Friday, 27 December 2013

Only 5 months to go until the EU elections.... The elections which nobody seems to want to win.

Only 5 months are left until the 2014 European Elections, and despite their being much public interest, politicians and the media have been completely silent. Why is this? One major reason could be because this election represents a huge opportunity for the insurgent party of British politics, UKIP. It is important to remember that many of the major media outlets are controlled by Conservative supporting conglomerates. Kenneth Clarke made the mistake of calling UKIP supporters "Clowns and fruitcakes" back in May, which led to the UKIP surge, hence why the media has been unusually hushed ever since then about UKIP, except when it reports controversial stuff about the party. UKIP have won 12 Council seats and gotten 24% of the vote in Local By-Elections since May 2013, and are shown to be in first place in many parliamentary constituencies as well. Since they came from nowhere to clinch 2nd in 2009, you would expect that as being a right of centre opposition party, they could come 1st in May next year because of a Tory collapse. Indeed, the bookies have UKIP as favourites for winning. However, opinion polls suggest that this is not (Yet) the case. The most recent EU election poll by survation had Labour on 32%, with a 7% lead over UKIP on 25%, the Conservatives on 24%, and the Lib Dems on 8%. Under these results, Labour would win the EU elections, being the largest party (29 seats) by 5 seats, whilst UKIP will make big gains (24 seats) but remain where they are- 2nd. The Tories would be battered (11 seats) and the Lib Dems would also suffer serious damage (4 seats) This would be a disappointment for UKIP and Farage, as the Labour Party policy on immigration is not particularly popular even with Labour voters, and these are the people Farage must convince if he is to win these elections. These are a set of elections where the Red team has always struggled to get its supporters interested enough to get out and vote, and indeed Labour have never topped the poll since the D'Hondt electoral system was introduced. It is vital for Farage to win these elections- A win here would make it absolutely inconceivable for Farage to not feature in the 2015 General Election TV debates. It would also cause panic and perhaps defections within the Conservative Party, which would help Farage even more. So, for now at least, the UKIP surge flatters to deceive.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Local By Election results: An ominous sign of things to come?

Unless a surprise outlier opinion poll comes out within the next few days, this is going to be the first year since 2002 that the Conservatives have not been ahead of Labour in a single poll all year. There seems to be a worrying trend emerging for the Tories, as yesterdays Local By-Election results show:

Local By Election results from 19th December:

Harper Green on Bolton: Labour HOLD on a swing of 14% from Labour  to the Conservatives
Elm and Christchurch on Fenland: Conservative HOLD on a swing of 25% from Conservatives to UKIP
Market on Forrest Heath: Conservative HOLD on a swing of 30% from Conservatives to UKIP
Haywards Heath: Conservative HOLD on a swing of 10% to UKIP
Scotter on West Lindsey: Independent GAIN from Conservatives
Scotter Rural on Lincolnshire: Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservatives on a swing of 25% from Conservatives to Lib Dems
Haywards Heath East on West Sussex: Conservative HOLD on a swing of 2% to UKIP
Croesyceiliog North on Torfaen: Labour HOLD on a swing of 20% from Labour to UKIP
Black Isle on Highland: Independent HOLD on a swing of 6% to SNP

Most of these by-elections happened in Tory heartlands, but a worrying trend is continuing for the Tories- UKIP are polling remarkably well, although due to FPTP they are not gaining many seats, but are finishing 2nd and are beating Labour and the Lib Dems into 3rd and 4th place in the shires. Will this trend be repeated at the next Local Elections? We will have to wait and see.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The politics behind Andy Murray's victory in the BBC Sports personality of the year award

Sport and politics are intricately linked. The timing of the Scottish independence referendum, being just after the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, which Alex Salmond hopes will fuel Scottish Nationalism and be the game changer that the Yes campaign desperately needs, should put this beyond reasonable doubt. And so Andy Murray's landslide victory in yesterday's BBC Sports personality of the year award will have been seen as a coup for the SNP and Scottish Nationalists. Sport plays a massive part in the politics of identity, and that is very much what the SNP are trying to do- To appeal to the Scottishness that all Scottish people will inevitably feel deep within themselves, to reach out beyond Britishness and focus on getting people to feel Scottish, not British.

The election, which has to be the most important in British history, is just 9 months away, and I have been pondering what sort of political effect the Murray win will have.
My view is that it will help Better Together and the Unionists. They have fought a campaign based on trying to appeal to Britishness, and trying to show the benefits of remaining in the Union, and what better way to do that than a Scotish athlete, revered all over the country, who plays under the Great British flag? This annual event is very much a British thing which very much reinforces the idea of "Britishness" in Scotland, as much as it will have done elsewhere. Just think about what kind of an impact it would have had if Murray had been defeated in last night’s vote. It would have have been portrayed as a rebuff to Scotland which the YES campaign would have been able to exploit. For this reason, I do not simply believe that the landslide victory for Murray was purely based on merit- Plenty of other athletes, such as Chris Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ian Bell, etc, have all had a fantastic year and deserved more votes than they actually got. My view is that the political impact will have carefully been examined by the Unionist BBC, who will have made sure that Murray had a good share of the vote, if not outright victory. Once again, all of this is further proof of the intricate link between Sport, and Politics.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Voice of the young- What are the issues that matter to young people?

Over the past couple of days, I have been doing a research project. I wanted to find out what issues matter to young people, as young people are the group that has been ruthlessly attacked the most under this government. I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless, and so I did a massive opinion poll. I spoke, in total, to 165 people between the ages of 16-25. 100 of them were from my College, which is an F.E college, and many people who come to study here are from other regions of the UK as well as the North West, the other 65 were people I know in other regions of the UK whom I had contacted via Facebook. Therefore, it gives a representative sample of the general feeling that young people around the UK have about the issues that concern them. So, without further ado, here are the results! First, I did a chart showing the issues that people mentioned:

As can be seen from this chart, the single most important issue for young people is the cost of living. This group of people tend to be the group where Labour support is strongest, as 60% of those who stated that they were struggling with the Cost of Living also said that they would vote for Labour at the next General Election. The majority of those who said that they were concerned about unemployment (75%) were either Dont knows or Non Voters, which suggests that they believe that neither of the two main parties has done enough to convince them that they will help with Youth Unemployment. Two of the biggest issues that matter to the wider adult community, Immigration and the Economy, take a backseat compared to economic issues whereas young people are concerned. Concern for immigration is strongest amongst UKIP and Conservative supporters, as all 3 of those who stated immigration was a problem said that they would vote either UKIP or Conservative. Educational reform is, unsurprisingly, very high up the list, considering that it has been all over the news as of late. Out of those who stated that education reform was a priority, almost all of those besides 2 people said they were still making up their minds as to which party they would vote for, and the other two were Liberal Democrat voters. Some of the issues mentioned under "Other" were things such as discrimination against ethnic minority groups such as Romanians and Bulgarians, mental health, infrastructure issues, issues with Porn Filters, MPs expenses, Student Loan privatisation, and concern about Law and Order and legal reform. People who state that young people do not have anything to say seem to have failed on this evidence. Young people are voters just like any other voters, and have a wide variety issues of their own which they are rightly concerned about. Now, look at the percentage support for political parties amongst younger voters:

       And therein lies the problem with getting people engaged with voting for political parties. The vast majority of younger people who either stated they would not vote or stated that they did not know who they would vote for at present said that they would make up their minds closer to the election, and another large majority also stated that they would not vote because they were disillusioned with all of the contemporary political parties. Many of those I asked also did not believe that politics could make a difference to their issues and that it could not solve their problems. Several of the undecideds stated that they were leaning towards the Labour Party, but wanted to see more policies specific to them and to young people before they decided to vote for Labour. For many of the 16-18 year old struggling with the cost of living, the greatest concern was that they would be in enourmous debt if/when they went to University because of the extraordinarily high Tuition Fees under this government. This evidence links with other evidence that suggests that young people will only vote for a party when an issue starts becoming a serious personal problem for them, as is consistent with figures that show that many people start voting when they have a family life or when they are working full time, or are University students. The voter apathy problem amongst younger people remains a big concern for all of those who believe in democracy, and is a challenge that must be solved by politicians. All of the mainstream parties, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, and UKIP, have all had a lot to say about policies for the general election, but have completely ignored the young, the group that is being attacked the most, and needs help the most. Labour have had a lot to say about the Cost of Living crisis, and Energy Prices, but have been silent on tuition fees and Youth Unemployment, two massive challenges that we face as a nation. We must not allow a "Lost generation" of disillusioned young people become the norm. All politicians on all sides should come together to try and resolve what is turning into a crisis, and I plan to talk to the Labour Party MEP candidate for the North West, Afzal Khan, about some of these issues, as well as my Local MP Kate Green, as I believe that action from the top of the party is needed if we are to win back the trust of these young voters, or indeed win many of the undecided young voters over.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Labour are well on their way to winning in 2015

We are now only 17 Months away from G.E 2015, and the overall situation remains the same as it did 12 Months ago. Even if everybody who voted for the Conservative party in 2010 returned to vote for them in 2015, it would make very little difference to Labour’s winning vote share. The number of Lib to Lab switchers would remain the same.

Take a look at the following Pie Graph from Comres that shows the Labour Party's current support:

This graph shows that Labour have made strong progress, and picked up many Liberal Democrat supporters, as well as a small number of Conservative supporters. Unless Lynton Crosby and his team can find a way to win back Liberal Democrat voters, then the Conservatives are doomed to failure, because as long as Labour support remains above 35%, the chances of the Tory Party getting a majority are nil. The best hope for them is narrowly winning most seats. Even this now seems unlikely, as the UKIP-Tory standoffs could make things much worse. In Lib Dem eyes, Labour also lead on most policy areas, according to this graph, once again by Comres:

Apart from immigration, where Labour trail behind the Tories, and Law and Order, where the two are equal, in every other policy area, Labour are regarded as being better than the Tories.
Whilst the Conservatives try and shift to the right to try and win over UKIP supporters, they look set to vacate the centre ground to Labour, and alienate many potential ex Liberal Democrat supporters, the very people who look set to decide the next general election.

Monday, 9 December 2013

European Parliament Election 2014: With 5 months to go, who will be the winner?

European Election result last time:

With 5 months to go until the 2014 European parliament Elections, seen as a dress rehearsal for the General Election in 2015, who is the favourite to win? And what impact would a poor EU election result have on the Conservative Party?

It is generally accepted by everybody that the UK Independence Party will poll very strongly. I attended a European Parliament election strategist meeting a couple of Months ago, and was warned that UKIP would probably outpoll all 3 main parties. This certainly seems to be the case in opinion polls for voting intentions for the European Parliament: I have calculated what kind of result can be expected for the European Parliament elections based on opinion polling:

I have calculated the average number of people who would vote for various political parties at the European Parliament elections, using opinion polls by Survation for this purpose.
Polling average for the European Parliament:
Labour: 30%
UKIP: 26%
Conservatives: 21%
Lib Dems: 12%
Others (Greens, Libertas, We demand a referendum, SNP, Plaid Cymru, BNP, Respect, Sinn Fein) 11%

What this would mean in terms of seats (If the swing was uniform):
Labour: 24 (+11)
UKIP: 26 (+13)
Conservatives: 8 (-18)
Lib Dems: 7 (-4)
Others: 8 (-3)

The vote shares are also weighted to Westminster levels...Which means that I would assume that on polling day both Labour and the Conservatives would have a lower vote share and UKIP a slightly higher share. It is going to be a very tight race for 1st place next year. This kind of result would be absolutely disastrous for the Conservative party. David Camerons party have already rebelled against him on his support for Gay Marriage, and do not like him because they do not think he is Eurosceptic enough. But this kind of result would cause absolute pandemonium within the party, and there would be a lot of gnashing of teeth and turbulence within the party, and some Tory MPs who are fearful for their seats may defect to UKIP. This is all speculation, but history shows us that governments who lose European Elections tend to struggle. Tony Blair was crushed in the 2004 European Elections by the Conservatives, and Labour then had their majority slashed in 2005, with Blair being re-elected with the lowest popular vote that any Prime Minister had ever won an election with.. The 2009 European Elections were used as a springboard for David Cameron, and the disastrous Labour result prompted calls for Gordon Brown to resign and plunged the Labour Party into disunited chaos, a big reason for its defeat the next year at the General Election. Unsurprisingly so, since it is a major national election. This kind of result would be seen as massively positive for Labour, as based on these seats it would win back seats in the West Midlands, Scotland, and the East Midlands where they were desecrated in 2009 and also in the General Election. It would be a sign that the recovery for the Party is well and truly under way. For UKIP this would be a massive result that would send shockwaves through the Conservative party, and reiterate UKIPs claims to be a major power in British politics. They could use this as a springboard for the 2015 General Election, where they are expected to win some seats. Since the next Local Elections are also at the same time, they are also expected to poll quite strongly in those elections, and could conceivably pile up enough council seats in concentration to start winning seats at Westminster, in the same way that Caroline Lucas piled up seats in Brighton and Hove Pavillion council before she won that seat.
Either way, 22nd May 2014 will be a massive day in British politics, and will play a large part in determining the General Election result in 2015.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Why is it that support for the Conservative Party seems to be evaporating?

Even hardcore Tory party supporters would have to accept that this has been an awful week for the Conservatives. The much anticipated autumn statement turned out to be a massive disappointment for many people, and an opinion poll taken on the day after the statement showed Labour on 41%, the Conservatives on 29%, the Lib Dems on 8% and the UKIP on 15%. This is the highest Labour figure in any opinion poll since 1999 and the lowest Tory figure since 1996. The autumn statement seems to have had an overwhelmingly negative effect, as attacks on peoples pensions and welfare cuts made headlines and caused many people to remember the Old Tory party of Margaret Thatcher, the party that desecrated healthcare and mistreated the elderly and infirm. Personal ratings taken of the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor after the statement also seem to support this hypothesis:

Ed Balls may have been red faced and struggling to counter what the Chancellor said in the commons during the autumn statement, but the Chancellor seems to have made an even bigger error of judgement. The negative reaction to the autumn statement has not been the only thing that has harmed the Tories this week and caused them to suffer in the opinion polls. The death of Nelson Mandela saw a photo that alleged that David Cameron took part in the "Hang Mandela" campaign run by the Conservative Party and went on an all expenses paid trip to South Africa go viral on Facebook and Twitter. The former Tory Party chairman Lord Tebbit said that the Tory Party were right to support the Apartheid South African government. Conservative MPs were also accused of making lurid hand gestures when young Labour MPs spoke in the House of Commons during debates, Iain Duncan Smith was forced to admit that his Universal benefit changes would miss his own 2017 deadline, and George Osborne's assertion that the economic recovery will take until 2019 prompted Ed Balls to declare him a liar, as the Chancellor had previously said that the economic recovery would take hold by the end of this parliament. A poll by Ipsos Mori showed that a majority of people thought that the Autumn Statement was only good for Rich people. All of this reminds people about what the Conservative Party used to be like- A Thatcherite militant right wing party that is divided and disunited and frequently lies and creates untruths for electoral gain.

If you think that this is bad, there was even more terrible news for the Tory party. A Survation constituency poll found that the Tories were badly trailing behind both Labour and UKIP in two key battleground seats:

Great Grimsby: LAB 40+7: CON 20-11: LD 12-9: UKIP 23+16
Dudley North: LAB 45+6: CON 25-12: LD 2% -9: UKIP 23 +14

This collapse in support may seem astounding, but was bound to happen, as UKIP take 3 times as many votes from the Conservative Party than they do from Labour or the Lib Dems, and most Lib Dem supporters have switched to the Labour Party. This, coupled with bad results in Thanet South, where Labour were on 40 and UKIP on 25, with the Conservatives trailing on 23, supports the hypothesis that the Tories are doing disproportionately worse in marginal seats. This would aid the Labour Party even further, as they would then take seats that they had taken in 1997 but lost afterwards after the Tony Blair honeymoon ended, such as Thanet South, because of the large split on the right. 70% of UKIP voters did not vote Tory at the last election, which also refutes the Conservative hope that UKIP supporters are simply "Tories on holiday." The vast majority of UKIP supporters are people who have not voted before, and these people are also unlikely to vote for any other party besides UKIP. This, coupled with other polls that suggest that only 9% of UKIP supporters would switch to the Conservatives in a Con-Lab marginal compared to 19% of Lib Dem supporters who would do the same to Labour, suggests that the likelihood of a Labour Landslide victory, and UKIP gainings its first seats in parliament, seems quite likely at this moment in time.

The (Hypothetical) Labour Majority could be even larger than this because of the UKIP vote splitting the right, which is not taken into account, as this poll assumes that UKIP take an equal number of votes from Labour and the Lib Dems, a questionable hypothesis. UKIP are also likely to be able to concentrate their support in various areas at a national support level of 15% and should gain some seats, another factor that needs to be taken into account.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Jargon Buster: What does the autumn statement mean for you and me?

The autumn statement: The economics behind the jargon

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne today revealed his much anticipated Autumn Statement, which was full of political jargon. What does it actually mean for you and me?

The Economy

Economic Growth has increased from 0.6% to 1.4%, a sign that the Governments austerity measures, at least in the short term, seem to be paying off. Meanwhile, figures from the ONS suggest that the economy lost around £112 Billion when the economy contracted during the recession, a figure that Osborne used to launch a scathing attack on Labour, accusing them of being financially incompetent. Ed Balls hit back, accusing the government of being "in denial" about the "cost of living crisis". Indeed, the minimum wage has not risen above inflation ever since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, and with energy prices continuing to shoot upward, this winter will be a tough one for ordinary people.


The UK deficit, a measure of the difference between how much money is borrowed and how much money is payed back, fell to 6.8% this year and will fall even further to 5.8% next year. The UK is expected to have a small cash surplus in the 2018/2019 fiscal year but only on current financial plans, and to achieve this target would involve the biggest cuts in spending since World War II, and would see a significant reduction in the size of the state.
Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is open to personal opinion.

Benefits and Pensions

The UK pension age is set to increase to 68 and then to 69 by the late 2040s. The state pension is also set to rise above the cost of living, by £2.95 a week. This is seen as an attempt to please older Conservative voters. Anybody aged between 18 and 21 who does not have a math GCSE will be required to take a mandatory training course or risk losing their benefits and not being able to reclaim them in the future. State benefits are also set to take a cut in real terms, and benefits such as JSA and Income Support will see a small rise of 1%, below the cost of living for many people.


NI contributions are to be scrapped on 1.5 Million jobs for younger people, which means that many will see a small increase in wages. Bank Levy is set to increase, and Capital Gains tax for people purchasing properties in the UK from outside of it are also set to increase. The personal income tax allowance will rise to £10,000 per year from April 2014, in a move seem as a triumph for the Lib Dems. This means that anybody who earns below £10,000 will not have to pay any tax. A married couples and civil partners tax break, which is set to cost about £700m a year, is proposed to start in April 2015, enabling people to transfer £1,000 of their income tax allowance to their partners. Business rates will also be capped at 2%, as the Chancellor tries to encourage more businesses to invest in the British economy.

Jobs, training, and unemployment

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits is down by 200,000, and unemployment is forecast to fall to 7% by the end of the fiscal year. Total number of jobs to rise by 400,000 this year and 3.1 million jobs predicted to be created by 2019. A boost in the government's start-up loans scheme will aim to help 50,000 more people start their own businesses.Export finance capacity available to support British businesses will be doubled to £50bn.Youth unemployment has remained exactly the same, in a worrying development for the government as it tries to get more younger people educated and into the workforce.


Petrol taxes will stay frozen after the Government bowed to Lib Dem pressure and scrapped an extra 2p tax. Tax discs on cars are set to be scrapped, and train fares will rise with inflation, not above as previously thought.


An extra 30,000 University places will be created in 2015, in an attempt by the government to encourage more people to go to University, but a move that could also backfire badly if numbers do not go up, which could lead to a rise in tuition fees. The proportion of poorer people applying to University has increased, and all pupils in England in reception, year one and year two are expected to get free school meals, in another Lib Dem championed policy.


The government hopes £1bn in loans will boost housing developments in Manchester and Leeds, among other sites. The housing revenue account's borrowing limit is to rise by £300m.
Councils are to sell off the most expensive social housing and rundown urban housing estates to be regenerated, and workers who live in council houses are to be given priority on housing lists if they need to move home to find a job.


Tax breaks for companies that engage in shale gas fracking are expected to be introduced, in a move that has angered environmental campaigners, who accuse David Cameron of breaking his election promise that his government will be the "Greenest government ever."

Overseas aid

The government's pledge to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development is to be met without an increase to the current aid budget. 

More information can be found here:


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Is it really a good idea to have elected Police and Crime Commissioners?

It has been slightly over a year since the inaugural Police and Crime Commissioner elections. That was the first time ever that police bosses were elected, and the elections were introduced to replace what the government referred to as being "Invisible" Police Authorities. But a year onward, the BBC conducted a survey which found that 35 percent of people did not even know whether or not they had a Police or Crime Commissioner in their area, and only 7% of people could actually name their local Police and Crime Commissioner. This apathy is not just found amongst normal people or voters, but also amongst politicians. There was major embarrassment for the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who apparently did not even know the name of his Local Police and Crime Commissioner. But what are Police and Crime Commissioners anyway? PCCs are elected representatives who work to ensure that police forces in England and Wales (not including London) are running effectively. They replaced police authorities and are intended to bring a public voice to policing. The government insists PCCs are not there to run local police forces but to hold them to account and respond to the needs of the public. However, more often than not, it has been the PCCs who have had to be held to account, rather than Local Police forces.

Commissioners hold the police to account - rather than running local police forces.

  The lack of public and political enthusiasm for the PCCs was reflected with the appalling turnout at last years PCC elections, which averaged 14% across England and Wales, breaking the record for the lowest peacetime turnout in an election that had been held previously by the 2009 European Elections. It could be argued that on such a low turnout the PCCs do not have a popular mandate. If they were doing a good job then this criticism would not be justified: However ever since those elections there have been resignations, corruption scandals, and scandalous expenses claims. The PCC elections were seen as a way of making police bosses more accountable and less invisible, however one year on the bosses remain as invisible as ever. What is even worse is that they now have a £100,000 job and a limitless pot of expenses paid for by the taxpayer that they can abuse to their hearts content. Earlier this year an Ex Conservative county Councillor who is now a PCC, was forced to apologize after claiming more than £4000 in travel expenses. The elections can also empower extremist parties, because of the extremely low turnout and the fact that many people will protest vote for extremist or smaller parties to demonstrate their displeasure of the system- In the 2012 elections the BNP and UKIP came very close to having a PCC elected. Can you imagine a BNP PCC running your local police force? It would be an absolute calamity. This writer believes that PCC elections are an awful idea, and should be scrapped. Local Authorities should take direct control of policing control in their area, and each Local Authority should appoint an extra cabinet member who would be responsible for policing and would be part of a "Grand council" of cabinet members from each local authority that are within Police Authorities, and would directly oversee Policing. Indeed, a report commissioned by Lord Stevens agreed that Police and Crime Commissioners should be scrapped and replaced by a new system where some Police Authorities are merged. This is the only sensible way in which we can actually have Police Forces that really can be held to account by the public

Monday, 2 December 2013

Why the Liberal Democrat "Collapse" will not nearly be as bad as some Lib Dems fear in 2015

The Lib Dem "Collapse" may not nearly be as bad as some Lib Dems fear.

We have long heard the stories from people in the media about how the Lib Dems are going to be wiped off the map and will have no seats left in 2015 as part of a massive public backlash against them. However, new polls by YouGov suggest that this simply is not the case. The polls were also interesting in that they dealt a blow to the Conservative argument that UKIP supporters are just "Tories on holiday." Take a look:

Now, these polls are interesting for two reasons: First, the assumption that Labour voters in Con/Lib marginals would not vote or would vote for a different party because the Lib Dems are in government does not seem to be the case. In fact, the number of Labour supporters who would tactically vote for the Lib Dems in a marginal seat (19%) is actually significantly higher than the proportion that did vote tactically for the Lib Dems in Con/Lab marginals at the 2010 General Election. (15%) What this suggests is that as long as the Lib Dems can keep hold of the core Lib Dem vote in the South where there are a lot of Con-Lib marginals, at a time when Tory support will also be likely to have fallen, they should be completely fine, and they may even gain some seats from the Conservatives in the South. In the North, however, it is likely to be a different story. Many of those who voted Lib Dem who lived in the North will have voted Lib Dem as an alternative to Labour, and will have been dismayed at how their votes will have been used to prop up a Conservative led government. The greatest danger for the Lib Dems lies in seats where Labour has a significant presence. I expect them to struggle and be wiped out in large swathes in the North, as the former Labour voters who voted Lib Dem but then returned to Labour punish them for their association with the Tories. Therefore, Labour should gain almost all of the Lib-Lab marginals in the North such as Manchester Withington, and there is even some speculation that Nick Clegg may struggle to win his own Sheffield Hallam seat. That being said, however, they will in all likelihood sustain losses, but nowhere near on the scale that some have predicted. I expect them to lose around 10-20 seats, but not more than 25 seats. Of course this spells bad news for the Conservatives, who need to take several Lib Dem seats as well as Labour ones if they are to win an overall majority, or even achieve a hung parliament.

The second intriguing aspect of this poll is the surprisingly small number of UKIP supporters who would choose to vote Conservative in a Con-Lab or Con-Lib marginal. Only 9% have said they would consider voting Conservative in these crucial seats which are expected to decide the next General Election. This has dealt a fatal blow to David Cameron and Lynton Crosby and their assertions that UKIP voters will come home to the Conservatives in the event of a general election. Nevertheless, it is far too early for Labour to try and bring out the streamers and party hats. A lot could happen in the next 18 Months, including a rumoured backbench rebellion against the Cameron ministry by Eurosceptics if the Conservatives get a disastrous result in the May Local and European elections.18 Months is a very long time, and Mr Miliband should be very wary. Remember it was 18 Months before the 2010 General Election that the Conservatives were running at around 40% in the opinion polls and David Cameron was strolling with his head held high on the back of dismal local election results for Labour where they were 19 points behind the Tories.Elections are rarely won and lost this early in the cycle.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Are we a country of Fascists?

Fascist demonstrators have always been outnumbered by Anti-Fascist demonstrators

Recently, YouGov, the famous Polling agency that almost correctly predicted the results of the Last Election in 2010, released a set of statistics that suggested that 34% of the British electorate would be uncomfortable with the prospect of an Ethnic Minority Prime Minister. The concerns seem to be most pronounced amongst UKIP supporters, and least pronounced amongst Liberal Democrat supporters. 34% may seem like a disturbingly high figure, and you would be forgiven for having a very low opinion of Britain after this....But are we a country of fascists? Let us look at the evidence:

To examine whether or not we are racist, we have to look at one of the biggest Fascist organizations in the United Kingdom: The English Defence League, or EDL. The English Defence League is a Far-Right Neo-Nazi organization that claims to oppose militant Islam, but has also been accused of Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. Its protests frequently turn violent and has been scorned by politicians and intellectuals alike. The EDL claims to be able to get 1000s of its supporters onto the streets wherever they protest. However, protest rallies are often marked by low turnout, sometimes numbering in the 100s, and EDL protesters are often heavily outnumbered by Anti-Fascism demonstrators, sometimes ranging from 3 or 4 times the number of EDL protesters present. Indeed, the former head of the organisation, Tommy Robinson, quit the organisation recently, citing frustration with the EDLs shift to the far-right, and saying that he only intended that it should oppose extremist Islam, not to stoke up anti-islamic sentiment and anti-semitism. One suspects that his quitting was most likely sparked by the inability of the EDL to effect the change that it was seeking and that Robinson was trying to escape all of the death threats that he was receiving from Islamic extremists.

Then, we have far-right political parties that prefer to bring about extreme change from the inside, in the hope that they are elected. One of these is the so-called "National Front." The National Front claims to be a political party that "Respects the right of all men and women to liberty" and calls for a "Free society." However the National Front uses the far-right slogan For race and nation displayed proudly upon its official webpage, and makes no secret of its idea of "Human and phased repatriation." "Repatriation" being, of course, forced. The National Front received as high as 0.60% of the vote in the 1979 UK General Election, taking 100s of thousands of votes across the country. However, since that historic high, membership has dwindled from around 6000 to just 500 today, and the party has never been elected to any level of government, even in tough economic times when it managed to score just 0.11% of the vote in the 2010 General Election, at a time when anti-immigration sentiment was at its highest. The failure of the National Front experiment demonstrates a clear rejection by the British people of fascism...or does it?

Many people consider the BNP (British National Party) to be the successor of the National Front. Whilst not quite being nearly as extreme as the National Front, the BNP is still considered a far-right organisation that feeds from anti-immigration and anti government dissent. It reached its height in the 2009 European Parliament elections when it was able to return two MEPs, the highest level of representation of any fascist party at any level. The BNP fought a highly successful campaign, feeding off Anti-Labour Party sentiment that was at its highest following the expenses scandal. However, the election was marred by the worst ever turnout in a peacetime national election- just 31%, a record that stood until the Police and Crime Commisioner Elections in 2012 when the National Turnout was just 14%. Thus, this result can largely be considered to be a complete fluke caused by a combination of low turnout and anti-government protest votes, and only the 2014 European Parliament elections will show us for sure whether this really was a fluke or whether it represents something deeper in British politics.

To sum up, let me come back to my original question: Are we a country of fascists? The research suggests, that whilst Britain still has significant problems and has yet to come to terms fully with issues of race and religion, the number of people willing to come out for Anti-Fascist demonstrations well exceeds the number who are willing to come out and disturb the public order, and the fact that fascist parties also tend to do extremely poorly in National Elections also shows that we, as a country, overwhelmingly reject fascism as a whole, although there are many significant issues within our beautiful country that still need to be resolved, and which are largely being swept under the carpet. It is my hope and conviction that we will one day live in a society where race and religion do not even matter or have to be mentioned, because that day will truly be a brilliant day for us and for the whole of mankind.