Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Image Of Election 2010

All the stories of Gordon Brown being a bully, being socially inept, a control freak etc etc, had no real effect on Labour's support in the months before the election was announced officially. Today, a slim chink of light was shed on the man and for once we heard him talk without being scripted and coached by Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, and everyone but the blindest Labour drone would find what we heard very unattractive.

There are so many revealing insights into Brown the man including: 
  • Saying one thing in public and another in private
  • His preference for meeting people vetted and controlled by his aides 
  • His need to blame others (I just hope Brown doesn't have a mobile phone handy next time he sees this "Sue" he blamed for "putting him with that woman"
  • His inability to handle prolonged pressure without making fatal mistakes.
David Cameron has been meeting real people all campaign and gets heckled and confronted on an almost a daily basis but manages to avoid insulting them live on television. Gordon Brown announces at the beginning of the 3rd week of campaiging that he will engage with more ordinary people and within 3 days of the pressure of mixing with normal people he's made a massive gaffe.

Hopefully those people, that haven't already, will see that this man is not fit to be PM and the party that has inflicted his leadership on the country will be decisively defeated at the next election. The party is so deeply infected by the nasty, macho, bullying New Labour culture concocted by Blair/Brown/Campbell and Mandelson that it will require an extended period out of office to purge the poison. None of the current cabinet are untainted and cannot represent change.

I hope after this, there is less talk of hung parliaments and  more focus on getting Labour out, decisively and for a long time, so they can find their way back to decent politics or be consigned to the political wilderness, like the Liberals have been for 90 odd years.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

LibDem Upward Momentum Ceased

There have now been a number of polls published since the second leaders debate was broadcast. What has become clear is that the LibDem's support has reached its peek. Indeed it was clear before the latest debate but there was a chance it would give Clegg an added boost, but it didn't. The upward momentum has stalled.

Last week, when we first saw the LibDem surge, there was talk in some quarters of the LibDems breaking through to such a strong position that they could actually muster more MPs than one or both of the other parties after the election. Some even dreamt of them actually winning outright. In truth, there was never a realistic chance of this happening. But, if enough people started to believe it was possible a critical mass may have been reached and who knows, perhaps the other two parties support could have collapsed and allowed such a miracle LibDem victory.

The window of opportunity for this to happen was last week. It's too late now and it's clear now that they will finish third in terms of parliamentary seats. They could increase their popularity by a few more percent, but by no where near enough to challenge either of the other two parties' likely seat tally. But, unless their support drops off significantly, Clegg will still have a significant effect on the outcome - he'll cause a hung parliament.

I keep hearing people say "if the people choose a hung parliament". Let's be clear, no one votes for a hung parliament, there's no option for "hung parliament" on the ballot paper. Our electoral system is designed to produce decisive results and a hung parliament represents a failure of the system. We already see evidence of our politicians starting to manoeuvre to make deals behind closed doors so they stand a better chance getting hold of the levers of power, should there be no clear decision. It's an unedifying sight.

The truth is that most LibDem members want to see a Labour/Liberal coalition and are not at all keen on a deal with the Tories and today Paddy Ashdown ruled out a coalition with the Tories so Clegg is much more likely to end up propping up Labour in power than opting for the Tories, effectively derailing a decisive rejection of Labour and 13 years of venal, dishonest and incompetent government.

I'm all for voting LibDem if it would deny Labour a seat in your constituency. But if you want change at this election you need to vote Conservative should they have any chance of winning where you are. There will be some who will need to hold their nose to do this, but if change is your objective there now isn't another choice.

Check this poll tracker out. Click on seat forecast to look at the reality of the LibDems situation.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vince Fable Exposed

It's about time the LibDems were put under the kind of spotlight the other two main parties are constantly subjected to. Since their poll boost this has been happening accompanied by LibDems squeals of "Smear!". But they can't hide from the hard policy questions that Andrew Neil put to Vince Cable during The Politics Show this week.

Courtesy of Guy News (and there was me thinking Guido was a closet LibDem)...

...This reminds me of one of my favourite tweets of the election campaign recently. "Did you know Vince Cable has predicted 17 of the last 2 recessions".

Then, on The Campaign Show, Vince Cable is caught attempting to defend the indefensible. Perhaps it's Nick Clegg's policy, not his? Oh, I feel a Twitter hashtag coming on... #nickcleggsfault... oh, it's already been done, what a shame.

Courtesy of BlueNation (@bluenation)...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spatchcock Coalition Is The Last Thing We Need

Following the Leaders' Debate last week and the subsequent surge in LibDem support, the threat of a hung parliament looms large over Britain. For some it seems like a good idea, a chance to smash the old discredited two party system. But, in truth, it would be a disaster for the country.

The Mayor of London sums up one reason why it would be disastrous: The need to address this country's financial crisis:
Boris Johnson: “The last thing we need when you need some very difficult decisions taken for the budgetary health of this country is a hung Parliament and the endless dickering around between some spatchcock coalition between the Liberals and the Labour government staggering on, without giving this country the new start and the new medicine that I think it needs.” - Hat tip to Tory Landlord 
Another reason a hung parliament, leading to a Lib/Lab pact, would be disastrous is the gerrymandering of the electoral system to ensure any future election is stitched up for the left.

This headline from The Independent illustrates the agenda Gordon Brown will be working to in a hung parliament situation (one, no doubt, The (not really very) Independent would approve of):

How would Labour stitch up the electoral system? Well, Brown's last-second conversion to electoral reform, just before calling the general election, is proof of his cynical motives. If he was serious about reform he'd have chosen a Proportional Representation system. One that produces a result that is actually proportionate to the way people vote. Such systems aren't perfect and I'm not a fan of PR myself, but then neither is our current system with its appalling Labour bias that could lead to Labour ending up with the largest number of seats even if they finish third in the popular vote! But no, instead he goes for the Alternative Vote system. A system that the BBC proved would be even more biased towards Labour. See Patently Rubbish: Why Labour Wants AV for a great explanation of Brown's true motives.

Clegg has not made PR a make or break issue for supporting Labour in a hung parliament. He is only asking for "Fairness in the voting system". And, as the LibDem's Shirley Williams admits, Clegg is likely to be seduced by the AV system on offer from Brown. If only because it further cripples the Tories. As always with hung parliaments, manifesto pledges go out of the window and politicians do secret back room deals to get themselves into power. It is likely such a government would be dogged by in-fighting, horse-trading and compromise that would lead to a early general election when it all collapses in a heap. The one thing they will ensure that they implement will be the electoral reform that would be so beneficial to their own self-interests.

It is also very likely that highly destructive in-fighting within the Labour Party will break out as Brown struggled to maintain his leadership position against coup attempts that will follow Labour's poor performance (especially for an incumbent party) at the General Election. This will just add to the weakness of the government and cripple its ability to address the financial crisis, let alone deal with any of the other urgent issues facing this country. Markets and the pound will fall adding to our economy's instability at the worst possible time.

The truth is that the LibDems almost certainly can't win the election outright. They are very unlikely even to be the largest party in a hung parliament. The reality is that they will just end up denying the Conservative victory and a decisive rejection of Labour. Worse, they are far more likely to prop up Labour in power than unite with the Tories to form a Change Coalition. And if the Tories lose this election after the reforms Cameron has put them through, reforms some older members in the grassroots are still unhappy with, they may react by lurching to the right and once again become unelectable for a generation.

It won't just be 5 more years of Labour, it could be 10 or 15!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quote Of The Day

At the end of Newsnight, during a light report about music in the election campaign, Right Said Fred (Richard and Fred Fairbrass) made an appearance. The reporter told them the LibDem's slogan was: "Change that works for you; building a fairer Britain".

"I think there's a colon in the middle" he tells them and they all giggle at the rubbishness of the slogan.

"There's a colon somewhere!" says Richard.

I'm not sure if he thinks it's the leader of the treasury spokesman!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Partly Political Broadcast

Seeing Neil Kinnock on TV and hearing the news of Labour's first election broadcast reminded me of these sketches from Spitting Image. They're from 1987 but many of the lines a relevant to Labour today.

We're hopeless, hopeless;
It's inconceivable anyone could cope less;
We're not going to win, we don't know how;
If we ever stood a change we've blown it now.

Fear and Dishonesty Emerge As Labour's Main Tactics

We have been warned that this General Election campaign could turn nasty and at the end of the first week it has. The Times reports that the Labour party has targeted 250,000 women with leaflets suggesting that treatment for breast cancer will be inferior under a Conservative government. As if that is not appalling enough there is a question around exactly how these tawdry leaflets were distributed. And there have been widespread calls from leaflet recepients, the Tories, Lib Dems and SNP for Labour to apologise.

What we need to know is, who authorised this campaign? Was it Andy Burnham the Health Secretary who today defended the leadlets and did Gordon Brown know about it?

Even if Labour didn't illegally use private medical data to select their victims audience, as they claim, Labour sources confirm to The Times that they did use "socio-demographic research". They also have access to the Mosaic database from Experian, which includes "anonymised hospital statistics, including postcodes and the diagnoses of patients, to identify the likely addresses of those with particular illnesses". Along with all this, they used Tangent Communications to distribute the leaflets. Tangent are said to specialise in “highly targeted marketing”. Tangent Communications clients include the Department of Health and Cancer Research UK.

Of course, even if you believe that they didn't target sufferers of, and those vulnerable to cancer directly, the prevalence of the disease means there are few people who have not been affected by it in one way of another. Labour knows the fear it strikes into the hearts of millions and this is what they seek to exploit.

Labour's objective is to focus on the Conservatives intention to drop micro management by government ministers using politically motivated targets. They paint this as some kind of lessening of a commitment to quality healthcare that would adversely affect cancer treatment. In order to maintain that impression they need to ignore that fact that the Tories intend to replace these targets with a system that judges health care providers by far more relevant, measures focussed on actual outcomes. This makes more sense to me. I don't care how long whatever phase of my treatment, a government minister decides is important, takes if I know that the overall care I will receive maximises my chance of survival with as little adverse impact to my quality of life as possible.

Far from reducing information available to patients about health care the Tories pledge to increase it, and that pledge it pretty much central to their vision of moving to a more patient focused system where we'd have a choice where we go for treatment. If you want more detail on their plans, the Conservatives will be publishing their Manifesto on Tuesday. However, the Draft Manifesto they published earlier in the year sets out their plans as well. I suggest skipping the blurb at the start and jumping straight to page 8.

Now, you may not agree with this approach. Fair enough, that's a matter of opinion. The best way to deliver health care is a big question and there will be many different theories and proposals. But to suggest that your political opponents are setting out to deliberately damage health care is wrong and to target the fears of women about breast cancer is utterly contemptible.