Tim Montgomerie at ConservativeHome offers some shrewd insights into a batch of three polls in the last 24 hours which all show the Lib Dems trailing and Labour closing ground on the Tories. According to Ipsos MORI the gap between the two main parties is down to 2 points – and this is before Labour has a new leader and the public sector cuts begin in earnest.
Yet the line in the MORI poll that jumped out at me was one implying the public may still be utterly naive in their expectations of the deficit reduction programme – and its real impact on people’s lives. Read more
David Cameron’s trip to India is the biggest diplomatic gamble of his premiership. He’s packed a plane with the cream of the cabinet and British business. It’s a bold play, but there’s a clear danger of overreaching. Here are some elephant traps for team Cameron:
1. Kashmir The quickest way to turn a charm offensive into a diplomatic fiasco. The basic rule: British ministers should say nothing. Don’t dare criticise, offer to help, or link bringing peace to tackling terrorism. Stray words have consequences. Just ask Robin Cook, Jack Straw, David Miliband and the Queen. Harold Wilson was also given the silent treatment by Indira Ghandi after giving some unsolicited advice on Pakistan. This isn’t just a Labour problem. Sayeeda Warsi, minister without portfolio, has already had a scrape with the Indian media for having the temerity to suggest that Britain should “play its due role” bringing peace to Kashmir. The Foreign Office didn’t show much sympathy for her views.
2. Poverty Terrible. More poor people than anywhere on earth. But not worth mentioning too loudly. Talk about the New India instead. Mention the aid review. A patronising tone is fatal. Definitely don’t say anything like this: “Parts of Soweto look like a paradise compared to that [Delhi slum].” Or this, from the same UK opposition leader: “This is the real contrast. You can see in the background the big buildings of new India, the smart financial centre. But here is a reminder of how deep the poverty is in this country….the huge squalor.” It may be right. But probably not wise to repeat it, prime minister. Read more
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It is hard to imagine David Cameron delivering a more flattering speech in Ankara. His paean to Turkey’s place in Europe even included a smattering of Turkish phrases, which will have greatly impressed my Turkish grandmother watching at home. (It was a decent try, if lacking a bit of practice.)
On the political front, he tackled all the increasing number of areas where Britain is at odds with Turkey as gently as possible. He even included the extraordinary line that Turkey was the European country with “the greatest chance of persuading Iran to change course on nuclear policy”. Given they voted against toughening up UN sanctions on Iran earlier this month – which is Britain’s attempt to at persuasion – that is quite a claim.
Even so, the lovebombing will only go so far in Ankara. Read more