Daily Archives: 8 March 2006

Once More Unto the Pub, Dear Friends, Once More…

Can you believe it is only 3 weeks since the last Liberal Drinks? Sheesh! Time goes by quickly!

Anyway, same time and time of the month – Wednesday 15 March, 7.30pm – and same place – The Silver Cross. I’m not personally planning to hold one in April, so this is the last chance to get together until after the locals. We’ve had a great turnout for the last two this year, let’s pull out all the stops on this one.

Looking glass politics

Not having been involved in Julia Goldsworthy’s campaign, it would be foolhardy of me to pretend to know everything that happened in this campaign. Iain Dale however, despite having a campaign in North Norfolk at the time of his own to fight, knows better than me, claiming that Julia “won her seat in part by taking advantage of the homophobic attacks on the Tory candidate Ashley Crossley.”

Shocking! And very unfortunate given the whole Bermondsey debacle. But when pushed to substantiate these claims, the best Iain can do is come up with this email by an unnamed individual:

You are absolutely right that she took political advantage of Ashley’s situation when the most honourable course of action would have been not to refer to it in order to demonstrate the irrelevance of someone’s sexuality. She published Lib Dem election literature saying the Tories were ‘in turmoil’ and quoting several of those who were behind the homophobia mentioning Ashley’s ‘tantrums’ amongst other things. She also sent round a leaflet entitled “Who do you want as your next MP?” showing an unflattering picture of Candy Atherton next to a youthful, smiling, Julia – the insinuation clearly that you really don’t want someone looking like Candy as your MP.

So let’s get this straight. If the Tories choose to rip themselves to shreds because so many of them are homophobic bigots, the Lib Dems should pretend on their leaflets that the Tories are united behind their candidate. What is more, they should only ever use flattering pictures of their opponents and the worst possible photos they can find of their own candidates, in order to even the odds. Most importantly, she must never appear young, or smile.

After all, that is EXACTLY what the Tories would do, isn’t it?

You often hear Labour and Tory activists mutter about Lib Dem “dirty tricks.” I can honestly say that, although I’m quite sure some Lib Dems are badly behaved, I’ve seen no evidence that the Lib Dems have a worse record than any of the other parties. Indeed, I would say we have a better record, but I realise I can’t possibly have an objective view on the subject. Readers of this blog will know that I have my criticisms of Lib Dem campaigning – my chief bugbear being scare stories reliant on selective crime statistics – but I’ve seen far worse put out by other parties.

This is a perfect example of how, when you look in detail at the substantive claims, it adds up to little more than the shrill outrage of a few sore losers who can’t admit to their own failings.

Scottish Politics Redux

Following on from my post yesterday, I should mention that the Tories’ Scottish Leader Annabel Goldie (who, contrary to popular believe is neither a mid-90s trip hop recording artist or the Blue Peter dog), has announced the goal of forming the main opposition in 2007 and has ruled out the Tories forming a coalition with anyone.

Ironically, the number two spot is likely to be the most hotly contested. The SNP will want to hold onto it, while the Lib Dems are in a good position to take it after their excellent performance last year where they became the main opposition in terms of both MPs and popular vote. It is hard to see how the Tories will be able to do well enough to gain this prize, but they may well go forward. All three parties have a real chance of getting MSPs in the 20s, which means that they could form a coalition together, unlikely as it may be.

For what it’s worth, I think Goldie is right about the problems with coalition government. There has been a strong case for having one in the early years of the Scottish Parliament in the interests of stability, and there may be a case for one in the future, but a minority administration is possible and has genuine advantages, not least of all openness. If Labour managed to hold onto 50 MSPs in 2007, it could probably get a lot done simply by negotiating deals at different stages with the SNP, Lib Dems and Tories depending on the issue – with the opposition split in three ways, they would actually be quite strong. More likely though, they will go down to 40-something seats, in which case they will be dependent on two (or more, not forgetting the Greens and SSP), opposition parties.

On who got what

Generally, Ming’s reshuffle this week is a solid piece of work. I have very few complaints, although I’m a little disappointed that Lembit wasn’t given transport. Given that this post has gone from a bloke called Brake to a bloke called Carmichael, clearly Lembit needs to get a more automobile-related name.

Jenny Willott’s absense is notable. My suspicion is that she has opted to concentrate on constituency work for her first term.

Unlike others, I don’t consider Huhne’s appointment to environment a snub, and I hope he doesn’t either. He has a chance to make something of the role which Norman Baker himself admits has gone rather stale under his stewardship in recent years. I look forward to seeing what Huhne makes of it, my guess being that he will concentrate far more on market mechanisms and economics and far less on landfill/incinerators/wind turbines which has been Baker’s staple.

Teather’s shift to education is a good one as Davey was disappointing with this brief, and it means that I no longer get wound up by her spouting nonsense about “death taxes.” Meanwhile Andrew Stunell will be a popular choice for ODPM amongst councillors as he is Mr ALDC. Of course, being Mr ALDC means he may quite possibly start issuing “death taxes” press releases of his own.

Susan Kramer’s promotion to International Development is a double-edged sword. It is an important brief and one which can guarantee you a relatively high profile in this post-MPH world, but she will also be open to the accusation of being a Junkett Queen. Indeed, I know of one MP who is on strict instructions by their local party not to take on the role for that very reason. It only increases my feeling that she should be elected as Deputy Leader – not only would this be a good move in itself, but it would ensure she has another high profile position with a primarily domestic agenda.

Overall though, I’d give Ming 8/10 for this. A good start.