Will the 2021 elections be postponed again?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan should have faced re-election last year, will the contest be postponed again this year?

Election officials in Lancashire have written to the government suggesting that this year’s local elections should again be postponed – or else held on an all-postal basis, due to the Covid-19 pandemic making it unsafe or impractical to hold elections as scheduled on May 6th.

The 2020 elections – including the London mayoralty and Greater London Assembly – were postponed in the early stages of the pandemic. This means that already many councillors and mayors have served an extra 12 months, and that this year’s elections were in any case going to combine the scheduled 2020 and 2021 contests.

There have been conflicting messages as to whether it’s feasible for the elections to go ahead this year. North West England was one of several regions that had an experimental ‘pilot’ project of all-postal elections in 2004, which resulted in a significantly increased turnout, but for various reasons it was decided not to continue the experiment.

Controversial journalist Katie Hopkins this week joined UKIP – but this year’s elections (even if they go ahead) might well be the party’s last stand

For racial nationalists this year might have seen the first electoral test for the new Patriotic Alternative party, if the Electoral Commission approve its registration in time. The National Front and the For Britain Movement will certainly have a few candidates if the elections go ahead, while Dr Jim Lewthwaite intends to stand in Bradford for the British Democratic Party. The late Richard Edmonds had planned to stand for the NF in last year’s elections before they were postponed, and had he lived would have been a candidate in May this year.

Any elections this year might also see the last gasp of UKIP and the debut of Nigel Farage’s new Reform UK party.

Perhaps more seriously, it could be the last gasp of the Union, with the Scottish National Party set to make further gains at the expense of both Labour and the Tories, and perhaps setting the scene for a second independence referendum. The decision whether to postpone this year’s elections north of the border rests with Nicola Sturgeon’s devolved government, so it’s possible there could be elections in Scotland, but none in England or Wales. No elections are scheduled this year in any case in Northern Ireland.

Brexit Party changes name to Reform UK

Nigel Farage (third from right) visiting Donald Trump in happier times at Trump Tower soon after the President’s election victory in 2016, together with Raheem Kassam, Arron Banks, and colleagues from UKIP and Breitbart

Having received approval from the Electoral Commission, the Brexit Party has changed its name to Reform UK.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage founded the Brexit Party in 2019 to contest the European Parliamentary elections at a time when it seemed possible the 2016 referendum result might be overturned or diluted.

Having won 29 European seats in that election, the party collapsed six months later when having selected almost 600 parliamentary candidates Farage agreed to withdraw from more than half of these contests in order to give Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a clear run.

This morning Farage and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice have written to members and supporters explaining the change. In their email (seen by H&D) they write:

“We must reform our approach to Covid, the House of Lords, the Civil Service and the BBC. We need to campaign hard on reforming the voting system and critically, we must reform the economy so that it incentivises the self-employed, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Faster growth for all will be achieved by reforming our taxes, unnecessary regulation and wasteful government spending.”

This makes fairly clear that unlike UKIP, or the 2016 referendum campaign, or the Brexit Party itself, which sought to be ‘all things to all men’, the new party’s pitch is radically neo-Thatcherite, US-style libertarian.

One problem is that (with the exception of electoral reform, which Farage is promoting for self-interested reasons, as would most small parties) this pitch is similar to one wing of Boris Johnson’s cabinet – the likes of Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss.

Another problem is that such ‘free market’ policies would (at least in the short term) be a disaster for many of the ‘left behind’ areas of England that voted for Brexit.

The ‘Movement News’ section in the new Issue 100 of H&D being printed today includes an update on the new Reform Party, its antecedents and competitors in post-Brexit, post-Covid Britain.

Lib Dems drop mayoral candidate in ‘anti-semitism scandal’

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Liberal Democrat candidate suspended over ‘anti-semitism’

The Liberal Democrats, struggling to hold on to their status as the UK’s third largest political party, have run into a storm over ‘anti-semitism’ as they attempt to select a candidate for next May’s London mayoral election to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan, arguably the most powerful Muslim politician in the Western world.

London Lib Dem members were set to choose between two potential candidates in a postal ballot this month, but one of those candidates has today been suspended after discovery of a video from more than twenty years ago where she made an ‘anti-semitic’ attack on senior Labour politician Jack Straw.

Straw is an Anglican Christian of partly Jewish ancestry, who served in several prominent roles under Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, most famously as Foreign Secretary during the Iraq war.

At the 1997 general election Geeta Sidhu-Robb was the Conservative candidate against Straw in his Blackburn constituency. Malawi-born Ms Sidhu-Robb tried to stir up Pakistani voters in Blackburn’s Asian ghetto, telling them via megaphone: “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew. If you vote for him, you’re voting for a Jew. Jews are the enemies of Muslims.”

As a committed Europhile, former corporate lawyer Sidhu-Robb later defected from the Tories to the anti-Brexit Lib Dems, and ended up on the shortlist to become London mayoral candidate, until her ‘anti-semitic’ record was discovered this week.

Watch Tory candidate (now Lib Dem) Geeta Sidhu-Robb making an ‘anti-semitic’ attack on Labour’s Jack Straw. (The relevant section of the video begins after a few seconds.)

What surprises H&D is that alarm bells hadn’t rung sooner among the Lib Dem leadership. It was reasonably well known during the Straw years that several Blackburn Tories encouraged antisemitic anti-Labour campaigns in Asian areas of Blackburn, and Ms Sidhu-Robb’s remarks were actually broadcast in a Channel 5 documentary more than 20 years ago!

Perhaps the Lib Dems were so pleased to tick three political boxes with Ms Sidhu-Robb – ex-Tory defector, non-White, and female – that they didn’t engage their brains. Moreover some concerned activists, including former mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita, have alleged that Ms Sidhu-Robb was being courted by the party because of her wealthy connections and her role in the anti-Brexit pressure group Open Britain and its new campaign ‘Democracy Unleashed’, formerly known as the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign.

Today Ms Sidhu-Robb issued a grovelling apology in an effort to save her rapidly sinking political career:
“I am deeply ashamed of the ignorant and abusive language I used on one occasion in the 1997 General Election campaign. As shown in the footage, I instantly regretted my appalling behaviour, which I continue to do.
“Those words are entirely inconsistent with my views and values, and though there are no excuses for my actions, there is some context; that is, that I was under a great deal of strain and retaliated to the racial abuse I was receiving in Blackburn ‘like for like’.”

  • Find By Category

  • Latest News

  • Follow us on Twitter