Striking parallels with Ed Miliband’s current plight?
Archive for Iain Duncan Smith
Here are my ten quick political predictions for 2012 in some sort of a chronological order: –
*Mitt Romney will win the Republican Nomination for President after a long protracted battle with Newt Gingrich.
*Greece will exit the Euro but the single currency will remain for 2012 at least.
*Boris Johnson will beat Ken Livingstone to be re-elected Mayor of London in an ill tempered campaign.
*A challenge to Ed Miliband’s leadership will come after the London Mayoral campaign, but no formal contest will be held. Miliband will hang onto the Labour leadership throughout 2012 as the party struggles to find a successor.
*Chris Huhne will finally exit the Cabinet after a falling out with his Lib Dem collegues.
*Nick Clegg will start to formulate a few clear Lib Dem policies in a bid to distance his party from the Tories ahead of 2015.
*Barack Obama will be re-elected as American President by a decent sized margin.
*David Laws will return to the cabinet in a social brief.
*Nick Boles will be promoted to the Cabinet, possibly replacing Chris Huhne as Energy Secretary.
*Ed Miliband’s approval ratings will go lower than former Tory Leader Iain Duncan Smith’s approval ratings at their lowest ebb.
The Conservatives will do badly as they are defending well over half the council seats in the election- How badly the Tories do is linked in part to the performance of their Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, and who the public perceive to blame for the cuts. A good night for the Tories would be to keep their losses below the five hundred seat mark but I believe they will end up losing nearer eight hundred seats. David Cameron has been quite visible during the campaign to try and sell his ideas across the country but I doubt his work will pay off come polling day.
The Liberal Democrats will have a terrible night- This prediction is a given. Nick Clegg’s party are doing poorly in the polls and the public’s perception of him isn’t much better. The Lib Dems are defending slightly more seats than Labour but could endure losses on a scale similar to the Tories. Losses of a thousand or so seats would certainly fuel leadership speculation yet again but I suspect the Lib Dems will incur losses of around six hundred seats so Clegg’s position should be safe for the time being.
Labour should top one thousand council seat gains easily- The bare minimum seat gain target for Ed Miliband’s party should be the 566 seat gains Iain Duncan Smith made in the Local Elections in 2003. Labour are coming from a very low base however, defending only seventeen percent of council seats, so they should pass this target with ease. I predict Labour will pick up a lot of disaffected Lib Dem votes plus those who wish to vote tactically to send a message to the Government, so therefore around twelve hundred seat gains would seem reasonable. The only issue with such a giant seat haul for Labour is that they will have more councils under their control which will have to administer the Coalition cuts and may become unpopular throughout their term.
The smaller parties will make gains from both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats- The likes of UKIP, the Green party, and others will make modest gains from the Coalition partners as those who cannot bring themselves to vote for Labour will seek other candidates who they feel will bring change their local wards. I would predict in total the “Others” will make around one hundred gains in total.
The result of the Local Elections will add to the result of the AV Referendum- The AV Referendum result will be known roughly a day later than the Local Election results so the media will devote near enough forty eight hours to both elections. If the No to AV camp wins the Referendum this could curb any momentum (half of) Labour have and provide a “double whammy” to the Lib Dems.
David Cameron- Cameron has had a great week after a ropey Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. The Prime Minister seems to have both the majority of public and the media on his side over the crisis in Libya after the UN passed a resolution enabling a no fly zone. If the military action in Libya is over quickly expect Cameron and his party’s popularity to rise steadily in the polls, if the military action in Libya isn’t over quickly however expect a decline in the polls as the British public compare the operation to that in Iraq twenty years ago.
Ed Miliband- Miliband has has a decent week with a creditable performance at Prime Minister’s Questions and his sensible support of the Government’s action in Libya. A worry for Miliband going forward has to be how the Libyan crisis effects the news agenda in the UK, with his party surely not getting as much time day to day to oppose/introduce policies as they would normally.
Hazel Blears- Blears stated on The Politics Show today “I think we could be pretty explicit about where we had plans to cut. We said we would cut the deficit by half in four years, and I think we should absolutely stick to that and be clearer about what that means”. This is a clear attack on the policy of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband of not saying where the cuts will fall- and a clear attack on those in the left of her party. I believe Labour will have to explicitly set out where at least some of the cuts will fall (especially on public services delivery) or risk losing support throughout the country. By raising this important issue I feel Blears has had a good week.
Alex Salmond- Salmond built on last week’s solid speech at his party conference with an exceptional showing in an ICM Poll this week. When asked “Who would you like to be the First Minister of Scotland?”, forty three percent of those who took part favoured the SNP leader, making a Labour victory in the Scottish Elections in May less of certainty than it was a month ago.
Nick Clegg- Clegg has had a bad week as he did not appear at his party’s “Yes To AV’ event on Friday due to the Libyan crisis. The Deputy Prime Minister needs to been seen as pushing as hard as possible for AV to be implemented as it may help his party stay in Coalition at the next election. Clegg has to be more assertive and stick his own party’s agenda in the coming weeks, no matter what the situation abroad is.
Iain Gray- Gray’s speech to his party conference received little attention yesterday and he ranked a poor third (behind Scottish Conservatives Leader Annabel Goldie) on just ten percent in the aforementioned ICM poll. Overall, a very poor week for the Scottish Leader.
Nick Clegg- Clegg has had a good week by nothing bad happening in or around his party, and the Lib Dems’ poll ratings stabilising.
Ed Miliband- Miliband has had a mixed week with Alan Johnson’s resignation and Andy Coulson leaving his role at No.10. The Coulson story is good news for Miliband short term as it gives him a platform to question Cameron’s judgement, but long term I see it not making much of an impact with voters. Johnson’s resignation means Miliband has been forced into an early reshuffle which looks to have strengthened his and Labour’s position (if he can keep his Shadow Cabinet under control). A major reason why I would say Miliband has had a good week over a bad week is Labour’s poll ratings. Labour are consistently polling above forty percent in nearly every poll now which is great news for them this early in the electoral cycle.
Ed Balls- Alan Johnson’s resignation means Balls has had a good week. Balls is undoubtedly substance over style, with his combative approach being very love/hate for the voting public. If Miliband can control him and stop him from taking control of the party’s direction, Balls could prove the driving force behind Labour winning seats at the next election. That’s a very big “if” however.
Yvette Cooper- Cooper’s appointment to Shadow Home Secretary means she will be in role where she can actively attack the Coalition. As I have stated previously, the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary is basically a role in that you agree with the Government on every subject, which is not Cooper’s style.
David Cameron- Andy Coulson’s resignation has masked a poor week for the Prime Minister. Inflation is higher than expected, unemployment figures are still very high and the Coalition’s NHS reforms have been greeted with criticism from medical professionals, not just Labour. Cameron will replace Coulson with a similar personality and I doubt the voting public will punish the Tories at the ballot box for any subsequent revelations of phone hacking involving the ex-editor of The News of the World. Long term, Cameron needs to establish a narrative that Labour cannot be trusted with the economy, and Ed Balls’ appointment to Shadow Chancellor may have made that job slightly easier.
Alan Johnson- Johnson’s resignation means he is the last of the Blairites to leave a senior role in the Shadow Cabinet. His presence helped “balance the ticket” higher up in the Shadow Cabinet and without him I have doubts the Labour party can avoid moving away from the centre ground of British politics to the left. As for Johnson’s political career, I suspect he’ll walk away at the next General Election with little fanfare.
Andy Coulson- Coulson leaving his role at No.10 asks more questions than it answers as to further allegations of phone hacking. For the Tories it means he is now not associated with them and so the only damage going forward will be opposition jibes about Cameron’s judgement in employing Coulson. Personally for Coulson I expect him to take a very low profile role in the city.
Liam Byrne- Byrne cannot be relishing the thought of going up against Iain Duncan Smith week in, week out in his new portfolio of Work and Pensions can he?
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.