UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Tories could be making sterling a rod for their own back

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BRITAIN-CONSERVATIVES/Talking down the pound could have some pretty bad consequences.

Ever since the debacle of sterling being forced out of the European exchange rate in September 1992, British officials and politicians have maintained a stiff upper lip when talking about the pound.

The Conservative government spent billions of pounds and jacked up interest rates to defend the currency back then, but to no avail. The party’s reputation for economic competence was lost, paving the way for Labour’s big win in 1997.

The one lesson that everyone obeyed was there was no point trying to manipulate the currency because you could not buck the market.

I can only remember one occasion when Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer for a decade before he became prime minister, made the kind of currency comment that news agencies and euro zone politicians love.

Hug a politician: the new election strategy

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brown_cameronYou know an election campaign is in full swing the world over when pictures start appearing of politicians kissing babies. But with a general election now just two months away, UK politicians seem to be have found new targets for their displays of affection: each other.

It started with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. After stories that the Prime Minister and his Chancellor had fallen out with one another over an interview in which Darling accused Brown aides of having “unleashed the forces of hell” at him, the two popped up at the weekly Prime Minister’s questions almost arm in arm.

Newsmaker with David Cameron, George Osborne and Ken Clarke

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BRITAIN-CONSERVATIVES/Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Shadow Secretary of State for Business Ken Clarke will join us on Tuesday March 2 to give speeches and take part in a Q&A session on the economy.

With a recent newspaper poll showing Labour could hold on to power after an election due in the next few months, Cameron has admitted that the Tories now have a “fight on their hands” to prevent a fourth successive election win for Labour.

Does Cameron have the X-Factor?

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cameron_brighton  David Cameron was not the only young contender appearing in Brighton this weekend. While the Conservative leader was addressing activists in a seafront hotel, the fresh young faces  from the latest series of the X-Factor were tuning up for a tour date at the Conference Centre a couple of doors along the road.

Cameron is of course engaged in his own struggle for public affection with Gordon Brown and Labour. And what had looked at one stage like a coronation has now turned into a battle royal for the crown.

Where did the Tory lead go?

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An opinion poll published today shows the Labour Party gaining ground on David Cameron’s Conservatives. The Ipsos Mori poll found support for the Conservatives on 37 percent, with Labour on 32 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 19 percent.

Carried into an election this would give Labour the most seats in the House of Commons, although no party would have an outright majority. The Conservative’s lead has been cut from a high of 28 points back in September 2008.

from Mark Jones:

Is social media killing the election poster?

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Billboard political advertising is a mainstay of election campaigns the world over. A generation ago, the 'Labour isn't working' poster was credited by Conservative party Treasurer Lord Thorneycroft with winning the 1979 election for Margaret Thatcher. But might the advent of social media mean that its days are now numbered?

Alastair Campbell, Labour's director of election communications at the last election, thinks political advertising is losing its effectiveness:

TV interview shows Brown is brushing up

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BrownIt should have been toe-curlingly embarrassing but Gordon Brown seemed to come out of it pretty well, raising the stakes for the planned debates between party leaders ahead of the election.

The prime minister’s appearance on Piers Morgan’s celebrity interview programme on Sunday night must have been designed to  show a more human side to Brown — who often comes across as awkward and intellectual.

Will social media influence your voting intentions?

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brown_cameronA couple of government ministers, Andy Burnham and Chris Bryant, let the cat out of the bag this week that the general election will be in May.

So if the inclement weather has darkened your mood, cheer up — you’ve got a few months yet of political jaw-jaw and shadow electioneering as Britain’s political parties try to ingratiate themselves into your heart in a bid to snaffle your vote on election day.

from Mark Jones:

A Google election?

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The return to work on Monday prompted the launch of the main UK political parties' pre-election campaigns and the indications are that social media is likely to play a big role in the run-up to the general election.

David Cameron kicked off the Conservatives' Draft Health Manifesto with a very neat 'ask Cameron' feature making use of Google Moderator -- something I'd not heard of before but previously used by Conservative MP Giles Chichester in the runup to the Copenhagen climate summit.

Keith Weir on PMQs wins and losses

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Gordon Brown fended off some familiar darts from Conservative leader David Cameron about the recession during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, says Reuters UK chief correspondent Keith Weir.

Brown also spoke about Afghanistan after the prime minister confirmed on Monday that Britain would send an extra 500 soldiers to Afghanistan, bringing the UK troop level to about 10,000. The U.S. said on Tuesday it will increase its troop levels by 30,000 to about 100,000.

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