The Wilted Rose

Charting Labour meltdown 2007-2010

The New Labour era is over. But a coalition involving the Liberal Democrats remains unproven.

It appears that we may have a coalition between one of the main parties and the Liberal Democrats. Gordon Brown has resigned, the New Labour era is over, and David Cameron has been invited to the palace to see the Queen to be asked to form a Government.

Labour

Douglas Alexander has said that a coalition which includes the SNP would not be acceptable or tenable. Brown is resigning as Labour leader to enable succession of another leader as Prime Minister. Nick Clegg has negotiated, but it is not clear what the outcome of their discussions were.

It seems, ridiculously and perversely, that Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has blocked the Lab-LibDem Coalition. For what reason? With Labour and the LibDems both left-of-centre, a coalition between them would be incredibly sensible. Yes, they would be a disaster for Britain, but it is coherent. It would be a realignment of the left.

A progressive coalition would be hard to stomach, but it is at least ideologically combatible. Would it split the LibDems? Would it split Labour ? Yes, clearly, in both cases, but that would be worth this goal being achieved.

And yet, such a coalition would have no mandate in England where the Conservatives polled 9,911,062 (39.6%), Labour 7,037,229 (28.1%), the Lib Dems 6,067,303 (24.2%). In terms of seats, C 297, L 191 and LD 43, giving the Tories a big majority of 63 in England.

But now that Brown has resigned, it is the end of New Labour . The end of Labour for now.

Conservatives

David Cameron ‘modernised’ his party, which meant – like Blair – ceded some of its ideological ground and sought to appease the left. Notting Hill Cameronism is not what Conservative voters thought they were voting for, but they voted for it nonetheless – but that may be what they get – indeed, many voters did not vote because they could not stomach Cameronism.

Labour has 26 seats in Wales (on 36.2% of the vote), Conservatives 8 (on 26.1%), Plaid 3 (on 11.3%) and Lib Dems 3 (on 20.1%),while in Scotland Labour won 1,035,528 (42.1%) and 41 seats, Conservatives 412,855 (16.7%) but only 1 seat on just under half the votes in Scotland than Labour got, with the Lib Dems on 465,471 (18.9%) and 11 seats, and the SNP on 491,386 (19.9%) and 6 seats.

Across the UK, in fourth and fifth places respectively, UKIP polled 917,832 (thanks Mr Clarke) and the BNP 563,743 (thanks Labour for nothing) – predominantly in England – but no seats, which they would have got under Proportional Representation, as favoured  by the Liberal Democrats. Both UKIP and the BNP got more votes than SNP or Plaid but do not figure in any negotiations.

It is not clear that a Labour-LibDem coalition would stand in much favour in Scotland or Wales. In Northern Ireland, where I come from, I will not list the vote shares of the parties, but the DUP got 8 seats, Sinn Fein 5, SDLP 3, Independent 1, and Alliance 1, and the Conservatives and Unionists none.

How would such a coalition govern the non-devolved aspects of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland? Surely, a Con-LD coalition would encourage greater devolution – including the all-important tax-raising powers – for the ‘Celtic fringe’? This would stave off the secessionist talk in Scotland, and unrest in Wales and Ulster, especially after what the UKIP-vote-stoking Ken Clarke said that, “In the end you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman, but it’s not the way to run a modern, sophisticated society.”

Cameron could not win the unwinnable election, which says a lot about the modernisation project. Brown has lost the election, and yet (despite the phenomenal gains), Cameron did not win it either, and Clegg’s party lost seats.

Frankly, we did not stomp the streets to support our excellent Conservative candidates, to end up with a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. But that is what we have.

The alternative, a Labour-LibDem coalition, would be a disaster, but a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is as yet unproven. Perhaps on this occasion, if not on others, Mr Cameron should have listened to the advice of that great sage from the true heart of our Party Lord Tebbit on not to form a coalition with the LibDems as it would cost them the next General Election, and on avoiding becoming the victim of a winner-takes-all auction led by Mr Clegg.

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11 May, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Tax rises may be necessary”? Not an auspicious start to the new year

We have become accustomed to regular bad news ever since ‘Age of Austerity’ style conference speeches. We need hope, not accountancy speak about cuts, pain, and deficit reduction.

But, while John Redwood has highlighted the need to cut tax on enterprise (I would add to that the working people who need to be incentivised to keep working, or to survive financially in the current climate), Iain Martin has demonstrated how the Conservative leadership doesn’t seem to know what its policies are on tax and is in a ‘tangle’.

I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond to Cameron’s new year speech and statements such as “tax rises may be necessary” from the Abominable Yes-Man* himself, Ken Clarke. Such sentiments are simply an inauspicious start to the new year and it is not what many people like me have been campaigning for when we have been delivering Conservative leaflets.

Since I am not a Tory myself, but a unionist, (the word ‘Tory’ has Irish baggage related to brigands, outlaws and the like), I am befuddled by the fuzzy logic that leads Clarke and the Nothing Hill set to come to the conclusion that tax rises will somehow bring the economy back to its glory days.

But, after all, it was the Europhile wing of the Conservatives that caused Black Wednesday by forcing Maggie to enter the ERM at the wrong rate. It was Lord Lamont, however, who famously sang in the bath that we had extricated ourselves from decades of economic collapse under the ERM and eventually the ECU/Euro that followed.

Never mind the historical precedents about what happens when you listen to Clarke and his ilk, it seems that the leadershipis taking advice from experts such as wealthy bankers and Ken Clarke. They say that accountants would slash and burn, whilst also raising taxes on already hard-pressed electors.

Is that the manifesto that is going to be offered to the country? Surely it is a recipe for a Hung Parliament – and, as much as we would like to see certain MPs with fraudulent expenses hanged, it would not be good for the country.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance had already won the debate on taxes. But along comes a bunch of idiots advising the Conservatives and those lessons are forgotten.

Why prioritise inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy, whilst raising taxes for middle- and lower-income people? Has the 50p tax rate made it acceptable to raise taxes?

What about the Laffer Curve? What about the economic fact that lower taxes stimulate economic growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation and so on?

I do not know why they think tax rises and the age of austerity is going to appeal to the voter who has a difficult time paying the mortgage, raising kids, maybe health worries etc, and that there is no hope? Just more money out of yer pocket to pay the increasing social security and welfare budget?

In these tough economic times, taxes should be slashed – not raised – the lessons of Crewe & Nantwich were that lower taxes appeals to the voter. It is morally and ethically right and it makes life better for everyone.

And, as for the “class war”, well let me just say this. Had David Davis or someone else from a working-class background been Tory leader, he would not have even contemplated raising taxes on working people, while reducing inheritance tax. That says a lot about the state of society, the class divide, and the “Tories.”

We need Labour out, that’s for certain, but the alternative Government needs to get its act together for the sake of our country. Sorry to be so harsh but this needs to be said, and I say this as a warm friend, although one who thinks that a dear ally has somewhat lost its way.

* Clarke is a Yes-Man in the sense of “Yes to Europe”. I could live with it if he was a No-Man.

5 January, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

The hidden bank bailout

This blog has been consistent in its criticism of Brown’s bank bailouts.

But at least most were open. We now learn that taxpayers’ money was used to bail out, secretly, the HBOS and Lloyds merger, deceiving shareholders.

Concealment is ok where it is reasonable and outweighs the alternative – the greater of two evils.

But deception is wrong and, like Bliar’s Iraq lies, it is becoming a hallmark of this disgusting Government. Time to call it a day, Mr Brown.

25 November, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Brown blow the Tories out of the water? No, he hasn’t the guts to call an election

As a traditional ‘divided loyalties’ Ulster Protestant (a supporter of a mainstream unionist party at home, and of the Conservative & Unionist Party in England), I am rather worried. My dual loyalties mean that one of my parties may do well and the other not so; that’s certainly been the case recently.

But I thought the Conservatives were on track to beat Labour. Now the polls have narrowed, with the latest IPSOS-MORI for the Observer showing only a 6 point lead and the grim prospect of a hung parliament. With UKIP and the ‘vile BNP’ polling well collectively.

So what happened the the twentysomething Conservative lead? I have a hunch that the Clarke effect combined with Lisbon/the EU policy, and the appalling abuses of the expenses system by Tory MPs (most recently the adulterous David Curry, himself a notorious Europhile), and the sudden electorate’s collective misapprehension that the economy’s well again, has led to this scenario.

All’s not rosy in the garden, as Labour’s Wilted rose shows, and it’s time for another festive onslaught re the economy from me.

It’s now the right time for Labour to call an election. They’d probably gain a lead in the polls while the public are distracted by the apparent lull in our economic rendezvous with the inevitable.

Brown would blow the Tories out of the water. But, like Callaghan in the 70s, Brown is blinded by disbelief and a lack of COURAGE, and hasn’t got the guts to call the election that could keep him in the job he plotted for over a decade to grab off Bliar. The ditherer will bottle it again.

Brown’s gutlessness allows traditional Tories, as well as trade unionist, dual-loyalty conservative unionists like me, sleep soundly at night.

23 November, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , | 2 Comments

“Wholly, exclusively and necessarily” : Expenses raise their ugly head again

Well, it seems that no sooner are we out of the conference season, than expenses have raised their ugly head again. The conference season – despite Mandelsonian spin, and attempts by Mandy to position himself as the next Labour leader (and rumour has it that he will renounce his peerage so he can be parachuted in to stand for parliament in my local seat of Darlington) – has been an unmitigated disaster for Labour: the Sun switching sides to back the Tories, and the latest opinion polls putting Labour up to 19 points (C 45 , L 26, LD 18 etc) behind the Conservatives.

And now we hear that there are to be about 325 MPs asked to justify or pay back their expenses, which should be

wholly
exclusively and
necessarily

incurred for the purposes of carrying out their duties as an MP.

Indeed, the BBC carries a notorious quote from the Sub-Prime Minister:-

“We’ve got to consign the old discredited system to the dustbin of history, this is part of the process of doing so.

“Sir Thomas Legg will make recommendations, people have the chance to look at what he says.

“And then my advice to people is after the process has gone through in the next few weeks he says you’ve got to repay, let’s get it done, let’s get it sorted out and let’s get it back to a system that people have confidence in.”

It’s the Labour Government that we need to consign to the dustbin of history, and (whatever the recommendations) the British people will in another 9 months have an opportunity to do just that. At least we can sort out poverty, our economy and social breakdown – the socio-economic issues that really matter, that can be resolved by radical conservative policy – rather than listen to more and more sleaze about crooked MPs. It’s time for change, and not more of the same of the discredited third way that amounted to a pocket-lining exercise for career politicians.

BREAKING NEWS – Jacqui Smith to apologise. Why will she not just resign her seat, rather than embarrass the Government and Brown any further ? Good question. But then she is trying to avoid paying back the £116,000. And not to forget that Gordon Brown himself will have to pay back a staggering £12,000.

12 October, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charles Clarke: Go Brown, or Labour ‘hammered’

Things are heating up again for Mr Brown. This time, Charles Clarke – incumbent in the neighbouring seat to Norwich North, which the Tories gained not so long ago – has intervened, bravely, yet again. Mr Clarke has stated that Labour needs Brown to go or else his party will be hammered:

I don’t think Gordon will lead Labour into the next election. I think his own dignity ought to look to that kind of solution.

They say prepare to battle in 2015, make sure the policies and leader are in place.

I understand that, but there will not be a 2015 if we get hammered in 2010. And on current show, we will be.

Mr Clarke, who is on the now pretty much defunct Blairite wing of his party, has long been a critic of Brown. But he should know by know that dignity is not something that the Prime Minister has shown. Labour’s policies have failed. Brown will not step aside; he’s enjoying his power too much, even though it may cost Labour some more seats than Balls or Milipede might lose.

It is time for the country to deliver the verdict of 13 years of failed New Labour and to oust this discredited, disasterous, and undignified Government.

24 September, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So it’s the worst recession since the 1930s

According to the thinktank NIESR, it is the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression:
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said in 2009 the country’s GDP could contract by 4.3%, and then grow in 2010 by 0.9%.

But the Nationwide Building Society said UK consumer confidence saw its biggest rise in two years last month.

Separately, a committee of MPs has criticised the government’s growth forecasts as “too optimistic”.

The government has predicted the economy will shrink by 3.5% this year, and then grow by 1.25% in 2010.

But the Treasury Committee said it was “very concerned about the state of the public finances” in its report on the Budget, and questioned the chancellor’s assumption that positive growth will resume in the final quarter of this year.

Whether it is as bad as the Great Depression depends on whether the lenders manage to con people into buying what are still overvalued properties; whether the jobs gloom worsens; whether consumer confidence and, therefore, spending improves; and, in other words, whether we return to the vicious cycle of debt – credit-card or mortgage fuelled – that led to this recession.

I should know about job losses, as mine (and another colleague) is due to go in September, unless one of the people who are responsible for the finances in the university decide to keep us on. My future is in their hands – and whether I can continue living at home, or have to emigrate again to Great Britain to continue my career, or at least  earn a living. I’m not the only one whose life is on hold, but at least I don’t have a mortgage any more. I do have a pension, but having a job is essential to securing it for the future.

There are sadly many people in Brown’s Britain who don’t have the option to go elsewhere looking for a job, because they’d be penalised by the tax and benefit system; it would break up their marriage or wreck their family; whereas many others can sit in their state-paid-for welfare-houses and do nothing.

Getting on my bike, as Lord Tebbit once said, is an option for me – but, sadly, not for most Britons. Brown must go.

7 May, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Clown Consensus infects Tory IHT policy

When Ken Clarke was chancellor and Gordon Brown shadowed him, their combined incompetence was referred to as ‘Clown’ (CLarke brOWN) – hat tip: future MP for Gordon Scots and Independent.

Now the Clown Consensus, which is tax the higher earners – though many are entrepreneurs and innovators who create the wealth – and those who inherit a bit of wealth has laid waste to the Conservatives’ Inheritance Tax policy. Clarke says it will be postponed – but the Tories say it is a promise that will be kept.

Matt Sinclair of the TPA, as always, hits the nail on the head:

The problem is that, in sending that signal, the opposition will also send other signals to audiences they don’t intend to reach.  They’ll send the signal that, in Britain’s attempts to wrestle with record public sector deficits, the Government will treat the wealthy as targets.  That will shift the balance between risk and reward for every potential entrepreneur wondering how much they’ll be left with if their business works out.  If entrepreneurs think that the Government will seize too much of the fruits of their success then they might well conclude that starting a new business isn’t worth the risk.  That calculation isn’t just about tax rates right now but about a perception of whether our political culture values entrepreneurs creating jobs and prosperity more than it does the satisfaction of taking shots at the rich.  The same goes for multinational companies working out where they can invest without their employees incomes being absorbed by high tax rates.

The Conservatives should focus on addressing the priorities of ordinary people, trying to make them better off now and in the future, rather than attacking the rich in a misguided attempt at political positioning.  That could leave us all facing a bleaker future.

 

The traitor Clarke should resign, because he has created doubt over a key policy – a gift for Labour. He still wishes to lead a party that despises him and much of what he stands for. And, as I said in January when Osborne orchestrated the return of Clarke, he will damage the electoral prospects of the Conservatives. In fact, his latest ‘gaffe’ (and the acceptance of Labour’s 45p proposal) will probably cause the Tories’ poll ratings to nosedive. 

23 March, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The war is over: but how will Labour respond?

Andrew Allison, one of few bloggers from the UK mainland who seem to have a handle on what is going on in Northern Ireland, has a superb post on how the recent terrorist atrocities will not derail the political process and the Executive and Assembly that has been so difficult to achieve.

Sinn Féin have acknowledged long ago that the war is over, and that Irish Republicanism will use exclusively peaceful and political means – and not the gun and the bomb – to attempt to achieve its aspiration.  While a United Ireland is a frightful concept, in a democracy they have the right to argue the case.

What the CIRA/RIRA splinter groups do not believe in is democracy.  They are trying to collapse the Institutions that are a lynchpin in the peace.  It was difficult for the Democratic Unionist Party to agree to restarting the Executive a few years back, as no doubt it was difficult for Sinn Féin to support the police.  But it has meant that we have moved on immensely in Northern Ireland.

The Republican dissidents, however, having failed in their objective to bring down the Institutions (the local politicians haven’t panicked), may well launch further attacks – but to what end?

One of the worrying aspects to these attacks was the lack of security; for example, at Massarene, civilian security contractors had one handgun and did not shoot the gunmen. Army marksmen would have given the terrorists their rightful swift descent into Hell where they belong. Now they must be caught and tried for their diabolical acts.

What Brown and Labour need to realise is that demilitarisation and weak security hasn’t worked. Appeasement of Al Qaeda wouldn’t work – just as appeasement of the RIRA/CIRA thugs. It has given such devils time to breed and has enabled disaffected ex-Provos to join these splinter groups.

It will be interesting to see how Labour, which has attempted but failed to show itself as “tough on terror” in GB, will respond to this new threat which has for the first time brought fear on the streets of Northern Ireland – and potentially could damage our economy, and blight many lives.

11 March, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brown’s new £500b ‘gamble’ … But then it’s not his money

As the real economy collapses around him, Brown is planning to announce another bailout, this time a £500,000,000,000 (enough 0s there?) ‘gamble’, as today’s Telegraph describes it.

Though it’s our money, not his, and the worst sort of gambler is one who takes ‘excessive risks’ with other people’s money.

Which is just what the banks stand accused of doing…

… so what is the difference between Brown and bankers? Very little, let’s be honest.

It’s no wonder he’s doing so badly in the opinion polls.

23 February, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A weak currency arises from a weak economy which in turn is the result of a weak Government” – Gordon Brown.

Edmund Conway, on p 21 of today’s Telegraph, quotes Brown when he criticised the Tories in 1992 at the time of the disastrous Major/Clarke/Lament era…

Brown was right to say this then, and the quote is even more apposite today.

It’s just a pity he didn’t live by it, and has made even bigger mistakes than the Tories did then.

23 January, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Today we are officially Recessionary

The official figures released today show two consecutive quarters of economic decline or contraction.

Which will stop the ‘downturn’ lie …

… But also remind us what a sorry state Brown has got us in.

23 January, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It will be working-class Northern women who do for Brown

The great Kathy Staff has sadly died.  We never found out the politics of her character on Last of the Summer Wine, but I’m willing to hazard a guess that Nora Batty (the fictional character, not the actress) was  a Tory and that she would have had none of Gordon Brown’s financial & economic nonsense – and that she would have seen our hapless PM with one swoop of her broom.

Ms Yvette Cooper isn’t a Northerner herself: she’s a public schoolgirl who neither understands economics (despite – or because of – being Chief Secretary to the Treasury Numbskulls), nor has any of the financial nous that characterise tough Northern ladies like Mrs Batty.

Labour is doing very badly with women in the opinion polls (around 10 – 12 points (or more) behind the Tories).  In particular, Labour’s advantage in the North is not as good as it should be, and the explanation is quite simple.

In earlier posts, I highlighted (a) how Northern & Scots men aged 35-55 and on benefits were flocking back to Labour; and (b) why the Tories need a Northern strategy.  I managed to offend Kerron Cross (and no doubt other people) with my Rab analogy, but I was just trying to make a point and I apologise if anyone else was offended.

More recent opinion polls have generally confirmed the trend, and though there are no specific figures, it’s fair to say that in the North (whether we are talking about Sunderland, Darlington, parts of Yorkshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, or wherever) Labour will not have as easy a time electorally as one would expect.  Particularly in Greater Manchester, given plans to ignore the congestion charge referendum and press ahead with the scheme.

Once the Tories get their economic strategy – and their Northern strategy, just as importantly together – they will be able to pick off a number of key Northern marginal seats largely on the back of working-class Northern women. Let me empahasise that I’m not characterising Northern women as Nora Batty, but my point above is that she would have seen off Brown with her broom.

And when it comes to the next general election, it will be working-class Northern women who do see off Brown – with one swoop of their metaphorical broom, the vote that women fought so hard to win – and they can make a difference to all our futures by ousting this dreadful Labour Government.

While some sections of the electorate have fallen for the Labour tax con and the apparent “Save the World” reincarnation of Brown, working-class Northern women have not.  It was they (and particularly Catholic women) who, more than any other group, gave Labour the boot in Crewe & Nantwich by switching to the brilliant Tory candidate Edward Timpson.  I remember one such lady on the doorstep in Crewe who told how Brown’s economic policy, including rising food and petrol prices and the abolition of the 10p tax rate, were affecting her and her family – and why she was voting Tory for the first time.

One key element of the Tory Northern Strategy (and their broader economic strategy), therefore, has to be to connect with working-class Northern women in such a way as to reassure them that, while Brownian economic policy means debt and disaster, the Tories’ means prosperity and plenty.

15 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment