Posted tagged ‘Labour’

Let’s Move The Conference Season to Somewhere Practical

September 27, 2008

I’m currently in Birmingham, having attended a few meetings on Friday, and flying back up to Edinburgh tonnight. I’m not staying for the party conference, but I do want to make one observation. The area around the ICC in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party are holding their conference, is awash with police every 10 yards, barriers at every junction, and generally making this party of the city a bit of a headache for locals.

Irrespective of who is paying for the policing and associated paraphernalia (I seem to recall Labour’s Conference this year cost around £5 million in policing, does anyone have concrete numbers?) it seems to be a rather large waste of money to get (a) all the party in one place and (b) get some pretty pictures for the television. For parties that are hoping to spend our money, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought out the box and did it a little differently?

With all the military bases in the country either mothballed or half-empty as troops are in foreign theatres, why not hold the conferences in these establishments? A number of them are close to good transport links, there’s clearly enough accommodation for all the attendees, the various Mess Halls can handle catering and evening entertainment, and the policing/security should be much reduced. Disruption to residents would be minimal, and both (a) and (b) above would still happen. In fact I doubt those on TV would really notice the difference.

And there’s something nice about the image of having everyone behind barbed wire…

Who’s Next In The Labour Resignation Game?

September 16, 2008

I’ll write up some more thoughts on the current drip… drip… drip… that the Parliamentary Labour Party are going though at the moment, but I wanted to point out one thing in the rapidly changing atmosphere.

Now David Cairns has gone, everyone is looking for, nay expecting someone else, slightly further up the political chain. The name Caroline Flint is being pushed in some quarters. If you, like some, are thinking that a certain Dr John Reid is behind this manoeuvring, then you would be shocked to discover who his PPS was in 2002-2003… yes, you’re right.

Caroline Flint.

Could a Glenrothes By-Election Skirmish Threaten Brown?

June 6, 2008

Rumbles today from Benedict Brogan’s Political Blog on a ‘potential’ upcoming by-election – with enough caveats about who it could be as the Member of Parliament is ill. By not mentioning who exactly it was, Brogan set the bloggers a hunting, and the evidence points to the constituency of John MacDougall MP, of Glenrothes.

If there were to be a by-election in the central Fife constituency, it should on paper be a safe seat for Labour. It’s slap bang in the natural stronghold of Fife; Glenrothes is the seat of power in the area both for the local council and Labour; and close by is Dunfermline and West Fife – likely to be the only Labour Gain once a General Election is called. There’s every likelihood that while it won’t be a family inheritance candidate such as Tamsin Dunwoody), it will be a strong, dare I say it ‘traditional’ Scottish Labour Party member (another ‘promoted’ Fife Labour Councillor in the form of Alex Rowley perhaps).

But it’s not that easy. The obvious electoral test is what happened in this constituency at the Scottish Election last year – Central Fife is the closest and saw a 7.6% swing to the SNP from Labour, and with that it was another SNP Gain. Something like a 14.5% swing (if my maths works out) would be needed for an SNP Gain (what was the Crewe and Nantwich number again?), the current majority is around 10,000. Is that do-able? In the current climate both against Labour, and with a credible by-election opposition in the SNP (who can now point to the Scottish Parliament and how ‘responsible’ they are when in power) it would be a very close run contest.

Personally I think it would still be a LAB hold, but with a much reduced majority. Even that would be a dagger in the Labour heartlands – the knives would be out for Gordon Brown if the SNP get within 1,000 votes here – who knows what would happen if they were to loose the seat. Especially as next door to Glenrothes is Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Brown’s own constituency. You’d think that an 18,000 majority would be rock solid, especially as Gagarin Way is inside the boundaries…

If there were to be a by-election, the drawbridges would have to be raised when it’s over. The friendly fire alone would require it.

Don’t Wait Dave, Go For The Kill

May 23, 2008

I’m sure there will be a lot of comment over what David Cameron and the Conservative party should do over Gordon Brown and his position as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party. There’s a strong opinion that he should ‘ease off’ on Brown because he is their best asset to win the next election.

I disagree with that.

The point of Opposition is to do just that. If there is something wrong, something that they disagree with, then they are meant to oppose it – this is their function in Parliamentary democracy. To challenge, to question and to oppose. Gordon Brown is not an effective Prime Minisiter, therefore it is their duty to continue to pressure him, and to do their bit for the country.

There’s alos the fact that this opportunity may not arise again (after all, the chance for Brown to call and iwn an election has never arisen again either) and they must not show weakness. I want to see decisive action on the part of Cameron, Osbourne, Salmond, Clegg and the other party leaders. The confidence to just go for it is one of the things that made Vince Cable the best leader the Liberal Democrats never had. Yes make sure of your ground, make sure you have the troops behind you (ahem, Wendy) but when the time is right, strike hard and fast.

If the Conservatives chicken out of taking the battle to Brown, then the may come to regret it as much as Brown’s non-election decision.

It’s All Going To Be In The Timing

May 23, 2008

When is the correct time to fire someone from a role? The generally accepted rule of thumb is “as soon as you have decided that they must go.” This question could well be on the minds of close to two hundred MPs as they try to grapple with the question of the leadership.

This is the simple maxim that Labour has to operate on. Make the decision, loud and clear, as a group. Stick with Brown, or stick the knife in Brown. But whatever they do, they have to make a positive decision quickly, and stick with the course of action. All the silly little notes of this showing indecision he who yields the knife never wins, and so on, miss one important fact.

Right now, Labour isn’t working.

And yes, I’m deliberatly aping the slogan, but it’s true. There is no trust in the party, and it stems in having no trust in the leadership of the party. Core values have been betrayed. Doubling income tax on the poorest workers? Is that really the Labour party? And will people who think that Labour is still the party of the worker listen to them on tax and spend at the General Election?

As I see it, the party should be looking at the three potential outcomes. The first is do nothing, and risk getting wiped out so disasterously that the Conservatives will have a three term run in Parliament. If they stay with Brown then this is very likely. A second outcome, which a new leader should regard as a success, is to limit losses and hand the Conservatives a Parliament with a very small majority (say 20-30 MPs) that would allow the Labour party to fight for a swift return after one term on the opposition benches.

There’s even a slim chance that a new leader could invigorate the party enough that the third outcome, a hung parliament, would be on the cards – and to be honest after the mess of Scotland under previous administrations, having the parties in the SNP minority administration working together on separate issues on a case by case basis I’d be more than happy to see that happen in Westminster.

To be effective, whoever leads the Labour party at the end of the party conference should be the one to take them to the ballot box in 2009 or 2010, and do whatever he (or she.., let’s be fair) can do to get to the most favourable outcome possible.

Labour’s Premature Ejec-elections

May 22, 2008

Whatever the result of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, it’s fair to say that we’ve seen Labour use one of their ‘big weapons’ early, namely the attacks on class and attempting to use this to say “Labour good, Conservative bad.” And it’s also fair to say that the order to do so if not originating from the leader of the Labour party, was at a very minimum endorsed by Gordon Brown.

Something that could (with a good wind) have proved useful in the upcoming General Election and wrong foot the Opposition.

And in case you missed it at the weekend, Scotland on Sunday is reporting that the call for a referendum on Scotland’s place in the world by Wendy Alexander jumped the gun, and meant that the Labour party’s plan to run the referendum themselves from Westminster, controling the question, the timing and of course any extra little tweaks (such as, I don’t know, 50% of the electorate need to agree, not just 50% of the votes) couldn’t go ahead. So no chance of wrong footing the SNP

Gordon and Wendy

Part of me thinks this might be a bit of revisionism on the part of Labour Spin Doctors to prop by Brown at all costs, because it would mean that Brown would have lied to Parliament when he was asked if there were any plans to hold one.

So left hand has some plans on what to do, the right hand goes and decides to use them early, and they fizzle. What great planning, what great foresight, what great communication.

…For Everything Else Under Labour, There’s Mastercard

May 13, 2008

Worth highlighting the maths on show today, highlighted to my eyes first in a comment over on Iain Dale’s site, although it’s plain for all to see.

Note One:

  • Cost of scrapping the 10p tax band in April… £700 million
  • Cost of increasing the personal allowance by £600 for basic rate payers in May… £2.7 billion

Note Two:

  • People affected negatively by scrapping the 10p tax band in April… 5.1 million
  • People affected negatively by increasing the personal allowance in May… 1 million
  • People affected positively by increasing the personal allowance in May… 22 million

Tax and Spend the New Labour way: it’s all spend, spend, spend at the moment, and the tax is paid by the lowest income earners.