Talking Politics
  • 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
  • Before the guests have arrived or the lights switched on, David Cameron has already won tonight’s TV debate. Here’s why:

    It will have a minimal effect on the campaign

    Cameron got the debate he wanted, not just in terms of who was invited, but when it took place. The broadcasters blinked first. The debate takes place broadly when Downing Street wanted it: before Easter. The Tories don’t believe anyone is really paying attention to the election and won’t be until after the Easter break. The event has been tabled at a time when there is least public demand for it. It is unlikely to get the 10 million viewers won by the debates in 2010. Anything above the 3 million scored for last week’s Paxman grilling will be considered an achievement.

    The timing also gives the Tories plenty of time to subdue any unexpected effects from the debate. Say Nigel Farage turns in a barn-storming performance, or Miliband does a Cleggmania. Even in these worst-case scenarios Cameron still has five weeks to enjoy

    Read More »from Why David Cameron has already won the TV debate
  • Nigel Farage had a rough ride on the Today programme this morning. He was quoted comments he made recently about children no longer playing on the streets because of immigration.

    He told reporters: “I want to live in a community where our kids play football in the streets of an evening and live in a society that is at ease with itself. Because if you have immigration at these sort of levels integration doesn’t happen.”

    Farage tried to row back on his comments this morning, claiming that he was referring specifically to lack of integration by immigrant groups.

    "What happened with very large numbers of people coming here you get quarters and districts of towns which get taken over by one particular group…. where children don’t mix particularly," he told the BBC’s Mishal Husain.

    However, the implication of Farage’s original comments could not be clearer. The message Farage was trying to get across was that children are not playing on the streets because of immigration.

    Like his previous

    Read More »from Nigel Farage is stoking fears about immigration
  • It is now widely accepted that nothing has damaged the Labour party in Scotland more than their role in the independence referendum campaign.

    A new poll of Labour-held Scottish seats suggests that support for independence is now the overwhelming reason why former supporters now back the SNP.

    According to Comres, 56% of SNP voters in Labour-held seats say their desire for independence is one of two main reasons they are now backing the nationalists, with 35% saying that “Labour no longer represents people like me” and 30% saying “the other parties have broken promises on devolution.”

    Tellingly, almost a third (29%) say “the way Labour campaigned with the Conservatives during the referendum” has caused them to vote for the SNP. By contrast just four per cent say they are voting based on the quality of their local candidate.

    However, while the independence campaign has clearly caused a collapse in Labour’s support north of the border, the rot actually took much longer to set in.

    Long before

    Read More »from Labour are still acting like they own Scottish voters


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