Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Predictions: Ipswich Council Elections 2012

Here are my predictions for the Local Elections in Ipswich on 3rd May. Enjoy!


Alexandra Ward

The Liberal Democrat incumbent, Nigel Cheeseman, is stepping down from the Council so the only advantage the Yellow Peril had has been removed. The Liberal Democrat collapse nationally coupled with seasoned Labour campaigner Adam Leeder (who has stood for Westminster in Suffolk Coastal) being on the ballot paper, I expect this to be a Labour GAIN.

Bixley Ward (Ipswich Borough Council seat)

A safe Conservative HOLD for returning councillor Richard Pope*. He won’t get a thousand majority like former councillor Bill Wright used to and I achieved back in 2007 but expect at least 500 votes between Richard and his nearest challenger. Conservative HOLD.

Bixley Division (Suffolk County Council seat)

Alan Murray, the Conservative Candidate will become a County Councillor by the time the count is complete (does anyone know when the Count will take place – 3rd or 4th May?) but expect UKIP candidate Chris Streatfield to do very well but not by enough for the Tories to lose here. Conservative HOLD.

Bridge Ward 

Although James Spencer is a good campaigner who regularly gets under the skin of Labour in this ward he will not pick up Bridge this year. Stay at home Tories who are displeased with David Cameron and the fact there are not enough Conservative voting intentions on the canvass sheet means this will remain a Labour HOLD.

Castle Hill Ward

There is a straight fight between the traditional main parties in this seat. There is no chance of an upset. Robin Vickery will continue to be a councillor. Conservative HOLD.

Gainsborough Ward

The antithesis to Castle Hill Ward this seat also has no other party standing other than the traditional three. No upset. Labour HOLD.

Gipping Ward

Despite Kevin Algar being an enthusiastic campaigner for the Conservatives his uber-loyalty to the Coalition will grate some disaffected Tories. But even if he was a bit more sensitive to Cameron’s weaknesses, there would be no chance of Kevin unseating Labour leader and Labour parliamentary candidate David Ellesmere. Labour HOLD.

Holywells Ward

Alongside Rushmere, this will be the most interesting result on the night (if the count takes place on the night of 3rd May that is – you can never tell if the Council’s officers will feel too tired or not?) after last year’s close run between leader of the Council – as she was then – Liz Harsant and the Labour challenger. Cllr Harsant’s majority is 93. If well-known Liz Harsant with a massive incumbency factor had trouble beating Labour in what is normally a safe Tory ward what hope has newcomer Pam Stewart got. But then you need to factor in that Independent Dale Jackson, former Ipswich Borough Council Conservative Group leader and staunch rival of Liz Harsant, stood in Holywells last year. Many of the 114 votes he gained were from the Conservatives. This factor is not in play this year and therefore Pam Stewart has a good chance of getting elected.

Labour’s candidate does not live in the ward whereas Pam Stewart does, which will be an advantage to Mrs Stewart at the ballot box. Labour’s Elango Elavalakan, according to his potted biography in the latest Labour Rose leaflet, also does not seem to have been in Ipswich long which may lead to some voters thinking he is not yet fully aware of the local issues in the ward or the wider town. Both these factors will damage Labour’s vote.

However, the number of stay-at-home Tories who dislike David Cameron’s policies will be the deciding factor in this ward if this is to remain a Conservative hold. If UKIP had been standing in this seat, it would have been curtains for the Conservatives. As it is, they are not, therefore I predict a Conservative HOLD.

Priory Heath Ward

When I was Chairman of Ipswich Conservatives, I and my fellow Officers took Priory Heath seriously as a potential Conservative gain. The new Ravenswood estate was ripe for Tory pickings but as it turned out many of the people up on the old airport site were not interested in voting in local politics which was borne out by the Ravenswood polling station box consistently having the lowest turnout in the ward. People up on the Ravenswood estate are young professionals who are too busy working to take notice of local election campaigns unlike many on the Priory Heath council estate who depend on Labour for their benefits. Labour HOLD.

Rushmere Ward

The Conservatives have a new whipper-snapper working Rushmere ward but Labour’s Alasdair Ross seems to have an endless amount of time to campaign on the ground and in the ether on his blog and on Twitter. Conservative candidate Chris Chambers has a good campaigning blog and is leading from the front on canvassing sessions (I hope he is knocking on doors not ‘running the board’!). The Tories have given Rushmere target ward status and are piling the activists they have into the seat to win the ward come what may. No doubt Councillor and new Ipswich Conservatives Chairman Judy Terry would take it very personally if they were to lose considering she is up for election next year on Suffolk County Council and her Ipswich Borough seat is up for grabs in 2014.

The Green Party are standing and Eric Nelson will probably take a few votes from Alasdair Ross. The Yellow Peril have no chance.

Alasdair Ross is an excellent campaigner and he has never let up since he won Rushmere four years ago – as New Labour did nationally, the Socialist Ross has worked Rushmere since 2008 as if he was fighting an incumbent. Once you factor in the disaffected Tory vote, Chris Chambers will still be Mr Chambers on 4th May. Labour HOLD.

Sprites Ward

The Conservatives aren’t discounting this seat like they unsurprisingly have done with seats like Gainsborough and Priory Heath as they have put up Duncan Titchmarsh who has fought elections in Ipswich before but now that excellent Tory campaigner Bob Hall has switched to Stoke Park as his preferred route back to Grafton House, Richard Kirby will sail through to the winning post in Sprites. Labour HOLD.

St John’s Ward

My wife is stepping down from Ipswich Borough Council and therefore regular candidate (but not yet a councillor) Eddy Phillips is standing for the Tories in this ward. Looking around St John’s at the private dwellings and pleasant streets, including Goring Road and Lattice Avenue, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is prime Conservative territory.

Unfortunately, many of the private dwellings are occupied by middle-class public sector workers which is not the same as middle-class private sector workers. These people are too intelligent to bite the hand that feeds them and coupled with doughty Labour campaigner Cllr Sandy Martin being a full-time councillor and therefore not having the inconvenience of a boss to please this is still a Labour ward despite Tanya Maclure’s surprise win back in 2008.

Cllr Martin is not standing this year (he is up for election in 2014) but his reputation will put wind into the sails of Labour’s candidate Jennifer Stimson.  Labour GAIN.

St Margaret’s Ward

The result here could be interesting. The Greens and an Independent are standing along with the traditional main parties. Liberal Democrat votes are likely to fall into both the Green and Labour columns with Independent Peter Turtill picking up votes from across the spectrum but mainly from disaffected Tories as a protest vote. The by-election result late last year shows the Liberal Democrat vote to be strangely holding up here but if it does collapse to the Greens and Labour this could allow Conservative candidate Stephen Ion to come through the middle.

But then there is the Cann factor. Liberal Democrat Andrew Cann may well attract Labour votes from those who liked former Ipswich Labour MP and Andrew’s father, Jamie Cann, which could cancel out the defection of the Yellow Peril to the Greens. This is very difficult to call but I think it will be a Liberal Democrat HOLD – just.

Stoke Park Ward

Conservative Paul West is not seeking re-election to Ipswich Borough Council.  If he had been, it is possible he would have hung on here, despite the disaffected Tories staying at home, due to his strong personal following in the ward. As Mr West is not standing again, this ward is very vulnerable for the Tories.

The Conservatives have selected well by putting former Sprites councillor Bob Hall on the ballot paper. If anyone can pound the pavements and work the doors Mr Hall can. The Tories will be trying hard to hold this seat in Stoke Park after Richard Pope (and now new Bixley candidate) was defeated last year.

But word from the doorstep in the Tories’ best part of Stoke Park – the Royals estate – is that the Conservative vote is disappointed and they are saying the Conservative Party nationally has let them down by not implementing Tory policies on the economy and Europe once they gained power. The excuse being peddled by Prime Minister Cameron that the Liberal Democrats won’t let him is no longer believed.

If the Tories can’t get out their core vote they are stuffed. Therefore, I predict a Labour GAIN.

Westgate Ward

Labour councillor Carole Jones is up for election this year. In looking at the figures from 2011, when Labour won by over 500 votes, and with the Liberal Democrat vote expected to slip even further into the Green column or even into the Labour camp this year, Carole Jones will romp home. Labour HOLD.

Whitehouse Ward

As in 2011, this is a straight fight between the traditional three parties. Sitting councillor Albert Grant really has nothing to worry about. Easy Labour HOLD.

Whitton Ward

Former Conservative councillor Steve Wells managed to win big in Whitton in 2006 but ever since then the Tory vote has been chipped away. Labour gained the seat from sitting councillor Michelle Bevan last year with a comfortable 168 majority. Conservative councillor Don Ward is stepping down and with the Tory vote expected to continue falling because of their troubles nationally, this seat is a goner for the Conservatives.  Labour GAIN.

* I declare an interest as Richard was one of my ushers at my wedding last year


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The people will judge the mainstream political parties soon

As I have been writing for some time (here, here, and here) there is a major problem brewing for the traditional main three political parties, which are the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats Party. Their problem has been visible since David Cameron presented his “big, open and comprehensive offer” to the Liberal Democrats on 7th May 2010 which eventually led to the first Coalition government since the Second World War. Commentators are now suggesting this is what David Cameron was hoping for all along and his time in Opposition had been about reaching out to Liberal Democrat and Labour voters at the expense of his own supporters. If that is true, as I have written before, David Cameron will go down in history as the only Conservative leader to lose two General Elections in a row, as he surely will in 2015 unless he drastically changes course.

The problem got a lot more visible last week when UKIP – for the first time – overtook the Liberal Democrats to become Britain’s third political party in a YouGov poll for The Sun. Other polls have pushed the Yellow Peril ahead again but on the whole UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are level-pegging.

I believe on Polling Day this year for local council elections across the UK and the London Mayoral election on 3rd May there will be a) a low turnout and b) a large rise in the vote for smaller parties and independents. The bookmakers are already on to this with Siobhan Benita, the only Independent candidate running to become Mayor of London, having her odds to win the contest slashed from 500-1 to 20-1.

Outside of Planet London, the local election results are going to be very interesting. I predict a collapse in the traditional party votes which will result in some surprise wins. These being local elections, Ipswich is seeing only the Greens contest widely across the Borough with UKIP only contesting the Bixley County by-election.

But this does not mean that the traditional political parties in Ipswich will be immune from the political fallout which is heading their way.

The forming of the Coalition Government by Messrs Cameron and Clegg has severely damaged each party’s respective core vote or the ‘base’, as the Americans call it. The base is a better word as it signifies the party’s key supporters – the ones who cold call on doorsteps, who deliver the leaflets come rain or shine and generally put themselves out there to promote the party and the leader for free. As volunteers, they are not obliged to carry on working even if they are treated like dirt by the hierarchy, they just walk away. And that is what is happening in droves as a result of the way David Cameron and the Tory high command (Osborne, Maude et al) have sacrificed their supporters on the high altar of liberal elitism to show how thoroughly modern they are.

David Cameron has sacrificed his conservative values (if he ever had any) to show how the Conservative Party has changed and he has sacrificed and ridiculed his core supporters in a vain attempt to ‘detoxify’ the party brand. Just by Nick Clegg getting into bed with the Tories has been enough for his supporters to head to the Labour Party. The Liberal Democrats are looking into the political abyss.

The Coalition has achieved one thing: both Conservative and Liberal Democrat membership is plummeting and the number of activists are dwindling. Each party is going to find it difficult to get people to drive old ladies to the polling station come 3rd May as their activists will either be on the golf course or will have decided to save their precious holidays from work for more important matters like sunbathing on a Spanish beach.

Then we come to the wider Conservative vote. Cameron promised so much in Opposition but a lot of floating voters were still not convinced and the base didn’t like the incoherent Big Society message which foolishly Cameron and Osborne put at the centre of their campaign without focus-group testing it first. The end-result was the Conservative Party couldn’t win the General Election – again. But hundreds of thousands of core supporters did come out and vote Conservative just to get Gordon Brown kicked out of Downing Street. But now we have had a Conservative government for two years with no Conservative policy actually implemented – either on the deficit, on Europe, on defence etc. etc. – the base won’t be hoodwinked any more. The only true Conservative policy is the Welfare Reform Bill, ably taken through parliament by Iain Duncan-Smith, but nothing will change in the welfare state until a very sophisticated computer system is developed and installed to administer the whole thing. The history of governments and computers doesn’t bode well for the Welfare Reform Act ever coming into fruition.

Peter Oborne, who seems to change his views depending on the day of the week, wrote this in his Daily Telegraph piece during the week:

The truth is that Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg did not choose to cohabit out of self-interest, but were driven by patriotic motives to join forces to confront Britain’s greatest economic crisis for a century.

Oh, don’t make me laugh! I don’t believe that for a second. Cameron wanted to tick off “PM” on his CV and Clegg is purely about power above principle.
I believe the ordinary voter has a similar view to me. In Bradford West earlier this month, Respect and hard-left politician George Galloway won over 50% of the vote and achieved a 10,000 majority over Labour. Some Tory voters must have voted for Mr Galloway. I’ll say that again: Tory voters must have voted for George Galloway. Not because they have had some kind conversion to Socialism but because they are fed up of their own Conservative Party and the other two traditional main parties and decided to send a message to David Cameron and the Westminster elite.

I don’t think the Bradford West result was a one-off. We will see a similar trend on 3rd May and although this election won’t effect who runs the country on 4th May if the trend continues it will do come 2015.

People are fed up by being led by a liberal elite whose only aim is to appease the chattering classes in metropolitan London at dinner parties in Islington and Notting Hill. These people do not represent ordinary Britons – they do their best to stay away from us ordinary folk in their exclusive streets and gated communities or in their country homes miles from the “dirty” towns. Most people don’t want gay marriage (even most homosexuals), most either want less interference from Europe, which will allow us to deport extremist cleric Abu Qatada on our say-so, or they want out of the EU altogether.

Britain, despite the best efforts of Labour through uncontrolled immigration, is still a conservative country with Christian roots and values. Tony Blair managed – through clever political smoke and mirrors – to pretend to the British people he was leading a ‘Tory-lite’ government but of course behind the curtain Gordon Brown was pulling the economic levers of destruction causing immense damage over 13 years which created a client state consisting of millions dependent on handouts or in non-jobs in the public sector; he destroyed a pension system which was the envy of the world, sold our gold at rock-bottom prices and delivered the biggest peacetime deficit which is still crippling this country today because George Osborne is deliberately failing to get on top of it to appease his liberal chums.

The chickens are about to come home to roost. The tectonic plates are being crushed together and they will soon break apart – this could happen on 3rd May or may take longer but it will happen. The British people have had enough.


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Ipswich Local Elections 2012 update – another Labour leaflet

Labour have been busy producing more literature and their latest missive came through my door earlier this week.

This time the candidate, Elango Elavalakan, gets a showing with a large picture of him on the front-page. The political party, Labour, is not put into the shade though – the word jumps out at you in the main large print headline. To emphasise their brand Labour use red and blank ink on a white background with the party’s rose taking prominence in the masthead as the logo in the top left hand corner and the title of the leaflet ‘Holywells Rose’. 

The back of the leaflet provides a potted biography of Elango, who hails from Sri Lanka. This side also uses the imperative ‘Vote Labour’.  Again, unlike the Conservatives, Labour seem to get that the vast majority vote for political parties not the candidate.

There is the usual spiel from Labour about how wonderful they are and how evil the Tories are.  I took Labour to task in my earlier post.

There is a section on the result of Chancellor Osborne’s budget. Unsurprisingly, Labour spins negatives out of the budget such as suggesting pensioners will pay more tax when in fact all that will happen is their age-related allowance will be frozen from next tax year. Some might say why the wealthy baby-boomer generation, who will be better off in retirement than their children will be, should get tax relief at all. So-called OAPs nowadays spend the kids inheritance jetting around the world and climbing mountains (literally!).

One thing which I find laughable about Labour’s rhetoric in their leaflets are their claims to be ‘Investing in jobs’ and ‘getting people into work’. Could someone in the Ipswich Labour party explain exactly how they are going to create jobs? They have absolutely zero power to do this unless they are going to create new non-jobs at Grafton House? If you are, please send me a link to these vacancies so we can see the proof. You would need to create several vacancies to reach £1.5M or is this being spent on pointless projects run by existing council officers which create not one new job?

Labour’s new election leaflet has been uploaded to ElectionLeaflets.org here.


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Locking Ipswich parks is wasting my money

Peaceful Holywells Park

When I was a backbench Conservative councillor on Ipswich Borough Council back in 2010, the ruling Executive ordered a report to be written on the practicalities of leaving the parks, owned by the people of Ipswich and run by the Borough Council, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This was being taken very seriously by both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the Borough Council coalition as a way of reducing significant costs and by allowing the taxpayer to enjoy their parks during the low light periods of early morning and late evening. It had my full support on both the economic and quality of life aspects of the policy: a win-win idea which surely would get implemented?

But then the nimbys got going. Some leafy St Margaret’s residents got it into their paranoid heads that Christchurch Park would be overrun by ‘undesirables’ late at night spoiling the tranquillity in their extensive gardens which back on to the public park. This immediately got Liberal Democrat Cllr Inga Lockington, who represents St Margaret’s Residents’ Association Ward, very excited and she decided it wasn’t such a great idea after all to leave the parks unlocked for the enjoyment of the taxpayer at a time of their choosing. As she was a member of the all-powerful Executive committee, it mattered that Cllr Lockington disagreed but she only had one vote.

However, freedom to use our parks ran up against a far bigger obstacle when the Friends of Holywells Park managed to find 2000 people to sign a petition saying they were against the public park being closed. It did not matter these 2000 people a) probably didn’t all live close by to the park and b) they would not all have been voters in Holywells ward (the ward would be a strong Green Party consituency if they were!),  Holywells Conservative Cllr Liz Harsant, and Leader of the Council at the time, decided it was enough to kill the policy to unlock the parks and reduce the Council’s bill in employing men to drive round in vans locking all the gates two hours before the light disappears.

When the policy report finally got to Executive a deal had been done behind closed doors between the Conservative and Liberal Democrats Executive members to drop the policy. As a backbencher it was raised in our Group meeting and I voiced my disquiet at being dictated to by a minority at the expense of the majority who would like to walk their dog whilst it is still light within the grounds of beautiful Holywells or Alexandra Park instead of being chased out like an alien by a jumped-up, whistle-blowing park ranger in his 4X4 transit van.

There was one dissenting voice – in public, at the Executive meeting: Executive-member Cllr Richard Pope. From the steely look on the face of Cllr Harsant I don’t think Cllr Pope had got the memo. Instead, he told the assembled public gallery he and other parents should be able to take their children to the park before school during the low light period between sunrise and when the park is opened by the ranger an hour or an hour and half later.

Not being an early bird, I look at it from the other end of the day, but nonetheless just as relevant to what Cllr Pope said at the Executive Committee. I was always for the park being left open 24 hours a day for the reasons outlined above but now I have a dog and have become a dog walker I am angry that when I take my dog out for his walk upon an evening – in broad daylight – that I have to walk past a locked Holywells Park which I own as a taxpayer and instead I have to walk my dog along pavements buffeted by passing noisy cars, trucks, lorries, motorbikes and vans. All because a few nimbys don’t like other people using ‘their’ park and had the time to organise a petition whilst it seems the majority of taxpayers were out working.

Now we have a new broom at Grafton House, I would be interested to hear the policy of the Labour administration. Perhaps, Deputy Portfolio Holder for Culture & Leisure and fan of this blog, Cllr Alasdair Ross, could offer his thoughts?


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Ipswich Local Elections Update: Review of Labour’s Local Voice

A bit later than I hoped (unfortunately the job which pays the mortgage has to come first) I’ve taken a look at Labour’s election address which was pushed through my door earlier this week.

Unlike the Conservatives’ leaflet, the first word which jumps out of you is Labour. The headline is “Labour’s plan for jobs and growth” and immediately to the left in the side bar are the words “Vote Labour“.

It is clearly a generic leaflet, in a clever newspaper format, which looks designed to be distributed across the town so no one particular candidate is promoted. But as I said in my review of the Conservative election address the vast majority of people go to the polling station to vote for a political party and at local elections on the whole the electorate will a) not have met the candidate (I have not been canvassed at all during this campaign and never have been since I moved to my current home in 2006!) and b) frankly, they won’t care who the local candidate is. It’s the rose, the tree or the bird they are looking for and that’s it. Of course, there some people who are looking for the candidate’s name but they are in the minority by some margin.  Sorry to disappoint the egos of the candidates!

Labour’s Local Voice looks to the future with a number of policy announcements. I criticised the Conservatives for concentrating on the past but it is far easier for the incumbent, which Labour are at Ipswich Borough Council, to announce what they will do when they are already in power.

The Labour literature also ticks the boxes for a big picture and few words. The headline story is textbook with a large picture of a three rather suspicious looking characters with hard hats (Cllrs Mowles, Ellesmere, and Quinton) and two large headlines. The text in the article is mainly made up of easy to read bullet points and, importantly, lots of white space. More space is allocated to pictures than words in the sidebar. People will only scan political leaflets and this is borne in mind by whoever designed the front-page of Labour’s election address.

The inside pages also follow the same theme of lots of big pictures and white space. The coloured stand-out boxes are a good technique.  Page 3 has another picture of Cllr Ellesemere (any one would think he was Labour’s challenger to Ben Gummer at the next General Election). This page is not very well laid-out with far too much text about Labour’s achievements and the green stand-out box with italicised text does not encourage us to read it.

Labour do their usual trick of painting the Tories as evil, which they do with a classic ticks and crosses stand-out box:

Labour peddle the lie that they brought John Lewis at Home and Waitrose to Ipswich when they did nothing of the sort. These were cross-party planning decisions and if anyone helped bring Waitrose to the town it was the former Conservative-led administration and the work their transport chief, Cllr Tanya Maclure, did to improve the Giles Circus landscape which is situated right outside the new Little Waitrose store in the town centre – and is an improvement Labour were vehemently against whilst the Giles Circus new pedestrian and road scheme was being constructed.  Labour were also against £9million being invested by Tesco on the western end of the Waterfront with all Labour councillors voting AGAINST the jobs and investment when the decision was made at the Planning Committee.
Labour’s claim they introduced free tickets for serving members of the armed forces to see shows at the Regent and Corn Exchange is laughable considering it was a motion laid down at a Council meeting by Tory group leader Cllr John Carnall that brought in this policy.

Going back to style and format of Labour’s Local Voice, the back-page in contrast to the front-page is a disappointment. There is no clear message due to there being too much text. There is a picture of Adam Leeder, Labour’s candidate in Alexandra Ward, which is strange as the newspaper was delivered in Holywells Ward where Labour’s candidate is Elango Elavalakan. The articles on the back page look like a standard set from Labour HQ in Victoria Street, London which have been added to the locally produced pages – this means the formatting is inconsistent to the other pages but let’s face it most people will probably only read the front-page then bin it.

The ‘We want to hear from you’ section is very good and makes use of the thousands of copies which will be distributed to homes to drum up new activists and members and money for the Labour Party. The Conservative leaflet completely missed this trick, which as a former Tory constituency chairman, is quite grating.
There is also a banner at the top of page three letting readers know who to call or email to organise a postal vote – something which the Conservative election address also lacked.

Despite Labour’s economies with the truth, the leaflet pretty much does the job as the front-page is a classic example of a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) leaflet, having the words ‘Labour’ and ‘Vote’ and an action picture.

The front-page and back-page of the leaflet have been uploaded to ElectionLeaflets.org here.


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We want our Conservative Party back

The last couple of days have seen a flurry of commentators from the so-called centre-right press round on David Cameron and George Osborne as out-of-touch public schoolboys who have open contempt for the party they lead.

MPs and activists have grumbled for years that they were being sacrificed by David Cameron to demonstrate to the metropolitan chattering classes that the Conservative Party had “changed” and was no longer the “nasty party” it supposedly once was.

As Iain Martin said in his excellent piece for the Daily Telegraph yesterday, this “modernisation” of the Tory Party has been a “electoral and philosophical dead-end”. It has never been a successful ploy. Let me remind the Tory high command once again: the Conservative Party has not won a General Election since 1992!
And, as I have written before, it will not win the General Election in 2015 unless the leadership start to listen to its core supporters: the thousands of party members and its backbench MPs.

The Conservative side of the coalition has done some good things. Michael Gove is expertly executing the Government’s education policy with the introduction of free-schools with terms and conditions for teachers set by the school not by the Trotskyite local education authorities and Iain Duncan Smith has managed to do what even Thatcher could not achieve by getting the Welfare Reform Act on to the statute book, which, if implemented, will allow work to always pay more than benefits. These two reforms will help to reverse some of the enormous damage inflicted on Great Britain by Labour between 1997 and 2010.

But on the economy, the Government is failing to tackle the mess Gordon Brown left behind. We must go faster and deeper on public spending cuts to reduce the deficit not penalise hard-working people who will get us out of the mess we are in. Public spending is only being taken back to 2005 levels: it was those levels that gave us the biggest deficit in peace-time history and a national debt the size of Greece with only our higher GDP and the fact we are not in the Euro saving us from oblivion.

In the Budget on 21st March, George Osborne had the opportunity to help out the strivers and prudent pensioners who also just happen to be the people who vote Conservative. But instead the “modernisation” agenda took precedent and those very people who contribute so much in taxes, which are frittered away on benefits, non-existent global warming counter-measures and helping the Indians buy fighter jets through our international aid payments, were told to dig deep and give the Government even more of their cash.

The “granny tax”, whereby the personal allowance for pensioners will be frozen from next year, was a policy on a par with Gordon Brown’s doomed 10p tax band removal. Then VAT was whacked on to working people’s lunches with tepid warm pasties and sausage roles being levied with the tax. Do Cameron and Osborne have a political death-wish?

If it wasn’t bad enough that the traditional Tory voter was rubbished by Cameron and his inner circle to demonstrate at dinner parties with Guardian and BBC journalists how thoroughly modern they were, they now think it is a good idea to ignore the same voter now they are in power.

As the old saying goes, you reap what you sow. And so it came to pass when the last week turned into the Government’s week from political hell which started with the Budget and ended with the Conservative vote decreasing by 22% in the Bradford West by-election won by George Galloway.

Traditionally during these tricky weeks, the Government looks to their Party for help. When Cameron and Osborne looked out into Downing Street for assistance, none was forthcoming. Instead of running to their aid the backbench Tory MPs who are ignored by Cameron, whilst he schmoozes up to Nick Clegg, hit back. The centre-right press, who are rarely phoned up by Conservative ministers, went on collective attack, and the party activists started writing letters to the Daily Telegraph saying they were fed up of Cameron and his chums.

Every mainstream paper rubbished George Osborne’s budget, which was easy to do as every measure had been leaked before hand leaving the Chancellor to announce all the bad ideas in one go. And then Unite launched a foray into enemy territory by announcing fuel tanker drivers had voted to put industrial action in their armoury. They didn’t announce a strike but said they might strike at a time of their choosing – but seven days notice is required by law.

Cue the Tory arch-moderniser, Francis Maude. Ironically it was his very unmodern discourse which got him and the Government into trouble. Mr Maude responded to the “cash-for-Cameron” scandal by saying they were only “kitchen suppers” and then proceeded to advise the public they should fill up “their jerry can and store it in their garage”. It may well be Maude’s mouth which sealed the fate of Cameron and his cohorts at the next General Election.  Because it is class which might do for Cameron what sleaze did for Major. As a commentator on Radio 4’s PM said last week, we now know the layout of Maude’s house: he has a dining room but his house is so big he can instead eat his dinner in his kitchen.

In addition, most people in the UK do not have a garage as house prices are so high that relatively well-paid professionals like myself cannot afford to live anywhere other than a terraced row in a provincial town. Therefore, we a) don’t have a jerry can and b) I wouldn’t have anywhere safe to store it anyway.

Maude allowed the chitter-chatter I was used to hearing in the bars at Conservative Party conference to invade the discourse of Government communications to the nation. He has no idea how most people live in this country. This is not how the Conservative Party behaved and spoke when it was winning three elections in a row. People can say (and they do) what they like about Margaret Thatcher but she was from a humble background who knew what it was like to strive to ensure food was put on the table. Her father was a grocer and it was only by marrying wealthy oil man Denis Thatcher she was able to go into politics: she didn’t see it as her destiny unlike some of those occupying Number 10 and 11 Downing Street today. Thatcher never forgot her up-bringing and knew how families went out and worked hard, had to budget for the weekly shop and wanted Government to help them get on in life not hinder them – she knew because she too had to work hard to get on and up. It wasn’t handed to her on a supper plate.

People want a Government to first and foremost to provide the environment for a strong economy through tax and spend policies. Despite what the Guardianistas say they also want to feel proud of their country and our standing in the world. Most people in Britain are conservative with a small ‘c’. Blair knew this and did his best to paint a picture of a Government that understood this but still all the time Brown was stealthily raising taxes and creating an obese client state that was completely reliant on the Labour party to eat and live. Eventually they were rumbled and Labour were driven from office. But Cameron seems to not even care about pretending he understands the British people.

This Government is more interested in counter-measures for non-existent global warming rather than policies to tackle high energy prices. Cameron would rather see our defence forces cut back to the bone than cut international aid to India who then use it to buy French fighter jets.
The “modern” Conservative Party in Government hammers pensioners and workers trying to buy lunch but spends an exorbitant amount of time trying to legalise gay marriage. And to top it all off, a Conservative-led Government wants to bring in a law (actually an EU law) to allow the security services to see every email you send, every tweet you post and every website you visit. Not even Labour dared do that.

Many Conservative voters and Party activists were willing to give Cameron the benefit of the doubt when they wondered was he really one of them during the first five years of his Tory leadership, as long as he won us back power. But when he failed to do this in 2010, Cameron’s blatant dislike of the ordinary party member became more of a kick in the teeth. Despite Labour almost bankrupting the country, the Conservative Party could not win a majority. One reason for this was because David Cameron could not communicate a coherent message on Conservative core values, including patriotism, toughness on crime and a small state, and instead bumbled on about the incoherent big society. There was also another reason: Tory voters could not see a Tory Party to vote for and so stayed at home, which was borne out by the Conservative vote only increasing by 3%.

Back in 2010, the Tory voter was still loyal enough to the Conservative Party to not vote against them. But as we saw in Bradford West last Thursday, the tide has started to turn. George Galloway’s share of the vote (over 50%) and majority over Labour of 10,000 must mean Tories voted for him. Conservatives aren’t just staying at home, they are looking to fringe parties to give Cameron a bloody nose. This alone should deeply worry David Cameron and his liberal elite.

It’s as if the Conservative Party has been invaded and occupied by a foreign force and now we must wait for the uprising to begin. This could come sooner than we think and, as Rafael Behr said in his New Statesman article, when it does the end will be “sudden, unsentimental and brutal”.


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Watermelon Ipswich council takes us back to the dark ages

It angers me that my local authorities, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council have colluded to switch off my street lights after midnight, plunging my neighbourhood into pitch black darkness. Keeping the lights on and emptying our bins once a week are basic council services, which, on both counts, my council fails to deliver.

I pay hundreds of pounds a year in council tax and the Labour council and socialist bureaucrats can’t even deliver the basics. It’s as if we live in the third world. In fact, that is what the green zealots at the council want as I can reveal the bureaucrats at Ipswich Borough Council tonight told councillors in a closed meeting that the reasons for switching the street lights off at midnight is nothing to do with saving money but instead to meet central government Co2 reduction targets to stop non-existent anthropogenic global warming.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.


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Why is Diane Abbott still a Labour MP?

The answer to the headline question is the same for why Ken Livingstone continues to be Labour’s London Mayoral candidate on 3rd May: they are both people of the Left.

Diane Abbott posted a racist tweet on Twitter which said “White people love playing ‘divide and rule'” and apart from being told to remove the offending tweet no disciplinary action was taken by the Labour high command and she was allowed to carry on as normal.

Now we have Ken Livingstone saying the Conservative Party is ‘riddled’ with gay people ‘like everywhere else’. Again, Labour leader Ed Miliband will take no action.

Just imagine if a Conservative MP had sent a racist tweet or if Boris Johnson had talked about homosexuality in such divisive terms. That would be it, game over. End of career.

But not for the Left it would seem. They have spent so long painting the Tories as the devil incarnate they now actually believe themselves to be all holy. This allows people like Ken Livingstone to spout their filth and cosy up to extremists like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has praised Hitler and the Holocaust, without any sanction.

As the Left are such strong advocates of equality, should they also not be treated the same as the Right?


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Ben Gummer wins health money for Ipswich

Despite all the posturing from Labour they never actually did much to improve the NHS. They spent more time saying how evil the Tories were and suggesting we would ruin the NHS at the first opportunity. Undoubtedly, some privatisation would bring in some much needed efficiency and performance management in to the NHS which would allow managers to sack nurses who leave an elderly lady without water all day. But when it actually comes to enhancing the current nationalised NHS, it is left to the Tories to actually provide the improvements as has happened today in Ipswich. 

The town’s MP, Ben Gummer, has secured £10million from the Government for Ipswich Hospital with £5million be used to set up an elective specialist heart centre, known as a PCI centre. As Ipswich Spy reports, the plans will mean patients who currently have to travel to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for routine elective surgery will be treated at Heath Road. Evidence used to make this decision will have included a report published by Professor Roger Boyle in December 2010, which advised that an elective (PCI) centre be built in Ipswich while emergency patients should continue to travel to one of the three PPCI centres. This report was triggered by a campaign headed by Ben Gummer before the General Election for Ipswich Hospital to have a facility for invasive heart care treatment when it was revealed Suffolk was the only county in the region that would not have an emergency heart care centre (PPCI centres) built. At the time, Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole stood by, did his Government masters’ bidding, and said it was the best thing for the people of Ipswich. The people disagreed and he was duly disposed in May 2010.
This is a superb achievement by Mr Gummer. It shows he has the capacity to get access to the right ministers in the health department, and I am sure the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley himself, to get funding for Ipswich. Many people in Whitehall would need a map to find out where Ipswich is, hence why our railway line is so diabolical, but on this occasion they have had a constituency bugging them for money. Mr Gummer’s little chats with ministers whilst they are trapped in the lobbies has paid off.
Chris Mole never had such achievements. He waited for money to be pushed to him rather than the other way round and when it came to Ipswich Hospital he was his master’s voice, the little poodle as he tried to climb the greasy pole of Government and still never achieving higher office than a junior transport minister in nine years of being Ipswich MP.
On the other hand Mr Gummer has communication skills which allow him to talk coherently, and, more importantly, persuade those in power to look at Ipswich. For the best part of two decades, ministers would never have talked about Ipswich as the MP did not. Now, at last, Whitehall is starting to realise Ipswich isn’t just a little village in rich rural Suffolk but an urban regional centre with just as many difficulties and needs as most major towns in this country.


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Ed Miliband is the Captain Smith of the Labour Party

In today’s Daily Telegraph, their superb and supremely intelligent columnist Fraser Nelson pretty much sums up my own views on British party politics today. He describes the woes of both Labour and the Conservatives. Fraser’s characterisation of Labour’s key players in the parliamentary party is spot on with his main premise that both Ed Miliband and David Miliband are Labour losers who are not the answer to any question the Labour Party is asking.

From a Conservative perspective, Fraser states what I have thought all along but not articulately very well that Labour actually did quite well at the last election, considering they were being led by the worst post-war Prime Minister. They have one of the biggest Opposition parties ever as a result. But this isn’t because the voters liked Labour, they just didn’t understand or like what the Conservatives stood for. This cuts back to my view on why the Conservatives lost the last General Election, which I have written about here. The fact Cameron could not win a majority in 2010 puts him in the bracket of the most electorally unsuccessful Tory prime minister in history – all my Coalition-loving Tories should question why we failed to win so many seats in the last General Election instead of thinking we won the General Election when we patently did not.

Fraser Nelson also has time in his article for a Tony Blair appearance. This section from his article is wonderful:

“One wonders what Tony Blair makes of all this. He visited Britain last month, and, like many foreign dignitaries on tight schedules, held a breakfast meeting with an invited audience. Carefully selected young Labour MPs were summoned and sat like groupies at the Cabinet-style table, as he held court.”

Enjoy the full article here.