Next week

I’m off on a break for the next week, and have no idea yet whether I’ll have decent internet access, so updates for the next week may be infrequent (or absent!). In the meantime, have a good bank holiday weekend one and all.


192 Responses to “Next week”

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  1. Have fun. We’ll be good. Honest!

  2. Have a great time Anthony.

  3. Oh No- Lord of the Flies time!

  4. bye-bye

    a lot ex-lib dem votes going to ukip in yesterday’s yougov. 5% compared to 3 for the tories and 1 for labour… is this a one off thing i wonder?

    (also hi, this is my first post after months of lurking)

  5. We will behave, we promise!
    Bonnes vacances!

  6. Have a good break Anthony.

  7. Deserved.

  8. You must be off to the West Country, I’d say

  9. Bon Vacance

  10. Enjoy!

    I’m giving blogging a break too. It has been a wonderfully exciting period in Scottish political and social history. We all need to recharge for the defining years that lie ahead of us.

  11. Anthony,

    I hope you have a nice trip and break. You deserve it. It’s Memorial Day weekend for me so I’m pleased. I get a three day weekend. :)

    @ Stuart Dickson

    “I’m giving blogging a break too.”

    I wish I had your discipline. I need to do this myself right now (I need to pass the bar). I can’t give it up entirely but I have been able to cut back on it.

  12. Possibly few – or no – comments for a week Anthony??? My enjoyment of the first cuppa of the day will not be the same without your comments to accompany it!

    Have a good break – and haste ye back!!!

  13. Now that the cat’s away…Have a good break AW.

    Do we post serious poll related comment here or on the previous active thread?

    Any way I’ll post on both.

    Just visited Political Betting and read an interesting article by Mike Smithson on the potential for and timing of a collapse of the coalition this year with a resulting GE.

    Earlier this month I said the NHS is the ‘big one’ for the coalition.

    A GE held this summer is improbable, but after the annual conferences is possible. A date in early November (the 3rd?) seems a likely date were a GE to be called.

    In the last week we have seen some entrenched and strident views being expressed by LD and Con MPs about the NHS reforms. It is likely that Lansley would quit as SoS if they are watered down. NC is boxed in by the demands of the membership – despite having signed up to the reforms at the outset. If DC dilutes or abandons the reforms he risks antagonising his MPs.

    I don’t know how DC solves this problem.

    It’s a good article worth a read.

  14. I should have added that it is my view that a GE will occur this year (in Nov). Arguably this will be the best year for the Cons to call a GE: the LDs and Lab do not (yet) have the resources to fight a GE. NC is detested and EM’s popularity is low. The Cons have done nothing ‘wrong’ – and they are doing what it say on the tin. DC is viewed well by a large slice of the public. Lab is still tainted by the state of the economy that it left behind in May 2010, it allowed immigration to get out of hand, and that it is the party of the social security scroungers.

  15. Mike N,

    Very interesting analysis, and one that makes perfect sense to me. I wonder if Cameron might engineer a reason for a GE this year even if the Coalition does not collapse? Or is that too Machiavellian? It does seem likely that the Tories could only benefit, for the reasons you describe. Also it’s at least possible that the Scot Nat success could be repeated for Westminster, thus further weakening Labour.

  16. Pete B

    I’d forgotten about the SNP also possibly affecting Lab too.

    This year could be the best opportunity for DC to get the OM and assert his control of his party. At the moment he is at the mercy of his MPs and the LDs.

  17. @Mike N

    Jay Blanc’s post from the night before last was interesting… to paraphase: NC’s latest stance on the NHS bill going back to committee stage implies that though he would be likely to vote for the current bill (with some minimal changes) “the votes are not there” among the PLDP.

    This begins to look like a de facto rupture with NC unable to lead his party, and in the absense of candidates willing or able to replace him, he becomes a kind of liason officer between Cameron and the LDs.

  18. Billy Bob

    I missed Jay Blanc’s post, but your paraphrasing of NC’s siutation / role makes sense..

    I expect a LD leadership challenge by the conference.

    Were NC to be replaced as leader of the LDs, would he have to give up being deputy PM?

  19. “the LDs and Lab do not (yet) have the resources to fight a GE.”
    Especially true for Labour considering the abandonment of it’s wealthy donors and it’s new debt problems caused by loans from ex-donors (who’re now apparently giving the interest off the loans to the Tories).
    So now the party money is almost exclusively by way of union donations.

    This is a point that EdM needs to take on board when forming his new policy direction –
    Which voters abandoned Labour between 1997 and 2010 and where did they go?
    It was largely left-wing voters and they largely went to the LibDems.

    Now that the LibDems have got in to ‘bed’ with the Tories, those voters (and more from the LD-left) have ‘returned home’ (for lack of a better phrase – it’s more complex than that).
    (Except in Scotland, where they’ve gone to the SNP)

    So while being viewed as a party of the left, Labour is able to get approx 40% of the vote.

    Who stayed with Labour over that period? Especially toward the end.
    Loyal left-wing voters.

    So Labour’s 40%-ish support is largely from loyal and ‘disloyal’ left-wing/centre-left voters.
    Yet the party bigwigs and new labour partisans believe that the only way to win is to tack right.
    And we can only imagine where the disloyal left (making up about 30% of the current Labour VI) would go…

    And who abandoned Labour as far as media and financial support? And where did they go?
    Pretty much everybody and almost exclusively to the Tories.
    And who stuck with them? The unions and the co-ops.

    The phrase ‘when times are tough, you find out who your friends are’ seems apt.

    So Labour’s main problems for another election are media and financial.
    And since Labour haven’t built a large enough grassroots movement to counteract this (see the LDs for how this strategy can succeed), they’ll struggle with a near election rather than one in 4 years (where they can build up the grassroots).

    And on the NHS –
    I can’t work out whether Nick Clegg’s NHS ‘muscle flexing’ is an act of political folly or political genius.
    He’s positioned Cameron in to the awkward position where he has to choose between his party (who want the reforms) and his coalition partners (who don’t).
    So whatever Cameron does weakens his position.

    And if Cameron were to call a GE based on a split over NHS reforms, I don’t think it’d help the Tories out as the reforms are deeply unpopular with the public.

  20. TingedFringe

    “(Except in Scotland, where they’ve gone to the SNP)”

    I’ve posted before, that this is too simplistic an assumption. Yes, it looks like more of those deserting the LDs went SNP rather than Lab/Con, but there was also churn going on where approximately the same number of LDs going Lab/Con were matched by Lab/Con voters going SNP.

  21. OldNat –
    Thanks for the correction.

    I don’t think it invalidates my point though – the LD left has largely abandoned them in favour of other left-wing parties.
    It would be a mistake for Ed to move right, because those ‘disloyal’ voters would move on again.

    (By disloyal vs loyal, I mean ‘Find the closest party to personal ideology’ vs ‘Labour ’till I die’ folk – if that is clear enough).

  22. Tingedfringe
    The problem for Lab is that the party’s reliance on (and the influence by) the trades unions will be ruthlessly expolited by the right wing media and the Cons. Some voters who might be tempted to vote for Lab could instead stay with or move to the Cons to prevent a Lab gov that is ‘controlled’ by the trades unions. (And of course some of these voters may choose the LDs…)

  23. Tingedfringe
    “And if Cameron were to call a GE based on a split over NHS reforms, I don’t think it’d help the Tories out as the reforms are deeply unpopular with the public.”

    I understand what you’re saying, but presentation and media support are important here IMO.

  24. “The problem for Lab is that the party’s reliance on (and the influence by) the trades unions will be ruthlessly expolited by the right wing media and the Cons.”
    Then perhaps it’s time for Labour to stop living within the narrative framework set by the Tories and build a new one.
    This is one of the problems that Labour had with Blair – Labour lived in the shadow of Thatcher.

    If Labour allow the Tories to control the framework, they have little room for movement, whereas the Tories have all the room for movement.

    This is why Labour need to build up a localist grassroots movement – then it won’t matter too much what the media say if Labour is at the ‘heart of the community’.

    While they don’t have the time to do this if Cameron calls a snap election – 4 years (or perhaps going in to the next GE with ‘hope to win, prepare to fail’ and thinking long term than that) is a long time to build that up.
    It can be done – just look at the progressive movement before it had any financial or media backing. It was a longer and tougher fight but it had longer-lasting effects.

  25. @Mike N – I was struck by a comment I read somewhere about Chris Huhne being one of the few cabinet ministers who is regarded by senior civil servants as having the aptitude for heading a department – but his path to the LD leadership has been made much more difficult by Tory interests (unattributed No 10 line: “don’t even think about making him leader”).

    Farron, I would assume, sees himself as leading the party into a post/pre-coalition phase, decontaminating the brand from Tory asscociations.

    In the meantime, it is a question of how long the deadlock can last… but on the plus side for the coalition, attempting little would entail fewer u-turns. ;)

  26. TingedFringe

    “the LD left has largely abandoned them in favour of other left-wing parties.”

    I agree with that.

    However, in the additional dimension within Scottish politics, it also means that the party polarisation between “Unionists” (= those focusing on the UK as the political main scene) v. Nationalists (= those focusing on Scotland in political terms) has also increased.

    Were there to be an early UK GE, a “nailed-on” Tory victory is unlikely to be the narrative, I can’t see Labour losing many MPs here. The LDs would be virtually wiped out, but for the UK Tories, replacing LD MPS with SNP ones would make little difference

  27. Or even look at the previous election – the Tories had the full backing of the press, narratives and much greater financial backing, yet couldn’t win an OM and could barely get 7% above Labour.

    And now that the LD-left has abandoned the LDs, Labour have a greater base (than the GE) to build from.

  28. Tingedfringe

    I agree with you, but…I can also understand the Lab hierarchy wanting to appeal to a wide audience beyond its left wing.

    Certainly (re)building its base is sensible if only to thwart the LDs.

  29. “However, in the additional dimension within Scottish politics, it also means that the party polarisation between “Unionists” (= those focusing on the UK as the political main scene) v. Nationalists (= those focusing on Scotland in political terms) has also increased.”
    And I think that’s why Ed should start to think of things in terms of coalitions – not ‘single governments’.

    If Labour were to push for a pre-election coalition (perhaps with an electoral pact/primary elections) with SNP, with agreement over centre-left issues and a free voice over unionism vs nationalism.
    Same with the Greens in the south.

    Otherwise we’re going to suffer with the same split-vote problems perpetually when we could find agreement in consensus.

    Alex Salmond’s offer of a Rainbow Alliance for the UK is one that Ed should take seriously.

  30. Billy Bob
    Has Huhne now escaped/eluded these claims he perverted the course of justice? If he has he has gone up in my estimation because of the way he handled it.

    “Farron, I would assume, sees himself as leading the party into a post/pre-coalition phase, decontaminating the brand from Tory asscociations.”

    His comments recently could IMO be easily construed as damning NC with faint praise. He seems to be positioning himself as a leadership candidate in the event of a leadership challenge.

  31. “If Labour were to push for a pre-election coalition (perhaps with an electoral pact/primary elections) with SNP, with agreement over centre-left issues and a free voice over unionism vs nationalism.”
    Was an unfinished sentence – doh!
    .. vs nationalism.. it would be a lot healthier for centre-left/left politics.

  32. Tinged Fringe

    Interesting idea – especially “primaries”!

    I can’t see it happening, though. The only way the SNP would agree would be if there was a guarantee that Devo Max/FFA was guaranteed – leaving Defence, Foreign Affairs and Currency as the only major issues affecting Scotland still being handled at Westminster.

    Labour would never concede that. Even if they did the backlash in England that they were planning to use a block of Scottish MPs to govern England would have a net negative effect.

  33. @Mike N – Following on from Socalliberal’s analysis of Obama’s speech, I’m begining to read the emphasis on an “essential relationship” more in the light of growing international concern about the direction of Osborne’s UK economic policy.

    This morning’s musings for me centred around any Tory alternative to Osborne (Redwood?), but the only Political Betting article on “next chancellor” named Ed Balls – and that dated back to 2005! :)

  34. Billy Bob
    “the only Political Betting article on “next chancellor” named Ed Balls”

    Could still be valid!

    “…growing international concern about the direction of Osborne’s UK economic policy.”

    Beginning to match ours then!

  35. Ah but TingedFringe was it actually the traditional left who stuck with labour? Or was it the trendy middle class, socially left wing but economically probably further to the right who Blair managed to convert in the first place.

    Labour dont have a good record at winning from the left, and IMHO it would be madness to position yourselves there, it would be giving us an open goal.

  36. OldNat –
    I can see the demands being made for a coalition, but surely there’s room to move when it comes to primaries?

    If Labour/SNP/Plaid/Green/Respect/(Possibly SWP)/(Possibly LDs) formed a Popular Front movement and held primaries before sending the PF candidate to stand in the GE to represent that constituency then no pre-election agreements would have to be made regarding independence (although an agreement to hold a referendum would probably help), only a commitment to basic centre-left policies – environment, liberty, social democracy, etc.

    Even if the SNP and Labour couldn’t formally form a coalition after the GE, an agreement could be made to support a minority government with basic social democratic support but free votes on disagreements.

    I can’t see Labour going anywhere near primaries with other parties, but while it’d diminish their current power it would cement their part in coalition – rather than being in and out of power.

    Another factor that would make Labour less enthusiastic about it could be the splitting of Labour in to different factions within PF – Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Libertarian-Left, etc all putting candidates forward.
    While it’d be far healthier (and democratic) for politics and make the whole movement stronger in the long run (factions without factionalism), it’d hurt the ability of the Labour leadership to control where they want the centre-left to go.
    Control is something I can’t see them wanting to give up.

  37. As previously discussed, Cameron CANNOT call a general election. All he can do is go to the queen and resign as primer minister. Can can request that parliament is dissolved, but if there is the slightest chance that Lab-LD-PC-SDLP would provide enough votes to be able to pass a Queen’s Speech, then that opportunity must be allowed for.

    I’m sure the groundwork is being laid for a possible Rainbow coalition, to be described as a ‘government of national unity’. And interestingly, if the possibility is there, it enormously strengthens Clegg’s hand within the coalition.

  38. TingedFringe

    “If Labour/SNP/Plaid/Green/Respect/(Possibly SWP)/(Possibly LDs) formed a Popular Front movement and held primaries before sending the PF candidate to stand in the GE to represent that constituency”

    With respect, that is a system designed for countries where the Tories are an electoral threat.

    If you haven’t had a look at Scottish Vote Compass, please do.

    http://www.scottishvotecompass.org/

    There’s not much (apart from economic strategy) that SNP could support a right wing party like Labour on.

  39. Robin
    “…interestingly, if the possibility is there, it enormously strengthens Clegg’s hand within the coalition.”

    I see what you mean, but this only underlines the difficulty DC will have with his own MPs who are already displeased for various reasons.

    Although the idea of the gov of national unity sounds great, I don’t see it having any chance of getting off the ground.

  40. @Mike N

    As I calculated a while back, theoretically the numbers are there. But it’s a margin of a few seats, and would require a desperate amount of horse trading.

  41. OldNat –
    My assumption for a Popular Front is that Labour grows up, realises where it’s core is, where it’s potential largest vote block is and where it can find friends and dumps the pathetic attempts to try to pander lamely to the right.

    Labour need to learn that for every centre-right voter they grab from the Tories by shifting right, they’re probably going to lose two centre-left/left voters in the process – especially as there is more choice when it comes to centre-left parties – LD (assuming they swing back to the centre-left), respect, SNP, Plaid, etc.

    Why vote a mini-Tory Labour when you can vote for the real thing?

    The only time that a strategy of ‘shifting right’ might work is at the end of the Tory governing cycle, when even centre-right voters are sick of them – not at the start of it.

    I have high hopes for Labour remembering where it’s core is and not arrogantly assuming it can abuse it’s core while it tries to win over the right.
    Perhaps misplaced hope but there you go.

  42. EdM must be quietly pleased about the dirt Sharon Shoesmith is throwing on Ed Balls.

  43. Wolf
    Aye, especially as DC says the decision shoudl be appealed.

    Jay Blanc
    “would require a desperate amount of horse trading”

    Aye.

  44. TingefFringe

    “I have high hopes for Labour remembering where it’s core is and not arrogantly assuming it can abuse it’s core while it tries to win over the right.”

    For England’s sake, I hope you are right!

  45. @OldNat

    I just tried the vote compass. Obviously some things aren’t really relevant for a non-Scot non-resident, but even apart from that I was struck by the large number of questions that pose false choices. I really have to question whether this toy has any value at all.

    That said, what little I know of Scottish politics comes from what I see of Scots on the UK national stage, and I have to say that more often than not I find Scottish MPs to be among the more reactionary and objectionable of Labour representatives. (Let me make clear immediately that there are plenty of exceptions).

    For the record, I came out as Green+34, SNP+25, SLAB+14, LD+6, Con-31.

  46. Robin

    “I find Scottish MPs to be among the more reactionary and objectionable of Labour representatives.”

    I find the same. :-)

    As to the “false choices” – that’s not the critical aspect of this kind of survey. It is normed on the policies of the 5 main parties in Scotland (though before Labour suddenly adopted a tranche of SNP policies just before the election) and the responses of around 16,000 respondents in Scotland before it was put on general release.

  47. Robin

    Additionally, I think it helps to explain differential voting patterns in elections in Scotland.

    In elections for Holyrood, the effective choice is between the SNP and SLAB (whose vote still holds up in constituencies like Eastwood which would be rock solid Tory in England).

    In elections for Westminster, while many do vote primarily on Scottish issues, the real choice (as far as Government is concerned) is between UK/English Tory and UK/English Labour. (I’m not using “English” as a pejorative term! It just reflects the reality).

    The Labour Party in UK/England seems to be a very different (and much more acceptable) creature than SLAB.

  48. I took the same test,

    I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I seem to be a green nationalist with libdem sympathies, my score for labour was negative and for th blues was very negative.

    But I took another test on UK politics and I was almost perfectly aligned with libdem policies, weird!

    The Scottish libdem seem to be a different animal from the English or Welsh parties(as is Scottish labour compared to the English version) which is of course only right and proper in a federal party.

  49. RiN

    “which is of course only right and proper in a federal party.”

    Yes, but totally weird in a highly centralised party like Labour.

  50. BILLYBOB

    ” growing international concern about the direction of Osborne’s UK economic policy.”

    First you need to read Obama’s speech-it indicated that reducing escalating state debt is a priority for him as it is for us. He said that timing was a matter for each country.

    Then you might like to read the reaction of Angel Gurria, the OECD’s secretary general, to EB’s asertion that OECD had criticised GO’s policy.

    Asked by Sky News’ Jeff Randall whether OECD was urging the Government to change course, he said: “Oh no… He said that if there are some terrible results or whatever we’ll have to take a look at it. But no way was there any signal of a change in course. We are continuing to be supportive.”

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