era of the so-called “New Politics”. Read more

The House of Commons has voted to extend air strikes against Isis from Iraq into Syria following a debate that lasted more than 10 hours. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the motion, but more than 60 of his MPs sided with the government given it a majority of 174. The RAF has been conducting airstrikes over Iraq for over a year, as part of a broad US-led coalition.

Key points

  • 397 MPs backed the motion authorising the UK to launch air strikes in Syria; 223 voted against:

  • The amendment to block air strikes was defeated by a majority of 179; 211 For vs 390 Against

  • Air strikes by the RAF in Syria could follow within hours; extra jets will be dispatched to the British base in Cyprus

  • More than 60 MPs look to have defied party leadership to back motion in a free vote

  • Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary delivers impassioned speech in favour of air strikes

Read more:

By Mark Odell, Josh Noble and John Murray Brown

 

UK Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn statement to the House of Commons.

Key points:

  • Tax credits: Controversial changes ditched altogether. Extra borrowing will make up the shortfall in the first few years of the parliament

  • Housing: Stamp duty increased 3% for buy-to-let and second home buyers; 400,000 new affordable homes in England by 2020; new Help to Buy scheme just for London

  • Police: no cuts to budget

  • New tax to pay for social care, to be levied by local authorities as a 2% council tax precept

  • Departmental spending cuts: Transport -37%, Business -17%, Defra -15%, Energy -22%, Culture, Media and Sport -22% (but free museum entry will stay)

  • Budget surplus: target of £10bn by 2020 maintained

  • Local governments will be allowed to keep all cash generated from asset sales

  • Apprenticeship levy set at 0.5% of payroll, with £15,000 allowance to exempt small businesses

  • OBR forecasts: UK growth outlook remains broadly unchanged from July

  • Small business rate relief extended for 12 months to April 2017

  • Science funding protected in real terms for rest of Parliament

    By Ferdinando Giugliano, Jonathan Eley and Mark Odell

 

Jim Pickard

Recent appointments by Jeremy Corbyn have shown a Labour leader in no mood to compromise with his internal critics: they include John McDonnell, Seumas Milne and Andrew Fisher.

The latest possible name in the frame to join the leader’s office is equally controversial: Karie Murphy. Read more

Chancellor George Osborne has been freed from the shackles of coalition government to deliver his seventh Budget but the first purely Conservative Budget in almost two decades.

Although dark clouds are gathering in the eurozone, Britain’s economic recovery continues at a steady pace and the public finances are slowly improving, giving him the opportunity to shape the economy, public finances and tax system for the next five years.

Mark Odell, Elizabeth Paton, Jonathan Eley and Ferdinando Giugliano

 

Jim Pickard

George Osborne is encouraging new Conservative MPs to join a Treasury “support committee” as the chancellor looks to cultivate loyalists among the new 2015 intake in preparation for a leadership bid as early as this parliament.

The chancellor held a sandwich lunch with new MPs where he told the new 74-strong new Tory intake his department was “where the action is” as he pointed to protégés – Sajid Javid, business secretary, Amber Rudd, energy secretary, Greg Hands, chief whip – who had risen through his Treasury team. Read more

In The Unfinished Revolution, his account of New Labour’s rise to power, Philip Gould wrote that the paradox of 20th century politics in Britain was “that the party of conservatism held power because of ceaseless modernisation” whereas “the party of radical change lost power because of its conservatism”. Far more so than the US Democrats or centre-left parties in north-western Europe, Labour has strong nostalgic tendencies, the pollster argued, stemming from its roots in Fabianism, religion, trade unions, and the cultural conservatism of the English working class.

Such attitudes were fostered by the break with Liberalism, which made more difficult the sort of left-wing coalitions found elsewhere in the rich world. In the century that gave rise to the mass franchise and the welfare state, the Conservative party was in government for two-thirds of the time; the Labour party was in government for less than a quarter of it (23 years). For Gould, this was due to Labour’s resistance to what he called “modernisation” and the embrace of ideological purity over pragmatism. Read more

John Aglionby

After a month of silence from the Bank of England as a result of the pre-election purdah for public bodies, Governor Mark Carney today presented the central bank’s quarterly inflation report.

By John Aglionby and Emily Cadman

 

Where now for this weary union? After the general election triumphs of the Scottish National party and the Conservatives, voices in both parties are calling for the UK government to find a new constitutional settlement. But what might this mean?

I think there are four possible – but not equally possible – options for what might happen in the short-term, roughly taken to mean the next year, before the 2016 elections to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood. They are not necessarily exclusive. Read more

Welcome to our live election coverage, bringing you the latest reaction to the Tories winning an unexpected majority – taking 331 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.

Labour’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg and the UK Independence party’s Nigel Farage have all resigned as leaders of their respective parties. Clegg, deputy PM for the last five years, hung on to his seat but his party lost all but eight of its MPs. Farage failed to win the seat he was contesting.

The Scottish National party also had a triumphant night, trouncing Labour north of the border. (Photo FT/Charlie Bibby)

Mr Cameron made four Cabinet announcements, reappointing George Osborne chancellor of the exchequer – and promoting him to first secretary of state; Theresa May home secretary; Philip Hammond foreign secretary and Michael Fallon defence secretary. The rest of the Cabinet is expected on Monday.

 

A summary of today’s events

***May 7***

Polling day. Follow our live coverage of the results from 9pm here.

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Jim Pickard

Labour strategists are blaming the likely loss of at least 30 seats in Scotland for projections suggesting that the party could get only a handful more MPs than it did in 2010 under the leadership of Gordon Brown.

For decades Labour has been able to outperform the Tories with the same proportion of the total votes because of an imbalance in the electoral system. Read more

Welcome to the FT’s Live Q and A on the general election. With the polls too close to call and leaders going to unusual lengths to push the vote in their direction, deputy political editor Elizabeth Rigby takes your questions.

Ask away in the comment box to the right. We will start the live Q and A on Wednesday at 12.30 London time.

 

Okay, the US vice-president hasn’t directly commented on the Scottish National party. But in any analysis of public policy it is important to keep his words in mind:

‘Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’

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