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Thread: The British Politics and Current Affairs Thread

  1. #1
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    The British Politics and Current Affairs Thread

    I'm not sure how much traffic we'll get in here, but there are enough British posters around that there's got to be a decent chance of it doing well enough to survive. Now that we're only about eight months away from the 2015 general election, it seems as good a time as any to start a place where we can contain all of these sorts of debate.

    Things that fit in here:

    UK and Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern assembly matters
    Party political and electoral affairs
    British foreign policy
    UK referenda
    Current affairs related to the various levels of UK government

    You get the idea.


    Anyway - I'll start us off with a question. UKIP took their first MP in Clacton with a landslide, and run Labour close in the Heywood and Middleton by-election. Now, small parties always do well outside of general elections and with the traditional 'protest party' as part of the government, there is always a chance that this is a one-off. However, by winning so comfortably in Clacton, and then by reducing the Labour majority from 6000 to 600 in one of their Greater Manchester heartlands, there is also the chance that they'll attract votes from both sides of the political divide and this could just be the beginning.


    So, my question to you - based on your own opinions, and the people you speak to in your own town and the opinions you hear on a daily basis - are UKIP about to break into the political mainstream in 2015, or is this as good as it is going to get for them?



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  2. #2
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    UKIP will, at best, replace the Lib Dems as the third party. However, I feel they won't get more than 5% of seats in the next General Election, unless David or Ed really fucks up.

  3. #3
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    These last by-elections have proven to be nothing short of a typical example of the media's obsession with the plucky plight of the political underdog. The idea of a new party in decades being the first to emerge as a viable alternative is a great story to run, and at every turn UKIP are, right now, benefiting solely from a perfect storm of political disenchantment, national cynicism, general ignorance and media coverage. It is, historically, a dangerous concoction, and that scares me. It'll be very interesting, though, seeing how UKIP fare after the election if it is anything other than a resounding success story for them in one manner or another.

    In Clacton, I think it's important to remember that the eventual victor was the previous MP anyway, probably well liked by those involved enough to care about eagerly casting a vote and with a reputation to trade on, along with a set of core values he need change in no way but can paint over a different colour and enjoy a far greater approval rating. His policies, personally, as far as I'm aware remain no different than the same ones he traded on to win a seat in Westminster back in 2010, so it's really little surprise UKIP won whatsoever. I'd even go so far as to say UKIP didn't win, Carswell won...and he just happened to have a purple and yellow badge now instead of a blue one. The bigger story is the swing in Greater Manchester really, but we're still so far out from the election next year it's impossible to really know if it's indicative of a wider public sentiment. And even if it is, the crucial fact is simple: Labour won. No matter by how narrow a margin, Labour still won, and it's the seats in London that matter in first past the post, not the percentage. I'm relieved we rejected AV rigth now....

    UKIP are a frightening prospect though. Any party that claims it can be all things to all people across all the political spectrum can't be trusted. The number of gaffes they've made in the media spotlight across the party is embarrassing. All well and good apologising to Brits on BBC at tea time, but say the wrong thing to the heads of government from China or India or any other "bongobongoland" and see what happens. Either Farage lies when he says what he says in apology for his party members or he has zero control over the attitudes and actions of his party members; either prospect is scary for a man who seems to want to become a genuine political force in this country (and probably has a stronger chance of doing so than people dare think). He's a populist and will no doubt take on the role Nick Clegg had back in 2010, just with a far more damaging and dangerous mission statement.

    I live in a historically left wing constituency, and the seat here has been shared between Labour and the Lib Dems as far as I can remember. I haven't detected much of a mood for UKIP round here, but there's enough riff-raff who know nothing about how politics in this country works (a HUGE part of the problem in itself) who may just vote if they're feeling a little angsty on the day. I have seen and interacted with a number of fairly young people up to around my own age (25) though who seem to think voting for UKIP as a protest vote is a good idea. UKIP, alas, has now got to that point where any word of criticism aimed at them simply seems to make them more popular. They're creating reason to dislike them, then feeding off the criticism that breeds. The Nick Clegg of 2010 may have had a shot at taking Farage on in a battle of charisma, but 2015 Nick Clegg, an increasingly lost David Cameron and that wet-flannel that is Ed Miliband? No chance. I never thought I'd pray for Boris Johnson to have a shot at party leadership....

    All this without even starting on Europe!

    My god, I dislike them....

  4. #4
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    My constituency is very much in a Labour/Tory marginal. It's one that they both realistically have to win if they are going to get a majority. It's Conservative now, was Labour from 1997 to 2010, had been Conservative from 1979 to 1997, before that it had been Labour for a long time... it's prime battleground territory, and very much a 'bellweather' for the politics of the country as a whole.

    Current predictions are that it will return to Labour in 2015, but I'm not so sure. It's the kind of seat where I'd expect UKIP to do well, and though I'd be stunned if they actually took the seat it is very difficult to predict what effect they will have on the main two parties. The upside of it being such a battleground is that they probably can't turn it around here - the downside is that you end up having to choose between Labour and Conservative and voting very pragmatically, because a vote for anyone else tends to be wasted and plenty of smaller parties don't even got on to the ballot here.



    There's a few things I want to see about UKIP in the long run - firstly, are they 'mainstream' now, or are they still unpopular enough with enough people that you'll get otherwise apathetic people turning out to vote them down, as we've seen when the BNP have threatened to break through? Secondly, since they are targeting 'everywhere' in Farage's words, can they sustain anywhere near enough momentum for that, or are they, in fact, making a mistake in not focusing their resources on 'winnable' seats?


    Guess we'll have to wait and see. I've only seen one poll on the upcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood, so I'm loathe to put too much weight behind it. However, that suggests another UKIP gain from the Tories, although it's obviously a similar situation with a defecting MP. I think we'll probably have to wait until the General Election to get a real idea of the answers.



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  5. #5
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    Without doubt. There are obvious differences between winning a seat by fielding a defecting MP who triggered the by-election and winning one in an outright general election battle. The mood in the months leading into the election may show a little more, but if the Tories continue to treat UKIP with the same dismissive contempt it'll do nothing but strengthen the UKIP cause. Right now, this country is reeling from scandal after scandal and UKIP, relatively speaking, have escaped the scrutiny that comes with mainstream politics. Inevitably, that will change one day and that, I think, is when we'll see if UKIP is sustainable or just a flash in the pan. So far, the British public having been allowing Farage to prove us cynics wrong at every turn.

    I am very concerned for the election though, and about UKIP. The behaviour I saw at their rally when Reckless turned up was not too far removed from the horrors of historical political rallies, though I refrain from extremely paranoid comparisons right now. It helps them that the Lib Dems are now seen as toxic by even former Lib Dem supporters too I guess. I can only hope that their aiming for everybody and trying to be all things to all people sees them get too cocky for their own good and end up overstretching.

  6. #6
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    I don't want to make too many predictions regarding the Lib Dems. But I will go this far - the history of the Liberal Democrats is a pretty interesting one and it gets brushed away a lot but has a huge influence on all kinds of issues that come up for the party and the decisions the have to make. Without going too far into that right now, the one thing I think we'll see next time around is a split between those seats that have a strong LD history and identity, and those that have been gained mainly as a result of a protest vote in the New Labour years. Those last seats will probably see local parties that are less strong get swept aside, mainly because they've never 'really' been Liberal Democrat seats to begin with - much the same way that Labour lost a few seats in the South in 2001 and 2005.

    They'll likely see substantial losses, and I think they'll have done very, very well to keep half their current seats. But it's important to remember that in those other kind of seats, they will probably still do quite well. Consider Eastleigh - when the LD's were at their most toxic and in the seat given up by the convict Chris Huhne, they managed to hold on despite being in government and a UKIP surge. Those kind of seats will ensure they've still got a reasonable presence after the election, and the 15-25 seats they are left with might end up being hugely significant.


    Going back to Jackster's post a few further back, even if UKIP did only take 5% of the seats at the next general election, that would be around 33. They'd still call that a huge result, it would make them the third biggest party overall, and unless voters came disproportionately from one side of the aisle, it would likely give UKIP enough clout that they'd basically get to choose the next government - or at least they'd have the ability to bring it down.
    Last edited by Prime Time; 10-11-2014 at 10:17 AM.



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  7. #7
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    Settling my jitters a little Prime, thanks! Never easy seeing something you so passionately and honestly support look like it falls to ruin, to the glee of right wing spite as well.

    To be fair, if UKIP go from 0 seats won in 2010 to 33 in 2015, they have the right to call it a huge result, or any number like it. Huge jump.

    If they did, would Tories or Labour be the Coalition bedfellow do you think? And would Cameron and / or Ed survive a loss? Or even a marginalised victory?

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    If UKIP are the powerbrokers when all is said and done, then I think it would have to be with the Conservatives. To be honest, there is a rizla between the right wing of the Tory party and the average UKIP-er anyway, so there's a natural constituency for them to gather around. There might be some euroscepticism in the 'old' Labour voter, but aside from that it is very difficult to see where they'd start to make policy together. Besides that, UKIP are much less reliable as a partner than the Lib Dems and would be much more likely to bring the government down. I can't see them working well with Labour at all.

    However, there is always a possibility that the Lib Dems will retain enough seats to still be viable as a coalition. It's unlikely to be with the Conservatives unless UKIP hit Labour voters disproportionately, though they do have the advantage of almost guaranteed support by the half-dozen DUP MPs from Northern Ireland. However, if Labour don't manage to gain the 90 or so seats they are currently expected to and only take 55-60, then depending on the Lib Dems performance (and possibly support from the SNP, or Plaid Cymru, or the SDLP) there is also a chance that they could prop up a Labour government.

    Most of the Labour people I talk to now (and there's quite a lot of them) say that they think a coalition with the Lib Dems after the past few years is probably going to be unworkable, but that's a feeling out in the membership and there is no telling whether or not the leadership feel the same way. So whether it's another coalition or tacit support, the LD's could theoretically support either party too.

    I think Miliband can survive if Labour become the biggest party. It'll be a rocky road if he doesn't deliver a majority, but if they are in government in June 2015 then I think he'll survive in much the same fashion that DC did. As for Cameron, I don't think he can survive anything other than a majority long-term. Last time he couldn't deliver against the most unpopular PM in recent memory. If he fails to deliver again, then 'modernisation' will be judged a failure across two elections, and the clamour for someone else - probably Boris - to lead the party will become deafening.



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  9. #9
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    Never really agreed much with Harman, but when she said on the Marr Show UKIP had exploited people's disconnect with politics I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement; great way to put it.

    Is it too late for Labour to curb the UKIP surge in the north? And how would a UKIP of both Labour and Tory defectors work?

  10. #10
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    Long term, it wouldn't on many issues - but I think in the the short term they could probably get together on Euroscepticism, anti-immigration, and maybe one or two issues. If I had to guess I'd say that in all honesty Labour voters heading for UKIP won't be 'New Labour', they will be the older, traditional working class supporters who feel ignored by what they see as the new, metropolitan, elitist Labour Party. In the past Labour were the party of 'traditional' values and euroscepticism, along with their socialism, so there could be some areas where they'd get crossover. But ultimately it couldn't work long-term, and as traditional Labour voters heading for UKIP must be nothing more than a protest vote, it probably wouldn't have to. As we'll probably see with the Liberal Democrats, once the protest element is removed from UKIP, traditional Labour voters will either return to the party or find another group to latch on to as an expression of distaste for the status quo.

    Harriet Harman is a clever woman, much more clever than some people give her credit for. She is bang on, in my opinion. I've got this long standing theory that this has been brewing for decades and decades, and that the rise of a party like UKIP was inevitable (and may, in a weird way, actually end up being desirable). But I won't bore you with that - as traffic is thin on the ground while this place is in its infancy I don't want to scare anyone off!



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    I'll admit that I'm not great on my political knowledge and so I'll mainly stay to the side and read this thread rather than participate but I just wanted to ask one question. How much of UKIP's support is based on Nigel Farrage rather than the policies of the party? I asked because he reminds me a bit of Boris in that most of the time he seems to be more memorable for being him rather than whatever he was going on about.

  12. #12
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    Pretty much entirely, is the answer. It's hard to find anyone with an intimate knowledge of UKIP's policies for the country outside of leaving the EU and now, apparently and rather bizarrely, thinking they can just randomly remove a huge swathe of the population out of income tax. Beyond that, I'm not certain what they want to do, and I'm not sold they are either to be quite frank. Oh, bar screening anyone coming into the country for AIDs and TB and turning away those who suffer from it. Because, ya know, they're only here to skank off the NHS. It's nothing to do with the fact that they might want to live in a wonderful country or anything. It's an idea they've phrased, in particularly ugly and really quite frightening language, as "screening the quantity and quality" of migrants. Ugh. They're an opportunistic bunch taking advantage of well judged rhetoric and people's general cynicism to further a very regressive and dangerous view of the world. The idea they support the sacking of MPs too really is ringing alarm bells for me.

    They've today released news on broadcaster's suggested format for the three TV debates, and it's all a bit weird. The idea is a solely Cameron vs. Miliband debate on 4 (phrased as "between the two people who have the ability to be the next Prime Minister - sort of plays into a lot of what people are mistakenly believing at the moment), one between Cameron, Miliband and Clegg on the BBC and one between Cameron, Miliband, Clegg and Farage on ITV. I think it's a pretty dumb suggestion for a lot of reasons.

    The idea of just Cameron vs. Miliband doesn't seem particularly representative or democratic. The idea that the Lib Dems only get to be a part of two out of three when they've been a part of the actual government for the last five years strikes me as grossly unfair and, again, unrepresentative. Farage being in only one is very dangerous - he's good enough to ensure he comes out looking like shit doesn't stink from just one single debate where there'd be limited time to pick apart UKIP ideas, especially in a group of four. Also, as much as I hate to say it, there's no denying they're now a mainstream party in British politics at the moment, so there's no point in "grading" these four main players in the manner the channels seem to have done. Can't help but feel it's grossly unfair on the Greens too, who not only have as many MPs as UKIP (1...) but have had that MP for much longer and won the seat in an actual general election rather than an easily fought defection wrought by-election; surely, if UKIP are in, it only makes logical sense for the Greens as well?

    Now the SNP and Cymru both want in as well, but I think that's beside the point given they're nation specific parties with their own issues to deal with. I'm also not sure how you could do three debates of five parties either for that matter. However this turns out, I can't help but feel there has to be a more fair, even and representative approach to these debates or they shouldn't be had at all.
    Last edited by 'Plan; 10-13-2014 at 01:14 PM.

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    So would you say then that it's the persona of Farrage that differentiates UKIP from other similar parties in the past such as the BNP?

  14. #14
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    Good question. Farage is a very skilled orator and he is extremely good at playing the media and other political figures in a situation to make himself appear like the victor, even when he isn't. He'll gladly criticise an MP for a past expenses scandal, for example, but avoid any question regarding the two million he made in claims as an MEP by changing the conversation to something that favours his stance. As a result, I'd say a large part is Farage, absolutely.

    Generally speaking, I think political attitudes in this country have been slowly grinding to the right ever since New Labour took office though, and with Farage UKIP have been able to do what Harriett Harman called "exploiting people's political disconnect." In other words, be ballsy about the topic of the day - immigration (and they really are a one issue party, despite what Farage claims) - and say what a lot of the older generation wants to say because of their general ignorance to the world, but also take advantage of being an outsider. It's because Farage can play off the fact UKIP have never had an MP before, have always been spoken of dismissively as a fringe party (and until this last year or so, they always very much were) and utilise our love for an underdog story in Britain that he can paint himself and UKIP as a sort of, "Look at us and how fresh and honest we are" type deal. They pretend to be as disenchanted with politics as the public, but people don't realise Farage is very much a career politician (again, despite what he claims).

    So yeah, a large part is down to Farage's growing cult of personality, but also the benefit of circumstance: having never been in Parliament before in any form, having captured the mood of an entire generation that finds itself increasingly confronted by the honest, liberal world many of them fought and died to win (grim irony), and then painting themselves as a disgusted alternative, they've got a lot of demographics onside - the generation before mine, the nationalists, some of the more ignorant youth vote, a lot of those who have excused their political laziness and ignorance as "all as bad as each other" and so on.

    Take this gentleman, for example, a Brian from the East Midlands (my own region):

    Last edited by 'Plan; 10-13-2014 at 01:42 PM.

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    Ok talking of other leaders, does anyone actually think that Boris is the bumbling fool that he portrays himself as or do you think it's a gimmick as such to get himself over with the general public with an aim to move beyond the mayor of London in the future? Like Farrage he's managed to make himself a brand so that almost everything he does and says gets some sort of attention whether it be on tv or online.

  16. #16
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    Ya know what? I actually have a deal of admiration for Boris. I think he's been very clever in building up, and maintaining and perpetuating, this idea he's a bit of a posh boy Eton fop who's a little bewildered by the world around him, but he's also a very savvy, very intelligent, very well-articulated politician. His charisma is off the charts and I think he'd be a fantastic anti-Farage for the Tories; certainly more effective than Cameron is proving to be. He'd also appeal to those thinking of defecting too, because my understanding is he's a bit more Tory than Cameron. Might be wrong there though.

    Either way, Ed Miliband is a wonky-nosed prat. Can never take anything he says seriously. Biggest mistake in Labour was him getting the leadership over his far more convincing brother David.

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    I agree entirely on your views there. I'm convinced that Boris will at least be in the running for the leadership of the Tories post general election. Labour as you said are going to struggle with Ed Miliband in charge, and will probably only win the election if the public take the view of 'Well, the Tories didn't fix everything time to move back to the other lot' or if UKIP take enough of the Tory vote sp that Labour are pretty much the only party left. Outside of Boris and Farrage are there any serious political characters that have any sort of charisma or gravitas and yet could back it up with their intelligence?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 'Plan View Post
    Pretty much entirely, is the answer.
    I'm not quite so sure about this as 'Plan. It's not that I think anything you've said here is wrong, and I think you've made a good case. But I'm not actually convinced that Farage is actually that popular in himself. As you've pointed out, neither him or UKIP have come in for the kind of scrutiny that gets lumped onto the main players, and there is a very good chance that his own popularity is as soft as that of his party, and could still melt away once people get a good look at him (or, indeed, voters in swing seats start to tremble at the thought of handing the election to one or other of the big two). There's also the well-documented issue of his 'woman problem', in that like Cameron, women don't seem to like him very much and are turned off by the persona. There's always a chance that Farage is just lucky enough to be a magnet for protest votes and that people are rallying not to him, but to the general idea of backing an outsider or of Euroscepticism. I actually hope it's this, because we could do without Nige on the political scene and this last would probably see him disappear.

    There are a number of pretty key differences between the BNP and UKIP, I think. One is that Nick Griffin isn't half the politician that Nigel is - though to give the devil his due, he did a remarkable job to even get the BNP to the point they were at a few years ago, before they were ultimately found out. But there are also some major differences in policy, core constituents and rhetoric. Without going too much into the theory, the basic divide is that UKIP, like the major parties, tend to base their ideology broadly around 'the state', which is just as the country as it is and as it is governed, while the BNP tend to think in terms of 'the nation', which is theorised as a more essentialist and ethnically-rooted idea. I guess the best way of pointing out the distinction is that when far-right people get tattoos or hang flags outside their house, they don't get the Union Jack (UK or Britain being the state), they tend to use the cross of St George (representative of England, 'the nation'). Actually, a lot of the other parties policy is dependent on the latter notion too, but the difference between the BNP and parties of their ilk and the political mainstream is that for them, this side of the issue is overt, while in the other it is more implied.


    UKIP, broadly speaking, are also classic conservatives. If you take all the contradictions that have been introduced into the Conservative party in the 20th century away, what you are left with seems to be UKIP. They are right wing across the board. Their typical voter, when they were establishing themselves, tended to have voted Tory all their life, would be middle class, and was probably sent this way either by John Major's stance on Europe or by Cameron's modernisation of the party. The BNP, while in the far right in a lot of their policy, are actually much more over the map in terms of the whole of their policy. Their best chance of picking up votes tends to be amongst the working class, particularly in those towns that lost heavy industrial jobs and so are unlikely to vote conservative, but who felt deserted by New Labour. Consequently, they tended to employ a mixture of far right nationalist rhetoric with some very left wing economic ideas (sounds a bit too fucking familiar, doesn't it?) in order to appeal to this kind of voter. If you look at their average vote share, and then at the places the BNP did well in 2010, you see a big correlation between post-industrial Labour seats (like Ashton-under-Lyne, Barnsley East and Central, Bolsover, Dagenham, just to name a few) and spikes in the BNP vote. The other big area for them was urban seats with racial tensions, such as several seats in the East End of London, in Birmingham, and Bradford.

    I think it's ludicrous that the Green's aren't in the debate. I've some sympathy for the SNP and Plaid too. Though I'm not sure that the national platform is the best solution for that, I certainly think that there should be equivalent debates on BBC Scotland/Wales or similar that features them and high-profile members of the bigger parties.


    I'm actually hopeful for the Green's this time around. While I half expect them to lose Brighton Pavilion to Labour, I think they'll pick up plenty of votes in rural Tory seats and might spring a shock or two. Hopefully this won't be checked by a UKIP surge, though I can't imagine too many people who voted Green last time going that way...




    Boris isn't quite the bumbling fool that he portrays, no. I'm not as taken in with him as some people are, and everything I've heard suggests that it could be outright carnage if he does win the Tory leadership. You can expect plenty of stories about Tory sleaze, more 'women trouble', and some ructions in the party with those who think he's useless. I think it will eventually happen, because he polls higher than pretty much any Tory - but let's just say he is a divisive politician.


    I've actually been in the same room with Ed Miliband (when he was secretary of state for Energy) and, like Gordon Brown and Edward Heath, he's actually much better in person than he is on TV. One abiding memory I have is that he clearly wanted to talk about issues, rather than politics or procedure. Now, I'm not saying that he's going to get into power, but I think there's a very good chance he could be quietly capable once he got there and outstrip a lot of peoples expectations of him. Though saying that, they are so low it wouldn't be that hard.

    As for David... he'd probably be more capable of delivering an election victory, so from a pragmatic point of view it would have made sense to vote for him. But I'm not at all convinced that it was the right thing to do. D. Miliband is a died-in-wool Blairite, while Cameron is trying to be Tory Blair - so while it's the pragmatic choice, I'm not sure what principle voting for David sent out. Choosing Ed, the more left-leaning of the two, in theory made a point about what Labour stood for. He's been too quiet about that ever since, but hopefully he's playing a long game and we'll hear a lot more as the election approaches.

    One last point - you are right about the country moving to the right, though I'd argue it started happening long before 1997 - if you ignore the years where Michael Foot was leader of Labour, the two biggest parties have been drifting that way since the mid-1970s.



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  19. #19
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    News today the Eursceptic block in the EU has fallen apart when the Liberian MP withdrew. Thoughts? Surely it's going to have an effect on Cameron's pending negotiation rematch.

    Think I've finally wrapped my head around the devolution issue as well...and, no surprise, fall largely on side with the Lib Dems again. It's interesting; whenever I have a "crisis of political faith" as it were I always end up eventually finding my way right back to where I started again. At least I know it's definitely a conviction!

  20. #20
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    What's a Liberian MP doing in Europe?!


    I don't know what the long term effects of this are. Have to wait and see. Probably means you'll get some disorganisation amongst the serious Eurosceptics but I'm not convinced it'll amount to anything tangible just yet.


    I've long been an advocate for devolution in England. Seems crazy to me that Wales, Scotland and London all get devolved Government, but massive entities like Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands don't.

    I don't know the specifics of what the Lib Dems are proposing, but where I do agree with them in the party line is that the answer to political disengagement is more representation and politics, not less. Bringing these issues down to the local (or at least regional) level seems to make a lot of sense to me.



    News coming out today that Danny Alexander has won the internal race in the Lib Dems to be the party's economic spokesman in the run-up to the election over Vince Cable. Goes back to that interesting history and subsequent issues I mentioned quite far up the page, and is widely being interpreted as a win for the right wing of the party over the left - with two of the most prominent members of that flank in their two key posts. Come quite far from Charlie Kennedy.



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  21. #21
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    This thread - and indeed, subforum - has been dead for a long time. But with the events of today, it's got it's best chance of coming back to life in the coming weeks. If it doesn't, then probably best to leave it dead.

    But parliament dissolved today. The election campaign is underway. In most quarters Ed Miliband was judged to have won the faux-debate when the two leaders went up against Paxman. Opinion polls have the two main parties in almost a statistical tie. Labour are probably expected to emerge as the biggest party by a narrow margin, unless the campaign swings things back towards the Tories. However, the 60 or so seats they are expected to gain in England will be offset by the loss of around 30 or so in Scotland to the SNP, if current predictions are to be believed, meaning we'll rely on another coalition or confidence-and-supply agreement.

    Tory losses to Labour are expected to be offset by gains from the Lib Dems, who are expected to lose more than half of their seats. We're even unsure if Nick Clegg can hold on to one of the safest Lib Dem seats in the country. If he goes, he won't be the only high profile Lib Dem - Simon Hughes, Sarah Teather, Lynn Featherstone, Jenny Willott, Ming Campbell, Charlie Kennedy, Alistair Carmichael and Danny Alexander are all said to be in fights for their political lives. And what will happen with the Greens and UKIP, who are currently predicted to take approximately a fifth of the vote nationally between them?


    In short, it's the most unpredictable election for more than a generation.



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  22. #22
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    It could be an interesting time for the country. The rise of the minority party has thrown it all wide open.

    I find Cameron far more appealing than Ed but Labour far more appealing than the Conservatives. I dispise UKIP with a passion. On the day, who I go with may well depend on these campaigns.

    The libdems lost me over tuition fees though. I'll never vote for them again.

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    Nony, do you know what the expectations are in your constituency?

    I think a lot of people feel the way you do about the Lib Dems. Poor 'Plan, judging by comments a few months ago and the fact the polls haven't rebounded, I suspect he's not a happy camper at the minute...

    You are right, though - the rise of the minority parties has thrown it all open. You have to imagine that if Labour had 70% of the voters that are expected to go Green and SNP, they'd be looking at a landslide victory. As it is, they'll probably come in somewhere around 280-290 seats - IF they can stay where they are currently.



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    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    Nadine Dorries will win I'm afraid. I'm a celebrity aside, she's hugely popular round these parts. Always very public and by all accounts thoroughly nice. Disappointing.

    How about your area?

    A big part of me would love to go for the Greens. They'd be my protest vote ahead of UKIP anyday. I agree with a lot of what they say too.

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    Shit - didn't realise you were in her constituency. My commiserations. I guess the plus side is you can vote Green safe in the knowledge that your vote isn't the difference between one party and another. You'll be in a growing minority though - about 6% or so, if what I've read pans out.

    I'm in a Labour-Tory marginal. All the predictions are saying that Labour will just about take it back here, but I think it's going to be an absolute coin toss.

    We've got Green and UKIP candidates standing here, so I could vote for them - but it's an easy choice for me between Labour and Conservative. I'm no great lover of the Labour party, but I take them over the Conservatives and also Miliband over Cameron, every day of the week. Given that I'm in a marginal, pragmatism wins out.

    While I can't envision ever voting UKIP, I'm (not-so) secretly very much a Green. If I voted for them, it wouldn't be a protest in the typical sense. But they've no chance of winning, and given that I have no time for the local MP either... let's just say I find a lot of good reasons to get into bed with Labour right now.



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  26. #26
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    Weird events today, as the Lib Dems are seen canvassing with... Joey Essex. Interesting strategy. Apparently he's going to be quite involved with all the party leaders over the coming weeks. Not sure who thought that was a good idea, but there we are.


    I realise that there's a chance 1-2 people might read this thread without really wanting to participate, so on the offchance that there is anyone like that, who feels a bit confused by the mass of more than 600 seats, I thought I'd post a few 'ones to watch' that could be particularly significant.


    Brighton Pavilion - Currently held by the Green party and their former leader Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion is the kind of seat that Labour have to win if they are going to surprise everyone and win an overall majority. It's currently looking unlikely given the Green surge, but is Labour take this one back then it will obviously be a real win for the Reds.

    Norwich South and Cambridge - I'll include these together, because they are kind of the flipside of the previous seat. These are two places where the Greens have done well, and are predicted to do well again. They only have to slightly outperform expectations and they could steal these seats from the Lib Dems. Both are expected to go for Labour, but if they go Green instead the political landscape will look very different.

    Rochester and Strood - this is going to be one of the major tests of the UKIP vote. South Thanet has the Farage Factor, and so whether he wins or not (he is currently predicted to win by a narrow margin, though LD voters could swing this back to CON by voting for their coalition partners) won't tell us too much about the party nationally. But as one of the seats held by UKIP currently, all eyes will be on whether or not this was a fluke win or if they are here to stay. Douglas Carswell achieved a fairly huge majority in the Clacton by-election last year and so you'd expect him to be safe, but Mark Reckless position in Rochester looks much more precarious. The thing is, I think UKIP need to come out of this election with more MP's than they go into it, or they'll start to fizzle out. Reckless holding on is vital for them.

    Inverclyde - Last won by Labour with a 6000 vote majority in 2011, this seat will show us how well Labour and the SNP will match up in Scotland. It's one of their safer seats, but it's also currently predicted to go to the SNP on a large swing. If Labour can hold on here, and do as well in England as the polls suggest, then Ed Miliband will probably be PM. If they win this by 2-3000 votes or so, the odds are Labour would hold a lot of their Scottish seats and the chance for a majority might be back on. If Labour do lose here, then the likelihood is the SNP will have the 40 or so seats that everyone is predicting.

    Keighley - in terms of a straight Labour/Tory contest, this is the middle of the road seat - the one that, if each were to win their 'targets', would make them the bigger of the two parties. Obviously that is complicated by the smaller parties holding seats in the list too, but it's still pretty significant. Held by the Conservatives currently, if Labour take it from them then the likelihood is Miliband rather than Cameron will be PM. Conversely, if Labour don't take it, DC will be in pole position and it will become clear that Labour have failed to make the kind of inroads they need to in England.

    Dudley South - W. Midlands, large working class population, expected to see a big UKIP vote... the kind of place that will really decide the election. Currently predicted as a Tory hold, but if Labour do win this one then they will probably have more than 300 seats and will be in at least as strong a position as the Conservatives have been for the past five years.


    Ross Skye and Lochaber - another Scottish seat. Charlie Kennedy, former LD leader, took this seat with 52% of the vote last time around. He's also fairly free of the taint of government, being seen as more of a 'Dem' to Clegg and Alexander's 'Lib'. But he's currently predicted to lose to the SNP. If he goes, the rout of the LD's north of the border will be almost complete and it is very difficult to see them getting back to 20 seats. They'll be half the size of an inflated SNP (assuming they make the predicted gains from Labour), and not much bigger than a UKIP/Plaid/Green grouping.


    And finally,

    Gateshead and South Holland and the Deepings - two very different seats, and in a sense it might be perverse to lump them together. But these are seats in very safe Labour and Conservative areas respectively, but both are predicted to have very big UKIP swings. If they fail to materialise on the night, then it's probably safe to say that the bubble will have burst and UKIP will under-perform nationally. If one goes true to the form book and the other doesn't, then we'll get an idea as to which side is bleeding voters out to UKIP more quickly.



    So, there are my ten seats to watch out at the moment. Obviously there will be other things happening in the campaign and things will move around a bit - but these seem to capture something of the election as a whole.
    Last edited by Prime Time; 04-01-2015 at 07:05 AM.



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  27. #27
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    Couple of interesting developments today...

    First, the business leaders coming out for the Tories. Hardly a surprise, but in such a close election who knows if that can make a difference to them.

    Second, a poll saying that Nick Clegg will lose his very safe Sheffield Hallam seat. Could be an errant piece of data as the majority seem to predict he'll hold on - but if it's right, Labour could do better than people are expecting, and the Lib Dems might well find themselves wiped off the map.



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  28. #28
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    Scary time to be a believer in the Lib Dems for sure, and I noted your comment above Prime. Needless to say I am very worried for them following Election Day. I have to say I'm currently leaning increasingly towards voting Labour in my local area, especially given how much Ed convinced me of him as a possible leader of this country anyway. My major problem is not finding myself majorly onside with their policy, which is naturally the trump card. Nor is it easy for me to shake off the feeling the fragile economy might go to pot.

    I look forward to the leaders debate tomorrow night, and hopefully it's a chance for Clegg to sway some people back. What bothers me isn't a loss of support for the Lib Dems but why that's come about. I understand they broke a major election pledge in rescinding their promise not to raise tuition fees and that was a no-no, but it's as if people think that is the be all and end all of their time in government and, frankly, it isn't. They've done good as well but that doesn't quite make better headlines. This myth that has grown in force that they "sold out" to get into government is utterly ludicrous to me. I'm not being an apologist when I defend them; I'm being a pragmatist. Coalition means compromise, and I found it telling that many of the positive implementations of policy Cameron trotted out the other night during his Q and A sounded rather more Lib Dem than Tory.

    Sucks to be a Liberal Democrat right now, and though Labour are putting in a strong argument for my vote I constantly find myself back on side with the Lib Dem's vision for the country whenever it's shared. Come Election Day, I'm liable (though not guaranteed) to stay loyal.

    I've found the media cooling their UKIP obsession in recent weeks very refreshing by the way, and the closer we get the more I think a Labour victory is possible. I admire (and agree with) Cameron's dedication to remaining in the EU, but it might prove to be the death of his political career. If the Tories lose the election, is he replaced?
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  29. #29
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    If Cameron loses I see Boris Johnson taking over. If he wins, I see Boris Johnson taking over. And part of me looks forward to that day. I like Cameron but if Boris led the Tories it would make not voting for them much easier.

  30. #30
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    I think so. It'd be interesting, because if it was down to Europe primarily, then that would be the last two Tory PM's beaten basically by the one issue.

    If the stories from the back end of last year are right, then if Cameron did go as Tory leader then Ed Miliband would soon find himself across the dispatch box from Boris Johnson. He's catapulted from the back of the pack to favourite both with voters and the party. Theresa May was in second place.

    There was even a rumour that if DC tried to push another coalition through, that right wing Tories would vote against another Queen's speech to try and replace him with BoJo, and, presumably, force another election in the hope of getting a majority. Sad to say it, but it would probably work too.



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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by anonymous View Post
    If Cameron loses I see Boris Johnson taking over. If he wins, I see Boris Johnson taking over. And part of me looks forward to that day. I like Cameron but if Boris led the Tories it would make not voting for them much easier.
    Just to pick up on Nony's point, Boris and Cameron are basically the same person.... Boris is a bit more of a shagger, but that's about the only difference. I think Boris might actually be more competent, secretly. Behind it all. It's difficult to tell where the mask ends and the manipulator begins with him. With DC you know it's all operator, with very little behind it.

    Boris would be a polarising figure if he became leader. 34% of the voters want him and 50% of the party, which is enough to give him clear wins in these polls. But what it doesn't tell you is how much of the 66% hate the guy and wouldn't vote for him in a million years. He'd have more support from his own party than a Cameron or May, and I think he'd probably pick up enough floating voters against an Ed Miliband, but he'd also be hated by the other half of the country in a way that the current leaders can only imagine.


    Apparently, Ed played a blinder on the radio today. If he follows that up tonight, he could halt the 'incumbent bias' which seems to have pulled the Tories level in the polls. It's also seen as the last chance saloon for UKIP by the Independent, who report that the party have been in free fall since the start of the year.



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  32. #32
    Samuel Plan
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    I'm almost certain Boris is the most capable MP going. His buffoonery makes him borderline bullet proof in Paxman style interviews; humour is a great disarming weapon. I also think his snobby honesty is so brazen he's borderline impossible to catch out. It's like a prevention is better than the cure method; if I'm asked the price of a value loaf of bread I shan't lie and will just tell you how much a bottle of champers is instead, before you get the dig in.

    How long is the debate on tonight? Interested to see if it's even a useful exercise given there's seven people involved. Recording the Pond tonight though so won't catch it till later. Gutted.
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  33. #33
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    The debate will be on for the best part of two hours. Won't run quite that long, but that's the block of TV assigned to it and you've got to imagine that most of that will be taken up with the debate itself. It makes sense, too, because they've got to get seven people involved. Any less than 90 minutes and it'd be a complete clusterfuck. I'd be stunned if it were less than 1hr 45.



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  34. #34
    Samuel Plan
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    Read an article on BBC News just now. There's going to be one minute clean statements from each leader in response to an audience question followed by eighteen minutes of debate, four times over. Seems decent enough. Farage stated in an interview politics "was far too over-scripted" and that he'll do no prep because he knows "roughly where he wants to take it." Foolish, wise or playing possum?
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  35. #35
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    I don't believe for a second that any one is going into this without being prepped. With that said, I can imagine he'll have done less than some of the others. A lot of his appeal comes from that rough around the edges vibe that he has going and he won't want to kill that.

    Similarly, I think Miliband won't have over-rehearsed. It might seem odd given that he has probably got as much to lose or gain as anybody here, but given that people have always had this thing that he is weird, then I expect he'll be wanting to come across as naturally as he can. Lose the stilted, robotic side and play up cuddly Ed.

    On the other hand - I think Cameron will be very well drilled after a poor-ish start to the campaign from him, I think Clegg will know that he's got a mountain to climb and will have everything at his fingertips (including answers to barbs about his record in government), and I think that Natalie Bennett will be desperate to make a better impression after the embarrassing incident on the radio.

    No idea what the SNP and Plaid leaders will turn up and do - Sturgeon, in particular, is a bit of a wild card because of course she won't be in Westminster regardless of any election result.



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  36. #36
    Samuel Plan
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    I think it's going to be a great watch! Plaid's inclusion befuddles me, frankly, but then Northern Irish voters I'm sure will still be invited to watch so perhaps not so strange in that sense. SNP seem obsessed they're going to be a major factor in whatever follows the election.

    I'm perversely excited to see Clegg backed up against the wall. I guess this is his one best chance to get some positive vibes going for his party, and he had a decent record at these things last year. Hard to imagine there are people on either side of that Lib Dem fence who can be convinced the other way mind.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by 'Plan View Post
    SNP seem obsessed they're going to be a major factor in whatever follows the election.

    Possibly with good reason. Unless the polls are wrong, then Labour and the Lib Dems need a wild swing back north of the border to stop that happening.

    To put things into perspective, the SNP had 6 seats at Westminster. They current upsurge in support is expected to put them around 48, all bar 11 of the Scottish seats. Put another way, that's more seats in Scotland alone than the lib dems had in the entire country until 2001.

    Now, I'm far from convinced this is actually going to materialise, because some of the swings we are talking about seem insane. But the long and short of it is that all of the numbers they are hearing will be telling the SNP that any party wanting to govern will need to talk to them, because no other combination will get them over the line. If nothing else, anyone would want a confidence and supply motion with them, or there is no point trying to even make a Queen's Speech.


    If the polling data turns out to be right.



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  38. #38
    Samuel Plan
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    Ok, so presuming that data's accurate and the SNP end up with around 48 seats but it's the Tories who win the most seats overall...are they bollocked?
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  39. #39
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    That's a hell of a question. On the one hand, it's hard to imagine a deal between the SNP and the Conservatives, and I imagine those on the right wing of the Tory party would hate that equation even more than they hated the Lib Dems deal.

    But on the other hand... if the Tories become the biggest party, it's hard to imagine Labour being able to get to the magic number even with the SNP, so you'd be looking at a rainbow coalition. It's also worth remembering that the Conservatives have the support of the Unionist parties in Northern Ireland, who tend to provide more seats than the SDLP (who we'll tentatively put with Labour).

    Ultimately, if the Tories are the biggest party and the SNP have that kind of support, they'll be obligated to at least try and talk to each other.


    They are also not bollocked in so much as they coud still, in theory, win a majority. They don't really need seats in Scotland to win a majority. If I'm not mistaken, the Tories win an overall majority if they can hold their current seats, steal another 1-2 from Labour, and cherry pick LD seats in Southern England. So it doesn't take a dramatic swing towards Cameron to leave the SNP fairly irrelevant - although it does feel unlikely at this point.



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  40. #40
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 'Plan View Post
    I think it's going to be a great watch! Plaid's inclusion befuddles me, frankly, but then Northern Irish voters I'm sure will still be invited to watch so perhaps not so strange in that sense.
    Plaid are Welsh...

    enjoying the debate. Will probably post a full length opinion later.

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