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18.11.14

Why is Miliband struggling where Kinnock prospered?

I had this on Labour Uncut a few weeks ago.

On 4 February 1975, Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath in a leadership ballot among Conservative MPs. The Spectator showed the way the wind was blowing four months earlier. It would seem to be of the first importance; it reported on 2 November 1974, that Mr Heath’s successor should be someone who is not ashamed of being a Conservative.

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28.05.13

Miliband must make, not accept, the political weather

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Are our problems so deep nobody can actually make a difference to them? My emphatic answer to that is yes.” The state of the nation was revealed in Ed Miliband’s slip of the tongue in the run-up to the local elections. Only one in three of those eligible to vote in these elections bothered to do so, down 10 points from when these seats were last contested in the halcyon days of 2009. Where given the opportunity, one in four voters gave their support to Ukip, which is as near as it gets to voting ‘none of the above’.

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22.04.13

Banks and businesses: which comes first?

I had this on the Demos blog last week.

Duncan Weldon, the TUC economist, makes the astonishing observation in a pamphlet for the Fabian Society that £1.3 trillion of loans were extended to British residents by UK banks in the ten years before 2007, around 100 per cent of GDP, and 84 per cent of this went into either property or to financial companies. He does so in the context of an essay that argues for a more diverse banking system, more like Germany’s, with many more players focused on different geographies, different sectors and different types of banking that would be more supportive of the non-financial sector.

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15.04.13

The real lesson of Thatcher for Labour

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey wrote in the Observer, the day before Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, under a headline of “Labour plans radical shift over welfare state payouts”. But did their article tell us anything about the party’s commitment to the contributory principle that Liam Byrne didn’t tell us in his speech on William Beveridge over a year ago? And did their article tell us anything about our jobs guarantee that had not already been announced?

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29.09.12

Labour needs to choose freedom

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this week.

“The success of Thatcherism did not lie in the immediate popularity of its programme, but its ability to command the cultural landscape of Britain … The most enduring threat faced by the left is not only to be perceived as an incompetent manager of the economy, but to be out of touch with major cultural advances and the contemporary zeitgeist.”

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08.01.12

Responsible Miliband, Shameless Cameron

Ed Miliband talks a lot about responsibility and a responsible capitalism. Given reports in the Observer, I have a feeling that David Cameron will take up similar themes on the Andrew Marr show this morning. This illustrates a dimension of the responsibility theme identified by Robert Saunders in the current edition of Renewal.

“Like Thatcher, Miliband has sought to identify a unifying theme to which all Britain’s problems can be related. Where Thatcher chose ‘socialism’, Miliband has opted for ‘responsibility’. The theme has obvious merits … The problem is that it is inherently non-partisan. When Thatcher railed against ‘socialism’, it was obvious that she was talking about Labour. No one on the Conservative benches self-identifies as ‘irresponsible’, and that limits its power as a political weapon. ‘Responsibility’ has no political hook; indeed, if it were to ‘take’ as a theme, there would be nothing to prevent David Cameron from simply co-opting it.”

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11.06.11

Everyone else can see it. Why can’t they?

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were right-wing, obviously. But they were coherent, courageous and possessed of certain irreducible beliefs. And not wrong about everything. Sarah Palin is, in contrast, clearly incoherent and vapid. Andrew Sullivan once described her as the “reductio ad absurdum” of Reagan’s conservatism. Palin, basically, manifestly is nuts. The reluctance of the American right to acknowledge the self-evident contrast between Thatcher and Palin is indicative of their estrangement from reality. If the Republicans select her as their presidential candidate, reality will surely, finally, file for divorce.

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22.03.11

Miliband can own the future in a way that Cameron can’t

I had this on Labour Uncut today.

The longer Gordon Brown was prime minister, the harder it became, sadly, to picture him in post at the 2012 Olympics. His purchase on the future evaporated. Ed Miliband has to recover this to return to government. He has to convince that he has the answers to the challenges of 2015 and beyond. And personify these answers.

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02.12.10

Who the new Lib Dem president really is. And why.

I wrote this in Labour Uncut recently:

For all Nick Clegg’s slightly vague talk of “giving the party with the biggest mandate the chance to govern” it wasn’t hard, given opinion polls, to see a Tory/Lib Dem government as a potential outcome throughout the general election. I warned Westmorland and Lonsdale that they might vote Liberal Democrat and end up with such a government. They didn’t listen. I was less surprised by the government we ended up with than the extent to which the motivations of my Liberal Democrat opponent, Tim Farron, recently elected president of his party, seemed so close to those of Labourites.

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03.03.10

Two Sorry Tory Stories (or some differences between the UK and the USA)

James Crabtree has written a fascinating and much commented upon Prospect piece on the role that an apology might play in a quick return to Labour government should the Conservatives win the General Election later this year. This has set me thinking about the role of contrition in politics in general and two sorry Tory stories in particular. These sorry stories are: First, seeing (tacit and non-formal) apologies for being slow to make peace with the 1960s and for the excesses of the 1980s as being integral to the rebranding of the Conservatives sought by David Cameron (a project that is now threatened by a sense that the credit crunch and the scale of public debt have caused the Conservatives to renew their marriage vows to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s); and, second, conceptualising the Republicans as being split between those who see a need for some kind of apology for the years of George W Bush as necessary to their political renewal and those who do not.

Some recent events – the reaction to the attempted Christmas day terrorist bombing in the US; the election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts; the tea party protests; the spike in retirements from Democratic Congressmen; and President Obama’s approval rating – would seem to strengthen the position of those who are unapologetic for the Dubya years. But my default sense – which I am increasingly having cause to question – is that in the long-term more contrition than that which the likes of Karl Rove are presently prepared to offer will be required for the Republicans to fully recover. That said; there are signs, which are worrying to a European and (in the American sense of the word) liberal, that an unreconstructed Republican party might return to the White House in 2012. An example of such a sign is that when I departed Dulles airport, just outside DC, 48 hours ago I noted lots of t-shirts on sale like the one below.

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03.03.10

Two Sorry Tory Stories (or some differences between the UK and the USA)

James Crabtree has written a fascinating and much commented upon Prospect piece on the role that an apology might play in a quick return to Labour government should the Conservatives win the General Election later this year. This has set me thinking about the role of contrition in politics in general and two sorry Tory stories in particular. These sorry stories are: First, seeing (tacit and non-formal) apologies for being slow to make peace with the 1960s and for the excesses of the 1980s as being integral to the rebranding of the Conservatives sought by David Cameron (a project that is now threatened by a sense that the credit crunch and the scale of public debt have caused the Conservatives to renew their marriage vows to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s); and, second, conceptualising the Republicans as being split between those who see a need for some kind of apology for the years of George W Bush as necessary to their political renewal and those who do not.

Some recent events – the reaction to the attempted Christmas day terrorist bombing in the US; the election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts; the tea party protests; the spike in retirements from Democratic Congressmen; and President Obama’s approval rating – would seem to strengthen the position of those who are unapologetic for the Dubya years. But my default sense – which I am increasingly having cause to question – is that in the long-term more contrition than that which the likes of Karl Rove are presently prepared to offer will be required for the Republicans to fully recover. That said; there are signs, which are worrying to a European and (in the American sense of the word) liberal, that an unreconstructed Republican party might return to the White House in 2012. An example of such a sign is that when I departed Dulles airport, just outside DC, 48 hours ago I noted lots of t-shirts on sale like the one below.

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23.11.09

Pressure rising on David Cameron

Peter Oborne reports on a CCHQ note which states:

“The Conservatives have never won a General Election from a starting point as weak as they face now …  To become Prime Minister, David Cameron must surpass the electoral achievements of both Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.”

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