After the cuts agenda

July 18, 2013

You can tell what the Tory focus groups are saying by watching the way the Tories behave. Right now, they are trying to close down the perception that the government has no ideas or purpose, other than the cuts. They know they have no agenda, once the cuts agenda is done.

This explains the flurry of rather pointless ideas announced in the last couple of weeks. Each one of them is half-baked and each one is accompanied with same the line, “Labour did nothing about this in 13 years”.

An example is Theresa May’s call for a consultation of Stop and Search, arguing that the policy tends to target young black males. This got widely reported and became a talking point on the media, even though it was completely shallow. This is not serious policy, just a suggestion that people have a chat about something. Yet every Tory politician took to the air to attack Labour for doing nothing for 13 years.

On health they talk of a £200 deposit for foreigners entering the country. Again, MPs took to the airwaves to claim that Labour did nothing for 13 years of government. There has been little response from Labour to this proposal, but Andy Burnham tells me that he can’t respond as he still doesn’t know the details. He doesn’t object to stopping abuse, but he does object to the idea that Labour had done nothing about the issue previously.
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Time for state funding of political parties

July 5, 2013

When somebody wants to end a relationship, they don’t engage in a rational conversation, they engage in rudeness, spite, and provocation. The end of the end may be a rational discussion, but the beginning of the end nearly always starts with unpleasantness. The manner of Len McClusky’s conduct in recent times has been unacceptable. This is not clumsiness, ignorance or accident. It is downright rude, and he knows it.

When the Tories have attacked Labour’s union relationship in the past, it has had little effect. Voters know Labour is fearful of indulging the unions to much, and that the unions are benevolent to ordinary people. However, the recent Tory attacks are different. Cameron, at PMQs, was not attacking Len McClusky, he was attacking Ed Miliband. His allegation was that Miliband is not in control.
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Trust will be the tst for Miliband at the general election

May 25, 2013

In 1997, Tony Blair won an election by occupying the traditional home ground of the Tories. In 2010, Gordon Brown fought off the Tories by creating a clear dividing line between us and them. Today, Ed Miliband’s strategy is less easy to define, but I contend that it involves avoiding debate with the Tories. This is not good. This can be extremely damaging.

Miliband said at conference 2012: “The Labour party lost trust on the economy. And under my leadership, we will regain that trust.” I don’t think he has increased trust in the Labour brand. In some ways it has been damaged since he made this speech.
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Is Ed Miliband Too Intense?

December 19, 2012

There was an interesting piece in The New Statesman by Rowenna Davis, that examined the DWP report on Gordon Brown’s Future Jobs Fund, whereby young unemployed people were given a guaranteed 6 months work at minimum wage. Apparently this policy had a net benefit to society, for each young person enrolled, of £7,750.

The writer contacted Ed Miliband’s office to ask for a view from the leader’s staff, only to be told that, “it still does nothing for those people who are in work on benefits.”

I see Ed Miliband as a man who has a great conviction that there is something deeply wrong and unjust about the system. He desperately wants to find the answer, but can’t quite put his finger on it. It’s as if its there, but just out of reach. It’s good to have a leader who wants to make a real difference, rather than aspiring to coast through a term in office. However, he does sometimes look like he is chasing rainbows at the expense of doing the job.
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How Cameron can beat Miliband in 2015

June 26, 2012

According to YouGov, David Cameron’s approval rating has shifted from -25 to -18 over the period of the recent tax avoidance story. This improvement flies in the face of the media view that Cameron would suffer the charge of hypocrisy for condemning Jimmy Carr, when so many Tory donors are guilty of the same.

It now seems that Cameron was in touch with the public mood. The media taunts on Cameron’s hypocrisy have served little other than to highlight the Prime Minister’s intervention, while swatting Ed Miliband into the shadows and out of public glare. The crackdown on tax avoidance is now a Tory issue to be grabbed, while Miliband has so far been uninspired on a territory that the public would expect to be owned by Labour.
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Making Immigration Policy Tangible

June 25, 2012

A couple of years ago, following a spate of gang violence, I chaired a youth crime task force, where we strove to create workable ideas for providing employment and occupation to young white and black lads who were hanging about on the street corner, getting bored and getting into trouble. We found ourselves discussing the fact that east-end families used to go fruit picking in the summer, but the tradition seems to have been lost.
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Did Cameron arrange the Cable Sting?

June 4, 2012

This is the dynamite question, the one that has the potential to bring down this government. Whose idea was it for The Telegraph to conduct a covert recording on Vince Cable in December 2012? Could it have been the Tory leadership? If this was demonstrated to be the case, then the Tories have deliberately destroyed the reputation of a Liberal Democrat colleague, and the coalition would immediately come to an end.
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