Archive for August, 2011

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The overnight open thread in the PB Nighthawks Cafe

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011


PB’s nightly open thread with the excellent illustration by Marf as its symbol is now into its second week and seems to be going well.

There are now prints available of Marf’s spoof of the Edward Hopper classic Nighthawks Café. This is a limited edition, signed by Marf in full colour for £60. If you are interested contact her here.

Things are just starting to hot up as the new political year beckons.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Stand by for “Explosive revelations” from Alastair Darling

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Is this going to make Miliband’s task much harder?

According to Atul Hatwal of Labour Uncut there are about to be some explosive revelations in Alastair Darling’s upcoming memoir:-

He writes: “.Darling details the total breakdown in trust between the prime minister and chancellor. He singles out Ed Balls and Shriti Vadhera as key Brown lieutenants running what amounted to a shadow treasury operation within government.

Brown’s demeanour was increasingly “brutal and volcanic”, mistrusting Darling to the extent that he repeatedly tried to place his own aides in the treasury ministerial team to report back on what the chancellor was doing.

Darling point-blank refused to have the newly-enobled Shriti Vadhera in his team, describing her as “only happy if there was blood on the floor – preferably that of her colleagues”….

,,for the first time, Darling confirms his widely rumoured confrontation with the prime minister in 2009 when Brown tried to sack him as chancellor and offer him another role in cabinet.

Darling refused, making clear he would rather walk out of government than do any other job.

Gordon Brown’s capitulation in the face of this ultimatum was vindication for Darling, who had calculated that the prime minister was too weak to lose his chancellor…

All this is not going to help EdM’s effort to rebuild Labour economic credibility.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Is YouGov now coming into line?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

The latest YouGov daily poll for News International overnight had the Labour lead over the Tories at just 1% – the closest it’s been since January. This means that the gap between the main two parties at least brings it a bit closer to the latest from country’s most accurate pollster when tested against real elections, ICM.

Last week, for the second month running, ICM had the Tories on 37% one point ahead of Labour on 36% – a poll outcome that contrasted sharply with a YouGov survey taken at the same time which had Labour on 44% – nine points ahead of the Tories.

YouGov has only reported a Labour share below 40% once since December 2010. ICM has not had the party out of the 30s since the general election.

By the weekend in the YouGov Sunday Times poll the Labour share was down to 41% with the Tories on 38% – so it could be that we are seeing a trend.

The online pollster understated the NO lead in May’s referendum by 15.8%. ICM had the outcome accurate to within 0.2%.

There’ll be a new daily poll out tonight.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Tonight in the PB Nighthawks Cafe….

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Marf tells me that prints of her spoof of the Edward Hopper classic Nighthawks Café are now available. This is a limited edition, signed by Marf in full colour for £60. The actual size is A4. If you are interested contact her here.

Have a good night.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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What do you think will be the outcome of the next general election?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Please vote in this special PB poll

Putting aside your own party allegiance what do you think is the most likely outcome of the next general election?
A Labour majority
Labour with most seats but short of a majority
The Conservatives with most seats but short of a majority
A Conservative majority
None of the above
  
 


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Dare George Osborne grasp the Scottish spending nettle?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Should the Scots continue to get a better deal?

Some months before the 2001 general election I found myself sitting next to the young George Osborne, then not even an MP, at a dinner in Oxford and we talked about the coming fight.

One of his ideas, which at the time seemed particularly smart, was for the blues to “play the English card” focussing particularly on the subject that’s the main lead in the Mail this morning, the big difference in state spending in Scotland compared with England.

The paper’s calculation is that UK government spending in Scotland averaged £10,212 per person last year – or £1,624 per head more than in England. The Mail reckons that each English family is having to pay £420 per year so that Scots can benefit from extra spending.

This is the stuff of powerful Daily Mail headlines and something that can really niggle – but is it practical for anything to be done about it?

For things like free prescriptions and the beneficial Scottish university fees arrangement with those from England excluded, are going to be a continuing irritation. My guess, however, is that they will continue.

For the onset first of devolution and now the SNP having a majority at Holyrood makes this even more sensitive. With an independence referendum due to take place premature action on the Scottish spending formula could damage the union?

Osborne knows this and will tread very carefully. The winner? Alex Salmond of course.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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It’s the PB Nighthawks Cafe time again…

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Welcome to what’s become our nightly open thread – an ides created by PB’s cartoonist, Marf, who produced the picture above.

I am told that prints will soon be available to buy – I’ll let you know when that happens.

Have a good night – for many it’s back to work in the morning after the long bank holiday weekend.

@MikeSmithsonPB



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Is Guido going to get beaten in the hanging race?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Will either petition get to 100,000 by February?

The chart features today’s update in the race between the two petitions on capital punishment – one sponsored by Paul Staines (aka Guido) calling for its restoration for specific categories of murder. The other petition, which was started on the same day is calling for the ban on capitial punishment to be retained.

This afternoon’s totals were 17,875 for the restoration of capital punishment and 25,665 for those who want the ban to be retained.

Both were posted on the official web-site on August 4th and both have received a fair bit of media attention.

Once a petition reaches 100,000 verified “signatures” within six months then the issue becomes eligible for a Commons debate.

Interestingly the difference between the two petitions, with the abolitionists maintaining a solid lead, is not mirrored in the polling. Almost all surveys show that most people want the death penalty to be restored.

I’ve been surprised by the way this has developed – but there’s still five months left. Guido could still come out on top.

@MikeSmithsonPB