Friday 9 April 2010

Lobbydog on the campaign trail

It has been an unbearably busy Friday – one which will be my last in Westminster for three weeks.

From Monday morning Lobbydog will be sniffing along the campaign trail through some of the most exciting areas of the country.

The politics better be exciting actually, because living one’s life out of Travel Inns is not.

First up is Stoke – where I’ll spend a day in a constituency in which the candidates include a belly dancer, a TV historian and the BNP’s deputy leader.

Then I’ll be moving across marginal and target seats in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Notts – looking forward to watching Gloria De Piero at a hustings in Ashfield.

And, of course, I’ll be blogging and tweeting all the way. Do keep up.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Press conference shenanigans...

Labour launched another aggressive attack on the Tories’ tax plans at a press conference this morning.

The thing is, I couldn’t quite tell how things were different from the last ‘aggressive attack press conference’ they had a week or so ago.

Actually, I take that back. There were two differences – this time Gordon was there instead of Liam Byrne and Darling’s hair was purple. Really, it was purple.

I believe it was because there was lots of purple lighting, and Darling’s hair simply reflected it – sort of in the same way that a piece of tofu takes on the taste of whatever you mix it with.

Anyhow, the gist of what they were saying was that the Tories’ sums didn’t add up concerning the proposed NI cut – yet we weren’t left any clearer on where Labour’s cuts are going to come either.

The party to come up with the most convincing sounding answer to questions on their figures will take the election I suppose.

Cameron meanwhile changed the tone and announced his National Citizens Service. It all goes with his move away from the Broken Britain agenda and back towards ‘blue sky thinking’.

He even gave the green light for kids to get more trollied than they already are on their 18th birthdays – very progressive of him.

“In our society the closest thing to a rite of passage is getting drunk on your eighteenth birthday.

“Of course we have all done that – but I think we can do a lot more.”

Vodka jelly is the way, I say.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Politics - it takes all sorts

Don't Panic's latest offering...I particularly enjoyed the 'Wise Old Man' and his salt mine comments...

Legislative casualties

Lobbydog hears that the Children, Schools and Families Bill is to be dropped from the Government’s agenda.

It is one of the bits of legislation that will fall casualty as the parties negotiate what will be allowed through the Commons before Parliament is dissolved.

Ed Balls had said the Bill would deliver more powers for parents, more help for kids falling behind to catch up and more powers for Government to intervene in “failing” schools.

Meanwhile some of the unpopular tax hikes announced in the budget have also been dropped off the agenda.

The Tories were claiming credit today for getting the ‘phone tax’, the ‘cider tax’, and the ‘holiday lettings tax’ scrapped.

The 10% hike in tax on cider seemed to catch the public imagination in particular – before we knew it The Wurzels were all over the papers and opposition politicians were supping from pints of Merrydown.

The phone tax would have seen people paying 50p per month plus VAT for fixed lines from October 1 2010.

Meanwhile, the Government has apparently dropped plans to abolish tax relief for furnished holiday lettings – a plan that didn’t go down well in areas where tourism is a key industry.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Lobbydog at the speeches on day one...

The Lib Dem leader’s opening address of his General Election campaign was decidedly lower key than that of his rivals’.

It was in a dusky room at Lib Dem HQ with an awkwardly set up camera shot that made it look as though Clegg’s body was pointing in one direction while his face went in another.

Party officials had at least taken the effort to push as many young women into the shot as possible.

Voters would face a choice between the old politics (everything but the Lib Dems) and the new (the Lib Dems), he said.

Meanwhile over at the South Bank two dozen hacks and TV reporters were stood pointing their cameras at a black box, which Cameron was expected to spring out of at any moment.

But that was not before a throng of 150 thrusting Tory types were ushered in to encircle it. There was young, old, black, white, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jedi etc.

Then Dave bounced down some steps and on to the box to reveal the central plank of the Tory campaign – not wanting Gordon Brown for another five years.

It’s undoubtedly their most powerful tactic, but not one that will achieve the party’s ultimate goal of informing voters what the Conservatives stand for.

Dave did say he was fighting the election for what he called the “great ignored” people of Britain – one observer responded “why can’t the Lib Dems fight it for themselves?”

Meanwhile over at Downing Street the PM was struggling with a PA system that meant the first part of his speech sounded like it was delivered down a drain-pipe.

He chose to be surrounded by the cabinet – a serious party of Government was the message perhaps – who flanked him as if they were having a school photo taken, pushing up a smile.

Gordon told reporters he had not forgotten where he had come from, but spent less time saying where he was going.

No gaffes yet, but give it time. We have four weeks of electioneering to go.