Straight Talking with Ian Mean

A few cross words from Gordon

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 28, 2010

Today(Thursday) will be Gordon Brown’s final hurrah. His last chance to have any sort of chance of saving Labour from what could be complete meltdown—perhaps as bad as 1983 when Michael Foot led the party to disaster.

We al have all tended to feel that Gordon has been something of a saviour as we have struggled through the recession. This has been his only trump card during the election campaign and tonight(Thursday) during the last of the televised debates, he plays his final hand.

Will it be a winner.?

Very doubtful. Even if his experience of steering the good ship Great Britain through the choppy waters of the recession wins through in the BBC debate, I am afraid a Labour loving pensioner called Gillian Duffy from Rochdale has made all of us think a little more about Mr Brown.

As cock-ups go, the cringemaking embarrassment of his cross words against Gillian heard through a microphone as he sped away from their street interview was the ultimate electioneering disaster.

Yes, how many times have we come out of a meeting or a conversation and then—out of earshot or in the car-had a real go at a colleague. Quite normal isn’t it?

But you are I are not the man offering themselves up as the next Prime Minister of the country. And for a man of the manse, a man who is steeped in Calvanistic principles, his branding of Gillian Duffy as a bigot will not be easily forgotten.

It will not in itself be a disaster for Labour. Perhaps that damage has already been done by the tv debates, which have been absolutely amazing in the way they have affected people’s political leanings towards the three main parties.

For the first time, voters have been able to see the contenders for the crown at No 10 full-on. For the first time, we have seen Nick Clegg for an hour and a half—not just for a couple of minutes at the most at Question Time in the Commons . And people liked what they saw—particularly the young people, the first time voters.

Will the Lib Demes perform at the ballot box like Clegg has performed on the tv debates. The big question. I doubt it.

Will Gordon Brown recover on tv on Thursday night? I very much doubt it.

Perhaps Gordon will be saved by Tony as he comes riding in to the last few days of the campaign, fresh from lucrative speeches in Asia-Pacific?

No, it is too late. But what has not been too late is the realisation by the British public that our politicians really do not stand up to real scrutiny by deep vein television. Where they are totally laid bare. Where their policies or the lack of them are quickly uncovered. There has never been a General Election campaign quite like it and the day Gordon met Gillian capped it all.

[ends]

Ian Mean

Editor – The Citizen

Editor in Chief

Gloucestershire Media

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Clegg Wins It by a Mile

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 15, 2010

Nick Clegg did it for me in the first of the TV debates—by a mile.

In what I thought was a fairly boring and pedestrian debate with all three candidates not making a big mistake, Nick Clegg really shone in this opening salvo.

Of all the leaders, he emerged as a leader who was willing to relate to the public and be candid and open.

Sadly, Gordon Brown and David Cameron did not do that.

I put Brown second and David Cameron, surprisingly, third.

I had thought that David Cameron would have won by a mile. He had the confidence and the talk.

But tonight he was rather left floundering. He looked ill at ease for large parts of this marathon—an hour and half was just too long. He spent periods looking straight ahead and showing little emotion.

Gordon Brown did rather better. Yes, he looked grey and he was rather grey. He banged on about the economy, undoubtedly his best piece of weaponry but he was unconvincing.

What struck me was that Clegg and Brown had something of a love-in. From Gordon, there was a lot of “Nick and I”…Poor old Cameron was in the middle of the trio on the debate set and was really caught in what seemed to be a cleverly engineered pincer movement.

Gordon was so very friendly to Nick from the very start. Mindful that he would be a coalition partner in a hung parliament perhaps and firing the early friendly shots to give a warm feeling from Labour to the Lib-Dems?

It was the big squeeze of David Cameron by Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown.

If it’s Thursday, it must be the National TV debate

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 11, 2010

Roll on Thursday.

That’s when, at least, we’ll get some real idea what our main political leaders really think about domestic affairs with the first televised debate-on ITV-on domestic affairs.

Interesting to see American broadcasting veteran and anchor, Jim Lehrer on Sky this morning talking about TV debate technique and saying that the greatest political TV debater has been Bill Clinton. Wouldn’t disagree with that, would you?

Jim tells the Observer says that one single slip of the tongue on Thursday could be fatal. I agree with that too, and I also think there is no question that Cameron will come out on top of Thursday’s first debate.

In my view, on e of the best pieces of political commentary in the Sundays is from Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer’s excellent commentator who makes the point that it’s not the answers in these debates or in the manifesto press conferences this week, it’s the questions that count. That’s where the candidates will be found out big time.

As he says-victory goes to the leader who makes his question most resonant with the voters.

That really hasn’t happened yet.

In fact, while us journalists are really fired up, where is the real excitement in this campaign for the voter?

Will it come with the Tories’ manifesto tomorrow? The idea being floated today- that they will guarantee you can see a GP any day of the week, including weekends, is a vote winner.

Perhaps that excitement will finally come in the first TV debate on Thursday.

10 April, 2010 09:40

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 10, 2010

Day 5 of the General Election campaign and a particularly bonkers idea from the Conservatives about tax breaks for married couples of civil partners. What would it give us?Around £3 a week, apparently funded from a special tax on the banks.

If this is supposed to be a highlight of the Tory manifesto, they should forget shouting about it. In fact, Ken Clarke was not very happy about it himself this week The idea is patronising drivel, as the Lib-Dems Vince Cable said today and something out of Edwardian times, according to Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Of course, the idea is meat and drink to Ed Balls and his wife, Yvette Cooper. This morning as they used the Labour press conference to rubbish it. The Tories claim this idea of a £150 a year tax break for about a third of married couples sends out a message that marriage is a good thing. Can’t argue with that but that is not a vote catcher—rather a vote dropper and gives Labour the chance this weekend in the Sunday papers to have a real go back at Cameron after he had really trounced Brown in the first few days of the campaign with the support of big business over attacking Labour’s plan to increase the cost of National Insurance. Interesting to note today, that Gordon Brown’s attack dog and confidante, Ed Balls, actually told Sky News that there would be no job losses as a result of their proposal to raise the NI .Are all these bosses then lying through their teeth?

When are the parties going to get into the real issues that affect us here in Gloucestershire? When are they going to talk about help for our growing number of elderly people here and help for carers?

The Roman Catholic Church really does need to get its PR act together over its paedophile priests. They are an absolute disaster in Rome. At least here there is an acceptance of the abuse by some of these priests and they have been rightly jailed. The Roman Catholic Church is possibly the greatest single influence over people throughout the world. At the moment, that influence from Rome is in tatters.

What a lovely day for the Grand National. This was the day when we all used to have a bet and hold office sweepstakes. I get the impression this year that there is a renewed interest in the race, especially with so many horses from Gloucestershire at Aintree.

9 April, 2010 11:58

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 9, 2010

Well, we’ve now had nearly a week of electioneering and there’s now just another twenty eight days to go.

Who’s top of the pile at the moment, nationally and locally?

Today, the Daily Express reports in its poll that the Conservative lead nationally has increased by one per cent and now on 11 per cent.

Nationally, without doubt David Cameron has had the best of the first few days of the campaign. The backing of so many bosses of industry who came out against Labour’s rise in National Insurance contributions was the biggest blow of the week from the Tories.

Labour haven’t really come close to landing any real killer punches compared to this. Save perhaps for Sarah Brown, who really is proving a great asset to her husband who’s obviously a man of great integrity but singularly fails to impress you with any sort of charisma at all.

Locally, the Tories have also had a pretty good week.

I’ve not been a great fan of Richard Graham and I have told him so before the election was called. I told him he needed to get himself involved more in the community and let us have more stories that reflect his message.

Give him credit, he reacted to my verbal kicking pretty well. We’ve seen some good stories from him, particularly his initiative to get some firms to back the move for Gloucestershire to play two 20/20 matches at King’s School.

As a cricket fan myself, I’m really looking forward to that. After all, it’s crazy that the county’s capital city cannot stage county matches any more.

Just noticed today’s Sun on Michael Caine backing the Cameron campaign. Great headline: We are the YOUTH Preservation Society. The Italian Job actor(my favourite film ever with The Ipcress file) favours the return of national service—I couldn’t agree more. It certainly didn’t do any harm to a lot of our tearaways.

Cameron’s speech bubble under his picture on the story says:” I hope this idea does more than blow the bloody doors off”. If the election coverage just gets too much this weekend,watch the original Italian job on video.

The new Chief Constable, Tony Melville, as you may have seen from yesterday’s paper was guest editor of The Citizen on Wednesday. I gave him 7/10. A good guy who is also a straight talker.

I’m looking forward to my stint in his job for a day! I’d be interested in what you thought you might like me to do.

8 April, 2010 13:44

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on April 8, 2010

Coming soon – my view of the election so far in Gloucestershire; the burning issues which I believe will decide the election locally – and an appeal to readers to let me know how you would like The Citizen to cover the run up to May 6