Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’
It’s here, the much-anticipated second leader’s debate. What will happen? Will Clegg triumph again? Will Brown again posture towards the Lib-Dems or will he try to go it alone? Will Cameron finally bring up his Big Society policy, even though it has nothing to do with foreign affairs, the topic for the second debate?
Below is a brief synopsis of how I think it will go for each leader.
His star is shining bright, so there will be sky high expectations of him. Unfortunately, foreign affairs is probably the Lib-Dems worst subject. Clegg has flip-flopped on the Euro issue and now says taking on the Euro would be a mistake, but at the same time, it is there in black and white in the Lib-Dem manifesto that one day the UK should accept the Euro. Essentially, the Lib-Dems love Europe, especially Clegg. This isn’t necessarily going to go down well with some swing voters, but the question is, how many of these people are actually going to vote for the Lib-Dems anyway?
Clegg is also in an interesting position as expectations are high. Brown and especially Cameron are going to try to ground him. But all Clegg has to do is misquote Reagan again and again - “There they go again” in response to the two bigger parties’ attacks. He probably doesn’t need to answer a question other than make everyone feel sorry for the little guy. I feel this is the best option, because going on the attack and trying to be equal to Labour and the Tories on foreign policy is a mistake - because he’d lose.
If Clegg is under pressure, Cameron is under just as much if not more. He has to up his game significantly from the first debate, where he forgot to mention his key domestic policies. Problem is, foreign affairs isn’t the Tories strongest subject and they have been out of power for 13 years, so their international reputation may not be as strong as they’d like it to be.
Cameron will be hit on his ‘iron clad guarantee’ for a referendum on Europe. It obviously isn’t going to happen and there are a lot of conservatives, not party members, just conservatives, who don’t trust his Europe policies. Likewise, Brown and Clegg are both going to hammer him on the Conservative’s relationships within Europe, including his Polish partners.
His promise to keep an independent DFID and legislate a 0.7% aid budget will also come under fire from ultra-conservative voters. I know many aid groups are pleasantly surprised by this, but when you can’t secure your base, it’s not the best strategy to try to out flank your opposition from the left.
Cameron is also going to mention the Iran question, but his intervention during the green revolution was reported by some as a gaffe. The UK and the USA statements focused on a “we’re watching with interest”, because they knew public support of the protestors would enable the Iranian officials to claim the unrest was caused by UK and USA intervention. However, Cameron came out and decried the lack of support from Brown to the protestors and publically stated that the protestors had the support of the UK people. This was naive foreign policy.
Gordon Brown has relationships overseas, in fact believe it or not, he is very well-respected internationally, in 2009 he was voted world statesmen of the year and is respected overseas more than in the UK. This is his biggest trump card and needs to play it. This is hugely beneficial for issues such as the Tobin Tax, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general. Afghanistan funding will again be a weak spot due to issues such as the numbers of helicopters etc.
He also needs to be more forceful I feel. Although he performed above expectations in the last debate, I think the Iron Chancellor needs to be on the stage. Due to the lack of audience interaction, jokes don’t necessarily play well on TV due to the silence in the studio - it makes it sound like the joke has fallen flat. Brown did well confronting Cameron on the police issues in the first debate and I thought the “it’s answer time not question time”, was effective. He needs to do it again, especially on Europe.
Brown is less pro-EU that Clegg, he keeps Europe at an arm’s length, but with an open palm, not a clenched fist. This will make voters feel more comfortable.
But he still has the image problem and that will be his biggest weakness.
All-in-all, it will be a fascinating evening and I’m looking forward to seeing the polls the next day.
Cross posted with my personal blog
Tags: afghanistan, Brown, cameron, clegg, Conservatives, debate, election, eu, Europe, foreign policy, International Development, labour, Lib Dems, polls
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Well today is the day of the long-awaited pre-election budget. It is a budget presented in the backdrop of a slowly recovering UK economy, just weeks before a General Election. For both Labour and the Conservatives it is a chance for some heavy hitting and potential national poll gains.
Alistair Darling is undoubtedly in a difficult position for today’s Budget as the UK is recovering from a severe recession and is saddled with a heavy budget deficit. To reflect this he has said that today’s budget will be a ’sensible, workmanlike’ set of proposals.
This suggests there may not be pre-election giveaways, although there are some potential vote winning measures being suggested in the press. It is thought that the Chancellor will propose a halt in the rise of petrol duty and scrapping stamp duty on house sales above £250,000 as well as creating a £1bn green fund for nuclear and wind power investment.
In terms of difficult and potentially unpopular decisions Mr Darling is likely to announce the removal of tax credits for people earning above £100,000 and a freezing of all income tax bands, which will mean people pay more tax on their earnings. This comes on top of the 50p higher rate of income tax, which comes into force next month.
Ruder Finn will be looking out for key proposals as they are announced and you can follow this via twitter at @ruderfinnuk.
As a final comment on today’s budget I would suggest that the big question to bear in mind for this budget is: with a General Election just weeks away can the Conservatives effectively critique today’s budget and increase their poll rating, particularly on the economy, or will Labour come through this potentially tricky budget unscathed?
Tags: alistair darling, Budget, Conservatives, labour
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The Queen’s Speech, which took place last Wednesday, went as we predicted with proposals announced on fiscal responsibility, financial services, constitutional reform, education and energy amongst others. The Speech was short and to the point with only 13 bills and 2 draft bills announced and no announcements on Health (one of the largest Government departments), immigration or MPs’ expenses.
The Speech was touted as being the most political for a decade, as was to be expected with a General Election taking place next year and once the Queen had left Parliament Gordon Brown and David Cameron drew the battle lines. The Prime Minster defended the speech saying that it showed that the Government was ’standing up for Britain’ and criticised the Conservatives over their inheritance tax policy, whilst the Leader of the Opposition responded by calling the Speech ‘half-baked’ and a ‘waste of the country’s time’. These soundbites, like the contents of the Speech itself, were not particularly surprising.
There is now a period of reflection in the House of Commons as the Speech will be debated for no fewer than 6 days. With that in mind we gathered together leading parliamentarians to see what they made of the speech:
Dr Des Turner MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown
“Given that the Parliamentary Session will be shortened by the General Election this was a very ambitious Queen’s Speech, containing very real and useful legislation.
I totally disagree with those who think it is simply part of the Election manifesto - such claims are very wide of the mark.
These measures are very important and legislation like the care for the elderly Bill are part of a long overdue revolution for people who are in the latter part of their lives.”
Chloe Smith MP
Conservative Member of Parliament for Norwich North
“For me the Queen’s Speech was a mixed bag. For the most part it was all about the Labour Party serving itself rather than the country. It was a case of politics not Government.
There were a number of measures that simply served to create the next Labour election manifesto and you have to ask yourself if these measures are so important then why have they taken 12 years to be implemented? Furthermore, a number of measures were policies that the Government should be getting on with anyway rather than legislating on.
Having said that there was one measure that my constituents might welcome, which was the announcement on flood defences.”
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Spokesperson for the Home Office
“The Queen’s Speech has rightly been criticised for pretending that so many Bills can be passed in the few days of Parliamentary sittings before the 2010 general election. When there is no chance of getting most of them into law it is farcical.
I hoped there would be more realism but this is obviously just for the shop window. Nobody would guess that six months from now a new government will have to make huge spending cuts.
The absence of any mention of a referendum on electoral reform, widely supported in all three parties, is a serious disappointment.”
Tags: Brighton Kemptown, chloe smith, Conservatives, David Cameron, Des Turner, Gordon Brown, Labour Party, Liberal Democrat, Lord Avebury, norwich north, politics, Queen's Speech
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The Queen's Speech - far from a royal affair.
On Wednesday this week the Queen will stand before the House of Lords and present the Government’s agenda for the coming year. This is an extremely important event; a chance for the Government to highlight its upcoming priorities and for the opposition parties to take them to task over their proposals and suggest how they would do things differently. With a General Election to be called by June 2010, this is to be the last Queen’s Speech before the election. For this reason I’d like to take a look at the importance of the speech and give some predictions of what to look out for:
Why is the Queen’s Speech important?
I think there are three fundamental reasons that this year’s Queen’s Speech is so critical:
- Policy: In a normal year the Queen’s Speech is important because it sets out the Government’s policy agenda for the coming year and outlines the Bills that will be proposed. As this is an election year the speech is essential as it is one of the Government’s last chances to state publicly and formally their agenda for the coming year and stake a claim to hold onto power come the election. It is also a good opportunity to draw the battle lines with the Conservative Party on key policy issues such as finance, education, crime and health ahead of the General Election. For this reason the opposition parties will be looking to discredit the Government and highlight their own policy priorities
- The Polls: 4 of the last 5 UK polls have put the Conservative Party 14 points ahead of the Labour Government with the Lib Dems trailing 4-10 points behind Labour. Taking the average scores for each party over the last five polls the Conservative Party would have a majority of 58 if these trends were reflected at the next General Election. But just a 2 point drop for the Conservatives and a 2 point rise for the Labour Party would deliver a hung parliament. So for Labour the Queen’s Speech is a chance to showcase a range of policies and hopefully reduce the Conservative Party’s poll lead. For both opposition parties it is a chance to analyse Gordon Brown’s proposals; discredit them and promote their own policies. It is important for the Conservative Party and Lib Dems not to give way significantly to Labour in the polls and it gives the opposition parties a chance to look at some of Labour’s headline policies in detail and criticise them publicly
- Time is running out: With only 70 more sitting days of Parliament until the next election Labour only have three big opportunities to state their case before the election is called: The Queen’s Speech; the Pre-Budget Report and the Budget. Of those three opportunities the Queen’s Speech is most focused on policy direction and prospective bills and sets the policy agenda. Also, it does not have to focus so much on important economic figures such as economic growth and unemployment, which have been sources of distress during the economic downturn. The opposition parties will be keen for the Government not to steal a march in the polls on the back of the Queen’s Speech. They will see it as a small victory if the polls do not radically change on the back of the Queen’s speech as it will mean that Labour are running out of high profile opportunities to change public perception.
What is predicted?
The Speech: It is suggested that Gordon Brown will go for a short sharp Queen’s Speech highlighting headline bills on: fiscal responsibility; social care; energy; policing and crime; health and education. Gordon Brown is clearly gearing these bills up to be the basis for his election manifesto and it is being suggested that the Bills to be proposed are specifically targeted at areas that the Conservatives have opposed, such as targets in the NHS and the DNA database. This is clearly throwing the gauntlet down to the Conservatives Party and defining the political battlegrounds between the two main parties before the election. The Government are looking to take the initiative and outmanoeuvre the Conservative Party in key policy areas.
The Conservative response: The Conservatives are likely to oppose the Speech in two different ways. Firstly, David Cameron will almost certainly criticise Gordon Brown for announcing policies late in the day; not having the time to bring them through before the next General Election and that this is blatant headline chasing, which does not change the fact that Gordon Brown has lost the voters’ trust. Secondly, each Shadow Secretary of State will outline both the principles they disagree with in the Speech and the detail. They will be looking to define their position in opposition to the Government’s proposals. The Conservative Party will face a race against time; they will want to wrest control of the electoral battleground from Labour by defusing any popular Labour announcements made in the Speech and highlighting their counter measures. David Cameron will want to try and focus media attention on Gordon Brown’s weakness and the failings in the Speech rather than allowing the media debate to focus on Brown’s new policy announcements.
The Lib Dem approach: As the third largest party the Lib Dems are in a difficult position. The Leader, Nick Clegg, has come out and called for the Queen’s Speech to be scrapped in favour of an emergency announcement on political reform. Clearly this is not a viable option as the speech is a long-standing tradition, but it has given Nick Clegg front-page media attention before the Speech and gives him a platform from which to discredit the Government’s proposals. For Nick Clegg it is a case of chasing any possible headlines lest the Lib Dems be sidelined in favour of the main battle between the Conservative Party and Labour Government.
These are just predictions of course, so follow Ruder Finn on this blog and on Twitter (@Ruderfinnuk) on Wednesday 18th of November from 11am for our build up and live minute-by-minute analysis of the Queen’s Speech.
Please leave your own predictions or any insights as I would love to have a flavour of any important issues people are focusing on or awaiting from the speech.
Tags: Conservatives, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Government, labour, Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Queen's Speech
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Well, it has happened, the first big UK political name has been brought down by British bloggers. I won’t go into a detailed discussion on the events because if you are reading this post, you will likely know the story (here is a good synopsis here in the Telegraph). But to quickly recap, Damian McBride, a senior figure within Downing Street, albeit behind the scenes, has been brought down by the power of blogging and it looks like another senior Labour character, Derek Draper, is also losing in the battle of the bloggers between his blog, Labour List and Paul Staines, who runs the conservative blog, Guido Fawkes.
The point I want to make here, instead of getting into the history of “Emailgate”, is that both Labour and the Tories are seemingly struggling to understand how to campaign online and their efforts seem all very ad hoc with no real direction. Draper himself admitted only in February that he didn’t know the difference between “my RSS from my elbow” and from my standpoint, there has very little positive interaction with the voting public so far. While Guido Fawkes, as the name suggests, is just trying to bring down the Labour Government, although his aim is to replace it with a Conservative one and doesn’t have the anarchic goals of his namesake.
Its obvious Labour has set up their web presence to try and get some kind of Obamaesque traction on the blogosphere and from voters, after all, I may be cynical, but it is an awfully big coincidence that Draper and Co. devised Labour List in November, around the time of Obama’s victory. And as I have mentioned in a previous blog, the Conservative’s seem to be behind in this regard.
However, Labour List, Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale, another high-profile Conservative blogger, seem to just snipe and battle each other from across the political spectrum. While this is interesting from the point of view of a political junkie like myself, Becky McMichael, a colleague and fellow blogger, put it perfectly - they are just preaching to the converted.
There is no real engagement, no real message, no grass roots campaigning, no real harnessing of support from people who don’t already support either party.
There is a new post on Labour List by Mark Hansen titled “Labour is gaining fast online: Don’t let Guido wreck it“, where the author states “Just ten days ago a ragbag group of Labour bloggers and campaigners was gathered (organised by Derek Draper) to offer ideas as to how to build the resources on Labourlist and make it more useful to Party members at constituency level. How to build this Labour-minded community.”
Mr Hansen has summed up Labour’s and the other party’s problem quite succinctly without knowing it - they are trying to engage with Party members and registered supporters. These people won’t win you an election, it is the swinging voters who get you elected, any student of electoral politics will tell you that. They must deliver their message outward, not just inward.
Peter Mandelson wrote in his first blog on Labour List about new media and the fact that “we have to recognise that the days of command and control are over. Instead we need to learn to embrace and engage.” I guess they are still learning.
Cross posted with my personal blog.
Tags: blog, Conservatives, Damian McBride, Derek Draper, e-campaigning, emailgate, Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, labour, labour list, Mandelson, Mark Hansen, online campaiging, Paul Staines, web 2.0
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