Talking Politics
  • Scene: A drawing room at Buckingham Palace. The Queen seated, quietly playing Angry Birds while Corgis gambol around her.

    UNDER-FOOTMAN OF THE SECOND EQUERRY HABERDASHIER: The Prime Minister, Your Majesty.

    ELIZABETH R: Stop talking in capital letters, Norris. You know that winds me up.

    UNDER-FOOTMAN OF THE SECOND EQUERRY HABERDASHIER: I Apologise, Ma’am. The Prime Minister Withal.

    [enter CAMERON D, a very naughty boy]

    CAMERON D: Your Majesty.

    ELIZABETH R: Come and sit down, Dave.

    CAMERON D [sitting down]: Your Majesty, pursuant to the Fixed Term Parliament Act which Your Majesty most solemnly enacted by virtue of royal assent in the year of our Thatcher 2011 – [ELIZABETH R twitches involuntarily] - Parliament is dissolved and a general election is very much on the way.

    ELIZABETH R: About bloody time.

    CAMERON D: The date of the election will be May the 7th, Your Majesty.

    ELIZABETH R: And what am I up to round about then, pray?

    CAMERON D: The election takes place on the Thursday between the

    Read More »from Here's what the Queen has to say about Cameron's hung parliament plans
  • For weeks now a row has been rumbling in Scotland about plans to introduce ID cards by the back door. Is it true? And if so, how is the SNP getting away with it?

    The SNP plan is not a direct example of ID cards, but it does appear to put in place all the infrastructure necessary to create them – from a unique number allocated to citizens at birth, to information sharing about people’s home address and use of public services or benefits, to the creation of a physical card itself. None of these things alone are necessarily problematic, but put them together and you have a plan which is almost identical to Labour’s ID cards scheme.

    The difference is that Labour’s plans were at least going to be subject to a vote in parliament. The SNP’s plans will not feature in primary legislation at all. There will be no debate on their implementation in Holyrood. Campaigners say even the consultation was deeply misleading.

    Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader. The party is pressing ahead with ID database plans.

    Read More »from How the SNP plans to secretly introduce ID cards
  • Today’s Times leads on a striking new poll showing Labour surging to a four-point lead following Ed Miliband’s appearance in his (non) debate with David Cameron this week.

    If borne out on May 7th, this poll would see Labour as the largest party in Parliament with Miliband as prime minister.

    The poll has led to panic among Tory MPs who for months have been confidently predicting they will soon “crossover” in the polls, leading to Cameron’s comfortable return to Downing Street.

    Today’s Times quotes two Tories in marginal seats, who criticise Cameron for a series of “unforced errors” during the campaign and a failure to “deliver the lift in the national polls that we need”.

    Labour meanwhile, are this morning elated that their leader appears to have given their campaign such a significant boost.

    Neither side should get too carried away however. This is just one poll and with a margin of error of +/- three per cent, the race could actually be much closer than YouGov suggest. Indeed one other

    Read More »from Tory panic as Miliband gets post-debate poll boost
  • Boarding school has scarred our leaders

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    By Nick Duffell

    Everyone knows there’s something wrong with politics in Britain. And, at long last, the psychotherapy profession has started to take note.

    Two days after the general election, a conference will propose that a psychologically wounded elite runs our society and examine the implications for therapy. It’s a first, for psychotherapy and politics haven’t been easy bedfellows. Traditionally, journals and training programmes steer clear of this mundane subject in favour of the rarefied world of unconscious processes. But psychotherapy can get bogged down in the myth of individualism, running from the political to hide in the private, morbidly afraid of generalisations, systemic perspectives, national characteristics. So this new initiative represents a great leap forward.

    The consulting room cannot continue excluding the injustice that is the backdrop to many people’s lives. Moreover, as the politics of fear, blame and denial are on the rise, our profession has something important

    Read More »from Boarding school has scarred our leaders
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    According to our sophisticated scoring system, which involves adding two numbers together, the clear winner is… Ed Miliband, actually.

    Where David Cameron was slowly strangled by Jeremy Paxman’s questioning, Miliband turned the audience against the interviewer. Where the Conservative leader bored the studio audience into submission, the Labour leader at least made things interesting. By the end of the programme, he was actually getting impassioned. Like he actually cared. And that, when up against the hyper-tense Cameron, was more than enough to secure the win.

    David Cameron’s Paxman interview: 4/10

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    Merely surviving the onslaught of incredulity from Jeremy Paxman was an achievement for the prime minister, who demonstrated that he can get through a high-pressure interview without getting flustered. Yet this was, in truth, a poor performance. “I want more people to have part-time - not to have part-time, to have full-time work” is not exactly a quote that will echo down the ages.

    He did that

    Read More »from #BattleforNumber10: The verdict
  • By James Hutchinson

    It was all going so well. A nice shot of the PM in his everyman weekend-wear cheering a local kids’ football match. A little bonhomie with the local butcher. And then a casual chat while chopping a frugal salad in a voter-pleasingly modest kitchen. Dave the PM; Dave the normal bloke you can all trust.

    James Landale’s question was hardly a curve-ball. Will you serve a third-term? Cameron is usually adept at what I call the ‘non-answer answer’: words are heard, they sound like an answer, but have nothing to do with the question whatsoever.

    So it would have been no surprise had the PM come up with this boilerplate response, straight out of the politicians’ communications handbook: “I am 100% focussed on this general election and winning a Conservative majority and what we want to do in a second term” etc etc. Landale may have tried again but the conversation would have quickly moved on.

    Why did Cameron answer at all, let alone in the negative? If he wasn’t up for

    Read More »from How was Cameron undone by another kitchen nightmare?
  • By Marina Strinkovsky

    Globally, the face of poverty is the face of a woman, and it’s usually a Black or Asian woman. This has probably been the case throughout history, but the 2008 economic crisis and the implementation of austerity policies that followed it has sent this process into overdrive. According to research conducted by the Commons Library, more than 70% of the cuts implemented in the current Parliament have come at the expense of women.

    Feminists usually write about the unequal distribution of the impacts of austerity primarily from a justice point of view: disproportionately targeting a particular group in society for austerity measures is unjust, and in addition impedes the flourishing of women’s lives. The Fawcett Society based its bid for judicial review on this premise back in 2010: that the government had a legal duty to investigate whether its policies will impact on certain populations disproportionately. As it happens the judicial review was rejected and the cuts to

    Read More »from When women pay for austerity, we all suffer
  • Yesterday’s feature, Ten bizarre Budget winners and losers, noted that the chancellor is pressing ahead with plans to give lazy councillors an effective pay bump. It’s a story that Politics.co.uk first reported on after the policy was initially unveiled in December’s autumn statement. But our reporting has not gone down well in local government circles. Here’s a full reply from Nikki Bond, a Sheffield councillor, received yesterday evening.

    By Nikki Bond

    I got home just gone 7pm tonight, which is a bit of a novelty to be honest.

    I had a meeting at the Town Hall after work that finished earlier than expected. So I’ve come home and set up my laptop to catch up on a few emails before my dinner.

    I crossed paths with a number of other councillors on my way home tonight, all on their way to different meetings.

    The councillors that I know are very hard-working. For those that work, we regularly put in 60-70 hours per week. And the majority that are retired often work the equivalent of a full-time

    Read More »from Councillors really aren’t lazy
  • Those hoping that a Labour government would look very different from the current Conservative-led government are likely to be disappointed.

    Asked by the Today programme what he would reverse from Osborne’s Budget yesterday, Ed Balls replied that there was nothing.

    "From yesterday to be honest… there’s nothing I’m saying to you from yesterday I would reverse," he said.

    How can this be? Under Osborne’s plans, there will be an additional £20 billion of cuts to welfare, tax credits and public sector pensions, with overall cuts set to be far larger than anything we have seen over the past five years.

    Yesterday the Institute of Fiscal Studies described the scale of Osborne’s planned welfare cuts as “unprecedented”.  Under Osborne, parts of our social security system will be made almost non-existent.

    Just this month, Labour were warning that this would take Britain “back to the 1930s”. Now the shadow chancellor is saying it’s all fine with him.

    So why the change? Well the first reason is that

    Read More »from Ed Balls would not reverse anything in Osborne’s budget
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    Read More »from Budget 2015 analysis: A more mature Osborne plays a more complex political game

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