Tories should focus on own policies
The Conservatives are in danger of becoming cocky and overconfident. Yesterday’s focus by David Cameron on the non-general election of November 1 exposed the Tories’ own shortcomings as much as the Government’s many weaknesses. That is apart from the irony of celebrating the cancellation of an event which Tory leaders never wanted, and which was a tactical coup for them to have halted.
If we count every vote, then every vote should count
Polly Toynbee makes a great case for electoral reform on CiF. I’ve changed my mind about lots of things over the years (actually I haven’t), but I’ve never swerved from a desire to see some form of proportional representation in UK national elections. 20 years living and voting in the safest Conservative seat* in the UK can do that to you. My preference is for the Alternative Vote + - as dreamed up by Roy Jenkins and recommended in the commission he headed in 1998. It goes like this:
Conservatism vs libertarianism
As the government’s favourite policeman fights for his job in the face of mounting pressure to quit (as a New Labour placeman to his fingertips, it’s entirely typical that he insists on hanging on by them), the Telegraph fills some space on its website with an off-the-peg "have your say" page which asks, "Do you trust the police to keep you safe?". There are 222 comments at time of writing this, and I would estimate that answers in the negative comprise at least 95% of the total.
Let’s face it, we’ve lost…
In four months time, the House of Commons will ratify the Lisbon Treaty; A treaty that creates an EU president, a high representative for foreign affairs, and a treaty that pushes majority voting into somewhere between 45 and 70 new policy areas. Then there’s the ‘ratchet clause’, which could see treaties revised and amended without an inter-governmental conference. If, like me, you don’t like the sound of that, tough.
Kelly caught red handed
Ruth Kelly has issued a statement "unreservedly" apologising for misuse of her Parliamentary "communications allowance", a £10,000 a year grant which is turning out to be little more than a propaganda slush fund. You can read the details in the Mail on Sunday here. By rights the revelation that a Cabinet minister has confessed to what might be described as "sharp practice" should provoke a sharp intake of breath. Gordon Brown re-wrote the Ministerial Code in July, "to make sure we maintain the high standards the British people have a right to expect from us". Precisely.
So was Enoch Powell right?
The BBC, ever keen to attack the Tories, joyfully reports today that a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Nigel Hastilow, is set to be carpeted for saying Enoch Powell was “right” on immigration. Hastilow, PPC for Halesowen & Rowley Regis, wrote in a local newspaper:
16-18 Year Olds To Be Kept In School
I'm a little torn on this. You see something in my gut tells me that it's just wrong to keep people in education against their will. Of course we do it every day, up and down the country children will tell their parents every morning that they don't want to go to school. As I type plenty of kids are bitterly angry that they are cooped up in a classroom rather than running around in the park. Hell I'm grumpy and angry that I have to go to work in a few minutes rather than being allowed to sit on my sofa all day reading books.
The government's immigration numbers are wrong again
The immigration statistics saga takes another turn today, as the News of the World produces figures showing that immigrants from the 25 EU countries account for just 32% of the total. Ergo, ministers have been able to control immigration all along – and its repeated suggestions to the contrary are untrue.
Cameron has changed the Conservative Party (but not enough)
Conservativehomeeditorial Yesterday I spoke at Labour's Progress conference. I accepted the invitation before I knew my slot would clash with Arsenal V Man Utd and I had to reject the offer of a ticket for the game. Never mind! The invitation to address the workshop came in mid-August. The topic: "Is the Cameron effect wearing thin?" It was delicious to hear most of my fellow panellists admit that the title was now somewhat out-of-date.
Nigel Hastilow's Enoch Powell and Immigration comments.
Now, considering that at some time in the future, I would like to become involved in politics, I'm going to be very careful about what I write on this subject. I've heard some very strong language used to describe this situation from the media. What I haven't heard on the news is what exactly Nigel Hastilow had to say in the newspaper column. Peter Hain told Andrew Marr this morning that Hastilow's comments showed the racist underbelly of the Conservative party.
Do the Tories want an independent NHS or a private one?
The Tories are proposing to introduce a Bill to Parliament which would effectively given independence to the NHS. The so called NHS Autonomy and Accountability Bill makes me wonder who will be accountable and what would it achieve?
Tories' Grand Committee idea - is it all due to their virtual elimination north of the border?
In yesterday's Observer, Professor Vernon Bogdanor wrote an excellent criticism of the Tories idea for an English "Grand Committee" in the House of Commons. He says it will create two governments at Westminster, effectively take away Scots MPs' power to vote on the funding for Scotland (which is set via an arithmetic connection the English tax settlement) and politicise the role of speaker, who would have to decide which bills, or more likely which bits of bills, are UK-wide and which are English.
Should Tory punters take a reality check?
The chart shows the changing market views on whether it’ll be a Labour majority, Tory majority or a hung parliament with the prices expressed as an implied probability. As can be seen the big change in the past few days has been for the Tories to squeeze ahead of Labour in the market assessment of which of the main parties is likely to secure an overall majority, if at all. So currently it’s 2.2/1 against the Tories a slightly tighter price than the 2.3/1 that’s available on Labour. The hung parliament option remains the 6/4 favourite.
Just a training company? The Illuminati? The EU? WTF?
The blogosphere carries a lot of (always) disapproving allusions to an organisation called 'Common Purpose'. It seems to be simply gigantic. 'Forty-five offices across the UK. Since 1989, more than 60,000 people have been involved in Common Purpose and over 17,000 leaders have completed one or more programmes.' That's from the website of the Said Business School (Oxford University) who seem to be right behind it..
Ipsos MORI on immigration
A new Ipsos MORI poll in the Sun has topline voting intentions of CON 40%, LAB 35%, LDEM 13%. This is in contrast to a MORI poll a week ago which showed Labour back up above 40%, ahead of the Conservatives. The five point Tory lead is the largest MORI have given them since back in April.
A 'neet' problem
Rarely has an acronym been less appropriate. It is not neat to be NEET. Very far from it. Talking about NEETs though is very cool in Westminster just now. Today it was the turn of the prime minister and his Children's Secretary Ed Balls.
Three wheels on my wagon: Scottish Nationalists
I wish this was a story about Alex Salmond restarting cross-border raids into Northumberland in response to the damage and depredations made on Scotland by Hengist and Horsa in around 480 AD (*). Unfortunately it is far more routine. It is about the Scottish Nationalists and the Scottish Government Executive’s financial mickles making a much smaller muckle than turns out to be required.