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Voters' choice

Nick Robinson | 18:55 UK time, Monday, 19 May 2008

"True, our candidate's winning", a Labour minder tells me today in Crewe. When I looked surprised, he clarifies that he means winning the most hugs. A moment spent with Tamsin Dunwoody and you sensed she really is her mother's daughter, feisty and outspoken, and you sense too that the people of Crewe really did admire the woman whose death has triggered this by-election.

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However a moment spent talking to voters here and you sense too, real anger with the government. Some raised the 10p tax rate, some immigration. An influx of Poles has alienated many. Others raise simply their dissatisfaction with Gordon Brown.

One woman ran up to me in the street to ask me to film the queues in the local post office after the closure of other local post offices. She was angry she'd spent 35 minutes in a queue. What's more, she'd lost out as a result of the 10p tax rate being scrapped. She would though, despite all of this, still, she insisted, be voting Labour for Gwyneth's sake.

That's the choice many voters are pondering here, whether to hug Gwyneth Dunwoody's grieving daughter or to kick Gordon Brown hard.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Some complained about the Poles coming to UK. Is that what they said Nick?
    Well, to whoever said those words may they be reminded that the Poles are in the EU.
    The Toreis would never stop them from coming here.

  • Comment number 2.

    My view is that misunderstanding the intent of policy and being influenced by a Tory guerrilla campaign of negativity from the petrol strike onwards is at the root of this. Certainly, the government could improve their approach but the Tory campaign has blood all over its hands. I'm not keen on clutter or disharmony but Labour continue to have the better fundamentals.

    When people obsess or get caught up in the mood their ego is effectively hijacked. This single campaign may result in a kicking but, I suspect, the constituents will regret that when they've sobered up. The alternative is to take a step back, clear your head, and take another run at it. If Labour can encourage that, I suspect, they’ll produce a satisfying win.

    Labour can suffer from town hall meeting syndrome, just as the Tories can be nasty and self-serving, and the Liberals can be too air-headed and judgemental. It may be a close thing but Labour is better placed for government and the opposition parties haven't had enough time to work through deep internal changes. People may benefit from remembering that.

  • Comment number 3.

    The next lazy Pole I meet will be the first.
    We have a lot living around our way and a lot have been here since the end of WW2, they are all reknown as hard workers
    Gwyneth Dunwoody is going to be a hard act to follow. Somehow or other I cannot see the people of Crewe kicking her daughter in the teeth.
    But human nature being human nature we will wait and see.
    How sad to lose something like this constituency for the sake of a stupid 10p mistake. How shortsighted can these people get and what short memories they all have.
    Still they have the say I do not. That is what is called democracy and we must live with it as it beats the hell out of anything else on offer.

  • Comment number 4.

    It is interesting that your blog mentioned the Post Office and associated closures of such.

    The people tasked with managing the Post Office, Leighton and young Adam Crozier, came up with a plan that I thought was perfect for the PO.

    Namely, that it be turned into a 'partnership', after the model of the highly successful John Lewis Partnership.

    This is something that would really empower and energise all of the workers in the enterprise.

    But the majority owner, the Government turned them down.

    I do not know why the Government decided to block this - but my late fathers words come echoing back down the decades - we do not vote Labour because they just want to keep us working people down.

  • Comment number 5.

    The next lazy Pole I meet will be the first. We have a lot living around our way and a lot have been here since the end of WW2, they are all reknown as hard workers


    I've found that to be true of the Poles and Asian's I've known. The Prime Minister favours positive effort and consensus, and both Poles and Japanese can help remind people of these things. Plus, any money sent home and cultural ties helps develop foreign markets.

    Poor confidence and insularity of the British has strongly retarded growth while increasing crime. If the Prime Minister can help people develop their inner potential for success this position will begin to reverse. So, anger management lessons and group hugs all round.

    Here cames the sun, doo-da-doo-doo.
  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Perhaps there is hope for Labour after all. Maybe people saw Cameron's speech in Birmingham saying what his strategy on public spending would be. It appears that he thinks he can 'make room' for tax cuts by a series of measures such as school reform (not specified), welfare reform (not specified), and action to strengthen families (not specified). He would introduce 'careful housekeeping' and reduce waste (now there's a couple of new ideas), and cut expenditure on unemployment ( which he must not have noticed is at a historically low level).

    As Cable put it, his "attempts to make a virtue of having no policies won't convince anyone" - well, not for long anyway. As it is he (Cameron) reminds me of the supporters I used to see on the Western Terrace at Headingley giving Boycott the advice to hit the bowler over the top; a worthy objective maybe, but like Cameron the spectator had no idea how to achieve it.

  • Comment number 8.

    I do not know why the Government decided to block this - but my late fathers words come echoing back down the decades - we do not vote Labour because they just want to keep us working people down.


    Giving away a few billions of shareholder value might have had something to do with it. The plan looks sound enough but a large constituency would kick up a stink if the government handed over assets like that for nothing. Simply, it's not theirs to give away.

    I would agree, too many people in leadership positions can become counter-productive and exist to keep other people down. This is true of all parties, charities, and private business. This can be explained by fear of loss and lack of social glue and is a strategic British problem.

    As I write, big companies cheat law and are pulling back on investment. This is in spite of law and government encouragement. Perhaps, that's why the Prime Minister is trying to drive peoples success at a more personal level. Quit blaming him. Discover your innah winnah.
  • Comment number 9.

    Chuck E Hogwash @2, you say you're "not keen on clutter or disharmony". You sure seem keen on bovine excrement.

    Kiwilegs @3: No-one wants to kick Gwyneth Dunwoody's daughter in the teeth. Lot's of voters do, however, want to kick Nu Labour in the teeth. Ms Dunwoody (until recently Dunwoody-Kneafsey) should not have opted for the hereditary principle if she wanted to avoid being tarred with the brush of Nu Labour's despicable campaign.

    I agree with you about the Poles (and other East European workers). We have Labour to blame for our benefits culture (moving unemployed to 'disability' benefits) without which we'd have our own nationals to do the work.

    I also agree with your last sentence. As WSC noted, "...democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

  • Comment number 10.

    Re #3. If it had only been “a stupid 10p mistake” and Gordon Brown had apologised as soon as it became clear, and he had then gone on to rectfy his “stupid mistake” Gordon Brown and his cabinet colleagues could have been forgiven. But the denials, the obfuscation, the ridiculous half baked solution to that particular self induced problem still leaves me and many others who remain worse off, very angry.

    The trouble with Gordon Brown’s metaphorical moral compass is that, like the real compass needle, it doesn’t point to true north so we don’t get the truth from him. His compass needle, and therefore his judgements, is being affected by all the changing magnetic forces of the prevailing circumstances and his spin doctors so you don’t know where he’s going from one minute to the next.

    Add to that the fact that neither he nor his cabinet members can ever explain why so many mistakes and bad judgements have been made during this government’s period of office without harping back to 12 or more years ago gives the impression that NuLabour is only intent on diverting the questioner away from the issue without giving any rational reason for their bad/late decisions. Is it any wonder we are not only angry but sick and tired of this irresponsible government who refuse to accept any responsibility for any errors?

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick, I am very surprised that, following the comments by OfSTED today that education of school pupils has "stalled", that these young people have all been educated under a "New" Labour Government. That 20%, 1 in 5, cannot read and write to an acceptable standard. The 16 YOs who are taking their GCSE exams now started school at the age of 5 after Tony came to power. What was the slogan again, "Education, Education, Education"!!!! OFSTED comment is rather telling, surely they should have the power to put the Government in Special Measures! "New" Labour have let down young people badly and they and they alone are responsible.

  • Comment number 12.

    Add to that the fact that neither he nor his cabinet members can ever explain why so many mistakes and bad judgements have been made during this government?s period of office without harping back to 12 or more years ago gives the impression that NuLabour is only intent on diverting the questioner away from the issue without giving any rational reason for their bad/late decisions. Is it any wonder we are not only angry but sick and tired of this irresponsible government who refuse to accept any responsibility for any errors?


    This is mostly a perception issue. People and vested interests have been caught up in themselves but a more humble and relaxed approach will help the Prime Minister sail through this one. Really, it's quite, quite easy.

    A more simple and happy message, and generally going out and about is quite sufficient. I strongly recommend the Prime Minister get a Hollywood script writer on team and buy a dog so he can take it for walks down the embankment.

    Put it this way. Does anyone have a better plan?
  • Comment number 13.

    Nick

    Your implication is that - "If the people of Crewe vote for Tamsin, it will be for reasons of fond memories of Gwyneth and/or sympathy for her daughter. On that basis, I guess your question could be put another way ie "Will be the people of Crewe vote logically, with their heads, or sentimentally, with their hearts"

    I think it could go either way. So, maybe Labour's decision to call the by-election so soon after Gywneth's death could prove to be inspired tactics rather than obscene haste, as opined by some friends and foes alike ?

    Digressing slightly, a genuine question for Charles E Hardwidge, the answer to which might be of interest to the logical tendency in Crewe or elsewhere.

    On Labour "having the best fundamentals" can you speculate as to how it can ever be credible for Gordon Brown to take all the credit for the performance of the UK economy during the past decade of favourable global conditions but for the current unfavourable global conditions to take all the blame for UK's current economic ills ?

    ie All the good stuff was down to Grodon, unaided by the global conditions, and all the bad stuff is down to the global conditions unaffected by any acts or omissions on Gordon's part ? Or am I missing something ?

  • Comment number 14.

    #12


    Charles

    I like the idea of Gordon getting himself a Holwyood scriptwriter.

    One from the Disney Studios, perhaps, to shape past fairytales and sell future dreams for the consumption of starry-eyed innocents.

    Re walking the dog - another good idea. If it fails to do the trick you have in mind, there is always plan B. Walking the dog - a favourite pastime for many retired people.

  • Comment number 15.

    Charles E Hardwidge said "Put it this way. Does anyone have a better plan?"

    Maybe not, but when the current plan does not work then you may as well try something completely different.

    As for the "Labour Lovies" hoping that the voters won't "kick a Dunwoody" - are you seriously proposing that as a reason to vote for someone? "Vote for our candidate - she's a Dunwoody". For goodness sake, she's the daughter not the mother nor a reincarnation of Gwynneth. What's her POLICIES???

    If you can't come up with solid *policy* reasons to vote for your candidate then she does not deserve to be elected. From where I'm standing the Labour campaign is just one big ad-hominem attack and the tories and lib-dems actually have policies and local issues. On those alone they deserve to win and labour deserves to lose.

    Note: For the avoidance of doubt I am NOT affiliated to any political party nor have I ever been a member of one.

  • Comment number 16.

    #8

    I do not think that the plan that Leighton and young Crozier put together for Royal Mail/Post Office involved the taxpayer, via HMG, 'giving' away billions of shareholder value.

    I have never seen a public explaination for the Governments refusal to countenance their plans.

    I do not blame Gordon Brown for anything whatsoever.

    I simply want the Government (Labour, Tory or Lib-Dem) to get out, and stay out of my life, my family and my businesses.

    On the basis that they usually turn to dust anything they touch.

    I do not want, in any way shape or form to be a member of their 'client group'.

    I tend to think that this is the natural inclination for many English people - I'm sure I'm not the only one.

  • Comment number 17.

    Voting for an MP as a tribute to a deceased MP (related or not) defies belief. There is something very unsavory about this whole by-election: desperation, fear, over emotive - anything to avoid facts or meaningful discourse.

  • Comment number 18.

    So, what exactly did I say that means my posting has not been shown?

    If you don't have enough people to moderate, just tell us.

    If not, just let things through or be accused of a biased approach to input.

    Good God, I have voted for all main parties for different reasons under different circumstances.

    What makes it so difficult to read and approve a comment?

  • Comment number 19.

    14
    Forget the dog. Even the dog would bite Gordon. ;)

  • Comment number 20.

    The woman complaining about the Post Office and the closing of the Sub-Post Offices.
    This is the inevitable outcome due to the continual interference and cutting of it's services over the years.
    Anything that was profitable was separated and sold off, namely the telephones, the parcel delivery, television licences / car taxing, and recently payment of pensions and benefits.
    With the advent of emails instead of posting letters, what future has been left for the village / small post office.
    They have taken the heart out of communities over the past (almost) 30 years, all in the name of progress.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just had a quick look at the website of Ms Dunwoody and would be interested in anyone who can answer the following...

    She was born in Devon, schooled in London and Kent, worked in the NHS in Londo and lives in west wales - how is she being promoted as 'one of us' - to the people of Crewe?

  • Comment number 22.

    "An influx of Poles has alienated many."

    Why on earth would an influx of Poles alienate anyone? The English truly are a peculiar people. You seem not to be satisfied with anyone except yourselves. Such a self-satisfied and self-absorbed people.

    What have the Poles done to the good citizens of Crewe, then, apart from failing to be English? A failing to which I would confess myself if I regarded it as a failing, which I most certainly do not.

    Go on. Vote Tory. Then vote Tory at the general election to get that beastly workaholic Scotchman out of Downing Street, where he has no business to be on account of failing to be English. He probably doesn't even play cricket, like those dreadful workaholic Poles.

    Go on. Vote Tory. Then vote Tory at the general election, when Scotland will certainly not do so. We shall be poles apart, but then we already are.

  • Comment number 23.

    Isn't it rather sad that the only Labour comment about the Tory is that he is a "toff" because he went to Uppingham School. At the same time they nominate the daughter of a deceased MP as best qualified to stand as their candidate then allow her to use her mothers name.
    So much for selection; is that the best that they could find or did they really believe that a Dunwoody had the best chance of winning in Crewe.

    How long is it before Euan Blair finds himself nominated as the MP for his father's seat. They look more and more like the United States and their fixation with the ruling classes.
    What a reflection on a moribund political party.

  • Comment number 24.

    One question - is McBroon going to don a bullet proof vest and visit Crewe and Nantwich?

    Now that would be worth watching!

  • Comment number 25.

    #11 pimpernelsmith - your comments are misplaced. What has happened is that the improvement that has taken place over the past 10 years has now levelled off. But the level of achievement is much better than it was in 1997, not worse. So your waspish criticism is not justified. Youngsters are being better served by the government ("New Labour"); they may have been let down on a broader view of the situation, but the OFSTED comments are not evidence for it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Maybe I'm biased but I think Northern Rock did huge damage.

    Almost anything can be seen in a good or bad light and voters are now in bad light mood.

    Even if sketchy on the details, everyone knows Northern Rock was chaos.

    A bank run in the 21st century is testament to nothing less than mindblowing incompetence.

    And it occurred only in the UK, leaving banana republics looking good in comparison.

    Ok, I had my shares nicked so i am biased.

    But even if you think us small shareholders should have done a better job than the FSA despite having no powers, you can still concur that the bank run was the defining moment.

    Some of us lost a packet because of the bank run but I think the bank run affected a much greater number of opinions.

    I hope so because I dont like the idea that the same incompetent authorities who were responsible for the bank run get rewarded by stealing my assets.

  • Comment number 27.

    Bank runs only occurred in the UK?

    What about Bear Sterns in the United States?

  • Comment number 28.

    Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert says it is "unacceptable that 20% of pupils go from primary to secondary not fully functional in literacy and numeracy".

    Concerns about the administration of this year's school tests in England have prompted a call for payment to be withheld from the test contractor, ETS.

    1 in 5 University graduates drop out before year 2.

    Nearly a third of schools in England and Wales have been disrupted, and one in 10 closed completely during the biggest teachers' strike in 21 years.

    Call me cynical, you can put as much gloss and spin on the current education shambles, but this will not disguise the mess our educational system is in.

    We have gone from an education system envied by the world to one of the worst in the world.

  • Comment number 29.

    Quite honestly, what happens in Crewe and Nantwich isn't really that important.

    A Labour victory would keep Brown in power which would be positive for the Conservatives.

    A Labour loss would spread doom and despondency through the Labour party ande lead to further erosion of support.

    My best guess is that Labour supporters who can't bring themselves to vote Conservative will vote for the Liberals or abstain.

    In the end today's polls suggest that the Conservatives are 14% ahead and those polled rate Brown lower than John Major!!!

    Fun, isn't it.

  • Comment number 30.

    peteholly

    There wasn't a run on Bear Stearns. They announced (much like Northern Rock) that they were having liquidity problems due to limited availability of credit and being heavily into the sub-prime market, at which point the authorities stepped in, guaranteed savings and arranged a quick sell off to one of the bigger banks. They even managed to renegotiate a higher price when it became clear that they had undervalued Bear Stearns.

    Contrast that with the situation here where the government rejected a quick sale (to Lloyds) and then took days to announce they would guarantee savings, in fact only doing so after the spectacle of people queueing for hours to get their money out.

    America, swift action, no run.

    Britain, no action, run.

  • Comment number 31.

    Post Offices closing; Universities turning away students 'non' qualifications; knife crime rising, welcome to another day in the dystopian life of Britain under NuLabour.

    Never mind the evidence we've shredded all the documents. Now pay us some more tax please because we have more barmpot ways to waste your money.

    Ding, ding, hold tight please. Another day another banks rights issue in the great tripartite collapse that is Gordon's perfect world.

    Apparently there's no alternative to our crazy policies! Vote NuLabour while you can.

    I beg to differ.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick: come off it. You can't seriously suggest that people should elect their MP because "mummy was your MP and I'm sad that she died". If Conservatives tried this you would laugh them to scorn. The solution is clear: hug Tamsin and kick Gordon. Which, the polls suggest is what Crewe will do - exacerbated by an appalling campaign that has even the Guardian calling Labour the "nasty party"

  • Comment number 33.

    The good thing about Crewe is it may signal the end of Brown and later the end of New Labour. Will he jump or be pushed? World bank?

    As for Poles and 10p I think the thing with New Labour is if you aren't an investment banker they don't care what you think.

    The bad thing about Crewe is that then that regrettably means the start of a Tory era. Worse, just as with Blair after Major, Cameron will look like a God when compared to Brown and possibly Blair. Then he loses control of Boris and interest in the electorate and round we go again....

    The Lib Dems will do respectably well and the knives will probably come out for Nick Clegg as part of the annual sacrifice.

    Also in my world this all probably means the UK will start to disintegrate after 2010 and at present I have zero confidence in our being well prepared for the departure of the Scots and probably the Welsh later. What will NI do and will that impact on Scotland?

  • Comment number 34.

    Nice to see the Tories supporting local businesses such as Asda. And is it too much to ask for Timpson to actually say something?

  • Comment number 35.

    I do feel slightly sorry for Tamsin Dunwoody, in that if her mother had died at any other time it would have been a shoe in for her. Unfortunately it is not, and maybe her true colours are shining through in the tactics that Labour are using must have been confirmed by her, but also the fact she is an unemployed single mother. She had probably waited for years to get this job, only to potentially have it nicked from her.

    I should think Gwyneth is spinning in her grave!

  • Comment number 36.

    peteholly.

    Theres a world of difference between a few hedge funds calling in their funds and scenes of tens of thousands of the ordinary public queuing up to get their life savings.

    And just as Grawth says, Bear Stearns was resolved very fast. There are plenty of bank failures round the world but you do not get scenes like Northern Rock.

    I still maintain, the key difference is mindblowing incompetence.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nice for the Cameron and the decent hard working business man( Is that ok? wouldn't want to upset the Conservatives, its almost like racism you know!) anyway nice of them include that advert for a loaf of bread. 45p eh a bargain probably a supermarket loss leader. to wipe out local shops, Newsagents and POST OFFICES. Did they think that was a high price? He didn't seem to know that it is about £1 elsewhere. and the conservatives can and would do nothing to reduce that, before you start. I would like to say how much I love those chats with the public to camera because I am a nice person, But I can't because they are just phoney cringe-making PR stunts. See video above.

  • Comment number 38.

    RE: gthebounceranddavincimaster

    Tamsin Dunwoody’s comment about being, “just a single, unemployed mother of five, fighting hard for a job” [source BBC Article – Labour’s toff campaign defended] just about sums up New Labour to me.

    Factually her statement may be correct; but the sentiment underpinning it i.e. that she is a struggling single parent, like many of us, is highly misleading. After all, Tamsin’s home is almost as grand as her Tory opponents. Moreover, she was a Welsh Assembly member (on a good wage) before being rejected by the voters and her family are long standing members of the political elite. Add in the fact that she will no doubt inherit a reasonable sum from mother’s estate and it is clear that Tamsin is unlikely to be feeling the pinch any time soon. She is not a typical, single, unemployed mum of five.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't see why anyone should "hug" Gwyneth Dunwoody's "grieving daughter" Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey by giving her a seat to on the Westminster gravy train just because her mother was an OK MP.

    We have done away with hereditary peerages, now we need to do the same for MPs.

    And the Labour campaign has been disgraceful...

    In any case, many Labour cabinet members are just as much "toffs" as the Tory candidate, Edward Timpson who was at least born locally and whose parents worked to build up their business....

    But far more worrying that the Crewe by-election is the warning of George Soros today, that the UK was worse-placed than America to weather the coming economic storm, because it had such a large financial sector and has had the biggest increase in house prices.

  • Comment number 40.

    The Daily Mirror reports that David Cameron compared himself to Margaret Thatcher yesterday and that he is on a mission to "revive our society just as Lady Thatcher revived our economy".

    I don't think this line will be a big vote winner at Crew - or anywhere else. If you have a body burried under the patio, surely it's best not to mention it?

  • Comment number 41.

    #39

    Yes, the Soros warning does put this by-election into some perspective i.e. not very important in the great scheme of things and just another nail in NL's coffin.

    The UK economy has become rather unbalanced over the last decade-and-a-half, with an unhealthy weighting towards the financial sector.

    You would think that the Government would, as a consequence, tread extremely carefully where 'the City' is concerned.

    But recently, HMG seem to have 'lost the plot' here, as elsewhere, so that businesses, like people, are thinking of emigrating to friendlier places such as Ireland.

    It is such a pity that we have to stagger through the next two years with this shower ... before the political cycle repeats with 'Dave's' shower.

    At least the Scots will really shake things up ... I can't wait .. come on you Scots .. just do it ... the English can't be bothered but will be forced to once you become properly independent.

  • Comment number 42.

    Here's a piece of useful campaigning detail for la Dunwoody - Gordon Brown has manged to collapse sterling 17% against the Euro since stepping into number 10...that's nearly twice the fall when sterling exited the ERM in 92. Membership of the ERM, by the way, was something Gordon Brown supported at the time.

    It seems like Gordon has been even more successful than the Tories at trashing the currency and our gold and the opinion polls.

  • Comment number 43.

    Earlier on, in a previous debate, I stated - Looks like the NuLabour dirty tricks brigade are out in force.

    Well I must hold my hands up, I got it wrong. It should have read - Looks like the NuLabour Rent-A-Mob are out in force.

    And what a desperate gang they look. If this is the best they can do, NuLabour really are doomed! It does look like the Party is coming to an end!

    The legacy McBroon will most be remembered for - The man who presided over the break up of the Union.

    Another point to note is that the Labour party is virtually bankrupt. In recent years we have seen them sell Millbank, that infamous NuLabour bunker, and have had to reschedule their loans so frequently their bank must be dizzy.

    Do we really want a party that cannot even look after its own economy running GB?

    Northern Rock - Ironic really. For 10 years NuLabour has been selling off council housing estates across Britain. To so called Private Social Landlords.

    Now they have NATIONALISED a Building Society/Bank for the private property it owns. Says it all!

    Just one question - When are they going to nationalise the NuLabour party so that the taxpayer can bale them out of their current malaise?

    With regards Crewe and Nantwich I look forward to watching the news on Friday and the NuLabours spin-doctors responses to the beginning of their demise!

  • Comment number 44.

    A Labour spin-doctor (CEH) wrote here: "This is mostly a perception issue. ... more humble and relaxed approach will help the Prime Minister sail through this one. Really, it's quite, quite easy.

    A more simple and happy message, and generally going out and about is quite sufficient. I strongly recommend the Prime Minister get a Hollywood script writer on team and buy a dog so he can take it for walks down the embankment.

    Put it this way. Does anyone have a better plan?"

    I have a plan - call a general election and get this wasteful government out. Are you listening Charles ?

  • Comment number 45.

    Labour has kicked every voter they have, beld them with tax, ignored their plight and spent ALL the money on pet projects.
    The interference in private lives is insulting and spiteful.
    I will vote for anyone but Labour.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear Member,

    It is an honour to have been chosen to lead the party at such an exciting time.

    The Government have lost the nation's trust, and it is now up to us to earn that trust, and to show how our party can succeed in government.

    Many people could be forgiven for thinking that the above could be penned by David Cameron when he took leadership of the Tory party. It was in fact Teflon Tony’s address to the NuLabour membership in 1994.

    He also wrote, later in that document, Labour's strength is in its membership. At the turn of the new millennium I was one of those 50% that walked away from NuLabour. It is little wonder that NuLabour are virtually bankrupt.

    Included in that address was the following diatribe:

    In the coming year our campaigning concerns must include stepping up our fight against 17.5% VAT on fuel and the growing poverty among the low paid and the unemployed as well as highlighting a new agenda for fairness and greater equality;

    Wonder if anyone can guess who penned the above. I will give you a clue!

    70% Tax on fuel - does that help.

    Yep - our good old friend Mr Bean. Think this really beggars belief!

    Cue dhwilkinson.

  • Comment number 47.

    #22 I am English and think the Poles are hard working decent people.

    I live in Scotland and have witnessed Scots expressing concern about the quantities of Poles over here. Therefore I don't think that in practice there is much difference between the two soon to be separated nations.

    I am all for the separation and ideally an English Republic!

    I think the issue is where you are in the social spectrum which leads to anxiety over the extra competition for jobs and housing. In a recession that will get worse.

    I don't think the Germans are racist in setting limits on how many people can come in. It makes sense from a planning and stability point of view. NL said we should expect 16000 and we got more like 1.6 million - but thats NL for you!

    Allegedly the Poles are now departing for more economically stable countries, that will destabilize business planning. But I'm not sure I believe government figures - or the government.

  • Comment number 48.

    Cameron was asked, what would he do to alleviate the pressures of the hike of Oil and food prices in the face of this unique global problem. His reply was. " This has got nothing to do with a global problem etc."
    What a hypocrite! What a liar! Is this the way to win elections?
    What would you do chicken? Give us the numbers!
    Would you reduce tax on fuel for example?
    Would he give us another September 1992 if he is in Govt?
    The Tories promise a lot, they deliver very little and when things go wrong they always have a plausible excuse for their past failures!
    One thing Dave phoney never mentions is the interest rates which under Labour have never reached 16%. Lest we not forget!

  • Comment number 49.

    So Commissar Brown is looking at monitoring our every phone call, email and internet page. All in the cause of cutting crime. This ia the BBC's report on the web

    "Ministers are to consider plans for a database of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK, it has emerged.

    The plans, reported in the Times, are at an early stage and may be included in the draft Communications Bill later this year, the Home Office confirmed.

    A Home Office spokesman said the data was a "crucial tool" for protecting national security and preventing crime. ......"

    That will be the final straw for this government. As if we are not monitored and instructed at every turn. This would be worse than Russia, or Roumania which was terrible (I worked there in the 1980s).

    I for one will be very happy to make calls, send emails and access internet pages that will keep them on their toes. I have enough politically incorrect opinions to keep a whole department going starting with Gordon Brown!!!



  • Comment number 50.

    Only wayup

    I have no idea how old you are but it is 16 years since 1992. In the intervening years I have changed as have my opinions and experience.

    There is a saying that "you learn from your mistakes" and I expect that David cameron has done so and is much wiser and has a more rounded character than in 1992.

    In ths country, unlike many others, we tend to look to the past than the future. The next Conservative goverment, when it comes, will be different to that past. It has to be, just as New Labour was different to Labour.

    I imagine we ALL want to be judged on what we do now rather than on what we did in the past. I know I am embarrassed by some of my "achievements" of the past.

    None of us know how a Conservative government will perform. This blog seems to judge people on the past. It is not a good trait. We should all look to the future.

    New Labour has had its day. We should celebrate its achievements and criticise its manifest failings. Them move on and look to the future.

  • Comment number 51.

    #48 - no, but Labour did manage to get inflation up to 25% in the mid seventies (lest we forget).

  • Comment number 52.

    I don't know who this mikepko person is, but his postings make a lot of sense on this blog topic.

    I also think that voting (or not voting) for someone for purely historic reasons is spurious. It makes me very depressed when people say things like "oooh, I'd always vote labour, even if they had a monkey in charge; it's in my blood".

    The main point is to look at what they think/say/do now and ask yourself who makes the most sense and who do you trust at the moment.

    At the moment labour don't make any sense (their logical arguments are totally flawed on vritually every topic), and their leader is a proven liar on virtually every topic up to the present day.

    At the moment David Cameron's arguments do make more logical sense but nobody knows for sure if he'll do what he says if/when he gets in power.

    Given the choice between an unknown (Cameron) who make sense but who you're not 100% sure about when it comes to trust, and an idiot proven liar (brown), I'd choose Cameron at the moment.

    But that might change during the next 2 years; I'll just keep an eye on how they do and then make up my mind when it comes to the general election (if indeed Gordon Brown doesn't ban general elections by 2010).

  • Comment number 53.

    Listen to this Nick:-

    In ths country, unlike many others, we tend to look to the past than the future. The next Conservative goverment, when it comes, will be different to that past. It has to be, just as New Labour was different to Labour.

    Ha ha haj! Is that so? Then why does not Cameron admit in public that what the Tories ( and he himself), did in the past was wrong and apologise for the mirery brought on us in them days? They mismanaged the economy to benefit the filthy rich and the filthy rich only, and that might include myself!
    The last time someone mentioned the September 1992 fiasco to Cameron, not only did he not admit gross incompetence, but the excuse was that the situation was circumstantial and seasonal! he has to start somewhere, sometime!

    The first thing Tony Blair did when he was elected leader of the Labour Party was that he admitted that in some years past Labour Govts. did not manage the country as they should have done and that not all that Thatcher stood for was wrong, in fact he publicly said that thanks to her she also cleaned Labour from the looney lefties! He even made a joke of the time when we had Dennis Healy as chancellor!
    Come on now. Tell us!
    Do you now agree with the minimum wage?
    Do you agree with an independent BOE?
    Will you sustain the help for families with children?
    Do you admit that the economy has grown for 11 years with the lowest interest rates ever on record? With all those billions required and invested to build our health service. schools, and railways.
    Do you want us to forget the railway shambles that you left behind?
    Would you bring back the fuel escalator?Would you increase VAT to be the highest in the EU as you did when last in Govt?
    A couple of years ago the Tories defended those policies. What are you on about man?

    Oh, and if one should forget the past, let us forget all that Labour did in these last 11 years and look to the future eh! Is that your wish? Do you wish we forget that we left from Hell? I can now have a hip operation within 3 months, when before I had to wait for 3 years? Is that what you want us to forget?

    You have to start somewhere, sometime!
    Let Cameron start with the apologies first!

  • Comment number 54.

    Remember, "Things can only get better"? It's hard to see how they can get worse, as Labour goes into meltdown with its supporters and the public deserting it in droves.

    Some interesting statistics in today's Guardian on Labour's criminal justice system - the proportion of the population in prison has risen by 20% since the Tories left office. Today Britain locks up 151 out of every 100,000 people. The Chinese 119 people per 100,000; Burma 120; Saudi Arabia 132.

    I can't wait to see the back of this lot.
    Lib Dems anyone?

  • Comment number 55.

    To Charles E,

    If the Tories have exhibited a 'guerilla campaign of negativity', what does that make the Labour campaign? Have they not attempted to stoke up class war hatred with their 'Tory toffs' slogans? (One of the chaps in the Top hat went to private school by the way)

    Wasn't Tony Blair a toff?

    Can't remember NuLab dissing his background or implying that he was in some way less worthy because he was born into priviledge?

  • Comment number 56.

    Is it only MY computer that has now interposed a Springwatch blog between Nick's last 2 blog postings?
    Is somebody trying to remind me of my schooldays? It appears to be all in Latin.
    It does say there was an error opening this page. Hasn't anybody else NOTICED?

  • Comment number 57.

    #51
    #48 - no, but Labour did manage to get inflation up to 25% in the mid seventies (lest we forget).

    I to remember those times well.

    Ever heard of the winter of discontent - 3 day working, could not even bury our dead! - Yep surprise surprise - Labour

    Also remember 25% inflation and 11% interest rates under - Yep surprise surprise - Labour.

    People in Britain, recently voted for change - even in the valleys, Yes Wales, once a lifelong Labour stronghold. By the way is this not the place were NuLabours prospective candidate for Crewe and Nantwich got ousted by the Tories!

  • Comment number 58.

    #56

    I have had that problem over the last two days or so. Appears to be a glitche in the BBC servers for this blog site, it will pass.

  • Comment number 59.

    OnThePeripheral:-
    In the coming year our campaigning concerns must include stepping up our fight against 17.5% VAT on fuel and the growing poverty among the low paid and the unemployed as well as highlighting a new agenda for fairness and greater equality.

    That is exactly the rate of tax we were paying on heating fuel, and not on Petrol.

    VAT on heating fuel is now 5%!

    Is this the way forward?

  • Comment number 60.

    I have to agree with #50 and 52. Spot on…

    Oh and #53, If we are talking about apologies, how about we start with Tony or Gordon.

    1) I sold our gold too cheap - Sorry
    2) I destroyed our pensions - Sorry
    3) I spent every penny we have left - Sorry
    4) I destroyed the education system - Sorry
    5) I moved more poor people into poverty over the last 11 years - Sorry
    6) I lied to parliament about knowing the source of our donations - Sorry
    7) I caused the only run in a bank in over a hundred years - Sorry

    I could go on...

    My point is as I think as #50 said, it's very easy to judge everything that happened in the past but just to point blankly refuse to see that there is another way is just frankly stupid and naive.

    Imagine if we had all ignored Tony when he said "Things can only get better" and "Education Education Education" we gave him a chance, now lets see what else is out there.

    Don't be so blinkered you have a free vote. Vote with your head and heart and not just "cos, thats the way I've always voted and I'm not gonna change for anyone!"

    Wait! Is that Kiwilegs I hear bashing away at the keyboard….

  • Comment number 61.

    #54 bryanjames "it is hard to see how (things) can get worse."

    That really is just silly. It is very easy to see how things could get a lot worse, quite apart from party politics! But for example I live in a small town in the East Midlands - we have a brand new Community Hospital, the schools have been refurbished and no longer let in the rain, I see many more police on patrol and we have dedicated community policing units, nurses and doctors are no longer flooding out of the country for better pay, and I get some sort of satisfaction from knowing that my country is making a relatively respectable contribution to international developmnt and world peace. These among many other things, all of which have improved since 1997. So I can imagine things being worse just by remembering how they were 10 years ago.

    I do not know what you think your figures on the number of people in prison mean. Do you think that fewer criminals should be incarcerated? Do you think that they show that the greater numbers of police are being more successful in getting criminals sent to gaol, and are more successful than in the other countries you name? Do you think that there are too many prisons? I guess we would all agree that it would be nice if there were fewer criminals, but what exactly would you do to achieve that objective? It is always very easy to quote this sort of data without understanding what it really means.

  • Comment number 62.

    #60 secondSpanners - it isn't often even on this site that you see a list if statements that are all at least questionable, and in most cases just plain wrong.

    No, on more careful consideration, that are ALL plain wrong.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Onlywayup,

    You pose a number of questions in the mistaken belief that the Tory position on these issues is somehow unknown. I’ll answer them for you.

    a)Do you now agree with the minimum wage? The Tory party have supported the minimum wage for a number of years now i.e. even before Cameron

    b)Do you agree with an independent BOE? As above, the Tory position changed prior to Cameron’s elevation. The Tories support an independent BOE.

    c)Will you sustain the help for families with children? If you are referring to the family tax credit system, the Tories are committed to maintaining it; although they say it needs reform. Given this systems susceptibility to fraud and overpayment [Billions lost to the Taxpayer every year since its introduction]; the low take-up rate and the number of families pushed into poverty by demands for repayment – this seems a reasonable proposition.

    d)Do you admit that the economy has grown for 11 years with the lowest interest rates ever on record? Actually the economy has been consecutively growing for more than 14 years. That’s because the Tories left the economy in a healthy state. Do you think Gordon will be so generous in two years time? I doubt it. As for interest rates – yes, the last ten years have seen historically low levels of global interest rates and this has been reflected in Britain. Now if Labour wants to take the domestic credit for this global phenomenon, then they can’t now use the global credit crunch, to excuse their current difficulties. You can’t have it both ways.

    e)With all those billions required and invested to build our health service, schools, and railways. Yes Labour’s investment record in public services has been excellent. Although the extended use of PPI (introduced under the Tories – a mistake) has been a disaster. But remember, our political masters are investing public money, not their own. As such, taxpayers have the right to demand value for money. Given the sums invested, it is not enough to say that some things are better. The NHS budget for instance has doubled, in such circumstances; even a Monkey could have improved some aspects of the service. So it’s a value judgment? Has Labour spent the money wisely? Most people it would seem - think they have not, and given the fiasco over GP contracts, the NHS It system etc… it is easy to see why!

    f)Do you want us to forget the railway shambles that you left behind? Labour’s transport policy has been a disaster – according to GVN statistics, train service reliability whilst improving of late, has still not returned to 1997 levels. At the current rate, Labour will achieve this benchmark in 2010.

    g)Would you bring back the fuel escalator? The shadow energy secretary has hinted strongly that they would. An unpopular policy to be sure – but a Green policy nonetheless.

    h)Would you increase VAT to be the highest in the EU as you did when last in Govt? In David Cameron’s speech yesterday he intimated that Taxes were already too high and that a future Conservative GVN would seek to reduce, not increase the tax burden on the average citizen.

    You see Onlywayup – the Tories position on most of these subjects is pretty clear and in the public domain. Have they changed their mind on some of these issues – well yes? But then all political parties change/adapt their policies over time. Remember the Labour Party manifesto in 1983 – Anti-Nuclear, Anti-EU, Pro- Nationalization, Repeal of Thatcher’s Trade Union Laws etc…. I do, because I canvassed on behalf of my local Labour candidate.

    Nice talking to you…..

  • Comment number 64.

    Seriously... why do people vote labour because "they always have"! Have they no brains at all.

    I work with a guy who votes labour for that exact same reason and yes I can confirm, he's as thick as sh......

  • Comment number 65.

    #64 - I don't think the "it's what I've always done" disease is specific to Labour voters. I'm sure the Conservative party has its fair share of these as well.

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 Let's remember two things: the legacy bequeathed to Gordon was of falling inflation, falling interest rates, falling unemployment and growing GDP. Gordon even adopted Ken Clarke's Tory budget. They adopted the Tories PFI idea, and even the idea circulating in Tory Government about BOE independence. Ken Clarke even said that he was not implacably opposed to BOE independence only that he wanted more time to consider and debate its implications; you know, he was actually quite sensible about things like that. And just like Labour didn't repeal any of the Tories Trade Union legislation, because actually they quite liked it, then the Tories will not unwind the minimum wage as they appreciate that too.

    #63 refers to railway privatisation in answer to an earlier blog. I've actually read the Parliamentary report into the privatisation of the rolling stock companies. There were mistakes (as there have been subsequently, as most recently we had with QinetiQ which was massively undersold by Gordon as revealed in an NAO report) and one thing stands out: the political uncertainty created by Labour at the time effectively nobbled the sale. It meant that only the management could be realistic purchasers and they had their own agenda to serve. After that, it could never have been right. Should the sale have still gone ahead? Who knows? You never know, we could have still been left with British Snail.

  • Comment number 67.

    #62,

    In this free country you are entitled to your opinion and perhaps you truly believe that those statements are wrong but by just saying they are doesn’t make them so.

    Again I reiterate my main point...

    You shouldn't judge someone just because they are Tory or Labour, listen to each argument and make an informed decision rather than a emotional one.

    eg: Vote for Tamsin because you really believe her policy ideas and what she stands for not because she's not a "toff" or just because she's not a "Tory"

    Perhaps Politics is like religion, it polarised you're either believe one doctrine or another and there never seems to be any middle ground. How sad!

  • Comment number 68.

    If the Tories have exhibited a 'guerilla campaign of negativity', what does that make the Labour campaign? Have they not attempted to stoke up class war hatred with their 'Tory toffs' slogans? (One of the chaps in the Top hat went to private school by the way)


    The Labour party has made some presentation errors while the Tories have run a stealth negative campaign. That's a pretty balanced comment.

    The dominant mood of the moment is irrational and hysterical. People are just venting or caught up in themselves. I'm not giving it much attention.

    Proper form and attitude is more important than speed or winning. Polly Toynbee makes a good comment that echoes this. People should give it some attention.
  • Comment number 69.

    #65,

    Too true.. The affliction effects people on all sides.

  • Comment number 70.

    CaptainJuJu wrote:
    Seriously... why do people vote labour because "they always have"! Have they no brains at all.

    I work with a guy who votes labour for that exact same reason and yes I can confirm, he's as thick as sh......

    I cannot understand how Nick accepts people to write in this way.

    If you and your friend are stupid, I am an ex Tory voter and an ex Bank Manager and an ex Medcial Liaison Officer. If that makes one stupid, then no wonder some are wanting to vote Tory again!

    Is that your point?

    Respect please, and one would say that your friend has his own opinion in a democracy, not thick!

    I hope you have a nice evening.

  • Comment number 71.

    #54 byranjames

    They (libdems) get my vote... I'm nothing to do with them but lots of people in this blog seem to be wuite openly labour or tory and happy to say why they support them so I thought I should offer my views. Plus, the LDs get about two thirds of the vote that the two 'main' parties get but about 1/20th of the coverage!

    There seems to be two main complaints over Brown and HMG that consistently crop up in this blog:

    1) the 10p tax row

    - it was the LDs NOT Cameron who spotted this within hours of the pre-budget. It took Labour and Tory MPs until the last recess to figure out lower earners would lose out! I just cannot believe the Tories now suddenly care about low earners!
    - they've argued for years that tax should be FAIRER. The rich should pay more, who can disagree?


    2) surveillance society/erosion of civil liberties

    -against ID cards, cctv, detension without trial, banning protests outside parliament.



    The LDs have also led the green agenda, voted against higher education plans that have left me and my siblings in thousands of pounds of debt (when all MPs in their time got grants), have warned about the debt bubble, and support (admittedly for electorally strategic reasons) electoral reform.

    I'm interested to see if labour support thus goes to the tories, who are just as bad, or to the LDs, who seem to offer me a better alternative.

  • Comment number 72.

    #54.

    I can't wait to see the back of this lot.
    Lib Dems anyone?

    Bryan. As a previous lifelong Labour supporter and activist I was really drawn to the LibDems when they opposed the illegal war in Iraq.

    If the LibDems had carried through there initial response to the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and not retreated I would have taken them as a serious alternative to NuLabour.

    But hey I do not support any party, even though it may appear otherwise.

    On the bright side I have voted LibDems locally for the last 3 years. They now have control of my local authority, and I must say they are doing so much better than previous NuLabour councillors who were in control for many years.

    Another consolation, next year we have the EU elections. I cant wait to show my disgust for NuLabour at that time. Hey I may even vote LibDem!

  • Comment number 73.

    #63 ngodinhdiem:

    Nice to see a relatively thoughtful and reasoned contribution!

    I have no reason to argue with your a, b, and c - but there is some room for disagreement with the rest I think.

    (d) there is something in what you say, but you ignore the fact that the UK's economic performance has improved relative to other similar economies over the period. That normalises for changes in the general global environment I would have thought. In the argot of party politics, we were the sick man of Europe, and are now one of (if not the) strongest.

    (e) Unfortunately most people believe what they read in the papers, even when (as is overwhelmingly the case) their own experience of the NHS has improved dramatically. In any event, you have to ask what the situation would have been like if the investment had NOT gone in, and compare the present situation with that. As you say, it is a value judgement, and undoubtedly mistakes have been made (and always will be) - but you have to make the judgement on the appropriate basis.

    (f) I think you have to look a bit deeper than just the raw reliability data, and ask why there has been a period of poorer performance. The reason is fairly clear - the need to upgrade the track and signalling system after the various crashes in the late 90's, which were probably largely down to previous underinvestment. The recent problems at Rugby for example made a very large dent in reliability stats, but will make for significant improvements in the longer term.

    (g) and (h) The problem for the Tories is in your comments - they have 'hinted' and 'intimated', but not actually said anything. Cameron's recent speech in Birmingham was typical - a lot of talk about objectives most of which would be shared by the government. But while the government has (and has to have) policies to meet those objectives, Cameron is silent on what he would actually do.

  • Comment number 74.

    jimbrant - I meant, and I thought it was obvious, that it's hard to see how things can get worse for Labour.

    Re locking people up. I think prison should be reserved for dangerous and/or serious criminals. There are other ways of dealing with people who break the law but do not present a danger to society - if the will is there.

    Some of the biggest crooks have passed through the political system (Maxwell, for example). Take the recent case of the MP who paid his son, £25,970 a year for (not) working for him. What happened to him? Suspended for 10 days on full pay. That must have really hurt.

    Meanwhile, poor people are being sent to prison because they have gotten into debt and young people are being criminalised because many have nowhere to go, nothing to do and end up getting into trouble.

    But I don't want to get into point scoring with you. If you are happy to see more and more people locked up without the underline causes being addressed, that's up to you. I see them as crime universities - judging by the re-offending levels reported - they are too crowded to allow prisoners to be rehabilitated and after a year or so they are back on the streets - smarter than before.

  • Comment number 75.

    And, Jim, with respect, don't be so bloody patronising.

  • Comment number 76.

    Someone earlier asked if anyone else had noticed the Springwatch blog.

    I checked with the BBC and Nick was on "Gardening leave" (only joking).
    His Latin wasn't bad either.

  • Comment number 77.

    Gosh, I'm a little surprised how Nick's musings on the thoughts of potential labour voters has generated so much friction between posters.

  • Comment number 78.

    Oh yes I saw the Gardeners World piece and wandered if it might be a cyber attack from......

  • Comment number 79.

    We are asked to look forward rather than back.

    Ok.

    May 2010 - UK General Election results:

    England - Tory majority.
    Scotland - SNP majority.
    Wales - Plaid majority.

    July 2010 - Scottish Independence Referendum - SNP majority.

    2011/12 - Scots leave 'union'. Plaid submit independence referendum to Welsh people.

    2012/3 - English wake up and realise that they are in a union of one.

  • Comment number 80.

    nick; can you start a blog topic about the pending email/phone snooping law? I'm sure it'd be pretty popular!

  • Comment number 81.

    #50 - "New Labour has had its day. We should celebrate its achievements and criticise its manifest failings. Them move on and look to the future."

    I agree entirely. Let's celebrate New Labour's achievements. There's - er - well, um, there's - ah - erm - um.... ah... come on, someone help me out here.

  • Comment number 82.

    Ah yes, I remember.

    They sold gold at a long term low.

    They reduced unemployment by shifting people into public sector non-jobs or incapacity benefit

    They stitched up the low paid with the doubling of the 10% tax rate, then spent billions solving the wrong problem.

    They presided over the first bank run in over 100 years.

    They presided over an education system where more kids get more qualifications but still can't add up.

    They caused tax to rise by more than 50% while public services are constantly cut due to a lack of funding.

    Shall I continue?

  • Comment number 83.

    Calm down on the prison figures everybody (*54) - remember that all the three countries Monbiot quotes have the death penalty, and use it rather liberally - so prison is only for quite minor offences. If it were the same here, we'd have a much lower prison population and a much higher death rate, so the statistics are meaningless.

    On the subject of Crewe - interesting to hear that Tamsin Dunwoody has gone down well, even at a time when Labour is in such difficulty. Maybe it shows the importance of at least some sort of local link to a constituency for a candidate (even if it is only hereditary). It does of course beg the question - how much worse would Labour be doing without her?


  • Comment number 84.

    #63 ngodinhdiem

    I'm not sure about some of your arguments.

    a) re minimum wage - I'm fairly sure Cameron and the Conservatives do not support the minimum wage. Pragmatically, they may keep it for a while until such time as they can abolish it such as a period of rising unemployment when it can be blamed for causing unemployment (as their argument I think still is).

    b) independent BOE - There seems no reason why the Conservatives would want to abolish this. Cameron is on record as saying he wants to also take other major areas outside public accountability (e.g. an independent NHS)

    c) help for families with children - I think (though no policy as yet - surprise, surprise) that the WFTC will go - Conservatives are on record as saying what a disaster it is (difficult administration and allegedly encourages benefit fraud and single parenthood). Again, trying to get to what their core values are (a major difficulty) I think they would replace this with a transferable tax allowance to married couples - it's not the children from poor families that matter but getting the top-rate tax breaks out to their core support in the shires. I think Cameron is also on record as claiming that relative poverty is not important in determining outcomes and they will swap the Labour 60% of the median poverty definition for a (less generous) absolute 'breadline' amount based on some sense of how much the Government believes it costs someone to achieve a minimum standard of living.

    d) The jury is out on that one - several of the economic reforms have helped, as has the recent influx of economic migrants (which the Conservatives will restrict more heavily). The Conservatives can take some credit for abandoning their disastorous economic policies of the 1980s and early 1990s before Labour came to power

    e) Interesting points. Labour have had difficulties in getting the Civil Service to administer many of the policies they have introduced correctly, despite getting many private sector 'experts' in to help with this. They under-estimated the delivery difficulty during their first two terms, and Blair began to address this in the 3rd. About Brown, we still do not know.

    f) While as a Londoner I cannot appreciate the difficulties that I know are faced in other parts of the country, public transport for me appears to have improved massively, whether travelling locally or on the main routes out of the capital

    g) The Conservatives like to talk green and then completely contradict that by criticising all the Government's good environmental intentions e.g. high fuel tax, waste taxes etc are all things that Conservatives try and make political capital out of

    h) I think it is quite clear where tax cuts will be directed - inheritance tax and stamp duty are the 2 they mention (the latter will merely provide further stimulus to over-inflated houses rather than benefitting first time buyers in the slightest - look at the impact of the tax rather than who actually pays it). Raising the personal allowance is another stated ambition (ie benefitting higher rate payers at 40% and basic rate payers at 20%). Transferable tax allowances another (again benefitting 40% tax rate payers in one-earner families - who can afford to be a one-earner family these days anyway).

    Also, Conservatives are very optimistic about the power of asking the private sector to do things for the greater good. To do so would be illegal for them - they have clear responsibilities to shareholders. There will also be far more reliance on philanthropy - sounds like a return to the workhouse and the 'deserving poor' determined by the super-rich rather than the population as a whole through the democratic process to me!

    Cameron is just a lot of hot air - the core values are as they always have been. I have to admit he is a great salesman - his Eton education has certainly had benefits.

  • Comment number 85.

    #74 and 75 bryanjames: "I meant, and I thought it was obvious, that it's hard to see how things can get worse for Labour."

    Fair enough. My apologies for misunderstanding. But you did link your statement to the slogan 'Things can only get better', which certainly did refer to the country and not the party, so I don't agree that your meaning was obvious. Even limiting the idea to the party, it's not that difficult to imagine a worse position - remember Michael Foot?

    As for the rest, I actually largely agree with what you say now that you have explained what you meant. But that doesn't mean that your original comment and comparison made much sense.

    As for being patronising, I can only remind you of the old saying "It's hard to be humble etc"

  • Comment number 86.

    Thank you, Jim - I'll take it we are friends again! :)

    With your reservation "But that doesn't mean that your original comment and comparison made much sense."

    You mean all the others do?!

    On the LibDems - I know it's hard to get excited about them but where else can an armchair socialist go? I like to think I still have a few principles left, even after 12 (?) years of Nouveau Labour so there is no way I could vote for Mr C. But I watch with interest. It's not that Cameron deserves to lead the country but Labour deserves to be kicked out.

    I'm more afraid of The Madness of King Gordon - he's bad enough now but if he had a 'mandate' there would be no stopping him. Mr Bean would morph back into Stalin.

  • Comment number 87.

    #86bryanjames: "even after 12 (?) years of Nouveau Labour so there is no way I could vote for Mr C."

    I couldn't vote for either of the Mr C's as things stand now. I thought (still think) that Blair was the greatest PM we've had for a century or more, so I do not naturally warm to Brown in view of his antics . But I think you may be being a bit hard on him; I suspect that his principles at least are solid and honourable, though whether he can make himself into any sort of leader is now questionable.

    I like your Madness of KG metaphor!

  • Comment number 88.

    Yes, I am being 'terribly hard' on Brown. I almost feel guilty - poor man, part of me thinks, it's not all his fault. But it's not just recent events - it's just the whole sorry saga of wasted opportunities despite all the promises.

    We've had wars, lies, spin, more lies, more spin, the rich getting richer, toped by incompetience and more promises. It's like a man who beats his wife and vows never to do it again.

    But I guess Brown is the easy target for people who are completely fed up with what has happened - but he did 'volunteer' for the job.

  • Comment number 89.

    No52

    getridofgordonnow

    Thanks for your vote of confidence. Just for your information, I'm not a member of any political party, just a pragmatic voter. Half Polish/Ukrainian - my mother was taken to Germany for forced labour in 1942 and has been here since 1947.

    Being pragmatic and weighing-up the facts as they occur is something I would like to see in posters, but unfortunately too many people have their politics ingrained and no argument will persuade them to look at things in a balanced way.

    One thing I have learned in my 56 years is that I can be wrong, and often am. To be right all of the time must be very wearing on all around, and sets such a high standard to live up to so that when a fall comes it really hurts. Gordon Brown must be feeling that at the moment, although whatever he says in public I don't for an instant believe that thinks he has made even a small mistake.

    Anyway, as entertaining as it is I'm sure that what we say here has no bearing on the result of the Crewe election or the General Election. Both are just a "weighing machine" of public, biased and un-balanced opinions. In the end just a few votes, one way or another, will seal the outcomes. It is these few votes that the dreadful Labour team are trying to gain by foul means.

    Good night.

  • Comment number 90.

    Dumping 'our dear leader'(c.f. N. Korea) GB may satisfy our need for vengeance, but should we perhaps pause and ask, who's policies has he been implementing?

    Perhaps it is the same Civil Servants at the Treasury that gave us the same policies under Thatcher.

    Perhaps we need to make sure that whoever comes next flushes the dead wood out of the Treasury just as Mrs T did when she came to power - you will all recall the 'is he one of us question?'

  • Comment number 91.

    It is much easier from the 'outside' looking in.

    In my opinion, the problems are systemic, in that HMG are struggling to operate a system of Government that is totally outmoded.

    A key factor is that the existing system of Government suffers greatly from 'lag' (hysteresis).

    That is the 'democratic' inputs produce an eventual output but often too late i.e. correcting something that no longer exists or is no longer relevant to the circumstances pertaining when the inputs were significant.

    Just a tiny amount of Information Technology at the interface between the people and Government could provide a superb example of direct democracy.

    However, as I have mentioned elsewhere, virtually everything Government touches seems to turn to dust, especially IT projects.

    You want an answer and my interim solution is to start electing genuinely independent people.

    You'd be surprised how much better Government would start to be.

  • Comment number 92.

    A general commentary really.
    I've only been looking at this blog for 10 days or so. Glad to see some considered opinion is available to read. The constant personal attacks on the Prime Minister appear to have subsided a touch as well.
    I am not a Labour Party member and I can tell you that my family's finances are being squeezed. What I can't do is defect to the Tories. They got the "nasty party" tag for a reason and their ardent supporters on this blog embody the same spirit. The country is not going down the toilet and everything that has happened in the last 11 years is not the result of a golden legacy bequeathed by Ken Clarke. The Labour And Lib-Dem opinions (on the whole) just seem more balanced. Again I suspect there is a reason for this!

  • Comment number 93.

    If Labour win Crewe, they will say it is an endorsement of their policies.

    If they lose, then it will be put down to "mid term blues". But if that is the case, to lose a 7,000+ majority is more that "mid term blues": it is a disaster.

    I think they might win it, but at a greatly reduced majority.

    They must be praying for a 3,000+ majority which would be damaging to David Cameron.

    Friday morning should be interesting.

  • Comment number 94.

    92: peteholly

    I am not a Labour Party member and I can tell you that my family's finances are being squeezed. What I can't do is defect to the Tories. They got the "nasty party" tag for a reason and their ardent supporters on this blog embody the same spirit. The country is not going down the toilet and everything that has happened in the last 11 years is not the result of a golden legacy bequeathed by Ken Clarke. The Labour And Lib-Dem opinions (on the whole) just seem more balanced. Again I suspect there is a reason for this!

    -------------------------------------------------

    I am not a Labour Party member and Tory "nasty party” all in one breath. Yep Peter and pigs may fly!

    Hate to rain on your parade Peter:

    Iraq war
    ID cards
    EU membership withdrawal referendum.

    To name but a few concrete differences. By any stretch of the imagination I doubt you could call it balanced.

    And after all it was a LibDem who christened the Prime Minister Mr Bean! Again I suspect there is a reason for this!

    I am not a NuLabour Party member either, but on the three issues above, in the absence of a Lisbon Treaty referendum, I may even vote LibDem at the next election.

    Question for you Peter, If Ken Clarkes legacy was that bad. Why did NuLabour run with their budget for two years?

    I have read a number of your other postings. You seem very keen on NuLabour, the cause of your woes, why not join them? They are really strapped for members, or is it liquidity - 20mil if I remember correctly!

  • Comment number 95.

    Question for you Peter, If Ken Clarkes legacy was that bad. Why did NuLabour run with their budget for two years?


    This was a major election committment Labour made to counter the Tory accusation of tax and spend. In reality, years of underinvestment and an unrealistically low Tory tax promise (later confirmed by the Tories) was meant that Labour had to hold back against their better judgement.

    People can make their own judgements about tax levels and services but the basic realities can't be ducked. You get what you pay for and no amount of rhetoric or wishful thinking will change that. The fact that this even has to be raised is a sign how poor the quality of national politics is.

    For all their sins Labour have invested and helped prevent the very worst screwing of people at the bottom. Real growth is hard. Very hard. The Tory alternative is to cut from the weakest and provide an illusion of growth. How is that a better alternative? I can't see that it is.
  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    92# Pete I could swallow the fallacy about the Clarke's golden legacy had the economy went down the pan, say after 5 years of Labour. But it certainly has not.
    We are still not up the Khyber after 10 years although people are feeling the squeeze I am in no doubt about that. However most do not know what a sqeeze really is, one had to live and suffer under Thatcher and Major to know that fact first hand.
    Sometimes I think that a spell of the Tory in again running the government would do some in this Country a power of good and help to concentrate the mind. A lot have very short memories and a few Tory lesson on what belt tightening is really like under a Tory administration would help.
    I think a lot in this Country do not realise what they have and will not until they have lost it. Some people will never learn that grass is not always greener at the other side, they need to learn lessons the hard way.

  • Comment number 98.

    kiwilegs wrote:
    ,1 do not for one minute think that most of the hoped for Tory majority is a vote FOR Cameron I think it is more a vote AGAINST Brown.'
    I've seen this argument used quite a lot over the past few months. As Cameron is the only conceivable alternative it matters little that it is a vote against Gordon Brown. Unless he can turn around people's perceptions of him the fact that they are voting against him as opposed to for The Opposition will not be too comforting for him in the final analysis if he fails to turn things around. If Cameron or Clegg are not viable alternatives there is still the option of spoiling ballot papers or not voting at all.

  • Comment number 99.

    kiwilegs wrote:
    'I think a lot in this Country do not realise what they have and will not until they have lost it. Some people will never learn that grass is not always greener at the other side, they need to learn lessons the hard way.'

    I think you give people less credit for their voting decisions and judgements than they deserve. You could say that many of the people who deserted The Conservative Party and voted Labour 11 years ago because they believed the grass was greener on the other side of the fence are now also beginning to reassess their loyalties.

  • Comment number 100.

    97 Belt tightening is a natural occurrence after profligacy.
    Labour have overspent massively, the national debt repayment costs are greater than the entire defence budget. It is unsustainable.

    Borrowing money to pay for tax bribes (the 2.7billion) just adds to the picture of financial mismanagement.

    Cameron has said that every area of expenditure will be looked at to see if its really necessary, and quite right he is too. Its what any CEO would expect of a business when times are hard

 

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