7 mins read

Starmer is courting Tory voters so hard it’s almost as though he wants to lose his own | Frances Ryan

Labour is cosying up to the Sun. Getting its backing could end up looking like a political coup, or the ultimate act of selling outMore than 30 years ago, the Sun published the infamous front page that was said to swing the 1992 general election in favour of the Conservatives. Beside an image of the Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s head superimposed on a lightbulb, a headline ran: “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.”It’s hard to imagine a similar scenario today. With cash-strapped local councils forced to turn street lights off, a beleaguered Rishi Sunak would probably be grateful for help to keep the lights on, at this point. The change in fortunes for the two main parties has not gone unnoticed by the Murdoch empire. Never one to back a loser, the Sun is “inching towards” giving Labour an endorsement at the next election, reports suggest. Continue reading…

8 mins read

To understand Britain’s malaise, visit Shildon – the town that refused to die | Aditya Chakrabortty

People will blame Brexit, Boris and austerity, but this country’s demise goes back decades – and shows no signs of stoppingIn 1951, the county of Durham condemned 114 villages to a slow death. The older, smaller coalmines were approaching exhaustion, which meant, officials said, “many of the rows of houses which grew up around the pitheads have outlived their usefulness”. These “rows of houses” were homes to 100,000 adults and children. Now they were designated Category D.D for de-industrial. D for demolish. D for decline. Families living there would receive no more investment: neither electric lights nor doctors’ surgeries. Before their homes were torn down, they were expected to move out or die out.Many refused to do either. This weekend, I visited some hamlets just outside the town of Shildon, in south-west Durham. About seven decades after the order for their execution, rows of small houses were still standing. Some were boarded up; others had cars parked neatly outside. On this afternoon of bright sun and biting wind, men stood like sentinels outside their front doors and kids growled by on dirt bikes. Eldon, Coundon Grange, Coronation: these former pit communities were half-populated, half alive. It was eerie and melancholy, but it was not death.If Durham’s category-D villages are remembered today, it is as historical curiosities, summoned up by black and white footage and oral testimony. Yet these settlements without a future offered a foretaste of perhaps the central political issue of our time: how do people live when money has discarded them?Aditya Chakrabortty is a Guardian columnist Continue reading…

7 mins read

When Rishi Sunak speaks, the nation shrugs. There’s no coming back from that | Rafael Behr

Flirting with leaving the European court of human rights has failed to move the dial for the PM, and has highlighted his deficienciesRishi Sunak is not a deep-cover agent of the Labour party, but politics might not look very different if the prime minister were on a secret mission to make life easier for Keir Starmer.To achieve this feat, special operative Sunak would occupy positions expected of a Conservative leader, but in a way that minimised public enthusiasm and maximised division in his own party. Continue reading…

5 mins read

‘Low skills blight lives’: Richard Parker on his mayoral ambitions

Labour’s West Midlands candidate says it’s time for a fresh start as he vows to create 150,000 new jobsWhen Richard Parker recounts his career history, he casually mentions he was asked by the Japanese government to advise them after the 2011 earthquakes, and helped reform housing in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Troubles.These projects were normal for someone who brushed shoulders with senior leaders across the world during his time as a public finance accountant and partner at PwC. Continue reading…

4 mins read

UK rent rises forecast to outpace wage growth for three years

Average 13% increase by 2027 will put millions of households under further pressure, says thinktankRent rises in Britain are forecast to outpace wage growth, despite having already surged at the fastest pace on record after the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis.The Resolution Foundation expects added pressure on millions of households and said average rents could increase by 13% over the next three years as current high growth in the private rental market work their way through existing tenancies. Continue reading…