Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

Nationalist thugs in Scotland will boost Scottish Labour’s vote

04/05/2015, 04:38:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Today, Jim Murphy showed why he is a strong leader. Unlike either David Cameron or Ed Miliband, he took his campaign to the streets to meet ordinary voters. It was the type of bold, smart politics that this election has lacked.

It was bold because rather than hiding away behind a lectern, at a ticketed event, protected by a ring of security, Jim Murphy had the courage to stand up and make his case at Glasgow’s St Enoch Square.

He knew that nationalist thugs would be there to shout him down. They always are. That they would try to deny his right to free speech and disrupt a peaceful political gathering.

But still he did it. Because democracy matters and speaking to voters, real people not the adoring activists bussed in for most political rallies, is the lifeblood of politics.

The intimidation and abuse that Jim Murphy experienced were a vivid demonstration of the dark side of Scottish nationalism.

And this is why it was smart, as well as brave, politics.

Media reports of this type of confrontation are more persuasive than any speech by a Scottish Labour politician on the dangers of an unchecked nationalist Raj in Scotland.

Not just for wavering Labour voters, but Tories and Lib Dems too, it shows how freedom of speech, the right to express a pro-union argument or even just a non-nationalist case, is under threat.

To resist the SNP surge, Labour needs the support of Tory and Lib Dem voters. In most Scottish seats, the Tories and Lib Dems don’t stand a chance. The choice is simple: Labour or the SNP. The pictures on today’s news make a powerful case for these voters to lend their votes to Labour to turn back the nationalist tide.

In the final days of this campaign, if Scottish Labour can clearly define itself as the pro-union party, the party that speaks for the 55% who rejected independence in the referendum last year, it can hang on to a swathe of Scottish seats that pollsters have written off.

Seats that the party desperately needs if Ed Miliband is to have any hope of making it into Downing street.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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The Tories’ tartan scare was made in America by Jim Messina

25/04/2015, 09:34:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The Tories’ tartan scare is the defining political gambit of this campaign.

Labour advisers see Lynton Crosby’s handiwork. But Crosby is not the only big name consultant, calling the shots in their campaign.

Sitting along-side Crosby, at the top table is Jim Messina, the man who masterminded President Obama’s re-election and will run Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President.

Crosby is a convenient lightning rod for Labour discontent but Messina has had a critical role in framing their strategy.

Unlike the absent David Axelrod, Labour’s own big US name hire, Messina has been a constant presence in the Tory campaign, in person and on the phone.

On Thursday he was in Conservative HQ finalising plans for the fortnight to polling day and giving the Tory campaign team a pep talk on the floor of the war room.

A sign of his status is that he operates outside of the strict media rules that govern all other consultants and advisers. Lynton Crosby’s code of omerta does not apply to Jim Messina who tweets freely about his activities.

The previous week he had been in London, reviewing the Tories’ field intelligence and focus group research on the effectiveness of the tartan scare message on their target voter groups – Ukip supporters and centrist and right-leaning Lib Dems. He even hit the phones to see the effectiveness of the messaging for himself.

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Reaching out to centrist voters now is good tactics. Strategy it ain’t

23/04/2015, 11:45:50 AM

by Rob Marchant

Happily, Labour has had a very good fortnight. Since my last column, Miliband’s personal ratings have jumped up and the Tory campaign has blundered from unforced error to unforced error. Bookies and polls now put him as neck and neck with Cameron as next PM, not lagging way behind as before.

The final piece of this recovery in both results and performance, last weekend, was a quite unexpected outreach programme from Labour to the centre ground, of which more later.

After the last election, the new prime minister, formerly known for his husky-cuddling and his “greenest government ever” shtick suddenly remembered his back benchers and became, for the most part, a much more traditional kind of Tory.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in his Europe policy, where he essentially caved in to the more rabid Eurosceptic elements in his own party, in the hope of stemming the flow of voters and defecting MPs to UKIP. If, as some are predicting, UKIP ends up the election having lost Thanet South and with merely a couple of MPs, he will surely look back on this decision to pander to their agenda as one of the utmost folly.

That game is not only dangerous for Britain, it is poor internal politics for Cameron: after all, his (almost universally pro-EU) big business backers can hardly be delighted at the prospect of an EU referendum. But in any event, it is not hard to paint the Tories as having lurched into a right-wing caricature of themselves.

On the other hand Miliband, for the majority of his tenure as leader, has often given the impression of being more mindful of his party at large than of the electorate outside, with the result that Labour’s policy agenda has mostly languished in its comfort zone on the soft left. There was one brief flicker of hope that Labour would once again embrace a broad church, around the time of Miliband’s 2013 “One Nation” conference speech: but in policy terms One Nation turned out, for the most part, to be a slogan, and little more.

Politics is a lot like the game of squash: those who dominate the centre of the court tend to dominate the game.

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Cameron beware: Benefit claimants lose money when they don’t turn up to an interview

16/04/2015, 05:42:54 PM

As the only national political leader taking part in tonight’s “challengers’ debate,” is it a mistake for Ed Miliband to put himself on a par with the nationalists and minnows of British politics?

We’ll soon find out, but assuming he does well enough (in a format that usually favours his softer public style) it will bolster an already confident Labour campaign and throw the spotlight on the absent Prime Minister’s reluctance to defend his own record.

Indeed, Miliband has a neat line on David Cameron’s failure to turn up: “I think if you are applying for the job of Prime Minister, the very least the British people expect is for you to turn up to the interview.”

Such bad form, especially when Employment Minister Esther McVeigh has been very clear on this point: “…jobseekers have a responsibility to do everything they can to get back into work. We are ending the something for nothing culture,” she has previously opined.

For the first offence of failing to turn up to an interview, an unemployed benefit claimant faces losing four week’s Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Cameron should beware, the penalties increase with every no-show.

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This curious Tory campaign is coming to us from another country

13/04/2015, 09:06:27 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Famously, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. In that country, they have naked women on Page 3 of The Sun. That publication peddles lies about football fans crushed on the terraces of Hillsborough. And claims to be able to determine the outcome of general elections.

That which largely went unquestioned in 1992 would not do so in 2015. The Sun has changed to survive in a changed country. In such a country, it may not necessarily follow that treatment for Ed Miliband akin to that which Neil Kinnock endured in 1992 will contribute to the same electoral outcome.

The fears about Kinnock that the Conservatives and their supporters in the media were then able to arouse chimed with underlying public perceptions. It may be that attacks like those of Michael Fallon on Miliband will again tap into deep seated fears about Labour.

Equally, reflecting on Miliband’s improving personal ratings, Damian Lyons Lowe, founder and chief executive of Survation, concluded, “people like the happy warrior”. If Fallon were mainlining fears in the same way that the Tories did during the 1992 campaign, we might expect Miliband’s ratings to be going in the other direction.

The Tory brand is also not as robust as it was in 1992. This weakness – the persistence of the “nasty party” perception – is one of the reasons that I have anticipated Labour victory this year. When brands have limited purchase, their capacity to impact how other brands are perceived is also undermined.

If you go round slinging dead cats on tables, people will think, “these are the kind of people who sling dead cats on tables”. Boris Johnson – whom David Aaronovitch recently described as being “like a man who breaks wind in a lift and everyone wonders what smells so good” – could sling a dozen dead cats on the table. And we’d all laugh. Then ask him to do it again.

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David Cameron has made a massive mistake but Labour’s picked the wrong line of attack

24/03/2015, 08:50:59 AM

by Atul Hatwal

If the Conservatives win the next election, David Cameron has turned himself into a bystander in his next government.

By pre-announcing his resignation he’s dissolved his future authority with backbenchers, who will be more interested in winning the favour of the next leader, and shifted the media lens onto his potential successors. The question of when he will resign – because he surely won’t last a full term – will dog him each day and ultimately he will struggle for relevance. He’s condemned himself to a living political death.

In the wake of such an extraordinary unforced error, Labour’s chosen line of attack is that Cameron is taking the electorate for granted by assuming he will win the next election. It fits with Labour’s broader critique of him and in that sense is logical, but it’s also wrong.

Two of David Cameron’s greatest political assets are his double digit lead over Ed Miliband as the public’s preference for PM and the extent to which he personally outpolls his party.

David Cameron’s telegraphed resignation is the very antithesis of leadership; it’s the epitome of weakness and raises the likelihood that any one of a gaggle of unappealing Tories could be prime minister in the next Parliament. Suddenly, there might be some hope for Labour.

Instead of talking about arrogance, Labour should be recasting the leadership choice at this election as one between Ed Miliband and the dangerous unknown.

There are two aspects to this.

First, the message should be hammered home that David Cameron is about to quit on the British people in the next Parliament.

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Uncut review: Labour’s Spring rally was a tale of two Britains

16/03/2015, 10:42:33 AM

by Jonathan Todd

On Saturday, I met a friend for coffee and took my son swimming. Normal life, that simple, that complicated. Labour’s Spring Rally came in-between. This made the coffee and swim seem Damascus living: normal life accompanied by artillery’s distant thud.

There is not one nation but two Britain’s. The Britain of my coffee and swim. The Britain of the rally. Here the artillery is loud. War has been waged against the country by the government . “Britain can’t afford another five years of Tory government,” Shaun Dooley, the actor and one of Ed Miliband’s warm-up acts, implored.

“If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined,” Adam Smith was told by a student following a reversal for British troops in the American revolution. “There’s a great deal of ruin in a nation,” retorted Smith. It would take more than a prime minister as second rate as David Cameron to ruin us.

In rally Britain, however, all is at stake. We might be ruined. Or milk and honey might flow. A country where the next generation can do better than the last. Where the NHS has time to care. And working families have higher living standards.

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Clarkson may be obnoxious, but Cameron’s loyalty to his friends is admirable

12/03/2015, 06:29:26 PM

“I don’t know exactly what happened” says David Cameron about motoring motormouth Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘fracas’ with a Top Gear producer, but “he is a constituent of mine, he is a friend of mine, he is a huge talent.”

Yet again the Prime Minister stands by his friends and allies, even when their backs are against the wall, despite brickbats from his critics and for no discernable short-term advantage to himself.

There’s a pattern here and, in the snake-pit of British politics, something of a curiosity.

Think of the way Cameron kept Andy Coulson under his wing until the bitter end, despite early warnings about his seamy conduct as editor of the News of the World.

The Prime Minister is a reluctant butcher in a business where carving up enemies and allies alike is second nature. Look no further than the way he has kept ministers in cabinet jobs for the full run of this parliament.

It is inconceivable that Iain Duncan-Smith and his, as yet, unfurled universal credit reforms would have been given so much latitude under either Blair or Brown.

Or that Andrew Lansley would have stayed in post long after it was abundantly clear he had made a complete hash of the politics of his NHS reforms.

Or that a figure like Oliver Letwin, the brainy but bumptious ‘Minister of State for Government Policy,’ would become a mainstay of the government frontbench.

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Don’t blame Cameron. A sitting PM would be mad to agree to TV debates

06/03/2015, 07:00:28 AM

The gap between being in opposition and government is thrown into sharp relief by the debate (squabble?) around televised election debates.

Don’t blame David Cameron for not wanting to have them. No sitting prime minister in his or her right mind would willingly choose to participate. The stakes are stacked against you from the start.

Most obviously, you are defending a record while the other participants are free to attack it.

What’s more, the prep time needed to brief a prime minister is massively greater than that needed to pick at their record.

For a leader more popular than his party, having Cameron grounded in London rehearsing how he defends his record across the board is wasted time for the Tories.

Prime ministers, even those as callow as David Cameron, appreciate that being in government is a complex business.

It’s made harder by the fact that a prime ministerial brain will be stacked full of the nuance of policy issues, making instant snappy rebuttals hard to craft on the hoof.

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Is Labour prepared for a second Cameron government?

17/02/2015, 10:16:10 PM

by David Talbot

Such optimism greeted the unveiling of Labour’s grand general election strategy some two years ago. The party would target 106 key seats using techniques borrowed from Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaigns in a “realistic” strategy to install the Labour leader in Downing Street with a majority of 60, the then election supremo Tom Watson announced. Somewhat naturally, given Westminster’s seemingly never-ending penchant for expensive Americans, a thousand community organisers were to be funded simultaneously in the key seats trained by the now adrift Arnie Graf.

The general election had duly begun, we were told, and Labour was set to be a one-term opposition; a feat achieved just once in forty years. According to Watson’s detailed analysis, Labour needed a national swing of just under two per cent to be the largest party at the next election. An average swing of over five per cent would deliver Labour a Commons majority of 20 seats and over six per cent a 60-seat majority. Such was the bullishness of the assessment that all the seats announced were offensive, and such was the hyperbole attached that talk of an 80-seat majority was passed in the same breath. Labour will win, and “win well” Watson confidently asserted.

Such a shame. Three months out from the general election few in the Labour fold would publically repeat such wild talk. But at the time it was easy enough to see where the confidence had come from; the “ominshambles” Budget had handed Labour a large and sustained lead – with the party regularly breaching and holding the magical forty per cent barrier.

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