Friday, 31 August 2007

New additions

I have added a few more blogs to my round-up as I aim for my optimum figure of 200. They are:

Thunder Dragon - Post Grad Thunder Dragon is also doing guest posts over at the Wardman Wire this week. He has been described as "one of the rising stars of conservative blogging".

Belittle England - A new community blog countering Tory claims that Britain is falling apart, set up by Alex Hilton (of Recess Monkey fame).

Miscellany Symposium - A very witty and enjoyable blog discussing anything and everything political (and more)

The Wilted Rose - A staunch pro-Cameron blogger gives the government a piece of his mind

I will be adding plenty more when Iain Dale's top 100 bloggers list is published to ensure I cover the cream of the crop! In the meantime, please keep letting me know of any great blogs you either author or read. I am especially after some top notch Labour blogs as the Tories are outnumbering you at the moment! All blogs from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome of course. The only criteria is I have to like them!

Time for a radical change?

After reading EU Referendum's post on "Wither Europe" today, I decided that my post over at the Wardman Wire would be why, when the EU has such a massive influence on the UK and there is overwhelming support for an EU referendum on the so called Treaty, are Labour still miles ahead in the polls. I question whether it is time to make some radical changes to our approach to electing a government.

We are a fickle lot, the electorate - but not in the way you might think. When it comes to changing our mind about issues and then blaming the government for taking a stance we no longer support we are as fickle as can be. Take Iraq - back in 2003 there was mass support for the war (though also those who opposed it, granted). Now it is in the same league as admitting you’re a complete loon to saying you think Iraq has been a good idea. Or the NHS - we all moan about it and say how terrible it is, but you are risking a public lynch mob if you suggest privatising it. Yet we, as an electorate, are amazingly conservative (will a little c, of course) when it comes to voting out a government. In fact, we have only done it once in 28 years! So why is this?

Famously, it was “the Sun wot won it” back in 1992. When Alastair Campbell took over as Blair communications chief back in 1994 he felt that it was at the top of the priority list to court the press and media, Labour did the unthinkable and became best friends with Rupert Murdock. Even more amazingly, there has been the recent bed-in between Paul Dacre at the Mail and Gordon Brown. And what are the biggest issues that the press love to bang on about? The environment, the Iraq war, education, crime and now the EU constitution. Remarkably Labour have a pretty poor record on all of these areas - but it doesn’t matter because they individually have little to no baring on an election outcome and even as a group don’t bring down governments very often.

Take the environment. The Government has signed Britain up to a commitment that 20% of our energy sources will be from renewables by 2020 yet everyone knows they will fail. It is the one area they have been comprehensively beaten by the Tories, yet it has made no difference to the polls. Take the Iraq war - you would have thought that a government that has made such a cock up of a war, borderline lied about taking us there and have taken an absolute daily beating over the whole affair would be in serious trouble. The polls say otherwise. Education is another area - “education, education, education”. Yet our kids are playing truant more than ever, there are allegations that have been pretty much proved that standards have dropped and the media, once again, have given the government an absolute bashing. No change in the polls though. Crime - violent crime including gun and knife attacks are on the rise. The figures are often botched, but the pressure from the media and the public perception on the state of crime in this country has never been worse. Still no change. The government had 24 hours to save the NHS, apparently. We’ve had so many health scandals recently I don’t where to start - MTAS, £12bn computer upgrades, superbugs, the list is virtually endless. No change in the polls. And now the EU constitution and the lack of a refrendum. Everyone wants one. Even Keith Vaz, Mr Europe himself, has called for one. Brown remains tight lipped. The Tories are desperately trying to get one, the media are demanding one. Surely this should be an issue - after all it is said that 80% of our laws come from Europe. No one seems to give a damn though.

So what does it take to have a change of government? Well, I have said many time before (stealing Clinton’s old saying) it’s the economy stupid and I stand by this. It is the single biggest factor in determining an election. What hope is there for an opposition party? The country really has to fall apart before they are taken seriously. I do not think it is healthy for a party to be in power for too long. The Tories went on for at least an administration too long and I fear Labour are heading the same way. I also am very much opposed to electoral reform - our system produces strong, effective government and drowns out extremist views. But I am starting to question this now in this day and age of centre ground politics and cross party consensus. Is it time we did the unthinkable and moved towards proportional representation? It may give the major parties more room to actually come up with opposition policies. Right now Labour are safe because there is no point risking a Tory government as they have little else to say than Labour - stick with what you know, it’s the British way. If the Tories or Labour head too far back to their grass roots (right or left), they will alienate too many people and be hammered in the polls. By trying to not offend anyone, the parties are not pleasing anyone. Taking a risk is no longer worth it. Unfortunately, it is also becoming stale. Time for a radical change?

The Poliblogs 31st August 2007

Hypocrisy wins

The picture on the left is the face of a cheat.

I'm outraged by the triumphant reaction to drug cheat Christine Ohuruogu's win. She should never have been allowed to compete in the first place.

Spectator’s Blog

Yes, First Minister

You know, there is an aspect of the new SNP administration to which insufficient attention has been paid. That is the role of the civil service.

From the very moment of his election as First Minister, Alex Salmond was adopted by the civil service. Greeted at the door of Queensberry House, he appeared to me to be palpably purring, just like the Executive car which whisked him up the hill to St Andrews House.

Blether with Brian

What did David Blunkett mean?

The Government response to David Blunkett's "must try harder" message on the EU constitution reform treaty is intriguing.

Ben Brogan

Tory members are unpersuaded by arguments for green taxation

In the most recent ConservativeHome survey we asked which tax you would like to be cut first. You chose inheritance tax but income tax wasn't far behind:

Conservative Home

Talkin' tough, doing something

Gun and gang crime presents us all with a stark choice: we can talk tough or we can act brave.

Dave Hill

My Two Cents...on welfare reform

One in five homes in Britain relies entirely on benefits. Not partially. Not getting a few bob here or there by way of tax credits. Entirely reliant on benefits. This is proof, as is proof were really needed, that Labour has failed to think the unthinkable on welfare reform – despite Frank Field having been appointed to do just thank in 1997.

Blaney’s Barney

Some Cheer For Cameron?

David Cameron hasn't had a bad first few days of the new season. On monday the Guardian opinion poll shoed that Labour's lead is dropping (though still a healthy 5%. On tuesday his Crime press conference of earned front page splashes in both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. From Wednesday overnight reviews by right-inclined commentators of his 4-against-1 BBC Newsnight interview are also predominantly that 'the boy done good'.

Adam Boulton

Labour’s YouGov lead down a touch to 8%

In the first of four major polling surveys that we will see in the next few days the internet pollster, YouGov, for the Daily Telegraph has the following shares with the changes on its last poll almost three weeks ago CON 33% (+1): LAB 41% (-1): LD 14% (nc). So the Tories will be a touch relieved that like ICM on Monday YouGov is showing a reduction in the Labour lead. Even so an 8% margin is a massive gap and would suggest a near landslide Labour victory if this was to be repeated in a general election.

Political Betting

BAA; More trouble ahead.

I have mentioned BAA recently, along with British Airways, as companies in difficult straits. The BBC reports today that BAA is now to shed 2000 odd staff.

It is well known in the industry that BAA has much corporate fat to lose.

City Unslicker

Theresa May MP: Back to business - and with the bit between our teeth

And the Conservative Party is getting back to business with the bit between our teeth. Throughout the summer, the Party’s policy commissions have been reporting, and the remaining reports are due soon. The commissions have brought fresh thinking to tough public policy questions on social justice, economic competitiveness, fighting global poverty, and security. Of course, not all of their proposals will end up as party policy, but the commissions have played an enormous role in the revitalisation of the Party’s generation of ideas.

Conservative Home

Is this why Dave is going to find it hard to win?

One of the features that I focus on when the detailed data from ICM and CR polls comes out is how votes are churning between the parties. Both firms ask how respondents voted last time and both present their data in a way that gives some clues.

The latest data from this week’s survey for the Guardian has some encouraging short-term news for the Tories but does raise the question about whether there is any chance at all of them being able to win.

Political Betting

Wither Europe?

To give him his due, David Cameron has been consistent in his calls for an EU referendum and, although his own profile on the issue could have been higher, the visibility of the Party has been quite high.

Arguably, therefore, if the referendum was a burning concern with the electorate, one might have thought that it would be reflected in the opinion polls, in increasing support for the Tories.

EU Referendum

Diverging agendas?

No matter what Gordon Brown may say, the main reason for keeping British troops in Iraq is to help the Americans, not the Iraqis.

James Denselow

Dave's game

On Newsnight, David Cameron looked sufficiently in command of the situation to be a plausible contender when election time comes.

Michael White

Redwood Warns Gummer over Policy Report

In an interview with the Sunday programme on GMTV John Redwood has warned John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith that “they need to steer a very careful course” when drawing up proposals for environmental policy in their Quality of Life Policy Report. He has also entered the debate about green taxes and airport expansion..

Iain Dale

Economist praises Clegg’s “impressive” immigration proposals

Earlier in the week, Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems’ shadow home secretary, set out in The Observer his thinking on what a liberal immigration policy should look like. In particular, he tackled head-on the issue of what to do about the estimated 600,000 immigrants living illegally in the UK:

Lib Dem Voice

My opinion is that I am not expressing an opinion

This whole blogging lark is funny when you've nailed your flag to a particular poll of political isn't it? Today there is a YouGov polls showing a eight point lead to Labour (and there was another two days ago that had it as five points). So how do I write about it?

Dizzy Thinks

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Olympic Role model or British Embarrassment

I have posted my latest blog entry over at the Wardman Wire...

Until yesterday you probably hadn’t heard of Christine Ohuruogu – I certainly hadn’t. It may be that you still haven’t! Christine Ohuruogu is our first female athlete to win a gold medal in a sprint track and field event for so many years hardly anyone can remember. Woo and yay for her – it is about time Britain had a female role model to look up to in the extra-ordinarily competitive world of sprinting. Only Paula Radcliffe can claim to have had any success in recent years for the female team (though the men aren’t doing much better – in fact this year they are doing worse). So let’s build her up and get the 2012 meddle haul up based upon success stories like Christine. Only there is a small problem…

Until just over three weeks ago Ms Ohuruogu was serving a 12 month ban from athletics for missing three – count them, three – drugs tests. Now rules is rules and if you miss a test you are presumed guilty and I can see no other way. She deserved her ban. What is most confusing is that she managed to miss three tests. An air of suspicion is surely going to hang over her for the rest of her career. Imagine if this was a Chinese or Russian athlete. We would be shouting foul play so loud they would hear us in Shanghai or Moscow. So why the difference just because she is an honest, plucky Brit? Now I don’t want to be the one to poor cold water over her achievement, but she was found guilty, 2012 Olympics or no 2012 Olympics, surely we can find a more clean cut role model than Christine Ohuruogu? The press are reporting the whole affair as some kind of redemption – as if by now winning we can all forget the past. But the fact that she has only been back for three weeks and already beaten the best the world has to offer only adds to the suspicion for me. Would we forget the past if say Ben Johnson had returned and started winning medals again against our own Linford Christie back in the 1990s?

Gordon Brown doesn’t seem to mind. He faxed her after the race (I know: faxed, how old fashioned is he?) with the words “You have made the whole of Britain proud and I now hope you can go on to win gold together in the relay.” Should we be ashamed of this hollow victory or should we be backing an outstanding achievement? As a massive supporter of all British athletes this one doesn’t sit too comfortably with me at all and I am in two minds as to whether she should be reinstated to the Olympic team.

The Poliblogs 30th August 2007

My Two Cents...on the prison officers' strike

Today Britain’s prison officers are staging what they are calling “an unofficial strike”. In fact it is an illegal strike. Less than half the members of the Prison Officers Association voted for strike action but they have walked out, leaving prisoners locked in their cells all day long.

Blaney’s Barney

History's hooligans

Apparently, young people are responsible for anarchy in the UK. But how different are they really from the yobs of the past?

Alastair Harper

Young Thugs

Look at the list of acts deemed to be anti-social, and you will see a dizzying range, including many things that you and I would classify as crimes - straightforward crimes. Joy-riding, raiding cars, taking drugs, smashing phone boxes: why are these lumped in with playing loud music or failing to curb the dog or playing games of football in inappropriate areas? Why do we need to call the police every time we see someone swearing loudly or scratching graffiti? The answer is simple. We call the police, because disapproval no longer works, and for very good reasons we have mainly lost the confidence to intervene ourselves.

Boris Johnson

Cameron’s intelligence crisis - part 1

This is the first of a series of posts over the next few days in which Ill be dismantling the Tory’s ‘mini manifesto’ on Law and Order, piece by piece, starting with its specific proposals and then finishing up with the proposed ‘Social Covenant’.

So lets kick things off with Cam’s plans for the future of Police stop and search powers.

Ministry of Truth

Goldsmith-Gummer report is headed for the recycling bin

I have a bit of good news for James (and Iain Dale). Zac won’t be listened to. I understand that of the six policy review groups, the favourites of the Cameroon leadership are the social justice and competitiveness report (by IDS and John Redwood respectively). The others are not considered to have much meat in them – and lots of gunk which will be discreetly spat out.

Coffee House

Strong Cameron on Newsnight

This could just be the effects of holiday-lag on my first full day back, but I thought David Cameron looked strong and in control during his appearance on Newsnight tonight (helpfully previewed on News 24 earlier).

Ben Brogan

Last night's Newsnight Special with David Cameron

being interviewed four-to-one by Gavin Esler, Michael Crick, Stephanie Flanders and, who was the fourth one? Oh yes, Mark Urban, was an underwhelming experience all round. Gavin Esler was typically tedious as he repeatedly tried to put the word 'swamping' into Cameron's mouth when discussing the record high levels of immigration, legal and illegal, into the UK over the last ten years.

Biased BBC

Cameron triangulates Labour on immigration

Lots of people are talking about the 45-minute interview with David Cameron on Newsnight which can be watched here. I watched it yesterday and I was quite impressed with the way he handled himself, and when Stephanie Flanders asked him about the married tax allowance thing his response was well handled.

Dizzy Thinks

Cameron on Newsnight : The farce of the Conservative part-time shadow cabinet exposed

David Cameron was showing his gift of the gab at its most elegant. However, each of the four journalists hit home with individual points which, although Cameron gave a smooth line of defence in each case, actually exposed serious weaknesses in his position.

Liberal Burblings

Can Cameron hold onto the centre-ground while talking about immigration?

Has Cameron done enough to ditch the Tory's 'nasty party' image that he can talk about core-vote issues without it scaring away the centrist voters?

Labour Home

When are Gord and Dave going to face Paxo?

Judging by the comments thread here last night most people thought that the Tory leader performed reasonably well in the first big set piece of the new political year - a long interview on Newsnight. He seems to have adjusted his style to reflect the new more sombre mood created by Gordon Brown and is looking a lot more formal.

Political Betting

David Cameron is indicating right but this is no lurch back to 2005

As I said on this morning's Today programme (at 7.13am if you want to listen), there has most certainly been a rebalancing of the Cameron project in recent days. The Conservative leadership has started talking again about all of the core vote issues - crime (particularly), immigration, Europe and (to a lesser extent) tax. The 'politics of and' that this website has long recommended - and was opposed by Oliver Letwin in a party conference fringe debate with me last October - is, for now, the organising principle.

Conservative Home

It is rocket science

Each year, it gets harder to keep up with developments in physics, chemistry and biology, so we won't get better scientists by setting easier GCSEs.

Tim Radford

Political parties – good or bad?

…. or why mavericks – even odious ones – make good MPs and bad mayors.

If one thing illustrates the potential benefits as well as the hazards of having strong political parties, it’s this whole Ken v Boris thing. It certainly illustrates the wrong-headedness of the concept of strong political mayors.

Never Trust a Hippy

The start of the Ministry of Justice's downfall?

It may not have been around for long but sadly the downfall of the Justice Department in the public's mind can start to be seen. Whilst it did not receive perhaps the coverage that it deserved, the release of a large number of prisoners in the first few days of Brown's Premiership signalled the start of the problems and today's strike action adds to the issues which surround public safely and law and order in the UK.


Brown and the Union Movement

The prime minister said he would "do nothing to put" economic stability or low interest rates at risk.

This is now the biggest test for Brown since taking the premiership. The Prime Minister will know what happened to Jim Callaghan's administration in 1979. Unions have the potential to break a government.

The Liberal Republican

Should we have an extra bank holiday (British national day) in November?

The influential think tank ippr is suggesting that Gordon Brown establish a British national day as an extra bank holiday on the Monday immediately after Remembrance Sunday in November.

Labour Home

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Political Predictions

In my second post on the Wardman Wire, I attempt to answer the questions posed by Adam Boulton today on his blog.

Today Adam Boulton has returned from his summer break and has begun blogging again. Now that the summer recess is coming to a close and the parties prepare for their conferences, it back to business in Westminster. With that, Boulton has posed a few questions, which I will attempt to make my predictions on. So here goes:

Will there be an early snap election?

I have written my views on when the next election will be back at the poliblogs. I just do not think Brown will go for one this year. While it would appear to make sense given his lead in the polls and the scope for “events” to take the toll in the future, I just think Brown will want to really put his print on his leadership before going to the polls. I also do not think he would want to be accused of opportunism by calling an early election. My money is on May or June next year – if I had to pick one, then I’d go for June.

Can David Cameron and the Conservatives get back in the game?

It depends what you mean by back in the game. If you mean can he close down the polls or even take the lead again, almost certainly he can. We have seen over the past few months how fickle the polls can be. But if you mean can Cameron win the game, i.e. an election, then that is a far longer shot. Read my post from yesterday to see why I do not think the Tories can win (unless there is a serious economic downturn).

Will the US or UK speed up troop withdrawals from Iraq?

I’m not sure anyone knows the answer to this – even Dubya himself. I think the Brits will stay there as long as the Americans can possible convince them to without it having a serious damage on Brown’s ratings. Don’t be surprised if a troop withdrawal announcement precedes a general election however. I think the UK will be gone before the US and given the US rhetoric on Iran I think they plan on being on the region for a while yet.

Will Gordon Brown be pushed into a referendum on the EU treaty?

No. I hate to say it, but I think he will fight this because he probably thinks he can not win it. Another reason to leave any election until next year too – though it is probably an issue that will blow the Tories wide open as well. I strongly back a referendum on the constitution treaty and I do hope I am wrong on this one.

Just how green are Cameron’s Conservatives (the Gummer/Goldsmith report is out next month)?

Green as it takes to look the greenest and they are wasting their time in my opinion. The environment will not win the next election. It will barely have an impact at all – in fact the Tories are more likely to trip over themselves if they talk too much about the environment as they will inevitably do something that the green lobby can highlight is very un-green. Unfortunately, it is all about taxation with regards to the green debate for the Tories. They are tax and spend like the Labour party but their stealth taxes will be hidden as green taxes.

Who’ll be the first ministerial casualty of the Brown government?

What a great question. There are two roles in the cabinet (now three) that have traditionally been poison chalices – the Home Office (and now also the Ministry of Justice) and Health. I think Johnson is safe for now as he is too respected a figure to go be forced out easily. He also has the luxury of being able to blame all the ills of the DH on he predecessors – particularly Hewitt who took a battering as Health Secretary. Jacqui Smith could well be up for the chop at some point and Straw isn’t unfamiliar with stepping down either. Peter Hain at the DWP would be easily pushed if (when) there was a crisis but my money is on Des Browne at Defence as the first to fall.

Crime, NHS, Schools, Defence - what are Labour’s spending priorities (the CSR is in October)?

The belated Corporate Spending Review will finally be published in a couple of months and it will be classic Brown – giving with one hand and taking even more with the other. I expect the sound bites and headlines to come for overhauls in crime and education – and still no word on crossrail…

Was August just a sneeze or has the UK Economy caught a serious chill?

I am no economist so have no idea. I suspect we are heading of a period of belt tightening, but it won’t be full blown recession… I hope!

Will it be Boris v Red Ken for London Mayor?

No question. And Ken is the hot favourite in my opinion and will win.

Is Brown the new Blair?

Brown has been desperate to get the word change in to just about every sentence and policy he as handed out since he took over, but he is as new labour as Blair and while he won’t be the showman he will be taking roughly the same route in terms of policy.

What do you think?

The Second Wardman Wire Posting

I have posted my second blog entry over at the Wardman Wire. Click here to have a read - I will be posting the full entry on the poliblogs later today...

The Poliblogs 29th August 2007

Could Prescott’s resignation signal an autumn election?

Feel free to pay tribute here to John Prescott who has announced he will not be standing at the next general election. He provided us with many hilarious headlines and politics would be dull without a few characters like him. He certainly had the gift of the gaffe.

Ellee Seymour

Birth of a counter-factual

What if Jim Callaghan had gone to the country in 1978? What if John Kennedy had lived? What if Tony Benn had become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party? What if John Smith had lived? They're all fun - because endlessly debatable - and all, ultimately, pointless. And we're about to live through our very own counter-factual. What if Gordon Brown had gone to the country in Autumn 2007?

Conservative Party Reptile

Is the worst over for Cameron?

The last few months have been pretty torrid for David Cameron. It all began with the grammars school row and its lowest point was probably two weeks ago when an opinion poll gave Gordon Brown a 10% lead. Along the way we have had the museums charging row and unexpectedly big defeats in two parliamentary by-elections. A majority of Tory members no longer expect Mr Cameron to be Prime Minister after the next General Election.

But is the worst over for Mr Cameron? There are reasons for hope.

Conservative Home

Ramping up the Campaign for an EU Treaty Referendum

It's good to see David Cameron keeping up the pressure on Gordon Brown for a referndum on the EU Constitution Treaty. The Telegraph reports that 120 Labour MPs are belling on this and Cameron has a well argued article in The Sun this morning. However, the campaign launched by the Tories today for a referendum is less than snappy.

Iain Dale

Independence meeting? Not quite

And so the opposition parties meet at Holyrood this afternoon. The agenda? How to review the powers and functions of the Scottish Parliament - short, well short, of independence. Here’s what I think they’ll come up with. A formal parliamentary mechanism to consider and consult.

Blether with Brian

Fighting back Tories announce multi-dimensional programme to tackle crime

I've just returned from a press conference given by David Davis, David Cameron and Nick Herbert. At the event they launched a booklet summarising 'How a Conservative Government will tackle Britain's crime crisis'. Here are the main measures included in the booklet:

Conservative Home

Cameron enjoys best ever headlines but row over green taxation looms

Communications director Andy Coulson has helped the leadership to finally craft a message that resonates with the Conservative Party's natural supporters whilst still speaking to the wider nation's anxieties about crime and social breakdown.

Conservative Home

Carbon Offsetting - Use your Heads...

An interesting piece in The Times argues that carbon offsetting isn't all it's cracked up to be. What it shows to me is how much of a grey and undeveloped area the 'green conscience' market really is.

Chris K

I Think it was Gummer who ate the Burger - Not His Daughter

John Gummer should have been pensioned off years ago. Indeed, I thought he had been. Remember the picture of feeding his daughter Cordelia a burger to prove that they were safe from Mad Cow Disease? Hers may have been CJD free, but if press reports are correct, his policy proposals on taxing airlines out of the country make me wonder if the burger he was eating wasn't somehow contaminated.

Iain Dale

Gummer and Goldsmith: 'sandal-wearing green crusaders'

Roger Helmer MEP has written a stinging attack on his blog about the leaked details of the Quality of Life report from John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith. In his response he calls Gummer and Goldsmith "sandal-wearing green crusaders" which made me chuckle. He's also given a response to Tory Radio, and I see that Iain is not best impressed either.

Dizzy Thinks

Weird Science

In their pathetic, failed attempt to stem the tide of crime that is, to the despair of its citizens, now engulfing this country, Labour have increasingly put their faith in the science of genetics. As a consequence, this country now maintains the largest DNA database in the world – much of it taken from innocent people who would rather it were destroyed.

David Jones MP

Peter Franklin: Is our society really broken?

Is our society broken, as David Cameron says it is? The Independent thinks not, fretting only that “repression and authoritarianism will further demonise disaffected young people and drive them away from a life of purpose.”

Conservative Home

Are the public more liberal than you’d think on crime?

There is a widespread perception that the public are very draconian on law and order: hang ‘em, flog ‘em, lock ‘em up and throw away the key. In one sense they certainly are. Asked in this month’s ICM poll if sentences passed by the courts are too soft, too harsh or about right people overwhelmingly think the courts are not handing down harsh enough sentences. 77% think too soft, 18% about right and only 2% too harsh.

Political Report

The collapse of public trust in the police

In my Mail on Sunday column on August 19th, I made some strong criticisms of the modern British police. I asked if anyone would notice if they were all abducted by aliens. (The excellent 'Policeman's Blog' responded by asking if the police would notice if all the criminals in Britain were abducted by aliens).

Peter Hitchens

A few empty soundbites

Peter Riddell in The Times this morning seems to agree with Tory Diary that the worst is over for Cameron. This is not least because of his Party's stance on the EU referendum, where Labour ministers, "have appeared to be reacting, rather than setting the agenda."

EU Referendum

Ratifying reform

The proposed EU reform treaty is a good basis for championing social values in Europe and should be wholeheartedly supported.

Richard Corbett

A carbon neutral Britain

The Liberal Democrats have launched new proposals to make Britain zero carbon by 2050. With these policies we will be the first major British party to map out the route to a carbon neutral Britain.

Richard Baum

Jam The Fuel of Tomorrow, say Lib Dems

THE Liberal Democrats have unveiled radical plans to reduce Britain's carbon emissions, including a new generation of cars that unleash the remarkable power of jam. The party, popular with academics and mental patients, has declared war on petrol and vowed to hunt down and destroy the last drop of the world's favourite fuel by 2020.

The Daily Mash

Has Cameron finally reverted to a core votes strategy?

These are the front pages of the Telegraph and Mail this morning and show support for the Tory leadership that hasn’t come from these papers in a long long time.

The Mail reports the moves in glowing terms and notes that “the focus on crime will delight Tory MPs who have been desperate for their leader to unveil concrete policy proposals on what they see as the leading concern for many voters.” Its main leader appears under the headline - “At last, Mr. Cameron is talking like a Tory”.

Political Betting

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Ignore the polls; it’s the economy stupid!

I have posted my first blog entry on the Wardman Wire. You can see it here - or read on below...

The past few months have seen the opinion polls embark on something of a rollercoaster. First Cameron was flying high with a 10 point lead, then over night Brown has turned the tables and Labour were flying high with the 10 point lead. Bizarrely, not only the parties themselves got carried away with these polls, but the media did too – even the so called “broadsheets”. What they have failed to do is look behind the figures and realise the old saying – “lies, damn lies and statistics”.

When the Tories were flying high in the polls earlier this year, people looked at me like I had just told them that the Earth is actually flat after all and the moon really is made of cheese as I said that I still felt Labour would win the next election. I don’t blame them either. Looking at the stats, they were consistently polling about 9-10% ahead of Labour and the media was all talking about the fresh faced boy Cameron, the war in Iraq and the forthcoming dour Scot, Gordon Brown as PM. Then that dour Scot became PM, the Tories started talking about Grammar schools and taxation and suddenly Cameron’s position as leader was in question and the Tories may never be in a position to form a government again… apparently. Then again this weekend, ICM produce a poll that narrows the Labour lead to 5%. Conservative Home believe it would be even less in the aftermath of the Liverpool shootings. The Brown Bounce is settling down and the polls should respond accordingly – that is to say we should get a better view of what the electorate think in the coming months. The best snap shot we have had since the previous election. The truth is these polls are virtually meaningless when it comes to predicting the next election result. They are indicators of what the general public think on a given day. Hence with Iraq and Blair in charge, the Tory lead was inflated. When Brown took charge, the positive news coverage and Tory infighting inflated the Labour lead. So what we read in to these polls, if anything, about what will happen? A fair bit, I suggest – and it doesn’t make good reading for the Tories.

When the Tories were polling their 10 point lead back in the first part of 2007, I was not even slightly convinced that it meant anything but a Labour victory, even if there was a poll that day. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, a general election grossly favours the incumbent. Power has changed hands at Westminster five times in the past half century. Each time, the victorious party, coming to power from opposition, has scored at least 50% at some point in the previous parliament. The Tories has only just about managed 40%. Prior to 1997, for example, Labour was polling a massive 67% with some pollsters – yet still only got 44% on the big day. This is probably largely because, when it comes down to it, the electorate stick with what they know. I think this will be even more true today than it has ever been given the subtleties between the two major parties.

Secondly, the system is massively weighted towards Labour at present – even with the new boundary changes. For the Tories to even think about forming an overall majority they need to be polling in the double figures ahead of labour. If they can only just about manage this at a time of there being a lame duck PM, the Iraq war and negativity towards the coronation of a new Scottish PM, then they are unlikely to be able to pull anything out of the bag on the day. The best the Tories can hold out for is a hung parliament – though they will still need in the region of a 5 point lead to even get this.

The only time the Tories have consistently led in the polls prior to earlier this year was way back in 1990 when Major took over as PM. He was flying high in the polls for three years. Then came Black Wednesday and Labour haven’t looked back since. It’s not a change of leader, or foreign policy or the environment that wins elections; it’s the economy, stupid. In my humble opinion, Labour will be on course for a fourth election win in the next 12 months and nothing can stop them. Except the economy.

Guest Blogging at the Wardman Wire

Matt Wardman has asked a few bloggers to do a few posts for him while he is on holiday this week. He has kindly asked me along as one of the "chosen few".

When I finally sort out a few things that need doing, I will put my first post up there - I will let you know when I do.

In the meantime, take a look. The other guest bloggers are:
There are also contributions from a practising Health and Safety officer.

The Future of Poliblogs

Iain Dale is reporting that he is putting the finishing touches to this year's political blogging guide. When the book is published I will be adding to my list of blogs that I monitor to ensure that all the top 100 are included. I will also add one or two more that I think are worthy of a daily read and taking out a couple that I presently monitor (mainly because they have packed it in).

The number of blogs I am looking to monitor will be around 200. Any more and I simply will not be able to keep up. So, if between now and the end of next month you have come across any good blogs that you think I should be reading let me know and I will put them in the mix. Once I have max'ed out at 200 I will be more ruthless in who I monitor and who I don't monitor - only the form bloggers will make the cut.

As always, the final decision rest with me!

The Bank Holiday Poliblogs 25-27th August 2007

We must have the debate on voting reform

Gordon Brown must resist attempts to bury a long-awaited review of our electoral system.

Malcolm Clark

CCTV in addicts’ homes?

I nearly fell off my chair while listening to Five Live a few minutes ago. The reason? A Scottish ‘drug expert’ has recommended putting CCTV in the homes of drug addicts to protect their children.

The Golden Side of the Moon

Pure, dead brilliant?

Hey, what’s so bad about trying to be the best wee country in the world? I rather liked being greeted by the slogan when I arrived back at a Scottish airport.

Blether with Brian

With regard to ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees.

I for one think that the Tax Payers’ Alliance research in to the phenomenon of what have been termed ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees is welcome. It got a mixed reception, but it is telling that many of the favorable comments on their website/blog come from academic staff at the ‘institutions’ listed.


Labour’s ICM lead now 5%

It’s multi-Gordons once again this morning but only half the number that accompanied the last poll, YouGov’s 10% lead, and one less than when the pollster, ICM, last carried out a survey two weeks ago.

Political Betting

ICM August Poll

ICM’s August poll for the Guardian has Labour’s led broadly steady at 5 points. The headline figures with changes from the last ICM poll, conducted for the Sunday Mirror, are CON 34%(+1), LAB 39%(nc), LDEM 18%(nc). Since bank holiday weekends are notorious for producing weird and wonderful samples, this poll was actually conducted in the middle of last week.

Polling Report

Labour lead down to 5% before social breakdown crisis

An ICM poll for today's Guardian puts Labour 5% ahead. Labour's lead is down 1% on a fortnight ago but the overall ratings of the parties are very stable. Most importantly, most of the fieldwork (22nd and 23rd August) was completed before the Liverpool shooting and the Conservative Party's sure-footed response to that tragic event. The last few days have seen the Conservative Party acting as a united and effective team with David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, Nick Herbert, Michael Howard and David Cameron himself all playing vital and impressive roles.

Conservative Home

Was Gordon's 10 point lead a blessing in disguise for Dave?

John Rentoul points out in a typically sharp column in today’s Independent that Gordon Brown has benefited from the low expectation surrounding his arrival at Number 10. There had been so much said about Brown’s weaknesses that the commentariat had almost forgotten about his strengths and totally underestimated how adept Brown would prove at turning "his pathologies into assets.”

Coffee House

If you can keep your head...

Listening Gordon? There is an Autumnal snap to my stride as Cameron remorselessly closes the gap to a mere 5% in the ICM Poll this weekend. Consider the old Scotty side kicks position. As David Cameron said, no-one was going to take a man who has managed to remove Blair after unprecedented electoral success, lightly ,but how do he do it . He did it by being immensely more powerful within the Labour Party .Blair’s power was in the country and when he sold that for Iraq he was finished.


How Can We Address Inner City Gun Crime?

David Cameron has made a powerful speech this morning on gang and gun crime and the breakdown of communities. He talked about the terrible murder of Rhys Jones and called for a new "social covenant" between individuals and the state. He said: "What his parents said yesterday, when they spoke of their loss of their boy, of their child, and what he meant to them, was so powerful and moving."

Iain Dale

David Davis accuses Home Office of 'cover-up' on gun crime

Given that the BBC's own graph showed the reality of firearms crimes (excluding airguns) whilst maintaining that gun crime "overall" is down, it really doesn't surprise me that David Davis has written to Jacqui Smith pointing out that the Government is basically lying about the state of firearms crimes, and in particular firearms homicide.

Dizzy Thinks

Tilting at Windmills

I posted a couple of days ago about people coming up with simplistic responses to complex problems, such as that of gun crime. Well, Tory blogger Dizzy has decided to take me for task for it. Dizzy says….

Bob Piper

Davis blasts Labour on gun crime

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has penned a short article for today's News of the World entitled 'Act Tough And Beat This Evil'

Conservative Home

Another day, another rant

Trawling through the Sunday newspapers, as one does, I was particularly struck by the title of Portaloo's (as he is known in Private Eye) piece in The Sunday Times

Headed, "Guns, Europe... the more vital the topic the sillier Brown gets" it seemed at least worth a look, to see what the great sage had to say on the subject which is ostensibly our raison d’être.

Whatever interest one might have had in his words, however, came screeching to a halt on confronting this paragraph:

EU Referendum

Guns, Europe...the more vital the topic the sillier Brown gets

Gordon Brown’s responses to the failed terror attacks, the floods and foot and mouth disease left him looking stronger. But his reaction to the death of Rhys Jones, the latest young victim of teenage gang killers, makes the prime minister look merely foolish.

Michael Portillo

No Time for Spin

Jacqui Smith's career as Home Secretary got off to a promising start. I was present in the House when she made her statement on the Glasgow airport terrorist attack; she came across as calm and self-assured. I was reasonably impressed.

David Jones MP

Graeme Archer: London-ness and Andrew Boff - How to beat Livingstone

I was going to write about Iris Murdoch and Social Responsibility this week, but the media frenzy about the London Mayor seems to be heating up, and the esteemed Editor suggested I might like to try something new, like, ooh, why not write about politics? I said: Have you gone completely insane? But he meant it, apparently. So here goes: my four point plan to end Ken Livingstone’s career.

Conservative Home

Brown faces rebellion of 120 MPs

According to this morning's Telegraph, Gordon Brown is facing hs first rebellion by the back benches over the new EU Treaty which, apart from the Government, everyone else in the EU is acknowledging is pretty much the same treaty that was rejected by the French and Dutch.

Dizzy Thinks

A fate worse than debt

If the UK's current level of debt-fuelled consumption is unsustainable then we are in trouble - and must consider the alternatives.

Mark Braund

China's threat to Russia

Vladimir Putin is worrying too much about relations with the west; he should watch his back in the east.

Andrei Piontkovsky

A crisis of conscience

Can a caring society exist in a market economy? A new book suggests the values of social consciousness have been steadily eroded.

Mark Braund

Are Labour's Seats Now Becoming Hereditary?

Prescott will stand down as an MP at the next election. In other poorly kept news, the Pope is apparently Catholic and also bears occasionally defecate in woods.What has intrigued me though is all the media speculation about Mr Prescott wanting his son to be the next MP in his Hull seat. Since when did Labour seats become heriditary?

Kerron Cross

What should be done about illegal immigrants in the UK?

Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes had an article in Liberator magazine recently outlining the policy proposals they will be putting to the party’s autumn conference. That article is online, and there is also a flavour of the plans in today’s Independent:

Lib Dem Voice

500,000 incorrect records on DNA database

I am trying to decide whether we should be worried or pleased about this report from the Independent on Sunday:

Over 500,000 names on the DNA database are false, misspelt or incorrect, the Government has admitted...

Liberal England

What is the point of the Fabian Society?

The Fabian Society has done a poll on what people believe differing professions should earn. From this, they conclude, that professional footballers should earn £62,000 a year. Well what an pointless piece of research that is. My Guess, although it is part of a larger report, this fact was picked out to get the report some press coverage. however, to my mind it undermines what must be in the rest of their report.

Norfolk Blogger

Channel 4 - Cameron was right on NHS closures

Channel 4, not normally noted as any great supporter of the Conservtaive Party, has run an interesting piece in which they independently assess the threat to hospital up and down the country. Surprisngly they conclude that Cameron is justified to claim that they face closure.

Little’s Log

TfL Seek Metronet Control

It's been announced that Transport for London (TfL), the capital's transport management body, has lodged a formal Expression of Interest with the PPP Administrator of the two Metronet companies, BCV and SSL, in order that it may take control of the companies on a temporary basis.

Mayor Watch

All conspiracy theories are alike

Here's Robert Fisk in Saturday's Independent: "I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11." You know what's coming, right down to the defensive protest "I am not a conspiracy theorist".

Oliver Kamm

What is the point of blogging?

Why do we blog? Does it serve any purpose? Is it “killing our culture” as some say, is it a “parasitic” medium as others do, or is it the promised land? It is the latter of course; allow me to explain why.

Pickled Politics

Timid Tories

John Redwood's on The Telegraph explaining how the (very) modest tax cuts being proposed can be paid for… We'll never actually get to a lower tax burden unless we have a smaller State. This isn't just about how efficiently some tasks are currently undertaken: it's about whether some tasks should be undertaken at all. Again, it's not just about cutting out nonsenses like ID cards, of the NHSW Spine, things that clearly are a) not needed and b) aren't going to work anyway.

Tim Worstall

Boris Johnson set to win Tory nomination by landslide

Later this morning the London Evening Standard will report a ConservativeHome survey of 351 London Tory members and supporters which shows overwhelming support for Boris Johnson.

Conservative Home


Apologies, one and all, I have been away for the long weekend and so I have be lacking on my poliblog duties. Rest assured, I will delivering a Bank Holiday bumper edition later this morning...

Friday, 24 August 2007

Wardman Wire - Free Ad Space Competition

Matt Wardman, over at The Wardman Wire, is looking for some good designs for banners for his websites; in return he'll I’ll give you 5000 impressions of advertising banners for your blog on his popular site for the winning designs.

More info here.

The Poliblogs 24th August 2007

Why we should get rid of inheritance tax

I am fortunate enough to have attracted an extremely well argued response to my inheritance tax column. It's by Tom Freeman on his blog Freemania.

He accepts my argument that passing money between the generations is a useful activity, and likes my analogy with the environment (our children inherit the earth). But then he makes the entirely reasonable point that while everyone enjoys the environment only some people (a very small number) will enjoy inheriting my estate.

Daniel Finkelstein

Labour in Hull East: family business?

Coronations are one thing. A hereditary monarchy is another. The Guardian website follows up a story in the Independent this morning, announcing that John Prescott is likely to step down as MP for Hull East at the next election.

The House of Lords is likely to beckon for Chipolata Boy, a one time trade union militant. But it was the concluding paragraph that caught my eye:

Dave’s Part

AGW as pseudoscience

It's easy to understand why climate alarmism is attractive to politicians; it represents a complete excuse to save their voters, and interfere with every aspect of their lives in the process. But it might be a mistake to think they buy the arguments. Their support for most things hinges on a perception of what will be a successful electoral strategy, and little else. In Cameron's case at the moment, nothing else.

Freeborn John

A model friend

Gordon Brown must be ambitious in building a good relationship between Britain and Germany - together they can take Europe in a positive direction.

Martin Kettle

The real lesson of the Tories' campaign on hospital closures

The Times reports that the Tories' hospital campaign "was in disarray last night". One can pontificate on whether the campaign was the right point of attack (no), whether the mistakes are serious (in credibility terms, yes), and whether the media's reporting is biased (maybe, but it didn't half invite the criticism). But those aren't the main points. The main lesson is that the Tories are sadly lacking in critical faculties.

Picking Losers

More blunders over bogus Tory health list

The Tories continue their hilarious attempt to find hospitals which are closing A&E departments. This evening a researcher apologised for claiming the maternity unit at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital was to be cut. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust e-mailed Mr Cameron's office asking for a correction and saying the claims had upset staff.

Ridiculous Politics

SexyBritain: Tory viral marketing... or nothing of the sort?

Have the Conservatives really commissioned a viral marketing campaign which uses mobile footage of a drunken girl falling over to highlight the failings of Labour's Britain?

Chris K

Gordon Brown - Pull Your Finger Out!

Gordon Brown has promised intensive action and tougher enforcement of the law in areas with a gang violence problem. He also promised to crack down on the sale of alcohol to under-18's and that he would put more police on the streets. Well it's about time, but are these just more of Labour's empty gestures? reacting to the newly announced Conservative policy. If Brown had mentioned supporting the family unit, you could have believed that he was reading from David Cameron's notes. Labour have let the country get to this pathetic state. Violent kids own the streets, it's adults who are now afraid to go out alone.

Daily Referendum

The thin blue line

It was entirely predictable that Gordon Brown would reject the Unions' call for an EU referendum. And indeed he did, predicting with a casual insouciance that a trade union rebellion on the issue would not succeed.

This he did after a cosy love-in with chancellor Angela Merkel at No 10, followed by a happy little interlude as the pair rushed off to Wembley Stadium to watch the England v Germany football friendly.

EU Referendum

An oil stain on London

Ken Livingstone's deal with Caracas shows just how much the London mayor really cares about social justice.

Angie Bray

Andrew Bridgen: Businesses desperately need Redwood's policies

If John Redwood's recommendations for reducing the regulatory burden on British business are adopted as Conservative policy and enacted in Government, we could expect to hear a collective sigh of relief from the business community. Many politicians have talked about reducing regulation and cutting red tape, and here for the first time we have well thought out, researched measures to actually deliver it.

Conservative Home

A tale of two Johns: Redwood good, Gummer less good

After John Redwood’s excellent report on the economy, we move on to John Gummer’s “Quality of Life” report. It threatens to undo all Redwood’s good work and tax reductions, by adding new “green” taxes. Let’s leave aside the growing doubts on the alarmist climate scenario. Even if you buy the CO2/climate story, a few green taxes will have a trivial effect on global CO2 emissions, while doing significant economic damage. As a recent letter-writer to the press put it: the Tories must decide whether they’re low-tax free market economists, or high-tax socio-environmental meddlers.

Roger Helmer MEP

Gun control - neither the US nor the UK model works

In the immediate aftermath of another shocking shooting in the UK the cries will probably go up for stronger gun laws, and stronger laws against violent crime.

John Redwood

Anarchy in Britain

I have just watched one of the best and most sensible debates I can remember on Newsnight, concerning the topic Anarchy in Britain. Emily Maitlis started the proceedings with an interview with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who when compared with the panel that held the live debate that followed, revealed how completely out of touch and clueless the government is on the issue.

The Waendel Journal

“It’s going to take more than a hug to stop the hoodies.”

Arthur Ma takes a look at "Acceptable Behaviour Contracts" and their effect on the U.K.'s crime rate.

18 DS

Theresa May MP: Youth crime - our approach

“When stray bullets hit the pram but missed my son, I realised there was a gap in the market for products to protect babies in today's increasingly violent society"

This is a quote taken from an American mother who has set up a company selling bullet proof buggies. The £300 buggy, billed as "the ultimate in style, comfort and extreme combat protection" has already sold out in the US.

Conservative Home

Government by numbers

So how has it been for you? The glorious new dawn. The path to enlightenment. Come on, you know, the first 100 days of the SNP in power.

According to Nationalist Ministers, Scotland is “smarter, greener, healthier, wealthier, fairer, safer and stronger”.

Blether with Brian

I want to dress like Gwen Stefani, says Cameron

That's Samantha, not David.

Samantha Cameron tells Harper’s Bazaar magazine in the US that she has secret dreams of dressing like Gwen Stefani, who she says is her ‘alter ego’. But Samantha says she couldn’t afford all her clothes as she did not have ‘huge amounts of spare cash’ to spend on designer clothing. Dream on, millionaire.

Ridiculous Politics