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After the dust has settled.

May 15, 2010 Comments off

It is interesting to look back now at the last six weeks.

A hard-fought campaign during which I felt that the Liberal Democrats by and large put our best foot forward.  The innovation of the TV debates certainly turned things on their head for a while and Nick Cleggs great performances meant that the Liberal Democrats were suddenly polling above 30% and in many polls were actually running second ahead of Labour.  Even though this seemed to drift away gradually towards the end of election it looked like we were headed for a great result.  Even on polling day the atmosphere and vibe was really good.  The exit poll at 10pm was shockingly negative (and at the time it seemed it could not be right) but within a few hours as the ballots came pouring out of the boxes (certainly in Liverpool where I was ) it became all too clear that the Liberal Democrat surge had largely been squeezed.

So we were left with a hung parliament that has led to a Liberal Democrat / Conservative coalition government

How do I feel about this?

On the one hand it is hard to stomach being in bed with the Conservatives

On the other hand it is probably the only logical conclusion given the precise verdict of the electorate. 

The proposed coalition with the Labour Party was clearly not a runner given

  •  The attitude of those sent to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats
  •  The attitude of many senior Labour figures commenting in public whilst those discussions were taking place
  • The likelihood of such a  coalition falling with only 315 votes in the House of Commons.
  • The likelihood of a subsequent General Election leading to a further squeeze on Labour and the Liberal Democrats so leading to a majority Conservative Government

 The other main option would have been a Conservative Minority Government.  This too would probably not have lasted very long and again would have led to a subsequent General Election and a majority Conservative Government.

So coalition it is and an opportunity to put some of our policies into practice and at the same time hopefully demonstrate that a hung parliament is not necessarily a bad thing in that it forces politicians to work together and hopefully eliminates some of the worst excesses that occur when one party with maybe as little as 25% of the population supporting them takes all the power.

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What do people want, what will they vote for and what will they get?

April 24, 2010 Comments off

So roughly a third of the British electorate would like to see a Liberal Democrat Government or so at least the opinion polls seem to indicate at present.  Roughly the same amount want a Tory Government and slightly less would like to see a Labour Government. 

 According to the UK Polling report calculator a result along the lines of 33% Tory, 32% Liberal Democrat and 27% Labour with 8% others would lead to the following result (assuming a uniform swing).

  • Labour – 255 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 246 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 118 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Others – 31 seats

Aside from the obvious inequities of the first past the post system on such a result there is interesting news from YouGov.

According to Peter Kellner YouGov asked “How would you vote on May 6 if you thought the Liberal Democrats had a significant chance of winning the election”.

The response they got was staggering as follows :

  •  Liberal Democrat 49%
  • Conservative 25%
  • Labour 19%
  • Others 7%

Let us assume for a minute that half of the people who need to be persuaded that the Liberal Democrats can win the election can actually be persuaded that this is so.  Not all of them just half of them.

This might leave us with the following percentage votes assuming slightly more gain from Labour than the Tories

  •  Liberal Democrat 40.5%
  • Conservative 29.5%
  • Labour 23%
  • Others 7%

On the same basis of a uniform swing this would achieve the following result

  • Labour – 155 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 178 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 288 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Others – 29 seats

At least a result which is more representative of the actual votes……and on a non uniform swing who know what might happen.

If people voted as per the YouGov poll then the figures (again on a uniform swing) would be as follows.

  • Labour – 19 seats (for the party in third place)
  • Conservative  – 25 seats (for the party in second place)
  • Liberal Democrat – 548 seats (for the party in first place)
  • Others – 15 seats

Again this would show up the madness of first past the post – still at least it would put the Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament into the position where they would be the turkeys voting for an early Christmas as we moved to a proportional system!

What a 24 hours

April 16, 2010 Comments off

First last night debate and Nicks fantastic performance against Cameron and Brown, then an opinion poll showing the Liberal Democrats on 35% (later adjusted properly to 24%) and now the latest YouGov poll shows us on 30% and in second place and only 3 points behind the Conservatives.  Labour meanwhile have slipped to third place with 28%.   What a great boost to all our candidates fighting so hard on the ground to grow the size of our parliamentary party.  That swing in itself will mean that the Tories will suddenly find themselves threatened in seats where they previously though they were safe such as Newbury and Guildford – both seats where we have experienced former Members of Parliament standing.

Labour to target Osborne – Cameron should be the target for Liberal Democrats

March 28, 2010 3 comments

According to the Observer Labour is targeting George Osborne as the weakest link in the Conservative team

Party sources told the Observer that a decision had been taken to focus on Osborne as the prime target throughout the campaign, because the future stewardship of the economy is the issue that most concerns voters.

They said there was “strong evidence” from their own focus groups that people regard Osborne as “shrill, immature and lightweight”, and that the Tories are already being harmed in the polls because of doubts about their economic policies.

This seems fine to me as far as it goes and I will be happy to see Vince take him on tomorrow night on Channel 4 and throughout the campaign.

However, I think the Liberal Democrats should be concentrating their fire power (at least as far as the Conservatives are concerned) on Cameron.  This is the man who claims to have made the Conservative Party electable again.  Supposedly they are no longer the nasty party of british politics but that statement hides a multitude of sins that Cameron needs to be brought to account for.

Two that come to mind are as follows:

1) The decision to withdraw the Conservative MEPs from the European Peoples Party and the even worse decision to join the new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping consisting of some far right characters who would not elicit much sympathy from the british public and headed by a Michal Kaminski who has made some seriously offensive remarks in the past.  Does Mr Cameron wonder why the former Tory leader in Brussels, Edward McMillan-Scott, has decided to join the Liberal Democrats?

2) David Cameron’s recent performance in an interview with Gay Times.  If you click here you can see the interview itself and Cameron’s bumbling, stumbling performance.

13 years too late

March 14, 2010 Comments off

According to the Sunday Telegraph and the BBC Labour might be about to announce that it would seek to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a 300 member fully elected chamber.  Apparently Jack Straw is consulting cabinet colleagues about plans that may be put forward before the election. 

This rather reminds me of Labours approach to voting reform….too late. 

 Having been in power for 13 years there have been plenty of opportunities to push forward the agenda of constitutional reform that this country so badly needs if we are to have a fully functioning and grown up political system.  Suddenly as we approach the fag end of a tired Labour government they are busy expressing an interest in voting reform (albeit still not STV) and an elected second chamber.  Cynics might wonder why they are suddenly having second thoughts.  The likelihood that they will not be able to form the next government might provide an answer.

Exploitation of interns

March 13, 2010 Comments off

BBC News had an interesting story on earlier about the use and abuse of interns.  There were two things that really struck me about the whole story

1) The obvious difficulties which this creates for young people who are desperate to get some real experience in a particular field and who do not have the funds to either pay for one or support themself during an unpaid internship.

2) The strange way in which the BBC have handled the story.  The minor footnote to the whole story is that a government website called Graduate Talent offers thousands of these sorts of opportunities and many of these are unpaid.  As the story makes clear if people are employed in these sort of work positions then the minimum wage rules apply.  So a government website under a Labour government is promoting positions that breach its own minimum wage legislation.  Now that is really something the BBC should be making the main plank of the story.

Could Miliband beat Brown?

March 25, 2007 Comments off

I think he could – if and obviously only if he has the guts to stand. I will admit that I have a vested interest in this as I placed a bet of £20 at odds of about 11.5 to 1 on Betfair some time ago. Is it possible that I could make money on all three leadership elections since the last general election? I had a bet on Cameron very soon after polling day and made over £100. I made some poor choices on the Lib Dem leadership election but once it became clear which way the wind was blowing I was able to turn a potential £25 loss into a £9 gain.

So will Miliband run or not? According to this piece in this mornings Observer he could be persuaded to run by Tony Blair. I cannot see what the downside would be for him running. He may feel that he has an agreement with Brown but if he has ambitions of his own then he may be far better to run now. If he fails to run and Brown becomes Prime Minister and loses the subsequent General Election, Labour could be out of power for a decade or more and Milibands chance could have gone forever. If he runs I think he has a good chance of winning particularly given Browns poll ratings head to head with Cameron and even if he does not win I think he will make a good showing and Brown will not be able to exclude him from the Cabinet which is where he is now!

Categories: Labour, UK Politics