Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Boris: The New Wave?

May 3, 2008

Despite my fears for London under Boris (such as the consequences of the abolition of Livingstone‘s commitment to 50% of new housing being “affordable” – see Question That‘s reasoned analysis), I admit to a guilty pleasure in listening to him perform, and a hope that his refreshing style will revitalise our politics.


Photo by lewishamdreamer: some rights reserved.

If Boris really can pull of an effective job, without losing his humourous flair, he will demonstrate that politicians can be colourful and serious. 

Watch his acceptance speech; his openness and self-deprecation are disarming.  He acknowledges that some of those who voted for him may have let their pencils hover in hesitation before putting a cross in his box.  How refreshing not to hear the usual spin about this being a victory for Conservatism in the face of Labour incompetence.

You get the impression that this was really Boris speaking, not the Tory Party, who surely must have wanted to ensure their big moment on camera went according to script.  I think he will need to build a strong support team to do the job well, but if he can do that whilst resisting any attempts to handle him against the grain of his character, he might just find a formula that works, and in doing so, champion political oratory of the intelligent, spontaneous form that we lack.

I don’t think the voters are just tired of Labour, I think we are generally disenchanted by the boring government-speak and play-it-safe attitude that has characterised British politics for at least 15 years.  If nothing else, our kids will hear a prominent politician speak with an unusual vocabulary and an intelligent turn of phrase.

If Boris brings back delight in eccentricity and the nuances of the English tongue, he will have done us a favour.

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Live blogging the London mayoral and UK local elections

May 1, 2008

* It’ll be a long wait for results (many places are counting tomorrow, but plenty tonight), but true political junkies will be staying up to watch what drama there is, with the old stalwart BBC reporters…  Updates added to the bottom of this post as the night unfolds.

* First share-of-vote figures in to BBC: Lab -3, Con +6, Lib Dem -4.  First results trickling in indicate patchy swing, or none at all, so perhaps local issues have trumped national mood. 

* Political bloggers are getting a fairly high profile on the BBC coverage: 3 well-known bloggers, one from each main party, are in the studio.  Host Emily Maitlis invites us to submit our “twitter” by email – but makes no mention of Twitter


http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.com/

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/

* American spectators may not be familiar with David Dimbleby, but he’s a venerable anchor of political coverage, and a comfortingly familiar presence on election night.  He’s on his usual disarmingly avuncular form tonight.

 * Jeremy Vine has just performed an embarrassingly dumbed-down sketch, presumably designed to impart psephological data in a “fun” way, by impersonating a Texan gunslinger “shooting” vote percentages. 

Bring back Peter Snow!  His animated jinks, bringing life to the swingometer, were daft but harmlessly amusing.  Vine’s attempts are inappropriate pandering to a non-existent audience.  People staying up to watch results are interested in election data, they don’t want mindless joking to make it “easier” to digest.  Beeb, please stop patronising your audience.

* Twitter must have an aversion to election nights.  It’s down for me now, just like before the Pennsylvania primary.

* BBC’s projected national share of vote with 69.3% of wards reporting: Lab 24%, Con 44%, Lib Dem 25%.  A very good night for the Conservatives, and the governing party in third place.

* Labour talking head buzz phrases: “This has not been a good night”; “This isn’t a general election”; “The last few months have been a difficult time for the government”; “We are listening and will get back on track”.  Lib Dems: “We expected to lose and are happy to do so”.

* Interesting point from Anthony King: the percentage of wards that buck any national trend has grown over the years. 

* I wish Jeremy Vine would stop going on about Gordon Brown becoming Mr Bean.  It isn’t edifying.

* Seems it’s only twitter.com/home that’s down.  You can still read others.  Love this tweet from Iain Dale: “Michael Portillo is sitting on a sofa reading a book, not deigning to talk to anyone“.

* This is the first election since the start of the Iraq War in which the atmosphere has not been poisoned by it.

* Anthony King predicts the decline of tactical voting in favour of the Labour Party.  He is surely right; there is not enough enthusiam for Labour for people to make a tactical vote against their natural inclination.  This will be a major change in the electoral landscape.

* David Dimbleby: “God knows” if bloggers really “have their ear to the ground”.

* Iain Dale sounds very bitter about Michael Portillo: “he should remember the party that made him”.  Apparently Portillo thinks 44% isn’t good enough for the Tories.  I can’t wait for the next Michael & Diane show.  No doubt there will be joshing on the sofa.

* Portillo on Livingstone: It is now time to talk about Ken in the past tense; Ken has been a remarkable figure in London, 28 years ago we all made fun of him for standing up for gay and lesbian rights, that’s now mainstream.

* Why on Earth don’t they count the London mayorial votes over night?  Ridiculous to keep everyone waiting.

* I can’t remember the last time the computer-generated House of Commons predicted a Tory government.  On the basis of tonight’s vote, projected as if it were a general election, the Conservatives would have a majority of 138.  It won’t happen that decisively, but simply seeing the little blue men lining up on the animated government benches must send a chill down Labour spines.

Keller on Romney, and the value of local journalism to national reporting

September 25, 2007

I enjoy Jon Keller’s political reporting and commentary on Boston’s WBZ-TV. His irreverent style provides light relief, but is also incisive.  It seems he doesn’t often miss a trick in the world of Massachusetts politics, of which he is a veteran reporter. (Although I have to admit to surprise at how blunt he can be, and wonder if he sometimes jeopardizes his objectivity.)

His light-hearted assessment (flash video) of the latest Romney ad, “Change Begins With Us” (embedded below), gave me a giggle. He also makes a serious point about the precarious nature of Romney’s attempt to distance himself from unpopular Republicans by taking an unveiled swipe at them in this ad.

Keller’s work highlights how useful local and state political reporters can be in covering the home state record of candidates that have moved to the national stage. Some have followed a candidate’s rise to prominence over years, whereas national reporters, lacking such a detailed knowledge of their political past, can overlook the nuances of a politician’s back story in favour of recycled caricatures based on perceived wisdom .

(Hat tip to Seth Gitell for bringing Keller to my attention.)