Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The article was wrong about one thing. They didn't get rid of allowances this year. They never have paid themselves anything.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The 45% figure is the one the talking heads seem to think the Conservatives need to get to for a convincing election victory. Now that this hurdle has been overcome it will be interesting to see what the Left establishment line becomes. The BBC have decided just not to mention it for example. Too painful I suppose.
Unelected quango says number of local sites should increase by 70%
John Baron MP today criticised proposals from the unelected East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) to increase the number of authorised traveller sites in Basildon from 116 to 197 (a 70% increase) while still leaving some areas in Essex with as few as 15 sites. The plans were agreed this week by the Regional Planning Panel and will be considered by ERRA on 25th January 2008.
These proposals are completely unfair and discriminate against Basildon District. The unelected members of this regional assembly should come and talk with local residents and gauge for themselves just how angry people are. Basildon has done more than most to provide sites, and so it is absurd that we should now be expected to provide even more.
These proposals would drive a coach and horses through our Greenbelt, as they equate need with unauthorised pitches and therefore reward travellers for illegally developing our Greenbelt land. But these illegal pitches reflect demand – a desire to be close to existing sites – not genuine need.
Instead, the Regional Assembly should be taking a genuinely regional view by obliging all those councils which have done far less to step up to the plate and now share this responsibility.
I would add that I sit on EERA for Basildon and that John's criticisms are entirely justified. If the Assembly was composed of elected members from the various Councils in the East of England then that would be one thing, but it is packed out with appointees from all sorts of unaccountable bodies who can easily push through anything they like. The Assembly has no proper rules of debate and it doesn't even record individual votes, so this could be voted through on a show of hands by people who don't face election and who can later claim 'it wasn't me guv'. Even the Labour government has realised that the Regional Assemblies are going nowhere and they likely face abolition; good riddance. In any case, if this plan goes through then Basildon Council at least will set the process in motion for a judicial review and then the whole stumbling, incompetent mess of the Traveller Review will be replayed out in the High Court. Or maybe EERA will have an attack of sanity and realise that its abject failure to represent the people of the Eastern Region's views on this issue among many others is the main reason that the Assembly is on the way out.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Oh, and if you live anywhere near Basildon, go and see the panto!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
No policeman and no person across the country would thank us if their pay rise was wiped out by inflation...Except it's not inflation, it's government finances that are the problem and everyone knows this. Gordon wanted an end to Boom and Bust. Let's hope he has a Plan B.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Commenting on a letter he received from Health Minister Ivan Lewis MP today in response to his correspondence of 2nd November, John Baron MP welcomed news that the local campaign against an Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) in Basildon has paid off. Ivan Lewis confirmed that “Basildon is not currently one of the sites being considered”. Despite rumours about the local project being cancelled, this is the first time the Department of Health has admitted that plans for an ISTC locally have been shelved.
This is great news for local NHS patients – our campaign has really paid off. An ISTC would have disrupted existing services, taken resources away from Basildon Hospital, and had a knock-on effect on training budgets and cross-subsidy of emergency services. It is no wonder that the hospital and SW Essex Primary Care Trust were both opposed.
Having raised this matter in Parliament and in writing many times, I am relieved the Government has finally listened to the views of local people. It would have been completely wrong to impose an ISTC against the wishes of the local NHS. Ministers admitted as much to me months ago, but now we have a concrete assurance.
Lack of trust can have very serious effects. Some Councils, for example, will not talk to potential developers in advance of a planning application because their Councillors are terrified of an appearance of impropriety. This is a disastrous policy if you want to attract investment for the good of your community, but at least you don't get investigated by faceless bureaucrats. In Basildon we have had a series of press articles probing our regeneration efforts, stirred up by the so-called Wickford Action Group, who feel empowered to spray accusations and innuendo around at anyone they happen to disagree with. To be fair, most community groups aren't like that even when they are arguing against Council policy. I have a lot of respect for those concerned about the Sporting Village project for example, who have put their case very forcefully and effectively without resorting to accusation and abuse. They are the sort of people you listen to. Others get filed with the Masonic cult chap.
Friday, December 07, 2007
A new prediction has been posted on 6 December 2007 at www.electoralcalculus.co.uk.
Recent polls now show a strong Conservative lead over Labour. ComRes (Independent) has a lead of 13% (up from 8%); Ipsos-MORI has 9% (up from 5%); YouGov (Daily Telegraph) has 11% (up from 3%); and ICM (News of the World) has 11% (up from 8%). Overall the Conservatives are now 9% ahead of Labour (up from 4%), and are now predicted to have an overall majority for the first time in several years.
The current prediction is that the Conservatives will have an overall majority of 8 seats, winning 329 seats (+45 seats since 17 November 2007).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
This settlement gives Basildon a shortfall of £751,000 over the three-year period against our very conservative projections and the Labour government has coupled this with an announcement that Councils will be capped from making council tax increases above a certain level...which they won't tell us. So, we may end up having to make service cuts as a result, which could mean putting people out of work in the middle of a recession. The Labour members on the Cabinet resorted to bluster and then downright dishonesty. We were told that this shortfall in revenue funding was is some way made up for by the capital funding that we had received for regeneration projects, but of course they are not in any way related. We were told that it would be worse under the savage cuts of a Cameron Conservative government, but the Shadow Chancellor has already made it very clear that a rapid and imprudent reduction in government spending would not occur. We were told that the money could be made up from Council reserves, which made me wonder if they had been reading the same financial reports as me. The Labour deputy leader in particular seemed to find the situation amusing.
What is going on is that Brown's economic failures are coming home to the British people. Because government finances are in a mess then Britain is badly placed for an economic slowdown and a debt-ridden and high-taxing government is running out of both ideas and cash. That is why Basildon is feeling the pain and why the local Labour party had no option but to talk nonsense in an effort to defend the indefensible.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Unless a new source of capital can be found then the only alternatives are administration of nationalisation, either option a progressive disposal of assets and a dismantling of the business. It is a mess caused by a Labour government who would not overrule the Bank of England to provide liquidity to the markets and then overruled the Bank of England to provide support to Northern Rock when it couldn't find funding on the capital markets. Either the market should have been supported or Northern Rock allowed to go bust. As it was policy stumbled from one strategy to another and so predictably failed. It's a bit of a cliché, but I wouldn't trust this lot to run a whelk stall.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
To put it another way: big boys games, big boys rules.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Mr Brown is doing so well not because he has better policies than his rivals (insofar as his rivals have any), but because he is a better politician than any of them.Today the tune changed to:
You may find this hard to believe, but there will be some people in the Labour Party who will be taking some consolation from the otherwise hideous secret donations scandal. These are not necessarily the small but growing band who realise the mistake they made in giving the job of leader to Gordon Brown, though heaven knows they must be having to have their grins surgically removed.The basis of this argument was that some people in Labour are happy to see Party and Leader implode because this would allow an argument for State funding of political parties to be made. Apart from being nonsense, no politician would swap government for opposition just to get hold of taxpayers money, Heffer's conversion is pretty funny. He has moved smoothly from praise to criticism with no acknowledgement of the failure of his own political judgement. Next thing he'll be saying nice things about David Cameron.
It went down pretty well.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It was the Thames Gateway Forum dinner last night, and I was fortunate to spend the evening in the company of some rather more intelligent people from Property Week. There were speeches from Boris Johnson and John Prescott and entertainment that included a man with lubricant and a balloon. I won't try to describe that; you really had to be there.
I attended the Thames Gateway forum today to launch the procurement for the Sporting Village. For those that don’t know, the forum is a big exhibition and conference in the Docklands Excel Centre, and the Council had a stand to promote our various regeneration projects. The launch was via a reception held on the stand and the surrounds, and it went very well indeed, with a good attendance and speeches from the great and the good. It compared very favourably with several other similar events at much the same time and this speaks very well to the narrative that we have fashioned for Basildon as a place to invest. That message has certainly got through to government as well, and they announced £30m of funding for Basildon regeneration over the next 3 years, which compares vary favourably to our surrounding local authorities. So, all in all, a very good day for the long term future of Basildon District, and there is also a rumour that Gordon Brown might be coming tomorrow, politics permitting.
You might have thought that as a Conservative I would be gloating over the government’s current predicament, but I am not. It is this sort of thing that brings politics and public service into disrepute and I would much rather that any party advantage from this affair had instead come from the debate on the best future for our nation.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Yesterday in the House of Commons, John Baron MP quizzed Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House of Commons, about the lost HMRC data and asked for a full debate.
Will the Leader of the House reconsider her decision not to grant a topical debate on the loss of data by the Government? I suggest that little is more topical than the loss of the personal details of 25 million people, especially given the concern it has caused in our constituencies.
Harriet Harman said she would consider this request and let Parliament know by Monday evening.
John said afterwards:
Gordon Brown has blamed a junior official for the loss of 25 million people’s personal banking details. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that high-ranking officials were aware of the 2 disks being sent through the post. This would suggest a systemic failure in data protection, which is a Government responsibility. We need a proper debate to find out the truth.”
What matters now is that the 2 missing disks are recovered and millions of people, including many constituents, can be reassured that their personal details are safe.
Harriet Harman will 'let Parliament know by Monday evening'? Translated this means 'I hope the bloody disks have turned up by then'.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Labour is now plumbing the depths that the Conservatives found after the ERM debacle in 1992, and conversely Conservative support is now at the level it was before that fiasco.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Politically, this whole business is poison. Everyone is either affected or knows someone who it. My wife's data has been lost for example. People remember things that affect them personally, and no-one is going to forget this. Think Black Wednesday when the political ground shifted in an afternoon. This lot are on the way out.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
To think, Alastair Darling was supposed to be a safe pair of hands.
Monday, November 19, 2007
New Labour always rested on a triad. There was residual dislike of the Tories from their 18 years in power, where disappointed interest groups and the desire for change made for votes against, and so to support for Labour. There was the persona of Tony Blair, who always maintained an affability that seemed above narrow partisan politics and which allowed the other members of the Labour party to be as nakedly political as they liked. Finally, and most importantly there was the economy, the ten year period of sustained growth that funded the government’s schemes and, more importantly, kept cash jingling in peoples’ pockets. A triad is pretty stable unless one of the legs is kicked away, but Labour is now starting to resemble a chair with no legs. David Cameron has decontaminated the Conservative brand, though time and space from John Major’s government had already done much of the work. Tony Blair is gone, and Gordon Brown is nowhere near his equal in the dark arts of politics. Most importantly, and most worryingly, the economy is going south with growth forecasts cut against a background of rising oil prices and the real possibility of both a British and international Recession. That has the potential to expose the way that Labour has unbalanced the economy to the point that the government would have very little ability to ameliorate the worst effects of a downturn on our people. No-one wishes that, and I bet it is giving Brown and Darling nightmares.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The YouGov poll of nearly 2,000 people for The Sunday Times shows that Brown’s honeymoon period has ended. Last month 59% thought that he was doing a good job as prime minister, while 29% said he was doing badly, a healthy net approval rating of +30.
Now only 33% think he is doing well and 43% think he is doing badly, a net approval rating of -10 and a precipitous drop of 40 percentage points in a month. At the height of his honeymoon in the summer, his approval rating was +48.
Down 40 points in a month! Brown is inhabiting the same territory as John Major after the ERM debacle in 1992. And if we thought Tony Blair was a control freak the media are suggesting that Brown is trying to run the entire country with a 5-man conference call every day at 07:00, just his mates, no civil servants. Never mind the politics, this is just incompetent management. Don't get me wrong I want the Conservatives to succeed, but I would much rather it was because we won the battle of ideas and opinion, not because the government of my country are a bunch of idiots.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Without significant improvement in the overall management of the programme it will remain a series of disjointed projects and is unlikely to achieve its potential to make a major difference to economic regeneration and sustainable housing.That is just an excerpt from a relentlessly critical report on the huge Thames Gateway project, which is the largest regeneration project in Europe. Now I have an insider view on this: I sit on the Basildon Renaissance Partnership and I chair the Thames Gateway South Essex Economy and Inward Investment Board and I think that the MPs do and don't have a point. First of all the Thames Gateway project is a worthy one, and without it the growing prosperity of the area will still leave areas of deprivation and inadequate infrastructure. Unfortunately, the scale of the endeavour is matched by its difficulty. Regeneration that works across numerous local authorities and communities is hard to organise and the professional talent that is needed is scarce. The project did not get off to a good start either, with John Prescott running it under the now defunct Office of the Deputy Prime-Minister. He was not a good leader and his department made numerous mistakes, not least in grossly complicating the planning system, which then made delivering regeneration on the ground a tortuous process. That having been said, from my lowly viewpoint things are happening. Basildon at least has a thriving regeneration programme that has been enabled by carefully targeted funding from the Thames Gateway organisation. In Thurrock there is a port project that will eventually handle half of the UK's container traffic, and there are other schemes elsewhere in the Gateway. It is when you step back and look at achievements in aggregate through the Thames Gateway that things start to look uneven. In particular, there are issues with housing delivery and the CLG seems to be under pressure from other government departments. One point in the report is on how local MPs have been engaged, and I know that there are certainly issues there in other parts of South Essex. Here in Basildon we make a point of meeting with our local parliamentarians, and both John Baron and Angela Smith have been very supportive.
What will be interesting is how the Thames Gateway project's leadership reacts. I hope that they push through the strident tone of the report and look carefully at each point in turn, because there are some things to fix.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
It all reflects the Conservative agenda of pushing power down to individuals and communities. After ten years of this controlling, target-obsessed government it is time that the argument moved on.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
An exclusive ICM poll for the Sunday Express put the Tories on 43 per cent, Labour on 35 per cent and the Lib-Dems on 15 per cent. The eight-point lead – a three-point rise on the last ICM poll a fortnight ago – would be enough to give David Cameron a slim overall majority in a General Election.The Conservatives are up three from two weeks ago, all at the expense of the the Liberal Democrats who are down three. Labour have not moved despite the re-launch of the Queen's speech. While Labour has had mid-term blues before this is the first sustained period that the Conservative Party has been running at 40+ in the polls since 1992.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Abortion should be allowed, but as medical science advances it is going to be progressively more difficult to maintain the current limits, and that situation is going to become steadily worse in the future. At this time a reduction from 24 to 20 weeks is reasonable, but it won't be the last word.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Having now been told in writing by the Government that no Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) for Basildon would go ahead against the wishes of the local NHS, and having recently met with SW Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) and been informed of their decision to oppose the idea, John Baron MP has said that the proposal for an ISTC for Basildon has now effectively been killed off. John and Basildon Hospital have long argued that such a scheme would disrupt existing NHS services, undermine staff training, and threaten patient choice. Now the plans appear to have been blocked.
Commenting, John said:
“Given that a Government letter to me has clearly stated that an ISTC will not be imposed on Basildon against the wishes of the local NHS, and now that both SW Essex PCT and Basildon Hospital have come out against it, a local ISTC is now dead in the water.”
“Major changes to the health service cannot proceed without the support of the local NHS and residents. I have therefore written to the Government reminding them of their promise and asking them to confirm that plans for an ISTC for Basildon have now been shelved.”
“I welcome the PCT’s decision to oppose an independent hospital in Basildon. Our existing NHS Hospital would suffer a drain of resources if a new hospital was set up next door. This would have bad effect on training budgets, planning, and cross-subsidy of services.”
“The ISTC project has been subject to secret negotiations between the Government and a private provider, with local patients and the NHS kept in the dark. There were many unanswered questions about who would pay the bill if patient numbers fell below the level agreed between Whitehall and the private sector. My concern was always that local services would suffer as a result.”
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Immigration has been a toxic issue in British politics for years, with those who want to close down debate on what is a legitimate political issue pointing fingers and screaming 'racist!' at anyone who dares to say that immigration might not be an untrammelled good. They have come out of the woodwork again in the form of Peter Hain who has been drivelling on about the 'racist underbelly' of the Conservative Party. That is the sort of abuse that you would expect from a government that has no idea about the numbers of immigrants in the country or their contribution to the economy, and desperately wants to close any debate down. Well, it won't wash this time. Hastilow, might have show extraordinarily poor political judgement, but that is as nothing when compared to the serial incompetence of the Labour government that Peter Hain's drivel is an effort to cover up.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
John said, “Bin taxes will harm the local environment and public health by leading to a surge in backyard burning. The evidence shows this is what happened in the Republic of Ireland after bin taxes were introduced. Illegal burning of household waste releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. On top of tip-taxes, they will also lead to an increase in fly-tipping and put at risk Basildon Council’s good record in this area.
“Meanwhile, the set-up and running costs of such a complex tax, which involves installing microchips in every bin, will mean the overall burden of taxation will rise. Families now face the double whammy of record council tax bills and new bin taxes.
“The soaring costs of waste are yet another example of how Whitehall and EU burdens are being imposed on Basildon Council. The answer is not to create new local taxes. Labour Ministers must stop imposing unfunded obligations and red tape on local communities and cease hiking up local taxes by stealth.”
News of higher taxes comes as new official figures published by the Government have exposed that fly-tipping across England is soaring. Basildon Council has a good record in recent years in fly-tipping but, in total, cleaning up after fly-tipping has still cost local taxpayers £1,372,304 over the last three years. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign is warning that new bin taxes will make the problem even worse.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Let’s get this straight, the government have had no idea of how many foreign workers there were in the UK and no idea of how many of the jobs created since 1997 have gone to foreigners. Against this background we have been told for years that immigration was an unmitigated good and as recently as the 2005 general election anyone saying different has been branded a racist or a xenophobe. Now it turns out that the number of foreign workers in the country is at least 1.5 million and that more than half of the jobs created since 1997 have gone to them. This last is very serious as whenever the number of people on benefits refused to decline the government always pointed to the numbers in work as a defence. What these numbers are telling us is that the large numbers of people who a locked into dependency on the state by Labour’s failed policies have stayed there while the jobs that they may have had are taken by new arrivals. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of this as well if you talk to ordinary people in ordinary parts of our country, many of whom have been traditional Labour voters. That leaves aside the strain on public services and on the housing market of our steeply rising population. Now David Cameron has announced that a new Conservative government would tighten up on immigration, as well as doing something about people trapped on benefits, which also means being trapped in poverty. Labour meanwhile are floundering as ministers face the ruins of policies going back ten years. The country, and some of their own backbenchers, demands that they get on top of this situation. So far they seem to be in denial.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wickford Town Centre doesn’t need ‘something doing to brighten it up’ which is the view of the 'Wickford Action Group' in their recent letter in our local paper; it needs proper regeneration to halt its decline. There is certainly a serious problem if you talk to the traders on the High Street, including the one who asked me if it was worth renewing the lease and staying in business because things have got so bad. There are also local examples of town centres going badly wrong and you only have to go to Grays or Laindon Town Centres and then consider what having half of the local shops boarded up does to a community. Basildon Council is not waiting for Wickford to reach a terminal state, which is why there is a Master Plan and why we are progressing with delivery. Another complaint is about town centre housing; this is government policy, which means that a local Council cannot turn down legal planning applications for residences in the Town Centre. We also don’t want to build on the surrounding Green belt that is Wickford’s vital green lung and gives the town so much of its character as a town instead of a suburb of Basildon. What is most disappointing is that the Wickford Action Group is now trying to rubbish regeneration efforts elsewhere in Basildon District, particularly in Laindon where regeneration of the Town Centre is desperately needed. They go so far as to claim that Councillors are misleading the people of Laindon in the consultation process there. In fact the consultation that has been going on is by the private owners of the Laindon Centre and nothing to do with the Council. So, who is misleading who?
Monday, October 29, 2007
There is also the small matter of sorting out the regulatory shambles that led to this situation. Someone needs to get a grip there.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Locally this prediction yields:
Basildon and Billericay
MP John Baron (CON)
|2005 Votes||2005 Share||Prediction|
|CON Majority||3,587||9.19%||Pred Maj||12.12%|
Basildon South and East Thurrock
MP Angela Smith (LAB)
Of course, there is probably a long way to go to the actual election, though with 'decisive' Gordon in charge who knows, but if I were Angela Smith I would be a little worried. This particular contest is marked by an incumbent who is actually a pretty good MP and a challenger in Stephen Metcalfe who will make an excellent MP. The people of Basildon and East Thurrock are lucky to have such high quality candidates for the next general election.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
|Little Parndon and Hare Street||Turnout 28.4%.||Conservative Gain|
|Change in Vote Share|
|Toddbrook||Turnout 30.53%.||Labour Hold|
|Change in Vote Share|
Having failed to make any impression on public opinion, the latest 'truther' tactic is to ambush live television programmes and public figures with moronic shouted slogans or crackpot questions, usually filming the results for YouTube. This has moved some commentator opinion from amused tolerance to irritation, as can be seen from this article in the Telegraph. It is also a worrying development. Having seen some of the other things these people also tend to believe, Jews Control the media, worldwide conspiracies etc., then the more active they get the more likely it is that their activism will not end well. There is a rich history of lunatic fringes escalating to violence from the Unabomber to Timothy McVeigh to more 'organised' groups such as the Weather Underground or the Baader Meinhof group in Germany. So, not only are they abetting the enemies of democracy through their propaganda, but they are on a dangerous and slippery slope to becoming agents of terror themselves. Let's hope that 'truth' movement gets off that train before it arrives at its ghastly destination.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Now the Liberal Democrat theory seems to be that all they have to do is elect a photogenic leader and their dire position will reverse itself. My observation is that nothing in politics is that simple, and that bouffant hair does not substitute for clarity of political vision and policy. This is a bit of a challenge for the Liberal Democrats as everyone knows that they won't be forming the next government and that their stated position is to prop up Labour given half the chance. So, if you want the current lot out, vote Conservative. Why do anything different? Well, the answer to that will come if the new Liberal Democrat leader can change the dynamic, especially in his party's relationship to the Conservatives and with one eye on what they would do in a hung parliament. This is not a trivial thing and would require a wholesale change of attitude, but, as the Electoral Calculus prediction shows, the alternative might be quite grisly. Ask the Liberal Democrats here in Basildon what happens when you prop up an unpopular Labour administration. They used to be the second largest party after Labour. Now they have three Councillors left; not quite zero, but getting there.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
As might be expected, a very full debate ensued, with the Labour Party taking the view that no referendum was required. Their arguments were either abuse, 'you're all xenophobes' etc., or claims that the new treaty was minor or otherwise harmless. What there wasn't was anything on the central issue that both treaties were the same and the government had broken a manifesto commitment. This was very interesting indeed. With the government spouting a line that the Constitution Treaty and the Reform Treaty are totally different you would have expected that their own most fervent supporters would have believed this enough to advance it as an argument, but they didn't. This is a pretty good indication that Brown and co. are on to a loser.
The “Reform Treaty”, signed by Tony Blair on 23 June, is acknowledged publicly
by the leaders of nearly all our EU partners and by the parliamentary cross-party European Scrutiny Committee to be virtually the same as the
France and the Netherlands decisively rejected that Treaty.
The “Reform Treaty” transfers yet more substantive powers from Britain to the EU and further erodes British laws and the British Constitution.
It will reduce the rights and freedoms of the residents of Basildon and of the whole nation.
Therefore this Council calls on Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, to abide by the Government’s promise to the electorate in the 2005 Labour Party Manifesto, page 84, “We will put the [Constitution Treaty] to the British People in a
The motion was carried. As well as being a very damaging issue for the Labour government this is also a very uniting issue for the Conservatives.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
There were two topics really, the superbug epidemic and the EU Reform Treaty. This last was on the eve of Gordon Brown's key meeting in Lisbon tomorrow, and put a pretty firm marker down on the issue. Unless the PM has an epiphany and decides that the matter deserves the referendum the Labour Party promised in their 2005 manifesto, then there will be a huge parliamentary row on this matter, on an issue that unites the Conservatives and splits Labour. Should be interesting.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The news coverage yesterday was most instructive. Vince Cable, Ming's deputy leader told the British media that Campbell had not talked to him about the leadership question, despite admitting earlier in the day that the matter was 'under discussion'. This does not at least suggest close and harmonious working relationship at best and at worst identifies at least one set of prints on the murder weapon. Then there was Sandra Gidley, LibDem MP for Romsey and sitting on a majority of 125. She didn't even bother to disguise her glee and the turn of events, and this with the bloke resigned barely an hour before. Finally there was an old-school MP phoning in from a parliamentary delegation to Moscow, who was pretty scathing about the way his colleagues had behaved. So, platitudes and attempts to blame it all on press ageism aside, it was an engineered departure with the one proviso that Ming might just have pre-empted them all by going a bit sooner than expected.
What now? Well we have the fascinating spectacle of a leadership contest to look forward to. The question is if that automatically translates into a bounce in the polls for the LibDems. On that I am not so sure. There is some evidence, based on emails and texts coming into various news organisations that the latest turn of events has not gone down that well with the public, so that has to be fixed. Then some lucky man or woman has to lead this bunch into a general election, now knowing exactly the level of loyalty they can expect if things don't do to plan. Sometimes, the swift removal of a leader doesn't always do it. After all, as far as the LibDems are concerned this is the second time in eighteen months.
Having engineered a situation where the Conservatives are polling better than any time since 1992, Brown really has to sort this out. It would kind of be good for the country too.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The sea-change started with Iain Duncan-Smith who instead of sulking when he lost the leadership of the Conservative Party organised some serious research into social policy. He came to the conclusion that marriage should be supported. Without giving out any credit, the government's recent U-turn on inheritance tax only applies to Married couples or those in civil partnerships. Now Andrew Burnham, Labour's Chief Secretary to the treasury and also adopted the Conservative line. It is inconceivable that he would freelance on this issue, so he must be preparing the ground for something, and not before time. Now we have Gordon Brown's vision laid bare, it's whatever David Cameron thinks.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Does it matter? I think that it does, not because we have a good speaker up against a weaker opponent, but because it illustrates that we have a good leader up against a weaker opponent. And people are noticing.