Posts Tagged ‘Labour’

Post-election leadership battles provide the entertainment lacking in UK election campaign

May 16, 2015

The UK general election was just like the Eurovision song contest. No substance in the songs and great excitement during the vote. There was no substance either during the rather lacklustre campaign and then intense excitement during the vote count. The foregone conclusion of a hung parliament with a possible Labour/SNP “majority” first morphed into possibly another Conservative/Lib Dem majority and then – almost unthinkably – into an outright Conservative win. High drama on election night. I was switching between BBC (TV and radio) and Sky TV´and the BBC tried valiantly to be objective but could not quite hide their Labour bias. (For the education of the judges of the EU General Court, there was absolutely no confusion in my mind between Sky TV and Skype).

But now after the election, the contortions of the Labour party to elect a new leader and the non-election of a UKIP leader after Farage’s non-resignation are providing much of the entertainment that I had hoped for, but did not materialise, during the campaign. The Lib Dems are also choosing a leader after Nick Clegg but there is no excitement here and it is difficult to see that it is of any great relevance.

For the Labour party, battle lines are being drawn up between the New Blairites and the union supported left-wing. It is no longer politically correct to be considered a straight Blairite because Tony Blair has brought himself so much into disrepute with his money-grubbing ways. However, when he was leader, he held the centre ground with his New Labour which addressed all those with aspirations. The New Blairites see that it is necessary to attract more than just those who live on handouts. They have to appeal, they think, to the aspirational centre.  This makes for a rather clear distinction with the left wing who want to increase the number of people getting handouts and thereby increase the number of voters beholden to Labour. The New Blairites want to shift policy to address  the middle-ground, while the unionists want to increase the size of the “left”. If the unions succeed in getting one of their candidates elected as leader, we shall probably not see the Labour party governing in Britain for the next decade.

One of the main New Blairites, Chuka Umunna, threw his hat into the ring and then, 3 days later, withdrew from the fight saying that the pressure and stress of the increased scrutiny was too much. There are hints in some papers that actually there was a fear about the increased scrutiny revealing tax avoidance on the purchase of his house or that his “girl-friend” had been rolled out for PR purposes. Whatever the real reason, Umunna has effectively put paid to his chances of ever becoming the leader of the Labour party. If he could not withstand 3 days of pressure just as candidate for leader, it would be quite irresponsible of the party to ever actually make him leader. And if they made him leader he would never become a Prime Minister who was unable to withstand any pressure.

Within UKIP the entertainment has the character of pure farce. Nigel Farage said he would resign if he failed to win a seat. When he lost, he duly announced that he was going to resign. But he never actually did resign. (Which also emphasises my perception of noise without substance). So then when the UKIP executive committee met they had no decision to take since thay had no resignation to consider. This was then presented as being a unanimous call for Farage to remain leader. He then withdrew the resignation that he had never submitted. Clever Nigel! Tricky Nigel! Douglas Carswell who shifted from the Tories to join UKIP won his seat handily – but he was the only UKIP candidate to do so. His joining UKIP was entirely opportunistic and his decision to shift paid of – at least for himself. But his view of the UKIP is through his blue-tinted glasses and  what he sees – or would like to see – is not quite what UKIP actually is. As the only UKIP MP he “controls” the £650,000 the party is entitled to every year for the number of votes it won. This puts Farage in the frustrating position of not being able to sack Carswell from the party, but also gives Carswell the nuclear deterrent of threatening to leave. I suppose he could sit as an independent but I am not sure what would happen to the money if he did.

Labour and UKIP, at least, are now providing the light entertainment that was so lacking during the campaign.

Miliband caught between a Red and a Marxist place

October 2, 2013

UK politics is always interesting. This I find amusing and great fun. Especially since it is a fight between two parties neither of whom commands my very great respect.

The Daily Mail’s coverage of Ed Miliband’s father and his Marxism as that of a man who hated Britain is getting much coverage in the UK’s press and radio. The BBC radio news coverage – which I generally have on in the background – spent many minutes on the subject. I am just listening to “Red” Ken Livingstone defending both the Milibands but he is a little incoherent. He admitted that Miliband Jr. must have got his values from his father. But Pater Miliband, it seems, must be excused his Marxist views because he was just an academic. Ken doesn’t like the Daily Mail at all – since they once offered his former wife £10,000 for her story – which they would write. But even he was not very scathing about the Mail’s coverage!!

Ed Miliband has already earned the title of “Red” Miliband after his play last week threatening to regulate energy prices. He is also known to be an ardent supporter of regulation of the press. This is not of course full-blown Marxism but such plays are not inconsistent with being a budding Marxist. He cannot repudiate being labelled “Red” since he is courting the left wing of the Trade Unions but he would prefer not to have the word as a title. ( Red Arthur Scargill and Red Ken being examples to avoid). But he is now caught in a tough place. His every defence of his father – which is politically necessary  to demonstrate his family values – takes him closer to being labelled a Marxist.

Red Miliband’s lurch to the Left is a rejection of Blairism and New Labour – and that is probably to his electoral advantage. Not on grounds of ideology but for the contempt that Blair now arouses. But if he is seen to be returning to Harold Wilson’s “bend with the wind” brand of socialism it will not be to his advantage. And if he is seen to be a closet Marxist then he could blow his chances at the next election.

There are some opinions that the whole circus is to Red Miliband’s advantage. I am not so sure. It seems to me that he is now caught between being labelled “Red” or being labelled a Marxist and neither is good for his electoral chances.

Even more amusing is that even the Labour press (the Mirror and to some extent the Guardian and the BBC) are rather full of support for Ed Miliband but rather muted in their criticism of the Daily Mail. They don’t like Miliband’s views on Press Regulation.

Australian election: The battle of the zeros

August 22, 2013

The campaign is half over and two and a half weeks remain.

Maybe it is very exciting to those close the campaign. But to an observer on the other side of the world, it has all been rather dull and disappointing so far.  Gillard versus Abbott would surely have generated more heat and energised the voters a little more. Kevin Rudd’s ubiquitous  smiling – after his “treachery” in deposing Gillard – now seems more sinister than avuncular. If Kevin Rudd smiles at you – it is time to watch your back! Rudd had a little honeymoon in the polls but seems to have lost all his initial gains and is now at about the same level as Gillard was. If the present poll numbers hold till the election, the Coalition will win by 10 – 20 seats.

Rudd and Abbott have had two TV debates so far. The first was apparently a tie but Rudd is said to have won the second one on points. But the campaign – at least from this distance – has been lacking in any real energy. No major scandals revealed. No scintillating wit. No “cut and thrust” of great repartee. No fire. No brimstone.

Even after yesterday’s debate – which was a little difficult to watch in its entirety – only two real issues – of substance – came up.

1. Kevin Rudd was very unpleasant to the lady doing his make-up before the debate,

Bridal make-up artist and hair stylist Lily Fontana worked on both Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott ahead of the televised debate at the Broncos Leagues Club on Wednesday.

Caused a stir: Lily Fontana put this post on Facebook.
Caused a stir: Lily Fontana put this post on Facebook. Photo: Screen grab via SMH

Ms Fontana took to Facebook afterwards to compare her interactions with the two leaders.

2. Tony Abbott told Rudd to “shut up”  though there is some talk that this was not a mistake by Abbott but was actually deliberate strategy. Such deviousness would have been consistent with Rudd’s methods but – I think – is beyond Abbott. Video of Abbott’s shut up moment is here.

Of course the Liberals are trying to make capital out of Rudd’s rudeness  to the make-up lady and Labour are trying to make capital of Abbott’s rudeness to Rudd.

(And why is it that Socialist leaders are always rudest to others of the “working classes”?)

Simple arithmetic tells us that there should be no difference between a few empty words and many empty words.

(zero substance x few words) = 0 = (zero substance x many words) 

But watching last night’s debate (or at least some parts of it), I realised that there was a significant difference.  Even with zero substance there can be a substantial difference in the level of irritation engendered in the audience. Many empty words produce a great “ZERO” while a few empty words only give us a little “zero”.

And in the battle of the ZEROs Kevin Rudd won hands down. Rudd spoke 5320 “empty” words while Abbott could only manage 3910 “empty” words and Rudd can therefore be declared the bigger zero (so far)!

Australian betting points to Labour losing by 22 seats

August 15, 2013

The Australian election campaign is still fairly low-key. The most exciting event in the last few days was Abbott’s remark praising a fellow candidate that she had “sex appeal”. He should have known better than to say something so politically incorrect. Kevin Rudd is trying to make political capital out of that but his denial that “sex appeal” exists seems a little contrived. The difference between the genders will not change by legislation.

The polls have not been very exciting either.  But I suppose that money talks and following the money may be a better predictor of the Australian general election results than just simply asking people how they intend to vote. The Financial Review carries a forecast of the election results based on betting on the elections. The money is on Kevin Rudd and Labour losing by a substantial margin. Of course it could be biased in that betting odds generated by gamblers may not be representative of the electorate,  but presumably the algorithms converting betting odds to election results try and take that into account.

From the Financial Review:

Election results forecast based on betting data from 11th August

Labor won’t have to stay up late on the evening of September 7 for the bad news of the electoral result, according to a new analysis of betting market odds.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s party will lose the election by 22 seats, collecting 63 seats to the oppositions’s 85, according to analysis done for The Australian Financial Review by statisticians Kaighin McColl and Leng Lee.

The analysis is based on betting data from 11 August.

The number of seats Labor is expected to win dropped from 65 to 63 in the five days between August 6 and August 11.

Mr McColl notes that the ALP has now slid backwards twice since the analysis began.

“It is still early days, but the ALP has consistently been a long way behind according to the electorate-level betting data. What they’ve had going for them is momentum. That momentum appears to be slowing or reversing,” he said.

The analysis, which takes betting market data and subjects it to an algorithmic process known as Monte Carlo simulation in order to determine odds, predicts just two seats will be won by non-major parties. ….

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