Get in touch

March 31, 2010

Just a quick note to say that I’ve had some problems with my email – but they are sorted now. So if you’ve emailed me recently then apologies for not responding / reacting as appropriate. I will get on it shortly.

If you do want to get in touch you can email me or follow me on Twitter @independent_mps

Speak soon 😉

And the winner of the Chancellors debate is …

March 30, 2010

… George Osborne.

I know that that view will jar with most people on Twitter and those that voted in the polls last night – the Channel Four poll that closed at 9pm exactly, just as the debate finished, had Cable on 36% and Darling and Osborne on 32% each. While the Guardian poll (that closes at midday on Tuesday), currently has Cable leading with 47.8%, Darling second on 27.2% and Osborne third on 25%.

Now, I’m not going to give you a detailed breakdown on the debate itself – you can read a great BBC summary here, or visit the Channel Four microsite, or even read Rory Cellan-Jones’s summary of how it played on social media – but I will give you a quick summary of my perceptions of it.

Firstly, I enjoyed it. I liked the seriousness of the debate and thought that the format worked well. And arguably it was Channel Four and the presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy who won overall.

I’m not sure it told us a lot though.

Vince Cable came across as honest, dependable and very much a safe pair of hands through the current crisis. Part of the reason he can do so is that he is arguably the least likely to get the job after the election (despite the valiant efforts of the invincecable team); but also partly because he genuinely seems to get it.

Alistair Darling came across as relatively confident if a little dull. He didn’t say much in terms of actually policies, but then he was never really likely to – if he didn’t say much during his election speech then he wasn’t going to say much here. I think that his reputation is likely to come away relatively unscathed from all of this – not just the debate, but the whole recession and likely election defeat for Labour (he can blame Gordon Brown for both). He seemed to have the air of someone who is confident he will fight another day.

George Osborne was expected by most observers to fare the worst – he was considered by most to be the most economic lightweight of the three. And on that score – he won. He came across a bit smary at times – especially when it looked like he was trying to chat up a student that asked a question; and he seemed to dumb it down at times. But he also spoke to the audience. A couple of times when Darling was trying to beat him up on a point Osborne explained to the audience what the row was about – of course with a bit of extra spin.

Tweetminster recorded that sentiment for George Osborne dropped the least after the debate – a victory of sorts. (All three lost points – Osborne lost 1 point, Darling and Cable 3 points each).

I think a debate like this doesn’t make people actively decide to vote one way or another, but it helps them to justify that decision. In that sense, all three did well, but Osborne came out on top as he was the weakest link for his party before the debate.

Having said all that, this great post from The Media Blog sums it up nicely, especially the tweet from @DominicFarrell – “Those who will decide the #election were watching Coronation Street”

This debate was only a very small skirmish in the bigger war.

Ask the Chancellors – tonight

March 29, 2010

Tonight is Channel Four’s live debate with the leading contenders to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer after the election.

In the red corner we have Alistair Darling; in the blue corner we have George Osborne; and in the yellow corner is Vince Cable.

Should be interesting TV and possibly more exciting than the leaders’s debates, not least because the economy is arguably going to be the single most important issue of the election.

It will also be interesting to watch the debate through the back channels (ie Twitter, Facebook, the Channel Four blog etc) as people comment on their reactions to the live debate using social media. Not least of course, the team from InVinceCable will be doing their bit I’m sure.

Should be fun.

“Altogether rather grubby”

March 23, 2010

That was the quote from Peter Mandelson regarding the ‘cash for influence’ scandal that has hit Parliament. I think that it is a rather neat phrase – and not just for this incident, but for nearly all current MPs by the sounds of it.

First of all we had the expenses scandal; now this ‘cash for influence‘ scandal; and on top of all that, the BBC is reporting this morning that the rules regarding foreign trips have been breached on numerous occasions by multiple MPs.

It seems to be yet another case when you just want to bang your head against a brick wall and just scream – “do these people just not get it??!!

With all of these cases I’m sure that the media has taken a few things out of context and has happily created extra indignation (it’s what the tabloid media does best). However, the fact is that our MPs should just be beyond reproach, they just have the appearance of being beyond reproach.

The expenses scandal was, to my mind at least, a simple case of the rules of the club being broken and outdated and the fact that it was a ‘club’. Members had been brought up to believe that this was the way the club behaved and anyway, the members policed themselves. It was the expenses scandal that made me want to start this blog and support the concept of independent MPs as I thought that it highlighted that the system of selecting MPs – career politicians and party patronage – was broken. I purposely avoided pointing fingers at individuals as, apart from a few exceptional incidents, I felt that it was the system that the individuals worked within that was mainly at fault.

However, the latest incidents show that it is more than the rules of the club that are broken. Many of the individuals that choose to enter Parliament seem to be broken to start with – at least in moral terms.

I think a post from Ewan MacLeod sums it up well – Ewan isn’t known for commenting on politics (he writes the excellent Mobile Industry Review). But when he is moved to comment as an average voter – calling it “Simply ridiculous. Absolutely 100% ridiculous” then that shows the depths to which the current batch of MPs has sunk in the minds of the electorate.

Gordon, let’s call the election quickly and flush out this lot shall we?

Will mums decide the election?

March 17, 2010

It would seem that the leaders of the major parties have decided that the core demographic for the next election will be mums. Or at least that’s what it looks like given that they are all so keen to be cosying up to mumsnet.

But is it as easy as all that?

Not according to a great post by Becky McMichael. It starts simply – “Dear politicians…..we, the “ordinary” mums are not a frontier to be conquered.”

Read it all here.

invincecable 2

March 12, 2010

I mentioned the movement invincecable earlier, well I was invited to join in a conversation with the organisers this afternoon.

My view is that this is a great movement for independent candidates to get behind. There are two main reasons for that.

The first is that one of the biggest issues people have raised with me when I have discussed independent MPs with them is, if lots of independents get elected who will actually run the country?

My first response to that is that I believe that in a constitutional democracy we should create the best system we can for those constituencies. We should vote in the very best MPs we can … and then create the government. We shouldn’t accept that local constituents will be badly served just because we think certain people need to form the government.

That said, we will need to form a government after the election and we should make sure that the best people for the job fill the senior posts. Independent candidates should vow to support the best people to fill the senior roles in the government in the case of a hung parliament. And who better than Vince Cable to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The second reason that independent candidates should get behind this movement is that this is likely to be a very interesting public movement. The people involved are very skilled PR and social media practitioners. They are going to do whatever they can to rouse support for their movement – independent candidates could tap into that support and use it to help in their election campaign.

What we’ve learned so far from the Iraq Inquiry

March 11, 2010

If you’re interested in what’s going on in the Chilcot Inquiry then there is a really interesting summary on the Channel 4 blog. Read it here.

I listened to Gordon Brown’s evidence the other day and thought the questions raised to him were so weak as to be almost pointless.

What I did think was interesting however, was Brown’s desire to show himself as an important politician in the Blair Government  – yet at the same time not so important as he actually had anything to do with the decision to go to war. I’m surprised he was willing to subjugate himself as much as he did.

But my main thought was – pah! I could have asked more incisive questions. It felt like a bit of a whitewash and a chance for Gordon to wash his hands of the affair before the election.

Are older MPs the answer?

March 9, 2010

I suppose in many ways it depends what the question is.

On Monday’s Jeremy Vine – the Radio 2 presenter asked whether MPs aged over 55 would be a good thing.

You can listen to the show (until March 15th) here – Jeremy_Vine_08_03_2010

My view is that, like with so many things, age itself doesn’t matter. However, age would appear to bring certain benefits that the electorate seems to be looking for – mainly more experience and less self-centredness.

We want politicians that will put us, their constituents, first. We should go before their party politics and definitely before themselves. We also want politicians that have had some life experience. Maybe they know what it is like to bring up a family when times are tough, or possibly they know what it is like to run a big organisation with many employees and market pressures. Both are important when it comes to helping to run the country. And both are more ‘real’ to us as voters than being the junior researcher for another MP before being selected to stand yourself for a constituency you’d never heard of before.

The fact is that most, but not all, of the independent candidates I’ve met and spoken to are … let’s be fair and say ‘experienced in life’. But age is not important – what’s important is whether they’ll do a good job and an honest heart, an understanding of what the voters actually want and some experience that will be useful in Westminster are all more important than how old they are.


March 8, 2010

For those of you up to date on Twitter, check out the hashtag #invincecable. If you’re not on Twitter then click here.

A group has been set up with the motto: “In times like these, it’s the economy stupid. In times like these, vote for Vince Cable for Chancellor.”

The argument is that if we have a hung-parliament after the next election then the Lib Dems would be proportionately more powerful (as potential power brokers) and therefore we should lobby for Vince Cable to be the Chancellor.

I like the idea.

Would any new independents that are elected after the next election support a motion to make Vince Cable the Chancellor?