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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Nigel Farage to stand in Thanet South

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UKIP Leader Nigel Farage set to fight Thanet South

Just as the news on Boris was no surpise, the UKIP leader is poised to seek to enter the House of Commons in May 2015 as the MP for Thanet South in Kent. Nigel Farage is on the party’s shortlist for the seat making it a near certainty he will be selected.

A poll financed by Lord Ashcroft last month for the constituency showed Ukip on 33%, the Conservatives on 29% and Labour on 29%.


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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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One year to go: Latest polling and analysis on General Election

Four main party leaders in UK General Election 2015

Four main party leaders in UK General Election 2015

As promised, here’s my analysis of last night’s Weber Shandwick organised debate on the 2015 General Election, which contained in-person analysis from Sky News political correspondent Sophy Ridge.

The event was well attended with people from across the economic sectors and pressure groups, such as the TaxPayers’ Alliance. The debate was chaired by one of the bigwigs from Weber Shandwick with a panel made up of the polling firm ComRes, Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, Priti Patel for the Tories, Natascha Engel representing Labour and Tim Aker, UKIP’s head of policy, and Sophy Ridge from Sky News.

ComRes kicked off the discussion with a presentation on the latest polling figures. This was very interesting stuff with a number of figures jumping out to form a startling yet still very unclear view of the election result come May next year.  I was reminded the Tories actually did quite well in 2010, gaining 94 seats but with 36.1% of the vote – but still unable to win a majority. ComRes repeated their claim that 38% of the electorate who will vote in the European Elections will place their cross in the UKIP box. This would mean UKIP come first in the UK European Parliamentary Elections, triggering the “political earthquake” UKIP leader Nigel Farage has talked often about.

But, when it comes to the General Election, UKIP loses a quarter of this vote. Labour and the Tories will only see 5% of their European election vote switch next year. This gives fuel to Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps’ argument that UKIP voters in the European elections will come back to the Tory fold in time for the General Election. Well, less than a quarter will (once you strip out those who switch back to voting Labour or Lib Dem), which is better than nothing but not enough to risk splitting the Conservative vote. Labour also only need a swing of 2% to them to win an outright majority. As Priti Patel admitted later, her “party has a challenge on its hands”.

For the Lib Dems – they are sunk this year and next year having lost three quarters of their vote since 2010. Bye then.

“It’s the economy, stupid”, as Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist once famously said, still resonates today. And ComRes polling on how people feel about the economy does not look good for David Cameron and George Osborne: 51% say they do not see any improvement in their economic fortunes since 2010. Labour’s campaign on the “cost of living” is a shrewd move and it will pay dividends in May 2015.

When the debate switched to the politicians on the panel, we heard some interesting views from all three MPs. Priti Patel kicked off and she immediately proved once again why she has been dubbed the darling of the Right. To the extent Tim Aker later on (whilst Priti Patel was briefly away voting in the House of Commons) quipped he couldn’t speak for Priti but she certainly could speak for him! Mrs Patel lovebombed UKIP saying her party should not be attacking Nigel Farage’s party. The Witham MP also said the Conservative Party’s activist base was at its lowest it has ever been and the party in Government had alienated its members. It’s as if she was rehearsing her leadership speech for Party Conference in October 2015. She certainly ticked the right boxes for me.

Labour’s Natascha Engel was a perfectly nice lady but she really is a bit of a wet blanket. She didn’t say a lot about her party or their policies but did find time to say she doesn’t like asking electors for their voting intention on the doorstep. How on earth did she get elected?

It was then Tom Brake’s turn to say how wonderful the Lib Dems were in Government and that they were the ones who had done all the good things – £10,000 tax allowance was theirs of course –  and the Tories had insisted on all the nasty things. Oh and it was the Liberal Democrats who had secured 1.5 Million apprenticeships too. When questioned on why they were therefore doing so badly in the polls, Mr Brake said he found that concentrating on local issues in his constituency helped keep his base on side. Well that may be so in his seat but it won’t save his wider party from oblivion at the General Election.

And then UKIP’s head of policy – and fellow Essex resident (two on the same panel indeed along with Priti Patel) – Tim Aker launched his rhetoric. Straight off the bat he announced the “Lib Dems are history” (fair point) and that despite David Cameron’s promise to control immigration it was in fact back up to “Blair standards”. He even insisted that he HAD to wear his UKIP rosette whilst canvassing in his Thurrock prospective seat so he didn’t get verbally attacked! Strangely (or maybe not) Priti Patel was nodding along to Aker’s rhetorical beat. Mr Aker rounded off his commentary with “People are fed up of the three main Westminster parties. We are the alternative”.

Questions from the audience were then welcomed. Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, asked a question which summed up how difficult it was to predict the General Election result when he said “What use is a national poll going to be in the General Election?”  ComRes’ head of political polling, Tom Mludzinski, said in reply it was too early to predict the result but they were currently drilling down even further by polling in the 40 most marginal seats. I wouldn’t be surprised if my former stomping ground,  Ipswich, was one of those marginal seats being polled.

Wrapping up the evening, Sophy Ridge provided her analysis and admitted she had been to a UKIP rally recently – for work purposes only of course, she cringed. Miss Ridge homed in on a point Priti Patel made earlier when she voiced deep concern about the direction the Scottish Referendum was taking and there was a serious risk of a Yes vote. As this was a polite gathering, no one pointed out that David Cameron may have made a stupid error in allowing Salmond his vote on independence. Sophy Ridge did point out there was a chance of some strange results whereby incumbent MPs go against their party’s swing and display “limpet-like” quality in hanging on to their seats. There’s hope for Ben Gummer yet! Finally, she identified three “curve balls”: the result of the Scottish Referendum could change everything; UKIP victory at the European Elections and how David Cameron reacts to this – does he take his party to the Right allowing Labour to occupy the centre ground?; the anti-establishment mood in the country: this is what Salmond and Farage have latched on to. Miss Ridge recounted her attendance at the UKIP rally where Mr Farage talked about Europe, immigration etc but it was when he urged the audience to give two fingers to the Westminster establishment he got the biggest cheer of the night.

Interesting indeed and even if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t waste my money – despite us only having one year to go.


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A look ahead to the 2015 General Election

westminster

This time next year will be the eve of the General Election in the United Kingdom, when we voters will pass our verdict on the Coalition Government led by David Cameron of the Conservatives and his Deputy Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

Sky News political correspondent Sophy Ridge

Sky News political correspondent Sophy Ridge

Tonight I will be at a special debate in Westminster hosted by PR firm Weber Shandwick. All four main parties will represented on the panel with Priti Patel MP taking part the Tories, Natascha Engel MP for Labour, Tom Brake MP of the Lib Dems and Tim Aker, as Head of Policy for UKIP.  Weber Shandwick have also teamed up with polling company ComRes, who during the evening will take a scientific look at what could be the outcome of the General Election poll in May 2015. Sky News’ political correspondent Sophy Ridge will conclude the discussion with her own analysis of how the political parties will fare once they face the judgement of the electorate.

Even if you can’t make tonight’s debate, you can follow and engage in the conversation online on Twitter using the hashtag #oneyeartogo.

A full report of the evening will be posted soon.


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Ed Miliband’s Government wouldn’t be much different

Iain Duncan Smith tried so hard but has failed to decrease the welfare bill

Stifled: Iain Duncan Smith has conceded benefit bill will rise

The only Tory policy the coalition may have implemented was in fact a lie all along.

Last week, Iain Duncan Smith was heckled whilst delivering a speech in Scotland by “anti-cuts” activists. The video of the episode spread through the internet more because the Work and Pensions Secretary fought back. But when I watched it, what IDS actually said struck me: “If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth [in benefits] at a lower level.”

At the time, I hoped it was just Mr Duncan Smith being a skilled political operative by shutting down the socialist hecklers so he could get on with his speech. But it was only a hope and today the truth has been unveiled by IDS himself.

The Work and Pensions Secretary has confirmed what we feared and has told the Daily Telegraph that unlike other European nations, the “reality is that this country is not cutting welfare” because the Coalition Government is simply “managing” the increase in handouts.

He added: “all those on benefits will still see cash increases in every year of this Parliament”.

This is the nail in the coffin for the Conservative Party at the next General Election as it was the only Tory policy that traditional (i.e. those with principles – age is irrelevant) Conservative-members and Tory voters were holding on to to motivate themselves to cross the Conservative box on polling day. With this flagship policy being exposed as a lie, the game is up. This now makes it more likely Ed Miliband will win a majority in the Commons and become the next Prime Minister in May 2015 or failing that the Liberal Democrats will form a Coalition with Labour, most likely with Vince Cable at the helm of the Yellow Peril.

But will it matter? It’s not as if David Cameron and George Osborne are turning the economy around: the single most important task they have to do and the whole point of David Cameron jumping into bed with Nick Clegg (rather too keenly many backbench Tories think). The country was crippled by debt when Gordon Brown was ousted and instead of cutting the debt, the Coalition is adding a whopping £600bn of national debt onto the pile by the next General Election. This is not only taking Britain into a lost decade of stagnant growth but is highly immoral as the Government is borrowing on the backs of our children and grandchildren to placate the millions of benefit scroungers of today (what are Dave and George frightened of – it’s not as if they vote, never mind vote Tory?!?!).

Every one in three pounds taken from you in income tax is handed out to benefit claimants. And to make it even more sickening, the Coalition is – in real terms – cutting the police and armed forces to pay for it.

Defeat in 2015 is now certain. John Major was right about some parts of the Party being “bastards“. However, this time it is the Liberal yellow-peril loving Cameroons who are taking the Party into the abyss. I don’t blame IDS – he will have tried so hard but he was never one of the Notting Hill fellows!

What have these bastards done to our beloved Party?