James Heale

James Heale

James Heale is The Spectator’s political correspondent.

Farage’s ‘contract’ is all about hurting the Tories

Nigel Farage has launched his party’s manifesto, which he’s termed ‘Our contract with you’. The Reform leader dropped the word ‘manifesto’, claiming the word is synonymous in voters’ minds with ‘lies’. Farage told attendees he’d chosen Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales for today’s launch to highlight Labour’s record there, yet the document’s contents indicate that

Farage: I am now the ‘Leader of the Opposition’

After the first poll was published showing Reform ahead of the Tories, there was only one thing for Nigel Farage to do: hold an emergency press conference at the heart of Westminster. This afternoon journalists scrambled over to the Wellington Hotel to hear what Farage had to say after reaching the long-awaited ‘crossover’ moment when

Sunak plays it safe with his manifesto

With three weeks to go until polling day, Rishi Sunak this morning unveiled his prospectus for a Conservative government. There had been much talk that the Tory manifesto would have a big, bold policy to win back voters: perhaps the abolition of inheritance tax or maybe a referendum on the European Court of Human Rights.

James Heale

What can we expect in the Tory manifesto?

Day two of manifesto week will see the Conservatives launch their prospectus for government. At a chunky 77 pages, the document aims to set out what the Tories intend to do if given another five years. Rishi Sunak’s party has already announced a slew of policies in the campaign (from mandatory national service to more

Will the Lib Dem manifesto win over the ‘Blue Wall’?

Sir Ed Davey kicked off manifesto week by launching his party’s document this afternoon in East London. In true Lib Dem style, it is a weighty tome of 114 pages – the product of months of painstaking care by party strategists. Their task was to reconcile the desires of the activist base with the demands

Why Tory MPs are angry with their chairman

Today is the deadline for Conservative candidates to be selected – and one man made it just under the wire. Richard Holden, the party chairman, was last night selected for the constituency of Basildon and Billericay after an acrimonious selection process. Under party rules, if a seat is vacant within 48 hours of the nomination

Will Vaughan Gething follow Truss and Yousaf?

There’s something in the British waters right now – and it’s not Ed Davey on his paddleboard. After Liz Truss in Westminster and Humza Yousaf at Holyrood, could Vaughan Gething be the next leader of a UK government to find himself out of office in a record space of time? The Welsh First Minister this

James Heale

Reform’s Farage poll bounce spells trouble for the Tories

‘I’m back’. Nigel Farage’s two-word tweet on Monday heralded the return of one of Westminster’s great celebrities. Barely 48 hours later, we are already seeing the impact that he is making in the polls. A YouGov survey published this afternoon suggests Reform are now on 17 per cent of the vote – just two points

James Heale

Tory favourites enjoy mixed success in safe seats

Claims of stitch-ups in seat selections are as old as the Tory party itself. But the chaotic nature of this snap election and the Conservatives’ poor polling have produced an especially angry reaction among elements of the party grassroots. With Tory nominations set to close tomorrow, only one ‘safe’ seat now remains: Basildon and Billericay,

What will Tory leadership hopefuls do about Farage?

What comes next? That is what many Tories are asking as they stare down the barrel of defeat. Even before Nigel Farage’s re-entry into the election campaign, most had privately conceded that the election was lost. An MRP/YouGov poll out yesterday suggested that the Tories are on course to win just 140 seats – the

Why Farage is back as Reform leader

He’s back. After all the teasing and all the rhetoric, Nigel Farage has finally announced his return as Reform leader. Having initially pledged that he would not stand at this election, he told a 100-strong room in Westminster: ‘I’ve changed my mind.’ He will now stand as Reform’s candidate in Clacton – the only seat Ukip

James Heale

What is Nigel Farage planning?

Nigel Farage continues to tease Westminster with his endless ‘will he, won’t he?’ dance. The former Ukip leader is hosting an ‘emergency press conference’ at 4pm amid speculation that he will announce he is standing as a candidate for Reform. It’s been a rollercoaster fortnight for Farage. His initial response to the election was to rule himself

Mega-poll suggests worst ever Tory result

Another day brings another devastating poll for the Tories. The first MRP polling of the election campaign is out and it makes for grim reading for Rishi Sunak. A 10,000-strong survey by Electoral Calculus for the Daily Mail suggests that the Conservative party could receive just 66 seats – its worst result in history –

James Heale

Labour’s parachute regiment bolsters the Starmtroopers

If you put the Diane Abbott row to one side, it has been a very successful week for the clique who control Labour’s candidate selections. Rishi Sunak’s decision to call an election eight days ago means that the National Executive Committee can now impose who they want on constituencies across the country. More than 100

James Heale

I’ll still work with Trump, says Starmer

Keir Starmer really is a lucky general. The news that Donald Trump has been convicted of 34 felonies helped ensure that the Labour leader faced questions this morning about the former president, rather than the Diane Abbott selection storm. On his visit to Scotland, Starmer told the BBC that a Labour government would be willing

Police drop investigation into Rayner housing claims

Labour’s election campaign continues to get off to a good start. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has today confirmed that it will take no further action against Angela Rayner after accusations surrounding her living arrangements. Officers from the force launched an investigation into the party’s deputy leader in April after Tory MP James Daly registered a

James Heale

Farage speaks of ‘six-year plan’ as he launches campaign

The Royal Cinque Ports Yachts Club was an appropriate place for Nigel Farage to make his first big speech of the election campaign today. Set on the Dover seafront, it offered the perfect setting for Farage – Reform’s honorary president and spiritual figurehead – to lambast the Tory record on small boats. The Conservatives, he

Tories race to find 160 candidates

The decision to call a snap election last Wednesday caught many in Tory and Labour high command by surprise. Both parties are now racing to finalise candidate selections for all 630 seats in Britain by the deadline of Friday 7 June, with Labour much further advanced in this process than the Conservatives. Fewer than 35

Sunak’s smoking ‘legacy’ goes up in flames 

When Rishi Sunak announced his decision to call a July election, he used his rain-soaked speech to list his apparent achievements in office. This included his plans for a ‘smoke-free generation’: We set out a comprehensive plan to reform our welfare system to make it fair to those who pay for it as well as those who need it. Immigration is finally coming down and we will stop the boats with our Rwanda partnership. We will ensure that the