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Showing posts from May, 2010

The fastest rebrand in history

‘The Coalition’, as the Con-Dem leadership now proudly calls itself, has got busy. Nick and Dave have produced a logo of sorts and a new corporate colour – a rather insipid green – which adorned the policy document they released yesterday. I guess this is what children get when they mix pale blue with orange on the painting table.

The Oxbridge identikits didn’t bother employing a big branding consultancy for their change of identity, because they didn’t really want to tell anyone else it was happening. They believe in delivering all their proposals as a fait accompli. After all, a lot of their pronouncements don’t stand a moment’s scrutiny. The shortest of breathing spaces and the party activists on one side or the other will gather troops in revolt against the leaders of this ludicrous coup d’état. So, like magicians, Nick and Dave swirl the cups around on the table hoping that no one can spot their sleight of hand. And hey presto! Another empty policy initiative is unveiled.

The be…

Democracy is being poisoned and we may have to wait for the antidote

The latest polling shows that Nick Clegg and David Cameron are enjoying a honeymoon period. There’s been a lot of commentary about their excruciating ‘civil partnership’ ceremony which took place earlier in the week. In reality, the analogy is grossly insulting to any couple in a genuine, long-term relationship, as it’s clear that Nick and Dave picked each other up casually on the rebound. It’s not so much a marriage. More a status change on Facebook from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’. I have no doubt whatsoever that the coalition will end with an extremely messy divorce. The question is not if it will fall apart, but when.

Dave and Nick (described lovingly as Dick in one of the Sunday papers) are conducting their love affair in the centre ground of British politics and have much in common with one another – not least their elitist background, which includes leading public schools and Oxbridge. It’s actually not surprising that they are able to deal with one another, as they are…

Two-timing Clegg is out of his depth

Nick Clegg, when probed by Piers Morgan, went on record as saying that he'd jumped into bed with 'no more than' 30 women over the years. No doubt a greater number were interested, but the Liberal Democrat leader played hard to get.

I'm sure that Cleggy would never have had more than one girl on the go at once. And if I'm right, that will have left him woefully unprepared for the world of bluff and double bluff that he's entered after the general election.

There seems little doubt that the so-called 'Con-Dem' talks were genuinely proceeding pretty well until yesterday morning. The Lib Dem leadership has few principles and would gladly jettison its remaining ones for a sniff of government. The problem is that many of the party's backbench MPs and activists live in the naive expectation that Clegg will use this historic moment as an opportunity to screw meaningful concessions from the Tories on electoral reform. These people will have forty fits if thei…

The best options for Labour

Sometimes in politics, the worst option in the short term proves to be the best in the long run. Gordon Brown is an intelligent man and he must be pondering this point right now.

Let's say that David Cameron and Nick Clegg fail to reach an agreement. The main obstacles will be opposition from within their respective parties, rather than any lack of pragmatism on the part of the leaders. It's possible something temporary may be cobbled together, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Gordon Brown's offer to Clegg is still on the table. An immediate referendum on PR in exchange for support in Parliament. Sounds good in theory and it could lead to the 'progressive' anti-Tory coalition that many on the centre-left have championed for generations. But there is a fundamental problem which goes way beyond the inadequate arithmetic of the Lib-Lab deal in Parliament.

An attempt by the incumbent Prime Minister to remain in power is not an option, because there is just as much an ant…

The cold light of day

After some sleep, a beef sandwich and some coffee, I'm now turning my mind back to the general election.

Looking at the coverage on the BBC this morning, I think it's very clear that the door is open to a Conservative-Lib Dem agreement of some sort. Clegg is not prepared to prop up Gordon Brown, recognising that Labour has been rejected and that such an arrangement would be unacceptable to the public. This may be bloody-mindedness on Clegg's part, as Brown is far more likely to give him the kind of concessions he wants, but the Lib Dem leader probably knows that he can't keep the dour Scotsman in power. And it's very difficult to tell the public that a new Labour leader - David Milliband, perhaps - has emerged in a puff of smoke. The cerebral Foreign Secretary didn't take part in the three-way presidential debates.

There are two major obstacles to the Conservative-Lib Dem scenario and neither of them is David Cameron. The first is constitutional. In theory, Gordo…

The Lib Dems may still hold the key

Although it seems as if the Lib Dems haven't done as well as we might expect in this election, they still may play a critical part in deciding whether David Cameron is able to command an overall majority. It seems as if the Tories are achieving some very strong swings against Labour in the north-east of England and London. They are struggling, however, against the Liberal Democrats in the south-west. Every target seat they fail to take from the Liberals needs to be replaced by a Labour seat - perhaps one that they had less expectation of winning originally.

My feeling at this stage in the evening - about 1.45 am - is still that we shall see a small overall Tory majority. But things are complicated.

It ain't over until we see the fat lady

What can we conclude so far? The BBC exit poll points to a hung parliament, but I have a strong hunch the Tories may end up doing better than the instant predictions. The swings against Labour in safe seats in the north-east are very striking - particularly given David Cameron's recent pronouncements about how public money is likely to be drained from this part of the world.

Another early story is the fact that significant numbers of people have been denied the right to vote in Sheffield, Manchester and East London. This situation has led to a public protest in Hackney, with disenfranchised members of the public holding a spontaneous sit-in. Without a doubt, some of the results may be open to legal challenge and this could prove significant if the final number of seats is finely balanced.

We have a long night ahead of us