Archive for the 'David Cameron' Category

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Wiping out the Lib Dems might have been Cameron’s greatest strategic mistake as Prime Minister

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Cable Loss

Picture: The apotheosis of the Tory targeting of the Lib Dems at the last general election.

Why Cameron might still be PM if the coalition had continued after May 2015.

When David Cameron reflects on his earlier than anticipated departure as Prime Minister I wonder if in hindsight he’ll regret his and Sir Lynton’s Crosby targeting of the Lib Dem held seats at the last general election. At the time the 27 Tory gains from the Lib Dems was hailed for its brilliance and stealthiness, whilst the architects of the plan were lauded to the point one of them was awarded a knighthood.

But much like Hannibal defeating the Romans in the early part of The Second Punic War, Cameron may have won some battles but ultimately lost the war (to stop the Tories banging on about Europe.)

So imagine the EU referendum had taken place under another Con/Lib Dem coalition

With Nick Clegg’s greater experience of European Union affairs, Cameron might have obtained a much better renegotiation deal than he achieved. One of Cameron’s great misjudgements in the EU referendum was to spin the he deal obtained as a great deal instead of the reality of it being a middling to tepid deal at best.

If the referendum had happened under another Tory/Lib Dem coalition I get the feeling the Lib Dems would have insisted the franchise for the referendum was much more broader. You could have seen them insisting European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom and sixteen & seventeen year olds having the vote, I think the former alone would have been more than enough to overturn Leave’s 1.3 million majority.

The Lib Dems might have also stopped some Tory errors  such as tax credit changes, academisation of every state school, and the junior doctors’ contracts that caused David Cameron’s government so much trouble since May 2015. Whilst in coalition, much to the chagrin of the their coalition partners, the Tories appropriated as their own some of the Liberal Democrat policies such as the substantial increase in the  personal allowance as a Tory policy. 

Had Cameron and his government not taken so many unpopular positions since May 2015, far fewer people would have taken the opportunity to use the referendum to give Cameron and his government a kicking.

Instead people wouldn’t be speaking about David Cameron as a latter day Lord North nor would David Cameron’s final ratings with Ipsos Mori sunk to an all time low for him. 

With a majority of only 12, Theresa May is another Tory leader who might find out that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” with the knowledge that the last three Tory Prime Ministers have been destroyed/had their Premierships ended by EU matters, coupled with the hunch that those Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories at the last general election in those 27 seats won’t find Theresa May as electorally appealing as David Cameron, especially in light of her more authoritarian tendencies. All of this might present an opportunity for the Lib Dems to recover at the next general election.

If Labour does come to its senses and replaces Corbyn soon, by 2020 it might well be that David Cameron will be the only Tory to have won a general election, and a majority in the last twenty eight years, something his critics within the Tory party might wish to reflect on.

TSE





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Cameron is going, Johnson has been in hiding and Labour faces civil war. So who will lead Britain?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Dave Quit

The country has voted for change but the future is unclear. Leadership is needed writes Keiran Pedley

Last Thursday’s Brexit vote was truly an historic event in our country’s history. The consequences for British politics will take time to play out. Right now the country is tense. Since David Cameron’s resignation Friday morning there is a political vacuum at the heart of power and sense of uncertainty in the air. Only a fool would predict with any degree of certainty what happens next.

No turning back

However, it is probably best to conclude that we are indeed leaving the EU. That ‘out means out’. Some on the Remain side have sought to challenge the referendum result. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has suggested that parliament should overturn the result. A petition to rerun the referendum itself has cleared 3 million signatures and counting. Clearly for some accepting the result is proving difficult.

But they should accept it. EU leaders have and they are demanding a swift divorce. Almost 17.5 million voters backed leaving the EU last Thursday – a million plus more than backed Remain – at a turnout of 72% (eclipsing the 66% turnout at last year’s General Election).  Remainers may justifiably be angry at some of the tactics used by the Leave campaign. However, voters have clearly delivered a message that they want change and that mandate has to be respected. Suggestions that Leave voters represent the ‘lizard brain of Britain’ are patronising and unhelpful. The voters have made their feelings known. All efforts now should be focused on what comes next rather than rerunning last Thursday’s referendum. We have to move on.

Enter Johnson (or May)?

How successfully we do so will depend on who becomes the next Prime Minister and the deal they can deliver. The early signs are that Boris Johnson is favourite. Having led the Leave side to victory and seemingly won the backing of Michael Gove he will take some stopping. However, the former Mayor of London does face significant challenges. He now needs to come up with a coherent vision of what Brexit looks like that satisfies Leave voters and wins over Tory MPs. If he doesn’t, Theresa May could yet emerge as an alternative unifying ‘safe pair of hands’. He may even end up challenged from his Right. The odds are in Johnson’s favour but he does have serious questions to answer on free movement and the common market – questions we can only assume he has been carefully considering during his period of silence this weekend.

Labour in meltdown

Meanwhile the Labour Party faces its own existential crisis. One of the striking features of the Brexit vote was how vast swathes of so-called Labour heartlands ignored the party line and voted Leave. Staunch Labour areas in Wales, Yorkshire and the North-East overwhelmingly backed Brexit. This trend was aptly demonstrated in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster where 69% voted Leave. The truth though is that this trend was seen all across the country in Labour areas.

Some Labour MPs now fear that the party could face a post-Brexit wipe-out in these areas much like the party experienced in Scotland last May. This has led to a concerted effort to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader over the weekend, with a series of coordinated resignations designed to force him to resign. The plan being to replace him with a unifying figure that can carry the party into the General Election that is assumed to be coming soon. Time will tell if this coup attempt is successful. The loyalty of Corbyn’s support among party members will surely be crucial – though Labour MPs may hope to take the decision out of their hands. Depending on what happens next, Labour could end up in government or facing oblivion and we cannot be sure which.

Who will lead Britain?

In the meantime, the country faces a worrying vacuum in political leadership. One can only hope that it is filled soon. Whoever leads the UK out of Europe faces a daunting to-do list. Voters have clearly voted for changes in immigration policy but what changes and can they be delivered without leaving the single market and the economic challenges that would bring? More importantly, how does the next Prime Minister keep the UK together when Scotland and Northern Ireland voted Remain and Wales and England voted Leave? Moreover, how can we bring those voting Remain and Leave together when they have such different visions of the country’s future? Can we avoid descending further and further into the bitter and divisive politics that were such an unpleasant hallmark of the referendum campaign?  These are tough questions without even considering the inevitable ‘unknown unknowns’ that governments so often face.

Perhaps these seemingly conflicting objectives are impossible to achieve. Choices will have to be made. In which case the next 2-3 years will be some of the most rancorous and turbulent in post war British political history. However, let’s close on a more optimistic note. This uncertainty won’t last forever and our country has faced major crises before and come through the other side. It is possible that the shock of last Thursday is bringing undue panic. That a recession can be avoided. We will do a deal with the EU. This country does have a future. It is possible that a unifying leader may yet emerge and lead the country through this difficult time. In short, Brexit doesn’t have to mean disaster.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore the scale of the challenge our country faces in the coming weeks, months and years – let’s hope that the current generation of political leaders is up to the task.

Keiran Pedley presents the Politicalbetting.com / Polling Matters show and tweets about politics at @keiranpedley



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Cameron resigns

Friday, June 24th, 2016

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The CON leadership contest begins



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Boost for Farage in the Ipsos satisfaction ratings on the day before the big vote

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

And Corbyn drops to new low with LAB voters



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What would David do?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Dave No 10

Far too little consideration has yet gone into what the referendum result will mean for British politics, even though it is now just a few days away.  If the polls are right – big if – Leave will win.  It’s time to consider what that might mean.

David Cameron’s authority would be dust.  He has staked everything on the referendum and if Leave win he would have lost.  While many Conservative members remain well-disposed to him, including many who support Leave, he would have lost the biggest political battle of his life, defeated on argument.  He would have failed to lead and he would have failed to persuade.  He would have no credibility to negotiate terms of exit.  Whether or not he remained Prime Minister, power would lie elsewhere.

So, all other things being equal, he would depart the stage – either of his own free will or with the heavy encouragement of his most dedicated Parliamentary opponents.  So should we expect a next day resignation?

On this occasion all things aren’t equal.  There is a general expectation that the financial markets might well take fright in the short term if Britain votes Leave.  A steady hand would be needed on the tiller to guide the country through that: replacing the Prime Minister in the midst of that would make the crisis that much worse.

So the Prime Minister seems unlikely to resign on Friday – whatever else David Cameron is, he feels the responsibility of public duty and he would stay in office long enough to ensure that there any short term crisis is dealt with.  If a short term crisis indeed erupted, his internal opponents would probably stay their hands for the days or weeks required for him to steady the ship.  If they do not, “this is no time for a novice” would be as effective a line for David Cameron in 2016 as it was for Gordon Brown in 2008.

The effect of this would be to kill the momentum in the short term to eject him from office.  So if not then, when?

All the fundamental reasons why David Cameron would be in office but not in power would remain.  So when would he go?  My guess is that he would not wish to hang around pointlessly but that he would wish to secure an orderly succession to someone who he respects.  All the smoke signals suggest that if he has only one wish left about his successor, it will be that his successor is not Boris Johnson.

How best can David Cameron do this?  One of Boris Johnson’s main drawbacks is his lack of ministerial experience.  On the assumption that he cannot be kept out of Cabinet after a Leave victory, that drawback disappears within a few months.  So there is a closing window of his lack of credibility.

So despite the pressure probably being off David Cameron immediately after the referendum, I would still expect him to hand in his notice as soon as the threat of any immediate crisis has passed, with a view to a new Prime Minister taking over at the party conference.  If Leave wins, prepare for a changing of the guard.

Alastair Meeks



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Leave’s major advantage in the last three weeks of the campaign. The Tory press is on their side

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

The Sun Front Page

The Sun front page from last Friday, after another poor set of net immigration figures for Cameron

This referendum could boil down to Cameron v The Tory Press. If Cameron prevails, it could be good news for Corbyn.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this referendum campaign is a Tory PM and most of the Tory Press being on opposite sides. As Neil Kinnock and Ed Miliband can attest the press can very brutal. Whilst I don’t subscribe to the belief that it was solely The Sun wot won it at the 1992 general election, as a politician it is much more advantageous to have media on your side.

It seems we have been transported to DC comics’ Bizarro world, where everything is the opposite to what it should be, with the likes of The Mirror and The Guardian backing a Tory Prime Minister, whilst the likes of The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sun vehemently opposing the Prime Minister. Today sees the first debate/Q&A of the referendum, it isn’t difficult to see those newspapers taking a very anti-Cameron line tomorrow morning, as we can see with The Sun front page above, they can be very damaging to the Prime Minister.

There’s been a long term decline in the influence of the print media, in the last few weeks we’ve seen the closure of the print edition of The Independent, there’s been rumours, subsequently denied, that The Guardian would follow The Independent’s lead and turn into a purely online outfit, and this past week The Daily Mail’s parent company issued a profits warning,  “after reporting a 29% fall in profits, driven by a double-digit decline in print advertising, at its newspaper operation in the six months to the end of March.”

So if Remain do win despite the onslaught of the Tory press, this might be good news for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. It isn’t the difficult to envisage the political waterboarding the Tory press will give Jeremy Corbyn at the 2020 general election, with the impact of the press diminished, Labour might have less to fear about 2020 and the chances of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister might be higher than some currently think.

TSE



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Urgent question. David Cameron’s big mistake so far

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Cameron European

As with any bureaucratic body, the EU pulses to a rhythm of regular meetings.  The EU being a more complex body than most, multiple cycles of meetings are sinuously interwoven.  Most prominently, at least four times a year, the Prime Ministers of the 28 member countries convene for the European Council.  The most vital business of the day is dealt with at these summits.

Anyone with experience of meetings knows that to control the agenda is to control the meeting. The terms of Britain’s renegotiation with the EU had been an important agenda item for successive meetings for some time.  At the December 2015 European Council, the European Council agreed to find mutually satisfactory solutions in four areas of concern at its February meeting: competitiveness; economic governance; sovereignty; and social benefits and free movement.  The stage was set for David Cameron to conclude his deal.

However, in the run-up to the February meeting, the migration crisis became still more pressing than previously.  Far from dying down over the winter months, numbers of migrants to the EU continued in high numbers.  EU member states had been put under unprecedented pressure by the vast migrations of 2015 and if no action was taken there was every prospect that 2016 would prove still more distressing.  Should this crisis be addressed before Britain’s EU renegotiation?

David Cameron did not relent.  He forced the Council to keep up the pace on the renegotiation, coming away with his agreed deal which he then recommended to the British public.  He duly set the referendum date for 23 June.  The migration crisis was left to be addressed at a later Council meeting.

We can speculate as to his thinking.  If the migration crisis was to get worse, it was imperative to hold the referendum before it peaked in the late summer, so that the campaign was not overwhelmed by the chaos and disorder prompted by migration throughout Europe.  By insisting on rapidly agreeing a deal, he hoped to get the vote out of the way first.  It was in truth an implied vote of no confidence in the EU to be able to address the migration crisis.

With the benefit of hindsight, this looks like a serious error for the Remain campaign, for the Conservatives and for David Cameron personally.  By insisting on prioritising his pet project ahead of something that was demonstrably urgent and important, he alienated his fellow EU leaders.  It’s hard to accept that technical arguments about the incidence of social security benefits are particularly critical if you’re trying to work out how to stop half a million pairs of feet tramping across your country in the coming weeks.  That cannot have improved the terms of the deal.

Worse, if David Cameron wanted to persuade the public to remain in the EU, he needed the EU to operate effectively on the pressing subject of the day.  Britain, just as much as the rest of the EU, had a compelling motive to get migration under control.  On this occasion, the statesmanlike thing to do was the politically smart thing to do.

Imagine an alternative history of the last few months in which David Cameron had decided to defer consideration of the renegotiation with the EU until the migration crisis had been solved.  Initially he would have come under more pressure from his more belligerent Leaver colleagues to get on with it, but that would have been background noise only.  The terms agreed in relation to the migration would probably not have been settled until the March European Council meeting, so the budget would have taken place before the Cabinet had divided on the referendum question.  Iain Duncan Smith would no doubt have bitten his tongue, the better to wield influence in the referendum campaign when it was eventually launched.  So the budget would have passed far more smoothly and the government would continue to feel more purposeful.

The next European Council meeting is due in June, so the local election round would have taken place without constant noises off.  With the spotlight on Labour divisions, the Conservatives would have almost certainly done considerably better.  The big political story would be the continuing agonies of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Meanwhile, the media would have taken proper note of the sharply diminished number of migrants.  If David Cameron had inserted himself in the narrative of the deal, he would be getting part of the credit for this.

In the meantime, the two rival camps for Leave would still be slugging it out.  The argument was only ended by the Electoral Commission so it is unlikely that it would have ended otherwise.  This could only be to Remain’s benefit.

The deal would still need to be struck, of course.  Would it have been any better than the deal got in February?  David Cameron would have had a legitimate claim for extra flexibility from other Prime Ministers.  But let’s assume that he got exactly the same deal as before and called the referendum over the summer for the end of September 2016.  The referendum would have clashed with much less government business and the slugfest could have taken place without distraction.  The Conservative party would look rather more coherent than before.  And the mood music from the perspective of Remain would sound rather more upbeat.

All this was lost because David Cameron decided to prioritise his own hobby horse.  Right now it looks like a very serious mistake.

Alastair Meeks



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If Corbyn does becomes Prime Minister he should thank those behind the Zac campaign

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

As a Muslim I was appalled at Goldsmith’s campaign, as a Tory I’m appalled that Goldsmith’s campaign makes Corbyn as PM more likely.

When your own sister criticises your campaign and praises your opponent as a good role model, when the media runs a quiz asking Who said it: Britain First or Zac Goldsmith? deep down you must know you’ve run an ignoble, divisive, and poor campaign that may have long lasting consequences. As an intelligent man, Zac Goldsmith should have seen the risks of these tactics and told his campaigning team he didn’t want to campaign like this. Last August, Goldsmith led Khan by 8% in the opinion polls, and should have stuck with the campaign strategy that saw such leads.

As we see on The Observer front page in the tweet above, it is very easy for the Tory Party to regain the mantle of the nasty party and has the potential to re-toxify the Tory Party brand, that David Cameron has worked so hard to detoxify. With David Cameron very publicly endorsing Goldsmith’s attack lines at PMQs a few weeks ago, there’s no way for the Tory Party to disassociate themselves from the campaign, and blame it on a candidate going rogue. Those Lib Dems across the country who switched to the Tories in 2015 maybe put off from voting Tory in 2020 because of this campaign. The impact of this campaign may resonate outside of London.

Unless Sadiq Khan appoints Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as his Deputy Mayor or introduces Sharia law, he can justifiably say all the Tory attack lines about him were bunkum, which ultimately could help Jeremy Corbyn in 2020.

It isn’t hard to imagine during the 2020 general election campaign, the Tories using some of the attack lines they’ve used on Khan on Corbyn. Corbyn’s rebuttal will be a very simple, they said the same about Sadiq Khan and those attacks were nonsense, and that’s even before he can cite several Tories who have publicly condemned the Tory campaign, one of whom said the campaign “probably increased our risks of suffering terrorism.”

The campaign may be a pointer to the forthcoming EU referendum, with both sides already engaging in ludicrous project fear campaigns, where it feels the choice is down to for voting for economic Armageddon if we vote to Leave or having 77 million Turks moving to the UK shortly after we vote to Remain.

Memo to both camps, tone down the hyperbole, criticise your opponents with plausible criticisms and not make it appear that victory for the other side was foretold in The Book of Revelation. A bit more hope and a little less fear please.

TSE