At least he’s keeping busy…
At least he’s keeping busy…
Labour’s campaign chief is out:
Meet the new ‘Baby of the House’:
Mhairi Black, the 20 year old SNP candidate. The youngest MP since 1667…
YouGov calls it for Dave too…
In what appears to be a premature data dump of Lord Ashcroft’s much anticipated Scotland polling, Danny Alexander is predicted to lose his seat at the election:
As is Douglas Alexander:
Not Great for Alexanders…
Labour are playing the best of a bad hand by bleating on about being outspent by the Tories, but they should be careful to avoid choking on their own Kool Aid. Pretending that Twitter can level the playing field did not work in 2010…
Guido has warned before, and will say it again; Twitter is just an echo chamber, not a voter battleground. Anyone following politics closely on there has already pretty much made up their mind how they are going to vote. Whilst it might be good for Labour morale, it’s not going to help them in the long run.
There are 45.5 million voters in the UK, yet only 15 million people on Twitter. Only a fraction of those active users actually follow politics, so to pin your hopes on swinging an election by targeting this already partisan demographic is at best naive…
And it goes badly wrong. Alex Salmond was drafting his victory speech at 10 p.m. on Referendum Day because he was relying on social media sentiment analysis over reality based numbers. Euan McColm reports in the Scotsman:
“But, still, Salmond believed he had won. This was because of his secret Canadians. At huge expense, and amid considerable secrecy, the former SNP leader had brought in polling experts from across the Atlantic. With their new methodology, they’d be able to give him the most detailed predictions yet seen in political analysis. Or something like that.
The reason I mention these secret Canadians, apart from the fact that their existence remains a fascinating, if little known, aspect of the referendum campaign, is that unlike most traditional operators in their field, they placed great store on the use of social media among voters. By monitoring interactions on Facebook and Twitter, a fuller picture would be painted.
In the end, the fuller picture turned out to be a fake, but the fact that Salmond was willing to invest so heavily in his secret Canadians shows us how seriously the SNP – and, naturally, all other political parties – take social media as a campaigning tool.”
Has Douglas Alexander hired the same Canadian voodoo pollsters?
Labour’s weekly conference call between election coordinator Douglas Alexander and the party’s regional organisers has been blighted with negative feedback about Ed Miliband for months. The local party hands report back on issues coming up on the doorstep during canvassing, and Alexander feeds that back to the top. Ed has apparently been the constant complaint, and the regional staff did not mince their words…
Except, well placed Labour sources reveal, someone has put a stop to all that. Guido hears that an official from Labour HQ – at the express behest of Douglas Alexander – rang the regional officers and told them to stop bringing up the criticism of the leader in the calls. Is an ostrich strategy better than no strategy at all?
“We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard,” said David Cameron this morning, strongly suggesting that he will press for English votes for English laws and finally answer the West Lothian question. Within five minutes Labour had come out against the idea:
Very amusing of Wee Dougie to attack the plan as being “driven by politics”. Of course Labour’s opposition to English votes for English laws definitely isn’t driven by their cynical, anti-democratic need for Scottish MPs to pass legislation in England. Normal politics resumes…
Douglas Alexander has surfaced for his annual pre-conference toe dip into the media. Last year he went after Ed Miliband, this year he’s said what every Labour supporter with a brain knows full well:
“Ken’s campaign too often looked like the past rather than the future. And when I saw his remarks about the Jewish community in London in particular, I didn’t just think it was ill advised, I just thought it was wrong. It’s not our politics to try and divide voters into blocks. The success of the Olympics reminds us that London’s greatness and Britain’s greatness is when we come together. And I think he paid a deserved price for some of the errors that he made.”
Nice of him to speak out at the time…
UPDATE: Needless to say Ken’s accomplices in his deceitful campaign are gutted:
UPDATE II: Ken hits back:
Eyebrows have been raised by the replacement Douglas Alexander has chosen for his departed spinner Steve Van Riel. You would have thought that as shadow Foreign Secretary he would have brought someone in with some actual foreign policy experience, but instead the one time campaign manager to David Miliband has chosen Michelle Napchan. She’s a pollster…
Officially the line is that Napchan will be helping to craft Labour’s message by focus grouping on issues like Europe. However, given that Wee Dougie was one of the few figures able to flit between the Blairites and the Brownites, he is a key unity figure in Ed’s Shadow Cabinet and the slightest hint that he is on manoeuvres gets people talking. One Labour spinny-type suggests that he has studied how Brown did things from the shadows: “he’s building his own private operation, his own army”. Another Labour source was not so sure though: “The only army I see Douglas Alexander building is one with Action Men”. If there is ever a move against Ed, Guido would put good money on the “unity” man being involved…
Guido speculated the other day about the role Douglas Alexander played in the onslaught that Ed’s leadership faced last week, and apparently the “Ed” book sheds some more light about his fraught relationship with his leader. Andy Grice reports:
Ed told his fellow Brownite Douglas Alexander that toppling Mr Brown “would be like killing our father”. The authors remark: “This vivid phrase again signifies Ed’s loyalty to his political ‘father’, Brown, not his real-life brother, David.”
Although he was one of Ed’s oldest political friends, Mr Alexander decided to run David’s leadership election campaign. This was a blow to Ed. The two of them had gone on holiday together and their partners – Justine and Mr Alexander’s wife, Jackie – had also become close. “Ed’s desire to be leader meant his personal relationships were taking a battering,” says the book.
Ed told friends Mr Alexander was annoyed that a man younger than him was standing and believed a brother should not challenge an elder sibling. Mr Alexander was said to believe that Ed’s challenge had its roots in a long-established sibling rivalry and that the Labour leadership should not be “sacrificed” on the altar of it.
Is Wee Dougie avenging the spilt blood?
In this video wee Dougie Alexander shows why he won’t be a leadership contender after the election. His less than inspiring back-room boy style briefing from Labour HQ is somewhat reminiscent of Eric Pickles’s efforts, yet it has all the joy and excitement of a game of bowls. Labour are spinning all they want that “people win elections – not posters” but it’s a poor effort at hiding the fact the party have no money. Did the Labour Party claim they didn’t need posters in 1997 when the money was rolling in?
What Labour are doing well at though is the virtual-phone-banking. It’s a move right out of the Obama play-book and with the full weight of the Unite machine organising behind them, it seems that Labour are outdoing their Tory counterparts in making sure their wavering core wake up. People in marginals are already complaining of the near constant bombardment. Still many weeks to go and it will only get worse.
UPDATE : You must read this fantastic piece by Dizzy about Wee Dougie: Labour Unveils its Radical New Strategy.
Access to clean water is one of the most pressing problems the developing world faces at the best of times. In the video above you can see an amazing British solution for disaster zones. At over £100 a bottle to produce 6,000 litres it is expensive now. If DfID only spent a small bit of their multi-billion budget on this in readiness for the next disaster, instead of on filming videos of Dougie Alexander watched by a dozen people,* it would save countless lives. It would also drastically reduce the unit cost with large scale production runs.
This amazing LifeSaver bottle can literally put clean pure water in the hands of disaster victims as fast as a cargo-plane can fly to the disaster zone. The bottle was developed by one British entrepreneur, Michael Pritchard, using nano-technology and without a single penny of state subsidy. Capitalism works…
*Why is DfID wasting money producing videos of Dougie Alexander in Bangladesh wishing “Happy Ramadan“ (at the time of publishing this) to all of 12 viewers?
Hat-tip : Brian Micklethwait
The low circulation New Statesman continues to fascinate Guido, a co-conspirator has sent in an example of a lavish bit of sycophancy which really deserves a bigger audience.
You may remember that James Macintyre was not so long ago bitterly disappointed at failing to become Ed Miliband’s SpAd after Derek Draper advised Ed against hiring him. This week Macintyre was embedded on a junket to Bangladesh and India with Ed Miliband and Dougie Alexander to see poverty first-hand and get a few photo-ops with the ministers. Looks like Macintyre is re-applying for the SpAd job with the man he describes optimistically as “a leader-in-waiting”:
It is amazing to think that if the conventional wisdom is right, and Labour loses, these talented ministers, with so much to offer, will suddenly be out of a job. I can’t remember who their Tory opposite numbers are, but it is fair to say that certain parties I have spoken to, from NGO workers to diplomats to foreign politicians, are keeping their fingers crossed that the consensus will be proved wrong.
Can you hear that sucking up sound? You would think that the ‘political correspondent’ of a magazine with pretensions to being a serious journal would know his subject. It falls to Guido, again, to help out the Statesman’s political team: Andrew Mitchell and Greg Clark are their opposite numbers…
Iain Dale is asking readers if they can work out why. Was it…?
A) He was scared of appearing with Ken Clarke
B) He couldn’t think how to defend Sister Wendy
C) He didn’t want to account for his role in the bottled election decision
D) He was scared of defending his role in the David Abrahams planning application
or E) All four
Another Brown bottler.
Guido remembers attending a Demos event last year where the new campaign commissar was giving his thoughts. With all this talk of an early election in the air the boys and girls at CCHQ and Cowley Street would do well to dig out his “Serving a Cause, Serving a Community“ Demos pamphlet from last year. In it he urged the Labour party to work in partnership rather than parallel with like minded organisations including trade unions. Gordon is spinning today that he wants to reduce the power of the unions through one man, one vote.
He wrote about the party to becoming a “community hub” creating space for shared discussion with social interest groups who will have input into local party campaigns using blogs and chat rooms to encourage debate with those preferring not to go to formal party meetings. LabourHome is their best semi-unofficial attempt at this, and it still shaded by ConservativeHome.
He also claimed he wanted to throw off the control-freak shackles and loosen the rigid party structures to allow issues to be discussed informally and he wanted to decentralise professional party staff resources from national to local level. Once again the Tories have the edge here, they are far less control-freaky and they already have their Northern call-centre operation with regional offices benefiting from Lord Ashcroft’s cash.
If the Demos pamphlet was Douglas Alexander’s job application it will take time to achieve his goals for Labour. That together with their cash crisis, makes Guido doubtful they will go for an early election.
MPs like Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Liam Byrne, Martin Salter discussing with Polly Toynbee anti-Tory political strategies is nothing new, discussing them at a non-partisan, non-political charity event would be very interesting. That is exactly what they did at a seminar held on Tuesday 22nd March 2005 on the very eve of the General Election.Also attending were – surprise, surprise – Deborah Mattinson and Scarlett McGwire from Opinion Leader Research, pollsters for the Treasury.
Polly advised the Labour team about the Tory’s tactics; “Dog whistling is exactly what it is: hitting and running day after day, leaving Labour looking lame, wrong footed, unable to keep up. All the more important is to be able to produce the kind of moral vision that is envisaged here or is beginning to be described here.”
All the more important for who? Ed Balls tells her he was “very taken by Polly’s language in terms of a need for a legend for the left.” The seminar transcript goes on and on. So the question is – does the Charity Commission still believe that the Smith Institute is non-political?
Isn’t it just Gordon Brown’s strategic campaigning arm?