Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin

A match made in heaven

 

Ah, this is a beautiful thing. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (our cover story), facing each other on Fox this week, the Statue of Liberty looming in the background. About halfway through the clip, Glenn Beck leans across to Palin and searches for a personal connection:

You and I both were, I think, the number one and number two Halloween costumes of the year.

He carried on:

Did you know that? We both have been nailed on Saturday Night Live as being stupid. We are also both just recently voted on the Most Admired list of people in the world. We both have been on the cover of major magazines in the last year. We're both probably top five Most Hated People in America.

It's one way to bond. But this interview, if you watch it, is really the most amazing example of vague paranoia. They talk for the first ten minutes in the most part about "trust", the fact that there's no one you can trust, the moment they both realised that they could trust ANYONE AROUND THEM. I think they use the word trust approximately 48 times in the space of ten seconds.

Then there's the "system". Don't, for God's sake, get them started on the "system". Can you survive out of the "system", wonders Beck. "The system is broken," responds Palin. Not only that:

The system creates disenchantment with the people looking at the political system saying we don't like that.

The people! I nearly forgot about the people. Beck and Palin seem to have a hotline to the people. The people, all of them, seem to like exactly what they like and hate exactly what they hate. Why do they bother having elections when you could just ask these two?

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.