Tag: election campaign

Ed Miliband announces that Labour will put democratic leaders’ debates on a statutory footing. And Cameron is a coward.

chickenEd Miliband is quite right to call Cameron a chicken. Tory MP Rees-Mogg appeared on Channel 4 News and laid bare the reason for Cameron’s “predicament” regarding the pre-election debates – it’s all because of a “left-wing conspiracy.” Really.

Gosh, does that mean the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, once chairman of the Young Conservatives, has undergone a radical Trotskyist transformation whilst we slept?

Since when was debate, open discussion of pressing issues that affect the electorate, democratic discussion of policies, political transparency and  accountability deemed a “left-wing conspiracy”? Given the priceless claim of “BBC bias”, despite Iain Duncan Smith’s ongoing intensive monitoring campaign to keep the beeb “right”, I had to chuckle very heartily at that. It gave me quite a sarcastic turn.

I’m sure that emminent communist Lord Patten of Barnes must be delighted that standards haven’t slipped since he resigned last May as the Chairman of the BBC Trust, which is the appointed governing body.

Mind you, the government appointment of Pattern’s successor, following backroom negotiations, certainly raised a few eyebrows. Renowned socialist, Rona Fairhead (appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2012) is one of the government’s business ambassadors and a director at the Cabinet Office, advising Francis Maude. There may be a glimpse of a political hinterland, however, from the fact that her husband, Tom, a director of the private equity firm Campbell Lutyens, was a Tory councillor.

Andrew Neil, the presenter of the BBC’s flagship political programmes Daily Politics and This Week, is chairman of the Spectator magazine. His editor is Robbie Gibb, former chief of staff to Francis Maude. And after the BBC’s economics editor Stephanie Flanders left for a £400,000-a-year job at that communist hotbed, JP Morgan, she was replaced by its business editor Robert Peston.

Peston himself has said: “Any suggestion the BBC has a left-wing bias is bollocks and the broadcaster actually veers towards a right-wing, pro-establishment view for fear of criticism.”

Research does indeed indicate that the BBC’s output is heavily biased towards the establishment and right-wing sources. Cardiff University undertook an extensive study, revealing that whilst there is always a slight bias towards political incumbents, the ratio in favour of Conservative politicians appearing on BBC news is significantly far greater than it was in favour of Labour figures when Gordon Brown was prime minister. Business representatives appear much more than they do on commercial news, and appear 19 times more frequently than trade union spokespersons on the BBC Six O’Clock News.

The evidence from the research is very clear. The BBC tends to reproduce a pro-Establishment, Conservative, Eurosceptic, pro-business version of the world. Furthermore, the Queen appoints the regulatory body – the BBC trust –  advised by government ministers, and the BBC trust then appoints the Director General. This has led to a public service run by people with strongly right-wing political and business affiliation.

Tory insiders say that Cameron is “determined” to avoid participating in the televised debates on equal terms with Miliband before the election, as he believes the Labour leader is the only one who would benefit. Chief election strategist Lynton Crosby and the former party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft both insist Cameron should not risk taking part in a head to head, even if he endures “short-term criticism” for not doing so.

Ed Milband has announced that a Labour government would take legal steps to make sure leaders’ debates become a permanent feature in general election campaigns following David Cameron’s flat, arrogant refusal to take part in the three showdowns proposed by broadcasters.

A Labour government will move to put “fair and impartial leaders’ debates” on a statutory footing in an effort to avoid them becoming subject to the kind of “political wrangling” that has characterised the programmes scheduled for next month in the run-up to polling day.

The new system would work on similar lines to the current rules for planning the number, length and timing of party political broadcasts, under which parties are consulted but not given the power to veto them.

This may be done by establishing the body which negotiates the terms of debates as a trust in statute with responsibility for determining the dates, format, volume and attendees.

A Labour government would set a deadline of 2017 for changes to be put in place, giving more than enough time to plan the debates for a 2020 election.

Meanwhile, the four broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 – have said they will stick to their previously-announced plans for three debates during the election campaign, and urged the Prime Minister to “reconsider” his refusal to take part in these shows, including a head-to-head showdown with Mr Miliband.

Miliband told the Observer: “In recent days the British public has been treated to the unedifying and tawdry spectacle of a prime minister seeking to duck out of the TV debates he once claimed to support with great enthusiasm. Yesterday the broadcasters made it clear they would not be cowed by his tactics but it is wrong for them and the British public to have governing parties use this kind of pressure in campaign periods. It is time to ensure, once and for all, that these debates belong to the people not the prime minister of the day.”

But Cameron hasn’t exactly led a democratically inclined, transparent and accountable government for the past five years. He knows that in agreeing to just one debate with seven parties, questions will get such a short time for responses that he can evade any meaningful, in-depth scrutiny regarding his appalling policy record, entailing the myriad U-turns, inflicted cruelties and crass, prolific dishonesties of his leadership. And the one debate that Cameron has agreed will take place before his party manifesto is published, which again dodges accountability to the electorate: a profoundly (and consistently) undemocratic approach.

As Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King’s College, London says: “Debates should not be subject to the tactical calculations of party leaders. There is certainly the case for a statute requiring debates between leaders of all parties with over 5% of the vote; and a separate debate between the PM and leader of the opposition. That statute is best administered by the Electoral Commission rather than the broadcasters who can too easily be accused of bias.”

Cameron clearly dare not debate head-to-head with Ed Miliband – which is remarkable, given that the Tories’ entire campaign is predicated on portraying the Labour leader as “weak and incompetent.” So why is Cameron too afraid to confront him in public?

Last year I wrote that people often mistake Miliband’s decency and refusal to engage in negative smear campaigning as “weak”: it isn’t. This year, Ed Miliband has acknowledged that perception – fueled by a desperate Tory party and right-wing media barons that have endeavoured to portray Miliband as “unelectable” – asked us not to make that mistake, in an interview with Simon Hattenstone  – Ed Miliband: don’t mistake my decency for weaknessIt’s worth reading the entire interview, what shines through is Miliband’s genuine warmth, honesty, decency, strength and conviction in his principles.

Miliband is no “career politician” and Cameron knows that formal debate with him would serve to juxtapose unfavourably – exposing the vast differences between his own unprincipled archetypal anti-heroic Flashman character – a manipulative scoundrel and liar, a cunning cheat, a corrupt and coarse coward  – and a steadfast, decent, true partisan, conviction politician with principles and integrity. Miliband is precisely the prime minister that this country so desperately needs. Cameron knows it. He doesn’t want the public to know it.

Cam weaknessThe right-wing media campaign, aimed at attempting to undermine Miliband’s credibility as a leader, arose precisely because Miliband is the biggest threat to the UK power base and status quo that we’ve seen for many decades. He’s challenging the neo-liberal consensus of the past 30 years – now that is a plain indication of strong leader, and someone with personal strength and courage. Qualities that Cameron so conspicuously lacks.

I wonder if the Tories consider their imminent loss on 7 May due to their own callous policies, prolific lying and unmitigated economic disaster these past five years a left-wing conspiracy, too?

Laugh out loud.


Further reading:

Cameron’s chief spinner on leaders’ debates: No no no! The PM should hide and throw things at Miliband

The establishment are ‘frit’ because Ed Miliband is the biggest threat to the status quo we’ve seen for decades

The moment Ed Miliband said he’ll bring socialism back to Downing Street

Miliband is an excellent leader, and here’s why

The Tories attack Miliband because they’ve got no decent policies

The BBC expose a chasm between what the Coalition plan to do and what they want to disclose

Once you hear the jackboots, it’s too late

tory liesThanks to Robert Livingstone for the excellent memes.

The Tory election strategy is more of the same: Tories being conservative with the truth

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The following email is fromBack to messagesthe Conservative Campaign HQ, it’s packed with the most jaw-droppingly blatant lies and it marks the launch of their election campaign:

Your friends need to see this:

Conservative Campaign HQ (bulletin@mail.conservatives.com)


To: Susan Jones

Our plan is working – and we need to stay on the road to a stronger economy. Please share our poster today and let everyone know:

 Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy

When the Conservatives came into office in 2010, Britain was on the brink of bankruptcy. People were losing their jobs and families were worried about the future.

So we took difficult decisions to get our economy back on track.

Five years later, thanks to the measures we’ve taken and the hard work of the British people, the deficit has been halved, new businesses are opening up across the country, and there are a record number of people in work, with the security of a pay packet.

We need to stay on the road to a stronger economy – and your friends need to know about the important choice facing Britain in this election year.

Britain has come a long way in five years. We can’t go back to Labour’s way of more borrowing, more debt and higher taxes. Instead, let’s stay on the road that has brought us this far – the road that is securing a better future for everyone in our country.

Please share our poster today and let your friends know the important choice facing Britain this year.

Thank you,

Conservative Campaign HQ

Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

Here is my response

Lie number 1. “When we came into office in 2010, Britain was on the brink of bankruptcy.”

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) head rebuked Osborne for lying: Robert Chote said that the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy. Yet despite this public rebuke for lying, the Tories continue to peddle the same lie. Having established the OBR to act as a check on the government, the Chancellor and the Conservative Party might want to listen to its head and finally concede that there was no basis for his claim in 2010.

For the full list of official rebukes for Tory lies, please see here

Lie number 2. “People were losing their jobs and families were worried about the future.”


1381256_10151703147396305_1638953570_n (1)Note that after an increase in people losing their jobs under the Tory-led Coalition since 2010, the apparent decrease in job losses in the first graph coincides with the introduction of the new benefit sanction regime in 2012.

We know that the Conservatives measure unemployment by using a conveniently heavily biased system called “off-flow” that includes all of the numbers of people thrown off Jobseekers’ Allowance through sanctions. Indeed, it emerged during an ongoing inquiry instigated by the parliamentary Work and Pensions Select Committee, through research conducted by Professor David Stuckler, that more than 500,000 Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants have disappeared from unemployment statistics, without finding work, since the sanctions regime was substantially extended in October, 2012.

And let’s not forget that sanctions are a draconian and target-driven removal of lifeline benefits – the amount of money that the state previously deemed necessary for meeting basic needs, and as such, cannot possibly be justified when all they may ever achieve is forcing people to focus on basic survival rather than on gaining employment. The Work and Pensions Select Committee have accused the Conservatives of using benefit sanctions to massage unemployment figures.

Other problems with off-flow and the far-fetched claims of the Conservative Party are highlighted in: A letter of complaint to Andrew Dilnot regarding Coalition lies about employment statistics.

The Treasury saw a drop in revenue of 25 billion pounds from income tax, which doesn’t tally with the account of rising employment and this certainly refutes the claim that was made about wages rising last year by this Government, too.

As for “families were worried for the future”, the impact of this government’s austerity measures has had a significantly negative impact on women and children, and particularly lone parents. The setting up of the Welfare State enshrined a commitment to state support for those unable to support themselves.

This government is dismantling that commitment. In the process they are destroying many of our basic rights: to universal free healthcare; protection from domestic violence and abuse; decent, affordable housing; pension and employment rights; education and training; and access to the legal system. Some facts:

  •  More than 70% of the revenue raised from direct tax and benefit
    changes will come from female taxpayers. (Parliamentary research 2011).
  •  92% of single parents are women. Although they are amongst
    the poorest in our society, they face not only the brunt of the cuts
    with the slashing of their benefits, but government and media
    demonisation as “benefit scroungers”.
  •  Women’s unemployment is rising sharply, largely owing to
    public sector cutbacks. Black and minority ethnic women are
    particularly hard hit.
  •  Poverty levels not seen since the 1930’s Depression, are
    returning, as is childhood malnutrition.
  • 1 out of 6 charities fear they will have to close in 2013 due to lack of funds.(From the Charities Aid Foundation report 2012).See also: Austerity measures disproportionately affecting women should be consigned to the bonfires of history from November 2014

Lie number 3. “So we took difficult decisions to get our economy back on track.”

Thanks to the Labour government’s excellent management of the consequences of the global crash caused by the banks and financial insitutions,  we were out of recession by 2010. So the Tory austerity measures, which targeted the poorest people, were completely unjustifiable. Osborne used the “bankrupcy lie” to legitimise an entirely ideological Tory-led programme of “shrinking the state“, cutting social support for those who need it and slashing public services. However, whilst the poorest paid dearly, this government handed out £107, 000 each per year to millionaires in the form of a “tax break”.

“This government will not cut [the] deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help, that divides the country, or that undermines the spirit and ethos of our public services.”  Keynote speech by David Cameron, at the launch of The Conservative party’s manifesto in Milton Keynes, June 7th 2010.

That was another lie.

The economy is NOT “back on track” at all, despite the savage and punitive cuts imposed on the most vulnerable citizens.

 Lie number 4. “The deficit has been halved.”

Cameron has been rebuked twice for lying about “paying down the debt” already. The national debt is still rising. It currently stands at more than twice its level than when the Coalition took office.  Osborne is responsible for more debt than every Labour chancellor in history combined. Even the staunchly Tory Spectator commented that it’s: “… a depressing point: the Tory leadership is prepared to use dishonesty as a weapon in this election campaign.”

Fraser Nelson also refutes that the deficit has been halved – see: Which Tory MPs will repeat the porkie about ‘halving’ the deficit?

For a government whose raison d’etre is deficit reduction, the Coalition really isn’t very good at all.

Lie number 5. “New businesses are opening up across the country.”


 Thanks to Mike Sivier for the infographic

Lie number 6. “Our plan is working” / “..the road that is securing a better future for everyone in our country.”

Current human rights abuses of women, children and disabled people cannot possibly be regarded as “securing a better future for everyone.” The Tories have also pledged to repeal our human rights act and to withdraw from the European Commission on Human Rights. A government that cannot respect human rights and recognise the equal worth of citizens is certainly not interested in securing a better future for everyone at all. Nor can the slashing of public services, the National Health Service, welfare and other social protections be in anyway about securing a better future for all of us, or even “most” of us.

How is increasing hunger and malnutrition in our “best interests” as a so-called civilised society. This is the 5th wealthiest nation in the world. Shame on this government.

Lie number 7. The first Tory election campaign picture is not a photograph of a British road, as Osborne claimed:  The Road to Weimar image shows Tories can’t be trusted to tell the truth. – Mike Sivier.

Let’s not forget the Tory  2010 pre-election promises, broken and deleted from record on the internet. And valid criticism of their spinner of Tory yarns and opposition smears, also deleted. This is not a democratic government that values political accountability, nor is it one that is prepared to bear any scrutiny at all.

And the word “Tories” is clearly an abbreviation of “tall stories”