Showing posts from April, 2015

An Unusual Election - three defining characteristics

Three things mark this election as unusual. 
One is the remarkable paucity of actual policy debate.  Yes, there’s been some to and fro on housing, a modicum of difference on tax generation, but outside of the narrow-cast debate on the economy very little of substance has been thriving. 
Defence?  Michael Fallon wants us to fear the SNP’s bid to get rid of Trident, but offers little in the form of positive defence policy for himself.  Foreign Affairs?  Ed Miliband briefly attended to an area that has never been an interest of his to accuse David Cameron of responsibility for migrant deaths.  But foreign affairs spokesmen have been so low-key as to be rendered unpersons, barely able to stop the traffic in their own constituencies, never mind the rest of the globe around which they potter so un-noticed.    Education?  Once hugely controversial, with Michael Gove’s disappearance from the issue it has sunk into the backwaters of little regarded speeches and rarely referenced manifesto p…

The Union Under Threat?

The devolution referendum proved a hollow victory in the end for unionists.  Losing the campaign for hearts and minds, the southern party leaders came up with an extraordinary pledge that stretched the idea of union to breaking point.  It also added something into the referendum mix that wasn't actually on the ballot at all.  No-one can say whether or not the final result really was a vote for the Union, or in actuality a vote for the devo-max that English leaders were offering by the end.  Then, as soon as the vote was passed, David Cameron, the quintessentially English leader with the very Scottish name, sought immediate political advantage by demanding English Votes for English Laws.  He has also been happy to put himself forward in this election campaign as an English, rather than British, leader.

Well, the SNP advance in Scotland continues apace it seems, such that polls today suggest they could sweep the board and take all of Scotland's 59 MPs.  What has so signally fail…

Election Notes 2 - Brand, Legitimacy and a Defence Fail

Brand meets Miliband....or Vice Versa

Difficult to know who was the most important of the two in yesterday's Miliband versus Brand meeting, but it's certainly caused waves and who knows, that might be what Ed Miliband really wanted.  after all, he was never going to get an intelligible political debate from Russell Brand.

Miliband has been making more, and more interesting, waves this election than David Cameron, and that should worry the Tories.  He has taken them - and his own party - by surprise with a pretty good campaign so far, and while some of his moments have been awful ("Hell, yes" springs to mind), on the whole he's trumped expectations pretty niftily.  That should at any rate be a warning to the Tories who keep insisting on employing negative campaigner Lynton Crosby - do someone down too much and you'll find they merely have to walk unaided to appear triumphant.

Inevitably, the two camps on the Brand interview are the right-wing one, broadly fol…

The Tories' constitutional malice

The Conservative party used to be one of rectitude and respect for the constitution.  No longer, if its tactics in this election are anything to go by.  Take its approach to Scotland and the issue of parliamentary legitimacy.

Dave's SNP Card

David Cameron's attempt to corral votes by raising the spectre of SNP power at Westminster is a pretty negative tactic, and of course will do nothing to endear Scottish voters to the Tory party in Scotland one suspects, but it may be paying dividends.  Albeit on the margins.  A poll in the Independent reports that the prospect of a Labour-SNP deal is indeed off-putting to a number of voters - one in four is the number cited. This has not yet, of course, translated into actual votes, or even definite determinations to vote Tory.  The main polls still suggest the Tories are struggling to keep much of a lead, although yesterday's Ashcroft poll showed a 6-point lead for them, the largest yet.

The problem with Cameron's SNP tactic is tha…

Belated Boris Comment!

When students in Year 10 (14 and 15 years old, for those unfamiliar with our education staging system) ask you whether you've seen the Boris interview, you know that this politician is still a cut above the others.  There aren't many who could draw the interest of teenagers, but Boris is still there, making waves.  The Tories' famous politician "who reaches the parts others can't reach", yadda, yadda, yadda.

But this most recent interview was something of a disaster for him, and a success for the relaxed and humorous Labour leader Ed Miliband.  Who'd have thought - Ed just needed to sit on a sofa with Boris in order to look good.

The virtue of Boris is that he does indeed have a wide appeal as an individual, though not one that necessarily lifts his party.  He has also suggested that his politics might actually be a little broader, One Nation based even, than the average Tory politico.  The problem of Boris is that he doesn't really do detail, or pre…

Two election round-ups worthy of your attention

Even the most avid political aficionado won't have time for all of the election news and round-ups careering around the news media in all its forms, so here are just two that will give you a comprehensive daily account, coupled with a dash of wit and insight to keep you sane.

Politics Home's editor Paul Waugh offers us the "Waugh Room" memo.

The Economist gives us its daily election campaign briefing.  (Both links are to today's news - Waugh offers a preview, the Economist a round-up).

Read one, read both and feel up to date!

Cameron - not as good a phony as Blair?

David Cameron has discovered passion, ten days before the election.  It does, admittedly, come a day after a couple of big-time Tory donors criticised the Prime Minister for being lacklustre and uninspired.  As such, Mr. Cameron's passion has been treated rather cynically by the hacks, as this run-down of tweets indicates.  One of the Tory donors in question has now rather degradingly withdrawn all of his criticism and described himself as a "nobody" but Cameron's attempt to inject passion still seems redolent of what Spectator columnist Isabel Hardman calls his "essay crisis" style of leadership.

The problem is that Mr. Cameron is no great actor, and his pumped-up performance, containing such gems as the revelation that he feels "bloody lively" about the election, really doesn't convince.  He has managed to enter Ed Miliband's equally cringe-worthy "Hell, yes" territory and in straying away from his actual persona he risks the …

Election Notes 1

Ten days to go, and it seems time to update this blog accordingly.  It's not that I've been disinterested in this election - on the contrary, it is fascinating, especially given the uncertain outcome - but time doesn't so far seem to have permitted.

Polls, Polls

There have been more polls than ever before in this election, and for all the slim differences between them they are all pointing to no overall majority for either main party.  Hence, of course, all the chatter about whom might deal with whom on May 8th onwards.  You can take your pick of the various conglomerate polls being issued on a daily basis.  The UK Polling Report comes from a Yougov expert; May2015, the special election site set up by the New Statesman, provides exhaustive polling commentary; and three university academics update their election forecast regularly too.  But the BBC and pretty well all of the press feature regular poll tracking.  In the end, this is a parlour game for observers like us, and …