In Labour

This is my debut for the Paradise Circus blog, written just prior to Cllr John Clancy becoming leader of Birmingham City Council. Well done, John.

79 Labour councillors will on Monday vote to decide the next leader of Birmingham City Council. Some of these councillors were in the CBSO last night, including the four standing for this office. They were joined by about 100 of the great Brummie public, who questioned the candidates after they’d presented their pitches.



Always underestimated

David Cameron may yet lead the Conservatives into the next general election, argues Jonathan Todd

Tony Blair, I was told by someone who spoke to him at the time, was confident when David Cameron became Conservative party leader that he would go the same way as the previous Tory leaders that he had gone head to head with. Given that Blair got the better of John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, Cameron, having outlasted Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, is one Labour leader away from matching the number of opponents mastered by his predecessor but one.



Combating cross dressing Osborne

George Osborne crossed dressed and declared himself a one nation chancellor in both the headline measures of his budget and in its details. Legislation for a living wage was intended as the closing showstopper and abolishing permanent non-dom status stole the policy with which Labour appeared to have most momentum in the general election. Training levies are another idea with Labour pedigree.

Noting that the Commission for Employment and Skills have previously reported that a third of employers spend nothing on training, Kevin Meagher argued, in a book that Labour Uncut published at 2013 Labour party conference, ‘the only remedy which is fair to all employers is a compulsory skills levy of some sort’. Today Osborne introduced such a levy for apprenticeships at large firms.



The lions of the #LabourDoorstep have been led by donkeys

The Labour Party last night passed from disbelief to dismay. “I’ve been involved in a lot of elections and, I have to say, I am sceptical of this BBC exit poll,” Spencer Livermore, Labour’s General Election Campaign Director, wrote at the time. “It looks wrong. Exit polls have been very wrong in the past.”

But, unlike in 1992, it wasn’t wrong. It was all too right. Given that the exit poll was out of kilter with much earlier polling, Labour found this hard to compute. It was not, though, inconsistent with all previous polling—for example, ICM’s telephone polling. As this ICM polling was a rarity in accurately showing where we were headed, there are now methodological questions for the polling industry.



Call to Action

About a decade ago, a Labour member of parliament asked me, ‘What became of Bryan Gould?’ Being too literal, I replied, ‘Is he not an academic in New Zealand?’ The MP looked at me disappointedly, as I had missed the contemporary political point that he was alluding to amid my overly earnest focus on facts.

Gould, one time Labour leadership candidate, has returned from ivory towers to co-author with John Mills, the entrepreneur and Labour donor, a powerful book on Britain’s economy. Their focus on facts is not so much earnest as compelling. Some bracing observations include: there is now no net new investment per head of population in the United Kingdom at all; Britain’s balance of payments – the difference between exports and imports – has not been in surplus for 30 years; the windfall of North Sea oil and gas might have been used, as it was in Norway, to build up a fund worth $857m in September 2014.