Talking Politics
  • Ed Miliband’s relationship with the press started badly and has got progressively worse.

    His selection as Labour leader ran counter to the predictions of most newspapers, most of which had strongly backed his brother.

    His subsequent attack on News International over phone hacking, plus his strong support for the Leveson proposals, means that he now enters the short campaign facing an overwhelmingly hostile media.

    Be it the Daily Mail attacking his love life, or the Sun making nob-jokes about his election debate performance, Miliband has been attacked from all sides. This hostility has not just come from the traditionally Tory-supporting press either. When leadership speculation mounted against him towards the end of last year, even normally Labour-supporting publications came out against him.

    Yet somehow he has survived and current polls suggest that Miliband remains likely to be the next prime minister either as leader of the largest party or with the support of others.

    If this happens

    Read More »from Is Ed Miliband plotting his revenge on the press?
  • As campaigning steps up another gear, voters are starting to come across election leaflets – and using social media to mock them.Even the slightest slip-up attracts derision. And some candidates don’t appreciate it when their leaflets start attracting attention for the wrong reasons.

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    If a little typo like that one gets a leaflet on TV, a major howler like this from Labour couldn’t possibly hope to escape criticism.

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    Sometimes errors result in rather embarrassing climbdowns…

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    … and sometimes candidates resort to slightly odd methods to correct them.

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    But leaflets don’t need to contain errors to get noticed. Simply featuring someone who’s very much not on your side can be a little unfortunate.

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    There’s a bit of a theme in this election of candidates studiously failing to publicise who their leader is. Especially if that leader is Nick Clegg.

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    Dan Rogerson, another Lib Dem incumbent, goes even further in his literature by barely mentioning his party:

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    … And it’s not just the Lib Dems who are at

    Read More »from The most embarrassing election leaflets of 2015
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    The steady-as-she-goes election campaign of Lynton Crosby looks like it may be beginning to fall apart.

    The first hint came on Wednesday, when Labour’s out-the-blue non-dom announcement rocked the Tories. Those party spokespeople unfortunate enough to be scheduled for media appearances that day struggled to answer questions on it. Party HQ was clearly wrong-footed. It couldn’t make up its mind to support or oppose it. Eventually it settled on promoting a video of Ed Balls – never a useful individual, no matter what the scenario – once saying it would cost the UK money, but their decision to snip off the end of the video, where he struck a rather different note, muddied the water still further. They got lost in process, when what they needed was message clarity.

    The Labour policy demanded a clear response so the Tories wouldn’t get trapped where the opposition wanted them – as the party of the rich. They failed to find it.

    The next day, defence secretary Michael Fallon wrote a seriously

    Read More »from Are the wheels coming off the Tory campaign?
  • It is a sign of just how badly the Conservative election campaign is going, that they’ve today resorted to claiming Labour will do a deal with the SNP to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system.

    Tory defence secretary Michael Fallontoday “challenges” Miliband to rule out any such plan.

    This is like challenging water to stay wet. Labour both in Scotland and nationally have repeatedly committed to fully replacing Trident. They have also repeatedly ruled out any deal with the SNP to do otherwise.

    The SNP meanwhile have said that while they will always vote against replacing Trident, it would not be an issue that would cause them to bring down a Labour government.

    The Tory claim is essentially made up. The simple fact is that whoever forms the next government will replace Trident. Even if the SNP and others vote against its renewal, Labour and the Tories will easily be able to pass a vote for a like-for-like replacement.

    But the fact that the Conservatives have chosen Trident as their

    Read More »from Trident intervention shows the Tories are in real trouble
  • Jim Murphy’s performance in the Scottish leaders’ debate last night was confident, polished and persuasive. It was also hugely damaging to Labour’s chances of forming the next government.

    Why is this? Well, as things stand, Labour are highly unlikely to win an overall majority at the election. According to most forecasts it is also likely that the Tories will be the largest party in a hung parliament.

    If this turns out to be the case then you might expect Ed Miliband to have no chance of becoming prime minister. You would be wrong. In a parliamentary system, it is not the party which has the largest number of seats, but the party which is most able to pass a majority in that parliament, which gets to govern.

    If current polls are correct, that party is Labour. The Conservatives know this, which is why they have spent the past few months trying to delegitimise the idea of any kind of post-election arrangement between Labour and the SNP.

    Last night, Jim Murphy played right into their hands.

    Read More »from Scottish leaders' debate: Jim Murphy plays into the Tories’ hands
  • Miliband’s announcement today of an end to non-dom status in Britain is the first big unpredictable moment in the election. It’ll prove popular with voters, has already wrong-footed the Tories and Lib Dems, and provides a substantial, satisfying policy for journalists and experts to get their teeth into. Thank God the endless trench warfare of ‘trust on the NHS’ vs 'trust on the economy’ is over, if only for a couple of days.

    But just as important as the policy itself is the language the Labour leader will use to  promote it in his speech in Warwick today. He lays out his principles clearly and compellingly, saying “anyone permanently resident in the UK will pay tax in the same way”. He dismisses the questionable financial advantages of turning Britain into an offshore tax haven. And he attacks his critics for their constant insistence that any interference with the wealthy - be it the minimum wage or regulations on banks - will lead to capital flight, saying: “Guess what? They’re still

    Read More »from Non-doms: Miliband has found his voice
  • By Steve Clapperton

    Since the start of the general election campaign, media-types and commentators have been quick to brand 2015 the year of the ‘social media election’, perhaps hoping that the label will be more accurate than when it was applied in 2010. However, as five years ago, they will be wrong.

    Recent years have seen more and more media content driven by social media comment and this has extended to politics. But far too many political experts seem to dramatically over-emphasise the impact that social media actually has on election campaigns and voting behaviour.

    Take the leaders’ debate last week. Pollsters produced a number of post-debate findings which gave different leaders the crown of victor. But experts tracking comment and reaction on social media saw the SNP as the clear winner. Today a number of people have been trying to square the two results, with little success.

    The SNP outperforming on social media isn’t new. During the independence referendum last year, research

    Read More »from This isn't a social media election and the next one won’t be either
  • Nick Clegg hasn’t looked this happy in years. Photos show him relaxed and content, wearing the standard-issue politician’s navy blue jumper, laughing with the wife. He seems as if he might actually be enjoying himself.

    None of it makes sense. Opinion polls show Liberal Democrats support has fallen about as far as it can go. Clegg himself looks like he might be about to lose his Sheffield Hallam seat. The party’s Scottish seats – home to three current Cabinet ministers – are likely to fall to the SNP tide. In college towns and city centres, where they’ve traditionally won by veering to the left of Labour, they are on course to get hammered. In rural and suburban Lib Dem-Tory marginals, things are not going much better. Clegg should have the face he wore during the first year of the coalition: haunted, bitter and full of foreboding.

    But he doesn’t. He seems happy. Why is that?

    Part of Clegg’s relaxation stems from the fact that he simply doesn’t matter in this election. He’s been

    Read More »from Whisper it: Nick Clegg is actually having a pretty good election
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    By Richard Heller

    Some weeks ago I asked the leaders of all the political parties in Thursday’s debate to keep religion out of the general election.

    I invited them first to agree with the mild and uncontentious observation that religious politics are a scourge to any nation, and then to make three simple and minimal pledges for their parties, both at national and local level. The first was not to solicit financial or electoral support on religious grounds. The second was not to give any form of special access to policy-making or campaigning to any faith group. The third was to repudiate immediately and publicly any person or organisation who solicits support for it on any religious basis.

    None has sent any kind of reply. This may simply reflect the routine discourtesy of large organisations today in dealing with correspondence. Ironically, the only organisation I know with a high standard of replies is the Church of England.

    However, there may be a more sinister reason for the silence of

    Read More »from Party leaders must commit to keeping religion out of the election
  • Time to work together

    By Katie Ghose

    The result of the 2010 election was meant to be an anomaly. Britain, it was said, could not adapt to hung parliaments or coalition government and would soon revert to type. But as we near May, it looks like we’d better start getting used to a different way of doing politics.

    Our party system is fragmenting. Labour and the Conservatives look set to get less than 70% of the vote this May, a figure which has been declining at every election since 1992. It’s a story that mirrors Canada, where three of last four elections have produced minority governments under First Past the Post.

    So whoever leads the next government this May will almost certainly have to work with other parties – whether that’s the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, UKIP, the DUP or others. But the two big parties, clinging to the increasingly outdated notion of single-party government, seem reluctant to admit that fact.

    A new report from the Electoral Reform Society, Working Together, shows how that reluctance is

    Read More »from Time to work together

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