40 Days to Go

So at the end of the first day of monitoring the election these are the things I have taken out of today:

Day starts with a 4% lead for Lab in the ST. That will have put a spring in the step of every Labour canvasser. But this ignored the other poll that put them at tied. Just as I sign off I see Comres has a Tory 4pt lead for the Daily Mail tomorrow. Lesson ..Ignore the day to day polls. Understand the polling companies better and the questions they ask. Go on trend and assume the 2% margin of error.

I couldn’t tell you what each of the Parties hoped would be the dominant story on their grids today. There seemed to be lots about poor old IDS and the missing black hole in the Tories spending plans – and where the £12bn welfare cuts will come from.

There were lots of tweets about the Lucy Powell interview and it perhaps being a ‘car crash’. I did watch a bit via twiitter and admit it wasn’t good. There do seem to be some strange choices of people the parties put forward sometimes. ‘Reassured’ is not the way I would describe the interview with Andrew Neil.

Locally a couple of leaflets. Got the intro glossy introduction one from the Tories. It looks like something I would have produced. Showing me to be active and involved in all sorts of local issues & groups plus the stats about the amount of casework I did. The more I read these as a punter the more I cringe a little at our general messaging. I think we should spend a bit more time with non-politico types asking what they would actually read, or like to see in the information we send them. These leaflets are starting to leave me cold already.

nothing seems to have changed since the 1980s.

Saw quite a few slogans via Twitter and ‘posters’ that of course don’t really exist. Non really captured the imagination but I really do feel I have a pretty good idea about the themes and messages I am going to see repeated for another 40 days.

Finally I sat down and watched C4 #coalition this evening. This deserves its own post. I enjoyed the programme but having researched this subject in depth from the various parties I felt let down by the programme.

I wonder what 39 days to got ill bring!


A slight deviation from the GE intrigue was thrown my way on Friday by the shock resignation of Debbie Jevans the CEO of ER2015.

I was involved in the Blackett Inquiry into the sacking of John Steele as CEO in 2010,as an Independent member, of the panel and learned a great deal about the dysfunctional nature of the RFU & how it was holding back our wonderful game. Some of the suggestions we made were implemented but more importantly the culture of the organisation changed – ironically by the very people Steele had brought in.

Suddenly from messages and calls since Friday it feels as though we are partially back to the same scenario. Crisis comms are always seen for what they are and ‘personal reasons’ means every journalist is now digging to find out what really happened.

For a time I have had great confidence in the RFU and the professional team. I still do. But this episode just gives us all a wobble that we might head back to the bad old days. I hope not.

indeed I am confident we are not.

On a wider point though I will be blogging separately about my experience of the quality of our governance and its consequences for the future of our game – from club to CB to Council and Board.

There are more worried for me here than in the professional teams.
RWC 2015 CEO Resignation

General Election 2015 Prediction

I saw even a pollster this week suggest that predicting the outcome of this election is a ‘mugs game’.

It’s true that polls are only snapshots of a given moment in time. With 6 weeks to go who knows what course of history might change events leading up to May 7th.

As a political nerd, and out of interest for many of the people I work with or for, I have been following the headline polling and the figures for the last 5 years. I have made differing predictions over this period, all based on the ‘known knowns’ at the time, and taking into account the changes likely to take place in the campaign period itself (which of course effectively started in January thanks to the Fixed Term parliament)

I provide more accurate guesses (informed guesses!) of actual numbers but I have tended to land where many are predicting at the time. However, as we kick off I am just as uncertain about my prediction now as I would have been in May 2010! Until the sudden change in fortunes for the SNP I was pretty certain of another hung parliament with Labour as the largest party (in seats) but short of an overall majority.

But here goes – I am now predicting Tory/Labour only split by 10-15 seats difference – but not 100% which way round! Both in the 270-290 range. The Lib Dems will do proportionally better than their polling at about 25 seats and the UKIP seats will be no more than 4 Max. There will be more DUP than UKIP and we need to remember that! As for SNP. I will hate to see many Labour colleagues lose what were ‘safe’ Labour seats but even though I keep waiting for the SNP bubble to burst I haven’t seen much evidence yet, which means they could possibly have 30-40 seats.

What happens after such an outcome means the real fun starts after the election! More on that in further blogs!

Election 2015 Blog from a ‘Has Been’

Over the election period I am mostly going to post my thoughts here on Tumblr. I love twitter and facebook & most of what I do will still be on these platforms, and Ioften post on my own website http://www.sajeimpact.net but this is for my much more ‘work’ related posts. So here I will pick up random thoughts from the election.

The perspective is from somebody who has been a candidate in elections since 1987 and for me this is the first time I am not involved. So I can see what the campaign teams are trying to achieve and the thoughts behind the scenes, but now I am a mere consumer of the campaign, so I am seeing it in this light.

As an insider I would be consumed 24/7 by this process for the next 6 weeks, with every twist and turn giving me the feeling we were going to romp home or head for an election defeat I couldn’t understand. But as a ‘consumer’ my normal busy daily life continues with the election only barging in through social media, TV and radio (I don’t have a daily newspaper!)

Most posts will be short thoughts or a daily summary if I have been busy doing the day job or enjoying time with family as most people do!

I am not sure I will be adding much to the discourse surrounding this election but for my own purposes I love capturing history as it happens as all too often we don’t see it as history unfolding. When you get to my age you realise people are ‘studying’ events you lived through so it’s important to capture events at the time through the prism of the now – not with hindshight!

£12bn Tory black hole

@paulwaugh: IDS to #Marr on where £12bn welfare cuts will hit: ‘no decisions have been made’ + when made we’ll open with public. But b4 or after elxn?

So the Tories are allowed a £12bn black hole in their spending plans

Imagine if this was Labour – it would be aggressively asked by every interviewer and every newspaper

Cross Party Working..

As MPs work through the final days of this parliament and we all moan about the state of PMQs, behind the scenes there will be many from all parties sad to lose ‘friends’ from all sides of the political spectrum.

Despite PMQs the way the Commons works ensures that in All PArty Groups, Select Committees and even Bill Committees MPs from across the political divide spend a great deal of time together and believe it or not agreeing on much of the legislation. Whilst in an election the parties want to win – and that obviously means taking seats of existing MPs from each other I know from experience how much some MPs will offer their genuine best wishes to win and return! Representing a marginal seat anybody could see I was going to lose on the polling we had in 2010 meant that many from the Tories, Lib Dems, DuP and even dare I say it the SNP were personally very kind in wishing my return and then equally saddened once we had lost to lose either a great advocate for similar cause, a sporting friend or simply people who ‘got on together’ even though politically diverse.

As I have written many times losing was a horrible yet liberating experience and I hope that many of those choosing to stand down are able to move on and those that lose can similarly adjust to life outside the Westminster bubble. Knowing there are many friends across the political divide helps but is little understood outside the Commons and looked upon by many with some suspicion. I think its a good thing!


Birstall RFC 2nds crowned League Champions
I have been fortunate to have played rugby in Birstall since I was 11 at Stonehill school. My home ground and pitch is still the same place I learned my trade and made it into the Leics Schools team in 1979! All those years on – and a couple of seasons with Westleigh Colts and Chester RUFC – and I still get the same enjoyment playing community/ grassroots rugby as I have at any stage in my overlong career.

At various times I have moved from centre to wing, and when we have been more desperate I have had seasons at 10 and some at 9. I am now a poor utility back ready to help out!

Many team mates will claim I invented the game of touch all those years ago. I can talk more about the rare tackles I have made rather than the tries scored (more tries than tackles I reckon)

But this year I have the pleasure to play in another side full of lads really wanting to make it a memorable season. I have played in so many sides it’s hard to compare.

These last few years the game has changed and is certainly more structured even at our level. It’s also far more physical as body shapes & sizes have increased. I am certainly heavier than I’ve ever been!

But what has amazed and pleased me has been the level of commitment of the volunteers who have kept this club – like to many in all sports – running even when it has looked like it would all collapse and we would go under. Even now the ambition of the club is as strong as ever and the social side of the club is as lively as I have known it.

I have been very fortunate with my rugby. I have played all over the world with my parliamentary colleagues, playing 10 games at TWICKENHAM (scoring 5 tries), and having played against or with some of the great legends of the game in charity games – including JPR Williams, martin Offiah, Tuilaigi, Rob Andrew, and an entire XV of former Welsh internationals as well as -10 former Aussies and All Blacks.

However glamorous these games were I have honestly always looked forward to playing back at Birstall.

In time I will capture more of my memories at Birstall, but today I wanted to thank this years volunteers, coaches and players who put up with me still playing (i hope they appreciate some of my ‘experience’) It has been a great year and again the quality of the coaching has made a massive contribution to our success. We always have the smallest pack but are well drilled to make up for it. More importantly we have a back 3 who are relatively new to the game and watching them develop into players means I can retire soon happy the club is in a strong position for the future

In some rugby circles I have heard somebody say what does an ex Mph know about rugby? I would say to those ‘old farts’ as so beautifully described by Will Carling – come and watch me collect the post pads or run touch on a Saturday at Birstall! I know I love the game and will serve it for years to come.