Archive for Andy Burnham

Good Week, Bad Week 24/06/12…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by eljmayes

Good Week

David Cameron- The Prime Minister has had a relatively good week, with his party slightly improving their position in the polls and a spat with Argentina that played well to the home audience. Cameron’s net personal ratings have improved markedly with YouGov in the past few weeks also, with the Tory leader now ten points or so ahead of Ed Miliband. A concern for the Tories will be how the rise in fuel duty in August affects the public mood. At the current time fuel prices are at their lowest level for months so a three pence rise in duty would not be that noticeable. However if fuel prices rise George Osborne could come under pressure to defer the rise in duty to the winter.

Nick Clegg- Clegg has had his usual quiet week, only being awoken by Michael Gove’s radical education reforms.

Ed Miliband- Miliband’s week hinged on a speech where he addressed the subject of immigration. Whilst I applaud the Labour leader for finally tackling a very difficult subject for his party, the speech did seem to hint that Labour would only tinker with the current status quo. Miliband needs to be bolder on immigration than the Coalition to renew trust with the working class and those aspirational voters who deserted Labour in 2010.

Bad Week

Harriet Harman- Harman was absolutely schooled at (stand in) Prime Minister’s Questions by William Hague this week. Performances of this ilk will make some in Labour party wonder why Harman is still Deputy Leader after five long years in her role.

Andy Burnham- Burnham seemed to have a lackluster performance substance wise on Question Time this week. That said, presentationally Burnham is streets ahead of  of nearly everyone in the Labour party currently.

Jimmy Carr- Carr was rumbled this week for tax avoidance. The new 737 will have to wait therefore.


Alternatives to Ed Miliband…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by eljmayes

Frank Field earlier this week stated that Ed Miliband would hang onto his job as Labour leader as “There are no other alternatives to Ed Miliband”. A ringing endorsement I’m sure you would agree. Let’s have a look at those with a feasible chance of becoming Labour leader, conveniently in three sections- those who would be better than Ed Miliband as Labour leader, those who are on the same level as Ed Miliband as Labour leader, and those who would be worse than Ed Miliband as Labour leader. Please be aware these are my own personal opinions as always, if you disagree please use the comments box below.

Those who would better than Ed Miliband as Labour leader

David Miliband- Ed’s bigger brother is better presentationally and would undoubtedly shift the party to the right if he were to become leader. This would help get valuable media outlets back onside for Labour and give them more scope to concentrate on little issues that seem to catch out Cameron on a regular basis. Whilst I think David is far better than his brother presentationally, he still gives off a slightly awkward vibe in interviews which affects his connection with the voting public. I feel David Miliband won’t stand for the Labour leadership in this Parliament if there were a contest. He would be much better served to stand in 2015 if Labour lose that year’s General Election.

Ed Balls- At his best Ed Balls is a very clever, combative politician who is far better at conveying his messages to the public than Ed Miliband. However, he can come across as slightly condescending (putting it politely) in interviews to the media and would certainly steer the Labour party firmly to the left if he were to become leader. Balls is well liked by the unions (more so than David Miliband in a straight run off) and has to considered as the front runner in any leadership contest should Ed Miliband be ousted in this Parliament.

Yvette Cooper- Cooper is similar Ed Balls presentationally with a combative, no nonsense style at the Despatch Box. I doubt the Shadow Home Secretary would wish to run in any leadership contest, favouring to support her husband to win such a contest.

Andy Burnham– Burnham is again much better than Miliband presentationally, having an easy  going “man of the people” style that endears him to the public. Whether as leader Burnham would shift the party further to the right is to be seen as he doesn’t belong to either the Blair or Brown camp, which may harm his chances in a leadership contest. Much like David Miliband, Burnham would be better served sitting out a leadership contest in this Parliament in my opinion, biding his time until a possible opening in 2015.

Jim Murphy- Murphy has a calm, understated style much like Andy Burnham. He is the only Shadow Cabinet  member currently to be landing significant blows on his opposite number Liam Fox. Murphy seems to be an ideal candidate for the leadership role. The problem is he currently is an MP in Scotland, and therefore a MP who could lose their job if the country was to gain independence for the rest of the UK. It would be foolish for him to stand before the referendum is held and for this reason I can’t rank him as a contender.

Chuka Umunna- Umunna has made waves since being elected at last year’s General Election, being put forward for many media appearances on behalf of the opposition and has a calculated presentational style. Umunna is too young to be taken as a serious contender for the Labour leadership at the present time however in my opinion.

Alan Johnson- Johnson is by far the best candidate Labour could field as leader and would take the party to the right. Unfortunately for the party he will likely step down at the next General Election.

Those who are on the same level as Ed Miliband as Labour leader

John Healey- I have always found Labour’s love for Healey baffling. He isn’t any better than Ed Miliband presentationally and he hasn’t exactly made Andrew Lansley sweat as Shadow Health Secretary, even after his series of u-turns on health reform. Healey would be no better for Labour than Miliband and I doubt he’d run if the Labour leader’s post was available.

Douglas Alexander- Alexander strikes me as a politician who always underperforms in media appearances. He isn’t terrible presentationally, but as he is so close to Ed Miliband I doubt he would run in a leadership election.

Sadiq Khan-  Khan is a relatively astute politician but he doesn’t offer anything radically different to Miliband. Any potential leadership contest would not feature Khan I’d wager.

Harriet Harman- Harman did well as a stand in Labour leader after the General Election but is still a marmite politician, you either love her or you hate her. She seems content in her current role and it would be a shock if she stood for party leader.

Those who would be worse than Ed Miliband as Labour leader

Peter Hain- Hain is terrible presentationally, especially in media appearances. Being Ed Miliband’s closest ally it would seem very strange if he were to stand in any leadership election after his friend’s ousting.

Tessa Jowell– Jowell is essentially a female version of Peter Hain sans tan, poor presentationally with little to endear her to the voting public. She is coming towards the end of her political career and to stand for party leader should the opportunity arise would seem bizarre at this stage.

Liam Byrne- A Blairite, Byrne should be a contender in any leadership election. After his “There is no money left” note however I think he is just happy to be in the Shadow Cabinet currently.

The reason why I have put such prominence on presentational skills in this post is because I believe Cameron will run a presidential campaign in 2015, much like Alex Salmond’s Scottish Election campaign this year. It is essential for Labour to have an able media performer in any General Election campaign. I doubt Ed Miliband can get to Cameron’s level presentationally within four years. At the present time, I rate Ed Miliband’s chances of still being Labour leader at the next General Election fifty-fifty at best.







Good Week, Bad Week 12/06/11…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by eljmayes

Good Week

David Cameron- The Prime Minister should have had a terrible week but because of other events this week he has had a relatively good one. A decent performance at Prime Minister’s Questions after a couple of u-turns by the Coalition was more to do with the ineptitude of his opponent more than Cameron’s guile, but this week has proved him to be more “Teflon” than Tony Blair.

Nick Clegg- The Deputy Prime Minister has had a decent if quiet week, scoring a minor victory with a u-turn from Cameron on the NHS reforms.

David Miliband- This week’s shenanigans have put Miliband Major back in the spotlight for the better or worse of his party. I still cannot see him becoming Leader of the Opposition anytime soon however as he stands little chance of deposing his brother before 2015.

Bad Week

Ed Miliband- Miliband has had an abysmal week as Leader of the Opposition. Leaks about his plot with Ed Balls to oust Tony Blair, a rather negative book about his relationship with his brother and a whispering campaign against his leadership means Miliband looks to be in deep trouble as Labour leader. The major problem for Miliband is he will not have any policies for eighteen months, by which time both local elections and the Mayoral election in London will have been held. If Labour don’t do well next May I think the pressure within the party could make Miliband’s position untenable, and Ed Balls would inevitably ascend to party leader on the union block vote. I rate Ed Miliband’s chances of hanging on as Labour leader until 2015 currently at fifty-fifty.

Andy Burnham- Burnham criticised the Education Secretary Michael Gove about his department’s budget this week, describing it as being in “Chaos”. A very hypocritical stance from Burnham in my opinion given his party’s handling of the economy when they were in Government.

Liam Byrne- Byrne stated this week that “Gordon Brown was a superb Prime Minister”. I’ll let the utter tribalism /and or stupidity of that statement stand on it’s own.

Good Week, Bad Week 27/03/11…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2011 by eljmayes

Good Week

David Cameron- Cameron has had a good if unspectacular week. The Prime Minister will be heartened by the way the military action in Libya is going, how well the Budget was received by the media and his party’s steady rise in the opinion polls this week.

George Osborne- Osborne’s Budget this week was solid if predictable. The cut in duty on petrol and the cut in corporation tax were welcomed by the Government’s media backers and businesses. The Budget itself was cost neutral which from a strategic perspective tries to differentiate Osborne from past Labour Chancellors who seemed to overspend every Spring.

Bad Week

Ed Miliband- Miliband has had a truly woeful week after a sub-par Budget response, a frankly bizarre speech at the TUC march and doubts starting to emerge from within his own party that he and his Shadow Chancellor can lead effectively. Miliband’s Budget response simply repeated what he has been stating for months on the economy and sounded pre-scripted. Milliband’s speech at the TUC march compared his struggle against slowing down the cuts to the struggle that Nelson Mandela faced against apartheid, a truly laughable statement to make given Labour would only be cutting two billion pounds less per year than the Coalition this Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition is rumoured to be coming under pressure from his Labour MPs on the right of the party who want a more cohesive, honest message on the economy and on Labour’s strategy to deal with the cuts. The problem for those on the right of the Labour party is there is no clear replacement for Ed Miliband currently. David Miliband is still smarting from his leadership election defeat, Yvette Cooper can’t challenge as she is Ed Balls’ spouse and Andy Burnham is not ruthless enough to oust his leader. A poor set of results in the local/devolved elections in May for Labour could see serious pressure mounting on Miliband but ultimately I can see him hanging on at least in the short term.

Nick Clegg- Clegg has had a quiet week yet again although he is coming under increased pressure from those on the left of his party who are questioning the party’s role in the Coalition. Ideas such as a party rebrand involving a name change (to the “Social Democrats”) have been mooted but I feel Clegg would be right to resist any change on the grounds of the fact those parties who have success at General Elections do so from the centre ground. The Deputy Prime Minister’s party may be doing poorly in the polls at the moment but a hasty decision to rebrand could divide the party and more importantly damage their chances in 2015 beyond repair.

Ken Livingstone- Livingstone’s performance on Question Time proved he is more left wing than Ryan Giggs and must have had Boris Johnson dancing in his Mayoral Office on Thursday night.

Ed Balls- Balls’ Budget response included a rather disingenuous apology from the Shadow Chancellor about the past Government’s record on the economy. An apology that was well over three years late.

Shadow Cabinet Face Offs…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by eljmayes

So Ed Miliband has decided (rather quickly) on his Shadow Cabinet going forward- here are the tussles that await those lucky enough to be selected.

Shadow Chancellor- Alan Johnson faces George Osborne Johnson will almost certainly be to the right of Ed Balls fiscally (as he backed David Miliband’s leadership campaign so strongly) which will make him more credible to the country but perhaps not in his own party or to the unions. Coalition will no doubt try to portray Johnson as the “old generation” who was at the centre of the last Government which racked up a massive deficit. My gut feeling is Ed Miliband won’t be able to reign in Johnson as Brown did with Darling, and a coherent message on the economy may suffer.

Shadow Home Secretary- Ed Balls faces Theresa May Balls could be effective in this role, especially with the cuts that are coming to the Police. The issue with Balls is one of whether or not he can focus entirely on his brief and not go off on tangents. If he does drift off message towards his specialist subject, the economy, he could come into conflict with those on the right of his party.

Shadow Foreign Secretary- Yvette Cooper faces William Hague Cooper will be wasted shadowing Hague as the Shadow Foreign Secretary role is one mainly of agreement with the Government, there are few major foreign policy differences between all three major parties after all. Cooper would have been better suited to the Education or Defence portfolio in my opinion.

Shadow Health Secretary- John Healey faces Andrew Lansley Health is a rather tricky subject for Labour in opposition because of the Coalition’s commitment to increase spending on the NHS in real terms throughout the Parliamentary cycle. Healey is an unknown, and to an extent Andrew Lansley is as well. I predict therefore (scandals notwithstanding) health and the NHS will slip down the Labour attack agenda as they oppose cuts to other sectors more vehemently .

Shadow Education Secretary- Andy Burnham faces Michael Gove Burnham isn’t as combative as Ed Balls, who was effective against Gove whilst he was Shadow Education Secretary after the General Election. Burnham is a more likeable character however, and his “man from up North” persona may play well against Gove’s (slightly) upper class persona. I expect education to be a key battleground over the Parliamentary cycle, with every single cut being opposed by Labour.

Shadow Defence Secretary- Jim Murphy faces Dr. Liam Fox Defence is by far the most emotive role a politician could be appointed to at the current time. With Fox seemingly disenfranchised with his party over the cuts, Murphy should be able to make headway if he can outline where cuts to our Armed Forces should be made (no mean feat admittedly).

The rest of the Shadow Cabinet would seem to face an uphill struggle against there opposite numbers in the Coalition. Sadiq Khan will not relish taking on Ken Clarke at the despatch box on Justice matters, and neither will Douglas Alexander look forward to challenging Iain Duncan Smith on the subject of Work and Pensions. Ed Miliband’s strategy going forward must be to set up three or four credible attack lines on the cuts maximum and to maintain cohesion between his MPs, activists and trade unions.

Labour Leadership Contest Predictions…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by eljmayes

After weeks of non-stop political action the voting has concluded in the Labour Leadership Contest. Or as I like to call it “The Neverending Story”. Here are my thoughts on each candidates’ chances and their future prospects in the shadows. To paraphrase Finnish rockers The Rasmus.

Diane Abbott- Abbott should finish in fifth place. She is the furthest left of the field politically (by quite a margin), plus she has spent by far the least on campaigning (reported to be less than £2000 in total). She has applied herself admirably in the televised debates, but I think her standing in contest was a move to increase her standing in party, bagging herself a Ministerial role and maybe the Labour nomination for London Mayor in 2016. Abbott will likely end up as the Shadow Secretary for Universities and Skills because of the recently implemented Shadow Cabinet female quota rule.

Andy Burnham- Young, good looking, and a candidate who comes across as semi-credible about the deficit facing the country. Three factors that mean Burnham is destined to finish a distant fourth. Burnham seems to be the second furthest to the right of field after David Miliband, stuck somewhere between Ed Balls to the left and David Miliband to the right. A great position to be a viable choice for both the Labour core voters and the wider voting public. However, his campaign has never gained momentum and he has seemed isolated (but entirely right in my opinion) on the issue of public spending cuts within the gang of five candidates. Burnham should keep his role as Shadow Health Secretary after the contest, which is arguably the hardest opposition role given the Coalition’s commitment to increase spending on the NHS in real terms over the next five years.

Ed Balls- The Joe Bugner of politics (effective in short bursts but ultimately lacks the invention to win big fights), Ed Balls has had a solid campaign which will see him finish a creditable third. His haranguing of Michael Gove over education cutbacks has shown him to be a force to be reckoned with, but not exactly what you would call a compassionate enough soul ready to lead an opposition for five years. In short, Balls lacks the ability to connect with his party and the electorate as a whole. Balls will move on from his current role after the contest, perhaps to become Shadow Home Secretary or Shadow Defence Secretary (I’d favour the latter as his combative style would query Dr. Liam Fox’s actions infinitely better than Bob Ainsworth).

Ed Miliband- The trade unions’ preferred candidate, Ed Miliband has had the greatest momentum during the campaign which will seem him finish second- just. He has provided the opportunity for Labour to elect a left leaning candidate to be it’s leader for the first time in well over twenty years. If he were to win the contest would he steer the party into political oblivion? A lot of activists from the right would say a resounding “Yes” to that statement, but I’m not so sure. The Coalition could become hugely unpopular as soon as the cuts start to take effect and a party of the left would surely pick up votes from disaffected Lib Dems and the left leaning Tories (bit of an oxymoron there I’ll admit). Ed Miliband’s endorsement by the trade unions could come back to haunt him if there are mass strikes, but I do feel he has been underestimated as potential leadership material by some in his own party and the wider media. After the contest (if he doesn’t win) I fully expect him to become Shadow Foreign Secretary, taking over from his brother.

David Miliband- The candidate who leans furthest to the right, David Miliband should become Labour Leader on September 25th. The fact it has not been a coronation is testament to his brother’s tireless campaigning and the complex AV voting system. He has performed well in the televised debates and has not pandered to the trade unions unlike his brother. If he wins, David Miliband has to quickly formulate a strategy for opposing the Coalition’s impending cuts, and it has to be a better strategy than the one being employed now (one of opposing every Coalition cut). Whether or not he can become Prime Minister will become clearer over time, my gut feeling at the moment is he and Labour are almost expecting a default General Election victory because of the unpopularity of the Coalition. Whoever leads the party, Labour are going to have to provide a coherent, powerful economic and social argument to gain power in 2015. If David Miliband doesn’t win, he may take a senior role in the Shadow Cabinet, or he may decide to bide his time on the back benches.

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