Sickening… October 1, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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Bevan wasn’t far wrong way back when, and look at this now…
David Cameron launched an audacious bid to woo voters in next year’s general election by pledging to raise the personal income tax threshold by £2,000 a year as well as lifting the 40% tax band to £50,000.
Casting the Conservatives as the “trade union for hardworking” people, the prime minister reached out to aspirational voters in Middle Britain by unveiling a £7.2bn double tax cutting promise, which prompted a rapturous reception at the Tory conference.
Let’s hope the good Lord he’s right… September 29, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics.
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Labour is heading for a “comfortable majority” at the UK general election as the Conservatives have lost a third of their support and are only attracting a small number of new voters, polling by former Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft has suggested.
After Scotland, some implications for this island. September 29, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
A very readable edition of the Phoenix this week, including an analysis of the left of Sinn Féin TDs currently in situ disguised as a profile of Paul Murphy of the SP – of which more later in the week. But one thing that caught my eye was a piece on Unionism in the North in the wake of the Scottish referendum. It may have offered a No in Scotland, but the Phoenix makes one very pertinent point in relation to Northern Ireland.
By linking changes for the rest of the UK to the Scottish timetable Cameron seems determined to legislate to take away voting powers from non-English MPS before next May’s general election.
It continues by noting that should that take effect then a Labour government despite having an overall majority in the UK would then be likely unable to implement policy for England unless they get a majority of MPs there. Tough for Labour, but as the Phoenix notes, there are ramifications for Unionism.
It’s worse for the DUP: their hopes of holding the balance of power were dashed last Friday. Cameron had been assiduously courting them so that their eight MPs would enable him to continue to govern as a minority government if there is a hung parliament next May. Not any more. The DUP will be surplus to requirements.
And that means they have much less leverage at Westminster. Will this come to pass? Well, I’d think we’ve a way to go yet. But Cameron will most certainly be in a hurry to do all he can to stymie Labour and it may well be that a sort of functional part/near federalisation of the UK would be precisely what he wanted.
Of course it raises difficult issues and contradictions more broadly if Scotland and Wales (and England too!) are gaining increased powers just at the point NI is trying to hand them back and refuse any further ones.
Just in the context of debates about Home Rule still circulating in the RoI, the Phoenix makes an excellent point:
Unionists do not want anything which might increase their separation from Westminster. In effect they are still opposing Home Rule.
Terrible news for the Tories… September 28, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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David Cameron suffered a devastating double blow on the eve of the Tory party conference as his minister for civil society resigned over a sex scandal and a second Conservative MP defected to Ukip.
The first blow came when Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strood, delivered the news that he was defecting to Ukip, at the anti-EU party’s conference in Doncaster.
So that’s two UKIP byelections to be fought by the Tories. One which looks more certain to be a loss for them, Reckless’s seat, not so much. How this buttresses the UKIP vote further down the line is a fascinating question. I figure we could see a couple, but probably no more, of them take seats after the next election.
But not only but also!
…it emerged that Brooks Newmark, a father of five and campaigner to increase the role and number of women in politics, had resigned from the government after being caught sending explicit pictures of himself over the internet to women, in a tabloid newspaper sting operation.
Do these people have the attention span of gnats? Has he not heard of Anthony Weiner? Does he think that online communications are somehow inviolable? I’m never able to understand just how insulated politicians seem to think they are from the base reality around them. The addition of a tabloid adds another unpleasant aspect to the story – their efforts to drag themselves to some sort of moral high-ground, while unable to appreciate the swamp they are in and of, are as noxious as they are predictable. And there’s a question as to whether this is a matter of public as distinct from private concern too. It’s not clear is there any element of public hypocrisy (whatever about his private behaviours).
Meanwhile despite the news from the Observer that Labour has taken a hit in the latest poll, the poll of polls on UK Polling Report shows them actually increasing support over the last week or so with their majority increasing from 16 to their more usual 40+.
Those Observer/Opinium polls are peculiar, seeming to diverge fairly distinctly from other polling results at times, though in fairness that could be due to natural variation.
Speaking of polls… September 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
Survation also had a poll out today and found similar levels of support for some sort of re-arrangement of the constitution for England: 65% said that Scottish MPs should by banned from voting on English laws at Westminster, 59% would support an English Parliament.
There is a crucial caveat though – Survation also asked what the top priority should be for the government – 31% said immigration, 20% the economy, 9% jobs, 9% public services, 6% combating terrorism and down on 5% constitutional reform.
This is a bizarre listing of priorities, to my mind at least. And one that seems largely media driven. Immigration policies have changed – rightly or wrongly – radically over the past half decade. And yet it remains at the top of the list (driven in part by both Tories and the noxious prodding of UKIP). The economy is only 20%, jobs a half of that along with the public service.
I’ve been working here for just over a year, and I still can’t quite adjust to how England has changed. 30 years ago, when I first regularly traveled between Ireland and the UK, England felt like all the things it used to pride itself on: liberal, tolerant, multi-ethnic, culturally vibrant etc, whereas Ireland still had one foot in the 1950s.
Nowadays, it feels almost like the reverse; paranoia about immigrants, flag waving, bullying of the unemployed and disabled, islamaphobia (especially marked where I am – the housing near-apartheid here is not quite at Belfast levels but close), and, the NHS aside, a headlong marketisation of everything – particularly, for me, in HE. All combined with, and facilitated by, a complete disconnect between people and politics. And yet people will tell me that Ireland is torn by ‘religious strife’ and imagine that our former middle class are begging on the street.
Which is another thing; although there is lower unemployment and there are ‘plenty of job out there’ England, if you don’t work in the City, is a very badly paid country and there is a lot of chronic poverty among working people – a problem which no one seems to connect with low pay, or see any political way out of.
I visit the UK on an annual basis and I’ve got to agree that there’s definitely a different tone in the past three or four years. Is it a function of the Coalition, a general unloosening of societal ties under its policies, or something that is a longer term dynamic?
Telling… September 22, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
Mantel’s new short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983, prompted outrage after it was published online by the Guardian on Friday.
Mantel, who had anticipated a backlash against the story, said on Monday it would be “unconscionable” to regard such a fictional account as off-limits, as her critics have suggested.
I also think this is telling, the response of Stephen Glover in the Mail:
“Mantel’s contribution is peculiarly damaging because, while she appears so mild-mannered, her message is interpretable as a deadly one. If you don’t like your democratically elected leaders, who operate within the rule of law, you can always think about assassinating them.”
“Scotland expects these to be honoured in rapid course” September 19, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland.
With just Highlands to deliver a result it’s at just under 45% for Yes, just over 55% for No. Not entirely unexpected since the accuracy of pre-referendum polls were always open to question – though their implacable similarity in the last few days was indicative of the way things were most likely to go.
A disappointment, but even at this early stage there are straws in the wind as to how this will go on from here. Even Rupert Murdoch tweeted during the week that things would never be the same again, well, probably not, though one suspects from Cameron’s rhetoric he and others would dearly love them to be otherwise, and some will make a damn good effort to ensure they most definitely are. I wonder about his ‘settled for a generation line’. It’s cute, but it’s not really in his gift. Settled for a decade? That’s perhaps more like it. But the key thing is that even he accepts it’s not ‘settled’ as such.
And Salmond clear that: “Scotland expects these commitments to be honoured in rapid course”.
And no end of voices complaining about the concessions made towards the end of the campaign (interesting to consider what the vote would have been like without them). Nigel Farage with a certain degree of chutzpah amongst them. What of those concessions?
Cameron – and as noted before, an oddly diminished Cameron at that, says:
To those in Scotland sceptical of promises ….. the three pro-union parties have made clear commitments of further power for Scottish parliament and will ensure these promises are kept in full…
There’s going to be an enormous temptation on the part of London and British parties not to be seen to ‘reward’ Salmond and offer greater powers, while simultaneously wanting to take heat out of the question by doing something, anything. That’s a fine balance to walk. I don’t know if they can.
And it’s a telling indication of how matters lie to hear Alastair Darling wants ‘leadership’ from those who made commitments… We’ll see. Labour must be breathing a sigh of relief. The next UK election is theirs to lose, but how much more difficult going into that in the context of the prospect of an rUK. And Labour figured prominently in the campaign and in the delivery system of commitments on greater devolution. That will be remembered too.
For the SNP though, it will be intriguing to see how it manages to manage politics over the next while. But they’re used to it.
Martin Kettle wrote some irritating stuff in yesterday’s Guardian, today he notes that there was a strong class aspect to the vote “Richer Scotland stuck with the union”, and this this morning is more useful:
Alex Salmond and the SNP are not going anywhere. They will still govern Scotland until 2016. There will be speculation about Salmond’s position, and the SNP will need to decide whether to run in 2016 on a second referendum pledge. More immediately, the SNP will have to decide whether to go all-out win to more Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, in order to hold the next government’s feet to the fire over the promised devo-max settlement. Independence campaigners will feel gutted this morning. But they came within a whisker of ending the United Kingdom on Thursday. One day, perhaps soon, they will surely be back.
As said above, what exactly is ‘settled’ about the status quo?
Any thoughts about the campaign?
Speaking of polls, what of party polling in the UK? September 16, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics, Uncategorized.
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… this hasn’t been much mentioned in all the confusion over the independence referendum, but what’s this? Mixed fortunes for Labour, surely, with some polls showing them well up, others that the figures are tightening in favour of the Tories. Yet, on UK Polling report in its poll of polls and likely projections they’ve gone up to a majority of 44 MPs (from circa 32). In the Guardian/Observer/Opinium poll this last weekend they increased their majority significantly over the Tories.
Could it be, could it be, that Cameron is already diminished by this referendum? That it has shown him in a particularly poor light? If so, what if the vote is a No? Will it then work to his advantage as the man who, by the skin of his teeth, managed to steer this referendum to a successful (as he might see it) conclusion?
Or is it possible that this has allowed Miliband to look a little bit better than hitherto? And perhaps that Labour itself looks better, because it is LP members who are making the running in relation to ‘saving’ the union, not Tories. That indeed this is serving to remind people of how Tory politics has been so uniquely divisive in the UK, to the extent of potentially triggering a rupture not seen since 1921?
And another thought strikes. Doesn’t this work in an odd way for UKIP, so keen on breaking up existing membership of the EU?
Round up of Independence for Scotland opinion polls from this weekend… September 14, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland.
…here at the ever excellent UK Polling Report. The conclusion at this moment being:
Seven of the polls are clearly clustered around a small lead for the NO campaign, with the one exception that rather odd looking ICM online poll with a smaller sample size than their usual online efforts. A lead of just a couple of points in a single poll is within the margin of error, but in this case all but one poll is showing NO ahead, so I think we can reasonably say that the polls are giving NO a genuine but small lead.
But UK Polling Report go on to make the point that significant caveats abound and that the result while seeming to be a close No may indeed diverge from that. Remarkable.
Andrew Rawnsley in today’s Observer offers this:
What was treated as a foregone conclusion for no just a few weeks ago is now on a knife edge. Last weekend’s poll giving the edge to yes triggered frenzy at Westminster and prompted David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to abandon prime minister’s questions to rush north to plead with Scots not to go. It can be argued that the shock poll may ultimately turn out to have saved the union by spurring the UK parties into action and flushing out warnings about the consequences of independence from major businesses. It could also have the effect of mobilising previously reluctant or complacent no voters to the polling stations. You can also argue, as the yes camp do, that a massive turn-out, boosted by people who have been off the electoral register since the poll tax, is going to help the cause of independence. As one sensible Labour figure puts it: “A lot of wise people will tell you there is a silent majority for no and they will also tell you there’s usually a late swing to safety in referendums. But it’s very difficult to poll – so who knows?”
We will know on Friday.
Assaulting democracy both explicitly and implicitly. September 10, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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I’m not the biggest fan of George Galloway in the world, for a number of reasons, but the report of his attack was genuinely shocking and this piece in the Telegraph by Peter Oborne is well worth reading.
There is something very disturbing about the response to this event by the mainstream British political establishment. Mr Galloway has received no public message of sympathy from a single MP from any party – nothing from Speaker Bercow, from the Prime Minister, or from any of the other elected political leader.
I know that Mr Galloway is a very controversial figure and that many people, for honourable reasons, disagree very strongly with his views. Yet that is irrelevant. The attack on Mr Galloway is beyond doubt an attack on British democracy itself.
It is a basic principle of our political culture that men and women must be able to speak up for the causes they believe in without threats or violent reappraisal.