Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

Brexit poses existential challenges for Labour, the UK and the EU

25/06/2016, 09:28:47 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour is over. The UK is over. The EU is over. For sake of something that Daniel Hannan now concedes won’t necessarily happen: a fall in immigration.

We have conspired to legitimise Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second Scottish referendum: a vote that seems likely to precipitate the UK’s breakup. Another vote in Northern Ireland may create a united Ireland around 100 years after partition.

While Jeremy Corbyn may be pleased by Ireland’s reunification, the breakup of the UK, closing off any Scottish Labour recovery within the union, reduces the prospect of Labour government. And this may not even be Labour’s biggest problem. Within England, the referendum exposed the perhaps unbridgeable divide between Labour’s liberal, metropolitan and socially conservative, provincial supporters.

The French cousins of that latter group dance to Marie Le Pen’s tune. The EU will muddle through Brexit but not Frexit, as President Le Pen threatens.

It is hard to believe that Boris Johnson – a Conservative and Unionist MP – intends the UK’s breakup; that Gisela Stuart wishes Labour to be so weakened; that the usually Whiggish Michael Gove wants the Europe that historian Sir Ian Kershaw sees opening up: “28 competing countries and in the hands of Le Pen, Orban, Kaczynski and the nationalists, a Europe breaking up.”

But that is where Johnson, Stuart and Gove – by acquiescing with the poison of Nigel Farage – have left us, which is unforgivable.

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The EU referendum is Cameron’s mess. So of course the media try to blame Jeremy Corbyn

15/06/2016, 05:31:29 PM

by Jon and Libby Bounds

The leavers are rising in the polls and everyone is starting to get scared that they might actually win. And, of course, it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.

It’s not unusual for Corbyn to come under attack, he doesn’t sing loud enough, or bow at the proper angle, and he baulks at the idea of mutual mass destruction. And we all know what Cameron thinks about his suit and tie. But what is odd is that this time around he’s effectively being criticised for not coming to the aid of his opponent in his hour of need.

David Cameron is struggling to get his message across. For the first time his privilege is not buying him an easy ride with an unusually un-supplicant press: and he’s looking to those with experience of not having everything their own way.

Cameron did not see this coming, but in many ways he is the architect of his own downfall. The establishment is trying to pin the blame on the Labour leadership but everything about this is a Tory mess. Even leaving aside that the very referendum is Cameron’s own fault – a self-serving promise to prevent haemorrhaging even more votes and party “loonies” to UKIP – the actions of the Tories have created a situation in which rational argument has lost its power and a new idiocracy rides the waves of ill-informed public opinion.

When Ed Miliband said that the media has focused on the “sexy blue-on-blue action” in covering the referendum campaign, he may have made Today programme listeners push away their boiled eggs, but he was right. Labour has been hamstrung in getting the socialist case for remaining in the EU across, not through a lack of passion, but through a lack of coverage.

Labour (and especially Ed) are used to this, but it is the first time that sections of the Conservatives have been on the wrong side of the tactics that they have spent the last 10 years developing.

So successfully have they terrified the BBC into a false version of impartiality they call ‘balance’, that ideas are never challenged, only countered. Lies are given equal weight to the truth.

And the right wing press doesn’t even have to pretend to be impartial. So if a view – or most frustratingly a fact – isn’t palatable to the owners and their editors then it will get the shortest of shrift. This is a problem. Yes, social media and the internet means that we can go beyond newspaper bias to get to more of the truth – but only if we have the time, critical analysis skills and networks to do so. (more…)

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Labour is in danger of being the big loser in EU referendum

05/06/2016, 12:17:25 PM

by David Ward

Labour been largely out of the limelight in recent weeks as the EU referendum approaches. So savage has been the feuding on the Tory benches, Labour almost seems like a confused onlooker at a wedding where a punch up has broken out among other people’s relatives.

Perhaps because of this a strange mood seems to have broken out among some activists and commentators. Labour supporters laugh behind their sleeves at the latest developments. In the Times a few days ago, Adam Boulton speculated “If the Tory civil war rages on, Jeremy Corbyn may not be so unelectable after all, especially if he can forge some kind of red-tartan coalition”.

In these idle daydreams one imagines the timeline would begin with a narrow remain win, sparking a Conservative leadership challenge. The challenge finishes Cameron, or fatally wounds him, and an unpopular brexiteer is picked to replace him for the next election. Who knows if Labour would win, but it looks more winnable. And that can only be a good thing right?

Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s think these scenarios through. Let’s imagine Cameron is challenged for the leadership this year. There’s no guarantee he would lose. He would then be a Prime Minister who had faced down his own party twice and just won a renewed mandate as leader. He could use the opportunity to renege on his promise to step down. Or wait for the economy to improve and pass on to a preferred successor.

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Despite her gaffe, Penny Mordaunt, not Cameron, is the future of the Tory party

23/05/2016, 04:26:55 PM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s pretty clear from her interview with Andrew Marr yesterday morning that defence minister Penny Mordaunt didn’t actually understand that individual Member States can veto the accession of new applicants to the EU, like Turkey.

A tad embarrassing, perhaps, for a government minister and David Cameron wasted no time in correcting her:

‘Let me be clear. Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining. That is a fact. The fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straightforward as this wrong, I think should call into question their whole judgement in making the bigger argument about leaving the EU.’

As a vignette, it tells us that fact-checking left the building some time ago as far as this referendum is concerned and that tempers inside the Conservative party are shredded.

However it is pro-European Tories like Cameron and Osborne that will pay a heavy price for the tone of this referendum. Having failed to get anything resembling the deal he promised, the Prime Minister is now despairing at the failure of the polls to decisively shift for Remain.

Famed for his fits of pique, his answer is to let slip the dogs of war. So threats of recession, war, plague and famine are trotted out daily by a loyal army of straight-faced supplicants, like Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and any number of corporate factotums, keen to sidle up to Downing Street for future preferment.

Unfortunately for him, the party’s grassroots remains implacably hostile to the EU. All those years when ambitious Tories could sidle up to their local members, pat them on the head and throw out a few Euro-bashing lines, safe in the knowledge that it all meant nothing, are over. With boundary changes approaching, local associations will demand to know their prospective MPs voted the ‘right’ way on the referendum.

Perhaps it’s understandable that David Cameron is furious with Mordaunt: she’s the future of the Conservative party, not him.

Some say she may lose her job for defying Cameron and emerging as one of the government’s staunchest Eurosceptics, but Cameron and Osborne will need to sue for peace and won’t have the strength to sack her.

If they do, she goes to the gallows as a heroine to the cause. But as we’ve seen with the Labour party, it is no bad thing to play the long game and emerge as a darling of the grassroots.

After all, as Talleyrand was said to have quipped, ‘treason is a matter of dates.’

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Labour needs to end its pathetic war on the media

12/04/2016, 09:38:50 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour MP Angela Raynor is interesting. She is shadow pensions minister but despite a time of huge upheaval in both public and private pensions provision, she rarely talks publicly about her patch.

Instead, the former union rep focuses her ire on a vast array of issues beyond her brief such as the steel crisis or – the favourite of most Corbynite Labour MPs today – criticizing the press.

Last Wednesday, prime minister David Cameron admitted he had more than $30,000 held in an offshore trust that he withdrew in January 2010. It was a stunning admission after days of evading questions over the Panama Papers.

At 10pm on Wednesday, Raynor tweeted: “I bet the right-wing press will hardly cover Cameron confession, front page will be a silly non-story on an obscure topic #curseofcameron”

By 11pm, the front pages of all major newspapers had been published and the story was splashed on the Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Mirror, Daily Express and Metro. It also made the second story on the front page of the Sun.

Obviously she was completely wrong. But more importantly, it is typical in the party today. Even when Labour is getting good coverage, it is blinded by its hatred of the press.

On Friday morning, a reporter from LBC door-stepped Jeremy Corbyn to ask what he thought about the criticism around Cameron’s offshore holdings.

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Remain will win easily. Boris will be irrelevant and immigration will barely register in voters’ choice

23/02/2016, 12:47:38 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last year, in the aftermath of the general election it looked like Westminster had learnt that the economy and leadership are central to determining the public’s voting intention at the big electoral tests.

Now we have an EU referendum looming and there’s been a bout of collective amnesia.

Yes, I know this is not a general election but the same formula of economy and leadership is relevant for largely the same reasons as last year.

Immigration is the issue that many Brexiteers think will tip the balance their way. But just as Ukip found last year, they’re misreading the polls.

There is a very familiar gap between the number who view immigration as the most important issue facing the country and those who view it as important to their household’s well-being.

At the general election, 51% thought immigration was the key issue facing Britain but only 21% believed it mattered most to their lives.

Unsurprisingly, immigration was not a major factor in the contest.

In the last poll to ask the relevant questions, by YouGov, from last September – following a summer of daily coverage of refugees travelling to Europe – the number citing immigration as the most important national issue was the highest on record at 71%. But the number who thought it most important for their family was 24% – a gap of 47%.

Think about that for a moment.

Even after a summer of non-stop reporting of fleeing refugees entering Europe, lurid stories from the Calais “jungle” and hyperbolic headlines, the proportion thinking that immigration mattered most for their lives rose by just 3% from 21% at the election to 24% at the start of September.

In comparison, in the same poll, the number saying the economy was the most important issue for their household was 40%. That’s 16% ahead of immigration.

In every single poll conducted by YouGov in the five and half years that they’ve been asking these questions, this gap has never been less than 16%.

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I’m a Conservative and Britain needs a credible opposition. Are we likely to get one any time soon?

09/02/2016, 05:53:16 PM

by John Wall

I was as surprised as many when the exit poll result was announced on election night although I’d experienced negative feelings towards Labour on the doorsteps.

It’s disappointing that elections have become presidential but Cameron consistently polled better than Miliband who reminded me of the earnest students I encountered at University, those for whom “out with the trots” didn’t mean an upset stomach. They burned with zealotry to right some perceived wrong and always seemed to be campaigning, protesting or expressing “solidarity”.

Despite claiming to support the many rather than the few, sufficient of the many, as Lord Ashcroft found considered that Labour “no longer seem to stand up for people like me”. Against a confident incumbent “Blair’s heir” who had a growing economy and falling unemployment Miliband’s failure is understandable.

Despite some glowing character references, largely from lefties (!), in Corbychev I see a cold, humourless lefty and there is a good reason for that – he is a cold, humourless lefty! He has the wearisome attitude of someone who wonders why he needs to explain his self evident “truths” to lesser mortals.

It’s difficult to see a fundamental difference to Miliband, the polls indicate that the more the public see of him the less they like him, and again he’s appealing to the few rather than the many.

From my perspective, and, yes, I’m “Tory Scum” who, come the revolution, will be first against the wall, I believe that a credible opposition is essential.

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Thanks to Corbyn, I might not vote Labour. Here’s how the Tories could win my vote in 2020

05/02/2016, 03:06:31 PM

by Samuel Dale

I have a confession to make. If David Cameron was Conservative leader in 2020 fighting an election against a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour then I would have no choice. I’d vote Conservative for the first time in my life.

I wouldn’t duck the choice with a vote for Tim Farron’s ludicrous Liberal Democrats. Farron has done nothing to build on some of Nick Clegg’s smart, centrist positioning while detoxifying the party from its shambolic U-turns and dreadfully naïve politics when in coalition.

Nope, it’s Tory or Labour at a general election. It’s about choosing a prime minister and there is no doubt that Cameron is better than Corbyn.

We are all familar with how Corbyn has gleefully abandoned Labour moderates and centrists. His pacifism and masochistic foreign policy, opposition to Trident renewal, business policy, monetary policy, income tax levels and much more beside, make him unpalatable to me.

So how can the Tories capitalise. Cameron won’t be leader in 2020 and Corybn may not be either. The real question for Conservatives is, how much do they want my vote and thousands like it. Blairite, pro-EU liberals comfortable with high levels of immigration and capitalism but worried about inequality. Corbyn has opened the space, can they take it?

The Conservatives have made no secret of their desire to (occasionally) pitch to people like me since their May election victory. It’s not easy to prise away Labour tribalists but are making good progress.

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Britain’s EU referendum must be fought on the future

02/02/2016, 10:45:36 PM

by Callum Anderson

As David Cameron edges closer to a final agreement with the European Commission and the other 27 Member States, both Leave and Remain campaigns struggle to wrest control and momentum ahead of a possible plebiscite this summer.

Whenever the referendum takes place, Britons will have to make their biggest decision for more than a generation. One that should be definitive and non-reversible. One that will ultimately decide Britain’s place in the twenty-first century.

Opinion polls – if we still trust them – have been highly volatile and are likely to remain so, with challenges such as terrorism and the migrant crisis looming large.

It, of course, goes without saying that Britain Stronger In Europe, backed by organisations such as British Influence and Labour’s In for Britain, must continue to make a positive case for Britain’s membership in the EU and call out the myths spread by the Eurosceptics.

The economic benefits – jobs, trade and investment – must be messages unceasingly repeated to citizens on the doorstep.

Equally, as Jim Murphy articulated superbly last summer, Britons must be reminded that the EU has not only been a free-trade area but also responsible for one of the great moral triumphs of our time: the establishment of democracy and the rule of law in the south and east of Europe.

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We are locked in a Dad’s Army politics of the left and right

02/02/2016, 02:44:44 PM

by Jonathan Todd

As Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, our prime minister tours the continent talking tax credits. The puniness of David Cameron next to the magnitude of events, the narrow, inward focus of his preoccupations, means that if he were a film he’d be a Dad’s Army remake.

Why, Peter Bradshaw not unreasonably asks in his Guardian review, do we need this film?

The answer, Uncut suspects, is involved with an observation previously made by Bradshaw’s Guardian colleague, Jonathan Freedland: “We have turned 1939-45 into a kind of creation myth, the noble story of modern Britain’s birth”. Basking in this myth is preferable to the grim reality of Europe’s shared contemporary challenges.

During World War II, Freedland argues, “we were unambiguously on the side of good. That, of course, is a key difference between us and our fellow Europeans, for whom that period is anything but simple or unambiguous.” The war has inculcated a sense of Britain, separate and special. This is reinforced as consistently on the printed pages of the Daily Mail as the Kardashians feature in its digital edition, wildly popular in the US. Soft porn celebrity, soft porn history.

While it is to be hoped that no one invested in Dad’s Army anticipating box office on the continent, some jokes amid the myth do little harm. It is our myth, our humour, our film. Let’s not expect it to pack Berlin cinemas.

Entertainment is one thing; politics is another. Politics ought to be more than myth peddling. But that is what Cameron provides when he claims that tax credit collection by citizens of other EU countries in the UK is the big issue now facing us and the rest of the Europe.

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