Showing posts from December, 2012

2013 looks bad for the Tories, but not as bad as 2015.

The Tories will be in government until 2015, spats with the Lib Dems notwithstanding.  In 2015, all the available arithmetic suggests they will lose, as Paul Goodman shows in this admirably clear article.  It can't help that a segment of the Tory core vote, it's older and more right-wing element, are defecting in mind - and sometimes in body - to UKIP.  This would have been good news for the modernisation of the Tory brand if such a process were still going on, but it isn't, a strategically catastrophic mistake as Matthew D'Ancona writes here in a first class analysis of the Tories' public problem.

Goodman indicates that one demographic factor working against the Tories is their very low showing amongst ethnic minority voters, who are becoming a larger proportion of the voting population.  This would have been one area which modernisation sought to address.  The real issue for the Tories is that while voters continue to regard them with suspicion as an as yet unr…

Christmas Tidings

The Archbishop of Westminster attacks gay marriage in his Christmas message; the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about the damage the issue of women priests is doing to the Church of England; and the Prime Minister quotes from the gospel of John.  I don't make the rules up, but is the Church's condition any wonder when on their most high profile day they manage to stick with such negative messaging?

Happy Christmas!

Backpedalling Over Mitchell

The Police Federation can rarely have been in a worse place.  As the mysterious undercurrents of the Andrew Mitchell affair gradually gather pace, the Police Federation's execrable stance during the original incident has been coming under serious scutiny.  Its national chairman, Paul McKeever, can spot a noose tightening and has been busy backpedalling over his organisation's attitude towards Mr. Mitchell in those heady days.  Mr. McKeever says that the national leadership leadership took a very clear line not to call for Mr. Mitchell's resignation.  Really?  If so, it wasn't very clear at the time.  Mr. McKeever himself was quoted in a press release as questioning whether Mr. Mitchell should hold office: 
"It is hard to fathom how someone who holds the police in such contempt could be allowed to hold a public office."
Meanwhile his West Mercia division was opening calling for resignation. 

The Police Federation today looks a complete mess - deservedly so, …

The Desperate Defences of The Sun and Telegraph

Both the Sun and Telegraph newspapers have launched vigorous defences of their reporting over the Mitchell affair and have sought to turn the limelight away from their own close relationship with the police informers who gave them the story originally.

The Sun casts aspersions on reporter Michael Crick's objectivity, describing him snidely as 'a pal' of Mr. Mitchell who was due to meet up with him on the day of the incident (shock Sun revelation - political reporter meets senior politician); the Telegraph tries to claim that this is a new chapter in a sinister gagging of press freedom.

Neither paper's desperate pleas carries much weight.  The Sun also says that un-named 'observers' (presumably a couple of journos and interns in the Sun news office?) point out that the CCTV footage shows Mr Michell had more than enough time to make the comments he was accused of making.  Er, maybe.  But if so, he says them in a remarkably calm and controlled manner and without e…

A Masterclass in Investigative Reporting

It really is worth watching Michael Crick's Dispatches report in full.  It is an admirable example of the grind and virtues of good investigative reporting.  What makes Crick such a good reporter - and often a very watchable one too - is his tenacity.  Most politicians dread being door-stepped by him because he will insist on asking them awkward questions, and then keep on asking them when they don't reply.  He also clearly values the truth.  Long after the print press had finished with the Mitchell story and determined that the former chief whip was guilty as charged, Crick goes back to the case and produces the less popular, but more damning case that Mitchell was stitched up.

Crick's report exposes potential lies in the police record of events, a witness who lied in an email about being present, and a Police Federation spokesman from West Mercia who was distinctly economical with the truth in his statements about a meeting with Mitchell.  More alarming from a governmen…

Police Conspiracy?

At the time of Andrew Mitchell's regrettable outburst of temper towards the police, I commented on the distinctly dubious behaviour of the police themselves.  My concerns were that - once again - police records had apparently been leaked to newspapers with impunity, and that the Police Federation was engaged in an unedifying witch-hunt against Mitchell.  It turns out that the affair may have been rather more sinister.

Channel 4's 'Dispatches' programme has reported that a key witness to the altercation had not in fact been present, and was, moreover, a serving police officer himself.  The fact that this ghost witness's version of events then matched the report contained in the police logs - which was fully leaked to the Daily Telegraph - implies a conspiracy between more than one officer.  The Police Federation's iniquitous involvement in this, and their own very partial account of a meeting held between Mitchell and West Midlands officers, has further added to…

Baby Joy - Or Not!

En route to reading Steven Baxter's fantastically splenetic New Statesman post about the wretchedness of Christmas TV ads, I fell across another post by fellow NS blogger Laurie Penny, condemning the Royal Baby News.  Certainly, there is much to condemn in the vast hyperbole of reportage that has accompanied the news of a 12 week old pregnancy which has induced morning sickness.  But Ms. Penny was more interested in condemning the fact of the pregnancy itself - on class grounds, you understand.  While she certainly had some hard-luck stories to tell of other couples, less favoured by circumstance than the Waleses, it seemed like a rather unnecessary, slightly vindictive rant.  As ever, Norman Geras blogged much more articulately in response to Ms. Penny's piece, and the unashamed republican even wished the young couple good luck!

Autumn Statement Blues

I'm not sure the commentariat really knows what to make of George Osborne.  They used to regard him as a great strategist, until it turned out he wasn't.  They have sometimes regarded him as a fiscally tough Chancellor ready to reduce the budget, but his regular forays into spending - or at any rate not cutting enough - keep stymieing that one.  So is he in fact a spendthrift?  Er, not quite - still seems keen to reduce the deficit, even if he wants another three years to do it.  Possibly the real problem is that George Osborne doesn't quite know what he's for either, but he does have enough political talent to keep getting out of tight spots - temporarily at any rate.

There is no doubt that the government's own measurement for its success brands it a failure.  It is nowhere near providing the deficit reduction it claimed was at the heart of its being.  The economic and political arguments over this strategy are many, varied and passionate, although one might at l…