Democrats not opposing TPP

June 29th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Party unity will keep US Democrats from opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite both of the party’s leading presidential nominees saying they are against the deal.

Members of the Democratic National Convention platform committee have decided to move against including a specific opposition to the TPP to the party’s platform (essentially, it’s manifesto for the November election).

The attempt failed because both members appointed by Hillary Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz say it is inappropriate to oppose the TPP when US President Barack Obama is supportive of the deal.

Clinton’s opposition to TPP is insincere. Her husband did the same – campaigned against NAFTA, but then endorsed it.

If Clinton wins, I’d say there is a reasonable chance it will pass in the lame duck session of Congress with support from mainly Republicans but also some Democrats.

If Trump wins, then far harder for Republicans to vote for it, when the President-Elect has campaigned so vigorously against it.

So the best chances for Jane Kelsey and co of stopping TPP, is for Trump to win.

The alcohol work the Police need to do more of

June 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police are frustrated at the number of licensed premises in Auckland’s suburbs selling alcohol to minors.

In a sting operation over the weekend, four of the six on-licence premises Auckland police targeted served alcohol to under-18s.

Auckland City Police Prevention Manager Inspector Gary Davey called the result “hugely disappointing”.

“These premises are ignoring their responsibilities under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.”

The six bars were all in Auckland’s central suburbs, with several in Onehunga and Epsom.

One of the premises served alcohol to a 15-year-old who presented ID clearly showing their age, Inspector Davey said.

The result is similar to other recent sting operations in the Auckland City Police District.

One operation in March saw five out of seven bars serve alcohol to 16 and 17-year-olds.

In this area I think the Police do very good work. Bars need to be not just asking for ID, but checking it. If they don’t, then they should get sanctions.

I’d much rather the Police put more resources into enforcing the laws we have, rather than trying to change the law by insisting that certain types of alcohol should not be sold, or they’ll object to a licence.

Shewan says Little is lying

June 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tax expert John Shewan says that claims by Andrew Little that he did not seek an apology from the Labour leader are misleading.

“The statement that I never asked for an apology is completely incorrect,” Mr Shewan told the Herald today.

Mr Little told reporters this morning that he did not apologise to Mr Shewan, a former PwC chairman, over incorrect statements he made about his background in April because he was never asked to.

“I wasn’t asked to provide an apology. I was asked to provide his assurance that the media report I relied on was wrong.”

He added: “[Mr Shewan] explicitly said ‘I don’t need you to apologise, I want a correction of a statement’, and that’s what I’ve done.” …

But when Mr Little failed to issue a retraction for nearly two months, he wrote back to Mr Little’s office on June 10 and asked for the retraction to be expanded to include an apology.

“I specifically asked for an apology, that being because of the prolonged delay in getting the [comments corrected],” he said.

Mr Shewan said the Labour leader’s office rejected this request. He was also told that any further correspondence should be sent to Mr Little’s lawyer.

On the evening of June 18, a Saturday, Mr Little issued a statement retracting his comments, but stopped short of an apology.

Mr Shewan said he had been reluctant to take legal action while he was undertaking the inquiry into foreign trusts, which was publicly released yesterday.

But he was “dismayed” at Mr Little’s latest comments, and would not rule out further action.

“I’m not prepared to sit by and let him say anything more defamatory.

“I would prefer not to take any legal action and I think it is unlikely that I would. But I don’t just sit around and let people defame me. It’s just not on.”

Getting to be a bit of a trend here with the Hagaman defamation case also.

The Herald article includes the e-mail from Shewan to Little’s office which explicitly seeks an apology.

For Little to claim Shewan never asked for an apology means there are only really two possible options:

  1. Little’s office didn’t show Little the letter
  2. Little is lying

Letting poor schools persist

June 29th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Some Kiwi children are leaving school having being failed for their entire education, a new report reveals.

School quality reports from the Education Review Office (ERO) reveal as of June last year 185 schools were in ERO’s worst performing category.

Of those schools, one-third were “persistent” poor performers and some had repeatedly failed students for at least a decade – spanning the entire schooling career of their students, says the New Zealand Initiative report.

That kind of underperformance wouldn’t be tolerated in other sectors but is “accepted in education”.

“If restaurants were repeatedly failing hygiene standards or if hospitals were constantly killing patients they’d be shut down. But we accept it with schools,” says NZ Initiative executive director Oliver Hartwich.

Only in state schools. The good thing about the charter school model is a poorly performing charter school gets shut down. While there appear to be around 60 state schools that have been persistently failing – yet carry on.

General Debate 29 June 2016

June 29th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Corbyn hangs on

June 29th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The resignations have reached an unprecedented level. So far there have been:

  • 20 members of the Shadow Cabinet resign
  • 18 junior shadow ministers resign
  • Nine parliamentary private secretaries resign

Corbyn’s new shadow cabinet has MPs in it who were elected just a year ago.

There are a number of ways they may sack Corbyn. The main three are:

  1. Have a formal challenge to him triggering a leadership election and if fewer than 35 MPs and MEPs nominate him, he can’t stand (this is a matter of some dispute and could end up in court)
  2. Have a contested leadership election and hope they get a majority of members and supporters voting to replace him
  3. Elect their own leader of the parliamentary party, and insist the Speaker recognises him or her as Leader of the Opposition leaving Corbyn as leader of the extra parliamentary party but without funds or staff

Any of these paths may tear the Labour Party apart. And leaving Corbyn as Leader will almost certainly mean the Conservatives win the upcoming election.

UPDATE: Corbyn has lost a confidence vote 40 to 172. So less than 20% of his caucus support him. To be fair to him though that is a greater percentage than Andrew Little got when he was elected leader – Little had the confidence of only four MPs!

Game of Thrones Season Seven

June 28th, 2016 at 3:48 pm by David Farrar

Spoilers and speculation follow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump drops 7%

June 28th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

HILLARY Clinton leads Donald Trump by double digits in a new national poll — a stark reversal for the mogul, who one month ago led the same poll by two percentage points.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll finds Clinton at 51 per cent to Trump’s 39 per cent — her largest lead in the survey since last fall.

A month ago, the same poll had Trump at 46 per cent and Clinton at 44 per cent, reports the New York Post.

So he is down 7% and she is up 7%. And this is even before the conventions. The Democratic convention will be a fairly unified affair with keynote speeches from Obama, Biden, Bill Clinton, Sanders and of course Hillary.

The Republican convention is struggling to find anyone prominent to attend, let alone speak!

Trump is not just going to cost the Republicans the presidency against a candidate whom was very vulnerable, but also the Senate and much of their House majority. Oh, and also the Supreme Court for maybe the next 20 years or so.

17 years for killing Moko

June 28th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The man and woman who pleaded guilty to killing Taupo 3-year-old Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri have been sentenced to 17 years each with a minimum of nine years at the High Court in Rotorua.

Tania Shailer, 26, and David William Haerewa, 43, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and ill treating a child. They had originally been charged with murder.

Judge Sarah Katz said this was the highest sentence imposed in New Zealand for manslaughter against a child.

Good. The Attorney-General has noted:

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson today set out the reasons for the Crown’s decision to accept the manslaughter pleas of Tania Shailer and David Haerewa in substitution of murder charges for the killing of Moko Rangitoheriri.

Ms Shailer and Mr Haerewa were today both sentenced to 17 years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of nine years. Until that sentencing took place, the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General were unable to comment on the specifics of the case, as the sentencing was a matter for the courts.

“The Crown’s decisions in this case, including the decision to accept the manslaughter pleas, were motivated by the need to secure convictions for this horrendous killing and to avoid the significant risk that either of the defendants could escape such a conviction because of evidential issues,” Mr Finlayson said.

“The guilty pleas and admitted facts enabled the Crown to argue for a sentence which reflected the nature of the crimes committed. Without the guilty pleas, the full details of the facts set out in the Statement of Facts may not have otherwise come to light.

“The decision to accept a plea of manslaughter in substitution of a murder charge is never taken lightly. A robust process is followed which ultimately requires the approval of the Solicitor-General.

“The overarching consideration is whether the interests of justice are met in accepting the plea and in particular, whether the charge can adequately reflect the criminal nature of the conduct as well as allow sufficient scope for sentencing.

 “Based on the evidence available for trial, there was a substantial risk that one or both of the defendants would not be convicted of the legal charge of murder or manslaughter.
I guess it may have been a case of a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush. A certainty of conviction for manslaughter vs a probability for murder.

Herald says abolish zoning

June 28th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Ironically, “the right to attend the nearest school” was the principle advanced by a previous Epsom MP, Christine Fletcher, to have zoning restored in a partial reversal of the competitive elements of the “Tomorrow’s Schools” reform. But withdrawing that right from future residents is only one possible solution Mr Seymour has proposed. Another, he suggests, would be to block students who lived in the zone without their parents. He says schools have told him of foreigners buying a house in the zone, staying just long enough to gain permanent residency and their child’s enrolment, then leave the child here with relatives or acquaintances.

His third and most obvious suggestion is to build more high schools in the area. The Ministry of Education bought land for a new school from the Auckland Trotting Club in 1999 but the school has not eventuated. It was opposed by residents who feared for their real estate values. The restoration of zoning has created a monster capable of defeating the ministry’s reasonable plans. Mr Seymour’s proposal to pull up the drawbridge against new arrivals may be the only political solution but it would be simpler to abolish zones and restore schools’ freedom to enrol aspirants from anywhere.

That is my preferred policy. You’d need a safeguard where the Ministry can direct a school to take a student if say they have not been accepted into any school within 5 kms (urban) and 50 kms (rural), but otherwise leave it to parents and schools.

The current zoning system gives choice only to those who can afford to buy a house in the zone foor the school they want.

Taxpayers should not fund advocacy

June 28th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand’s biggest anti-smoking lobby groups face likely closure after a Government decision to slash funding for anti-smoking advocacy.

The Smokefree Coalition will close next month, Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) faces closure unless it can find new funding sources, and Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa and Pacific anti-smoking agency Tala Pasifika have all lost their funding from this week.

Instead, the Ministry of Health has awarded a single national anti-smoking advocacy contract to West Auckland-based Maori health agency Hapai Te Hauora.

Total funding for national advocacy has been cut from $1.7 million to $450,000.

There should be no funding for advocacy. It is appropriate to fund research and also good to fund cessation services, but taxpayers should not allow government departments to hand out money to lobby groups, so they can lobby MPs on what the law should be. The role of the public service is to serve, not to fund advocacy.

Ministry service commissioning director Jill Lane said the funding cut from advocacy would be redirected into “strengthening our frontline cessation services with improved training to get better quit results”.

The training budget has jumped from $286,000 to $1.6 million, lifting total spending on advocacy and training from $2.26 million to $2.37 million.

Ms Lane said the ministry’s total spending on tobacco control, including the Quitline service, was $61 million.

So more money for cessation services and less money for lobbying. Good.

EU and innovation

June 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A good article by Lord Ridley on the EU and innovation. It highlights one of the factors behind the frustrations that caused a leave vote.

The total value of “unicorns” (billion-dollar tech start-ups) created in Europe is about half of Facebook’s valuation alone. (Britain has the most of those European unicorns.) Spotify, the music-streaming firm based in Stockholm, is the nearest Europe has to a digital giant — and it is now threatening to leave Sweden for America. Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, and chairman of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, recently made a speech in which he said that “Europe is lagging behind and the gap with the US is widening”. In 2001, he said, Europe was investing 80 per cent as much in digital as the US. Today that proportion is just 60 per cent.
Fortunately, our masters in Brussels have a plan. Unlike us, you see, they do know what is coming next in tech, being altogether wiser folk. The European Commission, as part of its “digital agenda”, has unveiled a €5 billion action plan to “unify and galvanise” Europe’s progress towards the “fourth industrial revolution”. According to the EurActiv website it wants to “put in place all the necessary building blocks for the next industrial phase so that European firms remain [sic] in the driving seat”.
Fine words. Yet to achieve this, what’s needed is not the picking of winners, or even the setting of standards, indeed nothing top-down at all. What’s needed is the general encouragement of the conditions under which bright people set up businesses and engage in massive amounts of trial and error to discover unpredictable opportunities. That means generous tax breaks for entrepreneurs, light-touch regulation, access to global talent and tolerance of failure. Then stand back and let a thousand flowers bloom.
Yet there is no sign of such policies being discussed in Brussels. The measures the commission is currently proposing are making it harder to do digital business. Prominent among them is the general data protection regulation (GDPR), agreed in April with very little fanfare and coming into force by 2018. It’s a “regulation” not a directive, which is the commission’s preferred new way of doing things these days — that way it does not even have to waft through parliament, but just lands in our law unscrutinised by any national democracy. A harbinger of how the EU will be run from the centre if we vote to remain.
The GDPR punishes any company that mishandles data with a fine of up to 4 per cent of turnover — which could wipe out all profits in a low-margin sector — or ¤20 million, whichever is the larger. Instead of leaving it up to national information commissioners to set standards for data protection and limiting the risk to any one state, it makes the concept transnational. So the whole company will be vulnerable to a data-handling mistake in the weakest subsidiary or partner.
You can see where this came from: European politicians suspicious at what the likes of Google do with “our” data. But it will have a deterrent effect on home-grown digital companies trying to “enrich European citizens’ lives by discovering solutions to challenges in health care, education, or the environment” as Robert Atkinson, president of the think tank the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, puts it. One entrepreneur tells me: “If there is a more potent impediment to free trade over national borders between companies that will have to rely upon their partners’ resilient and robust compliance procedures, I should be very surprised.”
Tech entrepreneurs say that the additional cost to companies (and perhaps public-sector bodies) of trying to protect themselves in the light of the GDPR is likely to be prohibitive. Handling data about people is what digital companies do, and while it is right to insist they do not mess up, it is wrong to extend the concept of private property too literally into cyberspace. We do not punish people for discussing other people in pubs, after all.
Europe’s biggest problem is its inability to achieve significant economic growth, unlike all the other continents. Ordinary macroeconomic management just won’t do: we need to rediscover the passion for innovation that was the continent’s hallmark for centuries. Yet when faced with a whole new digital world, the best the European Commission can think of doing is putting obstacles in the way of entrepreneurs.
Well stated.
I read the other day the only continent with less economic growth than Europe is Antarctica. Here’s the average growth rates from 2006 to 2015 for various groupings:
  1. Asia 8.0%
  2. Africa 5.8%
  3. Middle East 4.4%
  4. World 3.8%
  5. CIS 3.5%
  6. Latin America 3.4%
  7. EU 1.0%
  8. Euro zone 0.7%

Quote of the week

June 28th, 2016 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”

– H. L. Mencken

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

General Debate 28 June 2016

June 28th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Slight lead for Coalition

June 28th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

AS the election campaign enters its final week, the coalition has pulled ahead of Labor in the Newspoll opinion poll for the first time.

The latest Newspoll published in The Australian on Monday shows the coalition sitting on 51 per cent compared to Labor’s 49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

The poll of 1713 people, taken between last Thursday night and Sunday, is the first to gauge Australian voters’ reactions to the shock Brexit vote as economic stability takes centre stage ahead of Saturday’s poll.

On a primary vote measure, the coalition rose two points to 43 per cent, Labor was static at 36 per cent, while support for smaller parties slipped, with the Greens slumping to a near three-year low of nine per cent.

The projection on the poll of polls at the moment is Coalition 78 seats, Labor 68 and others 4. You need 76 seats to govern so still very close.

Shewan recommends greater disclosure for foreign trusts

June 27th, 2016 at 3:13 pm by David Farrar

John Shewan’s report is here. He outlines four options:

Option 1 Some increase in information required to be disclosed by foreign trusts (details of settlor and beneficiaries as listed in trust deed).

Option 2 Significant increase in information required to be disclosed (details of settlor, persons with effective control, non-resident trustees, beneficiaries, trustees, trust deed) coupled with an annual return, expanded application of the AML laws and a register of foreign trusts, searchable (but not by the public).

Option 3 As for 2, but foreign trust register is publicly available.

Option 4 Amend the foreign trust tax regime to repeal the exemption from tax on foreign source income.

Shewan recommends Option 2. His conclusions are:

The Inquiry concludes that the existing foreign trust disclosure rules are inadequate. The rules are not fit for purpose in the context of preserving New Zealand’s reputation as a country that cooperates with other jurisdictions to counter money laundering and aggressive tax practices.

The Inquiry considers that a significant increase in information disclosed when a foreign trust sets up, annual reporting and increased enforcement, will satisfactorily address the issues identified. Banning foreign trusts or removing the current tax exemption is not considered to be necessary or justified.

The full report is 136 pages long.

No doubt Andrew Little will still insist that all foreign trusts should be banned, as part of his party’s efforts to make up policy on the hoof.

More trouble for Top Gear

June 27th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Matt LeBlanc has threatened to quit as Top Gear host if Chris Evans is not sacked.

Reports suggest that the former Friends actor is becoming increasingly frustrated with how rude his co-presenter is with the staff on set and has told producers that they can no longer work together.

The revelations are said to have rocked the BBC and could leave them having to pick between the pair, with filming for the second series due to start in September.

A show source said: “The big question now is who goes and who stays.”

Almost everyone says LeBlanc is the strongest host followed by Sabine. Yet Evans is the main host. How would it look if they dropped him?

No rail to Auckland Airport

June 27th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A commuter rail link to Auckland Airport – which could slash travel times to the international gateway – has been dumped in favour of trams or buses.

The scrapping of the heavy rail connection is a U-turn by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which last year said it was “extremely committed to providing a rail link connecting the airport and the city”.

Auckland Transport (AT), which has favoured rail to the airport as a high priority, meets today to decide if it will endorse the agency’s position.

Road travel typically takes about an hour from the city centre to the airport. Commuter rail could cover the 20km journey in 35 minutes.

This isn’t a surprise as the cost would have been many billions.

However the status quo is pretty appalling. I can’t think of any other major city where the route from the airport to the CBD goes through a residential suburb like Auckland does.  Hopefully the completion of the motorway network will make a difference though. Last time I had an early morning flight to Auckland it took around two hours to get to the CBD!

Lord Ashcroft’s EU Exit Poll

June 27th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Lord Ashcroft blogs the findings of his exit poll of over 12,000 voters. The findings include:

  • 57% of AB (managers, professionals) voted to remain while 64% of C2DE (working class) voted to leave
  • 58% of Conservatives voted to leave, 37% of Labour voters, 30% of SNP voters, and 96% of UKIP voters
  • Over 20% made their mind up in the last week
  • Voters thought leaving the EU would bring a better immigration system, improved border controls, fairer welfare system, better quality of life and the ability to control their own laws
  • 43% of Conservative Leave voters want Boris as Leader. Among Conservative Remain voters 28% want Therese May.
  • 82% of those with no formal education voted to leave while only 36% of those with a higher degree voted to leave
  • Only 48% of those in work voted to leave and 57% of those not in work (retired etc) voted to leave
  • By religion support for leave was Christians 58%, Jewish 54%, Sikh 52%, Buddhist 49%, None 45%, Hindu 30%, Muslim 30%
  • Only 30% thought Leave would win

Mobility as a Service

June 27th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The head of New Zealand’s biggest car company says the future will see nobody owning a motor vehicle – just sharing them.

Toyota New Zealand managing director Alistair Davis made the prediction at the media launch of a new Toyota Corolla hybrid in Manawatu.

“I foresee a future where there will be MaaS (Mobility as a Service) everywhere,” he said. “Instead of people buying cars, the vehicles will be shared and the drivers will be billed monthly for car usage and road user charges.”

In fact the change is already happening on a rapidly increasing scale, Davis said. Car-sharing initiatives such as Zipcar in USA, DriveNow in Europe, and Uber in many parts of the world are gaining traction – Uber is now completing five million rides a day.

I’d happily not own a car so long as I can get access to one within say half an hour or so. The business models are not quite there, but are coming.

Taxis and even Uber are too expensive, especially for longer distances. And rental cars have a minimum hire of a day so are no good for shorter trips. Once we get driverless cars, I think the business model will follow.

Research is proving that car-sharing is a far more efficient way of vehicle use, Davis said. At present the average vehicle spends 95 per cent of its time not being used, whereas car-sharing initiatives and autonomous driving would see them used at least 60 per cent of the time.

Far more efficient.

Bad losers

June 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Amazing to see the contempt so many in UK have for their fellow citizens. Rather than accept the referendum result, and the fact it was by a decisive margin, they are rolling out:

  • 52% of British are racist
  • Older citizens shouldn’t get a vote
  • The working class are stupid and were fooled

We also see Stuff reporting:

Just days after voting to leave the European Union, more than 2 million Britons and UK residents had signed a petition calling for a second vote, forcing lawmakers to at least consider a debate on the issue.

Parliament has to consider a debate on any petition posted on its website that attracts more than 100,000 signatures.

The proposal, posted before the June 23 referendum, said the government should hold another plebiscite on EU membership if the support for Leave or Remain in a referendum was less than 60 percent in a turnout of under 75 percent of eligible voters.

In other words they want an elite minority to be able to keep everyone else in the EU against their will.

Mind you the way they have worded it, the result would actually be endless referendums as neither side is likely to ever get 60%.


Tim Blair shows other petitions trying to overturn results people don’t like 🙂

More e-mails sent from Bali sex student

June 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The suspended Auckland University student who emailed an offer of sex to her lecturer continued to send provocative emails.

Last week the Herald on Sunday revealed a 30-year-old physics student had been suspended after being found guilty of sexual harassment. The student said she emailed her lecturer in March asking: “Would you like to have sex in Bali?”

The Herald on Sunday has chosen not to name the student or the lecturer. More emails detail how the lecturer responded, rejecting the mature student’s advance.

“You wrote not to worry about crafting a reply, but I just want to confirm that my only interest is for you (and all the other students enrolled in [class name withheld] for that matter) to succeed academically.”

Within an hour of the lecturer’s first reply, the student sent the man another email: “You would deny that there was some strong chemistry?

“Not that you’d move to act on it, obviously not, but you mean you didn’t actually think of me at all?” she wrote. “It’s perfectly fine that you chose not to act on it as a teacher and as a married person. That’s your choice, of course.”

The lecturer responded again, this time with a warning.

“This communication is highly inappropriate and I wish it to stop with this email. Our interactions will be limited to the academic side of [class name withheld], and I have NO interests in any other forms. If that turns out not possible, you force me to report these matters to the appropriate channels in the university.”

The student fired back, telling the man she felt his reaction was “threatening” and made her feel like “expressing a crush on someone is some great and inappropriate violation”.

This is clearly inappropriate. The married lecturer has said he has no interest, and she is trying to get him to put in writing that he is attracted to her. No means no.

A good lesson to never believe one side of the story until you hear the other.

Coup on against Corbyn

June 27th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

More than half of the Labour shadow cabinet is expected to stand down on Sunday in a major coup against Jeremy Corbyn, triggered by the result of the EU referendum and the leader’s decision to sack Hilary Benn.

Loyal members of shadow cabinet told the Guardian they were writing their resignation letters after Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, stepped down on Sunday morning.

A Labour source said Alexander’s decision to resign in the wake of Benn’s dismissal would prove hugely significant, because unlike the shadow foreign secretary she was a more “loyal and pragmatic” member of the Corbyn team.

“She is seen as a moderate, practical and pragmatic voice,” they said. “Hilary always had a problem with Jeremy. Now that Heidi’s gone, most of the shadow cabinet will step down. He can’t just replace those positions because other frontbench ministers won’t step up to the roles.”

Corbyn has so little support in his caucus that his replacement shadow cabinet members will have to be what are known as the D team.

Leaked internal Labour party polling of people who voted for Labour in 2015 reveals that nearly a third (29%) would support a different party if a general election was held today.

It shows that just 71% of those who voted for Ed Miliband’s party in May last year say they would vote Labour now, and this drops further – to 67% – among working and lower middle-class C2DE voters.

A Labour source said: “MPs and members were worried about their prospects at the next election under Corbyn, but thought they had four years to turn things around. Now many fear they may have just four months if a snap election is called, so know they must act now to change the leader.”

An election within the next year is very likely, and Labour MPs know they’ll do even worse than in 2015.

General Debate 27 June 2016

June 27th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

A major Trump u-turn

June 27th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Donald Trump has revised his proposed ban on foreign Muslims, with spokeswoman Hope Hicks saying Saturday that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee only wants to ban Muslims from countries with heavy terrorism. …

This firm new position is a dramatic deviation from those Trump took on Dec. 7, when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The next day Trump said the ban would be “temporary” and have a series of exceptions, including ones for dignitaries and athletes. More recently, Trump has said that the ban and all of his policy proposals are merely suggestions open to negotiation.

This is almost a complete u-turn. If Trump gets elected, who knows what he would actually do as President. He might ban immigration from any countries without a Trump hotel.