Monday, 5 January 2015

And they're off...

The holidays are over and the machinery is winding itself up for the general election in May, with the two main parties firing their first salvos.

Ed Miliband is giving a speech today in which he will say that Labour's priorities will be putting working people first, dealing with the deficit and protecting the NHS.  All quite typical left-wing policies, although as ever the devil will be in the detail.  He will also say that Labour offers 'hope, not falsehood', which has some interesting echoes of the 'hope over fear' slogan from the referendum.

Meantime the Tories will be rubbishing Labour's spending plans using an analysis by the Treasury on the cost of Labour’s 2015-16 spending plans in areas including education, media, tax and home affairs.  Labour are, of course, furiously challenging these assertions.  We've only got to day 1 and the rage is already turned up to at least 7.  It's going to be a long campaign.

Apparently UKIP are to favour us with their detailed policies in the next few days on subjects other than the EU and immigration.  Certainly they need to do something if they are to be seen as any sort of credible political party, as at present they really are seen as a lunatic fringe with bees in their collective bonnet.  I don't have high hopes that they will produce anything worth considering, but I'm looking forward to seeing how their logic works.

Meanwhile in Scotland, Jim Murphy is planning to target 200,000 former Labour voters who were Yes supporters in the referendum.  Not quite sure how he has come by their details, but the idea is to send them targeted letters, do doorstep canvassing at their homes and make phone calls to them.  Because that's not going to get old over the next 5 months.  I'd suspect that it might just as easily drive ex-supporters even further away rather than win them back simply from the sheer nuisance factor.  Mr Murphy is also hammering away at the idea that a vote for SNP is a vote to allow David Cameron back in, so a vote for Labour is the only way to get rid of the Tories, especially since Mr Cameron twice refused to rule out a coalition with UKIP not once but twice on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning. 

It appears, though, that Mr Murphy is not working very closely with his deputy, Kezia Dugdale.  There is a story in the National this morning about how Ms Dugdale has no problem contemplating working with the SNP, as she stated on the Crossfire programme on BBC Radio Scotland on Sunday morning.  So on the one hand we have Mr Murphy pulling out all the stops to win back former Labour voters to stop them voting SNP, while Ms Dugdale is apparently quite  sanguine about working with the SNP, which would suggest she isn't overly worried about the SNP picking up ex-Labour voters and Labour seats.  Not really off to a flying start there, but give them time to get their act together - they are, after all, a very new double-act.

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