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  1. Newsnight Live is your one stop shop for post election news and analysis from the Newsnight team, updated throughout the day

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Lib Dem membership spike

Jenny Parks, Newsnight producer

Lib Dem logo
BBC News

They got a drubbing in the General Election but the Lib Dems – or at least their media operation - seem determinedly unbowed. Since polling day they have been enthusiastically tweeting under #LibDemFightback about the number of new joiners that they have attracted:

And we've topped 12,000 members! Why not join too? #LibDemFightback

And we've topped 12,000 members! Why not join too? #LibDemFightback

I wondered if this always happened after an election - a result of the extra exposure perhaps? But it seems for the Lib Dems at least, it's not the case. I asked the press office to send me the figures outlining the increase in membership figures for each month following the last four General Elections. Here they are:

1997 – 2,000 new joiners (this was in the halcyon days when the party still boasted 99,000 members)

2001 – no new joiners and membership declined 

2005 – no new joiners and membership declined

2010 – new joiners before election but no significant increase afterwards and membership continued to decline.

So it looks as if 12,000+ card carriers is something to shout about - even if it still leaves them tailing the Tories, Labour, SNP and the Greens on overall membership.

'The Thrill is Gone'

BB King obituary

Stephen Smith

BBC Newsnight Culture correspondent

BB King
Getty images

BB King was hailed as one of the greatest blues musicians of all time.

His vibrato style of playing influenced a generation of rock and blues guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Rolling Stone magazine once ranked BB King in third place in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, just below Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman.

His output crossed musical barriers, from jazz and blues to mainstream pop.

He was born Riley B King in Indianola, Mississippi, on 16 September 1925. His parents were sharecroppers and, as a young boy, he helped them work in the fields.

The family struggled. "When you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is," King later said, "you're not doing so well."

The sound of his co-workers hollering the blues was his first introduction to the style of music that he was to help take from a purely black American audience into the mainstream.

BB King
Getty Images

He bought his first guitar when he was barely a teenager so he could play at church services. In 1947 he moved to Memphis where he busked on the streets until he found work as a radio disc jockey at station WDIA.

He was introduced as "The Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to BB. He also built a reputation as a guitarist in the Beale Street blues clubs.

He later said: "I've said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice."

It was while playing in one of the clubs that a fight broke out over a woman, causing a fire. After rushing out of the wooden building, he realised that he had left his guitar behind.


He risked his life by going back in to rescue his instrument. He named it after the woman whose charms had been behind the trouble: Lucille.

I have put up with more humiliation than I care to remember

BB King

After making his first record in 1949, he went on to top the rhythm and blues charts two years later with Three O'Clock Blues. The song remained at number one for 17 weeks.

Many of his early recordings were produced by the legendary Sam Phillips who went on to found Sun Records.

On the strength of this success, he was able to work across the US and he performed at such venues as the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. Further hits included Sweet Black Angel, Rock Me Baby and Every Day I Have the Blues.

He played more than 300 gigs on the so-called Chitlin' Circuit, the collection of performance venues in what were then racially segregated southern states where it was safe for black musicians to perform.

King said: "I have put up with more humiliation than I care to remember.

"Touring a segregated America, forever being stopped and harassed by white cops hurt you most 'cos you didn't realise the damage. You hold it in."


It was thanks to the influence of British bands such as the Yardbirds, the Animals and the Rolling Stones that white audiences, first in the UK and later in America, began to embrace the blues.

BB King began to be accepted in venues that had long been closed to black musicians. One of his more moving moments was when he was given a standing ovation by a mainly white audience at the Fillmore West theatre in San Francisco in 1968.

BB King and Eric Clapton
Getty images

He later recalled that he had berated his bus driver for bringing him to the wrong venue after seeing the overwhelmingly white faces in the queues of people waiting to get in.

The same year, he made his first tour of Europe. He returned many times, becoming as popular there as at home.

He had a UK top 20 hit with The Thrill is Gone in 1969, but his most successful single came with the band U2 in 1989 with When Love Comes To Town.

Ladies, friends and music - without those three I wouldn't wanna be here

BB King

In 2000 he collaborated with long-time fan, and blues purist, Eric Clapton on the album Riding with the King.

King returned to Mississippi each year to visit his numerous children from a number of relationships.

He once said: "Ladies, friends and music - without those three, I wouldn't wanna be here."

King was still touring in his 80s, having played more than 15,000 live gigs during his career.

He also made a point of playing regular concerts in prisons across the US.

King was once asked what motivated him to keep up his punishing schedule of live performances.

"I would like very much to make them happy," he replied. "I want them, when they leave the venue, to say 'I enjoyed myself'."

Speaking your mind

What do past Queen's (and King's) Speeches tell us about what is to come?

Marc Williams

Newsnight Election Producer

Her Majesty delivers the Queen's Speech in 1999
AP/Michael Stevens/WPA Rota
Her Majesty delivers the Queen's Speech in 1999

In a couple of weeks' time (27th May, to be precise), the Queen's Speech will set out the priorities of the new majority Tory Government. The first Queen's Speech (or King's Speech before 1955) of a new government is crucial in setting out what its direction will be. 

Sometimes they are derailed by events (the Iraq War came after an amazingly anodyne-sounding Queen's Speech in 2001, for example), but there are many cases where the seeds of a government's success or destruction are clearly in evidence from the beginning. Here are links to the first Gracious Address of each Government since the war, with a key passage from each on foreign and domestic policy.  

Aneurin Bevin and Clement Attlee
Prime Minister Clement Attlee (right) with Aneurin Bevin in 1945


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

"My Ministers will submit to you the Charter of the United Nations…The devastating new weapon which science has now placed in the hands of humanity should bring home to all the lesson that the nations of the world must abolish recourse to war or perish by mutual destruction.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

"You will be asked to approve measures to provide a comprehensive scheme of insurance against industrial injuries, to extend and improve the existing scheme of social insurance and to establish a national health service.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government will do their utmost to ensure the success of the Council of Europe… My Ministers will maintain the closest relations with the other Powers signatory to the North Atlantic and Brussels Treaties.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

The world shortage of dollars, in which this country has shared, has again been eased by generous help from the United States of America and Canada.


(The King was unwell and didn’t make the speech in person. It was instead read by the Lord High Chancellor)

Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government regard the abrogation by the Egyptian Government of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of Alliance of 1936 and the Sudan Condominium Agreements of 1899 as illegal and without validity. ..In the meantime they will maintain their position in the Canal Zone under the terms of the 1936 Treaty and will safeguard the international highway.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

The measures…must include drastic action to reduce the growing inflation in our economy which threatens the maintenance of our defence programme and which, if unchecked, must cause a continuing rise in the cost of living. My Government regard this problem as overshadowing all other domestic matters.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

The United Nations, the Atlantic Alliance and the new association of Western European Union will all receive [My Government's] whole-hearted support.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Government will actively promote the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] have entered into negotiations for setting up a free trade association of seven countries in Europe, and intend that this should assist in the establishment of wider European trading arrangements which will be in the best interests of the Commonwealth and of the world as a whole.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

In order to develop a sound system of communications throughout the country, My Government will press forward with their policy of building new highways and improving existing roads.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

"In international affairs it will be the principal purpose of My Ministers to seek to reduce East-West tension. To this end they will give renewed and more vigorous support to the United Nations in its vital rôle of freeing the world from the threat of war.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Government will initiate early action to re-establish the necessary public ownership and control of the iron and steel industry.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

A particular concern of My Ministers will be to use all available means to achieve a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Vietnam… [My Government] would be ready to enter the European Economic Community provided essential British and Commonwealth interests were safeguarded.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

A prime aim of My Government's policy will be to restore equilibrium in the external balance of payments. They are determined to maintain the strength of sterling.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government have welcomed the opening on the 30th of June of negotiations for membership of the European Communities. In these negotiations they will seek to reach agreement on terms fair to all concerned and will remain in close consultation with our Commonwealth and EFTA partners and with the Irish Republic.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Ministers will support the Northern Ireland Government in their efforts to promote peace and harmony among all communities on the basis of equality and freedom from discrimination, and to further the prosperity of the Province


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government will seek a fundamental renegotiation of the terms of entry to the European Economic Community. After these negotiations have been completed, the results will be put to the British people.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Ministers will set in hand urgent action to improve energy supplies, to secure their efficient use and to ensure that oil and gas from the Continental Shelf are exploited in ways and on terms which will confer maximum benefit on the community, and particularly in Scotland and the regions elsewhere in need of development.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government will energetically continue their renegotiation of the terms of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community. Within 12 months the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether, in the light of the outcome of the negotiations, this country should retain its membership

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

At Home, My Government, in view of the gravity of the economic situation, will as their most urgent task seek the fulfilment of the social contract as an essential element in their strategy for curbing inflation, reducing the balance of payments deficit.

Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street after becoming Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street after becoming Prime Minister


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] will press for a fairer pattern of budgetary and resource transfers in the European Economic Community. They welcome the development of the European monetary system and will consider afresh the question of the participation of the United Kingdom in its various aspects.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Government will give priority in economic policy to controlling inflation through the pursuit of firm monetary and fiscal policies…My Government intend to achieve a fair balance between the rights and duties of the trade union movement.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] will modernise the existing independent nuclear deterrent with the Trident programme and will maintain adequate conventional forces

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

Legislation will be introduced to prepare for the introduction of private finance into nationalised industries, including British Telecommunications, and the Royal Ordnance Factories


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] will fulfil their responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong and will continue to co-operate with the Chinese Government to carry out the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

A Bill will be introduced to abolish domestic rates in England and Wales and to make new arrangements for the finance of local government.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] will lay before Parliament the treaty of Maastricht and introduce a Bill to implement it.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Government are committed to increasing the role of the railways in meeting the country's transport needs. Legislation will be introduced to enable the private sector to operate rail services. 

Tony Blair after his election victory in 1997
Tony Blair after his election victory in 1997


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

[My Government] will play a full part in the debate about Economic and Monetary Union. [It] will work for the early and successful enlargement of the European Union.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

A Bill will be introduced to give the Bank of England operational responsibility for setting interest rates, in order to deliver price stability and support the Government's overall economic policy, within a framework of enhanced accountability. My Government will also ensure that public borrowing is controlled through tough fiscal rules and that the burden of public debt is kept at a stable and prudent level.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

In the United Nations, my Government will support a more modern and representative Security Council, and work to make conflict prevention and peacekeeping more effective

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

My Government will enable a free vote to take place on the future of hunting with dogs.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government will support the Iraq Transitional Government and Transitional National Assembly as they write a constitution and prepare for future elections. My Government will continue to assist the government of Afghanistan.

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

Proposals will be brought forward to continue the fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.


Key passages (Foreign Policy)

My Government will introduce legislation to ensure that in future this Parliament and the British people have their say on any proposed transfer of powers to the European Union

Key passages (Domestic Policy)

Action will be taken to accelerate the reduction of the structural budget deficit.

The "liberation" of Chuka Umunna

Allegra Stratton

Newsnight Political Editor

Chuka Umunna feels "liberated", he told me by his decision to quit the Labour leadership race. He hopes to be given a good role (Shadow Chancellor, I wonder?) by whoever becomes Labour leader. And I expect he'll become very high profile in the campaign to keep Britain in Europe, which is increasingly looking like it will be next May. He'll endorse a candidate in the next four weeks before nominations close. It will be very interesting to see who he piles in behind.

Sources close to the 36-year-old say there hadn't been a single day of the Labour leadership contest so far that he had enjoyed. Apparently his mum returned home one night, in the dark, to find a reporter waiting for her. When Umunna turned up at Labour's HQ with his friend Rachel Reeves, the jostling was so bad he had to work hard to prevent the heavily pregnant Reeves from getting hurt. Many will say he got out to avoid damaging stories appearing in the press - I think he got out because of a milder variant of this: he had no idea how intense the scrutiny could be. He didn't feel ready. And he has a life outside politics that he wasn't prepared to give up. He's doing an interview with the Sunday Times so we'll hear from him at the weekend.

Those close to the Umunna machine are crest fallen their guy is out but they also have worries about how the race might now unfold. The chief criticism against Umunna was that as a London MP he would not help the party address its new existential threat (the last wave was the SNP): UKIP being second in so many of Labour's Northern seats. The riff against Umunna was that somebody so metropolitan would not help there. His allies point out that actually Survation polling suggested he would do well with Labour's UKIP waverers. They also suggest that it would be an error to go with a leader that addresses the UKIP problem alone. They warn that if the party isn't careful it will vacate the South completely. They point out that there will be a new PM in 2020 come what may... Labour needs to be very focussed to make sure whoever it picks, fits that bill.

Mark Urban, Diplomatic Editor

The @ChukaUmunna & @DanJarvisMP decisions on #Labourleadership should remind journos that they are part of the 'price' ppl don't want to pay

James Clayton, Politics Producer

So the two candidates that the Tories were most worried about - @ChukaUmunna and @DanJarvisMP are not standing. Sighs of relief in CCHQ

Allegra Stratton, Political Editor

2/ I expect him to play a v high profile role in the IN camp during the EU referendum. His endorsement in next 4 weeks will be interesting

Spoken to @ChukaUmunna. Says "it's quite a liberation" to have withdrawn. Sad reflection on public life that someone so talented wants out

Chuka Umunna withdraws

Laura Kuenssberg

Newsnight Chief Correspondent

This leadership race is seven days old. But already one of the most likely victors has pulled out.

Chuka Umunna, the youngest candidate, has withdrawn his bid, mysterious given just four days ago he was explaining to the world why he wanted to reform his party and run the country one day.

So what's happened? His team was confident he would have attracted sufficient support to stand. There's also the usual swirl of rumours abounding online, that a Sunday newspaper was on the verge of revealing all on his private life.

We'll see. But sources close to him though deny this is the case. He has never been shy of the cameras. But it seems he was taken aback by the increased levels of attention he was getting, and not just him, but members of his family finding reporters on their door late at night. At the age of 36 it seems he just didn't want to put himself, or those close to him through continued and regular press attention. But might he run another time in the future? I certainly wouldn't rule it out. There are plenty of people who think five years is not enough to rebuild Labour. Maybe waiting this one out isn't so surprising after all.

His absence from the race of course makes it easier for the others to gather MP's signatures - it's more likely now that Tristram Hunt, another moderniser, might be able to get the numbers. Liz Kendall from a similar spectrum of the party also stands to gain.