Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Labour has finally seen Ukip's tanks, but doesn't know how to destroy them

After years of putting its fingers in its ears and shouting ‘la-la-la-la’, the Labour party has woken up to its Ukip problem.

It turns out, to quote Nigel Farage, it is not just retired colonels who live near Salisbury Plain that back Ukip.
The recent European election saw the party win votes in traditional Labour areas, including Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford, the academics who know more about Ukip’s support than even the party’s high command, have produced a list of the most Ukip-friendly constituencies in the country.
Of the top 20, 17 are Labour-held seats.

So Labour knows it has to fight back – but how?
Playing the man not the ball isn’t going to work. As wonderful as it was to hear Shadow Cabinet Minister Michael Dugher label Farage a “phoney bullshit artist” in an interview with me in May, that kind of attack plays into Ukip’s ‘The Westminster elite are scared of us’ strategy.

At numerous fringe meetings on how to tackle Ukip at the Labour conference last week, activists pleaded for a message from the leadership to deliver on the doorstep to dissuade voters defecting to Ukip.
The party only now seems to be coming up with one. The “More Tory than the Tories” line, complete with the photo of Farage drinking from a Thatcher mug, will play well in northern seats.

But for those in the south, especially in costal, “end of the line” constituencies, it is the immigration issue which needs to be tackled.

Labour candidate in Thurrock, Polly Billington, told a fringe meeting at the party conference as much last week. The Tories won the seat by just 92 votes in 2010, and in “normal” circumstances it should be an easy win for Labour next year.
But privately, Labour are worried the party won’t be able to overturn the 0.2 per cent majority.

That is because the seat is being worked incredibly hard by Ukip’s Tim Aker, a 29-year-old local man, who is playing up the party’s message on immigration and his personal connection to the seat.
And Labour's immigration message - like the Tories - doesn't stand up to scrutiny: "We will reduce immigration, except we can't as we don't control our borders and can't actually stop millions of Europeans coming here so oops!"

So Labour find themselves in the same position as the Tories. Trying to control something without committing to doing the one thing which would give them control - rejecting the EU's freedom of movement law.

At Ukip’s conference in Doncaster last week, Farage told delegates the party was “putting its tanks on Labour’s lawn.”
Labour have finally looked out of the window, but are struggling to find the right weapons to blow up the tanks.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

WATCH "CALAMITY LAMMY" IN ACTION: Labour's London Mayor hopeful David Lammy's nightmare Mastermind appearance

"Calamity Lammy", as he is affectionately known
IF you think Henry VIII was succeeded by his father Henry VII, Marie Antoinette was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and the Godfather was a television series, you must be Labour’s London Mayor hopeful David Lammy. 

The Tottenham MP, who today announced he wanted to be Labour’s candidate in the election to replace Boris Johnson as London Mayor, made a disastrous appearance on Celebrity Mastermind in 2008 when he was Higher Education Minister.

The cringe-worthy appearance is just one in a long line of gaffes which earned him the nickname “Calamity Lammy” among fellow members of the previous Labour Government.

Last year Mr Lammy was forced to apologise after accusing a BBC tweet about the new Pope of containing a “silly innuendo about race”.

The news organisation speculated whether the colour of smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel chimney would be white or black – a signal as to whether a new Pope had been elected.

The BBC News World twitter feed, posted: “LIVE VIDEO: Chimney of Sistine Chapel as conclave votes for #Pope - will smoke be black or white?"

Mr Lammy replied: "This tweet from the BBC is crass and unnecessary. Do we really need silly innuendo about the race of the next Pope?"

He later apologised, tweeted: "Note to self: do not tweet from the Chamber with only one eye on what you're reading. Sorry folks, my mistake."

In 2005, it was reported that Mr Lammy claimed "all woman hunt supporters look alike because they are inbred" at a Fabian Society fringe meeting at the Labour Conference.

While serving as a minister, Mr Lammy apologised to Parliament for misleading MPs when in 2006 as Libraries Ministers he downplayed the extent of declining library stocks.

He was accused of using dodgy figures in 2008, when as Higher Education Minister he told Parliament 3.1million employees were covered by a pledge to train staff in English workplaces. The correct figure was 2.3million.

And while at the Despatch Box in the Commons as junior minister at the Department of Constitutional Affairs in 2004, one of his own MPs rounded on him for his poor performance.

During a debate on the Mental Capacity Bill, Mr Lammy interrupted the Conservative Iain Duncan Smith as he warned about euthanasia.

Labour MP Gerald Kaufman got to his feet and said: "If that's the calibre of the minister's interventions he would do better to remain seated."