Minority government, Scotland and the grilling of Ed Miliband

deal-or-no-deal1What did you think of last night’s grilling of the main party leaders? As much as I detest Dave and his Nick Clegg mini-me, I think they performed creditably by the criteria one judges media appearances. The Prime Minister was polished and a little bit sweaty, but his question dodging body swerves saw him through the half hour. Clegg, who is probably the most telegenic and eloquent of all the mainstream politicians ate a bit of humble pie but made a good case, by his standards, for why the electorate should give the LibDems another punt. And Ed Miliband was, once again, his confident, assured self. Though tripping as he left the stage was a classic Ed moment.

Of the three, it’s fair to say the Labour leader had the hardest time from the audience. Indeed, two of his toughest inquisitors who were supposedly floating voters were actually Tories. If you have to lie about your affiliations to get your points taken seriously, that’s just how toxic the Conservative Party have become. Continue reading

Will those fighting Labour’s ground war be consulted on who we work with after 7 May?

Miliband & Salmond at No10Following a local discussion recently I realised that not only had I not thought about or had any clear ideas as to whether or how the membership would be consulted in the event of a hung parliament, but that this was largely the position across the board, with few commentators or bloggers addressing the question, although Jon Lansman has written twice about it in Left Futures. In his first article (So who decides if Labour should enter a coalition government?) in August 2013, where in commenting on the 2010 negotiations he opined, correctly I think, that if a coalition had been agreed it would have been endorsed by no more than the PLP, which he considered ‘not good enough’, clearly implying but not spelling out the need for more extensive consultation within the party. The second article in January (Deciding on a coalition: should Labour follow Attlee or MacDonald?) advocated a democratic consultation with the NEC and NPF playing a major role prior to a reconvened conference. Continue reading

A Con-Lab coalition would be the nuclear option – mutually assured destruction

mushroom cloudWith the polls bouncing all over the place and only a few daft enough to make predictions about the general election, there’s a lot of coalition talk doing the rounds. The SNP and Greens – wisely – have ruled out any arrangement with the Conservatives. And Farage has ruled out a deal with Labour (thanks for that, Nige: it makes it that bit easier for us to paint your lot as a Tory home from home). Dave hasn’t said no to a kiss-in with UKIP, and Ed has said nothing at all. With a majority for either of the two main parties looking a big ask, the manoeuvrings between the major and the minor parties is set to be the stuff of soap operas. A dull and uninspired story line, yes, but the personal relationships between leading figures are about to be pored over like never before. Continue reading

Deciding on a coalition: should Labour follow Attlee or MacDonald?

Miliband & Salmond at No10Labour has had two experiences of formal coalition.

In the first, its leader chose not to consult the party which was very divided about his austerity programme, and chose to go into coalition with the Tories and Liberals. This split the party which didn’t form a majority government for 14 years.

In the second, the leader put it to a vote at Labour’s executive (carried 17-1) and two days later moved an emergency motion to the same effect at Labour’s conference in Bournemouth (carried 2,413,000 to 170,000). He went into coalition with the Tories and Liberals but kept the party remarkably united, and won the next election with a massive majority on a bold programme which had very broad consent in the party.

So what shall we do next time? Continue reading

Why Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru should work together to defeat UKIP

Welsh UKIPTo the extent that the British media’s political coverage ever veers far from Westminster, all eyes are currently on Scotland. In the wake of the Neverendum on Scottish independence and its leadership election, the potential  meltdown of Scottish Labour in the general election is massive not only in Scotland: it is the biggest factor in the outcome of the 2015 general election.

UKIP may yet change the face of UK politics, but in the two-party contest for government next year, UKIP still looks like helping not hindering Labour in England — though it may not feel like that in up to a couple of dozen constituencies where they could prevent a local Labour victory. But Wales is different. Yesterday, UK Elect predicted that UKIP could become the second biggest party in Wales at the Welsh Assembly elections in 2016. edging ahead of both Plaid and the Tories. Continue reading