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Showing posts from June, 2008

Blogging Lite

I am away for a couple of weeks, soaking up the undoubted joys of CCF camps, so no blogging here until July 13th! Last year when I went to CCF camp, Gordon Brown was riding high in the polls as a welcome new prime minister, whose every action drew praise, and Hillary Clinton was the runaway favourite to win the Democrat nomination.....

Resignations and Blood Money

The Tories haven't yet lost their chairman over her payment of expenses to her nanny, but they are hardly likely to take much comfort from today's Labour resignation - Wendy Alexander standing down as Labour leader in Scotland. She has not been an impressive leader in Scotland in the short time she has had, failing to combat the SNP's challenge to Labour north of the border and on one occasion - her call for an independence referendum now - clashing clearly with her boss and usually ally, Gordon Brown. Nonetheless, her resignation is over a failure to appreciate the full demands of the complex legislation governing campaign contributions, rather than a big issue of principle, and certainly suggests that even the slightest deviation now from wholly accurate and transparent financial dealings - with or without public money being involved - will considerably shorten your political shelf life. That's the cold comfort for the Tories.

Another resignation - of Glasgow East&…

Spelman's Woes

On a day when the Tories are celebrating holding that well known marginal Henley, it cannot help that their chairman's expenses difficulties continue to be in the news. Apparently, a former secretary originally pulled the plug on Mrs. Spelman's use of parliamentary expenses to pay her nanny. Caroline Spelman justified her use of that money in part by saying that when she became the Tory MP for Meriden there was no office or administrative help to speak of and that she had to work from her house. Meriden was my home seat, and I must confess I certainly remember the association not only having perfectly good offices - sharing a building with neighbouring Solihull constituency - but also a couple of staff as well, when Caroline Spelman was selected. Whether there were some personality clashes that meant she didn't feel comfortable using the offices is another matter, but she does not appear to have been entirely transparent in her comments. All of which is a little odd,…

Tory Fury

Tory blog-sites are alive with the sound of teeth gnashing and righteous eruptions over the sacking of one of Boris Johnson's key aides. Uninvolved as I now am with Tory politics I had not actually heard of James McGrath until his fate was drawn to my attention by the ever vigilant consultant. McGrath made a stupid comment in an interview about black people's reaction to Boris's election, saying, in response to the interviewer, "Let them go home if they don't like it here." A crasser comment you could hardly hope to come across, and about as helpful as a tiger at a children's tea party. Hardly surprising that he should have had to go - Boris Johnson was regarded with suspicion by many black voters on account of his earlier writings, and any political aide worth his salt would have trodden very carefully in an interview that discussed race with a campaigning black journalist.

More surprising is the outraged sense of injury being expressed by Tories of vario…

Murdoch's Mischief

The Spectator's blog has a short piece on why Rupert Murdoch pulled the plug on Kelvin MacKenzie, and a bit of division in the Murdoch family.

Westminster v. the World

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David Davis announced his little coup de grace on Thursday, and by Sunday the press were performing an almost complete U-turn. The media reaction on Friday - doubtless fuelled by some hefty insider briefing - as almost unremittingly hostile. Davis' main supporter was Simon Heffer in the Telegraph, and he long ago ceased to be a serious commentator. The main message was that this man is a loony, a maverick, completely unpredictable and that this by-election thing was a vanity stunt. Then, by Sunday, polls started to suggest that actually Davis' stand was garnering quite a lot of public support, and media reaction started to change. Most hilariously of all, Rupert Murdoch, the Australian born US citizen who likes to have a say in UK affairs, was backing away from the Kelvin MacKenzie candidacy as fast as his aged legs could carry him.

So what, if any, are our conclusions here? First, the Davis action has certainly divided people, and not along party lines. Labour MP Bob Marshall-…

Conviction Stand or Political Stunt?

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David Davis suffered a major reverse to his ambition when he failed to gain the Tory leadership. Worse, he was dismissed as a grey, unexciting, uninteresting politician compared to the man who steamed past him to the Tory prize, David Cameron. Now, with his announcement that he will resign his seat to fight a by-election over the issue of 42 days detention, Davis is back at the centre of the political storm. He is the one seen as a risk-taker. A politician prepared to gamble with his career in order to defend a point of principle. This is not a roundabout type of leadership bid, but it is a bid to remind the Tories, and the public generally, that he is a force to be reckoned with.

It is a fascinating political stunt, and you have to give credit to Davis for his understanding of political drama - an understanding lamentably absent when he fought for the leadership. But we should understand first, that this is a wholly unnecessary gesture, and second that it is not much of a gamble. First…