Entries from February 2010 ↓
February 27th, 2010 —
[I started the blog post earlier in the week but didn't get time to finish it. The announcement of the "Vote for Change" message has spurred me on to retrieve it from the bin]
James Forsyth’s fascinating piece about the Tory ‘dead shark’ dilemma confirms to me that what we are witnessing is not, as some commentators would have us believe, a natural tightening in the polls before an election.
It’s more significant. It’s the consequence of short-termism, compromise and a failure to embed change in the Conservative Party.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson rediscovered social democracy for Labour. They struggled and won many battles in order to achieve this.
David Cameron has failed to redefine his party. He compromised with his right wing instead of taking them on. The nearer we are to the election, the more it shows.
If you look at the Times today, you can see where Conservative attempts to market the party as new and fresh comes unstuck when you look at the data. One in 16 new Tory candidates are related to past or present Tory MPs! Half of them were recruited from within the party machine, the lobbying industry, The City or the Bar.
Not for the first time in recent months, the media are behind the British Public in their thinking. The Sun front page accusing Gordon Brown of being the “Prime Monster” received almost universal ridicule in the thousands of conversations taking place in the social media space. Sure, the Tories score short-term hits with well-spun news pieces but they’re not telling the whole story. And voters sense this.
The truth is, people know that David Cameron failed to face down the Conservative right. A majority of the electorate may not be enamoured by the European Union but they know that the Tory position is so illogical that they look ridiculous in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
And more importantly, they know that the Tories were all over the place on the economy. If you need reminding of their inconsistent position, here’s the Sun promoting George Osborne condemning the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley.
They’ve not changed themselves enough and near an election, people are seeing this. I can’t find the story from this week that reflected the poll showing that a third of people say that they don’t know what the Tories stand for but it’s a dramatic statistic.
So I think to open up an election with the message “Vote for Change” is extraordinarily naive. A third of voters don’t know what change they’ll be voting for. Worse, many people still think they offer the wrong kind of change. It’s a complacent message. It builds on the Tories’ hubristic belief that the election was gifted them last year. It lacks hope and optimism. It’s devoid of a future offer. They’ll regret it.
February 27th, 2010 —
Robert Popper. Genius.
He spoofs Andrew Pierce and then gets written up in a number of national newspapers, including the Sun, which I notice does not appear to support Labour these days.
February 26th, 2010 —
“That this House congratulates 6 Music on its diverse and rich mix of music genres, including indie, dance, rock, RnB, soul and reggae; welcomes the station’s commitment to support new music of unknown, up and coming artists; notes with deep concern recent newspaper speculation that the BBC is considering closing 6 music; and calls on the Government to encourage the BBC to continue its support for thestation for many years to come.”
February 23rd, 2010 —
The entertainment industry continues an unprecedented and relentless lobby around the Digital Economy Bill. The campaigns around this Bill really are a story of David and Goliath. If you counted the number of people who are working full time to bounce this Bill through the Commons on behalf of big publishing interests I bet it would run into three figures. Those that want to protect the Internet connections of the nation’s youth? Probably one or two.
Being lobbied by people you revere, respect and admire is a tricky thing. I’ve just openend this letter from some big characters in my life. It shows how co-ordinated and determined the entertainment industry is:
Dear Mr Watson
The Digital Economy Bill
Britain is admired for its creativity and its sense of fair play. British musicians, singers, actors, writers and directors are known and loved around the world and create some of our greatest assets. Together they contribute more that 7% to the UK economy.
The Digital Economy Bill brings both of these together. It will ensure that British creators, entertainment companies and the 1.8 millioon people who work in and around the cultural sector are respected and rewarded in the future as they have been in the past., and that they are fairly paid when they put their work online.
Digital entertainment services are really beginning to take off: fans have never had so much choice as to how they enjoy their music, books, TV and films online. But for these new business models to develop, it is critical that more is done to prevent the illegal services providing easy access to free content.
We urge Parliament to pass this bill as a matter of urgency in order to secure the future of its creative talent and industries.
Sir Terry Pratchett OBE author
Paul Greengrass President Directors UK
Stephen Garrett Executive Chairman Kudos
Tim Bevan Co Chairman, Working Title Films
February 21st, 2010 —
Exits are the hardest thing to get right in politics. James Purnell’s seems sadder than most.
I used to get on well with James. He has a very dry humour that would often help us get through stressful days in the government whips office. Then I resigned in September 2006. Since then we’ve hardly shared a sentence, let alone a joke. It’s a situation I regret.
When he resigned last year, I felt great empathy for James. He wouldn’t have appreciated my thoughts at the time but it’s a very lonely thing when you voluntarily leave government, even when the exit is on good terms. And James, like me, did not leave on good terms. He would have felt miserable and lonely. In the heat of the media crucible, colleagues use harsh language and say things they shouldn’t. Though you know it’s not really meant, it still hurts.
I felt the same for Siobhain McDonagh when she resigned in turbulent circumstances. Siobhain is Labour. Labour to her very core. You could see the agony on her face when she did TV interviews.
Back to James. He’ll be missed. I’m not surprised to see him depart Westminster whilst he’s still young enough to make a difference in his next endeavour. I hope he does something dramatic and big in the arts. But whatever he chooses to do, I wish him well. And perhaps one day, we can share wry observations on the absurd aspects of politics and the media again.
February 14th, 2010 —
Now they tell me. This just in:
Your Prepay will expire in 14 days
Just under 2 years have passed since you last ordered a card with us at Moonpig. You currently have £18.80 Prepay credit left on your account so we wanted to let you know that if you don’t place an order within the next 14 days this credit will be marked as unused and will expire.
We are always adding new cards, new features and helpful functionality to the site, so click here and visit Moonpig to see what’s new.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Customer Service team who’ll be happy to help.
The moonpig team
That’s not very good is it.
February 3rd, 2010 —
My colleague Sion Simon thinks mayors are going to be introduced whoever wins the next election. So he’s standing down as an MP to put his name forward as Mayor of Birmingham. I think he was a writer on the Telegraph with Boris Johnson. What is it about the Telegraph and the commanding heights of local government?
He’s also standing down as a Minister before the recess week later this month. So a new Minister will have to steer the Bill through Committee. I guess this could the other Minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Margaret Hodge. Will report back when I know more.
February 1st, 2010 —
The Tory wobbles and gaffes over the economy, Ashcroft and marriage tax is seized upon by Peter Mandelson and other Cabinet members today. Quotes from Peter M. dropped in my inbox:
Peter Mandelson said:
“The Conservative leadership’s plans for the economy are far from clear.
“In the coming financial year, starting two months from today, planned investment will rise by £31 billion. David Cameron said this time last week we needed to ‘tear up’ these plans. But now the Tories seem to be on the move.
“Instead of bobbing around like a cork in water David Cameron should level with the British people.
“If he refuses to be clear, if he will not be honest, people will conclude that – for electoral reasons – he is hiding the truth and that the Conservatives’ proposed cuts will indeed eat into the recovery and throw Britain back into recession and lost jobs.
“We are just seeing the early signs of recovery, but the road ahead will be bumpy. That is why we cannot take risks. The economy needs continued support until the recovery is fully locked in. That is why Labour are leaving Government spending and investment in place for 2010/11. It can’t be clearer.”