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04.05.15

Five questions for general election week 2015

I can barely remember before we were looking beyond 7 May 2015 and soon this fateful date will be pasted. Five questions for this precipice:

Will a “Sheffield rally moment” happen?

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27.04.15

How Miliband seals the deal

“The Labour leader’s main problem,” wrote Deborah Orr last November, “is that the dialogue he’s attempting to have with the nation is just too negative”. At the Labour spring rally, I worried that this weakness persisted. But tell that to the hen parties of Chester. Or the Milifans. Or even Peter Mandelson.

There is a positivity about Miliband, which the public have not previously known. But the Labour Party has. When, for example, in summer 2010, he drew the biggest crowd to a Labour meeting in Carlisle since the days of Harold Wilson.

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21.04.15

The entwined challenges that the SNP and UKIP may pose PM Miliband

Scotland is diminished inside the UK, argues Alex Salmond. The UK is diminished inside the EU, says Nigel Farage. Scotland did not vote for David Cameron, insists Salmond. The UK didn’t vote for Jean-Claude Juncker, maintains Farage. It would be “nae bother” for Scotland to break up the UK, asserts Salmond. It would be “no problem” for the UK to leave the UK, claims Farage.

Salmond briefly seemed a broken man after the defeat of Yes last September. Having promised to resign the leadership of UKIP if he doesn’t win South Thanet, defeat for Farage on 7 May would also leave him broken. But Salmond has been reborn, as support for Yes has wholly transferred to the SNP. Farage might be reborn too.

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13.04.15

This curious Tory campaign is coming to us from another country

Famously, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. In that country, they have naked women on Page 3 of The Sun. That publication peddles lies about football fans crushed on the terraces of Hillsborough. And claims to be able to determine the outcome of general elections.

That which largely went unquestioned in 1992 would not do so in 2015. The Sun has changed to survive in a changed country. In such a country, it may not necessarily follow that treatment for Ed Miliband akin to that which Neil Kinnock endured in 1992 will contribute to the same electoral outcome.

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10.04.15

The economic questions behind and beyond the election

Ed Conway characterises this as “fast becoming the election that economics forgot”. If non-economic factors are determining votes, we might note the uptick in Ed Miliband’s ratings, showing improvement against the variable that I’ve argued Labour should focus on: leadership.

It is a big Tory theme to ask, “do you want this oddity as prime minister?” If the people say, as they seem to, “actually, he’s not that bad”, then this a Tory problem. Nonetheless, Miliband’s ratings have been poor enough for long enough that they risk the electorate buying the stories that the incumbents peddle. Even when reality is inconsistent with rhetoric.

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06.04.15

The view from Birmingham: Tory doctors, Lib Dem machines, Labour hopes

I voted for Gerry Steinberg in the City of Durham in 2001, Keith Hill in Streatham in 2005, and stood in Westmorland and Lonsdale in 2010. I’ll vote on 7 May for Gisela Stuart to retain the Birmingham Edgbaston seat that she’s held since 1997. Then David Hill, a veteran of Labour communications, reacted to this Labour gain by repeatedly saying “fucking unbelievable” at the Labour celebration party at the Royal Festival Hall.

Dr Luke Evans, Stuart’s Tory opponent, is pictured with a stethoscope on his literature. The word Conservative is an afterthought. It bemoans the record of NHS Wales that is Labour controlled, while being silent on Stuart. No attempt to critique her record or change how we should think of her is made.

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01.04.15

Revealed: Osborne’s next Budget

Of course, we strain every Labour sinew to have the next Budget delivered by Ed Balls. Even if the worst happens and the next government is Conservative led, it may be that George Osborne finds himself serving away from the Treasury.

But Osborne’s 2010 “emergency” Budget framed this parliament. Amid a leadership election, Labour struggled to respond. He’ll spy a way to repeat this trick. On different terms, however.

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30.03.15

The Tories want to park the bus. But the wheels are falling off

This was the week that the supposed Long Term Economic Plan (LTEP) gave way to short term miscalculation. The question is whether it will have a resonance deep enough to reach beyond the narrow cadre of the politically obsessed and long enough to be felt on 7 May.

It was a good week for Labour. And there are precious few weeks left before the election. The Tory plan was to stuff them full of LTEP. Park a bus of LTEP on the playing field of the election and close off all Labour routes to goal. Lynton Crosby as José Mourinho. But the wheels have looked like they are falling off the Tory bus.

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19.03.15

Budget 2015: The quiet moments matter

Budgets are supposed to be big moments. The kind that determine general elections. But maybe they are decided by millions upon millions of quieter moments. When payslips are inspected, profits turned, and housing wealth accumulated.

In these quieter moments judgments are made on the economy’s performance. In turn, these bear upon general election votes. It is a eighteen months since Uncut spotted a gradual rise in the proportion of the electorate reporting the economy as doing well and a steady decline in Labour’s poll lead. We ran a regression to assess the relationship between these data series and postulated that the Tories would overtake Labour when a quarter of the electorate came to the view that the economy is doing well.

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09.03.15

The northern road to prime minister Miliband

You wait an eternity for a female Cumbrian MP and then two seem set to come along at once. Lee Sherriff, Labour’s candidate in Carlisle, is regularly applauded in speeches by shadow ministers. Sue Hayman has more recently been selected by Labour to fight Workington, a seat the party has invariably held throughout its history.

Polling by Lord Ashcroft suggests that Sherriff is set to turn around the 853 majority of Conservative MP John Stevenson. Iain Dale also calls the seat narrowly for Labour. Assuming Labour suffer no Cumbrian losses, this would give Labour at least four of the six Cumbrian seats.

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02.03.15

Uncut review: Labour’s Spring rally was a tale of two Britains

On Saturday, I met a friend for coffee and took my son swimming. Normal life, that simple, that complicated. Labour’s Spring Rally came in-between. This made the coffee and swim seem Damascus living: normal life accompanied by artillery’s distant thud.

There is not one nation but two Britain’s. The Britain of my coffee and swim. The Britain of the rally. Here the artillery is loud. War has been waged against the country by the government . “Britain can’t afford another five years of Tory government,” Shaun Dooley, the actor and one of Ed Miliband’s warm-up acts, implored.

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02.03.15

Uncut Review: Blue Labour, Forging a New Politics, edited by Ian Geary and Adrian Pabst

This book is reviewed in advance of the launch event at 7pm tonight in Portcullis House

Blue Labour was a useful vehicle for Ed Miliband. He wanted to move on from New Labour. Blue Labour helped him to do so without backing into too many left-wing cul-de-sacs. But Maurice Glasman, the original Blue Labour guru, grew frustrated with Miliband, having probably already alienated the party leader with his predilection for colourful comment.

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