Category Archives: National Politics

Are the Liberal Democrats doomed?

Although you’d be forgiven for missing it in amongst the publication of the Leveson report, yesterday there were three by-elections. Labour held all three seats previously, and were expected to hold on to them, which they did. The published stories there are highlight the strong showing from Ukip, but what is maybe more of a worry for certain people would be the abysmal showing from the Liberal Democrats. In Rotherham it was a particularly poor showing with the party coming in eighth place producing the worst result by a major party in a by-election on record. This placing was behind Ukip, the racist BNP, the virtually Marxist Respect party, their Tory coalition partners, an English Democrat, and a clergyman standing as an independent. The abysmal showing represented an almost 14% swing away from the LibDems, marking another by-election where the party did appallingly badly.

Are the Liberal Democrats heading for a total wipeout at the next General Election? The Guardian discusses some of the mitigating circumstances in Rotherham, but it

certainly seems to be more than mid-term blues…

In Rotherham, which Labour held with 9,866 votes, Ukip had hoped for a late surge after a week of dream publicity. Not only had polls put its national support at an all-time high of 11% but the Eurosceptic party topped the news agenda after two of its local members claimed they had been told they were unsuitable foster parents for children of east European origin because of their political views.

Ukip came second in the town with 4,648 votes, and the BNP was third with 1,804. Respect took 1,778, and were followed by the Conservative party with 1,157. It was a particularly dismal night for the Liberal Democrats, who came eighth – behind the English Democrats – and lost their deposit. The turnout was 21,330 (33.63%), down by a quarter on 2010 levels.

Click here to view original web page at www.guardian.co.uk

The Tory-SNP deal that may reshape the UK

This story came up in the Guardian earlier this week, but has largely been lost in amongst all the run up to the publishing of the Leveson Report, however if this happens it will have some pretty big consequences for the whole of the UK.

Essentially the story suggests that the Tory government is making a deal with the SNP to make the independence vote a choice between full independence and the so called devo-max option. As part of the devo-max legislation Scottish MP’s will be removed from Westminster, however they’ll also use the opportunity to resurrect the boundary reorganisation plan that they failed to get through earlier this year. There are no Tory MP’s in Scotland, and the boundary changes favour the Tory party too…

For all of the miscalculations and cock-ups of the past two-and-a-half years, the Tory party, and David Cameron in particular, are as strategically focused as ever on winning power and holding on to it.

Few will be surprised to learn, then, that Cameron is still determined to force through parliamentary boundary changes next year that will reduce both the number of seats in parliament and in particular the number of Labour MPs, (by about 30) – and all in the face of opposition from Nick Clegg. And despite Clegg’s protestation, the Tories will probably be able to buy off some Liberal Democrat MPs threatened with extinction with a place in the Lords or on a quango. That he appears to be promising more devolved powers to Northern Ireland and Wales in order to win over the unionists and Plaid Cymru is quite logical in the circumstances.

Click here to view original web page at www.guardian.co.uk

Why working-class people vote conservative

Why on Earth would a working-class person ever vote for a conservative candidate? This question has obsessed the American left since Ronald Reagan first captured the votes of so many union members, farmers, urban Catholics and other relatively powerless people – the so-called “Reagan Democrats”. Isnt the Republican party the party of big business? Dont the Democrats stand up for the little guy, and try to redistribute the wealth downwards?

via Why working-class people vote conservative | Society | The Guardian.

This is a fascinating article from Jonathan Haidt, a professor of Psychology and New York University’s Stern School of Business, and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, asking a question that gets asked on both sides of the pond as to why people who would benefit much more from the policies of the left, vote for parties on the right.

Not Easily Impressed

This is probably my favourite shot so far, not for Obama and Cameron having a great time reliving battles across the ping pong table from the sixth form common room, but because of the distinctly unimpressed voter of the future behind.

Maybe she’s just not impressed by a couple of politicians playing table tennis, or maybe she was the one who had the table tennis table booked for this particular slot and has been bumped for the photo opportunity!

Hands Up Anybody Who Thinks These Two Actually Cooked This…

With the White House, Number 10 and Royal Family Flickr feeds all publishing pictures from the Obama State Visit there are loads of great shots coming out. This one is from the barbecue in the grounds of Number 10.

Maybe I’m doing them an injustice and Obama and Cameron tended the coals all afternoon cooking the burgers, but somehow I doubt it…

Is This Really a Top Priority?

As a country we are currently facing billions of pounds worth of cuts, cuts in local services and funding, and as part of that thousands of redundancies for staff across the country including one hundred locally, and what does Eric Pickles (@ericpickles) choose to launch a crusade on? Not the damaging effects of widespread cuts to communities across the country, no, he launches a crusade over unnecessary roadsigns, railings and advertising hoardings.

Now admittedly there are quite a few examples, Flickr have a group with a few gems, indeed the BBC has today highlighted a few including one just down the road from us where Wokingham Borough Council Highways department have, rather than replace an out of date sign, just stuck a new, bigger sign in front of the old one. Messy, but I guess it saved a bob or two, and the council is of course under pressure due to the swinging cuts coming down from central government.

There are numerous, serious problems facing this country – should unnecessary road signs really be a top priority for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government?

Should Community Right to Build be a Right to Refuse?

There has been a bit of debate in the media today over reaction by the Rural Coalition to the governments proposed Right to Build scheme. The scheme was announced by Grant Shapps (@grantshapps) back in July, and is claimed will put the power back into the hands of local communities to get the development they want – indeed the follow up press release today is under the heading “Power to Local People to Preserve Rural Life”. When you have a read of some of the reactions from villages across the country the headline policy seems popular with villagers, the problem being that when you look at the detail of the policy, it wouldn’t help many of the people in the article.

Cliff Jackson who lives in St Osyth in Essex is battling plans to build 164 houses in his village and makes the following comment:

“We live in a democracy and it is supposed to serve the majority. If we choose to live in a village, why should someone be able to march in a build a load of houses? If that was to happen we would all have to move because we wouldn’t want to live here any more.”

Whilst in Arborfield our battle is on a larger scale, fighting 3,500 houses rather than 164, his statement echoes the feelings of many in the village. There is a clear need for some housing, but as I’ve written before the scale of what is proposed in our village will transform the lives of the villagers, destroying a rural community. Whilst the local council frequently points to consultations across the borough supporting strategic development locations, what they fail to mention is that the choice has always been over how housing is to be delivered not the numbers, i.e. it’s presented as non-negotiable that we have to build 12,500 homes.

It is clear from many of the stories presented that they see preserving their rural life as being to stop unsuitable developments rather than propose new ones – the proposed legislation is very one sided and gives villagers the opportunity to “preserve their rural life” by building, but no opportunity to vote down unwanted and unsuitable developments. Of course it’s obvious why – if you asked pretty well anybody around here if they want 3,500 homes built on their doorstep, much of it on green fields, pretty well all of them would say no.