Saturday, May 17, 2008

Simon Heffer casts aside his former hero

Simon Heffer has come to a realisation in his latest column:
  1. Labour are in government and have been for some time.
  2. They aren't very good.
  3. The only way to remove them is to support the Conservatives.
Previously Simon's line on UK politics has been that Labour in general and Gordon Brown in particular were quite impressive. His love for Gordon Brown was quite evident on September 5th 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.
There was also a continuing theme in Simon's work that the Conservatives, and especially David Cameron, were basically crap, to the point that they represented no improvement on the current government. However, Brown's unfunded £2.7 billion tax fiddle to buy off his own backbenchers seems finally to have punctured Simon's illusions. In truth Brown's actions are quite appalling. Adding to the national debt in this way will also add to inflation, which will in turn keep interest rates high, which will hurt the whole economy. At the same time he is doing that he is at war with public sector workers because he needs to keep their wages down so as not to increase the national debt and so add to inflation. So the government is operating a wholly contradictory policy, which will cause nothing but grief in the medium to long term. But Brown does not care about the medium to long term, he cares about next week at Crewe and Nantwich because if he loses the by-election there, he may be out of a job. So, hang the economy, my survival is more important. This leads Simon to say:
We must hope the electors of Crewe and Nantwich make this point forcefully next Thursday, and throw the bribe back in his face.
The only way to do that of course is to vote Conservative. Any other vote and Labour wins, and so Simon is finally getting with the programme. It is also an interesting sign. For the Conservatives to win a General Election they need people who are not natural supporters, like Simon, to decide that they are the best route to oust Labour. The signs are that many people have reached the same point in the road as Simon. Next he will be giving David Cameron some credit for getting the Conservatives into a potentially winning position. I wonder how long we will have to wait for that?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Racist Labour message on Local Party Website

For anyone who doubted the story about the racist Labour leaflet, here it is on the website of the Crewe and Nantwich Labour party. However, I bet that it won't be there very long, especially in the mainstream media pick up on it. To their credit, Labour activists on the Labourhome blog aren't too impressed either.

Unbelievable Labour By-election Leaflet


I lifted this from Guido, but it is so appalling that I couldn't but comment. The first two points are sheer class war. This leaflet has apparently gone out in the poorer parts of Crewe and what they are trying to sell to the worst off there is the idea that if someone is economically successful then they cannot be in politics. Of course it won't go out in Crewe's richer areas and this is from a party whose former leader has just bought a £3.5 million house. Labour don't really believe this stuff any more, but they think it will appeal to the narrow prejudice of a segment of the electorate and so they are happy to run with it. This is simply dishonest.

The next point is an interesting counterpoint to Labour's claims that crime is falling. Unless there is some particular crime wave in Crewe fuelled by specific local incompetence then they are again not saying what they believe and trying to convince that public safety has nothing to do with the Labour government. This is simply dishonest.

Then comes the direct lift from the BNP's approach to political campaigning. The 'foreign nationals' thing is a direct appeal to xenophobia, and of course they don't mention that everyone gets an ID card under Labour, not just foreigners. This is not just dishonest, this is reprehensible. Labour, the master non-racists, unless it increases their chances of winning a by-election when they are happy to take lessons from Nick Griffin.

The last point is just a flat-out lie. There is no Conservative policy to cut funding for schools and children's centres.

So, there we have it, vote Labour for lies and racism. No doubt this is what Gordon Brown calls listening and leading.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Conservatives lead by 26

The Sun is publishing a survey tomorrow that puts the Conservatives on 49% with Labour at 23% - a Conservative lead of 26%. This is being reported as the worst poll position for Labour since records began, and the second best Conservative poll position ever.

No doubt Simon Heffer will now criticise David Cameron.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Basildon Labour choses Lynda

Lynda Gordon is the new leader of the Labour group on Basildon Council. This is good news, and I had better explain why before she is removed by her colleagues for making me happy. Lynda is level-headed and a thoughtful speaker, who showed considerable poise during her stint as Chairman of the Council a few years ago. While I suspect that we are poles apart in political outlook, she does not strike me as the tribal Labour type who assumes that all Tories and their works are evil and that should make for a more constructive atmosphere at the Council, and a better standard of debate and scrutiny. While the narrow interests of the Conservative Party might have been served better if Labour had picked one of the more divisive candidates on offer, it would not have been better for the people of Basildon District if the second major party had been fronted by a foam-flecked ranter. So, while I wish her party a long stay in opposition, I also wish her good luck in her new role. She may also be the first woman party leader ever in Basildon's history, and that is worth noting as well.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who will lead Basildon Labour?

Some time before the local elections, Nigel Smith stepped down as the leader of the Labour group on Basildon Council. That was a bit odd, as a leader resigning when a ballot is imminent doesn't really help on polling day. Anyway, the elections are done, Labour was squeezed again, and their remaining Councillors need a new boss. Who will it be? There are a couple of people who could actually do the job, but it will be interesting to see if the winner is the one individual who is hotly tipped, but who would almost certainly be a disaster. Whoever it is, they have a number of challenges, not least to come up with a decent narrative for the Labour Party in Basildon District. I cannot figure out what they are actually for, and if I can't then I suspect much of the electorate has the same problem.

At the recent elections Labour scored 21% of the vote in Basildon, which underperforms the national share by 3 points. That is pretty bad, and does not augur at all well for the General Election and Angela Smith's seat. In fact, based on the Electoral Calculus prediction, Basildon and East Thurrock is heading Tory on an 8% swing from 2005. Two years to go though...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Brown does the TV Newsrooms

Gordon Brown was out and about today trying to put a brave face on disaster. Now I find it hard to be objective but, frankly, I found him a bit weird. As quoted on Sky News he said things like:
I want to show people that, everyday, I'm dealing with the challenges they face.
and
I've got to show people that I'm trying to solve the problems and understand the problems they face.
Note the language, it's like he is talking to himself about what he needs to do. Maybe he's repeating what his spin doctor advised him this morning or from some self-improvement tape where you repeat the mantras to become a better person, I don't know. What he wasn't doing was connecting with anyone. The contrast with Tony Blair, or most normal humans for that matter, was stark. I am beginning to see what Alastair Campbell meant when he described Brown as 'psychologically flawed'.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Heffer's not bitter

Simon Heffer's triumphal political analysis continues with a column entitled 'Gordon Brown must go to save Labour necks'. So far, so insightful, until you remember what he was saying on September 5th 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.
It is possible that the great intellect is simply parroting the received wisdom of the day? Yesterday the collective wisdom was that Brown was a genius so he wrote that. Today Brown is perceived to be a dithering incompetent so he writes that. Nice work if you can get it.

Simon, has not, however, wavered one iota from his dislike of David Cameron and so attempts to trash Conservative successes on the May 1st elections. His supposedly killer point is this:
The real significance of this election is the 65 per cent who didn't bother to vote. This is a time of economic difficulty and there is deep concern about the record of the Government: yet most people simply couldn't be fagged to take a view.

An opposition that wants to become a government needs to tap into, and mobilise, that vast disconnected group. For all the rejoicing in Tory central office, they shouldn't kid themselves that they have remotely done that yet.
Er...right. The turnout at these elections was pretty much the turnout that you expect for local elections. It was certainly consistent with the turnouts of the mid-90s that were a pretty accurate barometer of the eventual fate of the Major government. Criticising the Conservatives on the basis that they haven't managed to increase turnout at the election is the act of a man desperate to cling to a position that David Cameron would do better by running the sort of narrow right-wing agenda that actually only appeals to a very small fraction of the population. Face it Simon, the man has ignored your advice and he thrashed Labour by 20 points. You either have to admit that you were hopelessly wrong or try and pretend that the Conservatives have somehow still managed to fail. A bigger man might have gone for the first option.

May First in Pictures

This rather handy diagram came from Politics Home and was published before the May first elections as a way to gauge the relative success or failure of the three main parties:









In order to read it accurately you have to remember that the Conservatives gained 256 Councillors, Labour lost 331 and the Liberal Democrats gained 34.

Updated: The latest numbers are Conservatives gained 300 and Labour lost 434(!). Given these seats were last fought at the height of the Iraq debacle then this is extraordinary. The language in the Sundays will be interesting.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Basildon Votes Tory

The Conservatives took control of Basildon in 2003 and we have increased our representation in the years since. Last night was no exception as we held all of our seats and took yet another from Labour, giving us 29 Conservative Councillors against 10 Labour and 3 Liberal Democrats. Our continued electoral success is all the more heartening because the Conservative administration is committed to a programme of change for the District, some of which has proved quite controversial. It is also heartening because our victor in Vange ward, which has historically been a Labour seat, is only 21. Well done Luke Mackenzie, who has stuck to his task despite losing narrowly last year and being attacked by a national newspaper. In politics the people who matter are the voters, not journalists spinning on behalf of the Labour party.

The only bad thing about yesterday was that I have got Chickenpox, which has meant I wasn't there for election night. Perils of having a new immune system and having to rebuild childhood resistance to disease. Still, it did mean that I could savour the media coverage of what was a fantastic night for the Party. As I write Hazel Blears is spinning away that these elections will mean greater scrutiny on Conservative policies, which she thinks will be found wanting. Absolutely moronic. She can't really believe that more media coverage for the Conservatives would be bad for them, and if she thinks that the Shadow team are incapable of coping with more exposure then she is deluded. If this is all Labour could think of to say after what may be their worst night since the War then the sheer political incapacity of this government is clear.