Get ready to see this face surrounded by some snazzy purple graphics. Photo: Getty
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“This should be fun”: Jeremy Paxman to front Channel 4’s election night coverage

The former Newsnight host will be in the chair for Channel 4 on election night 2015.

As was rumoured back in August, Jeremy Paxman has indeed made the hop over to Channel 4 after his departure from Newsnight. He will be anchoring Channel 4’s election night coverage. No doubt the lure of “actually being allowed to have opinions” was too strong for him to resist – he recently came out as a “One Nation Tory”, so we can look forward to hearing more of that sort of thing in between counts in the middle of the night.

The acquisition of Paxman suggests that Channel 4 is going for something a bit more, ahem, serious that their 2010 Alternative Election Night, which featured Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne (and let us not forget, resulted in everybody’s least-favourite attempt at political satire, 10 O’Clock Live). Channel 4’s press release is keen to stress that their 2010 effort pulled in a massive 10.4 per cent audience share (and even outperformed ITV1).

Paxman commented: “There are new and interesting questions to ask about the way we choose our governments. This should be fun.”

But what about Jon Snow, I hear you cry? He “should not be worried in anyway”, Channel 4 creative officer Jay Hunt has said.

Considering that it was Snow who did Paxman’s exit interview when he left Newsnight (an occasion that ended with Snow performing a sung tribute to his fellow broadcaster, see below), this mole thinks they’re going to get on famously.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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

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