Posts Tagged ‘SPADS’

Just not good enough – a story of Labour selection

06/03/2015, 03:49:55 PM

by Paul Wheeler

I had an interesting conversation with a well connected Labour councillor recently. We both had an interest in a recent Parliamentary selection contest.

His preferred candidate won and it was clear why. He had the better website, he had been full time contacting members for months, he was bright, articulate and union sponsored. In fact he was so well organised he even got his supporting union to provide a breakfast to ensure his supporters turned up for the early morning selection meeting. As my new friend put it cruelly but accurately my preferred candidate ‘just wasn’t good enough’

And he was right. He ran a slip shod campaign with a pretty poor website and relied on old contacts and promises. All he had going for him was that he was born and bred in the constituency and as a leading councillor had helped turned the town around when everyone else had written it off.  Critically for a lot of new members to the area he hadn’t been to university and was therefore not ‘quite up to the job’ of being an MP.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Au revoir David Miliband

27/03/2013, 07:11:02 AM

by Kevin Meagher

There’s an air not just of finality to David Miliband’s announcement that he is quitting British politics but also of inevitability.

Ever since he lost the Labour leadership to his brother in 2010 he has been searching for a meaningful role. For an intelligent, experienced and talented man in the prime of his political career, the taste of defeat was bitter; all the more so when his forward propulsion was stopped dead in its tracks by his own brother.

Such is politics. His campaign to succeed Gordon Brown wasn’t helped by his repeated, misjudged attempts to undermine him from the cabinet table. He waved the dagger but couldn’t thrust it.

In recent times Miliband has taken to saying his role was “on the frontline, not on the frontbench”. By taking up a position (yet undefined) with the New York-based NGO the International Rescue Committee, he will be leading efforts to provide emergency humanitarian relief and human rights advocacy around the world. It is to his credit that his lucrative speechifying and corporate sinecures were clearly not enough to hold his interest.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Thursday News Review

02/06/2011, 06:44:19 AM

Lansley is a beaten man

In his first comments since the end of the Government’s NHS ‘listening exercise’ this week, the Health Secretary said he was willing to accept ‘substantial and significant’ changes to his controversial reform plans. But Mr Lansley, who is engaged in a struggle with Nick Clegg over the future of his plans, insisted major reforms were needed to prevent a £20billion funding shortfall within four years. In an article for the Daily Telegraph he dismissed Liberal Democrat claims that he wants to ‘privatise’ the NHS. But he also issued a stark warning that the basic principles of the NHS could not survive unless major changes were brought in. – Daily Mail

This month, we will receive the NHS Future Forum’s report, following an intensive period of listening and engagement. We will respond to the forum once we have considered its report, which will be informed by the broad and expert feedback it has received. We have always been clear that we are ready to accept any changes – substantial and significant – if they help us improve care for patients. When the Health and Social Care Bill comes back to Parliament, people should have every confidence that we will make the changes necessary to ensure the NHS is protected for our future generations. We will never privatise our NHS. But if we choose to ignore the pressures on it. the health service will face a financial crisis within a matter of years that will threaten the very values we hold so dear – of a comprehensive health service, available to all, free at the point of use and based on need and not the ability to pay. I will not allow that to happen. – Andrew Lansley, Daily Telegraph

NHS reforms highlight Coalition cracks

The personal spin doctor and attack dog for the embattled Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has been muzzled, after senior Liberal Democrats objected to her alleged rubbishing of Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and other Liberal Democrat ministers. The silencing of Jenny Jackson, who was barred from briefing journalists after being caught sending emails that undermined Mr Clegg, is another setback for Mr Lansley in his uphill struggle to win public support for plans to overhaul the NHS. The row is more evidence of tension within the Coalition over the radical plans put forward by Mr Lansley, which include scrapping primary care trusts and handing over to GP consortiums the responsibility for managing budgets and commissioning healthcare and opening up NHS trusts to competition. – the Independent

Jenny Jackson, who was special advisor to Andrew Lansley with responsibility for talking to the media, was stripped of her role after sending an email highlighting contradictions in the Deputy Prime Minister’s position. The email followed an interview on the Andrew Marr programme in which Mr Clegg spoke for the first time about the need for “substantive” changes in the bill. The Liberal Democrats were incensed to discover that following the programme, Ms Jackson emailed senior journalists quotes from previous interviews conducted by Mr Clegg in which he was supportive of the bill. The email suggested these earlier quotes were inconsistent with his more recently stated position. – Sky News

MPs condemn asylum amnesty

An “amnesty” has been quietly granted to more than 160,000 asylum seekers over the past five years by a UK Border Agency that MPs have concluded is still “not fit for purpose”, in a damning report published on Thursday. The Commons home affairs select committee report says it is indefensible that officials have been unable to trace a further 74,500 asylum seekers, among a total of 450,000 unresolved “legacy” cases. The agency has been working through these cases since it was first declared not fit for purpose by then home secretary John Reid in 2006. The cross-party committee regards what it describes as an “amnesty policy”, alongside renewed delays to the much heralded e-borders system to count people in and out of the country, as further evidence that the agency is still not proving effective. – the Guardian

More than 160,000 asylum seekers have been allowed to stay in Britain in an effective “amnesty”, MPs have revealed in a damning report. The immigrants were given “leave to remain” in the country as officials battled to clear a backlog of 450,000 cases. Up to 181,000 people who should have returned home over the last four years are still living here. Officials have now dealt with 403,500 cases, which built up during the 90s and early 2000s, and given 161,000 people permission to stay in Britain. The MPs’ report said that it was “such a large proportion that it amounts in effect to an amnesty”. Committee chairman Keith Vaz added the agency was “not fit for purpose”. The verdict is embarrassing for David Cameron, who made tightening up on immigration a priority after being elected last year. – Daily Mirror

Leading to disaster

Ed Miliband is leading his party to ‘disaster’, it was claimed last night as an opinion poll revealed that Labour had lost its lead over  the Tories for the first time in  seven months. The Labour leader has been accused of ‘creating a monster’ by instigating 25 separate policy reviews.  Titles included: ‘X Factor for the many, not the few’, ‘Family life. What helps?’ and ‘Supporting the sustainable empowerment of women and girls in the developing world’, according to an article by Labour blogger and insider Dan Hodges in the Left-wing New Statesman magazine. One Shadow Cabinet minister said Mr Miliband had ‘created a monster’ with the reviews.  The insider told the magazine: ‘It’s going to be a disaster. When [David] Cameron set up a similar consultation he was careful to keep it at  arm’s length. ‘That way when someone like Zac Goldsmith popped up and started banging on about boycotting Sainsbury’s, Cameron could contain it. ‘Our consultation may be separated from the leader, but it’s still lashed to the party. We’ve created a monster.’ – Daily Mail

“To be honest,” said one shadow cabinet source, “I’m not really sure how this process is supposed to be working or what it’s meant to achieve. Is it outreach, where we show the country we’re listening? Is it to give us some basic policy touch-points so we can get through Any Questions? Are we using it to rebrand the party? Or are we using it to develop a policy agenda that can [help us] win back power?” Another Labour insider said: “Want to know how it’s working? Phone up the party and ask how many policy reviews are under way. It won’t be able to tell you.” I did; it couldn’t. Sources close to the Labour leader are alive to these concerns but resolute in their determination to bring about a more inclusive way of evolving policy. “Ed is serious about opening up the party,” I was told. “Remember, he saw first-hand how things worked under Tony and Gordon. It was surreal. Any new thinking was seen as a threat; that anyone was seen to be thinking at all was seen as a threat.” – New Statesman

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Tommy Watson takes the fight to the Tories

16/06/2010, 04:19:15 PM

When the coalition caved in to pressure and published details of – some of – its special advisers’ salaries last week – there were a few details missing.

So Tom Watson has produced this briefing paper, which contains a detailed account of the coalition’s spin doctors’ new pay rates and pensions.

It includes what last week’s document didn’t show: the additional civil service pensions that these coalition spinners can expect.

Under the civil service pension scheme, the PM’s spin man Andy Coulson gets £160K to add to his retirement pot.

These are the same “gold-plated and unfair” pension schemes that deputy pm Nick Clegg denounced this week.

Clegg said it was unreasonable to expect the taxpayer to continue to keep paying  into “unreformed gold-plated public sector pension pots” – just like those awarded to the new government.

So, Watson asks in his  letter to Nick Clegg, if low paid public sector workers are to forgo their “gold plated pots”, will all the coalition spin doctors be opting out of the civil service pension scheme?

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Efficiency Briefing: Number 1

16/06/2010, 04:16:51 PM

David Cameron and Nick Clegg: The cost of their recently appointed special advisers’ pensions

“So can we really ask them to keep paying their taxes into unreformed gold-plated public-sector pension pots? It’s not just unfair, it’s not affordable.” Nick Clegg, 14 June 2010 

Tom Watson MP

Efficiency Briefing: Number 1


Last Thursday, after a dismal performance in the chamber by Danny Alexander earlier in the week, the government caved into pressure and published the salary list of their newly appointed special advisers.

As well as showing a startling increase in the number of spin doctors working out of number 10, the publication showed that chief spin doctor Andy Coulson had been awarded a salary greater than that of the deputy prime minister.

What the publication didn’t show you was that on top of a £140K pay packet, Coulson is automatically entitled to a civil service pension – the same pension arrangements that Nick Clegg described yesterday as “gold plated…unfair…[and]…not affordable”. So on top of his £140K, the taxpayer could fund another £27,160 per year towards Mr Coulson’s retirement. 


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Hopi Sen asks the leadership bright boys some hard questions

20/05/2010, 09:52:52 AM

In the leadership election campaign, there will be a lot of talk of telling ourselves “uncomfortable truths”. Quite often, these “uncomfortable truths” will be a rhetorical trick to tell the audience what it wants to hear. Like that it’s all someone else’s fault, or that the party lost its way and got out of touch.

So I thought we should perhaps make a habit of proposing some uncomfortable truths that the Labour party, and even the candidates themselves, really don’t want to hear.

Here are two to start us off.

Don’t throw the machine away. Mend it.

The current crop of leadership contenders are the products of the most ferociously successful political machine in Labour party history. It was a machine that won three general elections, reduced the old left of the Labour party to irrelevance and made the country we live in a fairer, more open and safer place to live.

These are not bad things. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon