Monday, 30 December 2013

David Cameron needs to talk to the Mondeo man

David Cameron needs to talk to the Mondeo man


It has been a tough year for the Conservative party, Labour has had a comfortable lead throughout 2013 and UKIP have had a breakthrough year.  There has been talk of leadership coups and there has been general backbench worry about the upcoming 2015 election.  However, it has not all been negative for the Prime Minister, the economy is growing, Labour’s lead is down to 6% from a high of close to 11%, and UKIP’s popularity surge has subsided and stabilised.  Although the year has been tough for the Conservatives the points mentioned above will give them some optimism of being able to win a majority in 2015.  Nevertheless, if they intend to win the first Conservative majority since 1992, 2014 will be a big year and the Conservatives are going to have to start talking to the Mondeo man.

The Mondeo man is the name given to those voters who opted to vote Conservative in 92 but turned to Labour in 97.  Even in 2010 David Cameron was not successful in winning this group back, and it is crucial in 2015 this key electoral group returns to the Conservative party.  This group of aspirational middle class voters kept Thatcher in power for a generation and then Blair, the Mondeo man decides elections.  So far the Mondeo man has been neglected by the government, as this year Cameron has fought UKIP in a successful attempt to stop the Conservative party leaking its core voters.  As he is aware without his party’s core vote he will never win a majority.  In his fight with UKIP Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU and has took a tough stance on immigration.  Although these sorts of policies have not won back all the former Conservative voters now considering voting for UKIP, they have won back some and stopped UKIP’s popularity surge.  UKIP had a spike in their popularity in May in which they stood at 15% in the polls since then the Conservatives have successfully shrunk the UKIP’s rating to around 11% were it has remained for the last four months. 

The Conservative party’s offensive against UKIP alongside an economic revival has helped them recover in the polls.  However, they have failed to steal many Labour voters at all and if they are to win in 2015 they need to start damaging Labour’s share of the vote.  To do this they need to target the aspirational middle class (Mondeo man), this is the group they lost in 97 and they need to win it back.  This is the group so often referred to as the “squeezed middle” in the media and is being badly hit by the cost of living.  As keen political observers will have noticed the battle for the Economy is pretty much over, now all Labour want to talk about is the cost of living and this sort of rhetoric could potentially win them the next election.  The Government have done things to tackle the cost of living and come election time these policies will be highlighted, such as the raising of the tax threshold and not raising fuel duty.  However, in the recent debate over the price of energy the government has received a bloody nose by having no real alternative to Labour’s energy price freeze.  In 2014 the Conservative party are going to have to show they are tackling the issues surrounding the cost of living and this includes getting to grips with the cost of energy bills and hitting their 2% inflation target.


Although the economy is growing again many people are yet to feel the effects of this growth, and will be looking to the government to lower the ever-increasing cost of living.  Currently the dreams of the aspirational middle class such as owning a house or owning a new car seem very distant, and the party who can make these dreams realistic will be the party of government come 2015.  David Cameron has already started to try to talk to this key electoral group, but more than just talk of cutting green taxes must be done for the Conservatives to show they are taking the cost of living crisis seriously.  

Friday, 6 December 2013

Autumn Statement 2013

Autumn Statement 2013 


The Chancellors golden streak continues, his successful budget has been followed up by a successful Autumn Statement.  The growth predictions in the budget have been revised upwards, growth figures from even further back have also been revised, to show that the UK never went into a double dip recession.  In fact, all the figures from the Office of Budget Responsibility would have made pleasant reading for the Chancellor, the only thing that would have pleased him more was Ed Ball’s stumbling rebuttal.  The economic tide is clearly changing we have moved out of recession and into growth however we still have a problem with the cost of living and many working people are not reaping the rewards of a growing Economy.  George Osborne has actively tried to address some of these problems in this Autumn Statement however, more must be done if the Conservatives intend to govern on their own after 2015.

As mentioned above one of the sweetest aspects of the Autumn Statement for Conservatives were the OBR’s figures about growth.  Firstly there was no double dip recession this announcement will do the governments reputation regarding economic competence a world of good.  The 2013 growth figure was also revised upwards from 0.6% to 1.4%, which strengthens the Chancellor’s claims that the economy is moving in the right direction and disproves Labour's claims that the government’s economic policy is not working.  The Deficit has also been reduced by a greater amount than predicted in the March budget, it is now expected to be 6.8% rather than the 7.5% predicted on budget day, borrowing has also been revised down by £9 billion.  All these figures give Conservatives a reason to smile and at least on a macroeconomic scale, the policy of austerity seems to be working.

As addressed in the introduction despite a growing economy the effects of this growth are not being felt by everyone, particularly the hard working people who the Conservatives need to win round by 2015 if they intend to earn a majority in the House of Commons.  George Osborne has shown he is aware of how hard it can be for working people by setting out plans for a set of policies to try to stop a rise in the cost of living.  These policies include scraping next years planned fuel duty rise and a deal with the energy companies to prevent further price rises next year which is expected to save the average family £50 a year.  Also a tax break for some married couples combined with an increase in the personal allowance also shows the Chancellor is trying to do something about the cost of living.  Although the tax allowance for married couples is only expected to help 1 in 6 couples, which takes some of the shine of the policy.  The Autumn statement went on to address the problem of youth unemployment in the UK, employer national insurance will be scrapped for under 21’s to encourage businesses to take a chance on hiring young people.  In addition, 20,000 new apprenticeships will be created, the effect of this policy is going to be down to the quality of the apprenticeships and more apprenticeships will still need to be created but this is still a move in the right direction. 

In conclusion the Conservative party should be pleased with the latest Autumn statement it has tried to address many of the current problems for working people and has shown an improvement in the economy as a whole.  It does not make pleasant reading for those people who will not be retiring till 69 and will end up paying more for their pensions, however the UK has a pension crisis brewing so in practice it is a sensible policy.  But as I have mentioned a few times already it is essential for the Conservatives to deal with the issues facing real people and not only that they also need to appear more in touch with everyday problems or run the risk of losing their grip on power in 2015.   


Monday, 28 October 2013

UKIP Can be the Ross Perot of the 2015 election

UKIP Can be the Ross Perot of the 2015 election


UKIP has seen a huge rise in its popularity since the 2010 general election when the party won 3.1% of the vote, now in the latest YouGov opinion poll they would win 12% if there was an election tomorrow.  They are currently more popular than the Lib Dems, and are expected to win the upcoming European elections.  Despite this the Conservatives are not mounting a sustained attack on UKIP instead there are talks of pacts like they are some sort of distant cousin rather than a party that could ruin any chance of a Conservative majority come 2015.  To illustrate my point I am going to compare UKIP with Ross Perot the independent candidate who derailed two Republican campaigns in the 90’s.

There are several similarities between Perot and UKIP, firstly they are rebels against the established main parties, they both offer policies that people want to see (financial restraint in the case of Perot and lower immigration in the case of UKIP).  They both reach sections of the public who feel ignored and most importantly they both never really stood a chance of winning an election.  However this does not make them unimportant and UKIP have the potential to decide who gets into Number 10.  I am going to show UKIP’s significance by looking at Ross Perot’s impact on the 1996 election, in 96 Ross Perot won 8.4% of the vote significantly less than in 92 when he gave Clinton the election.  In 96 if Ross Perot was not present Bob Dole probably would have won Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri,  Nevada, Ohio, and  Tennessee,   now this would still not  have won Dole the election however it would have been significantly closer and the effect of Perot on keeping Republicans at home in the belief their candidate had already lost is not measurable.  Despite what I just said it is important to note a few differences between Perot supporters and UKIP supporters, Perot drew significant support from both Democrats and Republicans.  While UKIP draws most of its support mainly from Conservatives, although there is support from Labours lost working class vote as well.  Ross Perot was involved in the Presidential TV debates, UKIP so far will not be involved in any leadership debates in 2015 which will cut their media exposure significantly.  Also UKIP is has engaged many voters who have lost interest in politics under New Labour and are significantly more populist than Ross Perot and draws a large amount of working class support while Perot’s support was mainly middle class.  So although there are some similarities and I believe the election impact could be similar it is important to stress that I am not saying that Perot and UKIP are the same.  The link with Perot is largely to illustrate how reasonable support for UKIP candidates in swing seats will lose the Conservatives the election and could give Labour a significant majority.


If the Conservatives intend to damage UKIP they need to attack them just as they would attack Labour, the European referendum is not enough.  As I have wrote before UKIP are more than just an anti-Europe party they are anti-establishment and anti-politics  they are a base for people who are disgruntled with the main parties.  This does not however make them any harder than Labour to attack, UKIP have some fundamental weaknesses.  One is they lack details on their economic policy Conservatives need to find little holes and then ask can we afford UKIP?  They also lack a plan for what to do when they leave the EU they are making it seem simple, this needs to be attacked  showing UKIP up as amateur inexperienced and unsuitable for government.  The Conservatives can also try to entice UKIP supports by showing the rise in the tax
threshold and the fall in immigration as well as trumpeting the return to economic growth.  American style targeting of potential UKIP voters is also needed, show them all the populist right wing policies the current government has enacted.  Lynton Crosby has slowed the advance of UKIP by making Cameron focus on more right wing policies that attract UKIP voters, but at election time these policies need to be trumpeted to show potential UKIP voters they can get what they want with the Conservatives.  Finally scare tactics need to be implemented, many of these UKIP voters will not want to see Labour in government after all they are the party of Europe and mass immigration, the link between voting UKIP and getting Labour needs to be established.  It may already be too late to kill off  UKIP as the Conservatives were arrogant in their attitude towards UKIP for too long, and although it is almost certain UKIP will not win in 2015 they can lose the election for the Conservatives.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Conservatives have won the argument but not the election

The Conservatives have won the argument but not the election


It seems like an age ago that George Osborne was under assault from all fronts for his economic policy, the IMF singled him out for criticism, the ratings agencies downgraded the UK’s credit rating, and he was seen as a hapless Chancellor.  His fortunes have had a revival and there are whispers of him becoming the next leader of the Conservative party.  Just like the Chancellor, the Conservative party has started to win the big arguments, with Labour now promising to be tough on welfare and to allow parents to open free schools, as well as the popular sale of Royal mail.  So by this logic the Conservatives should be set to coast to a majority in 2015, however it seems unlikely that it will be so easy.

Ed Miliband has highlighted a key issue, which has the potential to decide the next election in his conference speech, the cost of living.  Although you can easily argue that Labours policy to tackle the rising cost of energy is counterproductive.  Sadly for the Conservatives that is not their only idea, and as Labour slowly start to fill their policy void the cost of living will become a greater issue for Cameron and Osborne.  Labour’s other idea has received endorsements for rightward leaning think tanks and it is a logical idea that worked well for Alistair Darling and Conservative back benchers have also called for it.  It’s a cut to VAT , unless it is a substantial cut it will still be a token gesture but Darling’s own small cut in VAT did lead to economic growth.  But the Chancellor in his position of increased confidence says any savings made from cuts will be used to pay off government debts and there will be no VAT cut. 

The Chancellor may just be waiting until it is closer to the election before he starts to dish out goodies such as tax cuts or he might be plotting a different way to tackle the cost of living.  One such way cut be a cut to Green taxes which are damaging industry by increasing the cost of production which is being passed on to consumers, and it is severely damaging energy intensive industries such as the chemical and steel industries.  Moreover, for all the damage green taxes do to the economy and the cost of living they have a minimal effect on climate change.  Although Vince Cable has ruled out a cut to green taxes under the coalition this does not mean that a Conservative manifesto will not include such a policy and it would be a move of political genius that Osborne is known for.  It would some red meat for the right of the party and it would tackle the issue of the cost of living as well as showing that the Conservatives are on the side of UK industry.  Whatever Cameron and Osborne decide to do they will need a policy to tackle the cost of living problem in the UK or risk helping Ed Miliband into Number 10 after all very few people feel better off now than they did in 2010.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Very Red Ed

Very Red Ed


Ed Miliband’s hour long Labour party conference speech saw the public execution of New Labour, and although I would not say it is a return to old Labour, but the left are very much in charge of the Labour party now.  It was a good speech no doubt about that he was confident and he is starting to fill Labours policy vacuum with radical ideas, however it was defiantly not a speech of a one nation politician, and it defiantly showed that New Labour is no longer influential at the top of the Labour party.

Two of Ed’s most scary policies were the freeze on energy prices and a Soviet style land grab policy, which was defiantly not a policy of a party which claims to be a one nation party.  The energy price freeze is illogical as the country is facing an energy shortage, fracking is probably the best way to reduce the energy prices however Labour don’t seem to support it.  Energy analysts have warned that the policy could lead to blackouts so it is only providing people false hope it is also likely to drive away investment in the energy sector from the UK costing both jobs and money as well as damaging the economy.   Moving onto Ed’s most repulsive policy that if you have land and chose not to build on it councils have to power to force you to sell it not only is this policy totally unfair it is expected to destroy the UK’s countryside as towns and cities continue to expand. 


To conclude not every policy Ed mentioned was mad like the two above for example providing the elderly with handrails to help them in and out of their home to save the NHS money on treating injuries cause by falling.  And although his land grab policy is totally bonkers it shows Labour are looking seriously at ways of solving the current housing crisis even if their current policy is mad.  However Ed failed to address the economy welfare cuts, and I think the Conservative party will be pleased with Ed’s speech as it shows a party who is not yet ready to govern.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Can the Coalition last past 2015

Can the Coalition last past 2015


Before 2010 a coalition was a very rare and special thing in UK politics only really seen in the world wars, but as the 2015 election creeps closer it is likely, there will be another coalition. The current coalition is a strained affair and Lib Dems and Conservatives genuinely seem to dislike each other, and if it was not for Nick Clegg, it is not farfetched to say that the coalition would have broken down.  And although pressure on the governing party leaders has lessened of late due to positive economic news it seems the Lib Dems still are not keen on continuing the coalition beyond 2015.


A poll of Lib Dem members found that they still are willing to be in a coalition after 2015 but not with the Conservatives, 39% are in favour of a Lib Lab coalition while only 15% would welcome the idea of another Con Dem coalition.  Those numbers taken alongside Nick Clegg claiming the party would “die in a trench” over the Mansion tax policy makes a Con Dem coalition look increasingly unlikely. 

It is not just the Lib Dems who are cool on the idea of renewing the coalition after 2015, Conservative back benchers have been very upset about some of the Lib Dems policies.  And some have said they will not support another coalition government.  The coalition has also seen many Conservative party members fleeing to UKIP and the Conservative membership drop to below 100,000.  The Coalition deal is sapping the moral of both parties which has lead David Cameron to say he will allow his MP’s to vote on a future coalition deal rather than just spring it on them like he did in 2010.  It is fair to say no party has a real appetite to continue the coalition but if the 2015 produces another hung parliament then it might be the only way for the UK to have a stable government.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

Only competent leadership can solve Labour's funding crisis

Only competent leadership can solve Labour's funding crisis


Ed Miliband has made a very brave stand against the Unions since the Falkirk debacle, but he is now starting to feel the consequences of his actions.  The GMB Union has cut its funding to the Labour party from £1.5 million to a much smaller £150,000, the union has taken this action due to Ed Miliband’s proposed changes to the Labour parties relationship with the Unions.  Many in the Labour party support Ed Miliband’s reforms as do Conservatives like myself, however it looks like Labours balance sheet will suffer if the reforms go ahead.

Since this revelation about the state of Labours finances the big issue of taxpayers funding political parties has raised its ugly head again.  This should only even be looked at if the party system reaches the breach of extinction and I don’t believe losing the Labour party will be the of our democracy nor do I believe there is any good reason the Labour party should go bankrupt.  Under Tony Blair the Labour party reached out to big business and individual donors both big and small and had great success.  There is no reason Labour can’t do this again they just need a better vision and better leadership.

Labour have so far failed to blame themselves for their current financial problems when it is 100% their own fault.  They need to really on more than just trade unions if they intend to survive but so far their only response has been to say that if they get into power they will cap individual donations at £5000.  In other words they don’t like the fact that the Conservatives can attract the support of wealthy individuals while they currently can’t, also it is worth noting this would not affect trade union donations.  If Labour fail to move with the times and can’t reconnect with people like they did under Tony Blair, but sadly for Labour Ed Miliband is no Tony Blair.  And if they continue along the lines of a £5000 cap on individual donations they will struggle to secure their financial future and surely a party of one nation should easily be able to drum up enough financial support to avoid going bankrupt.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Conservative economic policy finally paying dividend

Conservative economic policy finally paying dividend


It has been a good summer for the Conservative party and a very good summer for George Osborne, finally the Economy is moving in the right direction.  The 2012 budget was an absolute shambles and pressure was building not just on the Chancellor but also the government, but since the latest budget there has been a steady stream of good news for the Government.

We have recently seen the number of houses with nobody in work drop to a record low, which shows some success from the governments controversial welfare reforms.  More good news came today when the UK service sector grew at the fastest rate for 6 years, and we are expecting to see growth in the manufacturing sector as well.  Also recent growth in the EU has been driven by the UK and a recent revision of economic growth numbers has shown that the UK did not just avoid a triple dip recession we actually avoided a double dip recession.


A final piece of good news for the government is that today Ed Balls wrote a piece for the Guardian in which even he has finally admitted the economy is moving in the right direction.  He did not give any credit to Conservative economic policy though, however it is fair to say it is more likely that the growth in the economy was due to Conservative policy than Labour policy.  In fact the recent good news about the economy has once again illustrated Labours own lack of economic policies.  

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cameron can’t justify a second vote on Syria…. Yet.

Cameron can’t justify a second vote on Syria….  Yet.


The Prime Minister is facing mounting pressure from senior political figures such as former Home Secretary and Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown.  Even Boris Johnson has got in on the act saying there could be a second vote on military intervention in Syria.  Even Labour are starting to increase the pressure on the Prime Minister as Labour MP’s are starting to say they would support a second vote.  And as the Prime Minister knows many Conservative rebels and Labour MP’s voted against the government because they thought the Prime Minister was acting over Syria to soon before all the information was in.  So it is actually likely the government would win a second vote over Syria and this would please David Cameron because he has made it quite clear he would like to intervene in Syria to send a message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

As much as David Cameron probably wants another vote over Syria he must wait, calling another vote so soon after losing the last one will damage David Cameron.  After all, he did say he would respect the will of Parliament, calling another vote so soon after the last one with no new compelling evidence, would not be seen as respecting the will of Parliament.  In fact the only way a second vote could be justified is if something new happens on the ground in Syria something like another chemical weapons attack.  The Prime Minister must be aware he is not respecting the authority of Parliament is he asks the same question to Parliament again and again until he gets the result he wants.


A final reason not to call a second vote over Syria, is that the idea of intervening in Syria is unpopular and on the whole people were happy to see Parliament vote not to intervene.  A second vote will only damage the Prime Minister, if he loses which is unlikely his position would be so badly weakened I think he would be forced to resign.  If he wins his reputation amongst the voting public will be damaged, not only because he went against his word when he said he would respect the will of Parliament but also because he would have committed the UK to unpopular military action, arguably not an outright war but unpopular nevertheless.  For me calling a second vote over Syria without new compelling evidence would be a lose lose situation for the Prime Minister. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ed Miliband’s betrayal of Cameron shows he is unfit for office.

Ed Miliband’s betrayal of Cameron shows he is unfit for office.


Before I get going, I would like to say I did not support military action in Syria however for me the vote was overshadowed by Ed Miliband’s display of opportunism.  The big news on the eve of the big vote over Syria was that Ed Miliband had withdrawn his support for the government’s proposals for military intervention, after initially giving his support.  This did not surprise me to much as it involved making a big decision and as Ed has shown throughout his leadership, he is not very good at making decisions. 

In response to Ed Miliband withdrawing his support for the government’s proposal to intervene in Syria Cameron conceded to the Labour leaders demands and altered the government’s proposals.  So surely, Ed Miliband would return to his initial stance and support the government however, he did not.  Why?  Well Ed Miliband took the issue of Syria and changed his position on it overnight because, he saw an opportunity to weaken the government and enhance his own popularity.  Labours position was not a position of principal but a malicious political attack on the government.  They took a serious life or death issue and played politics with it and in the process showed that the party is not yet fit to govern as it still has no idea how to handle the serious issues.


Last night was a victory for democracy as parliament did represent the public’s view on this most serious of issues, it was not however a victory for Ed Miliband.  Ed’s performance in the house was described as poor by his own frontbench and Labours own motion urging further evidence of the Assad regime’s responsibility for chemical attacks was defeated by 112 votes.  Of course, last night was more damaging for the government than the Labour party however I doubt it will effect David Cameron’s position.  But as Ed Miliband showed once again a complete lack of leadership and another poor commons performance maybe Labour will start looking for a replacement after all even his own front bench were embraced by his performance yesterday.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

To cull or not to cull?

To cull or not to cull?


Badgers are one of the UK’s iconic animals and they are also currently a big Political news story.  With the start of a limited Badger cull the creature has been all over the news, supporters of the controversial cull say it stops Badgers spreading bovine TB to herds of cattle.  Protesters against the cull claim it is an inhumane to solve the problem and it will not work.  The cull is currently limited to 300sqkm of Gloucestershire and 250sqkm of Somerset, the cull will last for 6 weeks and marksmen aim to kill up to 5000 Badgers.


Numerous groups are against the cull such as the Stop The Cull Campaign and The RSPCA, there are also high profile opponents of the cull such as Brian May, the Labour party are also against the cull. But if the cull will stop the spread of Bovine TB then why is their opposition to the cull?  Well that is simple there is evidence to say culls do not work, and actually pilot culls like the Badger cull are to limited to have any real measurable effect.  So protesters believe that the cull is pointless killing of badgers.

Supporters of the cull believe the cull will reduce the spread of Bovine TB from Badgers to Cattle, Bovine TB can have a devastating effect of herds of cattle.  In addition, it can lead to farmers having to cull whole herds of cattle, which not only affects the pocket of the farmer but also if TB in cattle continues to get worse then it could affect the price of beef.  Also as with most debates there is also science to back up the idea that a cull would reduce the spread of Bovine TB, Ian Boyd, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has used the example of successful culling programmes in Australia and New Zealand.  The government also predicts that in the areas where the cull will take place there could be as much as a 16% drop in cases of Bovine TB.


Protesters are not just protesting and offering no alternative they have suggested vaccinating cattle against TB or vaccinating Badgers.  On both fronts there have been developments which suggest an vaccination program could be successful.  However, there are big roadblocks in the way of any potential vaccination program in either Cattle or Badger.  The vaccine for Badgers only is beneficial to uninfected Badgers as it is not a cure only a preventative measure, there is also the rather tricky prospect of catching the badgers to vaccinate them, you would also have to vaccinate new cubs so it would have to be a rolling vaccination program.  A vaccine for badgers is also predicted to take much longer than a cull to see a reduction in cases of Bovine TB in cattle.  It would be much easier to vaccinate Cattle  however due to EU laws if meat from vaccinated cattle can’t be sold so this would not help farmers.  To conclude I am personally in favour of the cull as I see it as the best way to help farmers and control Bovine TB, saying this I can also see why someone would be against the cull, and despite the cull going ahead I can see this issue rumbling on for a long while particularly if the pilot cull is rolled out to the rest of the UK.   


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Are Trade Unions still to powerful?

Are Trade Unions still to powerful?


Trade Unions are not nearly as powerful they used to be in the 60’s when they had the power to bring down government, however they still have the power to cause serious disruption.  A strike on the London tube for example costs the UK economy £50 million per day and causes disruption and frustration for millions.  And with no minimum turnout required a strike can take place with the consent of only a fraction of a Unions membership.  Due to the laws surrounding strike action the UK lost 250 thousand work days due to strike action in 2012, and that was the least since the year 2000.  In 2011 the UK lost an amazing 1.4 million working days due to strike action, this is hurting the UK economy.  In 2009 the UK lost more working days to strike action than the USA and Germany combined.

Practical solutions have been put forward to reduce strike action in the UK, the most obvious one is a turnout threshold that must be met for a strike to be legal.  Strikes last year by the Public and Commercial Services Union representing border guards went ahead even though the Strike ballot only got a 20% turnout and this mean only 11% of members voted in favour of strike action, this is hardly a mandate for strike action.  It is still important that Trade Unions can strike as this can be the only way for them to bring employers to the negotiating table, but I don’t think it is unreasonable to set a 50% minimum turnout threshold for a strike to be legal.  However Trade Union bosses would argue that elections don’t have a turnout threshold nor did the AV referendum so why should a strike ballot.  There is a big difference between an election and a strike ballot and that is that a strike can potentially cause havoc particularly if it is in key areas such as the Tube or an emergency service.  Therefore, the strike should have a proper mandate, and not just be supported by a small number of Union members who voted.  



Trade Unions receive tax payers money yet Unite have enough money to donate £12 million to the Labour party,  a Yougov poll found that 51% of people support a ban on tax payer funding of trade unions with 26% not supporting a ban.  While the amounts spent are small for example the Ministry of Justice spent £6 million in 08/09 on staff working on Union activities, trade Unions are still special interest groups receiving taxpayer funding.  Now I believe that Trade Unions serve an important purpose and they should receive tax payers money, however in return for this money strike action should not be legal unless a minimum turn out threshold is reached.  As I don’t believe it is fair that Unions which receive tax payer funding can call a strike just because their leader does not like something.  If Unions don’t want minimum turnout threshold for strike ballots then they should not receive tax payer funding particular because many Unions have a political agenda.  To conclude, while Unions can call a strike, at the whim of their leader Trade Unions are too powerful.  There should be a minimum turnout threshold for a strike ballot to return Trade unions to their roots of representing workers, the majority of a Unions membership should want to strike for a strike to go ahead, not the majority of a small minority who turn up to  vote.  This would take the power away from Union bosses and give it to Union members.  

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Bad news for Conservatives study shows ethnic minority vote could decide 2015

Bad news for Conservatives study shows ethnic minority vote could decide 2015


The Black and Asian community in the UK is a rapidly growing group and is slowly becoming an important group of voters who could decide who is in number 10 come 2015. By 2015 the Black and Asian vote will have grown by 70% compared to 2010, this is a huge rise and the Conservative party should be worried as this is a group of voters which they fail to connect with.   The Conservative Party’s lack of appeal amongst Black and Asian voters was evident in 2010 when they only received 16% of Black and Asian votes compared to Labour which received 68% of this groups votes.   It is argued by Oxford University’s Professor Heath that the Conservatives failed to get a majority in 2010 because they failed to connect with the Black and Asian vote.

in 2000 and 2004 George W Bush greatly increased the Republican party's share of the Latino vote by running an election strategy that attempted to reach out to this group, the Conservatives may try something similar in 2015.


This problem will only get worse as the ethnic vote now is greater than the sitting MP’s majority in 168 marginal seats this has increased from an estimated 99 seats in 2010. The Ethnic vote is clearly important if the Conservatives intend to win in 2015 and beyond it looks like it could come as important as Americas Hispanic vote.  There are clearly similarities between the groups both are growing rapidly and both have the power to swing an election result but most importantly for the Conservatives they both prefer left wing parties.  The only good news for the Conservatives it that in the USA the Republicans in 2000 and 2004 made an effort in George W Bush’s presidential election campaigns to get win over the Hispanic vote and it is fair to say he was successful. David Cameron and the Conservatives are going to have to make a similar effort to win votes from the UK’s own ethnic vote or face a long period out of government.  The Conservatives can win over large chunks of the ethnic vote if they focus on key Conservative ideas of aspiration, hard work and social mobility because these ideas resonate with all ethnic groups.  It is defiantly possible for the Conservatives to increase their share of the ethnic vote and if the party intends to remain the natural party of government it will need to and this might mean trying to make immigration a lesser issue in 2015.    

Monday, 12 August 2013

Let’s get fracking

Let’s get fracking


The issue of fracking has been a controversial issue of late with protests against it.  Supporters of the method of extracting shale gas say it is vital as it produces cheap energy, which homes and businesses desperately need.  Critics of fracking say it will be a blight on the countryside and that it may contaminate water supplies.  One of fracking’s biggest virtues is that it will drive down energy prices, as the cost of living rises energy bills have also gone up making it harder and harder for families to pay their bills.  Businesses, particularly high energy businesses such as the steel and chemical industry are crying out for cheaper energy because not only do they have to pay a ridiculously high carbon tax they also have huge energy bills. Fracking is not a quick fix either, it has been estimated that underneath Britain there is around 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, even if we only extracted a tenth of the countries estimated quantities of shale gas it would last us half a century.

Another advantage of fracking is that it will create much-needed jobs, a recent study said that the shale gas industry could support 750,000 jobs plus the extra jobs it will produce in through increased spending in areas where fracking takes place.  Fracking will take place all over the country but it could be a real boost to the North as cities such as Hull have needed something like fracking to create jobs and really revitalise the city.  Many are worrying that it will be a blight to the country side but fracking wells are smaller than oil or traditional gas wells which have been operating in this country for years.  Plus it will significantly lower our dependence on foreign oil and gas imports which is good because the price of these imports can be extremely volatile.



Fracking can also be used to redevelop areas close to fracking wells as companies have agreed to pay communities situated near exploratory wells £100,000.  Now in the grand scheme of things this is not much but if Shale gas is discovered local communities get 1% of the profit which could be as much as £10 million, this sort of money can be used to really help local communities by redeveloping schools, lowering council tax or keeping open libraries or swimming pools.  This is not including the increased revenues of local businesses who will benefit from the extra jobs coming to the area.  One of the most disturbing problems with fracking is its potential to contaminate water supplies however this will not happen is fracking is done properly and the industry is properly regulated.  If properly regulated fracking could be just the type of shock our economy needs to get it moving again and more importantly with recent reports that the UK could be soon facing blackouts we need something to keep the lights on and fracking could be that something.   

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Tory membership crisis

Tory membership crisis


Conservative party membership officially stands at 177,000 and falling from 258,000 since the start of David Cameron’s leadership.  However, Conservative party membership may be much lower than the official numbers say as the party has yet to publish its yearly membership total which suggests that is has fallen again.  Steven Swinford a senior political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph recently wrote an article suggesting that Conservative party membership has dipped below 100,000. Whether or not the party membership has dropped below 100,000 or not Conservative membership has been on the decline since David Cameron became leader of the party and something needs to be done or come 2015 the Conservatives may have a serious lack of man-power.

The big question for Conservative party HQ is how to reverse the membership trend and get more people to join the party.  Reducing membership costs could be a start, this is something Ed Miliband did to try and reinvigorate the Labour party and it has been successful as Labour has seen a rise in its party membership.  Conservative standard membership is actually cheaper than standard Labour Membership, it costs £25 for a standard Conservative membership while a standard Labour party membership costs £44.50.  However, Labour’s membership costing is very clever and has been designed to grow local parties, Labour membership only costs £15 if you are recruited by the local party.  Not only is this cheaper than a Conservative party membership new members are recruited by party members themselves which makes new members more welcome as they will already know more people in the party.  Conservatives could operate a similar scheme to Labour and offer discounted membership to those who join the party through their local association this would encourage members to recruit more people to dwindling local associations.  Alternatively  the Conservative party could expand their friend scheme, which offers partial membership for £1, they could offer full membership for £1 and go on a large recruitment drive putting adverts in the right wing newspapers, they could even offer free membership since membership fees only contribute a small amount to the parties overall income. 


Obviously, cost is not the only reason stopping people joining the Conservative party as in all honesty it is reasonably priced when compared with its rivals.  The biggest problem for the Conservative party is that the leadership is cut off from the rest of the party  and the membership feel powerless to stop the leadership taking the party in the wrong direction.  Calling UKIP member’s closet racists and swivel eyed loons has also not helped drive up party membership as many Conservative members share common believes with UKIP.  In theory, a new leader more aligned with the right of the party may see a rise in Conservative membership as the party’s core support would feel the leadership was more in tune with their beliefs.  However UK political party membership has been in long-term decline for years when Harold Wilson became Prime Minister 10% of people were members of a political party now it’s around 1%.  The challenge for political parties in the future seems to be one of gaining more members and to do this they are going to have to create parties that are more responsive to their members, if they don’t they are going to have to create a party machine that can win elections with a small membership.   

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The case for a flat tax

The case for a flat tax


In recent months tax has been a hot issue, in particular tax avoidance.  You will have noticed the media fury at big companies such as Google and Amazon failing to pay their fair share of tax, and the current state of anger at the rich paying accountants to avoid paying tax.  Although these things are morally wrong they are not legally wrong, and this is because of loopholes in our highly complex tax system, the between 1997 and 2010 the Labour government create an extra 5000 pages of tax rules and regulation on top of what already existed. 

Tax avoidance is a real problem and the TUC says individual tax avoidance costs the treasury around £13 billion per year, and £12 billion in lost tax from business.  To put this in perspective benefit fraud only costs the treasury around £1 billion per year so it is a big problem.  Many will call for the government to close tax loopholes and the government is doing this but it is not easy as the law surrounding tax is so complex that accountants just find other ways for their clients to dodge tax.  I see two solutions to this problem the first is for the government to close each loophole as they crop up, however this would be very slow work possibly going on forever as every time a new tax law is passed it could potentially create new loopholes.  The second option would be the creation of a flat income tax for all individuals and a flat business tax for all business.

A flat tax is not just a good theory it works in practice countries such as Slovakia and Russia as well as some states in the USA have implemented a flat income tax, and have found tax receipts have increased and tax avoidance has decreased.  This is not surprising as a simple tax system has very few or even no tax loopholes.  Also a simplified system would save HMRC the £55 million they spend each year helping people fill in their tax forms.  The Economist also supports a flat tax and in when featuring an article about Slovakia’s tax system it said it ‘helped to spur foreign investment and economic growth, actually leading to a slight increase in tax revenue.’   The next question is what level would the flat tax be set at, Edward Leigh MP says in The Future of Conservatism, Values Revisited that a flat tax of 22% with a personal allowance of £15,000 would result in a reduction in tax revenue of £62 billion in the first year of the new tax.  However, the taxpayers alliance says that the tax loop holes which would be closed by the flat tax could raise an extra £81 billion of tax revenue and the removal of tax deductions and allowances would raise an extra £18 billion, so the treasury would actually make more money through tax that it currently does.


The biggest argument facing a flat tax is one of fairness, the current progressive system of taxation is seen as fair as the rich pay more than the poor, and some would argue that making the poor pay the same as the rich would be unfair.  Well this argument does not really stand up firstly those on the lowest incomes would be given a generous personal allowance of £15,000 which is more than they currently get.  Plus the tax would stamp out tax avoidance would be stamped out meaning the rich would contribute more in tax than they currently do.  Everyone would benefit from a flat tax the many would receive a tax cut and a large one at that and those who currently pay the basic rate and would be receiving a 2% tax rise would be compensated with an increased personal allowance which would be about £5000 more than the current personal allowance.  A flat tax would also boost the economy for the simple reason tax receipts rise when tax is cut because more people come to do business in your country, this was the case when Thatcher cut the top rate of tax from 83% to 40% and it was the reason Tony Blair did not increase taxes.  Also, a flat tax fits with the governments message of making work pay as many people on low paid jobs would pay no income tax at all which will make work more attractive to those stuck on benefits.  A final point to make is that as the global market gets more and more competitive, the UK needs a tax system that encourages businesses and entrepreneurs to come to this country, and if we happen to leave the EU being competitive in the global market will be crucial if the UK wants to continue to thrive and grow.  

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Conservative victory is far from certain in 2015

A Conservative victory is far from certain in 2015


Labours lead is thin, the Economy is growing again, the UKIP rise has faltered, and everything is looking bright for the Conservative party.  Over recent weeks Conservative MPs have been in jovial mood and there has been relative harmony amongst the parliamentary party, and this is because the first Conservative majority since 1992 seems in reach.  However, there are still several large hurdles in the way of a Conservative Majority in 2015.

The Conservative party have the same problems today as they did in 2015 and if these problems are not addressed the chances of a majority in 2015 will be slim.  Firstly, the Conservative party is almost non-existent in Scotland, out of a possible 59 seats in Scotland the Conservatives currently hold only one.  The Scottish phenomenon is a real problem for the Conservative party, since 1979 the popularity of the Conservatives has declined in Scotland after the 79 election the Conservatives held 22 out of a possible 72 seats.  In 83 the Conservatives lost one seat leaving them with 21 MPs in Scotland, the 87 election saw the first major loss of support for the Conservatives in Scotland their number of MPs was slashed from 21 to 10.  The 92 election saw an increase in Conservative MPs in Scotland but only be a single MP and in the historic 97 election the Conservatives were left with no MPs in Scotland and since then the party has only held one seat in Scotland.  The Conservative party is really struggling in Scotland and there are no signs that its support will increase in 2015.

As well as struggling in Scotland, the Conservatives have a huge problem in Urban seats in the North and the Midlands currently they hold 20 out of a possible 124 in these areas.  The Conservative party needs a rebranding in the North and in Scotland and not a David Cameron detox style branding,  since 2005 David Cameron and his team have done a reasonable job of removing the nasty party label from the Conservative party.  However in Scotland and in the North it seems that it was not that voters thought the Conservatives to be the nasty party but an out of touch party, and I don’t believe that David Cameron is the man who can rebrand the party to be the party that northern and Scottish voters would see as in touch with them.  So this brings me on to another problem with the Conservative party, the parties image,  the Conservatives are still seen by many to be the party of the rich and despite many working and lower middle class people holding Conservative views they don’t vote Conservatives.  This is because they are seen as the party for the rich not the party for everyone, this is of course ridiculous and David Cameron has tried with his strives verse skivers line to rebrand the party as the party that stands up for hard working families.  Only time will tell if this works but personally I doubt it will, mainly because David Cameron’s background is one of a Tory toff  and Labour love to take advantage of this apparent weakness. 


To Conclude despite positive signs a Conservative majority in 2015 is still not a certain thing and this is because of problems in Scotland and the North as well as an image problem.  On top of this, the Conservatives have a massive lack of support amongst ethnic minorities even though many are natural Conservative voters.  Wales also looks like another area of unpopularity for the Conservatives but not on the same scale as Scotland and I almost forgot UKIP still has the potential to be a thorn in the Conservative party’s side come 2015.  But, despite all this the Conservatives have hired the Wizard of Oz Lynton Crosby and the man behind Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign Jim Messina, these two men are famous for election success and the Lynton Crosby effect has already helped improve the Conservatives ratings in the polls.  Although it is far from certain I believe the Conservatives will at least be the largest party in a hung Parliament and there is a good chance of a majority due to the current state of Labour.  

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Is Foreign Aid Worth The Money?

Is Foreign Aid Worth The Money?


You will have probably heard about UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom’s ‘Bongo Bongo land speech’ by now.  However, the speech has only received criticism about how it was put across rather than the actual point of the speech, and Godfrey Bloom has a point should countries such as Pakistan and India who are nuclear powers receive aid from the UK.  Foreign aid spending is ring fenced so will not be cut until after 2015 and it currently costs £11.3 billion per year which is around 0.7% of the UK’s total spending per year.  So in the grand scheme of things it is fairly insignificant the working age benefit bill for just London was £36 billion for 2011/12, nevertheless in an age of austerity we want to be making sure we are getting the most value for our money, so should we be giving money to India? India is set to be spending more on Defence than the UK by 2017 so are we really spending our foreign aid money wisely when we give it to India.


It is worth noting that the government is already doing something about foreign aid as India and South Africa have been targeted for reduced assistance in fact aid to India will have been completely halted by 2015, this does not mean that the foreign aid budget will be reduced because as I mentioned earlier it is ring-fenced.  Nevertheless, does the aid budget even need to be reduced?  It is not the cause of the cuts in fact if we stopped giving foreign aid tomorrow it would probably not alter the Chancellors plans at all Although it would slightly shrink the deficit.  In addition, every time foreign aid is bought up the examples of India, South Africa and Pakistan are always used to illustrate that it  is a waste of money, however we also give money to Ethiopia and Bangladesh which are two of the world’s poorest countries.  Foreign aid is potentially a good thing but the government needs to make sure that only countries in need receive it and that the money is not being wasted.  However foreign aid is an easy target in an age of austerity, when people are suffering from cuts they are very wary when it comes to giving money to other countries when we have very little money at home.  I believe there is a debate to be had about how much we spend on foreign aid and I personally would like to see the amount shrunk to under 0.5% of government spending  because it is a cut albeit a small one that has no adverse effect on the UK.

Friday, 2 August 2013

What is Conservatism?

What is Conservatism?


Conservatism is by far the most difficult ideology to pin down unlike socialism and liberalism which are clear and have very distinct cornerstones, Conservatism is almost a living ideology constantly changing and moving to adapt with the times.  There is a reason the Conservative party is one of the oldest parties in the world, and why it survived when the Liberals died, it is because of the flexible nature of Conservatism.  On a basic level  Conservatism is keeping (conserving) what is good and what works and changing what fails to work.  The Conservative party is rather like a chameleon it has an uncanny ability to change its skin to suite the political background of the day.

Many people today associate Conservatism with Thatcherism, and while Thatcherism is a strand of Conservatism, it is only one of many strands of Conservative thinking albeit a rather dominant one.  If you look back through history, you will see a constantly evolving Conservative party the Conservatives passed legislation for trade union rights and health projects before the Labour party was even formed.  There have been large changes in Tory ideology over the years with Disraeli’s One nation Conservatism to Macmillan’s “middle way” which lead to the entrenching and expansion of the welfare system and more recently the party was gripped by Thatcherism which saw the state rolled back and the private enterprise grow.  It is fair to say all these distinctly different strands of Conservatism are Conservative in their nature as they identify a problem and change what causes the problem while not changing programmes and institutions which that group believe work.


To conclude Conservatism is the ideology of common sense in my opinion because of how it works, it identifies what is working and what is failing, it then tries to improve that what is failing while leaving that what is working.  This is why there are so many strands of Conservatism and why traditionally the Conservative party has a large core support because it is a broad church inviting many different ideas.  In my opinion the reason the Conservative party failed to adapt between 97 and 2005 is because it forgot its roots and rather than changing the strand of Conservatism that governed the party as it had always traditionally done in opposition it stuck with Thatcherism and failed to keep up with changes in society.  It is my opinion that the Conservative ideology is vast and almost to lose to even be a real ideology, it is so much harder to define than socialism or liberalism but that is why it works so well.  The Conservative party survives because it has and hopefully always will be a party of competing ideas.  

Friday, 26 July 2013

Is a fee the only way to save the NHS?

Is a fee the only way to save the NHS?


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said that 23.8% of the UK’s GDP is spent on Welfare this is not just things traditionally seen as welfare but also pensions and “other social spending” this is the same as in 2010.  This shows that the Coalition is struggling to get to grips with spending and the report goes onto warn that with the UK’s rapidly ageing population, if spending is not bought under control then our NHS and pension system face the risk of collapsing. 
Changes have already been made to pensions to try to remove some of the pressure on the system however, despite recent NHS reforms it is highly likely further more drastic reforms will be needed to save the health service.  One proposal I have heard is to pay a fee to see a doctor, this system is used in France and it has many advantages over our own system.  Firstly a fee dispels the myth that the NHS is free, the NHS is not a free service everything has to be paid for however the service is used like it is free.  This means people miss appointments and people see their doctor for small things like colds which don’t need a doctor, all this puts pressure on an already strained system.  Secondly a fee would help to fund the NHS the government could keep funding consistent and the fee could be used as additional funding which could help increase staff numbers and improve facilities.  Thirdly, it would kill the idea of health tourism because people would have to pay to use the health service. 

Admittedly the advantages of a fee are few and the disadvantages are many, one big question is what exactly would the fee be.  On this morning’s Wright Stuff a fee of £25 was debated I think this is arguably to much particularly for low paid workers, those out of work and young families.  I think there are several ways around the problem of people not being able to pay, you could exempt certain groups from paying so pensioners, children and those earning minimum wage or below would be exempt however this is not a fool proof solution.  As seen with the Winter fuel allowance and other pensioner benefits some pensioners are well off and could afford to pay the fee, the same thing applies for children as many parents could afford to pay a small fee.  This would mean the system would be full of waste as many of those avoiding paying the fee could pay it.  Another way of making the fee fair would be a sliding scale based on your tax bracket, so those how earn the least would pay a much smaller fee than those who earn the most and those children could get free health care.  Another problem with implementing a health care fee would be deciding how to fee would be applied, would you pay it for just seeing the GP, would you pay it per treatment or would you pay it upon using the health service.  It is likely the fee would be paid based on using the health service no matter what you used it for but this has its own problems, for example  if you are in a car crash and require emergency care you may be given the care without your consent, should you then pay for your care?  The biggest problem with a health care fee would be how politically unpopular it would be, only a government which was certain of not being re-election would even attempt to implement such a policy and it would be extremely difficult to whip back bench MP's into voting for it.


To conclude I don’t think a fee would be the best way of funding the NHS in the future mainly because it would be highly complex and I believe there are much better ways of funding the NHS such as a separate health service tax.  Also once the Coalitions health care reforms affects can be seen maybe the NHS will not require any more reforming to make it affordable in the future.   I have attached a link that briefly details how other European nations run their health services each of these methods is also an alternative method we could implement to make our own NHS more sustainable.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2011/may/11/european-healthcare-services-belgium-france-germany-sweden

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Racism, sexism and free speech

Racism, sexism and free speech

In yesterday’s PMQ’s William Hague called a Labour MP a “stupid Woman,” of course this has created an uproar as this is sexist.  And if you like me think sexism is distinguishing people based on sex then yes it was a sexist comment.  However, we do have a level of free speech in this country so surely a racist or sexist slur, which only offends, should not see you persecuted.  It is probably best I explain that last statement, for me racism is to distinguish between people based on race, and sexism the same but with sex.  It is important that we are aware there are different levels of sexism and racism, so encouraging physical harm against a group because of race or denying a group a job based on race are examples of what I would call high racism (the same goes for sex).  This high racism and sexism is taking away a person’s rights or causing them physical harm due to race or sex and this should be prevented by law and people who commit these acts should be punished under law. 

The next level would be medium sexism or racism, this would be things that are sexist or racist but are not supposed to disadvantage a group.  So this is like single sex private members clubs, sports clubs that only allow single sex membership, or institutional structures that prevent advancement for a sex or race.  People should not be prosecuted for this sort of thing however, any government that believes in equality should legislate to remove these barriers, and society should speak up and try to get these barriers removed.  The final form of racism and sexism would be low level this would include things like what William Hague said because it only causes offence, it does not insight hate and it does not disadvantage a group.  Low level racism and sexism is the hardest to identify because it has to only cause offence, if you advocate violence against a group like a hate preacher does that would be high level racism or sexism and should be dealt with by the law.  However if you call someone a stupid man or a stupid woman this might offend a person but nothing more.  And as we are supposed to have freedom of speech offending a person should not lead to punishment under law.

You may read this and totally disagree with me and believe that you can’t talk about anyone’s sex or race and that every job should have representative proportions from all society and that is fine.  I am going to try to qualify my own opinion in this last paragraph,  if someone said you were rubbish at football this could cause you offence but there is nothing you could do about it.  If some calls you a dickhead or another insulting term and you are offended you can do very little about it.  Nevertheless, if someone writes something or says something that is racist or sexist they can be fined their online accounts can be suspended and if they are a notable person like a politician, the press can bring them down, the gay marriage debate was an example of this.  Racist and sexist comments which only cause offence should be treat the same way as other comments that cause offence.  I am not trying to say that being racist or sexist is good most of these comments will be obscene and horrible and you should challenge the person who makes them about why they said it, but if you support free speech, you can’t punish people who just state an opinion no matter how stupid of offensive it is.  For me free speech allows you to state an opinion, it allows you to criticise the government, it allows you to offend people, it allows you to be offended, it allows you to express your personality.  What it does not allow you to do is to incite violence against other groups, endanger other people’s lives, or threaten people.  It is easy to support freedom of speech for easy subjects such as your right to voice one of the many mainstream opinions but if you support freedom of speech, you must allow people with views you find ridiculous or offensive to be heard without fear of being prosecuted by the law.  



Monday, 8 July 2013

The Unions Strike back

The Unions Strike back


Conservatives like me have been rubbing our hands together with glee at the recent battle between the Labour leadership and their union backers Unite.  We have become used to Conservative infighting Eurosceptic fighting Europhiles, Cameron’s moderniser’s verses the right and many others.  Labour has also had it problems with divisions but their own infighting has not been as public of late, however this latest spat could be damaging for Labour.

Neil Kinnock, John Smith and finally Tony Blair had to work hard to modernise Labour and dislodge the party from the grasp of the trade unions, it seems that Len Mccluskey may be trying to increase the presence of the Trade Unions within Labour once again.  Don’t get me wrong even under Blair the Labour party had a group of strong left wing MP’s who were sympathetic to the Unions but they lacked power, the power of the left grew under Brown but they still did not hold power within the party.  But now the left see an opportunity under Ed Miliband to increase their influence over the Labour and this is damaging for the party.  Polls have already shown Labours lead over the Conservatives shrink due to the whole Falkirk candidate selection incident and Labour are still confused over economic policy, which gives the unions an opportunity to try and frame Labours 2015 manifesto.


Tony Blair won the battle for Labours soul when he created New Labour along with Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, and since then Labour has been an electoral force keeping many of the lefts good ideas while banishing many of its crazier aspects.  Now Ed has a problem he was the candidate of the left of the party he got his job due to the unions, Blairites feel alienated under Ed’s leadership, if Ed strikes out against the unions he risks losing support from Unite which is one of Labours biggest donors.  If he lets the Unions gain more influence any lingering support he has from Blairites will crumble and Labour will lose the next election.  However although this issue of increasing Union power is currently damaging Labour, if Ed plays his cards right and knocks the Unions back he will look strong and may win some support from the right of the Labour party and it could be the start of an election winning coalition.  When Blair won in 97 he framed New Labour as offering the heart of Labour with the brains of the Conservatives, If Ed knocks back the unions he will shake of his left wing image while making himself look strong and that would be a good starting point for him to rebuild Tony Blair’s 97 election winning coalition.  If he plays this wrong he lets the Conservatives keep the keys to Number 10 and gives us a nice stick to hit Labour with as they once again show they are not ready to govern. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Spending Review shows Labour up

The Spending Review shows Labour up

Yesterday’s spending review has shown that Labour have filled their policy void with policy confusion.  They have started to accept austerity saying they can’t guarantee they will reverse all the Conservative cuts, but so far can’t come up with a cut they will reverse.  They have said they will use the spending review as a starting point for their own spending if they were elected in 2015 but still say George Osborne is borrowing too much, and their answer is still to borrow more.  Ed Balls has also been talking about Iron discipline while talking about increased spending.  Labour’s current economic policy is currently messed up and if you ask Labour MP’s what their parties economic policy is you will get different answers from each one,  however one thing seems clear Labour are slowly accepting austerity albeit begrudgingly and in a confusing manner. 


Once you unravel Labours complex web of economic contradictions you can start to comprehend them losing their lead in the polls.  Why is Labour in the lead? People don’t like austerity and Labour have been offering an alternative (well sort of).  As Labour start to accept austerities who are these anti-austerity voters supposed to vote for? Voting Labour would no longer make sense, but you are unlikely to vote Conservative if you feel you have been hard done by the cuts, UKIP is a possible destination for these voters they are mainly working class and UKIP has proven to be very appealing to the working class.  Labour are also likely to struggle with the middle class vote which Tony Blair won in 97, although they are sort of accepting austerity they are doing it in such a confusing manner that they are not giving people confidence that they can run the economy, this group is likely to stick with the Conservatives. Overall Labour is likely to be hurt by its new economic position unless it can come right out and embrace austerity and make their message crystal clear, their current half in half out position will lose them votes and possibly the election come 2015. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Stick With Dave

Stick With Dave


Recent polls have shown that David Cameron is less popular than his party, now should he get the boot?  Many right wingers in the Tory party have been itching to get rid of the Prime Minister and up until now the PM has had the advantage of being an electoral asset to the party, but at long last he is a liability.  There is an argument to remove him, the public move seems to be swaying to the right UKIP’s popularity shows this but who would replace Cameron, Gove? May? Both these potential front-runners for the leadership are also modernisers.  And to be honest the party wants a moderniser in charge when the party fought the 2001 and 2005 elections with a right wing message we were comprehensively beaten.  Plus the Tory modernising project has not really shifted the party to the left David Cameron and the mods still believe in tax cuts and free enterprise, they have just tried to make the party more compassionate, although since coming into government they have dropped the compassionate message.  It is still fair to say that the modernising agenda is more likely to win the party a majority than running a more right wing agenda and actually, the right of the party has plenty to be pleased about.  Dave has cut immigration by a third, he has cut the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, he has increased the personal allowance which is essentially a tax cut (it also shows some compassionate conservatism), he is tackling welfare and he is promising a referendum on the EU.  The right of the party has been well looked after under David Cameron. 


Forgetting about what Dave has and has not done policy wise removing him now at this stage of the Parliament would be damaging.  The party will have to go into a leadership contest when they should be governing, the leadership contest may well be a bloody affair revealing all the rifts in the party.  And if a moderniser wins the right may not necessarily back them and if a right winger wins the modernisers are unlikely to support him.  A Michael Gove or William Hague may well unite the party however rifts will probably appear again when the European election goes badly and the party will have had two consecutive years of infighting.  I personally think a leadership challenge would be disastrous for the party at this stage of the Parliament and it will make us look divided come election time which could be sooner than 2015 if the new leader did not hit it off with Nick Cleg.  We should stick with Dave and if he loses in 2015 let the leadership battle commence, there are plenty of quality candidates to lead us back to number 10.