Hillary, Iowa and the US Election

Last night’s result was closer than many Clinton supporters, including myself, would have liked. Looking back to the commentary this time last year many pundits were convinced that Mrs Clinton would be walking to victory in the first voting state, yet the actuality was a sprint to the finish line between Hillary and Bernie.

As I noted in August 2015, around the time of the Iowa State Fair, Iowan politics can be difficult to understand. This is a state that is split politically: to the east of Des Moines, Iowa is solidly Democratic; to the west, it’s rabidly Republican. Central Iowa tends to be more fluid, although Des Moines itself leans to the Democrats.

Iowa has played an out-sized role in US presidential elections since the primary calendar was re-jigged in 1972 following the chaos of the ’68 election; Iowa switched to a proportional representation system for its delegates and, to allow time for everyone to understand the new rules, the vote was brought forward to January and has stayed there ever since. For any Brits reading this the total land area of Iowa is a little larger than England’s, however the Iowan population is about 18 times smaller at only three million.

Interestingly. although somewhat conservative, Iowa has led the way on several important equal rights issues. The state’s law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity was repealed in June 1976, 27 years before the landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas that struck down the sodomy law in Texas and invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states. Iowa also became the third state to legalise same-sex marriage after Iowa’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s law that declared same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The unanimous decision by the court in Varnum v. Brien held that the state’s limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution, and same-sex marriage became legal on the 3rd April 2009. This made Iowa the first non-East Coast state to permit same-sex marriage.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that 91 per cent of residents age 25 or older have obtained at least a high school diploma, placing the state seventh among all 50 states. On a per-capita basis, Iowa has more high school graduates than 49 other states.

Iowa Caucus Results

via Wall Street Journal, 1st February 2016

* The Iowa Democratic Party doesn’t report vote totals. Figures are state delegate equivalents, which are the estimated number of state convention delegates the candidates would receive based on caucus results.

Although a technical win for Hillary and despite predictions that Bernie would be romping to victory in Iowa, the results are largely positive for the Clinton camp. Remember that in the 2008 Iowan Democrat primary, Mrs Clinton polled only 29.5 per cent of the vote and came in third place behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. The collapse the O’Malley campaign notwithstanding, Sanders needed a strong victory over Clinton to motivate his campaign beyond the narrow opening focus of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Whilst New Hampshire is (probably) going to go with Bernie, given his native proximity across the border in his home-state of Vermont, the real question is whether Clinton will be able to close the gap to within single-digits.

At present the senator from Vermont leads in New Hampshire by an average of eighteen points over Clinton (although the most recent UMass Lowell/7News poll has Sanders ahead by 31 points!). New Hampshire voters are, by their very nature, a fickle bunch and maintain a strong independent streak when it comes to polling; many only make their final decision on who to vote for on primary day, and have been known to fluctuate beforehand based on who is up or down in the polls.

The long march to (final) victory continues, but this Brit remains confident that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic candidate and will take the presidency this November.

*fingers crossed*

45 For The 45th

45FT45th

In less than a week the 45th US Presidential Election proper will start with the firing gun being sounded in the caucuses of Iowan precincts. Republican and Democrat candidates have been criss-crossing the state in recent weeks in an effort to drum up support in this most crucial of early battlegrounds; the flurries of activity in the various campaigns is not restricted to the front-runners with both Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee ranking highly in total visits to Iowa.

Iowa Visits

The Washington Post has put together an excellent overview of how the Iowa caucus process works with details of why the US electorate and media places such hype around this corn-growing state.

Forty Five for the Forty Fifth, so-named because we are sending 45 young Britons aged 18-25 to participate in and learn from the 45th US Presidential Election, is truly a unique phenomenon. With engagement across both the Democrat and Republican parties, tied into the large majority of presidential campaigns, it is a fantastic opportunity for young British citizens to engage in transatlantic politics whilst continuing to build strong relationships on both sides of “the Pond”.

A purely educational trip, the “45ers” who go abroad to the US to learn from the various campaigns will be returning to the UK with insight and experience in how our American counterparts engage young voters in the democratic process. All of the analysis and assessment of the 45ers US experience will be compiled into a report which will be published and shared with the main political parties in the UK. With the support of our champions, we are organising a national conference to discuss how these experiences can improve youth engagement with British politics.

A number of British political figures have already lent their support to this initiative, including Mr Speaker John Bercow MP, Ed Vaisey MP, Chris Leslie MP, Alan Johnson MP, Tim Farron MP, Lord Adonis, Lord Maude, Baroness Eaton and others. It really is an exciting cross-party initiative.

The 45ers leave this weekend for their first trip to Iowa and New Hampshire, and it is certainly going to be an experience to remember! You can keep track of the 45ers on their progress through Twitter (@45forthe45th and #45forthe45th), Facebook, and Instagram.

Bonne chance!

Darwinian politics and the CYP

Three months ago we were lucky enough to be whisked away to the other side of the world. An opportunity of a lifetime, new friends were made from across the Commonwealth as we explored our socio-political differences and similarities in the familiar setting of the Westminster system.

This was the 7th Annual Commonwealth Youth Parliament, an initiative spearheaded by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to foster a deeper understanding amongst young people in the fifty-three countries of the Commonwealth. Through a rigorous selection process, we were both afforded the honour of representing the UK branch of the CPA at the 7th CYP in Darwin, Australia. Hurled 9,000 or so miles around the world, we arrived in the Northern Territory to a wall of heat quite unlike the seasonal bad weather we had left behind in Blighty. Welcoming us at the airport was Ben Harris, Serjeant-at-Arms for the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, who immediately made us feel at home with his speakeasy approach and friendly manner.

CYP7 - Sunset over Port Darwin

After settling into our accommodation, we were whisked straight off to Parliament House for a drinks reception hosted by Madam Speaker The Honourable Kezia Purick MLA. Kezia, someone who would become a firm friend in the coming days, graciously welcomed us to the Northern Territory and to the home of the NT’s Legislative Assembly, Parliament House. Looking out at the sunset over Port Darwin from the colonial-style balcony around the upper-levels of Parliament House, we met with our fellow delegates for the first time. These fantastically-enthused young people, from all across the Commonwealth, all shared a common passion about politics and political engagement; it was clear that it was going to be a fascinating few days.

The week’s schedule was varied and fun with a mixture throughout each day of educational sessions, roleplaying party-political activities in the Chamber, and formal evening events arranged by our hosts. We were both in the ‘Conservative’ party and initially had the numbers to form a minority Government with the (wavering) support of the Independents. I was elected to the party post of Chief Whip, where I had the thankless task of trying to maintain party loyalty to our Chief Minister, and Dunja was elected onto the Bill Scrutiny Committee where she was one of several delegates tasked with analysing and critiquing the legislation to be debated by the CYP. The Government suffered a crippling defeat over our motion and, despite having worked across the aisle on the Opposition’s motion to ensure that it could be passed unanimously, we were rolled as the Independents moved to cast their votes with the Progressives. The result? A vote of no confidence in our Chief Minister and our party having to cross the floor into the doldrums of Opposition. With a small number of our caucus calling for the resignation of the party leader, we nonetheless stayed united and returned to the Chamber to give the new Government hell-for-leather on any of their proposals even though the numbers in the votes were not there for us. For many this was an exciting opportunity to see the rough-and-ready of Australian politics up close, but there were a number of delegates on both sides of the aisle who were disappointed that the CYP programme had been derailed by party political activities, given the flurry of activity that had to be focussed on speeches supporting the Chief Minister and the-then Government.

The evening sessions were fantastic, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed all the activities that were laid on for us. A particular highlight of ours was visiting Crocosaurus Cove where we fed baby crocodiles, held snakes and other beasties, and saw the Royal couple (two crocodiles renamed William and Kate in honour of the Royal Wedding). Mr Administrator, His Honour the Honourable John Hardy OAM who had formally opened the 7th CYP with his Speech from the Throne earlier in the week, invited us to a drinks’ reception at his official residence Government House; I couldn’t manage to remember his name and still refer to him as either Mr Annunciator or Mr Adjudicator..!

However, what really made the programme worthwhile were the people – those who organised the CYP and those who attended. A special shout-out of thanks must go three individuals: Kezia, Ben, and Michael Tatham (Clerk of the Legislative Assembly). Without their keen dedication and support the programme would never have gotten off the ground, and it is testament to their hard work that we all enjoyed ourselves so much. Indeed all three went above and beyond to look after us and make sure that we had a wonderful time in Darwin.

CYP7 - Tommy and Dunja at Parliament HouseOur thanks to CPA-UK for having organised such an excellent trip, and we would strongly and sincerely urge anyone to get involved in the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament in British Columbia, Canada later this year! The CYP programme is a truly global initiative and a wonderful opportunity to make new friends from diverse backgrounds with different beliefs but a shared interest in parliamentary democracy.

Tommy Gilchrist and Dunja Relić

UK Delegates for the 7th Commonwealth Youth Parliament

Labour’s Amateur Dramatics

In October 1990, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to the Conservative Party conference that, with a few tweaks, is as relevant today as it was then. Labour’s vision has been shattered. Beneath its contrived self-confidence lies a growing certainty that the world and history have passed it by; and that if Britain rejects them yet again, as I believe it will, socialism must return for ever to its proper place — the reading room of the British Library where Karl Marx found it, Section: History of Ideas, Subsection 19th Century, Status Archaic.

Tom & Jerry leading the Labour Party Conference

Tom & Jerry leading the Labour Party Conference

Last night, I seemed to hear a strange sound emanating from Brighton. And I thought at first it was seagulls. Then I remembered that Labour was holding its annual Conference there. And I realised it wasn’t seagulls, it was chickens— chickens being counted before they were hatched.

Then, I heard voices getting all worked up about someone they kept calling the “Prime Minister in Waiting”. I’ll tell you this, “that man” is going to trip over his promises in the rush if he’s not careful.

There is his promise, for example, not to cut taxes “for many years to come.”

That’s the one Labour promise it’s safe to believe. Indeed the Shadow Chancellor was being unduly modest. He wouldn’t cut taxes ever. Why?

Because he’s a socialist—and they just don’t like the idea. In government, they put taxes up and in opposition, they fight our proposals to bring taxes down.

And taxes would go up and up if Labour spends as much of your money as they’ve promised. But they say “we’re reformed characters, next time it will be different, we’ve paid our debt to society.” If that were true, it would be the first ever debt Labour has ever paid.

We Conservatives say that society must be protected from such a persistent offender and a sentence of ten years in opposition is nowhere near enough.

Then Labour say they’re going to introduce “freedom and fairness” in trade union law.

In other words, freedom to force their members out on strike against their will. Freedom to organise secondary strikes against third party employers, other workers and the general public. And freedom to give wings to flying pickets to go round the country and bring it to a halt.

Those aren’t freedoms. They’re powers to hurt others; and there’s nothing fair about them.

For years council after council has been hijacked by socialist extremists. The residents wanted litter-free zones, but what they got was nuclear-free zones. What Labour wants is for local authorities to be accountable not to the citizen but to its own Left-wing. No wonder Labour councillors don’t want it.

Then there’s this plan of Labour’s for smaller, more de-centralised government—which would contain two brand new ministries, a couple of new departments of state, nine different bodies in each region, a hundred new committees, heaven knows how many councils and commissions on top, and a great herd of quangos thundering up Whitehall. A mere 2015 new bureaucratic bodies in all.

It’s the oldest law of politics: government tends to expand and socialist government expands absolutely.

I could go on for hours quoting from Labour’s lexicon of logical contradictions. There is its pledge to cut emissions of carbon dioxide—by burning more coal. And its promise to improve educational standards—by phasing out tests.

But the really remarkable thing about Labour is, they want you to swallow that they’re now a party of moderation.

Labour’s Brighton Conference is the amateur dramatics of the season, a grand masquerade at which militants and trots peeped out from behind a painted smile. The audience had learnt its lines. The rehearsals had gone splendidly. John McDonnell gave a dazzling performance as Mr Moderation.

Alas, on the night, the extras got everything mixed up and voted the wrong way to emasculate defence, to bump up public spending, to ditch our electoral system, and to deselect moderate MPs.

The audience applauded like mad. Only Dennis Skinner remained glued to his seat. The theatre of the absurd was clearly not for him.

Well, they can produce all the assurances in the world. They can say that they never read their own manifestos or understood their own speeches.

But there’s one thing they can’t do. They can’t tell the nation why it should trust a Party whose only claim to office is that it has ditched its principles, disguised its policies and denied its past. And when a party does that, how could anyone trust its promises for the future?

2016: Clinton vs Sanders

Sanders v Clinton

Lisa Zing | YouTube.com

Following on from yesterday’s The Tale of Two Lefties – which considered the differences and similarities between UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and US Democrat Bernie Sanders, both of whom are vying for their respective party nomination – let’s fast-forward to a few weeks after Super Tuesday.

It’s mid-April 2016, and whilst the Democratic presidential primary continues to roll-on the presumptive candidate is all-but-declared. However, it’s not the candidate that everyone has been expecting; despite having been the front-runner since Obama sealed the nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s campaign collapsed at the end of February when Bernie Sanders surprised everyone and took South Carolina with a double-digit lead over Mrs Clinton. Sanders had taken New Hampshire earlier in the month which, whilst a disappointment to die-hard Clinton supporters, had been widely predicted since he began to edge the former Secretary of State out in the polls across the more liberal East Coast states back in the summer of 2015.

With only a few days to go until Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island on April 26th, it would be an understatement to say that the Clinton camp is not looking forward to five more East Coast states declaring. Factoring in the projected results for these five states, the current tally stands thus:

  • Hillary Clinton: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
  • Bernie Sanders: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,  Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Clinton was bitterly disappointed not to have won some of the states she won back in 2008, particularly Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Her firewall strategy has by now also collapsed, with Sanders beating all expectations and clinching surprise victories in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri. By the time of the last primaries in June, it has become clear that Sanders is going to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, and Clinton will have to concede. Once again, to stop the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) Clinton supporters from rebelling, at the Democratic National Convention there is a formal roll-call of delegates before, fighting back tears, Hillary suspends the roll-call vote at New York.

Thus, Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential candidate.

Although the Democratic primaries work differently to the November election, projected onto an electoral college map the national split between the two campaigns becomes clear:

2016 Democratic Primary: Clinton v Sanders

Next time: Why Sanders Doesn’t Matter For Democrats, But Why Corbyn Is A Disaster For Labour