"The Commonwealth of Britain" - Republican UK Wikibox TL

2006, Cozy Crackdowns
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2006 saw the peak of the Commonwealth's economic strength

2006 marked the ninth year of Brown’s premiership, longer than any other Labour Prime Minister in history. Brown had a lot to be proud of. The UK economic growth averaged 3% between 1997-2006, higher than the Eurozone's 2%. UK unemployment was 5% down from 7% in 1997 and lower than the Eurozone's average of 8% and the real incomes of Britons grew around 20% during 1997–2006.

However looking back on the previous year Brown realised simple economic strength was not enough to hold power in the new Commonwealth. Brown looked at the growing strength of the Liberal Democrats and Greens. Brown knew he had to start winning some of the younger voters Tony had lost if Labour hoped to win a fifth term in power. Thus Brown pivoted policy towards the environment, launching his new green initiatives.

“Far from being at odds with each other, our economic objectives and our environmental objectives now reinforce each other. Environmental sustainability is not an option – it is a necessity. For economies to flourish, for us to banish global poverty, for us to enhance the well-being of the world's people - we have to take a duty of stewardship. We have to take care of the natural environment and resources on which our economic activity. A new paradigm that sees economic growth, social justice and environmental care together can become the new common sense.” - Brown speaking at the United Nations (2006)

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A Green Party poster for the 2005 Brighton Council Election

At the same time Howard and Brown were settling into cohabiting comfortably, perhaps too comfortable for the taste of some. The pair introduced further reforms into the British education system, the reforms restricted the involvement of local education authorities in opening new schools, introducing a new breed of trust schools independent from direct local authority control. They proved controversial and over 30 Labour MPs rebelled against the bill.

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A Teachers Union Pickett in Durham

Brown’s perceived cozy relationship with Howard was heavily criticised by the Labour left and Liberal Democrats. Polling increasingly showed despite constitutionally being more powerful, Brown was seen as the junior partner, Labour voters were especially upset at Brown passivity with Howard. This came to a head when North West Premier Jack Straw passed legislation in the North West restricting wearing the veil in schools, banks and other areas in the North West, Straw called for the legislation to be introduced nationally and some groups including UKIP called for the veil to be banned entirely. Both Howard and Brown supported this legislation, much to the uproar of the Labour Left and the Liberal Democrats. Despite these protests and a historically large Labour rebellion, the bill passed first reading towards the end of 2006 and looked likely to make it through the senate. This controversy decimated Brown’s polling among BAME and younger votes with many saying they would never vote for Labour again.

"His (Jack Straw) comments are not particularly helpful and we have to question the timing. He's been a politician in the North West for 20 years and suddenly it becomes an issue. I don’t think it's unconnected that he's vying for the Presidency. Yes of course Jack Straw has a right to say what he wants but it is also up to a woman on what she wants to wear. Whether she chooses to wear a veil or not. Muslims are feeling vulnerable anyway and the latest comments from a senior politician is not helping. It is not the most helpful debate." - Birmingham Respect Councillor Salma Yaqoob speaking on BBC West Midlands (2006)

In foreign affairs Howard welcomed Brazil’s left wing populist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or “Lula.” Lula was incredibly popular in Brazil with approval ratings around 80% and had arrived to discuss the easing of trade tariffs between Brazil and the European Union, both Howard and Brown were strong supporters of easing EU tariffs and it was a strange sight to see the three men of very different political backgrounds getting along so easily. However it wasn’t entirely plain sailing Brown found himself interrogated by Lula over the police shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in London in 2005.

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Brazilian President da Silva and Premiere Livingstone. The two socialists reportedly got on like a house on fire until the issue of de Menezes was raised.

"Britain's hospitality has attracted many Brazilians to the United Kingdom. Workers, students, intellectuals and artists... have found safe haven here, as well as new opportunities to learn, create and achieve. Their dedication, professionalism and personal sacrifices have also helped build this country's future."
- Lula Da Silva’s at a joint Buckingham press conference with Brown and Howard (2006). His “safe haven” remark were a not-so-subtle attack on the metropolitan police

Howard also took a hawkish line on the crisis in Darfur. A three-way civil war had created a humanitarian crisis and Sudanese President Bashir was refusing to allow either African Union or United Nations peacekeepers into the country. The crisis displaced around 1.8 million people. Howard took a lead in the United Nations and managed to secure an international no fly-zone over the region as well as heavy sanctions on the Sudanese Government. Howard even flew to Sudan personally to meet with Bashir although he was unimpressed with what the Sudanese President had to say.

"His answers were unsatisfactory. He gave no good reason why he is blocking the involvement of Swedish and Norwegian advanced engineering battalions in the combined UN and African Union force. It is clear the Sudanese government is deliberately hampering the ability of the peacekeepers to safeguard the security of the refugees. I’m afraid we have no choice but to escalate our response.” - Micheal Howard briefing NATO leaders (2006)

Howard also oversaw a slow reduction of British troops, three years after they entered the country, after the Iraqi elections of 2005 produced a pro-western majority the removal of troops escalated with just 7,000 of the 46,000 originally deployed troops remaining in Iraq, mostly around the larger cities. Whilst Brown also supported the withdrawal of troops he wanted to see a much slower reduction and clashed with Howard. Brown stressed there were “duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep” in Iraq.

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Howard travelled to Sudan himself to assess the humanitarian situation
 
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Gotta say, never thought that I would so thoroughly enjoy a republican TL, but this is truly very good. Can't wait to see what's next.
 
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David Laws had served as Senate President for four years but he was incredibly unpopular with the public and Lib Dem activists alike, so he opted not to seek another term

As the year turned to 2007 all eyes turned towards the upcoming senate race. Brown had been battered by the 2005 Parliamentary election, a bad senate election could be crippling. Similarly Howard was going into his third year alone in the cabinet and was keen to see an ally as Senate leader. Finally David Laws had fallen out of favour with the Lib Dem grassroots so they would need to find a new candidate to lead them in the senate. The Liberal Democrats were desperate to hold onto their Senate Presidency and keep a seat at the table.

“This is an unprecedented time of opportunity for liberalism in Britain. If we are to grab this opportunity, my party will need to change. We must start acting like the growing national political movement that we are. More professional. More united. More ambitious. Liberalism is the creed of our times. The old left-right politics has broken down. Labour and the Conservatives are mutating into each other, united in defence of a system which has let the people down. Instead, we must start where people are, not where we think they should be. In short, I want the Liberal Democrats to be the future of politics. Because Liberal Democrats have the courage to imagine a better society. To break the stifling grip of the two-party system for good. To bring in new politics. Of politicians who listen to people, not themselves. No more business as usual. No more "government knows best". The beginning of Britain's liberal future.” - Nick Clegg speaking at Liberal Democrat Conference (2006). The young Lawsite MP was a rising star in the party. This speech was seen as the opening salvo in the battle for the future of the Liberal Democrats

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The 2006 Lib Dem conference had been the site of a cold-war between the various different factions of the party

Brown opened the year by announcing he would scrap the starting rate of income tax, something that had gradually decreased over his premiership. He also announced he would be lowering the basic rate of income tax to 21%. This was a popular measure and all four of the major parties had pledged to lower income tax, it passed through Parliament easily. More controversial Brown and Howard cut corporation tax. from 31% to 29% and from 25% to 20% for small businesses. The cutting of tax for large businesses was contested heavily by the Labour Left, Greens and Liberal Democrats and for some it showed Brown was becoming too close with his Tory President.

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Prime Minister Brown reviewing the budget with his Chief of Staff Ed Balls

Brown also tried to rebuild bridges with the BAME community, especially those from southern Asia. Brown conducted a diplomatic visit to India, Brown met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from fellow centre-left party the Indian National Congress. Whilst Brown was visiting India at home a row over the racist bullying of Indian Celebrity Big Brother star Shilpa Shetty made its way into the sphere of international relations.

"What the response to the programme has shown is precisely the opposite - that there is no level of toleration in this country for anything which, rightly or wrongly, is perceived to be racist. The message should go out from this country loud and clear that we are a tolerant country and we will not tolerate racism in any way." - Buckingham Palace statement on the Shetty controversy (2007)

Whilst Brown was desperately trying to repair his relationship with the British public events would overtake him. A prison overcrowding problem had engulfed the headlines and record numbers of prisoners were escaping from prison. Home Secretary Margaret Beckett activated Operation Safeguard, the controversial plan to house prisoners in police cells. She also approached Justice Secretary Stephen Byers to request the use of court cells. Byers rebuffed her stating the use of court cells was “unacceptable.” The Chief Inspector of Prisons. Anne Owers raised concerns about the huge rise in the number of prisoners serving 'indeterminate sentences' - those with no fixed end. At the time there were over 1,500 such prisoners in the system - far more than the government anticipated when it introduced the sentences. Eventually the problem boiled over when the Prison Officers' Association, representing nearly 40,000 prison officers approached Howard and Brown, either Beckett went or they would strike. Beckett was out of Whitehall in a week, in a great hit to Brown as Tory poll rating surged. Eventually the new Justice Secretary Geoff Hoon announced that up to 30,000 prisoners serving four years or less would see an early release on licence. This move was incredibly unpopular with the public.

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Graphics like these would dominate newspaper covers for several days

Howard and the Conservatives couldn’t be having a better few months, the main story for several weeks revolved around crime as punishment. Howard took full advantage, in Parliament Davis put down legislation to class crystal meth as a class-A drug and Howard called for Brown to “get a grip or I’ll get a grip for you.” Whilst this was mostly bluster as Howard was powerless to act against a Labour parliament, it was popular with the public.

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Howard says Brown will be "GONE BY SEPTEMBER" if he can't GET A GRIP - Daily Mail Headline (2007)

"It is clear from what has been announced today that there will be a continuing reliance on police and court cells, meaning the taxpayer will continue to pay through their pay packets. The government's poor record at preventing those released on licence from committing more crimes means they will also continue to pay with their safety. Gordon Brown is responsible for the prison crisis. He froze the Home Office budget and refused to allow extra prison places because he could not commission them through PFI (private finance initiative) thereby keeping them off the balance sheet."
- Opposition Leader David Davis speaking on the “Politics Show” (2007)

Further to Brown’s woes, new Defence Secretary Tessa Jowell announced Britain would be sending over 700 further troops to bolster forces in Afghanistan. Jowell slammed her predecessor saying she was “extremely concerned” that Britain was three battalions short of the requirement laid down by Nato commanders. The division in the cabinet, matched with the British public’s exhaustion with wars in the Middle East continued to bolster the Conservatives in the polls. Howard took to the airwaves to criticise Jowell’s policy stating "the answer is not to flood this country with troops". Howard criticised other NATO countries for not “pulling their weight” in the crisis.

“The brunt of the combat effort in Afghanistan has been borne by countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada, while others - such as France and Germany - have been unwilling to commit troops to areas where the fighting is heaviest. I remain deeply concerned that the reluctance of some Nato members to provide troops for the Isaf mission is undermining Nato's credibility and also Isaf operations." - Micheal Howard speaking to Officer graduates at RMA Sandhurst (2007)

Who was more effective at stopping crime in the mid and late 2000s, Labour or the Conservatives? (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam
 
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When was the last UK parliamentary election? Surely there must be one coming up soon? It'll be interesting to see who's in government when the great recession kicks in around 2008. If there's an election in 2007 or early 2008 it will be a blessing in disguise for Labour.
 
Closer Look: 2007 Labour Presidential Speculation
As Howard's Presidency reached it's halfway point Labour figures began to look towards the future, early in January the page "Labour Primary 2009" appeared on Wikipedia with the following section:

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When was the last UK parliamentary election? Surely there must be one coming up soon? It'll be interesting to see who's in government when the great recession kicks in around 2008. If there's an election in 2007 or early 2008 it will be a blessing in disguise for Labour.
The last Parliamentary Election was in 2005 and the last Senate election was in 2003, meaning next Senate race in due in 2007 and the next Parliamentary election is due for May 2008. Leahman Brothers will collapse in late September 2008, just before the Presidential Primaries start...
 
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2007 Part 2, First to Blink
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2007 saw a record number of Labour rebels, 57 Labour MPs voted against renewing Trident

“I cannot vote for this policy. I support nearly everything this government does but I'm simply not convinced renewing the Trident submarines makes the world a safer place,"
- London Senator Stephen Pound speaking on the Senate floor (2007)

Labour’s divisions only grew. In March trident came up for expansion and renewal. Supported by both Brown and Howard, the new improved Trident system would cost over £2 billion, up from 1.7 billion. Opposition to the expansion was particularly fierce in Scotland, where the weapons were stored less than an hour away from Scotland’s second city Glasgow. The plan was opposed by the Liberal Democrats, Greens and nearly 60 rebel Labour MPs, however with the help of the Conservatives and UKIP the Government passed the renewal with 386 votes to 260. Again the story became a divided Labour Party rescued by a united Conservative party. After sending more troops to Afghanistan and campaigning for an uncompromising expansion of Trident, Defence Secretary Tessa Jowell became enemy number one for the anti-war left.

Brown knew he had to assert himself against Howard and regain control over his party’s left flank. Brown had been working on his “Green re-branding” and he tabled Britain’s first ever “Climate Change Act.” The Act made it the duty of Secretaries of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases to be cut by 80% by 2050. The Act aimed to enable the United Kingdom to become a low-carbon economy. The act also created an independent Committee on Climate Change. The bill passed with near universal support, the only people to vote against were five Tory rebels and the 31 UKIP MPs.

However any momentum Brown could have regained through the passage of this bill was once again overtaken by events. In March 2007, fifteen Royal Navy personnel were searching a merchant vessel when the Iranian Navy detained them. In the course of events, British forces claimed that the vessel was in Iraqi waters, but the Iranians insisted that they were in Iran's waters. Defence Secretary Tessa Jowell demanded the release of the servicemen, calling the seizure “unjust and wrong.”

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Jowell meets Chinese Minister Cai Wu in Buckingham

"Needless to say, I am not advocating the bombing of any part of Iran. I am arguing that in international relations, the fear that we use force in some way is likely to make an aggressor think twice. The Iranians have no need to, knowing that we and the Americans have already shot our bolt in Iraq. That is why they feel free to abuse and humiliate our servicemen."
- Micheal Howard’s op-ed in the Times (2007), Howard continually alluded to the use of force throughout the crisis, he wrote in his memoirs that the crisis brought Britain “dangerously close to war.”

The British ambassador to Iran went to the Iranian foreign ministry. The Iranians said they summoned him so they could protest against "the illegal entry of British sailors into Iranian waters". Yet the British said the meeting was at their request and that they had asked both for the immediate release of the personnel. President Micheal Howard said if diplomacy fails he would take other measures to release the British sailors and marines. When asked what other measures he refused to answer if military action was a possibility.

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As the diplomatic situation heated up many in the Iranian Government believed an attack was imminent. Iran mobilised a record number of troops

Tensions grew further between the two nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would release the sailors as “a gift” if he received a letter of apology from the British Government and acknowledgement that the vessel had strayed into Iranian waters.Brown and Foreign Secretary Charles Clarke were eager to take him up on this offer but Howard wanted to take a stronger stance. The standoff would last for several months with relations between the country becoming increasingly strained and tense until an intervention by Pope Benedict XVI and pressure from the international community forced the Supreme Leader to release the captives in late May. Whilst this was another victory for Howard’s standoffish foreign policy right before the election, relationships with Iran were irreversibly wounded.

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Polling amongst Iranian citizens showed the Commonwealth overtaking the US as the "biggest threat to Iran" for the first time since in the 21st century

“The Howard doctrine in foreign policy was defined by high-stakes, high-aggression political manoeuvring, whether this was the EU rebate or the Iranian hostage crisis, the Howard doctrine is to keep raising the stakes, wait for your opponent to blink. Whilst in the short term it could be effective at getting Howard what we wanted, it permanently weakened Britain's international relations. The high stake nature meant Howard only had to blink once for the whole doctrine to come crashing down.”
- John Kampfner, Micheal Howard and British Foreign Policy (2018)

The incident threw a further spanner in the works for Labour as Foreign Secretary Charles Clarke was forced to resign. Brown called for Reid to take back his old job as Foreign Secretary but this meant that Labour would need to find a new Senate leader. Three candidates appeared: International Development Secretary Charlie Falconer, North West Premier Jack Straw and Justice Secretary Geoff Hoon. Noticeably none of the candidates were senators, Senator John Hutton was seen as Reid’s natural successor but he recognised the election was nearly unwinnable and would be a poisoned chalice. The Senate Leadership election was seen as a battle between the two factions of the Labour Party. With Charlie Falconer supported by those loyal to Blair and Straw the candidate of the Brownites. Hoon found himself trapped between the two and was quickly eliminated. Falconer based his campaign around a “fresh start” and tried to distance himself from Brown, despite serving in his cabinet. Straw focused his campaign around his experience, a former cabinet secretary and two term Premier. The campaign was intense and close but eventually Straw won out.

The Conservatives also had to put forward a Senate candidate, established senators Francis Maude and Oliver Heald were considered frontrunners for the post but the Conservative leadership passed over them. The Conservative Party board was split between the modernisers who wanted to nominate moderate rising star MP George Osborne and the traditionalists who wanted Senator Chirs Grayling. However there was a dark horse compromise candidate who could lead the party to victory, after a nearly ten hour meeting of the inner circle the Conservatives announced they would be nominating David Davis. Again.

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Comedy show "Have I Got News For You" had a very successful year some episodes getting ratings of several million. Some argued this was evidence of the increasing cynicism of the British public.

And our new Chancellor is David Davis, Foreign Sec? David Davis. We’re hearing that Parliament has all been sacked and replaced by 650 identical David Davis clones” - Have I Got News For You Host Jeremy Clarkson (2007), the choice of Davis was widely mocked and many saw it as a clear example of Davis being more powerful in the Conservative party than Howard was.

The Liberal Democrats had no lack of candidates, four men put their names forward: Yorkshire MP Nick Clegg, South West First Minister Nick Harvey, East Anglia Senator Norman Lamb and Scotland Senator Micheal Moore. Clegg and Lamb were the frontrunners, with Clegg seen as the Lawsite and Lamb seen as a wildcard, popular with the membership a strong campaigner for Liberal Democrat hobby horses such as legalised marijuana. The battle was bitter and whilst most Senators backed Clegg or Moore, Lamb was the most popular with the membership and was elected as leader, it was now up to Lamb to lead the divided party in the 2007 election.

Using a least one case study, how effective was the "Howard Doctrine" in protecting long-term British interests? (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
 
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Closer Look: 2007 Liberal Democrat Senate Leadership Election
At the time the Liberal Democrats were the only party to fully elect their legislative leaders. For the Conservatives the leader was appointed by the President with advice from the National Board, whilst in Labour Senators would vote for the final two, who would then be elected by registered Labour supporters. The race attracted four candidates. "Lawsite" Yorkshire MP Nick Clegg, East Anglia Senator Norman Lamb, Scotland Senator Micheal Moore and South West First Minister Nick Harvey. Despite Law's unpopularity no candidate emerged from the party's left. Senator Chris Huhne and Former Home Secretary Simon Hughes considered running but decided against.

Clegg was the preferred candidate of the party's right, young and charismatic. However Clegg had few connections in the senatorial party and Laws' endorsement was more of an anchor on his campaign due to how overwhelmingly unpopular Laws was.

Lamb was a wildcard, frequently rebelling against the Laws leadership on issues such as medical marijuana and the Euro. Lamb wasn't associated with any particular wing of the party and ran as unifier, emphasising on his record on climate change, Lamb wanted the Lib Dems to become the "Greenest party."

Micheal Moore struggled to make an impact, also from the right of the party he was out-shinned by Clegg. Moore's campaign centred around him being a "safe pair of hands" citing his experience as a loyal Senate whip under Laws.

Nick Harvey ran as an outsider, the only candidate not to have a national profile as he was First Minister of the South West. Harvey cited his experience locally and wanted the party to expand its appeal by focusing on issues of law, order and defence that had been popular in the South West. However Harvey suffered from poor name recognition and failed to break through over the campaign.

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Originally the race was seen as between Lamb and Moore, however at the hustings in Plymouth, Moore "sent audiences to sleep" whilst Clegg had a stunning performance polling high amongst all who watched the hustings this gave Clegg brief momentum hurling him into second place. However was always behind Lamb in polls, which underestimated Lamb's strength amongst the grassroots, a last minute surge allowed Lamb to win a clear victory.

"Norman Lamb has been a classic Lib Dem "local Senator." Lamb is a former councillor and local party campaigner who fought for 10 years to win his home seat of East Anglia from the Conservatives. But Lamb, 50, has also risen through the party ranks since his election in 1999. During the coalition, Kennedy appointed him his senatorial liaison to the Chancellor. Today Lamb has his eyes on his party's senate leadership. Lamb led a popular doorstep campaign to save local post offices in Anglia. But some in the party think they'll need more than local populism to hold the Senate Presidency." - Louise Radnofsky , Profile: Norman Lamb, The Guardian (2007)
 
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2007 Part 3, Parked Tanks
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Labour activists in Oxford run into Conservative Mayor David Cameron campaigning for a local candidate

“2007 marked the turning point of Labour’s fall from grace. Economically stagnant and exhausted the party was dragging itself forward and as she did the faction knives were slowly drawn. The parallels with 1978 were striking.”
- Protest and Power, David Kogan, (2019)

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Confident Conservative activists in Glasgow

Against the backdrop of standoffs with Iran, prison overcrowding and trident reform it wasn’t massively surprising to see the Conservatives with a substantial polling lead. The Brown Labour Government was entering into its tenth year in power and the cracks were beginning to show. Resignations and scandals dragged Brown down, whilst Howard’s aggressive foreign policy, whilst diplomatically questionable, was certainly popular at home. Some polls showed the Conservatives with leads as high as nine points, which would see them flip 70 Senate seats.

Davis’ campaign was based around being a “strong Government” in comparison to the divided Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, President Howard featured frequently on campaign leaflets, hailed as the “tough talker” who saved the Iranian hostages, Howard had seen a bounce in polls. After spending two years as the Leader of the Opposition Davis had much high name-recognition than in 2005. Davis’ tough “SAS” campaign had faced mockery in the 2002 election when there was no clear “threat” to the Commonwealth however as tensions with Iran grew voters increasingly wanted politicians to be “strong of defence.”

Straw on the other hand had alienated nearly everyone in his party upon becoming Senate Leader, the left despised Straw for his authoritarian anti-veil policies in the North West and his euro-scepticism as leader of “LabourNO.” The Blairites saw Straw as a “Brown stooge” and would have much preferred Falconer or Hoon. The only real support Straw had was from the Prime Minister’s office. Straw based his campaign around his experience as both a cabinet minister and a Premier for one of the largest regions. Straw also tried to challenge Davis on his own turf. Jack Straw conducted a "land grab" on the Conservatives' agenda. Pointing out what he'd done in the North West to "balance" the law to protect the rights of victims. The Premier had reviewed the law on self-defence giving victims of crime more leniency on using force, even lethal. Saying "have a go heroes' must know the law is on their side if they want to protect their family or home." Straw also established a Victims' Advocate Scheme to give the victims of homicide and death-by-driving crimes a voice in court.

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Labour's lead candidate Jack Straw visits a prison in Manchester

“In office since 1999, being "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" proved harder than it looked. Whilst crime in the North West started to fall, though other aspects of the notoriously accident-prone North West Premier’s brief did not improve. When the North West Parliament appointed Hutton acting Premier he complained he inherited a region “in a mess.”
- Profile: Jack Straw, Micheal White (2008)

However if there was one person more toxic to BAME voters than Blair it was Straw. Polling reported droves of Labour’s core vote in cities like London, Leeds and Birmingham were intending to spoil their ballot or not vote at all, unconvinced any of the parties represented them. Straw moving his tanks onto the Conservative’s lawn had just allowed them to fight the election on their terrain. In doing so he left thousands of Labour voters behind.

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In a viral video Straw is confronted by a Muslim family in Leeds over his support for the veil ban

Things weren’t going much better for the Liberal Democrats either. Lamb had the same problem of Straw, coming from the relative middle of his party he managed to alienate both sides. Lamb refused to abandon Laws’ policy of “equidistance”, stating that the Liberal Democrats would support whichever party got a plurality of the vote and would expect reciprocal support if they won the election. This enraged the grassroots Kennedyites who already felt unrepresented. At the same time those loyal to Laws were resentful of his turfing out and believed Clegg would have been a much stronger candidate. The very public turfing out of Laws and factional battles within the Senatorial party meant the Liberal Democrats struggled to take advantage of the authoritarian shift by both major parties.

Third parties saw mixed results, Bannerman was going into his eight year of his Senate leadership. He had spent most of the last decade fighting to bring discipline to his party, turfing out Kilroyites and radical reactionaries. His work hadn’t been in vain and UKIP was now a reasonably respectable party, however he spent most of his effort keeping his party under control rather than expanding it, and with the rightward shift of both the Conservatives and Labour he struggled to make an impact.

The Greens made little impact over their four years in the Senate. Green party rules meant they didn’t use whips or the whipping system. Whilst nice in principle this meant the party fragmented on several issues and the leader had very little power over their caucus aside from acting as a spokesperson to the media. The Green’s caucus had a mix of Socialist “Watermelons” to centrist “Mangos” and everything in between. From the left of the party, Berry struggled to hold them together and decided to step down as Senate leader. The radical Derek Wall defeated the “moderniser” Caroline Lucas to become the party’s senate. Wall continued to denounce the whipping system and moved the caucus as an unashamedly socialist alternative to the main parties, frequently clashing with the Green’s Parliamentary Leader and moderate Adrian Ramsay.

"UPDATE: A late entrant The Daily Express reports the poll as showing the Tories slumping from “40% to 35% since last month” (that’ll be down one point from 36% last month) “after a fortnight of Conservative feuding over grammar schools and Ken Clarke’s treachery!” - UK Polling Report (2007)

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The Conservative campaign stalled in the last few weeks. A secret recording of Ken Clarke criticising Howard and Davis stopped any momentum the party had

Over the course of the campaign the Conservative lead was slowly shrunk due to infighting, most notably a leaked recording by Senator Ken Clarke taken by an Express journalist where Clarke described Davis as “not really having a clue.” Clarke also criticised Howard’s unstable foreign policy.

“It’s dangerous. Seriously dangerous. He’s destroying all our trading and political relationships with the rest of the world, it’ll get worse if we allow it to persist. To be honest if I didn’t have to, I’m not sure if I would vote for David. I don't want Micheal going off bombing whichever country looks at him funny, its all going to his head.” Ken Clarke, the Express (2007)

This “October surprise” gave Labour and the Liberal Democrats a brief bounce a week before polling day, going into the election the Conservatives still had a lead but it wasn’t the unstoppable lead from the start of the campaign. Once again the BBC election team got ready for a dramatic night, party staffers and ordinary voters alike gathered around their television for yet another exit poll.

How far do you agree with the following statement? “All major parties campaigned to the right during the 2007 election” (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
 
Closer Look, 2007 Exit Poll
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(Big Ben Chimes)

LABOUR WIN

FORECAST LABOUR LARGEST PARTY WITH 115 SEATS


DD - Well this is a surprise, our exit poll says Labour has pulled out a surprise victory at 115 seats, down 21. The Conservatives nipping at their heels on 113, up 37. Liberal Democrats have seemingly lost the Senate Presidency with 65 seats, down 14 and UKIP and the Greens on 17 and 11 seats a piece, other parties are on 41. Nick Robinson what does this result mean?

NR - If and I mean *IF* this poll is right then Labour have pulled of the largest political comeback since 1992, and David Davis' political career is dead. However this vote is incredibly close, just two seats between the two main parties. The Liberal Democrats have a policy of "equidistance" meaning they'll support whichever party is most likely to form a majority so just a handful of seats could make the difference between David Davis and Jack Straw.

DD - Either way this must be a disappointing night for the Conservatives, they were talking about winning as many as 150 seats just a few weeks ago, they could have had their pick of UKIP or the Lib Dems, even if the Conservatives get 10, 20 seats more than this poll says, considering the state of the Government many will still consider it a failure.

NR - Lets not get overexcited, Labour has still lost nearly 20-30 Senate seats, it's not a good night for Gordon Brown by any means, and look at the Liberal Democrats! From the largest party to distant third overnight many in the party will say this result is a vindication for the Lawsites.

DD - Of course we don't know anything until we get results in. This is, at the end of the day just a poll, I cannot stress this enough. Most likely when we hear results coming in from the North East. However we are hearing rumours that turnout is at a record low in East London, Ashley Blake is there now, Ashley how's it looking?...
 
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