Local elections

Crisis of sincerity in the Miliband household?

Mr S started the morning with Susannah Reid and Charlotte Hawkins of Good Morning Britain. All was pootling along quietly until Ed Miliband turned up on screen. The Leader of the Opposition was doing his routine about the ‘cost of living crisis’ when Hawkins decided to put his professed empathy for humble people to the test. How much do you spend on groceries in a week? She asked. ‘We probably spend… you know, 70, 80 pounds a week on groceries at least, probably more than that.’    It sounds like there’s a cost of living crisis in the Miliband household. As Susannah Reid later pointed out, the average weekly bill

Douglas Murray

Is Labour a racist party?

Is Labour a racist party? The answer, I believe, is ‘no’. Apart from anything else, some of my best friends are in the party and I cannot think they hate themselves or anybody else simply because of their skin colour. Yet the question must be asked. For just this weekend I was rummaging through recent editions of the Gazette Live (the latest news, sport and business from the North East, Middlesbrough and Teesside) when I happened upon this story: ‘Five Middlesbrough councillors resign from Labour Party and will stand as independents.’ You can read about the whole sorry episode here. But the crux of the article is this: ‘Cllr Junier

German or Romanian neighbour – which would you choose?

I would rather live next door to a German than a Romanian. I thought I’d just make that clear. I don’t mean I’d rather live next door to SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich than the humorously surreal dramatist Eugène Ionesco. I mean, in general, on average, given what I know about the people from both countries who have come here to live. Not all of them, obviously. Just as a generality, if you were to offer me the choice, without telling me any more about the respective merits of the people concerned, just here’s your choice, Rod – Germans or Romanians. I may be wrong, but I suspect most people in this country, if offered the same choice,

Douglas Murray

The smears against Nigel Farage and Ukip have reached spectacular depths

Inevitably the lowest attacks have been saved until the week of the election. For months now the neat drip-feeding of anti-UKIP stories from Conservative Campaign Headquarters direct to the UK press has done everything possible to depict UKIP as a racist, xenophobic, bigoted party. This has been significantly ratcheted up ahead of Thursday’s vote. Today’s pages include the Times repeating a story from last year in the hope of successful guilt-by-association. The story is that Geert Wilders (the ‘Dutch Xenophobe’ as the Times headlines him) would like Nigel Farage to join him and Marine Le Pen in an anti-EU Brussels voting bloc. What neither the Times nor any other newspaper wishes

Ed West

What’s the difference between German and Romanian immigrants?

Nigel Farage is in the papers again today – unbelievably! – this time with a full-page advert in the Telegraph responding to his remarks about Romanians on LBC radio. Such was the universal media condemnation over his interview with James O’Brien that on Saturday even the Sun had an editorial on anti-Romanian racism. You couldn’t make it up. Farage was stereotyping, and his tone of ‘you know what the difference is’ hit the wrong note, which lost him the argument over a fairly reasonable point; that is, the typical profile of a German migrant is very different to that of a Romanian migrant. For example, recent figures released showed that


No wonder the Labour Party is broke

“We need to raise £66,000 to make…122,000 calls to Labour voters,” says a super-localised campaign email from the Labour Party. Apparently a donation of £5 will pay for ten phone calls to be made, and a £50 wedge will secure 100 of these vital calls. No wonder Labour is more than £12 million in debt: it is paying 50p per phone call! That hardly inspires confidence about the party’s economic competence.

On the road with the Tories

The Conservatives are holding another one of their road trips tomorrow, this time to Chester and Cheadle, where about 120 activists and MPs will hold a ‘day of action’ where they canvass and campaign in the constituency. The last one was in Enfield a few weeks ago, where the sitting MP Nick de Bois is fighting to hold onto his 1,692 majority. The City of Chester is held by Conservative MP Stephen Mosley with a 2,583 majority, while Cheadle is currently a Lib Dem seat, with Mark Hunter sitting on a 3,272 majority and the Tories in second place. Obviously these campaign days help those MPs or candidates fighting in

Ed Miliband needs to be smarter than this

Mr S would like to share this video with readers. It is the latest campaign ad from the Labour Party. As spoofs go, it’s leaden: puerile personal attacks mixed with divisive class war. It says nothing positive about Labour; it’s aimed squarely at people who would vote Labour in any circumstances. All in all, it’s not very clever, which is strange because Ed Miliband has spent much of the week professing that he has ‘more intellectual self-confidence’ than David Cameron. Labour staffers are certainly a little nonplussed. One party dogsbody lamented to Mr S: ‘How have we got from “I’m cleverer to that video in just 24 hours? It doesn’t

Ed West

Why I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat on May 22

One of the interesting things I learned from a recent Lord Ashcroft poll was the startling fact that three times as many people identify themselves as Labour voters, tribally, as Tories (around 30 per cent versus 10), despite the two parties having roughly similar base support in general elections. This says something about the different way the two groups think; loyalty to the Labour Party runs deep and is emotional, while for Conservative voters the party is pretty much a pragmatic organisation to keep even worse politicians from running the country. I’m not sure which group will suffer more in the long term from the current crisis of party politics;

Nigel Farage joins the political greats

Nigel Farage has been ‘egged’ while on the campaign trail. He was pelted by a protestor as he left his car. The protestor was dragged away by police. Mr S can’t help but notice that Farage has joined a list of political greats, including such lights as John Prescott and Ed Miliband, who have been ‘egged’ while out on the stump. Truly, Ukip has arrived.

Alex Massie

A Tory party that is spooked by UKIP is a Tory party that will lose the next election

UKIP are buoyant and, all of a sudden, everyone’s favourite protest-group. In a curious way, the confirmation that many of their candidates really are boggle-minded, eyes-popped extremists of one stamp or another almost helps UKIP. It confirms that they’re not like the other political parties and encourages people to adopt them as the Sod it, I’m just mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more party. (These people tend not to be attracted to libertarian parties; just as well UKIP is not a libertarian party.) But UKIP should enjoy this moment while they can. They will remain a presence on the political scene and they will

Why the local elections matter more to the Tories

Forget the European elections, which everyone (particularly those who fancy causing a bit of grief for David Cameron) expects to produce humiliating results for the Conservatives. The elections that have a longer-lasting impact that take place on the same day are the local elections. I look at the emphasis the Tories are putting on campaigning in the locals that goes over and above anything they’re doing for seats in Brussels, in my Telegraph column today. But even those areas that don’t have concurrent local and European polls on 22 May aren’t exhausting themselves on campaigning for the European elections. Last year, the Conservatives tried to manage expectations by suggesting at

There’s supposed to be a ‘cost of living crisis’, Ed. Will free gym use solve it?

There was much excitement on Tuesday night when Labour’s Pat McFadden, a former business and employment minister, appeared on Newsnight and said: ‘I want to see a Labour Party that takes wealth creation every bit as seriously as its fair distribution. I’m all for justice and fairness in the work place. But you have got to create wealth too.’ Tory spinners set to work. ‘Miliband needs to show that wealth creation matters,’ they said. ‘Even his supporters are critical.’ Tory spinners would say that, wouldn’t they? McFadden was merely one disgruntled voice (and with some form). But the chorus of concern has built over the last 24 hours; encouraged, no doubt,

The other awkward May elections and why they matter

After all the excitement of Nick vs Nigel and the endless mutterings in the Tory party about uprisings following the European elections, you might be forgiven for thinking that the European elections are the only game in town in May. But there are 4,161 local council seats up for election on the same day – and the main parties are quite keen to make big efforts to secure a good result in those polls. The Conservatives have been holding campaign days in London, where many of the seats up for election are located, and making those local council seats a focus for the parliamentary party, which descends on different areas

The Hitler guide to rigging a referendum

In 1964 Harold Wilson was so afraid that a scheduled election-night broadcast of Steptoe & Son would cost him at least a dozen marginal seats that he successfully pressured the director-general of the BBC to postpone it. There are plenty of ways to manipulate an election, short of stuffing a ballot box. Another example is here, from 1938: This ballot paper crudely follows the advice of Dr Josef Goebbels, that ‘the most effective form of persuasion is when you are not aware you are being persuaded’. Translated, it reads: ‘Do you approve of the reunification of Austria with the German Reich that was enacted on 13 March 1938 and do

Local elections: UKIP’s ‘phenomenal performance’

What few results there have been so far suggest that UKIP has scored about a quarter of the vote and gained more seats than Labour.  A ‘phenomenal performance’ says Prof John Curtice. Nigel Farage now looks like the main winner, suggesting that his party is mutating from an EU protest party into a being broader party of the working class. The local elections have nothing to do with the European Union so there’s no rational reason that one-in-four voters would chose UKIP — unless they believed the party was addressing their concerns on wider issues. The reason that David Cameron’s referendum pledge did not shoot the UKIP fox is that

Tory local election broadcast focuses on cost of living

The Tories have released a local election broadcast, to be shown on the TV tonight. Unlike previous ones, it doesn’t have any awkward confusion between debt and deficit, preferring instead to focus on people looking a bit confused as they try to remember what the government has or hasn’t done on council tax, income tax and the cost of living, accompanied by some cheesy guitar music. It’s actually quite a snappy piece of work as it sells the party’s key achievements at a national level to voters in a rather understated way, partly by admitting that not all of them have noticed what’s going on, then driving home the key

It’s time to lurch towards the public

Much of the post-Boris analysis in today’s press features on whether a rightwards shift is appropriate. The Daily Mail calls for a return to Tory values, while Matthew Parris in The Times says such calls are predictable and meaningless. But, to me, talk about moving to the right or the left is pretty pointless. As the Telegraph says in its leader today, what’s needed isn’t a lurch to the right, but a lurch towards the public. This comes back to the great, eternally-relevant distinction that Keith Joseph made between the ‘middle ground’ between political parties, and the ‘common ground’ between a party and the public.   The problem with what

James Forsyth

How the parties fared

As the dust settles on these elections, it is becoming clearer how the parties did. Labour exceeded expectations, the Tories had a bad but not disastrous set of results and the Liberal Democrats took another kicking. Indeed, they actually lost a higher proportion of the seats that they were defending this year than they did last year: 44 per cent compared to 41 per cent in 2011. Given these results is it is quite remarkable how solidly behind Nick Clegg the Lib Dem parliamentary party remains. Not a single MP has called for him to go or for the party to quit coalition. I’m sure this is partly because the