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Archive for the ‘Political campaigning’ Category

Tuesday
May 4,2010

Is David Cameron planning to heap embarrassment on the Queen if the General Election this week produces an inconclusive result?

This is not because of his continued defence of his PR guru, Andy Coulson, whose tenure as News of the World editor was apparently – according to reports this morning – even more sullied by its role in apparently actively commissioning the illegal interception of royal messages.

No, it is because of the plans disclosed this morning for the Conservatives to  ignore the rules drawn up by the Cabinet Secretary on what is to happen in the event of a “hung Parliament”.

According to Nicholas Watt the Guardian’s Chief Political Correspondent:

“The Queen does not summon a prime minister to resign; convention dictates that is for the prime minister to tender his or her resignation. Cameron indicated yesterday that he is prepared to challenge this convention.”

Presumably, the plan is for David Cameron to turn up unannounced at Buckingham Palace and demand to see the Queen, tell her to tell Gordon Brown that he is no longer Prime Minister, and then instruct her to invite someone else (ie D Cameron) to form a Government.

The whole point of the Cabinet Secretary drawing up a procedural document was to avoid Her Majesty being drawn into political controversy.  This does not seem to be something that worries Cameron’s Conservatives.  Apparently, they will be quite happy to embarrass the Queen and trample over constitutional convention.

And the reason for this?

“Senior Tories believe Cameron will require political momentum if he wins the largest number of votes but falls short of an outright majority.”

Political momentum?

Either you have it or you don’t.

And, if you have to embarrass the Queen and ignore the constitution to get what you want, you probably don’t.

Monday
May 3,2010

We chanced to be in the middle of Dorset West having a pub lunch earlier today (somebody’s got to do it).

There we were minding our own business in the corner.  And suddenly the discussion in the bar turned to the General Election.

To general agreement, the landlord announced:

“And, of course, if the Tories get in, they’ll put VAT up to 20% and increase the tax on beer and cigarettes.”

Now I appreciate that one should not extrapolate from one pub landlord.  However, most pub landlords would only express such trenchant political views to their clientele if they were fairly confident that there would be substantial agreement – and there was certainly no disagreement that I heard voiced.

So why is this significant?

Well this was in the heart of Dorset West.  A seat that Oliver Letwin is defending for the Conservatives against a strong LibDem challenge.  A seat that is a LibDem target with a majority of only 2,461.

Not good news for Letwin.  And a sign that Cameron’s complacency is misplaced.

Sunday
May 2,2010

The Ipsos MORI analysis in The Observer gives some interesting analysis of public perceptions of the three Party Leaders.

Actually, interesting is not the word – it is devastating for Nick Clegg and pretty awful for David Cameron.

When asked which of the three Party leaders would be best in a crisis, only 12% rated Nick Clegg (33% favoured David Cameron and 40% Gordon Brown).

On who is the most capable, Clegg only scored 17% (with 33% and 36% for the Cameron and Brown respectively).

And on who best understands world problems, Clegg could only muster 14% and Cameron 23%, while Gordon Brown scored 45%.

So with bombs in New York, melt-down in Greece, climate change, a fragile economy, and troops in Afghanistan, the message is quie clear:

“It’s no time for a novice.”

Saturday
May 1,2010

The editorial dispute in The Guardian over which Party they should endorse in the General Election has apparently been heated and bitter – even though it is difficult to think that there is a single Guardian reader who will have been waiting to hear which way they opted in order to make up her or his mind.

Clearly, Jackie Ashley is not one of those bowled over by Clegg-mania.  In a thoughtful article this morning she asks “Where are the women in Clegg’s top team?”

And the numbers are striking.  The LibDems have fewer women candidates in 2010 than they did in 2005 – a mere 22% of the total.  According to Jackie Ashley:

“At the root of the Lib Dems’ failure to deal with the gender deficit is their opposition to positive discrimination. At last year’s Speaker’s conference on making parliament more representative, Clegg suggested the problem was not the selection process as such, but the fact that not enough women were coming forward in the first place.”

And their record on race is equally dire: they have no black or minority ethnic MPs.

Friday
Apr 30,2010

Who is the real David Cameron and what does he stand for?

Here is one take.

And, of course, the ubiquitous Guido Fawkes has his own interpretation of what emerged from yesterday’s debate.

As Michael Goldfarb puts it David Cameron went “tribal”, saying he “charged after welfare cheats and claimed big business backs him”.

And David Cameron also had his “off camera” moment – see here – apparently in his world £1.2 billion is only a small amount of money, which brings us back to here.

Thursday
Apr 29,2010

After the dissection of the Tory manifesto by Sir Humphrey Appleby (courtesy of BBC Newsnight, now it is the LibDems turn.

See it here.

And this is how the civil service would have dealt with the Sky News feed …..

Tuesday
Apr 27,2010

BBC’s Newsnight, demonstrating that their editors can still take what Sir Humphrey himself might have called “a brave – if not career-limiting – decision”, have produced (in the style of  “Yes Minister“) a brilliant dissection of the Tory manifesto.

See it here.

In fact, senior mandarins have already put the finishing touches on their memos for incoming Ministers.  As one proudly told me a few days ago: 

“New Ministers in my Department are going to be faced with three really urgent and unbelievably difficult decisions as soon as they arrive and they’ll have to deal with those before we can even start to consider their manifesto commitments.”

Friday
Apr 23,2010

The LibDems to use Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones’s phrase “don’t like it up em”.  They clearly did not expect the orchestrated attacks on Nick Clegg and their Party, which according to Nick Robinson were organised by Conservative Central Office and Team Cameron.

This is a bit ironic coming from the Party that excels in this tactic at local level and in by-elections.

See full size image

Friday
Apr 23,2010

We are told there is a possibility of a hung Parliament and that allegedly this is the outcome that many voters would like.  This morning on the Today programme one voter said a hung Parliament might be a good idea because you would be getting the best bits of each Party.

Hmmm.

Reminds me of the apocryphal story of the exchange between Isadora Duncan and George Bernard Shaw.  She is supposed to have said that she would like to have children with him – “think of the child with your brains and my beauty.”  And he is alleged to have replied: “But what if he were to have your brains and my beauty?”

Be careful, what you wish for.

Thursday
Apr 22,2010

I know that one should never generalise from one canvass session.

I also know that my unexpected appearance on the doorstep may have a strange effect on the house-holder concerned.

It is, of course, well-known that my charm, sunny demeanour and general all-round people skills (note the repeated use of irony) will have a strangely persuasive effect on those subjected to its full force.

However, in the space of 90 minutes this evening I came across four people who had previously voted Liberal Democrat but were now undecided …..

Something strange is happening out there.