Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Parliament Open For Business

You've got to love the state opening of parliament, a lot of sitting around in robes, horses and bling. It doesn't detract from greatness of the houses of parliament though, whenever I walk around the South Bank, I look across at parliament and I feel truly humbled by it, it's history is always on display. Today's state opening in all it's glory, is as always, pompous, ostentatious and the Queen never looks happy about the whole thing. But I love it.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Coalition So Far

Though I've been following the Con-Lib coalition progress to date, I've been reluctant to post on it so far, as they're just words being said and promises being made. Parliament isn't up and running yet. That for me is the real test of this government, will they use parliament effectively or will they use it like the conveyor belt it became under the previous government.

I've been impressed so far by Hague setting up an inquiry into whether Britain has been complicit in torture. Also by the fact that even though he is a rabid Eurosceptic, the government are taking a pragmatic approach to the EU. Just how Eurosceptic they would be was a concern, as regardless of your views on the EU, a lot of jobs depend on it and it's never a good idea to bait your neighbours.

I really enjoyed Nick Clegg's speech on political reform earlier in the week.

I'm a liberal. My starting point is always optimism about people.The view that most people, most of the time, will make the right decisions for themselves and their families. That you know better than I do about how to run your life, your community, the services you use. So this government is going to trust people.

Wonderful, wouldn't that be nice? One piece of reform that has got peoples back's up is the 55% rule. This is with regard to introducing fixed term parliaments, it gives parliament the ability to dissolve before that time. I'm not sure myself why that would be a problem, given a vote of confidence still stands and it makes sense to have an emergency stop button for the coalition. Most of the debate I've seen with regard to this, has centred around not changing something just because it's always been done that way. Could be just Conservatives being conservative?

I'm looking forward to hearing what the Queens speech says this Tuesday and I'll be watching with interest this new parliament starting.

On An Unrelated Note

How wonderful is this sunshine? In that great instinctive British tradition, passed down through the generations, on the first sighting of a cloudless sun filled sky, I rushed outside in shorts and a skimpy top. Then giving no thought to using sunscreen, I stayed in the sun uncomfortably long. I look like crispy bacon, almost as crispy as the barbarque food I enjoyed.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weather!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Queen Parting Gift To Brown

Brown's parting gift from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh: signed photographs of the royal couple in leather frames bought from Smythson, the Mayfair store that employs Samantha Cameron as its creative director.
I wonder if her Majesty was dabbling in a little politics there. Surely not, it must just be one of those coincidences in life.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Labour Leadership Contest Underway

So the spectacle of the Labour Party electing a new leader starts. First up is David "Banana Man" Miliband, he hopes the leadership contest would be "open, warm, generous, comradely". Indeed, I'm sure that's what it will be David.

Gordon Brown Has Gone - Cameron Next PM

So Britain has a Lib - Con government and David Cameron as Prime Minster. I've held off posting as I wanted to see the terms of this coalition before writing about it, as they say the devil is in the detail.

Reading through it, I'm quite surprised by how much the Tories have compromised, though a few obligatory and traditional Tory policies. It is a fair balance between the two manifestos. I'm certainly very happy with the civil liberties section, would be happier still, if David Davies was Home Secretary rather than Theresa May, yet I feel fairly comfortable that any illiberal views she may have, won't be supported by this coalition. Most surprising though is how amicable it all seems, perhaps I've gotten too used to seeing politicians squabbling like children.

Yet does this deal mark more than the first between the two parties, does it mark the decline of the Labour Party? If they do pull this off, the Tories could shed the nasty party image, they could move out of the shadow of Thatcher, the Lib Dems will have time in office and a higher profile from that. So where does that leave Labour?

As I watched 13 years of New Labour draw to a close yesterday, I felt a mix of feelings - relief, joyful, happy, elated and a little shocked. Yet I do feel a sense of apprehension about what lays in front of us. I'm certainly not over joyed with Cameron as PM, yet I hope the sting of a Tory government will be damped by the Lib Dems. Only time will time however just who's interest they have and really what kind of government they are. Watching Clegg's speech today though, I admit, a smile crept across my face and a sense of hope I haven't felt about politics in a long time surfaced, just a little though.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

And So We Wait . . . ..

Monday, 10 May 2010

Gordon Brown To Resign

Gordon Brown has announced he will resign as Labour leader, I, as I'm sure many will rejoice the era of Brown and Blair has gone. That is after all the back stabbing, the leader contest will bring. Yet in resigning Brown has lit the fuse to talks between the Lib Dems and Labour. I truly hope the Lib Dems don't cut off their nose to spite their face. As this looks like it's descending into chaos - no one knows who will be the next leader of the Labour party, yet again they will be "unelected" and to save us from the instability of a minority government, they will give us a minority coalition.

Oh well, let's just savour the moment. Gordon Brown is being thrown to the back benches of good bye political career, so long and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

After The Election

I've been looking over the results to find some sort of pattern to them, there are some striking wins and swings. It seems an election fought very much on local and MP issues/expenses. There's little pattern to it outside of that, other than it being clear everyone lost, but some more so than others. A few big Labour names have gone - Jacqui Smith and Charles Clarke. Caroline Lucas, a Green MP makes a welcome addition to parliament. But most striking for me is how much divergence there is between the vote share and seat numbers:

Tories 36% of vote, 49% of the seats
Labour 29% of vote, 42 % of the seats
Lib Dem; 23% of vote, 9% of the seats

That is ridiculous. They speak of making parliament representative of the public with regard to gender and ethnicity. What about getting the basics right first, just simply reflecting how people vote.

Cameron is asking the Lib Dems to form a coalition with him, so far talks seem amicable and I would even go so far to say mature. I hope that it develops into something productive. As democratic and stable won't be a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems, it will need to also include the nationalist parties, and what will there support cost? Ring fencing national budgets, leaving the UK in a position where England will be the only part of the country filling the black hole of debt. Not too mention it leaves Gordon Brown clinging to power by the fingernails he doesn’t have. That isn't workable.

Though I understand the reluctance/hostility/distrust both the Lib Dems and Tories feel towards this coalition. This is the hand that's been dealt and though there is a lot of difference between the two parties on social issues, there is overlap with regard to civil liberties, the role of the state, economy and the environment. It can only be a good thing for Britain that the Tories have the social conscience of the Lib Dems.

My Election Bet Results

As an update on my betting post, I am a loser. My bets largely centred on the Lib Dem vote having some weight and at the very least not dropping. That's not what happened. I lost all the money I made on the leaders debates and the credit in my Ladbrokes piggy bank is 50p. Let that be a lesson to all!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Night!

I'm seated on my sofa, surrounded by M&M's, crisps and ginger beer, tucked up in my duvet with a laptop and ashtray within easy reach. For ease I'll be updating this post, up until my snacks run out.

So far the exit poll predicts the Tories with the most seats in a hung parliament and the Lib Dems having less seats than the last election - Con 305 Lab 255 Lib 61 Others 29 - I can't see that being right. Party because it goes in the face of the polls, but also from what I'm hearing on the news about different seats across England, it sounds like people have been tactically voting on a large scale. What enforces this idea for me is, the polling stations that have been having a problems with voting are in Lib Dem and Labour constituencies.

Update 1:15ish - The seats declared so far have been largely Labour safe seats, they show a swing to the Tories of 8-10%. These are rock solid Labour seats in the North of England. The Tories making inroads should really worry Labour. That percentage has also been echoed in Lab - Con marginals, the first Lib - Con marginal shows no gain in vote for the Tories. The results on Lab - Lib marginals will hopefully start to show what's happening to the Lib Dem vote.

Update 1:30ish - A lot of talk about Labour forming a coalition with Lib Dems. That is incredible from Labour, Brown didn't face an election in 2005, he didn't face an election to be party leader and then in the face of election defeat, they're talking about holding on to power with an even smaller mandate. I truly hope Lib Dems don't entertain this nonsense.

Update 2:40ish - Lembit Opik has lost his seat to the Tories, wouldn't have guess that happening, his seat was one of the safest. Tories are making gains off Labour, the pattern to the swing however is strange at the moment. It could be just once in the polling station people placed their vote for one of the two main parties.

My snacks have almost all been eaten, so I'm off to bed, see what tomorrow holds.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

My Vote is For

After much thought, I will be voting for Lib Dems on May 6th, even though my constituently leans towards being a Tory safe seat. For me that's always been a problem. The previous MP just took it for granted that people would vote Tory and put his feet up in-between elections, in fairness it must have been tiring, after spending large amounts of taxpayers money. Thus my vote will go some way to making this seat less safe and more accountable.

Tactically having the Lib Dems in opposition or working with the Tories, would cover the worries that I have about the Conservatives with regard to social issues, economic unfairness and non progressive policy. Certainly I see it being in my interest as a gay woman, to have a socially liberal party either working to influence the Tories or opposing them. Not because I think the Tories will roll back any gay rights legislation, I don't think they will. More that I doubt such a minority of people will be high on there list of considerations. The religious vote is bigger and more blue rosette wearing.

But more important for me and central to my choice, what a wonderful thing it would be, to show them who's parliament it really is, not Labours or any parties, but the peoples. I gladly place my vote for the change the Lib Dems could bring.

General Election Prediction 2010

It's very difficult to predict this election, polls are like a boat on a stormy sea, moving back and forth, up and down. In some ways it hangs on Labour's core vote being motivated to go out on the 6th. If the bottom drops out of their base vote, much like the EU elections, they could lose very badly indeed. Also the Lib Dem factor here is unknown, though clearly support has risen, will that translate into seats? As the Lib Dems are at a disadvantage to start with, they have the least amount of seats and much ground to cover.

It has become clear that Labour are going to lose, so the question is how badly? On the bases that Labours core vote sits on their hands or protest votes, a Tory win with a small majority of 10 to 20 seats. If they don't, still Tories, but with minority government, so hung parliament. If it's small enough the Tories may form a coalition with the nationalist parties. If not they'll form with the Lib Dems. I don't see the Lib Dems forming a coalition with Labour to keep the Tories out, that wouldn't be very liberal at all.

It's odd for me as someone who isn't an aligned voter, as a tribal political attitude could be what this election hangs on. I have never understood voting for 'X' party out of loyalty. My Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather (etc) vote was there own, not mine. Which is frustrating, this election result might, just might, lead to the biggest change in British politics for a 100 years. It also be the last Westminster election fought under first-past-the-post. If Labour poll 3rd but get more seats than the Lib Dems or the Tories form a government with less than 40% of the vote, it's hard to see just how there isn't a very strong argument for changing the way we vote.

Yet what stands between that is the question - how loyal will people be?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bets For The General Election

My betting for this election is centred around a few Ladbrokes specials and constituency winners. They are:

Brighton Pavilion - A seat likely to be the Greens first Westminster win, but I've bet Tory in case the left vote gets split between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. Tories do have a base vote here which could win out.

Hammersmith - My girlfriends constituency who doesn't like the Tories. So I've bet on a Tory win. Also given the Lib Dems were good odds and my own domestic bliss, I placed a small outsider bet on them too.

Harrow West - The seat next door to Tony "my parents live in my second home" McNulty, only a small swing needed for the Tories to win it. Doubt Labour can keep hold of it, with the bad press/expenses mess etc.

Newcastle East - This could be a close call between Labour and Lib Dems, I'm betting on a Lib Dems gain. Lib Dems are polling well in the North East.

Northampton North - A Lib Dem target seat and if the Lib Dems surge translates to votes, a winnable one. So I've bet on a Lib Dem gain.

1 Cabinet Minster to lose there seat - There are a few former Minsters looking vulnerable - Alistair Darling, Jim Knight and Sadiq Khan. Jim Knight being the most likely to lose his seat.

Lastly Tory Targets Special - How far down this list do you go before finding a seat the Tories will win?

Birmingham Hall Green
St Ives
Sunderland Central
Birmingham Erdington
Norwich South
Hampstead & Kilburn
Brighton Pavilion
Morley & Outwood
Edinburgh South West
Dagenham & Rainham
Richmond Park
Luton South
Croydon Central

I've bet on the ones in bold. The first certain Tory seat is Broxtowe the others could go Tory as a backlash against Labour. So I've put small bet's on them as a just in case.

I will be spending my winnings on dining out and I will raise a glass to New Labour, how sweet that beer will taste. So fingers crossed.

Update: Forgot to add the bet I placed months ago, Nigel Farage to win the Buckingham seat against the Speaker - John Bercow won't be standing as a Tory candidate in a very conservative area, as he has done before, but as Speaker of the House of Commons. That will be like campaigning with terrible BO and food stuck in your teeth. It's certainly worth a little bet, given it would the biggest one finger salute the public have given parliament in modern history. How could I resit?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Election Week Four - Borish

This week was largely uneventful until a pensioner wielding a set of questions set the media alight, the Lib Dem surge has been capping off over the course of the week, the last Leaders Debate filled in a lot of the time and the Labour party for-filled the promise of substance over style by inviting Peppa Pig to a political launch. Other news bits.

* The Guardian newspaper came out in support of the Lib Dems stating that - "if it had a vote it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats." The significance of this move is adding to the sense that Labour is finished. It's the first time the Guardian have supported anyone other than Labour since 1983.

* Those cutting edge animators for Taiwan news, have created an re-enactment of 'Bigotgate'. Nice touch having the thought bubbles and microphone that looks like a detonator.

* Brown continues to be heckled, the heckler in question protested that: "Mr Brown needs to see real electors, not just hand-picked people." While being promptly removed from the room, how New Labour. Though in fairness if he had been old and unable defend him self they wouldn't have taken it so easy on him.

* Ed Ball's re-election is looking a tough fight. The Ashcroft Tories pounds are making it very difficult for him.

* In light of the Tories talking of withdrawing from Afghanistan there is an interesting article over on the the NY Times. The Pentagon reports on progress there every few months to Congress.

The closing days of the election will be chaotic, with all the parties fighting for attention like demanding children. With Labour polling what must be almost there base vote and Brown visiting Labour safe seats, suggesting that they've pretty much given up and are limiting the damage. The Tories are making inroads in the polls, the question is whether they can capitalise on that.

General Election Party Policy and Voting

For those unsure of how to vote on May 6th, though there are far too many policies for me to summarise them on this blog, the BBC have put together a handy guide to party policies. You can also answer questions about different policies and find a closest vote match at - Vote for policies - which include all the parties rather than just the three main.

If you want to tactically vote - look up the constituently you live in and the likelihood of which party wining it at this election at Election Calculus. Unsure what your constituency is? Look it up at election maps.

Whatever way you choose to place your vote, there are always people to vote for, independents, none of the above parties and of course the three main ones. So use your vote and have your say.

Happy voting!

Update: All the finial polls can be seen over on Political Betting, if anyone would rather tactically vote according what's happening nationally.

Also you can look up your constituency on Wikipedia to see who's standing in advance.

Poltical Posters Labour and Tory - Part 5

These should be the last couple of posters released. Labour have left there's quite late.

Labour's new poster launched to the sound of a car crashing, I'm sure no reflection on them at all. It's colourful and positive, unlike Gordon Brown at the last debate. Given lowering education standards, I wonder how old the child is though?

It makes the Labour Party look like the family party, a good tactic. Simple and too the point, just not very original. They have played it very safe.

Another Tory poster released to strike fear into people and yes we know you want to win Dave, don't need to rub it in.

Just a bit of hung parliament scaremongering. A waste of paper and I thought the Tories were Green?