ChatPolitics Column: Mortarboards at last?

Finally, it’s here. The most hotly anticipated election year in decades has finally arrived, and yet things aren’t quite as they should be. There should be the momentum, the power and life behind a party set to take an election by landslide, as Labour did in 1997 under Blair. Or, there should be a fierce campaign; exciting, intense, and intimate between two leaders fighting neck-and-neck to clinch a majority by only a few seats.

Instead, we have a strangely placid race, thus far, for such an interesting election. In the defence of all those involved, formal campaigning only began on December 19th, but the tone is strange. Continue reading


ChatPolitics Column: Cake or Death?

Scotland has decided. ‘No’ to independence, and ‘Yes’ to what may prove to be one of the most complicated, long, wrangling, and frustratingly politicised debates we have seen for a very long time. Bizarrely, and for the first time in decades, constitutional issues will be at the top of political parties’ election manifestoes as much as deficits, economies, and ‘I love the NHS more than you’ always have been.

Conference season has thus fallen at a particularly pertinent time. Rumours ran amuck that the Labour Party was flirting with the notion of cancelling the majority of their conference events, had the independence campaign tasted victory. Continue reading

ChatPolitics Column: The Scottish Play

With 8 months to go, the events of the previous and upcoming weeks may be taken as something of a mid-season finale. The series has been going on for a while with many of the same storylines (Lab-Tory data-tennis) and characters (Boris v Ed in BBC Sandwich Eat-Off) meaning that viewing figures are declining, rapidly. What do you do? Throw in something huge; a bombshell, completely unexpected and utterly transformative, and your audience will come reeling back in for the rest of the series. You might even get your biggest audience yet.

Just over a year ago, in an interview with the New Statesman, Alex Salmond said “this is the phoney war. This is not the campaign. The real game hasn’t even started. We are just clearing the ground.” It seems he may be right. Continue reading

ChatPolitics Column: The Game-Changer

Every good television scriptwriter knows that the key to successful drama is suspense; the ability to weave multiple plot lines through a narrative, develop them carefully to a point of climax, build expectation and anticipation, and then – cut to credits. The audience is held in the palm of the writer’s hand, and there’s a narrative thread for everyone. Everyone comes back for more next Saturday night on BBC One at 8 o’clock. It is in this vein that we excitedly await the end of Parliament’s annual summer recess.

For any true believer in the power of democracy, the general election in nine months time offers a glimmer of hope for a higher turnout than we’ve seen for years as every vote looks set to count more than ever. Continue reading