Confessions of a Political Animal

December 23, 2008

European Left Watch: Looking to 2009

socialist-internationalSince the Animal started tracking the fortunes of Labour’s sister parties in August, there have been four elections in Europe, which have led to centre-left parties entering government in two new countries: as the senior coalition partner in Slovenia and as junior coalition partner in Romania. Meanwhile, the social democratic SPÖ retained the Austrian chancellorship as the senior partner in a grand coalition, whilst the centre left parties lost their position in the government of Lithuania.

What then of the twelve months to come in 2009? There are, of course, any number of imponderables, with non-fixed term parliaments potentially coming to an end, most obviously in the UK. Likewise, despite the fact that there isn’t an election scheduled in 2009, you would be unwise, given the last fortnight of anti-government rioting, to bet against an early parliamentary election taking place.

However, even if no ‘wildcat’ elections take place, there is plenty to be getting our teeth into during 2009, perhaps most notably the German (more…)

December 18, 2008

London 2010: Will national meet local?

ballot-boxWith yesterday bringing the latest in a string of polls showing Labour within striking distance of the Conservatives – well within the single figure Tory lead that I suggested would be a signifier of the game being ‘on’ for the next general election, there has been a resurgence in discussion of Gordon Brown calling a 2009 election.

At the risk of very quickly looking silly, however, I still consider 2009 to be an unlikely date for the next general election. The polling evidence to suggest that Labour would be the largest party remains too limited for Brown to call an election with any confidence – and no poll has pointed to a Labour majority. If the polls continue to to show a similar picture into the new year, with Labour sticking around 4-5 percentage points behind the Tories, then Brown may conclude that a Labour-biased hung parliament and some sort of Lib-Lab coalition or agreement is the best available outcome and take the plunge. However, once we hit January the available windows (more…)

November 7, 2008

Long to reign over US?

obama2The Animal is slowly emerging from 48 hours or so of suffering from mild sleep deprivation (“I’ll go to bed when they call Pensylvania…oh, alright, I’ll wait for Ohio…wooh! He won Ohio! I wonder if he’ll get Florida?…better just wait on California, can’t be too complacent…Well, I might as well stay up for Glenrothes, really…). Firstly, a few observations on the really key issues of this election:

  • Why doesn’t the defeated VP nominee have to make a concession speech? That would have been fun, doggone it. Would she even have accepted that they’d lost? (In fact, the New York Times says that she wanted to make a speech, but McCain’s aides refused to let her do so)
  • Not often I agree with the Evening Standard, but when your all-night election show host sounds like they should have been in bed with cocoa by nine, it probably really is time to draw the curtain on a glittering career of election night presenting before it turns really embarrassing. Oh, and note to Mr Dimbleby, the ‘N’ in ‘N Hampshire’ is for ‘New’, not ‘North’, however many times you say it.
  • I think anyone who watched the BBC’s coverage must have shared my thought of “whatever made John Bolton choose diplomacy as a career path?” I’ve always thought it was generally accepted that tact, humility and an ability to accept others’ cultural norms as being key parts of a successful diplomat’s baggage. Mr Bolton appeared to have forgotten to pack them.

Anyway, a fun night and a great result all round – and to think I could make common cause with Boris Johnson in celebrating the end, if not in the justification for the end. And I hereby promise not to (more…)

October 31, 2008

Short hiatus and some updates

I am away this weekend (the picture should be a clue as to where) and today looks busy, so probably no posting this side of Monday. Don’t cry too much, please.

However, I thought it might be worth providing some updates on a few of my earlier posts, just so they don’t feel forgotten (and so in some cases the Animal can say “told you so”).

October 28th Is the Game Afoot? The Animal speculated that a prolonged period of single figure Conservative poll leads over the next couple of months would suggest that the narrative about the next election would change, with a hung parliament maybe becoming a stronger possibility than a stonking Tory majority. We’re a long way off a prolonged period yet, and the latest Yougov poll does show Labour moving out a smidgin, but the Tory lead remains (just) within the psychologically important single figure zone. 

October 27th European Left Watch: Out of Office in Lithuania The Animal reported on the defeat for the parties that formed the Social Democrat-led government in Lithuania by a mixture of (more…)

October 28, 2008

Is the game afoot?

One of the essay titles that I can choose to write 3,000 words about for my masters module on British Politics is ‘Can Labour win the next general election?’. Given that the questions were set some months ago, I’m guessing that they were expecting me to address the likelihood given a Conservative opinion poll lead of 20% plus. But now, at least temporarily, the rules of the political game have changed with those of the economic game. Keynsian economics is back from the dead and dead political ducks might just be learning to fly again.

So far in October, three opinion polls from two different organisations have shown Labour’s poll deficit to be in high single figures (either 8 or 9%). With the exception of one 9% lead in a September poll, this is the first time since April that the deficit has been that low, with no fewer than 20 polls having shown a Conservative lead of 20% or greater during that period. Throughout those past few months it was widely, and understandably, assumed that a Conservative majority in the Commons was now a (more…)

October 20, 2008

And they say there’s no need for feminism any more…

London Lite 20/10/08

In case you can’t read it due to the appalling quality of this scan, the question that London Lite (the Evening Standard’s freesheet) asked its readers is: ‘Would a woman chief be good for the Met?’.

OK, I know its a voodoo poll based on a self-selecting sample, but the result is more than a little shocking.

And tomorrow’s question: ‘Is it time for a cap on migration?’ Remind me not to read the results of that for the sake of my blood pressure.

September 27, 2008

Well, if you can’t convince yourselves…

Trust him to manage the economy? Lib Dems don't.A quick post, because I’m off to eat cheese today and really don’t want to do too much cheesy politics.

A bit of a splash earlier from the story arising from a BBC Daily Politics commissioned ComRes poll which showed the Labour team of Brown/Darling retaking the lead over the Cameron/Osbourne combo in terms of who is trusted most to manage the economy.

This result should hardly come as a surprise, given the combination of a Labour conference bounce, some reasonably competent economic pronouncements and policies from the government over the past few weeks and the total radio silence from Osborne as the global economy crashes and burns. I guess when your entire economic worldview is being destroyed before your eyes, silence must seem like the best option – after all, I doubt anyone told Mr Osborne as he learnt his political trade at Douglas Hogg’s knee, that the day would come when the only stimulus that would pull the markets upwards would be massive state interventions in the financial and banking sectors.

But, for me, the really interesting points lie in the full breakdown of the Daily Politics poll results, available here. The regional breakdowns on page 1 show that the Tory team remains ahead of Labour (more…)

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