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Clegg’s seat in danger… April 1, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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…according to Ashcroft poll. If followed through on the actual day of the vote. Well, that’s a Portillo moment, for sure.

I’m still surprised at how neck and neck it is for the two largest parties – perhaps that will change, perhaps UKIP voters will flock back to the Tories (which if one looks at the projection seems like a real dynamic). What’s intriguing is how Miliband, for all his flaws, has seen LP, for all their flaws, support remain remarkably constant. Remarkable too to see how the SNP look as if they’re in position to provide the weight for an LP led minority government – 50 seats for the SNP on current polling!

Paying the price for centuries of contempt March 27, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Scottish Politics, The Left, Wales.
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It’s not necessarily coming, as they say, from a place of love. More like a place of snark, but this is a great line from Simon Jenkins in the Guardian when discussing the shape of the next British Parliament.

British politics is paying the price for centuries of English contempt for the political aspirations of the Irish, Scots and Welsh.

Ain’t that the truth.

Throughout the 19th century Tory (and some Liberal) opposition to even moderate home rule for the “other British empire” ensured a more drastic separatism would eventually triumph.

Actually his line is intriguing because he argues that with SNP support a Labour government is more or less inevitable. Well, we’ll see.

He makes another point, one which given the way in which unionism looms large in the political consciousness is perhaps sometimes forgotten on this part of the island

The lesson of separatism across Europe is the same. For restless Ukrainians, Slovenians, Kosovans, Slovakians, Basques and Catalans, regional autonomy is not a passing fad, to be bought off with a few powers and subsidies. It is a visceral response to the arrogance of centralised power. It is the response that many Britons profess towards the overbearing power of Brussels; yet few in Westminster see themselves as the EU of Great Britain.

Lose half your seats and still retain power..? How about three quarters? Four fifths? March 15, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics.
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Nick Clegg’s cold comfort for his parliamentary – or at least a statement ‘attributed’ to his people, as reported in the Guardian today that ‘The Liberal Democrats could lose nearly half their seats and still remain a party of government, most probably in coalition with the Conservatives’ is something that might ring a bell with certain TDs this side of the Irish Sea given the state of polling. And, oddly, one could see how such a message might resonate with those likely to keep their seats while plunging those who aren’t into despair. Granted the polls have firmed up very slightly for the Labour Party, but… Adrian Kavanagh’s projection of 8 seats on 9 per cent support for Labour tells its own story. Think of the rest of the sitting LP cohort. And then consider whether this uptick can be sustained. Perhaps it can. That – no question about it – is what all LP TDs will be told. Next week’s march will be important both in taking the temperature of the protests against water and austerity but also in giving a sense of the level of opposition more broadly to the government.

Truth in the news… March 4, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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This strikes me as utterly misleading. A report in the Guardian today on support for UKIP amongst Generation Y.

The headline?

Election 2015: support for Ukip among Gen Y voters doubles in a year

And the subhead?

Think younger voters don’t like Nigel Farage? Think again – Ukip is polling nearly as well as the Green party and is almost level with the Lib Dems

It starts:

Support for the Conservatives among younger voters born after 1980 dropped by a fifth last year, according to polling data provided to the Guardian by Ipsos Mori.

And continues:

However, the principal beneficiary of the fall in Tory support has not been Labour – traditionally the most popular party with 18-34-year-olds –but Ukip, which has seen its own poll rating among younger voters more than double in the past year.

So what stunning range of support does UKIP have?

While the Conservatives’ support fell from 20.5% to 15.6%, Ukip has seen support among so-called Generation Y voters increase from 2.4% to 5.5%.

That’s right. 5.5%. The Guardian suggests that:

Significantly, Ukip is polling close to the Green party, among an age group where the party would expect to do far better.

And how much is that support for the GP?

Support for the Greens, who are led by Natalie Bennett, has nearly doubled over the last year, from 3.7% to 6.9%.

But much more prosaically we discover that:

Labour also has seen its support tumble, according to Ipsos Mori, with its share going from 33.9% in 2013 to 26.2% last year

So let’s get this right. UKIP and the GP between them barely have 11 or 12 %. The Tories are on 15.6% and the LP on 26%.

I think we can safely suggest that Generation Y isn’t exactly seduced en masse by the the charms of UKIP.

And it’s only ten weeks until the next UK election… March 1, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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…which promises to offer no end of fun in terms of government formation and so on, if UK Polling Report is to be believed.

So far their polling average has 32% for the Tories, 33% for the BLP, 8% for the LDs, 15% for UKIP and 6% for the GP. They also suggest a hung parliament with the a 19 seat deficit for the LP. It really is neck and neck for the Tories and the Labour Party in national polling in the UK, with the LP just ahead by a percentage point or two in most polls. The potential strength of the SNP is going to be a major factor, and the remarkable weakness of UKIP in actually winning seats is another factor. 1-4 appears to be the general assessment. So much for all that poll support. FPTP still keeps matters much as they always are.

Speaking of politics elsewhere… February 6, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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UK Polling Report notes a new poll in Sheffield Hallam, that’d be Nick Clegg’s seat, that sees Labour with a 10 point lead. Now, you know me, I’m far from in the LP camp, but… fair dues where appropriate, if they did unseat Clegg that would add both to the gaiety of the UK (and more broadly) and, fractionally, to the credit of its voters. UK Polling Report has some useful stuff about the methodology used and adds a note of caution, but they do suggest that it will be a close run thing for Clegg. Great.

Speaking of polls January 14, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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I like this from UK Polling Report:

Tony Twyman, who died last year, was the man behind much of the mechanics of TV and radio viewing figures, most notably as technical advisor for BARB viewing figures. In broader market research he is more widely known for coining Twyman’s Law – “Any figure that looks interesting or different is usually wrong”. The point is, of course, that strange and unusual things in a single poll are more likely the result of sample variation or error than some amazing shift in public opinion, and you should be cautious of them before getting excited (My colleague Joe Twyman likes quoting it without attribution in the hope people will jump to conclusions… not so fast!).

That attitude to polls in this state – that any that look ‘interesting’ or different are probably wrong is well worth keeping in mind.

According to UKPR Labour remain on their poll of polls just ahead of the Tories, and they predict an LP majority of…er…2. It’s swung back and forth now for a while, but with the LP always in the lead. And this batch of polls with all of 17 weeks to go are useful. Note the GP’s strength, something that gets much much less attention than UKIP. Note the Liberal Democrats weakness:

Opinium/Observer (2/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 4%
Populus (4/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (5/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (6/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (7/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (8/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
Populus (8/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%

That ‘strong [social welfare] safety net’ in the UK..? January 5, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Economy.
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A desperately depressing piece here on the suicide of at least 60 benefit claimants in the UK – in some instances it appearing that ‘sanctions’ from the DWP were at least a factor in their deaths. There’s something, though, about the language used in the piece, a certain sort of bleakness:

And new information provided by the Disability News Service via a freedom of information request has uncovered that the Department for Work and Pensions has carried out 60 peer reviews following the deaths of customers. A peer review, according to the DWP guidance for employees, must be undertaken when suicide is associated with DWP activity to ensure that any DWP action or involvement with the person was appropriate and procedurally correct.

Customers? Somehow that’s not quite the power relationship at work, one suspects.

As to the DWP:

The DWP said: “As the Oakley review acknowledged, sanctions have a vital role to play in the benefits system and we accepted his recommendations to simplify communications further. As part of this, we always make clear to job seekers the conditions of receiving their benefits and if they fail to meet those conditions.

“We also continue to spend £94bn a year on working-age benefits, so we have a strong safety net in place. If claimants demonstrate that they can’t buy essential items as a result of their sanction, they can apply for a hardship payment.”

That all sounds so easy, doesn’t it, that last? ‘they can apply’. And what guarantee is there they will receive those hardship payments?

Meanwhile in the UK December 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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UK Polling Report gives Labour a majority of 26. Given how wishy washy the BLP is these days that counts either as a triumph or an indication of the wretched nature of contemporary British politics. I’m inclined to the latter view.

There’s a wrinkle on that from the latest ICM Scottish poll which points to massive SNP gains in Scotland at the next election all but wiping away the LP presence there into low double figures. That outcome is hardly unexpected given the runaround that Scottish voters got towards the end of the referendum campaign and immediate aftermath – that it impacts disproportionately on the LP is perhaps ironic given the unavoidable fact that there are insufficient Tories to act as a more logical scapegoat. I’ve long felt that had devo max been incorporated as an option during the referendum that would now be the case (actually, a strong argument could be made that that is the functional case), and discussing this with Michael Carley yesterday we were of the conclusion that by not incorporating it the potential for an exit of Scotland from the union sooner rather than later is now very high indeed. Nice work Mr. Cameron – surely one of the most short-term of British politicians we’ve ever seen.

All this may well require a reorientation of parts of the left to that potential exit and what it implies, it is one thing for the Tories to be beaten back in Scotland in terms of representation. For Labour to go the same way and for an explicitly nationalist party to be in the overwhelming majority presents profound democratic issues in relation to how the union proceeds. Or if it can. It is understandable that some would prefer a single battlefield for the left on the island of Britain, but truth is that’s not quite the status quo or status quo ante, and may well not be the situation in the very near future.

That the Tories calculate this may have a benign effect upon their electoral prospects in England is of a piece with the flip side of Cameron’s short-termism, a sort of unthinking tendency to the expedient. Well, who knows, perhaps that will be offset, even partially, by the rise of UKIP. That’s the thing with trying to be too bloody clever in politics, chosen goals slip away into the unattainable as new elements crowd in to disrupt plans.

So, speeding towards the end of the year, British politics looks as if it’s likely to be becoming yet more chaotic. Who would have thought even ten years ago that Scotland would be shifting slowly but inexorably to some sort of rupture, that UKIP would present if not quite a threat a serious alternative? And all this before we even begin to consider the East/West dimension of Northern Ireland. Though festering away in the background remains some very curious issues. Am I alone in thinking that the issue of what appears like an appalling child abuse conspiracy at the heart of Westminster politics seems to have a lower than expected profile in the British media? That too has extremely serious (and rightly so) implications for British politics in the near to medium term.

“Red Action – Left Wing Political Pariah” December 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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Many thanks to the person who forwarded the link to this… from the Red Action Archive, and a chapter by Mark Hayes from ‘Against the Grain: The British Far Left from 1956′ which has been discussed on the CLR before.

As has also been noted here, one group that developed from Red Action and AFA in Britain is the very interesting Independent Working Class Association which in some ways both exemplifies the problems of contemporary leftism (going so far as to eschew the very term ‘left’) and efforts to overcome or engage with those problems (particularly in a British context).

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