Archive | Politics RSS feed for this section

So, Mitt Romney just bored his way to a loss

12 Apr

So, campaigning for the 2012 US Presidential Election has finally begun. I love this time of the election cycle, where we can review ads, dissect them and work out who is going to do well and place bets on who will be the first to sack their campaign staff.

Mitt Romney has just formally announced his candidacy by affirmed his reputation as captain boring as  he introduces himself in a two minute chat about what he did last week. What is strange about this kind of introductory film is that it’s not as though people don’t know who Mitt Romney is. He was a serious candidate to be the 2008 Republican Nominee; he was Governor of Minnesota Massachusetss; he has been listed as a potential 2012 candidate since Obama’s win. So why does he need to introduce himself this way? He should remind people of his points of view and convictions, especially when he has been tarnished in the eyes of the Right by his version of Obama Care and people are suspicious of his religion. He has to show his morals are the same as the next good right wing American’s and I don’t think he does here.

On the flip side of the coin, Tim Pawlenty (or T-Paw according to his website) clearly has employed Jonathan Demme to direct his campaign ads. I’d watch this movie, but I wouldn’t vote for the guy. It’s an interesting concept to use an attack ad to launch a Presidential candidacy, especially when Pawlenty is an unknown compared to Romney.  He should mix this, with Romney’s and he would have a much better ad.

I’ll review Obama’s ad in the next few days

Will the volcano affect the election?

19 Apr

I know it seems quite odd to discuss an Icelandic volcano affecting the election, but the whole Eyjafjallajoekull situation is a simply bizarre anyway. The lack of planes in the sky is personally a bit strange, however, given the whole election as it is unfolding, it is just one of a number of anomalies that is making this election truly memorable.

But, like the wedding that I went to on the weekend that unfortunately saw the Spanish mother of the Groom as well as two groomsmen unable to attend, this volcano could have a significant effect of Gordon Brown’s campaign.

Currently, there are approximately 200,000 Britons stranded in this crisis. That is a lot of voters. The last thing Brown needs right now is headlines in The Sun and the Daily Mail saying Labour ignores British cries for help with interviews with stranded passengers stuck in Madrid saying that the Government and the Embassies are doing nothing to help them.

This is an issue that the Government has no control and I fully support their decision to continue shutting airports until the Met office has declared it safe, despite British airlines making successful test flights across the UK. If one passenger filled plane were to experience troubles or god forbid, worse, than that would create all numbers of situations that don’t need to be flirted with.

However, the Government does need to have an action plan in place and Lord Mandelson, David Miliband, Tessa Jowell, Lord Adonis and Lord West announced detailed plans outside Number 10 yesterday.

What interested me particularly though was where was Gordon Brown for this photo shoot? Rarely during an election campaign like this would a PM have the opportunity to look so Prime Ministerial, but he wasn’t there. The only reasons I can think of are a) due to laws around General Elections, the PM is restricted from making statements about these sort of issues, however I think that is unlikely; b) the Government thinks this might go on for some days longer, so they don’t want the PM to be visually associated with bad news or worse make him look like he has no control of the issue or dithering; c)  Labour doesn’t want to risk Opposition making claims that Labour is politicising a crisis involving 200,000 Brits for election purposes. Option C I think is the most realistic, however there could be some of option b involved in the decision-making process also.

Whatever the reason, this is a problem no one needs, especially he passengers and I think it is extremely commendable that no party has politicized this for the purposes of obtaining more votes. However, with the polls getting closer and all Parties reviewing their strategy, don’t say it won’t happen.

But spare a thought for poor Paul Wesson an independent running in David Cameron’s seat in Witney. Obviously, he has an enormous mountain to climb to beat Cameron in his own seat, but currently he is stranded in the Sudan. Not likely to get many votes there. Can you claim back your electoral deposit through travel insurance?

The Conservatives are being targeted like an incumbent Government

9 Apr

Labour, the Lib-Dems and now the SNP all have at least one thing in common, they all seem to have the Tories directly in their crosshairs as the Tories seem to be under the most scrutiny and attack so far in the election campaign.

Of course none of this is a shock, it is only natural for the parties to have a go at each other, but what is striking about the attacks on the Tories is that it would normally be reserved for an incumbent Government, rather than the Opposition. The Tories are obviously the bookies favourite to win the most seats, at the very least the largest number in a Hung Parliament, so they are seen as the biggest threat by all of the parties.

Labour is obviously going after the Tories on everything as their prime competition. The Lib-Dems are trying to impress themselves onto voters as the eligible kingmakers whilst protecting their own seats which is evidenced most recently by Nick Clegg launching a “VAT Bombshell” poster campaign focusing on the Tory tax scheme. Alex Salmond is also trying to scare voters away from voting Tory in Scotland by running with a line that the Tories will go on a “smash-and-grab” spree by reviewing £1billion worth of funding to Scotland.

The latest Lib-Dem attack on the Conservative tax strategy

Of all of the parties, this probably benefits Labour the most as a lot of the “attack-dog” work they would normally have to do is being done by the smaller parties on a far more targeted level than the Labour election war chest would normally allow. The Tories therefore have to spend more time defending their policies and ideas on a national scale as well as batting away attacks on a more geographically targeted scale. Labour, while still needing to point out their perceived flaws in Conservative policy has more of an opportunity to sell in their policies.

Whether this will make a huge difference on Election Day, we will only know on May 7 but what is sure is the Tories would like more scrutiny on Labour, rather than being almost constantly defending their own policies and agenda. Labour would therefore be enjoying the underdog status and it is well-known this is a position where Brown feels very comfortable.

Cross posted with my personal blog.

Abbott is making a mistake by going for Gillard

1 Apr

Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has gone on the attack by going after Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a mini-reshuffle to his Ministry.

Australian Deputy PM Julia Gillard

Abbott has claimed that Gillard is overworked and overstretched and should ha ve some of her many responsibilities taken off her. Gillard’s title is Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, Social Inclusion but I have no doubt the Deputy Prime Minister is one of the few people  who could actually manage such a large portfolio.

This is the latest in a long-runnning war between Gillard and Abbott, but I think Abbott’s attacks are misplaced. For starters, he is shooting down, which is always a mistake for a Leader. We all remember the criticism of Obama when the Democrats went after Sarah Palin during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Abbott should be going for Rudd and Rudd alone and letting the rest of his team go for Gillard.

They have also attacked Gillard before on a personal level and it back-fired badly. Earlier in the year, Gillard questioned Coalition

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

statements about parenting, when Senator Brandis stated Gillard couldn’t understand the way parents think” about virginity because she doesn’t have kids.”

While that didn’t hurt Abbott too much as he was still well into his honeymoon, there was a fair outcry as to the remarks.

Finally, the Australian people like Gillard. In an Essential Report poll from the 22nd of March, Gillard beat Abbott 47-37 as preferred Prime Minister. The people also don’t like Abbott when he is being overtly confrontational, as was

shown in the results of the recent Health Debate, which the Prime Minister clearly won.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

So Abbott has to decide if his strategies are right, because they’ve attacked Gillard before and it hasn’t worked. This is probably just a one-off attack to coincide with the PM’s mini-reshuffle, but the Coalition have to be wary.

Labour’s Australian sister party makes significant gains against Conservative Coalition

29 Mar

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Australian Labor Party has made significant gains against Tony Abbott’s Coalition in a recent poll.

Despite Abbott’s strong showing in an Australian Iron Man competition on the weekend (and you thought Boris Johnson looked silly on a bike), he hasn’t been able to keep up his momentum in political circles that at one stage saw Rudd’s lead down to only 4 points. In the Australian newspaper, according to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary vote jumped four percentage points to 43 per cent and the Coalition’s primary support fell three points to 38 per cent, a clear election-winning lead on a two-party-preferred basis of 56 per cent for the Rudd government and 44 per cent for the Coalition.

This is a significant lead and is a clear indication that Abbott’s honeymoon may well be over.

What’s wrong with modern Conservatism?

24 Mar

An article in the Washington Post by E.J. Dionne Jr. , a liberal in the American sense of the word, has raised a number of issues about the current state of conservatism. He correctly points out that conservatism is incredibly important for democracy, and conservatives have made vital contributions for three reasons. I suggest you read his article here for more.

Of course he is right and it is the beauty of our democracy that both the left and right can be represented in our Parliament.

But Dionne goes on to say that the current state of conservatism is dangerous. The Republicans are currently the party of no and are blocking almost everything they can, so much so, that the Democrats have used a Budget Resolution vote, normally used to pass cost saving bills. This say no at any cost oppositional politics is not beneficial to anyone.

Australia is in a similar position at the moment. Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is up against a hostile Senate and a negative Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. One example is the Emissions Trading Scheme policy that the senate has voted down twice in Australia. Abbott gained the Leadership after a Leadership spill over the second ETS vote, ending the then Coalition policy.

For a while, the Coalition didn’t have a clear policy, but said it would vote against any ALP bill presented. It wasn’t until 2-3 months later that the Coalition came out with an environmental policy, but the policy, with Abbott’s admission, “won’t have every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed.” So the Coalition are effectively fighting Labor, but without anything as an alternative.

All-in-all, UK Conservatives aren’t nearly as bad, although, I have a feeling that it may be due to the Westminster system more than anything else. With an unelected upper-house, that rarely other than a few ping-pong bills, really causes a stir. Oppositions will therefore vote against the Government, without fear of being painted too-badly as the bill will generally get through given sufficient time. Although Cameron’s recent interview in regards to Conservative voting policy towards gay rights may prove to be an issue.

I’m not sure what can be done about this as it is a trap that parties fall into whenever they are in opposition to look strong and appease their base. Don’t get me wrong, liberal and progressive style parties often make a similar partisan decision when they are in opposition but Conservatives, as an obvious rule, don’t want to modernise and that includes their own party. Change is difficult and only elections can make an immediate change, but it is important that the ying and yang of politics is restored.

Never hold an election when…

19 Mar

This weekend, there are State elections being held in South Australia and Tasmania. Those two important events, plus the discussion about the date of the UK election, although we all know it will be May 6, made me think about the unwritten rules of calling an election in Australia.

Some states and cities have fixed terms, so these rules don’t apply, but Federally and in Queensland, there is a guide as to when you should never, ever call an election. If you have a few more suggestions, let me know.

(For anyone reading this who isn’t Australian, all of our elections are held on a Saturday and of course, we have compulsory voting.)

  • Never hold an election for Rugby League or AFL Grand final weekend. No one cares about soccer, so that’s ok
  • Never hold an election during an ashes test, or the first test of any series to be honest
  • Never hold an election during the holidays or any long weekends
  • Never hold an election during school holidays in December or January (summer holidays)