Talking Politics
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    Labour’s masterplan to win the 2015 general election through chit-chat rather than cash is riddled with holes – and allows the Conservatives buy their way back into power.

    Ed Miliband’s campaign launch in Salford today contains a bold ambition: a call on his party’s supporters to double the number of conversations they hold with voters in the run-up to polling day on May 7th.

    Four million individual chinwags is a lot, but Labour thinks they can make a real difference. In 2010, constituencies where the party contacted 30% of voters saw an improvement in Labour’s share of the vote of over five per cent. That might not sound like much but it could be enough to take Labour over the line in the most critical marginals.

    Much of the work has already been done, too. Labour was averaging 21% of voters in the autumn and was pushing to reach an average of 25% by the new year. It has 17 weeks to get that proportion up to 30% and make the difference.

    As Douglas Alexander, Labour’s general election

    Read More »from The Tories are buying the 2015 general election - and Labour can't compete
  • By Felicity Hannah

    It started with a single caravan parked on a verge near our house and was quickly followed by a Facebook message from the leader of our residents’ association.

    "Looks like a gypsy has moved in. Clear your cars tonight and lock all sheds/doors/garages," it read.

    I replied politely, explaining that I wasn’t happy with the stereotypes being used.

    "Well, what should we call them then?" came the reply. It was shocking to realise that this person didn’t understand I was objecting to the idea that all travellers and gypsies were thieves. They saw that as such a universal truth that they assumed I must have been merely objecting to the term ‘gypsy’.

    What followed was a typical outpouring of name-calling and nimbyism. It was even implied that I was an outsider myself, who had joined the residents’ Facebook group just to cause trouble. The language was strongly reminiscent of the terms used against black and Irish communities thirty years ago.

    Later that evening one of my

    Read More »from Why is it still socially acceptable to persecute travellers?
  • Political parties normally benefit from a “honeymoon effect” after selecting a new leader.

    A fresh face and lots of free publicity usually boosts their standing, even if temporarily. However, a new poll out today suggests that Scottish Labour’s selection of Jim Murphy may actually have worsened the party’s chances north of the border.

    The Survation poll for the Daily Record found that the SNP have actually extended their lead over Labour, since Murphy’s selection. According to the poll, the SNP’s lead at the next general election has risen from 22 points last month to 24 points now. Forty-eight per cent of Scots now plan to vote for the SNP in May and just 24% plan to vote for Labour.

    If reflected at the general election, this poll suggests Labour would face losing all but a handful of their seats in Scotland as well as their chances of winning an overall majority across the country.

    Labour had hoped that Murphy would dramatically turn around their chances in Scotland.

    However, today’s

    Read More »from Jim Murphy failing to turn around Scottish Labour's chances
  • The Labour party are losing votes to the Greens and they don’t seem to know what to do about it.

    Until now, Ed Miliband’s hopes of winning the next election relied on holding onto a coalition of core Labour supporters, former Lib Dems and previously disaffected Labour sympathisers.

    However recent polls have shown this coalition is splintering, with left-wing voters increasingly switching their allegiance to the Greens instead. Realising the threat this poses, Miliband tasked shadow Justice secretary Sadiq Khan with the job of winning them back.

    Khan and his anti-Green strategy unit immediately set out their approach in a series of articles and blog posts earlier this year. Their approach was essentially a “good cop, bad cop” strategy. The good cop strategy was to convince Green voters that Labour had moved to the left since 2010. The bad cop strategy was to attack what they described as the Green’s “disastrous” record in Brighton.

    Neither strategy appears to be working.

    Since Khan

    Read More »from Labour are losing votes to the Greens and they don't know why
  • Here's the secret to Nigel Farage's appeal


    By Richard Newman

    Despite heavy criticism of Ukip and its leader, Nigel Farage seems to be gaining in both momentum and popularity. So what is it that makes him appealing? To many he may seem repellent in his beliefs and his manner, but others are drawn to him. If you put politics to one side and simply analyse his communication style, you can begin to understand why.

    We often tell clients that there are very few ‘rights and wrongs’ in the way you use your body language and voice. In one situation your style may be useful, in another it may work against you. If you want to be more effective as a communicator the main target you need to focus on is how you want people to feel. You can then aim all or your verbal, physical and vocal choices towards this achieving this goal. This will allow you to be appear more compelling.

    I am sure you will have heard of Albert Mehrabian’s study. It is one of the most misquoted and misunderstood studies of our time. In it, the evidence showed that 93%

    Read More »from Here's the secret to Nigel Farage's appeal
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    Bitterly partisan and failing to display any signs of agreement, MPs’ failure to rise to the occasion on English votes for English laws shows they are beyond redemption.

    What made the response to William Hague’s statement on English devolution yesterday so depressing is that the Commons just carried on with business as usual.

    The frontbenchers exchanged barbs over the relative failures in government of the coalition and of New Labour. The backbenchers heckled about the irrelevant Barnett formula and a dozen of their own half-developed ideas. They cancelled each other out, leaving an absence of anything meaningful.

    They have also combined together to collectively break a big pledge from the prime minister.

    Speaking in the early morning of September 19th, soon after the ‘No’ result was confirmed, David Cameron promised to English voters that his government would pursue an answer to the West Lothian Question "in tandem" with the Scottish devolution timetable. It was a pledge every bit as

    Read More »from English votes for English laws? No chance
  • By Alastair Sloan

    The growing row over British security services’ possible involvement in the CIA torture programme is starting to fill a few column inches. Slowly but surely, parliamentarians are feeling the pressure to investigate it fully.

    What’s surprising is that it’s this story which has put the security services in the papers. It’s a speck on the horizon compared to what MI6 are alleged to have been up to in 2014. There have been several scandals which have barely been explored by the British media. It raises the question - are our spooks’ transgressions only newsworthy when editors can’t help but cover them?

    Al Jazeera’s investigative unit broadcastan extraordinary investigation last week speaking to several Kenyan policemen involved in an extra-judicial killing programme that has seen hundreds of Muslim leaders executed in the streets, without trial. MI6 is allegedly providing intelligence leads, training and funding, according to documents acquired by Al Jazeera. One officer,

    Read More »from The allegations against MI6 are serious – so why aren't they front page news?
  • If election fever really is upon us - and Ed Miliband’s speech on immigration and Cameron’s on the economy suggests it is - then it’s unsurprising the press is swapping judgement for partisanship.

    The Telegraph has been handed an internal Labour document on how to counter the Ukip threat. Most media outlets decided to lead with the line that candidates “move the conversation on” once it reaches immigration. The leak of the document is timed to maximise the damage to Miliband, coming just as he unveils the party’s second election pledge on immigration.

    It sounds bad. It sounds like the kind of thing people suspect Labour candidates want to do on the doorstep when immigration is raised. But if you actually read the passage in question it contains nothing a sensible person would not have suggested when tasked with advising the party’s candidates on the election trail.

    This is what the document says:

    "Immigration is a complex issue, on which the Labour party has a series of

    Read More »from The attack on Labour's Ukip leaflet is cynical nonsense
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    So this is what happens when ultra-liberal pro-porn protesters demonstrate against censorship by sitting on each others’ faces.

    It was, without doubt, one of the oddest political protests ever. There was something about this combination of outlandish sexuality with free speech rhetoric that was utterly unpredictable. The mind boggled. Reading on, you should be warned, is only going to make the mind-boggling worse.

    The moment of truth came after the speeches when, in planners’ excited minds, a man from the Guinness Book of World Records would stand with a clipboard counting the unprecedented hundreds of couples engaged in face-sitting. The reality was slightly more hesitant. “Who wants to donate their face?” one girl asked near me. “I’ll donate my face,” a young-looking chap said meekly from the throng nearby. Both looked pleased. They were complete strangers but, somehow, circumstances had collided to create a situation where he was about to lie down on the ground and be sat on by her.

    Read More »from Porn protest: It's politics, but not as we know it
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    By Laura Janes

    The high court did not need to do anything fancy to find that restricting books for prisoners is unlawful.

    Nine months of campaigning by the Howard League, together with English PEN and numerous authors, culminated in a fine legal judgment last Friday.  The case was brought by fearless public law lawyer, Sam Genen, with barristers Annabel Lee, Victoria Butler-Cole and Jenny Richards.

    Mr Justice Collins was asked to rule on whether the restriction on books to prisoners was lawful.  He was provided with a web of complex legal arguments based on human rights and the Equality Act 2010.  In the end, he decided the restriction was unlawful quite simply because the policy’s effect was contrary to what the justice secretary said he intended. 

    Our law, built up case by case over time, says that a policy will be unlawful if its effect is contrary to the expressed intention and objectives that it was supposed to promote.

    In the case of books for prisoners, the secretary of state

    Read More »from Judicial review stopped the prison book ban – but it could soon be lost forever


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