Thursday, 29 November 2012

Leveson Final Report

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are at odds over today's final report by Lord Justice Leveson in a scenario which could set the battleground ahead of the next General Election.

I think this is a clear attempt by Nick Clegg to seize a march on David Cameron and signal the end of the internal cold-war which has seen the two leaders refrain from any major public policy disagreements.

His decision seems simple enough. The less-popular of the coalition partners, Clegg is attempting to tap in to perceived public disgust at the actions of the press and go against traditional liberal values in backing a statutory solution to upholding press regulation.

It's a dangerous move as for months now, newspapers such as the Daily Mail and The Sun have been running editorial against Leveson, and this could have resonated with some readers who will not want press freedom to be diminished.

There's also the danger of an accusation that this is a post-expenses opportunity for politicians to ensure the press don't embarrass them again - this is an angle which Clegg's detractors could well use against him and any other supporters of legislation.

For this reason I think the Prime Minister is sensible to welcome the findings but urge caution over protecting the freedom of the press . I believe this will protect him somewhat where Nick Clegg's motives will now be under more scrutiny and he faces yet another test of his leadership.

So while Nick Clegg has sounded the starting gun for the race to the next election, it could well prove to be a false start.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Result of the 2012 US Presidential Election?

There's 48 hours to go and President Obama and Mitt Romney are putting the finishing touches to their increasingly frantic campaigns.

I've been fascinated by coverage of the election both in the US and here in the UK as I think it draws a lot of parallels with the last UK General Election.

There's a world-wide weariness with politicians that stems mostly from the omnipotent global financial crisis (as Gordon Brown would say) but is also evident in a youth moment who have the technology to help see beyond propaganda and take a global look at local issues.

Whether it is the Arab Spring, the Russian elections, or the last Australian and UK elections, there is one common theme: voters disconnected with the ruling elite. This manifests itself in uprisings, riots, social acrimony and a blanket of online cynicism.

President Obama was meant to be  the man to smash apathy and reconnect the world. This was a preposterous platform but one born of hundreds of millions of dollars of campaign money as much as hyperbole regarding the first black US President.

Now Obama's platform has been shattered by the reality of the US system of checks and balances which squeezes the life out of each and every President who tries to take on the dual legislative system without a majority in the upper and lower houses.

Lacking the luck or legislative skill of Clinton, Obama has become distant to voters and openly disenchanted with the lack of support he has compared to four years ago.

His perceived and apparent mistakes, battles with the Republicans and disinterested first TV debate mean that even endorsements, like this from the New Yorker, are tempered with faint praise and openly criticise his mistakes.

Personally I think Obama has done a good job in the worst of circumstances. Yet there is no denying Superman has lost his cape, he is merely mortal like that famous seen when Christopher Reeve gets punched in the cafe after surrendering his powers to save Louis Lane.

Bleeding, it's up the President to embrace the global apathy and seize the opportunity to over-deliver in a second term which would have significantly reduced expectations.

Yet to do this he has to overcome the overbearing reality which strangled the message of 'Hope' before it was even truly born.

It's going to be compulsive viewing.