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Leaders in Focus – Miliband, Clinton and Obama

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Ed’s Not Dead

The squeeze is on. The ‘Tory Press’ has reverted to type. The New Labour love-in with News International is as dead as the ‘News of the World’. The Conservative smear operatives will make the skulduggery of Damian McBride look positively angelic. The Blairites are back – they never went away you know- warning Labour to steer away from anything the looks like re-distribution. Yes, even though there are probably another eighteen months to go, the run-up to the 2015 Election is well underway. ‘Red Ed’ – if only this moniker were true cry many of the Labour Progressives – will be pilloried, lied about and generally kicked around until the starting pistol sounds. Nothing seems off limits; Ed’s geeky appearance, his perceived lack of slickness and wonk-like image will all come under the spotlight. The David Miliband supporters – like champions of a faded Royal-line – cling to the betrayal myth of brother back-stabbing brother. If you just read the Telegraph or the Times, you’d think he’s on a terminal decline. It can only be a matter of time before they try to label him Labour’s Iain Duncan Smith. Yet things could be far worse for the Labour Leader. Far worse.

Without putting too much of a panglossian world-view on things, the Tories still look highly unlikely to form a majority government. Labour is in with a good chance of being the biggest Party after the Election. Ed Miliband should be the Prime Minister. He may not seem ‘Prime-Ministerial’ – but were Atlee, or Major or even Thatcher before they assumed Office? He is absolutely entitled to tilt to the Left on certain issues as the right-ward drift of the Coalition has been so severe. Cameron may claim that the economy is on the mend, that austerity works, but Labour can point to the worst economic recovery for over 100 years and also, finally, cauterize their Tory-Press reputation as a tax and spend profligates. It is, as of now, still improbable that there’ll be a Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition after 2015. Never underestimate the inherent conservative nature (with a small ‘c’) of the English electorate though. The battle is well and truly underway. Politics can be a nasty business and it’s about to get nastier. Miliband did well in his speech to Party Conference today and he has to keep his game at this level for much of the next two years; he has the capacity to do so.

Coronation for Hilary?

Hilary Clinton is touted by many as the de facto 2016 Democratic Candidate – it’s a shoo-in, right; she can’t not be nominated? Many a slip between cup and lip. There’s over two years to go and Senator Clinton may not become nominee and go on to achieve what her supporters see as her destiny, to be the first female President of the USA. But, just as in 2008, there may be several reasons why this may not come to pass. The dynasty issue is a fair point – is it right that, if she is elected to the top job in 2016, from 1992 to 2020 the United States will have had a Bush or Clinton as President for 20 out of  the last 28 years. She may be perceived as too hawkish for the Democratic grass roots, weary of constant War and military engagement. Her ambition could turn many voters off.

She is still the favourite. She has proved herself a formidable campaigner and a loyal Secretary of State in the first Obama Administration; the latter has shown her to be a good team player, someone who can adapt to the team leadership required in the Oval Office. She has survived the sheer stress and madness of having been in public life since her husband became Governor in Arkansas. There’s little doubt that she will run the most financed and possibly slickest campaign. Bill Clinton is still a huge asset for her. The diagnosis for 2016 is that it looks good but it will be no cake-walk.

Thaw not War

‘Clearly, there’s a thaw going on…they’re rethinking their positions. And we ought to do what we can to explore it. We ought to get caught trying, because we have nothing to lose by getting caught trying’  Bill Clinton, 23/9/13, CBS

The news that there has been a slight thawing in relations between the US and Iran will be welcomed by all except Neo-Cons, anti-Obamaites and Left and Right Libertarians. In other words, most of us will breathe a small sigh of relief that there may, stress may, be a chance of Iran and the Great Satan cooling the temperature of their rhetoric and leading to a potentially more peaceful modus vivendi between them. When even blockbuster movies (‘White House Down’) are presenting Bomb-Iran Hawks as swivel-headed lunatics, then you know things could be changing. This is tricky politics for both the US and Iran but the World can move the ‘present danger’ clock back somewhat should anything come of it.

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