Posts Tagged ‘election’
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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On the 4th of January The Conservative Party launched their election campaign by releasing this new 15-ft wide poster, which is erected on 759 sites across the country. Already it has been one of the talking points of the election campaign and like marmite, people either love or hate it. So, I wanted to have a look at the key features that are drawing attention:
The face: The Conservative Party have conceded that the face has had ‘minor’ airbrushing. Left-wing critics have drawn attention to this saying it shows his preoccupation with style, whilst the Conservatives say the picture was chosen partly by Samantha Cameron as it was serious-looking.
The clothes: Cameron is shown without a tie, which has become a common feature of his leadership. Apparently this was developed by Steve Hilton, his PR guru, to show that he is both in touch and ready for business. Advertisers have said that this image gives off a strong message of his willingness to get on with the job of Prime Minister.
The text: The use of the term ‘I’ in the second sentence has been used to emphasise Cameron’s popularity over Gordon Brown, advertisers suggest. Combined with the photo it emphasises him rather than the party as the selling point to the voters. It is reported that Conservative polling suggests this is one of Cameron’s big pluses. Critics have parodied the big brother nature of the poster and said it shows Cameron is a modern element in an old-fashioned party.
The message: The message, highlighting the NHS, has been used to counter the Labour attempts to define themselves as a party of investment. It is also highlighting one of the cores of the Conservative election strategy - the size of the budget deficit.
Some people have highlighted the use of the term ‘cut’ in the same sentence as the NHS may impact negatively. The terms could be associated and seem too negative.
Reaction to the poster
Labour party figures immediately attacked the poster because it was airbrushed. John Prescott went on the attack parodying David Cameron and the Daily Mirror also criticised the poster.
But other advertising figures have said it sends a strong message and plays to his key strengths. Commentators also say that it shows the speedier start to the election campaign on behalf of the Conservative Party. This could reflect the greater funds reported to be at the Conservative leaders’ disposal.
So, bearing that all in mind, what do you think? Hit, Miss, Maybe?
For me it is a HIT - simple, effective and to the point. But I know others will think differently.
Tags: conservative, daily mirror, David Cameron, election, labour
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Throughout his Premiership, Gordon Brown has been accused of dithering.
First it was the will he, won’t he non-election decision way back in 2007. Since then he has been accused of taking far too long over decisions of national importance on numerous occasions including Heathrow, the banking crisis and most recently, the long absence of a UK Government statement surrounding the decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi . If he’d made a statement earlier, I’m sure he and his Cabinet wouldn’t have been drawn into this mess about Libya quite so deeply.
Even his “cautiously optimistic” interview with the FT regarding the recovery from the economic crisis sounds like he is hedging his bets.
But the silence coming from Number 10 in regards to a Leader’s Debate during the upcoming election campaign is personally dumfounding and not a little bit frustrating. David Cameron has accepted the invitation, as has Nick Clegg, but there is nothing from the Prime Minister. Sky News has said that if Brown doesn’t turn up, there will be an empty seat on the podium if he fails to attend and debate.
Granted, a debate could be dangerous for Brown as it could potentially highlight his weaknesses or make David Cameron and Nick Clegg look Prime Ministerial, but surely that is better than not-showing up and there stands an empty chair. With Brown’s and Labour’s poll numbers through the floor, surely it is imperative that Brown shows up and tries to engage with the public. Brown clearly needs to be more decisive and more approachable to win the next election and a good showing in a national debate may not be the answer, but it would certainly help.
In modern times, there has never been such a disconnection between the public and Westminster. To simply get people to the polls and to keep out the BNP, the main party leaders need to show what they stand for and why people should care. Not showing up would be devastating and Brown’s silence on the issue is definitely hurting him even further.
As I write this, 2029 people have signed a petition from Sky News calling for a Leader’s debate since September 1st and that number is rapidly climbing, at least 900 in the past few hours.
But, this dithering raises an even larger question. As Philip Johnston of the Telegraph stated in his blog on a similar subject almost a year ago, Brown certainly doesn’t inspire confidence with his decision making. So what is the reason behind it?
Is Brown unable to make immediate decisions without consulting every man and his dog? Is he getting bad advice? Is he terrified of the repercussions of a bad decision? Is it a mixture of everything?
For Labour to claw back in the polls, Brown needs to be stronger and less hesitant than he currently is and someone in his team needs to take matters in hand. Labour needs a strong Brown and they need him now.
Cross-posted with Nick O’s Diary.
Tags: David Cameron, debate, election, Gordon Brown, labour list, Nick Clegg, politics, Sky News
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Like the Conservative Party Leadership contests of 2001 and 2005; the contest for Speaker this week (Monday 22nd of June) suddenly gave the media, and to a certain extent the public, a hook for their interest - for an intense period.
John Bercow won through amidst a group of the old, Richard Shepherd and Sir Patrick Cormack, the experienced, Sir Michael Lord and Sir Alan Haselhurst and the high-profile Ann Widdecombe and Margaret Beckett. Apart from Parmjit Dhanda, Mr Bercow was the only character who could convincingly propound reformist principles without being attributed to the old traditions of the past.
In this way his victory does mark a break - Bercow is young(ish), energetic and full of life - a welcome change from Speaker Martin. He undoubtedly has support from the Left, in fact his campaign manager was Labour MP for Reading West, Martin Salter. Also he has never been someone to toe the line. In the 1980s he was thought to be too right-wing for the Conservative party and then in the 2000s he switched to a new left-wing style (prompted by marriage to his left-wing wife) breaking rank to vote with his new found social conscience on issues such as gay rights.
So it is difficult to say there is any particular group he must appease - he is a lone figure, independent, as the Speaker must be.
But can he actually do anything?
Betty Boothroyd, in my personal opinion a great Speaker, was interviewed mid-way through the contest by the BBC and whilst explaining how important the job was and the sort of character it needed she was asked what tenable powers the Speaker had to change the House of Commons:
Of course the Speaker has authority, but not power (she said) just the power to persuade, it was not the Speaker’s job to interfere - he must speak on behalf of the House and abide by its decisions.
So when it comes down to the facts of this contest we find an empty husk. The election of Speaker Bercow sends a message to the public that the House of Commons is willing to appoint someone with reformist intentions, but it does nothing more. He has no remit except to make suggestions to party leaders and the Prime Minister; it is still the House of Commons, who finally decide.
All those who have been treating Speaker Bercow’s election as the rise of a new independent leader of the House, on a par with party leaders, have been deceived by an over eager press excited with a good contest.
Speaker Bercow can by all means encourage, nudge, assuage and egg on his colleagues towards reform - but he can do nothing more. He is just a Speaker of the House of Commons encharged with carrying out the business of the House, but not making the business or affecting its outcome. On the outside this seems like a big break - but in reality MPs must change the House of Commons themselves not just the Speaker.
Tags: Ann Widdecombe, Boothroyd, election, House of Commons, John Bercow, Speaker
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The House of Commons will elect a new Speaker on Monday 22nd June.
There are, at the last count 10 candidates who have all attracted enough nominations to be able to stand. It is always with looking at the procedure for a rare event like the election of the Speaker to help us to understand how this will work.
Monday 9.30 - 1.30am - written nominations must be submitted to the to the House of Commons Table Office.
Candidates for Speaker must submit the signatures of between 12 and 15 MP who support their nomination and a signed declaration stating that they are willing to stand for election.
11.00am - the final list will be published on the Parliament website.
Any MP is entitled to stand and at present, there are 10 candidates thought likely to be nominated, including Margaret Beckett, John Bercow, Sir George Young and Ann Widdecombe.
Monday 2.30pm - the House of Commons will meet to elect the Speaker - the Father of the House (the longest serving MP), Alan Williams, will preside over the election.
Each candidate will give a speech to the House; the order will be decided by ballot.
If there is only one nomination, that candidate will automatically be proposed to the House as the Speaker. Once all the candidates have spoken, MPs will vote for their preferred candidate.
The vote will be by secret ballot and will take place in the Division lobbies and each MP will be given a ballot paper to fill in and they will have 30 minutes to vote.
Results and further ballots
If any candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, they will be proposed to the House as Speaker. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, MPs will be asked to vote again.
This time the following will be eliminated:
- any candidate with less than 5 per cent of the votes
- the candidate who came last
- any candidate who withdraws within ten minutes of the result
Successive ballots will be held until only one candidate remains or a candidate obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes. The remaining candidate will then be proposed to the House as Speaker.
If the motion for the Speaker is contested, there will be a vote. If the motion is agreed to, the successful MP will be dragged to the chair. The Speaker elect will then need to be approved by the Crown.
With each vote possibly taking up to two hours, MPs could be in for a long night.
Tags: Ballot, Candidate, election, House of Commons, MP, Nomination, Speaker
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So Gordon Brown survives to fight on and by all accounts his performance at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting has strengthened the support of the Party’s MPs for their leader.
This doesn’t mean though that Brown is safe, it doesn’t mean that the threats of a leadership challenge have ended, rather that he has bought time - perhaps until the autumn to demonstrate that he can make the most of his Premiership and attempt to take the fight back to the Conservatives.
Gordon Brown was by all accounts very candid at the meeting and admitted to weaknesses which he said he would work at improving as well as concentrating on his strengths. This seems to have gone down well with the PLP.
Some members of the PLP have made the point following the meeting that Brown is as good a leader as they can hope for in the short term and although they accept that under Brown Labour is unlikely to win the next General Election, changing the leader now would make little, if any, difference.
This does beg the question, has Labour essentially given up hope of winning the next Election? With the results from the local elections and especially from the Euro elections in which Labour were pushed into third place and the latest polling figures, it certainly seems so.
What has Gordon Brown left to pull out of the bag to turn the tide back in Labour’s favour? He has effectively promoted Peter Mandelson to the position of Deputy Prime Minister, he has shuffled his pack for probably the last time before the Election and he has established a number of new Cabinet Committees, designed to input into policy direction.
Is this enough? Time will tell.
In the meantime, against a background of some of the poorest economic indicators for some time against the Government and what appeared to be an increasing opposition to Gordon Brown continuing as PM, this demonstrates that it is not particularly easy, nor straightforward to remove a sitting Prime Minister.
Tags: election, Gordon Brown, Government, Labour Party, PLP, Prime Minister, Reshuffle
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Poor old Jacqui Smith, her husband’s adult films; her sister’s accommodation; Bob Quick’s security leak - there seems to be an endless cast involved in her long drawn-out decline. With the latest wave of media attention over hiring an accountant to fill in her tax returns, it became obvious that the game was up; Jacqui Smith was so exposed and vulnerable that she was ineffective as Home Secretary, attracting copious media attention and derision.
But more so than Jacqui Smith herself, Gordon Brown has been seriously damaged by this latest headline. Like the election he never called in 2007; his indecision over expenses and Hazel Blears’ resignation (after he criticised but did not sack her), Gordon Brown’s thoughtfulness and desire to weigh up decisions have cost him dearly. Clearly he is a highly intelligent man and as Chancellor of the Exchequer this assured, thoughtful approach brought him plaudits. It was always rumoured he ran domestic policy and was instrumental in election strategy, as the consummate policy setter. At the time that same character trait was reassuring, contrasting very well with Tony Blair: Brown the man of substance, Blair the charismatic media man.
But sadly when he took the country’s top job in summer 2007 no-one mentioned that whilst a formidable presence and thinker in politics he was sorely untested at leading decisively. After his initial success in the first few months the pressure was focused on him in the autumn and he was so aware of acting in a measured and substantial way, he appeared to delay in whether or not to call a snap election. His delay and radio silence seemed like plodding.
From then on the problem has grown. He has become accustomed to allowing David Cameron to produce sound bites, steal the headlines and dictate debates, while he sulks in the background and declares he is “getting on with the job”. In the financial crisis, his area of expertise, his desire to think technically about the problems and weigh up options made him look slow to react over Northern Rock. He and Alistair Darling were criticised for not seeing the signs and acting earlier. It emerged that they had an idea of the scale of the crisis, but seemed to wait to see how it turned out.
Even now the reason this premiership seems so doomed is because there is no-one willing to say it is not. The media jumps on every error and despite a terrible spring there has been no reshuffle, no decisive measures, nothing that stands out - the nothing Budget showed this. It seems apparent that although intellectually astute and good on policy, when backed into a corner Gordon brown would rather talk over the problems than strike back. It is this deliberate, thoughtful approach that in 2007 was so craved, which has now made his premiership seem like it is comatose. Sadly as a man of substance it is unlikely he will change his ways and it seems now his peak was already behind him when he became Prime Minster in 2007. He is just not suited to the time-sensitivities and decisiveness that being Prime Minister requires.
Tags: David Cameron, election, Expenses, Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith, Prime Minister, Tony Blair
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It would seem that the Brown Government has taken up President Obama’s online campaigning baton. Numerous Labour and Labour surrogate sites seem to have been popping up out of nowhere.
Labour List is apparently a place “where Labour minded people come together”. It has been around for a few weeks and is currently a beta, although it is updated at an extremely high-frequency. It’s due to be formally launched on the 12th of February.
It was founded, according to the About Us section, by New Labour identity, Derek Draper and numerous Labour characters such as Liam Byrne, Andy Reed, Hazel Blears, Keith Vaz, Ken Livingston, Ed Miliband to name but a fwe. The actual list of contributors is huge and even Ken Clarke makes an appearance as a blogger, albeit Ken Clarke the Regional Director for the London Labour Party, not the other one.
GoFourth is John Prescott’s site which aims to propel Labour to a fourth term, hence GoFourth. The site’s USP include blogs and vlogs from the former Deputy PM himself. It was initially dreamt up in 2008 (although Prescott didn’t start posting until late January 2009) by some well-known Labour names; John Prescott, Glenys Kinnock, Richard Caborn and Alastair Campbell and aims to “create a broad grassroots movement to secure a progressive Fourth Labour Term.” Prescott also explains he once bought Tony Blair a singing fish to cheer him up.
Alistair Campbell has also launched his own site suitably called, Alistair Campbell.org. Alistair is in the unique position of not being in the Government, but is still as feared by most Tories as much as any other Labour head kicker, so his vlogs will be interesting to watch. After posting his first blog only four days ago, he intends to;
…use this site to bring together the various things I do - writing, speaking, strategising, campaigning, whether for Labour or charitable causes close to my heart. I will blog when I feel like it, vlog at least once a week, give Dave Cameron the odd whack, and hopefully engage in a bit of lively debate. Tories welcome. Some of them anyway, if only to be told where they’re going wrong.
I’m looking forward to it.
On Alistair’s links page, there is yet another Labour site, CampaignTV, which claims to be the home of progressive politics on the web. This site is video after video of pro-Labour and anti-Tory imagery. It even rekindles footage of John Major from old Spitting Image episodes.
All this of course comes after the Number 10 website upgrade midway last year to include a number of social media additions including twitter feeds, flickr and facebook posts and so on.
We already knew that Labour has a crack team already in place to win over the voters occupying the digital space, but they are certainly trying to get their message out to as many people as possible by as many people as possible. But could all these voices effectively be drowning each other out?
If anyone can think of any huge leaps the Conservatives have made into the digital world, apart from the odd tweets from the Conservative Party, please let me know, but otherwise I think they are being left seriously behind by Labour in this department.
Tags: alistair campbell, Brown, campaigntv, conservative, election, election strategy, gofourth, Gordon Brown, john prescott, labour, labour list, number 10, online campaigning
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So, Gordon Brown and Labour are apparently rising from the dead after the Glenrothes by-election. Pre-election favourites, the SNP, failed to pick up another seat in a Scottish constituency Labour used to think of as safe.
However, it was only a couple of months ago that we were all discussing when Gordon Brown would be replaced rather than if. After taking hit after hit in the polls, the loss of the Crew and Nantwich by-election in May and the disastrous defeat in Glasgow East, one of the safest Labour seats in Britain, Brown’s days seemed numbered.
Then came his speech at the Labour Party Conference, then the spectre of a global meltdown loomed heavily over Wall St and the City.
Without doubt, the financial crisis, has taken its toll on some members of the British Parliament. However, it has been David Cameron’s Conservatives that are on the backfoot. Brown however, seems invigorated and has even been seen to crack a smile.
Brown and Chancellor Darling’s bail out of the British Banks have been credited as the most decisive move by any Government globally and the results are beginning to show judging by the by-election result and Labour’s forward momentum in the polls.
Cameron however, has been left in Brown’s wake, is grasping at policy straws and was left seemingly helpless in the wake of the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne‘s misguided attempts to attack Lord Mandelson in what has now become the infamous Yachtgate Scandal.
Now, if I was Gordon Brown and if I was a betting man, I would be seriously thinking about calling a snap election in the spring of 2009. His poll numbers are firming, gone is Mr Bean and his Iron Chancellor persona is slowly peeking out from behind the curtain in the face of a looming recession. Most importantly, his own party appear to be no longer waiting in the shadows for the next slip-up. Nevertheless, this can only last so long.
No matter how strong Brown appears, there is a looming spectre of increased unemployment, upwards inflation, higher bills and nation wide budget cuts – not issues that make for a happy constituency and incumbent governments should be wary.
Should the election be called in 2010, Britain may only just be coming out of a recession that would have taken its toll on the voting public. If Brown calls the election soon, there may not be such a huge backlash and he may be able to benefit from his current momentum.
This is all very clearly hypothetical and as shown the dilly-dallying around the prospect of an early election in late 2007, Brown plays it safe, maybe too safe when it comes to his own fortunes.
Thankfully, I’m not a gambling man because neither is Brown.
Tags: Brown, by-election, cameron, election, finacial crisis, glenrothes, labour, osborne, yachtgate
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