Archive | November 2014

And then there were two

UKIP have secured a second MP. While Douglas Carswell’s victory was a landmark for UKIP- ultimately the unusual but likeable MP, was always likely to achieve reelection in Clacton, a seat whose aged, white working class population chimes perfectly with UKIPs demographic.

Mark Reckless’ success in Rochester and Strood was a bigger surprise. The seat was UKIP’s target number 271- however in spite of the electoral odds being stacked against them- Nigel Farage now has 2MPs in the commons.

Here are some of the best UKIP stories from the last few days:

We all know that UKIP has a tendency to attract older voters (even older than the Conservatives…) but it seems they are keen to gain support from younger voters

This post on the LSE blog predicts the impact of UKIP’s success on British politics more generally

Owen Jones meanwhile in the guardian explores the idea that UKIP’s rhetoric chimes with the working classes in spite of their right wing attitudes towards Europe and immigration

Finally Lord Ashcroft (Tory party donor and architect of the Take Your Seat campaign- focusing on marginals in 2010) suggests that UKIP has made predicted the general election result next year as the pendulum politics beloved of those who try to work uniform swing calculations into seat by seat outcomes has clearly ground to a halt


When Harry met… Owen Jones

Owen Jones, author of Chavs and the Establishment interviewed 91 year old Harry Leslie, author of Harry’s Last Stand.

Harry is a spirited nonogenerian who survived the war in the RAF and lived through the Great Depression- his book is an account of a life time of thoughts and wisdom that he thought he would share with the world while he still can.

Jones’ final question to Harry was ‘What message would you give to my generation?’ And Harry’s response makes interesting reading in relation to the democracy topic.

“First of all, I would suggest that voting should be made compulsory, and until it is, what they have to do is get up off their arses and go to cast their vote. If they don’t like any of the people who are on the ballot, spoil the ballot! Spoiled ballots are counted too, they might not realise it – and if the government comes to power and finds only 37% of the people are voting for them and the rest are saying, “Shit on you!” maybe there’ll be some changes.”

Tactical Voting in Rochester?

As we edge ever closer to what looks like the election of a second UKIP MP to the House of Commons- David Cameron has appealed to the Kent electorate to vote tactically- asking Labour and Lib Dem supporters to lend their votes to the Tories to stop the march of UKIP. This may be a taste of things to come…

Nigel and Ed?

David Cameron quipped that voters supporting UKIP risked ‘going to bed with Nigel and waking up with Ed’. However this New Statesman interview with Nigel Farage suggests that getting into a political bed with Ed Miliband’s Labour Party may be on the agenda as the UKIP leader makes it abundantly clear in this interesting interview that he would gladly cooperate with Labour if an ‘in- out’ EU referendum were on offer.

Norman Baker

Ministers (and their Shadow counterparts) do from time to time resign. They may do so because they don’t intend to seek reelection to Parliament (e.g. William Hague), they may have personal problems (Alan Johnson) or they may resign before they are pushed or on a point of principle e.g. Robin Cook and Claire Short both resigned over the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003.

However it is unusual for a minister to resign on the grounds that he doesn’t like the Cabinet Minister who is in charge of him. However, as the cracks begin to show in the coalition that seems to be exactly what Lewes MP Norman Baker has done. Frustrated by the failure of Theresa May to take heed of his suggestions on drug law reform and embittered because May allegedly perceives the Lib Dems as ‘cuckoos in the nest’. Norman Baker has quite his role as Home Office Minister (it may also be to allow him extra time to defend his Lewes seat in the 2015 election…)

This piece in the Guardian summarises Baker’s position and looks at some of the potential pitfalls of coalition government…

The End of the Two Party System

In light of the fact we have been talking about Party Systems in recent lessons. The leader in this week’s New Statesman provides an interesting view point on the decline of two party politics in Britain and also how this links to declining party membership.

Labour’s Wobble

As the PM programme proclaimed yesterday afternoon the technical term for what is going on in the Labour Party is a ‘wobble’. There is no formal leadership challenge, it’s not an organised coup. However, in the last 24 hours there have been significant criticism on Miliband’s leadership and significant grumbling that he is leading them to electoral defeat.

However with only six months until the election and no natural successor ultimately Labour have few alternatives but to stick with his leadership even if it is flawed.

This piece in the Independent looks at the machinations of what has been taking place within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP)–rumours-of-labour-backbench-revolt-9844525.html

Ed Miliband’s personal opinion poll ratings are not good they are worse than Callaghan in 1979, Kinnock in 1992 and Major in 1997.

Analysis of IpsosMORI polling dating back to 1977 by MailOnline shows how only Michael Foot had worse personal satisfaction ratings than Ed Miliband six months before a general election This combined with This combined with recent news about an SNP surge in Scotland suggest that Labour may struggle to win a majority even with the coalition struggling for popularity. Many Labour MPs feel they will loose votes to UKIP and the Greens- the changing party system is making the electoral reality more complex than a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives. However, while they are worried about challenges from UKIP and the Greens many Labour MPs don’t seem to realise that we are no longer living in an era of pendulum politics- e.g. when one major party is unpopular the other profits from it. The current picture is more complication, just because Cameron and Osborne are unpopular the electorate no longer feels that there is only one alternative.

This piece in the Telegraph urges Mililband to resign, suggesting that any of the alternatives- Burnham, Cooper or Johnson would fair better in next May’s election

This summary from the New Statesman provides an interesting look at Labour’s current policies and ideology and why they are not inspiring the electorate.