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Tooting Labour Hold – footage from one hell of a night

9 May

Some of the footage from Thursday night. Awesome, awesome experience. Thanks to Luke Waterfield for digging this up.

Hustings in Tooting

29 Apr

Last night I had the pleasure to go to a Hustings in Tooting in the lead-up to the election on the 6th of May.

In my mind, there was only one winner, Sadiq Khan. Sadiq spoke passionately and authoritatively on issues that local Tooting residents face everyday. Affordable high-quality university places; protecting our economy from double dip recession; protection for developing world communities and our own shores from the threat of  devastating climate change; sweeping voting reform to get rid of the first past the post system that is clearly flawed; and importantly for me on a personal level, a real and understanding answer on immigration.

Sadiq put all of his points in the context of Tooting, how these issues will affect us as residents.  Sadiq outlined how he and Labour have worked to ensure Tooting is a great place to live. This has resulted in lower unemployment, better schools and a vastly improved St George’s Hospital. As he said in his opening address, as a Tooting boy born and bred, he “walks in our shoes”, so by using the same services and amenities as the rest of us, he understands what issues are important to we residents.

The other candidates ranged from the slick to the all over the place.  The UKIP representative was the consummate stereotype of his party, anti-Europe, pro public service cuts, anti-climate change. The Green candidate was very amusing and thoughtful in his answers, many of which I support and applaud, but he will be the first to admit he has no chance under the first-past-the-post system, something Labour is going to change if they get back in and the public choose the Alternative Vote Plus system in a referendum. The Independent seems passionate on her issues, but again can’t win because of the electoral system. The Lib-Dem didn’t get the support that the Clegg bounce would have assured him and Mr Clarke of the Conservatives was slick, but his points were straight from the Tory manifesto, rather than focusing on Tooting issues. Sadiq has proven himself to be a MP who will fight for Tooting residents and I don’t know if we would get that to the same extent from any other candidate.

I also question the debate format. There was no real opportunity for acutal debate or rebuttal. Each speaker had two minutes to make his point and move on, thereby leaving no time for rebuttal or proper discussion.

All-in-all it was a fascinating night and it raised many questions about the viability about many of the candidates in my mind.

Campaigning literature gaffe in Tooting

27 Apr

I got this through my letter box the other day. Have a look at how the Tooting Lib-Dems have spelt Iraq in their pamphlet below. I think it is supposed to be intentional as they mention Labour’s serial errors. But I  think that might be worse as the spelling isn’t explained or re-referenced in the pamphlet. It just looks like a typo, a massive massive typo.

Really?

Campaigning for Sadiq Khan

24 Apr

In my free time I’ve been campaigning for Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting for the past 8-9 months since I moved to the area.It has been fantastic to get involved. I’ve met some fantastic new people – it’s true that Labour might not have the money that the Tories do, but they certainly have an enormously energetic level of active support and the team in Tooting are a hard-working, welcoming bunch.

Sadiq has worked exceptionally hard for the people of Tooting since he was first elected in 2005. He was born and raised in the area so he has a natural affinity with the people and a deep-rooted understanding of the issues Tooting residents face. For more information on Sadiq, have a look at his website. It is a new address because he can’t use his old website anymore due to campaigning rules.

He was kind enough to agree to post a message for my blog which is below.

A look at the second leader’s debate

22 Apr

It’s here, the much-anticipated second leader’s debate. What will happen? Will Clegg triumph again? Will Brown again posture towards the Lib-Dems or will he try to go it alone? Will Cameron finally bring up his Big Society policy, even though it has nothing to do with foreign affairs, the topic for the second debate?

Below is a brief synopsis of how I think it will go for each leader.

Nick Clegg

His star is shining bright, so there will be sky high expectations of him. Unfortunately, foreign affairs is probably the Lib-Dems worst subject. Clegg has flip-flopped on the Euro issue and now says taking on the Euro would be a mistake, but at the same time, it is there in black and white in the Lib-Dem manifesto that one day the UK should accept the Euro. Essentially, the Lib-Dems love Europe, especially Clegg. This isn’t necessarily going to go down well with some swing voters, but the question is, how many of these people are actually going to vote for the Lib-Dems anyway?

Clegg is also in an interesting position as expectations are high. Brown and especially Cameron are going to try to ground him. But all Clegg has to do is misquote Reagan again and again – “There they go again” in response to the two bigger parties’ attacks. He probably doesn’t need to answer a question other than make everyone feel sorry for the little guy. I feel this is the best option, because going on the attack and trying to be equal to Labour and the Tories on foreign policy is a mistake – because he’d lose.

David Cameron

If Clegg is under pressure, Cameron is under just as much if not more. He has to up his game significantly from the first debate, where he forgot to mention his key domestic policies. Problem is, foreign affairs isn’t the Tories strongest subject and they have been out of power for 13 years, so their international reputation may not be as strong as they’d like it to be.

Cameron will be hit on his ‘iron clad guarantee’ for a referendum on Europe. It obviously isn’t going to happen and there are a lot of conservatives, not party members, just conservatives, who don’t trust his Europe policies. Likewise, Brown and Clegg are both going to hammer him on the Conservative’s relationships within Europe, including his Polish partners.

His promise to keep an independent DFID and legislate a 0.7% aid budget will also come under fire from ultra-conservative voters. I know many aid groups are pleasantly surprised by this, but when you can’t secure your base, it’s not the best strategy to try to out flank your opposition from the left.

Cameron is also going to mention the Iran question, but his intervention during the green revolution was reported by some as a gaffe. The UK and the USA statements focused on a “we’re watching with interest”, because they knew public support of the protestors would enable the Iranian officials to claim the unrest was caused by UK and USA intervention. However, Cameron came out and decried the lack of support from Brown to the protestors and publically stated that the protestors had the support of the UK people. This was naive foreign policy.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has relationships overseas, in fact believe it or not, he is very well-respected internationally, in 2009 he was voted world statesmen of the year and is respected overseas more than in the UK. This is his biggest trump card and needs to play it. This is hugely beneficial for issues such as the Tobin Tax, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general. Afghanistan funding will again be a weak spot due to issues such as the numbers of helicopters etc.

He also needs to be more forceful I feel. Although he performed above expectations in the last debate, I think the Iron Chancellor needs to be on the stage. Due to the lack of audience interaction, jokes don’t necessarily play well on TV due to the silence in the studio – it makes it sound like the joke has fallen flat. Brown did well confronting Cameron on the police issues in the first debate and I thought the “it’s answer time not question time”, was effective. He needs to do it again, especially on Europe.

Brown is less pro-EU that Clegg, he keeps Europe at an arm’s length, but with an open palm, not a clenched fist. This will make voters feel more comfortable.

But he still has the image problem and that will be his biggest weakness.

All-in-all, it will be a fascinating evening and I’m looking forward to seeing the polls the next day.

cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Comms.

Important dates for UK economic data

20 Apr

Published in the Guardian online this morning, the following dates and times outline the important economic data to be released including 1st quarter growth or decline and job figures. It is important to note that as Prime Minister, Brown will have the first quarter data approximately 24 hours before the official release, helpfully in time for the debate on Thursday night.

It will make interesting reading. If the data is very strong, the Tories could run on the line it is time to cut the deficit because the economy is stronger. If it is too weak, then Brown’s claim that Labour has rescued the economy looks shaky. We wait with interest

The week’s UK data diary in full:

Wednesday 21 April:

9.30am: Bank of England releases minutes of April rate-setting meeting

9.30am: ONS releases labour market data from February and March

Thursday 22 April:

9.30am: ONS releases March retail sales data

9.30am: ONS releases March public finances

11.00am: CBI releases April industrial trends survey

Friday 23 April:

9.30am: ONS releases first estimate of first-quarter GDP growth

Brown versus the volcano

20 Apr

If you live in London, you may have seen yesterday’s Evening Standard front page headline Gordon’s ark.

In the time of an election, rarely does a Prime Minister have the

Copyright Evening Standad

opportunity to appear truly Prime Ministerial, however in this very unique case, an opportunity has been served on a plate to Gordon Brown.

The Evening Standard hasn’t been Brown’s greatest fan over the years, but this headline  and this story as a whole adds a whole new chaotic dimension to this election campaign. What is particularly novel about this crisis, is that no lives are actually at risk, it is all about inconvenience, granted it is incredibly inconvenient and could be significantly damaging to the airline industry. I would suspect however that many airlines will be given significant payouts through the EU to ensure they stay afloat.

Every party would love to be able to make political gains because of this crisis, but at the same time they all have to be exceptionally careful not to appear to be doing so. If the Conservatives or the Lib-Dems attack Labour for not helping the stranded, than they can be accused of playing political games, likewise, Labour can’t appear to be too chest thumping about sending in the Navy to save British lives, especially when none are really at risk.

Only time will tell about how this plays out and whether the volcano keeps spluttering away, but this is definitely one of the issues that is making this one of the most exciting elections I’ve witnessed.

This is an update to the piece I posted yesterday, Will the volcano affect the election? and cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Comms.