Tag Archives: ed miliband

Cameron needs to stop the BS, remember his studies and behave like a statesman/person

It’s ten o’clock and the polls have just closed all over the country. From St Agnes island hall in the south to North Unst Public Hall in the north, the presiding officers have just locked the doors and are preparing the ballot boxes for transportation to the local counting centre. I can now say what I like!

There has been much dangerous talk in the election campaign. David Cameron has implied that a government with the tacit support of Scottish MPs would somehow be illegitimate. He has accused Ed Miliband of preparing a “con trick” to enter Downing Street with the support of the SNP. Even Nick Clegg has joined in by referring to a “coalition of the losers” – being a possible bloc of MPs led by the leader of the second largest party.

All this sort of talk must now stop.

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Labour minority government – or coalition with the Lib Dems – would not actually need the SNP’s support

Professor Colin Talbot of Manchester University has written an interesting blog which reinforces many of the points made here by Tony Greaves.

He mentions that much of the talk of “Confidence and supply” deals, Queens Speech votes and second 2015 elections ignores the reality of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which is kind to minority governments.

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The interesting thing about the first of those Milistone promises

The first promise on Ed Miliband’s eight foot limestone slab is:

1. A strong economic foundation

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My challenge to Ed Miliband – your core message may be a fabrication

Ed,

Yesterday on Question Time, you said, as you have said many times during this campaign:

There are some people who tell you that the way we succeed as a country is as long as a few people at the top do well and large corporations, that’s what powers the economy…

Here’s a good question, which you’ll be glad I asked you: Who are these people who tell us this? Have we heard of any of them? Are they standing for election? Can you give us a direct quote or two?

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Constitutional position in the event of a hung parliament

I have been blundering around trying to nail down the likely choreographic arrangements after the election result. You know, who leaves Number 10, who drives down or up the Mall at which particular time etc..

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On May 8th, could David Cameron just lock the doors of Downing Street and stay put?

24 days ago, I wrote that We’re heading for a Labour minority government backed by the SNP.

Since then, there have been thousands more people polled, millions more pounds spent on campaigning and millions more words written/said about the election. So, I now have a ++BREAKING NEWS++ update!

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Five observations about last night’s debate

I actually enjoyed last night’s BBC Debate much more than I expected. Sure, I was livid that Nick Clegg had been excluded, but it was the price that had to be paid for David Cameron taking part in any debates at all. It was an interesting affair. There was no huge drama but it was mostly conducted in reasonable style. Nicola got her chance to bid for a coalition, Ed got the chance to rebuff her so honour was satisfied on that score. Conservative spin doctors trying to extrapolate post election chaos from that display just looked silly.

It told only half a story, though. Each of the four smaller party leaders outlined their own narrow (and in the case of Farage abhorrent) interests. The ideal coalition partner, who would govern for the whole country with fairness, responsibility and respect for civil liberties was not in the room. We have his pitch, though. I just wish the party would put the speech he made at the manifesto launch on Wednesday on You Tube. Particularly this bit:

At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity. No matter who you are, where you were born, what sexuality or religion you are or what colour your skin is, you should have the same opportunity to get on in life. We want to tear down the barriers that stop you from reaching your potential. We want to smash the glass ceilings that keep you from achieving what you want to achieve. Your talent and your hard work, not the circumstances of your birth, should decide what you can be.

Here are five quick observations from me about last night’s event.

Nigel Farage was a disgrace

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Mr Miliband

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A foreign-policy-free election?

RAF lightning II aircraft photo by defence imagesFor all its crudeness, the barrel bomb has to be one of the most brutally effective weapons around. An old oil drum, filled with that now all too familiar combination of explosives and steel detritus, dropped onto its fuse-laden nose from a helicopter, it seems, kills and maims in just the right proportions to terrorise those left behind.

It is little wonder, then, that the barrel bomb is Bashar al-Assad’s weapon of choice in his effort to wear down those parts of Syria with the impudence to have thought they could do better. It tells you all you need to know about the man that, having discovered that the wretched things seem to be particularly effective when aimed at young children, the regime, like so many despots before, has found schools to be an especially desirable target.

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Opinion: The Conservative campaign – some concerns

 

It is an opportune time to take issue with some of the key planks of the Conservative campaign.

Mr Crosby, who likes simple messages, has primarily put forward just two.  The first is that the Tories have a long term economic plan.  The second is a clever cartoon presenting Miliband as a puppet in Salmond’s pocket.

It might perhaps be argued that George W Bush, who repeated endlessly that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Qaida, was the original inspiration for the “Long Term Economic Plan” campaign.  Surveys showed that a majority of Americans came to believe a story known to be entirely false.  Constant repetition of the untruth helped Bush justify the invasion of Iraq.

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Opinion: The silence of the Miliband

Yesterday I got an email from Ed Miliband, which included part of his online Q &A session:

I am stuck as to whether to vote Labour or Lib Dem. I am not interested in past records either, I am looking to the future. Many people fall in an “in-between zone”, not poor enough to receive help with living costs, but not rich enough to be able to stay on top of general living costs. How would Labour deal with this? — Zoe, Norfolk

Ed: Hi Zoe, you’re absolutely right that the problem in our economy right now is that recovery just isn’t reaching working people — just a few at the top. Many working people aren’t getting paid enough to be able to stay on top of the bills. Tackling this cost of living crisis will be the key mission of the next Labour government. Unlike the Tories, Labour understand that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed, and that’s why only a Labour government can tackle the cost of living crisis. One of the ways we will do this is by freezing your energy bills until 2017 and giving the regulator the power to cut bills this winter so that people can afford to heat their homes. To make sure work pays, we will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8, and provide 25 hours free childcare per week for working parents with three or four year olds. We’ll also introduce a new, lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by scrapping the unfair marriage tax allowance, which will benefit 24 million people on middle and lower incomes…”

Well the minimum wage should go up to £8.25 in the long run anyway, and the 10p tax rate is completely wrong, we should be looking at national insurance now instead.

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Something nasty – why the Tories aren’t making headway

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed”- Ada Doom, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
There is some bafflement in the Tory ranks as to why their party isn’t shooting ahead of Labour in the polls. David Cameron is very popular. People think Ed Miliband is a “muppet”. So why aren’t the Conservatives surging ahead?

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Opinion: Ed Miliband has taken the left along for a ride

 

Ever since Ed Miliband was elected as Labour leader in 2010 all the talk has been about how he is taking Labour back to the left, but the truth is very different. The problem is he has gone along with this narrative and now runs a deeply divided party, saying one thing, but doing another.

Posted in News | 31 Comments

We’re heading for a minority Labour government backed by the SNP

whitehall
The Guardian have a very useful web page called Election 2015: The Guardian poll projection. On it, each day, they update their state-of-the-parties graph with the latest polling data, which then flows into an infographic showing the parliamentary arithmetic and possible government options after May 7th.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , and | 130 Comments

Did Charlie Whelan really put his cigarette into Ed Balls’ coke can?

The Telegraph has unearthed an STV documentary on the early days of Labour in the Treasury in 1997. It makes fascinating watching for all sorts of reasons. It feels not unlike an episode of The Thick of It, with Ed Balls a bit like Ollie Reeder to Whelan’s Malcolm Tucker. Everyone looks so young, Gordon Brown particularly.  Ed Miliband has become significantly less geeky over time, too.

The Telegraph article is full of derision for Labour’s removal of regulatory powers from the Bank of England.  That principle seems fine to me, and fairly logical. If you give the bank the power to set interest rates independently, then you need to get someone else to do the regulation. Labour’s failure to build an effectively regulatory framework for the banks can’t be pinned on that.

There is an arrogance about the way they went about it. The Permanent Secretary of the time was clearly worried about all this change. If you are going to reform, you need to just get on and do it, but they did seem to be enjoying smashing the established order a little bit too much.

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Yet again Scotland’s political leaders outclass their Westminster counterparts

Prime Minister’s Questions was even worse than usual today. Both Cameron and Miliband jumped into the gutter from the start and neither of them emerged. It was bizarre watching these people who had blocked every single attempt to reform party funding argue about each other’s paymasters. It was a matter of some considerable annoyance that Cameron kept saying how his government had done more to make sure people paid their taxes than the last one. Does anyone seriously think the Tories, left to their own devices, would have done that? Errr, no. That’s all been down to our man in the Treasury, one Danny Alexander. Cameron taking credit for our policy is bad enough. Using our success to cover his own party’s issues is worse.

It was all a bit classier in Scotland, though. Remember a couple of weeks ago how Scotland’s party leaders joked on Twitter about cancelling FMQs and drinking Pimms in Nicola Sturgeon’s office while watching Andy Murray’s semi-final in the Australian Open instead?

Well, they’ve done it again. After a journalist teased Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson about the fundraiser where a mega-rich Tory donor paid £17500 for a shoe-shopping session with Theresa May.

To cut a long story short, a shoe shopping session with all of Scotland’s political leaders is now to be auctioned to raise money for Scottish charity Cash for Kids. Buzzfeed has the story.

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Three moments from today’s PMQs

I’ve taken to avoiding Prime Minister’s Questions. However today, I had no choice. At the moment it feels like a particularly angry and vindictive goat has stuffed my sinuses full of bits of cardboard box and is now kicking me in the head. I couldn’t even muster up the energy to get up from the sofa, where I was lying feeling sorry for myself, to find the remote control to switch it off.

The impending election doesn’t seem to have persuaded MPs to behave in a more grown-up fashion. I don’t think anything will change until Speaker John Bercow actually starts throwing people out. It’s nasty, shouty, brawly and hideously unpleasant and it’s all most people see of the work of the Mother of Parliaments. In fact, much goes on that is consensual, professional and pleasant from people of all parties.

Anyway, here are three moments in the half hour which were noteworthy.

Cameron takes credit for Liberal Democrat policy klaxon

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Clegg’s #asktheleader session

Sky News have put all their Stand up and be Counted #AsktheLeaders sessions on their website. Nick Clegg’s is here.

I felt he was best at making it more like a conversation with the young people, listening to what she had to say. He was also much more confident on the facts and details on all the issues, particularly housing and the NHS.

As for the others, Natalie Bennett’s heart is in the right place but her party’s policies are not well thought through and I didn’t need to listen to her for half an hour to find out that she’d push for action on the environment and climate change in a hung parliament. I suspect every woman in the country was briefly on her side when she described how being denied a bike at the age of 5 because she was a girl made her a feminist.

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Opinion: Labour’s Tuition Fees policy is a tax cut for the rich, paid for by the poor

University of the West of England, laboratory, science. Some rights reserved by JiscEd Miliband is announcing that a Labour government would cut university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. It’s more of a re-announcement as the policy’s been knocking around for a while – and you can understand why. On the surface it sounds good.

In reality, Labour want a tax hike for the poor and a tax cut for the rich.

The Coalition’s Tuition Fees policy cut the cost of university for poorer graduates (but increased it substantially for the wealthiest) and has seen not only record numbers going to university, but also the highest ever number of young people from poorer backgrounds signing up. And yes, not the Lib Dems finest hour with the pledge and all that – no doubt commentators below the line will find new and interesting things to say on that topic that no-one’s thought of in the last four-and-a-bit years.

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So, the Labour Party pledge a positive campaign

Oh look, the Labour Party is pledging not to get personal during the election campaign.

From the BBC:

Labour has vowed not to feature Prime Minister David Cameron on billboards ahead of the general election.

The party said it would focus on issues rather than personalities. and not use negative personal campaigning.

Its election strategist Douglas Alexander said the Conservatives were preparing to spread “fear and smear”.

This is in response to poorly photo-shopped Conservative posters of Ed Miliband costing up to Alex Salmond.

It’s always nice to see a pledge of positive campaigning, even if it does come from masters of the dark arts of the real, nasty, personal stuff. I mean, could this possibly be the same Labour Party who, just 9 months ago, devoted an entire Party Election Broadcast to doing a hatchet job on Nick Clegg? “The un-credible shrinking man” they called it. Stephen Tall gave a run down of the plot at the time:

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Ed Miliband has his economic deficiencies but is the Liberal Democrat response adequate?

I’m getting as fed up with arguments about the economy as I was about the quality of the debate in the independence referendum. We seem to be stuck in a yah-boo soundbite fest that is deeply uninspiring.

Ed Miliband’s latest contribution on the deficit was pretty risible if you looked at it in terms of facts. He’s opposed practically every single cut the Coalition has made over the last four years but presumably his “sensible cuts” won’t actually affect anyone. Of course he’s not actually told us what they are, so we can’t really judge. Our problem is that with the way our newspapers and broadcasters work, neither Labour nor the Tories have to be that good to get their message across. Already we seem to be being demoted to an afterthought in most news reports. We have to work ten times as hard as everyone else to grab even a tiny bit of attention.

The nagging worry I have about Labour appropriating policies like our Mansion Tax is that they can then position themselves to say “vote for us, we come without their baggage”. This, I grant you, is pretty much the same as “vote for us cos we’re fairer than them and more economically responsible than them” which seems to be our pitch.

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Vince would have put Myleene Klass in her place on the Mansion Tax

It’s not every day that you wake up and find that you’ve been quoted in the Daily Fail. The story starts late last night when Ed Miliband got into an argument with Myleene Klass over the Mansion Tax. You can see here on ITV Player how he got his backside handed to him on a plate as Myleene took him to task over his policy. Well, actually, it’s our policy. He nicked it. Maybe if he’d had his own policies, he might have been better at defending them.

Myleene was absolutely and utterly in the wrong as far as I’m concerned. If people are privileged enough to be able to afford a £2 million property, then they should be able to afford a relatively modest tax on that significant wealth.  Forgive me for not having much in the way of sympathy for those rich folk who complain about having to find an extra couple of grand a year. The poor have already been squeezed more than they should have been, by successive governments, including the one of which Ed was a member. If we’re going to be a fairer society, then the rich have to pay their share. It’s a total no brainer. It should absolutely be a no-brainer for the leader of a party which claims to represent the workers of the country.

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Could it really not be any clearer than this?

Ed Balls MP, Denton - (Labour Leadership Campaign) - 2010Defending the clarity of his party’s position on the deficit after forgetting to mention it in his speech, Ed Miliband said

Ed Balls talked this week about our approach on the deficit. I have talked about our approach on the deficit. No one should be in any doubt about my approach on the deficit.

My approach is clear – we are going to get the deficit down, we are going to get the debt falling and we could not be clearer about that.

photo by: Harry Potts
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Wednesday in the Park with Ed

Ed Miliband park photo by ARCHIVE depart,ent of energy and climate changeBefore anyone says anything in the comments, yes, I know what follows is a little childish, but it is fun. I also know that all political leaders share personal stories in their speeches, but they do tend to do it with less clumsiness than Ed Miliband did it yesterday and there’s usually more substance from their speech to write about.

My mission to the world, or at least my friends on Facebook and Twitter this morning was simple. If you met Ed Miliband in a park, what would he say about you in his next Conference speech? the creative minds of social media went for it in style. Here are just a few of the replies.

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No wow factor from Ed Miliband as he forgets part of his speech

Joe Otten has already given you his inimitable take on Ed Miliband’s speech. I do love it when he gets cheeky.

I thought I’d stick my oar in as well with a few not quite so witty observations.

Six days ago, I was lucky enough to see Gordon Brown make one of the most incredible speeches I have ever heard. It had some welly behind it. It was absolutely superb. Close to the top of the list of things I never thought I’d say is that Gordon gave me goosebumps, but it really was electric. It had the melody that the Better Together campaign had been lacking, although it was definitely more Motorhead than Idina Menzel. Maybe it spooked Ed, because yesterday he forgot to thank Gordon for the role he’d played in the campaign to keep the country together.

Now Ed, shall we say, doesn’t quite pack the same punch. Today he spoke for far too long. It was all very earnest and it had a theme of Together that kind of worked, but it had no energy behind it. It had all the passion of the slogan of this year’s conference, the stultifying “Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future”. I mean, 8 months out from an election you would assume they had one. Although Ed Balls seemed to spend half his speech yesterday apologising for everything from the 10p tax rate to their failure to regulate the banks – and now they’re asking for another 10 years to fix the country?

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That Ed Miliband speech in full… (2)

The following arrived in a brown envelope at Lib Dem Voice Towers, this morning. It is probably an early draft.

Ed speechThankyou so much.

Friends, this country will never turn our back on the world and on the principles of internationalism. Those values are reflected not just in this country but in this party, and in the great team of Manchester United.

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Ed Miliband’s speech: tricky message, poor timing

Ed MilibandI’ve quite a lot of time for Ed Miliband. Politics needs intelligent, thoughtful folk with their hearts in the right place.

I respect, for example, that he held out last year against the superficially attractive urge to call for an in/out EU referendum advocated by more opportunistic Labour colleagues who relished the idea of stirring Tory discontent with Cameron. Miliband, rightly, decided to put national interest ahead of narrow party interest.

But there are evident troubles with his leadership, crystallised by his speech yesterday in which he acknowledged his own image problems: “I am not trying to win a photo-op contest in the next 10 months. And I wouldn’t win it if I tried.”

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Dear Daily Telegraph, Enough already. It’s actually okay for MPs to claim 11p for a ruler.

The_Daily_TelegraphSo the Telegraph is back to its old tricks on expenses. Five years ago, the paper uncovered some serious abuses by MPs at the taxpayers’ expense – along the way, the paper was also (as I wrote at the time) “guilty of flaky fact-checking, unfair distortions and disgraceful smears”.

Yesterday the paper attempted, rather desperately, to re-live past glories by running the story, ‘MPs’ expenses: Ken Clarke bills taxpayer for 11p ruler’. It wasn’t just Ken who attracted the Telegraph’s ire though: ‘Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was found to …

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ICM poll: No revival for two-party politics, even as Lib Dems drop to 10%

State of the parties, 17 June 2014.The Guardian has published its latest ICM poll, the ‘gold standard’ survey most eagerly awaited alike by political junkies (because ICM has the best track record) and Lib Dems (because it tends to give the party higher ratings). It shows Labour on 32%, a nose ahead of the Tories (31%), with Ukip (16%) and the Lib Dems (10%) trailing in third and fourth.

Two points stand out. First, the combined Labour/Conservative shares, at 63%, are the lowest ever recorded by ICM using the phone method. No sign of a reversion to two-party politics.

Secondly, the Lib Dem share of 10% is also the lowest ever recorded by ICM using the phone method. As Anthony Wells notes, “ICM were responsible for the Lib Dems lowest ever score of 3% back in 1989, but this is the lowest ICM have ever shown for them since they switched to phone polling in the 1990s”.

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Opinion: Prince Charles has gone too far this time

Prince CharlesIt was ironic to watch the news today. Two politicians who (I suspect) do not much care for Prince Charles’s views in general  were speaking in his defence, whereas one who might be expected to be more sympathetic was being more critical. It was the latter, Nigel Farage, who was right. He said of Prince Charles’s comments, likening Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, that there are some things the Prince should leave to the professional politicians.

Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband, on the other hand, were arguing that the Prince had a right to have his views and express them, or words to that effect. Prince Charles does indeed have a right to have his own private opinions, and he is not the first to have compared the actions of today’s Russia with yesterday’s Nazi Germany.

BUT, Prince Charles does not have the right to drop a bomb into the middle of British-Russian relations like this. It’s not just indiscreet, it is downright dangerous. There is no knowing what sort

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