Monday, 30 July 2007

The Weekend Poliblogs 28th-29th July 2007

Balls and Alexander should worry

Horrid bunch that we are at Westminster, we are already tracking the rivalries in the court of King Brown. The most intriguing is the three-way race between David Miliband, Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander to catch the teacher's eye and win the 'most likely to succeed' award.

Ben Brogan

Stephan Shakespeare: Changing the leader would be madness for the party; but it is also madness not to change a flawed strategy

“No lurch to the right”, “stay the course”, “stick with the centre ground”, “no wobble” – when these familiar phrases appear in the press, we can sum up the situation with one word: “trouble”.

The next election is still winnable for David Cameron. But it will demand clear thinking. Above all, Tory strategists must understand that in the modern world – and after all, we strive to be ‘modern’ – there is no such thing as a ‘centre ground’. We live in a multi-dimensional world, we do not aggregate around some fixed mid-position on a line on a graph. Where would you place the Gordon Brown of taper relief, which he has pledged to continue even for private equity? On the left or right? It’s certainly not centrist.

Conservative Home

Has Brown been over-bought?

A summer onslaught by the Tories may bring the new leader's honeymoon to an abrupt end.

Tania Branigan

Going Private

If Gordon Brown refuses to hold an EU referendum, the Tories might just back a privately funded poll. That is from William Hague via The Guardian who is looking at an initiative by former minister Lord Young of Graffham.

If Daniel Hannan is right, though, Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, could also call a referendum on the revamped EU constitution.

The SNP, he says, like all the other parties, fought the last election arguing that the EU constitution should not come into effect without a referendum. Salmond could call such a referendum in Scotland, a move that would almost certainly force Brown to do the same on a UK basis.

EU Referendum

The first Democratic spat

Barack Obama says he's willing to meet the leaders of Iran and Venezuela if elected president. Hillary Clinton says that's naive. He calls her "Bush-Cheney-lite". Does it matter?

Eric Alterman

Flooding bonuses

I am not particularly enamoured with large bonuses in either the private or the public sector. There is always a question mark over who determines them, how they are assessed and whether they can be justified or not. I am not therefore singling out the Environment Agency for any other reason apart from the fact that they are the latest body to have gone down this route.

Peter Black

If I Was American.

Firstly, as the title points out, I'm not American, so I cannot vote in the 2008 elections. But, if I was American, what would be important to me and which issues appeal to me as a voter? Well, I'll break them down.

The Liberal Republican

Cannabis: Don’t die of shoddy reporting - UPDATED

I’ve written a couple of articles in the last couple of months on the general theme of the abject state of science/health journalism in the mainstream press - see Why is the Indy Shilling for Big Pharma? and Dumbing Down Dementia- the second of which includes this observation:

Ministry of Truth

Not worth a life

"Too many died," said Harry Patch the 109 year old only survivor of the Passchendale trenches. "War isn't worth one life." He said war was the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings".

Memories flowed back of my own father who would have been 108 this year. He died aged 43. I recall a rumbustious, lovely man who brought fun and laughter to any company he joined.

Paul Flynn

London flooded or Miami wrecked? More bad weather on the way

Piers Corbyn, the man who has successfully forecast, weeks or even months ahead, much of this summer's extreme weather events, has issued a warning of further heavy rainfall on 5th-9th and 18th-23rd August. He also warns that there is a serious risk of flooding in London, as the floodwater from this rainfall hits the spring tides of 12th and 28th August.

Picking Losers

YouGov boost for Boris over Ken?

Tucked away in the detailed data from YouGov’s July poll for the Daily Telegraph is a question about the mayor of London that I have not seen reported anywhere - how Boris and Ken are doing against each other for the London Mayoralty.

For when asked “If you had a vote and had to choose, who would you prefer to see elected as the next Mayor of London, Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone?” those surveyed split Boris 36%: Ken 35%: Dont Know 29%.

Political Betting

Does this data make an early election less likely?

If Gordon is thinking about a 2007 general election then every bit of data will be scrutinised to spot the trends so he can be absolutely sure that Labour would be heading for victory with a comfortable majority.

The above table has been clipped from the full data from ICM’s Guardian poll this week that had Labour’s margin down a point but still with a healthy 6% lead. What it shows is the view of people who said they actually voted last time for one of the three main parties and how their voting intentions have changed since.

Political Betting

Would the Tories really do better with Hague?

Ths is the first in a series of articles in which I will look at the possible alternatives to David Cameron should, for whatever reason the party find itself choosing another leader.

This is something that I don’t think is likely to happen but it just might. The potential of several figures will be examined before I reveal the identity of the person I have good reason to believe that Labour most fears.

Political Betting

Talisman of victory or just another albatross?

I maintain my belief that David Cameron will never be Prime Minister. Events of the past week have simply confirmed that in my mind.

Political Hack UK

Time for Cameron to reflect

Perhaps the best outcome of these torrid last few weeks is that the Cameron project has been brought down to earth. After winning the party leadership against all the odds, some of the Cameroons had the idea they could walk on water, and rewrite the normal laws of politics. They thought if they said the mantra “social responsibility” long enough, the phrase would mean something. That they could change society by exhortation, not legislation. That companies could be dragooned into implementing government priorities. All of this new-age nonsense has proved as useful as a chocolate fireguard in the heat of Brown’s first few days.

Coffee House

The Honours System, A Good Way Of Managing Corruption

The Honours system is corrupt, everybody knows this. It is a means of rewarding cronies and sucking up to high society. Now most people seem to think that this a good reason to scrap the whole thing or at least reform it but that misses the point. As it is if you donate large amounts of money to political parties, or serve out a career in the civil service without spilling the beans you will be rewarded with a gong. If the OBEs, MBEs, KCMGs etc didn't exist then the politicians would still want to give something in return for services rendered so what would the various donors receive instead?

Unenlightened Commentary

Tying the knot? For you, we promise £5,000

Have you ever attended Weight Watchers or Slimming World? Or bet on a horse? I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be personal. It’s just that if you have, I have good news. Even if you put all that weight back on when you stopped going, or lost all your money when Dobbin refused at the first fence, your experience can still be put to use. It can help you to understand how the Tories can solve their dilemma over marriage.

Daniel Finkelstein

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