20 December, 2009
George Anthony asks can Labour win in May 2010?
The boys from Bullingdon had a bit of a shock when they opened the Sunday papers of November 29th for the Ipso MORI survey put the Tories on 37% and Labour on 31%, with the Lib-Dems on 17%. This means-on the present parliamentary line up with a Labour bias in the distribution of voters per constituency-the Tories need to win 117 seats to achieve a simple majority, but 140 for a working majority, which is a huge mountain to climb.
A fairly reliable political weather vane and right-winger, Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer of 6/12/2009,
“The Tories have put all their chips on Cameron. The downside to his adroitness at catching the prevailing wind is uncertainty about where he’ll drop anchor. It has been fluent, slick and largely well-modulated talk, but the strain of sustaining the act is beginning to show. There are evident Tory jitters about the recent erosion of their poll lead and more behind the scenes angst about why this is happening.”
But, true to form, on December 12th, he wasn’t so sure, finding holes in the Pre-Budget Report.
The Bullingdon Club members are composed of wealthy hooligans whose qualification for membership is that they are able to pay for the damage they cause after a drunken spree.
Cameron for instance has £30 million, plus his wife’s money as Lady Astor’s daughter.
Osborne’s personal wealth is estimated at £4.3 million, in addition being next in line to inherit the family baronetcy of Ballentaylor in County Tipperary. As well as a substantial share of Osborne & Little, his father’s luxury wallpaper company.
Meanwhile, fellow Bullingdonian, London mayor Johnson, is undoing the progressive measures taken by Ken Livingstone to ease the trials and tribulations of London’s travelling public; who are now reduced to “ruthless behaviour” if they fail to board the first train to arrive.
For instance, Johnson axed the Venezuelan oil for London’s poor resident’s half price travel that Ken called cowardly. His agreement with Hugo Chavez yielding £16mn for London’s transport authority which gave half-price fares for 250,000 commuters on income support.
Islip described Johnson as an “arrogant ass” before he was elected as mayor at the GLA, but unfortunately not enough realised this to prevent a minor catastrophe, not only for the London population but for the Tory high command as he careers from one error of judgment to another, so far losing three deputy mayors and his director of political strategy.
The think-tank Institute for Government for changes of government said, “Many in the Conservative national leadership were highly sceptical about him as a potential mayor, believing he would have to be managed and become largely ceremonial surrounded by strong deputy mayors.” However, that underrated Johnson’s abilities and determination to be in charge.
After the failure of three Tory leaders, Hague, Smith and Howard, since Thatcher and Major the Cameron leadership, with its PR gimmickry, masquerading as policy, could well be the last chance saloon for the Tory party; as Geoffrey Wheatcroft has pointed out in his book, The Strange Death of Tory England.
“The Tories having held office for 84 years out of 123 years from 1874 to 1997; Margaret Thatcher was too good at stamping on the unions, rolling back the state, helping the defeat of communism, and squeezing socialism out of the Labour Party. Once all that was done, Britain did not have much further use for the Conservatives.”
The first indication that Labour under Gordon Brown’s leadership had begun to turn the corner in Labour’s fortunes was at the Glasgow North-east by-election, where it maintained its majority in a 33% poll.
The latest opinion poll by MORI, has been seized on by the pundits as a figure to calculate a hung parliament. They presume too much, for this is merely the first signs of a recovery with 46%-a far more reliable figure-believing the economy is in safe hands, added to the factor: better the devil you know, etc.
So with another 6 months to go until the May 2010 General Election, it’s eyes down look in for the upcoming budget review. Providing an opportunity for Darling to consolidate a grip on the economy. That is of course, if the vagaries of the volatile global economy will allow it.
For while a budget along the lines suggested by Tom Sibley in the October Islip cannot be expected, the proposition for growth with strong government intervention is more likely to come from Darling than Osborne.
In the event, against a background of borrowing to rise £3bn to £178bn in 2009 but will halve to £82bn by 2014-15, Darling gambled that tax rises would be more acceptable than even deeper public spending cuts, of as much as a fifth in defence, higher education, housing and transport, as he attempted to lay the foundation of a Labour victory next year.
This is expressed in the super tax on bankers, such a populist idea as to have an appeal in France, Germany and America.
Together with the minimal increase in the basic state pension which will rise by 2.5% in April, with a full single person’s pension rising by £2.40 a week to £97.65; the couple’s rate rising by £3.85 to £155.15.
Plus homeowners given further help, with support for the Mortgage Interest Scheme which has been frozen at 6.08% and continued for a further six months.
The other positive pledge to come out of the PBR was to build an extension of rail electrification, including the £16bn Crossrail across London.
However the huge defence budget is maintained in spite of powerful figures from across British public life calling on the government to halt the replacement of Trident and re-deploy resources to “socially useful spending” in the Pre-Budget Report.
This new independent Rethink Trident campaign coalition of the consciences includes celebrities, scientists, academics, former members of the military, writers and politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as several high-profile organisations such as Compass, CND, Greenpeace, People & Planet, UNISON and War on Want.
Spending cuts as these eminent people have argued for would considerably reduce the present £80 billion, made up as follows-
£4.4bn cost so far of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
£20bn successor to Trident.
£16bn Future Rapid Effect System.
Two aircraft carriers £4bn.
Eurofighter Typhoon £20bn plus.
Nimrod MR44 maritime reconnaissance aircraft £3.9bn.
More Astute Submarines £3.8bn.
Plus more type 45 destroyers £6.5bn.
Future Lynx helicopters £1bn.
Brown cutting only £1,5 billion from this budget, mainly affecting staff in armed forces support and in Whitehall; this in spite of the public spending watchdog saying that the UK’s defence programme is unaffordable.
Furthermore these figures dwarf the £550 million to be raised by the super-tax on bankers bonuses, mere chicken feed; which already the bankers lawyers have been instructed to try to evade.
This then is the half-hearted Labour leadership contribution to a Labour victory in May, making it that much harder for their dwindling band of supporters to rally the voters, and defeat the Bullingdon hooligans. And hopefully stop the bankers ripping the economy off more than they have already done so.
When we finally get Socialism, that will be another story.
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