Archive for the ‘Conservative’ category

Looking At The Words of David Cameron

October 1, 2008

While we wait for the pundit’s reaction, it’s always fun to have a look through a speech to see what was siad, what was repeated, and on that basis wonder what we are expected to take away from Cameron’s conference speech this afternoon. The bigger the word, the more popular in the speech it was. You can click through to Wordle for the full sized version.

Personally I thought this was a great speech – there was no yaa-boo politics but the digs at the Labour party were in place, there was a humble Cameron on display, but a certain righteous anger. Being Scottish the invocation of Thatcher will have not made Scotland an easier place to campaign (fact of life) but it could go down very well in England. That remains to be seen.

As to a lack of policies, well part of me thinks the strategy to see and discuss these is not 18 months before a General Election – after all look at the policies announced last year and where they ended up, so I’m happy with hearing about the moral core and broad strokes of the party, as opposed to fine nitty-gritty detail that can easily gum up the “sound bite debates” that would occur round them in the media.

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Let’s Move The Conference Season to Somewhere Practical

September 27, 2008

I’m currently in Birmingham, having attended a few meetings on Friday, and flying back up to Edinburgh tonnight. I’m not staying for the party conference, but I do want to make one observation. The area around the ICC in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party are holding their conference, is awash with police every 10 yards, barriers at every junction, and generally making this party of the city a bit of a headache for locals.

Irrespective of who is paying for the policing and associated paraphernalia (I seem to recall Labour’s Conference this year cost around £5 million in policing, does anyone have concrete numbers?) it seems to be a rather large waste of money to get (a) all the party in one place and (b) get some pretty pictures for the television. For parties that are hoping to spend our money, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought out the box and did it a little differently?

With all the military bases in the country either mothballed or half-empty as troops are in foreign theatres, why not hold the conferences in these establishments? A number of them are close to good transport links, there’s clearly enough accommodation for all the attendees, the various Mess Halls can handle catering and evening entertainment, and the policing/security should be much reduced. Disruption to residents would be minimal, and both (a) and (b) above would still happen. In fact I doubt those on TV would really notice the difference.

And there’s something nice about the image of having everyone behind barbed wire…

Don’t Wait Dave, Go For The Kill

May 23, 2008

I’m sure there will be a lot of comment over what David Cameron and the Conservative party should do over Gordon Brown and his position as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party. There’s a strong opinion that he should ‘ease off’ on Brown because he is their best asset to win the next election.

I disagree with that.

The point of Opposition is to do just that. If there is something wrong, something that they disagree with, then they are meant to oppose it – this is their function in Parliamentary democracy. To challenge, to question and to oppose. Gordon Brown is not an effective Prime Minisiter, therefore it is their duty to continue to pressure him, and to do their bit for the country.

There’s alos the fact that this opportunity may not arise again (after all, the chance for Brown to call and iwn an election has never arisen again either) and they must not show weakness. I want to see decisive action on the part of Cameron, Osbourne, Salmond, Clegg and the other party leaders. The confidence to just go for it is one of the things that made Vince Cable the best leader the Liberal Democrats never had. Yes make sure of your ground, make sure you have the troops behind you (ahem, Wendy) but when the time is right, strike hard and fast.

If the Conservatives chicken out of taking the battle to Brown, then the may come to regret it as much as Brown’s non-election decision.

Tories to the Left, SNP to the Right… Labour Stuck in the Middle

May 18, 2008

Look I know it’s not accurate, I know it doesn’t go down to the constituency level, and that it’s not as simple as this… but still, is this the trend that we’ll be looking at in terms of seats and voting at the next General Election?

Speculative and Rough

In very broad strokes, the Labour vote and the Labour geography is going to get squeezed. The Lib Dems are going to solidify in the South West, with a few gains around the country, and Labour will be lucky to retian a strong ‘core’ vote in the midlands and the north of England.

On the opinion polls out in today’s Sunday papers, Labour are looking at almost no representation in the South East outside of the capital. How far the ‘border’ of the Conservative gains will climb up the country is going to determine the majority of the next Parliament. Perhaps we just need Jeremy Vine and a climbing Line in the studio to show us what we need to know?

And then there’s Scotland. You might as well throw away the electoral seat calculators that are in use at the moment, because I don’t think they’ve taken into account the sea change that the Scottish Parliament has had on the voters. The SNP are on the rise, Alex Salmond reckons 20 seats for the SNP is a good target for the next General Election (so obviously not all of Scotland is turning SNP yellow…), and given the general distaste of Labour, even before the fun of the WendyRendum, it’s going to be a fight for the party to retain their strength in the central belt.

Where is Gordon Brown’s Website?

May 12, 2008

So with all the upheaval going on, the laying out of a new vision (and this would be which version of the vision?) I thought I’d have a look at Gordon Brown’s website to find out what he actually thought. Except, ehrm, I’m struggling to find one.

The obvious address of www.gordonbrown.co.uk opens up with “this is an unofficial site run independently and has no connections with any political party.” Going dot com doesn’t help either, as www.gordonbrown.com leads to a re-direct towards a Blogger based site posting up the occasional barbed attack on the man. The final format used by many MP’s is to suffix the name. Okay then… www.gordonbrownmp.co.uk is a good start, as it’s not attacking him, but it’s also popping up a 403 error – I’m not allowed to access the content.

I’m assuming that something was resident at gordonbrownmp.co.uk as the Wikipedia article for his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency points to it as his constituency website.

Final role of the dice – a general Google search on his name. Which points me to the Number Ten Downing Street, a wikipedia biography, and three estate agents trading under the name Gordon Brown. And of course the blogosphere discovered the delights of http://www.gordonbrownforbritain.com/ earlier this spring.

If Brown wants to have a national conversation, if he wants to listen to the country, then he could at least make it a little bit easier. Thankfully I am no longer his constituent, but I must ask my Mum and Dad (who still live in Cowdenbeath) how well advertised his surgeries are…

For fairness, I hit other party leaders to see where their first offical page was:
First Google result for David Cameronhttp://www.davidcameronmp.com/ (Official Site)
First Google result for Nick Clegghttp://www.nickclegg.org.uk/ (Official Site)
Third result for Alex Salmondhttp://members.snp.org/people/alex (Offical, but 502 error report)
First result for Wendy Alexanderhttp://www.wendyalexander.co.uk/ (Offical site)

Poor show for the SNP leader there – I wonder if Wendy Alexander can use this web fangled nonsense as a new line of attack on the SNP leader… which will naturally embarrass her London chiefs in the process?

Scottish Conservative MPs After the Next Election

May 12, 2008

Yes that’s plural. In all the fun of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party vs The Labour Party (which does sound like a divorce decree nee The War of the Roses), it’s worthwhile considering who the main beneficiary will be at the upcoming General Election. On a UK level, it’s looking more and more likely that this will be portrayed as a ‘how many seats can Cameron’s Conservatives win?’ contest, and if (a) this will get them to a majority, and (b) how big that majority will be.

The scottish view of the party is going to be very interesting. I don’t yet think that the Tories are in any place well suited for a revival across the country. Political wounds specifically from The Poll Tax and The Miner’s Strike still occupy prominent places in the Scottish mind, especially in the central belt, and as the people who were deeply affected by those policies reach the age group where they are more likely to vote, the likelihood of them switching to a Conservative for a ‘protest’ vote is minimal.

In my mind, the SNP will pick up most of the protesting voters. But that doesn’t leave the Conservatives out for the count. The short answer, I think they’ll reach 20% of the votes and I think there are a handful of potential constituencies that are worth watching in the run up to polling day.

Dumfries and Galloway – (Labour majority 2,992)
If any inroads are made, even a whisper, then it will be in this seat. As far south geographically as possible, this is a straight fight against Labour.

Stirling – (Labour Majority 4,767)
Michael Forsythe’s old seat (and he can still cause a chill to run down our spines) is another straight fight against Labour, with the total Labour vote holding at around 15,000 in the last two elections. The depth of the collapse of Labour in the central belt will determine if this stays red or goes blue. A seat that also declares quite early on Election night, so a good indicator to fortunes.

Edinburgh South – (Labour majority 405 to the Liberals, 3897 to the Conservatives)
A pretty ugly fight in 2005, with dodgy bar graphs, claim and counter claim from the opposition parties eventually allowed Nigel Griffiths to sneak through the middle and win a wafer thin majority over the Liberal Democrats. I’ll be interested to see just how much effort is put into this seat by the respective campaigns.

Edinburgh North and Leith – Labour majority 2153 to the Liberals, 6628 to the Conservatives).
Adjoining Edinburgh South, this constituency presents the Liberal Democrats with a question – it’s 6th on their list of target seats, and the Conservative candidate is some distance back. But Edinburgh South is well within reach, albeit as part of a three way fight. A collapse on the Labour vote hands this to the Liberals, a Conservative resurgence turns it blue.

Perth and North Perthshire – (SNP majority 1521)
Here’;s a might interesting constituency, and one of the few direct SNP/Conservative match ups in the electoral landscape, with Labour out the fight. If the vote holds up here, it’s going to be a good ight for the Conservatives, but I think we’ll see a swing to the SNP and a hold.

Ochil and South Perthshire – (Labour majority 688 to the SNP, 4624 to the Conservatives).
This should be out of reach for the Conservatives, I’ve got it flagged up as a firewall. I very much doubt that this would become blue, but if it does then Labour would be looking at a very long time out of office. This is more likely to return to SNP hands, which is still pretty damaging to Labour both in Westminster and in the knock on effect in Holyrood.

Want me to put a number on it? They’ll win Dumfries, Stirling and one of Edinburgh South or Edinburgh North (depending on how the Liberals campaign in those Edinburgh seats). To take the Perthshire seats would mean a genuine liking of the Scottish Tories, as opposed to a Get Gordon Out vote, so I think that’s unlikely.

Final tally, three or four seats.

Added 10pm, May 12th:
Welcome to readers from Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen post (and thanks Iain, for the link). You can stay up to date with The Scottish Sketch by subscribing to the RSS feed or bookmaring the site (scottishsketch.wordpress.com). Thanks for your time, hope to see you around in the near future.

Without Scotland, Can Labour Retain The Commons?

May 7, 2008

It’s worth pointing out in all the fun of the Union Referendums, that if Scotland were to leave the Union, or have a Scottish Parliament with greatly increased powers in place of a large number of Scottish MP’s in the House Of Commons, the loss of the central belt seats would rob Labour of a significant number of ‘safe’ seats that they rely on for the balance of power in the Commons.

It’s fair to say that if ‘events, dear boy’ shore up some of the Labour vote and we end up with a hung parliament in 2009/2010, those scottish seats are going to be vital to keeping the numbers strong. If Labour does melt down in Scotland, then the chances of anything other than a Conservative majority are slim. Which is why the loss of the Scottish Parliament has been so painful, and why ‘what to do with Wendy?’ is going to be a headache for a long time to come.

And that likely Conservative majority? I suspect that was Alex Salmond’s reading of the upcoming situation, and why a late referendum (2010/2011), with Cameron in Number 10, was the best hope of his generation to see a successful ‘independence’ vote.