Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Brown's speech today started off really well and set a good foundation. He reeled off a number of Labour achievements, the vast majority of which came under Tony Blair's premiership, that were met by cheers and applause from the delegates in the auditorium.
As Gordon went on, though, he got bogged down in policy detail, re-announcements, and down right confusion. After revelations a few weeks back that Labour would have to cut public spending after all (certainly since that's what the treasury have been saying all along), it was a surprise to hear Brown tell us that spending on education would increase if Labour were re-elected. It was left to Ed Miliband on Newsnight to attempt to fit the square peg into Gordon's round hole when he explained that efficiency savings would have to be found by cutting teaching to fund more equipment.
The whole point in a keynote speech is it literally sets the tone for debate, and gives an underlying feel to what the speaker is trying to achieve. Brown's speech was all over the place, and had no clear message. The biggest test is to ask the delegates after the speech what they would take out of it and tell voters in their constituencies; most gave very vague answers about being ready for the fight, but couldn't nail down a specific message, even when prompted to.
Ed Miliband really summed it up in his Newsnight interview when he was asked why Labour should be re-elected.
We haven't finished what we set out to do 12 years ago, that's why we need to stay in government.
That's not a very good reason, is it Ed!
And just to add insult to injury, the Sun have come out in favour of the Tories!
Bye bye Brown. Good night Labour.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Throughout the speech, however, Mandleson didn't mention what Labour would do after the next election, or in what way they could expose the Tories. He inferred that the Conservatives would've done nothing to help small businesses during the recession, yet it was a Conservative idea, a small business loan guarantee scheme, that the government used as one of their polices. In fact the Conservatives would've had a much larger scheme!
Labour have clearly come out this week with a message to rally the troops, who have become increasingly despondent over the last twelve months, with plenty of propaganda and hysteria to fan the
Yet again I refer you to John Cleese and his exposition for the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1987, when he imitates Labour (and Tory) conference delegates when they talk from the rostrum about "a tremendous fight" (Labour) or "a terrific struggle" (Conservatives). It's exactly that tone that Mandleson, Brown and others have been using in Brighton this week.
Nobody really expected Labour to simply sleepwalk to defeat, but if it takes 80s style speeches to get activists interested then you know Labour are in trouble.
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Tonight we hear that Labour will enshrine in law, before the general election, a commitment to half the UK's national debt within 5 years. In fact the government's own figures show that is projected to happen by 2015 anyway (bearing in mind that the law wouldn't come into force until the official end of the recession) so this is only a gimmick in reality.
Of course the reason for the announcement was an attempt to get on the front foot ahead of the party conference. If Labour have any chance of winning in 250 days time (the maximum time remaining in this parliament) then they have to come out of the conference season on the up, with the Conservatives going in the opposite direction.
So expect a whole host of new policies and ideas to be unveiled this week, in what will look like a throw mud at the wall and see what sticks environment. Look out for the re-announcements, non-announcements (when an impression is given that x will be a policy, without giving any explicit undertaking), and dis-announcements (when we're told what definitely won't happen) that will litter the media's coverage between now and Wednesday night.
It's make or break time for Labour. They can't win the election in the next week, but they sure can lose it.
Friday, 25 September 2009
Here's the video ...
Student Safety Week will be from 26th to 30th October. Get involved!
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Over the last three years, 18,000 students have been victims of crime in the city and the initiative aims to raise awareness to prevent robbery and burglary - the two most common offences.
The campaign material was designed by three students at MMU - Helen Butterworth, Isobel Stockhill, and Emma Thompson - all 21.
There will be posters on display all along Oxford Road and in the students' union building, and during Student Safety Week (26th - 30th October) the union bar staff will be wearing promotional t-shirts and there will be beer mats with the campaign messages at the bar.
You can get involved with student safety week by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
I am hugely impressed with the freshers edition of Pulp from our new editor, James. It has perhaps lifted the magazine from the ashes of previous years into something that the union and its members can be proud of.
You can pick up a copy for free from the students' union buildings in Manchester, Crewe and Alsager, or you can read it online.
No need for Student Direct at the Met!
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Just two days ago, the TUC said that cutting public spending could lead to more industrial action and even riots last seen in the 1980s. Yet Brown decided to admit public spending cuts to the TUC, before admitting it publicly to anyone else.
There were some stony faces in the audience when Brown was talking about cuts in the conference venue in Liverpool, and some people held up signs demanding "no cuts". This admission, however, is in stark contrast to the Labour spending verses Tory cuts line that has been echoing from the government benches in the house of commons, and in Brown's press conferences.
The speech itself was full of stumbles, hesitation and repetition. He wouldn't have lasted very long if he was playing Just a Minute! This little excerpt shows perfectly the way the speech was delivered. Notice the lukewarm reception the hall gave Brown half way through when he steps back from the podium, clearly expecting a bigger round of applause.
Brown's address crashed and burned today. Perhaps he's just a bit rusty after the summer break, but lets hope not!
Monday, 14 September 2009
Clearly Ian Wright has got an agent with a golden touch. He's landed a job with two beautiful women and doesn't have to do anything but talk about football and telly! Not only that, but it's obvious that Kate Walsh is constantly flirting with him and Melinda isn't exactly turning off the charm.
Unfortunately the show is a down-market version of The One Show (if that is possible) and is in the same time slot, so I expect it to be cancelled after its first series.
Still wouldn't mind Wrighty's job though!
The members of EDL have been described as thugs and hooligans by the media, and Unite Against Fascism have alleged that they are just a front organisation for the BNP.
Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police have yet to receive notification of the protest, and a GMP spokesperson said that after the protest in Birmingham that they have just cause and reason to arrest anyone who turns up for the Manchester event with public order offences.
I wasn't planning to be in Manchester city centre in a few weekends time, but I'm going to make a conscious decision to avoid the area.
The boss of the SLC has said sorry to the students affected, but although universities have the capacity to be sympathetic to those caught up in the mess, many won't be able to pay their rent without the financial support of their student loan.
There is a high likelihood of students dropping out because of financial problems in the first few weeks, and this is in a year where retention will be key to many institutions because the number of university places has been capped.
We all know that government departments and agencies are generally incompetent, but this shambles has reached new levels of incompetence, leading one student to describe the SLC like this ...
But even by government stadards they're ridiculous, it's like spies have infiltrated to cause deliberate sabotage!
It's not good enough. These problems should've been sorted well before now.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
This week sees the beginning of the conference season with the Trades Union Congress, and therefore it's the official end of silly season. But the final week was distinctly sensible and almost resembled normal politics!
Lets look at the top stories of the week;
CRB Checks for Parents
Most recently we have the story that parents who drive children, other than their own, to sports matches and things like scout and guide meetings will have to be CRB checked in the future. This crazy idea of vetting a potential 11 million parents would lead to a number of parents not volunteering their services, whether out of insult of having to be checked that they aren't a paedophile or the hassle of getting a check done.
The NSPCC have criticised the plans, saying "This scheme will stop people doing things that are perfectly safe and normal. Things that they shouldn't be prevented from doing."
What kind of society can't trust parents to be parents? By November 2010, anyone who has regular or sustained contact with children must be registered with the Home Office's new Independent Safeguarding Authority. Yet another government agency wanting information on the country's citizens.
Tax Rises or Spending Cuts?
Polls in the national papers this week have found that the public would rather there was a cut in public spending than having to endure tax rises. This is in spite of the TUC saying that spending cuts would cause the UK to fall deeper into recession, but many economists saying tax rises would be worse.
The poll showed 60% of the public preferring cuts whilst only 20% plumping for tax rises. The news should be music to the ears of the Conservatives, who have been the only party to openly say they would cut public spending should they win the general election.
Labour, on the other hand, have tax rises on the way. There's a new 50% top rate of income tax coming in April, and VAT will revert to 17.5% at the end of December. Add to that the recent rise in fuel duty by 2p a litre, and a further rise due in April, it is certain that families up and down Britain will feel the pinch even harder than before.
More BNP Publicity
The British Legion have accepted a donation from a member of the BNP who went fundraising for the charity, but is giving half the money to the fascist political party. The fact that the British Legion accepted the money is probably irrelevant, but the BNP were more than happy to splash the story all over their website.
This is after last week's announcement that the BNP's leader, Nick Griffin, will be invited to be on the panel of the BBC's Question Time at sometime in the next run of the programme.
I can't wait for the political year to re-start. A year that in which there will have to be a general election.
By the way, the cat in the picture has no other purpose than looking a bit silly!
Monday, 7 September 2009
We want to know who won as soon as possible. Quite simply, once the polling stations have closed I want to know the result as soon as possible, and I imagine most activists and candidates who have been pounding the streets for a month feel the same way, as well as voters who have cast their ballots. And this argument holds on two levels. Firstly, on a constituency level, but more significantly on a national level: if the general election is going to be close, then it is possible that if lots of seats are not counting until Friday - especially marginals - then we will not know who is going to be Prime Minister, form the Government etc until Friday lunchtime.
It would be a backward step. In the digital 24-hour media age when we are used to getting news quicker than ever before, it would be a backward step to delay election counts. If anything, we should be seeking to persuade the few constituencies which historically count on a Friday to bring their counts forward to Thursday night.
Fewer people will be able to follow the results coming in. Sitting around the television into the early hours is an election night ritual for people across the land, many of whom do not perhaps follow politics as closely as some of us. But if there are fewer results to announce - and the potential of not getting a national result to boot - they are less likely to bother tuning in and when the remaining constituencies declare and the national result becomes apparent on the Friday, anyone at work is not going to be able to witness the climax of the electoral process.
Campaign to keep the election count straight after the polls close. Write to your local council today.
Students' Unions and NUS
The decision to no platform any group or person should remain with individual unions, but it is absolutely right and proper that a union should no platform the BNP.
Students' Unions are closed membership organisations, not mainstream media. They have the right to refuse a platform anyone who goes against their aims and objectives, even though they are charities. The NUS have even more of a right to refuse a platform as they aren't a charity, and the orginisation have rules baring candidates who hold racist or fascist views from standing in their elections.
The BBC are bound by the Representation of the People Acts and therefore their situation is less clear cut. The broadcaster said before the European elections that if the BNP won a seat then they would have to offer them a seat on Question Time, and this looks to have been realised in the last few days. If parties or individuals want to boycott Question Time, or refuse to share the platform with the BNP, then that is their decision, but in many ways the BBC's hands are tied.
Nick Griffin would be making a huge amount of noise if he had asked to be on the programme and the BBC refused as other minority parties, such as the Greens, have appeared on the programme in the past. Perhaps the BBC have done themselves a favour by being pro-active in their approach, because the BNP would've had much more publicity had the BBC caved in under pressure from the BNP for them to be allowed to appear.
Other Minor Parties
Of course the question is whether minor parties should be represented at all. George Galloway has had hugely disproportional access to the media since 2005, when he was elected in Bethnal Green and Bow. If you're being strictly fair, Galloway should only appear every 646 episodes, or (if there was a QT every week) once every 12 and a half years. As it is, he's appeared on roughly a yearly basis.
The Greens (as mentioned above) have also featured on Question Time in the past, despite only having two MEPs and a handful of councillors. Again this is hugely disproportionate, but a precedent has been set.
In my opinion only parties with at least 10 MPs should be on Question Time, with exceptions when the programme is in Scotland and Wales for the SNP and Plaid Cymru respectively (as they are both in government in their respective devolved houses).
It is certain that the BNP should never be given a platform, but the BBC had no choice but to give it to them.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
It is unfortunate that people who disagree with my views in one way or another haven't got the guts to post comments without doing so anonymously.
It's not as if they have to give their real name, or even need an account to post with. It is perfectly possible to identify themselves with a name or other selection of letters and numbers.
I have therefore taken the step to remove the ability to choose Anonymous as an option when leaving comments. This might mean you have to use a google account or OpenID to leave a comment in future.
Please be assured that I'm not trying to stop people leaving unflattering comments, I'm just making certain people find the balls to put their name to what they say.
Friday, 4 September 2009
Yesterday a facebook group was set up to bring all those who are involved with NUS and students' union politics, and are also of a conservative persuasion, together if for no other reason than to have a quick head count of how many there are.
Fellow blogger and NUS fan (OK, hack) Joe Oliver has picked up on the group, thanks to one of my tweets this afternoon, and has written at length about CF and individual Tories and their record in NUS and its elections.
You see the thing is, upwards of 90% of delegates to NUS Conference have effectively already decided who to vote for in the elections for the full time officers (they might not know the people, but they know the politics) and probably have their first few preferences sorted for the block elections. Therefore an election can't be won (although can be lost) with just a campaign at the conference itself.
The way to win is to pump your block vote, but before that you have to get a block vote in the first place. You need around 40 to 50 first preference votes (and a few handy transfers) to get elected onto the block, so essentially CF need to get at least 30 people to be elected as delegates in their own unions, and then get them to turn up at the conference and most importantly the vote. This process needs to start right at the start of term as a number of unions hold their delegate elections early in the year.
Any serious candidate will pick up a dozen votes from the un-pledged or defecting delegates and the finishing line is crossed by picking up those all important transfers. If only for this reason, that's why you need a good campaign at the conference itself. The other reasons are its good fun, and the perfect excuse to get your delegates together. Why not have a fringe event at lunchtime on the second day (about the time when the full time elections are finishing and the block campaign gets under way), when you can pump that block vote again and get any straggling members for the campaign team.
The Lib Dems failed to get their man onto the block this year, not because the candidate was unelectable, but because they didn't prepare the ground. Their block vote wasn't good enough (perhaps only 20 delegates) and they were excluded at stage 7 with 34 votes.
You don't need much organisation, but you do need to organise to have someone elected at NUS and CF should be doing it.
By the way, I was very flattered to find out that Joe had given me a promotion to faction leader in his blog post. Let me assure him that I don't hold any position within CF at this time, but I would relish the chance to run the campaign of a Tory block candidate at the 2010 conference. Not my own though, at least not this time.
In lounge at Euston, waiting for train after speech to UKNDA. Big ugly mug on giant screens. Everything seems pretty shit, actually.
Sums it up completely.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
In his resignation letter to Gordon Brown, he said that he believes the Conservatives, "think they can convince the public that we have lost our empathy with the Defence community. We must not allow this to happen."
Is this the start of a second wave of government resignations? Probably not, but it's also something that Gordon can't sweep under the carpet. It will be a blow for Gordon and just as silly season draws to a close.
Not the best start to the political year, and a year where there has to be a general election, for Labour.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Predictably, David Cameron was the first to say he was up for it, and Nick Clegg followed soon after. Gordon Brown has, so far, stayed silent.
However, the most intriguing statement in the Sky News publicity is this ...
If any of the leaders decline the invitation, they will be represented by an empty chair.
This is amazing. It effectively forces Gordon to take up the invitation. If he doesn't then Clegg and Cameron will have an open goal to shoot into, as well as mentioning (as often as possible) that Brown didn't have the guts to turn up.
In a letter to Sky News, accepting the invitation, David Cameron said;
The case for a televised debate is compelling: it would engage the public, help answer their questions, and bring a General Election alive.
I am delighted that Sky has taken the lead and is now organising a television debate, and I look forward to taking part.
With turnout at the last election in 2005 dropping below 66%, this could be one of many measures that could boost engagement and dispel apathy. Something that is badly needed, if for no other reason then to stop the rise of extremist parties, such as the BNP.
Bring on the TV debate. I'll be watching!
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Part of the video was made last year and featured a number of previous Conservative prime ministers, but this extended version fills in the gaps, and goes right up to the present day.
The Conservatives have always been the party of progressive change, and it's always a good idea to reflect on the past, not only to see what you did right, but also what you did wrong. As the proverb goes, if you don't learn from history you are condemned to repeat it.
The new venue will be called simply The Met and a great week of entertainment has been lined up for freshers and returning students alike.
Saturday & Sunday
Revival: A freshers weekender special - a mix of the most popular student and party music of all times and genres. 70s 80s and 90s music with giveaways, great drinks prices and more!
Live Football: Super Sunday football matches shown on Big 12ft screen in new bar. Man Utd v Man City, Chelsea v Aston Villa.
Skool Disco: Resident DJs playing all the old skool hits. Fancy dress is a must! Also joining us, from 8 'til 10, will be student matchmaking - flirting in a fresh way!
Comedy Night - Simon Bird: After the huge success of the Channel 4 comedy, Simon Bird from The Inbetweeners is bringing his stand up show to the met for one night only. With support acts from the highly acclaimed Jonathan Mayer (MC) and Dan Nightingale, of Frog and Bucket fame, this will be a night to remember.
Wii Love Wednesdays: Wii games and great drinks offers on this regular Wednesday night, all of which leads on to ...
Player @ Walkabout: The brand new AU night will be at Walkabout on Quay Street. Stage games, cheap drinks, Surf Board Machine, Great Music, Fun times, Intra Club Competitions and of course fancy dress!
Cream Ibiza Party: Cream resident DJ's from Liverpool coming over to relive the summer.
Rock Kitchen: The hugely successful Rock Kitchen is back for another year. Still MetalHammer magazine's best rock night in the North.
More information on all these events is available on the union website.