The Last Word

They think it’s all over …

John McTernan  |  20 June 2014

There is a time and a place for candid public advice to the leader’s office about how they should be running their comms/policy/electoral strategy. The time: midnight. The date: 31 June. The place: the land of Far, Far Away. That’s right. There is absolutely no service provided to party or country by all this blethering …

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‘Ever-closer union’, misquoted

John McTernan  |  6 June 2014

Power. We hardly ever talk about it except as an object. We want to win power – that’s why we have key seats and target lists. But the thing itself goes undebated. What is power? What should you do with it? Here’s one view:  You start with hope. But you can’t have hope without power. …

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Reining in future promises

John McTernan  |  30 May 2014

What is the right response to last week’s elections? Much has been written about the meaning and the implications of the locals and the Euro elections. Quietly, but in a very assured manner, the Labour frontbench are making their strategic response. It is to continue to address the problems that matter to the public with …

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This is the beginning of real four-party politics

John McTernan  |  23 May 2014

Let’s deal quickly with the elections. This is the beginning of real four-party politics across the country – five-party in Wales and Scotland who have Plaid and the Scottish National party. This is unprecedented, so any arguments based on precedent are worthless. So forget it when people say Labour should be doing better at this …

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10 columns you never need to read

John McTernan  |  16 May 2014

We’re all busy people. We need shortcuts, what they now call lifehacks. So on the assumption that people who read this column are people who read a lot of columns – online and in newspapers – I’ve got some advice on how to save a lot of time. Here’s my list of columns you never …

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John McTernan  |  9 May 2014

When faced with difficult political decisions I always ask one question: WWKD? What would Ken do? No, not Ken Livingstone, though I have never met a better, shrewder operator on the left, but Ken Clarke. A man who came up with GP fundholding on a beach in Spain. A chancellor who called interest rates himself, …

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Just because ‘red’ rhymes with ‘Ed’ …

John McTernan  |  2 May 2014

Labour want to implement ‘Vietnamese’ rent controls spluttered one Tory opponent on the ‘World at One’. Goodness, I thought, that’s a new line. Then I realised it was a mistake, a half-remembered line to take. Still it showed the absurdity of the Tory position. Vietnamese, Venezuelan, even Venusian – the attacks bounce off because they …

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Letter from Amsterdam

John McTernan  |  25 April 2014

‘Populism is now mainstream in right-wing politics’. That is the clear-sighted view of Gordon Bajnai, the former prime minister of Hungary who has emerged bloodied, but unbowed, from a brutal general election that was won by the right. It is an unashamedly European perspective, but one that is useful for looking at the United Kingdom …

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A dozen reasons to be cheerful

John McTernan  |  18 April 2014

In his weekly column, the Last Word, John McTernan shares a dozen reasons to be cheerful. One, Labour has had a poll lead in YouGov for 29 months. Of course, no one pays attention to the day-to-day polls. The only poll that matters is the general election etc. etc. Still, a lead is a lead, and …

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David Cameron the Bevanite

John McTernan  |  11 April 2014

Political management has had a bad name. ‘Control-freakery’, ‘Spin’, ‘Stalinism’. I know, I know – I don’t get, they’re not insults to me either, but they have been to the political classes at large. It was one of David Cameron’s oddest ambitions to be both the ‘heir to Blair’ but also the ‘anti-Blair’. Perversely for …

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