Category Archives: Politics

Cameron announces coup in Telegraph

Only in England would the leader of a political party announce he plans a coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government, in the Daily Telegraph, two days in advance.

David CameronJust a month ago, Adam Ramsay warned on the OpenDemocracy site:

If they [the Tory press] can possibly get away with it, they will find any way they can to declare Cameron the winner, even if it’s going to be almost impossible for him to command a parliamentary majority. In doing so, they will seek to make it impossible for Miliband to govern. This circumstance would in effect be a coup by newspaper proprietors against the people of the country. Because our constitution is written not in statute, but headlines, this is perfectly possible.

It’s complicated by the fact that until a new government is formed, Cameron and the other Tory and LibDem Ministers remain in Downing Street as a caretaker government, even if they have lost their seats and aren’t MPs any longer. Just as Gordon Brown correctly remained in Downing Street as Prime Minister until Cameron and Clegg had finished their coalition deal, so must Cameron stay on as PM until the House of Commons decides how to form a democratically-elected government out of the results of the 7th May election.
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Stop Complaining (and Vote)

If you live in Scotland, you’re almost certainly registered to vote – practically everyone was in the referendum in September 2014, and if you haven’t changed addresses since then, you still are.

House of Commons - emptyIf you didn’t receive a polling card because you registered too close to the 20th April deadline, or for some other reason, you can still vote: find which is your local polling station from your local election office and just go there. You don’t need ID to vote, but if you don’t have a polling card it would be a wise precaution to take some proof of address/identity with you: a local polling officer may not know the regulations and it would be faster to provide your proof than to argue with them. (You shouldn’t have to argue with them and you probably won’t, even if you don’t have a polling card: please don’t go in with a confrontational attitude.)

If not for the rise of the SNP, Labour would be looking forward to five years in government, the Conservatives would be lagging behind Labour by 30+ MPs, and the LibDems would be looking forward to five years as the party that helps either Labour or the Tories form a majority government.

If not for the rise of the SNP, Labour would be comfortably the largest party in the House of Commons after 7th May instead of desperately trying to save what they can in Scotland, and the LibDems might be expecting to lose only half their seats, instead of a likely two-thirds.
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Does Ed Miliband want to be Prime Minister?

Ed Miliband: This England in The SunIf Ed Miliband and David Cameron have both learned something terrible is coming before 2020 that they would rather be in Opposition than have to deal with as Prime Minister, this could explain both David Cameron’s lacklustre campaigning and Ed Miliband’s curious statement last night on Question Time: neither one wants to be Prime Minister.

However, this does seem improbable to me.

Take it as a given: Ed Miliband wants to be Prime Minister.

Yet, on Question Time on 30th April, with just a week to go to the election, he seemed to reject the job:

“I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the Scottish National Party.”

“If the price of having a Labour government is a deal or coalition with the SNP, it’s not going to happen.”

What was Miliband thinking?
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Murphy’s Law: Après moi, le déluge

SNP wipeout - all 53 Scottish seatsJim Murphy cannot take all of the credit for the rise of the SNP in the polls: even before he declared his candidacy, the SNP were looking set to take the majority of the Scottish seats.

But under his leadership, the likelihood of Scottish Labour remaining a significant force in politics at Westminster has continued to fall, to the point where there is an even chance that Jim Murphy may not even be Renfrewshire East’s MP after 7th May: Electoral Calculus currently predicts Murphy’s margin of victory as 1.1%, in a seat which was 20 points ahead of the Tory challenger in 2010, when SNP was in fourth place behind the LibDems.

This is a shattering upset for the man who wanted to be Scotland’s First Minister. In October 2014, Jim Murphy – the third candidate in the Labour leadership race and the only not an MSP – told the Scottish Daily Record:

“I want to unite the Labour Party but, more importantly, I want to bring the country back together after the referendum.
“I am not going to shout at or about the SNP, I am going to talk to and listen to Scotland and I am very clear that the job I am applying for is to be the First Minister of Scotland.”

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Grant Shapps accuses Wikipedia of being gamed by the Labour party

As Johann Hari found out to his cost, you can game Wikipedia for a long time, but in the end, if you violate their editorial process, they are remorselessly thorough in tracking you down.

Wikipedia allows almost anyone to edit pages about almost anything. But, to avoid conflicts of interest, you may not amend your own information, with the exception of very basic biographical detail (for example, if Wikipedia has your date of birth wrong).

Michael Green MPIn 2012, Wikipedia discovered that four usernames – 217.155.38.72, 90.196.154.2, Historyset and one that’s surfaced again recently, Hackneymarsh – had been linked to “computers in the constituency office of the Tory chairman”.

These four usernames had edited Wikipedia to amend certain references to Grant Shapps and his online alter egos Michael Green MP and Sebastian Fox:

references were deleted about his role in a 2007 byelection in west London where he impersonated Liberal Democrats online in an attempt to discredit his rivals – but forgot that he had logged on as himself.

The campaign was notable as Shapps was then a vice-chair of the Tory party responsible for campaigning. The Tory candidate came third when many felt he was favourite to win. However, the episode was airbrushed away on the online encyclopaedia.

In another series of changes after the 2010 election, Shapps’s entry removed references to the company HowToCorp, which the Guardian has exposed for breaching Google’s code of conduct, and to his online pseudonym Michael Green – with a comment posted that this mention of his “alter ego” was linked to a diary item that was an “unreliable source”.

Gone too were links to sites which revealed the Welwyn Hatfield MP paid back £3.79 during the expenses scandal, replaced by glowing references to a Daily Telegraph piece describing him as an “expenses saint”.

The revelations come after it emerged that Shapps had changed his entry in the online encyclopedia to correct the number of O-levels he obtained. He had also inserted testimony to his “influential” work on homelessness.

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Project Smear and Scottish Labour

Sunday Herald: Project SmearThe memo attack on Nicola Sturgeon, a day after she had been lauded at the leaders’ debates, was certainly an attempt by the Daily Telegraph to discredit her. If the Telegraph employees who contacted Labour and the LibDems for comment were subtle enough, it was also an attempt to discredit those two parties.

The Head of Content (as Peter Oborne noted, the Telegraph no longer has an editor) may have been instructed by David and Frederick Barclay to win the general election for the Conservatives: and it is a matter of simple Parliamentary arithmetic to see that if the polls hold good, providing Labour and the SNP are willing to vote together against the Tories, the Tories cannot form a government.

Scottish Labour had a night to howl about this: between the first tweet from Simon Johnson at the Daily Telegraph at 9:42pm, to a final tweet by Scottish Labour at 7:55am on Saturday 4th April, the Scottish Labour twitter account either tweeted or retweeted 22 tweets, including one apiece from Kezia Dugdale and Jim Murphy, and two from Scottish Labour candidates, Margaret Curran and Douglas Alexander. (If Mhairi Black, the SNP candidate for Paisley, unseats Douglas Alexander, she will be the youngest MP ever to be elected, aged 20.)
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The threat of Nicola Sturgeon

Telegraph front page 4th AprilNicola Sturgeon is – as we know in Scotland – an experienced, able politician, with ten years experience as the leader of the Opposition, as the Deputy First Minister, and now as the First Minister, in Holyrood.

A Yougov panel of undecided voters failed to recognise Nicola Sturgeon at all when shown her photo in advance of the leaders’ debate on 2nd April: but after the leaders’ debate, Sturgeon was topping UK-wide polls, her results comparable to those for Miliband and Cameron.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke as older voters will remember Labour politicians once speaking – of an economy that should support the people, against people being ground up by austerity to “support the economy”, of concern for immigrants and asylum seekers as human beings. Ed Miliband and David Cameron both looked scripted: Miliband constantly turned to speak to “you at home”, not to the audience or to his six fellow debaters: Cameron seemed to have a checklist of things he’d been told to repeat when he was stuck for answer, and he was stuck for an answer a lot.
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