Monday, 17 September 2007

The Weekend Poliblogs 15th & 16th September

Have Brown and Campbell formed a pact to muddy the EU Referendum waters?

Is Ming Campbell helping out his old mate Gordon Brown with that tricky old EU Treaty? My blood is boiling. I don't think that I have seen a more cynical piece of political maneuvering like Ming's in a long time. Brown doesn't want to give us the referendum his party promised in its manifesto. David Cameron on the other hand believes it would be a betrayal of British citizens not to hold one.

Daily Referendum

Would Cameron still be safe?

Ever since Tony Blair exited the stage and Gordon Brown stood on the steps of 10 downing street promising to "try [his] upmost", it has been somewhat of a torrid time for Mr Cameron. Whenever Cameron has appeared to build up a little bit of momentum, along comes the 'clunking fist' to bash him back down again.

Miscellany Symposium

A tale of two pictures

So let's get this straight. Yesterday a euro-sceptic Labour Prime Minister who devoted much of his political career to attacking Margaret Thatcher in the most blood-curdling terms invited the former Conservative leader to tea in No10, and bowed to her when she left. Then today a Conservative leader who is trying to distance himself from Margaret Thatcher's legacy - which includes some spectacular rudeness to the Germans - went to Berlin to meet a woman German chancellor described by some as a German Margaret Thatcher. Waiter, two aspirins and a bottle of whisky please.

Ben Brogan

Where To Turn In A Financial Storm

The run on Northern bank is the first real crisis for Gordon Brown’s government.

So far the Prime Minister has left it to his Chancellor to issue the ‘don’t panic’ calls, and opinion polls suggest that voters are more inclined to trust Brown and Darling than Cameron and Osborne to deal with a financial turbulence.

But that’s where the good news ends for the government.

Adam Boulton

Northern Rock: now it's political

David Cameron wants to turn the credit crisis destroying Northern Rock into a political debate about Gordon Brown's stewardship of the economy. His piece in the Sunday Telegraph pulled no punches: the gun was loaded at home, the past decade of growth was built on a mountain of debt, "the increases in debt in the UK have added a new risk to economic stability". Tomorrow he steps up the attack in a hastily-arranged speech on the economy. Once again, the aggressive hand of Andy Coulson is making itself felt, spotting an opportunity to score points and seizing it.

Ben Brogan

Between Northern Rock and a hard place

If I were Gordon Brown, sitting down this morning with my Chancellor to pick over the bones of the Northern Rock debacle, the immediate problem of the run on the bank would be a little way down the agenda.

Chicken Yoghurt

Northern Rock: Moral and Capital Inadequacy

Views on how to handle the Northern Rock fiasco seem to fall into the following categories: Moral Hazard (Mervyn King on Wednesday): if the company runs with a stupid business plan, and/or behaves recklessly, the public purse should not be used to indemnify them. Moral Relativism (Mervyn King on Thursday): “Sources close to the Bank of England said it would only lend to a bank it considered to be solvent and suffering a short-term problem rather than heading for full-scale bankruptcy”.

The CityUnslicker

Blancmange Wobbling Our Way

As we've blogged many times, much of Britain's prosperity over the last decade has been built on a huge blancmange of debt. Personal debt now stands at over £1.3 trillion (see here) - some £50 grand per household. Properly counted, public sector debt stands at around £1.7 trillion - another £70 grand per household (eg see this blog). So your typical taxpaying household now owes £120,000. That's a wince-making 4 times average household income.

Burning Our Money

Economic Troubles

I’m not an economist so won’t pretend to understand the possible implications of the credit crunch that forced the Northern Rock to go cap in hand to the Bank of England yesterday. If the economy does hit troubled times, is it likely to help or hinder Gordon Brown?

Polling Report

Tarantara: A Policeman's Lot is not a Happy One

Clearly there is not much point in nicking criminals and being so careless with record keeping, breath tests and taking the piss that they escape conviction when they get to court. Then again there is clearly room for efficiency improvements.

Chris Paul

Could Ming cope with being managed by a PR chief?

The suggestion that the Lib Dems would do a deal with Labour but not the Tories if it controlled the balance of power broke a long-standing party policy of always showing equidistance between the two main parties. The coverage was appalling and shortly afterwards a member of the party’s head office staff moved on after being dumped on by just about everyone.Yet the failure was not the individual’s but the whole of the Lib Dems press relations structure. That a senior person could act in the way he did without being aware of the sensitivities underlined a massive weakness that does not appear to have been corrected.

Political Betting

Nick Longworth: The song remains the same

Nick Longworth, Head of Broadcasting at Central Office under Iain Duncan Smith, says that Brown is failing to pull off Blair's tricks. Our front pages were dominated by photos of Baroness Thatcher standing on the steps of Downing Street ahead of talks with Gordon Brown. Has the world gone mad? What is Brown up to? The answer is simple. He is following the Blair song book note for note.

Conservative Home

Ming is right

He has today called for a referendum on our membership of the European Union. Keith Vaz is also right, when he says that we need a full and frank discussion of our future. I never thought I would agree with anything Vaz said. He is only half right, however.


Do referendums undermine representative democracy?

It is a measure of the establishment’s and assorted europhiles’ desperate shortage of arguments that they have resorted to accusing those of us who are calling for a referendum of undermining British democracy and parliamentary representative government.

EU Referendum

Sir Ming sets a new low for a political leader

Ming Campbell's call for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU was clearly designed to be a political masterstroke, so how did it go so wrong? Sir Ming has previously ruled out a vote on the EU Constitution despite promising one just 2 years earlier. He then suffered ridicule from the press and, more damagingly, his own side via the blogosphere. Then days later, Sir Ming aimed to trumpt his critics by calling for a vote on the whole question of Britain's EU membership. Instead of declaring this a brilliant act of democracy, the collective political wisdom of the nation stumbled backwards, stratched its head and said "what?!?"

Little’s Log

Five Gordons from YouGov

There’s a YouGov poll in the Sunday Times today showing Labour with a 5-point lead over the Conservatives. Brown leads Cameron and Campbell 39/17/4 on the “most impressive” leader question, while the good job/bad job splits are 62/22 for Gordon, 35/50 for Dave, and 24/45 for Ming - an impressive +40 for the Prime Minister - how long will such scores last?

Political Betting

Why John Reid is stepping down

Earlier today, like many people around Westminster, I received a text message from John Reid letting me know that he will be standing down as an MP at the next election. As sorry as I am - John was an invigorating presence on the parliamentary and Whitehall scene, and one of the few ministers who fully grasped how the world changed on 9/11 - the news does not come as an enormous surprise.

Coffee House Blog

Revisiting Black Wednesday

Fifteen years ago today, British politics changed forever. The Tories, who had won four consecutive elections, were plunged into the low 30s in the polls and – except for the briefest blip during the 2000 fuel crisis – remained stuck there.

Daniel Hannan

Are party structures the key to understanding governments?

Peter Watson looks at an obvious, but often overlooked, way of spotting how future governments may run themselves. If anyone ever asks you what the difference is between the main political Parties in the UK you do not have to go into the policy differences between them. Instead you can tell them to look at the ways the Parties structure and control themselves.


Last pre-conference poll has a 5 point Labour lead

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline voting intentions of CON 34%(-1), LAB 39%(+1), LDEM 15%(nc). The Labour lead is two points higher than the last YouGov poll, perhaps on the surface suggesting that the sharp cut in Labour’s lead in the last round of polling was to some extent a temporary effect of crime being so high on the agenda after the murder of Rhys Jones in Liverpool, but the changes in each party’s support are insignificantly small, so realistically it would be wrong to draw any conclusion beyond the fact that Labour’s position remains down on where it was at the height of the Brown boost.

Polling Report

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