Saturday, July 26, 2008

The other election on Thursday

This was a Council election in Westminster:

The Labour candidate was Dave Rowntree, whose previous claim to fame was as the drummer in Blur. He lost pretty spectacularly in a 14.1% swing to the Conservatives. What is significant is that this particular seat has never had anything other than a Labour Councillor from its inception. Gordon Brown's Labour continues to set records.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Labour grassroots react to Glasgow East

Catastrophe in Glasgow East, and it finally seems to be dawning on the people's party what everyone else figured out some time ago: Gordon Brown is electoral poison. So, the chaps at Labourhome are in open revolt, with an astonishingly candid debate on whether to ditch their leader.

The by-election result was awful for Labour, but hey, by-elections are not always a good guide to a subsequent general election. In this case, however, there is an interesting detail: turnout was high, only a little behind that in that last general election. This means Labour voters were not staying at home, they were coming out and voting for someone else. So, will someone tell me who exactly is today's Labour is meant to appeal to? They came fifth in Henley, so it's not the affluent. They lost in Crewe and Nantwich, so it's not the aspirational. They lost in Glasgow East, so it's not the struggling. Rejection right across the demographic spectrum is difficult to achieve, but Gordon Brown has managed it.

If they had the brains that God gave a weasel then Labour would ditch Brown. Let's hope they don't eh?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Glasgow East votes today

The punditry has more or less decided that Labour is going to squeak home in Glasgow East tonight. That the result is even a matter for debate is a commentary on where Labour is under Gordon Brown's leadership, though perhaps 'leadership' is too strong a word. The result is everything. If Labour's majority is slashed then everything depends on how much by. A very close result will put the fear of God into Labour MPs much farther afield than Scotland. If Labour lose then Brown is, as a parliamentary friend of mine put it, toast.

Simon Heffer does OK

I have been quite critical about Simon Heffer in the past, but one must be fair. His last column actually wasn't too bad.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Basildon to keep emptying the bins

Public health has improved enormously since the days of the Victorians, and that improvement is largely down to the Victorians. However, it isn’t advances in medicine, even widespread immunisation, which has increased life expectancy since the days that we sent children up chimneys. That has largely come from seemingly simple measures such as clean water, sewerage and the efficient collection of waste. So, Local Authorities have a duty to collect the rubbish that is a legacy of Victorian times. Now, incredibly, this government wants to do away with that responsibility, seemingly as part of its push to give Councils’ any excuse not to pick up people’s bins.

Basildon Council has the same pressures as everyone else: legislative incentives to recycle that mean considerable investment, and so there has been the temptation to play fast and loose with our rubbish collection responsibilities. Well, we haven’t, because we think that this basic service is so essential that even tentative suggestions to even think about biweekly collections and the like have been pretty firmly rejected. That also goes for pay-as-you-throw or any other wheeze that makes people pay for rubbish collection when they are already getting stung for so much Council Tax. We will be continuing with a high-quality weekly collection, paid for out of existing Council Tax unless the Labour government uses legislation to put a gun to our heads. The trouble is that I wouldn’t put is past them.