The perils of prediction

Remember when Sky News reported that Alan Johnson had won the deputy leadership?

After 109 days of waiting, Labour finally gets a new leader today. Although the special conference opens at 4pm in Manchester, we're not expecting a result until around 4.40pm. The announcement will take this long because the results in each of the three sections (MPs/MEPs, party members and affiliated trade unionists) are explained separately. The candidate with the lowest vote will be eliminated and his or her voters redistributed until one candidate achieves 50 per cent of the vote in the electoral college.

Sky News's Jon Craig reports that Ed Miliband has won the big prize. He tweets: "It's Ed! A senior Labour Party figure tells me the younger brother has beaten David. Labour's Cameron? I'd say so."

I both hope and expect he's right (my prediction has always been that Ed will win on second preferences), but it's worth remembering that the same news organisation mistakenly reported that Alan Johnson had won the deputy leadership in 2007.

As Kevin Maguire recalls in his NS column this week:

Sky did a deal with Alan Johnson's enforcer, Gerry Sutcliffe, to receive a signal as the hopefuls left a briefing room before entering the hall - if Sutcliffe departed wearing glasses, Johnson had won. Reeling at a narrow defeat, Sutcliffe forgot and emerged four-eyed. So Sky News wrongly reported that Johnson had triumphed.

The ever-cautious BBC won't make such an error. Nick Robinson told the Today programme this morning that he "simply has no idea" who will win.

I'll be blogging on the leadership throughout today and my colleague James Macintyre will be reporting directly from Manchester. We'll bring you the result as soon as it's announced (we expect) at 4.40pm.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum No vote

Europe's right-wing populists cheered the result. 

Italy's centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to resign late on Sunday after he lost a referendum on constitutional change.

With most ballots counted, 60 per cent of Italians voted No to change, according to the BBC. The turn out was nearly 70 per cent. 

Voters were asked whether they backed a reform to Italy's complex political system, but right-wing populists have interpreted the referendum as a wider poll on the direction of the country.

Before the result, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "Hope the exit polls in Italy are right. This vote looks to me to be more about the Euro than constitutional change."

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, tweeted "bravo" to her Eurosceptic "friend" Matteo Salvini, a politician who campaigned for the No vote. She described the referendum result as a "thirst for liberty". 

In his resignation speech, Renzi told reporters he took responsibility for the outcome and added "good luck to us all". 

Since gaining office in 2014, Renzi has been a reformist politician. He introduced same-sex civil unions, made employment laws more flexible and abolished small taxes, and was known by some as "Europe's last Blairite".

However, his proposed constitutional reforms divided opinion even among liberals, because of the way they removed certain checks and balances and handed increased power to the government.

 

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