Posts Tagged ‘summer of silence’

Ed is right to wait on policy, fixed term parliaments have changed the rhythm of politics

27/08/2013, 07:00:29 AM

by Ian Moss

In the summer of 2007 regional offices of the Labour party distributed leaflets to its constituencies and held briefing meetings with ward organisers to discuss the campaign plan for the forthcoming general election. Gordon Brown and his team kept open the possibility of going to the country whilst torturing themselves internally on whether to take the risk only two years into the third term Labour government.

As we all know this event is now commonly known as ‘the election that never was’. The point of regurgitating the painful memories of that story for everyone who watched it slowly reach its inevitable denouement is to emphasise one simple point: before the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2011 not even the government knew when the election was going to be and they were the ones that had the power to call it.

The Act has changed the rhythm of politics. At this time in the political cycle the government and opposition used to be playing a game of chicken over the election. Will they go the full term? Will they call early? How is the economic cycle looking? etc. etc. Instead, pretty much every major figure in politics went on a good long holiday.

This was sensible and calculated. They all know the election is in 2015, they all know next summer they will be in the middle of the long slog of a campaign that will last more than a year, starting in the autumn, and they all want to make sure they had a good break this summer so they can be prepared for it.

Why not?  The voters are switched off for the summer as well, and the political campaign over August is really an absurd prisoner’s dilemma. Every party thinks they have to do it because the other parties are. Every year the political parties spend their summers boxing shadows, or each other.  Every cabinet minister knows that this time next year they will be expected not to leave the country, to be on call, and to be attending campaign events across the UK.


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What is the point of today’s Labour party?

21/08/2013, 10:01:17 AM

by Dan McCurry

Way back in 1992, at the TUC conference, John Prescott stunned the socialist movement, by making a forceful speech in favour of John Smith’s proposed trade union reform. He attacked the unions for even questioning the motives of the Labour leader. He shamed them into submission. He showed that his loyalty is to the party over the unions and as a result, was rewarded with the deputy leadership when Tony Blair later rose to power.

He is the closest thing there is to Labour party royalty, and he just accused the party leader of being ineffective. This is not unreasonable. Everywhere I look I see the government’s economic policy being attacked. The Economist magazine calls the right to buy policy “A daft new government-subsidy scheme”, but what did we hear from Labour? Nothing. Not a dickie bird.

Look at the way the non-aligned commentators judge Osborne’s policy. Here’s Frances Coppola, an economics blogger, and academic of the Cass business school,

As my regular readers know, I am determinedly politically non-aligned, so what I am going to say now will probably shock a lot of people. Osborne’s behaviour both angers and frightens me. He is playing brinkmanship with the UK economy to achieve political ends. Nothing he does makes much sense from an economic point of view – which is why the flagship Help to Buy scheme has been universally panned, even by his own department and by people from his own party. But if you view his actions as entirely determined by his desire to secure a Conservative victory in 2015, it all makes perfect sense. He is dangerous.


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