Theresa May unveils new anti-terrorism measures. Photo: Getty
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What are Theresa May's new plans to combat terrorism?

The Home Secretary is to announce new measures to respond to the terror threat.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, who was busy over the weekend admitting the government's net migration level target was "unlikely" to be met, and stating her preference for Abba's Dancing Queen, will outline this week new government plans to combat terrorism. Her proposals will be part of the government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

They include:

 - Banning UK-based insurance companies from covering the cost of terrorist ransoms, in the hope that firms will be deterred from paying ransoms to terrorists who take hostages. The UK government refuses to pay ransoms and is hoping to curb families' opportunities to do so.

 - Permitting cancelling passports (for up to 30 days) of terror suspects at the border, in order to put people off going abroad to fight.

 - Controlling under what terms British citizens who are terror suspects return from overseas, by imposing temporary exclusion orders.

 - Mandating public bodies such as colleges, schools and prisons to work to prevent terrorism.

 - Firming up aviation security, for example, asking airlines to provide data on passengers rapidly and efficiently.

 - Adjusting Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) so that the authorities can force terror suspects to move to different parts of the country, and also raising the burden of proof for imposing TPIMs from "reasonable belief" to "balance of probabilities".

 - Forcing companies to hand over details about who was using computers and mobile phones, and when, to the police.
 

These proposals arrive alongside a week-long public initiative that began this week to inform the public of how it can work to counter terrorism threats. According to the BBC, this action involves counter-terror authorities briefing more than 6,000 people at schools, universities, airports and publoc places like shopping centres and cinemas about what they can do to reduce the risk of a terror attack.

Counter-terror officers are also handing out information at railway stations. Students will learn about the "Prevent" strategy from police officers and even theatre groups, which is a strategy that helps guide young people against being drawn into terrorism.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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