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Posts Tagged ‘Miliband’

Miliband Wordsearch

In Economy, Events, Home Affairs, Ideology, Party politics on January 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm

By polarii for The Daily Soapbox – @polar_ii

Here’s a ‘wordgram’ from Guido Fawkes of Ed Miliband’s set piece on the economy. The bigger the word, the more times Miliband said it. What words are missing that should be there?

1) Squeezed Middle

Yes, Miliband’s definition of ‘middle’, which encompasses 95% of the population, is probably a bit off. But the idea has legs. Most people (unsurprisingly) consider themselves average in terms of income, so talking about ‘the squeezed middle’ enables a large number of people to identify with Labour’s message. Since most people (according to polling) think the cuts are unfair, this idea is one that Labour can make easy headway in pursuing. Miliband has particular reason to pursue it because it was his initial idea.

2) Producer v Predator

Again, a Miliband theme which has some potential. People are clearly in favour of companies that ‘contribute’ to the economy and against those that ‘strip’ it. Again, let’s ignore difficulties in defining which companies are goodies and which baddies; it’s an idea that people makes people say “Ed’s on my side” and “Ed want an economically and morally healthy economy”. No gold in this speech however, as ‘Kremlinology’ (one mention during Q&A) gets a look in ahead of ‘predator’ (no mentions).

3) Vision

The word doesn’t need to be ‘vision’; it could equally be ‘goal’ or ‘future’ or ‘plan’ or even ‘hope’. Miliband does have some good points on the ‘fairness’ theme, but these will ultimately not carry home when the public thinks the cuts are necessary (see link above) and Labour is not really offering a detailed plan, nor offering a vision of where the future of the country lies. The lack of vision is the most important factor, I think, in why the Labour party seems so ethereal. It is concerned more about the future of Labour than the future of the country. This is particularly brought home by a recent BBC headline: Miliband has ‘a clear plan for the Labour Party‘ – he is focussed on the party not on the country. It’s not an inspiring or winning strategy.

Miliband needs to risk something beyond the bland, managerial pitch (the words here are certainly managerially bland) and go for a full-on idealistic vision. At this stage, it doesn’t matter that the rhetoric – whether on Squeezed Middle, Producer v Predator or a vision statement – doesn’t quite correlate with specific policies or even reality. Ed Miliband needs to do more than capture our attention. He needs to capture our imagination.

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A Collection of Thoughts

In Economy, Europe, Events, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Party politics, The Media, Uncategorized on December 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm

By polarii for the Daily Soapbox – @polar_ii

So here’s time for a big apology to any regular readers – between us all at the Daily Soapbox, we haven’t had any time to put down some ideas for a blog post. That’s not for want of things to say (and how much we have wanted to say!), but for lack of time. So it’s our fault for not finding time. Sorry.

If you want the blog to be fuller, and you enjoy what you read, and maybe even reckon you could do better, why not join us? Email: dingdongalistic@gmail.com and we’ll set you up as the latest Soapbox contributor.

So to kick us back off, here’s a couple of thoughts from my ice cave in the Arctic… or Germany, as everyone outside the BBC calls it.

Euroscepticism

Why has everyone forgotten Cameron is a bona fide Eurosceptic in his own right? Sure, he doesn’t foam at the mouth with quite the aplomb of Daniel Hannan, but this is a good thing. In the Conservative leadership election (in the heady days of 2005), he was elected on and later delivered a promise to take the Conservative party out of the EPP and form a soft-eurosceptic bloc, which was further than David Davis (who is more ‘right-wing’) was prepared to go. While ConHome and others have been whingeing about the lack of a referendum, Cameron has managed to a) move the European issue to a more central stage while b) uniting his historically divided party behind a moderate Eurosceptic stance and c) not banging on about it. Clever or what?

A further thought: Labour wouldn’t have signed up to these agreements either, but that’s not half the fun of it. These agreements will enforce a statutory deficit-limit stricter than the ones in the Maastricht Treaties. The Maastricht Limit is 3% of GDP, so presumably the Merkozy limit will be 2% or 2.5%. But Labour’s ‘Darling Plan’, even on their own (overly optimistic) reckoning, will only halve the deficit over four years. Our deficit is currently about 10% of GDP. In the event that Britain was bound by the Maastricht or Merkozy Treaties, Labour would have no plan to bring the deficit within the legal limits. Brussels would throw Labour’s budget back in their faces, impose hefty fines, and tell them to follow Osborne’s plan. Now who thinks Merkozy’s scheme is in our national interest?

Euro

The charge levelled against Cameron is that he has left Britain without allies. This is, of course, untrue, because most every country outside the EU is taking a position very similar to Britain’s, especially the United States.

But even within Europe, he isn’t as isolated as some claim. Mads Persson correctly notes that the Irish, French, Swedes, Finns, Czechs, Hungarians and Poles all have not insignificant problems with the agreement as posed (see also this surprisingly excellent Indy graphic). But then, let’s look at some other countries, particularly Italy and Greece. There have been close votes in both parliaments on European issues, and it is not an unreasonable parliamentarian who, having been subjected to EU budget targets for the next ten years, objects to handing over control of their country’s budgets over to the EU for the rest of history. Rebellious parliaments can rebel again, and it’s hard not to imagine Eurosceptic parties like LAOS (Greece) and Lega Nord (Italy) doing quite well in upcoming elections. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But I wouldn’t write anything off either.

BBC

In case you missed the gratuitous sideswipe at the BBC in the preamble, it’s coming again. If you didn’t miss it in the preamble, I am actually going to make a point. The BBC is getting into the habit of presenting things out of context. I’m normally annoyed that the BBC displays institutional (but not conscious) bias against Conservatives and Christians, but others complain about biases in other directions, which I assume means the BBC is doing a decent job (since it’s clearly not doing an atrocious one).

However, there were two glaring errors in this week’s programming. The first was coverage of Cameron’s veto. The one report suggested that the EU was suggesting the UK was separate and even inferior because Cameron was the last to sign Croatia’s accession agreement. The context: all countries sign in alphabetical order. The United Kingdom, being the last country alphabetically in the EU, signed it last. Snub? Hardly.

The other error caused me less apoplexy, but the public more. David Attenborough juxtaposed an Arctic female polar bear making an ice-den (in which polar bears give birth to their cubs) with some polar bear cubs in a den in a zoo in Germany. The seamless transition implied to many people that the BBC was actually filming wild polar bear births. Which is stupid because the cameraman would certainly have his head bitten off if that were the case. Nonetheless, in both cases, the BBC failed to properly explain the context of what was going on, and in each case, their coverage suffered because of it. The BBC is slowly metamorphosing into an institution that doesn’t care about the truth, rather sensationalism.

Leveson

Did you know who Neville Thurlbeck was before the Leveson inquiry? If you did, you read the News of the World regularly. Shame on you (unless you were his colleague or his relative).

On a serious note though, I’ve come to the conclusion that the public doesn’t care. This was evident because, although Ed Miliband made hay with it during the summer, the polls didn’t budge. And neither BBC Parliament nor Sky News is broadcasting Leveson live. It’s a Westminster Village thing.

Miliband

Ed Miliband is a completely unsuitable leader of the Labour party. Everyone who wasn’t in the Labour party knew this as soon as he was elected, yet only now have the socialists collectivised their brain cells enough to realise it. Read around, with people like Dan Hodges getting incredibly close to calling for him to go, if you still think Milibland is cutting the mustard.

However, who is going to run against him? If Ed Balls runs, everyone will laugh. If Yvette Cooper (aka Mrs Balls) runs, she cannot dispose of Labour’s least helpful asset, her husband. If David Miliband runs, Cameron can drag out the feuding brother story indefinitely – a back-to-backstab if you like. The only plausible candidate is Jim Murphy. “Who?” I hear you cry. “Precisely”, say I. Labour don’t have the talent or the policies to win the next election.

Osborne

So now let’s do the same for the Tories. Boris will win London 2012 (somehow), and will step down in 2016. He will win a by-election by 2017, which will give him time enough to be well positioned enough when Cameron goes sometime between 2019-2022. After a term and a half of Boris (for all I admire him, I don’t think he has a sufficiently grand vision to drive the country), the natural choice is Jeremy Hunt, a man of such impeccable composure that it is truly inconceivable he should never be leader of the Conservative Party. For all they seem worlds apart, both BoJo and Hunt are suitably amicably placed with George Osborne and William Hague to mean that they can come in without wholesale change of the top table. Osborne’s best bet is not to run himself, but pick the winner, keep the political strategy as a sideline, and go down in history as the kingmaker and the chancellor who fixed Gordon Brown’s mess.

Unemployment

Once again, I find myself in a statistical quandary. ONS says unemployment went up 128.000 people in November. Yet it says only 3,000 people signed on to Jobseekers’ Allowance. Which gap have those 125,000 people fallen into? They are either a) retiring early, b) decided not to work for the next few years and make home instead, c) in receipt of a sufficiently generous redundancy package to make claiming JSA unnecessary, or d) moving their labour into the ‘black market’ – taking cash payment and not declaring it to the Exchequer. Now, most people won’t be doing a) given how poorly pensions pots are performing. The general move of our culture has been away from b) for some time; there can’t be too many people who worked for long enough at a high enough wage to be in position c), so thousands of people are in position d). Really? Or are the unemployment figures inflated by people who otherwise wouldn’t be reckoned as part of the workforce (e.g. students) taking part-time jobs and then losing them?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the more important figure is the JSA claimant count, which is about 1.60 million. So hardly as bad as the 2.64 million Labour like to moan about. Incidentally, in 1992, pretty much everyone who was unemployed according to the statistics was also a JSA/Unemployment benefit claimant. By 2001, the gap between unemployed and claimants was 0.5 million, and now it is now over 1 million. I’ve had no brainwaves about why this gap is increasing so quickly. Any ideas?

And that is the Sum of the News

In Events, Uncategorized on December 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

By polarii for The Daily Soapbox

A review of the bigger events of the year, versified to the metre of Noel Coward’s ‘That is the End of the News’, after Tom Lehrer:

We are told very loudly and often to lift up our hearts.
We are told that good humour will soften fate’s cruelest darts.
So however bad our politic troubles may be,
we just look from our island, and shake with glee…

Hey-ho! Haiti’s collapsed again;
emergency aid has once more relapsed again.
The one result of Obama’s legislation
has been Tea Party rallies of least provocation.

We’re so glad, dear little Gordon
has just been ejected for being a moron,
and Tony got wealthy
– his book looks quite healthy –
but still holds his bellicose views.

We’re delighted ’cause the Tories were beat
and now young Nick Clegg has some fame.
We’re excited – they’ve agreed at the least
not to mention that Thatcher by name.

Three cheers! BP’s screwed up again,
everything’s smoky since Iceland blew up again.
Now they’re all cutting,
Ed Miliband’s tutting;
and that is the sum of the news.

We’re so glad for Chilean miners
but Frenchmen with pensions have all become strikers,
and that old footballing
cup thing
was so galling
and students have burnt London’s mews.

They’ve debated about Ireland’s indebture
and couldn’t put Greece out of mind.
They’ve created for the Eurozone’s future
an amazing incredible bind.

Hey-ho! and heigh-diddle-diddle!
Apparently Silvio’s been on the fiddle.
Koreas got lairy,
and it was too scary;
and that is the sum of the news.

Postscript: I am deeply distressed and disappointed that the song was not sufficiently long enough to allow for a verse about the singularly enrapturing elections in Belgium this year. In accordance with a prediction I made on this blog some months ago, Belgium has blithely continued without a government.

I hope that this has been a somewhat lighter end to the year. Whatever you’re doing, have a merry Christmas, and come back next year for more views and analysis at the Daily Soapbox!

The Defence of the Ignorant Teenager

In Events, Home Affairs, Party politics on September 11, 2010 at 12:30 am

STOP PRESS

A message from the Co-founder

by Jack Blankley

First things first, may I say hello to all the readers of The Daily Soapbox out there, as a co-founder of this blog I am utterly disgusted that this is actually the first time I am actually writing for it. I suppose my excuse is I actually didn’t know how difficult it is to write one of these things, and also downright laziness.

If you’re reading this expecting a teenager (or twenteen in my case) to defend myself against all the prejudices which there are against the younger generation then I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I am actually going to defend New Labour, which as of the 8th September 2010, was 16 years and 2 months old, and which like many of us at that age is going through a very sickly and worrying patch.

The importance of New Labour cannot be understated. Without it I would worry this country would not have a credible opposition to the coalition, at a time when cuts are going to devastate huge regions where the public sector is the main employer. With an Old Labour, 80’s opposition, the country would not trust Labour; now I know the critics would argue that they lost faith in New Labour at the last election, but even though there was the worst economic disaster in 70 years, an unpopular war, an even more unpopular leader, and the infamous “bigot” quote; the country still didn’t give the Tory party a majority in parliament, at 36% of the vote, nowhere near as much New Labour won in 1997 when it was still a toddler.

The biggest ideological difference New Labour has over Old Labour is actually a very Tory idea, that is that you will make much more of a difference in government then outside of it, and the way you do that is by appealing to everyone, not just the left (and this is coming from a nutty lefty at Sussex University).

Remember the minimum wage, devolution, improvements in waiting times in hospitals, the complete regeneration of some inner cities which were horribly ignored by the last Tory government. Remember the Good Friday agreement, equal rights for homosexuals, remember the rebuilding of relations with Europe, remember that New Labour politicians made unprecedented actions on the banks to stop this country from having a depression. These changes were mostly opposed by the Tories and can only be done inside government.

I know New Labour isn’t the finished article – it had cash for honours, the Iraq war and foundation hospitals, it gave too much power to the banks – but who is at 16? And going through that traumatic break up of its parents Brown and Blair has always limited its growth. But it’s now looking for a new parent, to take it through the next stage of its life; and I fear if it gets the wrong guidance and leadership, it could turn from a promising, still relatively new ideology into a forgotten about, no hoper who has never really been given the opportunities to fulfil its own potential, nipped in the bud at only 16.

The Labour leadership contest will decide this. I hope people give it a second chance or I fear the Tories will be able to put through their own policies for the long term.