Lower the Last Red Flag
The proposal for a Grand Committee dealing with English and Welsh affairs and excluding Scottish -seated Westminster MPs from the vote is not enough. It relies on third readings being nodded through by the entire United Kingdom Commons as a constitutional practice - and constitutional practice has been shredded under NewLabourNewTwighlight , we have even a Lord Chancellor who sits in the Lower House not the Lords - and can never be relied upon again.
England, Scotland and voting
If you set fire to your house, you can't blame the firemen for getting your carpet wet when the try to put it out. Labour's attempts to divide and conquer have left us with an appalling political mish-mash. Our relationship with Scotland is becoming increasingly strained, somehow both the Scots and the English feel hard done by and the sibling rivalry could ultimately become attempted fratricide.
The English Question
And there’s more. Also at the weekend, it was suggested that the Conservatives are set to favour Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s suggested answer to the West Lothian question. Sir Malcolm apparently feels that there is something lacking in the customary Labour Ministerial reply which, to paraphrase, is: “Go away and stop asking such irritating questions.”
England: the Tories’ new EU?
I don’t understand David Cameron. He had Gordon Brown on the ropes by doing and saying nothing, now he has declared his hand and it’s only taken a day for two Conservative MPs to come out in opposition to his preferred plan. The Democracy Task Force’s solution could be in disarray before it’s even published.
Thank Alex almighty, we'll be free at last!
In pushing for a referendum on devolution, the SNP is helping pave the way for an independent Scotland.
A Bad Day To Bury Bad News
It's the end of the parliamentary year today. Traditionally the time when awkward announcements are slipped out by the government, in the hope that reporters are so snowed under by press releases, that any particular item does not get much exposure. But so far the recent run of ill luck is continuing for the Brown government.
So our clueless "government" has suddenly found another 300,000 economic migrants working in Britain. The news broke while the Immigration Minister, the brainy but lightweight Liam Byrne, was being interviewed on C4 News. He was giggling his way dismissively through Dave Cameron's long overdue pledge to cut immigration substantially, and he was completely blind-sided.
Gove Gouges Gordon
There is much excitement in Tory ranks today about a speech Michael Gove has just given to the Bow Group on Labour in the 21st Century. Gove is a rising star of the Shadow Cabinet; expect to hear some of his attack lines on Gordon Brown again and again in the coming months. Below, all in direct quotes, is potted version of what he had to say.
Immigration: damned if you do; damned if you don’t
David Cameron has stepped into what has become a political minefield. To even broach the subject of immigration apparently renders the Conservative Party as odious as the BNP, yet what credible party of government can possibly leave the subject unattended? The UK is an island, with limited land, limited resources, finite housing, and finite public services. It is absurd to pretend that an annual net population increase of 200,000 can be sustained, especially if that increase – 2 million every decade – brings with it traditions, religion or other cultural manifestations and beliefs which are at variance with those of the United Kingdom.
We need a referendum on the whole sausage, not a slice of it
Would you be happy to see our MPs voting against the only EU referendum that’s on the table? It's the sort of question which brings a thin film of sweat to one's brow. But I have to be honest. Yes, I would be happy for our MPs voting against a referendum on a minor revising treaty. It’s nuts. But I agree, such a move would be the political equivalent of sticking one’s head in a gas oven - but sometimes you have to stand up for the truth.
How proud am I of Vince Cable today?
Oh, very! I am grinning with pride and have been since I heard that Vince was going to be boycotting the Saudi Dictator’s visit to the UK! I remember years and years ago, sitting in an 'International Relations Theory' lecture and learning for the first time about the two different paradigms of nation state behaviour in an international setting. It is soo good to be part of a party that actually puts their commitment to internationalism into practice!!
Like it or not defence policy must be debated again
Our current so-called ‘Trident’ policy is not a fudge. It is an acid drop, and we need to suck on it. That includes the current leadership candidates. The implications for our policy are clear. We voted in Parliament to delay Vanguard renewal (and were defeated). We now have an obligation as a party to carry out the clearly implied next stage of the agreed policy. That is, to debate now the position the UK should take at the upcoming negotiations and bring forwards firm recommendations. That is the acid logic of our position.
ComRes data: the biggest shift has been LAB>CON
Whenever a new poll comes out now the standard explanation from Labour observers is to observe that much of the change that has seen the Tories move above a 40% share in six consecutive surveys has been the result of Lib Dems switching. Once a replacement for Ming is in place, it is argued, then the Tories will decline. We saw that overnight with the Independent’s ComRes survey that had with changes on mid September - CON 41%(+7): LAB 33%(-4): LD 16%(+1). Yet looking at the detailed data the biggest move to the Tories has not been from the leaderless Lib Dems but from Labour.
ComRes gives the Conservatives an 8 point lead
A ComRes poll for the Independent tomorrow has topline voting intentions, with changes from their last poll, of CON 41%(+7), LAB 33%(-4), LDEM 16%(+1). In amongst the flurry of polls we’ve had over the last two months ComRes haven’t polled since mid-September, back before conference season began, so missed out on all of the Labour surge after their conference and the Conservative recover after theirs. The changes in this poll are across the whole of the party conference season and the non-election annoucement (one might well think this gives us a far better picture than pouncing on all the ups and downs in the last six weeks’ of polls. Maybe it does, but given the speculation over a possible general election polls during conference were inevitable this year).
What's this Bill of Rights and Duties for?
After reading all the articles about Gordon Brown's new Bill of Rights and Duties (or is it Responsibilities?), I decided I had better go and read both his speech and the more detailed follow up from Jack Straw. I'm still none the wiser. Matthew d'Ancona might have been impressed but I wasn't. Sure, Gordon name-checked enough political philosophers to make up an undergraduate reading list but he didn't give a clear description of what he actually plans to do.
Is this the beginning of the end for Labour?
The Tory poll surge continues, the Foreign Secretary has gone freelance and Gordon Brown's authority is waning by the day. But who could have predicted that Brown would "make a better prime minister than Cameron, but that it may not prove enough to win him the next election."