Tuesday, October 16, 2007

'Who will run?' - continued

The Today Programme is suggested that it is highly likely that there will be a female candidate - let's consider who that might be:

Sarah Teather
Lynne Featherstone
Susan Kramer
Julia Goldsworthy

Other male candidates have been mentioned:

Steve Webb
David Laws

Monday, October 15, 2007

Who will run?

Malcolm Bruce is being interviewed on BBC News 24. He mentions four Lib Dem MPs as 'would make good leaders'. They are:

David Laws
Ed Davey
Nick Clegg
Chris Huhne

Would Laws and/or Davey stand? Would there be a risk of the Orange Book vote being split?


Ming Campbell has resigned. Did he go or was he pushed? You decide.

Coming up:

1) Who will run?

2) Is this bad news for the Tories?

3) Is it bad news for Gordon?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Polls - LATEST

ConservativeHome, 'Will the 11% Lib Dems take this opportunity to oust Ming?'

11% would a complete unadulterated disaster for the Lib Dems but I cannot envisage them polling this badly - surely this result is just due to the media coverage attained by the two main parties?

Ming, however, does appear to be becoming a bit of a joke - his comments about ageism in politics and fixed term parliaments on QT the other day were met with rather sarcastically enthusiastic applause.

For us Tories, we can't really afford for the Lib Dems to do this badly (amusing though it is) because it makes it easier for Labour to retain an overall majority and means that we must gain even more seats to form a government.

As for the alternatives, Huhne only has a projected majority of 547 in Eastleigh and surely would be a foolish choice for leader if the Tories were to 'Ashcroft' him out of his seat at the next election. The Lib Dems need to make a sustainable choice as leader, which is why electing MC was such utter folly.

Enough of the Lib Dems though - 41% is excellent. We need to sustain this performance and bash Labour down to the low to mid-thirties. This is the only way we can WIN.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Three polls come along at once

Some projections using UK Elect:

Lab 40 Con 36 LD 13 gives:

Lab 364
Con 247
LD 5

Lab 39 Con 36 LD 15 gives:

Lab 355
Con 249
LD 12

Lab 39 Con 38 LD 16 gives:

Lab 341
Con 264
LD 12

Some points to consider:
-The Lib Dems won't do nearly as badly as this!
-Labour must poll a lower percentage if they're going to be deprived of their overall majority.
-I considered immediately after Conference that a 1% defecit was my minimum acceptable result in a post-Conference poll - Brown would look silly to go to the country and get a majority of only 34. Majorities of 62 or 80, however, would be OK.

As I said on conservativehome.com, 'Of course, Lib Dems won't lose as many seats as this unless there's complete meltdown. The problem is, we can't afford for the Lib Dems to do too badly, because it makes it easier for Labour to get an overall majority. I still think that Brown will go to the country next week. He would look extremely foolish not to after allowing such a collosal build-up and the bias in FPTP allows for the Conservatives to do well without depriving Labour of their overall majority.'


The Guardian seem to have updated the ICM findings to Lab 38 Con 38 LD 16:

Lab 332
Con 269
LD 14

Some people are commenting on ukpollingreport.co.uk that the Tories are doing 'even better' in marginals and some outstanding results here might tip the balance away from Brown. Good news!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I was only 11 years old when we lost the 1997 General Election. We have indulged in a sustained period of self-disgust and factionalism and now, I believe, and more specifically today, we have emerged from this difficult phase.

This has been the most positive and invigorating Conference I have ever seen. The speeches have been passionate - the best of all given today by Iain Duncan Smith. Whatever you may believe about his capability to lead our Party, his work at the Centre for Social Justice has been inspirational and has given us the boost we need in convincing the public of the effectiveness of our social policy.

At the moment, I'm watching Bob Ainsworth being savaged by a hungry Paxman. It's compelling.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blears, Biscuits, Policies and Andrew Neil

Labour slogan - 'Not making policies one minute and having a load of broken biscuits the next'

Latest By-Election Results

At last, there seems to be some moderately good news for the Tories - a 3.7% swing in our favour in the Washington East council seat, and a 5.5% swing in Dover Town.

However, as we all know, local election results very rarely give much of a clue to the general election result. Michael Howard achieved pretty much 40% in 2004, but stil only polled 32% in the 2005 GE.

Furthermore, let's examine the Westminster seats for these two towns (including projections after boundary revisions):

Washington and Sunderland West:

Labour 21507 59.98%
Lib. Dem. 6564 18.30%
Conservative 5787 16.14%
BNP 892 2.48%
Neil Herron, Ind 608 1.69%
Jim Batty, UKInd 479 1.33%
Mad Cow Girl Warner, Lny 18 0.05%
Total 35855 52.55%

Lab Majority 14943 41.68%


Labour 21821 45.21%
Conservative 16891 35.00%
Lib. Dem. 7651 15.85%
UK Independence Party 1276 2.64%
Independent 607 1.25%
Howard Green, Grn 12 0.02%
Total 48258 67.52%

Lab Majority 4930 10.22%

So there we are. Dover certainly is winnable - indeed, it's probably one of the seats that would clinch a working Tory majority.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Police Community Support Officers

ConservativeHome, 'Cameron Watt: Scrap Police Community Support Officers'

I would like nothing better than to see PCSOs scrapped and replaced with proper police. I'm living in Salford at the moment, and most recently, when I had my car broken into and the stereo taken outside my front door, a couple of local PCSOs rang the doorbell and asked, 'Have you let the police know?'

Hang on, I thought. Aren't you the...?

No, they're not.

I then rang the police, was put through to an officer at a desk, who seemed completely disinterested and told me in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be able to do anything. There is a CCTV camera on our stretch of the road, but all the neighbours tell me it is switched off. Where is all the money going?

BorisforPM is absolutely right - relegate PCSOs to the office and remove their puny titles, and bring out the trained officers on to the streets. Confidence has to be reinvested in neighbourhood policing, and the current stewardship of PCSOs renders this aim unachievable.

As for Blackpool, it apparently contains some of the most deprived wards in the country, many plagued by drug addiction; which makes it all the more important that some (or all) of it is returned to Conservative hands at the next election. I should know - I was born there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What if Brown goes to the country this autumn?

...well it's quite simple. We'd lose. Badly.

Or is it that simple? With the Lib Dems only polling, on average, 17% at the moment, we have to consider where they would lose. UK Elect 6.2 shows that with the most recent polling averages (Lab 38.3%, Con 34%, LD 17%) that the Lib Dems would lose in the following constituencies:

Carshalton and Wallington
Hereford and South Herefordshire
Somerton and Frome
Taunton Deane
Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Collins' old seat)

However, being further behind labour than we were in 2005 means that the Tories would lose the following seats to Labour:

Croydon Central
Hemel Hempstead
Lancaster and Fleetwood (new seat)
Mid Derbyshire
Milton Keynes North
Preseli Pembrokeshire
Reading East
Sittingbourne and Sheppey
South Basildon and East Thurrock
South Thanet
The Wrekin

As a result, according to this forecast, the Conservatives would be left with 204 seats - that's a net loss of 9 after the latest boundary revisions. This would be an unacceptable result for the Party, particularly after such consistently good results through 2006 and earlier in 2007.

Again, I feel it necessary to highlight quite how difficult it is for the Party to win. Let's suppose the exit poll on election night was Lab 32 Con 40 LD 19. These are the results:

Con 307 (+94) (40%)
Lab 271 (-76) (32%)
LibD 40 (-20) (19%)

(Con short by 17)

Even with an 8-point lead, we cannot form an overall majority. This is because the swing is only 5.2% from Lab to Con. With a 7% swing, the results are as follows:

Con 327 (+114) (39.2%)
Lab 236 (-111) (28.4%)
LibD 56 (-4) (22.6%) (because this was a uniform two-party swing forecast, the Lib Dems remain largely static)

Con maj 6

In this highly optimistic scenario, I have collated the seats where the Conservative incumbents enjoy the most slender majorities; i.e., these are the 'biggest wins':

Stockton South
Sutton and Cheam (from the Lib Dems)
Barrow in Furness
Dudley North
Dagenham and Rainham
Blackpool North and Cleveleys
Elmet and Rothwell
North Cornwall (from the Lib Dems)
Leeds North East

All these seats have projected majorities of under 600. Stockton South currently has a projected Labour majority of 5912. THESE ARE THE SEATS WE HAVE TO WIN.

Lib Dems - NOT winning here

ConservativeHome, 20th September, 'Blog Reactions to Ming's Big Speech'.

We desperately need Ming to stay. Most election predictions would suggest that with the Lib Dems at 15-18%, they could lose around half of their seats. This would allow us to make significant headway across the south of England. However, Lib Dems continue to make progress in metropolitan boroughs in the North where we need to win. My concern is that the Conservative message is not being effectively communicated in the north, where the Lib Dems are capable of pulling off astonishing results - see Manchester Withington. We are in danger of being unable to break through in the north unless we can deliver a coherent and positive message which feels relevant to the electorate.

With awful policies such as granting illegal immigrants amnesty, and redistributive taxes, Lib Dems should not be winning anywhere. As Tories, we must be able to dismiss the Silly Party's policies and provide a viable alternative.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Asking the unaskable...

I have recently purchased two volumes of Arthur Seldon's collected articles. Those wishing to daydream about the full potential of the market economy should look no further. This extract from his 1988 article 'Political Bar to Economic Progress' is a perfect illustration of the problems of government ownership and centralization:

'In the commercial market we 'represent' ourselves directly. We spend our money on food, clothing, furnishing, motoring. We use our money - 'votes' - to buy what we want as individuals, families. If we don't like one supplier we can change to another.

The political 'market' is very different. Politicians spend other people's money. We the people are 'represented' indirectly in a tortuous chain of public meetings, conferences, motions, references back, elections, private conclaves, lobbies, compromises, hard bargains.

We submit to majority decisions on intimate personal services like education, medical care, housing and transport. And if we, as individuals or minorities, don't like what this Tower of Babel produces, we cannot escape.

In spending our own money, we make every penny count. In the political 'market' our cross on the ballot-paper makes not a scrap of difference. The cost of voting [...] can be high; the benefit is doubtful, immeasurable or absent.'

The 'Broken Society': Part 1 - Education

Living in Salford, I feel I can pass fairly accurate judgement on the state of Britain's 'society'. Social breakdown which is prevalent across the country is more likely to be exaggerated in less affluent areas, where crime and unemployment are high.

At present, Salford is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Most of Lower Broughton is being rebuilt. The Irwell Riverside will be transformed. Unemployment is comparatively low. So, apparently, is crime.

These days, though, politicians are speaking a different language. The problem has stopped being jobs and the economy and is now a sociological phenomenon centred around such things as deprivation, ignorance, lack of respect for law/family/govt. institutions, and selfishness.

I don't think a Labour government can solve these problems. They have tried to bury meritocracy, and replace it with some peculiar notion of universal equality. Where is the carrot and the stick for young people now? School-leaving teens are treated as clones: GCSEs, A Levels, University undergraduate; and yet, universities are struggling with the number of students having difficulties with basic English grammar, spelling and punctuation. Schools are being polluted by notions that teachers should be responsible for 'citizenship' and other meaningless notions of glib do-goodery. It is not the responsibility of a school to mould a pupil into a decent citizen, least of all a state school. It is for parents to teach children the basics of citizenship. Questions such as 'What does it mean to be British?' are not worth asking, because everyone has a different answer, and it is constantly changing. Being British is what the British do best. We do not need to be TAUGHT how to do it. This sort of nonsense going on in education means kids have less time to learn about important things.

I left university because I didn't believe I would gain enough from it to justify being there. There are few attending university at 18-20 years old who have much (detested phraseology) life experience. Second year students usually move into rented accommodation, at which point, some have to adopt a degree of financial nouse. Many, however, are completely covered by their parents' generous donations, and are left to spend their student loan WHICH THEY WILL HAVE TO PAY BACK.

All Conservatives should believe that only the brightest students should be at university. Universities should be centres of excellence. Britain's much-discussed 'skills shortage' could be replenished by limiting university places and encouraging less academic students to take up apprenticeships and job placements.

We are faced with a huge increase of graduates, whose courses cannot provide them with employment in their respective field. Meanwhile, we are short of plumbers, electricians, plasterers, and all manner of skilled tradesmen.

There is no shame in not attending university, indeed, I believe my prospects are better poised having thrown the towel in on the damn thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

By-election Disappointment

The recent by-elections in Sedgefield and Ealing Southall were an immense disappointment. The Party was hoping to make significant progress in the London constituency, and maybe even considering the possibility that we might win. Why, then, were the Liberal Democrats able to push us into third place? Their leader appears weak and at times, inept; the Lib Dems do not appear to be the political force that they were under the leadership of Charles Kennedy.
I had envisaged today, Friday 20th July, being a day of Lib Dem implosion; of plotting and scheming how to get rid of Ming. Instead, it has become another day of sober reflection, time given to consider why the Conservatives constantly do so badly in by-elections. After the death of Eric Forth, few thought it possible that the Liberal Democrats could run us so close in Bromley and Chislehurst. We nearly lost the seat in the end. It is true that constituencies which have suffered a peculiar result mid-term will return to safe Tory hands at the next election, but it remains worrying that we appear not to be able to perform at these key electoral contests. Had the Conservatives even pushed Labour close in Ealing, it would have been a wake-up call for Brown, who, at the moment, appears almost unassailable in his honeymoon period.
The fact that the Conservative vote increased by less than one per cent in both constituencies is alarming, because after eighteen months of David Cameron (who has been ahead in the polls for most of that time), the Party as a whole should expect an improved performance even in safe Labour seats. We do not need to do any better in our own safe seats! We are racking up huge majorities in very safe county seats, whilst our vote in the suburbs is still unacceptably low. If this is the result in London, it cannot bode well for the northern marginals, where the next election’s battleground will be fought. The Tories must win Blackpool South, South Ribble, Chorley, Bolton North West, Bolton North East, Bury North, Bradford West, Leeds North West and even Wakefield to form the next government. We must poll higher here to win.
In 2001 and 2005, the Conservative vote at the general elections hardly improved at all, indeed, in 2005, it was the Liberal Democrats which caused Labour to lose as many seats as they did. Our vote increased only marginally. In order to win in 2009/10 (or maybe earlier) there has to be an EIGHT PER CENT SWING TO US – not the Liberal Democrats. It is possible to win by polling less than 40% at a general election, but very unlikely, as Labour would have to do very badly – probably even worse than they did in 1983. The Liberal Democrats would also have to lose about half their seats. The Tories have to be in 43-44% territory to be confident of winning, and even then, if Labour poll more than 35% it is by no means guaranteed. The latest Populus poll giving Labour a 7% lead (40-33) is grave news and shouldn’t simply be taken as an anomalous result. YouGov, Mori and ICM have all shown that Brown has given Labour the boost they so badly needed, and he is beginning to succeed in distancing himself from Blair – casino policy, the differences with the US, and more relaxed language on terrorism all prove this.
We have to start convincing the electorate that we mean what we say. Hopefully, once our policy groups have reported in the autumn, we can begin to make progress. If Brown is ahead in a year’s time; possibly even six months’; we will not win, and I can guarantee that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Will Ming Survive the Summer?

Gordon's Cabinet

I've been having substantial fun today with the BBC's football squad predictor-style Gordon Brown Cabinet predictor. I'll outline my predictions:

Hewitt - has been simply quite dreadful on the recent junior doctors' scandal and her seemingly patronising style does not and can not appeal to the public

Kelly - the sorry state of HIPs says it all. Goodbye. She'll lose her seat at the next GE as well.

Reid (already known) - Blair's 'tough man' has not had an easy time of it since he took over from Charles Clarke. Splitting the Home Office in two is not going to have the desired effect. Reid must know this and has decided to go before it all goes wrong.

Prescott (already known) - a tactless politician whose policy implementation record has been so abysmal he had all his responsibilities taken off him.

Beckett - how she survived the farm repayments fiasco at DEFRA I will never know. She'll be leaving politics to spend more time with her caravan, much to the dismay of the motoring public.

Jowell - I cannot see her staying at DCMS unless Gordon wants her specifically to stay until the 2012 Olympics.

Browne - he may not go, but should be demoted after the row over the navy ex-internees selling their stories. It was a PR disaster from a government whose policies were founded on good PR.


Charlie Falconer - a close friend of Blair, but is already in position to parachute into the new Department of Justice.

Alan Johnson - has been a safe pair of hands so far after Ruth Kelly's disastrous 2006 saw her demoted, and is the most likely Deputy Prime Minister.

Jack Straw - after his surprise demotion to Leader of the House, Straw will be expecting one of the top three jobs, possibly Chancellor.

David Miliband - a rising star, and is likely to be rewarded for not standing against the Chancellor.

Alistair Darling - has been kept at arm's length by Blair but it likely to get a top job with Brown. A leading Brownite, his only stumbling block is the fact that he's Scottish, and therefore may have to let No. 11 go.

Peter Hain - a good showing in the DPM race may see him rewarded with any number of jobs - having done well seeing through the return of power sharing in Northern Ireland, he's likely to be promoted.

Douglas Alexander - Brownite rising star. He should expect something more challenging than his current brief.

Hazel Blears - for the moment, Hazel will be focusing on her deputy leadership campaign (which isn't going well) but she could be squeezed by Brownite cabinet contenders. DCMS, perhaps.

John Hutton - pensions is a notoriously detailed brief and Hutton may well survive and stay in his job despite the fact that he's known as a Blairite.


Stephen Timms - currently Chief Sec, he's been close to Gordon for some time and is a competent performer in the Commons. He could surprise everyone and be given something difficult.

Ed Balls - always a favourite for the BBC's Politics Show and Question Time, this capable media performer has been tipped for the Chancellorship before but surely Gordon couldn't be this audacious!

Grammar Schools and Academic Selection: Problems in the Party

Why the Conservative Party should bother itself with this internal disagreement about grammar schools at this stage of a parliament is beyond me. There was absolutely no need for David Willetts (will it or won't it?) to reignite the debate by reannouncing the Party's established position. There was also no need for David Cameron to use such dramatic language in response to concerns from backbenchers and Party grassroots.

The real issue buried amongst the debris here is academic selection. The question posed is: can it be fair for schools to hand-pick the cleverest children at the age of eleven? We then must ask: why is it that schools want to choose the brightest children? They want to achieve the best results, do they not? Of course, that question can also be answered simply: because less intelligent children exist. For those of us who believe that children are NOT born with the same aptitude, it seems natural that those who are the brightest should be helped to reach their full potential. This is not to say that those who are less intelligent are academic cul-de-sacs who should be taught in classes of 40 by ill-equipped supply teachers in a makeshift shelter; it is to point out that the cleverest children thrive in the company of their similarly intelligent peers. It promotes academic competition between pupils and provides social cohesion within a school.

Those kids who are not as bright, many of whom attend comprehensives, might well receive teaching which is just as good but it cannot have the same effect as with a group of brighter children. Neither is this to say that the best teaching should be reserved for the most intelligent. It is, however, a fact of life that kids, at whatever age, are not similarly gifted, talented, intelligent; however you want to put it; and they cannot be taught the same cirriculum simultaneously in one classroom by the same teacher. Clever kids who attend comprehensives are always going to feel alienated at some point because, ridiculously, in this day and age, it is still frowned upon by the left wing establishment for some children to excel in certain areas whilst others lag behind. It is seen as the fault of the intelligent pupil.

One cannot describe academic selection in the terms 'fair' and 'unfair' - because life isn't fair. Phrases like 'everyone in the classroom is capable of doing well' are wrong because, unfortunate as it is, not everyone is capable of doing well academically. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. All pupils should experience competition, which is why one cannot group the kids in the lowest brackets with those in the top because they cannot compete! Over many decades, children of similar aptitude have been streamed within subjects so that they can get the most from the teaching they receive in their particular groups. The situation is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that many school sports events have been made non-competitive - should it not be the case that pupils less inclined to academic success should be given a chance to shine?

This is the first time I have seriously disagreed with the Cameron team on a matter of policy. It has been very unwise of him, if it has been the case, that he has felt the need to pick a fight with his Party so that he achieves a 'Clause Four' moment. The Conservative Party does not have a 'Clause 4'. He bases his reasons for withdrawing support for grammar schools on the basis that they don't serve the community and are no longer 'relevant'. Mr Cameron, I ask you this: is it not relevant that the most gifted children, from whatever background they come, to receive the best education they can?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sir John Major talks to Elinor Goodman

The contenders

For PM:

1) Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP
2) Crazy Lefties MP²

For Deputy PM:

1) Rt. Hon. Postman Alan MP
2) Rt. Hon. Awful Blears MP
3) Hon. John Cruddas MP
4) Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP
5) Rt. Hon. Orange Hain MP
6) Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman MP
7) More Crazy Lefties? Diane Abbott? John McDonnell if he isn't nominated? Michael Foot?

My picks for the Deputy race:

Posty Alan starts favourite because he's a reliable media performer and hasn't suffered any unpleasant media coverage over the past year. Inanely grinning Blears may have quite a few supporting MPs (including the Work and Pensions Secretary, John Hutton) and her position as Party Chairman may give her an extra boost with the grassroots Party. Cruddas is apparently the TUs' favourite and may come from nowhere to give Posty and the awful Blears a run for their collective (and probably substantial) money. Benn, Hain and Harman stand less of a chance; especially Benn, whose vote may be squeezed. Hain is ghastly but the affable (if occasionally frosty) Harman may prove to be the dark horse here - her infamous QT gaffe may play well with Gord's supporters.

The next seven weeks will provide excellent entertainment for those of us who want to see as much damage as possible inflicted upon the Labour Party at this terribly difficult time.

TIP: If News 24 is rubbish, watch Sky, but flick back to 24 during the break to see if it has improved. If it hasn't, and Sky happens to be rubbish as well, watch BBC Parliament.

The cynic leaves the opportunist stage

The following is my blog entry on conservativehome.com thread 'It's offical: Blair to resign tomorrow' (Wednesday, May 9th 2007)

'In between the cavernous pauses and vacant gazing, there will be the usual dithyrambic nonsense about the finest public services and the strongest economy; yet he leaves No. 10 with swathes of public money being wasted and interest rates and inflation on the rise; not to mention the Iraq fiasco.In the closing moments of BBC Parliament's re-run of the 1997 election, I watched Blair's debut at the dispatch box in the Queen's Speech Debate:

'On education, on health, on jobs, on crime and on the economy, the people's priorities are our priorities and the people's concerns are our concerns;...'

Today, nothing could be further from the truth. New Labour relies upon election victories to prolong its vacuous existence, and, as a political force it cannot change or evolve, because it is not ideologically credible. New Labour could never have been a long-term project; it relied on a particular moment in history when the Conservative Party happened to have very low popular support. What has Blair actually done with such unprecedented electoral success? Domestic policy has been implemented by way of a cold and unprincipled series of media releases and shambolic knee-jerk reactions. Foreign policy has, by and large, had disastrous consequences.

This incompetent administration will be thrown out of government by a Conservative Party which has always been able to adapt to modern needs, and has always been able to come back from defeats, because its sound basis for government has never changed. New Labour is not a political thesis, it is a an uncompromising exercise in expediency.

Down with Blair and his ludicrous government!'