All 3 entries tagged Conservatives

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April 03, 2008

London Mayoral Election

In respense to several requests I’ve deided to hand an entry over to the London Mayoral election. See here for details of polling figures I refer to.

ICM are normally about 1-3% left of yougov, so I would have expected Johnson to be about 7-8% ahead, not 2% compared to the existing yougov polling. So there’s likely a methodology difference. ICM polling focussed on ensuring their survey had a weight average of ethnic minorities at the same level as their percentage of the London population. This is according to their announcement, and with reference to Livingston’s apparent criticism of the yougov polling.

Judging from the yougov blog they seemed to focus more on socio-economic groupings when trying to make their surveys representative, but this stuff tends to be quite hazy – polling isn’t as scientific as it ought to be. Furthermore historically ethnic minorities have poor turnout rates, so choosing the percentage of population is highly likely to overestimate their impact. So verdict is still out on which poll is more representative. Bear in mind the ipsos/mori polling from about a month and a half ago had Livingston ahead, but that was labour party funded and looking pretty out of date now.

Boris fell by 2% between the last two yougov polls, but this is within the margin of error of the poll, so can’t really be considered a trend without supporting evidence (comparing with ICM would be particularly flawed, since they are using a different methodology for deciding who to survey). Quantitative evidence seems to suggest that Boris is ahead, but by an indeterminate amount. A few points to consider:

1. Boris has a large financial advantage, according to both sides – he claims to be aiming at raising £1 million. This will come into play more as the campaign continues. Since I doubt either side is spending much at the moment (since the campaign is really only just started) it probably isn’t in the numbers already.
2. Large blatantly don’t know how to attack Johnson. First they tried calling him a racist then a right wing clown. The racism charge was never going to stick, and Johnson seems to have made a significant effort to behave in a more serious manner in the run up to this campaign. As incumbent Livingston has the massive advantage that he can do things, where as Johnson merely has to say them, therefore by allowing this to become a personality race Livingston gives away his big advantage and plays into Johnsons. When he first came to office he pushed the congestion charge as a radical policy, that both polarised debate and pushed popular voting his way. In order to make a comback in this race he needs another ‘big idea’. No new bendy buses and increasing congestion charges just won’t do.
3. I imagine given their traditional strength in London that the Labour party would have much more ‘on the ground’ support. This is hard to quantify, however and highly personality dependant. Frequently heavy in your face campaigning turns people off, whilst a personal chat from a respected neighbour might be the best campaigning method.
4. Location of votes – Livingston will dominate central London, whilst Johnson takes the suburbs – this seems to be so strong that even amongst informal conversation with people I know, people living in West London seem to support Johnson, and more central/city centre support Livingston.
5. According to the labour website tag cloud they seem to be really interested in Boris Johnson, he has more tags (41) than Alan Johnson (29), Alistair Darling (7), David Miliband (13), Harriet Harman (24), Hazel Blears (32) and Hilary Benn (37). I bring this up as interesting, rather more than informative and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

My guess is that Boris’ lead is reasonably strong, but overturnable, so in summary – he’ll win if he doesn’t stick his foot in his mouth or if Livingston doesn’t pull anything out of the hat.

October 09, 2007

wolf in wolf's clothing

Its been an interesting time in politics. The potential excitement of an election (and potential concern of having moved at a bad time) followed by the weighty aftermath announcement. Today was the ‘comprehensive’ spending review, in which The Labour Party outright stole Conservative policy. Its not the first time this has happened, but its the most blatant. Its also another nail in the coffin of Gordon Brown as a career politician. (Though the announcement was made by Alistair Darling it reflects strongly the recent strategy of the current PM and former Chancellor)

The past decade many on the left have presumed that Brown would be a less centrist politician than Blair, but his approach and policies have falsified that thesis. Some still hold tightly to that belief and argue for the chancellor to push his beliefs more, whilst others are more sanguine about the reality.

So, the reader is asking, when confronted with two parties both offering the same ideological vacuum and implementation concerns (Lets not forget Child and Working Tax Credits and who was advisor to the chancellor on Black Wednesday) who do we turn to? Well if are you in a seat where you can swing things to the lib dems then you are a lucky bugger. Not only do you have a vote that counts, but its worth using it. As to the two main parties the conservatives have stolen the agenda back and are bringing policies which suggests they are thinking.

August 16, 2006

Built to Last…

Writing about web page

Today a quite interesting thing happened… The Conservatives released a policy document. Well, lets rephrase that, it wasn't quite policy. But its closer than anything we've seen from the party under Mr. Cameron, and thats a good thing for the conservatives, and a good thing for anyone who wants a serious election in 2009, not the bad jokes that we've had on the last three occasions.

You see, I would really like to vote Conservative – I really do agree with a lot of their agenda. Seriously – privatise, de–regulate, personal responsibility over collectivism, lower taxes, free trade – I'm for all of it. But theres been huge problems for me over the last few years with the Conservatives. And I mean huge problems, things that would want to make me actively campaign against them if I wasn't confident that my local seat hadn't been safely out of their reach at each of the last two elections.

If you recall the good Mr. Hague in 2001 ran an appauling campaign based primarily around save the pound, and secondarily around a 'send the buggers back' style immigration policy. At the runnup to the last election we had a tabloid style mud slinging match where Mr. Howard slated asylum seekers, gypsies… It got to the point where I was actively awaiting for him to go on TV, beat up an asylum seeking midget and tell me this is what his parents told him make Britain the best country in the world. I was generally pretty sickened. Bottom line is that singing the national anthem at the top of your voice whilst beating up on people whose lives are so bad in their own country that they choose to leave it does not appeal to me one little bit.

So here we are, we now have a Mr. Cameron in charge, who is very likeable, and talks a good talk. The real question that he has to answer to me is whether his 'quiet revolution' is actually an attempt or merely a corporate branding activity. Well we have some evidence today in terms of the 'Built to Last' agenda, and it requires analysis. The majority of the document is spent reciting bland, smile inducing, rhetoric about Conservative values, but there are some points of interest.

Firstly the opening page acknowledges that political views change over time, this is a massive contrast to Mr. Howard's repeatedly asserted dislike of Moral Relativism. They also accept that the previous administration has had some positive impact. This is a far easier pill to swallow, firstly the majority of the electorate believe it to be the case, secondly because being so nice sounds good in a 'mini–manifesto' situation like this. There's nothing to loose politically or in terms of one's convictions.

Mr. Cameron's new calling card of the environment also pops up throughout the document, as one would expect. I am glad he is really pushing the idea that environmental and economic sustainability are not mutually exclusive goals. Perhaps this is something that American and Australian conservatives could also learn. Unfortunately it is here that he really lets me down. He has been talking non–stop about the environment since he was elected leader and I really want some ideas, not proper policy, just ideas that show he is on the right track about it.

You see with things like the environment there are intelligent solutions to be found. Hybrid cars are obvious example from the states, but there are lots of other areas of interest. For example on the recent energy debate a lot of discussion has concentrated on generation, nuclear vs renewable vs fossil fuel. There are a wide range of options to be considered on the front of distribution, however, that haven't even got a mention in the debate. What is notable is that only about 30% of the energy used in generation ever gets to the consumer. Most of the remaining 70% gets let loose as heat. In Scandinavia there are currently trials underway testing underground heat pipes that can delivery the generated heat to the consumer. This not only increases efficiency of generation, since the previously excess heat is now utilised, but also decreases demand, since less electricity is used in heating homes, since they can use the heat from generation.

It is this kind of efficient thinking around problems that needs to be pushed rather than the brute force, 'lets build shitloads of nuclear plants, Gordy' thinking that prevails within the mind of the current government. Ultimately the test of the modernising conservatives should be the extent to which they can come up with, or back, intelligent and potentially workable ideas like the heat pipes or hybrid cars. If nothing original arises out of the new Conservative think tanks then I shall be taking it for granted that this is merely a branding exercise rather than a deep period of self reflection. I expect that in this instance Mr. Cameron will rely on the traditional tool of tabloid racism that proved such a poor fallback for bald erstwhile modernisers past.

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