Archive for the 'David Cameron' Category

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This could have been the moment that Cameron and his mother ensured Corbyn would one day become PM

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

After the referendum Dave’s worst blunder as leader?

Just before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader in September 2015 I wrote a piece for PB offering Jeremy Corbyn some fashion advice. That piece was inspired by the fact that earlier on that summer I had visited the House of Commons and has seen Jeremy Corbyn living up to the Steptoe Corbyn meme and I wasn’t sure to give Corbyn some loose change.

It wasn’t just me who thought Corbyn had dire fashion tastes, in 2016 British men voted Corbyn as the worst dressed public figure. Corbyn himself referenced his poor fashion choices in this tweet in February 2016.

But since then his fashion sense choices have improved as evidenced in the picture below.

So what triggered this fashion chrysalis in Corbyn? It was David Cameron in the video atop this thread telling Corbyn that his mother would tell Corbyn to ‘put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem’.

Since then Corbyn fashion tastes have improved, it is clear he heeded the advice of the Camerons. He now looks like a Prime Minister in waiting, and who can blame Corbyn for listening to David Cameron, in 2016 the public voted Cameron as the best dressed politician in the country.

If Cameron hadn’t made this intervention I suspect Corbyn’s fashion choices would not have improved and he’d have continued to dress like Harry Enfield’s caricature of Scousers. Now he dresses like a Prime Minister in waiting and a reason why he did so well at the 2017 general election. There’s no way the country would choose a scruff to be Prime Minister.

TSE



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Dangerous corner. Where would we be now if Remain had won 52:48?

Friday, December 21st, 2018

The musical cigarette box played the Wedding March. Britain chose narrowly but decisively to vote to leave the EU. One of the frustrations with the universe that we live in is that we never get to see what would have happened if things had panned out differently.  

What if the country had chosen differently? Imagine if Remain had won by the same narrow margin.  Where would we be now? Here’s one possibility…

David Cameron had got so far sketching out his memoirs and he was stuck. How was he to capture the aftermath of the referendum? Calling the referendum had been only a qualified success. He had secured his expected victory but he had been run far harder than he had originally expected. Nigel Farage had warned in advance that a 52:48 victory for Remain would be unfinished business. The Leave camp proved just as ungracious losers as that suggested.

In the immediate wake of the result he had reconfigured his Cabinet to bring in a few more prominent Leavers. He had made Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary so that he could implement the deal that had been secured with the EU and promoted Andrea Leadsom to DEFRA as a reward for the principled way in which she had made her case. Overcoming his cold fury at the perceived disloyalty, the Prime Minister had left Michael Gove in place at the MoJ. He left the others to rot on the backbenches to continue their scheming and plotting.

That might have been a mistake in retrospect. Throughout the rest of his premiership the ERG made repeated calls for votes of no confidence. Andrew Bridgen flourished his letter on 24 June 2016. The ERG vowed to mount an intifada against the EU’s oppression and Jacob Rees-Mogg in tones of icy mournfulness had called on his fellow MPs to send in their letters of no confidence in July 2016, November 2016, December 2016 and February 2017.

Michael Gove sensationally stepped down from Parliament in March 2017 to become Paul Dacre’s successor as editor of the Daily Mail and the virulence of the attacks on the government intensified, with the added spice of a personal vendetta between the editor and half the Cabinet.

Against this background, David Cameron’s attempts to reunite the party made no headway. Leave supporters pocketed the concessions he made – the immediate use of an emergency brake on benefits for EU migrants, the passing of an Act confirming that Britain would not be participating in ever-closer union – and continued to call for a fresh referendum on the ground that Remain had lied to the electorate.

The pound had strengthened initially following the expected victory. Chancellor Osborne had responded by loosening the purse strings with an immediate “encouragement budget”, spending the Remain dividend with a large increase in spending on the NHS (£350 million a week, to be precise). The economy performed well enough in the short term but started to falter with anaemic growth and lacklustre pay figures. With retailers going bust at a rate of knots, the tabloids claimed that the heart of Britain’s high streets had been ripped out by Brussels bureaucracy.

Nigel Farage continued to agitate. His autobiographical account of the referendum campaign “My Struggle” sold well and he went on a book tour around the nation delivering speeches at every stop. UKIP’s poll ratings continued to rise, breaking 20% almost immediately after the referendum and then bobbling between 25% and 30% with different pollsters. They sensationally won the by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central in February 2017. 

Eight Conservative MPs promptly defected to UKIP in March, immediately causing David Cameron to lose his overall majority. For the rest of his premiership he had to broker deals with either the Lib Dems or UKIP and the DUP, who were caucusing together. However, the attrition rate of UKIP MEPs continued, with a series of personality clashes between Nigel Farage and his senior officers.

Meanwhile Labour had gone in for a renewed bout of bloodletting. Following the referendum result, Labour’s MPs mutinied. Jeremy Corbyn had been more or less completely absent in the campaign, ceding the whole debate to the Conservatives. They passed a vote of no confidence in him and a leadership contest ensued. Jeremy Corbyn won a bitter contest against the Parliamentary party’s chosen candidate Angela Eagle but by a narrower margin than the previous year, in part because of an overtone of perceived sexism from some in the leader’s camp. The infighting continued. Labour and UKIP tussled it out for second place in the polls.

The government sought to move the agenda on.  It rededicated itself to its house building programme, hoping that would take the sting out of some of the anti-immigrationists. It looked at the way in which charges on residential care operated, but backed off when it found itself besieged by opposition and unfriendly newspapers howling about a dementia tax.

Boris didn’t help. Too casual about his ministerial duties and too willing to come up with a witty one-liner at the expense of government unity, he stirred up huge controversy in the wake of terrorist attacks by suggesting that EU membership made protecting citizens harder. He resigned from government in June 2017 to make the case for more stringent immigration restrictions from the backbenches, Following a fresh call from Jacob Rees-Mogg, safe in his new UKIP home, the threshold for letters for a vote of no confidence was reached later that month. David Cameron saw it off but having 95 votes against him had left him seriously weakened.

Labour had by now slipped into a clear third, polling between 20% and 25%. The internecine warfare intensified. A fresh furore broke out in July when the Queen was heard to query who the leader of the Opposition was now. When told, she raised a quizzical eyebrow and said “oh, Jeremy Corbyn?” Even party loyalists had to accept that he had failed to make an impact and when he was challenged again, this time by Ed Miliband campaigning as a unity candidate,

Jeremy Corbyn narrowly lost – the decisive point came when the leader was leaden-footed in condemning some of his outriders’ attacks that strayed perilously close to anti-Semitism. It was like old times but in the interim Ed Miliband had grown sharper, more comfortable in his own skin and leftier. Twitter loved him, though Labour only inched up slightly in the polls.

The Conservatives continued to struggle intellectually, even though they kept a small lead in the polls. Austerity had to be junked in order to keep both the nativist populism on the right and the revived socialism on the left at bay. The deficit remained stubbornly high though tax receipts improved. Even David Cameron could recognise that he was coming to the end of his second Shredded Wheat.

His preference would have been for George Osborne to be his successor. By this stage, however, the party’s heart had been completely captured by the Eurosceptic right and it was apparent that his successor would be someone who could tickle their prejudices. David Cameron wanted to give his successor a good run in before the election was due in 2020 and so he announced in March 2018 that he would be stepping down in July and that accordingly he was calling for a contest for a new Conservative leader.

From his high chair, it had made for enthralling viewing. George had not stood (he saw no reason to allow himself to be a prized scalp in the saga narrative of the eventual winner). Boris Johnson had driven even his friends mad with his disorganised campaign and Michael Gove’s Mail, much to everyone’s surprise, had quixotically thrown itself behind Chris Grayling. In the end, all the different Eurosceptic candidates knocked each other out, forgetting that more than half the Parliamentary party had voted Remain.

His eventual successor was the awkward, innately cautious Theresa May. Six months in and she was riding high in the polls, sitting close to the centre of her party’s instincts on Europe and reflecting the desire of a large part of the public for substance over windy rhetoric. She had already had to disavow any desire to hold an early election.

As he lay back in the chair in his shed, David Cameron wished Theresa May well. Underneath the favourable polling, the same problems lay ahead: the need to reach a stable settlement with the EU, the need to tackle the country’s unbalanced economy and the need to make the country more at ease with itself. He could have drawn up the same list for himself in 2010. Nothing had changed.

Alastair Meeks




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Best historical indicator that a LOTO will become PM have been Ipsos-MORI satisfaction ratings and Corbyn’s struggling

Friday, December 14th, 2018

The Blair-Major MORI satisfaction ratings before GE1997

The Cameron-Brown Ipsos-MORI satisfaction ratings before GE2010

Current Corbyn-May Ipsos-MORI satisfaction ratings

My thanks to James Bowley for the analysis, compiling the data and the charts.

The Ipsos-MORI ratings have been used because these have been recorded at regular intervals since 1977.

The proposition works for the only other LOTO to become PM since this polling started – Mrs. Thatcher. In the 1979 polls before the election she led the PM, James Callaghan, in every single survey.

The message for today is that Corbyn needs to improve sharply if he’s to have a chance.

Mike Smithson




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Ladbrokes offering 50/1 that Cameron will be next Foreign Sec and 16/1 that he’ll return to the cabinet by end of 2019

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

The ex-PM who took the Brexit referendum gamble said to want to make a return

I’m not quite sure how we should take the reports first in the Sun and then in other media outlets about the former PM’s desires. The Standard reports:

“..A friend of the 52-year-old suggested he would like to join the Cabinet after a new Tory leader succeeds Theresa May.

The source told The Sun: “David is dedicated to public service and has often said he wouldn’t rule out a public role, domestically or internationally. He is still a young man.”

The newspaper added that Mr Cameron was aware that any return would have to wait until “some time” after the publication of his memoirs, which is expected next year”

If this is correct then a key factor for those wanting to bet is the caveat that this would only happen after TMay stands down. That’s understandable given the way that one of her first acts as PM was to sack unceremoniously the then Chancellor George Osborne.

The questions are when is TMay going to go and who will replace her? On the former I’ve long felt that she might wish to hang on a lot longer after Brexit than many are assuming. On the latter I cannot see any of the current favourites – Javid,Johnson, Hunt,Raab, Gove, or Moggsy welcoming the move.

Once you’ve quit and resigned your seat it is hard to contemplate a return. Also in is difficult to envisage Cameron or TMay’s successor being comfortable in a Cabinet where the ex-PM but one is sitting round the table.

Save your money.

Mike Smithson




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Tomorrow is the third anniversary of David Cameron winning a majority, here’s a few charts for your perusal

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

TSE



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The day of the husky?

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Picture credit : WWF

One of David Cameron’s early and later much-derided moves was to go to the Arctic to be seen hugging a husky: I hope it won’t be seen as partisan to say that few of us felt that Cameron had a deep-seated love of huskies: we were all clear that it was symbolic. He was detoxifying the Tories – not just about harsh efficiency, but caring about the environment too.

Ultimately, though, the environment was seen as a second-order issue. Sure, if you asked people if they cared about climate change and pollution, they’d express an opinion, but they generally wouldn’t switch their votes over it. What mattered was the economy, the NHS, immigration and a general impression of competence – and we can now add Brexit.

So why are the parties suddenly working so hard on environment and animal welfare issues? Michael Gove has frankly astonished most people on the green side of politics with a series of speeches and commitments which go beyond lip-service and show a genuine understanding of the way that apparently disparate issues like climate change, pollution and factory farming interact. I know lifelong environmentalists who were blown away by this speech.

Meanwhile, the Labour animal welfare manifesto last week was Christmas come early for the animal movement, and had a media reach (defined as everyone reading/viewing media that reported it, obviously with duplication) of a mind-boggling 230 million. (Disclosure of interest: in my cross-partisan job I’ve had a lot of direct contact with both parties over these initiatives.)

There’s a reason, and it’s not only a sudden rush of green idealism. The parties have fought each other to a standstill on the big issues. The economy? The deficit has gone from urgent crisis to “Is that still a thing?” in public consciousness. Brexit? Clearly difficult and not really under British control. The NHS? In crisis for so long that many people have lost confidence that it will be fixed. Immigration? The Tories aren’t doing much, Labour doesn’t want to do much, UKIP has imploded. Competence? Much of the public doesn’t rate anyone on that score. So the parties are locked at about 40% each with no sign of movement.

Consequently, they’re starting to look at traditionally second-order issues as a way of shifting the dial. Housing, the environment, animals, student fee reforms: perhaps undecided voters will feel that there’s not much to choose on the big issues, so let’s go for the party that seems to have some new ideas on other things.

Like Cameron’s huskies, these ideas aren’t just about the subject, though unlike the husky stunt they have some genuine content. They’re also about shifting the image of parties to be seen as movements that take an interest in a wide range of subjects. And, not least, they’re a way for Ministers and Shadow Ministers in traditionally less-reported areas to gain real attention with innovative thinking.

That’s not a bad thing in our fast-changing world. Expect more of it.

Nick Palmer

(Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe 1997-2010. He now works on animal welfare issues on a cross-party basis.)



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How the Tories are still paying the price for Cameron’s failure to win a majority in 2010

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

The coalition concessions continue to shape Britain’s politics

On May 11th 2010, my birthday as it happens, David Cameron was able to enter Downing Street even though he’d failed to win a majority as a result of the coalition deal with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems.

Two aspects of the Tory concessions required to make that happen are still very much in place – the Fixed-Term Term Parliament Act and the doubling of the number of LD members of the House of Lords.

The former played a big part in April when TMay announced her general election move putting a date more than seven weeks on. According to John Rentoul in the Indy this was set so far ahead in the expectation that Labour wouldn’t back the election call. In the event of this happening the plan was for an amendment to the FPTP act to be pushed through both houses of Parliament specifically stating that the date should be June 8th.

Arguably that extraordinarily long campaign and the greater exposure it put on Mrs May was one of the reasons why a renewed majority was not forthcoming.

The second coalition concession more than doubling the number of LD peers from just over 50 to more than a hundred still dominates the political arithmetic in the upper house.

The intention had been that this move was to create temporary cover for the situation for the period leading up to the reform of the the Lords which both the Tories in 2010 and LDs were committed to.

Lords reform did not happen because of the Tory back bench rebellion and the LD peers are still there.

The Salisbury Convention that the Lords should not stand in the way of a government implementing its manifesto commitments doesn’t apply because of the failure of TMay to retain a CON majority.

Getting the EU bill through is going to be even more difficult because of what Cameron had to agree to in order to get Gordon Brown out of Downing Street.

Mike Smithson




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Nine days to go to the by-election and a report from on the ground in Witney

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

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William Hill latest prices

Do the betting odds have it right?

Witney is a safe Tory seat was made ultra safe by the relatively equal division between Reds and Yellows plus the bonus of having the PM as MP. Last time out Labour thumped Lib Dems in the undercard. In the referendum Remain won 54-46.

The constituency can be divided into three rough blocks

Witney and Chipping Norton – Con v Lab

The fringe of Oxford (Woodstock, Charlbury) Con v LD

Carterton (Armed Services) and the villages – solid Tory

This geographical division partly explains why neither Labour or Liberal Democrats have successfully squeezed the other’s vote. Labour has recovered in Witney since 2010, bucking the trend and holding 2 council seats with increased majorities earlier this year.

One of these councillors, Duncan Enright is Labour candidate having stood in 2015. He has a good reputation locally for campaigning. Liz Leffman for the Yellows stood in Witney in 2005 and in a target seat in 2010. She also has a good reputation for dogged persistence and getting results once she adopts a cause.

With such strong local campaigners standing the Tories responded by also fielding a local councillor, barrister Robert Court. All his predecessors had been head office apparatchiks – Douglas Hurd, Shaun Woodward and Cameron. The Green candidate is Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie. UKIP are very weak and were unable to get their candidate to the one hustings being held.

The Lib Dems have drafted in the full election team and have been helped by not being distracted by national conferences. Labour are relying on a local effort. Duncan Enright’s Twitter feed shows mainly friends and family out with him whereas the Lib Dems have come from all over the country. The Tories seem to be doing their usual thing – apparently unimpressive and yet still the clear favourites.

The scale of the Lib Dem effort means they are likely to regain second place. After years of not being heard, it is clear they are being listened to once again by the voters. However, they have not gained ownership of the key local issues – the closing of a surgery in Witney, Doctor’s waiting times and traffic on the A40. They are doing the playbook but it lacks emotional connection.

Witney is not posh, much of the constituency and the town itself is lower middle class Tory. The Chipping Norton set don’t live in Chipping Norton, but in the villages, where it is very select – plenty of celebs, too many to list.

The likely outcome? The Tories remain clear favourites. The Lib Dems by virtue of the scale of their effort are likely to regain the silver medal spot, but will be prevented from making a major challenge by the residual strength of Labour’s support in Witney town itself. Duncan Enright is a strong local candidate and it is difficult to win the constituency without winning the town of Witney where the Lib Dems are historically weak.

John Wheatley who has been a regular poster to PB.com in the past and lives there