Purnell, pink champagne and a Sunday election
I've just left colleagues sipping pink champagne in the scrum at the Imperial Hotel. The smoking ban means half the scrum is out front, bracketed in the spotlights. Good thing the weather is gentle. The gents at the Imperial has been lined with hastily printed photos of great events and people, with James Purnell added in. I like him in a Union Flag skirt, as Gerri in the Spice Girls line up. Believe it or not, at one point his special adviser tried to assure us that he had thought a dotted line would be added to that picture to make clear he was an afterthought. He hasn't heard the last of this.
Why I Wouldn't Call An Autumn Election'
There is no doubt that we autumn-election sceptics are a dwindling band. Here at the Conservative conference, the growing conventional wisdom is that the Prime Minister will indeed press the button for a November poll. The arguments are about whether it will be Thursday November 1 or 8, or perhaps an innovative weekend poll on November 3 or 4. Any sensible opposition has to prepare for a quick election and Tory plans are in fact much more advanced than Labour's.
This is not the time for an election
Travelling back from Save the Labour Party's national committee in
The heady atmosphere could so easily vanish next week
The political scene could look different in a week’s time. The heady Labour mood at the end of the Bournemouth conference could easily disappear after the Conservatives meet in
Very soon we are to be given the opportunity to decide whether Mr Brown or Mr Cameron will run the country for the next five years. Well collectively we will decide, individually we won't have any say whatsoever. I can vote to elect an MP who then votes with a party to ensure that the appointed Prime Minister doesn't lose many votes on legislation. Even if the governing party loses votes in Parliament they can still use the massive powers the government already has even if their party has lost the faith of the electorate.
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No one knows where
The Tories have descended on Blackpool in a rather odd position... a consistent lead over Labour that had developed a year ago, with David Cameron the golden boy of British politics, appears to have evaporated as they face up to Gordon Brown.
The great petrol rip off
Gordon Brown is taking your money again. Today we are told by the BBC that total tax on a litre of petrol has risen to a massive 65 pence, (around £3 a gallon in tax) compared with the 33 pence needed to pay for exploration, production, transport, refining and retailing of the fuel. It’s high time the petrol companies put the tax on the bill and on the pump price so all could see the extent of the great fuel rip off. Some people think high fuel prices are about the policies of oil companies - in the
Oh, I Give In: Election Fever!
After long being convinced there’d be no snap Autumn election, I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind this weekend: perhaps it’s simply that the momentum seems to have picked up to such an extent that Gordon Brown would look dithery if he didn’t go for it; perhaps it’s that the opinion polls are just what I’d want in Mr Brown’s place; perhaps it’s that I finally caught the bug at Saturday’s emergency Federal Policy Committee meeting to decide the Manifesto. Maybe only a successful and united Tory Conference could derail an election now – and how likely’s that?
Will he or won't he?
All the signs are that Gordon Brown will go to the Palace next week and ask for a General Election on 1st November, but will he? Michael White in the Guardian thinks not, and he quotes Brown's moral purpose and sense of honour in support of his argument:
Most interesting read of the weekend was the Guardian's profile of George Osborne by Decca Aitkenhead. The overwhelming impression is of a kind of dilettante who is serious about his career but with no real understanding of why he is the number 2 politician in the Tory Party, or what he wants to do if, God forbid, they win the election, other than that being Shadow Chancellor is a jolly good thing to have on your CV if you are the kind of chap who went to a good school.
Purnell: seeing is not believing
It's not the crime of the century but James Purnell (the Blairite Culture Secretary - as in Tony Blair, remember him?) has been caught with his pants down. It seems he turned up late for a photo-op at Tameside Hospital and so agreed to "merging" a photo of himself with that of three other MP's who visited the hospital.
Does too much of Labour’s new support come from non-voters?
One of the great new polling sources that we have now that we didn’t have last time is a breakdown, segment by segment, of people’s current intentions based on what they did at the last election.
The Conservative Party: a better class of bonkers
It’s the 30th, so it must be the Tory conference in