PMQs for the people: still happening?

At last week’s Labour Party Conference, much was made of Ed Miliband forgetting to directly discuss the deficit and immigration in his main leader’s speech. However, one thing I don’t recall hearing at all from anybody last week in Manchester was the idea for a public Prime Minister’s Questions.

The idea was first raised in July by Ed Miliband, when he said the following:

I think what we need is a public question time where regularly the prime minister submits himself or herself to questioning from members of the public in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesdays.

It received a mixed response at the time. Patrick Wintour from the Guardian labelled it a ‘cracking idea‘, whilst Steven Fielding from Nottingham University called it a ‘PR response to a profound problem‘.

Since then, little has been said on the plan, and there’s no news of the speaker receiving more details from the Leader of the Opposition.

A search for ‘Public PMQs’ takes you to all of the media announcements from July. A search for ‘People’s PMQs’ takes you to the Labour Party’s website, where it says that you can ask the Labour leader Gordon Brown a question about the upcoming 2010 general election

Michael Ashcroft Polling on Liberal Democrat marginals

This afternoon, Michael Ashcroft addressed the Conservative Party Conference, providing a host of individual seat polls of interest to them. Of course, many of these will also be of interest to the Liberal Democrats. The polls were each of 1000 people during the July-September period. They should be noted as a snapshot of the time, and not a snapshot of next May.

Continue reading Michael Ashcroft Polling on Liberal Democrat marginals

Labour Party Conference: The Scottish problem

I was at Labour Party Conference this week. Many journalists and commentators have noted how flat the conference felt, particularly for a party that will hope to be in government in just a few months time. I didn’t think it was that bad, and people did brighten up after Ed Miliband’s speech on Tuesday, but you certainly did not feel comparisons with 1996 would have been accurate.

A big reason for any flatness that was around was Labour’s Scottish problem. Whilst almost everybody there was delighted that Scotland had voted no to independence, the feeling was coupled with one of fear about the outcome of next year’s general election, and in particular the effect of the Scottish National Party on their vote and seat share.

Two leading members of the ‘no’ campaign highlighted this feeling strongly. Jim Murphy MP noted that Labour had ‘allowed Scottish nationalism to grow over 25 years, comfortable in the feeling that they could “borrow their vote” in UK general elections’. Johann Lamont echoed those thoughts, saying that Scottish Labour had ignored Scottish voters in the past, and Labour leader Ed Miliband has noted that the party has ‘more to do‘.

The SNP’s surge in membership in recent days suggest that the party will fight the next general election with good resources and a mobilised activist base. Given the closeness of the next election, any seats that the SNP manage to gain from Labour could prove costly for Ed Miliband’s team.

Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched

The Liberal Democrats launched their pre-manifesto this morning, after postponing it last week due to events in the middle-east. The announcement of Kate and William’s baby won’t have helped matters this morning, but those I doubt the coverage would have been so much more noticeable without it. Continue reading Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched