Archive for avril, 2010

Leaders`Debate 29 April

Vendredi, avril 30th, 2010

Despite the economy being given advanced billing as the main topic of the third and final TV debate, unsurprisingly not one of the three leaders was prepared to specify in any detail the real extent of spending cuts and tax rises required whichever party might be in power after 6th May. However, David Cameron with his message of change after 13 years of disastrous Labour government and the need to differentiate between the economy and `Big State’ Labour, maintained the Conservatives` lead over a prime minister trapped by his economic record and forced to acknowledge the difficult trade-offs required in office, such practical aspects not so popular with viewers. Nick Clegg with his more audience appealing `If we do things differently, we can build a better, fairer Britain’ also continued to boost the Liberal Democrats in the polls.
Whichever party holds the majority of seats after the election will need a strong mandate to implement the measures required to restore the economy; even a Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition resulting from an otherwise hung parliament is then likely to have the added support from the Country of a clear majority of actual votes cast.

Leaders`Debate 22 April

Lundi, avril 26th, 2010

Although no clear leader emerged from the second debate, David Cameron recovered his front running position from Nick Clegg and was much more aggressive e.g. in angrily challenging Gordon Brown for his `lies’ when referring to Conservative leaflets as proposing cuts to pensioner benefits. He appeared more relaxed, looking into the camera when addressing the wider audience of viewers and performing as a potential prime minister.
Nick Clegg, however, even without the surprise element of last time, was still supporting the Liberal Democrat resurgence in the polls despite weaknesses in his energy policy over the use of nuclear power, on immigration when offering an effective amnesty for illegal immigrants and suffering a major put down by Gordon Brown telling him to `Get real, Nick’ over national security and the Trident missile programme. He also badly handled a question about his own expenses, dismissing it as `nonsense’ rather than answering it and David Cameron put him on the spot over his holier-than-thou performance in the last debate.
Gordon Brown improved as the debate went on and had his best moment in expressing his shame over the expenses scandal. He also asserted that the withdrawing of £6 billion from the economy (as identified by the Conservatives as unnecessary waste in public spending and better employed to avoid a jobs-threatening rise in National Insurance contributions) would harm the recovery with no convincing counter argument from David Cameron, the latter perhaps waiting for the final debate when the main subject will be the economy. In his closing statement Gordon Brown neatly targeted both his opponents in saying `David, you are a risk to the economy and would leave us isolated in Europe; Nick, you are a risk to our security and would leave us weak’.
David Cameron in his own closing remarks was relatively less impressive than earlier in the debate in speaking more generally about the need for new leadership and a clean break after the past 13 years of Labour government and inviting everyone to build together `The Big Society’, the first time this state-limiting policy of the Conservatives had been specifically mentioned by name during the entire debate. Perhaps the `Big Society’ will be returned to in the final debate on the economy to give more practical examples and argue that there are limits to what the State can do given the budget deficit.
As the final speaker, Nick Clegg focussed more on values in emphasising doing things differently, standing up for what `we’ believe in, resisting those against change and harvesting the younger vote with his `something exciting is happening’.

Policies not Personalities.

Lundi, avril 19th, 2010

So there it is – Vote Clegg Get Brown! – as far as the Conservatives are concerned, but the bounce in the opinion polls of the Liberal Democrat leader who pushed his way past a perhaps too correct David Cameron for attention, has certainly injected more life into the run-up to the election.
The Conservatives possibly too busy fighting Labour over so-called phoney, efficiency savings and neglecting the Liberal Democrats, have still to consolidate their major ideologically, different policies in the minds of the electorate and particularly The Big Society which has yet to resonate with voters. However, with no real policy details emerging from any of the parties, campaigning has seemingly been reduced to a choice between simple slogans and personalities. Here Nick Clegg unlike the Prime Minister is seen as too similar in background and experience to David Cameron to attack. From the results of the first debate he also appears to appeal more to the younger or first time voter used to interactive, TV reality shows and exchanging instantly formed opinions with their peers via Face book and Twitter.
The next debate between the main party leaders, therefore, which is on foreign affairs, needs to develop somewhat more substance and difference between actual policies and not personalities. Here the Liberal Democrat vote against the Iraq war could stand them in good stead but their policy for further integration (when the time is right) within a European Union, Super State might not play so well with the British public in general.

Leaders`Debate 15 April

Vendredi, avril 16th, 2010

The general consensus following the 15th April debate between the three main party leaders is that Nick Clegg of the smaller Liberal-Democrats « won » round 1, benefiting as a relatively unknown, young, different and articulate outsider, from an overall disillusionment with politicians e.g. over the expenses scandal which impacted more Labour and the Conservatives, as represented on the night by the more familiar faces of Gordon Brown & David Cameron. Still, it is worth remembering that this is how David Cameron was first perceived after he emerged as the winner in the Conservative party leadership contest.
Gordon Brown came over as solid, talking numbers and experience and appealing to Labour voters. He at least tried to inject some humorous sound-bites into the proceedings (in the manner of Vince Cable in the previous debate) e.g. in referring to the airbrushing out of cuts, by the Conservatives as they had airbrushed their poster image of David Cameron, but this tended to fall flat with a hand-picked, studio audience not sure how to react given the multiple rules of the debate.
David Cameron was forced on the defensive in suffering from the double-edged sword of high expectations as the most polished performer on his feet but placed in the middle and attacked from both sides almost as the incumbent and certainly implicitly recognised by both the other parties as very much the front runner, with his the race to lose. Seemingly over-rehearsed, not his normal self and without the track record of Gordon Brown, he relied too much on quoting what he’d heard from various members of the public about their matters of concern. According to some reports, he also apparently erred at the end in talking about his own values which might appeal to Americans but not to a British audience more concerned about their own values.
This is only the first debate of three but if it signifies a small swing to the Liberal-Democrats it could hurt the Conservatives e.g. in the marginal seats they need to win in the south west of England. However, Labour should beware of encouraging too much of a swing in the hopes of a hung-parliament (Peter Mandelson was mentioned going around saying how well he thought Nick Clegg had performed!) since it could also impact their own vote in larger cities in the north of England such as Liverpool and Newcastle where the Liberal-Democrats have done well in local elections. Instead of the use of tactical voting to keep out the Conservatives, Liberal-Democrats could see their own candidate in with a chance and be tempted to vote for their own party instead of a negative vote for Labour.

Big Society

Vendredi, avril 9th, 2010

The Big Society is what David Cameron calls the Conservative party initiative to roll back the centralised, rule-bound, controlling state and the associated culture of the disempowered individual, which has developed under Big Government Labour.
According to him, people deserve to be trusted so that wherever possible power and responsibility should be transferred back from the state to neighbourhoods and local social enterprises. Involving local charities and communities in the provision of public services and solving social problems is expected to be not only cheaper but also more effective than the current remote, top-down approach. Local people best placed to understand their own problems could, therefore, be given new powers to deal with their own issues such as the operation of shops, libraries and post offices, planning and housing development, new schools and local crime reduction. A new bank could fund innovative social enterprises whilst the government would train the many community organisers required to establish neighbourhood groups, galvanise communities and fund raise.
Experience from such social enterprises shows that people want responsibility and more control over their lives and also unfortunately that some groups fail due to incompetence and fraud. There again, mismanagement and waste also occurs when money is spent centrally making a new approach to transforming local, public services worth the risk.
However, when asked, in a survey last year by the TUC, whether responsibility for solving economic and social problems should lie mainly with government or with people, 62% of the important middle income segment (who are natural swing voters between small or big government) said government. Margaret Thatcher had a rapport with these voters for whom tax rises remain unpopular as well as handouts for those regarded as undeserving, but they also now gain more from the welfare state through child benefit and new tax credits.