Sunday, February 24, 2013
Loss of Triple A and Rennard allegations Won't Stop Lib Dem win ihn Eastleigh
Lib Dems 33% (+2%)
Conservatives 28% (-6%)
UKIP 21% (+8%)
Labour 11% (-8%)
We see Clegg's party climbing by 2% but the Tories plunging by 6%- very possibly reflecting voter dismay at Osborne's embarrassing loss of his much prized triple A rating. This event, comparable to the Tory's 1992 'Black Wednesday', blows a huge hole in the Cameron-Osborne's credibility. After Black Wednesday their ratings collapsed and stayed collapsed until 2005; it won't happen this time but it is, to a degree, as significant as Eastleigh. Martin Kettle, in his splendid piece on Friday argued the by-election's importance is pivotal.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Mansion Tax Seems Unecessary
Simon Jenkins, always a bit of an unusual columnist, writes a clear and sensible critique of the proposal in The Guardian. He points out that there are only 74,000 houses worth over £2m and that the tax would yield only £1.7bn a year. A much better approach would be to increase the number of Council tax bands for houses worth between £1m and £2m: likely to produce more revenue and preclude the need for more legislation and political fights with those admittedly rich home owners who would have to find unreasonably large annual sums to meet the tax's requirements.
"If politicians really want a more progressive local property tax, there is no problem. They should use the one they already have: council tax. The Welsh introduced an upper I band in 2005, with no revolution of the rich. England could be given half a dozen extra bands above the H-band threshold of £1m, capped at 0.5% of value. It would be less penal on the lower bands than mansion tax, would spread the burden and raise far more money."
What's wrong with that alternative? Nothing that I can see. But I'm very doubtful anything like a 'mansion tax' is ever likely to happen in this country: Osborne hates it, Tory voters hate it and it would mark a shift into a completely new way of taxing the British: a wealth tax.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Humdinger of a Contest Hotting up in Eastleigh
This contest has all the ingredients of a classic. It's the first head to head of the coalition partners and as such anticipates many of the key 2015 contests where the Tories hope to win a couple of dozen at least seats off the Lib Dems.Andrew Rawnsley reckons Labour might spring a surprise, according to Andrew Rawnsley.
"At the general elections of 1955 and 1966, Labour came within fewer than 1,000 votes of winning Eastleigh. Admittedly, the shape of the seat and its demographics have changed considerably since then, but more recent elections also suggest that Labour should not entirely write off its chances. The last time there was a byelection in the seat, in 1994, Labour came second, ahead of the Tories, with more than 27% of the vote. At the 1997 general election, Labour achieved a similar score."
Eastleigh moreover, is prime 'squeezed middle territory and Miliband should be able to improve on his party's record. That is, if he doesn't think his supporters should vote tactically for the Lib Dem candidate. But, given the coalition this line of argument makes much less sense than before the partnership was forged. Is it impossible to imagine a Labour victory?
"Ukip nibbles away at the Tory vote from the right flank. Labour gains some switchers from the Conservatives and more from the Lib Dems. It is then just about possible to envisage Labour winning the seat. I have heard Labour frontbenchers talk about "the Brighton scenario". Caroline Lucas won the Brighton Pavilion seat for the Greens with just over 31% of the vote because of the way in which the rest of the electorate split between the other parties.
The first poll out, produced my Michael Ashcroft, gave Conservatives a 3% lead but the one reporteed in The Guardian today gave the Lib Dems a slight lead: 36% to Tories' 33% with UKIP on 16% and Labour on 13%. The Brighton scenario' might come about but it seems a long shot, even for volatile by-election contests.
Gaby Hinscliff in The Guardian today offers a number of new angles on the contest. She quotes my colleague Phil Cowley, Professor at Nottingham University who points out the Lib Dems have never lost a by-election.
What strikes me about this by-election is that Labour are, unusually, in the potential recipient of protest votes against the coalition. They can rouse the low earning voters of Eastleigh to cast a vote against the government which has so signally failed to sustain, let alone improve, their quality of life.They have to fight the contest hard- it will be interesting to see who their candidate is- and things might just go their way. Lib Dems lead slightly in the polls, have the constituency sewn up in terms of elected local government on the ground and have assiduously nourished their support for many years. Phil Cowley's observation is interesting and suggests Tory hopes will be disappointed.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Gay Marriage Strategy Backfires as Nasty Element Strikes Again
The size of the revolt is explained firstly by the fact that his aprty is not happy with Cameron- he is seen as haughty, detached and apart from the rank and file of his MPs, many ofd whose names he does not even know, so unlike his heroine, the Lady, who knew not only their names but their spouses and chiuldrens' names as well. On top of that Dave is seen by many on his party's right-wing as too close to the Lib Dems and believe he uses them as a reason not to pursue genuine true blue Tory policies.
The second reason, alas! is that the Tory Party's 'modernisation' has only gone so far; there is a substantial chunk of it which remains unreconstructed and, well, nasty
Sunday, February 03, 2013
Inequality for All- a Must-see Film
In an interview with Carole Cadwalladr in today's Observer , we discover that this seemingly dry topic has been turned into a compelling film which is hard-hitting as well as funny: Reich has a deadpan sense of humour which leavens the film very effectively. Being so small of stature, Reich has always felt on the side of vulnerable people- in the present day, that's essentially means the poor.
. Lets hope the film reaches a wide audience but, though I hope I'm wrong, I'm as cynical as ever as to anything happening as a result.