Christmas open thread

No polls over Christmas of course, but here’s an open thread for those of you seeking to escape from Christmas preparations. Reflections on the year just gone? Predictions for next year? No need to stay on topic, but please do try and remain civil and rise above “Brilliant year for party I support and I predict that next year things which I would really like to happen will happen” ;)


162 Responses to “Christmas open thread”

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  1. @ Charles Stuart

    “The US presidential election will be very close, perhaps a rerun of 2000, this time possibly with Obama winning. I think it’s too soon to say who the Republican will be but I’d like to see Michael Bloomberg as an independent. That could upset everything and he could win some states.”

    I’m not sure it will be close. Presidential reelection races typically aren’t close. The public typically makes up its mind and decides whether he deserves reelection or decides to kick the prez to the curb. There have been very few narrow reelection losses. In fact, there are only two in our entire history: 1888 and 1800. For that matter, there have only been two presidential reelection victories that were all that close: 1916 and 2004. 1948 was quasi close as well but the popular vote margin was 5% and Truman was a solid electoral college victor.

    As for Bloomberg, I don’t think he really stands a chance. If he wants to go blow a 100 million on an ego boost tour, that’s fine. But he really doesn’t have any appeal to a great deal of voters that would enable him to win a state or even be a spoiler who would affect the race.

    If there is to be a third party candidate who will actually make an impact, it will be someone on the right.

    I hope your predictions about Putin and Mugabe prove correct.

    @ Nick P

    “Present from 14 year old daughter:

    extra large sweat shirt with a blue smurf and NERD in huge bright yellow letters.

    How we laughed. She ain’t going out for a year, at least.”

    That’s hilarious. I think you should embrace your daughter’s gift.

    @ Robert Newark

    “Love your Liberal cow. I can’t claim credit for those I posted. My son had just emailed it to me and I just thought it might provide a smile at Christmas for everyone.”

    Lol. I thought your post was kinda funny so I had to add my own. :)

    @ Old Nat

    “However, simply scthying the support for major employers and throwing thousands on to dependency status was equally inept.

    From a Scots point of view, her reliance on oil revenues to cushion the effect (and avoid revolution) by using oil revenues to create Job Creation Schemes and a massive increase in disability payments to disguise the unemployment figures, but massively expanding the dependency culture that Tories then criticise, has a particular poignancy.

    Structural economic change did need to take place, but it had to be managed with a view to the social consequences.”

    I agree with you. I think once again our political ideologies seem to match. Your reasoning btw is why I supported the big bank bailouts and the big auto company bailouts and continue to defend them.

    “Thatcher’s ideological war meant that the civilian population was the casualty, as in most wars. Leaders who make war on their own people shouldn’t expect to be well thought of.”

    I agree. It’s for this reason that I don’t think well of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. (Or Sam Yorty).

  2. @ Old Nat

    “Phase 1 occurred under Thatcher, when the remaining urban areas which had voted Tory, moved to voting Labour.

    Phase 2 occurred later when formerly Tory rural constituencies moved to voting LD or increasingly SNP.”

    This doesn’t really answer the question though. What happenned to those last Tory constituencies that switched to Labour in 1997? There were 5 or 6 of them weren’t there? Were they Phase 1 constituencies that were simply late? Or were they Phase 2 constituencies that chose Labour instead of the other two parties?

  3. @ Charles Stuart

    “The US presidential election will be very close, perhaps a rerun of 2000, this time possibly with Obama winning. I think it’s too soon to say who the Republican will be but I’d like to see Michael Bloomberg as an independent. That could upset everything and he could win some states.”

    I know I already responded to this but I had some additional thoughts.

    The only time the Republican Party has ever split a presidential election vote allowing a Democrat to come in and win was 1912. So it’s not a common occurence. But in this seemingly never ending s*it show of a Presidential Primary where no one can really seem to be the frontrunner for more than a few days, we’re seeing some major divides within the GOP to the extent that I could see a third party right wing choice emerging or even more than one emerging out of the Primary.

    Ron Paul represents hardcore conservatism but of the 1920’s. Mitt Romney is unacceptable to a good number of Fundamentalists because he’s a Mormon. Also, he simply is not extreme enough for the Teabagging wing of the party. Both men take positions that are an anathema to most mainstream Republicans. Romney will frequently change his positions in order to benefit himself politically but his original positions stick. If either were to get the nomination, I could see a right wing splinter breaking off in protest.

    Newt Gingrich is a little different in how he inspires a third party run. See although he’s hated by the right wing pseudo-intellectual crowd, he would generally unite most Republicans behind his candidacy. But he is such a vile, nasty, awful, corrupt, disgusting person, a third party candidate could emerge as someone appealling to voters on all sides of the ideological spectrum who might want a change but are turned off by Gingrich. Basically, you’d get a Perot type, who was a true third party candidate who appealled to voters in both parties (polling found that his voters were drawn evenly from Clinton and Bush voters…..on election night when he congratulated Bill Clinton on his victory before the result had been projected, half of the crowd was booing and jeering and half the crowd was cheering).

    The reason I am dismissive of Bloomberg is that he is generally a very weak candidate who fails to appeal to either Democrats or Republicans. His initial victory in 2001 was a fluke. He’s a Democrat but he wanted to be mayor and realized that the Republican Party had a fairly open field while the Democratic Party did not. He would have lost but for 9/11 and stupid comments of his feckless opponent, Mark Green (who has lost just about every election he’s ever run). Even then, Bloomberg won narrowly, winning because of the Liberal Party (had it just been Democratic and Republican votes, Bloomberg would have lost).

    Bloomberg won reelection in 2005 because of weak opposition and a general feeling of citywide contentment. However, his cracks are starting to show. He reregistered as an Independent, mainly because he’s not a Republican and doesn’t like the GOP but didn’t want to switch to the Democratic Party and also because the Liberal Party isn’t around anymore to back him up (making him fundamentally weak as a Republican in NYC). Although he outspent his opponent in 2009 by tens of millions, he won by less than 4%. His opponent barely campaigned. This demonstrates the level of disatisfaction with him. When it comes to what’s needed in a President, I think all you have to do is compare Obama’s record: Getting rid of Ghadaffi, Bringing the Troops home from Iraq, and finally getting Bin Laden (among other foreign policy coups) versus Bloomberg who couldn’t even handle a basic snow storm.

    Conservatives are not going to vote for a short, Liberal, wealthy Jew who supports abortion rights and sexual orientation equality. Liberals aren’t going to vote for someone who used to shill for Dubya. Anyone who cares about security isn’t going to vote for someone who can’t handle a snow storm. Then given the attitudes towards Wall Street these days, it’s hard to imagine a billionaire Wall Street having widespread voter appeal.

    So who votes for him?

  4. @ Charles Stuart

    Btw, a few weeks ago I went out to a movie with a few of my sister’s friends from high school who are both Canadians (dual citizens actually so they hate ) and I was so happy that I finally got to discuss that election with someone! (In person that is). One of them actually voted in the election.

    I didn’t know this but Canada’s Constitution, until recently, was an act of British Parliament. This meant that any time the Canadians wanted to make constitutional changes, they had to ask your country for permission. Trying to change this not only proved to be complicated and extremely difficult but also seems to have set off a chain reaction of events led to many of the major changes in Canadian elections over the past two decades.

    They might keep your Queen as their “head of state” for the reason that making Constitutional changes in Canada is politically difficult and seems to lead to national therapy sessions.

  5. FYI, I don’t think it’s too ghoulish to discuss Thatcher’s funeral plans even though she’s still alive. Advance planning for these events doesn’t hurt, instead it alleviates some of the pain and loss when death occurs. It can help cut expenses too. Both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush have their state funeral plans already filed with the U.S. military.

    @ Amber Star

    “Personally, I don’t care either way because Mrs Thatcher will be dead, so she won’t know what sort of funeral she gets.

    And when the time comes, if Ed is asked to comment, he should just say; an old lady has gone on her way. She was a politician of significance but he didn’t agree with most of her policies & he was still at school when the Tory Party fired her!”

    Maybe Labour should propose that every Prime Minister from here on out should receive a state funeral. That way the Conservatives could get their state funeral for Thatcher but the event wouldn’t arise the same level of passion and anger from people. There would be some new ground rules set and every PM would be assured of proper recognition including those from all parties. It’d be a way to unite people and move the country forward in a progressive way (something that I think Labour generally wants and likes to do).

    @ Old Nat

    “Why anyone (outwith her family) should care when a senile old woman, with no political influence, dies, is quite beyond me.”

    Her friends might care and so might her admirers. Sometimes people can get a little weird when they mourn the loss of people they’ve enver met. Like when Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, died. Don’t get me wrong, most deaths are sad and I’m sure he was a very nice man and good to his employees and charitable and someone that entrepreneurs greatly admired. I’ll assume these things to be true. But I thought it was a little much when there were random people eating at his restaurants who were quoted saying “I’m so sad. He was like a father to me.” My first response to this was “Really?”

    With that said, I think that when you lose someone who you greatly admire and look up to and think of as a hero, you’re going to feel sad and mourn the loss even if you never met the person. This tends to happen with public figures.

    Of course when people like that die, those who don’t like them are bound to get more than a little irritated watching the love fest on the news. I remember when I personally met Dr. Helen Caldicott in high school and I won’t ever forget what she said about Ronald Reagan. “Oh when Reagan kicks off, it’s going to be like a god damn orgy out here.”

  6. About the ICM poll. ICM recorded exactly the same levels (apart from the LDems) In March, July and August when the other companies were typically showing a 4-5 point Labour lead.

  7. Good morning everyone.

    @Hannah. Good point.

    And while I can understand the commercial reasons why the Guardian choose to ignore the change from the Sunday Telegraph’s poll just a week earlier (6% Con lead after including all the usual ICM trimmings), I’m puzzled why earlier posters here should have chosen to do so.

  8. It looks like EM is suffering from an entrenched press storyline at the moment. The reality of his performance (if you can seperate that from the way it’s being reported) is being swamped by a predetermined narrative.

    This is something that has happened many times before, and the Conservatives have suffered as much as Labour, but it does further raise the question of press powers… We are so in thrall (even here, on the odd occassion that people very away from commenting on actual polling numbers) to the narrative generated in the press that reality gets conveniently forgotten.

    For example, I took a French colleague, who has no relevant political bias, to watch PMQ at Westminster. He enjoyed himself, and thought that Gordon Brown had firmly bested David Cameron. Imagine our suprise to be told later that Cameron had wiped the floor with Brown…

    So what can EM do about it? Probably nothing. But how long will we let a narrow view created by the unelected press deprive all of us of potentially great statesmen and women on both sides?

    And a merry Christmas to one and all.

  9. @SoCalLiberal,

    Re: 1997 Tory Scotland losses. It’s even worse than losing “the last few seats”. The Tories actually increased their vote and seat share in 1992, under John Major, two years after Thatcher was gone. In 1992 they were still well ahead of the SNP and the LibDems in a firm second place.

    In 1997 they were comprehensively massacred, their vote falling from 25.6% to 17.5% and losing all eleven seats. They dropped to third in the overall vote behind the SNP.

    Compare that to the vote share of a little over 31% that Thatcher got in Scotland in 1979 and you can see that whilst they had been gently fading, it was the 1997 rout that killed them off as a contender in Scotland.

    I don’t claim to understand the nuances of Scottish politics like OldNat, but the “Thatcher killed the Scottish Tories” meme does leave me with a little cognitive dissonance when I look at the actual statistics. What killed the Scottish Tories was, from the stats, probably a combination of “Black Wednesday” and the FPTP system (ie the massive drop in support that the Tories suffered when their ERM policy unravelled push them below critical mass in Scotland). The real issue for the Tories is to understand why they recovered from this in Wales, but not in Scotland.

  10. Neil A.
    The feeling in Scotland that Thatcher was an abberation for the Tories (really a neo-Liberal Econonomically) was even stronger than elsewhere in the UK. When she went and the Conservatives appeared to be changed in her image Scottish voters who had stuck with the Tories despite her deserted in large numbers.
    So Thatcher lost ‘Scotland for the Cons’ in the sense that she led the party away from a party that appealed to small conservatives in that country. Similar in parts of the North of England as well.

  11. In analysing the 1997 massacre of the Tories, you can’t forget the devolution issue. They were the party out of synch with the country and people like Michael Forsyth managed to be very good at expressing an unpopular stance in an even more unpopular way. I also think that it was the SNP’s stance during the Constitutional Convention that put a lot of people off them for another ten years or so. It was that kind of knuckle-dragging boneheadedness that characterised the Gordon Wilson era of the SNP.

    A broad generalisation is that Scotland likes unifying politicians and policies. That, I think, is why Major did better in 1992 than Thatcher in 1987; why Salmond built up unstoppable momentum in 2011; why the SNP made a major strategic error in leaving the Convention; and why “anyone but the Tories” was such a powerful feeling in 1997.

  12. @ SMUKESH

    I accept that Miliband might sack Balls. It is even possible, though unlikely, that Miliband might even sack Balls in time to avoid additional fall-out contaminating his party. However, Balls changing his position seems less likely than Balls finding a gold mine in his back garden and donating the proceeds to pay off the debts he incurred.

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