All entries for May 2008

May 23, 2008

Oil!

Recently Oil prices reached a high of $135/barrel, this appears to have caused consternation amongst many. Gordon Brown has noted this as a problem when reflecting on his loss in Crewe and Nantwich, whilst it cropped up in this week’s Question Time. , that also contained the ever-annoying Hazel Blears.

There are many proposed solutions here – hybrid cars, more fuel efficient cars, better public transport. These all reduce the amount of fuel consumed by the economy. The ever-annoying Hazel Blears argued that we should seek to increase supply – newer fuel reserves. Whilst it is obvious that rising fuel prices, will make utilizing more expensive fields profitable, and thus actioned, as a government strategy this isn’t viable.

Firstly because fossil fuels are an inherently finite resource – they will run out, so this strategy is only ever going to work in the short term. On a more practical note, many scientists seem skeptical about the viability of further north sea exploration. Apparently we gave most of the oil to the Norwegians when drawing the borders.

Unfortunately many ignorant talking heads appear to have taken it upon themselves to propose a tax decrease. This, again, is a short term solution – tax decreases, so the cost of fuel decreases, demand increases, so the price increases. This would encourage exploration – due to the long term price rise, but either way it encourages increased consumption – so the fuel reserves run out sooner. After the immediate gain, we loose out in the long run.

There is another alternative for improvement. It involves a fantastic piece of technology. Its very cheap. By consuming less fuel it also reduces environmental problems. Additionally its healthy for you (though not as much as people think). My suggestion is …

BUY A BIKE

Overwhelming people’s transport options can be fulfilled by cycling – very few people in the UK travel long distance as part of their daily journeys, many of those who do can get their fuel costs subsidized by their business (e.g. sales Reps, road haulage), most of our journeys consist of urban driving. These needs can nearly always be fulfilled by bicycling.

I don’t know how to ride a bike (I never learnt whilst a child) and I’m almost sorry that this isn’t more of a stigma. Does this make me a hypocrit? Of course not … I walk to work.


May 10, 2008

Clinton Out!

After Obama destroyed Clinton’s last chances of taking the popular vote or pledged delegates in Indiana and North Carolina – the knives were out in the American press. It had gone beyond any sort of reasonable analysis and had entered the realm of pop-culture references. For example Politico described her campaign strategy as the Death Star, whilst Huff Post went the more personal “EVERYONE BUT HILLARY KNOWS IT”, and CBS implies her campaign should be euthenized.

Clearly She can see the light at the end of the tunnel – but doesn’t know its the train thats coming to run her over. Anyhow, rumour mill suggests that Obama is going to claim victory on May 20th – so it’ll be interested to see if she intend to push it beyond then, or call it quits.


May 01, 2008

Johnson to win London Election

Based on the odds on Betfair, there is an 80% probability that Boris Johnson will win. I expect this will be outcome, rather than it being a ‘Dewey beats Truman’. Though that would be hilarious.


Pinch, Punch, first day of the month

For those of you who haven’t yet noticed May 1st is election day .

I’ve plotted the polling results below, and differentiated between those from yougov and from other polling organisations, since the yougov ones appears to favour Boris Johnson massively. Squares are Livingston, circles are Johnson, with the darker coloured polls from yougov. As you can see yougov have put out more polls than all the other organisations put together.

In summary yougov are predicting a Johnson walkover, whilst everyone else is predicting a much more hard fought battle. What isn’t shown by these polls is that a lot of people are favouring Johnson over Livingston in the second round of balloting. I’ve ignored Brian Paddock because, whilst an excellent candidate, he has no hope of winning, and will be lucky to get to 12% of the vote. I’ve ignored Sian Berry because, whilst a terrible candidate, she has no hope of winning and will be lucky to get 2% of the vote.

The history of these elections are very interesting – Ken Livingston has won both of the two preceeding London mayoral elections very easily – no significant challenge and considerable support. Early into his current term he managed to bring the Olympics to London – a general ‘feel-good’ boost, and his reassuring performance during the 7/7 attacks won him universal praise. Since this high point however, his star has faded. Recent allegations of sleeze, related to the Lee Jasper affair, and an increasing public dislike of ‘bendy-buses’ have made this race one that is challengable, however, Livingston is certainly a lot more popular than the Labour party as a whole at the moment, and at the close of 2007, if I were a betting man I would definitely have put my money on him.

Boris Johnson, on the other hand, is a man whose star has risen over the last few years, despite several scandals. In a climate cynical of the Labour Government, and where his public school mannerisms and eton demeanour are no longer considered ’’out of touch’, he becomes a formidable candidate. His ‘brand recognition’ is second to none, and frequent appearances in conjunction with poltical comedy (HIGNIFY) have not done him any harm in my opininon. Everyone expects poltiicians on shows of that nature to be taken to task by the likes of Hislop and Merton, and consequently Johnson’s buffoonery and playful vocabulary are shown off in their best light.

When Johnson chose to run, my initial expectations were that he wouldn’t have much of a chance of winning, but that a strong second place would bolster both his, and David Cameron’s, credentials. As the Lee Jasper scandal has grown stronger in the papers, however, his candidacy became increasingly threatening to Livingston’s relection prospects. This corresponds to the movement in the polling data, where Ken Livingston’s votes fall off. It seems reasonable to conclude that this is more due to Lee jasper, because a significant group of Livingston voters, don’t migrate to Johnson, but off to Paddick. If these are genuine anti-Livingston votes then on the second inevitable second round of polling they will mainly swing back to Johnson.

There then seemed to significant movement away from Johnson around the period of the debates, which tallies since his performance in them was heavily criticised by left wing supporters, and not much admired by his backers either. this corresponds to the sudden drop of blue dots on the graph. Again its a swing away from a candidate, so Livinston doesn’t pickup the votes on these measures, but might well do when second round voting comes into account. Its hard to say how much this has hurt him, overall, but I would certainly say that it has caused a strong swing.


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