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FFS Ed!

I am beginning to feel like this more and more often.

I am beginning to sound like an Anti-Ed briefer.  I’m not.

I am, however, continually disappointed by some of the directions in which the triangulators are taking my party.

Today’s article in the mail, which I avoid most of the time, came up on twitter and started a storm of angst and anger.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2080776/Now-Ed-Miliband-gets-tough-onslaught-evil-benefits-scroungers.html

As a party we can do immeasurable damage by going for easy votes.  Just because the press has decided that there are deserving and undeserving poor, and armies of scroungers raping the system doesn’t mean that we need to chase after the people who accept this as fact.

Yes, there are people who play the system and there are those who defraud the benefits system.  Improve the system and accept that no system is unplayable and let the legal system deal with any frauds.

What we do not need is a vilification of those on benefits.  Nor do we need mr ‘Faux pas’  Byrne cutting loose with some sort of US style welfare system based on paying in before getting out.  It is missing the point.  The benefits system is to protect the weakest in our society and ensure that some of Beveridge’s great ills  (want and squalor) are met and addressed.  This seems to have been lost in the trying to out tory the Tories on being tuff!

Focus on education as the real driver of progress and improvement and the idleness will be addressed effectively over time.

FFS! we are not the Tories and yet over much of the last decade evidence of that has become harder and harder to find.  Red Ed was cast as an insult but at least it put some clear space between us and them.

The right of the party (who will claim all the success of 3 election wins) are still calling the shots in terms of image and trying to appeal to middle England (which is inherently Tory BTW) have cost us much of our traditional support by their pragmatic approach (and professionalism of politics) and a departure from our founding beliefs and principles.

The electorate are increasingly lost as to where we stand on the things that matter and that is killing Ed’s chances of making it to the next election.  It is impossible for Ed to be seen as a leader when we have no real principle based approach to policy.  At least we know Cameron is a C***.

The savage attacks on the benefits system will result in deprivation on a massive scale.  The measure of a society is how it treats its weakest.  The carpet bombing in the media of those on benefits as some sort of enemy is the most vicious I have seen, and here we have a labour Leader attacking and not defending the weakest.  This is, in the words of my daughter, an epic fail.

The silence on the treatment of the disabled is cowardice of the highest order.  But why is Ed silent? is it because he would advocate something similar? I bloody hope not.  If he does advocate this he is far from the membership that I work with and campaign with.  Most of them are red to the core and confused by Ed and the party stances.

Attacking those on benefits as scroungers is cheap and beneath our party.  Responsibility at the top and bottom of our society – is the code phrase.  What about 30 years of failed neo-liberal economics?  Address that!

The justification for this populist position?  We are hearing it on the doorsteps.  Well FFS argue that without robust benefit systems the cost for our society is even greater.  Voters want capital punishment on the door step, and no immigration – should we say ok to that too?  Grow a pair and argue our values (if the strategists remember what they are).

If I hear another Mea Culpa on anything I’ll thin we are sorry for existing.  We need to stand up and say we got things right!

This is the most incompetent Government I have seen and yet we are still neck and neck with them.  It is a signal that something is wrong.

 

 

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Scottish Labour’s long road back from May’s disaster.

In May, we took a beating at the polls.

The evidence is there to be seen every week in the Holyrood Chamber (beginning to sound like SNP party conference).

This week a poll by Ipsos mori puts SNP support at 51%.  A staggering figure, I agree.

Being an anorak I had a dig through the actual data.  Weighted / unweighted and all the groupings.  They are ahead in all categories at the moment.  There was little there to give me encouragement

Except

my view that we are at the nadir of our support.

Things, as they say, can only get better.  And they will.

Since May, El Presidente Alex I of Scotland, has had a virtually unopposed royal progress.  The changing of the leaders of the other party leaders has meant some lame duck FMQ’s.  His arrogance (and inability to answer any questions) and bullying, bombastic displays have gone unchecked and feebly defended.

A lack of a robust attack from any of the opposition parties has given him an easy ride.

All this will change.  New leaders will find their feet and challenge Alex on his areas of weakness (facts/ details).  He has had to come back to the chamber having been exposed for making up quotes and misrepresenting an expert.  AND yet his personal approval ratings are soaring.

He is a canny politician but that doesn’t account for this massively successful period.

He has a readily available source of easy hits, Cameron making an erse of it by being a total tory.  Easy to make himself look left when Dave punishing the poorest in our society.  Add to this Ed Miliband is still not setting the heather on fire.  The fact the English Tories are adopting Alex’s policies shows how right-wing they are.  Tartan Tories indeed.

So in a vacuum, he looks the business.  You can only beat what is put in front of you, I suppose.

The tide is however turning.  We will never be this poor again.

The contagious arrogance of the leader has spread to the rest and that will yield benefits for Labour in Scotland.  Mike Russell’s wholesale reorganisation of FE/HE and ram it through approach are a disaster.  No sign of it in the SNP manifesto.  No sign of a single Police / Fire & Rescue service either but this appears to be going ahead too.

Add to this the reduction of teachers by 4000 since 2007  (Mike Russell trying to pretend that they have maintained the numbers – lies, damned lies and statistics – fine if you change the base line – err no).

Add to this the redundancies in civilian posts within the police forces and these being filled by uniformed officers, 1000 extra officers doesn’t mean what you think it does.  Not exactly an efficiency is it.  Policemen are there to catch criminals aren’t they?

Add to this the lack of school building to support the reduction in class sizes promised.  After all if pupils are in smaller groups they need more teachers and more classroooms right?  Well teacher numbers down and very few rooms added to classroom capacity.  Smoke and mirrors.  Words and deeds disconnect.

Add to this a council tax freeze for another 5 years eroding local services.  These will begin to bite and impinge on a great many people, and all for a few more quid in your pocket.  Soon enough everyone will be able to see that the freeze has indeed changed local government services and not for the better.

Free prescriptions and Bridge tolls only make up so much.

Over arching this erosion of the fabric of Scotland by the  ‘no too bad SNP Government’ is the uncertainty of what separation will mean.

So now what? How will this help us?

A New Leader and a better focus on a narrative for a future that gives an alternative to  independence.

Focus on people’s lives.  Focus on Jobs, standards of living, security on our streets, energy to heat our homes, food prices on the table.  Focus on Educating our kids in good schools, Focus on FE/HE to help youth get the skills to get jobs, Focus on addressing Drug & Alcohol problems, Focus on Homelessness, Focus on delivering health.

We lost because we stopped focussing all our efforts on people’s lives.

These things matter more than the constitutional obsession.  The referendum will arrive when it arrives.  Until then we need to expose the impact on real lives of SNP choices and take to task any and every attempt to blame them on someone else.

The SNP have a majority and they must be held to account for how it is used.  Held to account using facts, held to account by focussing on impact of their choices, held to account by not getting drawn into a slanging match, held to account by not allowing every question to be turned into an independence one.

Held to account Alex Salmond and his party will be.

Big boy did it and ran away will not wash any longer Mr Salmond.

 

Just the 1922 committee to go

The Prime Minister managed to front his way through the bear pit that was a recalled parliament.
He managed to avoid answering a great many questions after a statement that really did little more than reiterate the home secretary’s statement of Monday. He did manage to pretend to want to collaborate with the house and used we’re all guilty of getting too close to News International.
That pretense didn’t last long.

A whole gang of smearers got to there feet and tried to muddy the waters with incipid, sycophantic, rehearsed and pre-supplied questions from the whips office.
It was all ‘Big Boy did it and ran away’ backed up by ‘I know nothing’, ‘Its all Labours fault’, and ‘I’ve answered that’ (when of course he hadn’t).
138 questions half of which he ducked, ignored or snorted at. the one’s well written by the whips office he used to maintain his smearing of Labour, Baldwin and Campbell.

Baldwin back fired as he was reporting to Michael Gove during his time at the times. (Gove still getting 5k a month as a retainer from NI).

Campbell has called on him to prove he (Campbell) doctored documents.

Apparently the external vetting that Dave had done on Andy Coulson is secret and he’s not telling. Why I have no idea, unless of course it was never actually done.
This whole debate was to get the smoking gun on the PM, and he has managed to avoid answering questions and therefore survive without calls for his head.
If the smoking gun does appear Dave will have to go.
And this I think will be the thrust of the 1922 committee this evening.

End of the road for NOTW, Beginning of the end for Dave.

168 years of circulation pulled in an instant as damage control by Rupert Murdoch. Over the last few weeks few would have predicted this outcome.
Many of us expected the NOTW to take a beating for a while, to claim contrition and pay some settlements. Maybe even to have been severely censured by the not-very-independent enquiry.  Perhaps a spanking from the PCC.  But closed down, not expected at all.

Of course, it may just have hastened the advent of a seven day Sun but spare a moment for those who have lost their jobs.  They are bearing the brunt of earlier sins when the architects of those crimes are insulated from the effects of their actions.  200 staff to protect Rebekah Brooks.

Coulson it appears has been well and truly thrown to the wolves, detached from his political masters he is an easy target for the piranhas that fill the press pond.  Of course the Scots legal system will want whats left after he gets beaten about for paying coppers for information.  So a corrupt little liar he is then – allegedly.

Mr Murdoch after investing heavily in the conservative coffers over the years it appears is ready to take a minor hit to clear his way to the BSkyB deal.  Eyes well and truly on the prize, as it were.  He does nothing on a whim and when the time is right he’ll be prepared to plea bargain Rebekah for the takeover deal.  Fit and proper person, of course not, but that will hardly matter.

The legal fallout will witter on for a while but essentially by giving up with one hand he hopes he can tighten a grip with the other.  The NOTW was doomed the minute the Millie Dowler hack was known and then the whole can poured out into the light and we british just would accept no more.  And once the public decide enough is enough, it is well and truly over.

So I say the end of the NOTW is a good thing, but its only a step along the road.

And so to Dave-call-me-dave.  The PM.  flashman.  What does all of this do for him?

What he knew and what he didn’t will be causes of speculation for as long as he stays in office.  This is the ticking time bomb that will see him sacrificed by his party to hang onto power.

The PM’s press conference today was telling by the evasiveness of his answers.  He was shifty and trying to stick to the ‘second chance’ mantra that he has used since Coulson resigned earlier this year.

One of the reporters asked directly did you ask Andy Coulson about the hacking?  Dave’s response was hopeless and led me to this conclusion.  Dave didn’t ask because he already knew.

He had known, probably, and decided Coulson was a sufficiently useful ally that having him in number 10 was worth the risk.  And besides the metropolitan police had already had an inquiry so the whole mess looked like it would be manageable.

However the tenacity of Tom Watson and the revelations leaking out here, there and everywhere changed the game.

The PMs judgement was brought into question.  His ability to deny, deny, deny was compromised by the ludicrousness of his I never asked defence.  Coulson is radioactive and he has rubbed off on Dave.

Add to that the real culprit (enter Ms Brooks) is just as close to Dave and Sam and the rest of their little dinner set.  Dave never asked her either.

So both of Dave’s hands are smeared by his close association to the phonehackers.

Either this was an immense failure of judgement or a cover up of Watergate proportions.  Complicit or ignorant?

The new defence of we are all to blame is bearing some fruit but by Sunday it will have rotted because the electorate will not accept that Dave didnt know.

They know he knew, or didn’t ask.  Willfull ignorance is not plausible deniability.

‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is as much use as crossing one’s fingers as a contraceptive method.

David Cameron is beginning to look like the boy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

The tory party grandees will be looking very carefully at the party leader, and when he starts to be a lame duck as the drip feed of scandal seeps onto the twitterverse, the blogosphere and the print media, they will act to have him go.

If only Clegg hadn’t ignore his briefing from the Guardian editor about Coulson he might have had a moral high ground to stand on.  He did and he hasn’t.  With his party in single digits there is no way he’ll work to break the coalition.

When the PM begins to look corrupt or a liability to the party (and it will look that way soon) he will have to go.  Political parties are ruthless in their treatment of ailing leaders.  They may cut their losses  sooner rather than later.

The Tories may fancy going to the polls before Ed Miliband starts to gain traction and profile as leading on this issue and others.

An Election in the next 12 months would see a tory win I think (and so will they).  Labour are not ready.  No money and no real alternative policies fully in place.

One thing I think is apparent that Dave will not be leading the Tories at the next election in 2015