All 22 entries tagged Elections

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September 23, 2007

An Early Election… For and Against

If you had three years left of a cushy job, nice wage, and free houses dotted around the UK, you’d be considered barmy for gambling it all just for an extra two years, wouldn’t you?

Of course, Gordon Brown’s dilemma isn’t as simple as that, and there’s potentially more to gain.

- A new mandate for him and his policies.
- A clean break from the Blair era
- A shortened political career for Mr Cameron
- He could be the PM during the London 2012 Olympics
- Make the most of his handling of recent crises
- Polls put him in the lead
- The Labour Party is united behind him
- Things can only get better worse© D:Ream
- Northern Rock might be the tip of the iceberg

- Northern Rock might be the tip of the iceberg (the rest might appear before November)
- The public might get restless about an unnecessary election
- Scotland and Wales – the nationalists are on the rise
- Polls might change in the next few weeks
- Another crisis might happen that he can’t handle
- Oh… he might lose.

If I was him… it might just be a gamble worth taking.

May 06, 2007

Clutching at Straws?

From today’s Sunday Times:

David Cameron would win a general election by 54 seats, based on voting patterns in last week’s local elections, according to a study published this weekend.

The world and his dog know that local elections are used as protest votes and are always worse for the Government than a general election.

There’s not much here for Tories to crow about.

Lib Dem Failure = Lib Dem Power

It’s a strange quirk of the electoral system in Britain nowadays that the Lib Dems can do fairly poorly at an election and come out of it with so much power. In both Wales and Scotland, they hold the keys to power for Labour and the SNP respectively. The only difference this time round is that they’re considering rejecting the easy option in both cases.

In Wales, leader Mike German, under a great deal of pressure from his members (a leadership election is more than likely) has to decide, perhaps within a week, whether to prop up an unpopular Labour administration headed by Rhodri Morgan. He seems keen, but he could be deposed before he has a chance to sign off on it.

In Scotland, Nicol Stephen has a similar decision to make for the Lib Dems, although they would at least be propping up the SNP, who are on the up themselves. Even then, the SNP would still need the Greens to form a majority. The Greens support independence. The Lib Dems do not, and it could be a deal breaker.

Even in Westminster, it’s an open secret that the Lib Dems could have to do a similar job for Gordon Brown (or Cameron) after the next election.

It’s almost becoming the case that the Lib Dems are the bland, faceless party of coalition. They don’t seem to be threatening to lead any coalition in the near – perhaps even distant – future. And when elections become closer between the top two parties, their share of the vote often collapses.

There’s something to be said for coalition governments. But when the Lib Dems are so predictably the partner in any coalition, is there any value in voting for them?


My view is that there’ll be another election in Edinburgh within the year. The SNP’s majority is so flaky they’ll struggle to govern. Hold a new election and they’ll probably do even better. In Wales, Labour and the Lib Dems are going to struggle to come to a deal. Many in the Labour party are dead against joining with Plaid, and the Tories are of course a complete no-no. It’s going to be iffy here too.


I (honestly) wrote this before reading Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer. He makes the exact same point.

May 04, 2007

A "Mauling" for Labour?

Some of the first newspaper reports suggested it was a nightmare night for Tony Blair, Rhodri Morgan and Jack McConnell. The light of the next day leaves things a bit unclear.

In England, Labour have taken heavy losses. They’ve lost a few councils that should be their natural heartland – such as Blackburn. In total, the Tories have taken control of 15 councils, and the Lib Dems 1.

In Scotland, it’s neck and neck. Both Labour and the SNP have 32 seats in the Parliament. Most of the remaining constituency votes should be Labour ones. But in turn, most of the regional votes will probably go to the SNP. It’s going to be incredibly tight, but it will be a poor show for Alex Salmond if he doesn’t get the most seats.

In Wales, Labour are clearly on top – “contrary to others’ claims that people have ‘voted for change’”. The Lib Dems say the voters have demanded more than one party is in charge, which suggests the people have an incredible knowledge of the complicated electoral system. They’re also not the people’s second favourites, so they have to be careful.

At one point last night, it almost seemed Tony Blair might go out on a high. It didn’t work out like that, but he’s also not going out in a blaze of shame either. The doommongers got it wrong, and while Scotland might prove to be a disappointment for Labour, elsewhere the picture could have been much, much worse.


I got to bed at 7am after a very long, but adrenaline-filled night at ITV Wales. ITV were typically getting the results faster than the BBC were in Wales, but then took longer to get the relevant graphic on screen. All told, it was probably a victory for the Beeb, but that shouldn’t be a surprise – they had a much bigger kitchen sink to throw at it.

May 03, 2007

Election Night Live Blog

I’m blogging live through the night, taking in the election results from England, Wales and Scotland. Sat in my Dr Evil style lair, I have access to the video feeds as they come in. Mwah ha ha!

05:17: It’s getting light in Cardiff now. And where is the light shining? Well, nowhere really. Labour haven’t done as badly as they could have done, but no-one’s really taken all the spoils either. In Scotland, there’s a sense that the SNP could be doing a bit better, but things might change when the regional votes come in. Ooh, it’s like Eurovision.

05:05: The BBC’s man in Glasgow has given the red card to the election. Holding two elections under different electoral systems has caused predictable chaos. Meanwhile, the BNP are causing a rumble in North Wales. They’re probably going to be narrowly short of getting a seat via PR. Screaming Sophie Howe (for that is how she usually speaks) lost in Cardiff North – the Tories making a big breakthrough.

05:00: The sun’s rising in London. Not in Cardiff yet.

04:56: Nearly there. A torrent of results has turned into a trickle. In Scotland a number of results have been delayed by various technical problems. In Wales just over half of the results are in (almost all of the constituency votes are counted) and it’s looking fairly good for Labour. The BBC are predicting 26 seats for them, 14 for Plaid Cymru.

04:26: I’m still here – not fallen asleep. Far from it – results have been flying in and I’ve been busy! Huw’s just gone for a mistimed toilet break it seems! All Lembit Opik can be positive about is Jenny Randerson, which has to be the safest Lib Dem seat ever – hardly a model for anywhere else.

03:22: Jenny Randerson’s been elected AM for Cardiff Students… er I mean Cardiff Central. A ray of sunshine in a not particularly spectacular evening for the Lib Dems.

03:11: Alex Salmond wins his Gordon seat from the Lib Dems. Big sense of relief on his face. But will he be the First Minister tomorrow? Possibly not. It’s worryingly close and his speech has acknowledged it -‘victory’ may not mean the same thing as it did a few hours ago.

02:51: Odd quote of the night: “We don’t share your bones” – David Dimbleby to Rhodri Morgan. Thankfully the Merthyr result’s been confirmed.

02:49: My sources reckon Labour have held Merthyr. Thank goodness for that – Blamerbell/Ciaran was promising to streak if Plaid won.

02:47: The old is beating the new. ITV’s pen-and-paper method is getting Welsh results on screen faster than the Beeb’s fancy computer system.

02:45: Would you believe it? Tony Blair’s going to go out on a high. The BBC predict their share of the vote in England has gone UP by 1% since the last local elections. The Tories are up 1%, Lib Dems and Others both down 1%.

02:38: Have the Scots been turned off by the thought of independence? Their poll ratings aren’t translating into seats. They’ll be placing a lot of hope on the regional lists.

02:01: ITV Wales viewers only saw the first Welsh result on the screens at the back of the newsroom. It was on BBC Wales, BBC Scotland and S4C.

01:56: Blimey, is it that late already? Things are slow in Scotland – confusing ballot papers seem to be slowing down the counts there. The SNP aren’t doing very well in the constituency votes, but are more than making up for it on the regional lists. In short – they’ve still got a chance of winning. In Wales, it’s too close to call, and we’ve had no news of results. Bor-ing…

01:35: Bit of a lull. Tiredness kicking in. Spoilt ballot papers in Scotland look like becoming a bit story to chew on tomorrow. John Reid’s heaped praise on Gordon Brown, but declined the chance to say he definitely wouldn’t stand against him. I reckon he’s bargaining for a juicy cabinet position. Like keeping his current one.

01:14: The first gain for the SNP tonight. They’ve taken Dundee West from Labour. An emotional acceptance speech from the new MSP, who had a swing of 16%.

01:11: Rhodri Morgan is telling downright fibs. He told Huw Edwards he was unprepared to speak about possible results because he’d only just arrived at City Hall in Cardiff. Nonsense. He’s been there for nearly half an hour. He was on ITV Wales from the same location at about 12.45!

01:00: Love it. Blamerbell (A.K.A. Ciaran) just accused Huw Edwards of exaggerating his Welsh accent. Ciaran, you’re supposed to be improving your job prospects tonight, not shafting them!!!

00:47: A very high level of spoiled ballots in Scotland – 3.7% in first constituency – suggest there’s problems with the new ballot system.

00:40: Nothing’s going right in Scotland. A boat carrying ballot boxes from Arran has broken down. A rescue mission’s been launched to fetch them. BBC Wales have also resorted to a musical interlude.

00:34: At last, a result that matters. Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell is re-elected. Big swing to the SNP though.

00:30: So little is happening, ITV Wales has gone for a musical interlude. Presenter Lucy Owen is wearing quite a revealing outfit. Must be the most enjoyable coverage on offer.

00:19: A beautiful moment – Sian Lloyd on one channel, Lembit Opik on another at the same time.

00:09: Still no results yet. Polling’s been delayed in Edinburgh West after someone smashed a polling station with a golf club. Someone’s feeling vengeful before the votes have even been counted.

23:58: Blamerbell is as smug as a bug after getting a plug from Huw Edwards. The first results are imminent.

23:51: How do you work out which election is most important? Simple. Who’s got the biggest studio. BBC Scotland’s is enormous. BBC Wales isn’t far behind. And BBC in England? Shoved in a corner of the Newsnight set.

23:44: Is it my imagination or is BBC Swingometer Man Jeremy Vine already losing his voice?

23:42: ITV Wales kick off. And Goldie Lookin Chain are on the sauce.

22:35: Jack McConnell’s seat may be the first to declare. The Scottish First Minister has one of the safest seats in the country.

23:32: I’ve been looking for a non-alcoholic drinking game to go along with tonight, and I’ve found one. How often will the word ‘wee’ be used in the BBC Scotland coverage? As in “a wee majority”.

23:27: Huw Edwards has taken his jacket off. A little premature as the first results aren’t expected for another 90 minutes. In Scotland, Douglas Alexander is still on. He’s admitted to being in “a state of ignorance”. Like most of his fellow Labour MPs?

23:20: Jamie Owen is doing his Loyd Grossman routine in the Senedd. Who lives in a house like this? Huw, it’s over to you.

23:16: Scottish Secretary, Douglas Alexander, just likened winning votes to ‘pushing product’. Either he’s been dealing drugs or taking after Sir Alan.

23:06: And we’re off in Scotland, with a bit of trance music from the BBC. At least it will keep us awake. Turnout up about 10%. First result in an hour.

23:01: First indications from Llandudno that Labour’s traditional support hasn’t been holding up. Last time it was the constituency that gave Rhodri his win. This time, things will be nailbitingly close.

22:41: BBC Wales kick off with their coverage. Shiny studios, shiny graphics, and a shiny Huw Edwards. Apparently it’s “very close” and we shouldn’t go to bed for at least six hours. Thanks, Huw.

22:30: The count in the Western Isles constituency of Scotland will be postponed until tomorrow because of a helicopter breakdown. The ballot papers will have to be shipped and should arrive tomorrow lunchtime.

22:19: Lembit Opik is at BBC Wales, according to Blamerbell. Sian Lloyd is at ITV Wales. Such a shame we won’t see an on-air reunion on election night.

22:12: BBC Wales has a cavernous studio, presumably borrowed from Dr Who. ITV Wales’ studios are slightly less Tardis-like. Goldie Lookin Chain will be dropping in later to offer their insight. Can’t wait.

21:40: I know what you’re thinking. Why do these elections matter? Well, in Scotland we’re expecting to see the balance of power shift completely in the direction of the Nationalist SNP. Such a shift could well lead to a referendum on full independence in the next four years, the biggest political decision in Britain for centuries. In Wales, less historic notions are being contemplated, but a shift towards the nationalists and the Conservatives is likely. The coalition government will look rather different in a few hours, but not dramatically so. And in England, as in every election, the vote will be seen as a referendum on the Government, and as such, will almost certainly see gains for the Tories. In less important news, I’m eating a baked potato.

21:30: All quiet on the Western front. And the Eastern one, for that matter. We’ll get some sort of news in half an hour, but the first results aren’t expected until gone midnight. In the meantime, there’ll be plenty of gossip and nonsense.

I’m being paid to do this for someone else at the same time – I’m not sad enough to be doing it just for the hell of it.

May 02, 2007

Does John Major like David Cameron?

John Major writes an interesting piece in today’s Times. Interesting for what he doesn’t say, as much as what he does.

You might expect, a day before local elections in England and slightly more important ones in Wales and Scotland, that there might be just a little bit of electioneering going on. There is, but not much. The best he can really manage is:

it is once again becoming an exciting time to be a Conservative. Most of our party understand that we will only win if we recapture the centre ground as well as holding the centre-right.

...which is more navel-gazing than soap-box. You don’t expect the finest flowing rhetoric from Major, but he could have tried a little harder.

His article is a criticism of Labour spin – an argument that set sail long ago, really – but many of his criticisms are as easily applied to his successor-but-three, David Cameron. He says:

new Labour only has sound-bites and apparatchiks, careless of constitutional proprieties, who will use any unscrupulous trick to benefit the Government

...but replacing Labour for ‘Conservative’ and Government for ‘opposition’ doesn’t really stretch the imagination. David Cameron himself is the Master apparatchik, regularly employing unscrupulous tricks and gimmicks at PMQs. Admittedly, he’s not had time to prove a disdain for the constitution, but that’s much easier to try from the opposite bench.

Which begs the question… if John Major dislikes spin so much, and in his retirement can maybe see through partisanship a little, does he like Mr Cameron? His Conservatism seems, from the available evidence, pretty detached from that of the 1990s, when Major was in charge. But on policy it’s probably fair to assume they’re still not very far apart. In style however, they are Ying and Yang, Beauty and the Beast, Pete Doherty and Cliff Richard.

Some of his criticisms are notably not aimed at the government, but are a broader view of British political parties. Is he tempted to make his views of Cameron more explicit, or does he not need to?

March 04, 2007

The Lib Dems could get crowded out in 2009

If the next parliament is hung, Sir Menzies could have either Gordon Brown or David Cameron or both of them at his door. The closer we get to the election, and the more the possibility of a hung parliament begins to intrigue the media, the more interest there will be in the Lib Dems. They may suddenly find themselves centre stage – Andrew Rawnsley, writing in today’s Observer.

Ming CampbellI agree with what much of Andrew Rawnsley says in his article, but not his conclusion. He says that with the Lib Dems a potential coalition partner in a hung parliament, they’ll become much more important to British politics in the next three years.

That may be true, but I’m not expecting much of a rise in their representation in Parliament.

If, as expected, the Brown v Cameron election is a close-run thing, perhaps resulting in a hung parliament, then I’d be surprised if the Lib Dems’ number of seats didn’t fall. The margins between Labour and the Conservatives will be so small, people will find it hard to ‘waste’ their vote on a party who will probably end up governing – at least in some small part – anyway.

The next election won’t be about the composition of the Commons. It’ll be a straight fight for who should choose the Cabinet. And in such a situation, the Lib Dems might be key players, but could also find themselves left out in the electoral cold.

February 07, 2007

Race for 2008: Place your bets now…

Race for 2008

With the field so widely spread, I thought it would be interesting to see what odds bookies are offering on the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. I think the odds on Clinton and Obama are quite poor at this stage of the race, while some of the outsiders may well be worth a punt.

Hillary Clinton 2/1
John McCain 10/3
Barack Obama 11/2
John Edwards 7/1
Rudolph Giuliani 10/1
Mitt Romney 12/1
Al Gore 14/1
Condoleeza Rice 20/1
Joseph Biden 25/1
Bill Richardson 28/1

Joseph BidenOf the Top 10, six are Democrat and four are Republican. This doesn’t necessarily mean the Democrats are favourites though – instead it probably means there’s fewer standout Democrat candidates.

In fact, you’ll get odds of 4/5 on a Democrat President and 11/10 on a Republican in the White House, suggesting the Democrats are currently ahead. But if a Republican pulls away from President Bush’s shadow, that will all change.

And it’s interesting to see the difference between betting on the President and betting on the candidates. For instance, Joseph Biden is the ninth most likely to be President, but the 12th most likely Democrat candidate. Which suggests people think he’s not likely to win the nomination, but if he did, he’d do well. Either that, or people don’t know much about him.

If we’re talking bad odds, how about Arnold Schwarzenegger at 100/1. Being that he’s not eligible to stand, it seems a bit unlikely he’ll win.

And my tip? Well, I think Obama vs McCain looks the most likely at the moment, but I think that’ll change. I’d put money on Bill Richardson at 28/1 – he’s half Mexican, popular and won’t be seen as liberal. At the very least he’s got to be a possible for Vice President. If I had any money I’d lay a speculative pound or two.

February 01, 2007

Race for 2008: Dick Morris says…

Dick MorrisDick Morris ran Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996. He’s since turned on his former boss, and even more so on his former boss’s wife. He gave a speech on Wednesday at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform:

  • Although Barack Obama is an “exciting phenomenon,” he is the equivalent of “political stem cells: You can make him into any tissue you want.”
  • “It is in the national interest that, if there is a Democratic president, that it not be Hillary.”
  • “The Republican field is like the New York Yankees: They’ve got a pitching rotation of really great names who are 45 years old and who probably won Cy Young Awards when they were younger. But they’ll have a sore arm by the World Series and will end up on the [disabled list]. Republicans need to look to the minor leagues.”
  • He laid out the political future: “Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Republicans (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”


Race for 2008: Democrats start bitching already

Race for 2008

Senator Joe Biden Senator Barack ObamaSenator Joe Biden announced he was running for the Democrat nomination yesterday.

And then promptly put his foot firmly in it. On his rival, Barack Obama, he said:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

This went down like a lead balloon, and highlights how carefully people will have to tiptoe around the ‘race issue’ over the next two years. Because Joe Biden clearly didn’t mean he was clean-rather-than-unwashed. One of Obama’s most obvious characteristics is that he’s clean, rather than dirtied by the American political system. He’s new to it. He’s been a Senator for under three years. He’s fresh.

But that’s not how Biden’s remarks go down. And it’ll probably be his only notable contribution to the campaign, even though it was completely innocuous.

January 24, 2007

Kerry out of 2008

It’s not even begun, but already a potential candidate has pulled out of the race.

John Kerry (right)Senator John Kerry, who lost to President Bush in 2004, has reportedly said he won’t run again. Instead he’ll seek another six-year term in the Senate.

Kerry will have noticed the momentum in the Clinton and Obama campaigns and realised he doesn’t have a hope of losing his ‘yesterday’s news’ tag. He dashed his hopes during the 2006 midterm elections by making an inappropriate joke about the President.

His withdrawal reduces the main field of Democrat candidates to nine. I’d wouldn’t be surprised to see others follow him over the coming months.

January 20, 2007

Hillary's In

It doesn’t come as a surprise to see Hillary Clinton announce a bid for the U.S. Presidency. But it does feel strange to hear her talking about it openly and passionately.

You see, for over a year now, Hillary’s said things like “We’ll see when the time comes”, “Whatever will be, will be”, and my personal favourite “I haven’t decided”.

She’s dodged every question about a potential run for the White House and so it’s nice to finally see her open up about her intentions. For one thing, it looked like a relief to her. When asked about a run, “I haven’t decided” was probably as close to a barefaced lie as you’ll get out of Clinton. She’s been working towards this for months.

There’s a train of thought that the last thing America needs is a inward-looking Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton theme to the Presidency. Hey, Jeb Bush might even make it five in a row!

But I’m not sure I give this ‘problem’ much truck, if only because the two families – apart from their obsession with politics – are so different.

For now though, I still find Barack Obama the more interesting candidate. Clinton spent eight years as the most proactive First Lady in history. We know pretty much what she stands for and what her priorities would be in office.

But Obama turns the personality up to 11. So if he can find a good reason to run, offer good answers to America’s problems and steady the rocky ship, then he’s got a pretty good chance of undoing the Bush/Clinton lock on the White House and ruining Hillary’s plans.

January 18, 2007

America's taking online politics seriously… but are we?

Millions of Americans were using the internet to learn more about the Midterm elections last year, with an average of 26million people logging on every day.

Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that 15% of Americans chose the internet as their main source of election news, up from 7% in 2002. And 23% of those people were forwarding political commentary or videos on a blog, making it – perhaps – the most interactive election in history.

The busiest month of the online campaign was August, which is traditionally very quiet in American political campaigns.

Pew Research Project figures

As far as I know, these figures are broadly similar (in direction, at least) to the situation in the UK. We’re seeing a very similar picture in the decline of newspapers and television, while radio is holding up. Magazines are more complicated as some political publications (New Statesman etc) have struggled, while The Economist has been a runaway success story.

But on the internet, I wonder if we are seeing the same levels of engagement. While political blogs here are catching up with those in the U.S., more traditional websites (especially those of the main political parties) are very poor in comparison. Compare the British Labour Party website (here) with that of Democrat Presidential hopeful John Edwards (here) which is far more interactive and fresh.

There’s an interesting game of spot-the-difference to be played when looking at Democrat and Republican sources of news. Is there a similar split in the UK?

Pew Research Project figures (3)

Finally, while newspapers and TV seem to be in decline, it’s not all bad news for them as long as they’re willing to move their operations online:

Pew Research Project figures (2)

January 13, 2007

Plaid Cymru and the Tories should make friends

Blamerbell, an increasingly influential Welsh blogger, suggested this week that the chances of Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives joining forces after the May Welsh Assembly elections was as likely as Lembit Opik becoming a Benedictine monk.

Mathematically it might do them a favour though. Dr Richard Wyn Jones and Dr Roger Scully of the Institute of Welsh Politics have done the 'electoral math'1 and say that the election in May this year is likely to result in:

Party Projected seats
Plaid Cymru
Lib Dems

There's lots of possibilities. Labour and Plaid Cymru might get together. Labour and the Lib Dems might amble along. But if the Tories want to have any say, joining with the Lib Dems - while politically practical - would be mathematically daft. They'd be trounced. Plaid's their only partner if they want to lead. And as Blamerbell said, it's not likely.

If the figures are accurate, it looks like a Labour/Plaid coalition is inevitable. And that means the next term's going to be even more explosive than this one.

1. A West Wingism that I love.

December 05, 2006

Hillary gets going

The Race For 2008.

Hillary is quickly making moves in the 2008 Presidential Election before Barack Obama gets ahead.

She’s been putting calls into Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the first states to vote in the Democrat primaries, and shoring up support from local leaders. Adding complication, Iowan Governor, Tom Vilsack, has already announced he intends to run, although he isn’t the current favourite in his home state.

Clinton has, apparently, been making new appointments to her team, indicating she is starting to crank up the effort on key states.

She’s running top in most of the polls, but still being beaten by potential Republican challengers like John McCain.

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