Posts Tagged ‘Iain Gray’

Labour’s Scottish election campaign is a disaster

29/04/2015, 03:00:44 PM

by Calum Wright

Scottish Labour’s campaign has been uninspiring, ill-conceived and unsuccessful. A lead in the opinion polls has been squandered and it seems increasingly likely that the SNP will be re-elected with more MSPs than ever. The recent Scotland on Sunday / YouGov poll has given the SNP a 13% lead over Labour in the constituency vote and a 10% lead in the regional list. With just a week until polls open, Iain Gray is relaunching the Labour campaign. As a Labour party member, this state of affairs is above all frustrating: a campaign which had the potential to show Labour rejuvenated instead indicates that lessons have not been learned. Here I will highlight four main areas in which the campaign has come short: the anti-Tory, then anti-SNP, stance; the absence of distinctiveness; the lack of realism; and the leadership problem.

The recurring motif of most of the Labour campaign thus far has been “now that the Tories are back”. The idea, presumably, was to reawaken latent Scottish fear and hatred of the Conservatives, and insist that only Labour could save Scotland from the cuts. The problem with this strategy is first that the Tories are not the main opponents in these elections, the SNP are. Second, there is no clear evidence to show that the Scottish people believe that Labour rather than the SNP are best placed to “protect” Scotland from the Conservative-Lid Dem coalition.


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People might be in two minds about the parties, but Cameron is still edging it for their vote

20/09/2012, 07:00:52 AM

by Peter Watt

Nearly half way through the Parliament and inevitably we are all reading the runes and making predictions.  Who will win in 2015?  Who will lead {insert name of party} into the next election?  Will the coalition survive?  For those of us who like this sort of thing there is a raft of political and psephological soul searching with theory and counter theory argued out on political forums across the media.  It is all good stuff and the narrative for the time since the last election can be summarised as:

  • The government had a good first eighteen months or so and have been a shambles ever since
  • The budget this year was a particularly big and nasty disaster for the government and as a result Labour have had a poll lead ever since
  • The economy is stubbornly refusing to recover
  • People generally like Ed Miliband but David Cameron remains people’s preferred choice as prime minister

What you think might happen next basically boils down to four things:

  • To what degree you think that Labour’s poll lead is soft
  • To what extent you think that Ed Miliband/David Cameron are assets for their respective parties
  • How much the economy recovers over the next couple of years
  • Whether the public trust Labour on the economy and can see Ed Miliband as prime minister.

But almost everyone thinks that the Liberals look down and out.  And increasingly most people seem to think that a Tory majority is unlikely and are now contemplating a possible Labour victory of some kind.  Certainly lots of Labour people seem increasingly confident that this will be a one term Government.  And equally lots of Tories and Lib Dems are a little nervous about their prospects with their respective current leaders.

But I think that all of this analysis may be more than a little flawed.

It is predicated on a cosy assumption that people are still broadly wedded to the party system.  That on the whole some people are broadly “leftish”, some people broadly “rightish” whilst a few electorally influential voters are a bit more promiscuous.  Appeal to enough of the promiscuous and you win.


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Friday News Review

06/05/2011, 05:40:58 AM

The start of a long road back

Labour took control of Sheffield early this morning, gaining nine seats from the Lib Dems on leader Nick Clegg’s home turf. In a further blow for the party, Carl Minns leader of Hull council, lost his seat to Labour. The result capped a disastrous night for the Lib Dems. The party was also predicting it “could lose everything” in Liverpool, which has traditionally been a stronghold. In Hull, the party lost ten seats to Labour, with former council leader Mr Minns among the casualties. Labour now has a clear majority in the city. Sheffield, where Mr Clegg has his parliamentary seat, had been governed by the Lib Dems without an absolute majority. The party’s former council leader Paul Scriven insisted that the results were merely a “short-term setback” for the party, and said it should not change direction in response to its drubbing in the polls. Mr Scriven said Lib Dems had to “keep our nerve, keep our backbone and keep bringing fairness to Government and sort out this financial mess”. He told the BBC: “We are in this for the long term, because if not we let the country down.” As the counts were declared in Sheffield, former Labour minister David Blunkett said Cleggmania had become “Clegg pneumonia.” – Yorkshire Post

Liberal Democrat group leader Carl Minns faces being unemployed this morning, having paid the price for cuts which left hundreds of council workers out of a job. In a press conference, Mr Minns admitted his Liberal Democrat party was facing defeat in Hull and losing control of the council. He also conceded that he was facing losing his own seat in Kings Park although the result has yet to be confirmed. He said: “It is clear that the Liberal Democrats are not going to have a good night tonight.” – Hull Daily Mail

Gray has got to go… will go…

SNP leader Alex Salmond promised a referendum on Scottish independence as early results indicated an historic night for his party. Huge inroads have been made into Labour’s central belt strongholds, with John Mason taking the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, James Dornan taking the Cathcart seat and Sandra White winning in Glasgow Kelvin. There were also SNP gains in Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse, East Kilbride and Clydesdale. The SNP also snatched Edinburgh Pentlands from the Conservatives – with former Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie losing his seat – and Edinburgh Southern from the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, Labour leader Iain Gray managed to hold his East Lothian seat – but by just 151 votes. He said that the collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who have already lost deposits, may have benefited the SNP. The final winners and losers are not expected to be confirmed until later in the afternoon. Voters are electing 129 MSPs, 73 for constituencies and a further 56 on regional lists. – STV

Alex Salmond was last night on course for a second term as First Minister as voters across Scotland turned away in large numbers from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  Former Labour minister Andy Kerr became the first major scalp of the Holyrood election, losing to the SNP’s Linda Fabiani in the East Kilbride constituency. Mr Kerr, who was Labour’s finance spokesman in the last. Elsewhere, there were widespread signs of a collapse in the Lib Dem vote, with Tavish Scott’s party losing their deposit in the first seat of the night to be declared in Rutherglen, where the SNP vote surged by 16 per cent. The broad picture looks set to deliver an SNP victory and a return to Bute House for Alex Salmond with an increased mandate. If his re-election is confirmed today, Mr Salmond is expected to press ahead with his preferred plan to run a second SNP minority government for the next five years. Early indications last night suggested clearly that he will be in a far stronger position than over the past four years, when he held a one-seat majority over Labour. Labour sources were last night indicating they expected the SNP to beat them in several previously secure seats, and that their rivals could have a double-digit lead in seats by the time all the results came in. The last opinion poll of the campaign, published last night, suggested the SNP had double the support of Labour, and was in sight of a majority on its own.  – the Scotsman

Encouraging signs in Wales

Labour fears it may “fall short” of gaining an overall majority in the Assembly elections. The party has led the opinion polls since The Senedd went into recess last month – and was recently tipped to go into government alone following yesterday’s vote. Party sources say they expect some gains and an improvement on the 26 seats it held in the last assembly – but Labour insiders admit they may not be able to surpass the “magic figure” of 31 needed to claim an overall majority. First Minister Carwyn Jones, who attended the count in Bridgend, has downplayed those suggestions – saying the result is still too early to call. – Western Mail

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Monday News Review

02/05/2011, 06:44:20 AM

The world’s most wanted man is dead

Osama bin Laden, the criminal mastermind behind al-Qaida and the world’s most sought-after terrorist since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has been killed by a US operation, President Barack Obama has announced. In an address to the nation, President Obama said Bin Laden was killed in a “targeted operation” in Abbottabad, a highland town north of Islamabad, last night. The operation started with an intelligence lead last August, and culminated in an operation involving a “small team of Americans”. “After a firefight they killed bin Laden.” None of the Americans were killed. Pakistani cooperation “helped to lead us to him” he said. Osama’s body is in possession of the US, according to the first leaks of reporting from the US television networks. As the news spread, crowds gathered outside the gates of the White House in Washington DC, singing the national anthem and cheering. President Obama made the highly unusual Sunday night live statement to announce the news, around 11.30pm eastern time. – the Guardian

Barack Obama:

Today, at my direction, the United States carried out that operation… they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body. The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date against Al Qaeda. We must also reaffirm that United states is not and will never be at war against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, in fact, he slaughtered many Muslims.

George W. Bush:

This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done. – Al Jazeera

Speaking from the White House, President Obama said he authorised the operation. The body of the Al Qaida leader was now in US custody, he said. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the development in a statement issued by 10 Downing Street. “The news that Osama Bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world. Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen – for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British. It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror. This is a time to remember all those murdered by Osama bin Laden, and all those who lost loved ones. It is also a time too to thank all those who work round the clock to keep us safe from terrorism. Their work will continue. I congratulate President Obama and those responsible for carrying out this operation.” – Daily Express

Scottish leaders in debate clash

The SNP’s Alex Salmond, Labour’s Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie of the Tories and Lib Dem Tavish Scott clashed just days before the 5 May Holyrood election. The BBC Scotland debate came on the day economists warned there could be thousands of job losses ahead. Each leader also spoke about a possible referendum on independence. The debate, at Perth Concert Hall, also saw the foursome square up on issues including the cost of university education, sectarianism and green energy. The programme came on the day of a report by the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR), attached to Glasgow University, which claimed planned 2%-a-year savings put forward in the SNP and Labour manifestos were likely to produce job cuts of 7%. – BBC News

Cameron’s spin doctor in hot water over AV battle

David Cameron’s spin doctor has risked tearing the coalition apart by blundering into the war over voting reform. Craig Oliver flouted a pact under which Government advisers promised not to get involved in the fierce mud-slinging between the Tories and Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems over the alternative vote referendum. He tried to use his influence as a former BBC editor when he called the corporation to moan about its reporting of the issue, insiders there have revealed. Mr Oliver, Downing Street’s director of communications, may have also broken strict rules on what politically-appointed special advisers can do, it emerged. They are only supposed to work on Government policy – which does not include the AV referendum because the coalition is divided. One senior Lib Dem source said yesterday it sounded like “a clear breach of the rules”. – Daily Mirror

Lansley is not listening

Health Secretary ­Andrew Lansley has just one ­practising nurse on the 50-strong “listening panel” set up to save his ­controversial reforms. And all five GPs serving on the panel – ­including Professor Steve Field, former President of the Royal College of GPs – are already supporters of Mr Lansley’s plan. The embattled Health Secretary set up his ­Futures Forum after nurses’ leaders gave him a ­humiliating no-confidence vote at their ­conference last month. But now Mr Lansley is facing angry criticism that he has shunned the views of ­frontline NHS workers by packing the forum with “yes men and ­women”. Mr Lansley and the PM David ­Cameron created the panel – largely made up of health service bureaucrats – after the public outcry over plans to give GPs more control of the budget of the NHS and open it up to more private firms. Dr John Lister, of pressure group Health Emergency, said: “This is all a stunt to convince the public that Lansley is listening.” – Daily Mail

Clegg admits to liking the trappings of power

Nick Clegg confessed that he has ‘grown to like’ his £15 million grace and favour residence, describing it as a ‘haven of freedom’. For decades, Chevening has been the official and exclusive country retreat of the Foreign Secretary. But William Hague had to agree to share the Kent mansion with the Deputy Prime Minister and his family when the Coalition was formed. Mr Clegg, who has three sons aged nine, six and two, said: ‘I’ve grown to like it. I was a little bit embarrassed by it when we first went down there. But from my purely selfish point of view, being able to walk through the woods and fields without having a protection team at my shoulder, and being able to let the kids run around totally unrestricted, that is absolutely lovely. It’s a sort of haven of freedom.’ Mr Clegg admitted he sneaks into the grounds to enjoy an occasional cigarette ‘out of sight, when the children are asleep’. – Daily Mail

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Monday News Review

25/04/2011, 06:49:56 AM

Another day, another dose of staged AV campaigning anger

A Liberal Democrat cabinet minister has widened an increasingly damaging rift inside the coalition by warning that the prime minister and other senior Conservatives could face legal action over the manner in which they have campaigned for a no vote in next week’s referendum on a change to the voting system. Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, admitted for the first time that the campaign against the alternative vote by senior Conservatives will make the coalition government “more difficult” to manage in the aftermath of the 5 May referendum. Huhne said the claims made by David Cameron, George Osborne and other Tories undermined their credibility. He is concerned about two claims made by the Conservatives – that a move to AV will need new counting machines, and so cost as much as £250m, and that it will favour extremist parties. He said: “If they don’t come clean on this, I am sure the law courts will.” – the Guardian

To say senior Liberal Democrats are desperate to secure a Yes vote for AV would be an understatement. With less than two weeks to go to the referendum on electoral reform, they have cranked up their rhetoric to fever pitch. Paddy Ashdown has condemned the campaign of those opposed to the Alternative Vote as ‘stinking’. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne launched a tirade of abuse against Chancellor George Osborne for pointing out that AV would be costly and complicated to implement. And Business Secretary Vince Cable has melodramatically portrayed the referendum battle as a fight between the ‘progressive majority’ and the atavistic forces of Conservatism. Yesterday it was Nick Clegg’s turn to whip up the hysteria, with a rambling diatribe against our traditional first-past-the-post voting system, and anyone with the temerity to believe it works. – the Daily Mail


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