"The Commonwealth of Britain" - Republican UK Wikibox TL

2010, Part 1, Clean Hands
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    Prime Minister George Osborne payed tribute to Hamer in the House of Commons

    “Michael Howard led tributes today to Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan. The President praised Hamer’s “courage, skill and dedication”, while colleagues said he was “popular”. Hamer, 39, who was married with three young children, died of his wounds at the scene north-west of Nawa. He is the first British journalist to be killed in the current conflict in Afghanistan. The newspaper’s photographer, Philip Coburn, was injured in yesterday’s blast, which also killed a US Marine and an Afghan soldier, the MoD said. Coburn, 43, is in a serious but stable condition, the MoD said. He and Hamer embedded themselves with the US Marine Corps when they were caught in the explosion. They were accompanying a patrol when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. According to the Sunday Mirror, the experienced pair flew to the region on New Year’s Eve for a trip scheduled to last a month. He wanted to embed himself with the US marines at the start of their surge into southern Afghanistan.”
    - Sunday Mirror's Rupert Hamer killed in Afghanistan, Press Gazzette (2010)

    2010 started with dark news for the Commonwealth. Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, making him the 17th journalist to be killed in the Afghanistan War. This brought the issue of wars in the Middle East to the forefront of British politics once again, just as Aliastair Campbell was called before the Chillcot inquiry.


    Police had to escort Campbell through a scrum of press

    Most commentators agreed that Campbell gave a mixed performance and seemed rattled. He said he defended "every word" of the September 2002 dossier on Iraq's WMD - which included the infamous "45 minute" claim. He said he was "very proud" of the part he played and Britain should be proud of its role in bringing democracy to Iraq. He revealed Blair had sent a series of notes to George Bush in which he said, should military action become necessary, Britain would "be there". In the afternoon he also suggested Blair had not included Paddy Ashdown in the "inner circle" of advisers on the war. Campbell justified this saying the Government couldn't trust Ashdown not to leak information.

    After Campbell’s appearance was Chillcot’s “main attraction” former President Tony Blair. Despite losing his Presidency Blair had remained in the public eye often appearing as a commentator in the media. Some had expected Blair’s election defeat to humble him, they had been wrong.

    Blair said the Iraq war made the world a safer place and he had "no regrets" about removing Saddam Hussein. In a nervous defence of his decision to back war, Blair said Saddam was a "monster and he threatened the world." A member of the public barracked he former President as Blair made his closing statement at the end of a six-hour grilling at the Iraq inquiry. He said Iraqis were now better off and he would take the same decisions again. Family members of service personnel killed in Iraq had been sitting behind Blair in the public gallery as Chilcot questioned him. Chilcot asked Blair at the end of the session if he had any regrets about the war. Blair said that although he was "sorry" it had been "divisive" he believed it had been right to remove Saddam. "It was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office and I do believe the world is a safer place as a result." When Blair left some members of the public booed him and three women shouted at him "you are a liar" and "you are a murderer".

    “Tony Blair has been accused of warmongering spin. The Former President claimed that western powers might be forced to invade Iran because it poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein. Richard Dalton, accused Blair of trying to make confrontation with Iran an electoral issue. This came after the former prime minister singled out its Islamic regime as a global threat in his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry yesterday. Blair said many of the arguments that led him to confront Saddam Hussein seven years ago now applied to the regime in Tehran. "We face the same problem about Iran today," he told the Chilcot inquiry. Dalton said it was essential that all the political parties made clear that there would be no repeat of Blair's actions in respect of Iran. "One result of Tony Blair's intervention on Iran is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in Parliament. We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time." - Tony Blair accused of putting war with Iran on the electoral agenda, Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 (2010)


    The anti-war Independent was not happy with Blair's statement

    Gordon Brown was the next major Labour figure to give evidence. Gordon Brown told the Iraq inquiry the war had been "right" - and troops had all the equipment they needed. The former PM also insisted Tony Blair had not kept him in the dark, despite not being aware of some developments. His own intelligence briefings as PM had convinced him that Iraq was a threat that "we had to deal with", he said. But the main issue for him was that Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions - and that he could not allow "rogue states" to flout international law. If the international community could not act together over Iraq, Brown said, he feared the "new world order we were trying to create would be put at risk". He began the session by paying tribute to the "sacrifice" made by British servicemen and women. He then said: "it was the right decision and made for the right reasons." Brown acknowledged that there were "important lessons" for the country to learn from the way Iraq descended into chaos. "It was one of my regrets that I wasn't able to be more successful in pushing the Americans on this issue."

    The inquiry had been an embarrassment for Labour who were still reeling from David Miliband’s planned departure. The Liberal Democrats also struggled to take advantage of any goodwill the inquiry may have created, whilst many members of the public respected Ashdown’s principled stand, anger over the Osborne coalition stopped the Lib Dems from taking advantage of the situation. The main beneficiary of the inquiry was the Greens, the only unabashedly anti-war national party. Pro-Green journalist Natalie Bennett took to the airwaves and made a name for herself as the voice of the British left , the Greens saw a small pick up in their vote, polling over 6% in one poll, which would earn them 40 seats.


    Many disaffected Lib Dems voters and local politicians would make the jump to the Greens during the coalition

    “The Green Party is polling at 6% in the Independent’s latest poll. The poll reveals that 12% of people who voted Lib Dem in 2008 intend to vote Green in 2011. The Green Party has been polling at some of their highest numbers ahead of a General Election since 2003, a breakthrough year. The Greens have been closing the small polling gap on UKIP (8%) in recent months. Richard Mallender, acting Green Party Parliamentary Leader, said: “As pollsters and commentators are recognising, next year's election will be a genuine five-party race. The four business-as-usual parties have shown they cannot move on from the failed policies of the past 30 years. It is not surprising that support for the Green Party is swelling. We're offering the idea of real change with a society. We're not going to see transformative change from UKIP or the Lib Dems. We offer a transformation of our economy so that it works for the common good, not for the good of the few. The Green Party's support for decent wages and benefits for all who need them offers the positive way forward."
    - 12% of people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2008 intend to #VoteGreen2011, Press Release on the Green Party’s Website (2010)

    It wasn’t all sunshine for the Conservatives either, the Royal Mail dispute continued in deadlock. Osborne and Grieve were unwilling to back down, and neither was the CWU. Added to the Government’s woes, UNITE announced BA cabin crew would be going on strike over the crucial Easter period. BA cabin crew were striking over changes to pay and staffing levels imposed by the airline last November. Besides strike action, the union announced at a press conference that it would also ballot its members on BA's offer tabled earlier this week. UNITE said it would not recommend the deal. Shortly afterwards, BA boss Willie Walsh told the BBC that the airline's offer was no longer available. He said the offer was conditional on UNITE averting strike action, and so he had withdrawn it. Unite's assistant general secretary Len McClusky said the move by British Airways "beggared belief". UNITE denied that the offer was ever conditional. Both sides reasserted that they were available for further talks, but the language on both sides hardened. Walsh said the two parties were "not close at all" to coming to an agreement. The union's proposals to save more than £70m at the airline included staff pay cuts that BA described as "wrong". Walsh said Unite had failed to provide any credible plan to date.

    With industrial action mounting the coalition was increasingly in trouble, however it would be nothing compared to the scandal the coalition was about to face its biggest scandal yet, when senior Ed Davey staffer Ibrahim Taguri was caught on camera offering favours to a fake businessman, in return for donations to the Lib Dems.

    “Commonwealth party finance law in 2010 was as follows: Donations to parties from individuals or institutions was capped at 9 million. Campaign spending by parties was capped at £25 million. Trade unionists could "opt into" political affiliation (rather than "opt out" as at present). State aid to parties was disturbed on a cash-for-votes basis after Parliamentary elections (£4 per voter, for each party winning seats).” - Politics UK Textbook, Bill Jones (2018)


    The Commonwealth's generous state aid policy came under scrutiny during the "Cash for Influence" scandal

    Campaign finance is increasingly important in determining the outcome of Commonwealth elections.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    Closer Look, 2009 Senate Presiding Officer Election
  • Since Haselhurst stayed on in a caretaker position, the need to elect a Senate Presiding Officer was less urgent then in the House of Commons. The Senate held it's election a few months after its sister chamber, but like it's sister chamber the election was divided between reformists who wanted to radically change the chamber, and traditionalists who had supported Martin and Haselhurst. After seeing the victory of Campbell in the House of Commons, the two main parties closed ranks, anxious not to see another third party speaker, both the Lib Dem's Alan Beith and UKIP's Peter Whittle considered bids but were rebuffed by Senatorial colleagues.

    Nigel Evans was a leading traditionalist. The Welsh-born Conservative MP was popular in his own party and had friends in UKIP and Labour, Evans ran as a traditionalist, promising to "protect" members and act as a "silent champion for the backbenches". Evans also tried to embrace the change mantle by coming out as gay during the election. During the campaign Evans drew criticism over his £370 a month expenses on phone bills. Eyebrows were also raised when journalists discovered Evans had bought three digital cameras. Evans later drew criticism for saying that he struggled to live on his salary of over £70,000 per year. He said he made those comments in jest.

    Evan's main rival was the reformist Scottish MP Tom Clarke. Clarke was a veteran politician, having served as an MP since 1982 and in the Senate since 1999. Clarke said the Senate had to "embrace change" and campaigned on closer links with the House of Commons, as well as further support for Senators, like an on-site nursery for Senators and their staff.

    Lindsay Hoyle ran as a middle ground candidate between the two, the warm Lancastrian had crashed his ministerial career after several high-profile clashes with President Blair, Hoyle said he would reform the Senate to give more power to ordinary back-bench Senators, and he would select Senators to speak on basis of expertise rather than seniority.

    Uber-posh "old Tory" Geoffrey Clifton-Brown also ran as a traditionalist, Clifton Brown was popular with MPs but was seen as a toff and many were weary of him becoming the public face of the Senate, unlike the other candidates Brown didn't really have a unique selling point, with most traditionalists deciding the younger Evans would be a better choice.
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    The result was a fairly clear victory for Evans, both Hoyle and Brown were traditionalists at heart and most of their preferences flowed to Evans in the final round. Nigel Evans had become the Senate's second ever Presiding Officer.

    "Nigel was a teenager when he joined the Conservative Party - and in his twenties when he was elected as a county councillor. His ambition to become an MP was finally realised in 1992 when he secured the Lancashire seat of Ribble Valley. Michael Howard appointed him Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party between 1999 and 2001. He was the ranking opposition member on the Senate's Wales Committee from 2001 to 2004. As member of the Panel of Chairs, he was responsible for chairing Public Bill Committees. The Senate Elected him Presiding Officer in 2010. He was the first LGBT politician the Senate elected to the role and stood on a campaign pledge to promote LGBT issues globally. In his spare time Nigel enjoys playing squash and listening to classical music." - Biography of the Presiding Officer, Senate (2020)
    2010, Part 2, Against the Current
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    Issues of bribery and corruption scandals led to all-time low in Parliament and the main parties

    “Many used the cash for influence scandal as an argument for the corruption of the Commonwealth system, but under the old system you could have seen un-elected lords taking personal payments. Whilst the acceptance of party political donations for influence is corrupt and deplorable, the kind of mass personal corruption we see in other western countries would be near impossible to pull off the Commonwealth.”
    - Frequently Asked Questions in Anti-Bribery and Corruption, David Lawler, (2012)

    The “Cash for Influence” scandal was yet another corruption scandal within the Commonwealth, however instead of affecting Labour like the expenses scandal had, the coalition was at the receiving end of the scandal. Taguri’s confession resignation over a £6,000 donation was just the tip of the iceberg, senior Conservative aides Peter Cruddas and Sarah Southern were caught attempting to circumvent the Commonwealth’s strict donation rules, offering access to Michael Howard and George Osborne for as much as £100,000. The most high profile scandal involved David Laws, who was recorded boasting he could influence Government policy, in return for £2,000 a day donations.


    With the departure of David Laws, the coalition had lost one of its strongest defenders

    Eager to get ahead of the narrative Davey immediately fired Laws from the cabinet and suspended him from the party, replacing him instead with his ally Danny Alexander. The situation was difficult for the Lib Dems, they had always portrayed themselves as the anti-corruption parties, and above the “dirty tricks” of the two main parties, the scandal had firmly placed them as yet another party of the cosy Westminster elite.

    The scandal came at the worst time, just when the Commonwealth needed stability, alongside increasing violence in Northern Ireland, there had been a string of incidents in England, including a mass shooting in Cumbria and knife attacks in inner London. Most notably of these was the Mayor of Newham Stephen Timms being stabbed at an event in Newham. Timms was approached by 21-year-old Roshonara Choudhry, during an event at in Beckton, East London. She acted as though she was going to shake his hand, and then stabbed him twice in his abdomen with a 6-inch kitchen knife, before a staffer disarmed her. Choudhry made "very full admissions" to the police. She said that Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaeda had influenced her through sermons. She said her attack was to punish Timms for supporting the Iraq War, and revenge for the Iraqi people. She said she attacked Timms "because I'm a Muslim and all Muslims are brothers and sisters". She confessed she was "trying to kill him", and said "I wasn't going to stop stabbing him until someone made me." Timms suffered life-threatening wounds: lacerations to the left lobe of his liver, and a perforation to his stomach. A senior police officer said he "was fortunate not to have been killed". He underwent emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital.

    The Chilcott inquiry had inflamed tensions over Iraq, especially in Muslim communities in Inner London. On Newham council Timms was supported by a coalition of Labour and Liberal Councillors, the Respect Party formed the official opposition. This led to controversy where a Respect Councillor refused to stand during a minute of reflection and prayer for Timms’ health.

    “A student was today sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to stab to death a borough Mayor for supporting the Iraq war. Roshonara Choudhry was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years at the Old Bailey. The Judge convicted Choudhry, on three charges after a short trial. She ordered her team not to challenge the prosecution's case because she did not recognise the jurisdiction of the British court. The Old Bailey jury took 15 minutes to return unanimous verdicts on the attempted murder charge. Mr Justice Cooke, said she would continue to be a danger to members of parliament for the foreseeable future: "You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr." If Choudhry had succeeded in killing Timms, the judge would have given her a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never be released. Cooke added. "You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in government by doing so. You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons." - Roshonara Choudhry jailed for life over MP attack, Vikram Dodd, The Guardian (2010)


    CCTV of Choundhry before the attack

    On a backdrop of violence, and a perception of the Government losing control, it fell to Vince Cable to prevent the coalition's second ever budget. Highlights included raising the personal allowance a further £1,500 to £10,0000, meaning 600,000 people would no longer have to pay income tax. This was paid for by lowering the threshold of the higher rate of tax from £35,000 to £33,000, bringing 800,000 people into the higher rate. Cable also raised national insurance employee contribution from 12% to 14%.

    The most controversial part of the budget was a slashing of corporation tax from 28% to 19%, one of the largest cuts to corporation tax in recent memory. All in all the coalition had cut £75 billion of taxes during a global financial crisis. Labour leader David Miliband was critical of the Chancellor on the cuts to corporation tax, saying: "An enterprise zone proposal dusted off from the 1980s cannot undo the damage of a deficit plan that goes too far and too fast. It didn't work then, it won't work now." Milliband's objection wasn't to spending and tax cuts, which he broadly supported. Instead he criticised the Government for being too aggressive with cuts. Miliband's tacit support of tax cuts was a gift to the Greens and SNP and further enraged the Labour left.


    Yorkshire Senator Jon Trickett led the Labour-Left's opposition to the tax cuts

    The budget represented the strain in the coalition, Lib Dem grassroots were chomping for concessions from the Tories, Cable got this through agreements to take the lowest earners out of tax. Many Liberal Democrat members were still displeased, the corporation tax cuts were a typical Tory move, many activists worried the party was on the brink of collapse, the BBC’s “poll of polls” in June had them on just 14%, or only 90 seats, below the 100 seat “danger zone”.

    “In the coalition negotiations in 2008, David Willetts is reported to have told his wife: "I've killed the Liberal Democrats." The parties signed off the final agreement in 2008. It seems the fate of the Liberal Democrats might have been sealed. After two years in coalition, the party's poll rating had fallen by 5%. Three months on and three weeks before Lord Browne's report on Higher Education and Student Finance, it had nearly halved to 11%. There is evidence that the electorate may have already made up its mind. In some polls the party had ratings as low as 8% by the close of 2010. The Liberal Democrats had surrendered their mantle as the party of protest and were now the main focus of public anger and distrust. Over the first years of the coalition the party's poll rating remained static with little sign of it ever reaching the dizzy heights of 20%. Rather than fighting Labour for third-party status like in 2008, they were battling UKIP for third place in England and Wales. While in Scotland the "Unionist Pact" caused the SNP to eclipse the Liberal Democrats.” - From Coalition to Catastrophe, Andrew Russell (2015)

    The Liberal Democrats needed a way to reclaim their radicalism, after months of negotiations with Osborne and Howard the Lib Dems threw down the gauntlet, Foreign Secretary Chris Huhne demanded the withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 Presidential Election. If the Conservatives refused, the Lib Dems would walk. Howard was sympathetic to the demands, although he supported the war, he was generally an isolationist, their role in Afghanistan had been to defeat the Taliban, the Taliban were defeated and thus should come home. Osborne was more weary, naturally a humanitarian interventionist, Osborne was concerned about a vacuum in Afghanistan, and the reaction of the US and other British allies. However the Lib Dems were unwilling to budge, polling showed Labour now had a narrow lead of 4 points, if Osborne went to the polls he would risk being one of Britain's shortest lived Prime Ministers. Eventually he made his decision...

    “Defence Secretary Simon Hughes has described the Commonwealth's defence budget as "chaotic and disorganised". In a Daily Telegraph interview, Mr Hughes blames the previous Labour government for what he calls the "horrendous" situation at the MoD. The remarks follow a disagreement between Osborne and Hughes over cuts to defence spending and Afghanistan withdrawal. Mr Hughes said defence was the "most chaotic, most disorganised, most over-committed" budget he had seen. He told the Telegraph: "We are going to have a bunch of kit that makes us well prepared to fight the Russians on the north German plain. That's not a war we are likely to face." The Defence Secretary said there was little the coalition could do about the situation. "We are bound into contracts and that's just a fact of life," he said. The Defence Secretary has entered this tense debate, and warned it could bring an end to the coalition.” - Defence Budget Chaotic, BBC (2010)


    Trident renewal was coming soon, another chink in the coalition's armour

    How and why did the Liberal Democrats take a more interventionist approach to Foreign Policy between 2005-2010? (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
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    2010, Part 2, The two Obamas
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    Osborne appeared on Andrew Marr to defend his Afghan plan the day after his announcement. Marr accused him of having a "yellow gun" to his head. Osborne denied this.

    “Osborne was not about to go as far and fast as suggested by his "wild men", but he had decided that it was time for Britain to make a dignified exit from Afghanistan. His Foreign Secretary, Chris Huhne, was horrified at the cost of the war, which broke £20 billion in 2010. As far as Huhne was concerned, the sooner Britain got out the better. Public support for the war had also dropped. In July 2009, 30 per cent were prepared to support continuing Britain's involvement in the war beyond six months. One year on, that number had fallen to 21 per cent. I was vital, that Britain did not cut and run as it had done in Iraq. It was also imperative that the United States was not left in the lurch. political support for the war was also collapsing within the NATO alliance. In December 2009 France announced that it was withdrawing its forces from ISAF. In January the Dutch Government fell after trying to extend the ISAF mission for its forces. The new Government pulled out of Afghanistan six months later. Canada was already on schedule to withdraw its combat forces in 2010.”
    - Unwinnable, Theo Farrell, (2017)

    In a joint Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Osborne, Foreign Secretary Huhne and Defence Secretary Hughes had an announcement to make. Britain would withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan by the 2014 Presidential Election. They had been eager to make the announcement before the G8 meeting in Ottawa just a few weeks later. Nearly 300 Commonwealth forces personnel had died since the Afghan mission began in 2001. During the 2008 election campaign, the Lib Dems had said they would like to see troops brought back during the course of the 2008-2011 Parliament, but they negotiated up to the 2014 election. Simon Hughes said "We can't be there for another five years, having been there for nine years already. But one thing we should be clear about - Britain should have a long-term relationship with Afghanistan. This includes helping to train their troops and their civil society, long after the vast bulk of troops have gone home." Chris Huhne aides said they were working on a new timetable for bringing troops home. The announcement was a victory for the Lib Dems. President Howard said his mind was now "fully focused" on how to bring British forces out of Afghanistan". The coalition's announcement came after as three Commonwealth soldiers who died in an accident in Afghanistan were named by the Ministry of Defence.


    The MoD had its first third party Minister ever

    Another victory for the Lib Dems came with the scrapping of ASBOs, a big lib dem policy. The Government said it was "time to move beyond" Asbos. The coalition announced the end of their use nationally, although nations and regions could still use them locally. Launching a review of the system, Home Secretary Chris Grayling said it was time to "stop tolerating" bad behaviour. More than half of Asbos were breached from 2000 to 2008, government figures showed. But Labour, which devised Asbos, said they had made a "huge contribution" to cutting crime. Former Home Secretary Derry Irvine brought in the Asbo to deal with persistent minor offenders. It imposed restrictions, such as banning people from a local area or preventing them from swearing in public. If an offender breached their asbo, they could face jail. Deputy PM Davey said he wanted a review of the powers because police should be able to use their "common sense" to deal with anti-social behaviour. Punishments should be "rehabilitative and restorative", rather than "criminalising", he argued. Anti-social behaviour orders promised so much but, in the eyes of the coalition government, had delivered so little.

    In international affairs, President Howard was travelling to his first G8 meeting since his re-election in 2009. Howard was now the second most senior G8 leader, having led the Commonwealth since 2004, the only G8 leader more senior than him was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Belisconi, who had been first elected PM in 1994. However Belisconi’s premiership had been broken several times, and Howard was the longest serving continuous G8 leader.

    “Micheal Howard suggests a timetable for pulling our troops out of Afghanistan. The other G8 leaders in Toronto appear to fall in with his plan 24 hours later. Is our pumped-up President ahead of the curve, influencing the G8 leadership as the most experienced member of the group? Or is this the interpretation of these events they hope we'll accept? The subjects discussed at these summit meetings - and the likely conclusions reached - are usually fixed in advance. America decides what countries will discuss and agree. If it didn't suit America to fix a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Howard wouldn't have raised the topic. Obama has enough nasty, real surprises to handle. So why allow Howard to appear as if he's dictating a new line on Afghanistan? Because it helps Obama. After winning the presidency, he had announced his hope to bring troops home from Afghanistan in June 2011. He realises this isn't possible any more, but his shift can be presented as the preference of the U.S.'s coalition allies.” - Is Michael just a stooge for Obama?, Peter MacKay, Daily Mail (2010)

    The main thrust of the meeting was on economic issues. Micheal Howard said there is "no difference" between the US and Commonwealth on his plans for cuts. US President Barack Obama had before warned G20 leaders not to withdraw economic stimulus packages too early. Howard, who backed spending cuts, said the US accepted that those with the biggest deficits had to "speed up the process of dealing with them". US Treasury Secretary Summers told other finance ministers that Europe should focus on growth, as well as cuts. President Obama warned European leaders they had to learn from the "mistakes of the past. He argued when stimulus was withdrawn it resulted in renewed economic hardships and recession". Asked if he thought Obama was nervous about the Commonwealth's plans to cut spending Howard said: "No. In the British case, the Americans and others accept that those of us with the biggest deficits have to speed up the process of dealing with them. Because the big risk to our economies is actually not dealing with the deficits. There's no difference between us and the Americans on that."


    As usual protesters descended on the G8 and G20 meetings. Caricatures of Howard would appear frequently, he became the face of austerity not just in Britain but around the world

    This was the main division in the G8, the pro-stimulus camp led by Obama and the anti-stimulus camp led by Howard and Merkel. Howard’s previous position on the foreign stage had already alienated him from allies in the EU. His support for international austerity soured the relationship with the new US President. Personally the two had little in common. Howard was over 20 years older and was an old fashioned rural Tory, whereas Obama was from a different generation and politically came of age in inner Chicago. This isn’t to mention the fundamental philosophical differences between the two men. Howard had hoped some of the Obama magic would rub off on him, but instead he found a cold shoulder.

    “Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. It is my great pleasure to deliver this conference with President Howard on his G8 since his reelection. We have concluded some excellent discussions. Mr. President, we can never say it enough. The United States and the Commonwealth of Britain enjoy a special relationship. We celebrate a common heritage. We cherish common values. And we speak a common language — most of the time. We honour the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform who have served together, bled together, and even lay at rest together. This friendship allows us to have each other's back. But also to speak out when we believe our friends are making mistakes. President Howard and myself have had some frank conversations about the world's economic future. I will say now what I said to President Howard. Above all, our alliance thrives because it advances our common interests. When the United States and the Commonwealth of Britain stand together on the economy, our people are more secure and they are more prosperous. For the global economy to survive we need British stimulus.” - Barrack Obama, G8 Joint Press Conference (2010)


    One of the people to speak out in Howard's defence was the US Minority Leader, Republican John Boehner

    Opposition parties did not hesitate to take advantage of Howard’s embarrassment.Labour’s Deputy Leader in the House of Commons, Sadiq Khan gleefully needled Deputy PM Davey at PMQs. Khan pointed out the coalition's estrangement from the allies and the international liberal world order. Khan particularly attacked the Government on the issue of international tax avoidance.

    Khan pointed out that in several days of meetings, Howard didn't mention tax avoidance once. Khan said Labour would write new rules to tackle corporate tax avoidance if it won the next election. stating the party would fight for an international agreement. In a brutal PMQs, Khan told Parliament the government had "got to act" on the "massive" issue. He said if the Government didn't make a deal, they would be unable to would order multinational firms to be more transparent about the money they made. Khan used the example of Google's tax practices. Google's sales in the Commonwealth were worth nearly £3bn, but routed its earnings through Dublin. In 2009 it paid less than £5m in Commonwealth corporation tax. Many saw Khan's pitch on tax avoidance as a way to appeal to the left ahead of Miliband's departure.

    “Khan is quick on his feet, colloquial and irreverent. He has the sort of confidence that teeters on the brink of arrogance without quite tipping over. When I listen to the tape afterwards, he talks so fast that I have to replay it at a slower speed – but he still speaks quicker than most people. With the tapes slowed down he sounds a bit like Ed Miliband, for they share a similar cadence and rhythm of speech. He was the former Environment Secretary's campaign manager during the primary. Khan is quick to emphasise the qualities Miliband's campaign made much of. "We can be aggressive, and get the job done, but it's not difficult to have manners and be nice and not brief against rivals." He talks a lot about the importance in politics of empathy. He goes on to say "We are all ordinary people, and we surround ourselves with normal people. You can have all the focus groups in the world, but unless you're mixing with normal people, how do you know what different kinds of people will think?” - Sadiq Khan, Another British Obama?, Decca Aitkenhead, The Guardian (2010)


    Many expected Khan to become Britain's first ethnic minority Prime Minister

    ‘Party leaders are the crucial factor in whether or not a political party is successful.’ How far do you agree with this view of what determines the success of a political
    Party? (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
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    2010, Part 3, Consequences
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    Prime Minister Osborne joined Howard for the first few days of his India trip, including visiting a new JCB factory in Pune

    “The rest of the world seems enthused about India. In 2010 President Obama and President Michael Howard of the Commonwealth of Britain both led large delegations to India. Relationships between the two countries cooled slightly after Britain's transition into Commonwealth, but trade and relationships have improved in the early 2010s, helped by Howard's strong support of India over its conflict with Pakistan. Businesses in their countries are excited about India's prospects. India's trade officials are among the most active in the world these days. They travel all over the Middle East, African and Latin America, as well as Europe and Asia, to strike bilateral deals. The world is responding. In Britain chancellor Vince Cable said in 2010 that "India's policies of trade and investment are regenerating it. This allows it to regain an influence it had three centuries ago.”
    - The Growth Map, Jim O’Neill (2011)

    After the G8 meeting concluded, Howard continued with his international diplomatic blitz, catching a flight to Bangalore for his diplomatic tour of the Indian subcontinent. Howard’s hawkish stance towards Iran had also soured relationships with Pakistan. Howard was a strong supporter of India and had got on well with Prime Minister Sushma Swaraj.


    Howard's hawkish declarations abroad caused headaches for his dovish Defence Secretary Simon Hughes, who supported detente with Pakistan and Iran

    During his trip to India, Howard warned Pakistan not to have any relationship with groups that "promote the export of terror". He said that he would be raising the issue with his Indian counterpart Swaraj when they held talks in Delhi on Thursday. This caused friction with Huhne, his more pacifist Foreign Secretary. Huhne insisted he was talking about Pakistan as a country, not its government. He said that the main message was for Pakistan to shut "terror groups" down. "We should be very, very clear with Pakistan that we want to see a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan," Howard told reporters. "We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan." His remarks followed the leaking of documents on WikiLeaks. The documents alleged Pakistan's Intelligence agency was helping the Afghan insurgency.

    Howard’s aggressive stances abroad directly clashed with the tolerant modern image the coalition was trying to put on at home, relations with Iran were still incredibly strained. The fact Howard came down so strongly for a pro-India position only served to further sour relationships with Muslim majority countries. Huhne and Howard actively contradicting each other on the international stage was a humiliation for the coalition. Liam Fox, Premier of the South West and standard bearer of the Tory right called on Howard to give Huhne the sack. The tension didn’t help when senior Lib Dems were recorded attacking Howard and Osborne

    “Senior Lib Dems have apologised after reporters caught them criticising their Conservative colleagues. In new Daily Telegraph revelations, Scottish Senator Alistair Carmichael attacked Prime Minister George Osborne. Reports recorded Lynne Featherstone suggesting Michael Howard could not be trusted - which she later denied. Senior Conservative Senator Justine Greening dismissed the row and insisted there were "deep bonds" between the two parties. Three Daily Telegraph reporters, posing as constituents, taped conversations with Liberal Democrat politicians. Labour has seized on the revelations as evidence that the coalition is a "sham". Senior Lib Dem and Tory ministers insist such tensions are inevitable when two parties work together. Lynne Featherstone, who told the two fake constituents "I don't want you to trust Michael Howard" has told the BBC she is "embarrassed" by the comments. The Haringey Mayor said it was "not a question of me trusting the President, of course I do".” - Lib Dems apologise over taped Tory criticism, BBC (2010)

    This wasn’t the only thing dragging down the flagging coalition. Despite complaints from MPs for all parties, Education Secretary Micheal Gove announced the Department for Education would be scrapping free milk for under-fives. Although Osborne had feared it would remind voters of the "Thatcher milk snatcher" episode of the 1970s. Howard was eager for the policy and pushed for it in the cabinet. The idea of cutting free milk had been the brainchild of the junior health minister, Philip Hammond. Many were surprised when Hammond received the full backing of the President and the Education Secretary. Gove took to the air to defend the idea, saying it was essential to save money. The government received opposition to the measure from the media, parents and nurseries. In an article in the Guardian, Gove said: "Abolition of the scheme is likely to be controversial. Particularly as this will affect some children in low-income families. This should not prevent us from ending an ineffective universal measure given the state of public finances and the need to make savings." Gove said that the cost of running the scheme in England this year was £45m and would rise to £55m in 2011-12. He said the programme did not "provide value for money in difficult times" and had "become outdated". Michael Howard became the new milk snatcher.


    With the scrapping of free milk for under-5s the link between Thatcherism and Howardism was complete

    It was at this time Britain’s First President Tony Blair published his memoirs “The Stagecoach”. The memoirs were incredibly scathing of senior Labour officials and documented the fraught relationship between Blair and Brown during the early days of the Commonwealth. Blair said his Prime Minister, Gordon Brown could be "maddening" and accused him of lacking "emotional intelligence". In his memoirs, he called Brown a "brilliant" PM but claimed he put him under "relentless" pressure as he tried to take over from him as President. Blair revealed the pressure put on him not to seek a second term as President. Blair also revealed his "anguish" over Commonwealth deaths in the Iraq war. Brownite Senator Glenis Willmott accused Blair of "putting the knife" into his successor. Describing one row, Blair said Brown threatened to challenge him in the 2004 Primary if Blair did not agree to drop reforms to the state pension. In the book, Blair described his colleague as a "strange guy" who, while he had "enormous ability", had "no instinct at the human, gut level". He added: "Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero." But he said it would have been "well nigh impossible" to stop Brown taking over, due to his power base within the party and media.

    “Tony Blair has admitted his relationship with Gordon Brown was "going on impossible". He describes his former rival as "maddening" in his new book. Political Editor Gary Gibbon has learned Brown told friends of Mr Brown "not to retaliate right now". Tony Blair has admitted his relationship with Gordon Brown was "very very difficult" in his memoirs. The former President says he believes "for sure" that Labour could have won the Presidential Election in 2010. But he added: "The relationship with Gordon was very very difficult but it was also very close. Even though towards the end it was hard going on impossible, for a large part of time we were in government he was an immense source of strength." Mr Blair also talks about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear strategy. He says he would not shy away from considering military action if he were still in Downing Street. Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon has learned that Gordon Brown has consulted allies and told them "not to retaliate right now".” - Tony Blair: Brown became 'impossible', Extract from Channel 4 News (2010)


    The two giants of the 99 Commonwealth were now defeated retired men, leaving a vacuum at the top of Labour

    What might have a meteoric event in another life had little impact on Commonwealth politics. Blair was a man of contradictions, a radical reformist on one hand, but also the man who committed the country to war and lost his Presidency in just five years. Blair’s power-base in the Labour Party had been greatly diminished since his departure, with David Miliband remaining the only senior Blairite, all other senior figures in the party like Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman or Ed Balls were some flavour of Brownite. Most in the press saw Blair’s condemnations as the bitter outbursts of a political loser. With Brown retiring from front-line politics the words had even less effect.

    Blair’s memoirs were not the political hand-grenade the coalition had hoped for, despite Miliband’s imminent resignation, the unpopularity of austerity and the chaos in the Government had allowed Labour to slowly creep up in the polls. In polling for the 2011 election the Conservatives only led Labour by one point, polling on 32% and 31% respectively. The Liberal Democrats polling had collapsed down to an average of 16%, UKIP, the Greens and the BNP were all tied on an average of 5%. The polling showed a coalition Government in trouble. With only eight months to go until the election unless something radically changed Osborne might end up as the Commonwealth’s shortest-lived Prime Minister.

    “Elections are shaped by two things: trust in party leaders and trust in their policies. The polls have shown that the Conservatives have done particularly well in the first battle over the last few years. George Osborne is more popular in polls than his party. But the policy contest between the two parties has always been more close-fought. Today's poll suggests it remains tight. The economy remains a defining issue and one on which the Conservatives keep a narrow upper hand. In total, 42% of voters pick economic issues as the ones that will most affect their decision on how to vote next month. That includes 22% who look at general economic competence, 9% who cite the specific handling of the economic crisis and 5% who pick tax as an issue. On all three of these economic issues the Tories keep a small lead over Labour as the party with the best policies. On most others, especially public services, Labour has recovered the advantage.” - Labour is squeezing Tory lead, The Guardian (2010)


    After his surprisingly strong performance in the Presidential Primary, some began a campaign to draft Ed Miliband as Labour's PM candidate

    ‘When it comes to foreign affairs, the President is more powerful than the Foreign Secretary.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    2010 Part 4, Rebels with a Cause
  • 1593430471525.png

    The "Browne Report" formed the Government's justification for tuition reform

    “The government's proposed reforms followed an independent review of HE funding. The previous Labour government instigated the investigation in 2008. Lord Browne's report published in 2010 recommended placing more of the burden on "successful" graduates. The headline being graduates would only make repayments on earnings £20,000 and above. In November 2010, following votes in the Commons and the Lords, President Howard cleared changes to tuition fees for 2012. Tuition fees would be the first major tests of devolved education policy, as Scotland, Wales and the North East would break with the national Government.”
    - Tuition Fees, Politics.cw (2018)

    As 2010 came to a close the coalition faced further embarrassment as Howard signed the Higher Education Act and £6,000 tuition fees became the law of the land. Labour controlled Governments in Scotland and Wales announced they would maintain free tuition for residents of their region. The Labour/Green run North East Government also announced they would be scrapping tuition fees. The Welsh Government under Premier Alun Michael went one step further, Michael announced it would be scrapping tuition fees for out of region Commonwealth citizens, meaning students from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland could all get tuition free education in Wales.

    Many hailed this as a move of genius on Michael’s part. Wales had been facing a “brain drain” over the last few years as many of its young people moved to English cities for university and never returned. Not only did this policy encourage Welsh students to stay, it also allowed Welsh universities to poach students with the offer of free education. Wales saw near immediate results, top Welsh universities like Cardiff and Swansea began to climb up in the league tables. If thousands of Labour-voting young people moved to Cardiff and voted for Michael, that was just a coincidental upside.


    Wales remained a Labour Stronghold, Micheal had the largest majority of any Labour Premier

    “The Welsh Government will meet the cost of extra fees for Welsh students attending any Commonwealth university. This freezes the cost at £3,290. Welsh students attending Welsh universities will face no fees. English people who wish to study at Welsh universities would also face no tuition fees as a gambit to attract top talent. It means the Welsh government has joined Scotland and the North East in breaking away from the coalition government. Wales' decision has been credited to Premier Michael and Plaid Education Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones. In Scotland, students, if they attend a Scottish university, pay no fees at all although they still charge tuition fees to English students. In Northern Ireland, a decision has yet to be taken. It's expected that the Assembly will keep fees below the dramatic increase planned for England. Bills for free regional tuition have been tabled in the Yorkshire and the North West Parliaments but the Conservative Governments are expected to vote them down.”
    - Wales' tuition fee plans cause howls of Westminster outrage, Tracy McVeigh, The Guardian (2010)

    The image of student protesters applauding in Cardiff was strongly contrasted with the sit-ins and protests outside the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The issue of tuition fees was an embarrassment for the National Government but it also allowed the various nations and regions to assert themselves. The misalignment on education policy would be just one example of the growing gulf between Labour and Conservative controlled regions. Alun Michael became the unlikely hero of the student movement, and as usual whenever any politician reached the national spotlight, whispers about the Presidency began.

    The coalition tried to reclaim the story when Transport Secretary Greg Clark revealed plans for £7bn of investment into Britain’s railways. A former SDP member, Clark was a classical Tory “wet” more comfortable in the coalition than with many of his Conservative colleagues. Clark announced the purchase of over 1,500 new carriages to tackle overcrowding and electrification of some lines. However Clark came under criticism as only 600 of the new carriages would be available by 2015. This was less than the 1,400 promised by the Brown Government. Clark also announced he would be delaying Thameslink by two years. Labour MP Rosie Winterton called the plans "nothing more than one long series of delays". Proposals to modernise the London-Swansea line were still on hold. Clark announced the investment would be complete in 2020. The lack of investment in Wales connection whilst billions were spent on Thameslink was another example of growing discontent between London and the Regions. Passengers were also outraged to find they would face above-inflation rises in ticket prices to help pay for the investments. "Commuters will see their fares rise by 4% above inflation next year. They now face waits of up to a decade for the new trains that will ease overcrowding and speed up journeys," said Senator John Healey.

    In more “wet” coalition policies Justice Secretary David Heath’s legislation to grant prisoners serving less than five years the vote passed to howls of protest from UKIP and BNP MPs. BNP MP Richard Branbrook even tried to seize the mace in protest but was blocked by the Sergeant at arms. Over 20 Conservative MPs joined with UKIP and BNP MPs to vote against the measure. Privately Home Secretary Chris Grayling was staunchly against the bill and threatened to resign, only being talked down by Vice President Michael Ancram who promised him Howard would veto the bill and force an extra reading. The calculation being Osborne wouldn’t risk the embarrassment of overruling his own President.


    The relationship between Howard and Osborne slowly shifted from cordial to an all-encompassing power struggle

    “Osborne's contribution to this government and Howard's Presidency was seminal. Like Howard he grew in stature over the years, recovering from his personal errors of judgement early on. Notably, the failure to win a clear victory in the 2008 election. He was responsible for much of the strategic and tactical thinking of the Government. Osborne would overrule Howard when he thought he was being too ideological or his judgement was wrong. The most instinctive political operator in Howard's team. Osborne also possessed the quickest and subtlest mind. Howard was always the more senior, as when he prevented Osborne from reducing the top rate of income tax to 35% in the 2011 budget. Osborne presented Howard from laying into the Lib Dems and gaining tactical advantage. He gave them cover and succour when wounded for much of 2011.”
    - Osborne at 10, Anthony Seldon (2015)

    Grayling’s calculation didn’t pay off. The bill passed with the support of all major parties, Howard vetoed the bill stating he couldn’t “in good conscious” support the bill. The ball was now in Osborne’s court for the fourth reading. Osborne supported the bill and if he whipped against it the fragile coalition would most likely collapse, on the other hand if he whipped in favour of the bill he would be overruling a Conservative President, Labour and the press would have a field day.


    Osborne Ally Senator Michael Fallon aggressively took to the airways to support overruling Howard

    Osborne announced his MPs would be voting aye and overruling Howard, despite a larger rebellion of nearly 30 MPs the overrule passed comfortably, for the first time since Osborne’s election the Commonwealth had its first President-Prime Minister standoff. Osborne had won, his shaky coalition with the Liberal Democrats survived, but his relationship with Howard would never be the same.

    Howard would have his revenge later in the Month when he was called to resolve a clash in the cabinet. This time it was on Rupert Murdoch's take-over of BSkyB. Business Secretary Dominic Grieve believed the Government shouldn’t intervene, if Murdoch had the funds and the will to take over Sky, the Government shouldn’t step in to stop him. On the other hand Culture Secretary Danny Alexander was eager to block the merger, Rupert Murdoch was no friend of the Liberal Democrats and Alexander was eager to stop him growing his power.

    The media world watched with bated breath on what Howard would choose. Whilst Murdoch was traditionally a Conservative he had endorsed Blair over Howard in the 2004 election, a wound Howard had never forgiven. However the paper had disaffiliated from Labour in 2005 and officially came out for Howard in 2009. A chance to grow the power of Conservative print media and get back at the Lib Dems was a temptation Howard could not resist, Rupert Murdoch became the proud new owner of Sky News. Scottish Green Senator Eleanor Scott warned the decision had created a “British Fox News”.

    “During my period as a producer at Sky News, between 2005 and 2007, I used to answer the question, "Where do you work?" from members of my wife's family in the United States with the line: "A channel called Sky News. It's the British equivalent of Fox News." What I meant, of course, was that Sky News is, like Fox News, a 24-hour rolling news channel, available on satellite and via cable. It is also a part of Rupert Murdoch's global media empire. But in style and in substance, of course, it is nothing like the pro-war, pro-Republican, pro-Palin Fox News Channel (FNC). For a start, we have Ofcom (which the Tories want to abolish!) and Ofcom would never allow such blatant, on-air bias in this country (God bless Ofcom!). Indeed, I defy you to find me a single anchor or reporter on Sky News who bears even a passing ideological resemblance to Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck. But the Labour Party and some of its more credulous supporters seem to be insinuating that Sky News has a pro-Tory, anti-Labour bias” - Is Sky News biased against Labour?, Medhi Hassan, New Statesman (2010)


    Alistair Campbell accused Sky News' Adam Boulton of bias during its coverage of election night 2009

    Explain the current disagreements between the nations and regions over education policy (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    Closer Look, 2009 London Premier Election
  • In the London Region independent left-winger Ken Livingstone had served as Premier since 1999. Leading a traffic-light coalition of Labour, Liberal and Green Party members of the London Parliament. Livingstone had been popular when first elected but disagreements with his newly appointed First Minister Stephen Timms and corruption scandals revolving around his advisers had reduced his popularity.

    The Conservatives selected London MP and Howard ally, Boris Johnson. Most Conservatives did not take him seriously, favouring Nick Boles. After defeating Boles in the primary, Johnson gained Osborne's support. The London Evening Standard endorsed him. Johnson hired election strategist Lynton Crosby to run his mayoral campaign. Sympathisers in London's financial sector funded his campaign. Johnson's campaign focused on reducing youth crime and making public transport safer. Johnson also advocated the law being "flexible" for medical cannabis. Johnson targeted the Conservative-leaning suburbs of outer London. Johnson's campaign worked, his personal popularity mixed with the national swing catapulted him to the top job in London politics.

    At the start of the campaign Livingstone took Johnson more seriously than many others were doing. Livingstone referred to him as "the most formidable opponent I will face in my political career." Much of Labour's campaign revolved around criticising Johnson for past perceived racist comments. Johnson denied that he was bigoted. Livingstone also proposed that, if he were to win a third term, he would increase the congestion charge fee to £25 for the most polluting vehicles. He pledged to introduce a cycling scheme based on the Vélib' system in Paris. As part of his campaign, Livingstone highlighted that, by 2009, the Metropolitan Police had 36,000 officers, 11,000 more than it had had in 1999. Livingstone put a strong fight in but he ultimately lost out to Johnson.

    Ken Livingstone also faced a tough battle to make in into the final round against Southwark Mayor Harriet Harman. Harman had a surprisingly strong performance in Labour's 2008 primary and used this to leapfrog into Labour's Premier nomination. Harman had a national profile and was popular, she would be Labour's most effective candidate in London since the Commonwealth started. Harman focused her campaign around opposition to Johnson's misogynistic comments and she campaign for the delivery of more social housing in South London. Harman courted controversy when she said she wouldn't put Livingstone as her second choice, decrying Johnson and Livingstone as "two sides of the same coin". Despite her campaign she didn't overtake Livingstone and was knocked out in the third round.

    The Liberal Democrats ran former Met Police Commissioner and Camden Mayor Brian Paddick. Paddick's main campaign was on drug liberalisation. He reiterated that they are "dangerous and harmful and it is better if people live without them", but that he had a "realistic approach" to enforcement. Paddick struggled due to the coalition which was incredibly unpopular in London, he garnered only 8% of the vote. Paddick joined Harman in making no endorsement in the last round

    Jean Lambert, Leader of the Greens in London Parliament and London's Environment Minister ran on a platform of controlling air pollution in the city, pledging a stronger congestion charge and a London-wide clean air zone. She also pledged to protect the Greenbelt from building expansion. Lambert did about as well as expected, gaining 6% of the vote and endorsing Livingstone in the final round.

    As for minor parties, the BNP opted not to run a candidate, instead focusing on the Presidential election, UKIP and the Christian Party discussed a joint candidate but this was shot down and neither decided to run a candidate. Respect also didn't run a candidate instead joining the "Livingstone Alliance".

    2009 London Premier Election.png

    "The record will show that the era of Ken ended midnight, 4 June 2009. And that moment did seem to carry some historical significance. It was emotional. The beaten 63-year-old candidate, wearing grey suit, blue shirt and yellow tie, stood at one remove from his great rival. His result was called fourth and he fingered the speech he had prepared. As the counting officer declared Johnson the winner, he surveyed the packed chamber at City Hall. His cheeks bulged. He gave a resigned smile. When he spoke, he said this would be his last election. "Forty-one years ago almost to the day, I won my first election on a manifesto promising to introduce a free bus pass for pensioners. Now I've lived long enough to get one myself. Since then, I've won 11 more elections and lost three. But the one I most regret losing is this." He apologised to his supporters for failing to retake the mayoralty; an effort hampered by an "incredible media battering"." - a London heavyweight brought down by his baggage, Hugh Muir, The Guardian (2009)
    Labour Internal Elections 2011, Part 1
  • 1593525212192.png

    After departing from Labour politics, David Miliband would become on of the British media's top "talking heads"

    “David Miliband is considering a role in television in a surprise move. The Opposition leader who lost out to George Osborne in 2008, has approached the BBC with some programme ideas. It is unclear whether Miliband wants to front one-off documentaries or a series of shows. It is thought all his proposals would involve him taking a starring role on screen. Such a move would invite comparisons with Michael Portillo. The former minister developed a thriving television career after his own ambitions to lead his party came to nothing. Portillo made a documentary series for Channel 4 after the humiliating loss of his parliamentary seat at the 1997 election. The one-time darling of the Tory right later ran for President. After failing to win the nomination of his party in 1999, when he was defeated by William Hague he reinvented himself as a successful presenter.”
    - David Miliband eyes up a fresh role in television, James Robinson, The Guardian (2011)

    With both David Miliband and Jack Straw stepping back from politics there were two vacancies at the top of British politics. Even though he had departed mainstream politics Gordon Brown’s shadow still hung over the Labour Party, Labour supporters still regarded Brown with great affection and several of his acolytes remained in senior positions in the party.

    The most important role up for election was the election for Labour’s leader in Parliament, the winner of this election would become the party’s PM candidate, and if they won the election in May they would form a Labour Government. Brown, Miliband and Straw had been giants of the Labour movements and there were few who could fill their shoes, senior Labour figures like Harriet Harman, Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham all ruled themselves out of contention, instead they fell in behind Gordon Brown’s protege Ed Balls.

    “The biggest hurdle Ed Balls had to overcome was establishing his own political identity, separate from that of Gordon Brown. He owes his political career to Mr Brown, who talent-spotted him when he was a young financial journalist in the early 1990s. By the time he was 30, he was second in command at the Treasury. He helped to mastermind then chancellor Mr Brown's biggest policy coups such as the handing of the control of interest rates to the Bank of England. He was also on the front-line of the war between Mr Brown's Downing Street and Tony Blair's Buckingham. It was during this period that he gained a reputation for briefing against Labour colleagues seen as enemies of Mr Brown. He has rejected Senator Liz Kendall's claim he was part of a Brownite "insurgency" against Mr Blair's premiership. Balls argues that there was a "creative tension" rather than warfare between the two camps. But his combative, even abrasive, approach to politics has seen him labelled something of a bully in the past - something always denied by friends.” - Profile: Ed Balls, BBC (2011)


    Balls had a reputation for ruthlessness, he attempted to give a softer image through dancing for the camera with his wife, Yorkshire First Minister Yvette Cooper, at his victory party

    Unlike Blair and David Miliband after him, Brown had taken the time to cultivate a successor, his former Chief of Staff and Education Secretary Ed Balls. Regarded as gruff and unlikable by many, Balls had embarked upon an image change after the 2009 election making friends with MPs and showing his more human side. In short, Ed Balls began speaking like a human being. His intellect and passion seemed to meet for the first time. Those watching finally saw what has propelled him to the top of new Labour. Balls had a huge brain and thanks to Brown’s backing he had a great deal of support amongst unions and the Labour-supporting media. Balls ran a populist message, pledging to “listen” on the issue of immigration, pledging to be “on the side of ordinary working people”.

    With Balls as such a clear front-runner, the Blairites had to draw straws to choose their lamb for the slaughter. David Miliband led a desperate scramble to identify a successor. Scottish Premier Jim Murphy was one of the figures considered but his alliance with the Tories north of the walls made him persona non grata amongst even the most right-wing Labour activists, with the Scottish coalition shaky and the SNP surging they couldn’t risk pulling Murphy and collapsing that house of cards.

    Former International Development Secretary Caroline Flint was also on the shortlist. At just 48 years old Flint would bring youth and vigour to the role, she would also break a glass ceiling, a former GMB political officer she had strong connections with the unions. Unfortunately for Flint she didn’t have the influence to challenge Balls, since Labour’s ousting from power in 2008 Flint had been forced out of the public eye and lacked the support in the party to provide a credible challenge to Balls.


    The young former Minister would become a senior standard bearer for the Labour right in the early 2010s

    “During her career, Caroline has become a familiar face on current affairs programmes. She has been on shows such as This Week, Question Time and Politics Live. Caroline served as a Minister in five departments during the Brown governments. Caroline has been active in politics joining the Labour Party at the age of 17. She was active in three general elections before standing for election in 1997. She has never been in any other party. Caroline worked in local government, the voluntary sector and for a trade union before becoming an MP. She is Chair of the Community Union Parliamentary Group; and also a member of the GMB. In the early 1990s Caroline was Chair of Working for Childcare, the Workplace Nurseries Campaign.”
    - Extract from the leaked website “Caroline4Leader” (2011)

    There was only one real option, Alan Johnson, the “left behind’s Mayor.” Despite his defeat in the 2009 Primary, Johnson remained active in the media and was the last Blairite big beast left, his Hull Mayoralty gave him an anti-establishment figure. Like a dutiful soldier marching over the top, Johnson announced his candidacy. Johnson’s campaign was very light on policy, instead focusing on Johnson’s background as the working class son of a postman, Johnson pledged to break the hold of the “middle class elites”


    Johnson's campaign slogan was "A Working Class Champion"

    From the soft-left of the party Sadiq Khan announced his candidacy, Khan had impressed pundits through his performance as the PLP’s Deputy Leader, progressive, young, Muslim and an excellent media performer Khan’s chances looked good, whilst it was unlikely he could defeat Balls, he might be able to push Johnson into third place. Khan’s campaign was similar to Ed Miliband’s he ran on his opposition to the Iraq War in 2011 and pledged to attack the roots of problems like crime and poverty, Khan was also the most unabashedly pro-immigration candidate in the field.

    Rosie Winterton also made a surprise bid for the job. Whilst she was popular amongst MP she didn’t have the backing of any particular faction and was virtually unknown by members of the public. Winterton ran as a unity candidate promising to put to bed the Blairite/Brownite divisions, she also argued it was time for a woman leader.

    The campaign was fairly short only a couple of weeks long, which suited Balls just fine. Balls quickly racked up endorsements from senior Labour figures including Gordon Brown and John Prescott. Balls’ campaign had the backing of almost all the major unions, leading to a well-funded and slick operation. Opponents attempted to rile Balls in order to reveal his abrasive personality to members of the public, but Balls kept his cool out in the open, by the time of the special conference in Glasgow polls showed Balls winning comfortably in the first round.

    2011 Parliamentary Labour Party leadership election.png

    The results were a blowout victory for Balls, with the full weight of the Labour establishment behind him and a divided opposition Balls cruised to a comfortable victory, Khan too put in a strong performance, coming two points behind Johnson. Balls’ speech struck a hopeful, insurgent note, seemingly drawing a line under the Blair era. Although Balls extolled the virtues of financial discipline, he also promised “bold, courageous leadership” pledging he would not be afraid to take on vested interests and promising to reform British society from “top to bottom”. Balls’ speech made sharp contrast to David Miliband’s cautious leadership over the last three years. Balls had won the party, now he had to win the country

    “It is a pleasure to be here at the LSE to give my first speech on economics as Leader of the Opposition. And it will come as a relief to hear that I don’t intend to lecture you on economic theory today. In my speech at the headquarters of Bloomberg, I set out the lack of economic theory underpinning Vince Cable's economic strategy. I shone a light on the large extent to which political calculations were already driving the new Government’s policy. And I want today to look at what happens when a choice between politics and economics confronts policy-makers. And the consequences of getting that choice wrong. Throughout history, historians describe pivotal moments when leaders have faced a choice as ‘a fork in the road’. But in peacetime politics or economics, such moments tend to involve less of a clear-cut choice between two paths and more of a gradual drift. Take the fateful decision for Britain to join the ERM. That wasn’t the result of great minds sitting around a table one day weighing up the pros and cons. It was the product of years of deliberation and delay, persuasion and preparation.” - LSE Lecture by Ed Balls “the economic alternative” (2011)

    To what extent is “Ballsism” a distinct ideology from Blairism and Brownism (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    Closer Look, 2009 Yorkshire Premier Election
  • Yorkshire was one of the traditionally red northern regions that the Conservatives managed to flip. Led by Blairite David Blunkett since 1999, Blunkett had once been considered a future President but had fallen from grace, the recession had hit Yorkshire hard and the Labour coalition had lost its majority back in the 2008 Parliamentary election and was requiring the aid of Greens to keep going.

    The Conservatives nominated William Hague, the former Presidential candidate who had led the Yorkshire Tories to their best result ever in 2008. Since his defeat in 1999 Hague had transformed from a Thatcherite oddity to a veritable elder statesman. Hague used the financial crisis to reach out to unemployed urbanites and disaffected rural voters alike, scoring particularly well in the outer suburbs of traditionally Labour cities, like Harewood in North-East Leeds.

    Blunkett's premiership was flagging, original the first ever disabled Premier, multiple corruption scandals and a financial crisis had tanked his approval ratings, Blunkett also lost support amongst Labour members, Yorkshire became a hotbed of BNP activity, sending four MPs to Parliament from Yorkshire, Blunkett responded to this by taking even more draconian measures on immigration, which only caused more dissatisfaction amongst Labour supporters and emboldened the BNP. Both publicly and privately many in the YPLP called for Blunkett to stand aside in favour of his younger First Minister Yvette Cooper. Maybe she could have prevented the disastrous outcome for Yorkshire Labour.

    The Lib Dem's Deputy First Minister Greg Mullholland led the party into the Premier elections, Mullholland was a strange case for a senior Lib Dem, a devote catholic he contributed to the book "Liberal Democrats Do God". He faced criticised for his opposition to liberalising LGBT and abortion laws, however he was very popular in rural Yorkshire, his maverick reputation as a thorn in Blunkett and Cooper's side garnered him much popularity, essentially running as the "shod them all" candidate he put in a strong performance, coming within a handful of votes of overtaking Blunkett in the third round.

    As for third parties, UKIP went with their Yorkshire Parliamentary Leader Jonathan Arnott, just 27 years old Arnott was a relative moderate in UKIP and his main priority was seeing of the threat from BNP, Arnott ran as a respectable traditional politician hoping to win over disaffected Tories. The BNP put a lot of stock in Andrew Brons' campaign, Yorkshire was the closest thing the party had to a stronghold and Brons boasted he would overtake UKIP and the Lib Dems to become Yorkshire's third party. Brons' campaign was bitterly disappointing, allegations of his past membership of the "National Socialist Movement" a neo-nazi hate group, and the anti-immigration tones of almost all the major candidates meant Brons didn't make the great breakthrough he had hoped for. The Greens elected not to run a candidate, they were nearly booted out of the Yorkshire Parliament in 2008 with only 4.7% of the vote, polling for 2011 showed them on as little as 2% so they elected to save their resources for the Parliamentary elections.

    In the end Hague achieved a resounding victory, becoming Yorkshire's first ever Tory Premier

    2009 Yorkshire Premier Election.png

    "Blunkett and Hague, are now locking horns over the spending cuts in Yorkshire in a debate which is being echoed across the country. Hague accuses Blunkett of wanting to return to the days when Labour used Yorkshire as a "political battering ram". The Conservatives were enraged when the Premier warned of a "post-Soviet" meltdown. Blunkett warned of scavenging in the streets if a Hague premiership was elected and scrapped the Yorkshire deprivation grant. Hague, who appeared on the platform with Blunkett, denied that he would scrap the grant (also known as the Working Neighbourhoods Fund). Hague says the warning from Blunkett is typical of a Labour party that fails to take responsibility for the "financial mess". Hague accused Blunkett of failing to acknowledge that he would be imposing similar cuts in government." - Warning by David Blunkett sets scene for battle in William Hague's backyard, Nicholas Watt, The Guardian (2009)
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    Labour Internal Elections Part 2
  • 1593604193342.png

    Jack Straw was the last of the New Labour "old guard" to depart centre stage

    “Jack Straw is to step down from frontbench politics after 30 years, he announced today. The North West Senator, who served as Premier, Senator and Senate Opposition Leader, said he believed Labour needed a "fresh start". "I was first appointed to the Labour frontbench in 1980, and then elected to the Shadow Cabinet in 1987," he told the Press Association. "But now I want the freedom to range more over foreign and economic policy." He added: "I'll be spending more time on my constituency, and I will be writing a memoir in time." Mr Straw said he would leave in early 2011 when Labour supporters had voted on a fresh Senate leader. Straw said he was not planning to quit as a Senator. "They seem to want me," he added. Mr Straw,joins senior Labour figures like Gordon Brown and David Miliband in retiring from frontbench politics. Mr Straw told the Lancashire Telegraph he had been "lucky" with his career. "My decision (to leave the leadership) was voluntary. I decided a few months ago that I wouldn't stand.”
    - Jack Straw retiring to the backbenches, James Tapsfield, The Independent (2010)


    In his departing speech, Straw called on the party to address voter "disappointment" in Labour

    In the Senate Labour also had a leadership race, Jack Straw was retiring after over a decade in top tier politics. If the Parliamentary Leadership election was a Brownite blowout at least it had a non Brownite candidate. For Labour’s senate leadership race only two candidates emerged, right-leaning Brownite Douglas Alexander and left-leaning Brownite John Healey.

    The Blairites considered a raft of candidates including West Midlands Senator Laim Byrne and South-East Labour leader John Denham. Byrne was Labour’s ranking member on the Senate’s treasury committee and could bring the party much needed economic credibility, however he was virtually unknown by members and only had a small caucus of supporters in the senate. Denham wasn’t even a Senator, leading Labour in the South East Parliament, Denham was associated with the Blue Labour brand and could win over the rural south but he was completely unheard of outside the South East and had none of the Senate connections other candidates had. Even if there was a perfect candidate, none of the big names were particularly keen to run against the prevailing winds and the majority of the right of the Labour party decided to fall in line behind Alexander.

    “Labour's Leadership front-runner Douglas Alexander has insisted the party is on track to the centre ground. With some polls showing Labour and the Tories neck-and-neck, the Mail on Sunday said there was a "vicious feud" over election tactics. Mr Alexander rejected the newspaper headlines and told the BBC Labour could be both "credible and radical". He also insisted that he hadn't axed US election strategist Arnie Graf and she would play a part in his campaign. Mr Graf, whose arrival after success with the Obama campaign was hailed by the party as a coup, has returned to the US. But Alexander, Labour's likely candidate for Senate Presidency, told the Andrew Marr Show he had not fired Mr Graf. "He's going to be involved in the election campaign." He said the party had now appointed its 100th community organiser adding that "the work he (Graf) has started is being carried through". Labour have focused on whether they should adopt a "safety" approach, and target its core vote, or whether it should seek to broaden its appeal.”
    - Labour can dominate centre ground - Douglas Alexander, BBC (2011)


    Alexander pitched himself as the electable candidate

    Former Defence Secretary Douglas Alexander remained in the spotlight despite the Government’s defeat in 2008, he spent his time out of power making overtures to Britain's trade unions and building up his formidable bastion in Scottish Labour. In the 2009 Presidential Campaign he worked as Candidate Brown’s National Security Adviser and he was a common surrogate for the campaign on TV and the campaign stump. Alexander also made a name for himself as a crusader against the SNP, Alexander talked Brown into taking a break from his Presidential Campaign to go up to Scotland and campaign for Jim Murphy, who was on the verge of losing the Premiership to the SNP, Brown’s last minute intervention saved Murphy’s campaign and Alexander was credited with stopping the SNP.

    On the other side of the ring was John Healey, from the left-Brownite wing of the party Healey had the support of much of the soft left, and grudging acceptance from the hard left, Healey was regarded as a safe pair of hands and his campaign revolved around winning back areas the party lost in 2009 like his home region of Yorkshire. Whilst he wasn’t a well-known national figure like Alexander was, Healey used his decade in the Senate to grow his experience and build up a formidable list of contacts, now he just had to appeal to the ordinary members.


    Healey was popular among Senate colleagues but lacked the prestige or media support of Alexander

    “Healey said it was hard for Labour to attract public attention at this stage in the electoral cycle. "It's a tough fact of life in this period of opposition ... that what Labour says matters less than what almost anyone else says. He said he would like to see the Government give honours to people involved in local political activity. "I don't see any reason why political activity and service shouldn't be considered as part of broader public and community service," he said. He also reaffirmed his call for local Labour parties to get involved in social enterprises, such as running sports clubs. He warned that it would be a mistake to assume that the collapse of the Lib Dem vote would benefit Labour. He said the Presidential election showed that, if voters in the south-east desert the Lib Dems, they are more likely to switch to the Tories. He said the Labour party "tends to look too much inward". Backing the calls for internal party reform set out in the Refounding Labour report, he said the party needed to reach out to non-supporters. "Parties that lose touch lose power,”"
    - John Healey: Labour’s establishment insurgent, Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian (2011)

    Much like Ed Balls, Alexander had to just lie back and let the votes roll in, with the endorsement of Brown, Blair and most the major unions Alexander formed a formidable block vote. Alexander tried to put a hopeful tone to appeal to party members, he invoked JFK comparing the task of reclaiming a Labour Government to that of landing a man on the moon. Alexander also tried to distance himself from the Blair/Brown era. In a speech to the Northern Irish Fabians in Belfast Alexander said “We have to offer a better tomorrow, not a better yesterday.”

    Healey was more critical of past Labour administrations than Alexander. Healey criticised Alexander for being part of a Government that first introduced competition into the NHS. Healey also pushed for more local involvement by Senators. Healey portrayed himself as a fresh start compared to Alexander who had been active in the spotlight since 2003.

    2011 Senate Labour Party Leadership Election.png

    Whilst Healey put in a good fight he couldn’t defeat the combined firepower of the united party right, Alexander won nearly two thirds of the votes from supporters. Alexander had done what had seemed impossible just a few years ago, he had united the Blairites and Brownites into one cohesive blob. Alexander’s victory speech was patriotic and ambitious, he spoke of the good work Labour had done in Government for his home city of Edinburgh, most notably on the near eradication of child poverty, Alexander promised a Labour Government would quash child poverty. His speech also tried to capture the spirit of 99: “What 1999 taught us was that with a dynamic, independent and vibrant global civil society campaign, – we can do great things. Some will contest this point. But I think it is important to recognise that our delivery on our promises was made by choice – not chance. By people like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Miliband – buoyed by the knowledge that thousands were backing them. Times are tough – but we can make that difference again. And to that task, let us re-dedicate ourselves tonight.”

    For the first time in years both Labour’s Parliamentary and Senatorial leaders were from the same faction and had a strong working relationship, the two made a formidable team and even made a joint speech at the conference, virtually unheard of before. Exhausted Labour activists could finally dare to dream of a united party for the first time since 1999. The party had made its decision, now they had to take the fight to Osborne.

    “Conference, let's get down to business. This is a dangerous time for Britain, and for Britain's economy. The Government's austerity plan is failing. You can sense the fear that people have as we watch the economic crisis that stalked our country in 2008 threatening to return. Stock markets around the world are falling. The United States in difficulty. The Eurozone is struggling. And people in Britain are losing their jobs. Now is not the time for the same old answers. From us, on the issues that lost us your trust. From this Government, on the growth crisis we face. You need to know that there is an alternative. You need to know that it is credible. So people need to know where I stand. The Labour Party lost trust on the economy. And under my leadership, we will regain that trust. I am determined to prove to you that the next Labour Government will only spend what it can afford. That we will live within our means.That we will manage your money. I have a special responsibility to show you that every pound that we spend, we spend wisely.” - Ed Balls’ contribution to the joint speech (2011)

    "Austerity has been a painful but correct response to the economic situation since 2008." Discuss. (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    Closer Look, 2009 South East Premier Election
  • The South East held particular emotional significance as it was Britain's largest region, and thus the Commonwealth's most desirable prize, with nearly 6 million voters it's premier would play a major role in national politics. Theresa May had first been elected Premier in 2004, defeating Labour's Andrew Smith, she initally ruled with a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition until after the 2005 election where she Tories went into coalition with UKIP and the Senior Citizens Party, UKIP subsequently cannibalised the SCP at the 2008 election and May had overseen a Tory/UKIP Government ever since.

    Theresa May sought a second term at the head of the South East. May was one of the best known Tory women in the country and was very popular with South East voters, frequently talked up as a future Presidential candidate, the daughter of a vicar and a comprehensive school girl, May wasn't flashy or charismatic but seemed to connect with a certain set of voters, she was also a strong ally of President Howard and since her victory was near guaranteed she spent most of her time in 2009 campaigning for Howard. May's campaign was a traditional Tory one, campaigning on her personal profile and the lowering of taxes.

    Leader of the Opposition Norman Baker stepped up to bat for the Lib Dems, from the left of the Lib Dems, Baker focused his campaign around trying to unite progressive voters in the South East under his banner. With both Labour and the Greens struggling nationally, Baker thought he could rally the left and push the Lib Dems out of their traditional strongholds like East Sussex, unfortunately for Baker the national coalition dragged him down and he was defeated in the first round.

    Labour's South East Parliament Leader John Denham was nominated to bring the red flag to Brighton, an arch-Blairite member of Blue Labour, Denham came from the socially conservative wing of the party, his campaign promised to lobby for tighter restrictions on immigration and for tougher policing, Denham "patriotic campaign" often ran to the right of Baker, all it really did was discourage Labour supporters and push them towards the Lib Dems or Greens, this coupled with the national swing meant Denham got only 8% of the vote.

    UKIP ran Deputy First Minister Marta Andreasen, as well as being DFP, Andreasen was the South Easts' finance minister and ran on her record of reducing taxes for South East votes, however a lack of resources and divisions in UKIP prevented her from making huge impact. For the Greens they ran party legend Caroline Lucas, Lucas attempted to take advantage of Labour and the Liberal's move to the right, but like many Green candidates around the country she was drowned out by the drama of the Presidential Election.

    All in all May easily walked back to the Premier's residence in Brighton with a clear mandate in the first round.
    2009 South East premier election.png

    "Theresa May, the South East Premier, could well be the most powerful woman in British politics. Yet she is far from typical among the present coterie of senior Conservatives. For a start, she didn't go to a public school, and at one point she was described in her literature as having been educated at Wheatley Comprehensive. She did go to Oxford University, although she didn't study philosophy, politics and economics like so many of her colleagues. Instead, she studied geography, which suggests that the Premier has some awareness that there is life beyond the home counties. Nor has May always been a career politician. She had a job for some years in the "real world" before hitting the stump. She worked in banking, which these days seems like an environment so removed from reality that politics, looks humdrum. May emerged from the expenses scandal without taint which suggests a rejection of the distorted sense of entitlement her colleagues seem to have." - Five Possible Women Presidents, Alyssa McDonald, New Statesman (2009)
    Conservative Internal Elections
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    Osborne consulted with aides on how to deal with the rebellious right wing Conservative faction: the "British Freedom Caucus"

    “Osborne's premiership was characterised by constant criticism and resentment for the right. This manifested itself not only in Parliamentary votes, but also in public comments and alternative policy. Osborne often had more difficulty in managing the Conservative Party than he did in maintaining a relationship with Ed Davey. Although relations with the later became less convivial and cordial. Instead the relationship became more formal and business-like during the coalition's lifetime. One factor increased disquiet among some Conservative backbenchers during the Coalition Government. The privileged socio-educational background of Osborne and some of his closest colleagues. This prompted the Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries to claim that "Osborne is a posh boy who doesn't know the price of milk. He is an arrogant posh boy who shows no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others.””
    - The British Coalition Government, 2008-2011, Peter Dorey, (2016)

    2011 started badly for the Conservatives when their Senate Leader, David Davis announced he would be resigning, a long time critic of the coalition Davis had approached Osborne and Howard demanding a guaranteed end to the coalition at the 2011 election, to which they refused. Davis said he could not reconcile his conservative and eurosceptic views with the direction the coalition was travelling, saying he would retire to the backbenches in order to give himself freedom to criticise the coalition.


    A long time maverick, Davis was much more comfortable throwing hand-grenades from the backbenches then trying to hold together a coalition he didn't really believe in

    Davis’ resignation was great news for the Osbornite moderate wing of the party, Davis had long been a lightning rod for the Tory right and with him out of the way Osborne could hopefully get someone closer to his politics. Originally Osborne considered Philip Hammond, a long time Senator and loyal Osbornite who was supportive of the coalition and popular amongst Senate colleagues. Unfortunately Hammond had the charisma of a damp fish and Osborne was worried he would lose control of the senate.

    Another option was the young Justine Greening, first elected to the Senate in 2003 at just 33 years old Greening had quickly risen through the ranks of the Senate’s Tory hierarchy, like Hammond she was moderate and supportive of the coalition, and appointing a young woman would break the Tories pale, male and stale image. However Greening didn’t have the support in the Senate.

    In the end Osborne gave his endorsement to Ken Clarke, the returning European Commissioner. Clarke was a giant of the Conservative movement, a twice Presidential Candidate and giant of the Senate, Clarke had the contacts and gravitas necessary to win and quickly became the front-runner.

    Unlike Osborne, Howard hadn’t been cultivating allies in the Senate, many friendly Senators like Chris Grayling had been elevated to the Senate and the Open Primaries mainly produced moderate candidates to replace them. The only truly Howardite senior Tories in the Senate were Owen Paterson of the West Midlands and Cheryl Gillian of the South East. Neither were particularly eager for the top job and were comfortable as backbench senators. Howard seemed fairly laissez-faire about the Senate leadership and didn’t put a huge amount of effort into recruiting an ally for the top job.


    Howard was from the old generation of Tories, most his allies had moved on or retired, the only senior Tories remaining from his generation were ideological opponents like Clarke

    “Freedom Caucus members have warned George Osborne that he faces years of warfare with backbenchers if he backs Ken Clarke. Loyal backbench Senators told Osborne he will face rebellions unless he takes a tough stance on the coalition. The warnings were issued as a third of Osborne's Senators defied a three-line whip and voted in favour of a motion calling for a referendum on the EU. 30 Tory Senators voted in favour of an EU referendum. Meaning that Osborne failed to convince nearly a third of his backbench Senators to support the government. Adam Holloway, Senatorial Private Secretary to the International Development minister, stood down. Holloway accused the government of a "catastrophic mismanagement" after imposing a three-line whip. Chris Huhne, the Foreign Secretary, said it was time to move on after Senators the referendum motion by 257 votes to 77, a majority of 180. But Tory rebels pointed out that Osborne only secured victory because Jack Straw imposed a three-line whip on his Senators. There were eight Labour rebels and one Liberal Democrat rebel.”
    - George Osborne rocked by record Senate rebellion as Europe splits Tories again, Nicholas Watt, The Guardian (2011)

    Howard allies were concerned about a Clarke leadership worrying he could split the party or force a formal electoral alliance with the Lib Dems. A group of key Howard staffers and allies eventually decided to approach Theresa May, the South East’s ambitious Premier, a two term leader of the South East; she was the only candidate who could feasibly stand up to Clarke, after much persuading May reluctantly accepted.

    For the right of the party who adored Davis as the scrappy insurgent against the coalition consensus even May wasn’t acceptable as she still wanted to keep the coalition in place. The “British Freedom Caucus” was formed over Eurosceptic right wingers who supported Davis. they too had a lack of a clear successor, Barnet Mayor Theresa Villiers and Welsh Senator David Jones were considered, but they both lacked the prestige of a former commissioner or major Premier, after much lobbying they managed to recruit South West Premier Liam Fox as their candidate.


    Fox's leadership campaign was shameless eurosceptic and critical of the coalition

    Clarke ran with the clear backing of George Osborne as the candidate best placed to keep control of the senate. Polls consistently showed Clarke as the most popular of the three candidates amongst the public, with many Tory Senators anxious about losing their seats those who were less ideologically aligned with Clarke were willing to give him their backing if it meant they could hold onto their jobs. Clarke was fairly light on policy but was the most committed to maintaining the coalition.

    “The catflap, as it became known, was not a scandal. It sprang from a section of Senate Leadership Candidate Theresa May's speech on illegal immigration. May claimed that the legislation was making it far too easy for those facing deportation to remain in the UK. She mentioned an "illegal immigrant who the Government cannot deport because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat". It proved rather unfortunate that, in fact, she was making this up. The case cited the existence of the cat as part of evidence that the foreign national had a long-term relationship with a British national. Worse still, the existence of the cat was not the decisive factor in the courts allowing the foreign national to stay in Britain. Ouch! May was red-faced. But the news story would have faded into insignificance had it not been for the outspoken criticisms of Ken Clarke. As her opponent he has been at loggerheads with May throughout the year, which may have explained why he got so carried away in lashing out. May's speech was "laughable" and "childlike", he told a local newspaper.” - Top ten political gaffes of 2011, Alex Stevenson, Politics.cw (2011)

    May ran as a unity candidate, the one best placed to unite the Tories’ Senate caucus, whilst Howard was officially neutral in the selection she was generally accepted to be his preferred choice. Many Tories were weary, May was not the best electioneer or media performer and she had never served in the Senate, being an MP and then a Premier, this meant she had few contacts to back her. With electability front and centre of most Senators minds May struggled to pick up a support.

    Still May’s campaign avoided the car crash that was Fox’s campaign. After Fox announced he was running journalist poured threw his dirty laundry as discovered that whilst he had served in the cabinet he had passed on classified papers to his friend, lobbyist Adam Werritty, it also emerged that whilst serving as a Minister Fox had paid Werritty with public money and allowed him to act as a surrogate and adviser, but Werritty never went through the process of background checks and security clearance and wasn’t on any official books. These revelations not only crashed Fox’s campaign for Senate Leadership, it tanked his approval ratings back in the South West. Fox later described running as “one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.”

    2011 Conservative Senate Leadership Election.png

    The end result was a clear victory for Clarke, despite their ideological objections Tory Senators had decided their priority was holding onto power, if this meant a wetter leader so be it. For the punditry it was yet another example of Osborne asserting himself over Howard as the senior partner in Government, and rumours began to swirl of Howard standing down for Osborne at the 2014 Presidential Election, or worse Osborne challenging him in a divisive primary.

    “Howard's limitations as leader are best summarised as an insufficiency of "emotional intelligence". As we have seen, Howard was far more engaging in private than most voters would have imagined. Yet Ann Widdecombe's suggestion that there was "something of the night" about Howard, which helped to thwart his leadership bid in 1997, hampered his attempts to build a more constructive relationship with voters and politicians between 2009 and 2014. It was this lack of communication and control which prevented him from building up a loyal following in Parliament and the Senate, again and again Howard would lose internal elections to his more politically savvy Prime Minister. It wasn’t complicated, Osborne was simply friendlier and more approachable.” - Commonwealth Presidents, Timothy Heppell (2014)

    The Osborne era Conservative Party was more pragmatic rather than ideological.’ Discuss. (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (30 Marks)
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    Liberal Democrat Internal Elections
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    Several anti-coalition motions were passed at 2010 conference, a warning of the splits to come

    The Liberal Democrats were in trouble, the coalition was increasingly unpopular with some polls showing the party winning as little as 50 seats in the 2011 election. Davey was particularly a lightning rod of discontent, many voters blaming him for selling out, especially on issues like tuition fees. Davey had an approval rating of -43%. Whilst Afghan withdrawal and voting rights for prisoners had been great victories for the Lib Dems, for those on the coalition sceptic wing of the party it showed the party needed to assert itself further.

    Discontent around Davey had been growing in both the upper echelons of party leadership and amongst grassroots members, this culminated in a group of senior Liberal Democrat politicians, including former Presidential Candidates Kennedy and Ashdown, entering Davey’s office with a proposal, either Davey stood down of his own volition, or they would support a leadership challenge.


    Davey made it abundantly clear he would not be stepping down. Lib Dems dug in for a long fight

    Davey refused, he still believed in the coalition and that he was the best candidate to lead the party into the next election, Davey warned renegotiating the coalition would lead to further Lib Dem losses and an illiberal Labour Government, or worse a Tory/UKIP Government. Davey was stubborn and in a press conference he said he would fight a leadership challenge “against anyone and at any time”.

    The social liberals now needed to find someone to challenge Davey, Defence Secretary David Hughes and Northern Irish Secretary Tim Farron both supported a challenge to Davey but ruled themselves out of contention. Cable would have been the obvious choice but he opted to remain neutral in the leadership challenge, the only senior Lib Dem to volunteer was Foregin Secretary Chris Huhne.

    “I remember some years ago Norman Tebbit shocking some elements in the House of Commons. He pointed out that there was a difference between right and wrong and good and bad. And I remember, too, Liberal raising hands in horror. A Bateman-cartoon type of reaction to what they regarded as a Neanderthal opinion. Davey's problem is that he has to serve two conflicting masters. One of them, a party, large swathes of which believe he has sold them down the river by jumping under the duvet with the Tories. The other is the Government whose policies he at least has to pretend to support. But Davey is not helped by the antics of Chris Huhne or Tim Farron both of whom covet his job and who have demonstrated their hatred for the Tories. Davey has kept his balance so far - but he should watch out for that fatal puff of wind.” - Davey walks the tightrope, Mail Online (2011)

    Huhne was a strong candidate, popular amongst party activists, well known in the media and eminently experienced as Foreign Secretary. Supporters described Huhne as “quietly effective” and he had no shortage of allies at all levels of the party. Polls among party members showed Huhne well ahead of Davey amongst registered supporters and he quickly racked up support amongst MPs, over 50 Libeal Democrat MPs broke ranks to publicly support Huhne, 40% of their Parliamentary caucus.


    Huhne officially launched his campaign at a Cornwall wind farm

    Huhne appointed rising star Lynne Featherstone as his campaign chair and got to work fundraising and recruiting volunteers. Huhne’s popularity was with party members rather than party donors and he built his campaign on the power of volunteers and small donations, these resources combined to form a formidable war chest.

    Davey ran on a position of maintaining the coalition at the next election, arguing for a progressive centrist Government, Davey pointed to the coalition's achievements in Government like the cutting of tax for the lowest earners and a green investment bank, Davey particularly elevated the coalitions environmental achievements in an attempt to outflank Huhne on green issues.

    Whilst Huhne didn’t decisively condemn the coalition, he said if he won, at the next election the Liberal Democrats would favour a Labour Government, but would prop up a Conservative Government if they had a large mandate and it was necessary to keep UKIP away from the levers of power. Since Huhne had served in the coalition Government he couldn’t be as aggressively anti-coalition as some would have wanted him to.


    Despite frequently visiting Downing Street for cabinet meetings, Huhne made sure the cameras saw him looking as miserable as possible

    “Leadership candidate, Chris Huhne, has attacked the Conservatives for scrapping environmental regulations. Huhne made the comments at the weekend to the "Social Democrats Caucus" of left-leaning Lib Dems. Huhne made it clear he is opposed to the Government including laws such as the Climate Change Act in its review of regulations. His views reflect a range of opinion within Liberal Democrats in government. A source close to Huhne said the Chancellor Vince Cable supported him and Lib Dem ministers were braced to do battle. The move is part of a Huhne's strategy to fight the Lib Dem corner more in order to put pressure on Davey during the leadership challeng
    e.” - Chris Huhne attacks Tory 'zealots' over proposed scrapping of green laws, Allegra Stratton, The Guardian (2011)

    However Huhne’s campaign was fairly aggressive against Davey personally. Huhne accused Davey of “bumbling around worrying about the future rather than rebuilding the party.” In one interview Huhne described Davey as “just a cork bobbing on the waves" with "no strategic vision at all”. The main thrust of Huhne’s campaign was on the issue of political courage, Huhne said that Davey lacked this courage and had failed to stand up for party interests on issues like benefits and the NHS. Huhne argued he had the political courage to get the party what it wanted. Huhne boasted of “standing up to” Osborne and Obama to ensure British troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan.

    Polling seemed to support Huhne’s case. 60% of voters agreed the Liberal Democrats would be better off without Davey, especially younger voters in large university cities that had abandoned the party for Labour and the Greens. Whether he liked it or not Davey had become the public face of tuition fee betrayal, many Liberal Democrat supporters saw dropping him as the only way to save the party.

    “We asked respondents how much they trusted each of the main party leaders to keep their promises. Disillusioned Lib Dem voters say that they have more trust in Ed Balls and George Osborne than in Ed Davey. A huge 77% of this group has little or no trust in Davey to keep his promises. Cameron came a close second, with 76% saying they do not trust him. Balls fared the best of the three main party leaders with 29% saying they trust him a great deal or to some extent, and 53% saying they do not trust him at all. What’s more, this latter group considers the Liberal Democrat party to be ineffective in Government. 71% of ex-Lib Dem voters believe the party has little or no influence on decisions taken by the Government. 16% think they have a good influence, 5% think they have a bad influence). When asked whether the Liberal Democrats should be blamed for going back on their pledges, 66% say the party has ‘betrayed that commitment’. Only 24% think that as ‘minority members of the Coalition at a time when the Government finances are in a terrible condition’ they should not be blamed.”” - Disloyal Lib Dems, Coralie Pring, YouGov (2011)

    2011 Parliamentary Liberal Democrats leadership election.png

    As the results were announced at a special conference in Manchester it was a landslide for Huhne. Huhne had the support of party grandees and the grassroots in an unstoppable coalition. Davey was dragged out of the leadership by his fingernails in a humiliating public display. Now it was time for Huhne to save his party's flagging poll ratings and try to keep them in Government.

    Huhne’s victory speech was not the fire and brimstone the Lib Dem left had hoped for, instead it emphasised the need for cooperation and compromise: “If you fail to compromise, if you fail to seek the common ground that unites us, then you will put in peril the most crucial achievement of this Government. You will wreck the nation’s economy and common purpose. At the same time, compromise cannot be a concession, we cannot roll over on every issue. Or follow George Osborne off every cliff. If we get a better deal for this country and our voters we will take in the national interest. We are all in this together and we can’t get out of it alone.” Huhne’s speech was a clear attempt to try and reach out to Davey supporters after a bruising and divisive campaign, the Liberal Democrats were holding together by the skin of their teeth and a small breeze could topple the whole operation.

    “The Liberal Democrats' presentation of the coalition became confused as the Parliament proceeded. Voters soon became sceptical of the party's actual role. A 2011 poll found that 71% of ex-Liberal Democrat supporters felt that the party had little or no influence on decisions taken in government. Of course, Davey and his fellow Liberal Democrat ministers were hamstrung by the coalition deal. They needed to walk the tightrope as both defender and critic of coalition policies. To work as colleagues but remain bitter rivals to the Conservatives. This proved unsustainable over the long term. Early on the Liberal Democrats were supportive. This reflected their perceived gains from the coalition agreement. This included commitment to a pupil premium and increasing the tax threshold. Vince Cable's attack on Howard's immigration remarks in early 2011 was the sign of things to come. The compounding effect of poor poll ratings and bad local election results ratcheted up the pressure on Huhne.” - From Coalition to Catastrophe, David Cutts (2015)

    Compared to the old political system, to what extent are party leaders less politically secure in the Commonwealth? (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
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    2011, Part 1, Hearts and Minds
  • 1593870719685.png

    Osborne and Coulson were close personal friends, it was difficult for Osborne to let him go

    “George Osborne employed Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor as director of communications between 2006 and 2011. His appointment came months after he had quit the tabloid following the jailing of former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman. Mr Coulson took up a similar role in Downing Street when Mr Osborne became prime minister in 2008. This was despite allegations about his knowledge of phone hacking while at the News of the World. Mr Coulson resigned in January 2011 saying the continuing phone-hacking row was distracting him from his role. Police arrested Coulson on 8 July 2011 on suspicion of corruption and phone hacking, and he was released on police bail until October. George Osborne has defended his appointment of Mr Coulson over the past two years. "It's wrong for newspapers to breach people's privacy with no justification. That is why Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World two and a half years ago.”
    - PM's defence of Coulson over the years,BBC News (2011)

    The various parties’ leadership elections were not the only thing in the news in early 2011.The phone hacking scandal continued to engulf the national discussion. At the heart of the scandal was Andy Coulson, George Osborne’s communication director. Osborne had loyally defended his communications tsar, dismissing the allegations against him and refusing to suspend him from his post in the heart of Government, as the inquiry continued this seemed more and more of a mistake. The Coulson affair was hurting the Conservative’s poll ratings and eventually Coulson took matters into his own hands.


    Coulson knew the election was right around the corner and couldn't risk carrying his baggage into the campaign

    In January 2011, Andy Coulson resigned. Coulson said coverage had "made it difficult for me to give the 110% needed in this role". Coulson still denied knowledge of phone hacking, saying he quit as editor in 2007. But Coulson said he took ultimate responsibility for the scandal. In a statement, he said it had been "a privilege and an honour to work for George Osborne for four years. I stand by what I've said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman, it's time to move on." He said he would leave within weeks and was proud of the work he had done. In a statement Osborne praised him as a "brilliant member of my team". The prime minister said: "I am very sorry that Andy Coulson has decided to resign as my director of communications. I understand that the continuing pressures on him and his family mean that he feels compelled to do so. Andy has told me that the focus on him was impeding his ability to do his job and was starting to prove a distraction for the government."

    To replace Coulson Osborne appointed his rather elusive chief speechwriter Ameet Gill as Director of Communications. Gill had been working with Osborne for seven years. Unlike Coulson little was known about Gill, many had expected a more high profile appointment but Osborne decided he wanted a quieter backroom operator. Gill could be trusted to do his best to stay out of the limelight. At just 28 Gill would become one of the youngest members of Osborne’s inner circle and the first BME Director of Communications.

    “Osborne had grown dependent upon Coulson for his authentic ear on "ordinary people" for whom Osborne lacked the intuitive "feel for". Osborne tried to keep hold of Coulson as the hacking furore grew from late 2010. He held on long after it would have been wise to let him go, which is admirable loyalty or naive depending on how one views it. Osborne's reliance on this tight circle of trusted advisers aroused particular concern among his own party. They saw him as cliquey and reliant upon those from the same narrow social background. Nadine Dorries summed up this trait in a devastating quotation, that Osborne was a "posh boy who doesn't know the price of milk".” - The Coalition Effect, Anthony Seldon (2015)

    In cultural news the multi-academy award winning film “The Queen's Speech” was released to critical acclaim. The film portrayed the downfall of the British royal family and the aftermath of the Diana Crisis. Focusing on Queen Elizabeth II (Diana Quick) drafting a speech to the nation to try and hold onto power against her ambitious Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). The film began with the assassination of Diana and ended with Blair's inauguration as President. The film won international critical acclaim, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and making over 500 million at the box office. However the film was criticised for its sympathetic portrayal of the royal family. The film catapulted both Quick and Sheen to international prominence.


    Sheen's portrayal of Tony Blair made him a global star

    Internationally the situation in the middle east was heating up again. Inspired by revolts in other Arab countries, especially Egypt and Tunisia, violent protests broke out in Benghazi. The protests spread to other cities. This led to escalating clashes between security forces and rebels, marking the beginning of the Libyan civil war. British forces began to coordinate an evacuation of British nationals from Libya. Over 500 Commonwealth nationals were trapped in Libya, mostly oil workers trapped out in rural Libya by oilfields. President Howard pledged to "do everything I can'' to evacuate the Britons left in Libya. He vowed to investigate whether the Libyan regime had committed "war crimes'' during its crackdown on protests. BAF Hercules planes transported 200 British oil workers from desert locations south of Benghazi in Libya to Malta. The UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over Libya and air strikes to protect civilians, over which NATO assumed command. In March 2011 the House of Commons approved a bombing campaign, with the full support of the four largest parties, the Greens and BNP being the only national parties to vote against military action. Directly after the resolution over 30 British aircraft were dispatched to Libya to assist in the bombing campaign.

    “Ministers will announce the deployment of attack helicopters to Libya. Secretary Hughes will announce the deployment on Friday after a meeting of the cabinet. At a joint press conference with Barack Obama, Howard all but confirmed Britain would send Apaches to Libya. We expect CBS Ocean, with three Apaches on board, off the Libyan coast within a week. The armed helicopters will protect a 16-mile buffer zone around Misrata, defence officials said. They could also be used to attack Muammar Gaddafi's forces' positions in the port city. The decision had already been taken, as far as military commanders were concerned. Chris Huhne, the Foreign Secretary, told the Commons the Government "had not taken any decisions''. He added that the deployment would represent "a shift in tactics not an escalation of what we are doing"." Ministers are frustrated about the failure to make headway against Gaddafi's forces. They fear that military operations will not end any time soon.” - Libya Apache deployment signals Britain's escalating role in conflict, Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian (2011)


    The amount of British military hardware active in the Mediterranean dramatically increased

    At home this enraged anti-austerity protests taking place in London. Nearly 300,000 people attended a march and rally in central London against public spending cuts. Labour Deputy Parliamentary Leader; Sadiq Khan addressed crowds in Hyde Park. The main march organised by the Trades Union Congress passed off peacefully. Small groups attacked shops and banks with a stand-off in Piccadilly. There were around 200 arrests and 60 people injured, including 15 police. In the largest public protest since the Iraq war rally in 2003, marchers from across the UK set off from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park. TUC general secretary Paul Kenny was first in a line of speakers. "We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united," he said. "We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives." Kenny was followed by Khan, who said: "The Tories said I should not come and speak today. But I am proud to stand with you. There is an alternative."

    Whilst Khan was the headline speaker he was a minority in his party with senior Labour officials like Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander opting not to attend the protests. Whilst a good number of Labour candidates did attend, the largest cohort of MPs came from the Green Party, all thirteen Green MPs attended the march, including their Prime Ministerial Candidate Natalie Bennett, the mostly young crowd saved their largest cheers for Green speakers. In a speech Green MP Ricky Knight painted the party as the true force of the progressive left, deriding Balls and Alexander for refusing to attend. The loudest boos were saved for the Lib Dems, the crowd of mostly young people and students had turned their backs on the Liberals, now the Greens and Labour were in a battle for their hearts and minds.

    “The Labour Party’s refusal to support reduction in tuition fees, had limited electoral impact. Labour lost support to the Green Party in the year before the election. Some of this they won back by election day. Any pro-Labour surge results from them picking up votes from the Green Party in late swings. This is corroborated in a survey of new graduates by the NUS. This put Labour at 37 per cent, the Greens at 20 per cent, the Conservatives at 17 per cent and the Liberal Democrats at 12 per cent. Around one-in-ten (8 per cent) respondents preferred not to say. This led the NUS to support the shy-Tory hypothesis but also to pose the question of whether there is also a small group of shy Liberal Democrat voters. Whilst Labour has a strong lead among students the lead is not insurmountable, 20 per cent is impressive for a party as small as the Greens.” - Students and the 2011 election, Nick Hillman, HEPI Report (2015)


    The Green Party became a common sight on anti-austerity protests in the 2010s

    How effective are protests and other forms of direct action in influencing Commonwealth policy outcomes? (30 Marks) - A Level politics exam (2019)
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    2011 Parliamentary and Senate Elections, Part 1
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    Osborne led in preferred Prime Minister polls

    “Labour now have a pretty consistent lead in voting intention. The answers to other questions are often rather bad for Labour. On best Prime Minister Osborne has a 13 point lead over Balls. On dealing with the deficit the coalition led Labour by 14 points. Osborne and Clarke have a 9 point lead over Balls and Alexander on general trust on the economy. Ed Balls' own approval ratings are mediocre and 50% think he isn’t up to the job of Labour leader. If we look back at 2006-2007 when the Conservatives had a comparable lead over the Labour government, Osborne was neck and neck with Brown as best PM. What explains this paradox? Why have Labour got a solid lead in the polls, but bad ratings in supplementary questions? Or indeed vice-versa? Part of the answer is down to the new landscape of coalition politics.”
    - The Paradox of Labour’s Lead, Polling Report (2011)

    Going into the 2011 elections it looked like it would be one of the closest in Commonwealth history. Labour had a polling average of 32%, four points ahead of the Tories on 28%, Balls had made a decent first impression on the country, and the various problems the coalition faced, coupled with the unpopularity of austerity, allowed Labour to crawl ahead. Whilst Osborne remained relatively popular, his approval ratings didn’t reach the heights they had in 2008. Relationships in the coalition had deteriorated, especially with the election of Huhne as Lib Dem leader, Osborne needed a clear mandate to keep the Liberal Democrats in the tent. Despite all this, a four point lead was only slightly above the margin of error, a strong campaign could create a strong Labour plurality, a poor campaign could allow the Tories to overtake.

    As for the third parties, the Liberal Democrats were struggling to stay ahead of UKIP, polling at 14% and 10% respectively. The coalition had hit the Liberal Democrats hard, especially among younger voters, whilst chucking Davey overboard had given them a momentary bounce in the polls, the era of winning 20-25% of the vote seemed to be over. UKIP on the other hand was seeing a resurgence in the polls. With the BNP in Parliament the UKIP became the human face of reactionary nationalism, after Farage’s humiliating Presidential performance the party put a lot of stock into softening its image and distancing itself from the BNP. It’s MPs became more cooperative in Parliament, founding APPGs and working with MPs from other parties, this culminated with UKIP being given a select committee chairmanship and London MP Andrew Charalambous being elected to chair the Housing Committee. Whilst fairly procedural it symbolised UKIP officially becoming a legitimate party.


    UKIP intended to overtake the Lib Dems as Britain's third party

    “Alex Andreou has had a go at UKIP on the New Statesman website. It’s a detailed, but standard, attempt to critique the party. - They have no coherent, let alone costed, policies. Many of the people in the party or associated with the party are either nasty or mad or both. I do not disagree with either of these broad points, but I wonder whether attacking UKIP in this way actually works as a means of opposition. For UKIP this sort of critique does not matter. They are the anti-party party. While Alex’s critique appeals to someone like me who reads the New Statesman, such a critique is not going to do much good to stop UKIP’s rise.”
    - On UKIP and legitimacy, Jon Worth, EuroBlog (2011)

    On the other end of the scale you had the BNP who were making no attempts to civilise themselves or join the Westminster club. BNP MPs would propose radical random bills on issues from scrapping human rights to an “end white genocide act”. These Bills would be met with much mockery and would never get more than 30 votes.

    Labour’s campaign was based around honesty and straight talking. This was part of a campaign to spin Ball’s backroom bruiser image to that of a straightforward everyday person. The party’s slogan was “keeping our promises” a not particularly subtle dig at the Liberal Democrats and the coalition. Balls’ campaign was more socially conservative than previous Labour campaigns, owing to the influence of advisers like Maurice Glasman and Rowenna Davis, Balls admitted Labour had “got it wrong” on immigration saying he would bring in legislation to deter firms from recruiting exclusively overseas.

    The Conservative’s ran a patriotic public interest campaign. The cuts to public spending had been incredibly unpopular and Osborne knew the party had to portray it as being in the public interest. The Conservatives slogan was “here for Britain” and particularly focused on old fashioned Conservative issues like the army and policing. He also made “patriotic business” a large part of his campaign outlining the growing number of British jobs. Ultimately though the economy was at the heart of his campaign, Labour couldn’t be trusted with money, the Tories could.


    Labour struggled to built trust on the economy

    “Having captured their coalition partners, the Conservatives co-opted them into a campaign to re-write history. In doing so, they could destroy Labour’s reputation for economic competence. Years of uninterrupted growth after 1997 had allowed Labour to build up a big lead on the issue. While Labour lost that lead during the banking crisis, the party had been closing on the Conservatives again. Seizing the opportunity provided by this hiatus Osborne and Howard rammed home that Labour had ‘maxed out the nation’s credit card’. This gave the impression that ‘the mess’ they were having to clear up was due not so much to a global crash as to Balls and Brown’s supposed profligacy. When the Coalition’s austerity programme damaged the recovery, Labour was unable to capitalise on its distress.”
    - The Conservatives, Tim Bale (2015)

    The Liberal Democrats ran with the slogan “on your side”, Huhne was eager to distance the party from the coalition, trying to bring it back to its populist roots of the Kennedy era. Huhne’s campaign focused on “economic fairness” and “social mobility”. Huhne pledged an increase in capital gains tax and big cuts in pension tax breaks for the very richest. When Huhne did talk about the coalition it was to lean into the work he did as Foreign Secretary pulling troops out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats Huhne’s radical message was muddled by three years of an austerity coalition and the fact that he had actively pushed for intervention in Libya, Huhne found it was very difficult to condemn Westminster politics whilst being Foreign Secretary.

    As for third parties, Malcolm Pearson had stood down as UKIP’s Parliamentary leader during the 2009 Primary to be replaced by 33 year old scouser Paul Nuttall. Nuttall was strange for a senior UKIP figure, a young academic from the North West he was very different to the rest of UKIP’s Parliamentary cohorts of rich former lords and Tory defectors. Nuttall came from the “redkip” ideological tradition which sought to embrace centre and centre left economics to appeal to BNP and “old Labour” working class voters. Nuttall ran on a traditional UKIP platform of “believe in Britain” with policies like ending immigration and EU withdrawal, but he also pledged to raise the top rate of tax and radically reform council tax bands.


    UKIP actively moved to the left on economic issues in the early 2010s

    For the Greens Adrian Ramsay had stood down since being elected Mayor of Norwich. Members elected Natalie Bennett as their lead candidate, which was strange because she wasn’t serving as an MP, instead Bennett was the editor of the Guardian Weekly, the party decided they needed someone media savvy to take them to the next level, from the left of the party Bennett wrapped the Greens in the anti-austerity cause.

    The BNP had a mixed year in Parliament, their caucus had been beset with internal splits and conflict, but for BNP voters many didn’t care, Griffin’s 2009 Presidential run was incredibly expensive but it did legitimise the party. Defending seats was a lot easier than attacking, Griffin’s made campaign plan was to dig in and try to keep the party above the 4% threshold.

    With the pieces in place, Britain’s six party system officially began the election campaign, with Libya and austerity hanging over the electorate and incredibly tight polling it would be one of the most unpredictable elections ever.

    “With only two weeks of campaigning left, the election of 2011 remains one of the most uncertain Britain has ever seen. The result itself is still unpredictable. Whether our Government will survive in its present form is an open question. And, according to many experts, we still don’t know what any of the parties would actually do about the huge hole in the public finances. So, when we vote next week, will we be doing so in the dark? Elections are the most nerve-wracking part of political life because they are so unpredictable. Some of the unpredictability is, as it were, to be expected; some of it is not. In this election we’ve had both.” - Still All to Play For, John Humphrys, YouGov (2011)


    Polls were incredibly close across the whole campaign

    To what extend did the Commonwealth have a "six party system" in the early 2010s (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    2011 Elections Part 2
  • 1594034575596.png

    Much of the next generation of left-wing British politicians would come up through the People's Assembly

    “The People's Assembly Against Austerity was launched in a letter to the Guardian in 2010. Signatories included Tony Benn, Peter Pinkney of the RMT and eight other union general secretaries; the National Union of Students and five MPs. The Assembly also now has 90 local groups in England, Scotland and Wales. 32 of which were formed after hundreds of thousands marched against the chancellor's class-war Budget in 2011. The Norfolk People's Assembly has "united thousands of activists and campaigners." They are led by women. Most officers are women and the majority at their meetings are women. The trade unions fund them. When Norwich Council threatened to evict families for bedroom tax arrears they extracted a promise that no one would be evicted.”
    - Who Stole the Town Hall, Peter Lathman (2017)

    The main issue of the election was of course austerity. Protests organised by groups like People’s Assembly and the TUC continued in major cities across the country. This presented a headache for Labour, some figures like Ed Miliband and Sadiq Khan believed the party should embrace the protest movements, take a lead and channel its supporters into the ballot box.

    Balls and Alexander were more cautious, some of the protests had turned violent at points, images of broken shop windows and scuffles with the police, the Conservatives had put a lot into trying to portray Labour as dangerous extremists unprepared for the trappings of power. Balls opted to keep the protests and the anti-austerity movement at an arm's length.


    Whilst some in Labour wanted Balls to run a radical street level campaign, Balls preferred to run a quieter, less risky traditional campaign

    Instead of campaigning against austerity Balls “accepted Labour had got in wrong” on the economy, pledging to maintain a strict budget. Instead of cuts, Balls talked about the “British dream”. Balls put a particular focus on education and apprenticeships. The Labour campaign pointed out that Douglas Alexander had attended comprehensive schools in North Renfrewshire whilst Osborne and Clarke were both privately educated toffs, by keeping away from protests Balls hoped to appeal directly to ordinary working people. Balls was the man who had brought in apprenticeships as Education Secretary and he pledged to double their number if elected.

    For the Conservatives the protests were a great opportunity, they ran a mostly negative campaign talking about Britain’s “maxed-out credit card” and the millions of pounds of interest on the national debt. Again and again the Tories rammed home the message that you couldn’t trust Labour on the economy. When they did talk about coalition policies they talked up the raising of the tax threshold or the cutting of council tax.

    The Conservatives also tried to create a “rally round the flag effect” over the war in Libya, British troops featured heavily on Conservative literature and political broadcasts, the Conservatives were the patriotic party of defence. Some argued this missed the national mood, austerity had been occurring for several years and the people of Britain were growing tired of it, as indicated by opinion polls, the Conservatives needed something new to win people around.

    “The story is not as straightforward as it seems. The initial economic policy adopted by George Osborne would have lost the election had he not changed course. The original austerity plan derived from a mixture of ideas about the economy, but it was also the product of an electoral strategy. In the 2011 campaign the Conservatives made much of the argument that Britain faced imminent bankruptcy. Warning the country was in a similar position to Greece and other cash-strapped EU countries. This rhetoric was driven by the need to provide a radical alternative narrative to that of the Labour Party. This narrative enabled both Coalition partners to blame Ed Balls and Labour policies for the Recession. This claim was very wide of the mark since the crash started when a real estate bubble in the US burst. It spread to banks which themselves had been creating opaque instruments that proved valueless when the crisis broke. The Conservatives’ economic argument proved to be a very potent message in the 2011 election.” - How the Conservatives’ austerity rhetoric impacted the 2011 elections, Lecture by Paul Whiteley, LSE (2017)


    A meeting between Prime Minister Osborne, Oxford Mayor David Cameron, South East Premier Theresa May and Conservative Senate Leader Kenneth Clarke

    The Liberal Democrat campaign had to do a quick 180 after Huhne’s election. The party’s literature and adverts had all focused on Davey talking about “tough decisions” in Government. These were quickly discarded for the fairness based campaign Huhne wanted to run. Huhne spoke of breaking the two party system, of challenging the old status quo, to give more money to pensioners and schools and to change politics for good. It would have been a very good campaign in the mid 2000s but unfortunately it was 2011 and the Lib Dems had been in Government for three years. The main issue was that of trust, Huhne tried to speak at an anti-austerity protest in Brighton and was booed and pelted off stage. The image of Huhne fleeing from crowds of angry students would become a defining image for the Lib Dems.

    Interestingly on the issue of austerity UKIP’s campaign was wildly different to those done by Pearson and Farage, Nuttall toured dilapidated factories and abandoned high streets in the north of England, he would rail against the selling of trains to foreign Governments. At the same time UKIP attacked the Conservatives for being a traditional tax and spend party, pledging to cut taxes and red tape and ending the penalisation of motorists. Depending on who you asked this was either a confused mess of conflicting policies, or a genius attempt to appeal to both sides.

    “UKIP has spent considerable effort on broadening its appeal. UKIP has spelled out how leaving the EU is the answer to a whole range of issues, like controlling immigration. At the same time the party is outlining plans to cut taxes for middle earners, speaking up for grammar schools and opposing gay marriage. And the message from leader Paul Nuttall seems to have struck a chord with disenchanted voters from the "big three". It's becoming clear that UKIP seems to have become the party of choice for the anti-government vote and the anti-politics vote. It has since proved capable of causing upsets in local elections in Tory and Lib Dem heartlands in the South of England. UKIP has realised the hard way that it is not enough to pitch up at an election with a loud hailer and some stunts. The party knows it requires months, even years, of groundwork in the local area.” - The story of the UK Independence Party's rise, BBC News Segment (2011)


    UKIP had seen success in the 2010 local elections

    The Greens meanwhile took the the streets as the inner-city party of protest, from marches against the war in Libya to tuition fees Green banners were seen far and wide. Green Senator Derek Wall called the Greens the “Old Labour Party” Peter Pinkney, the President of the RMT was announced as a Green candidate for the Senate in Yorkshire and the party even opened talks for the RMT to officially affiliate to the party. The party also took steps to professionalise with an official Shadow Cabinet and formal media training for all its candidates. Whilst Caroline Lucas was still the breakout star of the party other Green figures like Natalie Bennett, Peter Craine, Derek Wall and Adrian Ramsay were common fixtures in the media on shows like Question Time. The Greens were quickly rushing to flood the gap the Liberal Democrats left.

    The BNP were fairly quiet during the election, someone at head office probably realised the more the public saw of BNP MPs the less they liked them, instead the party continued to dig in, activists travelling quietly around BNP areas campaigning on local issues. It seemed to work the BNP’s poll ratings held steady around 4% and it seemed likely they would hold onto their representation in at least a few areas.

    What was strange about the 2011 election was how quiet it was, there was no October surprise or big election defining event, the campaign showed voters fed up with the two parties, on average the combined vote of Labour and the Tories was below 60% polling showing neither party would have enough seats to form a Government even with the Liberal Democrats. With the Greens, UKIP and SNP surging the three traditional parties turned their guns on the minor parties. Howard proudly took on the role of Tory attack dog and travelled between rural Kent and Brighton to condemn UKIP and the Greens, however it seemed too little too late, as the main parties fell in the polls and the electoral gap between narrowed up, the public took their seats for Britain’s first true “rainbow election.”

    “No one was more surprised than Adrian Ramsay when he became the Mayor of Norwich in 2009. He was left with Conservatives as the largest party on the Council without a majority. They assumed they could continue in power. It was not to be. For Ramsay, as a Green Mayor with only 14 seats on an 47-member authority, permanent opposition appeared inevitable. But politics is nothing if not unpredictable. He was seen as a conciliator, the person to bridge a wide divide. “My task was to try to get other parties to work together for the good of the county… and we found we all could,” he recalls. “But yes, of course, it all came as a complete surprise to me.” In a foretaste of what might happen in elections tomorrow – never mind in Westminster – Ramsay made a deal to keep out the Conservatives. The smaller parties – Greens and Labour – combined in a loose coalition, with support from the Lib Dems. They all outvoted the Tories 10 days after Ramsay's election as Mayor and formed a multi-party administration. It has every prospect of lasting until the next elections in 2014.” - Could Norwich’s ‘rainbow’ alliance be the future of multi-party politics?, Peter Hetherington, The Guardian (2011)


    Polls showed Labour activists were much more willing to work with the Greens over the Lib Dems

    To what extent did austerity lead to the decline of the two main parties in the early 2010s (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    2011 Exit Poll
  • 1594048714833.png

    (Big Ben Chimes)



    DD - And as Big Ben strikes ten we can finally reveal the result of our exit poll, first for the House of Commons. It goes without saying It's going to be a hung Parliament. Labour have won the most seats in the House of Commons; Ed Balls has netted 218 seats, an increase of 38. The Conservatives are on 196, down 35, the Liberal Democrats have taken a beating with just 89 seats, down 36. UKIP have jumped up with 53 seats, up 16. The Greens have more than doubled their Parliamentary representation on 31, up 18. Finally the BNP have seemingly not only held on but grew with 31 seats, up 3.

    In the Senate it's a similar picture, Labour on 126 seats, up 13. Conservatives on 99 seats, down 17, Liberal Democrats on 40 seats, losing a third of their representation, down 21, UKIP's on 33 seats, up 14, the Greens are on 15, up 5 and finally the BNP have broken through into the senate, with 8 seats, up 8. Nick what do you make of that result?

    NR - Well it looks like reports of the death of the two party system have been greatly exaggerated, with a bit of mental maths the two parties combined have 414 seats, that's way more than some polls were reporting with the two major parties on only 350, or 340 seats. Ed Balls has reasons to be cheerful he has the largest party and he will have his pick of coalition partners, but not a complete disaster for Mr Osborne he's nipping on Labour's heels, if Balls can't form a coalition Osborne could very easily swoop in.

    DD - Yes some polls were showing UKIP on 60 seats and the Greens on 40, that would be made them both formidable voting blocks, but if this exit poll is true whilst they've certainly had a good night, two party politics isn't quiet dead yet.

    NR - Interestingly for the first in the Commonwealth's history, the combined seats of Lib Dems plus a main party aren't enough to form an overall majority, so the big parties will have to come to some sort of deal with the minor parties, we might might see UKIP, Green, maybe even SNP ministers, in the days to come.

    DD - You're quiet right Nick, ladies and gentlemen tonight you have witnessed a British political first, I wonder if they have Paul Nuttall's number in Downing Street, they're certainly going to need it.

    NR - Of course the usual disclaimers apply, if this exit poll is even a bit off we could see a traditional LibLab or ConLab Government, or we might see the main parties fall even further, we just don't know until hard numbers come through.

    DD - Either way tonight is going to be a fascinating election and to start us off over in the studio with me now we have the Labour Senator for the West Midlands Emma Reynolds, Senator Reynolds welcome, you've given the Government a bloody nose but you're still 120 seats short of a majority. Paul Nuttall or Natalie Bennett who are you calling first?...
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    Closer Look, 2011 Parliamentary Election in Yorkshire
  • Taken from election night 2011

    DD - I'm sorry to interrupt you Senator Harper but we're getting the Parliamentary results announced in Yorkshire, Senator Mark Harper thank you very much. Before we cut to Leeds, Nick what should we expect?

    NR - Well David, Yorkshire was one of those traditionally Labour regions that went for Micheal Howard in the Presidential election, so its one of the regions Mr Balls needs to win if he hopes to form a Government. As for the smaller parties its traditionally been the strongest region for the BNP so if the BNP hopes to hang on nationally they'll need a solid result here. It will also be important to the Green Party, they currently don't have any seats in the North of England but they have grown strongly in Yorkshire cities like Leeds and Huddersfield, so if we see the Greens winning seats It'll indicate even bigger gains in traditional areas like the South East.

    DD - And is there a particular number we should be looking for?

    NR - Yes our BBC boffins have been furiously making calculations and they are expecting around 1 million votes exactly for Labour.

    DD - A nice round number, do you hear that Mr Balls one million that's what you're looking out for. We now go to Leeds where the results for the Yorkshire Region are being announced

    TR - I am ready to declare the results for the Yorkshire and Humber Region. I Tom Roridan acting Chief Counting Officer for the Region of Yorkshire and the Humber hereby give notice that the total number of votes for each candidate for the Yorkshire and Humber constituency is as follows: Labour Party, 1,091,962. Conservative Party, 764,096. Liberal Democrats, 350,096. UK Independence Party, 211,170. British National Party, 200,056, Green Party of England and Wales. 122,257... As such the distribution of seats is as follows, Labour Party 22, Conservative Party 15, Liberal Democrats 7, UK Independence Party 4, British National Party 4 and the Green Party of England and Wales 2.

    DD - So that's the Liberal Democrats down four seats and the Conservatives down three seats, not a good night for the coalition in Yorkshire. On the other hand that's Labour up four, UKIP up one, and the Greens gaining two representatives from Yorkshire

    NR- Well it appears out exit poll seems to have slightly underestimated the results for both main parties, especially the Conservatives. Our statisticians tell me we were expecting 13-14 seats for the rather than the 15 they got, it may be a small change but if you replicate that across the country you could see 10-20 extra seats for the Tories. Maybe George Osborne can pull this back?

    DD - It's certainly going to be a fascinating night, over in the naughty corner Jeremy Paxman has the Lib Dem Senator from the South West Jeremy Browne to react, Jeremy over to you

    JP - Thank you David, so Senator Browne you were one of the coalition's strongest supporters, but it seems to have cost you seats up and down the country. Was the coalition a mistake?...

    2011 Parliamentary Election in Yorkshire.png
    2011 Election Aftermath
  • "Isn’t it weird to be at the top of politics with his wife? “It makes it harder for us, but also easier because we understand each other,” Balls says. “If I say that I have to do something on a Saturday morning, she will know that it’s important. We understand the pressures on each other and know if each other is bullshitting or not.” But, he adds: “There are also pressures on our family. Our kids have travelled more miles in their lives than any child should.” Does politics dominate the conversation at the breakfast table? “If I’m honest with you, I can’t think of any time when I’ve sat around the breakfast table and had a conversation with Yvette about politics.” So you don’t discuss the deficit? “No.” He says that most of their friends come from outside the world of politics. “For us, relaxing is not having a conversation about the welfare state.” I find this hard to believe. Balls looks most relaxed when discussing fiscal multipliers and quarterly growth figures. So he must be enjoying the job? “No,” he says, “I hate it, because I’d much rather be in government.”” - Ed Balls — man in a hurry, Mehdi Hassan, New Statesman (2011)

    Commonwealth House 2011.png
    Commonwealth senate 2011.png

    Coming out of the 2011 election Labour appeared to be the biggest winners gaining 41 seats in Parliament. The party had managed to reclaim its fallen regions in the North and make inroads into the midlands, at the same time the party had managed to hold onto the Celtic nations fighting off the SNP north of the border and Plaid Cymru in Wales, the only real problem the party had was in its university towns where the Greens made strong inroads, cities like Brighton, Norwich and Cambridge gave their support to the environmentalist party. However it wasn’t all good news for Labour, the election hadn’t been the grand victory they’d hoped for, they only led the Tories by 20 seats and even with a friendly Lib Dem leader in Chris Huhne they still were twenty seats short of a majority.

    For Osborne and the Tories it looked like Osborne was likely to be the Commonwealth’s shortest serving Prime Minister, whilst he was only twenty seats behind Labour, the Conservatives had the disadvantage of a lack of coalition partners, Huhne had ran on an implicitly anti-Conservative platform, it would have taken a clear Tory lead to drag him back into Government. UKIP were an option but Osborne was reluctant to work with the reactionary party, besides even with UKIP’s help he’d still be 70 seats short of a decent majority. Unless he could cobble together some sort of yellow/purple coalition it was time to start packing.


    Sheffield Mayor Nick Clegg was one of the few senior Lib Dems to support maintaining the coalition with the Conservatives

    For the Liberal Democrats the election had been a disaster, they had lost 40 seats, Ming Campbell had famously warned that if a party fell below 100 seats it “ceased to be relevant”. Now the great question within the Liberal Democrats was would it have been worse with Davey? Would keeping Davey on have caused even greater losses? Or did a chaotic last-ditch leadership challenge muddy the waters before an election? These questions would reopen old wounds in the party and threaten Huhne’s position. But first the question of coalition building, Huhne was naturally aligned with Labour and would have been happy to work with Alan Johnson or Sadiq Khan, the problem was Balls, Huhne remembered during negotiations in 2008 Balls had been abrasive, dismissive, even aggressive at time, was that a man he could work with for three, six, even nine years? Huhne’s friends in Labour said Balls had softened in opposition but Huhne was still unsure.

    “I like Ed, but he is wrong on this economic judgement. He has left a trail of hostages to fortune – not only is he the person most associated with Brown and, in fact, Ed knows much more about economics than Gordon. It was Ed’s policy that got us into this mess.” He adds with a smile: “Alan Johnson has a warmth which Ed Balls sometimes finds it harder to project… put it that way.” Yet the pair have quite a lot in common. Both former hacks – Balls on the FT, Huhne on The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. They also come from an economic background. But they clashed when Mr Huhne, warned in opposition about the level of borrowing under Labour. “Right the way up to 2008 we were being pooh-poohed by the Labour Treasury front bench, accused of being sandwich-board men, warning that doom is nigh. The arrogance with which they dismissed the concerns about what went wrong is breathtaking." - Chris Huhne interview for the Independent on Sunday (2011)

    As for the minor parties, UKIP had a decent, if slightly underwhelming night, 50 MPs and 30 Senators was nothing to sniff at. Nuttall’s redkip strategy of trying to win over small town voters seemed to have worked, with the party picking up several seats in his home region of the North West. However, considering the Conservatives had been in a pro-EU coalition for three years some had hoped to do better. Nuttall immediately set out his red lines for coalition negotiations, they were simple and sweet, he would work with anyone willing to offer a referendum on the European Union.


    Farage told friends he was keen for a cabinet job

    The Greens had the second best night of the major parties, doubling their representation in Parliament, winning representation in nearly every region. The party’s commitment to the anti-austerity and student movements had paid dividends in the inner-cities. Now came the question of Government, as the election results came in talk increasingly spread of a progressive coalition of Labour, Liberals and Greens. In several regional Governments this coalition was already in place to a fair amount of success. However many Greens had their concerns, the left-wing faction that Bennett was a part of was weary of joining with the austerity enabling Lib Dems and austerity agnostic Labour Party, they were concerned an anti-austerity radical Greens would become the next Lib Dems and they looked nervously to their cousins in Europe, many of whom had stagnated or declined since going into coalition. There was also the question of experience, Bennett had no experience in Government, having only just been elected an MP the other night, no Green MP had chaired a committee or ran a regional Government, the only executive level Green in the whole country was Adrian Ramsay, who ran a city of just 100,000 people. The Greens were untried and untested.

    “One factor that has influenced Green parties' policy payoffs in individual cases is internal dissent. This can culminate at times in leaving government early. This leads to negative consequences for the party's policy payoffs. All spells in government come to an end. The timing and manner of this ending varies. As inexperienced, policy-driven, internally democratic, small parties, Green parties are unreliable coalition partners. Their inexperience may lead them to make poor decisions, including exiting the government. Their policy-driven nature may mean that they are less attached to office than other parties. Their internally democratic nature increase the pressures on party elites from activists. Their small size makes them more sensitive to potential electoral loses, which prove existential. If this is the case, they may be more likely to defect from government. This may, in turn cause political instability.” - Green Parties in Europe, Emilie van Haute (2016)


    The Greens were not a "professional party" they had only a handful of paid staff and no big funders, this would prove to be both a blessing and a curse

    For the BNP the results had been disappointing, the party had trod water in its support, Griffin had hoped once it had a foothold in Government it would be able to catapult itself past UKIP to become the main voice of the right, but infighting coupled with the growth of UKIP and a revived economy prevented it from getting anywhere.
    There seemed to be four real options for a Government. Option A was a LabLib Government either joined or propped up by Green MPs and Senators, the second would be a Conservative Government either joined or supported by a mix of Lib Dem and UKIP MPs. The third option was the most controversial, whispered by moderate MPs in Commons tearooms, a grand coalition of Labour and Tories to lock the radicals out, finally there was always the option of another election, although all parties were keen to avoid that.

    Thus a commission of Britain’s top civil servant Gus O’Donnell, Speaker of the House of Commons Menzies Campbell and Senate Presiding Officer Nigel Evans got to work facilitating one of the most fractious coalition negotiations in Commonwealth history.

    “In May 2011, the parliamentary arithmetic boxed the Liberal Democrats in. A coalition with the Conservatives was harder to construct. Their combined representation (201 plus 85) still left them short of a parliamentary majority – i.e. 286. The possibility of forming a strong and stable government was more likely with the Labour (221 plus 85). Given the economic environment the new government was going to put in place economic reforms. For Balls the option was: minority government and instability or coalition government.” - The Osborne-Davey Coalition, Timothy Heppell, Political Studies Association


    SNP Parliamentary Leader Nicola Sturgeon said she'd be willing to support an "anti-Tory alliance" in return for a referendum on independence

    To what extent did Labour have a clear advantage over the Conservatives in the 2011 Government negotiations (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
    2011 Detailed Seat Breakdown
    Labour Party - 221 (+41)
    Conservative Party - 201 (-30)
    Liberal Democrats - 85 (-40)
    UK Independence Party - 51 (+14)
    Green Parties - 29 (+16)
    British National Party - 29 (+1)
    Scottish National Party - 11 (-2)
    Plaid Cymru - 4 (-)
    Sinn Fein- 4 (-)
    Democratic Unionist Party - 4 (-)
    Social Democratic and Labour Party - 4 (-)
    Ulster Unionist Party - 4 (-)
    Alliance Party of Northern Ireland - 2 (-)
    Traditional Unionist Voice - 1 (-)

    Labour Party - 122 (+9)
    Conservative Party - 100 (-16)
    Liberal Democrats - 44 (-17)
    UK Independence Party - 30 (+11)
    Green Parties - 14 (+4)
    British National Party - 11 (+11)
    Sinn Fein - 7 (-)
    Democratic Unionist Party - 7 (-2)
    Scottish National Party - 6 (-)
    Social Democratic and Labour Party - 6 (-)
    Ulster Unionist Party - 5 (-1)
    Plaid Cymru - 3 (-1)
    Alliance Party of Northern Ireland- 3 (+1)
    Traditional Unionist Voice - 2 (+2)
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