Monday, 29 September 2014

To lose one MP is careless, to lose two is Reckless

AND another one has gone, this time Mark Reckless ditches the Conservatives for the loving embrace of UKIP.

The Rochester and Strood MP spirited away under the cover of darkness from Westminster to land in Doncaster and be the latest to stand up and put the Prime Minister down on a number of issues.

Timing wise, Nigel Farage has hit the jackpot again. We had the 'surprise' defection with Douglas Carswell, this time it was the 'timed' defection, 3pm Saturday afternoon, just as the Sunday papers were being put together ahead of day one of the Conservative Party Conference.

To call the party management shambolic is an understatement, chief whip Michael Gove appears to be phoning MPs up, asking if they are planning to defect and accepting it when the person (defecting or not) says no.

Where is the bullish party management of opposition? Why is no one getting on the front foot and telling these MPs it would be folly to defect and hammer home the message Cameron is on their side?

Instead the party's approach appears to be sit back, let it happen, smear the defector and laugh that 'jolly old UKIP are being little scoundrels aren't they?'.

Everytime Grant Shapps stands up and says Reckless 'lied and lied and lied' or the Prime Minister calls the move 'illogical' and 'a vote for UKIP is a vote for Ed Miliband' another wavering MP wonders whether he/she should make the leap.

Those feelings will only strengthen if, as expected, Carswell romps back to the House of Commons in UKIP colours on October 8. I imagine those feelings could be overbearing should Reckless do the same sometime in November.

A vote for UKIP is not 'a vote for Ed Miliband' per se. UKIP is rapidly becoming a comfy home for former Tories totally disenfranchised with the current Conservative Party.

If Cameron and his inner circle haven't grasped that yet, they should and quick. Because by the time the Prime Minister approaches the lectern to deliver his final speech to the party before the General Election next year, he may of lost another MP.

The 'maximum impact' defection....

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Miliband wasn't inspiring, but he was clever

THE COMMENTARIART has spoken, Miliband was dull, boring and did not look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

They are right in the sense it was dull and boring as a whole but Prime Ministerial? Yes I think so, quiet and unassuming but with more gravitas than the previous 'Quiet Man' Iain Duncan Smith.

What they fail to appreciate is how the speech came across on the news channels, who need soundbites not great long diatribes.

On that Miliband scored big in my opinion, the line about Cameron not lying awake worried about the UK but about UKIP will have hurt and resonated with many voters.

And on Europe, Miliband's attack lines on Cameron would not only resonate with voters but with the Carswell section of the Conservatives who don't believe the Prime Minister is serious about reforming the 
European Union.

He was silly forgetting the deficit and immigration lines from the speech, his memory capacity is admirable but an Autocue is sometimes your best friend.

But those issues are front and centre of UK's voters minds so Miliband will have to talk about it between now and polling day.

Where Miliband was clever was in the use of the NHS, any Labour leader knows if they stroke the NHS, 
the members purr and the Tories cower.

The Mansion Tax - tobacco tax – hedge fund tax policy is economically sound and would provide a great big cash cow for the National Health Service.

As long as the party continues to press ahead with it, that alone should ensure Labour's core vote will at least have to think very hard before crossing to UKIP.

And it's a clever policy, it dares the Conservatives to oppose it knowing full well should they oppose they will be painted as the party of the rich and privileged and not caring about the NHS.

Thanks to the gift that keeps giving that is Grant Shapps, Labour are already ahead as the Conservatives released a poster saying Labour wanted to tax 'your family home'.....I I'd missed all those mansions in inner 
city London and Birmingham!

The criticism of the commentariart surprises me, we need to stop judging the parties on their conferences, a 
social gathering for four days.

I will be judging Cameron, Miliband and Clegg when the Prime Minister dissolves parliament for the election.

Only then should we assess those in the running for the biggest job in the country.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Scotland's vote is last act of a dying Government

THURSDAY will see a nation go to the polls faced with the biggest question asked of an electorate for many a year: Do they wish to break a 300 year old marriage and go it alone?.

There is no doubt the referendum on Scottish independence has been a good thing, it has energised people and got a nation talking about politics and voting.

But whatever the result, this week marks the beginning of the end of David Cameron's time as Prime Minister. Quite simply, the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party could oversee the end of the union, that's a mistake I doubt even he can come back from.

Perhaps reports of his demise in the aftermath of a Yes vote are a little far-fetched, I doubt the British economy would sustain the news of Scottish independence and the resignation of a Prime Minister within 48 hours of each other!

But it would signal Cameron's time at the top was nearly over, the vultures are circling with Boris looking a shoo-in in Uxbridge and most of the cabinet are Osborne loyalists - leaving the PM with very few friends at the top.

Even Uncle Rupert appears lukewarm in backing the Tories with his hints that independence could be good for Scotland, knowing full well the damage a yes would cause to the Conservative Prime Minister.

David Cameron will become the first PM in history to lose not because the opposition was much more electable (Labour aren't) but because he's just made too many tactical errors.

1) He hasn't managed the coalition well.

Cameron needed Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats in 2010 but what he needed to do from the outset was make it clear, they contributed just 1/6th of the coalition Government and policy would be Conservative-driven.

Instead he has been in thrall to Clegg and let the junior partners get away with a number of statements such as their apparent u-turn on the Bedroom Tax. Instead of putting them on the spot and telling them to vote with their feet, knowing it would send them off the political cliff, he's allowed the Lib Dems the airwaves to try and rewrite history.

2) But ignored his party...

It's no co-incidence his party aren't happy. Conservative backbenchers wanted Tory rule after 13 years away, instead they got a Tory Government watered down with a bit of Lib Dem.

Many want to see him rule properly, but within 12 months the old rivalries spilled out and open rebellion ensured.

3) He shouldn't have introduced fixed term Parliaments

Fixed five year parliament has not worked, the party has begun it's last year of the current cycle with very little ideas, very little enthusiasm and with a reshuffle based on image not talent. Government's in this country only go into the fifth year in a desperate attempt to roll the dice and hope their fortunes change, look at Major in 92 and Brown in 2010.

Rather than five year fixed term, make it compulsory to hold an election every four years. The fortunes of the ruling party do rather improve at the end of four year cycles.

4) He ignored and then didn't grasp the UKIP threat

'Fruitcakes' and 'Loons' were the words used by the Prime Minister to describe Nigel Farage and UKIP....oh how he must regret that now.

Quite simply the PM and his party didn't recognise UKIP began hoovering up traditional Tory votes a long time ago. Farage represents the halcyon days of the Conservatives, big on business, tough on Europe and traditional British values.

He dismissed them until it was too late, now many have gone and won't come back but still Cameron and his team still disrespect UKIP. Cameron should get on the front foot, agree to the debates and agree to Farage taking part and use his considerable oratory skills to take UKIP apart.

If he carries on until May 2015 he will be a lame duck Prime Minister, propped up by a party facing disaster.

However, victory on Thursday could and maybe should be enough for him to change course, call an election and ask people the ultimate question: "Do you really want Ed Miliband as PM?"

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Scotland deserves better than these campaigners

WATCHING the #indyref campaign in recent weeks has made me frustrated and angry.

No not because there is a very real prospect the historic union could be broken but because no one, be it a politician or 'expert' is actually talking TO the people of Scotland.

Scots basically are being talked AT, 'oooo don't vote for independence because this  and that will happen and it's all your fault' say the No Thanks team.

'Ach, don't listen to em, you should vote for independence as it will be great and we can do this that and the other' say the Yes team.

At no point in this campaign has either side said to the Scottish people 'here is our case and here's why the opposition are wrong in our opinion.'

The Scots deserve that and to be trusted to go away, consider it all and then deliver their verdict next Thursday.

I will declare an interest to say as an Englishman I hope our Celtic cousins decide to stay, but the outcome is nothing to do with me or anyone else south of the border.

My opinion is that if we stay together we should work together to ensure Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland too have much greater powers and can prosper both individually and together.

But should the Scottish people decide to vote yes then we have a duty in England to work with an independent Scotland.

To all the politicians and experts travelling north in the next week, don't waste your time delivering meaningless soundbites and 'warnings'.

Just talk to the people, Scots are the most welcoming and friendly people on the planet, show them some respect hey?

Scotland, everyone in England wants you to stay. We never have took your freedom and we won't do so now!

Hodgson deserves respect

MONDAY night showed why I have become so bored with the England national team.

No not because of the manager or the players but because of the sheer amount, to paraphrase Roy Hodgson, of "f****** b*******' that surrounds an England match.

Since he took over, Hodgson hasn't had a chance with some in the media who wanted their beloved Harry Redknapp to take the national job.

Why was beyond me, yes Hodgson's managerial career in England is hardly one to write home about but international ly the man has more than enough experience.

Whereas Harry has never managed north of the Watford Gap.....

Failure at the World Cup gave the press the ammunition they needed. At no point did they consider England had an awful group, things would have been different had they had Argentina's group of Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran or France's group of Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador.

Through it all, Hodgson remained dignified and respectful to a media which frankly showed neither of those qualities to him. 

And now he presides over a young, vibrant team full of pace and enthusiasm and one which should excite us Englishmen.

Gone are the last of the 'Golden Generation' scarred by tournament defeats and raised expectations.

Yet to read the tweets and coverage before Monday night you'd think we'd lost the last five games in a row.

The headlines were already written, 'Basel Faulty' some wanted to hail it. But England delivered big time and well done to them for it.

The critics? Did they praise? No they backtracked and said Switzerland weren't that good anyway! 

England made a good start and arguablely with the hardest game out the way this young team can look forward to a relatively easy group, gaining confidence as a unit and hopefully entertaining along the way.

Remember the Germans? they ditched the old guard in 2000 and this hungry young team won the greatest prize of them all just over a decade later.

Maybe, just maybe, if we are all patient then a lot more than football may come home in years to come....