This is being delayed a little, owing to some tragic news that has come in this week, but will be dated Saturday instead of Friday. I might also delay its release beyond that, while I am checking a couple of points. As is often the case, there is a fair amount to cover this week too. As usual, I shall start with national matters and end with local (Medway) topics...
Misquoting Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5, I admit, but the mini-boom (as I prefer to think of it, being perhaps more cautious than some other commentators) is not only confirmed in various ways and from numerous sources, it is also continuing to be awkward for Labour.
First, here's the Treasury's statement regarding (mainly) inflation, the deficit, and jobs.
As James Forsyth writes here, it is now very difficult to argue against this 'boom' assertion. It is no surprise that Labour has recently been trying divert attention onto other topics, realising that they have been rumbled and their messages on the economy have (yet again) been shown to be false and misleading. Not that the two Eds are in agreement over how their party should present itself regarding the economy, as leaked emails have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt (and most of us knew anyway)..
Awkwardly for Labour, their tacking-away efforts are also coming back to bite the, as they have been clearly and unambiguously shown to be the architects of what they are now calling the 'living standards crisis'. I recently alluded to some of that on this 'blog. This graphic taken from their own manifesto for the last General lection (i.e. 2010) even shows that their policies are exactly the ones they are now attacking the coalition for implementing. I cannot see any wriggle-room with this either: it's an open-and-shut case.
Who Is Right On Immigration?
This perennial question is perhaps better answered from Douglas Carswell MP's angle, as he seeks to shed some light on an issue that, inevitably, suffers from a lot of misinformation, some deliberate, some from ignorance of what is a perhaps surprisingly complex subject. Take it from someone who has worked in this area: me!
The week before, Douglas had already looked at the topic from the point of view of our apparent reliance upon – and reverence of – so-called 'experts' in the field. I find all this a refreshing take on a difficult and (frankly) little-understood topic. It's only part of the learning one needs in order to be able to formulate a sensible and coherent view, but an essential part, I venture to suggest.
Incidentally, the only time I met Douglas was at a fund-raising social event here in Chatham, when he asked me to give him clues on local issues for his speech to the dinner gathering, later in the evening. It went down very well...
Falkirk Falsehoods lead Faltering Labour to a Fall
There is now too much evidence to let off any of the Labour party players in the Falkirk selection scandal and ongoing fiasco, right from the top of the party, for them to be able to protest innocence. Dan Hodges has looked first at Ed[ward] Miliband's own involvement, and the next day at the party leader's perceived lack of trustworthiness from inside the party; while Guido focuses on Labour's General Secretary and the part he played in all of this. It makes for very interesting reading; and the cat is now well and truly out of the bag!
As for Unite aspect of all this: although, as is said, they have some reason to be miffed at Mili-E's new-found negative stance, their own attempts to take over the Labour party during the past two years hardly afford them the moral high ground.
Spare Room Subsidy
This is another all-but-dead horse that Labour are still trying to flog, despite voter opinion remaining strongly in favour of the Coalition Government's stance on the issues. It's a full two-to-one ratio! Especially bearing in mind that the wording of the question tends to point toward responders feeling mean in doing so, they are – as in previous surveys – majorly behind the Government on this.
Labour are having an increasingly difficult time gaining traction on any of a wide range of topics they are pushing, which has led to near-desperation that has produced the seemingly scatter-gun approach they have been taking increasingly in recent months.
They are all over the place – and the clues are all there for anyone who cares to analyse what they have been doing, especially when compared to previous periods. It has happened before when they have been in a similar position, and not at other times, showing empirically that their approach is driven dolely by their own party political-driven agenda.
I am pleased that FullFact have looked at the question of who built more social housing
(to use the in vogue generic term), Mrs Thatcher or New Labour?
Although they try to slant it more toward Labour than they should, they
are with validity bringing the Housing Association sector into the
While there is still no doubt, in the final
analysis, that there was much more of this type of housing created
during the Thatcher years, despite a slow tailing-off over the years, it
is overall a more balanced appraisal of the whole subject than some of
the headline writers have been suggesting, on both sides of the
political divide, for quite some time now.
Overall, it is a
valuable source of data, provided one is just a little cautious
regarding the (admittedly less than overt) attempted slant, which isn't
Behind this is the reason why this perhaps unexpected turnout has come to light. For those who truly know, rather than merely soak up the lines they are fed, Conservatives – for all their faults – have long been the best party to support and provide for the poorer end of society, while simultaneously encouraging self-reliance, dignity and wealth creation. They are now so one-dimensional as the political Left tend to be, whose aim is to dominate the poor and keep them that way: both poor and dominated by the Lefty 'élite' via the vast State machine
Long-term readers of this 'blog will be well aware that I have been saying for some time that UKIP aren't a properly structured party (or words to similar effect) and their popularity would not endure. Both aspects of that are now being proven, not only with their opinion poll ratings having already slipped back part of the way toward where they were before all the protest votes without another home defaulted to their support, but also with the party's own structural deficiencies creating big problems.
Alex Wickham, better known to many as WikiGuido, and thus hardly a friend of the Conservatives, of all people has felt compelled to disclose the degree of rot inside UKIP, and how any dissent with its leader's views can have severe repercussions on one's prospects within the party.
Now, all parties have some level of discipline requirement, but the mainstream parties tend to be more of the so-called 'broad church' outlook. While this can encourage division into factions, it is not only much healthier on general principles but more accountable and less dictatorial than the alternative. Within UKIP, it's essentially a dictatorship – as, to be fair, several members and former members have been warning was on the cards for a few years now – in fact, ever since Nigel Farage again became the party's leader.
The party is now essentially a one-man cult, and is also one-dimensional, certainly as far as the public perception of them is concerned (there's plenty of evidence for that, for anyone who wishes to pursue this aspect), as always happens when a party is dominated by an individual. George Galloway and Robert Kilroy-Silk are two obvious other examples (and there and have been are others) that spring to mind in just this nation's own recent political history.
They are slowly dying as a party; and only if they get rid of Farage and 're-imagine' themselves (to borrow an expression from Hollywood) will the party be able to survive as a truly viable operation for much longer, preferably under a new name – and they have changed their name before (they were once the Referendum Party), so it could be done. UPDATE: Mark Pack has the graph that shows a consistent trend of decline in support of Nigel Farage's leadership, which just goes to add to my assertion that he needs to go if UKIP are to thrive again.
Naturally, I have modelled future scenarios for each way this could go, as I always do with my forecasting and public predictions (most of my findings are never made public, by the way), so I have no axe to grind on this. Either way will work out, one way or another...
A and E Pressures
As this is in the news again, especially locally, I thought it worth referring back to the hard data (using The Telegraph's own term) from a few months ago that shows A&E visits increased quite suddenly and dramatically, during Labour's second and third terms in government, beginning around 2004. The number rose by almost fifty percent (14 million when they came into office in 1997, to 20 million when they left), but has since flattened out under the Coalition.
Note that although from a year before that the columns in the graph were made up of two separate figures for the different types of A&E units, the total is still as accurate as when they were simply counted together. I know that's obvious, but Labour are trying to claim the graph 'misrepresents' the true picture, which obviously it does not..
The body of the linked article gives some explanation of what was happening, and deserves to be read fully to comprehend the full context and the multiple causes; but there is not the slightest doubt that the Labour government of the time caused much of it and triggered part of the rest through their policies, such as the 2004 contract that resulted in many GPs dropping their out-of-hours care provision.
No Khan Do
As I predicted last week, local Labour's newly-selected candidate for Rochester and Strood, Naushabah Khan, has changed her Twitter account to be publicly readable. The interest there is not so much in what has been posted there recently, but what went on while the account was 'protected'; and it is worth those who are sufficiently interested (and I can think of a few!) spending time going back through that period.
While most of it is of little interest, there are a few gems that no doubt some of us will have saved out on our own local hard drives, long before they might be deleted by their author....
As for offering a serious challenge to Conservative Mark Reckless: the section subtitle I have given this says it all: 'no Khan do'. It needs much more than a lightweight with no real substance to take on Mark – and I have the strongest feeling that even if that were to happen, he still will not be toppled, nor should he. It would be bad for the constituency, and ultimately bad for Britain if he went. Fortunately, I cannot see even the remotest chance of that happening: it remains broadly a Conservative-supporting constituency.
And that's it for another week!