Friday News Review

Labour win in Barnsley as Lib Dems relegated to 6th

Labour have won the Barnsley Central by-election, while the Lib Dems slipped to sixth in the South Yorkshire seat. UKIP, the Conservatives, the BNP and an independent all finished ahead of the Lib Dems, who came second in the seat in last May’s general election. Lib Dem candidate Dominic Carman said his party had been given “a kicking”, while Labour’s victorious Dan Jarvis said it was a message to the coalition. The seat’s previous Labour MP was jailed for fiddling his expenses. Labour got 14,724 votes in the by-election, extending their majority slightly to 11,771, but the turnout fell to 36.5%, compared with 56.4% at the last general election. Labour took 60.8% of the vote, UKIP’s Jane Collins 12.19%, the Conservatives’ James Hockney 8.25%, the BNP’s Enis Dalton 6.04%, Independent Tony Devoy 5.23% and the Liberal Democrats’ Dominic Carman 4.18%. Mr Carman lost his deposit as the party’s share of the vote fell from 17.2% in the 2010 general election to 4.1%. He said: “The voters here in Barnsley have given me and the Liberal Democrats a kicking. We can take it.” – BBC

The result was particularly grim for the Liberal Democrats whose vote fell sharply collapsed despite the party fielding an experienced candidate in Dominic Carman, son of the celebrated barrister George Carman. Voters took revenge on Nick Clegg, whose U-turn on student fees and hawkish line on cuts have made him particularly unpopular in South Yorkshire, where he represents Sheffield’s affluent Hallam constituency. His party was beaten by the BNP and a local independent as well as Labour, Ukip and the Tories.Labour’s Dan Jarvis, a former paratroop major, won an overwhelming share of the vote but on an abysmal turnout of 36.5% which left the coalition partners with humiliatingly low figures. Clegg and the prime minister David Cameron stayed away from the contest, after little evidence emerged that the disgrace of Illsley, Labour MP for 24 years, was damaging Labour’s campaign. A popular former miner, Illsley’s conviction and 12-month prison sentence caused genuine shock locally. – the Guardian

Nick Clegg has played down the significance of the Lib Dems’ sixth-placed finish in Barnsley, saying the by-election was “no contest for any non-Labour candidate”. Mr Clegg affirmed that he would not be swayed by the result and would continue to do what he considered “absolutely vital for the long-term benefit of the country”. Lord Paddy Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader, called on his party to stand firm in difficult curcumstances after they finished sixth in the Barnsley by-election, losing their deposit and polling behind the BNP. He told Today: “There’s a moment in the battle of Waterloo when the Duke of Wellington rides up and says: ‘Hard pounding gentlemen’. We’ve got to have the discipline and the toughness to stand there and take what needs to be done, do what needs to be done and take the flack for that while this country gets through the most difficult economic crisis it has faced for 40 or 50 years, probably longer than that.” – PolitcsHome

Jeremy Hunt green lights BSkyB deal

Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has given the green light for News Corporation to prepare an £8bn bid for the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own , setting up a showdown with investors in the satellite broadcaster who are determined to seek a deal worth at least £1bn more. In fact, Rupert Murdoch may have to pay even more to complete the controversial acquisition, after Hunt said he would grant regulatory approval so long as Murdoch agreed to spin off Sky News into a new company that remains 39% controlled by News Corporation. News Corp had already offered to demerge Sky News to fast-track its takeover bid of BSkyB, after Hunt said in January that the original plans raised issues about media plurality that would require investigation by the Competition Commission. Then in private negotiations last month Hunt said the concession still did not quite go far enough. – the Guardian

New MoD cuts warning

Senior figures at the MoD have warned that even the current programme of cuts will not be enough to balance the department’s budget for 2011-12. Only if the Treasury is prepared to raid its reserves and spend more on defence will the extra cuts be avoided, they have said. The warning came as ministers faced fresh calls to revisit last year’s controversial Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in the light of the recent crisis in Libya and the Middle East. The SDSR made a range of controversial cuts, scrapping HMS Ark Royal and Harrier jets and leaving Britain without a working aircraft carrier until 2020. Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has insisted that those cuts were necessary and will not be reversed. However, former military commanders have questioned the decisions made in the SDSR, calling for its conclusions to be reviewed. Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said recent events have called the entire SDSR exercise into question. “The country wants to know what the impact of government cuts will be on our defence capabilities and our ability to respond to crises,” he told the Royal United Services Institute. “The events of recent weeks demand a wider reassessment of the assumptions on which defence policy has been based.” – the Telegraph

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