Tag Archives: cameron

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.


The Tories are running a gauntlet by questioning Labour’s Union links

17 Mar

Recently, the Tories have been highlighting Labour’s links with the Unions, in particular Unite in a clear response to Labour’s Lord Ashcroft attacks. Without question Labour is closely connected with Unite, whose political director, Charlie Whelan happens to be a former advisor to Number 10 and was allegedly one of those who unleashed the forces of hell on Alistair Darling.

But, are the Conservatives asking for trouble by going down this road?

The Conservatives seem to think that voters will be astonished that Labour has links with the Unions. Umm, that is just the way it is and the way it has always been, it isn’t going to change and it isn’t a surprise to the public. Issue over.

The Conservatives also seem to be under the impression that this connection will outrage voters. Well, again, everyone knows Labour and the Unions are one and the same, so no outrage. However, instead of leaking a great secret, they are running a dangerous gauntlet. Sure, union power and membership is at a historic low, but there are still a lot of people who are union members and a lot still who have sympathy for them. The Conservatives have to be very, very careful that they don’t threaten these voters.

Unlike previous points in history, many of these members or sympathisers could have voted Conservative at this election, because of the uncertainty over Brown and the desire for change and the fact people realised they can think for themselves. However, how will these voters react to Cameron trashing the Unions and at the same time talking about public spending cuts and an age of austerity? People will add this up to mean Cameron will come down hard on the unions if he won, leading to less protection to workers, especially in the public sector, when the inevitable time for job cuts arrive. The threat to worker protection will make union voters run away from the Conservatives and back into the waiting arms of the Labour Party, who will always protect the unions.

Cameron today in PMQs spoke about breaking the picket line. Whether you are a member of a union or not, many many people feel uncomfortable with crossing a picket line. I do and I’m not a member of a union. It’s a call to action for the Tory base, but it will not necessarily grab the swing votes.

Ashcroft is also an issue in this. Why is this being raised? Because the Tories want to fight back against the Ashcroft scandal. By attacking Labour funding, they just allow Labour to bring back the Ashcroft issue again and again and again. The Tories think attack is the best form of defence and sometimes it is, but other times well should be left alone.

Finally, the Tories are obviously trying to hark back to the bad old days of the Winter of Discontent. But Labour supporters and the Unions haven’t forgotten what came after that Winter, their mortal enemy Margaret Thatcher. When Cameron talks about crossing picket lines, removing union power and significant cuts to public spending people’s minds will start reaching some uncomfortable connections.

Brown is suggesting that Cameron is trying to fuel the strike, rather than help it come to a resolution, this too is going to scare people, because it suggests to them, Cameron is for divisive politics, while Brown is trying to create himself as the great unifier. Will it work? Possibly not, but Brown suggests if there is a strike, it will be more the fault of the Tories than Labour. This of course is a tad ridiculous considering the Conservatives are in Opposition, but if sold well, it could stick in the minds of the public.

But how will this resolve itself? If the BA concerns are solved and the strike averted, then Brown will appear to be the great saviour. If there is still a strike, Labour will blame the Tories and maybe get away with it. It is an interesting situation and I think the Conservatives may have fallen into a trap. It will be interesting to see if they get out of it, but this is election politics for you.

Cross posted with Ruder Finn DotCom.

Cameron at PMQs

10 Mar

Today’s PMQs were extraordinary. David Cameron was close to boiling point when he attacked the Labour hecklers after he asked why so many former Chiefs of the Defence Staff were taking issue with the Prime Minister’s evidence at Chilcott. The hecklers claimed the answers was that they were Tories.  Cameron exploded.

The Guardian pointed out that Cameron was indeed quoting Lord Guthrie and General Sir Richard Dannatt. Lord Guthrie sits on the Cross-benches and so he therefore has no public political stance, but General Sir Richard Dannatt is indeed a Tory defence advisor. I don’t necessarily think it is a leap to suggest a Tory advisor would support the Tory line and to do so publically.  Former chief of the navy, Lord West, predicted Sir Richard’s involvement with the Conservatives would be a mistake and this is one of the cases where Sir Richard is an issue for Cameron.

Then came the really special event.  David Cameron claimed that the Conservatives ended the Cold War. I never read that version of history, in fact I believe it was Margaret Thatcher who said, “We do not want a united Germany.”

I believe that Reagan and Gorbachev played a not insignificant role.

Cameron then had a go at Labour Party members out campaigning in the 80s with CND badges on. I don’t think many people can actively claim that Nuclear disarmament is a bad thing and to assert otherwise only harkens back to the bad old days of Thatcher.

Anyway, it was fiery, but I think Brown had the day.

The Tories are panicking

28 Feb

As I lay here in my sickbed, unfortunately unable to canvass for Sadiq Khan and LCID, slowly going mad watching endless Law and Order and Scrubs, I’ve had the opportunity to read even more political articles than I would normally and it is clear that the Tories are in severe panic mode. Not just the doldrums and messaging meetings that you hear about in the media in general prior to today’s poll that saw them only two points ahead of Labour, but proper sweat inducing, palpitation creating, panic.

With the news of this poll, there is talk of them lurching to the right, looking scarily like the McCain 2008 campaign. McCain was known as a moderate and tried to appear so, but during the campaign, although somewhat earlier than Cameron is being called to, he had to lurch to the right to ensure he kept the base. There is significant pressure at the moment for Cameron to start campaigning heavily on tax cuts and immigration, sure signs of panic and dangerous ground to play, because all of a sudden you lose the moderates. There are even signs that some within the party have broken with Tory HQ and are already campaigning on immigration, without approval, but still in the name of Ministers.

There are even stories starting to question the leadership of Cameron, suggesting they would do better under Hague. It seems so long ago similar storylines were in print about Labour. Hoon and Hewitt seem a generation ago. The Conservative press are turning against the Tories and Cameron, they are spouting panic and that doesn’t help the them in the view of a very confused public who don’t know if they can trust him either. They certainly don’t know him.

There is a Cameron quote in the TimesOnline this morning;

“I would say after doing 4½ years of this job, people have got to know me — not as much as I would like but there are some weeks still to go.”

Really, after 4 1/2 years he thinks a couple of weeks will make a difference? Surely that’s grasping at straws.

To be honest, credit where credit due, Cameron is doing the moral thing. I don’t like him, but he realises that the Tories of the far right isn’t where the party should be. And I hope he doesn’t go towards the immigration  line and it appears he won’t, because that only gives credit to Griffin and the BNP’s argument.

The question is, is this a blip, or is this the Kinnock moment in 1992 that things went haywire for the Conservatives and they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I sure hope so.


I just saw on sky news that theofficial word from inside the Tory leader’s suite in the Metropole is that the latest poll setback “stiffens our resolve” and “blows out of the water their underdog strategy”. It is never a good sign when you are fighting for the underdog title, especially if you are still ahead in the polls as the Tories are, albeit by only two. points.

Why do all three leaders have an image problem?

15 Feb

In this age of 24 hour media, spin doctors, image consultants and press advisers, it really amazes me that all three leaders have a significant image problem.

Brown is seen as distant and struggles to connect with voters. Cameron, no matter how he tries, is still seen as a toff and  smarmy (mainly because he is, credit to the public where credit is due). Clegg simply doesn’t have an image.

I thought Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan last night was very good. He seemed relaxed, witty, real and engaging. I think that the interview will pay off and hopefully will show a increasing tightening in the polls. Brown didn’t seem like the distant professor but he seemed like an average everyday man, someone you might want to have a beer with.

However, Brown said something that dumbfounded me. It was in regards to the infamous YouTube video last year. Brown said that he asked his advisers should he have another go at it because he wasn’t happy with it, but his advisers said it was fine. I’m hoping, whoever that was, has been sufficiently rebuked because they failed at the number one priority of their job – to make their boss look good. I’ve written before that I thought Brown had been getting bad advice – clearly I was right.

But are all three getting such bad advice? The Cameron poster debacle make me think his marketing team is failing as well. Cameron asked in PMQs would Labour MPs want Brown’s face on their campaigning documents, but I think some Tories are probably distancing themselves from his image now too.

Clegg is struggling to get any spotlight at the moment, but when the media will be obliged to give the Lib-Dems some column inches during the campaign, I’m sure this will change, but not my much.

So, who’s fault is it, the advisers or the candidates?

Don’t underestimate the Lib-Dems

25 Sep

By Nick Osborne

David Mitchell of Peep Show fame said on Mock the Week last night that the Liberal Democrat Conference was simply a warm up for the Labour and Conservative Conference’s in the coming weeks. Normally, from what I’ve experienced, this was probably the case, although this time I’m not so sure.

Naturally, there has been a fairly large amount of press surrounding the Lib-Dem Conference. It is after all, the first major conference in the last conference season prior to a General Election. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Vince Cable MP has been named the most trusted politician in the UK. Nick Clegg has found his feet as Leader of the Lib-Dems and as he states he is ready to become Prime Minister. This obviously will never happen, but I predict that the Lib-Dems will play a more significant role in this election than they have played in recent ones.

All elections are fascinating, but this one will potentially benefit the Lib-Dems for a number of reasons:

1.       Increased visibility. I’m sure Nick Clegg was the first to jump at the chance of a three way debate between the leaders. Clegg has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A story on Newsnight earlier this week revolved around Barack Obama’s polling analyst looking at the upcoming election.

Via a number of focus groups he initially determined that Clegg’s biggest problem was the lack of visibility i.e. no one had heard of him or understood what he stood for. However, once they were shown footage of him speaking and discussing his policies, many of the focus group opinions changed. He was seen as likable, strong with reasonable policies. A televised debate would give him a national platform that the Lib-Dems would not have experienced for a long time.

2.       Social media. This kind of fits within the increased visibility section above, but like the other parties, the Lib-Dems are going to be able to push their policies and candidates over the web, something that hasn’t been done during a general election in the UK before. Voters will therefore be more aware than ever before.

3.       Disaffected Labour voters. The term progressive has been over used to a nauseating level in the past two weeks, but, let’s be truly honest the Lib-Dems probably have more right to the term than the Conservatives. With the Lib-Dems wanting to tax the rich via the mansion tax and out flanking Labour from the left by raising the tax-free threshold to £10,000, scrapping trident and ID Cards, angry lefties might just tick the yellow box.

4.       People who can’t bring themselves to vote for David Cameron. In the North, Cameron is still going to struggle, simply because of his Oxbridge, Etonian, Bullingdon club reputation and there will be many voters who won’t be able to bring themselves to tick the Tory box. If they don’t vote for Labour, or god forbid the BNP, the Lib-Dems might just pick up a few votes or even seats here and there.

5.       Expenses. The Lib-Dems were comparatively unscathed as an individual party, although as MPs, they were dragged through the mud with everyone else. The Lib-Dems should have done better in the Euro elections in June, but they did reasonably in the local elections so it is hard to say whether they will garner extra votes from being relatively clean.

6.       Increased voter numbers. The public is peeved with Westminster and this could either mean a record high or low turnout. If it is high, then I think the smaller parties, including the Lib-Dems will pick up a significant number of votes because they are still not seen as one of the major players, yet they are still seen as a viable protest vote destination.

No Party is doing as well as they should be. Sure, the Tories have a commanding lead in the polls and hover just above 40%, Labour mid to high twenties and Lib-Dem low twenties, high teens. That to me suggests some issues. To be clear winners, the Tories should be 45%. Labour should be higher at 30% to be in with a chance, but things will tighten as the elections looms. But the fact is, there looks like around 15% undecideds, even if you give 5% to the minor parties.

The Tories should still get it, but things aren’t as black and white as some pundits claim they are. If the election was called today, it would not take a huge percentage shift for the Tories to be presiding over a hung parliament and Ming has already stated that if the Tories won, the Lib-Dems would be compelled to work with Labour. The Tories are also clearly a tad concerned, hence David Cameron and Eric Pickles calling, slightly ridiculously, for Lib-Dem voters to come home to the Tories.

The ultimate test will be election day, but the fact is, I don’t think the Lib-Dems can necessarily be discounted. They may be a force to be reckoned with, or they might fluff it, they’ve done it before after all. But you never know, come Autumn in 2010, we could be waking up with a few extra pounds in our pockets or less, if you own a whopping great house.

Love to know your thoughts.

Oh no he didn’t – David Cameron’s thoughts on twitter

29 Jul

As you all know, we are running a survey into MPs’ and politicos’ use of twitter. Part of the survey asks why are there so few Tory MPs tweeting in comparison to Labour and Lib-Dem MPs. We also ask which party gets social media.

I’m sure anyone who follows politics through social media may have seen or heard about the interview with David Cameron on Absolute Radio this morning, essentially making a jibe at twitter and having a good joke with Chris O’Connell on the breakfast show.

Essentially Mr Cameron was asked if he used twitter and his reply was “politicians have to think about what we say” and the instantaneous nature of twitter can lead to a problem of keeping on message and not being able to get a message across in 140 characters. This is a reasonable and legitimate argument against the use of twitter as a political engagement tool, albeit one I disagree with.

But these perfectly reasonable points led to a bit of a gaffe when Mr Cameron said “too many twits might make a twat.” Oh dear.

Funny at the time maybe and I’m sure absolutely no offence intended -he clearly didn’t call people who use twitter twats, but in the blogosphere and twitterverse, eyebrows have been raised. If you search for Cameron on the Twitter search engine today, most of the tweets are focusing on this. I personally feel it shows a lack of awarness of the medium by the Tory Leader. The fact that this message has spread well-past normal Absolute FM listeners shows the power of social media. Even if you aren’t on twitter yourself, the message is still instantaneously released as Mr Cameron found out. He has since apologised for his slip up.

It also shows an inherent lack of understanding of the medium by UK politicians generally. Tools like twitter should be used to create calls-to-action for public engagement. Examples include asking followers to come to rallies or events, calling for support on specific issues, making people aware of campaigns.

Twitter, politically speaking, isn’t just for stating what you are having for breakfast or with marked frustration, tweeting how many letters you have opened today, as one MP did I noticed, although tweets like these do personalise the user, so they should be interspersed with the calls to action.

News outlets have jumped on the Cameron interview. The Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, Sky, Reuters, the Press Association to name but a few, have all made comment on Mr Cameron’s choice of words and Labour List are currently having a field day.

The slip up won’t lose Cameron too many votes, but the question remains, does Mr Cameron and the team not get social media, or do they just not get breakfast radio?

Below is the video of the interview embedded from the Absolute Radio YouTube site – let me know your thoughts