In this week's New Statesman: Tory special

10 people Cameron should fear | John Pilger: Israel’s true heroes | Boris Johnson interview.

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This week's New Statesman is a special issue on the Tories: who are they and what they do want? David Marquand kicks off our coverage by arguing that the left dismisses David Cameron at its peril. Meanwhile, from the right, Simon Heffer argues that Cameron is no kind of conservative. He writes: "Cameron . . . has very few principles, other than his belief in himself as prime minister."

Elsewhere, Jonathan Derbyshire profiles Iain Duncan Smith, George Walden explores the rise of the new feudalism, and we name the ten people Cameron should fear. One of them, Boris Johnson, has been speaking to our deputy editor, Jon Bernstein. The Mayor of London explains why bankers are to blame for the recession and reveals what he really thinks of Cameron. Also, don't miss our exclusive survey of 101 Conservative candidates. Are they really any different from the old guard?

In the columns, James Macintyre explains why the Tories are losing support, John Pilger names Israel's true heroes, and Roy Hattersley says we should focus on Gordon Brown's ideas, not his tantrums.

In The Critics, Cameron's old Oxford tutor Vernon Bogdanor reviews a new study of the Tory party, we launch our search for the next great music critic, and Lisa Mullen reviews Michael Moore's latest film, Capitalism: a Love Story.

The issue is on sale now, or you can subscribe through the website.

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George Eaton is political 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.