Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama (and Cameron) Must Beware of Sheffield

The Democratic Convention in Denver closes tonight with the Second Coming. So carried away with his own popularity is Barack Obama that the Convention Centre is being abandoned and the Chosen One will be descending on 80,000 people in a nearby sports stadium. I am not sure if this is advisable. It made me think of Labour's 1992 triumphalist Sheffield Rally - but then I discovered Donal Blaney had got there before me. Although I do not go along with those who thought that single event lost Labour that election, it reinforced people's view that Labour was getting a bit too pleased with itself, and counting too many chickens. That's exactly how the US media is reporting Obama at the moment.

There's a lesson here too for David Cameron. It is reported that Cameron's advisors are looking for a bigger venue than the Birmingham ICC for his close of conference speech. My advice? Forget it.


Dick the Prick said...

One of my chums went to Sheff when we were doing our politics A levels and came back having seen the parousia. How I cruelly mocked him when the results came in.

Obama needs to nail this speech to stand a chance but it seems to be getting away from him. How sickening is the DNC - pass the bucket Teddy afore you kick it!

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall Kinnock himself saying that he sensed before Sheffield that Labour weren't going to win (though that doesn't explain why he then let himself get as carried away as he did - 20/20 hindsight perhaps).

Anonymous said...

The mass of the US media seem to be fascinated with Obama and seem to have already decided that Obama will win the Presidency and judging by the BBC coverage they are assuming the same - I'm not so sure - people underestimate McCain at their peril - US public opinion is mixed over who they want as their next "Commander-in-Chief" after the Russian intervention in Georgia and Obama may not be the one they want to take that "3am call" ! come January 2009.

Likewise Cameron needs to play a canny game - assumptions in politics is dangerous - the British public is a volatile creature and they might just want to give "Dave & Co" a bloody nose if they feel that they are getting a little too smug about their expected win particularly if the Labour Party suddenly find their nerve to ditch Brown for a more personable leader(I accept that's a big "if" and probably an even more impossible search to find that someone from amongst the Cabinet contenders although Miliband likewise is in danger of becoming also a little too "cocky" for his own good)

Anonymous said...

I've always felt that, while Sheffield made Kinnocchio look a bit naff, the real damage was in a live interview (from Coventry?) with Sue Lawley.

The old windbag lost himself as his verbosity ended up taking him his own arrsehole.

If only someone had a copy of this .....

Anonymous said...

Cameron could always use the stunning Symphony hall at the ICC. It amazes me that they are using the smaller hall for the conference...

Anonymous said...


The problem with Sheffield was not the rather overblown performance of Neil Kinnock, it was the distraction for Labour Party members.

I did not go to the event, rather I speculated at the time that having had a team of people spending far too much time and money organising such an event and then bussing thousands of activists up to Sheffield the week before polling day was a mistake.

So was choosing a Labour heartland like Sheffield to hold the event.

Effectively the event took about 3 days out of the campaign time that thousands of activists would otherwise have spent knocking on doors and preparing a good old fashioned get out the vote campaign for polling day.

Having said that, it was a masterful election to lose by Neil. If we had won then we would have not had a big enough majority to survive a Tory revival in 1997 and we would have missed Blair and new Labour.

Oh, how Tories must hate Major for winning in 1992!

FonyBlair said...

Fair point Iain but US politics is much more about 'showbiz' than it will ever be in the UK.

This is the country remember that elected Arnie as California's terminator in chief!

Also I think if he didn't address that many people the media would probably say his popularity is waning.

By the way did Kinnock shout "we're alright" or "well alright" on that fateful night in Sheffield? Always tricky understanding the Welsh windbag!

Anonymous said...

Iain, I'm really surprised that you haven't grasped how historically important this event actually is.

Do you understand this is one of the most important moments in american political history? Americans have died and suffered greatly to make this moment possible.

Your post is surprisingly ignorant. Wow. What a shocker.

It doesn't matter what political persuasion you are - this is a once in a lifetime moment.

Shame on you Iain Dale.

Congratulations to Barack Obama. Well done.

Obama to win.

PS> Don''t compare Cameron to Obama. It's just embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Canvas man - think the hyperbole has got the better of you lad.

Ross said...

Perhaps it's the presence of Joe Biden that has given the Obamessiah the urge to copy Neil Kinnock's mistakes.

The Obama temple takes arrogance and hubris to levels that even Kinnock would have shied away from though.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually a woman. I'm also a dual national. British and American. I know how important this moment is.

I am also surprised at Iain's flippant disrespect. I thought he was better than that. I thought that (to a degree) Iain was a serious political commentator. I'm just disappointed with Iain for not thinking this through.

Dick the Prick said...

Canvas - thinking what through? How is it disrespectful not to buy into the love in that is the DNC? Are you sure you're not investing a bit too much in this? You must know the Yanks better than us and if you can categorically, hand on heart assure me that McCain doesn't stand a chance then I'll apologize. But there's that niggling sense of doubt isn't there? That feeling that you're trying to supress that the American people are gonna vote McCain not just because of race but because Obama's been grandstanding and has run a bit of an amateur campaign.

He needs to start nailing policy.

Anonymous said...

Don''t compare Cameron to Obama. It's just embarrassing.

You are right. How you could compare The Conservative Party Leader to the most left wing member of the Senate is difficult to understand.

Iain, I'm really surprised that you haven't grasped how historically important this event actually is.

That would be the first time a Black candidate threw away certain victory?

Anonymous said...

to dick the prick :)

what I mean is that Iain doesn't appear to have thought through - i.e. what this Democratic official nomination actually means in historical terms. That disappoints me.

As far as McCain is concerned, hand on heart, I think Obama will win by a landslide.

McCain would be as anti-intellectual a President as George Bush is. People have had enough of Bush/McCain policies.

Iain Dale said...

I am well aware of the historical importance of this moment, which is why I think it is appalling that hubris makes it more than a possibility that Obama is going to throw this away. Canvas, your repeated posts on here in support of Obama illustrate his problem. You think he is some sort of Messiah. And it seems as if he does too.

I have been waiting to be persuaded by Obama. I like his personality, I think he has a lot going for him. But I still don't know what he would do.

I have said openly that this is the first election in the US in which I would consdier voting anything other than Republican. Sadly, however, Obama hasn't convinced me.

Dick the Prick said...

Canvas - do you mean the nomination of an Hawaiinan guy? I dunno - always difficult to read foreign elections but I'd have thought that it'd be much better to move away from the cosmetic stuff and perhaps focus on detailing policy. I mean you by the way as well as his campaign. I get the impression that race is a massive factor over there, which is kinda incredible but who's to say it's not over here also? Stats in parliament are pretty grim reading.

I genuinely want the chap to win, not only do I think it'd be good for you lot but I really like him too. I just get the feeling that the more the campaign goes negative and responds to McCain oven chips that it'll only hurt. Tonight the guy can start setting the agenda and show Chipper up for being a redundant mouthpiece and 8 years too late even for Republicans. Good luck though.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you don't know what Obama would 'do' because (in my opinion) you simply don't get it. But I'm pleased that you are trying.

I'm just disappointed with you for not realising the historical significance of this moment.

As far as what Obama would do - he would end the disasterous Bush/MCain foreign policy blunders. He would deliver serious and affordable healthcare for all Americans, he would help out the middle class with tax cuts, he would tranform the economy with an alternative fuel policy, he will rebuild the USAs overseas relationships that Bush destroyed...

PS> Iain, on a more humorous note - it's a bit rich to have you lecture about the dangers of adoring politicians when you regularly climax to the joys of Maggie Thatcher.

With so many people these days losing faith in politics and politicians - it seems so bloody British of you to have a go at people for having genuine enthusiasm for a political leader. It's so British to think that 'hope' should be contained.


strapworld said...

Iain, I disagree with you. I believe the Sheffield 'meeting' did turn the tide against Kinnock.

It was not just the Oh Yea etc but can you recall his 'Comrades'!! That, I believe shocked a great many people. It reminded them t5hat this man was old old labour!

he wasn't helped by the Sun's brilliant headline and picture showing Kinnock in a lightbulb. "Will the last one out turn off the lights!"

I was, for work reasons, quite close to Roy Hattersley and I can tell you he and his party were absolutely convinced,privately, that they were going to win.

I met with him just after that Sheffield disaster and he told me that he did not approve and had told Kinnock that.

Still I do hope Obama goes the same way. There is something just not right about this man. I cannot put my finger on it but something does not add up.

Anonymous said...

I thought the sight and sound of the Democratic Convention when Kennedy and H Clinton spoke was terrifying.

Thousands of supposedly sentient beings obediently waving a selection of placards with the appropriate name on them at 10 second intervals?

All you needed was Frau Reifenstahl to capture it for posterity.

And I'm usually very pro-American - the people and the country, not the politicians!

Lola said...

Obama is another glib snake oil salesman who learned his presentation skills from the school of Clinton and Blair (and to an extent Cameron). I don't reckon he's got any bottom.

Anonymous said...

Quite right, lola.

Vote for the man with the big bum.

Anonymous said...

Obama is an air head. Paris Hilton is beter qualifed to lead the USA.

I'm still waiting for pro Obama people to list his achivements.

The Repubs will take the piss out of his "Nero" performance tonight. Will he wear a Toga I wonder?

That man is so far up his own backside, he's in danger of running into the BBC.

Anonymous said...

"It made me think of Labour's 1992 triumphalist Sheffield Rally - but then I discovered Donal Blaney had got there before me."

Such an obvious point that Channel 4 news made it last night.

Oberama is over. Hillary for 2012.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else watched the live webcast stuff Fox News have been doing? I'd be very interested in Iain Dale's comments.

They have a great live web stream and they have a table all set up where guests just drop in and chat. It's like listening in to a conversation in a bar (which is actually where they are).

There's no advert breaks and no silly formal TV stuff. People can fire in texts and emails as well and the host just reads them straight out from their Blackberry. Seems a really great idea.

I just wonder if Sky or the BBC might look at doing something like this from the party conferences? Iain, any comments? then click on the situation room link.

Anonymous said...

Er, every presidential candidate gives a big speech in front of a big, partisan crowd when they accept the nomination. John McCain will give an equally self-congratulatory speech in a week's time, the only difference being a crowd of ONLY 25k or so people.

There is precedent for this, JFK and FDR both gave their speeches outside the convention hall.

You will also probably hear that Obama is presumptuous because part of the set in the stadium has classical style columns. The media is saying that they are like a Greek temple, and implying that Obama thinks he's some kind of god.

Firstly, practically every building on the capitol is in that style, and secondly GWB gave his acceptance speech in 2004 in front of a similar background.

Just thought you might get a taste of the so-called liberal media bias in America.

Dick the Prick said...

It's quite amazing how he manages to stir up so much contempt though from his detractors when, as mentioned, he done jack yet. The lad's got a brain and that makes him different from Bushwhacker and Chipper. That's a good starting point I think. Tonight though he needs an Addlington of a performance.

Completely agreee Judith - ffffffffrrrreeeeeaaaakkkkkyyy. They've got this respect thing over there - mental. It's the Walter Wolfgang thing - I'd have laughed me head off at Teddy Kennedy - "oh, but he's old and dying" - yeah - kinda goes that way. If he was my senator I blinking wouldn't want him back in January - fit for sweet FA.

Anonymous said...

Personal opinion on what I've seen of Obama (for what it's worth!).

Terrific speech maker, seems a pretty 'regular sort of guy' with a personality (unlike McCain). His problem - hot air!

It's all he spouts - nothingness. Just change. To what would help.

Opinion - A windbag who has no answers to the massive problems the US has in store.

Ross said...

"The Repubs will take the piss out of his "Nero" performance tonight. Will he wear a Toga I wonder?"

Nero? Isn't erecting temples to yourself more Caligua. It wouldn't surprise me if he announces that his horse is going to fill his Senate seat.

Anonymous said...

Dick the prick: The problem is no one has EVER given Obama tough questions on HOW he'd be different.

Note how the US media and the awful BBC just skipped past Obama's comments that he'd invade Pakistan to get the Taleban.

If McCain had said that, the media would be throwing it in his face every day.

Obama is a joke. We're nearly at the end of his convention and his poll ratings are........

As soon as Obama has to go head to head with McCain people will see Obama for what he is. An air head.

I don't think McCain is that good a candidate, but when you consider the utter mess Bush has made of the last 8 years (with a few exceptions like Africa), the US economy and the fact McCain is so old, Obama should be 20 points ahead.

So this great new hope is a flop.

Anonymous said...

Martin, no offence - but that has to be the most unitelligent observation of Barack Obama, ever.

You don't get elected President of the Harvard Law Review if you're an airhead.

Most sane people would agree that Obama has run a genius campaign. Perhaps your thoughts are getting polluted by right wing cable news.

The campaign starts in earnest today.

McCain doesn't have what it takes to beat Barack Obama. McCain is an anti-intellectual politician.

Yak40 said...

Canvas is wrong.
Obama is causing DNC bigwigs sleepless nights with his determination to glorify himself. He is just one candidate and putting on the airs he is just turns people off.

His campaign is in trouble. He should have a double digit lead in the polls by now, instead it's about a tie and, if anything, he's dropping. People are beginning to see that he's wanting in substance for one thing.

We're also beginning to see some of his policy ideas. Basically wants to raise taxes (well he is a democrat) then introduce rebate schemes for those considered "deserving". Sounds familiar doesn't it ?

Colin said...

Lest we forget...

Even John Smith looks and sounds like a twat.

Dick the Prick said...

Canvas - yup, fully agree. Gloves have to come off tonight. Billary did their work yesterday (even though through gritted teeth). But it's now that the campaign starts. I've not got this 'history defining' moment thing that you've got - I think both he and Hillary were just the better candidates: the fact that she's a she and he's a black guy kinda bore me a bit but I can understand why it seems important.

Let's hope he's got some go old windy city street fighting experience - this is gonna be a fight worth watching.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could share canvass' optimism, but no. Obama should've done a deal with HC and be her Veep for 2 terms, then walk into the oval office. Most of the dems don't want Obama. The Clintons have had to beg them repeatedly to support him. And if I've spent months telling people I'm change they can believe in, and experience doesn't matter, why would I choose a deputy who looks like he'd give me fatherly guidance on a daily basis?
The Dems would lose as they've spent the whole week glorifying the military, instead of discussing the economy.
You can never defeat the Republicans on their own territory. Kerry found out the hard way in 2004. Wish the Dems just used Clinton's strategy in '92 - Talk about the economy over and over again.
Anyway if Obama doesn't win, it's all good. America's economy is going down the toilet in 2009, and I don't want history recording their system crashed with the 1st African American in office. We'd never live it down.

Anonymous said...

africanmum says: "Most of the dems don't want Obama."

errrmmm huh? He WON. WON. Hillary LOST.

Watch the speech tonight ... then try to tell me who wants what.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a parallel universe...


Anonymous said...

Further on the veep choice derailing Obama's chances: This election's candidates, for varying reasons, mean that whoever is VP can end up as President very quickly and suddenly. So voters would have to choose between Palin (likeliest McCain choice) and Biden who they think could suddenly end up president in about 2 years. Palin would be the more palatable choice for most people. I'm a Brit so I support neither party. But the Dems would keep losing until they work out why the Republicans have a strong hold on about 52% of the electorate. Republicans are into ideas (even if most sane people reject some of those ideas) but ideas none the less. The Dems on the other hand are into tribal politics. It's all about how your background can bring in how many block votes from what ethnic group you belong to. So if you come from a multi-cultural background like Bobby Jindal or you're a black person who wishes to escape the ghetto, the Dems would never appeal. And if you genuinely care about the plight of the poor and uninsured, there's always Ralph Nader.
Either way if Obama wins, I'll be extremely surprised.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the liars at the BBC tell you, the Clintons want Obama to fail.

If he fails (I think he will) then Hillary gets another go in 2012. If Obama wins, Hillary has to wait until 2016 and there is a good chance she will be too old and there will be other new kids on the block.

Anonymous said...

When I heard from Denver based Jon Snow on the news that the Democrats were united behind Obama, I knew his campaign was over. Parties that are naturally divided like the Democrats, like Labour, fail when they pretend to come together - the only exception to the rule was Tony Blair's 1997 election win but that will turn out to be an aberation.

Watching the Clinton's publicly pledge their support to Obama was as nauseating as their previous attacks on him.

Anonymous said...

To all those saying that the Clintons don't want Obama to be elected:

You must bear in mind that if Hillary Clinton is seen as doing anything less than everything to help Obama, she will not be given the nomination in 2012 in the event of his defeat to McCain. The perfect situation for her would be her campaigning energetically for Obama, and for him to lose. Or, she can become one of the most effective senators of all time....