Tag Archives: Conservative

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

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.

Isn’t Local Politics Unfair

So the people have spoken.

Well a small minority of the people have spoken, the vast majority considered it wasn’t worth the bother and didn’t show up. In Wokingham where the vast majority of campaigning was focused on Winnersh, where the candidates for the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives canvassed every house, elsewhere you’d be forgiven for thinking there wasn’t an election going on as in many wards people didn’t even get a leaflet from many of the candidates – indeed one of the Green party candidates seemed quite proud on Facebook to have polled almost 300 votes off no campaigning at all…

The upshot of the whole process was a grand total of two seats changing hands. Winnersh, which was the most marginal seat on the council switched from Conservative to Liberal Democrat, and over in Charvil a Parish Councillor running as an independent managed to unseat the sitting Conservative councillor. This result produced a response about how unfair the result was from the leader of the council. Bear in mind that the ruling Conservative group still holds forty-three of the fifty-four seats on the council so can still do pretty well anything they want, and much as with the library privatisation and bin scheme can introduce things without any consultation. To be honest if you’re talking about unfair getting nearly 90% of the seats off just above 50% of the vote is much more unfair but since he’s the party getting 90% of the seats he’s not complaining. As far as I’m concerned he’s got off lightly, it’s only the general apathy of the electorate who are fed up with all politicians that means that he didn’t lose more. Talking with my aunt this week, a veteran of many election campaigns over the years she said the only way to take a seat from the ruling party is by simple hard work, and that involves a lot of door knocking, not sitting back and being proud of 300 votes off no campaigning!

Don’t Be Fooled

As we approach the local elections on Thursday, and with the Tories rocked by a succession of scandals and crises since the Budget, the local Tory candidates can increasingly see the writing on the wall.

It’s even worse if you happen to be standing in an area with local issues – around Wokingham it’s the ongoing disastrous introduction of an unpopular new rubbish collection scheme coupled with other issues around housing development, the privatisation of the library service, removal of public toilets, school provision amongst other things.

As a result there seems to be an increasing attempt by Tory candidates to disassociate themselves with their own party, taking the local battle that’s been attracting most attention, the very marginal ward of Winnersh, the initial leaflet from Tory candidate Mark Ashwell is quite clearly Tory.

But on this page are pictures of the latest ‘leaflet’, an apparent copy of a handwritten letter. It does mention he’s the Conservative candidate in the second paragraph, but the required declaration on the bottom of the second page lists only his agents name, and the address of the local Conservatives, without actually highlighting that this is the Conservative HQ. There is no Conservative branding at all.

So what is going on? This is not the only place it is happening, elsewhere local Tory candidates are starting to see the Tory brand as toxic.

But as you come to the booth on Thursday to cast your vote what do you do? Don’t be fooled, whatever the leaflets say, if you vote for a Tory you get a Tory, if you vote for a Liberal Democrat you get a Liberal Democrat, if you vote for a Labour candidate that’s what you get too. If you want somebody independent who will stand up for wherever you live then you need an independent – but there are precious few of those around. Also don’t forget that around here you’ve got the Green Party and UKIP vying for your vote as well, in fact they’re running in more seats than Labour this time around.

Certainly with the unpopularity of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats nationally and the memory of Labour still pretty fresh (and not really a big force around here) the election in Wokingham is going to be interesting. The rubbish issue really has got an awful lot of people annoyed, especially when, like most things around here it was brought in with the minimum of consultation and many people were totally unaware of it until blue bags started dropping through their door. Could it be the issue that results in a dent in the local Tory parties absolute power and domination of the Borough? But if people are also wary of the Liberal Democrats over national issues, and have doubts over Labour, could we be seeing some UKIP and Green councillors by the end of the week?

Is This Defending the NHS?

During his time as Tory leader in opposition, David Cameron has been at pains to portray his party as the party of the NHS pledging to protect and increase spending on the British health service. Alongside that he highlights how he is a proud user of the service – his most recent child being born at an NHS hospital, his other children having been treated by the NHS. Coming into government, the talk so far has been of saving money by cutting back on bureaucracy, reducing management but leaving front line services in tact. However the inadvertent leak and subsequent official confirmation of the scrapping of NHS Direct calls that promise into question, or at least the Tory definition of a front line service. The Liberal Democrats similarly made a commitment not to cut front line services, so again, is this Nick Clegg (@nick_clegg) breaking a promise, or again do the Liberal Democrats have a different definition of a front line service?

What is even more galling about the whole announcement is that when you read the detail, they aren’t phasing out the nurse led medical helpline across the whole country. NHS24 and NHS Direct Wales the Scottish and Welsh versions of NHS Direct are continuing, it’s only in England that the nurse led helpline is being dropped in favour of the new NHS 111 service, a service where the staff on the phone will have sixty hours of training rather than nurses who have been through the same degree and level training as any other nurse working in the country. Essentially the English are being palmed off with a cut price imitation, whilst other parts of the UK continue with the full service.

It’s not as if this isn’t a popular service, it handles calls from 14,000 people a day and has been estimated to have saved other parts of the service hundreds of millions of pounds. Certainly on the occasions we’ve used it the choice was to phone NHS Direct, or pack the kids into the car for a trip to the local Accident and Emergency department. We have an out of hours GP service, but that is run by one person and when we have called it we have often had to wait a good while for a call to be returned. NHS Direct have always been a lot quicker in responding, and in a couple of situations where in the early hours of the morning we have been worried about a sick child have given us clear advice and saved us a trip to casualty. They’ve also given Beth advice when she was concerned over drug combinations when she has both been pregnant and also breast feeding – all advice that a telephonist with sixty hours training would not be allowed or qualified to give, and that the out of hours GP would just be too busy to provide. It seems doubtful if a call centre of primarily operators with a much reduced number of professional medical staff will be able to give the same level of service and support that for over ten years the English public have been getting, and the Scottish and Welsh public will continue to receive.

Following the announcement, discussion on Twitter has been taking place under the #savenhsdirect hash tag, and there is already a petition launched at http://www.savenhsdirect.co.uk/ – and there is already speculation that this change might go the way of the abolition of free school milk which was announced and then swiftly U-turned. It’s pretty clear that the axing of NHS Direct wasn’t intended to be announced just yet, so maybe we’ll have Andrew Lansley to thank in a few months for making another goof in letting the cat out of the bag so soon, and giving the Save NHS Direct campaign a chance to get going sooner rather than later!

The Mythical Ground Zero Mosque

There has been quite a bit of a furore of late over plans to “build a mosque at Ground Zero” in New York, the problem being that what’s proposed isn’t a mosque, and it isn’t at Ground Zero – not that that has stopped the American loony right from kicking up a fuss.

Over the past couple of days I’ve come across a couple of good links exploring what is going on. Charlie Brooker (@charltonbrooker) wrote an excellent piece for the Guardian that was published on Monday that is well worth reading, however today thanks to my friend Jonathan (@digitaljonathan) I came across this great clip of Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) talking about the mosque, and what the unfounded opposition to it could mean for the USA – it’s a little long, but very well worth watching.