Confessions of a Political Animal

June 4, 2009

Dear Hazel

blearsDear Comrade,

I thought about writing this last night. I didn’t, because it’s generally a good rule that when you want to write something really angry, you should wait twenty four hours and see if you’re still just as angry then. Also, I didn’t want to leave myself open to accusations of hypocrisy by effectively acting in the same way as you have. However insignificant I am in this Party of ours (and believe me, that’s insignificant), I do not bear my responsibility towards it lightly. I did not want to publish this before polls closed.

We have never met. I am a party member of ten years standing, hardly active enough to be called an ‘activist’. I’ve delivered a few leaflets, served in a few branch positions, occasionally written vaguely supportive things on this blog. I’m extremely happy that for the past six years of my professional life I have worked alongside Labour politicians from every wing of the Party, all genuinely committed to helping the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. There are real and deep ideological debates within our Party and we debate those forcefully, but we are united in the knowledge of a common aim and a common enemy. We do not, as a rule, engage in public character assassination. However, comrade, by your despicable actions yesterday, you have – in the eyes of many members – forfeited that protection.

Those of us who sat through hustings meetings in the last deputy leadership contest (no fewer than three in my case – I know I’m sad, but I enjoy elections) will have had the pleasure of hearing you harangue the audience, and indeed several of the other candidates, on the duty of loyalty that we owe to the party and its leadership. This, indeed, was very much your USP. I did not and do not share your hardline views on cracking down on ‘dissent’ within the Party. Slavish loyalty to the Party leadership is destructive and dangerous. But in the position you held until yesterday, there was one very distinct duty of loyalty that you held. (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 8, 2008

Should Transport fear its new Adonis?

One of the little surprises hidden under the big surprise of last week’s Cabinet reshuffle was the musical chairs amongst the lower ranks in the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Children Schools & Families (DCSF). In particular, mildly controversial blogging MP Tom Harris lost the railways brief (and indeed, all ministerial position), with Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Schools Lord Adonis taking his place.

Adonis is, to put it mildly, an odd creature within the Labour Party. I should, briefly declare a prejudicial interest here – Adonis was the author of the most dry and uninspiring text book (now available for an inflation-busting £1.70+£2.75 P&P) on my A-level Government & Politics reading list and ten years on I’m still not quite ready to forgive.

Formerly of the SDP, Adonis, like many other such traitors turncoats Jenkinsites late developers late joiners of the Labour movement, he relied heavily on the patronage of Tony Blair on his climb of the greasy poll, with his ability to articulate and promote the most anti-progressive education policies (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…)

September 8, 2008

Education – first, some good news

Filed under: Education,Labour Party,Media — Political Animal @ 12:05 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Roedean School, Brighton

Roedean School, Brighton

I am working on a post about secondary school diversity (upcoming pretty map alert!) which is making for rather depressing going, so it was good to see two slightly happier pieces of news for the education sector.

Firstly, from today’s Evening Standard we learn that:

Rodean [sic!] [Now corrected by Standard] Roedean head slams Brown for ‘hostility’ to fee-paying

Not that I’d noticed. After all, no-one can accuse Brown of following the Kinnock line that under a Labour government people who wanted to buy an education would be welcome to do so, as long as it was overseas. But no, apparently Brown’s government is pursuing a dangerous socialist plan to destroy private education:

Mrs King [head of Roedean] said: “I sense that he [Gordon Brown] has got a very clear political agenda within which independent schools do not really feature … He is coming (more…)

September 5, 2008

Should Gordon take his cue from the GOP?

By which I don’t mean the Prime Minister should become a minimal-government, liberal-bashing, gun-totting, wilderness-drilling right winger.

Nor am I proposing that he adopts Senator McCain’s less than overwhelming oratory style. And I can’t see Brown quite pulling off a Palin…

However, one of the most intriguing aspects of the Republican National Convention has been the manner in which the party has positioned itself as one of opposition. An observer arriving in Minneapolis-St Paul without the most basic political knowledge would, by all accounts, had been hard pressed to know that this was the party of the current President.

In his speech to the Convention, for example, McCain laid into those currently in power:  (more…)

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