Friday, 25 October 2013

Weekly Political Digest – 25 October 2013

I didn't feel up to doing one of these digests last week, mainly because of my temporarily increased medication, and because it came hot on the heels of my Council meeting report, so some of what had been lined up for that week, but is still current, has been included this week...

Capitalism is Popular

Or so says Fraser Nelson – and I think he's right. People with a clue about how and why things work, and what makes our nation (and others) great and what makes them falter, tend toward the capitalist end of the political viewpoint vista. Fraser's point here, though, is to get the Prime Minister to more fully grasp this reality and act on it more strongly than has tended to happen under the Coalition Government.

It's an important discussion that needs to be held with Conservative party strategists; and indeed a manifesto structured primarily on such a tenet, along with truly radical Conservatism, could well bring as much second-term success for David Cameron and his team as it did for Margaret Thatcher and hers, back in the 'eighties. We're looking at an even more highly probable overall majority for the Blues than ever.

More Unhealthy News

As I promised last time, if something significant added to the NHS cover-up story I featured then were to appear, I'd link to it. This in the Mail concerns Furness (i.e. yet another area) and what seem to have been possibly avoidable baby deaths. That in itself is concerning.

The crucial point here, though, is that Labour's Health Secretary at the time, Andy Burnham, denies any awareness of the problems there, yet there are documents that show he was briefed on it, and then just a few months later the hospital was given a clean bill of health. This was just before the May 2010 General Election.

I leave readers to draw their own conclusions after reading the linked article and, if you choose, any other sources on this matter you might find elsewhere. It doesn't look good, though...

Polling Gap Continues to Close

The trend I have been touching upon a couple of times in recent months is confirmed by handy graphs at Guido's site. Labour's lead has almost bottomed-out for the time being, in the week or so since then, and seems to be about 3 or 4% when all results (not just the Ipsos MORI ones for those graphs) are taken into account.

With the very promising economic news of the past day or two, I suspect the decline in Labour's narrow lead might recommence, and it is even possible that the Conservatives will take the lead soon and consistently. Although this is good news for the country, it is coming a little early if anything, which means it might not last out in the polling by the time we reach the May 2015 election.

However, with what I believe is yet to come, during the next eighteen months, there should be plenty to give fresh boosts to the Conservatives, and also to take away from Labour's figures, in advance of Election Day.


In a moment of perhaps surprising honesty and apparent support for David Cameron, the BBC has debunked the contrived and false story about David Cameron apparently advising people to wear jumpers rather than turn on their heating. Not that it would have been bad advice if it had been true, as health professionals and some charities advise us to wrap up well in the colder times of the year, to some extent even when indoors; and it is notable that even MPs themselves are often filmed at home wearing a jumper or a cardigan.

Anyway, it was an attempt to manufacture a story that would suit Labour's agenda – and indeed they are still putting it about as if it were true even today, a full week after this BBC piece that showed it wasn't true. It's another timely reminder that Labour aren't interested in truth, only in smears.

UKIPper Knocking

Now that sub-heading can be read at least three different ways (think about it). What I mean here, though, is that UKIP will be knocking the Conservatives out of their seats in a number of marginals if they campaign all-out in those seats, and the voting public do need to be aware of the danger. Windsor UKIP have wised-up to this fact themselves, as this very useful piece from Mark Wallace reports..

Unlike local Labour activist (and now councillor) Tristan Osborne, who bitterly resented the Left vote being split in the council elections here two years ago (it's on his 'blog), I have no problem with having a range of parties vying for the same batch of votes. Therefore I continue to have no objection to UKIP, the English Democrats, or any Right-wing Independent candidates in any election.

All I ask is that the voting public be informed of the consequences of supporting them. After that, it's up to them, the voters, to decide which way to go, properly informed.. I think that most will realise the dangers and won't risk handing the seat over to those they actually oppose; so I thinking the Conservative vote will hold up in the marginal seats. Disapproval can be registered in (say) Surrey or Tunbridge Wells, where a reduced majority will send a message without making a fatal error!

Left Shoe Shuffle

The fallout from Ed[ward] Miliband's latest reshuffle has generated some significant rumblings within the Parliamentary Labour Party (i.e. the Labour MPs including Whips and Shadow Ministers) as Labour Uncut reveals. Their headline regarding 'fear and loathing' within the PLP is very telling on several levels, and it gets ever more interesting as one reads through what is a slightly lengthy but quite detailed piece.

This is quite a powerful, and very public, disclosure from the 'inside track', so to speak, and reveals a lot of Ed-M's tactical and strategic thinking that seems to have been the driver of who went where – and who didn't, for that matter.

For example, the positioning of Tristam Hunt as what is termed in the linked piece the 'anti-Chuka', and the redefining of Yvette Cooper's portfolio (by shifting the equalities brief to someone else) are clear indicators of the Labour leader's desire to protect his own position and to ensure a 'suitable' (from his viewpoint) chain of potential succession. He's certainly thinking ahead, but only of his own interests it appears.

John Rentoul also has some useful stuff on Tristam Hunt as a possible replacement party leader, and how he has been performing, which is well worth a read.

Medway Maritime Hospital

The two big issues that have been in the news recently concerning my local hospital – over-stretched Accident and Emergency and failings within the Maternity Unit – are being tackled, as one would expect.

The former – caused by an ever-expanding population within its catchment area resulting in an annual intake considerably in excess of that for which it was designed – is being alleviated by an injection of significant funding by central Government. What is to be done makes for quite interesting reading, actually, and gives an impression that they will crack this one. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be available on-line. Perhaps it'll appear later.

.As for the maternity issues: I do not know, and am not exactly the best-qualified to comment anyway. Project Reboot at the Medway is covered here in the Nursing Times, which publications paints a rosy picture but doesn't quite ring true somehow. When I checked out the comments I found that others seemed to agree with my assessment (okay, there are a load of Lefties in there, and it shows; but they still understand the job). Therefore do not accept that article at face value: we shall just have to see how it turns out in reality.

New Council Housing

Finally for this week, also in my home area of Medway, is the news that new council housing is to be built here for the first time in some fifteen years. Over sixty new council homes have been agreed, and there could well be more to follow.

There is an oddity in Medway, in that the two councils that merged to form the Unitary Authority, coincidentally also fifteen years ago, had different situations regarding council homes. On the Rochester and Chatham side of the borough, including the Hoo Peninsula, all their former stock was by then being administered by Housing Associations and the like. In Gillingham, Twydall and Rainham, their council still owned and looked after such properties.

That anomalous situation remains to this day, so the new properties are all to be located within the Gillingham etc part of the borough, as will be the potential additional units if they should come to pass.

This whole initiative has become possible only because of the national Government's exchange of an old, restrictive policy for something far more useful. It is notable that during the Labour years in government, virtually no new council homes were built. I once read a figure of just 300 such homes for their entire period in office, for the whole of England.

The way things are going, Medway alone might well be able to surppass that figure in a noticeably shorter time period...

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