Friday, 28 May 2010
Monday, 24 May 2010
Already with the Queens speech due to be given tomorrow, the traditional curtain raiser for the next parliament, attention is beginning to turn to next May’s Holyrood elections. The SNP announced today that they would postpone the £300 million cuts from the Holyrood budget until the 2011/12 budget, negotiated in the run up to the said elections.
It is interesting therefore to see Wendy Alexander putting down a few early markers in today’s PDE. The Glasgow Airport Rail Link is the issue that will not go away, Alexander’s argument was always that the cancellation has cost Renfrewshire jobs and revenue. However today she is claiming that the link will have have brought 675 jobs to the area, in the shape of expansion to the business area surrounding the Airport. She says “GARL was estimated to bring 675 new jobs to Paisley Town Centre in the three to four years after it’s completion. These would have included many airport related office jobs.
In particular, new jobs in businesses that need to cluster close to the airport but not on site would have come to Paisley… It is vital that this project is kept alive for the future so Renfrewshire councillors should put Paisley jobs before party interest this week and reaffirm their support for 675 potential jobs”
The SNP undoubtedly failed to counter the charge that they were “Anti-Glasgow” during the Westminster election, by cancelling the project outright and not promising to look at better cost effective options. Alexander appears to have given the current administration another opportunity to look at better, and less costly, options than the GARL project, or at least signal their intention to look at these options. Any possible rethink could look at providing a railway station to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre, Renfrew, Erskine as well as the Airport itself.
The problem with the GARL project was that it was expensive for what in essence was a glorified shuttle service between Glasgow city centre and Glasgow Airport, that and most of the building works were concentrated in scything through St James Playing fields. In was certainly New Labour’s pet project. Hopefully Wendy’s questions can provide a more cost effective alternative which will serve more people. Mono-rail anyone?
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
While the temptation would be there to put this rise through, after all those economists say that a rate of 20% would bring in £11.5 billion a year. The question has to be asked about the damage this would cause to the economy. Prices going up would lead to artificially higher inflation figures, while the higher price of goods would mean a lot less money in people’s pockets, at a time where we need money to circulate in the economy. It would not be just the government broke, as many people would see their money disappear with VAT-inflated prices.
Of course while the Tories prided themselves as being the party that cuts taxes, VAT has proven to be the Tories favourite stealth tax. They introduced the original 15% rate in Geoffrey Howe’s first budget in June 1979, while in 1992, they put VAT on fuel after promising not to do so during that years General Election. It may well be that before the cuts, the decision on VAT will be an early indicator of whether the Tories really have shifted to the left.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
There seems to have been a post on most days of this campaign from this blog. Having looked at the data, I can confirm that these are the 5 most read posts relating to the election during the campaign for GE2010. Cue the Top of the Pops theme of your choice…
5) – Election Night 2010: The one about the estimated time for which result is due, and highlighting the key results. That one worked really well, didn’t it?
4) – An Election Leaflet (Yay!): The one about the first election address i received, for wee Dougie.
3) – The Economy Debate: The Paisley Version: The one about the debate about the economy held at the Methodist Hall in Paisley, 48 hours before the economy themed “Leaders Debate”
2) – The Prospective Champion? – The SNP’s Leaflet: The one about the SNP’s election address.
1) – On Tonight’s 15 to 1… : The one about the first of the “Leaders Debates”, and ITV’s interesting production values.
I should point out that the second most red post during this period had nothing at all to do with the election, it was this post about the death of Malcolm McLaren. In the next couple of days will be the second of my General Election round-up posts.
Friday, 14 May 2010
The first thing is that it is now clear that this incarnation of Tory government is not the hard-line Thatcherite style government which New Labour were all reading us bedtime scare stories about. Remember kids, don’t look under your bed, there might be a clockwork robot, the Vashta Nerada or worse George Gideon Osborne hiding under your bed. This government looks like it is a throwback to the old style 1950’s pragmatic one nation Tories, except there is a radical-left of centre streak which is a pleasant surprise. Indeed in some areas it looks more left wing than New Labour ever did.
Brown is not the only thing to have gone this week. Since Cameron took the Queen’s invitation to form a new government, the hated ID cards have bitten the dust, as has the DNA database. The third runway at Heathrow, which BAA had argued as being necessary has been scrapped. It should be noted that while most Scots voted against a Conservative government, they also voted for the continuation and implementation of the aforementioned deeply unpopular policies.
On the way in will be a phased introduction of the £10,000 income tax threshold, championed by the institute of fiscal studies alongside this very blog, is on its way. We will also see a “clampdown on unacceptable bonuses”, and a committee will look at “structural Banking reform”. There will also be full implementation of the smoke and mirrors act that was the Calman Commission. Personally, I think the next step should be full fiscal autonomy (with oil revenues included – after all to use an old advertising slogan, “Its Scotland’s Oil”).
Calman isn’t the only change to the “constitution”. The Next Westminster election will, if the coalition survives, happen on Thursday 7th May 2015, with fixed terms of 5 years from then on. I wonder why this has been announced without debate? Why is the term 5 years and not 4, and why has the first Thursday in May become more desirable than, say, the 3rd week in June. Of course if the next election is to be held on that date, then it will happen on the same day as the Hollyrood election after next year’s one. Already the amendment to the No Confidence debates has caused stirrings in each party, with 50%+1 having been scrapped in favour of 55% being enough to bring down a government.
The overall problem facing this administration will be taming the deficit caused by New Labour’s willingness to bale out the likes of Fred Goodwin and the other bankers. Cuts will happen. How the cuts happen, what is cut, and the reaction to the cuts will be, i think, be how this administration is judged. This administration has acted struck the right note so far with how it has operated. Any retreat into Thatcherite glee at the cuts will destroy the good impression that this Government has made so far. It is only then that i see the wholesale evaporation of Lib Dem votes. However, let us not forget that this recession has been caused by, and exacerbated by New Labour. Some dignified silence from their Scottish apologists might be advisable.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
So that’s the General Election 2010 over and done, with more twists and turns after the polls closed than before. Today we were expecting more negotiations, before the first sign’s of rebellion from the newly re-elected New Labour MP’s signalled their displeasure at the deal being cooked up. Chef of the “Rainbow Alliance” critics was my own MP wee Doogie. Not long afterwards word began to leek out that the Labour/Lib Dem deal was over. Coincidence?
With no prospect of forming the next Government, Brown has put in motion the dance of the constitution, which sees the defeated incumbent resign and the victor called for by the palace. Curiously Brown has activated this dance before an agreement had been formally agreed.
As we have now come to the end of a era, it is a very different country to the one we lived in when John Major was ousted from government in the early hours of May 2nd 1997. We have a Scottish Parliament with some tax raising powers, and a minimum wage. And Have I Got News For You was still funny. We are now signed up to the court of Human Rights, which is a good thing. Unfortunately its an even better thing for ambulance chasers and lawyers. The gap between rich and poor has also grown as Mandleson described himself as “seriously relaxed” about people getting rich, while estates like the one I'm sitting in at the moment have just fallen off the clifface, riddled with drink and drug problems as ill-educated young adults maraud the place. The main legacy of New Labour has been it’s adoption of Thatcherite economic policy, which has left this country up to it’s eyes in debt while those responsible claim their bonuses.
These are the issues facing the new Cameron administration. So far he has struck an OK note, a strange mixture of Churchill’s “All I have to offer is blood, toil, tears and sweat” and Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. We have a huge challenge ahead, and hopefully the coalition agreement means targeted cuts rather than the scorched earth policy of George Osborne, Michael Heseltine is making these conciliatory noises. The £10,000 Income tax threshold appears to have survived. For many people, the third quote that sticks in the mind is one from Benny Barrett, Malcolm MacDowell’s character in “Our Friends In The North” - “Hard times ahead for the little people”
Monday, 10 May 2010
To be honest, i wasn’t expecting to be writing about any runners and riders regarding the succession to the leadership of the successor party to Labour. Well… at least until the end of the week anyway. For the moment though Brown is still prime minister and New Labour leader.
But the last couple of hours has been about Brown stepping aside. Amongst the “obituaries” for Brown, the point has been universally missed that his Premiership was sunk by events sown by… er… the former Chancellor Gordon Brown. It was Brown who set up the useless financial regulator the FSA, and who favoured Thatcherite style Laziez Faire regulation of the financial sector. It was Brown who chose to raid peoples pensions to plug the hole in the finances in 1997, rather than put income tax up. And it was Brown, in his last act before moving into Number 10, who doubled income tax for low earners by scrapping the 10p base rate.
So, who will be the next leader of New Labour. As I said yesterday, i don’t rate David Milliband (too lightweight), I don’t rate Ed Balls (Oily two-faced arse), I don’t particularly think Johnson or Straw have the gravitas required, and Ed Milliband should clearly still be in school. Alistair Darling’s handling of the economy has been OK, he should have reversed the 10p cut rather than cut VAT to 15% though, and he shouldn’t have dithered so much over Northern Rock (I personally think we should have left the banks to burn), but the point is Darling might actually be one to watch here. Crucially his reputation is relatively intact as a safe pair of hands (And right on cue Jeff Randall has made just this point on BSkyB)
Someone else who should be watched is Harriet Harman. She surprisingly came second in the deputy leadership elections 3 years ago, beating the aforementioned Johnson. She is a favourite of Labour’s women, and crucially is not clearly a Blairite (losing her job after sending her children to a fee paying school, months before Blair did the same thing) or a Brownie (Brown apparently didn’t know what to do with Harman when she won that election). I can easily see Harman emerge as a more credible candidate of the Left than Balls (who isn’t really that left wing, its just that union money gives him that veneer). Just as long as she tells hubby to keep his mouth shut, as anyone who saw Jack Dromey’s performances over the weekend can testify.
While I have been writing this the Tories have offered a referendum on Alternative Vote to the Lib Dem’s. It is now obvious that THE stumbling block is electoral reform. I’m not really sure which planet the Lib Dems are on, but let me just remind them of a few facts. We are in the most serious economic crisis since the 1930’s, therefore the priority should be reformation of HMRC, fairer taxes, targeting cuts which will not set the country back decades and generally setting a course back from the brink. I may well be alone in thinking this, and please do feel free to let me know otherwise, but there’s no settled will in the country for electoral reform, just political reform.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
While the ramifications of Thursday’s “indecisive” vote are continuing to fill the news channels, with reports from various Tory supporting papers noticing that perhaps UKIP have kept the Tories from a working majority. Attention is slipping a bit from Alex Salmond’s “Coalition of the Willing” or whatever Salmond’s anti-Tory coalition is called.
The SNP in a sense got an OK result from a poor campaign. Subrosa was irritated by the “More Nat’s Less Cuts” slogan, though personally I thought the Scotland’s Champions slogan was undermined somewhat by the local SNP/Lib Dem led council’s own programme of… er… cuts. The most controversial being the closure last year of a 25 year old school building (which happens to be adjacent to a proposed supermarket development), and the scrapping of school transport for all pupils who live up to 3 miles away from their school. Witnessing parents take apart the SNP candidate for Paisley North at the hustings meeting convinced me that the SNP would do badly at this election, that and their obsession over the “Leaders Debates” which clouded everything else.
The inability to deal with New Labours “Ripped-Off” campaign also had a part to play in the SNP’s poor showing. Which might part explain why the SNP are partially interested in an anti-Tory pact with New Labour. The tag of Tartan Tories has been the roadblock to electoral success in the central belt for the SNP since 1979. What better way to rid your self of the tag than to scupper a prospective Tory government. The SNP, i think want to be seen as the good guy’s. Cosying up to a party that has been happy to mis-represent your policies in the past, and will do so again, is not the way to remove that road-block.
For the SNP, they must get back to their day-job’s, governing Scotland. With 360 days left until the next Holyrood elections, the SNP need to work towards winning a second term, preferably not with a replication of 2007’s results. They need to stop being the Alan Lamb of Scottish politics, i.e. they need to play spin better. Their failure to successfully rebut the New Labour line over GARL is a case in point, which has lead to a perception that it is the SNP’s fault that Glasgow is short of money. It is New Labour’s sucessful re-branding of themselves as the opposition – despite being the incumbant party – which won them truckloads of seats in the central belt, and it is this lie which went unchecked.
New Labour are now in a state of limbo after the Lib Dem/Tory negotiation's. With the Lib Dem’s edging closer to a sort of agreement with the Conservatives, it looks as if Brown will have day’s left as Prime Minister. Friday’s result means that this new parliament is unlikely to go full term, which means that the next Westminster election will happen sooner rather than later. Which in turn will amend/truncate/alter New Labour’s timetable for electing a new leader. One suspect’s that this subject was up for discussion today when Campbell and Mandleson were meeting with Brown today.
Of the names in the frame, Johnson isn’t really keen on the post, either of the Milliband’s are too inexperienced. Ed Balls can only be described as yeuch!, while I've always though of Straw as being a bit lightweight. There is something about Darling and Harman as well, but this is not really the time to go into this.
I think that Brown is waiting for the Tories and the Lib Dem’s to agree on a legislative programme, before departing the scene. The question is though, how long will he remain as leader of his party?
Friday, 7 May 2010
|New Labour||258||29.0%|| |
|Lib Dem’s||57||23.0%|| |
|Short by 20||Turnout||65.1%|
On a swing of 5%, the Tories fallen short of an overall majority. For almost every party, there is something to be disappointed about. The Tories produced swings in excess of the 6.9% swing required for an overall majority, even picking up seats over the initial 116 seats required to get Cameron into Downing Street. Yet the Tories have fallen short.
New Labour have fallen below the 30% barrier for the first time since 1983, they have shelled 5 million votes since Blair’s first landslide win 13 years ago, yet there is a sense that it could have been so so much worse, particularly as once again they are reliant on a large contingent from Scotland. Of the 258 seats won, 41 will be Scottish. Wales will send 4 less New Labour MP’s than they did 5 years ago. For them, they need to identify why they have fallen below even the amount garnered in defeat in 1992. If Brown is to resign as New Labour leader next week, the choice of replacement between David Milliband, Alan Johnson, Ed Balls and Ed Milliband is vital for the future direction of the walking corpse that is the old Labour party. I thought last night that Darling is a name not discussed as a successor to Brown, and that Darling might be an interesting proposal.
The Lib Dem’s have had something of a topsy turvy night. The garnered their highest amount of votes under the Liberal Democrats banner, yet contrived to lose 5 seats. David Steel thought that the Lib Dems lost momentum and votes in the days leading up to the vote, but was unsure why. I suspect, as i mentioned last night that the Lib Dem’s immigration policy, the perceived lack of clarity regarding their “Amnesty” policy – may have cost them votes. I also think that Clegg’s unnecessary horse trading might have put people off as well.
The SNP had a mixed night too. They held on to their seats from the 2005 election, with increased majorities. But they failed to take any of their target seats, with swings away from the SNP in all but 3 of the SNP’s 14 target seats. There are reasons for this, which I will look into at a later date, not least the poor choice of slogan, “Scotland’s Champions”, which did not play well in Renfrewshire (where we have an SNP/Lib Dem council making very unpopular cuts), or in Glasgow, where the GARL issue fed into New Labour’s “Ripped-Off-Glasgow” campaign.
As Brown and Cameron began their amorous advances on Clegg as the day went on, it has looked more and more like Clegg and Cameron will find common ground and stick with it. For me the Lib Dem’s should have three priorities ahead of Electoral Reform. They should press for reform of HMRC, tightening up the various tax loopholes which sees an estimated £20,000 million off shored by various companies, they should press for reform of Income Tax, with the implementation of the £10,000 tax threshold (which will release money into the economy, a lot of which will return to the Treasury in the shape of Duty on cigarettes and alcohol and VAT). The Lib Dems should also press for targeted cuts rather than the scorched earth policy of George Osborne which would set the UK back years in terms of damage to our infrastructure.
By the looks of things the balanced parliament outcome reflects the uncertainty of the economic situation this country is in. For that, the politicians only have themselves to blame for hiding the truth and playing to the Bankers and Traders in the City, and as such it it they who should get real as they play with our lives. Depressingly though, this result means that this new parliament is unlikely to last the full term. I think, and I’ll stick my neck on the line here, that this parliament will last just beyond next May’s Holyrood election and that there will be another Westminster Election before the end of 2011.
Do you hook up with New Labour and get the voting reform that you desire. Or do you go with Cameron, who has fallen just short (even with the support of the Unionist Irish MP's) of an overall majority. Brown's statement has one message... at the moment Brown aint going anywhere.
Update - 14:15: Having now got rid of the Gas-man, I've now seen Brown's statement. I'm not sure where he is, is he still suffering sleep depravation? They have dropped a further million votes from 2005.
I think that he is just buying time, and that the game will be up for Brown before Monday. The Cam-bot's statement is due soon though...
On votes cast, the Lib Dems having had a bad night bizarely have gathered their highest vote, with at the moment 6.6 million votes cast in favour of the Lib Dems.
In my previous elections, i do not remember such an uncertain picture. Yet if you look at the big picture, the new parliament fits into place.
The big story of the night has been the prospect of a hung parliament. As it stands, Brown has clearly lost the election. He, from his body language, knows it. But the electorate look as if they don’t quite trust Cameron. And who can blame them. I can’t quite believe the comments of the Paisley South Tory candidate, where he claimed that regarding spending cuts - “There were no sacred cows, apart from the NHS” , was not more widely reported. But to quote Douglas Alexander, it was a two horse race, and his horse lost.
While Comedy Dave ponders his next move, at this point he has gained 53 seats but is still in hung parliament territory, he still has some work to do even after the results are in. Nick Clegg must wonder where it has all gone wrong. We were all set for 80+ Lib Dems in the new parliament… until the exit poll pointed to the possibility of losses. I suspect that the Tory and New Labour misrepresentation of the Lib Dem’s immigration policy might have cost them votes, as well as all the talk of coalitions and how to play the hung parliament game.
Here in Scotland, we have taken all the economic warnings and… well stuck our heads in the sand and re-elected exactly the same people who lost their nerve when the Bankers were threatening all sorts. It is incredibly dispiriting to see these failures re-elected. Yes Thatcher destroyed our industries, and our ship-building, but Labour deprived those industries of funds to modernise, and New Labour stood back and let the financial industries do as they pleased. Remember, it was they who stood back as Kraft stole Cadbury and said nothing to do with us guv. The feeble 40 indeed…
I think that the SNP missed a trick this election, focusing on cuts clearly didn’t work. I also think the SNP need to work out a narrative for Westminster elections, to figure out where they fit in regarding Westminster. As Scotland’s main pro-independence party, that should in theory be easy to figure out.
As the swing sits at the moment, and it is an average figure, the current swing is showing as 5.2% to the Conservatives. On the calculus, this turns out as…
… which shows the Conservatives short by 24. I think that this will be the final score with 200 seats to declare.
Time for bed methinks…
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Conservatives – 307
New Labour - 255
Lib Dems – 59
Others – 29
Tories short by 19 seats
Just about my pre-campaign prediction, surprised at the Lib Dems dropping 3 seats. Has the Tories running on immigration worked? Who knows what would have happened if the campaign had continued? Are we in for a re-run of 1992 where a late swing is missed? New Labour are predicted to shed about 100 seats, no meltdown?
But we shall see if this is how the commons looks come tea-time tomorrow…
PS: as this is my 200th post, can i again thank those who have read my posts and those who comment.
PPS: Bugger, they've let Tavish Scott out of whatever zoo he's been hiding away in.
22:53 First declaration: Houghton & Sunderland South, Labour hold but 8.4% swing to the Tories.
23:08 Exit poll has now been revised...
Conservitives - 305
New Labour - 255
Lib Dems - 61
Others - 29 - Tories now short by 21
Still a disapointing night for the Lib Dem's if this turns out to be the final result. The Sunderland Swing would be enough to the see the Tories home with around a 50 seat majority if replicated...
23:27 Washington: Labour hold, again a lower majority - 11.6 % swing to the Tories. As Archie would say Woooof. First of the key seats coming up soon, Sunderland Central.
23:42 Sunderland Central: Labour hold, lower majority - lower swing to the tories (4.8%) this time. A break in the pattern this constituancy. The BNP have picked up 1000 votes in each of the three constituancies so far.
00:29 BBC reporting that the Greens have taken the seat of Brighton, their first seat at Westminster level.
By the way, Hollywood Patter and Malc are doing some live blogging too. All quiet on the western front...
00:52: A couple of results have snuck under the radar - New Labour hold Darlington, on a reduced majority - swing to the Tories 9.1%. Labour hold Durham, 8.9% swing to the Tories. Thornbury & Yate a Lib Dem hold but a swing to the Tories of 4.3%. A result that might send shivers up the party workers in Cowley Street.
00:59: Arfo has fallen to Plaid Cymru, the first gain of the night, on a 3.7% swing. New Labour has been on the skids in Wales, this seems to confirm that trend.
01:03: Kingswood has fallen to the Tories, their first gain of the night - a huge result as the swing is 9.4%. The BBC is reporting that this seat is 135th on the Tories list. Lib Dem vote slightly down as well. Are we seeing another 1992, where the exit polls missed late swing to the Tories? The BBC are also reporting that Basildon South has also gone blue. Basildon & Battersea are running late.
01:08: First Scottish result, Labour hold Rutherglen, with a 1.5% swing to SNP.
01:10: Lib Dems hold Torbay, 1.5% swing to Lib Dems. 57th on the Tory list that one.
01:15: Another Scottish result, Labour hold Motherwell + Wishaw, with a 1% swing to Labour from the SNP
Jeremy Vine is making the point that the swing in Labour's north east heartlands is hugely against the dominant party. Yet the two results from Scotland shows no swing against Labour. Do Scot's scare more easily one wonders, vote for us or the Bogey-Thatcher will get you!
01:22: Phil Wilson holds on to the Sedgefield seat once occupied by one Tony Blair. 11.6% swing to the Tories here.
01:33: Labour hold Kirkaldy - Brown's back in the Common's, his 7th term as MP for the seat.
01:37: Brown's speech is somewhat spoiled by the big blue banner saying "Con Gain Battersea" - and they have! 9th on the Tories list, they take it with a swing of 6.5% - Brown ends his speech saying "I won't let you down" - a downbeat speech. Tonight maybe is the end of the New Labour project after all.
01:45: Labour hold Dundee East - an SNP target. A swing away from the SNP of 2.5% Not a good night for the SNP so far. Glenrothes has seen a 6% swing to Labour too.
01:55: Conservitives hold Guildford - bad news for the Lib Dems as this was top of their list of target seats. 6.9% swing here.
01:57: First gain of the night for Labour, Blaenau Gwent in Wales from Peoples Voice...
02:00: SNP on the scoreboard at last, holding Angus. Depressingly though Eric Joyce is back into parliament, having been re-elected by Falkirk. 7% swing to the SNP though.
02:04: Ben Bradshaw holds Exeter. A loss here would have pointed to a huge Tory majority. As it is the Tory swing is 6%.
02:06: Glasgow East has been retained by Labour, on a swing of 3.4% (from the 2005 election result). Thatcheresque is the only word to describe Margaret Curran's expression.
02:11: another SNP target goes a beggng as Labour retain Livingstone... as wee Dougie is re-elected. Joy...
02:15: More on Paisley South, SNP re-take 2nd place. Interestingly the Tory candidate Gordon McCaskill- the chap who said that there was no sacred cows regarding spending cuts - took third , edging the Lib Dem into fourth. So much for my vote.
02:29: Lembit's out! Huge swing to the Tories
02:33: Good news for the AJ4PM bloggers, Johnson is back in Parliament. Perth & North Perthshire stays SNP, with an increased majority. Basildon South and Thurrock has also gone blue, with a huge 7.5% swing. Tamworth's swing was even bigger, 9.5%.
02:40: The hammer of the Nat's is back in Westminster... Jim Murphy retains his seat in East Renfrewshire. Increased majority as well. Missed opportunities Salmond...
02:48: Salmond apparently doesn't understand Glasgow, according to Murphy, as if Glasgow is some sort of parallell universe.
In the real world The Lib dems have gained Eastbourne and Somerset & Frome, and held Eastleigh. The Tories have won Pendle, ousting Gordon Prentice, Stafford and Erewash & Harrogate. Erewash was won on a 10% swing by the way.
02:50: RECOUNT AT BIRMINGHAM EDGEBASTON
02:57: Tories gain Blackpool North on a 6.9% swing (4.25% swing was required). Derbeyshire South has also gone blue on a 9.8% swing. The Cam-bot is also back into Westminster, for his 3rd Term in the Commons.
03:01: As Tom Harris retains his seat, the Cam-bot says that Labour has lost his mandate to govern, and that the country wants change. Boy there are a lot of missed opportunities out there.
03:10: Darling retains his seat too on a swing of 1% to Labour. Tacturn speech. I wonder if Darling might be an outside bet for Labour leader if/when Brown steps down. SNP beaten into 3rd place in Glasgow North West
03:14 Jo Swinson clings on to her Dunbartonshire East seat, surviving a 2.1% swing to Labour.
03:23: Currently the results indicate an average swing of just under 5% to the Conservitives, which points to the Tories falling 29 seats short of an overall majority (Tory:296, Lab: 269,Lib Dem: 58, others: 27). Not far off the exit poll at the start of the evening.
03:35:Newton Abbot has gone Tory, gained from the Lib Dem's on a 5.8% swing. Andrew Smith has held on to his seat though, on a 4% swing. Lib Dem's have gained Burnley from Labour though, on a huge 9% swing. Oh and Hague's back into the commons.
03:45: Tories take Carlisle, big win. Needing 7%, they managed a swing of 7.7%. That would have suggested a big Tory win, but... but... but..
03:35: Rochdale stays red, confirming the Lib dem's are not having the best of nights. Small swing to Labour in Biggot-gate county...
03:49: Romsey & Southampton North has gone Blue, a 4.5% swing from the Lib Dems. That first "Leaders Debate" seems a very long time ago.
03:51: David Mundell keeps his seat, a 2.6% swing to the Tories. Will he be the only Tory in the village?
04:04: Stockton South goes blue... 7% swing. They have also ousted the independent MP Richard Taylor from Wyre Forrest.
04:14: Aaaand there's the body blow result of the night, Labour hold Ochil, another swing away from the SNP, this time by 4.4%.
04:35: Jaqui Smith has been ousted, losing to a 9% swing.
04:54: Balls retains his seat, but the former Home secretary Charles Clarke is ousted, a big win for the Lib Dems. Balls stays as a contender to succede Brown...
Back to business then. With the closest General Election since 1992 due to reach its climax at 10pm tonight, and the polls showing a hung parliament, the question is what will happen?
Tradition dictates that the first inkling of a result is from the exit polls, which are released as the polls close. The BBC though don’t have a great record in this respect, having predicted a hung parliament in 1987 and 1992. The first results normally come in at around 11pm, with Sunderland Central normally one of the first to declare. This election, the thing to watch with this seat is the probable Tory swing as this seat is thought to be the more “Tory friendly” of the Sunderland seats, even though New Labour are still expected to win this seat.
Due to declare at around 1am are a couple of seats which will act as real pointers as to what will happen. Birmingham Edgbaston is among the top of the Tories target list, a swing of 2% should take this seat, while Battersea will only require a swing of 0.4%. Of significance also declaring at this time is Basildon South & Thurrock East, the successor seat to Basildon. David Amess win here in 1992 was a harbinger that Labour were not going to win that election. A swing of 1.1% is required for the Tories to win this seat. Due to declare half an hour later are a couple of interesting seats. Rochdale has been the centre of attention because of “Biggotgate”, but a swing to the Lib Dems of 0.16% will see them re-take this seat the relinquished in 1997. Ipswich on the other hand is among the seats that will be crucial for the Tories if they are to win a majority, a swing of 6.1% is required to take this seat.
Gordon Brown should win his Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeith seat around about 2am. Among the key results to be announced around this time are Dudley North and Amber Valley, both constituencies the Tories need to take to win an outright majority. Ben Bradshaw’s Exeter seat is also due to be declared around about 2am. If his seat falls to the Tories, and a 9.1% swing is required here to topple him, a real shock could be on the cards – a Tory majority in the 60-70 seat bracket. An indicator of Lib Dem fortunes will be Torbay, a 3.6% swing (which is within the realms of their polling) will see the Lib Dems take this seat. The two local Paisley seats are also due to be declared around this time.
2:30am is pencilled in for Nick Cleggs victory speech as he retains his Sheffield Hallam seat. At this point we should know which way the wind is blowing. Swindon North (Swing Required – 3.1%), and Blackpool North (Swing Required - 4.26%) are key seats for Cameron to win if he is to have a majority. A swing of 7.1% will see the Tories take Stockton South, and will point to a small majority. Jim Murphy should also know his fate at around this point in the proceedings,with a similar 7.1% swing required by the Tories to unseat him. We should also have the first indications of how well the SNP have done in this election. Stirling is an SNP target seat, with a swing required of 5.5% needed for the SNP to take this seat. The SNP are defending Perth and Perthshire North, a swing of 1.5% will be enough for the Tories to win this seat.
By the time Cameron makes his victory speech after retaining his Witney seat, we should know if the he is on his way to 10 Downing Street. The six Glasgow seats are due to declare around about 3am, we will find out the fate of John Mason, the SNP’s shock winner of Glasgow East in a By-Election in 2008, around this time. Carlisle and Luton North are both due to declare around about 3am as well, a 7.1% swing is required to win Carlisle, a win here will see Cameron home with a majority. A Conservative win in Luton South – with a 8.2% swing – will point to a win with a comfortable majority. Also due to declare at 3am is Morley & Outwood, the seat of New Labour’s much loved Schools Minister Ed Balls. A swing of 12% is required to unseat him, and to fulfil all of those Tory fantasies of a “Portillo” moment, which funnily enough occurred at a similar stage in the proceedings.
By 3:30am we should have a clear picture of whether Cameron will be Prime Minister or we will have to wait for the horse-trading to begin. Whatever happens, history looks like it will be made.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
As you have probably guessed, I have decided to vote Lib Dem. There are three reasons for this. Their policy of re-organising and reforming of Income Tax is long overdue. Their policy of raising the tax threshold to £10,000 has been called the best incentive to low paid workers to enter work by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. This proposal will also inject some much needed liquidity into the ecconomy, as the British econnomy is still lacking in movement of money. They also back the rise in the top rate of tax being 50%, as well as the tightening of tax loopholes. I think that it was Stewart Hosie that said that not much money would be re-couped from this (if anyone can prove me wrong here, let me know). I disagree. According to Flat Earth News, in 2003 companies successfuly evaded paying £20,000 million in taxes, this figure will be higher considering the Guardian and Private Eye outed Tesco as tax evaders in 2008. Even in the past couple of weeks, it was revealed Tesco have re-located their DVD website to Jersey to avoid paying taxes. It's a pity reform of the HMRC was not on the agenda for all of the main parties.
The Lib Dems are also in favour of tighter regulation of the banks, which none of the other parties seem particularaly interested in. It might be a global recession, but the behaviour of our banks has greatly exacerbated the recession experience for Britain, so much so that much of the current deficit is down to the great bank bale out. I wouldn't mind so much if the word contrition appeared in a bankers dictionary, as the people actualy getting the bonuses threatened to leave the country if they were denied their right.
The Lib Dems would scrap the ID Card's scheme, which the UK simply can't afford, as we can't afford Trident, and they would look to replace the riduculus Council Tax with their own version of LIT (it's a pity no common ground was found with the SNP at Holyrood on this one).
I am somewhat dissapointed that all the main parties are commited to the privatisation of the Post Office, which will be more of a disaster for rural communities and housing schemes alike than the two network closeure programmes of 2005 and 2007.
The final reason why i'm voting Lib Dem is that Tavish Scott hasn't been anywhere near a television camera this campaign.
Whoever you support, make sure you vote tomorrow.
Monday, 3 May 2010
Disappointingly, this election to date I have only had 3 election leaflets. New Labour delivered a third leaflet to my door this afternoon, where the following is put in a handwritten style…
This Thursday you have an important choice to make – whether to stick with a labour (sic) government or risk the tories coming back…
I grew up here in Renfrewshire. I remember Linwood (the Rootes/Talbot car factory) closing, the division and the decay. We’ve worked too hard to go back now to a Tory government.
Labour will protect jobs and frontline services. The Tories would be a change local families just cannot afford.”
If that’s the best New Labour can promise here in Scotland, the other parties (in particular the SNP) must be kicking themselves. Pass the sick-bag!
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Sorry for not blogging about this until today – i only caught the full horror late on Wednesday night, Thursday was all about the “Leaders Debate”, etc etc.
1) Brown’s time as Prime Minister is over – Brown displayed a catastrophic error of judgement in thinking that his encounter with Gillian Duffy was a complete disaster, which was compounded ten fold by the “she’s some sort of bigoted woman” comment. The encounter went well for both sides. Ms Duffy gave her opinion, which despite the snide views of come of the commentariat, which was articulate and certainly not bigoted. She certainly did not go on a “see dem foreigners” style rant which would be the norm for the pond-life in Paisley (which was in evidence on Saturday night – but more on that later…). She articulated her opinion in a reasoned way, and Brown reciprocated. All in all it was a score draw. That Brown could describe the meeting as a disaster shows how out of touch he is.
2) Immigration is not THE problem, our Welfare State is the problem – Short of asking everyone who has entered the country legally or illegally we can only speculate. However we do have an existing issue with our Welfare Stare, where there is a class of people who exist on benefits and have no desire to get off of benefits. This system is possibly the reason why people are desperate to get to the UK by any means – even by signing up to be smuggled in by criminal gangs. We are seen as a soft touch here, it figures that our soft benefits system (allied to the law which forbids asylum seekers from working) attracts migrants here.
3) Why aren’t British workers upping their game? – in amongst the furore surrounding the whole “British Jobs for British Workers” slogan, one thing was missing, what are Britain's unemployed doing to get work. People do come here and pick up jobs, but it is the jobs which local people do not want, or are ill equipped to do. Myself and my fiancée holiday in Scotland on a regular basis, yet most hotels are staffed by foreign workers who are charming, friendly, gregarious and frankly damn good at their job. Does anyone reading this imagine that some of our school-leavers today would perform to the same standard, never mind win the opportunity to. For some people there seems to be a laziness allied to the belief that the world owes them a living.
4) Racism is such an easy trap to fall into discussing Immigration – People have prejudices, you have prejudices, i have prejudices (mainly involving not liking Greenock Morton Football Club or the Old Firm very much). We keep these promises hidden, but when immigration comes up for discussion, they seen to pop out. Both of the “main parties” sailed close to the wind last week when attacking the Lib Dem’s sensible policy of giving citizenship to people who have been here for 10 years who we previously missed. Also some people still thought that Gillian Duffy was racist, when she referred to “these Eastern Europeans”. It is a verbal tightrope, and one where care must be taken. After all, the BNP are past-masters at making racism seem normal.
The last point is pertinent, especially after the events of Saturday night when myself and my fiancée witnessed a young person go up to a couple and verbally abuse them. “Asians” he shouted pointing at them “go home” he continued. When we accosted the blundering ape, his defence was “This is a white country – WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT”. This took place in Paisley town centre, and also shows that the problems with this country are not caused by hard working migrants desperate to make their way in the world, but with lazy young white people who are determined to piss everything up the wall.