Saturday, March 05, 2005

I got graphs

When people ask me about progress, I mean things like this. Lots more graphs available here. Almost as newsworthy as a sad pensioner.

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Brrrrrinnng. Get up love, the changes are ringing.

As Chunky Charlie K cheers the champions of chesterfield to chase our uncharitable churls out of the charge of office, I relax indoors and play around with my website.

Welcome the new champions of chat to your right. =============>>>>

I've put the expanding blogroll into left, right and radical centre categories, with "don't define my oppression" for those who may not regard their politics as their primary blogiing purpose. Please complain vocifeously about errors, lacunae and ideological failings of my categorisation in the comments section.

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Friday, March 04, 2005

If life gives you Dixon’s…. Make hay.

When I said Labour were happy ramping up the
Margaret Dixon debate, I wasn’t kidding. Today the PM delivered one of the strongest and most powerful sustained attacks on an opponents policy I’ve heard for a long time.

Do I think the Margaret Dixon case is good for Labour? Not particularly. Do I think having the ability to finally get attention onto substantive overall policy agendas is good for Labour? Abso-bloody-lutely.

It’s worth
quoting a little bit:

"Look carefully at their voucher proposal. It costs over 1 billion pounds. It is money that has to come out of the NHS budget. So NHS patients will lose out. And the voucher pays only half the cost of the operation.

"That means the patient finding £3,250 for a hip operation, £5,750 for a heart operation.

"It is a straight subsidy out of the NHS budget going to those
that can afford £3,250 or £5,750. And those that can't afford it are stuck with an NHS that has had a billion pounds or more cut out of it.

"Mr Howard says he wants everyone to understand this proposal.

"So do I. It is about as monstrous and backward a proposal for our NHS as could be imagined. Something only someone who wanted to undermine the NHS would do.

"Someone who wanted to make health dependent upon wealth.
Someone who stood up for the few and not the many. We know who those someones are.

"They are called Tories."

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Let’s move things forward

Well, thank-you, thank you, my lovely commenters. Most heart-warming. Certainly my return has been better received than the start of Labour pre-election campaign (smooth link there, thangewverymuch), which has been received by the media with the enthusiasm usually reserved for the arrival of a bucket of cold sick in a small room on a hot day.

Some of this is Milburnaphobia, a syndrome sweeping the nation faster than MRSA. Some of it is just plain silly, like the “Fuck off you twats” headlines, which will strike a chord with anyone who has ever replied to a bosses email rather than forwarded it.

I should declare here that I’ve never found Alan Milburn as irritating as some- certainly those journalists who gush about David Blunkett’s earthiness should wonder why they despise Milburn, who also comes from a genuinely poor background, and besides, Mr Tony is a smart pol, and knows the value of the loathed lieutenant* and I don't like to blame Milburn for doing the job he's expected to.

Having said all that, there’s meat in the complaints about Labour’s campaign- ranging from worries about the alleged vacuity of the slogan, to an alleged slovenliness in rebuttal and a general lack of focus, and so on.

Each of these allegations has merit, but they are essentially tactical concerns, not strategic ones. They remind me quite a lot of the Tory campaign in 1987, when a revived but fundamentally unreformed Labour party ran a good campaign against an error prone Tory team, but never quite got past the barrier of trust and credibility.

The Tories campaign start has been slick, but so was Hague’s, The first week of the 2001 campaign was genuinely good for Hague, but shifted nothing. Same for Labour in 1987.

I’m sure this puts me in danger of commiting the mortal sin of complacency, but in my defence I agree Labour needs to get its overall message out there more effectively, I just suspect it is a more powerful message in total. If you stack up Economy/NHS/Education/Childcare and families versus NHSfailings/Immigration/bureaucracy/Taxes, you have the two campaigns essences. I know which I think is a winner and which is a strategy for a good second place.

Strangely, the Tories seem to be less excited by the tax part of the argument than I expected. Perhaps they know that as soon as they mention it, Labour instantly get to ask “Oh, so what are you going to cut to pay for it, eh?” (Alternatively, they’re just saving the cuts for later, which makes sense, but the Labour question is still valid).

To be honest, I don’t expect this campaign to be much fun. Labour have to discredit the Tories, the Tories have to discredit the progress the government have made, so there will inevitably be more mud thrown than light shed.
So I welcome sparks of policy life. For example, see Labour’s interesting response to the Margaret Dixon case- the Tories raise the issue and then Labour ramp it straight up, immediately challenging the Tories to explain how their policy would make anything better. It might not be a thinktank paper, but it’s at least the first sign of a policy debate for a while (I don’t count policy announcements and rebuttal that goes “you can’t do that” as “debate”).

The Tories are undeniably having a good fortnight. Thing is, I don’t think they’ve made the strategic decisions they need to have a good campaign.

*Milburn as Yezhov? Hmm. I’ll leave the Stalin’s terror metaphors alone, I think. But ChrisB, hello again, good to see you, and yes, I should talk about Control Orders sometime soon..

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Serious post later on, Pol freeks, for now, welcome to the always interesting world of blog housekeeping. Yeah, try and stop me clean up this blog, punk.

There are some changes due round here. I’ve been away, so I’m not linked to some really good shit. Hook me up please chaps (pootergeek- like Peter Lilley, I’ve got you on my little list).

This time, I’ve disabled sitemeter, so I will never know how many people read this. I remember spending a vast proportion of the day refreshing sitemeter to see who was watching. That’s not healthy and also, I’ll just be jealous of ye bigge beastes of ye blogosphere(e).

So it's away with reader stats and in with inner calm. I shall simply assume I am muttering quietly to myself, and you just happen to be hanging around. Probably muttering yourself. Loser.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I’m back. From Outer space.

I probably shouldn’t be doing this. It’ll end in tears.

But I can’t help it.

I read about the news, I work, I do my thing and yet the world gets by without hearing my views on a regular basis. How can that be right? I mean, this is a world that pays James Whale and Richard Littlejohn good money, gives Gary Younge a regular gig and makes Darius Danesh a star and somehow I don’t get a chance to rant and rave to myself without having people stare at me on the bus?

So I’m back again, spinning mad political rhymes at you. Oh yes.

Why am I back? Well, There’s a general election coming up. I want to talk about it, have my say, be an evangelist, yet stay nice and warm and indoors instead of knocking on doors in the middle of frigging March.

I’ll be backing a third Labour victory, not for reasons of tactics, or best of a bad-jobbery, or in a spirit of oh well, I suppose they’ve done OK, but because I really believe that this is a damn good government. No, I do. Honest. Stop looking at me like that. You’re as bad as the people on the bus.
You got a problem with an anonymous new Labourite spouting crap at you? You a Tory, a liberal, a communist or too cool to care? Well, come in, we’ll have a nice friendly chat in the comments section. No knuckledusters, shivs or rational argument allowed. Keep it Ad hominem or the fight’s off.

I’ll try and post every day. I’ll fail.

I’ll try and stay on the topic of politics. I’ll fail.

I’ll try and be lucid and reasonable. I’ll fail.

I’ll try and cut down on the verbosity. I’ll fail, but with vital qualifications that need to be explored in depth, probably with footnotes, addenda and marginalia.

If that sounds like a politcal blogging manifesto you can believe in, vote with your mouse button. I’ll be here till May. Probably.

Aaah. That feels better already.

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