Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Good things come to those who wait

David Cameron, seen here with his wife outside Number 10, is back as prime minister this time with a Conservative majority

David Cameron, seen here with his wife outside Number 10, is back as prime minister this time with a Conservative majority of 4

Today is one for the history books. The Conservative Party, beyond all expectations, has won its first General Election since 1992 when Sir John Major was prime minister. The Tories are back in power as a single majority party for the first time since 1997 with a working majority of four.

This is a truly momentous day.

I joined the Conservative Party during the dark days of Iain Duncan Smith’s tenure at the top of the Tory tree when there was of course no tree on the logo but the stern torch of Conservatism. Ironically, it is this hard but necessary approach to dealing with the economy after the mess (yet again) Labour left the country which has propelled David Cameron back into Downing Street. When it came down to it, the great British (well English) electorate decided to stick with a party who know how to run a successful economy. The Conservatives were also helped every time Nicola Sturgeon opened her mouth – the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition saw thousands of disaffected Tories returning home.

The voters resoundingly rejected Miliband's socialist vision for Britain

The voters resoundingly rejected Miliband’s socialist vision for Britain

Socialism has well and truly been defeated in England – it had already been by 1992 and Tony Blair new this in 1997 but Ed Miliband thought he could turn back time. He was resoundingly proved wrong and rightly fell on his sword this morning. Can anyone hear Russell Brand today? No, me neither. Let’s hope this is permanent too.

In 2010 I was up all night at the Ipswich count, which culminated in the man I had selected when Chairman of the Ipswich constituency Conservative Party – Ben Gummer – being elected with just over 2000 votes. By 5am this morning his majority was increased by nearly 2000, which signalled the Conservatives were heading for outright majority at Westminster.

Nick Clegg realises catastrophic loses

Nick Clegg, seen here with his wife Miriam, realises catastrophic loses

Last night I spent the evening in London watching the results come in live in a bar in Westminster – a different but very exciting experience. History was being made in front of our very eyes. A highlight was seeing the big beasts of the Liberal Democrats topple like dominos: Hughes, Cable, Kennedy, Laws, Featherstone, Moore, Swinson, Alexander…the list goes on. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg hung on in his Sheffield Hallam seat but saw his majority slashed by 13,000. By the time the poll bloodbath was over, his party had seen their seat total reduce from 56 to eight – Clegg subsequently resigned as leader of his party a few hours later.

Labour were decimated in Scotland with many big names booted our by the public including Douglas Alexander and the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy. Later, after dawn broke, former henchman to Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, lost his Morley and Outwood seat – this was justice for being on the bridge advising the Chancellor when he crashed the economy in 2010. Miliband then had no choice but to resign as well.

UKIP failed to break through, capturing just one seat – Clacton, won by Douglas Carswell in last year’s by-election – and unable to retake Rochester and Strood won by Mark Reckless in November. Nigel Farage didn’t win South Thanet either, losing to the Conservatives. As he had promised, Mr Farage resigned as his party’s leader (for now) and said he was off on an extended holiday over the summer before the leadership contest in the autumn.

And at that David Cameron had seen off three party leaders in a morning and was summoned by the Queen to form the next Government.

This has been a day I have waited a very long time to see – a day I thought may never come. A new dawn has broken, has it not (hat tip to a Mr. T. Blair)? Time to celebrate like it’s 1992 – and as the greatest Conservative Party leader since Churchill famously said: rejoice, rejoice, rejoice!


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I’m back!

Ballot box

Yes and in more ways than one!

Firstly, sorry for the lack of blogging of late.  It’s been a difficult few months but also very hectic with performing in a play, starting a new job and (still) trying to buy a house. We’ll get there eventually.

But I’m also back in the political sense or put another way: I’ve come home. Yes, after being disillusioned by our illustrious leader of the Conservative Party and the painful partnership with the yellow peril for five long years, it’s time to frankly accept that voting for any other party than the Conservatives is, as Iain Duncan-Smith puts it in the Daily Telegraph today, like writing Britain’s ‘suicide note’.

David Cameron might not be a Tory in the Margaret Thatcher sense but then she was not really a Tory either – she was a Thatcherite, clearly. But she was the leader of the Conservative Party, a broad church but with core beliefs in the individual, free markets and removing the dead hand of the state from people’s lives. Conservatism is also about tradition and rejecting rapid change – it is sadly these values David Cameron has ditched in a failed bid to win over the Guardianistas and the BBC. But that will not stop me voting Conservative on Thursday and I’d like to explain why.

There is one thing the Conservatives still know how to do: build a strong economy. Some forget very easily where we were in 2010 after Gordon Brown had spent so much on tax credits and welfare creating his client state utopia where working was an option not an obligation. When the financial tsunami hit our shores in the form of a failed financial regulatory system in the US and here in the UK, the country almost toppled in to the abyss. Thank goodness for an election and the defeat of Labour.

Despite this financial armageddon landing in our towns, streets and homes, David Cameron was still unable to win an election because of his misguided attempt to make the electorate like the Conservative Party rather than respect it. But nevertheless he had enough seats to form a Coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats – a partnership he clearly liked – and with that the Conservative Party could get the UK back on her feet.

The economy is not the system we had in the 1980s which helped so many babyboomers become wealthy in their retirement – capitalism does need reform – but today we have the healthiest economy in the whole of Continental Europe. This is not an accident – it is as a result of policies by Chancellor George Osborne and his team to cut the deficit, to encourage more businesses to start-up and existing ones to flourish, which in turn has created 2 million new jobs in the private sector in the last five years.

Let me be straight: Ed Miliband ideologically does not like capitalism. His Labour Party believes in higher welfare payments for the work shy; they want a large public sector; they do not like private enterprise and given a chance will make life tougher for them to do business. Millions of people rely on the economic model we have in this country; it is far from perfect but it is the envy of Europe. Labour in cahoots with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond of the SNP would tear it apart to implement their socialist dream.

We can’t let that happen. The nightmare does not have to come true if you join me in voting Conservative on Thursday.


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If you don’t do politics, politics will do you

So said Rick Edwards on ITV’s #LeadersLive debate during his introduction to an online only Q&A programme with our political leaders targeted at the under 30s age group, which started yesterday. First up was Nigel Farage.

You can find the video below.

Today’s Autumn Statement proved the point young people need to engage with politics or the politicians will not listen to them. Politicians only listen to people who vote: it’s as simple as that.

The headline announcement was the reform of stamp duty. This is good – in the short term (more on that in a moment) – for house-buyers of today but a redundant announcement for the hundreds of thousands of young people who can’t even cobble a deposit together to get a mortgage never mind work out if they can afford the stamp duty on top. But by the time these young people – if they ever can – are able to pull the required deposit together the stamp duty reform will have helped to increase house prices as sellers will now accept bids above the old stamp duty thresholds because they will know buyers will have more money to play with because the artificial cliff-edge barrier which saw stamp duty rise by thousands of pounds (e.g. from 1% to 3 % when £250,000 was passed, as in the old system) will no longer be there.

Nearly all the announcements were aimed at middle income earners with families and older people: the two groups who vote the most. You always hear politicians talk about “hard working families” or pensioners who’ve “worked hard all their lives”. You will never hear George Osborne talk about the childless singletons who pay huge amounts of income tax and VAT but very rarely take from the public purse (they even have to pay for their bin collections – around £100 a month considering they don’t use any of the other council services).

The NHS will receive another splurge of tax (£2bn a year for the foreseeable future) but in my view this is just throwing good money after bad. The NHS is a highly inefficient organisation that is ripped off by drugs manufacturers because there is no competition to drive prices down with wasteful spending by doctors, nurses and managers from top to bottom, such as spending £80 million on paracetamol prescriptions which cost as little as 19p in supermarkets. This is allowed because there is no incentive to keep control of costs when the organisation is so sacred and revered by all political parties, even including UKIP! The taxpayer will just keep footing the bill, won’t they?

Weirdly, the general view amongst young people is the NHS is great, although I did hear a young man in his early 20s on the train a few months ago complaining to his mate about the woeful NHS care he had experienced and how he didn’t understand why people criticised an insurance based system like in the US – as the young man put it: “at least the care in the US is better and it’s not as if the NHS is “free” anyway, it’s paid out of of National Insurance.” I could not have put it better myself.

Back to our young people: what was the policy in today’s Autumn Statement aimed at those below 30? Oh yes, a personal debt. The chancellor announced Government-backed student loans of up to £10,000 are to be made available for postgraduates!

If you’re under 30, you’ve got to do politics and VOTE or politics will just keep doing you!


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Miliband is Least Popular Leader Since Polling Began

Miliband is Least Popular Leader Since Polling Began.

Oh dear, oh dear. Either the men in grey coats have got to come for him or Labour are looking likely to be opposition for at least a decade.

Even Scotland is deserting them with the SNP on the ascendency. Perhaps a Con-UKIP pact is more likely as the yellow peril are going to be obliterated in May next year?


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Lest We Forget

Chelmsford Cenotaph: 100 years on, remembering those who fell in the Great War

Chelmsford Cenotaph: 100 years on, remembering those who fell in the Great War

As regular readers will know, I moved to Chelmsford in March, so this year has been the first time in 13 years where I have not commemorated our fellow countrymen and women who fell serving their country in World War I and in all subsequent conflicts at the magnificent Christchurch Park cenotaph in Ipswich.

This year instead I attended the Remembrance service on Sunday at the Chelmsford cenotaph outside Chelmsford City Council’s Civic Centre in Duke Street. Although everyone who attended paid their respects in a dignified way, the location of our commemoration in what is now a City was not a patch on the civic display of remembrance organised by Ipswich Borough Council. If I swung the camera round you will have seen a row of tatty fast food outlets rather than acres of parkland and trees which greets the people of Ipswich who join the town’s dignitaries to pay their respects.

Ipswich is truly blessed with amazing civic buildings and locations and it is only when one moves away from Suffolk’s county town one truly appreciates it. Very few places in the country enjoy such civic splendour.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War

Today is Armistice Day and a cannon fired close to where I live (most likely at Chelmsford Cathedral) at 11am, letting me know to stop work and remember the close to 1 million British and Commonwealth soldiers who died serving King and Country in the Great War between 1914-1918 and all those who fell in World War II through to those who lost their lives protecting Britain’s interests in Afghanistan.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

‘For the Fallen’, by Laurence Binyon


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The lack of political leadership is making our politics dull

Osborne doing Blair

Follower not leader: UK Chancellor George Osborne

Right, I’m going to start blogging regularly again without having to wait to write a New Year’s resolution to motivate me!

I think one of the reasons I am blogging less is because of the way all the mainstream parties have coalesced in the centre ground, which has resulted in a very dull political landscape in Britain. This has been ongoing since the early 1990s with the speed of dullness being turbo powered by Tony Blair’s Government and obsession with focus groups. It is only in the last five years the status quo is being punctured by UKIP and previously (albeit on a much lower scale) by George Galloway’s Respect party.

Melanie Phillips, the Times columnist, summed it up well on the BBC’s Question Time last night when she said the problem was a lack of leadership. So true – leadership is vitally important as it gets things done. This is the case everywhere not just in politics – look at how Tesco has fallen to its knees since Sir Terry Leahy stepped down as CEO to be replaced by the now defunct and hapless Philip Clarke. The difference between Nigel Farage, the Respect leader and Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband is the UKIP and Respect leaders have a set of principles and they are not afraid people will disagree with them, as they believe they are right and want others to follow them.

Political leadership can move countries and the world: Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan undoubtedly had it. Many would say Tony Blair had it too – but did he? Mr Blair actually achieved very little himself as he admits in his autobiography, A Journey, – ironically, it was Gordon Brown who did the most change in implementing a client state paid off in benefits and tax credits and unleashing the banks to fund his spirally welfare coffers and public sector wages bill. Those were highly destructive actions but it required thousands of civil servants to implement them, which required leadership. Tony Blair may have had the brightest smile but it was Gordon Brown who was actually running the Government between 1997 – 2007, which made it even more ironic he failed so spectacularly in the most senior position when he became prime minister.

But where is the leadership now? A photo on a popular right-wing political blog (displayed above) struck me today as encapsulating the political class who follow rather than lead. One Gideon Osborne is doing his best to look like Tony Blair – not in any sense of mockery but because of admiration – even down to the thumb on top of hand gesticulation, which Blair mastered so not to be all ‘pointy’ in his speeches, which the professionally offended would find, well, so offensive.

And why has the Submarine Chancellor surfaced today: to announce a lack of leadership. The EU have sent us a bill for £1.7bn. Two weeks ago David Cameron went to Brussels and enacted a faux anger over the bill, prodding his finger on the lectern to make his point, almost knocking it off the stage into the press pack. The anger was not real – David Cameron is from aristocratic stock: the first thing mother says to you when you are born into the aristocracy is: “Never get angry”. Emotion is treated as wrong by the upper-class, which shows you what an actor David Cameron has become. Just like a Mr T. Blair. Leadership is not acting – that’s following someone else’s script, in this case UKIP’s.

Now Mr Osborne claims to have cut the ‘surprise’ bill in half. But has he? The small print tells us differently – the EU will use Britain’s rebate to pay off the rest. So the money we get back each year (although we still plough into Brussels £6bn more than we get out each year!) is being used to pay this new bill. So the Chancellor hasn’t reduced the bill at all.

And who secured the annual rebate: one Margaret Thatcher. It takes leadership to make a real difference.

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