Thursday, June 21, 2007

A few quick points..

it's been a busy, long day in the boring world of real work... so just a few quick points may expand upon on the morrow, though I might get dristracted by Big Brother, kittens, or watching iPhone adverts repeatedly (I waaaant one. I waaaaaaaaant it now).

1. It seems obvious that this was a real serious offer. I don't thinkk any Prime Minister has casually offered a cabinet job to a member of an opposition party. So here ends the Brown the control freak machine politician theme. This guy is serious about reaching out.

2. I fail to see what is dirty and underhand about offering a cabinet job to a member of an opposition party. I really don't. Briefing the press that your leader is an alcoholic is dirty politics, but offering some lords ministerial jobs? I mean, this all happened on Monday, and it took the Liberals until todday to get utterly horrified? Pleeeease.

This is obviously fake outrage, designed to save Ming Campbell from a mauling by rampaging herd (collective noun time- a Bore? a Beard? an Opik?) of Lib dem MPs - so treat it with scepticism. If it took Ming Campbells sources until now to be outraged by the offers, he aint that outraged.

3. What exactly do the Lib Dems want? Yes, yes, More votes and more seats. But for the exponents of consensus politics they seem to get pretty bolshy whenever anyone actually offers them a Consensus.

In the last three months alone they have, for reasons of high principle, turned down coalitions or jobs offers with the following parties: SNP, Labour, Conservative and Plaid Cymru. That is, you may have noticed, also a list of every other mainland party represented in the House of Commons.

Will the Liberal Democrats enlighten us to the nature of the party with whom they are prepared to have a consensus with? Would they agree to enter into government with the DUP, perhaps?

4. Where's the Labour outrage? I could imagine a time when the thought of a Labour Prime Minister, A Labour prime minister, scuttling around westminster in a Government car handing out job offers right left and centre would have summoned forth a lusty bellow of rage from the swamp primeval of the Labour heartlands. Today, apart from the mildest of criticisms from John McDonnell, we heard nothing.

I'm sure that some Labour activists are horrified, but the party has shown incredibly impressive discipline so far. Maybe, just maybe we're a party that really wants to stay in power. If so, that will make me happier than anything I can imagine. Apart from the aforementioned Iphone, obviously.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fantasy cabinet!

I know, people, it's hard hacking away when you don't know quite who to suck up to.

So why not play fantasy cabinet, a cute little game created by a lobbying company called four communications..

It's nicely done, although it's missing Caroline Flint, Jim Murphy, Dawn Primarolo and Bob Ainsworth. I don't think each of these are very likely, but they're just as likely as some of the names that are on the list....

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I am a sage and a visionary.

They laughed at me, they did. Well OK, they mostly ignored me, but I was right, oh yes, oh yes.

Oh, hello. Didn't see you there.

Today, I am talking to myself about Labour and the Libdems getting together and having a big party around the cabinet table, which is the subject of todays front page splash in the Guardian and a nice piece of catchupwork by the BBCs Nick Robinson.

Well it just goes to show that you should pay attention to me, because guess what I said, (to a storm of indifference) six months ago.

"political reality is more important than my hatred of the Liberal Democrats, and
reality says it might soon be time to reach a deal with them....

"...So why shouldn’t Labour offer left of centre Lib Dems a deal ahead of the next general election?

"We could offer either a coalition, or a deal with 30 or so Liberal Democrats interested in forming a Social Democrat caucus after the next General election...

"...If the offer were made from a position of strength, it would mean an unprecedented openness- shooting for good the idea that Gordon Brown would lead a Gormenghast administration.

"The Liberal Democrats would win by ensuring a secure place in Government, by securing a more European foreign policy and wining major policy debates on multilateralism, the environment, civil liberties and yes, Electoral Reform. "

Honestly, I don't think we're close to a coalition offer, or even a couple of cabinet places. The internal politics of both parties would make that very difficult. Yet the beginnings of a rapprochemont could well be good politics for both leaders.

Gordon Brown needs to spike tory claims he's a tribal, sour faced, grumpy man who wants to steal childrens sweeties. Ming Campbell needs to be able to offer the prospect of real power to his troops. After all, they're now in opposition in Scotland and Wales and the polls don't look stunning.

So, a senior LibDem playing a key role in Government? Well, there's the example of Lord Carlile. Paddy Ashdown is still very popular. Some kind of joint policy work? Perhaps opening debates on the constitution and civil liberties that Lib Dems care passionately about?

Whatever it is, this news indicates that Gordon Brown is very much thinking of the politics of the UK in the long term, and knows that building a progresive consensus is the key to victory. He also seems to understand the importance of dealing from strength.

Although I codially loathe and despise Liberal Democrats and am delighted they feel the same, I'm glad that Gordon Brown is able to see the bigger picture. I hope the same can be said for the rest of both parties.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Cameron 2 - The soundbite strikes back

Are David Cameron's speechwriters trying to turn him into a parody of himself or a parody of Tony Blair at his most blethersome?

What a speech. What a crock. Cameron badly needs a new speechwriter.

First up, He keeps on with some horribly mixed metaphor.

"then, brick by brick, you build your house. That is the plan I laid out when I became leader of this Party and that is exactly the plan we’ve been following.

We started by preparing the ground. We stopped fooling ourselves that we’d get a different result with the same old tunes."

What is he talking about here? The barn raising scene in Seven brides for seven brothers?

Then neart the end there's this: "we can be clear about the shape of the house we’re building. It’s designed to deliver collective security, as the platform for individual opportunity." It's a safe house, with a platform for individuals to jump off? Will the platform be on the balcony?

Second, stop this horrible meaningless soundbite overload.

"this amazing country, in this amazing century"
on this amazing planet, in this amazing galaxy.

"Our Society. Your Life."
Our House. Your Wife.
Our Money. Your Life.
Our Pistol. Your Knife.

"what a life it can be if we enable people to make the most of the modern world."
Also, I believe that children are the future. Treat them well and let them lead the way.

"Your life is just that – yours, not mine."
So we can't swap?

"Stand Up, Speak Up."
If you're going to quote Marley, It's "get up, stand up". Or is Cameron copying Nike's anti racism Campaign?

Also, please stop it with the weirdly sweeping statements.

Did you know that "There are technologies that will give us the energy to power the world without wrecking the planet"?
Where can we get these then? I have literally no idea what technology this is. Cold fusion? Windmills? Nuclear power? Giant Cows producing Methane?

I also didn't know that "We have communications which overcome every obstacle not just of distance but of culture – making one world." We do? Really? So If I want to talk to a Korean but I can't speak Korean, we can chat away merrily?

Next, please don't critique your opponents for one thing, then do that self same thing a few moments later.

Here Cameron critiques Labour for policymaking in response to bad headlines:
"We’ve had ten years of short-term initiatives announced to get headlines in the papers. People have had enough of Labour’s fast-food politics: they want something more serious and more substantial. "

Yes! Enough of policy making on the fly. Get a policy right and stick with it. Whatever you do, don't make up a new policy in response to bad headlines. Like on Grammar schools. Stick with the tough policies.

What's the latest line on that by the way, Dave? We're not going to redo our policies to get a headline are we?

"More setting and streaming, with a ‘grammar stream’ in every subject in every school." .

Oh, right.

Even worse, he then does it again- within two sentences.

"Not copying New Labour, but learning from its mistakes."

Yeah! No copying New Labour!

"Not abandoning Conservative principles, but applying them in new ways to new challenges."

Yeah! Copying New Labour's "traditional values in a Modern setting"!

This speech is just blether. If this is his renewal, he's in worse trouble than I thought.

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