Thursday, July 31, 2008
Something in the air...
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Oh, and on that article...
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
What's the problem?
More on murder
Reaping what you sow
Labour MPs fanning the flames of regicide should be ashamed
Should he stay...
If I were a Labour MP, I would note the polls, all of which suggest the Tory lead is soft and that almost as many voters identify with Labour as they do with the Conservatives. There has been no fundamental sea change and, as the last year has shown, fortunes can shift dramatically. I would then pose a question: In these wildly oscillating times would a new leadership team of David Miliband and Alan Johnson have a honeymoon, with a chance of propelling Labour into a poll lead? Next, I would note that in spite of the onslaught against him Mr Brown is best placed by far with his experience to address the pivotal economic questions. I would then ask a second question: Will voters credit Mr Brown with anything as long as he remains Prime Minister? Mr Brown's fate hangs on the answer to these two questions.
The answer to the second question is surely no. Brown has lost the benefit of the doubt, and is now getting the blame for pretty much everything, whether he deserves it or not. This has not been helped, incidentally, by his habit of disowning the blame for things he is very much responisible for. It is the first question that is more difficult to answer. Is Straw, or Miliband (or Harman, Purnell, Burnham, Uncle Tom Milburn and all) really likely to prove a better leader than Brown? Not better in the sense of less uncommunicative, gloomy or weird, but better in the sense of reversing the polling situation - which, with regular Tory leads of 20 points and more is less amenable to a positive interpretation than Richards suggests. Because if there is a leadership struggle, and a new leader is chosen, the argument for a quick following election becomes almost undeniable.
If the current polling were to be reflected in a General Election, the Labour Party would be drastically reduced - to 172 seats by today's Electoral Calculus - and that's a lot of MPs losing their jobs. It may in fact be better for the Labour Party to go early, in a managed decline that might avoid a total wipeout, but try to persuade some 200 Labour MPs that it is better for the good of the Party that they lay down their seats and see how far you get. In the knowledge that an election now would be disastrous Labour MPs would probably prefer to sit tight a la Micawber and hope that something turns up.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Getting away with murder...
Still feeling like the right decision? No scintillas of doubt over which leader possesses moral fibre? Not beginning to feel like a complete and total tit yet?
Labels: quentin davies
The strange death of Labour England
I love the smell of historical analogies in the morning. And to be fair, the circumstances that led to the death of the Liberal Party have not been repeated - thank God, seeing that the principle factor was the First World War. Nevertheless, it is instructive in that parties of the centre-left have died in the past, and there is no reason why they should not do so again. Last night's by-election defeat, in Labour's 25th strongest seat no less, could be seen not as a turning point but as confirmation that the turning point has already been reached. Wherever Labour has been forced to face the decision of the electorate - the local elections, the Mayoral elections, Crewe, Henley and Glasgow East - the results have been disastrous. Not merely bad but terrible. The worst ever results in the local elections, the first loss of the mayoralty, losing Crewe on an 18% swing, coming fifth in Henley and losing their deposit and now losing Glasgow East on a 22% swing. These are shattering numbers - the latest opinion poll deficits predict a seat share of Con: 410 Lab: 167 LD: 29. Mind blowing stuff.
And there's no reason why these numbers are going to improve either. The economic situation is going to get worse before it gets better - and even if it does improve Labour should remember the Tories' 'voteless recovery' in the late 1990s. Brown's real problems are innate and not a result of exterior forces. He cannot communicate, he has no sense of where he wants the country to go and he cannot run an effective cabinet. Brown is not going to be able to pull this one back. But on the other hand, there is no-one waiting in the wings who is likely to be any better. And even if they did go for broke, recognising that this time things really can only get better, any new leader will be faced with precisely the same situation - and with even less democratic legitimacy.
David Cameron recently said that the Tories have spent the last two years 'earning the right to be heard'. The problem for Labour is that they have effectively lost it. They have reached the stage when people turn the radio off when they here a Labour voice. The Labour Party are going to go down to a very heavy defeat in the next election. They will do this regardless of whether they go to the country now or hang on until June 2010. They will do this regardless who leads them. They will do this regardless of the economic situation - though the scale of the defeat will be affected. The really interesting question is what they will do next.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Is that really all that frequent?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Progress in Zimbabwe?
The position of deputy President is a meaningless one - the current incumbents are 85 year old Joseph Msika and the delightful Joice Mujuru, wife of Solomon Mujuru the former head of the army. Previou incumbents included Joshua Nkomo - after he had renounced all ambitions for ZAPU. There is no Prime Minister in the Zimbabwean system - the President fulfills both roles.
So, unless there is a significant constitutional change, there is only one meaningful office in the Zimbabwean government - President. All other jobs are irrelevant. On that basis, talks between MDC and ZANU-PF are a waste of time - unless Tsvangirai blinks.
There is, however, an alternative - that the constitution is redrawn, allowing for an executive Prime Minister and a constitutional head of state. This is pretty much what the state of affairs was when Zimbabwe became independent - with the late lamented Canaan Banana as President. The problem with this version is that it envisages Mugabe relinquishing power in return for a titular headship of state. It might be the best way out of this mess from an outside perspective, but I doubt that is how the old tyrant would see it.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The thing with UKIP...
Does Glasgow East matter?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Afghan officials reported that the area was occupied by Taleban fighters after the US withdrawal. Privately, Western military sources told The Times that the Wanat Combat Outpost was poorly sited and overlooked on three sides by buildings in the village, which Taleban fighters from a force estimated to be around 200 strong were able to use as firing points.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
CPI up to 3.8%, RPI at 4.6% - these aren't good figures. The blurb blames rising food prices and travel costs - which will at least allow the Government to continue their disingenuous blaming of the nation's ills on vague and ill-defined foreign problems. But the problem is that the Bank of England's remit is to restrain inflation, even though, with a stagnating economy, the requisite rise in interest rates is the last thing we need. Interesting times....
Monday, July 14, 2008
The politics of spanking, and other serious matters
Conservative Foreign Policy
Friday, July 11, 2008
Cor, I'm like some crazy political legend
The former shadow home secretary, who fought a by-election in protest at the erosion of civil liberties, is due to have a meeting with David Cameron next week to thrash out the details of the new job.
It is likely to come in the form of some kind of policy oversight role, with Mr Davis keen to make certain that the party does not slip from the positions he had established on opposing ID cards and detention without trial.
Shorter Tim Ireland
(In case you have forgotten, you also published my unlisted number on your website on more than one occasion, but I'll get onto that soon enough. I haven't even begun to begin...) [cont. pg 94].
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The Bible is packed with justifications for slavery, including killing your slaves. So presumably the Sun, along with others who regard Islam as a threat to our civilisation, will soon be campaigning against "Sunday Schools of Hate" where children as young as seven are taught to read this grisly book. And next Easter they'll report how, "I saw a small child smile with glee as he opened a Cadbury's egg filled with chocolate buttons. But behind his grin I couldn't help but wonder whether he wanted to turn me into a pillar of salt, then maybe sprinkle me on his menacing confectionary treat."
Disingenuous line of attack
So, without any of the onerous, relentless, ordinary burdens of being a working mother I am freed up to go out running four times a week. I'm not getting any thinner but I'm definitely fitter. Mmm, Dave, I'm still a bit fat, though. Got any ideas?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Fat is a conservative issue...
Monday, July 07, 2008
Slating the Tories, and other plans for 2010
Does he mean it?
England v South Africa
The Left and its heroes
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Time for a bit of expectation management
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The West Lothian Quesion
That, after all, is what the Nepalese parliament voted to do with its monarchy problem a month ago (by a majority of 560, with only four votes against). Or is Nepal now too modern and progressive a society for us to emulate?