Archive | March, 2016

Why the Tories Won – review

29 Mar

In some ways this book was written for me. I am fascinated by elections and campaign techniques. And as I don’t live in the UK I missed the day-to-day drama of the 2015 election.

A simple answer to the question posed in the book titles is by getting more votes than the others.Behind this though is that the Conservatives ran a structured micro campaign similar to those explained in various books about Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election victories, of which Jim Messina, one of the stars of this book, played a role.

The key to this victory as Ross explains was a fear of the SNP propping up a Labour Government and Labours inability to sound reassuring or convincing about this not being the case. This for many Liberal Democrats forced them to stay awake at night anguishing over kilted shortbread eating krankie loving plotters trying to unpick their barnett formulae while they weren’t looking. Well I perhaps paraphrase but it seemed as irrational as this. UKIP voters too it seemed had a similar nightmare where Russ Abbott dressed up as CU jimmy and bonded Englishmen to some form of European union in a concrete cast.

Did the Conservatives over egg the negativity? Perhaps, but as Lynton Crosby claims through the book the job was to win the election. Ross doesn’t really give us an understanding of why the Labour party were inept at dealing with several of the obvious problems in their campaign and perhaps it was just overall leadership they lacked. The book has an excellent pace and is easy to read, though an index would have helped. I am also at a loss to understand why a 6 week campaign is a short campaign but presume this is in the modern parlance what we used to think of as the near campaign ?

I also have to wonder what the reference on page 280 is to ? Ross says that Cameron in increasing his majority has achieved a feat not achieved in peacetime since Anthony Eden in 1955. This phrase is strange on a number of levels. Firstly lets assume he is classing the 1983 election as a khaki one , its pushing it a bit. There had been a minor skirmish a year earlier. But what then does Ross think was going on in 1959 when Macmillan increased the Conservative number of seats from 345 to 365 and the majority from 60 to 100 ?


Enjoying It

26 Mar

The New Zealand Cricket team we are told are on a winning streak because they are now “enjoying” playing Cricket. A group of adults who are paid to engage in a pursuit that many people give up free time, unpaid, to pursue are now enjoying it. The adults doing this for no monetary return and one suspects often for no playing success or personal achievements presumably do so because they enjoy it. The players being paid professionally it seems need this enjoyment switch turned on to “turn it on “. Being paid to pursue a leisure activity may not in itself be enjoyable.

I was struck by the irony of the above report whilst reading ” Enjoying It Candy Crush and Capitalism ” by Alfie Bown. Bown takes us inside the drivers behind a new real fake world. One where we are told ( or certainly it is suggested )what is enjoyable , what is acceptable and how we should respond. This real fake world may allow us to escape our real real world and engage on a completely different yet reassuringly similar fake sphere. Posting our Candy Crush scores on Facebook while we should be working being a wonderful example. Though like those out of touch high court judges I started this book wondering ” what exactly is candy crush ” before pulling my own real fake world head in. That real life footballers prefer football manager the game to playing football might help me understand the issue facing New Zealand cricketers.

The idea that popular culture is now taught at University should ensure our real real world will never run out of Dominic Sandbrookes in the future but I digress.

Well I don’t. Bown throws us the idea to consider whose popular culture is it anyway ? Any why do we need Game of Thrones to tell us about philosophy when , err Philosophy can do this. Or many other cultural experiences. Enjoyment is no longer pleasure seeking it is also something we seem to need to express.

Will future Cricketers need to study the enjoyment studies degree ? Perhaps . But what of the fans? Is our enjoyment, like the players, wrapped up in the pleasure of winning ? Surely not , it is more the enjoyment of belonging, and being seen to belong. The Selfie as self assurance creates a whole new ego. I take your Candy Crush and raise you to watching T20! I just hope for their sakes they can keep enjoying the game even when the inevitable losing streak returns.


Crone and her signs

24 Mar

Now I like election billboards ( or hoardings ) and I could look at them all day every day , and secretly I do. However Victoria Crone is either ill advised or playing for effect with her billboards. Clearly a sign that says vic4mayor is a campaign billboard and clearly it breaches election rules that anyone with any understanding of local elections would have advised her against. If she’s playing for effect ( those pesky pen pushers ) it may not be on an issue that will set the world on fire.

She has managed some publicity though.

Might she have legal rights ? Its an interesting point made by Prof Geddis and the whole issue does need relooking at. I am always confused at how signs can’t be displayed on election day despite the number of votes being in well before then, what are the implications of this ? Perhaps Crones contribution to local politics may be to get the billboard rules changed, brilliant …but she’s still being poorly advised.


Harold Wilson

21 Mar

Everyone it seems will be going a bit wild for Harold Wilson this year. 100 years just passed since his birth, 40 years will soon pass since his “mysterious’ resignation and the EU Referendum puts Wilsons 1975 affair on everyones list of things to quote.  Harold Wilson will always hold a special part in my affections. Growing up he seemed like a mythical creature, a Labour party leader who won elections, 4 of them no doubt. A leader who was funny ( not as funny or witty as I imagined when I later looked into it but compared to the 80s ), a Leader who walked away from it all and may or may not have been spied on by his own state. Wilson got me interested in politics, what it is,what it could be and how crushingly depressing it can be.

You have to realise that growing up in the 80s as someone with something resembling left wing tendencies, watching the spy catcher affair unfold, just made me want to understand who this Harold Wilson guy was. I have to say my initial readings probably came through the lens of Tony Benn who on balance would be classed as a lesser fan. And spy catcher ? I boiled that down to two possibilities. Firstly the secret state were bonkers or secondly Wilson was a danger. The two I admit some years later could have been possible at the same time. I also admit there are more questions than answers with the Wilson plot. Personally I see the secret state has having had the same sort of emotional tizzy that the right wing press has been having ever since. That they ran these “black ops’ against him because the more mundane truth was hardly frightening. I also struggled to understand why anyone would like HP sauce. Was this Harold or Harold the image? Some rumours suggest he didn’t really smoke a pipe as much as he portrayed, joe Haines suggests otherwise. He understood image before spin doctors.

When I finally read an objective book about Wilson I also found more questions than answers. What was his relationship with Marcia about ? Why did he resign when he did ? What was his mental deterioration really like ? Was he really a right wing boy scout trapped in a slightly leftish political party. By this time I had left the political spectrum somewhat and found Wilson still as fascinating as ever. Pimlots biography(it was this I bought at University and read straight through in a cold January in Birmingham)  points to plots and semi scandals, mishandling and more poignantly missed chances. The failure to make Labour the party of Government. Was Wilson to blame ? Hardly. For all the professed advantages of any other rival they were all stuck in a factional war that led to the SDP.

I am sad enough to own a copy of “Final Term” an awful book but one I never fear from looking at. Unlike Gordon Browns “Beyond the Crash”- a fearful book which is awful to look at. A book with 13 appendices.The first lists the Governments achievements in the 74-78 term, its quite impressive when you read through. Theres no grand theme and certainly no revolution, but basic stuff that made peoples lives just a bit easier. Thats quite an epitaph.


Son of Super Tuesday

18 Mar

So its mid March , in fact its nearly Easter. We’ve had Super Tuesday and Son of ( child of ?) Super Tuesday, we’ve said goodbye to some good money – Bush and Rubio.

Trump, he’s still trumping along. Trumpets,trumpety, trumpets Trump.

Beep beep he swears , he trumps, he scores. HE gets attacked by some odd places


he scores , he trumps, he just keeps going…

Did I wake up in 1968 or something ? is this ad for real

but first he has to win the nomination


will he ? Everyone is now an expert. an expert in Republican convention making even though we are in a strange place. A place where Trump makes Cruz and Katich ( who he ) seem like they could be reasonable compromise candidates when they would normally be wild eyed swivel heads. he trumped and did that.

The trilema facing the Republicans is this, he leads but it needs a roll call vote ? Will they support a loser , a person who couldn’t get there own party to support them, then if he wins ( one way or the other ) will they be able to forget all this and unify (NO) and thirdly (tri u see ) if he goes his own way ( or some other right wing candidate does ) its splitting the outside chance they have to beat Hilary anyway.

Hilary who is just slowly accumulating, will need to make peace with Sanders and then wonder how you campaign against someone who makes you out to be a dog .

For me though the highlight of the campaign has been that guy who dresses up as the Mexican wall. I wish dressing up as policies had been something in previous elections it would have been fun. Imagine dressing up as the Iran-contra policy, an invisible man with one arm around his illegal friend buying a drink for his public enemy . Or imagine dressing up as a health care cut, or gun control ? I would like to see someone dressed as a flat tax rate , but only 25% not this 15% rubbish.



Political Gold from Wales

13 Mar

Just pure gold , how all Party Broadcasts should be …