Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Politics Decoded: The Spinning Disaster, Lib Dem Anti-Climax & Classic Headlines

Here is the weekly Politics Decoded column published over at the Wardman Wire...

And now, the end is near…

So 2007 is drawing to an end and what a year it has been politically. We have seen the departure of one of the most successful, yet controversial and talked about Prime Ministers this country has ever had. We have seen the rise and fall and subsequent rise of the Heir to Blair, David Cameron. We have seen yet another Lib Dem leader go and today we will see a new one arrive. But the biggest story of all has to be Gordon Brown, aka Mr Bean. The PM no-one wanted, yet took the Labour party to their best lead in the polls for years only to send them crashing to their lowest in what will surely go down as Brown’s autumn of discontent. But how much is Brown to blame for his and Labour’s catastrophic demise?

Events dear boy, events

Just as his so called handling of the foot and mouth crisis, blue tongue and failed terror attacks had absolutely nothing to do with Brown being in control, the events of the post “election that never was” era were also virtually out of Brown’s hands. Northern Rock was, you could argue, his fault as a direct result of his years as Chancellor, but it would be unfair to pin all the blame on him. The missing discs debacle and the endless run of missing data stories do not directly lead to his door. Nor does the latest donations scandal. Yet while Blair could shake of a Bernie Ecclestone scandal here and a WMD fiasco there, with Brown the mud not only appears to be sticking, but it is getting flung relentlessly. But if Brown is not to blame why is he getting a pasting by the media and in the polls? The answer is simple…

The Root cause

It s roots lies in virtually his first move as PM – he signalled the end of spin and a complete departure from the Blair era. In itself no dumb act – in fact it really did work for a few months. The problem was this very act of ending spin was classic Blairite spin. It was his very own “today is not the day for sound bites” moment”. In that very declaration of ending spin, Brown was spinning such nonsense that Alastair Campbell would have been proud. So why did Blair get away with spin yet Brown can’t? In short, because Brown is absolutely hopeless at it.

The Classic Scenario

Let’s take the election that never was. All this was about spin. Brown tried to con us all that he wanted to get on with business of government. No he didn’t – he didn’t want to call an election in autumn because he thought he wouldn’t improve his majority. Then he smelled blood as the polls started to show a very healthy Labour lead so he refused to rule an election out. Then he dithered, refusing to rule out an election for so long he had no choice to call one… only the polls had reversed and all of a sudden it was the Tories who led. Cue more poor spin and a bungled non-election. All he had to do, if he really wanted to stay away from spin, was to say we’re in the business of government, no election, right from the off.

The Repeat Scenarios

This scenario has now been repeated with every minor or major crisis that he has had to deal with. The EU Reform Treaty is the latest example. First off he thought it would look better if he was seen to be signing the Treaty. Then he realised this poor piece of spin wouldn’t work so he decided to sign it on his own away from the cameras and the other EU leaders. This just meant he looked like an even bigger bungling fool, signing the Treaty in backroom, hoping no-one sees him – yet it just meant we all watched him even more. The man is proving himself to be a walking disaster.

The Alternative

I am in no doubt that if Cameron was in power he would have faced all these same issues – they are events beyond a PM’s control. However, would he have dealt with them better? The EU issue would have been a disaster for him, but you get the feeling that while Cameron is not yet entirely trusted as a potential leader, he could hardly be doing any worse…

Big Day for the Lib Dems

When the Lib Dem leadership election started all those moons ago, you felt that they could finally break away from the shackles of Ming and private life of Kennedy. What could possibly go wrong? They have the perfect leader in waiting – a Cameron type without the (obvious) spin. A Lib Dem with ideas and respected across the benches. Unfortunately, Nick Clegg never showed up in this contest (except to get all tearful about that nasty Chris Huhne chap). As for Chris Huhne, well he was, for my money, the also ran. The man who couldn’t even beat Ming the last time round. Well, he turned in to a big bully, but at least he was a little vocal. So they are left with a choice between a man who was considered worse than Ming and a man who isn’t quite as good as well all thought he was. But that is not even the worst of it.

The inevitable anti-climax

In the meantime we have had Vince Cable to act as stand in. Nearly as old as Ming and leaving Parliament, no-one took much notice. Not until he started to dominate PMQs on a weekly basis. Calling the PM Mr Bean has done as much damage to Brown’s reputation as a truck load of lost data discs could ever do. His ability to mix humour and getting to the heart of the issue make Brown’s and Cameron’s weekly Punch and Judy show look deeply unsophisticated. So instead of Ming’s departure being a chance for a rise in expectations, whoever wins today is going to look like a massive disappointment.

Merry Christmas and a new feature for the New Year

I will not be writing Politics Decoded next week, what with it being Christmas day and all! However, I will be back in the New Year. I will be introducing a new feature to the weekly column, the top five best blog headlines of the week. So keep your eye out for any good ones, or nominate yourself for a mention. I will of course be keeping an eye open too during my daily roundups. Send your nominations to poliblogs@hotmail.co.uk or leave a note in the comments.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some of my favourites from the mainstream media…

Belfast Man Saved, Hundreds die in disaster - Belfast Telegraph reports the sinking of the Titanic

It’s Paddy Pants Down – The Sun, as sensitive as ever

Zip Me Up Before You Go-Go – The Sun covering George Michael’s indiscretions

Cheggers Can’t be Boozers – The news that Keith Chegwin has given up the booze

Man With One Arm And Leg Cheats On Other Half - News Of The World.

Elton takes David up the aisle – Yes, you’ve guessed it, The Sun. Which they followed up with the honeymoon story:

Now Elton takes David up the Grand Canal

Dr Fuchs, off to America – Der Spigel

Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge- unconfirmed…

Fog Over Channel, Continent Isolated – The old classic… but true?

But the greatest of all time has to be Inverness’s thrashing of Celtic, reported by the Sun as

Super Cale Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious

If you can get on a par with any of those, let me know and you will get a mention on the Politics Decoded Top Five Blogging Headlines

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Monday, 17 December 2007

Another tough day at the office

This afternoon's schedule in Parliament:

1530: Brown on EU summit

1630: Darling on lost discs

1730: Kelly on DFT data

1730: MPs grill HMRC bosses

Another tough day at the office for Labour, then.

The Poliblogs 17th December 2007

Why Labour under Brown is certain to lose#

Did the controversial “named leader” question get it right all along? The above table is reproduced from UK Polling Report’s record of the controversial “named leader” questions that several pollsters asked during the period between David Cameron’s election as Tory leader in December 2005 and Gordon’s arrival in June 2007. These findings proved to be highly controversial and every time I featured them on the site they came under fierce attack. For what was being presented was dynamite. For on almost every occasion when compared with the standard voting intention findings Labour was shown to do considerably worse with Gordon in the job.

Political Betting

YouGov give Tories a commanding lead

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times has voting intentions with changes from their last poll of CON 45% (+2), LAB 32% (nc), LDEM 14% (nc). The 13 point Conservative lead is the largest YouGov have ever given them, and matches that recorded by ComRes (who tend to produce larger Tory leads than other pollsters) last month. 45% is their highest level of support since 1992 and the highest for any party since MORI started filtering by likelihood to vote, removing some of the towering Labour leads they used to report as their topline figures. On a uniform swing it would produce a Conservative majority of almost 100.

Polling Report

Good politics

There should be no human scrapheap. That is why no keen young Conservative will ever convince me that Toryism isn't evil

Alex Hilton

The Vision Thing

There is an interesting article in The Economist this week, which states "The Conservatives are doing well, but not well enough." That's probably a fair assessment. The point is that despite the government's recent woes, and the sustained poll lead they have produced for Cameron's opposition, the Tories have not managed to really pull away from Labour. As The Economist notes, in 1995 Labour were scoring 60 percent, more than 30 percent ahead of the Tories. By contrast, Cameron's Conservatives are only averaging a ten-point lead, with 41 percent to Labour's 31.

Adam Smith Inst.

The Bank and the Treasury

If red lights aren't flashing in Downing Street today they should be. The signs of divisions between the chancellor and the governor of the Bank of England would be unwelcome at any time. They are of real concern in the midst of the, as yet unresolved, Northern Rock crisis. They should be truly alarming on the eve of what looks set to be the toughest year the British economy's faced in a long time.

Nick Robinson

Can Brown's reputation hold up under the weight of Northern Rock?

It is a strange world where the right are urging nationalisation, but it seems Gordon Brown may bow to that advice. Larry Elliott in The Guardian is impeccably well informed in such matters and today says Brown is drawing up plans for a "new year nationalistion" of Northern Rock.

Coffee House

Is today the lowest point in Gordon Brown's premiership so far?

Reading through the papers this morning will not be a pleasant experience for Gordon Brown. Obviously the headline that is most likely to put Gordon off his porridge will be the YouGov poll which shows a 13 point lead for the Tories on 45%. This would translate to an election victory for the Conservatives with a majority of 102.

Daily Referendum

Labour homies get upset at Major

I see that John Major quite rightly pointing out that the Labour Party has been institutionally sleazy over the past ten years has caused consternation and outrage from people on LabourHome. As you'd expect the fallacy of "double standard" is thrown around whilst at nop point realising that just because someone may have been around when bad things happened they are somehow invalidated from pointing out that bad things happen now.

Dizzy Thinks

Madness stalks the land

Following our rather elegant "cathedrals of insanity", it is Booker's turn to have a go at what he does not hesitate to call "the maddest single decision ever made by British ministers."

EU Referendum

Cameron is "tearing his hair out" over Boris' lazy Mayoral campaign

There's an interesting article from Peter Obourne in the Mail: I am reliably told that David Cameron is "tearing his hair out" at Boris's lazy campaign. He backed his Old Etonian friend for the mayorship in the summer because he was eager to show that the Tory Party was taking the battle for London seriously by putting forward its most dazzling public performer for the top job. But the performer is - thus far - failing to perform. Obourne warns that a bad defeat for Johnson would have wider ramifications for Cameron and the Tories:

Liberal Burblings

Tommy Sheridan arrested and charged with perjury

Not for the first time, the self-styled Glasgow Guevara, Tommy Sheridan, finds himself in trouble with the police. The permatanned Pasioniara of Pollok has been arrested and charged with perjury in connection with his 2006 defamation suit against the News of the Screws, when he won £200,000 for their scurrilous suggestions that, when not fighting for the cause of the underprivileged and dispossessed of Scotland, Tommy and his brother-in-law were double-teaming buxom party activists in cheap flats around the country.

Mr Euginides

When did Brown lose the election?

Jon Bright (London, OK): Bit unfair, perhaps. He hasn’t lost it yet. But with Cameron polling enough for a 90-seat majority, and gleefully forcing the Lib Dems to pick their side in a hung parliament early, it’s certainly not too early to talk about it. Apparently Brown’s personal rating has “slumped to minus 26%” - I’m not quite sure how any poll rating can go negative (are new voters are going to migrate to Britain just to vote against him?) but this certainly sounds, well, rubbish.

Our Kingdom

Has Cameron set a trap for the new Lib Dem leader?

Should the LDs now work with the 45% Tories to fight Brown? On the day of the best Tory poll figures for 15 years and only two days before the Lib Dems get their new leader there’s an audacious move by Cameron which could prove problematic for Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne. For in an initiative calculated to put the new leader on the spot immediately Cameron has offered to join forces with the third party to forge a “new progressive alliance’ to challenge Gordon Brown.”

Political Betting

Libdem Leadership, Tuesday's the D-day

The poll has closed and now everybody is waiting with abated breath for the result to be announced on Tuesday as to who will be the next Liberal Democrat leader. My money is still on Nick Clegg. I'm hopeless at predictions but having followed the whole thing pretty closely, he's the better option who will hopefully bring a bit of life back into the party.

Suz Blog

Friday, 14 December 2007

My International TV Debut

Last night my interview on BBC World went out live to the world. It was all very fun. I was interviewed by Johnathan Charles about the political blogosphere's reaction to Gordon Brown's signing of the EU Refrom Treaty.

I think I did ok - though did not say exactly with I'd have liked to have said and my journey home was full of l'esprit de l'escalier. Hopefully next time (!) I will be more ready for it all having got in a bit of practice!

The graphic boffins at the BBC put together a brilliant montage of the site set to music prior to me going on, which made the site look very exciting!

I am not sure if the interview will be carried on BBC4 - I suspect not now. If anyone saw the interview on BBC World or can get a copy of it, I'd be interested to hear from you.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Thermometer of Doom

Another day of burying bad news with bad news by the government. After telling us a month ago that 5,000 illegal immigrants had been granted security clearance, about three months too late, Jacqui Smith has told us the actual figure was 11,000. This will only add to the (unfair in my opinion) calls from the Police Federation for her head.

No surprises that this announcement has come out when all eyes are on Lisbon. Nevertheless, the temperature has just risen on Jacqui Smith's thermometer of doom!

The Daily Roundup and TV appearance

I will be doing a full round up tomorrow morning in light of the EU Reform Treaty signing. I will also be posting my thoughts on the matter.

If you would like to hear my thoughts on the matter, all being well, I will be appearing (live) on BBC World (television) this evening at 7:30pm and also at some point on BBC4 (television) news.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

PMQs 12 December 2007

Brown's artful dodger act

This time, Brown came ready for Cameron. If asked about one of the many embarrassing issues dogging him, he’d say “he has missed the opportunity to talk about substance” then indulge in his list of fake economic greatest hits. Cameron thought on his feet, pointing out that the substance is going wrong for the PM too. But Brown responded by again saying that Cameron can’t talk about substance, and produced another boast. So, much for the great exchange.

Coffee House

PMQs - The Verdict

It was the last prime minister's questions before Christmas but there was precious little generosity of spirit on offer in the chamber. Acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable at least sounded a seasonal note as he laid into his old friend Gordon Brown for the last time. "When the prime minister tucks into his brussels sprouts on his one day off at Christmas, which of the various disasters of the last six months will he regret the most?" he asked. The prime minister, memorably dubbed "Mr Bean" by Cable, could not resist trying to have a dig back.


Live blog of PMQs

Editor's verdict: "A win for Brown but more because of Cameron's choice of questions rather than because the PM performed well. DC's second set of questions were too trivial although he started with Kosovo, of course. David Cameron should have asked about substantial issues. Labour's record on education would have been a good topic. Cable's first question was funny. His question on Iraq was over the top." Nick Robinson, however, says that Cameron's aim of painting Brown as indecisive could be of great long-term benefit for the Conservatives.

Conservative Home

Vince Cable gets full marks for PMQs again

Vince Cable seems to have got most commentators' thumbs-up for most amusing and effective of what was his and this year's last Prime Minister's Questions.

Liberal Burblings

Slow Start To Final PMQs Of The Year

The last session of Prime Minister's Questions before Christmas began as a strangely subdued affair. After a Tory question on the involvement of Lord Drayson in defence exports, there followed a moving tribute to Lee Johnson from his constituency MP, which took place in complete silence.

Niall Paterson

A mixed bag of emotion at PMQs

There were tears and laughter at the last Prime Minister’s Question Time before MPs scatter up for their Christmas break next week. A sombre start to the session saw a respectful hush fall over the Chamber as Labour’s Dari Taylor paid tribute to her constituent Sergeant Lee Johnson, killed in Afghanistan at the weekend. Her voice choking with emotion, the Stockton South MP came close to weeping as she pleaded with Gordon Brown to ensure Sgt Johnson’s finance be treated with care.

Three Line Whip

Downhill all the way for Cameron

Another poor showing from the Tory leader at PMQs today and yet more proof that under Cameron the Tories have gone as far as they can. After today's woeful performance it comes as no surprise to hear the likes of Peter Riddell pointing out that "the public is dissatisfied with Gordon Brown, but not yet enthusiastic about David Cameron."

The UK Daily Pundit

The Verdict

By no means a classic. There is a real mixed opinion about who came out on top today around the blogosphere. Cameron really has not been hitting the money these past few weeks, while Brown become a bit of a ducker and diver on just about every questions. It does beat him losing his temper or giving a plain stupid answer that lands him it like he prone to doing a month or so ago.

Once again the real star, the only star, was Vince Cable. Boy the Lib Dems are going to miss him.

I score it:

Brown 0.5

Cameron 0.5

So that is it for 2007 and PMQs. Taking today result in to account, Cameron has come out on top 8.5 to 4.5. To be fair, he has had all the aces, but there have also been times when Brown really has dug his own grave. The first few months of next year are going to be absolutely critical in defining how well this Brown government is going to fair – and much of it will be played out at PMQs, so come back in January for the weekly updates and scores!

Politics Decoded: Bravo Gordon, Gordon gets it wrong, Gordon gets it right & the Greatest PM we never had (or were likely to have)

He’s nearly made it

They have thrown the kitchen sink at him, but it appears that Gordon Brown has got to the Christmas break with his position and cabinet intact. The calls for heads to roll have not been this vocal since the Major days, yet Brown has stood firm. The next chapter in the whirlwind novel that is the Brown Premiership is probably going to be the most important. While the last chapter was seriously damaging, it is the next chapter that will decide whether we have a lame duck PM leading an unpopular party or we have a PM who has ridden out the worst of it and the autumn of 2007 will merely be a distant memory. In short, is Brown the new Blair or the new Major?

A good decision or two at last

He has already made his first good move. Last week I suggested that Brown withdraws from Iraq and makes his presence on the international scene felt a little more – make himself more of a statesman. It appears the man reads The Wardman Wire and has taken my advice. The final leg of Iraq really does now appear to approaching with Brown’s latest announcement. He has also shown his face in Afghanistan saying Britain is in for the long haul. This has covered his back to those who may have said he was weak by pulling out of Iraq by showing he is strong in the other major theatre of war. I think Brown is spot on with both of these decisions. There is nothing to be gained from either side by Britain staying in Iraq. There is all to be gained by committing to defeat the Taliban however long it takes. More importantly, there is all to lose if we do cut and run in Afghanistan now – the Taliban will turn back the clock five years and it will be a major propaganda coup for Bin Laden et al.

EU Disgrace

So it looks as though things are heading in the right direction finally for Brown. Well no actually. In two day’s time we will all be one step closer to a United States of Europe when Mr Brown’s school boy fag, David Miliband, is sent to the mainland to sign the treaty of Lisbon for him. The man once again is living up to his reputation as going missing when the tough times hit. He is claiming that he has an irresolvable diary clash. What a load of old tosh. It’s not like this treaty signing jaunt has suddenly been sprung on them at No.10. The man has no shame and just when I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he decides to pull this one. He is selling us all down the river. If he thinks the treaty is such a good thing for us, why not let us tell him so in a referendum? (No prizes for guessing the right answer, I’m afraid). Will Brown’s treachery be packaged up with bad few autumn months for Brown and forgotten after the Christmas break? I fear it might if he has a bit of luck and plays the political game a bit more savvy than he has done, in the New Year. Time will tell however, whether the media and electorate will ever forgive him for this most cowardly of acts.

The Answer is not blowing in the wind

This week’s announcement from BERR Secretary John Hutton was that Britain will soon be powered by the wind. This will go a long way to pleasing the green lobby and will also tap in to the general mood that we need to cut our carbon emissions. But is this really it? Will it really mean that all our houses will be powered by a few windmills in the North Sea? Can we finally look forward to a day where we no longer need to burn fossil fuels and we can forget about that dark and murky world of nuclear energy? Well, in short, no.

The French are right for a change

While this is a major commitment and a bold move the government, do not start to think that this is the solution to all our energy needs. For a start, wind energy is reliant on wind. Yes is can be stored up but it neither predictable nor constant. Secondly, to power this country solely on wind would be one of the poorest decisions ever taken by a government. The real driver behind all this is security of supply – and the key to that is diverse and reliable energy forms. Wind fits neither of those two requirements on its own. The facts still remain that we will still need to buy large quantities of oil and gas and that renewable energy is a long way off being the answer. While we are dithering around, the French must be laughing their little French socks off at us because the answer is staring us right in the face. Nuclear energy.

Forget about the green propaganda, yes nuclear is not the perfect solution but it is still the best one we have. Just look at the French – they have some of the lowest carbon emissions in the western world and are making a killing by flogging their nuclear powered energy to mugs like us and the Germans. Let’s stop messing around move ahead with new nuclear build. Only there is one thing stopping us. The green lobby.

Time is running out

The new nuclear consultation document is going to be published next month after the previous one was challenged by the greens in a judicial review. It seems that the greens will once again be mounting a legal challenge to the new document and that decision looks to have been made before it has even been published. So that will put back any decision made by the government another six months or so. In the meantime, we are heading rather too quickly towards a time where we will have an energy shortfall because we have been messing around trying to appease the green nutters in the face of common sense. You cannot put up a nuclear power station over night – we are already going to miss getting new stations on line in time even if the industry got the go ahead tomorrow. The regions are crying out for them too. Far from the belief that people don’t want them in their backyard, there are plenty of communities (mainly areas that currently have plants) that are very much in favour – it will provide jobs and they are used to have a plant in their doorstep.

Labour are right on this one and Lib Dems are wrong. As for the Tories, if David Cameron could get his story straight, then we might actually know what he really thinks about nuclear. Oh how the French must be loving all this.

The Best PM we were never likely to have had

Last week Polling Report wrote a piece on the best Prime Minister we never had from a YouGov poll. The results were:

1. Denis Healey

2. Roy Jenkins

3. Ken Clarke

4. Neil Kinnock

5. Hugh Gaitskell

6. Aneurin Bevan

7. Shirley Williams

8. Michael Heseltine

9. Tony Benn

A fine list there – all of which would be doing a far better job than our current man is doing, I’m sure. But it got me thinking, who is the best PM we never had but were never likely to have either? My vote goes to Stephen Fry – the man seems to have the common sense and the brains. In fact he seems to be so intelligent we could do away with cabinet altogether, just let him run all the departments. He could hardly cock up places like the Treasury or Home Office any more than they are already are. Let me know your best PM’s we were never likely to have had in the comments…

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Break in Transmission

You will have noticed the round ups have dried up over the past few days. I am afraid they will not return until the New Year due to commitments.

I will of course still be publishing my column over at The Wardman Wire and be doing the final PMQs round up of the year tomorrow afternoon. I may also post intermittently over the course of the festive period.

I will be back at the beginning of next year full time with a few more features on the site and all the usual stuff as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

PMQs 5 December 2007

Live blog of PMQs from noon

Editor's comment: "Unfortunate first question from David Cameron on the sleazebuster (asking why an appointment of the Chairman of the Standards in Public Life Cttee hadn't been made... and it's being made later today). David Cameron's canoe line was good but Greg Hand's joke was better. Sensible, I think, for David Cameron to be asking about issues other than political funding. Labour will ultimately be judged for its failures on prisons and defence etc rather than political funding."

Conservative Home

PMQs - The Verdict

With David Cameron laying into him over a series of scandals and Vince Cable humiliating his one-time friend with stinging put downs, recent PMQs have been more bruising for Gordon Brown than a few rounds with Ricky 'the hitman' Hatton. But this week was different, perhaps because the dodgy donations row has run out of steam - for the time being - but also because all parties decided it was in their interests to alter their styles. The prime minister was less easily riled, better briefed and more on message, while Cameron seemed not to want to appear the bully and Cable decided to ditch the jokes for economic analysis.


Brown finds feet at PMQs, Cameron/Cable slither

BBC's Daily Politics host Andrew Neil wonders if our Leader is finding his feet at Prime Minister's question time. Political corro Nick Robinson thinks he is. So do I. Cameron and Cable were nowhere. Pity about Brown rabbiting on about Hayden Phillips. But if it serves its purpose to wrong-foot the Tories over election spending, then it might just be understandable.

Peter Kenyon

Brown bears up at PMQs

A scrappy round of exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions today. The Prime Minister is starting to relax into such occasions a little and finding his feet. He is no longer shaking; he seems calmer and more self-assured.

Three Line Whip

PMQs - 4th December 2007 - Post-Match

David Cameron used his questions for a scattergun attack: donorgate, standards in public live, Des Browne's two Cabinet jobs before moving on to prison overcrowding. Cameron had a topical quip comparing Brown to the disappearing Canoe man. Leader of the Opposition's soundbite of the week: "It took Tony Blair ten years before confidence in his administration collapsed. Hasn't this Prime Minister managed it in six months?"

Boulton & Co.

Brown finally wins a round

I normally review PMQs from the chamber, and conclude Brown has bombed. So I tried a TV view for a bit of balance. Labour does looks better from this vantage point. In the gallery, you can compare the volume of roars (Tories far better) and see every face (Labour glum, Tories exuberant). But on TV you can just see a broad panorama of the chamber, and only the faces in the camera “donut” – who look lively, under instruction from the whips. For the first time, Brown came armed with figures, attack lines and put downs and knew when to use them. I’d actually say that Brown won.

Coffee House

The Verdict

What a strange PMQs. Brown looked relaxed, comfortable – if not confident. He hasn’t come through a session this unscathed since before the recess. I may even go as far as to say, in terms of the way he carried himself at least, this was his best performance yet at the dispatch box. The mood was set by a very unfortunate opening question from Cameron

"For the last seven months the Committee on Standards in Public Life has been without a new chairman. Why has it taken so long to make that appointment?"

To which Brown responded

"The new chairman is being announced today.”

D’oh! Cue much laughter all round and Cameron is left to look a little bit stupid.

For a man who wanted to get away from Punch and Judy, Cameron can be quite a cutting man. I never believed a word of the whole ‘people don’t like watching Punch & Judy politics’ nonsense – it makes great viewing as far as I’m concerned. But these two aren’t merely Punch & Judy. These two hate each other – and it really shows. Usually this manifests itself as Cameron being vicious and Brown completely losing his cool. Today, however, he kept it – and I’m not sure Cameron knew what to do. He just seemed to get more and more sniping without ever hitting the mark.

In spite of Brown’s more assured performance today, I do have one gripe (well many actually, but this one in particular) – I wish Brown would not feel it necessary to roll off a load of statistics every time he attends PMQs (or any other debate for that matter). It is dull, meaningless and turns every one off. Does he not know we are far more interested in a bit of Punch and Judy?! And while we’re on gripes – blaming the Tories for 18 years of government is really starting to sound tired – you chaps have more than enough time to sort that mess out.

In summary, I think today showed us one or two key things:

  • Firstly, Cameron isn’t the great performer we all assume he is just yet.
  • Secondly, Brown still has time to find his feet at PMQs and he certainly is not going to spend the next two years being torn apart and spat out by Cameron week in, week out.
  • And most significantly, this Labour Government is far from over. Time will tell if the past few months are seen as the beginning of the end for Brown or merely just a blip.

While the pressure is still very much on Brown and it will take more than a comfortable performance in the commons to get the public back onside, today we got a small and rather low key reminder that Brown and the Labour government aren’t completely finished just yet.

I score it

Brown 1

Cameron 0

The Poliblogs 5th December 2007

Cameron unleashes the attack dogs

David Cameron and Andy Coulson summoned the entire Tory frontbench for a pep talk this morning. It was the first time the party's communications director has addressed MPs en masse, and I'm told he acquitted himself. A bit like his press conference yesterday, Mr Cameron didn't have anything specific to say (something tells me that's going to become a theme unless he's careful). But he did deliver three important messages.

Ben Brogan

Sorry Doesn't Do It

The Nimrod scandal continues (see many previous blogs, eg here). 14 guys have died and everyone outside the MOD seems to think they're unsafe. Yet Des Browne reckons it's OK to keep them flying. How can he possibly say that? Apparently, he's reassured by the conclusions and recommendations from the Board of Inquiry. But frankly, despite their bland coded wording, the BOI's conclusions are scary. Their number one conclusion is:

Burning Our Money

More details emerge about the Wendy Alexander fundraising scandal

The Jersey based businessmen whose donation to Wendy Alexander’s leadership bid should not have been accepted, has revealed more about his contacts with the Alexander campaign. He alleges that Charlie Gordon, MSP assured him that he was allowed to donate the money despite not being on the electoral roll. Speculation is now rife that Gordon will resign his seat.

Coffee House

Paul Green blasts Wendy's team: David Whitton should go too!

As more and more detail comes to light every day, it becomes very clear that more members of Wendy's team are being shielded by Charlie Gordon's resignation. Paul Green is clearly embarrassed, downright furious and frustrated at the attempts of Wendy's office to say they didn't know he was not a permissible donor.

Tartan Hero

The commons debate on political party funding.

I've been listening for about half an hour and Jack Straw has just shot himself right in the foot. In response to accusations of breaking the law, Labour have been bleating on about Lord Ashcroft's tax status. However when Jack was asked about the tax status of Labour's biggest individual donors , he said it was a matter for the Inland Revenue - CLASSIC! To make matters worse, when Jack was asked if any of the dodgy £650,000 had been paid back, he said he didn't know. Finger on the pulse Jack.

Daily Referendum

The moral compass gone haywire

Senior Labour politicians seem to have lost track of what fundraising is for, and how it should be done

Martin Kettle

A saga rumbling on, a leader trundling off?

As things stand, Charlie Gordon is in even more trouble: it transpires he received warnings about donations from Paul Green two years ago, it seems that the Daily Record - Labour's voice on Earth - has turned on him, possibly because he yelled at their reporter, and he is making a statement on his future later in the week. As he appears not to have one, the general conclusion - which I subscribe to - is that he is to resign his seat, presenting Glasgow Cathcart's voters with their second By-Election since September 2005. What else could he announce?

J. Arthur MacNumpty

Should Gordon hold a Night of the Long Knives?

I'm not going to claim this is an original thought. The idea came from a post on Paul Burgin's blog earlier today entitled "Accountablity" but I hope Paul will take it as compliment rather than as deliberate plagiarism if I say that I think the question merits further examination.

Paul Linford

Labour cannot abandon the Trade Unions

There has been much discussion here on the Labour party’s funding scandal. There has been the suggestion that donations should be strictly limited in their level and should only come from individuals. That sounds like a good idea on the face of it, but I think there are a number of problems with it. Firstly, it would require an extraordinarily large number of small donors to fund a modern political party. Well, tough, some people might say. Politics should be run more cheaply! But there is a problem with that point of view.

Liberal Conspiracy

Is the Labour party solvent ?

Just reading The Mole's post over on The First Post and I'm wondering why Brown is willing ( or saying he's willing ) to compromise on Union funding. Its not like him - even if he needs good publicity. Having announced his intention of repaying at least £600k - it could be more and the electoral commission may insist on its being done, and with the Labour party owing about £20million I'm wondering if the Labour party is actually solvent.

Man in a Shed

Primeval slime

Do you remember the scandals of the Major years, when he had totally lost his grip on the Conservative party, and it’s arrogance was breathtaking? Sleaze all over the place, but with the exception of a couple of relatively junior MP’s, and a gaggle of dodgy council leaders, most of the ‘big hitters’ that were caught were brought down by not being able to keep their cocks in their trousers. That isn’t to excuse the junior people involved ~ Hamilton and Aitken were both guilty of being dishonest bastards, and for them to have been guilty of these crimes while lording it over us stinks. Come to think of it, Aitken was in a relatively senior post. Either way, like a pigeon that has been hit by the number 14 bus and lies dieing slowly in the road, it was a relief when it was all over. If only we had known.

Nation of Shopkeepers

Time to come off the fence and use my vote for...

I've left my ballot paper long enough and have now filled it in. I did though um and ah for sometime before marking my cross. There were a number of factors that swayed me.

Norfolk Blogger

Are the Cleggies having second thoughts?

Does the odds-on favourite need to do more than look good? With only nine to to go before voting ends in the Lib Dem leadership there’s been a lot of questioning in the Lib Dem blogsphere over whether the odds-on and strong polling favourite, Nick Clegg is the right choice. He is also the candidate on whom I have bet £900. One factor that has sparked off the concern was his lacklustre performance on Tuesday’s Today Programme on Radio 4. This was from prominent Lib Dem blogger James Graham and, up until then a strong Cleggie.

Political Betting

Politics Decoded: What to do with: Wendy Alexander, Party Funding & Christmas

Every Tuesday I write a column on The Wardman Wire. Read it there first - it is published between 11am and 12pm. If you missed it this week, here is the article in full:

A quiet week so far…

What? No new scandal that threatens to take down the Brown administration? Sorry ladies and gentlemen, we’ll just have to make do with last week’s one today. That isn’t such a bad thing mind you, it does give us a chance to catch up rather than bury last week’s bad news with this week’s bad news. Besides – it is only Tuesday, there is plenty of time for something disastrous to happen before the end of the week. So, what do to do with party funding?

Irreparable cracks?

Before I attempt to tackle that nigh on impossible question, I may have been a bit rash to suggest that Brown had no bad news to deal with this week. This week actually promises to be a real tough one for Brown. He needs to hold it together this week or the ship could well start to crack and break up. There are growing calls for Wendy Alexander to resign for her receiving of an alleged illegal donation. Alexander is so far standing firm – and I am sure Brown is very relieved about this. Not so much because she is the kid sister of one of his closes allies (Douglas), but rather if she goes then it opens the flood gates. For a start Peter Hain (who seems to have some sort of intermittent amnesia) keeps remembering that he took more and more donations that perhaps he shouldn’t have. The pressure on the DWP secretary will probably be too much to bear and he’ll be out. The real loss though would be Harriet Harman. Imagine if Alexander went for taking a donation but Harman refused to go for taking one that was five time larger? The damage would be deeply embarrassing. Now imagine if she did go?

The knock on effects could prove to be too much

The second deputy leadership contest in six months or so would be underway. Cue competitive candidates all wanting to disassociate themselves from the mess of the past few weeks, the party would start to tear itself apart. Such a contest would be ugly, undignified and played out in public. Then think of the financial cost to the party? Labour’s finances are already in dire straits – and that was before they had to hand back £600k. And who would win such a race? Brown will be praying it isn’t John Cruddas. What sort of endorsement of Brown would that be? A man who would refuse to sit in his cabinet and is as far removed from New Labour and the Brownite project as anyone in with a shout. The damage of all this would be more than a couple of bad autumn months for Brown. This would be permanent. As we have seen over the past few weeks, nothing is certain in politics – but a resignation from Wendy Alexander and the knock on effects could well mark the beginning of the end for Gordon Brown. Brown will, far from trying to get rid of her to save party blushes, will be begging her to stay.

What to do with party funding?

This latest fiasco has raised the question of what to do with party funding. It may surprise you to know that I actually think the problem is not as bad as it is all made out to be. The recent problems have not been because the rules are not effective enough – the problem has been that people are breaking those very rules. Surely the fact that all this is breaking in the news suggests that the rules are actually doing a very good job? If no-one pays the price for breaking these rules, then it is the disciplinary stage that is at fault, not the rules. If Harman is found out to have illegal and knowingly taken a donation, she should not only resign (or be sacked) but face criminal charges. If it is proved otherwise, then she should rightly be exonerated. I agree that the current system is not perfect, but what law is?

The lesser of evils

Let’s take the alternatives. Some suggest that party funding should be done through public money. In my opinion, the worst option of all. Why would a former miner in the coal fields of the North East want to pile his hard earned cash in to the party that closed down his pit and killed his community? Why should a mother who lost her son in Iraq then pay her taxes to the help the party who sent her son to his death get re-elected? There is one thing paying tax to a democratically elected government, it is a very different thing paying you taxes to a political party. I for one will not be happy about knowing that a percentage of my monthly pay cheque if going in to the BNP’s coffers so that they can spread their propaganda.

Lock ‘em up

Then there is the view that there is nothing wrong with donations coming from anonymous sources. Besides, it is the individual’s money and they can choose what they do with it. If I want to send my money to the RSPCA I don’t have to tell the world about it – and I certainly don’t have to then have my entire life put under the media’s microscope. The problem here, of course, is that political parties are not charities in the traditional sense. If I were a billionaire philanthropist I’d hardly give my money to Gordon Brown or David Cameron as a way of trying to do “a little good”. I think there’d be a few other charities ahead of these two power hungry men first – say cancer research, Save the Children – hell, probably a donkey sanctuary! The reason people give money to political parties is political motivated. There is nothing wrong with that, but we’re talking power here – power over all the citizens – and I want to know who is pulling the strings. This is a democracy and I want to know as much as I can about the men and women who have vast control over my life.

The problem isn’t so much the rules (though there maybe a case for some tweaking, but not fundamental change), the problem lies in the crooks and liars who have up to now been getting away with it. Lock a few of these people up and I suspect the rules will suddenly start to look quite stringent.

The “long awaited” Christmas break

What next on the cards for Gordon Brown? Parliament has only been back just over two months, but I am sure he cannot wait for Christmas – not because he strikes me as the sort who loves a good party during the festive season, rather most of the hacks will be on holiday and the few who will be at work will be more interested in the going-ons at Albert Square than Downing Street. It worked for Cameron over the summer – remember he nearly faced a party revolt before the summer recess – and it may well work for Brown. But he needs to change the agenda. Things are not working at home, so maybe he needs to look abroad. A sure fire winner would to be a withdrawal from Iraq. The current position of having 2000 troops there is madness. All they can do is defend themselves – they have no fire power to actually do anything proactive. They are being unnecessarily put at risk. An early announcement would be a good start. Some good news stories from Afghanistan would go down well too. Whatever he does, he needs to take the agenda away from domestic bumbling and on to the big issues and start to look competent… easier said than done, I’m sure!

Brown also needs to establish himself on the international stage, start to be seen as statesman. The question is, does he have it in him? I fear he doesn’t. It is going to be a welcome break for Brown in a couple of weeks, but I imagine Cameron will be enjoying his mince pies a whole lot more than Brown.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Politics Decoded

Take a look over at the Wardman Wire to read my weekly column, Politics Decoded. This week I tackle the damage the party funding crisis might potentially do to the Government and what I think is the best thing to do with the funding of parties.

The Poliblogs 4th December 2007

Can Dave really do what’s only been done once since 1945?

Are the markets over-stating the chances of a Tory overall majority? It is a sobering fact that in only one of the seventeen general elections since the end of the Second World War has a party with a workable commons majority been replaced by another with a workable majority. In 1951, 1979 and 1997 the outgoing governments had ceased to have effective commons majorities. In 1964 and February 1974 the incoming governments had either minuscule majorities or were in a minority and second general elections followed not too long afterwards. Only when Ted Heath’s Tories took over from Harold Wilson’s Labour in June 1970 was a party with a reasonable majority replaced by another.

Political Betting

Donorgate: the new battle ground

As he wrapped up his monthly press conference this morning David Cameron looked slightly wistful when he said it would be his last before Christmas. With the Government reeling he would probably like one of these events every week at the moment. The days when he was at his lowest ebb in early August seem almost part of another era.

Three Line Whip

New Labour’s ‘whiter than white’ is now stained with Brown

When one recalls the unrelenting war of attrition on the cursed theme of ‘sleaze’ which ultimately brought down John Major’s government - money in brown envelopes, backhanders, ‘cash for questions’ – Labour knew it was writing a new and powerful narrative for political corruption, which they deployed mercilessly to devastating effect in order to consign the Conservative Party to opposition for a decade. Yet the questions surrounding the internal finances of New Labour are every bit as serious, if not more so.


New Labour and poverty reduction

Surely the entire point of having an ostensibly left-of-centre political party is wealth redistribution; if it does not, when in government, act to reduce inequality by the time-honoured means of taking from the rich to give to the poor, what is the point of social democracy? For many progressive voters, this is the crucial yardstick on which New Labour should be judged. They could forgive much else if the last decade had shown real progress on this score. But as a report published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation illustrates, the evidence is mixed.

Dave’s Part

Money for nothing

What no one has questioned is why political parties want, or believe they need, so much funding in the first place

Julia Langdon

Call me old-fashioned...

...but isn't the law supposed to apply equally to everyone? On Radio 4 this morning John Humphrys appeared to state as fact that Wendy Alexander had accepted an illegal donation, yet I can't find the resulting headline that she has resigned. Harriet Harman appears to have failed to declare a loan to her campaign and yet she is still in her job too. Can all criminals now use the "administrative error" defence? Or perhaps it's the Jowell "you mean money doesn't grow on trees" excuse?


Wendy Alexander makes the case for an English parliament

Wendy Alexander, in what might be her last speech as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party before allegations against her of accepting an illegal election donation force her to resign, has brilliantly and succinctly made the case for an English Parliament’. Speaking at the University of Edinburgh on St. Andrew’s Day Friday 30th November she spelt out her reasons why Scotland should have its own parliament.

CEP News Blog

Andrew Lilico: We don't need more regulation of party funding, we need less

If I give £100,000 to Amnesty International, or the Church, or my local cats home, no-one need ever know. The charity concerned may need to check that I’m not sending them the proceeds of crime, but they don’t need to publicize my donation if I don’t want it publicized. And rightly so, for in many cases it is of the essence of charitable giving that it should be in secret. Indeed, the Bible teaches us as follows:

Conservative Home

Embattled Brown will look further afield

Prime Ministers in trouble at home can always resort to foreign affairs: talking about international diplomacy, war and peace and the future of the world helps voters put local scandals and travails in perspective. So look out for Gordon Brown taking a renewed interest in the world.

Three Line Whip

How to sell road pricing

The Economist carries an interesting article about road pricing this week, based on the RAC foundation's latest forecast of traffic growth. By 2041, their report says, demand for road space will have increased by 37 percent due to economic and population growth. Given the steady decline in road-building over the last twenty years, and the UK's already clogged-up infrastructure, the future sounds like it is going to be very congested indeed.

Adam Smith Inst.

Ten Days To Shake Europe

The collapse of Gordon Brown’s personal authority after his fragility as a public politician, answering to the electorate’s representatives, has been exposed in the House of Commons, and the collapse of the Labour party into a miasma of corruptly and illegally sought and obtained money, thus depriving the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath of what little democratic validity he had, now threatens the Labour regime policy of forcing the United Kingdom into the penultimate manifestation of the United States of Europe.

Angels in Marble

Beyond Control

So the ex-head of HMRC who resigned just a fortnight ago over the data discs cock-up, is still in Whitehall, working now at the Cabinet Office. And Paul Gray is still on his £200k pa salary. Even better, he's now leading a project on "developing civil servant skills". The man who presided over such jaw-dropping sloppiness among his own staff that they routinely post everyone's bank details on Facebook, is now developing the same skills right across Whitehall.

Burning Our Money

Get a grip Darling - Northern Rock and interest rates need attention

Today we read that a rival bid is being warmed up for Northern Rock. I read in some papers that Virgin was given preferred status and allowed to enjoy great publicity for its bid in the hope that its name associated with Northern Rock would reassure depositors and stop the withdrawal of so much more money. Because the withdrawals continue, it appears the government is keen to give airtime to other bids, or will not stand in the way of their promotion.

John Redwood

Does this give some encouragement to Gordon?

How “certainty to vote” is driving the polls. The above table has been reproduced from the full data set from yesterday’s ICM survey for the News of the World which showed that Labour was 11% behind. This highlights how those surveyed responded when asked how likely, on a scale of 1-10, it was that they would vote.

Political Betting

Monday, 3 December 2007

The Weekend Poliblogs 1st & 2nd December 2007

Another pollster gives Dave a double digit lead

Tory ICM margin moves from 6% to 11%. A new poll from ICM for the News of the World shows a Tory lead of 11% and means that four surveys from four separate polling organisation in the past week have recorded significant moves to the Conservatives. Based on what limited information is available the shares are with changes on the last ICM survey a week ago - CON 41% (+4): LAB 30% (-1): LD 19% (-2). Given Labour’s appalling week party officials might have been expecting much much worse. At least this poll has them still in the 30s.

Political Betting

ICM give the Conservatives an 11-point lead

A new ICM poll in the Sunday papers apparently has topline voting intention figures (with charges from their last poll) of CON 41% (+4), LAB 30% (-1), LDEM 19% (-2). The exact dates of the poll aren’t available yet, but normally ICM polls published on a Sunday have fieldwork conducted between Wednesday and Friday, so it’s likely this poll was conducted when Labour’s funding row was at its height. (UPDATE - the News of the World report is here, and the poll was actually conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. It should go without saying that this isn’t the strongest Tory lead for 15 years, it’s the strongest lead for 8 months…but hey, that wouldn’t have been a less impressive headline wouldn’t it? Sheesh)

Polling Report

Older voters and women abandon Brown

It’s always interesting to pore over the detailed results of our YouGov polls. We don’t have space to print the breakdown of answers by sex and age group - though YouGov themselves will put the full results online next week - so here are a few snapshots from the small print of this morning’s poll, which gave the Tories an 11-point lead over Labour.

Three Line Whip

'Donorgate' Getting Worse

I just cannot believe the way Labour are responding to the 'scandal' involving their politicians taking money from donors in an illegal way. The one thing Labour should not have done is try to 'spin' their way out of it. The man caught in bed with his best friend's wife, has only one course open to him - apologise profusely, show remorse and beg forgiveness. Inventing some spurious reasons will only make matters worse. But this is precisely what Labour have been doing.

A View from Rural Wales

Remaining questions

So now we have Jon Mendelsohn's statement and the letter he sent to David Abrahams (below). We now have confirmed that a second senior Labour official knew about secret donations to Labour. However, questions still remain:

• How long did he know for?

• Why did he apparently tell no-one else - either the authorities or anyone in his party?

• And why did it take him so long to get around to contacting the man behind those secret donations with - we're told - the intention of halting the payments?

Nick Robinson

Alexander 'tugged in two ways'

I have not spoken to Wendy Alexander today. She is confining her comments to a written statement. However, I have spoken to several other individuals in Scottish Labour - close to the controversy, on its margins or simply observing with bemused horror. I believe that Wendy Alexander is tonight tugged two ways. Instinct, personal integrity and perhaps the long-term interests of the Scottish Labour Party tell her to quit.

Blether with Brian

Does the Alexander Technique work?

Four days out of the frontline and I return to find a story now turned so dire for Gordon Brown that I almost can't bear to watch or read it. Tootling down the M4 this evening at a speed that may or may not have been a tad over the speed limit, I caught up with Wendy Alexander's statement about uninentional wrongdoing. For the next few miles I rehearsed in my mind how I would explain myself if one of those nice officers from Thames Valley Constabulary were to flag me down and accuse me (unfairly, I assure you) of speeding. I imagined myself saying "I am confident when all the facts are known I will be exonerated of any intentional wrong doing". I then imagined the cop saying "of course, sir" before issuing me with a summons to appear in court.

Ben Brogan

Recap On Party Funding

Does Mr Bean really think he can divert our attention from Labour's long and shameful record of criminal fundraising by threatening to revive the outrageous plan to grab more from taxpayers? We've blogged this many times before (eg see here, here, and here). Here are some of the key points:

Burning Our Money

Openness, Accountability and Honesty

Gordon Brown used the country's legislative move today to make yet another deeply political move. He's demanding that all three parties reach an agreement on party funding legislation. The clunking fist is back and he's planning to blame the system rather than the Labour Party for the gross deceptions in party funding that have come to light recently.

Caroline Hunt

Stephan Shakespeare: Who is driving the volatility in the polls?

First, a concession: I over-estimated Gordon Brown. I thought him a stronger politician than he has since proved. I thought his ‘bounce’ would be sustained longer. Had he announced a general election in the middle of the Labour Party conference, he would have easily beaten the Conservatives. But he proved weak, Cameron rallied, and of course now the tables have turned.

Conservative Home


This gentleman is Bennie Abrahams, father of David Abrahams aka David Martin, Labour's "property developer" peculiar donor, whose ability to get planning permission for major developments in areas next to the A1 where development is banned, is of course in no way related to his secret donations to New Labour.

Craig Murray

Will capping union donations cause a civil war within the Labour party?

Gordon Brown must decide whether he is going to stay in the donorgate frying pan or jump into the trade union capping fire. Either way he's in for a torrid time of it. If he doesn't agree to union capping, then he will have reneged on his comments made in the last few days of this fiasco. If he does agree to cap union donations then he is facing a potential civil war within the party.

Daily Referendum

Political funding: what is to be done?

Nothing more clearly underlines the essential continuity of the Blairism and the Brown government than the ongoing controversy over donations to New Labour from wealthy businessmen. Sources of financial support symbolise - perhaps more than anything else - the different class bases of what Labour once was, and what it has today become. Historically, few wealthy individuals have donated to an ostensibly socialist party out of political conviction. True, there were always a handful of working class boys made good, and those intellectually converted to Fabianism.

Dave’s Part

NO, NO, NO to current NHS reforms

There seems to be a widespread view that the NHS needs reform and that all the current NHS reforms are good, and that only antediluvian “vested producer interests” of doctors, nurses and other unions are holding them back. To these commentators who all seem to be politicians, health economists or management consultant types reform is a great good in its own right, and all who stand in its way are some combination of:

Dr Rant

Another myth bites the dust

Flagged up by The Sunday Times today is an entertaining report by the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change. It takes a tilt at some of the more egregious myths put about by the "warmists", not least that global warming will result in a big increase in deaths from weather-related disasters.

EU Referendum

Seeming is believing

Gordon Brown has been likened to the hapless comic, Mr Bean. Such metaphors can make or break a politician

Simon Lancaster

He did the Wright thing

The first conviction under the Hunting Act has been overturned - which would make this a good time to ditch a bad and divisive piece of legislation

Kate Hoey

Another day - more lost discs and dodgy donation suspects

Each of the three public crises hitting the government - lost data ,dodgy donations and Northern Rock- is getting worse. Today we learn of more data that was sent out on a disc with no encryption or password protection. That ended up with a newspaper who returned it. It proves the Revenue and Customs loss was no one off by a junior official, but part of a careless culture in this government. Ministers clearly did not think the protection of our data was a priority and have allowed their offices to be casual in their approach.

John Redwood

New poll: where on the political spectrum would you like the Lib Dems to be?

This was one of the questions asked by YouGov in the party members’ poll commissioned by Sky News. I suspect I wasn’t alone in finding it hard to answer, as none of the eight choices on offer included the word ‘liberal’, a striking omission when surveying members of the Liberal Democrats. Instead, answers ranged from ‘very left-wing’ to ‘very right-wing’. (Click on the image to see my screen-shot.)

Lib Dem Voice

The problem with cash in UK politics isn't that there's too much of it

I'm entertained by the comments under the post below suggesting that the problem with UK political funding is high spending by political parties. They obviously haven't worked for one recently. Full-time Labour (and I suspect Tory and certainly Lib Dem) officials up to and including the recently resigned General Secretary earn salaries that are derisory compared to the rest of the voluntary sector, let alone their counterparts in trade unions, the public sector and the private sector.

Luke’s Blog

Is Brown planning to sacrifice Labour's TU link?

An emergency Labour Party National Executive Committee is planned tomorrow on the margins of the National Policy Committee at a Heathrow hotel. Gordon Brown is considering intends bouncing a proposal to accept Hayden Phillips recommendations on the funding of political parties in the wake of the Donorgate scandal. In the light of his recent success at the 2007 Annual Conference in gagging conference delegates, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to muster support, now the prospect of a General Election has receded.

Peter Kenyon

YouGov has Clegg leading Huhne by 56%-44%

Why PBC is breaking the embargo? A YouGov poll of 678 Lib Dem party members that will be released later this evening by Sky News has Nick Clegg beating Chris Huhne by 56% to 44% in the membership ballot. But the race could still be close because 52% of those questioned have not voted yet only 52% of those questioned had already voted and 24% said they were undecided. The pollster built up a good reputation for party membership polls when in 2001 and 2005 it got the Tory contest correct to within 1%. The firm did not do as well this June with their Labour deputy leadership surveys where it had Alan Johnson ahead. That was, however, a complicated election because of the transferable vote system amongst six candidates.

Political Betting

Fanning the Flames of Hatred?

Before we "tut, tut" too loudly about the morons in Sudan who have locked up a volunteer teacher for allowing a teddy bear to be called “Mohammed”, we shouldn’t forget we have more than our own share of home-grown religious berks. I’m not this time referring to Galloway and his Respect Renewal but rather to the new Christian Fundamentalist website “MegaMosqueNoThanks”. This site appears to be run by a certain Newham Councillor, Alan Craig, from the “Christian Peoples Alliance” (CPA). His name and telephone number is on the press release.

Labour Home