Labour raise prospects of pact with the SNP…

One might not have thought that there was much more that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could do to boost the prospects of the Conservatives at this point, but STV reports that his shadow Scottish Secretary has found a way.

According to The Herald, Dave Anderson, an English MP from the North East who also holds the Ulster brief, has since doubled down on his refusal to rule out a Lab-Nat pact after the next election – despite Kezia Dugdale, the party’s Scottish leader, being opposed.

Raising the prospect of having the SNP pulling the strings of a minority Labour administration is widely credited with finally breaking the poll deadlock and delivering the Conservatives’ shock majority last year.

…as Mundell warns Sturgeon not to let ‘fanatics’ get out of control

The Scottish Secretary has urged the First Minister of Scotland not to allow the hard-line wing of her party to push her into touting a second referendum, according to The Scotsman.

David Mundell’s message comes amidst fears that the extra dimension of uncertainty created by speculation about an accelerated re-run of 2014’s independence referendum is damaging Scottish businesses.

Nicola Sturgeon’s own party also spoke up this week: Angus Robertson warned that the SNP risked a second defeat if Scots felt a ‘Yes’ vote would make then poorer, and former Cabinet minister Alex Neil also warned against a Brexit-inspired rematch.

The Nationalists’ fixation on separation continues to distort domestic policy: the GMB union has alleged that Scotland is missing out on oil decommissioning contracts because the SNP won’t admit the industry is in decline.

On a personal note, Sturgeon’s father suffered an unexpected defeat when he sought to defend a Nationalist council seat this week, apparently because of unionist transfers from the Tories to Labour which cost the Nats control of the council.

Smith challenged by Bevan Foundation over Pfizer career

The Welsh Labour MP, who is challenging Corbyn for the leadership of the national party, has been challenged on his work for the pharmaceutical industry by the head of a left-wing think-tank.

Wales Online tells us that Paul Starling, who founded the “social justice think-tank” the Bevan Foundation, has laid down the gauntlet for a public debate after Owen Smith cited Aneurin Bevan as one of his heroes.

The challenger contends that the NHS needs such companies as it cannot make its own medicines, but opponents have latched onto a critical reporting on Pfizer in the Welsh media during the 2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election – in which Smith was the losing Labour candidate.


Democratic Unionists defend Brexit support

Arlene Foster, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, has defended her party’s decision to campaign for Brexit after attacks by their smaller rival, the Ulster Unionists.

The UUP have claimed that the reality of Britain’s decision “only appears to be dawning now” on the DUP, which they allege only supported Vote Leave in the expectation of defeat, according to the News Letter.

Foster described one would-be Ulster Unionist attack dog as a ‘chihuahua’, the Sun reports, after he accused her of a u-turn for writing to Theresa May to express her concerns about the Brexit process.

Meanwhile the farming unions of all four home nations have joined together to campaign to protect agricultural funding after Britain leaves the EU.

Welsh Labour accused of ‘cronyism’ over special adviser appointments

Peter Black, one of the Liberal Democrat assemblymen who lost their seats during the party’s near-wipe out in May, has accused Labour of ‘cronyism’ for appointing several special advisers without advertising the posts.

Wales Online reports that the recruitment process used to include external advertisement, but that this has not been the case since 2011.

In response, Labour pointed out that: special advisers are political appointments unlike other public jobs; the Lib Dems used the same practises at Westminster during the Coalition; and indeed the Welsh branch did the same when they were in government between 2000 and 2003.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives have accused Plaid Cymru, the separatists, of wanting to “have their cake and eat it” by simultaneously campaigning both for more UK money and independence.

Ulster Unionist attacks NI Executive on Military Covenant

Doug Beattie, a UUP MLA for Upper Bann who has published a best-selling book on his Armed Forces experiences, has criticised the Northern Ireland Executive for resiling from the UK’s commitment to the Military Covenant, according to the BBC.

After writing to the Executive to ask if they would appoint an Ulster representative to the group that oversees the Covenant, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) replied that it had “not been adopted here”.

Beattie argues that this is impossible, as military issues are reserved to Westminster and therefore applied on a UK-wide basis.