Sunday 24 May 2015

Sharing the Blame?

Every indication is that David Cameron is pulling forward a European vote - negotiations are immediate and then a whether to stay or go in a referendum can take place.

This is rapid timing, probably 2016 instead of 2017, not because he inhabits a glow of approval by the electorate (that's unclear), but because he inhabits a glow of approval among his MPs. Nevertheless, the quicker the vote, the less such a referendum becomes a vote for or against him as such (as the AV referendum was a vote in part against Nick Clegg and his betrayal of his party's electorate and telling the truth).

None of this can take away the predicament generated by having a vote: this is the UKIP opportunity, and this is the Tory nutjobs opportunity. A vote to stay in would be indeed generational, and they will go ballistic if this happens. A vote to come out will be seen as highly destructive, and won't work with the condition of United Kingdom devolution: say bye to Scotland, Wales will be bitter, Northern Ireland cannot be out if Ireland is in (and modernising).

What Cameron needs from the EU Commission is some bones he can produce as something worth accepting: he needs a 'victory' of negotiations. Because he needs these, the Council of Ministers may not be as keen to offer as much as the Commission. And as everyone should know, but don't because ignorance has been part of our EU problem, it is the Council of Ministers that makes the decisions. If is a confederation of Executive arms of governments of Member States.

He knows that there is a small majority, if fluid, to stay in. So it has always been a party gamble, and the one that checked UKIP as taking Conservative votes whereas UKIP did take Labour votes - the argument more about immigration of course.

What Cameron may get before a referendum Miliband could have got without one: nevertheless, post the election now is not the time for Labour to jump on board. The referendum is to be a reality. This means Labour has to recommend a stay in vote. But it should do so without approving the referendum itself. However, it is changing its stance.

Bad decision (wrong time, wrong decision).

When the shit hits the fan the Tories will stay Labour was in favour of the referendum and should share the blame. Now it is not as bad as actually having the policy and doing it. The Conservatives tried to say Labour was in favour of the ERM when we were forced out - Major's government lost economic credibility from then on. To the victor the spoilheap. Nevertheless, it is far worse if it is exclusively your policy.

Let's be clear. If we stay in - the most likely result whether Cameron says he has enough or says (will he?) he hasn't - the Conservative majority of 12 will vanish. The bitterness in Tory ranks will be clear. UKIP will represent the neverendum that is given to the Scottish Nationalist position.

Coming out will be utterly destructive: you cannot devolve membership of the European Union. The SNP stance - and they could take the Lib Dem hold in a liar's by-election sooner than later - is one that simply represents Scotland. Their no matters, and again they and the rump Lib Dems favour a referendum only with a further transfer of powers to shared sovereignty.

A 'This Union or That Union' vote, when there are a few bones for Cameron, is surely going to be to keep This Union. Then let the Tories lose their majority, by indiscipline, by some others joining Carswell.

Labour should approve a no vote, but stay with the original formula of when a referendum is relevant. It's current policy shift to approve a referendum is a mistake. Cameron has got what he wished for, and bringing it forward won't make a difference once the reality is laid out. He'll end up wishing he had a coalition partner. He might have another party to share the blame.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Labour: Stay Clear of EU Referendum

I'm not sure if the Labour party is falling apart or not. It is certainly needed to now put up an opposition, along with the SNP, and it needs maximum discipline on attendance to exploit indiscipline in the Conservative Party among its usual subjects and a few others.

If we are going to be part of the EU then we need free movement of labour along with free movement of capital: this is not just capitalism but because there is a humanism involved in the free movement of people within the continent, and it slowly dissolves the ethnic nationalisms that are behind the immigration debates.

Note that Scotland's civic nationalism has avoided the immigration problem, as indeed the SNP remains pro-European. The peacefulness of last year's referendum was a beacon to the world.

Scotland has multiple historic ethnicities as well newer ones, and has had its own clashes of culture in the past - Jacobite versus modernist, Anglicised gentry versus old clans, urban collective Labour and rural communities, its own far north tending to Scandinavian. The Scottish contribution to the UK was somewhat homogenised in recent decades, by gentry and by unions, and its distinctiveness now is more historically attuned.

On this basis, the Labour conundrum of more left wing north and less left wing south may only be solved (minimally, sufficiently?) by having Scottish Labour go independent.

Labour will make a great mistake if it goes in favour of having an EU referendum. Let the Tories have this and tie themselves in knots.

Cameron has to do a sham negotiation. If he claims he's satisfied (the EU  Council of Ministers throws him a few bones) the Tory nutjobs will go bananas. The Tory party will have to be split during a campaign. If Cameron is dissatisfied and says so a minority of the Tory party will not want to leave the EU, and a vote to stay in is still likely. Cameron may be dissatisfied and still say we ought to stay in - nutjobs alert again. He might recommend coming out gambling on staying in - but would he be able to stay as Prime Minister? To come out will have a major effect on business and industry, the massive reverberations having unknown effects.

A vote to stay in the EU would tear the Tory party apart, simply because the nutjobs will have lost their long awaited vote. There will be talk of treachery and more.

The effect of the EU referendum politically could be worse than Lamont and Cameron's ERM crisis, when interest rates shot up to hold the pound's value and then we were forced out. Major's government never recovered, with the icing of the nutjobs ("bastards") and sleeze on the cake.

Forget about the Fixed Term Parliament Act and the majorities needed to have an election. It just needs repealing by a simple majority. Then it depends on who can call an election: maybe then a simple majority of the House of Commons.

This government will be crippled by the device it has used to keep the Tory Party together under Cameron's leadership. The 70 plus majority that the Liberal Democrats provided is no longer available for its self-interested policies.

This is why one can expect scorched earth from the Tory government starting with the July budget. They'll have two years and then deep trouble. Let the Tories stew in their own juice.

Saturday 9 May 2015

Pessimism Justified

Well, I was right to be pessimistic but there was hope in the pessimism now utterly dashed. We were all misled by the polls, even if the polls were right, if they were, but couldn't have been all of the time. For 'undecided', next time, read 'Tories'...

Everyone has lost. The poorest have lost and will first. The electoral cycle means cuts savage for two years, and then easing off, ending with goodies sprayed all over the place. Some may not survive two years intact.

Politically all the parties - yes all of them - have lost. The SNP lost because, being too successful, they frightened too many English horses, especially helped by Tory cries, and thus, with Labour's weakness, lost the ability to 'lock out David Cameron from Number 10'.

UKIP lost because although the working class prejudice strategy worked the Tory element went back to the Tories. UKIP thus failed to turn votes into seats. If there is a vote to stay in or come out of Europe, they loss. They will only attract the disgruntled if we stay in, and if out the job is done and they are finished. That or they morph into the Alf Garnett Party. If Douglas Carswell leads them, they might moderate.

Why do party leaders resign after they have led their party with arrogance to destruction? Why not realise the toxicity of the leadership and let someone else have a go a year out or more before the election? The Liberal Democrats built a left of centre identity, even left of Blair, and then betrayed their main voters. Then of course the remaining more 'Orange' voters realised they may as well vote for the real thing, and voted Tory. The Tories were so grateful for their coalition allies propping them up that they went around the constituencies beating them up. They thought they were easier pickings than Labour, but it turned out that Labour were weak enough as well. Nick Clegg destroyed the Liberal Democrats and it is a pity that he didn't lose his seat and perhaps another keep his or hers. Charles Kennedy obviously didn't do enough to remind electors that he abstained over going into the coalition.

Labour lost because it had a few populist redistribution policies but no vision, no rationale other than people didn't feel yet the fruits of a statistical recovery. What Labour didn't do, in the election or earlier, was expose the economy for what it is: debt ridden private and public, with no rebalance towards industry, and a property boom manipulation that failed to sustain the construction industry (it has been lousy), and a cheap labour economy that traded against capital investment and therefore no productivity growth. The analysis was so lousy because they were startled by supposed independent statistics reports, all of which said there was recovery and lots of people in underemployment. Ed Miliband had to prove he was leadership material: he had a good early campaign to prove himself but ran out of steam, and then put up a gravestone. The vision should have been a high capital investment economy with a beefed up industry department and all policies geared towards investment. That's how to do Scotland and England together. Expose the Tories as casino economics traders, all money and no substance, all for the wealthy few.

The Conservatives lost too. The economy will soon expose itself as useless. They will also reduce monetary and fiscal demand by savage cuts, as well as create social strife (should they do as promised). They will also be diverted by first the bullshit of renegotiation over Europe and either deceive that something has been achieved in repatriated powers, to therefore recommend staying in, or they will be neutered in their own comment. A head of steam to come out isn't necessarily the result when people think about the consequences, and imagine a vote to stay in among the Tory nutjobs on the back benches. And there may be just enough pro-European Tories (who once enjoyed Liberal Democrat support) who have to play with that tiny majority their way. Plus we cannot leave the EU and leave Scotland as part of the Union: membership of the EU is not part of devolution.

The Tories will also find that although they can pick off victims (those who are not "working people"), a majority does not mean unconstrained government. A lot of what they promised won't happen, and they will start to tie themselves in knots. And Major won, hit the ERM crisis that Labour might have hit then, and was done for by again voter memory. It was the tiredness of the Major government and its contradictions as a governing party plus incompetence that gave Labour its opportunity, so long as Labour has an economic narrative and a better proposal.

Plus the Greens did no better and neither did Plaid Cymru. So, the Tories won, by beating up their one-time colleagues, regarding the Scots as other, with a referendum that could divide their party. They've sown the seeds of their own destruction. This government may not get past the referendum intact.

And the fixed term parliament act? It demands a huge majority to have an early election, but a simple majority to repeal it. I bet it goes, with the slender majority probably meaning the Prime Minister doesn't get back the right to call an election, but say a simple majority confidence vote to call an election just as one is taken to defend a government. This is how, if this government cripples itself early, it may not last.

This is the only hope there is at the moment. But it is because all the parties lost the election. It takes a lot for the opposition to unite to get near to defeating a government, but it takes little for the nutjobs and disgruntled to start making serious demands.

Thursday 7 May 2015

Pessimistic at this General Election

It's election day. Yes, it is time to punish the Liberal Democrats for wasting my vote last time. I have waited and waited, and now I can do it. If Cameron is the largest party, they are just as likely to shit all over us again, with the difference this time that we know they will do it.

Nevertheless, in the most boring and condom-covered campaign ever, one can see that, probably, the Liberal Democrats and Clegg have done enough to probably stave off the worst. He did become irrelevant quickly, but in amongst the protected did expose himself a little bit to take some flak.

Cameron's gamble to withdraw from debate exposed him as a chicken, and a manufactured chicken, but it did deprive the public of negative results against Miliband. Miliband thus had the better campaign to begin with, and was seen at least to have a coherent purpose about his campaigning. But then along came smoothy boy, the PR man, who can string sentences together, and even appear with the same two sweaty hairs pointing downwards from his make-up guru to show just how busy he was getting. His sleeves were rolled up, his tie off, no matter whether it was warm or wet or windy outside. He appeared in factories and hanger buildings, in the latter surrounded by a handful of people that might give the impression of many more. Faced with actual questions from an actual if parties-following public (in Leeds), he put on a monologue show of prepared lines that didn't answer the questions, and his supporters clapped. At the same time, Miliband slowed them up by wanting to know everyone's name, and started to stumble when he tried to answer some questions. Clegg just stood there and took it. Surprisingly enough, Farage stayed in his constituency and also took it, and actually looked more approached and fresher for it. It was the counterfactual thing to do, and though he looked gaffe-ridden he started to look approachable. And I say that despising much of what he stands for.

The real issue has been Scotland, because of the post Independence referendum effect. Instead of treating Scotland as a nation, as a contributor, as distinctive, Cameron treated them as 'other', because here was a stick by which to beat Miliband. Miliband, instead of being generous, and could have been while being pro-Labour, ran scared, and also allowed the 'branch office' to dictate terms. Rejecting the SNP's overtures  was an internal matter as well.

The Tories ought to be running away with it. If they were run by John Major with this statistical economic recovery, they would probably be romping away. It isn't Miliband that drags a party down, it is Cameron and the cronies who embody the Tory party as a party of privilege, who will dish out the cuts to welfare whilst the rich party on.

This is in an economy that is loaded with private and public debt and a bloated property market again with all that quantitative easing money bubbling out into non-productive financings - if you can't 'grow' that sort of economy, and on low wages, you really are pathetic in leadership. The reality of our economy is not the repeated bullshit of statistics, but the absence of productivity growth - real growth. It is a low wage economy, and low wages always mean more employment against less capital investment. Manufacturing is not recovered, there was no re-balancing of the economy. Labour has failed to counter the statistical news management: it's not just that people don't feel an economic recovery, there is no sustainable economic recovery.

The puzzle is this. How come Cameron, who started off with all sorts of 'compassionate Conservatism' and might have made a true marriage with Liberal Democrats of the Orange Book, turn the Liberal Democrats into a wooden leg to prop up the most vicious Tory led government in decades? It is because he is a PR man through and through, a performer, who learns his lines and puts on an act. All he believes in is the privilege of being, for him, his mates, those he knows. One minute he'll be a redistributor, next minute a right winger. It matters not, because it never bothers him. One minute he is pro-European Union, next minute he'll risk all with a referendum. He'll dodge, he'll weave, and he'll keep with his mate Osborne. He doesn't even want to go on and on.

I'd not be surprised if there's a coup in the Tory party soon after the election, if he fronts a minority party that can't govern, even with a Liberal Democrat prop. If he fails to uphold a Queen's Speech, assuming he tries to make one, his right wing nut jobs will organise to kick him out. They've been running him for long enough. Actually, if Miliband is disappointed he might be soon gone too. Clegg might not even win his seat, and a fresh person at the top would do the Liberal Democrats no harm.

For what it is worth, I am pessimistic. I think, in the end, the act Cameron puts on convinces just enough people. Against him is a very late recovery by personality Farage and a late doggedness by Clegg and Liberal Democrats in the trenches. I just don't think that Miliband made sufficient case attacking the reality of the economy and arguing for the alternative. It wasn't as much the 'gravestone gaffe' as the fact that his campaign ran out of steam, and this is assuming the Greens have faded. The polls haven't moved but there are changes caused by tiny fluctuations of undecided voters in very few constituencies, and they are likely to buy Cameron's line and appearance - especially pensioners who will be exempt from the welfare attacks to come. Perhaps on such low numbers the Greens and Farage's mob do matter.

More than this, the Tories and UKIP voters keep quiet because they are embarrassed to declare their vote.

 I'm voting in a safe Labour seat. Anyhow, one outcome of this election, and indeed the prospect of future elections too, is that the First Past the Post voting system is bust. It doesn't work when there is a political stalemate among many parties anyway, and the outcome depends on all sorts of oddities and peculiarities. You may was well have a minimum percentage and then proportionality. Alliance building that once used to take place within two main parties can take place in the open, like it will, but with a result that reflects votes.

That or, not only leaders being changed, but parties could splinter and divide and regroup: Orange Liberal Democrats off to the Tories, progressive Liberal Democrats with much Labour, Greens reaching out to more communal socialists, and Nationalists discovering their own rights and lefts. When the voting system fails, something has to change to repair the body politic.

But things look grim, especially if Cameron gets back in and does better than we expect. There just isn't sufficient head of steam behind Labour to make the difference. I hope I am wrong, and I'll be staying up late into Friday morning to find out.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Militant Tendency Gets Dream Job

There is only so far an institution can stretch. This is the problem with those seeking Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion in the Church of England. It's the point to which the Church cannot go without snapping off a considerable anti-constituency. Those who favour inclusion say how evangelicals are beginning to shift, shift at least because a new generation is coming along, among the evangelical young, who discover their sexuality, and then find an institution they thought was part of them reject them. Evangelical leadership is bound to change, not just condemn or restrict.

For most, such change is part of growing up and alongside getting an abstract mind on top of concrete realities it shows not everything is as you thought it was. Just as confirmation was a leaving certificate, so such a discovery is a means to choose something else. But it is true, too, that some find this rejection very deflating to the inner-self and can lead to even suicidal thoughts, especially if the personnel of the institution start to be threatening. Perhaps they could 'wait': these folk cannot wait if they are now going into their formative, creative times, times for making relationships with sexual partners.

Set against this is decline, and decline means less contact/ relevance with the broader wider world. Also, places of growth are likely to see the prevailaing outside world as ideologically hostile. As well as traditionalists that defend, there are conversionists who attack. But it is all a smaller universe. This cannot be a trend towards LGBT inclusion but quite the opposite. Liberals in general become marginalised, and it is the liberal who is most likely to have theologies and ethics of inclusion.

Already stretching between incompatible positions ethically, and theologies so diverse, the only way the Church of England could get female bishops was by promising a Conservative Evangelical flying bishop to join those who were Catholic traditionalists. This doesn't just contradict on women as bishops exercising headship, but also embeds the position that restricts the view of LGBT people as disobediently sinful when being themselves. So the Church of England, stretching further, has these 'conversations' on the ground between selected individuals about the experiences of holding different views on LGBT related matters.

Whilst it is something to appoint someone with Conservative Evangelical views, it comes to something else surely when that person has been part of the organising to undermine the very institution of which he is being made a senior member? He is supposed to operate (and how does this work?) by asking the permission of the, in some cases, woman diocesan bishop to be in effect an area bishop to congregations who don't want to recognise her headship. For him to minister to them, he must ask her and thus recognise her headship.

Yet Rod Thomas has been part of the movement that created foreign bishops to gather as a Primates Council and institutions, like the Anglican Mission in England, that will bypass Church of England structures when the 'orthodox' congregation doesn't want to recognise what it considers to be unorthodox bishops, including, presumably, women. And the websites of AMiE and Reform are hardly responding in institutional generosity towards this requirement of institutional fidelity. It's all fair game. Reform and the Church Society already stretch out and include congregations outside the actual Church of England, and it seeks alternative organising inside so that 'our people' get the selection for ministerial training they want, the soft of ministerial training they want, and the appointments of their ordained that they want.

So the Church of England has appointed to a senior position to enable it to 'stretch' further someone who is involved in creating a Church within a Church. If this isn't bonkers I don't know what isn't. Some think it is ingenious, to appoint someone that forces compromising behaviour and a loyalty to his position. Don't believe it.

Recall, back in the 1980s, Militant Tendency promoting their purist Socialism and, more than this, self-controlled means of organising. Every Labour Party position it holds is one that is held by referring back to Militant, and Militant both monitors and diverts the money and personnel involved to further its means. This is known as entryism. It is a strategy of institutional manipulation from within, but control from without. It gains the broader outreach of the main body its purism could never achieve on its own. The main body is 'used' because it is suspect, and if the suspect body collapses, then all well and good because the purist outfit can inherit that institution's outreach to further its own ends.

Imagine Neil Kinnock who, instead of doing what was necessary to cut them out, and force one loyalty, appointed Derek Hatton to high office. What would Hatton have done? Would have have felt grateful and compromised? No, not a bit of it. He would have continued referring back to Militant, and Militant would have regarded the appointment as excellent.

This is exactly the position here. The first loyalty is to the close control of the Conservative Evangelical position that needs to worm its way further into the body than it could by ordinary persuasive means. Why should this man Rod Thomas not only never recognise the headship of a woman in a diocese, but why would he not continue to encourage other means by which laypeople and their Presbyters seek an oversight-Presbyter that is a man? After all, this is how they understand bishops, not by "reading the ordinal" as Rowan Williams once put it, but from the bottom up, from the collegiate of presbyters with congregations.

So this also implies that Reform ideology makes him barely Anglican in ecclesiology in the first place. In that he may be, he seeks to have another Anglicanish body of pure understanding of Conservative Evangelicalism grab the reins of power differently from the institutional rules.

Historically, they are similar to the Puritans who could never settle in the Anglican Church, rejecting its ecclesiology, who came to prominence during its suspension and destruction, who as Presbyterians would have imposed order on every one else (Cromwell was an Independent, and more tolerant) and eventually were cut out of the body at the restoration in 1662. Clearly today's Conservative Evangelicalism cannot handle the ecclesiology that decides by national Synod and bishops to have women and men as bishops, and instead of seeking its own future beyond carries on within the main body. And clearly it has its own HQ of GAFCON world bishops, and back room boys, so that it carries on within the main body whilst already relating to something else and their own decision making.

So this is not just stretching too far: it is building in institutional contradition. It doesn't keep things together, it rots it from within and makes it more likely the broad institution becomes incompatible with its various parts and falls apart. But that's also what they want, because when that happens they become the part that can pick up the pieces, and they put it back together again in their own image.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Independent: RIP

The Independent newspaper is no longer Independent. Its Tory hobnobbing Oligarch owner Evgeny Lebedev has leant on it. The lead opinion is stupid, because as well as being contradictory, it wants a Lib-Dem coalition again that is more Liberal and less Conservative. But given the hammering coming to the Liberal Democrats, such a coalition is likely to be more Conservative and less Liberal, plus the bad blood of the election and coalition experience for the Lib Dems will affect the operation of such a future government.

There is more sense in the speculation that Miliband and Clegg would form a coalition even if it didn't make a majority so as to make numbers over the Tories and add legitimacy to a government that the SNP could hardly vote down. That's if Clegg wins his seat, and perhaps it would be better if it didn't in order to have someone else in the Lib Dem driving seat for such an arrangement.

Anyway, newspapers matter less than they think. Thankfully.

Monday 4 May 2015

Get Back on Track!

The election campaign has been a game of two halves.

In the first half, Labour launched a positive, initiative-containing, campaign with the leader at its head, showing Ed Miliband as thoughtful and with a direction. The Tories were lacklustre and it seemed its leader wasn't quite bothered whether he was in the race or not, plus their policies were all economics. Cameron was skittled by Paxman and was seen as running away from debates. Clegg was nowhere, the Greens made minimal impact and Farage made some clownish points.

In the second half, Cameron started acting, playing to his strength as a Public Relations man. Despite the colder weather, he appeared with his shirt sleeves rolled up. This appeals to the ignorant, stupid, and gullible, but then he needs their votes. Cameron also refused to answer good questions but could put on a determined monologue. At the same time, Miliband ran out of more central initiatives, started to stumble over real questions he attempted to answer and then came up with a ridiculous gimmick of a gravestone in which to bury policies (any simple advisor worth a zero-hours contract minimum wage could have seen the other side of whatever that was supposed to portray). Clegg just stood further and took the flak, and looked like he always has, and Farage was starting to look irrelevant along with, at the other end, the Greens.

But the big issue in the otherwise tedious campaign has been Scotland. In the first half Cameron mismanaged Scotland and showed that he was a threat to the union, because he was reactive-English and could snap the UK in two by his inept selectivity. Unfortunately, Miliband has also got it wrong.

One understands why. He's got Scottish Labour on his back, or in his body, saying it's them (SNP) versus us. He's got the notion that, if he can sell 'Vote SNP and get a Tory government', because Labour needs most seats, he says, then this shores up the Labour outcome. He can play the high moralist ground that the SNP, in wanting to 'break up Britain', cannot be in any coalition or even deal with Labour. He plays the point that there is no negotiating a manifesto, like the Liberal Democrats did. He also plays the strong on defence card regarding the useless Trident. He also defends against simplistic Tory attacks, as they already can dismiss the SNP.

But this is wrong. The Labour in Scotland problem started with Labour in Scotland, in the self-declaration that it was being treated like a branch office, in the behaviour of alliance with other unionist and more despised political parties. It went rotten, up further north, and a clever leader would have realised the weakness of that campaign and put a deputy into Scotland to deal with it more or less alone. He would then realise that the SNP is of the collective left, and been more positive at least to say, something like, "I'm sure the SNP will want to support a Labour administration where the policies are so similar, and there will be no need for any particular deals." He would then create plenty of wriggle room whilst showing no need for the SNP to be in coalition. He could make it clear still that it would be a Labour manifesto driving matters.

Instead there are shadow cabinet members talking wriggle room, when he is not, and this looks disorganised. It's as if he is frightened of the Tory attack. Well, sod them and make your own ground. If the SNP wants to be positive towards the UK, one can welcome such an approach even if tentatively - it's a difference of tone. One further welcomes the historical place and part Scotland has put into the UK and before the UK. Treat it with respect: treat the political culture as important.

This mismanagement of the issue has allowed the Tories space to return to talking economics and looking competent as managing economics. The emphasis on people, including people needing benefits, has been lost.

Because the other side of this election campaign has been the victimology underlying its narrative. The Tories have been caught on the £12 million welfare cuts they won't declare. They are nasty bastards. But Labour also refer to "hard working people" and the same cliches. The people left out, then, the pariahs, with the one exception of removing the obviously horrible Bedroom Tax, is the poorest. Only the Greens have stood up for them. The Tories are ready to viciously attack the poorest. But Labour, scared of being seen as all about benefits, have dodged around the accusation by using the same Tory cliches about people who, "Do the right thing." Doing the right thing includes all pensioners, simply because they vote more, and vote Tory more. Self interest is everything. Labour has said nothing on benefit sanctions, whereas surprisingly the Liberal Democrats think they have been too harsh (another case of them doing one thing and saying another).

Scared of that, Labour keeps quiet. It's focused instead on the quality of economic recovery, as received by "working people" and excluding again. It is a tricky area to try and win an argument. It also goes for the NHS as a drumbeat, just as the Liberal Democrats try it with education (to no impact because no one believes them after tuition fees).

Labour are probably on better ground regarding the European Union referendum: as with the Liberal Democrats, a vote by the people on in or out is dependent on more powers centralised by a treaty. The Tory offer of a referendum after a fake 'renegotiation' can be portrayed as wreckless. It could have been better portrayed, as UKIP have tried, as a con - a renegotiation that would be pronounced as some great success with no need, therefore, for a vote or, if a vote, a recommendation to stay in. People don't regard Cameron as honest on this, and it is why Labour can make its opposition to a vote stick, plus it allows Labour to sound economically responsible (and a good way to do so - worth repeating).

So Labour, as well as having a weak campaign second half, with stupid gimmicks and failures of presentation, has failed regarding Scotland and made less use of Europe from an economic competence point of view. What worries me is that Labour will use more gimmicks and employ more celebrities. It matters instead to make central arguments and treat the electorate as intelligent. Be positive on Scotland as it is, and make a government under the Fixed Term Parliament Act more likely to work.

The danger of a campaign going wrong, while the Tories can do a simplistic 'sunny uplands' song, is fewer seats for Labour as a result. It needs as many as it can get, especially given the reality of Scotland. Otherwise the radical edge can drift of to the Greens, just as UKIP continues to go backwards thanks to its inept campaigning and Tory referendum offer made louder. We need a change and Labour haven't got to get this wrong. And they are getting it wrong at present.