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Who is Rebecca Long Bailey? The Labour leadership contender and her key policies



Rebecca Long Bailey might not yet be a household name but that is about to change.

The Salford and Eccles MP has long been touted as a possible successor to Jeremy Corbyn, marking her out as the frontrunner in the minds of many before she even entered the leadership race.

Ms Long Bailey is relatively new to Labour’s ranks, only becoming an MP in 2015. However the 40-year-old’s rise from the backbenches to the top of the party has been swift.

As one of the 35 MPs who nominated Corbyn for the leadership in 2015, Long Bailey was rewarded with a role on the front bench as shadow Treasury minister, before being promoted to shadow business secretary in 2017 and appointed as one of the shadow cabinet representatives on Labour’s ruling body.


Ms Long Bailey became increasingly prominent during the last parliament, when she received the patronage of John McDonnell, the influential shadow chancellor, and helped to create Labour’s Green New Deal, which she said was “tragically undersold” by party strategists at the election.

As well as representing Labour in Brexit talks with the government, she also deputised for Mr Corbyn at prime minister’s questions and during a televised election debate, underscoring her position as the heir apparent.

Ms Long Bailey kept her counsel after the party’s disastrous election defeat, only confirming her candidacy on 6 January with an article in the left-wing magazine Tribune, where she vowed to build a “winning vision of a socialist future” and to “go to war with the political establishment”.

If successful, Ms Long Bailey would be the first female Labour leader. She has also backed her flatmate Angela Rayner for the deputy role, who is widely expected to romp to victory in the race to succeed Tom Watson.

Born in Old Trafford to Irish parents, Ms Long Bailey says she was born to the roar of football fans at the Manchester United ground and her early life has clearly shaped her politics.

She has often spoken of her working-class childhood and the impact of watching her father, a trade union rep at the docks in Salford, go through rounds of redundancies.

The teenage Ms Long Bailey worked in a pawn shop, in call centres, in a furniture factor and as a postwoman before becoming a successful solicitor.

Rebecca Long Bailey calls for Leveson 2 inquiry into press ethics in wake of Caroline Flack death

She has repeatedly rejected attempts to badge her as “continuity Corbyn” but it is clear that she remains loyal to the former leader and his policy agenda.

The mother-of-one, who describes herself as a socialist in her Twitter biography, said Labour needed a leader who is totally committed to left-wing policies and “has the political backbone to defend them”.

As one of the more Eurosceptic shadow cabinet members, who represents a Leave-voting seat, Ms Long Bailey has been able to position herself as a tonic to the more pro-EU, London-based candidates such as Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer.

Her northern, working class background could also be an asset in Labour’s uphill battle to win back lost voters in its traditional heartlands.

Ms Long Bailey is loyal to trade unions and particularly close to the influential union Unite, which supported her attempt to become an MP in 2015 and could lend her financial support.

With party chairman Ian Lavery announcing he will not stand and Ms Rayner going for the deputy job, the way has been cleared for Long Bailey to position herself as the left-wing candidate for the top job.



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Trump State of the Union guests never benefitted from policies he used them to boast about



Two people Donald Trump invited to his State of the Union address have little to do with the policies that he brought them there to amplify.

A Philadelphia fourth grader was surprised with a scholarship after the president highlighted his administration’s attempts to rescue students “trapped in failing government schools” with $5bn (£3.8bn) in federal tax credits for contributions to scholarship programmes. But Janiyah Davis already attends a sought-after tuition-free charter school and previously attended a $5,200-a-year private school.

The president invited a formerly homeless veteran to tout the success of a programme that provides tax breaks to companies hiring in poor neighbourhoods. But Tony Rankins doesn’t work at a site taking advantage of the breaks and never has done so, according to the Associated Press.


Critics have criticised the president for relying on his two guests to manipulate support for significant tax breaks for wealthy people that would support his signature proposals.

At his State of the Union address, the president said: “After struggling with drug addiction, Tony lost his job, his house and his family. He was homeless. But then Tony found a construction company that invests in Opportunity Zones … He is now a top tradesman, drug-free, reunited with his family.”

 

A few days later, the president spoke at the Opportunity Now summit in North Carolina to sing the programme’s success, even inviting Mr Rankins to that event as well.

Mr Trump said: “One of the Americans benefitting from this gusher of new investment is a man who became very famous the other night because I introduced him during the State of the Union: Army veteran Tony Rankins of Cincinnati, Ohio. … After struggling with drug addiction, Tony lost his job, his house, his family. And he was homeless. He lost everything. But then Tony found a construction company that does work in Opportunity Zones. And the company saw Tony’s great skill and talent.”

Mr Rankins thanked the president for signing the legislation, saying that “without it, I wouldn’t be standing here before you right now”.

The president said that the construction business where Mr Rankins is employed “is working to help 200 people rise out of homelessness every year by investing in the Opportunity Zones”.

Mr Rankins started a job four months before the US Treasury Department listed eligible neighbourhoods. He’s currently working at a site that is eligible for Opportunity Zone credits but has not used them, the Associated Press reports.

Travis Steffans, the CEO of the company that Mr Rankins works for, said the tax break that has routinely helped him employ people like Mr Rankins was passed in 1996 under then-president Bill Clinton.

The Opportunity Zone program, part of the president’s 2017 tax package, offers developers significant tax savings if they work in 8,000 designated poor neighbourhoods. But critics warn that the programme stands only to benefit wealthy developers while fuelling gentrification and pushing out the black families that the president said would benefit most from the programme.

Mr Trump’s “school choice” proposal provides up to $5 billion in federal tax credits to effectively use taxpayer money to support private school education, without adjusting a budget for public schools, largely attended by more students from lower-income families than private schools that require significant tuition fees. 

Janiyah’s mother Stephanie Davis told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she doesn’t view her daughter’s current school  “as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity”.



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Europe World

London Stabbing Prompts Questions on Policies for Terrorism Convictions


LONDON — The British government proposed on Monday stopping the early release of hundreds of terrorism convicts after a succession of attacks by people let out halfway through their prison terms underscored long-festering problems with its anti-terrorist strategy.

Under the government’s extraordinary plan, about 220 people currently locked up on terrorist offenses in Britain would have their prison terms extended, said Robert Buckland, the justice secretary.

Instead of automatically being released halfway into their sentences, as is customary for many offenders in Britain, terrorism convicts would be forced to serve at least two-thirds of their terms, he said. And even then, they would only be released with the agreement of a parole board.

But it was not clear the government’s proposal would withstand scrutiny in the courts, let alone solve a crisis that analysts said had more to do with a decade of austerity cuts to prison and probation services than with the length of sentences.

Britain is wrestling with the same conundrum other Western democracies have faced after terrorist attacks, including the United States and France: the tension between security and civil rights.

Legal analysts warned that human rights law prevented the British government from retroactively toughening the punishment of someone mid-sentence. And they said there is no evidence that increasing the length of someone’s time in prison reduced the risk of them committing another offense after their release.

The government’s aggressive plan was prompted by an attack on Sunday in south London in which Sudesh Amman, 20, was accused of stabbing two people.

The attack was interrupted by undercover police officers who had been tailing Mr. Amman since he was automatically released from prison last week, halfway into a three-year sentence on charges of distributing extremist material and possessing material that could be useful for preparing a terrorist attack, officials said. The undercover officers shot and killed him on the street.

“We face a threat from an ideology that takes no heed for others, and we must use every tool we can to make sure that threat is neutralized,” Mr. Buckland told lawmakers on Monday.

But there is some evidence that, without the government investing more in counseling and rehabilitation programs, lengthening sentences risks radicalizing people further, said Stuart Macdonald, a professor of legal studies at Swansea University.

Mr. Amman’s mother, Haleema Faraz Khan, told the British broadcaster Sky News on Monday that her son watched Islamist material online and was radicalized at Belmarsh, a high-security prison housing many terrorist convicts that one former inmate described as a “jihadi training camp.”

“He became more religious inside prison, that’s where I think he became radicalized,” Ms. Khan said.

On Monday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying on the Hoop messaging app that the attacker was one of its “fighters.” The group has been using the messaging app since the authorities began a sustained effort to dislodge the group from Telegram, which had been its principal communication method since late 2014.

Mr. Amman was wearing a fake explosive device, a tactic that has been used in several recent attacks including others claimed by the Islamic State. It is unclear what involvement, if any, the group had in Sunday’s attack.

One stabbing victim, a man in his 40s, remained in the hospital in serious but stable condition, the police said on Monday. Another victim, a woman in her 50s, was released from the hospital, as was a woman in her 20s who was struck by glass after the gunshots.

The attack by Mr. Amman was the second in several months in which a terrorist convict released early under British sentencing laws went on a stabbing spree.

In November, Usman Khan, 28, who had been convicted of being part of a group that plotted to bomb London’s stock exchange, was accused of killing two people and injuring three others in an attack near London Bridge before being shot dead by the police.

Mr. Khan had been wearing an electronic tag after being automatically released halfway into a 16-year sentence.

The offense for which Mr. Amman was imprisoned made him a more typical terrorism convict, analysts said. He was sentenced in December 2018 after confessing to 13 counts of expressing support for Islamist terrorism and sharing Islamic State and Al Qaeda propaganda with his family and on social media.

He sent beheading videos to his girlfriend, the authorities said, suggesting that she kill her nonbelieving parents. In a list in a notepad, the police said, Mr. Amman wrote that his top life goals was to die a martyr.

And he wrote of a terrorist attack: “If you can’t make a bomb because family, friends or spies are watching or suspecting you, take a knife, Molotov, sound bombs or a car at night and attack.”

After serving half his sentence and being released last week, Mr. Amman moved into a halfway house for ex-offenders, a part of the government’s anti-terrorist response that some analysts said deserved more scrutiny than the length of their sentences.

“If the fellow shot on Sunday received an extra year in prison, I frankly don’t think that would have changed his mind,” said Clive Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Leeds School of Law. Lengthening sentences was “no doubt popular, but it misses the point,” he said. “The big questions we face are: What do we do with these people in prison to make them change their mind-sets? And what do we do when people are released, because release is inevitable?”

It was an indication of how worried the authorities were about Mr. Amman that they had him tailed by armed, undercover officers.

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said an operation like that required the work of dozens of officers. He said he could not recall another case in which undercover officers had halted a terrorist attack midway through.

Echoing the views of many law enforcement officials, Mr. Phillips backed ending early releases of any kind for terrorist convicts. But he also said that austerity cuts to prison and probation services had left the authorities ill-equipped to reduce the risk of people reoffending.

Spending on prisons in 2018 was 14 percent lower than in 2010, even as the demands on prisons grew, according to the Institute for Government, an independent research group. Since those budget cuts, the number of assaults on both prisoners and staff members has gone up, and inmates’ access to rehabilitation services has been limited.

Putting terrorism convicts in the same prisons as organized criminals also gives terrorists better access to guns and knives after their release, Mr. Phillips said.

“What we’ve got is terrorists who’ve always found it quite difficult to get ahold of weapons mixing with armed organized crime groups that have loads of weapons,” he said. “This is a succession of governments that have let the public down on criminal justice.”

The measures proposed on Monday fit with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach on criminal justice. The government has put forward measures that emphasized longer jail terms for violent and terrorist offenders, and opened the door to increased monitoring in some cases after their release.

A counterterrorism act passed last year already raised the maximum sentences for some offenses. But some urged the government to go further: Lord Carlile, a member of the House of Lords, suggested on Monday that the government reintroduce so-called control orders that allow the home secretary to put released convicts under virtual house arrest, a measure scrapped years ago for being too harsh.

But the prospect of stiffening penalties for offenses like Mr. Amman’s — not planning an attack, but having and distributing terrorist material — alarmed some analysts, especially given how young many offenders are.

“If you set the bar too low, you create a license for just arresting and imprisoning endless number of fanatics and inadequates, rather than individuals who are actively engaged in wanting to harm people,” said Richard Garside, the director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies in London. “Few things are more likely to radicalize and alienate someone than being put in prison because of things he believes, but hasn’t done.”

Rukmini Callimachi, Megan Specia and Jane Bradley contributed reporting.



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Keir Starmer wants to unite Labour with policies that please everyone, but like Corbyn he’s doomed to fail



Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer has emerged as the early frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest. This is surprising for a number of reasons, not least the fact that he personally oversaw Labour’s Brexit policy in an era-defining electoral catastrophe in which the party line is that Brexit was to blame. It is also curious that, prior to his announcing his intention to stand, there appeared to be near-unanimous consent within the party that its next leader should be a woman.

Nonetheless, Starmer secured the nominations of considerably more MPs than any of the other contenders and won a strong lead in the only poll of Labour members so far during the contest. He has fought his way into pole position by attempting to build something of a coalition between different wings of the party behind him.

Of the other four candidates, backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips are seen as moderates while frontbenchers Rebecca Long-Bailey and Emily Thornberry are broadly viewed as Corbynite continuity candidates. Starmer, though, refuses to sully his leadership bid with anything as unseemly as ideological positioning, choosing instead to construct an image of himself as a cuddly leader who will cater to everyone’s preferences.


To some extent, Jeremy Corbyn has been lunging towards that same pipe dream for the last few years. Brexit threatened to tear the Labour party in two, especially when it came to the unimaginably controversial issue of whether to endorse a second referendum. Corbyn, therefore, simply opted not to take a position on it. For some time, Labour was neither for nor against a Final Say vote. Different MPs publicly made directly contradictory claims about policy depending on which wing of the party they identified with.

As we know all too well, that fudge was resoundingly rejected by the British public, who shrieked in frustration that they wanted only to “Get Brexit Done”. There is an invaluable lesson to be learned here, which one would think would still be fresh in the political memory, but it appears to have escaped Starmer’s notice. That stark division down the middle of the party has not gone anywhere. The new leader will have to confront it head-on.

Starmer is promising to rid Labour of that factionalism. Since division has become such an issue within the party, why not simply abolish it? He talks emotively about what might be achieved if we could all just learn to get along. He speaks as though factionalism was a conscious policy choice of past Labour leaders, as if they stoked infighting for fun. Starmer sees himself as the man to create an untouchable unity across the Labour party.

We have seen this story arc countless times before. Ambitious politicians believe they can do a Macron and effortlessly bring two warring armies together in peace and harmony. Theresa May, on becoming prime minister, made a point of denouncing both the socialist left and the libertarian right. Jo Swinson seemed sure sensible voters would reject both a hard Brexit and a hard-left economic agenda, allowing her to sweep to power as the calm voice of the middle. Heidi Allen thought Change UK, a brand new political force with no discernible ideology, would be the answer to Britain’s political woes.

Politics simply does not work that way. The prevailing narrative in these plans seems to be that voters merely want to be told that everything will work out in the end, and that they will happily dispense with their political allegiances in favour of a mushy politics of unity. It is only slightly less ridiculous than the Sacha Baron Cohen scene in which the Israel-Palestine conflict is resolved when a former Mossad agent is invited to hold hands with a Palestinian academic on TV.

Starmer’s strategy is already visibly coming apart at the seams. The Manchester branch of Momentum, for instance, has taken issue with his hiring of someone from the so-called Labour right to work on his campaign, denouncing his leadership bid as a result and stating unequivocally that “a vote for Starmer is a vote against socialism”. A very sizeable chunk of the Labour grassroots is intent on keeping the Corbynite dream alive and Starmer refusing to back Corbyn’s radical vision, while another candidate is giving his leadership full marks in a TV interview, was always going to cost him Corbynite support.

He is having no better luck with the centrist, Blairite wing of the party. Unsurprisingly, he is not trusted by many to draw a line under the Corbyn era and restore some common sense to Labour’s politics. The fact that he has served in a senior position in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet for several years, sticking to the ludicrous party line on anti-Semitism throughout, was always going to cost him Blairite support.


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At first glance, Starmer’s platform seems very attractive indeed, but it withers under the slightest glint of sunlight. This strategy cannot stand up to scrutiny. He is trying to walk a tightrope between the two wings of the party in precisely the same way that Corbyn did for so long (before selling out on Brexit in exchange for radical socialism) by blurring policy lines and deliberately confusing ideologies.

Corbyn failed dramatically, and there is no reason to think that Starmer would be any more successful. He is trying to please everyone and will end up pleasing no one. Perhaps it would be better for Labour to have Rebecca Long-Bailey as its leader after all, since at least then it would be clear what the party stood for, rather than it offering an incomprehensible ideological goo.



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Corbyn name ‘toxified’ popular Labour policies in general election campaign, poll suggests



Fresh evidence has emerged suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was a drag on Labour’s performance in last month’s general election.

Polling by BMG for The Independent suggested that voters liked the party’s policies on issues like nationalisation, climate change and taxation until they were told they were linked to Corbyn.

Rob Struthers, head of polling for BMG, said the findings may indicate that the Labour leader’s name alone was enough to “toxify” policies by association.


The BMG poll also found evidence of a post-election boost for Boris Johnson, as he dominates the House of Commons with an 80-seat majority, while Labour and Liberal Democrats seek new leadership following their disastrous election results.

Conservatives were on 44 per cent – up three points on a similar poll on the eve of the general election a month ago – while Labour was down three on 29 and Lib Dems down three on 11. Satisfaction with Mr Johnson’s performance as prime minister was up 11 points to 49 per cent.

 

Participants in the survey were presented with a range of policies from Labour’s manifesto for the 12 December election, without being told that they were being put forward by Corbyn’s party.

There was strong support for policies like free personal care for the elderly (backed by 83 per cent, with just 3 per cent opposing), action to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 (supported by a margin of 70-7 per cent), a £10 minimum wage (67-12) and income tax hikes for those earning over £80,000 (60-16).

And nationalisation of the railways was backed by 57 per cent, with 16 per cent opposed, with clear majorities also approving of public ownership for water (by a margin of 53-18 per cent), energy (52-20) and the mail (48-21).

Ending private sector provision of NHS services was backed by 48 per cent, with 19 per cent opposing, and abolishing university tuition fees won the backing of 56 per cent, against 20 per cent who were opposed.

But when participants were asked whether Mr Corbyn’s successor as Labour leader should stick with his policies or move to an alternative agenda, a very different picture emerged. 

Some 39 per cent said the new leader should ditch Mr Corbyn’s policy on nationalisation, against just 23 per cent who said it should be kept.

Forty per cent said the party should move away from Corbyn’s positions on public spending and austerity, compared to 21 per cent who wanted Labour to stick with its current plans.

And on taxation, twice as many wanted the existing policy developed under Corbyn to be ditched as thought it should be retained (40-20).

There was a similar pattern with climate change (36 per cent wanting Labour to change course against 23 saying it should stick with Corbyn’s position), defence and security (44-15) and crime and justice (39-19).

Only on healthcare and the NHS was there enthusiasm for retaining the Corbyn agenda, with 32 per cent saying Labour should stick with its existing policy and 33 per cent that it should change course.

Mr Struthers said: “This poll is a perfect illustration of the problem that faced Labour in last month’s election. “Polled individually – and without mention of Corbyn or indeed the Labour Party – many of these prominent manifesto commitments are popular, often commanding the support of a large majority of the public.

“However, if you ask the public to think about these areas more broadly and without policy specifics, large proportions think the next Labour leader should change course.

“These conflicting results can be explained by two main factors. First, Corbyn’s unpopularity means that his policy positions become ‘toxified’ simply by name association.

“With Corbyn’s net satisfaction ratings continuing to plummet to new lows, voters who are less aware of policy specifics may say the party needs to change direction due to their dislike for the Labour leader, despite actually agreeing with many of his manifesto commitments.

“Secondly, it is also worth pointing out that policies when being polled on an individual basis can be popular, but when taken together as part of a broader platform, voters take a different view or have a different impression as their cumulative appeal.”

BMG questioned 1,508 British adults between 8 and 10 January.



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Iain Duncan Smith knighted in New Year’s Honours despite fury at Tory welfare policies



The Conservative architect of the troubled universal credit reforms has been given a knighthood in the new year honours​​ list.

Iain Duncan Smith, whose controversial welfare shake-up has been blamed for pushing thousands of people into poverty, is among several political figures celebrated for their contribution to public life.

His ennoblement sparked anger from critics who said it “beggars belief” that he had been given an honour while his reforms had left thousands of families struggling to pay their bills.


As work and pensions secretary under David Cameron, Sir Iain presided over the creation of universal credit, which rolls six working-age benefits into a single payment.

But the botched roll-out and delays in making payments pushed some low-income families towards destitution.

A string of women told MPs they had been forced into sex work to meet basic survival needs, such as food, money and shelter.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said: “It is beggars belief that Iain Duncan Smith has been rewarded in the new year honours list.

“He is the architect of universal credit, a failed system that has left thousands of families struggling to pay bills and buy food.

“The system created by Duncan Smith forces people to survive four weeks without payment, increases rent arrears and caps benefit at two children, causing untold stress.”

Pete Wishart, a senior SNP MP, said the honour was a sign that Westminster was “simply unreformable”.

“It’s appalling that Iain Duncan Smith – the architect of Tory welfare reforms, cuts and the discredited universal credit system – is being rewarded in this manner,” he told The Independent.​

Sir Iain, a former Tory leader, unexpectedly resigned from the cabinet in 2016 over cuts to disability benefits and has since carved out a career on the backbenches as an ardent supporter of Brexit.

He was a prominent figure in the European Research Group (ERG), the Eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers who helped to derail Theresa May’s premiership.

Veteran Conservative MP Bob Neill, a former chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, was also knighted in the annual honours, which saw gongs handed out to household names in sport, entertainment and public life.

Labour MP Diana Johnson was made a Dame for her campaign for the victims of the NHS contaminated blood scandal, which killed thousands of people given blood products or transfusions from the 1970s to the 1990s.

She told The Independent: “I dedicate this honour to the NHS infected blood community and all those with whom I have worked on this and other campaigns.

“The campaign on contaminated blood is far from all over and this award encourages me to continue the work to secure justice for those affected and proper compensation for all involved.”

Senior Labour MEP Claude Moraes, a long-standing campaigner for refugees and on justice and civil liberties issues, was made an OBE.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens was knighted, while former chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies and John Manzoni, one of the UK’s most senior civil servants, also received honours.

Organisers said this year’s honours was compiled by priorities set when Ms May was still prime minister – rather than Boris Johnson.



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Business Energy & Environment

California Bans Insurers From Dropping Policies Made Riskier by Climate Change


By seeking to protect people from higher prices, regulators could make the problem worse by pushing insurers out of dangerous areas altogether, experts say. That was already happening: For the ZIP codes most affected by wildfires in 2015 and 2017, the number of homeowners dropped by their insurance companies jumped 10 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to a report released in August by the California Department of Insurance.

The state’s new moratorium is intended to address that problem. But it lasts for only a year. And the state can’t force insurers to pick up new customers.

“Insurers are already dropping customers because of wildfire risk,” Mr. Lara said. “In parts of the state where no insurance company will even return your call, I don’t see how the situation can get worse for residents.”

Other states have occasionally moved to temporarily block insurers from dropping coverage in the wake of natural disasters. Louisiana, for instance, prohibited the cancellation of policies on homes and commercial buildings after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 until after repairs on damaged structures were completed.

Mr. Frazier noted that insurers in California had largely expected the latest moratorium, and they had participated in negotiations over the 2018 bill that had authorized the move.

But, he added, regulators and insurers would ultimately need to come together to craft a long-term solution to the broader problems facing the industry. “We’re still going to have to figure out how to update our rules to make sure that we can address the impact of climate change and adapt accordingly,” Mr. Frazier said.

If insurance stops being available in vulnerable areas, whether at a price that people can afford or for any price at all, it might prevent insurance companies from going bankrupt. But the effect would be to leave people less able to recover from disasters as climate change gets worse, Dr. Kousky said.

“As these extreme events change, insurance is going to become ever more important as a financial recovery tool and a climate adaptation tool,” Dr. Kousky said. “The question now is really, what can we do to protect that market before it becomes really problematic.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.



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Brexit Party and Tories worst for climate change policies, Greenpeace analysis shows



Labour is in hot pursuit of the Green Party when it comes to the quality of the environmental policies laid out in its manifesto, but the Conservatives and Brexit Party are lagging far behind, a new ranking of party policies by Greenpeace shows.

The Greens remained at the top, due to their long leadership in the field, but as the climate crisis becomes an increasing concern across the political spectrum, most major parties are scrambling to set out their credentials on the issue.

The ranking gave points to each party for criteria which fell into four broad categories. These were: investing in a greener economy; energy, transport and homes; restoring nature; and showing global leadership on climate and nature.

According to the ranking, the Green Party tops the list with 19 points out of a possible 20, followed closely by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, on 16 and 15 respectively. Plaid Cymru come in fourth with 13 points, while the Conservatives score poorly with 7. The Brexit Party sit at the bottom of the pile with just one point. The SNP had not released their manifesto by the time Greenpeace published the results, the organisation said.

“Labour are stating to nail it in the categories of electricity, land-based transport, home heating and efficiency, greening economic policy, trade and industrial strategy,” the analysis by Greenpeace said. 

“Their accompanying policy document for nature also contains some great things, especially on large-scale tree planting, recognising the need for action on more controversial areas like meat and dairy, pesticide use, efficient product design, nature recovery networks and ocean protection. 

“They need to start being more vocal in all these areas,” the report said, adding: “The policy on sustainable food production is still unclear.”

The Conservatives, which sit near the bottom of the ranking “fall short” because their policies do not take a “cross-economy transformational approach,” the report said.

“The party’s continued support for a number of polluting industries, such as aviation, oil and gas, and massive spending commitments for new road-building are at odds with their net-zero target,” the report said. 

The document also noted the Liberal Democrats scored better than Labour on transport, both in “aviation and a firmer commitment to get rid of polluting petrol and diesel cars and vans from our roads.”

But Greenpeace said Labour had the upper hand because tackling the climate and nature emergency was more deeply embedded in the party’s economic strategy.

Greenpeace applauded Plaid Cymru’s “ambitious 2030 date for both zero carbon emissions and a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans”, but noted they have “a much more limited vision for nature restoration with a commitment to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payment scheme for agriculture, along with weak policies on ocean protection.”

The Brexit Party received short shrift.

“A complete lack of a plan to deliver a net zero future or restore nature, means that the Brexit Party scored poorly across all of the 16 criteria for climate and nature. They do however, plan to cancel HS2, which would devastate habitats and ancient woodland across the UK.”

The ranking comes ahead of Thursday night’s televised election debate on the climate emergency on Channel 4, in which the leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, and the SNP will go head-to-head over their policies. 

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have so far declined invitations to take part.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Manifestos are a shop window into the next five years of economic, political and social change. The climate and nature crisis will affect all three in ways that humanity has never experienced before, and those policies deserve to be displayed with prominence and a lot of detail.

“Some parties clearly recognise that this is an emergency and have included policies with the ambition needed to meet the scale of the challenge in front of us. But some have failed to adequately prepare.”

She added: “With environmental concerns rocketing up the public and political agenda, voters want to know what politicians plan to do to get us out of this mess and seize the opportunity for a greener and fairer future. Our ranking exposes their policies for all to see, allowing people to make an informed decision on December 12th.”

Polls indicate more than half of UK voters say climate change will influence how they vote.

In marginal seats in the North and Midlands, 70 per cent of voters say climate change will be an important deciding factor for them in this election, according to a new poll from the New Economics Foundation.



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How popular are Labour’s manifesto policies?



Labour says its policies are both radical and popular. The former will be a matter of opinion, but fortunately, we can check the latter – there’s been a lot of polling done on the proposals.

YouGov asked about a lot of policies that made in it into the manifesto at the start of November, and generally they are pretty, or very popular.

The tax rises on the rich are actually the most popular policy YouGov polled: The most popular is the 50 per cent tax rate for earnings over £123,000: 64 per cent of voters support that, with just 20 per cent opposed and 16 per cent not sure. 

A 45 per cent rate for earnings over £80,000 is similarly popular: 60 per cent support and just 23 per cent oppose.

Concerns that voters would oppose tax rises on a bracket they one day hope to aspire to seem to be, frankly, not true.

The party’s nationalisation plans are also broadly popular: 56 per cent support nationalising railways and just 22 per cent oppose. Water companies 50 per cent support and just 25 per cent oppose. Utilities like gas and electricity are supported by 45 per cent – though Labour’s policy is less ambitious than this and relates to the national grid and publicly owned competitors.

The most high-profile announcement on broadband is a bit more complicated: voters aren’t as sure about nationalising Openreach, with 32 per cent supporting and 31 per cent opposed – not an unpopular policy by any means. But the ends of the policy: free broadband for all, is widely supported. 62 per cent support the idea and 22 per cent oppose it.

The plans discussed by John McDonnell on Friday to overhaul corporate governance and make boards one third elected workers have also been very positively received: 54 per cent support these policies and 21 per cent oppose them.

What to make of all this? The public are absolutely not scared of government intervention and quite like Labour’s socialist platform. These policies individually range from quite popular to ridiculously popular. 

Of course, Labour is still far behind in the polls, with the Tories averaging around 10 point lead. But it very difficult to find any evidence to suggest that Labour’s policy platform is causing that. 

Social media is an increasingly important battle ground in elections – and home to many questionable claims pumped out by all sides. If social media sites won’t investigate the truth of divisive advertising, we will. Please send any political Facebook advertising you receive to [email protected], and we will catalogue and investigate it. Read more here.



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General election: Immigration policies create divisions as Labour set to finalise manifesto



Divisions over immigration have surfaced within Labour ahead of a crunch meeting this weekend to finalise the party’s general election manifesto.

Unite union boss Len McCluskey infuriated activists by declaring that the policy to “maintain and extend” free movement for EU citizens agreed at Labour’s annual conference was not “sensible” and should not be adopted at the crucial clause V meeting on Saturday.

It now looks highly likely that the free-movement proposal will be watered down, with the party promising some sort of restriction, possibly through work visas.

But Labour’s employment rights spokeswoman Laura Pidcock insisted that the issue of migrant numbers was a “false flag” and that the key focus for the party should be regulation of employers to prevent exploitation of foreign and homegrown staff.

Tories claimed that a Labour government would mean a “surge” in immigration.

But security minister Brandon Lewis admitted that the Conservatives themselves would not be setting an immigration target, having “let people down” by failing to meet previous commitments.

David Cameron and Theresa May’s goal of reducing net immigration below 100,000 a year was never met and has now been abandoned. Home secretary Priti Patel last night said Tories would “reduce immigration overall” through the introduction of a points-based system, but Mr Lewis said that setting a specific figure would be “arbitrary”.

Ms Pidcock refused to say whether she would be happy to see immigration rise under a Labour government, insisted that targets for numbers were arbitrary.

“What we are certainly not going to do is put the lives of people on the line here in a general election campaign,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We know actually that migrant labour does not undercut wages, it is exploitative bosses that seek to undermine national agreements – that’s our emphasis.”

When pushed on Mr McCluskey’s position that “it’s wrong to have any greater free movement of labour unless you get stricter market regulation”, Ms Pidcock said: “It isn’t right that we place the blame on numbers of immigrants for wages. Actually those employers that seek to undermine those national agreements are to blame for the exploitation.

“The issue is not about migrant labour, the issue is about what kind of legislative environment we have for workers, and we will create one where all workers are protected.”

Labour’s Laura Pidcock said the issue of migrant numbers was a ‘false flag’ (Getty)

Mr McCluskey told The Guardian that the only beneficiaries from completely free movement of workers were “unscrupulous bosses”.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting, he said: “We will have to see what’s in the manifesto, but I don’t think [the conference policy] is a sensible approach and I will be expressing that view.”

While the Tories have been committed to the introduction of an Australian-style points-based system since Boris Johnson became prime minister in July, ministers have refused to say whether that would mean cutting immigration levels.

However, in a Conservative Party press statement attacking Labour’s immigration plans, Ms Patel committed them to bringing the numbers down once Britain has left the EU, while remaining “open and flexible” to admitting high-skill migrants like scientists and doctors.

Mr Lewis told Today: “We are not setting some arbitrary target.

“We want to introduce a new points-based system that is fair and equal to the entire world. That gives us control and we can then see immigration being reduced.”

Social media is an increasingly important battle ground in elections – and home to many questionable claims pumped out by all sides. If social media sites won’t investigate the truth of divisive advertising, we will. Please send any political Facebook advertising you receive to [email protected], and we will catalogue and investigate it. Read more here.



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