There are elections going on you know!

Reading some parts of the media it would be easy to forget crucial votes across Wales, Scotland and

While Greg Dyke flirts with Labour’s enemies and commentators debate whether David Milliband’s last denial about the Labour leadership contest really was the last, you could be forgiven for forgetting there are local, Welsh Assembly and Scottish parliamentary elections within two weeks.

As these are the first UK elections in which blogs will have a significant influence, this blog review will take a break from Westminster politics for the next two weeks and concentrate on the grassroots.

Thousands of blogs will be preaching party manifestoes. No doubt interested parties can locate them. But here we show what blogs do best: expose incompetence and/or negligence.

Bad news this week for Lib Dems in Darlington as Labour councillor Nick
Wallis
reports: “For reasons not yet explained, Cllr. Jones signed the nomination papers of BNP candidate Daniel Brown, who is also standing in the town's North Road ward. As Cllr. Jones also signed the nomination papers of fellow LibDem candidates Mike Barker and Fred Lawton, he was effectively placing his own candidacy in a very curious position!”

Meanwhile, in West Aberdeenshire, href="http://bsscworld.blogspot.com/2007/04/fools.html">A Big Stick and a Small Carrot has done a bit of research and found holes in a local Labour candidate’s campaign.

The href="http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.1338729.0.0.php">reported
the ‘green’ Conservatives scored 0/10 in a Scottish Friends of the Earth green test. Kerron
Cross
offers his view on the matter: “A cynic would be forgiven for thinking that the Tories' words about caring for the environment are just another cheap gimmick, but I am prepared to be more charitable. But that is probably because I, like everyone else, know the Tories will get very few votes in Scotland whatever they say to us!”

Not only will Shrewsbury be hosting the Shrewsbury cartoon festival this weekend, but as Dizzy
discusses, it will also be trialing a new way of increasing voter turnout:
"Have just heard that the first electronic console polling station in this year’s local elections will be open on Saturday in a shopping centre in Shrewsbury. Let's hope the system is neither overloaded or loses data.

"Apparently Shrewsbury will also be having text message voting and Internet voting as well. Wonder how long it will take for someone to make allegations of electoral fraud after the results?"

Finally, a chance to see how another of a blog’s best qualities can be used in these elections. Welsh blogger Blambell Briefs has invited questions that he will pass on to four Welsh politicians in a feature he is calling Honest
John
.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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Is Yvette Cooper surging?

The bookmakers and Westminster are in a flurry. Is Yvette Cooper going to win after all? I'm not convinced. 

Is Yvette Cooper surging? The bookmakers have cut her odds, making her the second favourite after Jeremy Corbyn, and Westminster – and Labour more generally – is abuzz with chatter that it will be her, not Corbyn, who becomes leader on September 12. Are they right? A couple of thoughts:

I wouldn’t trust the bookmakers’ odds as far as I could throw them

When Jeremy Corbyn first entered the race his odds were at 100 to 1. When he secured the endorsement of Unite, Britain’s trade union, his odds were tied with Liz Kendall, who nobody – not even her closest allies – now believes will win the Labour leadership. When I first tipped the Islington North MP for the top job, his odds were still at 3 to 1.

Remember bookmakers aren’t trying to predict the future, they’re trying to turn a profit. (As are experienced betters – when Cooper’s odds were long, it was good sense to chuck some money on there, just to secure a win-win scenario. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burnham’s odds improve a bit as some people hedge for a surprise win for the shadow health secretary, too.)

I still don’t think that there is a plausible path to victory for Yvette Cooper

There is a lively debate playing out – much of it in on The Staggers – about which one of Cooper or Burnham is best-placed to stop Corbyn. Team Cooper say that their data shows that their candidate is the one to stop Corbyn. Team Burnham, unsurprisingly, say the reverse. But Team Kendall, the mayoral campaigns, and the Corbyn team also believe that it is Burnham, not Cooper, who can stop Corbyn.

They think that the shadow health secretary is a “bad bank”: full of second preferences for Corbyn. One senior Blairite, who loathes Burnham with a passion, told me that “only Andy can stop Corbyn, it’s as simple as that”.

I haven’t seen a complete breakdown of every CLP nomination – but I have seen around 40, and they support that argument. Luke Akehurst, a cheerleader for Cooper, published figures that support the “bad bank” theory as well.   Both YouGov polls show a larger pool of Corbyn second preferences among Burnham’s votes than Cooper’s.

But it doesn’t matter, because Andy Burnham can’t make the final round anyway

The “bad bank” row, while souring relations between Burnhamettes and Cooperinos even further, is interesting but academic.  Either Jeremy Corbyn will win outright or he will face Cooper in the final round. If Liz Kendall is eliminated, her second preferences will go to Cooper by an overwhelming margin.

Yes, large numbers of Kendall-supporting MPs are throwing their weight behind Burnham. But Kendall’s supporters are overwhelmingly giving their second preferences to Cooper regardless. My estimate, from both looking at CLP nominations and speaking to party members, is that around 80 to 90 per cent of Kendall’s second preferences will go to Cooper. Burnham’s gaffes – his “when it’s time” remark about Labour having a woman leader, that he appears to have a clapometer instead of a moral compass – have discredited him in him the eyes of many. While Burnham has shrunk, Cooper has grown. And for others, who can’t distinguish between Burnham and Cooper, they’d prefer to have “a crap woman rather than another crap man” in the words of one.

This holds even for Kendall backers who believe that Burnham is a bad bank. A repeated refrain from her supporters is that they simply couldn’t bring themselves to give Burnham their 2nd preference over Cooper. One senior insider, who has been telling his friends that they have to opt for Burnham over Cooper, told me that “faced with my own paper, I can’t vote for that man”.

Interventions from past leaders fall on deaf ears

A lot has happened to change the Labour party in recent years, but one often neglected aspect is this: the Labour right has lost two elections on the bounce. Yes, Ed Miliband may have rejected most of New Labour’s legacy and approach, but he was still a protégé of Gordon Brown and included figures like Rachel Reeves, Ed Balls and Jim Murphy in his shadow cabinet.  Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham were senior figures during both defeats. And the same MPs who are now warning that Corbyn will doom the Labour Party to defeat were, just months ago, saying that Miliband was destined for Downing Street and only five years ago were saying that Gordon Brown was going to stay there.

Labour members don’t trust the press

A sizeable number of Labour party activists believe that the media is against them and will always have it in for them. They are not listening to articles about Jeremy Corbyn’s past associations or reading analyses of why Labour lost. Those big, gamechanging moments in the last month? Didn’t change anything.

100,000 people didn’t join the Labour party on deadline day to vote against Jeremy Corbyn

On the last day of registration, so many people tried to register to vote in the Labour leadership election that they broke the website. They weren’t doing so on the off-chance that the day after, Yvette Cooper would deliver the speech of her life. Yes, some of those sign-ups were duplicates, and 3,000 of them have been “purged”.  That still leaves an overwhelmingly large number of sign-ups who are going to go for Corbyn.

It doesn’t look as if anyone is turning off Corbyn

Yes, Sky News’ self-selecting poll is not representative of anything other than enthusiasm. But, equally, if Yvette Cooper is really going to beat Jeremy Corbyn, surely, surely, she wouldn’t be in third place behind Liz Kendall according to Sky’s post-debate poll. Surely she wouldn’t have been the winner according to just 6.1 per cent of viewers against Corbyn’s 80.7 per cent. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.