Can’t remember this gameshow being on our screens in the Eighties Ed. On a serious note, the country needs a strong opposition at this time and Miliband and Co. seem to be unable to provide any coherent opposition at all currently.
Archive for Diane Abbott
Clashing over Diane Abbott’s now infamous tweet.
To give her a “dressing down”. If that’s possible!
David Cameron- The Prime Minister has had a mixed week, with a poor showing at Prime Minister’s Questions, his triumphant visit to Libya and the Tories doing well in the polls. The unemployment figures provided Ed Miliband with an open goal at Prime Minister’s Questions which he duly squandered, only just besting Cameron in the exchange. The Prime Minister’s trip to Libya was an undoubted success with him drawing a line underneath the conflict finally. The Tories are now level with Labour in a poll conducted by ComRes on thirty eight percent, better than the party’s vote share at the last General Election. The ineptitude of the opposition has made this week a good one for Cameron.
Nick Clegg- The Deputy Prime Minister’s week has been dominated by the 50p tax rate, with Clegg not wishing to abolish the top rate of tax anytime soon. He will clearly get his way in the short term, with the Tories not daring to try and push through such a measure through Parliament. Clegg’s opening speech to his Party Conference struck the right tone and reenforced his message for fairness.
Owen Paterson- The Northern Ireland Secretary devised a brilliant plan on Question Time of talking exceptionally slowly, thus not allowing his opponents as much time to respond.
Ed Miliband- The Leader of the Opposition has had an awful week. An average showing at Prime Minister’s Questions, the debacle of calling the Prime Minister back to Parliament only for him to not to do so and falling poll ratings mean Miliband is still skating on thin ice. He desperately needs a memorable speech at his Party Conference to sure up his position, and to reveal a few policies on his vision for Labour going forward.
Diane Abbott- Abbott was woeful on Question Time, especially on the economy. Not what Labour needs right now.
Sarah Teather- Teather’s joke about Peter Hain at her Party Conference was badly timed given this week’s events in his constituency.
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.
BBC Question Time has been getting rather stale recently in my opinion, so here are five ideas that could help improve the format of the programme:-
Sack David Dimbleby- After sixteen years chairing the panel Dimbleby has become past his prime in both the political and fashion stakes (case in point- the “spider tie”). But who should replace him were he to leave? Huw Edwards, Jon Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman are all worthy candidates but I think the best fit at this time would be Jon Sopel. Sopel proved during the General Election campaign that he could chair discussions effectively as part of The Campaign Show nightly and when Parliament sits with The Politics Show. His antics in Rothbury earlier this year weren’t his finest hour however.
Move the start time to 9pm- David Attenborough looking at sea-horses in the Seychelles, Police car chases narrated by Jamie Theakston and period dramas starring Dame Judi Dench, these types of programmes cover noble subjects but are not as important as dicussing the issues of the week with those who are actually elected to (or oppose) the Government. Shifting Question Time to the more accessible time of 9pm would hopefully boost interest in politics and allow Andrew Neil, Diane Abbott (she isn’t winning the Labour Leadership folks) and Michael Portillo to get home at a reasonable hour if This Week was shifted to just after the BBC News.
Tape the programme the night before- Having the taping last two hours and editing it down to an hour instead of the “as live/one take” format employed at the moment would make the hour have no down time or inane rambling from audience members who wish to push their (sometimes bizarre) agenda.
Reduce the amount of panelists to four and reserve one seat for the minor parties- Four panelists instead of five would allow for more questions to be asked during the hour. As for the make-up of the four panelists, a Coalition representative, a Labour representative, a minor party representative (for example from The Green Party, English Democrats or a nationalist depending on location) and an editors pick of who could be outspoken/entertaining/controversial (more David Starkey than Ruth Lea) would be a solid panel.
Select politicians of equal standing in politics- Whilst I accept the BBC can only invite who the parties release to the broadcaster, the editors should try to pick politicians of equal standing. This would mean only ministers could only face off against shadow ministers, Lords could only face off against other Lords and Alistair Campbell could face off against no-one.