Posts Tagged ‘Sophie Lambert Russell’

To EU or not to EU: that is the question

28/01/2013, 08:34:43 PM

by Sophie Lambert Russell

In October 2011 David Cameron, along with Ed Miliband, voted against and straight in or out of the EU referendum so why now the change?

Support for the Conservatives is falling; with many disillusioned Tory voters leaning towards UKIP, now arguably the third most popular party in the UK (according to YouGov in the Sun last week anyway). In a rather desperate attempt to claw back support, Cameron has performed yet another U-Turn: possibly the most talked about of his time in office.

Unsurprisingly the Tory right have welcomed this move but others have criticised the prime minister for being weak and driven by the eurosceptics in his party, not by the interests of the country. Undoubtedly the Conservatives will appear united for a short while but this will not last, the backbenchers will not be placated for long by the referendum pledge and will soon ramp up the pressure, creating a more divided party than ever and forcing Cameron’s hand.

However we mustn’t jump the gun. Cameron’s promises of a referendum comes with so many ‘ifs’ and yesterday’s speech left crucial questions unanswered. He is likely to have a bigger fight with other EU members than within his own parliament. Ed Miliband characterised the in/out referendum as ‘a huge gamble designed to keep his fractious party together’ and he is not wrong. We need to work with EU members, not dictate from upon high as Cameron wants to do. Although Merkel said that she is willing to discuss a reform both France and Germany have made it clear that the UK cannot “cherry-pick” the EU laws which suit them and I am not in the least bit surprised.

It seems to me that when it comes to Europe, Cameron wants to have his cake and eat it too and while there is no problem with being ambitious there will be a lot of resistance along the way. The question of what will happen if the EU leaders do not give Cameron a new deal on the UK’s role in Europe still remains unanswered.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Will the Tories welcome mad Nad back when she returns from the jungle?

07/11/2012, 06:04:38 PM

by Sophie Lambert-Russell

Almost lost in the swirl of the US election has been one of the more bizarre British political stories of recent months.

Yesterday Nadine Dorries was temporarily suspended from her role as MP for Mid Bedfordshire after it emerged she has decided to take part in the reality TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, apparently without consulting the Tory high command.

This decision which has been characterised by her constituency chairman Paul Duckett as “unusual” – a euphemism on a par with Sir Humphrey calling a ministerial decision “brave” – has provoked an unprecedented level of criticism among the public, journalists and MP’s across the board.

The general consensus is that Dorries has abandoned Britain in the pursuit of her own fame, and the Conservative press office has failed to come up with an alternative, as members of her own party are among the most vocal of opponents.

Chief whip Sir George Young stated that Dorries would have to “explain herself” on her return which makes David Cameron sound like a head teacher in charge of a bunch of naughty school children rather than professional MP’s, and is yet another blow for the party’s already damaged reputation.

The question is, will gentle Sir George allow her back into the party when she returns from her Australian jaunt?


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The future is Labour’s to define

02/10/2012, 09:30:39 AM

by Sophie Lambert Russell

Analysts of the 2010 election cannot deny that during the televised debates Nick Clegg charmed his way into the hearts and minds of the British public with his apparent honest approach and sincere appeal to the camera. However, various news outlets are now awash with musings about the next election and it is all too clear that the buzz surrounding Nick Clegg vanished long ago.

The Liberal Democrats have failed to withstand the pressure that comes with being treated as a serious contender in government. An aide who accompanied Clegg during the campaign likened his success to a movie script: “we were like that mousey girl who goes to the prom in films, takes off her glasses, and shakes her hair, and suddenly everyone realises how beautiful she is” he said.

The media were certainly captured by Nick Clegg’s sparkle but this statement does reflect a slight ‘Bambi-ness’ in the Liberal Democrat camp. Since being in power they have failed to push through electoral reform and betrayed a core group of their voters by breaking their election pledge to abolish tuition fees. Jeremy Paxman described this pledge as “the most bare-faced untruth” on Newsnight last week and consequently the party has lost more than half of the support it had in 2010 and Nick Clegg’s popularity is plummeting.

The Conservatives have fared little better. Cameron had the unique experience of not entering his first term in office on the back of a political victory, but as a part of a hastily thrown together coalition. They should have worked harder to shape their message and form popular policy initiatives but like their election campaign, their time in office has been characterised by confusion and inconsistencies with U-turns on removing tax breaks for charitable donations, selling off Britain’s forests, the pasty tax and the third runway at Heathrow.

Arguably, this would not be such of an issue if the Conservatives knew how to handle the press but curiously for the party that brought us Thatcher, ‘the marketing pioneer’, this modern day Conservative party is outrageously media incompetent. Boris Johnson described the commission on a third runway at Heathrow as ‘a fudge’, and fudging is exactly how the Conservatives will make their way through the next election. The government’s media operation resembles one of those old fashioned pinball machines where a policy or a story is catapulted into the political arena where it bounces out of control off any number of levers and whizzing dials while Number 10 are scrambling around trying to bring the story under control and spin it into something positive.

Additionally both parties seem extremely divided. Vince Cable is regarded by some as waiting in the wings, schmoozing Ed Miliband, ready to take the reins from his younger, less experienced counterpart. Cameron has bigger problems. However much he tries to deny it, it is hardly unnoticeable that Boris Johnson is mounting a campaign to take over as the next leader of the Conservative Party. His popularity is growing and growing after an extremely successful Olympics and his likeability and ability to reach across all sections of society is something that will prove invaluable in years to come.With the coalition floundering and both leaders tainted by its failures, Ed Miliband has real opportunity to score with his ‘real jobs guarantee’ and the renewed drive to engage everyone in the political process. Nick Clegg stated in his speech on the last day of the Liberal Democrat Party Conference that “only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to deliver a fairer society”… yeah right.

All eyes on Ed please.

Sophie Lambert Russell is a Labour activist

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon