Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


3 Comments

Dave finally comes round to my way of thinking

Now Coalition is bad David Cameron says

Now Coalition is bad David Cameron says

Well, well, the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, has today “made it known” to the Daily Telegraph he now doesn’t want to enter into a second Coalition Government should the Tories fail to secure a majority in next year’s General Election and will commit to this in the Conservative Party manifesto for 2015.

I’m delighted Mr Cameron should say this. I never wanted the Conservatives to enter into a Coalition in the first place back in 2010. It was a grubby deal done for the sole purpose of David Cameron being able to tick off “been Prime Minister” on his to-do list – and, of course, so smirky Nick Clegg could slip into power via the back door. The Lib Dem leader actually LOST seats in the 2010 General Election but Mr Clegg still ended up as Deputy Prime Minister.

But I wouldn’t trust David Cameron. His views blow like the wind, just like a certain Mr Bliar’s did. Whatever the focus groups want, Mr Cameron will slot straight in behind. It seems the general public don’t like Coalition Governments much, with a poll by Ipsos MORI last month showing that 65 per cent of voters believe that a second hung parliament would be bad for Britain. This is hardly surprising as our entire political system, endorsed by the Great British electorate over centuries, is deliberately geared so we don’t end up with coalitions, like our European cousins are so fond of. The reason we ended up in this blue-yellow mish mash in Westminster is because the electorate still hadn’t fully warmed to the Conservative Party – borne out by the fact the Labour Party had imploded and still David Cameron wasn’t able to win a majority.

This is a shrewd move by the Prime Minister. He knows many of his Tory backbenchers hate having to share a bed with the yellow peril and thousands of his party members and activists are demotivated by the ease at which David Cameron brokered a deal with Nick Clegg. By painting a stark choice between either a Conservative Government or a Labour Government at the 2015 election, this may well help persuade Tories who have defected to UKIP over the last couple of years to come back to the fold to ensure Ed Miliband doesn’t end up with the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Not all so-called Conservatives were demotivated by their party forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Apart from the obvious examples on the Tory frontbench like Michael Gove and George Osborne, many from the voluntary party were strong advocates of David Cameron’s decision to form a Coalition Government. I found this deeply suspicious and it helped me understand the difference between a true-blue Tory and those just along for the power-trip. But I expect these Coalition apparatchiks will, just like the change in direction of the wind, soon be flag wavers against forming Coalition Governments. The problem for them this time is we now know who they are.

Since I joined the Conservative Party in 2003, my goal has been for the Tories to form a majority Government. We lost a fourth general election in a row in 2010 (the Coalition apparatchiks said we won – what planet are they on?). I really hope the Conservative Party wins a majority in 2015.


2 Comments

Yeo de-selected

De-selected: Tim Yeo MP

De-selected: Tim Yeo MP

South Suffolk Conservative MP Tim Yeo has been de-selected and will now not stand for the Tories in the 2015 General Election.

As reported a few weeks ago, Tim Yeo faced a re-selection vote by the entire Conservative Party membership of his South Suffolk constituency association after the Executive committee voted to de-select him back in November.

The results were counted today at the Party’s London HQ and it was confirmed Mr Yeo had lost the confidence of South Suffolk members. He will now not stand again as their parliamentary candidate and as it is highly unlikely he will seek selection in another constituency his political career is over.

Speaking after the vote was announced Mr Yeo said:

“It has been a privilege to serve as MP for South Suffolk since 1983. I will continue to work for all my constituents until the General Election next year.

“I am immensely grateful to all those Conservative Party members who voted for me to continue as their MP. I now ask them all to campaign for my successor with the same loyalty and dedication they have shown to me.

“I will give my full and unqualified support to whoever is chosen as the candidate here in South Suffolk. I wish him or her every success.”

Turnout in the membership vote was 82% but Conservative Party HQ will not release a breakdown of the figures. Suffolk Suffolk Tories will now start the process to select a new candidate to represent the Conservative Party at the next General Election, which is just over a year away. Local commentators are calling for an Open Primary but this may not go down so well in a traditional rural seat. Whichever selection model is chosen, the decision needs to be quick to ensure the candidate can get stuck into campaigning as soon as possible as the seat is not as safe as it once was. The Labour candidate, Jane Basham, is already out of the blocks and has been canvassing support for months. There could be an even bigger upset here come May 2015.

Today’s news comes after another Conservative, Anne McIntosh, was de-selected by the members of her Yorkshire constituency on Friday.

Tim Yeo’s de-selection is not just a blow to him (although his lucrative business interests boosted by his parliamentary position will undoubtedly soften his fall) but is also embarrassing to the Tory leader, David Cameron. The PM personally backed Mr Yeo during his fight to hang on to South Suffolk – the membership then duly told Mr Cameron what they thought of his man.

Conservative Associations are no longer a reflection of the parliamentary party but more a representation of the true blue Tory who a lot of time find themselves disagreeing with their own party’s policies – such as gay marriage and more wind farms – forced on them by the metropolitan elite in Westminster. Many Tory MPs (especially the new intake of 2010) are canny at being able to play both hands: charming their members and agreeing with Conservative values in the constituency but once safely back in Westminster keeping the leadership onside by voting for policies which the same members never campaigned for. The problem with Tim Yeo is he was useless at the former and South Suffolk finally lost patience.


1 Comment

BREAKING: South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo deselected

UPDATE: It would seem that going to the full membership of the local party for a final decision on Tim Yeo’s fate is not a foregone conclusion. Yeo has the right to this vote but he has to trigger it as a form of appeal and according to his agent, Peter Burgoyne, he is weighing up his options. Ongoing.

—-

Last night the Executive Committee of South Suffolk Conservative Association deselected their sitting MP of 30 years.

Yeo will now be subjected to a full vote of the local party membership before any deselection becomes final but he may be weighing up his options this morning and decide to call it a day before a second round of humiliation.

Mr Yeo’s deselection comes on the back of a parliamentary standards investigation into his business interests and their affect on his role as chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, which found there was no case to answer.

It seems South Suffolk Tories had other reasons to deselect their MP with rumours abound Mr Yeo was not giving adequate attention to his constituency.

More to follow…


Leave a comment

UK PM blocks Romanians and Bulgarians from claiming benefits (well, for 3 months)

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Firstly, apologies for the recent drought in posts.

David Cameron today, most likely prompted by his Aussie political strategist Lynton Crosby, announced today tougher controls over access to our welfare system by Romanians and Bulgarians (and anyone else wanting to emigrate to Great Britain).

At the end of this year, the transitional controls which have prevented free movement by Romanians and Bulgarians through the EU since their accession in 2007 will come to an end. From 1st January 2014, it will be legal for any Romanian or Bulgarian to come to the UK, whether they have a job or not.

The Prime Minister told the Financial Times:

“On January 1, the people of Romania and Bulgaria will have the same right to work in the UK as other EU citizens. I know many people are deeply concerned about the impact that could have on our country. I share those concerns.”

He added:

“We are changing the rules so that no one can come to this country and expect to get out of work benefits immediately; we will not pay them for the first three months. If after three months an EU national needs benefits – we will no longer pay these indefinitely. They will only be able to claim for a maximum of six months unless they can prove they have a genuine prospect of employment.”

This sparked an angry response from EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor who told the Today programme – the BBC’s flagship breakfast news radio programme – Mr Cameron risked “presenting the UK as a kind of nasty country in the European Union”. Cue cries of joy in Downing Street: the EU had just very helpfully boosted the Conservative Party’s message that it is getting tough on EU dominance over our sovereignty.

David Cameron also told the FT:

“The EU of today is very different from the EU of 30 years ago. We need to face the fact that free movement has become a trigger for vast population movements caused by huge disparities in income.”

The PM said he wanted the EU to reform the concept of free movement across the continent adding:

“And we need to do the same with welfare. For example, free movement should not be about exporting child benefit – I want to work with our European partners to address this.”

Mr Cameron then told the British people:

“The EU needs to change if it is to regain the trust of its peoples. I look forward to working with other countries who also want reform – and to putting the choice about our future in Europe in a referendum. If I am prime minister after the next election, the British people will have their say.”

And this is where it all falls apart. The problem is, because of his stupid policies on gay marriage, a softly-softly approach to welfare reform which still allows people to take home £26,000 tax free in benefits, and no action on immigration, Dave won’t be in a position to offer an EU referendum, as he will lose the General Election.


2 Comments

LISTEN: The BBC comes to Ipswich and interviews local blogger

bbc radio 4

Ipswich was featured again tonight as the chosen marginal seat for political analysis on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme – this time ahead of the Conservative Party conference. Last week Labour figures were interviewed in Ipswich ahead of Ed Miliband’s party gathering in Brighton.

This evening current Ipswich constituency chairman Liz Harsant was interviewed by BBC political correspondent Ben Wright – as was yours truly in my capacity as a former chairman of the Ipswich Conservative Party. Needless to say our views didn’t tally…

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer also offered his views on the state of the Conservative Party and British politics along with County Councillor James Crossley representing UKIP.

Liz Harsant told Mr Wright she was “not totally against the Coalition [government]” as it “knocks the Right down” and “wasn’t against it [another Coalition] happening again”. When asked what she thought of Tory backbenchers making it clear they don’t believe David Cameron can win a majority at the next General Election Mrs Harsant said she “wished they’d shut up and perhaps go”.

I hope Liz doesn’t think I should shut up and go after hearing my views on the same programme! Speaking on Ipswich’s Cornhill (happily the market wasn’t trading the day we recorded) I said whereas I had voted for David Cameron in the Conservative leadership election in 2005, I was not happy with his tack to the Left in an attempt to “detoxify the party” and whilst I welcomed the Coalition’s policies on welfare reform and the economy (albeit the government has not gone far enough) other policies on gay marriage and wind farms go against the values of ordinary Conservative Party members.

Commenting on UKIP’s successes in the Suffolk County Elections in May, Ben Gummer told PM listeners he hoped as we head towards the election people will listen closer to the arguments from all parties and those who have voted UKIP will look at the “real choice ahead of the country in 2015.”

James Crossley said he was picking up a lot of new UKIP members and commented immigration was out of control and that UKIP’s commitment to tackling this was resonating well with voters in Ipswich.

I was pleased Ipswich was chosen by the BBC for their pre-Conference reports and demonstrates again Ipswich’s capacity for political excitement on the national stage. It was also great to be able to show off Ipswich town centre and our magnificent Cornhill square and Town Hall without it being blocked by the market stalls.

You can hear the report from tonight’s PM programme below:

 


6 Comments

Conservative Party membership halves under David Cameron

Slump: Tory membership has halved since David Cameron became leader

Slump: Tory membership has halved since David Cameron became leader

Tory Activists’ website ConservativeHome has been waging a campaign over the summer for Conservative HQ to release their membership figures after it was rumoured they had dipped below 100,000.

After several weeks, Conservative Chairmen Grant Shapps and Lord Feldman capitulated and released figures showing membership stands at 134,000.

This is half the number of members who voted in the Cameron-Davis leadership contest for the Tory Party back in 2005 when membership stood at 253,600. Where has everyone gone?

A fair few will have died such are the perils of keeping up membership numbers in local Conservative Associations up and down the country but the vast majority have just decided not to renew their membership. There has been no scientific analysis of why over a hundred thousand members have deserted the Tory grassroots but the upsurge in membership in UKIP and the collapse of the Conservative vote in the English County Elections in May provides some clue.

Natural Tories, me included, have never been a fan of the Coalition Government. But for every three Conservative Party members, two voted for David Cameron in the 2005 leadership contest, so we can deduce from the massive drop in total membership that many supporters of the Conservative leader eight years ago have now left the party (and not all for the next life!). For the record, I am still a member of the Conservative Party although somewhat disaffected as regular readers will have gathered.

It is not surprising membership has fallen off a cliff. Many of the base gave Mr Cameron the benefit of the doubt whilst he was Opposition leader as he tried to “detoxify” the Conservative Party by embracing hoodies and hugging huskies. But things started to unravel during the 2010 General Election when instead of talking tough on welfare and uncontrolled immigration as ways of tackling the economic mess Labour were leaving the country, windfarms and the Big Society were on the Conservative leader’s lips. It was no wonder we lost the General Election. But to jump into bed with a man who will say anything for power, Nick Clegg, was the ultimate kick in the teeth to Conservatives up and down this land. The membership knew when Cameron formed the Coalition many real Tory policies were buried and predictably metropolitan elite policies on gay marriage and wind farms became prevalent. And to add salt to the wounds the Prime Minister’s Eton chums went round trashing local associations and calling them “swivel-eyed loons”.

The upshot is David Cameron has made it even more difficult for the Conservative Party to ever win a General Election. With a membership below 140,000 the troops on the ground required to win the party a majority in Westminster just don’t exist. It didn’t have to be like this. Yes, David Cameron did not win a majority but he could have formed a minority Government and gone to the country again in the Autumn and by changing the message to one which reflected Britain in 2010 rather than in 2005, a different result could have been achieved. Now the worse of both worlds exist: the Conservative electorate worries if the Tory Party stands for their values anymore and even if they do, Mr Cameron hasn’t got the ground troops to go and tell them.

Tragic.


3 Comments

The Conservative Party isn’t nasty but (some of) the leadership are

Cameron glum

This story won’t go away so I keep being prompted to chuck my two-penneth worth in.

A year ago, The Sunday Times conducted a “sting” operation against the then treasurer of the Conservative Party, Peter Cruddas. A self-made billionaire part cockney, part geordie, he doesn’t fit the mould of the quintessential Tory treasurer. Well, perhaps a constituency party treasurer but not THE Tory treasurer. Peter Cruddas’ talents were unleashed by Margaret Thatcher who then took every opportunity afforded to him by her Government to become very rich indeed and subsequently an employer of over 500 people. I say good luck to him. At least he made his money, rather than inherit it or worse take home millions of pounds as a CEO who has never taken a personal risk in his life.

But the flip-side is he isn’t one of Dave’s mates. He didn’t have a trust fund from birth, he didn’t go to Eton, he didn’t play tennis at Brasenose. In short, he isn’t one of the Cameroons. There are plenty of Tories (no where near as rich, of course) like Mr Cruddas up and down the country, just not in the Notting Hill elite Cameroon club.

Former Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas

Former Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas

In 2012, Sunday Times journalists Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake set up a meeting with Mr Cruddas pretending to be agents for foreign investors and took along with them a hired lobbyist and former Conservative Party worker called Sarah Southern, who was unaware of the sting. The meeting was secretly recorded with each reporter wearing a hidden camera. In three subsequent articles they alleged Mr Cruddas put a cash donation price, in breach of UK electoral law, on the opportunity to influence government policy and gain unfair advantage through secret meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior ministers.

The journalists had lied. The full transcript of the secret recording showed Mr Cruddas had repeatedly said all donations had to be “compliant” with the law. Peter Cruddas sued the paper and last week won his libel case at the High Court and was awarded damages of £180,000. The Sunday Times must also pay £500,000 in costs.

When the story broke last year before Peter Cruddas had a chance to put his side of the story, Tory HQ in London were already briefing journalists he had resigned. Whilst Conservative ministers went on national news to distance themselves from Mr Cruddas, the Conservative Party Board jettisoned him as treasurer without a second’s thought.

Things had been so different. David Cameron had carefully cultivated a relationship with this major donor during the preceding years when Mr Cruddas gave hundreds of thousands of pounds personally to the Party and helped raise millions more.

After being vindicated, there has been complete silence from the Party. No apology from David Cameron or Party Chairman Grant Shapps who has managed to side-step media prompts for an apology no fewer than seven times over recent days.

Unfortunately, this level of contempt for anyone not seen to be at the same level as the Cameroon elite is par for the course. If donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Party effort doesn’t win you respect what chance have the grassroot activists got who muster up their support by delivering thousands of leaflets and attending the odd fundraising event. None. In fact, the grassroots are not only ignored but besmirched by the Party hierarchy as was seen when Co-Chairman Andrew Feldman called his own ordinary members mad swivel-eyed loons.

The tipped next Tory leader Theresa May back in 2002 told the Conservative members they were known as the “nasty party”. As if that comment hasn’t done enough damage to the prospects of the Conservative Party ever winning a parliamentary election again, the leadership is intent on being as “nasty” as possible to all it’s supporters.

Perhaps Mr Crosby could have a word?