Will NZ Labour repeat UK Labour’s mistakes?

June 7th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article in The Guardian which details what went wrong with UK Labour’s campaign, based on interviews with many insiders.

An extract:

The team that Miliband had assembled around him consisted of highly intelligent individuals, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts – it was, according to many of those advisers, like a court in which opposing voices cancelled one another out. Greg Beales, the campaign’s director of strategy – and the keeper of the party’s polling – was convinced that, above all, the party needed to address the distrust of Labour’s legacy on the economy and immigration. He insisted that they should confront these issues directly, or else the specific “retail” offers to the electorate that tested well in focus groups, such as the energy price freeze, would fall on deaf ears. By contrast, the more cerebral Stewart Wood, a former politics tutor at Magdalen College Oxford, pressed Miliband to make an ideological break with New Labour, and concentrate the campaign on a promise to make society more equal, through reforms to banking, markets, and post-crash capitalism.

Here we have NZ Labour focusing almost exclusively on “equality” and not confronting the elephant in the room that people don’t think Andrew Little and Grant Robertson can manage the economy as credibly as John Key and Bill English.

Axelrod was appalled by the low quality of the ideas being discussed, which he derisively characterised as “Vote Labour and win a microwave”

We may see that become policy here!

Miliband had first ruled out a coalition with the SNP on 16 March, but it was not until 26 April that he also ruled out a confidence and supply agreement between the two parties. Even then, the question refused to go away. Shadow ministers were being asked whether there would be implicit understandings between the two parties, or whether they would even speak to SNP MPs in the corridors of Westminster. The party’s focus groups also showed that voters did not believe Miliband’s denials, since they did not think he would ever spurn the chance to be prime minister.

Same here as Cunliffe ruled out coalition with Internet-Mana, and then confidence and supply but people didn’t believe him because he never ruled them out entirely, as in he would not form a Government if dependent on them for a majority.

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Union insists Labour opposes all spending cuts

June 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Britain’s biggest trade union is threatening to withhold support for Andy Burnham’s Labour leadership bid unless he promises to oppose all spending cuts.

Senior figures in Unite are angered by the shadow health secretary’s failure to adopt an “anti-austerity” economic policy since announcing his bid.

They plan to approach Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, to consider formally backing no candidate unless there is a clearer Left-wing option on the ticket.

The Telegraph has been told that if Mr Burnham wants to win the endorsement of his most influential potential backer he must change his economic policy.

Unions dictating economic policy to leadership candidates! That’s a winning combination.

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UK Labour’s civil war

May 18th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Britain’s Labour party being ripped apart as an epic struggle for its soul threatens to destroy its election hopes for a generation.

Jim Murphy, a respected and moderate Blairite, left his colleagues stunned and distraught by quitting on Saturday as Scottish Labour Leader after a “poisonous” war with the party’s biggest trade union paymasters.

In parting remarks, he warned that it would be “the kiss of death” if Labour caved in to the demands of hard-Left union barons such as Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, who backed Ed Miliband as Labour leader.

The unions in the UK got Ed Miliband made leader, just as the NZ unions did the same with Andrew Little. Both Ed Miliband and Andrew Little lost the members vote and the caucus vote, but got elected due to the union vote.

Murphy warned that McCluskey must not be allowed to choose the next leader of the party.

In NZ, three faceless EPMU delegates made Andrew Little the leader.

Murphy’s decision came a day after Chuka Umunna, a leading moderniser, withdrew from the contest to succeed Miliband as leader.

David Cameron will be relieved. Umunna was the ones they feared could reach out to aspiration centrist voters.

Moderate Labour figures believe the time has come for a decisive shift away from union dominance of the party’s politics. Blairites are privately dismayed that 147 of the 232 Labour MPs elected are Unite members, or received donations from the union.

Owned, lock stock and barrel.

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A candidate with very different life experiences

March 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Naz Shah has been selected as UK Labour’s candidate for Bradford West. She writes of her life to date:

I was only 6 when my father abandoned my mother with two young children and pregnant with a third when he eloped with the neighbour’s 16 year old daughter. I remember been thrown into the back of a taxi with black bin liners full of our belongings and packed off from the family home on Hartman Place to my granddads home in Kirkham Road. We never really saw the end of black bin liners over the next few years as we moved from squalor to squalor, 14 times in less than 2 years, from back to back houses where the toilet was outside to rat infested damp houses where we lived and slept in just one room.

But this turned out to be better than so called stability:

We finally had a home, 251 Legrams Lane, purchased with the sale of my mother’s wedding jewellery but in someone else’s name, Azam’s name. My mother’s attempt to provide her children with the security of a home came at the expense of being abused by Azam over years. A man that she thought would save her children from an uncertain and insecure future, little did she know he would be the exact opposite. My mother had sent me to Pakistan at the age of 12 when she felt I was at risk of his abuse. When my younger sister was growing up and my mother felt she was now at risk, and following years of anti- depressants, failed suicide attempts and feeling desperate and destitute she snapped.

She killed the man who abused her.

Her mother was sentenced to 20 years jail.

I remember how my days and nights became one, how my world was turned upside down, how I became a mother to my two siblings who were 11 and 13 at the time. Up until then the worst I had known personally was my own forced marriage through emotional blackmail when I was just 15 years old whilst in Pakistan. I never went back to schooling and my first job was at Society Linen hire on Usher St, the laundry service for the local hospitals. I moved on to packing crisps at Seabrook’s which was a huge improvement in job and wages. By January 1992 I wanted to go back to college after leaving my own husband who used his fists to communicate and now this.

So her childhood is 14 houses, being abused by her step-father, her mum going to prison, looking after her younger siblings, a forced marriage at 15, domestic violence and then working in a laundry.

This doesn’t mean she’ll be a good MP, but it does at a minimum mean she has battled huge adversity and come through it.

As she is standing against the repulsive George Galloway, I can honestly say I hope she wins.

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We’re backed by a businessman named Bill!

February 18th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reported:

Labour’s attempts to prove it is pro business backfired on Tuesday night when the shadow chancellor Ed Balls was unable to remember the name of one of the party’s key supporters.

In a bid to prove Labour did have support from some of the most influential names in business, Balls’ attempts to reel off the names was over before it began when interviewed by Newsnight. The best he could come up with was someone named Bill.

Asked by presenter Emily Maitlis whether it was worrying that the 63 business leaders who wrote to the Financial Times backing Labour in 2005 were silent ahead of May’s general election, Balls insisted the party did have support.

“I’ve been at a dinner tonight with a number of business-supporting Labour figures,” he said. Who were they, Maitlis asked?

“Well, em, Bill. The former chief executive of EDS who I was just talking to…”

Seizing on his uncertainty, Maitlis pressed: “What was his name?”

At which point the shadow chancellor had to admit he couldn’t actually remember. “It has just gone from my head, which is a bit annoying at this time of night.”

The hole got deeper when Maitlis replied: “Okay. So frankly you’ve got Bill somebody. Have we got anyone else? Cos you were talking about 63 or 50 FTSE 100 leaders. Now we’ve got Bill somebody.”

Oh dear that is a fairly bad fail.

It did get me thinking. While overall more business leaders tend to support National, the Clark/Cullen Labour government did have a reasonably significant number of business supporters. Hugh Fletcher, Stephen Tindall etc.

But since going into opposition and coming up with policies such as their electricity effective nationalisation policy, I struggle to think of any prominent business supporters apart from that Selwyn guy, and the gym owner. Certainly no one from a top 50 company. And as I said, while most business leaders do tend to be centre-right, it is by no means all.

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UK Labour learns you need to do more than attack

February 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Don’t let it be said that Ed Miliband’s political leadership is useless. It has, in fact, just provided an instructive demonstration in how not to play your strongest electoral card. Over the next three months, his team may well proceed to offer a degree-level course in How to Throw Away an Election – but last week’s introductory module was an education in itself. Having “weaponised” the NHS, Mr Miliband then – choose your metaphor – had it blow up in his face, or shot himself in the foot, or fired a succession of blanks. By the end of the week, Labour’s ace vote-winning issue had become one more grotesquely embarrassing morass of internecine warfare, contradictory statements, ill-thought-out policy and, finally, unconvincing denials that the whole initiative had gone horribly wrong. …

Andy Burnham came spectacularly unstuck in a series of major broadcast interviews because he could not answer the most obvious challenges: why is the NHS in Wales, which is run by Labour on precisely the lines you advocate, performing significantly worse than the NHS in England? Where will you find the extra health funding that you are promising? Revenue from the mansion tax will not provide enough money, and besides you’ll be spending that elsewhere.

Oppositions do need to be able to highlight areas of Government failure. But they also need to have a competent and viable alternative.

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UK Labour targets Frosties and jelly babies!

January 31st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

High levels of fat, sugar and salt in children’s food would become illegal under a Labour government, the party’s manifesto will say. …

Under the new rules, a maximum limit would be set on levels of fat, salt and sugar in food marketed “substantially” to children.

Mr Burnham has previously considered a 30 per cent cap on sugar in cereals marketed at children. This would hit well-known brands including Kellogg’s Frosties, which have 37.0g of sugar per 100g and Coco Pops with 35g per 100g.

Next they’ll prosecute parents who buy unapproved foods.

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The UK Labour paedophile controversy

March 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Labour deputy leader’s insistence that she has ‘nothing to apologise for’ undermined by former colleague Hewitt’s frank apology

Harriet Harman appeared increasingly isolated over her links to a paedophile group after Patricia Hewitt apologised for her own role in the controversy, saying she had been “naïve and wrong”.

The Labour deputy leader has repeatedly refused to say sorry after it emerged that the National Council for Civil Liberties, where both she and Miss Hewitt worked in the 1970s, had given support to the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Harman is the current Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party. Hewitt is a former Health Secretary.

Former minister Miss Hewitt’s frank admission that she had “got it wrong” on PIE contrasts sharply with Miss Harman’s insistence that she has “nothing to apologise for”.

As fresh evidence of the NCCL’s support for PIE emerged, Miss Hewitt, who has been abroad for the past 12 days, responded for the first time to criticism of her own role by saying she accepted the blame.

Miss Hewitt, who was general secretary of the NCCL from 1974 to 1983, said: “I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.

“NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’.

“I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.”

Hewitt admitting she was wrong is the way to do it.

Meanwhile it emerged that the former Labour MP Bryan Gould was invited to become an honorary vice-president of PIE and said that he had a “good deal of sympathy” for the group’s objectives, despite turning down their offer.

BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme discovered that Mr Gould, a shadow minister during Neil Kinnock’s leadership, was contacted by PIE in the 1970s. He was approached following a speech he made to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

In a 1977 letter published by PIE’s in-house magazine, he said: “Yours is an unpopular cause and whilst I have a good deal of sympathy for your objectives, I do not think it would be fair to my wife and family for me to take a public stand on it… I’m sorry to have to send you such a disappointing reply.”

So in the letter he wrote at the time, he said he has a good deal of sympathy for the objectives of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Astonishing. Their aim was to abolish the age of consent to legalise sex between adults and children.

Mr Gould told the BBC that he did not remember the correspondence but had never had the slightest sympathy for paedophiles or any involvement with PIE

If he has never had any sympathy why did he write a letter saying he had a good deal of sympathy for their objectives? Is he saying the letter is a fake?

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UK Labour may scrap benefits for under 25s

November 22nd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

People under the age of 25 would be barred from claiming unemployment benefits under proposals being considered by the Labour Party.

The Institute for Public Policy Research will publish a paper later this week proposing a new means-tested “youth allowance” for 18 to 24-year olds who are not in work or education.

Only those who prove they are in “purposeful” training or carrying out an “intensive” job search would be eligible for the allowance, the group will say.

The allowance would be dependent on family income, with the children of parents earning more than £25,000 a year unable to claim it, the IPPR will suggest.

The youth allowance would be set at £56.80, the same level as Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Under-25s would be banned from claiming additional benefits including Employment Support Allowance and Income Support. Paying those two benefits to under-25s costs taxpayers almost £1.3 billion a year.

It is understood that Rachel Reeves, the Labour shadow work and pensions secretary, is considering adopting the policy, though is undecided about applying a means test.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has also hinted at taking young people out of the benefits system.

Good on UK Labour. But can you imagine NZ Labour ever adopting such a policy? They have opposed almost every single aspect of the reforms designed to prevent long-term benefit dependency.

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UK Labour reducing union influence

July 10th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

UK Labour is joining Australian Labor in reducing the influence the unions have on their parties. This should be contrasted with NZ Labour which is moving in the other direction and has given the unions a direct vote in the future Labour Party leadership.

The Independent reports:

Trade unions will no longer be allowed to enrol three million members a year to Labour ranks, Ed Miliband will announce on Tuesday in a dramatic effort to draw a line under the crisis gripping the party, following allegations of corrupt practice in candidate selection.

His move threatens a backlash from union chiefs – notably Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, the country’s largest union – as it could pave the way to a reduction of their influence over Labour conference decisions.

Under his plans, which he will herald as the biggest party reforms in a generation, individual unionists will have to take a conscious decision to opt in to Labour membership rather than finding themselves signed up en masse.

This is how it should be. Union members should make an individual decision to join a political party, not be mass subscribed by their union.

Under the Miliband plans, which Labour says it wants in place as soon as possible, each trade unionist would be asked each year whether they wanted to opt in to party membership.

Party sources acknowledged the move would initially deprive Labour of members and income, but insisted it would ultimately help strengthen its relationship with unionists.

Mr Miliband will say: “I do not want any individual to be paying money to the Labour party in affiliation fees unless they have deliberately chosen to do so.

Superb. Will David Shearer say the same? That would be a far better reform than a man ban.

Sky News quotes Miliband as saying:

“I do not want any individual to be paying money to the Labour Party in affiliation fees unless they have deliberately chosen to do so,” he said.

Hear hear. Let’s hear the same from a NZ Labour leader.

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Labour politician: I’ve fathered a love-child with my ALIEN mistress

June 20th, 2013 at 10:38 am by David Farrar

The Sun reports:

A LABOUR politician has revealed his marriage is on the ropes – because he’s cheating on his wife with an ALIEN.

Simon Parkes, who sits on Whitby Town Council, claims he meets his extra-terrestrial lover four times a year for sex sessions on a spaceship that’s orbiting the Earth.

The 53-year-old driving instructor even alleges he has fathered a love-child called Zarka with his mistresses – who he calls the Cat Queen.

Simon, a married father-of-three (human kids) from North Yorkshire, described his encounters with his other-worldly other woman in Channel 4 documentary Confessions Of An Alien Abductee.

He revealed: “What will happen is that we will hold hands and I will say ‘I’m ready’ and then the technology I don’t understand will take us up to a craft orbiting the Earth.”

The councillor claims his wife was furious when she found out about the affair – but he insists he’s doing wrong, because his lover is from another planet.

He explained: “My wife found out about it and was very unhappy, clearly. That caused a few problems, but it is not on a human level, so I don’t see it as wrong.”

Simon told the documentary team extra-terrestrials have been reaching out to him since he was a baby, because his “real mother” is a 9ft tall green alien with eight fingers.

I don’t think I need to comment.

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Why the left hate Thatcher?

February 21st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Cristina Odone blogs at the Telegraph:

John O’Farrell, Labour’s candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, used to contribute amusing articles to the New Statesman when I was the magazine’s deputy editor. The comedian was unfailingly polite in his dealings with me. Our contact was by telephone only and I remember picturing a mild-mannered soul clad in regulation socks and sandals.

But mention Margaret Thatcher and gentle O’Farrell starts foaming at the mouth and spewing bile. In a book he wrote about his support for Labour, he revealed his “disappointment” when the IRA failed to kill the then prime minister in Brighton, in 1984. “Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier?” he asked himself when Mrs Thatcher survived the bomb blast that destroyed her bathroom in the Grand Hotel.

So Labour’s candidate is someone who supported the IRA attempted assassination of the UK Prime Minister. Charming, and not surprising.

Given the venom with which Labour supporters attack the former PM, you’d think that when their party finally came to power in 1997, it reversed every one of her hateful policies. In fact, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown guarded the Thatcher legacy as lovingly as if she’d been a grocer’s daughter born and bred in Islington. Her successors kept the privatisation and kept at bay the trade unions.

Smart men.

This makes me suspicious. If Labour can live with Margaret Thatcher’s policies, what is it about her that they find so unacceptable? …

Secondly, she’s a woman. The party that pays lip service to equality and feminism is, behind the scenes, deeply misogynist. Labour historians like to claim that Barbara Castle could have beaten Thatcher to be the first woman prime minister. But Castle was only allowed to rise to Cabinet ministerial level; and her biography, Red Queen, revealed that Wilson, Healey, Jenkins and Crosland kept her firmly in her place by reminding her that her female brain had scraped a third‑class degree. …

Harriet Harman and Diane Abbott are tolerated as noisy sisters; but the minute they aspire to higher office, the sniping starts. Labour women must not get ideas above their station. A woman who climbs to the very top wrongfoots the party’s apparatchiks. Working mothers are fine, as long as they are drones who contribute to the economy. Tokenism in the board room is also acceptable, as a female non-exec has little real bearing on what happens in the company.

But don’t let some uppity woman start bossing everyone about. Margaret Thatcher, née Roberts, did. Her extraordinary career has exposed Labour as the party of men.

Will the UK Labour Party ever have a female leader? I doubt it. The unions are so male dominated, and now get a third of the vote for leader.

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Labour Back to the 70s

October 26th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

With Labour’s Back to the 70s workplace policy, this video about UK Labour seemed appropriate for NZ also!

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Miliband wins

September 26th, 2010 at 10:11 pm by David Farrar

But it was younger brother Ed, not the favourite David. This effectively sees the death of New Labour, as Ed Miliband is from the traditional left.

What I find interesting is that breakdown of the voting. UK Labour assigns 1/3 of the votes to the unions, 1/3 to rank and file members and 1/3 to the MPs (incl MEPs).

On the 1st round of voting amongst MPs, David got 42% to 32% for Ed. In the final round he got 53% to 47%.

Amongst rank and file members, in the 1st round David got 44% to 30% for Ed. The final round saw it 54% to 46%.

So how did Ed win? The vote of the union affiliate members.

In the first round they backed Ed 41% to 28%. And in the final round they went for him 60% to 40%.

That gave him an overall victory of 50.65% to 49.35%.

So the new Labour Party leader was not the preferred choice of his caucus, or his members. But he was the preferred choice of union members.

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UK Labour leadership contenders

June 11th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald has a feature from the Independent on the five contenders:

DAVID MILIBAND

He has a little rabbity tuft of hair going up in front. And if he was a woman you’d say it was a moustache on his upper lip. Intelligent, confident, fluent, popular, and high in the precedence of Labour. He’s backed by Peter Mandelson, and Tony Blair is said to be active on his behalf. Full grasp of policy. But he has to win every trick. You can see him trying to find something funny to say. He’s constructed, and work isn’t complete.

Tory fear factor 5/10

DM is definitely the front runner which is a good place to be, but means he will be targeted the most. Ladbrookes has him as 4/7 favourite.

ED MILIBAND

Cuter than David, has younger hair and a more welcoming attitude. He is Gonk to his brother’s Geek. Also, wider appeal (he says). Relates well to people (he says). Will bring people back to the party (he says). Proper leaders have other people saying this stuff for them. Depending on what he’s saying his mouth balloons on the right. It looks shifty.The idea of either Miliboy managing Labour by himself is a stretch.

Tory fear factor 4/10

EM would win if teenage girls got to vote. His odds are 5/2m and the odds of the next leader being a Milliband are 1/10 which is close to certain.

ED BALLS

Passionately wants to win, passionately supported by the Tories to do so. Strange, bulging eyes prove that Myxomatosis can jump the species barrier. Has a monotonous thumping voice and wonderful capacity for loathing. He is the Manichean candidate (he’s right, everyone else wrong). Relishes power and plots.

Tory fear factor 0/10

The Tories do loath Balls, as do many in his own party. He was one of the “poisoners” used by Gordon Brown. Odds are 10/1 against.

DIANE ABBOTT

Rank outsider with Harriet Harman’s backing. However, she has heart, humour and public profile. People have seen her on TV, so she’s real. She can wallop. She’s funny. David Cameron would be least comfortable dealing with her. She may be a bit bonkers on the box but these things can be reined in when the candidate is groomed. She has three months to play herself in. If she became a contender she’d electrify the contest and would make history as the first woman, the first black person to lead it.

Tory fear factor 7/10

I don’t think the fear factor is that high. Abbott can do electrifying speeches and is a good performer on TV. However there are judgement issues. She once attacked Finnish nurses on the grounds they may have never met a black person before. It was pointed out the reigning Miss Finland was black.

Her odds are 25/1, but they may improve as she will stand out from the rest.

ANDY BURNHAM

The mystery candidate. No one knows who he is. Minister of Local Communities, possibly, something like that? Tories defeat him in the noisy House but hate going on TV with him – because they always lose in the quiet and intimate battle. Pleasant, benevolent, well set-up in his background, nice eyes, nobody’s first choice, everyone’s second?

Tory fear factor 3, maybe 4/10

As a Minister he tried to bring in laws to “crack down” on the Internet as it was less regulated the television!

His odds are 12/1.

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Political suicide by Twitter

April 13th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Times reports:

The general election campaign claimed its first scalp today when Labour sacked one of its candidates in Scotland who posted dozens of offensive comments on his Twitter page.

The spectacular “Twitter suicide” overshadowed Labour’s formal campaign launch in Scotland and left Gordon Brown fuming.

Stuart MacLennan, 24, a rising star of the Scottish Labour Party who was standing in the Moray constituency, shut down his account on the microblogging site early this morning after The Scottish Sun reported that he had branded the elderly “coffin-dodgers”.

He had also labelled the Commons Speaker John Bercow a “t**”, David Cameron a “t***” and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, “a b******”.

Oh dear “coffin dodgers” is not going to get in over 60 vote for Labour.

Nor was his ire limited to the political world. The Sun reported that Mr MacLennan called the X Factor judge Louis Walsh a “c***”, referred to Jedward as “odious little s***s” and wrote: “I f****** hate Paolo Nutini”.

Well he has a point, with those descriptions, but best not to think out loud when you are planning to stand for Parliament.

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UK Labour suspends four

March 24th, 2010 at 9:46 am by David Farrar

The Independent reports:

LONDON – Three former Cabinet ministers were suspended from the Labour Party yesterday over accusations they were ready to use their position to influence Government policy in return for money.

Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon had the parliamentary whip removed from them by party chiefs after being caught on camera by an undercover television investigation into lobbying by politicians.

The “cash for access” storm, which has overshadowed Labour’s election preparations, took a dramatic turn after the programme was broadcast yesterday.

The Labour Chief Whip, Nick Brown, and the party’s general secretary, Ray Collins, ordered their suspension pending a full investigation into the claims. Margaret Moran, the MP for Luton South, who featured in the programme, was also suspended by the party.

Three of the four MPs suspended are not obscure Backbenchers, but were high profile Secretaries of State.

Byers under Blair was Treasury Chief Secretary, and then Trade & Industry, Transport and Local Government Ministers. His former political advisor is the notorious Jo Moore who on 11 September 2001 sent out an e-mail advising people it was a good day to bury bad news stories.

Patricia Hewitt replaced Byers as Secretary of State for T&I and then became Health Secretary.

Geoff Hoon served under both Blair and Brown with portfolios ranging from Defence Secretary to Leader of the House, to Transport Secretary.

All three are high profile members of UK Labour – not quite household names, but very much part of the brand. Hard to see how this will not hurt them in the polls.

One Conservative MP was also stung as agreeing to lobby for money, but he has never held senior role, so most of the focus has been on the ex Ministers.

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UK Labour to do asset sales

October 12th, 2009 at 3:50 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to sell off 3 billion pounds (NZ$6.47bn) worth of government assets.

The asset sales will be carried out over the next two years, and include betting company the Tote, the cross-channel rail link between Britain and France, a portfolio of student loans and the government’s stake in uranium-processing firm Urenco.

The bridge and tunnel crossing over the River Thames at Dartford is also up for sale, and local authorities are expected to raise a further 13 billion pounds (NZ$28bn) through asset sales on top of 30 billion pounds (NZ$65bn) already identified in a 2007 report …

What a shame that the British Labour Party will sensibly sell some assets that are better in private hands, and the NZ National Party will not do the same.

The Labour and National consensus to rule out all assets sales, no matter how logical, is the most extreme in the western world.

I do not advocate National breaking its promise not to have asset sales during this term, but they’d better have a more rational policy going into the 2011 election. If Gordon Brown can do it, so can we.

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Norwich North

July 27th, 2009 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Another month goes by, and another safe Labour seat in the UK falls to the Conservatives.

Here is how the vote changed from 2005:

  • Labour from 45% to 18% – a massive 27% decline
  • Conservative from 33% to 40% = +7%
  • Lib Dems from 16% to 14% = -2%
  • Greens from 3% to 10% = +7%
  • UKIP from 2% to 12% = +10%

chloe-smith-194

It has gone from a 5,459 majority for Labour to 7,348 for Chloe Smith the new Conserative MP, who is now officialy the Baby of the House (In NZ it is Jacinda Ardern).

However the high vote for UKIP shows the Conseratives can not be complacent. But the drop from 45% to 18% for Labour spells doom.

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How to roll Gordon Brown

June 9th, 2009 at 6:40 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s result of only 15.7% in the European elections has not quite been enough to knock off Gordon Brown, but a challenge still can’t be ruled out.

A reader suggested people may be interested in how the UK Labour leadership elections work – it is far more complicated than in New Zealand where basically Caucus can change the Leader at any time by an absolute majority.

The rules and process for UK Labour is this:

  1. Nominations – Labour Members of the House of Commons are the only people who can nominate someone to be Leader (or Deputy Leader) and only a Member of the Commons can be nominated.
  2. If there is a vacancy (such as a death as with John Smith or retirement with Tony Blair) then you need at least 12.5% of current MPs nominating you to be validly nominated.
  3. If there is no vacancy (ie you wish to challenge the sitting Leader) you need at least 20% of current MPs nominating you to be validly nominated,
  4. Labour currently has 350 MPs in the Commons. This means you need 70 MPs to nominate you to challenge Brown, or 44 MPs if he resigns.
  5. Supporting nominations can be made by any of the 646 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), any affiliate (unions generally) or any of the 13 Labour Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
  6. Then the voting starts. Three different groups get to vote, and they all have equal strength – 1/3 each.
  7. The first group is members of the Parliamentary Labour Party – this is the 350MPs plus the 13 MEPs.
  8. The second group is all members of the Constituency Labour Party (CLPS) – several hundred thousand people. So an MP’s vote counts for a lot more.
  9. The third group is the affiliates – not the union bosses, but the individual members of any affiliates (so long as not members of another party).
  10. The percentage vote for a candidate in each group is totalled up to get a total vote. For example in 1994 Tony Blair got 60.5% of the PLP, 58.2% of the CLPs, and 52.3% of the affiliates.  This gave him a total 57.0% of the vote.
  11. The ballots are preferential, where candidates are ranked from 1 downwards. If no candidates gets 50% combined, then the lowest candidate drops out, and their first preferences reallocated to the next preferences.
  12. For example in the 2007 Deputy Leadership election there were six candidates and no one got over 20% on the first count, so it went through to five rounds until Harriet Harman beat Alan Johnson by 50.4% to 49.6%
  13. Johnson beat Harman due to the membership at large. The PLP backed Johnson by 8% over Harman and the unions by 3%. But members at large favoured Harman by 13%.
  14. The results of the election get announced at the annual or a special conference.

I suspect Brown may survive until the election now, because his supporters are warning MPs that if they force a leadership change, the new leader will be morally obliged to call an immediate general election. But sooner or later the process will kick into play.

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UK Independence Party beats UK Labour

June 8th, 2009 at 2:25 pm by David Farrar

The European elections are not better for UK Labour. At this stage it looks like Conservatives will get 27% (not great for them either), UKIP 17%, Labour 16%, Lib Dems 14%, Greens 9% and BNP 6%,

The British National Party has won at least one seat in the European Parliament, dismaying many. There is a (understandable IMO) backlash against Islamic immigration. A lot of people are saying we don’t care about your race, but we do care about your religion – if the religion means you reject our basic outlook on human rights and won’t integrate.

The BNP is a racist party. Their new MEP is a former neo-Nazi. It is a shame they got elected, but proportional representation makes it easy for miority parties to gain representation – the good and the bad.

But other parties in the European Union which are anti-Islamic immigration are not in the same league as the BNP. Classifying them all as “far right” is very simplistic.

Any It will be interesting if Brown survives until the election. It is very hard to remove a UK Labour Leader – it is not just a vote of Caucus.

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UK Labour wiped out

June 6th, 2009 at 1:02 pm by David Farrar

The UK Labour Party has lost control of the four remaining local Councils they had a majority on. This means there is not a single Council in England that has a Labour majority on it.

At this stage it looks like Labour got just 23% – 5% behind the Lib Dems on 28%. Labour lost 272 seats of the 445 it had left.

What this means is that there are 1,476 Conservative Councillors and only 159 Labour Councillors left in England. The Lib Dems have 473.

And to make it even worse for the near fatally wounded Gordon Brown, another Minister has resigned, and her resignation letter is pointed:

Several of the women attending Cabinet – myself included – have been treated by you as little more than female window dressing.

I am not willing to attend Cabinet in a peripheral capacity any longer.

In my current role, you advised that I would attend Cabinet when Europe was on the agenda. I have only been invited once since October and not to a single political Cabinet – not even the one held a few weeks before the European elections.

Ouch.

Having worked hard during this campaign, I would not have been party to any plan to undermine you or the Labour Party in the run up to 4 June.

So I was extremely angry and disappointed to see newspapers briefed with invented stories of my involvement in a “Pugin Room plot”.

Time and time again I have stepped before the cameras to sincerely defend your reputation in the interests of the Labour Party and the Government as a whole. I am a natural party loyalist. Yet you have strained every sinew of that loyalty.

Strained every sinew of loyalty. And this is what your colleagues say!

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Bassett on UK and NZ Labour

April 26th, 2009 at 9:46 am by David Farrar

Michael Bassett compares NZ Labour and UK Labour:

Over the last few weeks evidence has seeped out that Britain’s Labour Party had started a Dirty Tricks Department within ministerial offices to smear political opponents. Gordon Brown’s most trusted spin doctor, Damian McBride, has been forced to resign because of the part he played in putting together a series of smears on a website against the Conservatives’ leader, David Cameron, and the Tories’ Finance spokesman. Today comes the news that Brown has asked the head of Britain’s civil service to tighten up a code of conduct governing ministerial advisers whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer. Brown says that they should sign a contract acknowledging that if caught “disseminating inappropriate material they will automatically lose their jobs”.

It’s high time we had such a system in place in New Zealand. Those with memories might recall the parade of dirty tricks used by the beleaguered Labour Party prior to the last election to smear their opponents.

H-Fee anyone?

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UK Labour’s dirty politics

April 13th, 2009 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Most readers will be up with the latest in UK politics, but for those who are not, let me tell the story from the beginning.

The centre-right (like in many countries) has had stronger voices in the UK blogosphere. The two most popular blogs are run by Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines).

Dale is a former Conservative candidate and staffer. Also a successful politics niche publisher who through his blog has become a very influential commentator – both online, and in the traditional media. He also happens to be gay, making it very hard for Labour to stereotype him as a typical consservative Tory.

Paul Staines is not a member of any party. He is basically a wealthy libertarian and while he is from the centre right, he has attacked many Conservative figures also including David Cameron and the Party Chairwoman over her expenses. Staines does a lot of investigative journalism and has been responsible for a couple of very senior resignations from within the Government.

None of the left wing blogs caught on to the same degree, so UK Labour set up LabourList and got Derek Draper to run it. Draper is a former Labour activist and lobbyist who swapped careers to become a psychotherapist after it was revealed he boasted to clients that he had so much influence he could get tax breaks for clients.

The LabourList website is nominally independent but has rarely criticise the Government, and has launched personal attacks on Dale and Staines, calling them racist (because Dale defended Carol Thatcher’s golliwog comment).

Then we have the revelations this week, that Draper was working with a senior advisor to PM Gordon Brown to set up another website – Red Rag – and this one would be full of smears about Conservative Party MPs. The advisor, Damian McBride, is very senior – Brown’s former personal press secretary and now Head of Strategy. He has resigned.

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The News of the World has full coverage of the attempted smears.Also good coverage in The Times.

The strategy included:

  • spreading rumours that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne took drugs and had sex with a prostitute, including that they allude to non existent secret tapes.
  • spreading rumours about the mental health of Osborne’s wife and suggesting this will be used as an excuse to demote him.
  • challenging Cameron to reveal details of an “embarrassing illness”, ie a venereal disease and demanding he release full medical records.
  • Accusing a gay Tory MP of promoting his partner’s business interests in the Commons.
  • Suggesting photos exist of Osborne “posing in a bra, knickers and suspenders” and “with his face ‘blacked up’”
  • Concocting a tale about backbench Tory Nadine Dorries having a one night stand with a colleague, and hinting a sex aid was left behind in the hotel room

They even taught about how to “sequence” the stories for maximum impact, using timing and technology, and including links to suggestive photographs.

Huge congrats go to Guido, who got hold of the e-mails and exposed all this. He has an amazing track record in exposing wrong doing. It shows how desperate people get to retain power.

It also shows how relatively tame things are back in NZ. The worst “invented gossip” we had to endure was the fantasy smear over John Key “buying” his Helensville seat in exchange for donations totalling $1.5 million. I have always wondered whose idea that smear was.

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UK Minister’s husband claims porn movies as expenses

March 30th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

The husband of Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has apologised for the “embarrassment” he caused her after she used her Commons expenses to claim for the adult movies he watched.

Richard Timney watched two adult films at his home and his wife later claimed for the television package while submitting a £67 bill for her internet connection.

It’s often the little issues that do more damage.

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