I’ve decided I’m going to try and blog more often. Here’s my starter for 10 …
I’ve wrestled with my conscience about whether to vote in yesterday’s elections for Police Commissioners. It struck me right from the start that these elections would be marked by a mixture of total apathy, and by outright opposition. If I’d been keeping up to my blog I’d have been able to link to a previous post so that I could say “I told you so !”.
Well I didn’t keep up to my blog so I can’t, and I didn’t, but I could have.
It all seemed so obvious to me …
In the first instance, the public simply don’t have the appetite for more ranks of elected officaldom. (As demonstrated by the widespread rejection of the option of having elected Mayors ). Democracy for the British people it would seem is about electing people with sufficient seniority to appoint other people that they choose on our behalf to do the donkey work for them.
And really, what’s wrong with that ?
I’m actually fine with that state of affairs.
Secondly – if you’re going to politicise any thing, then please do not make it the Police Force – it’s the last thing in the world that most people would want dominated by an elected official.
It feels very wrong in my own opinion – and also feels decidedly un-British. A bit like having a Sheriff in the Wild West.
I’m not actually sure where the idea came from – was it an issue in the general election ? If it was then I missed it. It seems we’ve had this wonderful idea dropped on us from on high – and unlike the idea of AV voting, and elected mayors, this time we weren’t given a choice of whether to accept this innovation to our democratic process – we were merely given the choice of who we wanted to do the job that had been invented.
Well I didn’t want anybody to do the job. OK – I’d prefer a Labour candidate. And I’d prefer any candidate that’s not part of a far right racist group. Really though – I’d prefer it if our time wasn’t wasted on this rubbish.
So what happened at the Ballot Boxes ?
Record low turnouts; very high numbers of spoiled ballots; and a high number of independents elected (it remains to be seen how many of them are well qualified ex-policemen, and how many are dangerous authoritarian nut cases – I’m hoping the former is the case).
We’ve also had the Electoral Commission announcing that it will launch an inquiry into the low turnouts, which they describe as “a concern for everyone who cares about democracy”.
So what does David “I’m in touch” Cameron have to say ?
Well according to the BBC David Cameron said low turnout in a first-time election was expected. (which begs the question of why he didn’t address that before polling day). When told that ‘Numerous areas have confirmed turnouts ranging from 13-20%.’ – he said
“It takes time to explain a new post,” and he predicted voting numbers would be “much higher next time round”
What was that Prime Minister ? Next time ? Next time ? – are you having us on ?
I’m sorry Mr Cameron but you’ll have to do better than that.
Cast your minds back about a year – when various unions took ballots regarding strike action to protest against Government plans for public sector pensions.
A well reported one was this : Unison members vote for pension strike which Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude responded to by calling on Unison members not to go ahead with a strike.
“Today’s Unison ballot received a very low turnout – with less than a third of their members even voting – which shows there is extremely limited support for the kind of strike action their union leaders want,”
So what he was saying was that despite the technical legitimacy of the mandate for strike action by Unison, they should not take the action because there was no ‘popular’ mandate – no ‘moral’ mandate if you prefer.
This on a vote of members who’d chosen to join the union, members who would not be bound by the result of the ballot; and who voted 78% to 22% in favour on a 29% turnout.
This equates to around 22.5% of the total eligible to vote. Admittedly it’s hardly overwhelming.
It stacks up well though compared to the Conservatives’ share of total possible votes in the 2010 general election – 26% – slightly more than 1 in 4 of the electorate.
And it looks very much like a landslide in comparison with the victory for new Conservative PCC Matthew Ellis in Staffordshire. Mr Ellis described his share of the vote as “a decent mandate” – yet on the meagre 11.63% turnout his share of the vote amounted to just 6% of the electorate.
Mr Cameron when 6% is a decent mandate, then we have a problem. The process of appointing these commissioners needs, at the very least, to be suspended pending further parliamentary debate. While no one seriously questions the technical legitimacy of these elections, it’s clear that there is very little support for the new proposed Police Commissioners- how ill any one gain by imposing this measure on the public ?
Elsewhere all the elections went pretty much as expected. Two Labour holds in Manchester Central and Cardiff South & Penarth; from which precious little can be learned especially on the very low turnouts.
The turnout was more respectable in Corby where Labour’s Andy Sawford won with a large swing to Labour following semi-celeb Louise Mensch’s resignation recently.
It’s difficult to really divine what this means in national terms – it’s by no means an absolute death sentence for the Government – but it’s also still a pretty positive and healthy result for Labour.
What really struck me about the Corby by-election though was Louise Mensch staying
true to her media image by singularly failing to keep her gob shut.
Having ousted a Labour MP incumbent since 1997 at the 2010 general election, Louise handed a hard earned Conservative seat straight back to the opposition half way through the parliament. Perhaps she’d have thought today was a day to merely congratulate the victor, and offer some apology to the defeated Tory candidate.
Here’s what she said :
Election result will not be a verdict on either Christine, or the Conservatives, but only on the decision I took to step down mid-term
Well get you Menschy !
Who the hell does she think she is ? Obviously she thinks she’s so important that the people of Corby will vote on no other issue other than her resignation – they won’t be bothered by the omnishambles of a Government, they won’t bother looking at what any of the candidates have to say – for any of the parties. No they’ll just be so furious at the loss of their darling Louise that they’ll take it out on her old party.
And with these words Louise once again illustrates that character trait running right through the Tory Party – the characteristically self-centred sense of superiority and elevated status which they feel is their entitlement. Perhaps if Louise had campaigned with Christine in Corby and told the pleb electorate to know their place and vote for who she told them to, then they might have won.
Finally we had the news of John Prescott failing in his bid to be elected as a Police Commissioner in Humberside. Conservative MP Robert Halfon exhorted to Twitter :
At least John Prescott didn’t get elected as Police Commissioner -#notalltoday’sTorynewsisbad
And yet even in this hashtag he is at least partially mistaken.
John Prescott’s defeat, was not achieved through the First Past the Post system. It was achieved through the AV system – that system that the country voted so overwhelmingly to reject, and which most of the Tory Party (including Robert Halfon) campaigned vigorously against – rejecting it as undemocratic.
On a first past the post vote, John Prescott would have been elected.
On a count of first preferences, winning candidate Matthew Grove’s 29,440 votes account for just 4% of the total electorate
Yet the Tories seem to be dancing in the street.
Do they even know what democracy means ?
I spotted two news articles today, which were reasonably interesting in themselves, but didn’t have me salivating with rage or frothing with indignation. Taking them both together though, they threw up a couple of interesting numbers.
The first article was this 37 Tory donors with a combined fortune of £10,258,000,000, have gifted the Tory party with £2,891,436 in the last 13 weeks. on Eoin Clarke’s blog “The Green Benches” .
I’ll be honest, although I’m fairly left wing, I don’t hold that it’s immoral to earn money, or indeed to amass wealth, and if you’re wealthy, why not donate some to your favourite political party ? Seems reasonable.
I noticed on the list a couple - Carol & Eddy Haley, – who have an estimated wealth of one and a half billion pounds. An astonishingly large amount of money. I’m not going to speculate on whether they deserve it – I’ve no particular reason to doubt that they do. I do know that they suffered a particularly nasty violent robbery some years back – for which they have my sympathy. They donated a large amount to the Conservative Party in the last three months – as they are entitled to I believe.
Elsewhere in the news we have the spectacular story of Annunziatino Attanasio Cardiff waterslide woman jailed for £20,000 benefit con who’s own home video of her lapping up a luxury holiday, and sliding down a water slide, when she was claiming the highest rate of Disability Living Allowance helped to land her in big trouble. She has been found guilty of fraud and has received a prison sentence. I could speculate about the fairness of this – but let’s not. I’m not going to second guess the court – she pleaded guilty and is therefore deesrving of the punishment meted out. She has after all diddled “the taxpayer” out of almost £20,000 over 5 years.
Hang on though – that number – almost £20,000 – actually it was £19,374 – and she was claiming the top rate of disability living allowance for 5 years ?
So forget what she’s done for a minute – that’s the amount that a disabled person – on FULL benefits, can expect to receive over FIVE years !
That’s right : £3,874 per year – £74.51 each week to live on.
£10.65 per day
Meanwhile, Carol & Eddy could if they so choose, place all their money in a savings account. Times are not great for savers, but they’d easily get an account that GUARANTEED them a return of 1.75% until 2015 Top Savings Accounts (They’d probably get a lot more, but let’s choose a low interest example for now).Then they could go to sleep, loaf around, slide down waterslides or do whatever takes their fancy – secure in the knowledge that their savings would net them £26.25 million per year – or if you like, £504,807 per week
£72,115.38 per day
Now I know these figures are misleading a little – they’re liable to tax on all that for a start, and if they liquidised all their assets, which presumably make up that total, then the assets themselves would probably fall in value because of the very fact that they were cashing in.
However – the difference here is stark. The difficulty we have is not that the Haley’s are doing anything wrong. Nor that it’s wrong to prosecute those who defraud the benefits system.
But when a severely disabled person is only able to receive crumbs from the table – some 0.174% of the income that a donor to the Governing party can receive by doing nothing except put his money in the bank, then there is something wrong somewhere. The pretence that we’re all in this together is offensive, and the Government’s determination to villify and demonise disabled people is so very very wrong.
I had the rare pleasure today of seeing Prime Minister’s Questions live on BBC Parliament, and more by luck than judgement I chanced on Ed Miliband’s first outing as Leader of the Opposition at PMQ’s.
People (as ever) will argue about who had the upper hand in this clash – I felt it was game set and match to Ed, but I heard others on the radio later saying exactly the opposite. Well that’s politics I guess – a matter of opinion,
What really hit me though is Ed’s style of delivery.
David Cameron bellows his answers, and makes theatrical wails and exclamations of mock hilarity, backed up with hearty guffaws and “hear hears” from his own benches. In recent history it would have been pretty much the same on the Labour side as well – in fact the pantomime nature of PMQs has been like this for as long as I can remember.
Ed’s different though. He delivers calmly, quietly, assuredly and without hesitation. You get the feeling that he’s not got any particular dislike for his opponents – just that he disagrees with them. You feel that he’s not so much interested in a theatrical show stopper, as showing up the Government’s theatrics; that he’s not worried about sound bites, but about making sure that his bites are soundly delivered at the ankles of the premier.
I found it very refreshing and enjoyable – see what you think :
- Live: Ed Miliband’s First PMQs (news.sky.com)
- How will Ed Miliband prepare for first PMQs (bbc.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband uses PMQ debut to attack child benefit reform (independent.co.uk)
- Miliband uses PMQs debut to attack Cameron over child benefit reforms (guardian.co.uk)
- PMQs: A good start for Ed Miliband| Michael White (guardian.co.uk)
- PMQs: Ed Miliband plays safe (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband faces David Cameron for first time at prime minister’s questions (guardian.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband gets the better of Cameron in first PMQs (newstatesman.com)
- PMQs – just like an Oxbridge freshers’ week | John Harris (guardian.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband to face David Cameron at PMQ’s for first time (newstatesman.com)
I woke yesterday morning to see Chancellor George Osborne on Breakfast TV announcing his plans to scrap child benefit for Higher Rate tax payers from 2013 – as detailed here BBC News – Child benefit cuts ‘tough but necessary’ say ministers
There’s been a lot of talk already about this (as one would imagine) – much of it focused on the anomaly of married couples earning just below the higher rate tax threshold being able to earn a combined income of over 80,000 without losing the benefit.
Personally I think that this is one anomaly that will be smoothed out – and not really worth getting uptight over. However there are a number of things that really puzzle me about this announcement.
What hits me straight-away is that although Mr Osborne repeatedly said that this move has got to be done urgently because things are so desperately bad, and if they had any choice they wouldn’t do it, but what with the state that Labour have left things in, we can’t afford to waste time, and we’re all on this together and I’m sorry but tough times call for tough solutions, and we’re all in this together, and it’s all Labour’s fault, but it’s really urgent, and we’re all in this together, yada yada yada … Despite all this it’s not going to be introduced for three years. Three years ? If it was really urgent they could do this next week.
So it’s not really urgent then – it’s something that can wait three years.
But what intrigues me more is exactly why the Tories are trailing a cut which will primarily hit families with a single wage earner in the lower reaches of the higher rate tax bracket. Just the kind of people by the way, who would be likely Conservative voters.
Now there are those towards the left of the political spectrum who’d rationalise this quite easily – don’t give money to relatively wealthy people – give it to the genuinely poor who need it more
There are those on the right wing who’d defend it as well – don’t nanny us, make the state smaller and allow people to make their own way in life, without contributing to the welfare of others unless they choose to, and without resorting to ‘big state’ support.
In Britain though my feeling is that we have rather more people who don’t go with either of those views. We have rather a lot of people who are somewhere in the middle. People who don’t think there’s anything wrong with turning a profit, doing well in their chosen profession or business and becoming relatively well off, but who equally don’t have a problem with the state being structured in such a way as to help ordinary people – whatever their earnings – during the times when they need it the most – not just when they’re in desperate need, but also at strategic points in their life where they are relatively more in need of a little help.
When we think of “National Insurance” – we tend to think of it as insurance against the disaster of unemployment or disability. Insurance can provide for other less drastic eventualities though – and can be a way of providing for the future benefit of our families – and the nation’s families.
This is put fairly well (by a Conservative mind) in this article on Conservative Home : George Osborne’s child benefit cut shouldn’t be permanent – thetorydiary by Paul Goodman (who I confess I have not come across before – I believe he’s the former Tory MP for Wycombe).
I don’t think this measure naturally appeals to many in any political party right now – though perhaps some of the more extreme libertarians in the Tory party like it. It could conceivably drive a lot of middle income voters towards Labour.
It could of course be justified as an “emergency measure” – except as I said at the beginning – it’s not ! – We’ll wait three years for this.
So I really don’t what the Conservatives are up to with this – I am suspicious of the Conservative tactics. I don’t think they’ll ever implement this cut in its current form, and I worry about what they will actually do instead. I usually go for ‘cock up’ over ‘conspiracy’ every time – but this time I’m not so sure.
Just a thought !
- Is this the coalition’s 10p tax moment? (newstatesman.com)
- Letters: Child benefit must be universal (guardian.co.uk)
- Child benefit changes ‘fair’ insists David Cameron (independent.co.uk)
- George Osborne’s child benefit plans make things awkward for Labour (guardian.co.uk)
- Benefits feel the squeeze – but the City doesn’t (independent.co.uk)
- Child benefit row: David Cameron holds out promise of tax credits for couples (telegraph.co.uk)
- Top earners to lose child benefits (independent.co.uk)
- Top earners to lose child tax credit benefits (independent.co.uk)
- George Osborne: good cop and bad cop in one (economist.com)
- Ten policy headaches for the government on child benefit (leftfootforward.org)
- PM facing child benefit criticism (bbc.co.uk)
- Time for Ed Miliband to speak up on child benefit (newstatesman.com)
- Child benefit plans could be revised, says Children’s Minister (telegraph.co.uk)
- Tory right warns George Osborne over child benefit curbs (guardian.co.uk)
- Cameron faces criticism over child benefit cuts (guardian.co.uk)
- Government set to introduce tax break for married couples (guardian.co.uk)
- Tories raise alarm as George Osborne ends child benefit for all (guardian.co.uk)
- George Osborne’s patriot act (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Osborne buries universal child benefit (newstatesman.com)
- Conservatives scrap child benefit for high earners (guardian.co.uk)
This was David Miliband’s “thank you” email to supporters tonight – not sure if it went to all Labour members or just to those who voted for him – but here it is anyway for anyone who missed it : -
“ I wanted to write to you this evening to thank you for the phenomenal support you have given me, and the Party over the last few months.
I am so proud of the campaign we ran together, it is a testament to each of you that as we campaigned for Labour, we also campaigned to make a difference in our local communities.
I was proud also to see my brother take the stage today, the new leader of the Labour Party, and know you will join me in uniting with Ed to take on this divided coalition.
As Ed said today, we must now secure the opportunity for Labour to serve the country again; to make it a more prosperous, more equal, more fair society.
Within seconds of the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader being announced this afternoon, media outlets and the twittersphere began to complain that Ed had been elected not by grassroots Labour supporters but by the “Unions” – hinting at some terribly un-democratic process which somehow these terrible militant organisations had managed to wield over the Labour Party. ( David Cameron punches air as unions hand Labour leadership to Ed Miliband (guardian.co.uk) )
Well let’s get a bit of perspective on that …
First of all the only Unions that get to have a say in the Labour leadership election are those formally affiliated to the party – and there aren’t that many of them. My own union – the National Union of Teachers is not one of them.
Next – members of affiliated organisations know about their union’s affiliation before they join it – there’s no such thing as a closed shop any more – and can opt out of paying the ‘political fund’ part of the membership fee (although that would also lose them their vote in the leadership election).
There’s also no such thing as a block vote – every vote in an affiliated organisation is worth the same – whether you’re one of the 83 members eligible to vote in the Labour Party Irish Society or one of the 1,055,074 eligible members of Unite the Union – the largest affiliated organisation. Every individual vote counts the same – and goes to make up 1/3 of the electoral college.
1/3 of the college is made up of Labour MP’s
1/3 is made up of Labour Party Members.
This means that different votes have different values in each section. Effectively an MP’s vote is worth 0.12 per cent of the total electorate, a party member’s vote is worth 0.0002 per cent and an affiliated member’s vote is worth 0.00000943 per cent. ( see this Next Left blog for details Next Left: What Labour leadership votes are worth when they are counted) (This assumes 100% turnout btw – which is far from the case)
It’s all very clear – a little involved, but does manage to capture every aspect not just of the Labour Party, but of the wider Labour movement – which allows Labour supporters in affiliated groups to have a say even if they are not formally party members.
Note also that the party, and many affiliated organisations have been very open about giving new members a vote – in this way opening up the election to the general public should they take the plunge and join even up to a few days before voting closed.
The full results Votes by round | The Labour Party show that indeed sections 1 and 2 of the ballot, the MPs and the Party Members, placed David Miliband first, whilst section 3 – the affiliated organisations – of which the unions are the biggest part, plumped for Ed Miliband.
Just have a look at the numbers though – 211,234 returned votes from affiliated members, as opposed to just 126,874 from full members of the party.
Undemocratic ? Not in my book it’s not.
Compare it with the way that the Conservatives choose their leader Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2005 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – in the Tory system, the rank and file party members don’t even get to vote until the MP’s have selected the last two candidates for them. Even then they have to have been a fully paid up member for at least 3 months to get a vote. A distinctly less democratic approach in my own humble opinion.
Democracy is always flawed to some extent, but is an attempt to reach a difficult consensus, in the fairest way possible. I think the approach used in the Labour leadership election is probably the fairest that could have been achieved. I say that having voted David Miliband as first choice – yes I’d have preferred him to win – but Ed Miliband has been elected fair and square by hundreds of thousands of Labour members and members of affiliated trades unions and organisations. I have no complaints – and will support him as best I can.
If Labour were to look at difficulties in the electoral college by the way, they might want to consider the anomaly that a low turnout in any of the 3 sections means that individual votes in that section are given relatively more weight as part of the whole college as a result. Just a thought – maybe next time ?
In the meantime congratulations to Ed Miliband – please leave a comment if you happen to read this !
- Labour’s voting system: the case for reform (newstatesman.com)
- How Ed can counter the Tories’ attack lines (newstatesman.com)
- Ed Miliband victory is ‘a great leap backwards’, say Tories (guardian.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband elected new leader of the Labour Party at Manchester conference (menmedia.co.uk)
Have a look at the text of the coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats :Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal: full text | Politics | guardian.co.uk
I could probably do a blog on every line of this, but scroll to the bit about Political Reform (No. 6) – which starts by naming the date of the next election as “The first Thursday of May 2015″. Which is of course the longest it can legally be under our current system.
If you think like I do you’ll probably have reacted to that by thinking that the coalition is unlikely to last that long – it will doubtless suffer splits and defeats and ultimately a vote of no confidence precipitating an election long before then – or perhaps the Tories sensing a surge in the opinion polls might go to the nation to try to secure a more workable majority.
Not so, according to what comes next in the coalition agreement :
“legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed-term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.”
Let’s just dissect that a little.
That means that this parliament (not a future one – THIS one) will be able to be brought down by a vote of no confidence – but only if 55% of the MPs vote to do that. Note that this is not 55% of those who vote, but 55% of all MPs. And not just a simple majority of 51% – but 55% – OK not much difference I hear you say, and it introduces a little more stability by discouraging interminable series of confidence votes designed to sabotage the Government of the day.
But how much is 55% – Well it’s 357.5 seats – so as it needs to be more than 55% it would need to be 358 – no half seats. So that would need (typically) : All 258 Labour votes; all 57 Lib Dem Votes; & all 28 of the “other” votes – totalling 343 – so it would also need a further 15 Conservative votes. Actually not quite true – it would also need a further 5 votes – because Sinn Fein would be likely not to vote at all – not to mention anyone who was ill or otherwise engaged on the day of the vote.
So the Conservative Party, with help from the Liberal Democrat party are planning to enact binding legislation - enacted with a simple majority of those MP’s who turn up to vote – which would ensure that the Conservative Party remained in office for the next 5 years in all circumstances save that when at least 20 of their own number decided to vote against. So actually they could sell the Lib Dems down the river without a second thought – they wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.
The Conservatives lets remember hold just 306 of the 650 seats – a mere 47% – which they gained with 36.1% of the popular vote, on a turn out of 65.1% – this represents just 23.5% of the total electorate.
This is the kind of immunity from accountability that is the hallmark of dictators and despots. It is a manoeuvre of which Adolf Hitler would have been proud – effectively preventing opposition to the ruling party.
This is dangerous totalitarianism. It must not be allowed to take it’s place in law. (See this article in the Times Online
Plans for fixed-term Parliaments “not credible” and “dangerous” – says law expert – Law Central – Times Online – WBLG
I’m shocked that the Conservative Party could sink so low.
Astounded that the Liberal democrat party could be so stupid as to be taken in by such a proposal.
Please make people aware of this – it’s a very big issue, which could potentially threaten the liberty of all of us.
As a postscript it seems somewhat laughable that the same section of the Coalition text contains the much vaunted “Power of Recall” – intended to deal with wayward MP’s
“The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”
Why laughable ?
Well because this occurs only when an MP has been found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. Which presumably means breaking the law.
And how many of the MPs involved in the expenses scandal have been found guilty of breaking the law ? Well none yet. There are three on the way though, who may well be, and under the new legislation it would only take a mere 7,000 signatures or so to force a by election. Except that by then they’d probably have been expelled from their parties, and may well already have been replaced (as these three have). In other words a meaningless piece of legislation, which is presumably designed only to deflect attention from the draconian self-protective law making outlined above.
See the Moments of Clarity Blog for more on this : What a fix!! «
or here at 21st Century Fix 21stCenturyFix.org: Cameron apes Berlusconi’s Italy by making it impossible to vote him out
Seems that the latest opinion polls are the next big thing in the election campaign.
I’m not so sure if I’m honest, We’ve seen a lot of widely different ‘exit polls’ after the “Leaders debate” – seemingly working every permutation of who came in 1st, 2nd or 3rd using apparently the same data source (You ! , the public !), and polls which have been published incorrectly then retracted and “nationalised” based on local samples. And the Mail on Sunday now seem to using someone called BPIX to do their polls – who ever they are.
It does make me wonder whether they’re going round getting lots of different polls done and just publishing the ones which make most impact. Certainly Sky News seemed to run about 4 different versions of their after debate poll on Thursday night, presumably because the real results didn’t say what they wanted.
Despite this though, I’m not dismissive of them. If these were favouring Gordon Brown rather than Nick Clegg, I’d be tweeting from the rooftops with the rest of the Labour twibe. So let’s take them at face value – even if they aren’t necessarily all that reliable.
The most sensational of these polls seems to place the Lib Dems as front runners in first place, with Labour in 3rd. As various commentators have pointed out (and sorry for the lack of links tonight – I don’t have the time !) – this could lead to the bizarre situation where Labour ended up as the largest party in parliament, with the fewest number of actual votes; and perhaps the Lib Dems with the fewest seats, and the largest share of the votes.
Will this be the turning point where the Lib Dems finally come of electoral age and seize power ? Or will it be (as Iain Dale has said on his blog) – David Cameron’s Wobbly weekend ?
Well I’m not sure – but I will say this – These polls would certainly appear to have woken the public up, and all of the parties. Last year when we had the Euro elections, the polls looked bad for Labour – not much better for the Lib Dems, and we had a frustratingly predictable low turnout bad news election.
The political geeks (like me) have done their best to liven things up since then – there’ve been better polls for Labour, and lots of games with posters and stuff. Still – until last week – none of it was really catching the wider public interest.
But now it is. Now we’ll see who can run an election campaign.
The polls don’t show what WILL happen. They show that anything CAN happen.
The turnout at the last election was 61.5 % – imagine if just half of the remaining 38.5% decided to vote this time round.
Anything really COULD happen.
So what I’m taking from these polls is this : It really is #GameOn !
UPDATE : Just came across this blog on the Sky polling after the ‘Leadership Debate’ – it’s a beauty. Respect to Loveandgarbage ! : Leadership debate – pie in the Sky
I wake to the news of the Conservative party’s latest blunder BBC News – Tories criticised over teenage pregnancy figure error
In a nutshell, the Tories have published a 20 page report, which contains a statistic for teenage pregnancy in the 10 most deprived areas of Britain. The figure is based on Government statistics showing 54 pregnancies per 1000 people.
This is expressed as a per-centage : 54%
To those of us lucky enough to have had a state education, and not learned our Mathematics at Eton, it’s clear that this should be 5.4%
A mere error with a decimal point says a Conservative spokesman
“It makes no difference at all to the conclusions of a wide-ranging report which shows that Labour have consistently let down the poorest in Britain.”
Well it really should Mr Cameron !
As it stands the publication makes a claim that there has been an 800% rise in teenage pregnancies in those areas; when in fact – according to the figures on which they have based their maths, and presumably accept, there has been a fall of 10%.
I really should make a huge difference.
This will be covered all over the net today so I’m not going to spend time dissecting this.
It does remind me though of the Tories’ propensity for shooting themselves in the foot whenever they get the opportunity to make political headway. Long may it last.
I just hope they don’t get the chance to make this kind of error in Government.
That’s why I’m voting Labour !
UPDATE : A lot of responses to the list published by Iain Dale since I did this. Not least the one at Political Scrapbook which takes a different way of assessing the ‘top’ twitterers (I prefer ‘tweeters’ by the way) – which is to use Tweetlevel which is a service which works out a score based on followers, RT’s, replies – etc, etc.
Clearly a little more sensible than Iain Dale’s approach, but what @PSbook didn’t fully take into account was who was Labour and who wasn’t – and so rapidly updated the chart when Tweeters like myself sent their scores in.
According to the list I’m now 13th = (in actuality 23rd) – ahead of notable Labour tweeters, Like Will Straw, Sunder Katwala, Sally Bercow, Sion Simon – to name but a few.
Well – it’s flattering – but it’s not true ! – and I think underlines the pointlessness of Twitter “charts” – but thanks anyway !
I read on the celebrated tory Iain Dale’s Diary blog this morning, his list of the Top 20 Conservative and Labour tweeters, (with a link to the Lib Dems’ top 20 – mustn’t give them a place on the top table now must we ?)
Now Iain of all people surely knows his way around the internet / blogosphere / twittersphere – call it what you will – so why is he with bothering with such a silly list ?
To put tweeters in rank order, based on number of followers seems to totally miss the point of the interactivity of both Twitter and blogging.
The influence that a particular tweeter – or even an individual tweet – exerts on the masses is related to how many people follow them – but is not wholly dependent on it. Neither do most “grass roots” Labour tweeters – and to be honest Tory, Lib Dem, & whoever else – really give a monkey’s about who has the most followers – the influence which Twitter wields is in the mass interaction – the Re-Tweets, the replies – the sense of community, and the propagation of ideas quickly among large numbers of people. It’s about bringing to attention the small individual blogs, on a par with the large institutional blogs on an equal footing – it’s just not about numbers. The total is so much greater than the sum of the parts.
Iain has for example clearly missed out one important parliamentary tweeter with over 40,000 followers – which would make them the third “top” political tweeter after Sarah Brown and Boris Johnson – but in my ever so humble (I only have 400 followers) opinion, not especially relevant in terms of influence (although I’m open to persuasion).
Iain in the same article also opines that Labour’s Twitter presence is more ‘party machine’ than ‘grass roots’ activists, in comparison with the Tories, by virtue of the fact that “Twelve out of the Top 20 Labour tweeters are in the party machine, compared with 11 Tories.”
Yes. Right. Well that’s the whole point – that’s how they are connecting with the grass roots.
Some people just don’t get Twitter !