Government and its Funding
The Labour party is not a political party in the same sense as are the pluralist democratic parties in the UK and other European countries. It has highly formalized sectionalised structures each with an agenda and power hierarchies to which other party members have no access as party members. The most important of these separate structures is the trades unions and their power elite and agenda. This has formal and important ties, too, into an international trade union socialist movement that in no way responds to the interests and concerns of the UK electorate and UK interests.
Louise Bagshawe: Just another Thursday
It’s a bittersweet day for me today. I’m off to David Cameron’s constituency of Witney, to attend a key speech. I have a book deadline, so will be writing in the back of the cab. In the morning I’ll be doing the laundry and getting the children off to school; my eldest needs to do his reading practice. All in all, for a candidate it’s just another Thursday.
Would Blackpool have been different if a poll had not been suppressed?
November 1st, the day Labour was planning for the general election, is probably a good moment to reflect on the amazing events of the past six weeks. And one element that nobody’s really focussed on is the impact of Observer decision not to publish on September 29th an Ipsos-Mori poll showing the Tories 13% behind. For if it had been the splash lead rather than what did appear (above) then would the conference, which started that day, have gone so easily for the leadership and could Labour’s hoped for Conservative implosion actually have happened?
Had things worked out differently today would have been election day. What would have happened? Polls at the time of the non-election announcement showed the Conservative’s advancing, and polls in recent days have shown them in the lead, albeit, not by enough to get an overall majority. If ICM’s poll published yesterday had been repeated at a general election today it would have left Labour 26 seats short of a majority and the Liberal Democrats as power brokers.
Gordon Brown's British jobs for British workers - Not in the EU Comrade.
Gordon Brown has repeated his call for British jobs for British workers. I want to know who is trying to kid. There are plenty of jobs for British workers, they just don't want to do them. According to his own figures there are 600,000 job vacancies, if you add to that the 1.5m jobs taken up by people born outside the UK in the past 10 years, you have got to wonder why these jobs have not been filled by our own unemployed. A total of 2.1m job vacancies and we have an unemployment problem? If 1.5m people have come here to work, a large number of which are unskilled, then I think we can safely say that getting a job in Britain is not that difficult.
New Labour and educational attainment in Britain
A decade of New Labour in office has transformed Britain’s education system from "below average to above average", Gordon Brown said today in his first major speech on education policy since becoming prime minister. Up to a point. You can get chapter and verse on how the UK compares to other developed countries by downloading these statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development here. On some yardsticks, Britain does top the OECD average. Just. But our relative performance has clearly been slipping and then slipping some more for decades on end. Here’s one fairly representative fact-bite:
Don't drive Scotland away, Cameron
Alex Salmond is emerging as an unlikely consensus builder in Scotland, while the Conservatives appear to be turning their backs on the union.
Clegg on thin ice with ID card claim
The leadership battle for the Lib Dems just got a little more interesting. But just a little. Nick Clegg has taken a bold step in claiming that he will defy the law and encourage others to do likewise. I am deeply opposed to ID cards on a number of levels and I will do everything that I can to ensure that they never come into force. But. You can't just choose to ignore laws, and elected representatives cannot incite people to do so. Where would this end? Ignoring laws on speeding? Paying tax? Murder?
Next election in hands of 8,000 voters
The next general election could be decided by just 8,000 voters, the Electoral Reform Society has claimed. The organisation published the study to mark what the Conservatives have dubbed "the election day that never was" - the likely November 1 date of a poll until prime minister Gordon Brown decided against going to the country. According to the study, just 8,000 swing voters in 25 key Labour marginals will decide if Labour loses its overall majority.
What's the problem with PR for Labour?
I meant to comment on this - a jointly-authored article by John Cruddas and Jon Trickett - yesterday, but didn't get round to it.
Grand Committee is no easy fix for West Lothian
Andrew Blick (London, Democratic Audit): Those who advocate restricted voting rights for Scottish MPs have undoubtedly uncovered a problematic anomaly with the UK constitution. But the UK constitution is a collection of anomalies and the proposed solution will create more of them.There are many technical difficulties with the idea, but here are some of the more fundamental objections. The focus on Scotland distracts from important questions about the Northern Irish, Welsh and even London devolved governments. MPs are not merely representatives of geographical areas, they deliberate on behalf of the population of the UK as a whole. Decisions that involve spending money are of interest to all MPs since taxes are raised centrally.
Asking the people
It is difficult to go into things in any depth when my only access to the internet is via a limited blackberry but I was intriqued by one of the proposals in Chris Huhne's election manifesto published today. Unfortunately his suggestion that we might want to adopt the Swiss idea of a people's veto on unpopular legislation smacks a bit of finding something radical to say for the sake of it. It is not in my view a Liberal proposal.
Obama Sex Scandal!
It might be that there's a Barack Obama sex scandal about to break. So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that “everyone knows” The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they’d had it for a while but don’t know what to do. The person who told me )not an LAT person) knows I write and didn’t say “don’t write about this”.
Preserving the Kingdom
There’s been an almighty kerfuffle in the past week concerning public expenditure in England’s Celtic neighbours, the Scottish Executive Government plans to scrap prescription charges (something the previous minority Labour administration in Cardiff Bay introduced earler this year), the infamous West Lothian question and ultimately the British constitution in the wake of devolution.
Salmond serves Scotch on rocks and UK's future could be at risk
IF ANYONE has ever doubted the crucial contribution that a single individual can make to the political process they need only look as far as Scotland and the Scottish National Party to have their doubts dissolved. Until the advent of Alex Salmond, the SNP often tottered on the brink of being a joke organisation. With his emergence as its leader, it has become a formidable force, quite capable of destroying the United Kingdom.
Culture of education
Poverty of aspiration. That, Gordon Brown will argue today, lies at the heart of the failure of the British education system to be world beating. The prime minister has, once again, put on his thinking hat for what promises to be another densely argued speech. He believes that the educational debate in this country since the war has been damaged by an obsession either with state-only solutions or market-only solutions. In fact, he will argue neither can provide the complete answer when the real problem lies with the culture of education in this country.