Elections becoming a big business for Facebook

Social media is increasingly becoming more important in the fighting of elections. Political parties can post videos or short picture messages with slogans and then, for a price, insert that on the newsfeed of groups according to location, age, gender, etc. If candidates hit the right nerve with the public they can crowd source enough money to run their campaign within a day. It’s less intrusive than phone canvassing (which never really took off here) and besides more and more … Read more

David Cameron’s very tidy innings as leader of the Conservative party…

I remember having a bit of a row with colleagues about whether David Cameron was going to be able to steer the Conservative party to success. By the time he took over in the wake of the party’s record third defeat at the hands of a Blair led Labour party, the Tories looked lost. The abiding weakness of his leadership of the Opposition and later his Premiership was the promise he’d had to make to his Eurosceptics to get the … Read more

A modern fable: Goldilocks and the three Labour leaders

Nobody expected Jeremy Corbyn to win the leadership contest in 2015, I’m not sure even he expected it. Actually, nobody expected Jeremy Corbyn to even be part of the leadership contest in 2015 – he was put on the ballot, as history now tells us, to widen the discussion, to broaden the range of candidates on offer. Well that worked out well. It may however have served a purpose in the long run. “Once upon a time, there was a Parliamentary … Read more

Cameron gambled with national security?

The BBC are announcing that today David Cameron is going to claim that the UK leaving the EU would increase risks to peace. The BBC suggested Elgar or Vaughan Williams should be playing. I suspect Holst’s Mars would be the most appropriate. Turning from the classic music back to the politics. One of the primary responsibilities: probably the prime responsibility of a Prime Minister or the like is maintaining the safety of the population that elected him and as such … Read more

The Remain camp needs some new faces, and quickly

Craig Harrison writes for us about the upcoming EU referendum on 23rd June If the latest polls on the EU referendum are anything to go by, then what seemed like a sure thing just a few months ago is now much less certain. Figures from an online survey by Opinium, published by The Guardian at the beginning of April, put the Leave side on 43% – four points ahead of Remain. While we are, rightly, much more sceptical about polls … Read more

As the road to referendum shortens, battle lines are drawn over the EU

Craig Harrison writes for us about the EU referendum and David Cameron’s appearance at the CBI The annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry, held recently in London, provided an illustrative snapshot of the wider political debate on the UK’s membership of the EU. David Cameron reiterated his desire to move away from the ‘ever closure union’ concept, downplaying any notion that the UK couldn’t survive outside of the institution. In what is expected to be a key message … Read more

Cartoon – “The unelected and unelectable…”

The soundbite of the week past probably came from Westminster and from David Cameron at PMQs. Probed repeatedly by the leader of the Opposition on the cost of cuts to tax credits to the ordinary family, the Prime Minister simply said the reform was blocked by an alliance of “the unelected and the unelectable.” Stormont had an eventful week itself, and I suppose you could argue those adjectives apply to the First Minister and new Junior Minister. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist … Read more

Martin McGuinness: “…it is not conducive to getting a good outcome.”

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness doesn’t appear to have had much to say today about the behind-closed-doors talks at Stormont – apart from telling the BBC’s Chris Page The timeframe for a deal in Stormont’s inter-party talks is “days, not weeks”, the deputy first minister has said. Martin McGuinness said he believed a deal was “achievable” and that the talks process was “intensifying”. Still, it’s good to see Sinn Féin on the same page as the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at … Read more

Cartoon – Don’t mention the…

Whitehall has a clear policy on China. It knows there are human rights abuses, you just don’t talk about them. With the sophistication of technology and leven of government surveillance it’s hard to say that the report into paramilitary groups revealed anything new, it just said what people knew.   Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Cartoon – The In-Out debate

  The ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaign groups launched their programmes on October 12 2015 ahead of the referendum on EU membership. Meanwhile the DUP is still undecided on whether to be In or Out of Stormont. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

“it all may prove as tough as anything Cameron has faced before”

Good piece from Danny Finklestein in the Times of London today, which gives you as good a view of what Cameron and Osborne have planned for the next two years: In 2015 the Tories got their timing right. In 2012 George Osborne may have been booed at the Paralympics and criticised for his taxation of Cornish pasties. But in 2015 he was re-elected. Informed by this experience, the Conservatives are deliberately making difficult decisions now. Yet the combination of this … Read more

Nationalist Parties need to shift away from the “blame the Tories” narrative and embrace the Welfare Reform debate

Nationalism needs a new economic narrative and if you didn’t believe that before, the complete debacle over Welfare Reform is proof positive of the inability to construct a proper narrative on our current economic situation or a long term strategy for fiscal rectitude and a prosperous economy. We are faced at the moment with a budgetary crisis that puts our very institutions in jeopardy. After all the stop/starts, false dawns and talks about talks, we seemingly had broken the pattern … Read more

The first all Conservative cabinet for 18 years meets

Last Thursday, David Cameron became the first Tory Prime Minister to win a majority since 1992. His narrow margin of just 12 seats in the House of Commons probably means that at some point he will need the Liberal Democrats, DUP or the UUP to get some legislation passed. Today he held the first meeting of his new Conservative cabinet. Courtesy of the BBC, here are the changes from the last cabinet;   Amber Rudd is Energy and Climate Change … Read more

The election exposed the faint breath of a desire for change within the sectarian camps.

All true democrats should thrilled to have it confirmed that politics is not dominated by the polls. Real people apparently can think for themselves. Locally LucidTalk’s amazingly hairy exercises with opinion panels fared better  in the prediction stakes than the  UK national pollsters, even though playing percentages  is a whole lot easier than making firm predictions. Small shifts in turnout and opinion made all the difference. Looking at it from across the water, your campaign was generally beyond embarrassment. The … Read more

Jim Wells: Has he damaged the DUP? UPDATED

Any hopes that the DUP had that last night’s ill-judged comments by Health Minister Jim Wells would be quickly forgotten appear to be fast receding. If anything the ‘apology’ by Mr. Wells betrays ignorance on the part of the Health Minister more than anything else. Sadly the PSNI have now confirmed that they are now investigating comments made by Mr. Wells’  –  perhaps the new laws suggested by the Ulster Fry would be more appropriate. UPDATE: Tonight (Sunday April 26th, 2015) … Read more

Mr Cameron, The Tories & ‘compassionate’ conservatism: compelled to justify neoliberal politics at #ge2015?

As the 2015 British general election campaign gathers momentum, the prospect of a hung parliament looms large. Concerning Scotland, the 2014 Scottish Referendum may have produced a result that was to the satisfaction of supporters of the ‘no’ campaign, but the Scottish National Party’s subsequent rise as an extremely decisive contender in national-level politics could be described as the seminal consequence of #Indyref. Irrespective of the ultimate election result, the SNP, led by the articulate Nicola Sturgeon, is definitely set … Read more

#LeadersDebate: Blame it on the boogie

UPDATED A depressingly accurate piece on politics in Northern Ireland from Chris Buckler has been played repeatedly on the BBC news channel during the course of today. It comes on a day when seven party leaders in Great Britain fought it out in a televised debate /gameshow tonight . Despite protestations the DUP were NOT included in the debate. Peter Robinson tweeted his outrage last month: Perhaps after viewing the BBC piece we should be grateful for small mercies. The otherwise depressing report … Read more

YouGov’s Peter Kellner: The DUP unlikely to hold the balance of power but could be influential

The President of one of the UK’s most reputable polling companies YouGov, Peter Kellner, was in Belfast at an event hosted by Chambre Public Affairs and Lucid Talk. I began by asking him what we should be looking out for at this point in the parliamentary year? Kellner highlighted a few things to watch out for. Can either Labour or the Conservatives break the dead lock that they are currently facing in the polls? Over the last few months both … Read more

A loss of Respect for Amjad Bashir?

UPDATED The defection of MEP Amjad Bashir from UKIP to the Conservative Party took an amazing new twist this afternoon when George Galloway’s Respect Party claimed on their website that Bashir was selected as the Respect candidate in Bradford Moor for the May 2012 council elections but was deselected “after local residents raised serious concerns about his fitness to stand.” He subsequently left Respect, joined UKIP and was placed second on the UKIP list of candidates for the Yorkshire and … Read more