December 24, 2019
One questioned has dominated conversations in Labour circles since the party’s crushing election defeat: how does it win back the “red wall” that crumbled to the Tories?
Why Labour Could Find It Hard To Depose Tories In The New ‘Blue Wall’
A “humbled” Boris Johnson has already promised to deliver for those who “lent” the Tories their votes in key seats, many for the first time ever, and is planning an investment blitz in the north.
Labour leadership contenders have read the signs and are wrestling with how to reconnect with working class voters, anticipating a second battle in post-industrial towns across England in the 2024 election.  
But as much as the next election will be fought on the usual grounds of personality, policy and values, does the simple presence of Tory MPs in areas for the first time in decades, or even ever, make life that much harder for Labour?
As Tory MP Lee Rowley, who in 2017 turned North East Derbyshire blue for the first time since 1935, told the Commons People podcast: “You get to prove to people with a perhaps natural reticence for the Conservative party... that actually we don’t turn up and eat children, we are vaguely house trained and actually we want to get stuff done for our communities.”
Rowley was one of four MPs who spoke to HuffPost UK about the power of incumbency, a little explored political phenomenon that could present Labour with an even bigger mountain to climb.Cash and visibility Tory Robert Goodwill, who won his Scarborough and Whitby seat in 2005 after eight years of Labour, and has held on to it ever since, suggests incumbency is “worth around 2,000 votes”.
And one of the principal reasons is straightforward – money.
Each newly elected Tory MP will have access to an expenses allowance for office costs and staff, while each defeated Labour MP will be immediately cut off.
“The Labour shop front in Redcar will be gone, and replaced by a Tory one,” as Goodwill puts it.
The former minister explains: “I’ve got an office right in the middle of town with my name on it and Conservative branding.
“You can hire 10 members of staff who can help you help constituents and get your messages out.
“You can hire staff including someone to do your press, who will get you in local media regularly.
“You can use the money to send information like newsletters, contact cards and so on.
“We put stickers up 10 years ago with my name and contact details which are still there on nearly every street in the town centre.”MPs can also use their new power and resources to help people in the area in the way a candidate never can – and word spreads.
“You get to help out around 500 constituents a year with their local issues, using your influence – that’s around 2,500 people over the course of a parliament and can make a real difference,” Goodwill says.TrustBut MPs should beware taking the value of incumbency for granted, according to Liberal Democrat ex-MP Norman Lamb.
The former minister was the first ever Lib Dem to win his North Norfolk seat in 2001 before standing down this year and seeing it immediately go back to the Tories.
His majority went up from 483 when he was first elected to a peak of 11,626 nine years later, which he describes as “the impact of incumbency”.
“Virtually everyone knew who I was and that doesn’t just happen – it happens through hard graft, really,” says Lamb.
“It’s body and soul territory. You give it everything and live and breathe it.”
Lamb says it was important to “maintain some humility” rather than “getting pumped up with your own self importance” and “disappearing from view”.If you’re going to change the political weather and keep it changed then people have to trust you to stick with youThis meant turning up to events like prizegivings or openings and “not just disappearing as soon as you’ve done it and treating people with a degree of contempt, but actually engaging with people and actually listening to them and taking up their issues”.
Lamb would also keep close to the local media to advance local causes as it is “much more trusted than the national media”.
“If someone had their wife stuck in hospital because a social care package hadn’t been arranged and it was going on for months, I would use the press to embarrass the county council into doing something,” he says.
“It’s all about trust.
“People, particularly when they are going to do something out of the ordinary, you know people can turn up and vote the way they have always voted based on a national campaign and without knowing who their local MP is and just carry on as before.
“But if you’re going to change the political weather and keep it changed then people have to trust you to stick with you, otherwise they will abandon you and go back to old ways.
“And that’s then all about how you go about doing the job.” Delivering locallyThe incumbency factor is gets multiplied when your party is in government as you can directly lobby ministerial colleagues.
Tory David Morris won Morecambe and Lunesdale for the Tories in 2010, deposing a Labour MP who had been in place since 1997, and has been highly focused in how he acts.
MPs “all do jobs in their own way” but he has “always tried to get big blocks of money for infrastructure projects, and I’ve delivered”.
Morris says his former opponent was more focused on helping individuals with their problems, whereas he helped secure the cash for a link road which had been planned for 60 years before finally being built while he was the MP.
A social media video he posted about a bridge repair got 1,800 views online, highlighting the power of these interventions.“If you’re an MP and you’ve been established for some time and you have got a track record of delivering, you will hopefully get re-elected,” Morris says.
“When I first stood in 2010, my predecessor was well thought of locally because she never came to parliament – she was basically a social worker instead of a legislator.
“You come here to create laws of the land, that’s your primary job.
“But what you can do to great effect if you are savvy enough to do it is find out where you can get the cash to make big differences in your constituency.”Pressing home the advantageUltimately, Rowley says that acting as a lightning rod for local concerns can go a long way. 
His Labour opponent in North East Derbyshire “made a decision” not to talk about the big issues in the seat because she was “busy chatting about all this massive stuff that was in the manifesto”.
He instead focused on the issues that mattered locally, spearheading a rebel campaign to get the government to U-turn and ban fracking.
It was seen as a brave decision for a new MP, but it was ultimately successful.North East Derbyshire - WE DID IT! Tonight the Government has announced it will no longer go ahead with fracking. Thanks to every single resident in or near to Marsh Lane who has fought for so long to achieve this outcome today! We said no - and we meant it! https://t.co/dM0JCIiyjv— Lee Rowley (@Lee4NED) November 1, 2019“There is an expectation now, you get stuck in, you try and advocate for your area and you don’t just do it in a way where you just ask a question in parliament once every three months and that’s enough,” he says.
“It is actually trying to influence where the communities go.”
Rowley adds: “There will be lots of people across the country now who will be waking up with new Tory MPs and it’s for my colleagues to demonstrate what they can do.
“A lot of those guys may have lent their votes, may not be fully convinced.
“There’s a lot of people who didn’t vote for me in 2017 but came over in 2019 and I think there’s a great opportunity there but we’ve got to deliver – we’ve got to do stuff.”Related... After Labour's Devastating Defeat, We Cannot Close Our Ears To Anger About Brexit I'm A Labour MP In A Sea Of Blue. Here's How We Win Back The Trust Of The Country Why Johnson’s Blue Collar Blueprint Feels Like A 10-Year Plan
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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