Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brown and I agree on something

That David Milliband's missive in yesterday's Guardian was a job application. The reaction is furious, and ill-judged, with anonymous briefings and two backbench MPs calling for Milliband to be sacked. Think on it, this is the Prime Minister laying into his own Foreign Secretary, careless of the damage such behaviour must do to his government. Where Blair would have taken it on the chin, at least in public, because he knew over-reaction would only given the story legs and credibility, Brown unleashes the great clunking fist and thereby puts 'Labour splits' onto front pages and news bulletins. Does he really think that he can keep the cabinet in line through fear? If that is true then the Labour frontbench are worms, but I don't believe that. These aren't Wehrmacht generals bound by some blood oath into ignoring the historical interests of their own people for the ravings of a madman, rather these are decent men and women with a commitment to public service, and, frankly, they won't be impressed. So, Milliband goes onto the radio today as if nothing had happened, and he still doesn't speak up for his boss. What will Gordon do next? Sack him?

Politics 101: keep people inside the tent, or you might become unexpectedly wet.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brown's challenger breaks cover

David Milliband broke cover today with an article in the Guardian talking about Labour renewal. For those not skilled in the art of political doubletalk what it really says is ‘I am a candidate for the forthcoming leadership election’. What it means is that Milliband has broken with the ‘caretaker leader from an older generation leading Labour to a not too catastrophic defeat at the next election then resigning in favour of a young Turk’ scenario. This would have seen our man placed to move smoothly in to pick up the pieces in opposition. Instead, he is going for the leadership of the party now, calculating that he could hang on to it even in defeat by blaming Brown for the mess. This is serious stuff; because now a credible challenger has emerged Brown will be faced by much the same dilemma that Blair faced with him. Is Milliband more dangerous to Brown in the Foreign Office or on the back benches? There are rumours of a reshuffle after all.

One thing is certain, Milliband is more dangerous to the Conservative Party than Brown ever could be.

Rubbish in Pitsea

So, they passed it. We are going to have a refuse treatment plant at Courtauld Road in Pitsea that will treat the rubbish of the whole of the South of the county, thanks to Essex County Council passing the planning application. This was opposed by Basildon District Council, all parties in a rare moment of unanimity, local pressure groups and the local population. In fact, I never met a single person in favour of the scheme who lived anywhere near the site. The real problem with one rubbish disposal site for such a huge area is getting the rubbish to the site in the first place. You have to remember that this development has been so long in gestation that the world has changed radically since it was devised. Today, the idea of 400 vehicle movements per day in order to ship rubbish to Basildon from as far away as Epping Forest seems absurdly unsustainable. Not that stopped Essex County Council’s planning committee.

Still, there is one ray of hope. The scheme depends on government funding in the tens of millions or else it goes nowhere. Right now the government hasn’t got a bean, and anyway they may not be the government for very much longer. There may be a few icebergs before a Titanic of rubbish sails into Pitsea.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Electoral Calculus says Labour doing better

From the Electoral Calculus website:
Recent polls still show a very strong Conservative lead over Labour, but one which
is slightly reduced from last month. Populus (Times) has 13% (down from 20%),
YouGov (Sunday Times) has 22% (up from 18%), ComRes (Independent on Sunday) has 21% (unchanged), ICM (Guardian) sees 15% (down from 20%), and Ipsos-MORI has 20% (up from 17%).

Overall the Conservative lead is 18% which is 1% lower than June. The prediction also includes the results of the recent YouGov poll in Scotland showing the SNP 4% ahead of Labour. As is our standard practice, we do not include the results of by-elections in the prediction because they are not a good predictor of subsequent general elections.

The current prediction is that the Conservatives will have a majority of 160 seats,
winning 405 seats (-1 seat since 28 Jun 2008).
Not really going to send Gordon on holiday with a spring to his step.