Farewell to Siôn Simon

Labour MP's next job may depend on a Tory victory.

Siôn Simon, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, is the latest figure to announce that he's standing down at the next election. Which gives us the perfect opportunity to relive his infamous Webcameron spoof, an early pre-Smeargate warning to Labour of the potential hazards of new media.

Simon plans to campaign to become Birmingham's first directly elected mayor but there's one hitch -- the post doesn't exist yet.

The last campaign for a referendum on an elected mayor failed when less than 5 per cent of voters signed the petition required to trigger a poll. Labour has since gone cold on the idea. But David Cameron has promised that 12 cities, including Birmingham, will be forced to hold mayoral referendums if the Tories are elected.

So, is Simon, as some have suggested, unwittingly predicting a Tory victory?


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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

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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