The Prime Minister didn’t expect it to turn out this way when she called her snap election in April. The campaign was meant to deliver her a majority of 100+ so that she could go and sock it to those arrogant Europeans.

In fact, there has been very little discussion about what sort of deal we might get from the EU negotiations. We can’t get past the slogans of hard and soft Brexit. That’s deliberate as Mrs May wants to go off for two years negotiating with little challenge from a parliament with a thumping Tory majority. Her speech in the North East on Thursday, specifically on Brexit, clarified little.

Unfortunately for her other issues have intruded into the campaign. Tragically terrorism and security came to the fore after the Manchester outrage, but also the future funding of social care. She came a cropper on this issue and there seems to be a lot of support for a general sharing of the cost of care above £72,000.

Then there’s Jeremy Corbyn who has campaigned well with policies that are individually popular. Also, bullying questions from Jeremy Paxman and daily vilification in the Tory press have provoked a closing of the polls.

All that said I think wider truths will bring a Conservative majority of around 50 next Thursday. Labour cannot be serious in asking the British people to elect as Prime Minister a man with an ambiguous attitude to IRA terrorism. Also, nobody believes Jeremy Corbyn would ever launch our nuclear weapons. He has very honourable feelings about the issue, but the whole concept of deterrence would be undermined with Corbyn in No 10. Personally disorganised, he does not have a credible team of Shadow Ministers around him to form a government.

Perhaps reluctantly the British people will elect Theresa May hoping that she can display the strong and stable qualities that she has not projected during this campaign


So, which seats should we be watching out for in Downtown areas of the North? The gloomiest of Labour insiders think any seat with less than a 10,000 majority is potentially vulnerable to the Tories. Those would include Huddersfield (welcome back to the Premier League by the way), Leeds North East, Lancashire West and Ellesmere Port and Neston. In relation to the latter I have picked up strange rumours that Justin Madders with a six thousand majority could be in more trouble than Chris Matheson in neighbouring Chester on ninety-three.

If we come on to constituencies with a Labour majority of less than 5000 they include the popular Deputy Speaker of the Commons, Lyndsay Hoyle, in Chorley, Bolton North East which is being heavily targeted, Wakefield and Wirral South where Alison McGovern is putting up a determined fight.

Right in the front line is Chester which I have already mentioned. The city is on the up, symbolised by the recent opening of the brilliant Storyhouse theatre complex. The seat went against the trend of the Cameron victory in 2015. Could it possibly stay Labour this time? Nearby another constituency that went against the trend was Wirral West. The 417 Labour majority should be overwhelmed by the able and popular Tory candidate, Tony Caldeira.

Other seats held on slim majorities by Labour include Lancaster and Fleetwood. The incumbent, Cat Smith, is a big Corbyn supporter which certainly can’t be said of John Woodcock in Barrow. His leader’s views on nuclear weapons are toxic in the submarine building town which went Tory in 1983 when Michael Foot was in charge of Labour.

I had hoped the Lib Dems would do well with their promise of a second EU referendum. It appears they have been squeezed as people polarise between Labour and the Conservatives. This means the Lib Dems are unlikely to reclaim Burnley or Cheadle. Indeed, they look likely to lose Southport where they only have a 3% majority over the Conservatives and have been damaged by the decision of the long serving MP John Pugh to retire.


Might this happen on Thursday night?


It’s ten o’clock and the BBC predicts the Conservatives have won the General Election with a comfortable majority.


Jeremy Corbyn vows to fight on for socialism.


Tony Blair and Nick Clegg announce the launch of a new centre party for Britain.

Follow me @JimHancockUK





After the shameful “pause” in electrifying the Leeds-Manchester rail link, we now have the shamefaced about turn.

In June when the “pause” was announced, I described it as one of the most disgraceful decisions ever made because it undermined the Northern Powerhouse based on connectivity, it undermined companies’ procurement plans and finally politicians must have known before the election about the crisis in Network Rail that caused the decision to be taken.

Be in no doubt that the decision to reinstate the electrification is directly related to the fact that the Conservatives are in Manchester this weekend for their annual conference. The Chancellor George Osborne will want Ministers to make frequent references to the Northern Powerhouse. He didn’t want critics asking how meaningful the concept could be without better rail links between the two principal cities of the Powerhouse.

Two independent enquiries had been set up after the “pause” was announced. The hapless Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin told us no decisions would be taken until they reported. But George Osborne, who I understand wasn’t fully in the loop on the “pause” decision, can’t wait for the enquiries and has ordered the go-ahead to be given.

All this faffing around comes at a price. It has delayed the project by three years so passengers can carry on standing until 2022.


I understand the Tory conference may also be used for announcements about devolution deals for Sheffield and the North East where agreement has been reached on elected mayors. The latter will be small consolation to the steel workers of Redcar.


At least the Tories are in power, Labour look a long way from it. That’s my conclusion after spending some sun drenched days in Brighton. The moon turned red but I fear that was more a sign of the Gods’ displeasure than a happy omen for socialism.

Much of the press coverage of the new Labour leader is over the top. Jeremy Corbyn has revitalised his party, he has caught the mood of public disillusionment with speak your weight politicians and some of his policies (housing and rail) have considerable merit.

But the Trident row has immediately highlighted the inherent instability of his leadership. In all honesty who really thought Prime Minister Corbyn would authorise the use of nuclear weapons? But by definitively saying he wouldn’t he has fatally undermined his chances of victory in 2020.

Most of the Shadow Cabinet criticised him as did the big unions whose members are employed in the nuclear industry. But most seriously Corbyn says repeatedly he wants the party to be more democratic. They voted, against his wishes, not to discuss changing the multilateral disarmament policy at the conference. Instead a defence review is under way when the issue of Britain, under a Labour government, becoming unilateralist would be discussed.

But what is the point of Maria Eagle, the Shadow Defence Secretary and Garston MP beavering away on her review when the would be Prime Minister has already told our potential adversaries that he will blink first?

Perhaps the truth is that Jeremy Corbyn is determined to shake up the Labour Party, give it back its socialist principles and then hand over to someone more electable in a few years time.





There are rumours that the long running row between World Heritage chiefs and Liverpool Council is about to deepen, opening the way for the city to be stripped of its international status.

UNESCO officials placed the city’s spectacular water front on a danger list in 2012 claiming the massive Liverpool and Wirral Waters developments would overwhelm the historic buildings. In July a UNESCO summit conference called for a detailed report setting out exactly what changes needed to be made to the multi billion pound 30 year development plan. It requested a response from Liverpool Council, Peel Ports and English Heritage by December but sources suggest there could be developments much earlier.

This may be because it is becoming clearer than ever that there is an unbridgeable gap between Liverpool and Wirral councils’ determination to back this transformational scheme and UNESCO’s insistence that Liverpool Waters would cause “irreversible damage to the Outstanding Universal Value” of the site.

Liverpool Council has insisted it takes the status issue seriously pointing to its vital role in attracting tourists. Others have said UNESCO officials are being unrealistic about the development needs of a modern city and if the price of going ahead with the development of 60 hectares of land to the north of the city centre is the loss of the status, then so be it. They also point out that there is no threat to the World Heritage status of Tower Bridge in London close to the 87 storey Shard building.

In one way it will be strange if this row reignites in August because this has been a slow burner. Peel first revealed its plans in 2007 and despite being given the planning go ahead precious little progress has been made. Of course the great recession came soon after the scheme was launched, but some take the view that UNESCO would be better advised to ease back on the threats and wait to see what projects actually come forward for development.


Jeremy Corbyn continues to inspire Labour activists with his clear policies on issues that his rivals obfuscate about. One of them is his belief that the UK should unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons.

It is an issue that has split the Labour Party since the 1950s when we acquired the bomb seven years after the Americans exploded two devices on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I have visited memorial sites to the devastation caused in both cities. One cannot fail to be moved by the huge death toll and the lingering suffering. I also reflect on the forecast that it was very likely that the casualties from a conventional assault on Japan would have been much higher.

Nuclear weapons have contributed to 70 years of peace between the superpowers but the cold words, mutually assured destruction, bring little comfort.

We are more preoccupied these days with localised terrorism than intercontinental war. Let us hope the two never become fused together.


It’s always good to have celebrities at big football draws. FIFA excelled itself last weekend when Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter presided over the draw for the 2018 World Cup.

It will be one of Blatter’s last appearances on the global stage and that’s thanks in no small part to a journalist I first met in Manchester in the 1970s…Andrew Jennings. I’m sure he worked for the radical magazine New Manchester Review. He later took his investigative skills to Granada and then to the BBC’s Panorama.

Andrew toiled on the story of FIFA corruption when most journalists didn’t want to know. Well done Andrew.



You’ve got to hand it to the toff from Tatton, he doesn’t lack political courage.

At one stroke George Osborne has knocked the walking stick out of the hands of pensioners and rewarded his millionaire friends with a massive tax cut.

And yet for all the controversy the income tax cut and the age related tax allowance freeze will create, the Chancellor gave a confident performance. The signal was given out that the government’s determination to bring down the deficit was on course and the Coalition was holding together.

The ludicrously leaked budget was all about Tories and Lib Dems showing how much influence they had on the decision making process. Both parties got prizes. The Tories cut the 50p rate, the Lib Dems are now close to their pledge that people earning less than £10,000 should not pay income tax.

Osborne must now pray for growth and that the newly enriched millionaires will not only “stay and pay” but will invest to help the recovery. We must remember the government has only just begun the cuts agenda. There is the prospect of a further £10bn cut in welfare benefits.

The Chancellor ran up the white flag on the 50p rate effectively saying that private sector accountants had outwitted Treasury officials who draft our tax laws. We’ll see how effective the government’s pledge is to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance.

He must also hope there will not be a big backlash over the “granny tax”. There is an argument that the golden generation born into the welfare state after the war, enjoying full employment and retiring on good company pensions should share the burden with the young suffering from tuition fees, unemployment and the prospect of retiring at 70 on average salary pensions.

The problem for politicians is that the old vote and the young don’t. The scrapping of the age related allowance is going to hit soon-to-retire couples really hard.

Labour still isn’t trusted on the economy but Ed Miliband did well in the House of Commons when he invited Tory MPs to acknowledge they would personally benefit from the income tax cut.



The Chancellor’s announcement of investment in the Preston-Blackpool, Manchester-Bradford and Manchester-Sheffield rail lines is welcome. The links between Manchester and South Yorkshire are particularly bad. The full commitment to the vital Northern Hub at Piccadilly Station is still awaited though.

Manchester has done well, getting £150m over five years from the Treasury in return for promised economic growth through tax increment financing. The city is also to be part of the government’s superfast broadband project.

Surprisingly Liverpool wasn’t  included, another blow after the city’s failure in its bid for the Green Investment Bank.



The funeral was held yesterday of one of the finest Liberals the North West has produced.

Although he never made it to parliament, Viv Bingham served the party at every level from fighting hopeless seats to becoming Party President.

A principled man, he was sometimes a thorn in the side of his party leaders particularly on the issue of nuclear weapons. He was a confirmed unilateralist.

But overwhelmingly people responded to his friendship and warm hearted personality.

Over thirty years he fought a range of seats from Heywood and Royton and Hazel Grove to West Derbyshire and Stalybridge and Hyde.

The highlight of his career was his year as President of the Liberal Party 1981-82.

Viv brought all his diplomatic skills to bear in his party’s sometimes difficult relations with the newly formed Social Democratic Party.

The many tributes in recent days are eloquent testament to the passing of a true Liberal.