Saturday, September 20, 2008

Perspectives on the Market Crisis

A lot of nonsense is being talked regarding the current crisis. That short-sellers brought down HBOS, that the world is going to end, that Gordon Brown has got a grip. The reality is somewhat different. In the end HBOS was the victim of a business model that was not designed to deal with a severe downturn, short selling only amounted to a few percentage points of the activity on their shares over the last few days. That didn't stop Alex Salmond sounding off though in a concentrated whinge about the fate of a Scottish institution. Then we have had some predictions of the apocalypse, largely from the same sort of people who thought the good times would never end. The fact is that business cycles have existed since, well, ever. They are documented to at least the Middle Ages. So, what goes down does eventually go up. It would take a series of catastrophic misjudgements to prolong the current crisis beyond the norm, which, unfortunately does mean a slowdown of at least a couple of years. All of this leaves Gordon 'an end to boom and bust' Brown looking like a bit of a fool. Now the Labour Party is trying to spin a narrative that he is the man uniquely qualified to bail the country out. This is very, very high risk stuff indeed. Collapse the government's competence down to one man and you make the argument about him. If he doesn't, or can't, deliver then that is the game. If I were them I would really push policy, not personal factors, because policy can change but your people can't, unless you fire the Prime Minister of course.


Friday, September 19, 2008

BNP come third in Noak Bridge

The results are in for the Noak Bridge Parish Council by-election. There were two independent candidates and the BNP, who put out three leaflets and canvassed extensively. It is in the context of all that effort that the result should be considered:

Party Votes %
Independent 244 49%
Independent 166 33%
British National Party 89 18%

They lost, and lost badly in a field that included none of the other parties that regularly fight elections in Basildon District. I am very proud of our people today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tories on 52%

Apparently there is going to be a Mori poll published at midnight putting the Conservatives on 52%. Two things spring to mind: firstly Simon Heffer will now start complaining that David Cameron has failed because he hasn't broken 60%.

Secondly, who are this 24% who still want to vote Labour?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gordon Brown in deep trouble

This from Nick Robinson's blog a couple of days ago:
The PM, it seems, has been saved for now at least not by anything he's done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.
Robinson has, to be fair, recognised that this is the equivalent of the Michael Fish 'no hurricane' forecast just before the south of England was hit by a, well, hurricane. Gordon Brown is now in deep trouble, with up to 23 backbench MPs doing to him what he did to Tony Blair, that is to create an environment where he can no longer function as Prime Minister regardless of what the party rulebook says. Labour's arcane system requires 70 odd MPs to precipitate a leadership contest, but the current rebellion calculates that far fewer than that number can put Gordon Brown under enough pressure that he goes. His options are limited: cannot ask for loyalty, because he showed none to Tony Blair; he cannot rely on his electoral mandate within the Labour party, because he and his cronies engineered it so that there was no election. All that is left is force and so far, the response to the rebels has been brutal, with sackings from whatever position held for the crime of, wait for it, asking for a ballot paper as allowed under Labour Party rules. It also begs the question of how the names of the requesters have become know to Gordon's operation, and that is the subject of much debate in online political circles. These heavy-handed tactics might keep Gordon in position in the short term, but they come at a cost of moral authority both within the party and the country.

Politically, Gordon Brown is finished, but at this rate he will drag down his party too. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair stood aside because, ultimately, they were not prepared to do that. Does Gordon have that sense of historical perspective and moral courage, or is he a dictator who cares not what comes after him as his foes close in on his bunker. If it is the latter then the focus of history has become needle sharp on the events of the next few days. Always remember that political parties can die.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

BNP on our doorstep

We have a by-election for Noak Bridge Parish Council, and the BNP are standing. Now, in Basildon the political parties don't usually stand in Parish elections, leaving the politics out of it at that very local level. The BNP don't play like that though, and they are quite happy to run an election campaign full of lies and on issues that a Parish Council can't do anything about. Hot flash: Noak Bridge Parish Council can't affect immigration policy, not that you would believe that based on the BNP leaflets. As for claims that the 'Council' wants to build 10700 houses in the fields around Noak Bridge, helpful map provided, that is the Labour government's housing target for Basildon and Basildon Council's policy is to build in the existing urban footprint, not on the Green Belt. This is also another thing that is nothing to do with a Parish Council.

Of course, the BNP have form in all of this. Up and down the country the BNP has managed to win the odd election through a mixture of lies and distortions. When elected, their Councillors show little interest in public service, and anyway they cannot deliver on their promises. After that the electorate usually wises up and they are dumped. Hopefully, we won't have to see that cycle in Noak Bridge.