Five Things we’ve learned from The Election Campaign

Election 2015
  1. Ed Miliband isn’t as daft as he looks

Before the campaign it was generally acknowledged, even by some of his closest allies, that as far as profile and image were concerned, Ed Miliband was hardly ‘A’ list Hollywood. However, more in hope than expectation, they hoped that his intellectual capacity and his genuine ‘niceness’ would win over sceptics. To a large extent, he has. Even if you don’t like his policies, or find him the least attractive political leader you have cast your eyes on, Miliband is hard to dislike. He has had a good campaign, articulating his party’s case in a firm, direct and effective manner. The Conservatives personal attacks on him, in particular the crass ’back stabber’ accusation, backfired on the Tories spectacularly. Even if he doesn’t get the keys to Number 10, Ed has done a decent job.

  1. The case against voting reform is weakening

The big argument that is always used against changing our existing ‘first past the post’ electoral system is that it provides a process that results in strong, single party government. However, we are heading for a second consecutive hung parliament, and if voting intentions continue to be as transient among a new generation of voters in the future as they appear to me now, then the days of one party government are well and truly behind us. At least a new proportional voting system would give voters in cities like Liverpool and Manchester, where they weigh rather than count the Labour vote, a reason to visit their local polling station.

  1. UKIP are as daft as they look

I have now lost count of the number of candidates and members who have been removed, suspended and expelled from a party whose main influence has been to drive the Conservative party to the right on the issue of Europe, and the Labour Party to run scared of this issue of immigration. It must be with regret that Cameron and Miliband now look at the past five years and wonder why they didn’t apply a far more robust and aggressive strategy to rebut some of the utter crap that UKIP has been allowed to get away with on both of these key areas of policy. That the wheels would fall off the Farage bandwagon was inevitable in my opinion, and they will be lucky to retain their existing two parliamentary seats, whilst Farage is looking less likely to win in the constituency of South Thanet, where the voters appear to have more sense than the owner of the Daily Express!

  1. Cameron won’t be Tory Leader for much longer

His admission that he would only want to be Prime Minister for one more term of office may have been honest, but it was also a mistake. As soon as those words and that statement was broadcast, David Cameron was a dead man walking. Last weekend’s newspapers were packed full of stories about the runners and riders for the Tory leadership, with Dave’s campaign considered by many a Tory donor to lack energy, focus and passion. That ‘Team Cameron’ have attempted to address that this week by taking off his tie and rolling up his sleeves is, I fear, too little too late. His failure to deliver the Conservatives an overall majority, which is what they really crave, is what will cost him in the end though. Boris, Teresa May and George Osborne are the early frontrunners; but don’t rule out a ‘dark horse’ emerging from the pack. Cameron beat more favoured candidates – and who can forget John Major’s surprise succession of Maggie?

  1. If a week is a long time in politics – 5 week’s is a lifetime

The campaign has been too long, a bit boring even for political anoraks like me – and it appears that it has failed to have much, if any, influence on people’s voting intentions anyway. A piece of advice for all the parties for the next election – which may be far sooner than was planned – keep it short. Less is sometimes more!

And finally my prediction for the 7th May: I’m sticking with what I have been saying for some months now. Conservatives the biggest party, but lacking a credible coalition partner to be able to form a government for more than a few months; and the spectacle of a second election highly likely as many Labour MPs’ would find it hard to stomach any sort of arrangement with the SNP.

Get Ready for a Deluge of ‘Royal’ Visits

Sexy Politics

Lancashire will be a key area in deciding who will form the next government, with a number of marginal seats to be fought in the county at the polls in May.

At this moment in time all the polling evidence suggests that we are heading for another ‘hung’ parliament with none of the two ‘big’ parties pulling up any trees at the moment; the Tories obsessed once again with the issue of Europe, and Labour being led by a man that is clearly struggling to impose himself in the minds of the electorate as a potential Prime Minister.

For the Liberal Democrats the Coalition agreement has proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and for all their protestations about their input into policies surrounding the low paid, the green agenda and, indeed, the economy, the perception voters have of Nick Clegg & Co is of a party that sold its soul for a whiff of the red ministerial boxes. The tuition fees U-turn effectively killed them.

Labour had hoped to pick up the majority of Lib Dem discontents, and win the election by simply adopting a more traditional social democrat, safety first approach that would enable them to hit the 35% of the vote mark, which would give them a small, but workable, majority.

They had not factored in the backlash to traditional politics that we are witnessing at the moment, nor the fact that they are likely to lose a significant number of ‘safe’ seats themselves north of the border to the Scottish Nationalists.

The Tories will lose votes, if not seats, to UKIP, that may lead to them missing out on some of their target constituencies, and who knows how other minority parties like the Greens and even Plaid Cymru will perform.

It all means that just seven months out from the election, we really have no clue as to the type of government we will have in place next year. The lack of genuine, consistent leadership from either Cameron or Miliband makes it a wide open race, and that means that every vote will count, particularly in this part of the world. Expect a series of high profile visits from Ministers and Shadow Ministers over the next few months – and then sit back and watch as Alex Salmond becomes the Deputy Prime Minister in the next Coalition that is cobbled together post May.

CCG condemns Miliband’s HS2 negativity


The Core Cities Group (CCG) fired a major warning shot across Labour leader, Ed Miliband’s bow this week about his party’s increasing negativity towards HS2. The threat of “open warfare” came from the Labour chiefs of its members, which includes Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds.

What has become clear during my many conversations in Leeds is just how important big infrastructure schemes like HS2 are to the private sector in the city – it is the number one priority.

There is a real strength of feeling that we cannot allow this, and projects like NGT and the Northern Hub, to be hijacked by political wavering.

So it comes as a surprise that there are Leeds MPs and councillors quietly doing exactly that, willing to jeopardise the future prosperity of their city, seemingly  in favour of chasing the ‘not in my back yard’ vote.

If Leeds is going to take advantage of its current position as an economic success then only a concerted and cross-party effort to apply pressure on the Government will see it win investment in these and future projects, rather than chasing crumbs from the Westminster table.

Remember, there remain question marks over the ability of Leeds to deliver major infrastructure projects, in the same way that London was questioned about its ability to deliver the Olympics. Whilst Trinity and the Arena have shown ambition, it is the HS2s and NGTs of this world that show the commitment and determination to get things done.

If Leeds finds itself in another five years without significant progress on HS2 and an integrated transport system (the only major UK city without one) then the finger of blame will rightfully fall on the councillors and MPs who fiddled whilst the future prosperity of Leeds went up in smoke.