24 November 2009

“Good afternoon, I'm Chris Smith, I'm the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury and I'm gay"

First posted on LabourList.

Today, a comment like this from an elected official would pass without mention. We now live in a society of relative tolerance and acceptance and firm legal protections for gay men and women.

But when Lord Chris Smith stood at a rally in Rugby in 1984, 25 years ago this week, and came out as the first openly gay parliamentarian he was taking a leap into the unknown. As the then opposition spokesman on National Heritage, he had accepted an invitation to speak at a protest rally in Rugby to denounce the Conservative local council for abandoning a policy outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. His remarks received a five minute standing ovation from the crowd.

His bravery is remarkable given that at the time, gay men and women had no legal protection from harassment or discrimination: the hated Section 28 was still to come, fear of the newly prevalent HIV was escalating and media enmity against the LGBT community was rampant.

Since 1984, Lord Smith has continued as a trailblazer for gay men and women by becoming the first openly gay cabinet minister in 1997 and then one half of the first gay couple to receive a formal invitation to attend a Buckingham Palace reception.

In 2005, following Nelson Mandela’s announcement that his son had died of HIV, he became the first prominent political figure to admit to being HIV-positive.

Lord Chris Smith will be joining LGBT Labour for a special evening of celebrations to mark this anniversary and to raise money for Dorothy's List - the LGBT Labour Campaign Fund for openly-LGBT candidates standing for Labour at the coming General Election.

This celebration will be held at Ev Restaurant on Tuesday 1st December 2009 and we hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us, and Lord Smith, at the event to show our support and gratitude.

For further details and to purchase tickets please visit http://www.lgbtlabour.org.uk/25years or email dorothyslist@lgbtlabour.org.uk.

14 October 2009

The logistics of primaries

There has been a lot of talk in the Labour Party lately about introducing some kind of primary election system to select parliamentary candidates. Althought I believe there are significant concerns around containing costs of selection procedures, I am generally supportive of the idea.

The Progress think tank has picked up on this issue with some zeal and is running an excellent campaign to push for their introduction in the Labour Party. Additionally, the Fabian Society outline some plans in its 'Change we Need' pamphlet, published early in 2009.

Although there is clearly much debate to be had around the details of primary elections, I believe the mood is shifting in the party to being overwhelmingly in favour of this new method of selection.

My question is simply this - if we decide we want them, how do we get them? The Conservatives seemed to test drive primaries relatively easily and with very little fuss; they should of course be commended for experimenting with new methods of empowering local voters. What I want to know is how would a Labour Party constituency go about introducing a primary selection procedure? Would there need to be substantial Labour Party rule changes? Could a local constituency just announce that they were planning to hold a selection in this manner?

If anyone knows, please tell me!

18 September 2009

Obama is shortsighted to scrap missile defence

President Obama yesterday announced that the United States would scrap its planned deployment of a sophisticated missile defence system in Eastern Europe.

The move had been predicted for some time but the clumsy timing of the announcement was not missed by many, coming on September 17th, the 70th anniversary of the Soviet attack on Poland in 1939.

The move had been anticipated following President Obama’s letter to Dmitry Medvedev in early 2009 implied that a United States missile defence may be rendered unnecessary if Russia were to drop its intransigent opposition to sanctions against Iran. This was therefore simply further tangible action in ‘pushing the reset button’ on relations with Russia.

Alongside the aim of securing Russian cooperation in tackling the Iranian regime, there are numerous additional short term benefits to abandoning the so called ‘son of Star Wars system’ - a project that has been around since the Reagan presidency. Its cost in the middle of the global recession are difficult to justify and questions over its use in Americas conflict against the Taliban and insurgents within Iraq are just a few of the immediate concerns about the project.

However, the move by the White House seems short sighted and naïve when viewed in terms of the potential threats developing in the coming decades and the ever increasing significance of Eastern European allies in the face of Russian hegemony in the region.
The missile defence system was to consist of two key military installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Both nations have long sought to unshackle themselves from Russian influence and establish themselves as secure states. It was this rationale that led Poland and the Czech Republic to sign deals with the United States immediately following the war between Russia and Georgia over the renegade republic South Ossetia.

Many ‘transatlanticist’ politicians in both nations invested vast amounts of political capital to support the programme, which developed during the height of the Bush administrations international unpopularity. To facilitate the agreement, politicians from both nations weathered strong domestic criticism. According to Foreign Policy Magazine around 70 percent of Czechs opposed the idea of hosting the radar system for the missile shield and the final treaty faced strong opposition in parliament.

The Czech and Polish governments saw the presence of a U.S. facility on their soil as a bulwark against an assertive Russia and an extension of US protection as a reward for their loyalty in the war on terrorism. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski expressed his nations disappointment when, during a visit to Washington, he remarked that “we paid quite a political price for the agreement, both in terms of internal politics and in our relations with Russia” adding that he expected the United States to honour the commitment.

The change in policy will raise fresh doubts over American commitment to Eastern Europe; will the continent now feel able to resist pressure from the Kremlin, whether it is in military matters or in the supply of oil and gas? The jubilation felt in Moscow would certainly suggest that Russia may begin reasserting its authority in what President Dmitry Medvedev has described as a sphere of Russian “privileged interests”.

President Obama has claimed that the plans have been shelved due to the downgrading of the threat from Iran. However, an April report of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center noted that "with sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015."

Others have claimed that technological limitations trump any grand international plans, arguing that the weaponry is ineffective and untested. However, recent tests have shown that 37 of 46 intercepts have been successfully completed in realistic conditions since 2001 by land-mobile, sea-based and silo-based interceptors. After such results, there is no reason to believe the European elements would not work as planned.

The United States maintains that it is committed to ensuring that no nation feels the need to develop nuclear weapons. But this stand must be made from a position of strength. It must be made clear that resources spent on nuclear weapons and missiles will be wasted because the U.S. possesses both the means and the will to block them.

But above all the plans should not be abandoned simply to adapt to current military challenges. In 1999 the United States biggest security challenge was instability in the Balkans. Just a decade later it finds itself embroiled in conflict on numerous fronts against a hidden Islamic terrorist network. To delay or dismantle plans for a sophisticated defence system on the premise that current security threats do not warrant the investment is short sighted. If America is to maintain its military supremacy it needs to be able to defend itself against hostile states in the future. The idea that the military of the U.S. will remain preoccupied with rag tag militant groups rather than state-to-state conflicts in the foreseeable future does not stand up to historical precedent.

At best the change in policy will warm relations with Russia and squeeze Iranian ambitions. But at worst President Obama has denied America a strategic trump card that could have secured its military supremacy for decades to come, making it better able to contain hostile states in the future. Of course, only time will tell.

US condemned for pre-emptive use of Hillary Clinton against Pakistan

15 September 2009

Reason number 1,376,981 to hate George W. Bush

He called Hillary fat!!
... that is according to a new 'tell all' book by former White House speech writer Matt Latimer, who claims the 43rd President was convinced the former First Lady would win the Democratic nomination, remarking 'Wait till her fat ass is sitting at this desk'.

Bush allegedly also slammed Barack Obama for being too inexperienced for the office and asked if Sarah Palin had served as 'Governor of Guam'

Full story here.

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Obama: He's a jackass

Mr. President throws his two cents in to the Kanyegate affair

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There now follows a party political broadcast...

I hate to admit it, but ConservativeHome have reeled out an excellent YouTube clip which (according to The Spectator) could form an extremely effective election theme for the Conservative party.

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Total Politics top blogs...

Total Politics magazine has today concluded its rather mammoth task of compiling the top political blogs in the United Kingdom.

As previously blogged, I was delighted to come in at a rather respectable 35th in the top 100 'left of centre' blogs. In addition, I was ranked 18th in the top 100 'Labour' blogs!

TP magazine today released its list of the top 100 blogs from every political leaning. I had been hoping to scrape in to the top 100, but just missed out - coming in at (a still excellent) 102nd place in the UK! Top 100 next year!!

I really was genuinely really pleased with this! So I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a vote for my blog!

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Why Gordon Brown's apology matters

First posted at NextLeft and LabourList

Gordon Brown last night offered a heartfelt apology to World War II hero Alan Turing, who was forced to undergo chemical castration by the courts after a conviction for ‘gross indecency’ in 1952.

Turing famously worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War to crack the German Enigma code machine, ultimately turning the tide of the conflict in favour of the Allies and potentially saving thousands of lives.

However, despite his invaluable work Turing was charged with gross indecency in 1952 after a relationship with another man became known to authorities. He was subsequently forced to be chemically castrated to avoid a prison sentence and suffered the indignity of having his government security clearance removed, thus barring him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for GCHQ.

Following his conviction and ensuing suffering, Turing took his own life on 8 June 1954 at the age of 41 – simply because he was gay.

This apology should remind us all that we must not forget the persecution and hatred faced by gay men and women just a generation ago. This apology is just a small way in which the Government can seek to atone for the suffering inflicted on so many by such barbaric laws.

It is also crucial that we refocus our attention on the international injustices still faced by so many simply due to their sexuality. With Panama decriminalising homosexuality in 2008 and Burundi for the first time in its history criminalising homosexuality in 2009, the world now counts 80 countries with State-sponsored homophobic laws: 72 countries and 3 entities (Turkish Cyprus, Gaza and Cook Islands) punish consenting adults with imprisonment, while 5 countries (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and parts of Nigeria and Somalia) punish them with the death penalty.

The apology has received a warm welcome not just in Britain, but across the world. It was particularly welcomed by Michael Cashman, MEP and Patron of LGBT Labour who has long been campaigning for the apology:

"The government's decision is a brilliant reminder of Labours commitment to equality and it's courage to put right the wrong decisions of the past. This news will be welcomed across the globe."

The Downing Street Petition had attracted some 30,805 people; the Prime Minister made the following statement in today’s Daily Telegraph:

“2009 has been a year of deep reflection - a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience.

"Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

"Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

"Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

"I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

"But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

"So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better."

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Gordon and the 'C' word

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2 September 2009

Top 100 Left of Centre Blogs

Total Politics Magazine has today released its top 100 'left of centre' blogs. And Politicana came in at a very respectable 35th place! Thanks to everyone who voted!

Here is the complete list:

1 (1) Tom Harris MP

2 (2) Hopi Sen

3 (-) LabourList

4 (-) Alastair Campbell

5 (13) SNP Tactical Voting

6 (6) Luke Akehurst

7 (12) Harry's Place

8 (-) Next Left

9 (3) Stumbling & Mumbling

10 (27) The Daily (Maybe)

11 (59) Guerilla Welsh Fare

12 (17) A Very Public Sociologist

13 (10) Dave's Part

14 (15) Third Estate

15 (43) Two Doctors

16 (73) Blog Menai

17 (11) Sadie's Tavern

18 (-) Blackburn Labour

19 (74) Kerry McCarthy MP

20 (-) Malc in the Burgh

21 (-) Bickerstaffe Record

22 (14) Socialist Unity

23 (45) The F Word

24 (8) Tom Watson MP

25 (7) LabourHome

26 (-) Yapping Yousuf

27 (54) Penny Red

28 (-) Go Fourth!

29 (-) Duncan's Economic Blog

30 (39) Adam Price MP

31 (60) Welsh Ramblings

32 (93) Don Paskini

33 (-) Syniadau

34 (-) Subrosa

35 (-) Politicana

36 (-) Peter Cranie MEP

37 (72) Harpymarx

38 (-) Though Cowards Flinch

39 (47) Cynical Dragon

40 (23) Kezia Dugdale's Sopabox

41 (-) Plaid Wrecsam

42 (29) Lenin's Tomb

43 (-) Lallands Peat Worrior

44 (53) Tory Troll

45 (28) Stuart King

46 (71) Another Green World

47 (-) Bob from Brockley

48 (-) Pendroni

49 (25) Bob Piper

50 (36) Conor's Commentary

51 (-) Grumpy Spindoctor

52 (-) Splintered Sunrise

53 (84) Stroppy Blog

54 (-) Polemical Report

55 (-) Barkingside 21

56 (44) Rupa Huq

57 (20) Normblog

58 (-) John Rentoul

59 (-) Philobiblon

60 (18) Obsolete

61 (35) Bethan Jenkins AM

62 (-) Politics Cymru

63 (15) Paul Linford

64 (-) E8 Voice

65 (-) Left Outside

66 (-) Pickled Politics

67 (-) Borthlas

68 (-) Leanne Wood AM

69 (-) Sweet & Tender Hooligan

70 (80) Madam Miaow Says

71 (-) Dave Hill's London Blog

72 (85) Shiraz Socialist

73 (-) Green Ladywell

74 (38) Neil Clark

75 (41) Jane Is the One

76 (22) Theo Blackwell

77 (-) Rupert Read

78 (-) Gwilym Euros Roberts

79 (94) Oliver Kamm

80 (-) Touchstone Blog

81 (96) Macuaid

82 (90) Paul Flynn MP

83 (32) Chris Paul's Labour of Love

84 (-) Gaian Economics

85 (9) Ministry of Truth

86 (-) Cllr Tim's Blog

87 (19) Ordovicius

88 (-) Snowflake5

89 (-) Ruscombe Green

90 (-) Recess Monkey

91 (63) Labour and Capital

92 (-) This is My Truth

93 (-) Huw Lewis AM

94 (58) Grimmer up North

95 (75) The Exile

96 (-) Martin Bright

97 (-) Julian's Musings

98 (-) Lord Toby Harris

99 (-) Rebellion Sucks

100 (100) Jon Worth Euroblog

This list is the result of more than 1,500 people who voted in the Total Politics Annual Blog Poll during the second half of July.

All these lists, together with articles from leading blog commentators, will be published in the TOTAL POLITICS GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING, which will be published in mid September at £12.99.

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4 August 2009

Why has Peter Hain posted on his Facebook that the Cabinet is split?

I don't know for sure if Peter Hain's Facebook page is actually Peter Hain. But if it is, why has he posted a Daily Mail article claiming that his views on the Gary McKinnon extradition have caused a Cabinet split??

I managed to grab this screen shot (above) of the post.

It has been well reported that his hostility to the extradition has caused friction with the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson - but to openly post that this is causing tensions within the cabinet is more than a little odd.

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26 July 2009

WATCH LIVE: Palin officially stands down

Watch leave feed of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin officially leaving office and the swearing in of Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell here.

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Are the headlines turning against Cameron?

The No.10 media bunker will breath a sigh of relief when they check out tomorrows headlines. Cameron and the Conservatives come in for some negative coverage for the first time since..... well, for the first time in a while.

The Telegraph dedicates its lead column to Tory plans to introduce tolls on new roads. Considering that it was reported just days ago that the Conservatives approached Jeremy Clarkson to advise them on transport policy, this seems rather odd...
But it is the Daily Mail that really sticks the knife in to Cameron's latest plans to abolish the child tax credit for families that earn over £50,000 - or as they so delightfully put it - 'Cameron's Tax Raid on Middle Classes'.
Matthew Paris argued in his column on Saturday that Cameron should use the summer to announce unpopular policies that the Conservatives will be committed to when or if they form the next government.

Cameron's rhetoric has certainly shifted in the past few months and there is no longer any holding back when discussing the need for spending cuts after the next election. But will this blunt rhetoric begin to change the media narrative and relatively positive coverage that Cameron and the Conservatives have enjoyed?

With the mainstream media all but crowning the Conservatives as the next Government, will they begin to scrutinise their policies more throughly and question their sutiability to form the next government?

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We still believe

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Will the real David Cameron please stand up

Good new Go4th poster.

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Darling: Labour can win

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Cameron and Darling on Andrew Marr Show

I can't embed the Darling interview, but you can watch it here.

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Obama's Six-Month Report Card

Good article in todays Washington Post, grading President Obama after 6 months in the White House. The article just goes to show that all this talk of 'the honeymoon is over' is a little over hyped, with the Presidents approval ratings higher than many others at this point in their first term.

Click to enlarge or full article here.

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25 July 2009

Vote for Politicana!

I'd really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to vote for this blog in the Total Politics magazine Best Blogs Poll of 2009!

Click on here for instructions on how to cast your vote.

If you're struggling with ideas on how to fill all ten spots of your vote, then can I suggest LabourList and Next Left as worthwhile cases to gain your support?

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Sarah Palin, we hardly knew ye

Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska Governor tomorrow, leaving office well short of completing her first term. Her decision to quit eearly has left many people puzzled and wondering what role she will now take in the Republican party and in national politics.

I thought that this might be a good time to recap some of her best (and worst) bits...

What's the Bush doctrine?

I read all the newspapers

I can see Russia from my house

Palin at the RNC

Vice Presidential Debate aka "Can I call you Joe?"

Sarah Palin reigns

Bye Bye Sarah Palin. We hardly knew ye...

RIP Harry Patch

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Harry Potter the Liberal Democrat

Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, has told the latest issue of Attitude that he is a Liberal Democrat supporter.

Pink News reports that:
On his political allegiances, he said: "I rather like Nick Clegg. At the next election I will almost certainly vote Lib Dem.

"If all the people who liked them voted for them you could change politics overnight and we could have a proper three party system."

However, his thoughts on prime minister Gordon Brown were less positive: "Paul Merton said, and I agree with him, 'it's a tragedy that this man has waited all his life to do this job - and now he finds out he can't do it.'

"I don't like the New Labour thing. I never experienced the optimism of New Labour, I was too young but I hear everyone was up and it was fantastic. I've only seen the bad years of it."

Radcliffe also had little enthusiasm for David Cameron, saying: "No! No, no, no, no, no! David Cameron is barely distinguishable from Tony Blair."

He added: "I think the reason why people don't vote is because the politicians are all so central now, it doesn't seem to matter who you vote for."

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Hundreds turn out for first UK primary

According to the BBC, the first British primary to select a parliamentary candidate has attracted hundreds of constituents.
Hundreds of people have turned out for a historic hustings in South Devon. In the first UK process of its kind, voters in Totnes can choose the Tories' candidate for the next election.
About 300 people were at Torbay Leisure Centre to hear from the three people bidding to stand for the Conservatives in Anthony Steen's seat.

Chagford GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, East Devon District Council leader Sara Randall-Johnson and Torbay Mayor Nick Bye were all allotted 30 minutes each.

The decision was made after Totnes MP Anthony Steen said he would stand down at the next election after reports of his expenses were made public by the Daily Telegraph.

Ballot papers have been sent to all 69,000 voters in Totnes. Mr Steen's successor will be announced on 30 July.
I am very supportive of the idea of open primaries. It seems a logical way to boost interest in political parties and the candidates standing in the election. One of the reasons that Barack Obama performed so strongly in the 2008 election was that Democratic voter registration increased so drastically throughout the competitive primary process.

Of course this is an entirely different situation, but the lessons can translate to the British system...

I do wonder how much its costing for the Conservatives to send out 69,000 ballots to local voters. Judging from my local Labour party, this isn't money that we have available to throw around!

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6 June 2009

Sunday Telegraph: It was the Blairites wot done it

Interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph tomorrow that claims to outline details of the 'Blairite' coup that unfolded over the past few days. 

The main points of the piece are: 
  • The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that they were part of a group of Blairites that met secretly for months and tried to co-ordinate last week’s resignations.
  • Their intention was to force Mr Brown to stand down in favour of Alan Johnson, the then Health Secretary.
  • The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that the group of Blairite ministers behind the plot to oust the Prime Minister planned a “phasing” of resignations after Miss Blears quit on Wednesday.
  • Miss Flint, the Europe Minister, was meant to follow her on Thursday night but held out to try to get a better Government job, leaving Mr Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, to stage his dramatic walkout instead.
  • Miss Blears, the former Communities Secretary, telephoned other ministers to try to get them to close ranks behind Mr Purnell.
  • However, the coup was effectively thwarted by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary.
Take a read here

Over the past few months Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes has been vocal in his criticism of the Telegraph, claiming that the paper has been all too eager to reproduce Downing St spin lines. 

Is this article once again the reporting of spin under the guise of journalism in order to undermine and devalue those who have resigned from Government? 

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A Labour Party we can believe in

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*** Sadiq Khan named as first Muslim Cabinet Minister ***

Sadiq Khan has been keeping eveyone hanging on his Twitter feed as he announces his reshuffle promotion...

The Wandsworth Guardian has the full scoop, claiming that the Tooting MP has been appointed Minister of State for Transport. He has joined the Privy Council and will attend Cabinet. 

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A promotion for Sadiq Khan?

Has Sadiq Khan just tweeted his reshuffling? 

Come back Tony, all forgiven

A new You Gov/Channel 4 opinion poll shows that over half of Labour party members believe that the parties fortunes would be better under the leadership of Tony Blair. The survey also shows that 47% of Labour members would like Gordon Brown to stand down as leader of the party. 
The headline news, of course, is that 47 per cent want Gordon Brown to step down before the general election, as against 46 per cent that want him to lead them into that election.

Most entertaining, however, is the finding that 53 per cent believe that the party would be in a better position "if Tony Blair were still leader"; 19 per cent say "worse" and 23 per cent say it would make "no difference".
Funny little anecdote from the John Rentoul over at The Independent:

As Blair said yesterday, when I went to see him speak at a Policy Network conference on climate change at the London School of Economics, and he came to the rostrum to warm applause:
"Very kind indeed. You obviously don't remember me."
Come back Tony, all forgiven... 

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Latest poll: 7 Cabinet ministers face election wipeout

Tomorrows News of the World will make painful reading for Labour Ministers and members tomorrow, with its latest poll projecting an election wipeout for the party. 

The ICM/NOTW poll show an massive 12% swing from Labour to the Conservatives and projects that the parliamentary party will lose several of its most senior members, including a number from the Cabinet. 

The polls suggest that: 

  • An election would unseat SEVEN Cabinet Ministers - the same as Labour managed to kick out when they beat the Tories in 1997.
  • Chancellor Alistair Darling, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Work and Pensions Secretary John Denham, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and Scottish Jim Murphy will all lose their seats.
  • Two of the new recruits to the Cabinet appointed on Friday - Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne - will also lose their seats.
  • And four of the Cabinet Ministers who resigned last week - Jacqui Smith, James Purnell, Geoff Hoon and John Hutton - also face the chop.
Looking at all three main parties, the poll indicates that: 
  • Labour's vote has dropped by 17%, while the Lib Dems have managed to hold on to their support, falling by just 1%.
  • less than half (46%) of voters who backed Tony Blair in 2005 would vote for Gordon Brown in a General Election.
  • nearly two thirds (58%) of voters in previously safe Labour seats think Gordon Brown is doing a poor job.
  • almost a third won't vote in a General Election because of the expenses scandal.
  • Tomorrow's poll shows that support for the Tories has shot up by 20% in the Cabinet's own constituencies since the 2005 election.
  • Labour's vote has dropped by 17%, while the Lib Dems have managed to hold on to their support, falling by just 1%.
  • Across the country there has been a 12% swing from Labour to Tory.
This will add further pressure on to the Prime Minister; although he managed to avoid the prospect of out and out rebellion on Friday, there is sure to be a spate of damaging Sunday paper headlines - the latest polls, and as I have already blogged, the allegations that Lord Mandelson sent emails stating Gordon Brown could not win an election. 

Then there is the fact that we are still awaiting the European election results. 

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*** BBC reporting leaked two-year-old emails from Peter Mandelson saying Brown can't win an election ***

More to follow shortly...

Hat tip: ConHome

*** Update ***

This is part of the report:-
“..Lord Mandelson does not believe Gordon Brown can win a general election, according to leaked emails published in the News of the World… . Lord Mandelson claims that the Labour Party are lagging behind in the polls because Brown has no strategic direction…He says Brown is too obsessed with celebrity gimmicks over the vital job of saying what he stands for..The Industry Secretary, who is likely to head up Labour’s general election campaign, says “strategic policy formulation” is more important than “telling people you watch the X-Factor.”
- Political Betting 

*** Update ***

Some more details from News of the World: 

But in a series of leaked emails sent by Lord Mandelson, he reveals:
  • Gordon will lose the next election.
  • the PM cannot do "X-Factor politics" of his predecessor Tony Blair.
  • he slams his leadership style.
  • Brown is "complex", unable to hide his insecurities and too self-conscious.
  • voters are put off because they think Brown is "angry".
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Kinnock: Brown should stay for two more elections

Skip to 2 minutes 50 seconds to hear Lord Kinnock stating that Gordon Brown should not stand down until he has won two more elections. That would be in about 2016. 

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Update: 19.5% swing to Labour in my by-election. Best result in country?

Thanks to Tom for his very helpful comment my previous post about the by-election upset that saw me take second place in the Harpenden South district council results.  
I make that a 19.5% swing from Conservative to Labour. Replicated across the country, that would give a Labour *majority* of 443, and leave the Tories with just nine MPs. Depressingly, Christopher Chope would still be one of them.
We can dream.

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This made me chuckle...

Hat tip: Tory Bear

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A depressing sight..

As the final votes are counted, the electoral map makes for depressing viewing...

Hat tip: ToryBear

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Was my by-election defeat the best Labour result in the entire country?

As well as being the Labour candidate for the County Council seat of Harpenden South West, I stood in the Harpenden South District Council by-election; the election was triggered after Conservative District Councillor Stuart Roberts stood down earlier in the year. 

Now judging from previous results in the seat and the County Council results across Hertfordshire there were no expectations of anything other than a third or fourth place finish. 

The results for 2007 and 2008 are as follow: 


But I received an email yesterday afternoon stating that there had been somewhat of an upset at the by-election count and that my share of the vote had increased drastically, pushing Labour in to a shock second place finish. 

The result shows that I achieved a far higher proportion of the vote than any other second place candidate in the district council seat for some time. I received 703 votes, or a 23.4% share - an increase of 527 votes or 550%!! 

OK... now for the minor details of the result. Apparently there was a mix up at the count for the seat; according to my 'election agent' the result was wrongly declared, placing me in second place with 703 votes. However, the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green Party candidates did not protest the result. This therefore means that my second foray in to elected politics (the first being the County Council elections some hours earlier) will now go down as a huge swing to the Labour Party in an immensely difficult election year, thus massively bucking the national trend. 

Did any other Labour candidate in the country receive a similar swing on Thursday? I am going to go out on a limb and say that the result now suggests my District Council election result was the most successful Labour campaign in the entire country (in terms of increase in share of vote). Huzzah! 

(Disclaimer: tongue firmly in cheek!)

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5 June 2009

My election results!

Not at all unexpected, but dissapointing none the less. Slipped from third place to fourth in the ward - a similar story for a number of Labour candidates in the ward. Share of the vote down by 6% on the 2005 election result.

But on a positive note, the last election held in this ward was a by-election in 2008 where the Labour candidate recieved 4.8% of the vote - meaning that I have seen a 1% increase in the Labour share of the vote. Huzzah!

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