Concise opinions from people you should follow on Twitter.
Trump slumps in Iowa
Luke Lancaster – @PopeLancaster
The Iowa caucus is the first test of any Presidential candidate’s resolve. The results confirmed the first ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of the season. Bernie Sanders, the radical Democrat, almost propelled Hillary Clinton back to 2008. Indeed, it appears that Clinton’s ascent to the nomination will not be as comfortable as she originally hoped. For false self-assurance, vote Hillary.
In the crowded Republican field, it looks as though this first event of the primary season acted to separate the wheat from the chaff, with Paul, Huckabee and Santorum suspending their campaigns. The Trump was evidently disappointed with his second place finish and, remarkably, Donald love of polls suddenly turned sour.
Though, the billionaire businessman shouldn’t be too downhearted, considering he picked up a handy seven delegates and continues to lead all national polling – appearing destined to challenge Cruz for the GOP nomination. However, we shouldn’t dismiss the moderate conservative, Rubio, who seemed genuinely surprised that people wanted to vote for him. If Trump is still the favourite and Cruz is the challenger then Rubio is the dark horse. As shown in the past, a high concentration of hard-line conservatives often skews the result in Iowa. A strong start for Rubio signals good things to come.
The SNP are the real heirs to Blair
Jade Azim – @JadeFrancesAzim
The SNP has a seemingly indestructible lead in Scotland, propelled by a seemingly indestructible electoral coalition spanning all classes. They also, for seven years now, have governed without any substantive reforms, have overseen a regressive education system, and have rejected Labour's recently proposed penny tax. How has the party justified this to its progressive grassroots? Sturgeon controls a spin machine so vast it has convinced its own supporters that, not only has the definition of austerity changed, but that there is no spin machine at all. The SNP's coalition and the infrastructure sustaining it resembles the very thing the SNP despises: New Labour.
Will their contradictory coalition hold? Or will it fall as New Labour's eventually did? My prediction is that, well, it is, in fact, indestructible. While New Labour's electoral coalition ruptured on class lines, the glue that binds the SNP's together is nationalism. Class is no longer the division in Scotland; independence is. So the SNP can continue to give handouts to Middle Scotland, resist Scottish Labour's leftward shift, and not have to fear backlash. If the appeal of the SNP was once its left-wing ticket, the party now lures support with the promise of aggressive nationalism. With an incorruptible army of followers and an all-powerful leader, the true heirs to Blair are here to stay.
A moment of silence please for the death of rational politics
Tom Wilson – @Feedthedrummer
Political conspiracies have become common place and expected on social media, but with the prospect of a yearlong Presidential election only just underway, it is striking just how much conspiracy dominates Anglosphere politics. This week alone, we’ve seen accusations of coin toss rigging to help Hillary Clinton and a Microsoft vote rigging plot to boost Marco Rubio while, in the UK, Google are supposedly helping the Conservatives by secretly preventing rude things from appearing when you type their name into its search engine.
Add to this conspiracies about the "shuffling" of Scottish Independence Referendum ballots, Tory polling companies conspiring to hide the supreme popularity of Jeremy Corbyn, or the bizarre case of rapper B.o.B claiming that the earth is actually flat and is being lied about to boost airline sales, and you get an ever increasing picture of the English speaking world collectively losing its marbles.
And it is no surprise that frankly dangerous people start to take advantage of this. GOP candidates fan the flames of conspiracies about the Liberal media, all while Fox News tops TV News ratings. UKIP and the SNP exploit paranoia about “the Establishment” for their own ends. What is the result? The end of intelligent debates, a snowballing of political apathy, and the well-meaning politically engaged youth of western countries becoming disengaged with democracy, exacerbating the whole problem. Ranting about the Establishment on the left may seem like an easy and effective attack. But this is the result. Extremism, paranoia, cultism and nonsense.
Avoid it, or the Establishment will get you.
Official: Tories more popular than free food
Josh Le Neveu – @JoshLeNeveu
I have been left utterly bewildered by recent polls that have seen the Conservatives record their highest satisfaction ratings since 1989. The Conservatives have a Disney witch Home Secretary, a perpetually stoned Chancellor – and Ian Duncan-Smith – yet Labour are approximately 10 points behind.
For me, this highlights three key issues with the Labour Party. First, Labour is in disarray. MPs aren’t supporting the leadership and vice versa. Centrist and left-wing MPs seem more eager to ignore one another than the Tories are to administer crippling benefit sanctions. In the spirit – or at least the intended spirit – of Corbyn’s election, open and honest politics should pervade the party, not petty bickering.
Labour’s second big problem is that it is failing to develop a message, or to propose any substantive policies. Interviews with Labour MPs usually involve a public backstabbing, a vitriolic yet largely slapdash critique of the Tories, and perhaps a fleeting reference to something-we-would-like-to-do-but-have-not-really-thought-about-it-much.
Finally, abysmal polling scores demonstrate that the leadership team needs to be stronger. Corbyn has failed to unify the party on shared issues of concern such as inequality, poverty and social justice.
The only consolation for Labour supporters, perhaps, is that even given the looming prospect of electoral catastrophe, the party cannot implode as dramatically as the Liberal Democrats.
She’s economical with the truth, and probably has no soul, but it has to be Hillary
Dominic Chave-Cox – @MusingsofDCC – Backbench Assistant Editor
If I was a voter in any normal US Presidential election year, I would be in severe danger of gnawing off all my limbs just to cope with the daily stressful bombardments of awful I was being subjected to. But, in this year’s race, I would probably have been forced to move on to my internal organs.
Of the few vaguely sensible GOP contenders, Marco Rubio is the only one with an outside chance of winning, but even he is pretty right-wing by UK standards, and even he wants to replace Supreme Court judges who ruled in favour of marriage equality.
For me, therefore, the President has to be a Democrat. But which one? I can sympathise with Bernie Sanders – the kind of gut emotional response to the status quo that might justify supporting Jeremy Corbyn is infinitely more understandable across the pond. Even more so when you consider the skeletons from Hillary Clinton’s closet that have been haunting her during this campaign. Yet, when I see polls suggesting Sanders could beat a Republican, I just can’t bring myself to believe them. I also can’t believe he’d get anything through Congress without a military coup. Which, you have to admit, wouldn’t be very Bernie. So I’ll pick Hillary, and give thanks for the continued use of both my organs and my limbs.