Why Bercow won't be defeated

The press is wrong to hype up Ukip's chances.

Today's Times excitedly reports that the former Tory donor Stuart Wheeler, who was kicked out of the party for donating £100,000 to the UK Independence Party, plans to donate another £100,000 to help the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage unseat the Speaker, John Bercow.

Wheeler, who made his millions through spread betting, apparently believes that if Ukip wins any seat in the Commons, it will be Bercow's.

In fact, Ukip is particularly unlikely to win Bercow's Buckingham, not least because it's the safest Conservative seat in the country. At the 2005 election, he won with a majority of 18,129; boundary changes have notionally increased this to 19,660.

Much as the press is desperate to hype this contest, there is no chance of Bercow being defeated. Contrary to reports, this isn't one of the seats to watch at the election.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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