Confessions of a Political Animal

January 13, 2009

Not gerrymandering, but still a bad idea

House of CommonsThe reaction to today’s announcement from David Cameron that an incoming Conservative government would seek to slice off 10% of MPs has been understandably suspicious. After all, the Tories don’t have a great track record with electoral reform: in government the party preserved university seats and business votes and fought against universal suffrage. And the words ‘gerrymandering’ and ‘Dame Shirley Porter’ go together like the words ‘homeless’ and ‘asbestos-ridden tower block’. The Guardian’s article (linked above) is suitably sceptical, while even the Cameron-hugging Evening Standard rather damningly starts its article with the sentence

David Cameron will cut 60 Commons seats and redraw the political map to give the Tories more chance of winning elections [my italics], he revealed today. 

And that was my first reaction to the news as well, with a lot of talk about allegedly over-represented Labour heartlands in inner-cities and Wales seeing their seat numbers slashed. Obviously that would be to Labour’s disadvantage, but the reality is a lot more complex than that. (more…)

October 23, 2008

Isn’t this an untenable position?

Today’s Guardian reports (Update: and The Standard has much the same story) that the latest twist in the ‘When Toffs Fall Out’ saga involving George Osborne is that Nat Rothschild is

declaring a form of uneasy truce 

with the Shadow Chancellor. The newspaper reports that Rothschild’s friends are saying that

he did not at this stage want to escalate the public battle with his old friend. They said Rothschild had not intended to bring Osborne down by disclosing the shadow chancellor’s involvement in talks about raising money from Deripaska. Instead, the friends said, Rothschild had intended it as “slap on the wrist” because he was furious that Osborne had breached confidences in an attempt to damage Labour business secretary Lord Mandleson.

So, Osborne has been given some breathing space. But beyond the very serious questions that now hang over his actions and judgement, surely there is a very serious question of national interest (more…)

September 30, 2008

“When the facts change…

…I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?”, asked John Maynard Keynes, who if there is an afterlife, must surely be enjoying the Damascene conversion of so many unlikely suspects to his economic creed. Indeed, many seem to have gone still further, with the new ‘bash the bankers’ duo of Cameron-Osborne sounding almost Leninist with their spine-tingling threats of ‘a day of reckoning’ for the financiers and speculators.

And with the facts changing beneath their feet, Mr Osborne for one is certainly making a good appearance of changing his opinions, or at least his rhetoric:

As you yourselves know better than anyone, the success and size of your industry makes you an increasingly visible target. The GMB are trying to brand you “amoral asset-strippers”. Brendan Barber of the TUC preferred “casino capitalists”.It’s not just the unions. Alan Johnson said the GMB attack “raised some important points”. Harriet Harman wants to stop what she calls your “excessive, (more…)

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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