Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Cameron caved into Clegg over top rate of tax decrease

There was a reason Labour didn’t touch the top rate of income tax until Gordon Brown finally allowed insanity to take a grip on him. Because they knew it fed economic growth and brought in the billions of taxes for them to spend on creating the client state with millions gratefully dependent on Labour handouts. However, this all changed when Gordon Brown in a stroke signalled to the rest of the world back in 2009 that Britain was not a fan of business when he raised the top rate to 50p.

Britain, along with Germany, was the financial powerhouse of Europe during the years when the rate at which the Government stopped taxing income was held at 40p. Gone were the days of Labour Governments raising income tax to 83p and Labour Chancellors saying the “tax the rich until the pips squeak”. Britain was open for business.

But after thirteen years of profligate spending during the Blair-Brown years the chickens came home to roost and the economy took a nose-dive. Gordon Brown saw his opportunity to whack up the top rate to 50p and thereby slammed the UK plc shop door firmly shut.

Labour were duly kicked out of office in 2010 and we then had a Tory Chancellor in George Osborne who instinctively knew he must reverse Brown’s decision and take the top rate back to 40p. It would put the open sign back on the UK plc shop door. It wouldn’t solve the financial crisis overnight but it would certainly turn us in the right direction. The proof is that low taxation grows economies as was seen in the 1980s and 1990s until Labour got their wrecking ball out in 1997.

But it seems, according to the excellent Tim Montgomerie over at the Conservative Home parish, George Osborne was scuppered at the last moment during this March Budget preparations by the smarmy and quite revolting Nick Clegg. The Liberal Democrat leader told David Cameron the top rate must only drop to 45p and Cameron said: “Yes, sir.”

Nick Clegg is a man who leads a party which has only 1/6 of the seats in the House of Commons but is treated by the Prime Minister as if he is the senior partner. What would have happened if Cameron had said “no”? Nothing. Clegg would have buckled and ordered his troops to go through the Aye lobby to rubber stamp the Budget. Because they will always put the ministerial limo before their principles and we would get a good Tory Government backed up by the Yellow Peril. But instead, Cameron caved into Clegg and we have a Liberal Democrat-led Government as a result. It’s working out, isn’t it?

I am still believe in the Conservative Party and our core values but I just wishe the Conservative leader would talk about them more. Tim Montgomerie said the same thing yesterday:

If staunch Tories like Tim are saying this openly, Cameron is in trouble. As I’ve said before, we should never have gone into coalition with the Liberals. If we had gone to the country again in October 2010, we would now have a Tory majority Government and if Cameron dared to behave like this in a pure Tory Government, he would be gone in that “sudden, unsentimental and brutal” fashion very soon indeed.


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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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What are the Government afraid of?

Coalitions are, in my opinion, weak forms of Government. The stronger partner is always scared the junior partner will leave them and thereby removing the Government’s majority. It means there is never a policy which is adhered to during its passage into law, as concessions are made to the junior partner, and leadership is often weak.

And this is the case with public pensions, which I have blogged on before. Today the Liberal Democrat and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has buckled under the threat of a General Strike and made the gold plated extremely generous public sector pensions even better.
No one who is due to retire in the next ten years will see a change in their pension. And teachers and nurses (remember not all are angels) will actually see an increase in their career average schemes (which will, rightly, replace final salary schemes). As Nick Robinson reports on his blog a teacher with a final salary of £37,800 would receive a pension of £25,200 each year, up from the £19,100 they would earn under their current scheme, whilst a nurse, with a final salary of £34,200, would get an annual pension of £22,800 rather than the £17,300 they would have been entitled to under the old scheme. Compare this to those retiring in the private sector on a similar salary and you are looking at an annual pension of around £8,000 to £10,000.
Naturally, the unions say the General Strike will still go ahead anyway. How can someone wake in the morning, do as little work as possible and still demand a pension which only those who are Directors in a large private company could expect to retire on? 
This is how the Institute of Directors has reacted to the Government climbdown:

“It is not reasonable that private sector employees who will never enjoy defined benefit pensions should continue to subsidise public sector workers insulated from economic reality.” 

It’s time the public sector woke up and smelt the coffee.


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New Ipswich politics blogger

Blogging has been light this week as I have been on a short break to Ibiza to get some sun as my honeymoon earlier this year, predominantly in Derbyshire, was distinctly lacking in fine weather! The major political issue of last week in the Balaerics for me was the dreadful Sterling to Euro exchange rate, another contributory to the Eurozone crisis. Tourism is a big export for southern Eurozone countries and I suspect Spain as well as Greece wishes it could devalue its currency at the moment. I certainly can’t afford to holiday in Europe again any time soon.

Whilst I’ve been away, there has been a new entrant to the Ipswich politics blogosphere. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Liberal Democrat Ipswich Borough Councillor Ken Bates who has begun blogging here.