Friday, June 19, 2009

LabourList has Brown's number

In case anyone thinks I am pathologically biased against Gordon Brown, this is what LabourList thinks about him. I especially liked this bit:
After a tough month or so for Labour, there are signs that the party is hunkering up, dusting down and preparing once again to fight the good fight.

It's not coming from the Party leader, who continues to hide away in his Downing Street bunker, making only guest appearances to toe the line both at the dispatch box and through the automation of a decade-old politics: Labour investment over Tory cuts.
Of course they are spot on, but enough of the troops in parliament seem determined to hang on to the vote-loser. The thing about Brown is that many ordinary people hate him with a passion. Tony Blair never caused this kind of reaction, which is why he was the most successful Labour Prime Minister in history.

So, they got rid of him, err...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking on the BNP

People are quite exercised at the BNP's recent electoral success. This has led to a hand-wringing from and the good, who in many cases seem unable to comprehend that people would vote for fascists and racists. In fact they seem unable to really accept that the mere labels fascist and racist were not enough to dissuade people from voting BNP. Eric Pickles, Conservative Party Chairman, does not fall into this category, recognising that descriptive prose is not enough and that the BNP has to be taken on.

What does this mean though? Well, first we have to understand why people actually vote Nationalist. The BNP primarily draws its support from the Old Labour voter segment, that is traditional working class within established working class communities. New Labour has taken these people for granted since its inception, reasoning that the communities that have voted Labour for generations will always vote for them regardless. This has fallen foul of the reduction in tribal loyalty in politics, but it has also been reflected in over a decade of Labour policy. In policy terms white working-class culture has been ignored or denigrated and low-cost and social housing has been provided at the lowest rate for decades, creating competition with immigrant communities for a scarce resource. Labour has orchestrated increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility, trapping people in low incomes with no prospect of improvement and, of course, there is the very high level of immigration in general, which creates job competition at the bottom end of the employment market. I have found that this in particular can be incomprehensible to middle-class lefties, who really have no clue just how tough things can be for the people who serve them their morning latte.

In order to fight the BNP the Conservatives have to address the real policy issues that concern their typical voters. If we ignore their concerns then it is not unreasonable that they will turn to someone else, and on current evidence it won't be the Labour party.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rebellion of the incompetent

I generally have fairly low expectations of the competence of members of the Labour party, but the recent failed rebellion against Gordon Brown sets a new standard in uselessness. Seven ministers refuse to serve, backbench MPs on the airwaves calling for Brown to go, Labour getting 16% of the vote in a national poll and still they couldn't pull it off. These people would need detailed instruction to run a whelk stall.

Let us be clear on the situation Labour are in: Gordon Brown is political poison. The people's judgement is in, as illustrated by a poll in today's Times where 51% said Brown should go for the good of the country. Out on the streets of Basildon Brown is actively disliked by the sorts of people who don't normally bother with politics. I don't know what it must have been like for Labour canvassers during the recent elections, but it couldn't have been fun and the election results spoke for themselves. There are now no Labour County Councillors in Basildon and exactly one in Essex. If Labour persists with Brown then the next general election will be Armageddon for for them. Sensible Labour people know this, so how come Gordon still sits in number ten? The answer is simple, they may be sensible but the rebels seem to have the organisational ability of a hippy commune. It started with Hazel Blears jumping ship before the polls closed; sabotaging your own party during an election is not the way to gain support and of course she is now grovelling in apology to her own furious activists. Then James Purnell resigns as soon as voting finished, a heavyweight and potential leader about which the revolt could coalesce. Except he goes out of his way to stress he is acting alone and actively discourages anyone to join him. Then we have Caroline Flint, robotically defending Gordon Brown one day and then damning him the next, not much credibility there and again no co-ordination with anyone else. So it went, individual talking heads with no leader, no programme and no plan.

Gordon Brown toughed it out, because among his many flaws he fails to recognise just how bad it is for his party on the ground. Or maybe he doesn't care? Or maybe he really is so deluded he thinks he can turn it around before a general election? Whatever motivates him he would not have survived a properly organised assault. This effort he beat off with help from apparatchiks and the self-interested. So, now things will rumble on to the Party conference season where that most stage-managed of events will offer little opportunity for dissent. The smart money is now probably on Gordon Brown leading Labour into the next election, and annihilation.

John Baron MP: Council tax cover-up - new evidence of serious errors in council tax bills

MP says surge in council tax appeals reveals systematic over-charging by Government

John Baron MP warned today that Gordon Brown and his Ministers are deliberately covering up serious problems over the banding of homes for council tax. New figures have revealed that Whitehall’s council tax snoopers have been forced to redo the council tax bands of thousands of homes after appeals by householders across Basildon District and the country.
John said:
We now have clear evidence of a council tax cover-up. The Labour Government has been caught red-handed fiddling council tax to make families in Basildon District and across the country pay more. Whitehall bureaucrats know that many homes across the country are wrongly banded, but have refused to correct the tax inspectors’ errors to save the Government money and save face.

The whole basis of our tax system is undermined if the state conspires to over-charge the public. Labour Ministers only want to reform the council tax system if it rakes in extra cash for Gordon Brown’s coffers.
  • Official papers from Gordon Brown’s council tax inspectors, the Valuation Office Agency, have admitted that many homes are in the wrong band for council tax and families have been paying over the odds for years. Accidentally leaked minutes have confessed that if the tax errors became known, the Government would lose money and would have to pay tax refunds. This was also ruled out since it would generate “adverse press coverage… in the current climate.
  • The combination of a campaign by ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis, the publication of these leaked minutes and an ITV Tonight documentary, has produced a surge in council tax appeals. Now Parliamentary Questions have forced the Government to publish detailed figures on the changes to council tax bands.
  • In the last three years, 190,000 existing homes have had their council tax band changed: 133,985 homes have moved down a band. In Basildon District, 566 homes have moved down a council tax band as a result of appeals. This proves there are serious and systematic errors in the banding of homes, which Ministers have been covering up to save money.
  • Wales has been used as a test-bed for a council tax revaluation. Three times as many homes moved up a band as down. Yet since that 2005 revaluation, a succession of errors has also been uncovered with the Valuation Office Agency’s work. To date, 1 in 20 homes in Wales have had their post-revaluation banding corrected. A wholesale council tax revaluation has thus caused more problems than it solved.