The House of Commons voted on Palestine's status. Photo: Getty
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MPs overwhelmingly back Palestinian statehood in a historic vote

MPs have voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel in a symbolic vote.

Yesterday evening, the House of Commons voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel, in a symbolic motion serving as “a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Rarely do our politicians have the opportunity to vote on Israel/Palestine’s status, making the result of this vote – 274 to 12 – a historic moment.

However, less than half of our MPs took part in the vote, and government ministers – including the Prime Minister – abstained on the vote, showing the enduring controversy of the subject.

The motion, calling on the government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”, was put forward by the Labour MP Grahame Morris and amended by the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Following the result, Morris commented that this was a “small but symbolically important” step towards recognising Palestinian statehood.

However, not all MPs were happy with the situation. There were worries among the Labour whips about a rebellion, with one shadow minister telling the Telegraph that there had been a “cock-up” in party management. This was regarding the anger of some in the party that they were going to be compelled by their leadership to publicly back Palestine. In the end, Labour only enforced a one-line whip, meaning MPs in attendance were encouraged to vote in favour of the motion.

Here are the 12 MPs who voted against the motion:

Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East

Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative MP for Huntingdon

Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green

Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley

Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for North Belfast

William McCrea, DUP MP for South Antrim

Ian Paisley, DUP MP for North Antrim

Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford

David Simpson, DUP MP for Upper Bann

Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Why Chris Grayling is Jeremy Corbyn's secret weapon

The housing crisis is Labour's best asset - and Chris Grayling is making it worse. 

It feels like the classic Conservative story: wait until the election is over, then cancel spending in areas that have the temerity to vote Labour. The electrification of rail routes from Cardiff to Swansea – scrapped. So too is the electrification of the Leeds to Manchester route – and of the Midland main line.

But Crossrail 2, which runs from north to south across London and deep into the capital's outer satellites, including that of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, will go ahead as planned.

It would be grim but effective politics if the Conservatives were pouring money into the seats they won or lost narrowly. There are 25 seats that the Conservatives can take with a swing of 1 per cent from Labour to Tory, and 30 seats that they would lose with a swing of 1 per cent from Tory to Labour.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Conservatives were making spending decisions with an eye on what you might call the frontline 55. But what they’re actually doing is taking money away from north-west marginal constituencies – and lavishing cash on increasingly Labour London. In doing that, they’re actually making their electoral headache worse.

How so? As I’ve written before, the biggest problem for the Conservatives in the long term is simply that not enough people are getting on the housing ladder. That is hurting them in two ways. The first is straightforward: economically-driven voters are not turning blue when they turn 30 because they are not either on or about to mount the first rungs of the housing ladder. More than half of 30-year-olds were mortgage-payers in 1992, when John Major won an unexpected Conservative majority, while under a third were in 2017, when Theresa May unexpectedly lost hers.

But it is also hurting them because culturally-driven voters are getting on the housing ladder, but by moving out of areas where Labour’s socially-concerned core vote congregates in great numbers, and into formerly safe or at least marginal Conservative seats. That effect has reached what might be its final, and for the Conservatives, deadly form in Brighton. All three of the Brighton constituencies – Hove, Brighton Kemptown and Brighton Pavilion – were Conservative-held in 1992. Now none of them are. In Pavilion they are third, and the smallest majority they have to overcome is 9,868, in Kemptown. The same effect helped reduce Amber Rudd’s majority in Hastings, also in East Sussex, to 346.

The bad news for the Conservatives is that the constituencies of Crawley, Reading, Swindon and in the longer-term, Bracknell, all look like Brightons in the making: although only Reading East fell to Labour this time, all saw swings bigger than the national average and all are seeing increasing migration by culturally-driven left-wing voters away from safe Labour seats. All are seeing what you might call “Hackneyfication”: commuters moving from inner city seats but taking their politics with them.

Add to that forced migration from inner London to seats like Iain Duncan Smith’s in Chingford – once a Conservative fortress, now a razor-thin marginal – and even before you add in the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn’s person and platform, the electoral picture for the Conservatives looks bleak.

(It should go without saying that voters are driven by both economics and culture. The binary I’ve used here is simplistic but helpful to understand the growing demographic pressures on the Conservatives.)

There is actually a solution here for the Tories. It’s both to build more housing but also to rebalance the British economy, because the housing crisis in London and the south is driven by the jobs and connectivity crisis in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Or, instead, they could have a number of measures designed to make London’s economy stride still further ahead of the rest, serviced by 5 per cent mortgages and growing numbers of commuter rail services to facilitate a growing volume of consumers from London’s satellite towns, all of which only increase the electoral pressures on their party. 

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.