Saturday, 28 February 2009

Tories and Opinion Polls

Surely even the politically neutral would agree that the country never reached the depths it is now plumbing under John Major. And yet during Major's period in office, Blair swept to commanding opinion poll leads double those that Cameron is achieving. I wonder why this is? Five possibilities occur to me:

1. It may generally be easier for a centre-left opposition party to achieve higher ratings because the promise of the benefits of higher spending is superficially more attractive to voters than the dour fiscal rigour that any centre-right party must offer.

2. It may be that the Conservative brand remains too toxic at least in certain areas of the country. Maybe still more years must elapse before the children of those that opposed Thatcher forgive the party. Perhaps the 'pot' of voters that the Tories are addressing is simply smaller than Labour because of this.

3. It may be that Tory policies are insufficiently clear and well understood. Blair continually reiterated a short clear programme. If people do not understand what the Tories will do, then the Tories will receive core vote plus anti-Labour vote but will only be able to share the non-aligned floating voters with other parties. Blair took the latter category as well.

4. Single issue politics appears to be more prominent: witness the rise of UKIP (Europe), the growth of the BNP (Immigration). Perhaps more people are willing to use their vote to protest using one of these minor parties than before. Again, this takes votes from the traditional parties.

5. Presidential politics are unfortunately here to stay. Blair was an extraordinarily dominant figure for Labour and had an extraordinary ability to communicate across party lines. Cameron is a superb politician and a very good communicator. People like him. But he somehow does not quite have that Blair communication magic. This is not a criticism: of politicians of the last 30 years surely only Mandela and Obama have been alongside Blair in that extraordinary category. That difference between the very good and the extraordinary is surely where a few percentage points goes.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Fred Goodwin, the Post Office and Current Insanity

Fred Goodwin's massive payout is an affront to every taxpayer in the country. It beggars belief that the man who presided over the complete collapse of RBS should receive a penny, let alone a fortune undreamt of by 99.99% of the British population, let alone a fortune paid for by that same 99.99% of the population. Pass a special Act of Parliament, sequester his assets, make being Fred Goodwin a criminal offence...I don't know how to recoup my money; but when I am looking at having to work three, four, five years (who knows?) longer than I otherwise would because of the destruction of the economy in part brought about by this man it makes me sick. Am I ditching my liberal values? No, the harm principle clearly applies in this case: Goodwin is guilty of white-collar crime.

And so to the Royal Mail. Of course I would not have to work three, four, five years (who knows?) longer than I otherwise would if I sat on defined benefits pension that regardless of the state of the economy gets paid to me. If the last taxpayer in England was on his knees grubbing around to survive in caves then this bloody government would still protect the defined benefits pensions of the higher-paid public sector. The combination of my blood boiling from this, and the sickness brought on by Fred Goodwin means I'd better go and have a lie down before I explode.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Binyam Mohamed, Torture and Right and Wrong

Torture is disgusting and no decent country should ever tolerate it. Surely modern man has learnt the lesson from the Spanish Inquisition that inflicting enough pain will force almost anyone to admit to almost anything. If Bonyam Mohamed was tortured then the Labour Government should make any evidence public, even at the expense of our special relationship and intelligence data.

One of the most deeply worrying things to me about the last few years is how Labour have interfered in justice. They stopped the inquiry into British arms industry's bribery of the Saudis, they have prevented the publishing of data about the torture of Bonyam Mohamed. Frankly, I don't care if Mohamed is British, Russian or Ethiopian, torture stoops to the level of our enemies. We are better than that. We must be better than that.

If my loved ones were killed in a terrorist outrage and the Government told me that it was only under torture that they caught the culprits. I hope, I really hope, I would feel the same. Even if I didn't, this is an area where I would want the state to protect me from myself. If we, as a country, tolerate the 'proceeds' of torture at any price - yes at any price - then what have we become?

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Frank Field, An Admirable MP

Reading the Frank Field article in the Daily Mail caused me to wonder whether I admire him because although he's Labour he says nice things about my party. I don't think that's it. I think its that his priorities reflect what every MP's should be: 1) his conscience, 2) his country, 3) his constituency and 4) his party. In that order.

Okay, 3) and 2) may be flipped around - but 4) should never be reprioritised. Trust in politicians has seeped away because party is placed before conscience, country or constituency. It will never be restored until that is changed.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

How bad is the recession?

Just how concerned are people about the recession? Right now the most viewed article on the Telegraph website is "Giant rat caught in China", on the BBC "Police hospitalised over HP sauce", and on the Guardian "Rihanna assault photo leaked online". (Rihanna is an R&B singer, I hadn't heard of her either).

Are we all tabloid readers now? 

PS Check out the giant rat photo, it's great...

Labour Leadership

The Labour leadership speculation is entertaining. Most of it reminds me of the lack of talent on the Labour front benches. But one of the most worrying things about Labour is its lack of commercial experience; I think many of them are unaware that the only way doctors, nurses and policemen get paid for is by private sector workers working for companies seeking profit at the expense of others. It's dog-eat-dog capitalism where I'm trying to make you buy my goods instead of someone else's that pays for the public sector.

One of the conversations that made me most angry in recent years was someone telling me they had left the private sector 'because they could not carry on working for their own profit and wanted to do something for the community.' This is typical Labour-think. Last year my tax bill paid for at least 1 and maybe 2 nurses. Unless I and the millions like me work hard without job security and with lousy pensions to pay taxes, there are no nurses, doctors or policemen (or at least ones with salaries). Our government does not understand this. None of the Labour leadership candidates inspire me to think a change of leadership would make a blind bit of difference.

At our local Tory AGM last night, Jeremy Hunt MP spoke; a future cabinet minister who has created hundreds of jobs from scratch in his business career before parliament. That makes me think he understands about how the economy works, about debt, about living within your means, about competition. Roll on a Tory victory.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Bizarre BBC

An Indian colleague at work is over working with us for two years. He came over today to ask about something he'd been told by a TV salesman ' You need a licence.' My friend: 'A licence? For what?'. TV Salesman: ' You need a licence to own a television.' My friend: 'Why?'. TV Salesman: 'To pay for the BBC, otherwise you get fined or locked up.' 

Complete and utter incomprehension on the part of my Indian friend. Quite. You get locked up in this country if you do not pay a tax for a box that can receive audio-visual signals.

When will any politican of any stamp actually address this bizarre hangover of British imperial paternalism? Would I mind if it was actually politically balanced rather than actively left-wing? You know, I rather I think I would. The television tax is one of the most illiberal things in Britain. It irritates me regularly. It's when I have a conversation with a friend from abroad like this that it really, really flummoxes me.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Pensions - is Gordon going to to the right thing?

Could it be true that Gordon Brown is about to do something the Tories should be have been shouting from the rooftops about ages ago and shift MPs to a Defined Contribution Pension Scheme like almost every one of their paymasters?

I have to say that if any party came out and said they would implement a fair pensions policy under which the higher-paid public sector shift to Defined Contribution like the lower-paid private sector that pay for them then they'd probably get my vote. Even though that would mean me resigning as Chairman of my local Conservative group.

This is a topic on which I and I think more and more people are feeling completely passionate to the point of thinking in terms of single issue politics. A FPPP (Fair Pensions Policy Party) to compete with UKIP? Come on David Cameron and the Shadow Cabinet... launch a fair pensions policy now!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Free Speech and Liberals

I cannot believe that the so-called Liberal party has come out against allowing an elected politician from an EU country into England. It is not for Chris Huhne to sit in judgement on what constitutes incitement to violence, it is for the courts. Since when did the Liberal Party usurp the authority of the courts to make these judgements? Whatever they may be, the Liberal Democrat party are no Liberals. John Stuart Mill would turn in his grave at Chris Huhne's warped interpretation of the 'harm' principle on Today.

Monday, 9 February 2009


Now, I work in financial services and I receive a bonus. But I only do so if my company achieves its financial targets, and if my department achieves its. And that seems fair enough to me. The Tories should lay off any bank (ANY bank) that is operating privately and is accountable to its shareholders who can sack its board.

But RBS, Northern Rock, A N Other Car Company and any company (that's ANY company) that has received a penny of my money to stop it from going insolvent should pay absolutely no bonus to any member of staff from the lowliest worker to the Chairman of the Board. My money was taken from me on pain of imprisonment and spent by the Government: I have first priority to get it back, not ANY member of staff whose job I have saved at the expense of my own financial security.

The should be the Tory line and I'm disappointed that the leadership are only focusing upon big boss bonuses. If I've saved someone's job with my money then they can give me first dibs on getting it back. That is fair. Anything else is unfair. Full stop. End of story.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Latest ICM Poll

The latest ICM poll with the Lib Dems on 22% might be out of line with most polls but it seems to me it's likely the most accurate. The Lib Dems do get a lot of protest votes across the country and it would be strange if they didn't get 20% or a bit more in the next election. Of course it would be mad to think that all of a sudden there are 4 Lib Dems in the country to every 3 a week ago (which is what this poll would mean if taken at face value) but it's reasonable to assume that come election time 1 voter in 5 will vote for them.

The big question is whether a higher Lib Dem vote will be better for the Tories (by letting Tories slip past Labour into first place in some seats) or worse (by enabling Lib Dems to retain their seats from Tories, or even pinch some close Tory/Lib Dem marginals). That of course we cannot know until the election since even UK Polling Report and Political Betting with their outstanding analysis cannot predict tactical voting in the marginals and the impact of local issues.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Labour's Blatant Electoral Bribery

One of the many things that make my blood boil about Labour is their transfer of funds from Conservative to Labour seats to bribe electors. I'm not talking about redistribution of wealth: the Tories believe in that too. I'm talking about how the amount available to spend on a council house in Surrey is a third that of one in Manchester because Labour steals Surrey's council tax. Why? Are the Surrey houses in less need of funding? No. Are the tenants richer and better able to invest themselves? No. There is no excuse. It is Labour shoring up its core vote.

Now, I realise that the Conservatives can't be too aggressive in this area (cue Labour bleats of attacking the poor), but the Conservative front bench team does need to do more presenting of the facts. The Tories are too timid about the charge of attacking the poor. Put Eric Pickles in charge of a communication programme about how if you don't have a lot of cash, then your only chance under Labour is moving to a Labour constituency. Find case studies of Surrey individuals whose quality of life is being adversely affected by this disgusting policy. This need not be a vote loser for the Tories.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Restoring trust in British politics

Labour financial scandals, Tory sex scandals. To sleaze is human. Restoring trust after decades of sleaze by a minority of venal or over-sexed politicians will be easy actually. David Cameron needs to tell every MP to vote according to 1) their conscience, 2) their country, 3) their constituency and 4) their Conservative party. The four Cs. One exception: they must vote with the manifesto unless they have prior to the election publicised to the electorate their unwillingness to accept specific policies.

Chaos? Rebellions? No. Government defeats? Yes. Because men and women of conscience are voting with their minds. A few months of this and trust will be restored. Of course, this will mean the whips have less to do. Good. Of course, this means defeats in the house. Good. If people know why the defeats are happening then it will not be seen as disloyalty but good governance by the people for the people.