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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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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Who’s got the last laugh now?

Newly elected UKIP MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell (l), with his party leader, Nigel Farage

Newly elected UKIP MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell (l), with his party leader, Nigel Farage

UKIP have been dismissed as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” by none other than our illustrious leader and prime minister, David Cameron.

Well, that tactic of insulting your electorate is now consigned to the dustbin of campaign tactics at Conservative HQ. Now the creepy line is “go to bed with Farage, wake up with Miliband”. But that doesn’t seem to be working either and someone is clearly not doing their job well in Tory high command.

Last night, former Tory Douglas Carswell romped to victory in Clacton-on-Sea with a thumping majority of 12,404 with almost 60% of the vote on a 50% turnout. Mr Carswell resigned as a Conservative MP in August and stood as the UKIP candidate in the subsequent by-election yesterday. I heard throughout the campaign from the editor of BBC Look East through to the more eccentric Tory activists that the Conservatives were going to win in Clacton. Well, anyone who has visited Clacton over the last few weeks, as I have, could tell you UKIP were storming home to victory, energised not just by an anti-politics sentiment amongst the voters but, of course, Douglas Carswell’s personal vote as well. Shock, horror, but a right-wing Tory MP was actually quite popular in his constituency!

Although the Clacton result broke all by-election records, the real fright of the night for the established parties was the other by-election in Heywood and Middleton – caused by the death of the sitting Labour MP Jim Dobbin – when a recount was ordered as the result between Labour and UKIP was so close. In the end, Labour only just pipped UKIP to the post with a majority of 617, down from almost 6000 when Labour held the seat at the 2010 General Election – a 17.65% swing from Labour to UKIP. Nigel Farage had not campaigned in the seat as his canvassers were telling him it was lost.

Next stop on the by-election campaign trail is Rochester and Strood where former Conservative Mark Reckless defected to UKIP on the eve of the Tory Conference earlier this month. The date for the poll is yet to be announced.


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Whilst the cat’s away…

It's a go: Boris will become a Conservative MP again in May 2015

It’s a go: Boris will become a Conservative MP again in May 2015

The Prime Minister is on holiday (in Portugal again, wearing his holiday uniform of navy shirt and brown loafers) so Boris thought it would be a good time to announce his intention to stand for Parliament at the General Election next May.

In typical Boris buffoonery style, he announced during his Europe speech at Bloomberg this morning he would be trying to get selected and elected to the Mother of all Parliaments next year. He made it out as if he might not even find a seat. In reality, Boris will be selected for a very safe seat and will be elected to Westminster with a stonking majority.

Word is, submarine Osborne is stirring below the water…


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So what does the reshuffle all mean then?

Ken Clarke bows out of Government, having spent a total of 20 years in ministerial posts in several Tory Governments

Ken Clarke bows out of Government, having spent a total of 20 years in ministerial posts in several Tory Governments

It is David Cameron doing what David Cameron does best: the heir to Blair. But just like another heir to the throne he doesn’t quite fit the same clothes.

But our dear leader does try nonetheless. Out go all those nasty white middle-class men (oh, you mean the ones who vote Tory by the millions?) and in comes the ex-TV presenters. But Dave being Dave, he does like a bit of blood when doing his re-shuffles, so he axed his best mate Michael Gove, booted fellow Europhile Ken Clarke to the backbenchers, and even two-brains David Willetts was fired.

William Hague chose the opportunity to sneak out the back-door and announce his retirement from politics at the General Election next year. It’s a real shame about the boy from Yorkshire who told the old fogeys at the 1977 Tory Conference they’d all be dead by the time he was in power never really fulfilled his potential. Yes, he made it to one of the big offices of State, the Foreign Office, but he was pure prime ministerial material if it wasn’t for the unfortunate episode of being Conservative leader straight after John Major had been royally kicked out of Number 10. That did it for “Team Hague” and the same passion he showed in 1977 was extinguished by the start of the noughties. Frankly, I’m surprised he hung on for over a decade more since he was sacked as leader.

Dave being Dave decided to axe the only real Tory in the Cabinet, Michael Gove, from his brief at the Education department because the teachers didn’t like him. I think that’s a bloody good reason to keep the man on – he must be doing (and was) a fantastic job. But it was all too ideological for Dave so he had to go. Replacing him is the excellent Nicky Morgan but again this will be a waste of talent as all she has to do is see the reforms Gove made implemented – I wonder if she’ll be able to stop the civil servants and the Lib Dems from watering down the legislation? Gove spent most of his time, it is rumoured, spotting and tackling mandarins, Nick Clegg and David Laws as they tried to stop the Government putting children first and teachers second.

One thing the British Civil Service is good at is changing the guard in an efficient manner: she’d hardly stepped out on to Downing Street after a chat with Dave (it is unsure if it was over red wine) when she was up in lights and Gove was kicked into the dark corridors of Westminster as the new chief whip.

I’m not overly fussed by the re-shuffle really: most of the electorate didn’t know who was in the cabinet on Sunday and most won’t know tomorrow.  It’s all about the politics and whose mush shows up on the regional and national news, hence former GMTV presenter Esther McVey being promoted to Employment Minister and “will attend cabinet” – in other words she is the new “minister for TV” – expect to see a lot of her on the airwaves between now and May next year.

Dave is obsessed that it is the nasty right-wing white males who are his problem, hence the cull of many white males (arguably right-wing but not all). This will cause a lot of rancour on the Tory backbenches and in the shire constituencies (where the Conservative base is), which might counter the new female faces he has promoted to step in front of the camera.

One thing which will really annoy the parliamentary party is the insult chucked at Liam Fox. The previously-fired former Defence Secretary (a position now held by Michael Fallon after Philip Hammond was shunted to the Foreign Office post-Hague) was offered by Dave a junior ministerial position in the Foreign Office if he wanted to return to Government. Dr Fox declined putting out this statement.  This blog is a family-friendly site so I shan’t provide the translation but it goes along the lines of “naff off” as Norman Fletcher used to say.

And in other news, Lord Hill, Leader of the House of Lords, has been nominated as the UK’s next European Commissioner. Who?


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Juncker In, Britain heading Out

Jean-Claude Jucker: your next President

Jean-Claude Jucker: your next President

Arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker has succeeded José Barroso as the next President of the European Commission. British prime minister David Cameron was dead against his appointment, viewing it as a backwards step for the EU and putting the kibosh on any plans for renegotiation with Brussels.

The European Commission is the body which is made up of unelected Commissioners who decide the laws of the 28 member states of the EU. The European Parliament is not a parliament, it is an assembly. The Parliament in Europe is not a legislature in the same way as the Houses of Parliament in Westminster are; it is instead just a talking shop and big fat rubber stamp for the Commission’s new laws. All those MEPs which we elect have the power of a flea. By definition, this is undemocratic and has more in common with authoritarian regimes like Syria or the former Austro-Hungarian empire, for instance.

Britain should have no truck with this charade any longer. We don’t need the EU – most of our trade is with nations outside of the EU in the rest of the world. The big players of Europe – France and Germany – will still want to sell their wine and cars to us.

The UK has a form of national government and voting system different to most other European states: we inherently trust the people.  Whereas the EU thinks the people are an irrelevance, as so ably demonstrated by a man who wants to see a United States of Europe being crowned its President.  This is how Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and himself also unelected by the European people, announced Juncker’s accession:

But it’s not as if there was a moderate candidate waiting in the wings. Juncker is just one of many arch-federalists in the backrooms of Brussels developing an EU empire stretching from the Russian border (hint – Ukraine) to the Atlantic ocean. One only needs to look at a history book to work out how empires in Europe ended before: very very badly with millions of lives lost. Now, people aren’t going to die in such numbers as a result of the direction the EU is taking (although you might disagree in Athens or Kiev) but unrest will continue as more power is taken from poor southern Eurozone countries and placed in the hands of the Germans and French.

Britain is a very wealthy country with an astonishing (albeit not equal) turnaround in economic fortunes taking place compared to 2010 and to other European states such as France. The EU is merely a hindrance to Britain’s growth in the world and it is time we left to decide our own destiny.