Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interview With LabourList Editor, Mark Ferguson

Mark Ferguson is the Editor of LabourList, the Oppositions main answer to Conservative Home, and has been at the helm for just about the entire time Labour have been in opposition since May 2010. He says he got job after a call from his predecessor, Alex Smith. "I got to know Alex Smith (previous LabourList editor) during the 2010 elections when he was a council candidate and I was the local party organiser.", says Mark "Alex asked me at the general election count if I wanted to work for LabourList, but I was so delirious after 4 days without sleep I wasn't sure if he was serious or not!

Thankfully it turns out he was..."

It has been an interesting time for Mark, especially given the twists and turns Labour have gone through over the past two years, but he is, as he puts it, "cautiously optimistic": "We're in a better position than I thought we'd be in at this stage, and far better than we were just a year ago. However it's important not to get complacent - much of Labour's polling boost is due to  Osborne's economic failings. We don't have much of a policy agenda yet - if we have a big lead a year before the election (by which time we will have a policy agenda), that will be worth getting excited about"

One cause for cautious optimism is how the Conservatives under Cameron and Osborne are faring, he says they "...have put such great emphasis on their handling of the economy that their double-dip recession (coupled with a tax cut for Britain's richest) confirmed to the public that they are out of touch." and that " I do think Cameron risks being a short term PM, because he faces a triple threat. The Tory right, a resurgent Labour Party and the difficulty the Tories have in gaining extra votes and seats, especially in Scotland, Wales and the North. It's hard to see where the Tories make gains in those areas, where they need to in 2015. And when the Tory right realise a second coalition is a serious possibility they may move against Cameron.", but caution is Mark's watchword, as he puts it "Never. Underestimate. The Tories. We're still the underdogs for the next election." Possibly like me, the memories of 1992 run like a scar in the background of his political psyche

Then of course there is the Leveson Inquiry, which Mark feels could go both wyas, but may well be a more major issue than it is now "It feels like it has fizzled out. But I wouldn't be daft enough to suggest that's likely to continue. Some people thought it had fizzled out before 2011. They were wrong. My concern is that Leveson won't receive the cross party support or his recommendations and media ownership will become a full blown party political football." He then adds "And then there's the possibility that computer hacking could blow up as a major issue too, which shouldn't be overlooked."

Overall Mark's message seems to be the same as the Labour leadership, which is steady as she goes, enjoy the moment, but don't get complacent about the Conservatives for a moment!

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