Monday, April 17, 2006

BNPanic

May I take a little time to point a few things out?

That roughly a quarter of people have, do or might vote BNP is really not news... in fact it's been a consistent pattern for quite a few years now. It's not actually as disturbing as it may first seem; ask a similer question about Labour or the Liberals and the numbers will be anywhere between the low '70%'s and the high '50%'s (overall numbers obviously vary from pollster to pollster) and ask a similer question about the Tories and the number will be in the '50%'s or so. And in the case of the Greenies, it's usually in the high 40%'s.
In other words, such a question really doesn't tell us much... it doesn't even give much of an indication of maximum possible support if everything perfectly for the party in question. What it does tell us though, is that 75% of the population will not even consider voting for the BNP (a figure that has also been very consistent for the past few years).
In other words, this is not something to lose sleep over (and if it is, then, well, you should have been losing sleep for the past five years or so). I think that 25% of people have given some thought of maybe voting for the BNP is not good news (not good news at all) but at the same time we should realise that these numbers could easily be far worse.
They are in many other European countries.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter II

Turns out I didn't have time for a long-ish post on this after all. Ah well; such things do happen.
But I do feel that (even though I am no Anglican) it should be mentioned to the Archbishop of Canterbury, that certain things that he said today will probably be more than ever-so-slightly counterproductive... as he should know by now, the easiest way to make sure that sales of a controversial book of a somewhat religious nature soar, is for a man in a dog collar and/or a mitre to publically complain about it...

Irritation

Am I the only one who's more than just a little bit irritated by the Sunday Papers today?
It would have been nice if they had stopped printing their usual foul diet of malicious gossip, dubious/fabricated "leaks", misguided comments from various Ministers, undercover "investigations" that no one but themselves really care about, and flat-out lies... just for today? And this isn't just the complaints of an irritated Christian... even if I wasn't one, it would be nice to have just to have a little break in the endless swirl of Sunday Papers rubbish...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter

"I will be with you always, to the end of time."

A sizeable post is likely later today

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bittersweet

It's finally happend; Sunderland have been relagated. I'm not as depressed about it as I thought I would be, after all it's been on the cards since last autumn...

...but on the bright side, we somehow managed to pull off a draw against Man United :-)

Good Friday

I'm not really in the mood for contemplating the meaning of Christ's crucifixion at the moment (although I was this morning) but I still feel that I should add something:

Eli Eli lema sabachthani?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Local By-elections

A mixed picture last night, and generally more about Con/Lib swings than anything else, but there were some good signs for Labour; we came very close to gaining a seat in Durham City off the LibDems (and the swing was about 11pts; a good sign for sure) and we also gained a seat in Copeland off the Indies.
Other than that, not much of interest from a Labour point of view, but the Con/Lib swings were quite interesting; the Tories did well in the Southeast, but the LibDems did better elsewhere, gaining a seat in Alnwick DC (on a very high turnout for a local by-election) and coming very close to a shock win in Blaby DC.
Meanwhile UKIP did well in some seats up in the bit of Lincolnshire inbetween Boston and Skegness (they finished second in both). Both seats are safely Tory and stayed that way, 'though Labour's raw vote increased pleasingly in the one seat (but not the other).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sloppy

I just spotted a BBC article on the May local elections and being in a certain mood, hath decided to rip it to shreds...

May's local elections could be a make-or-break night for each of the three main party leaders at Westminster.
For David Cameron, the poll is the first nationwide electoral test since he took over as Conservative leader in December.


Er... these elections are very clearly not a "nationwide" test by any stretch of the imagination; not only are they local elections (and shockingly local issues are often more important in deciding local votes than Westminster gossip) but elections are not being held everywhere; not only are neither Scottish or Welsh UA's up for election, but many English DC's and UA's aren't either. The local authority within the boundaries of which I am typing this right now, is not up for election until 2007.

The Tories are the largest party in local government in England - but their powerbase is in mostly rural areas.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and another wrong. The Tory strongholds at local government level tend to be the same as the Tory strongholds at Westminster level; in other-words white collar suburbs and commuterland. Neither can be accurately described as "rural" unless the word rural is redefined to fit in with the lies of property developers.
Local politics in real rural districts is a fascinating thing though (especially the inevitable rival parties of independents) and one that doesn't get nearly enough coverage by the media.

Mr Cameron knows he has to win back support in the inner cities - in places like London, Liverpool and Manchester - to stand a chance of becoming the next prime minister

Oh Good Lord did they really write this? First off... not all of London is "inner city" and the Tories actually do rather well in some inner London boroughs (like Kensington & Chelsea, Wandsworth and also Westminster). Not all of Liverpool and not all of Manchester can be described as "inner city" either.
And, let us be blunt about this, Cameron doesn't need to win seats in Liverpool or Manchester to become P.M... John Major's Government never held a single seat within the city limits of either Manchester or Liverpool. And Thatcher only did in 1979 (in the case of Liverpool; in Manchester the Tories won Withington as recently as 1983).
And the Howard Tories did rather well in inner London last year, with a series of gains and good swings in that belt of constituencies that flow southeast from the City of London (and as such have a very high % of people in the financial "industries")... and did he become P.M?

Essentially that is but a long way of saying "we are going to focus an absurd amount of coverage on Hammersmith & Fulham"...

If his party fails to make gains on 4 May in the Metropolitan boroughs, where a third of council seats are up for grabs and in largely Labour-controlled London, Mr Cameron may find his extended honeymoon period coming swiftly to an end.

The Tories are very unlikely to make serious gains in the old Metropolitan boroughs (and they are well aware of that themselves). The translation here is that the London based media will cover London and, frankly, won't give a damn about the rest of the country.

A lacklustre performance will give ammunition to those on the right of the party who claim Mr Cameron has betrayed its core support in his rush to the centre ground.

Seeing as they've already started to do this...

A strong showing, on the other hand, will be seized on by Mr Cameron and his supporters as a sign he not only has the right message, but that it is getting through to ordinary voters.

It will also be seen as a signal that there is more to the Cameron revolution than favourable media coverage and a brief bounce in the opinion polls.


I have no doubt that the Tories will claim that they have put up a stong showing (they always do) and that they will then use that claim to claim that they are on the path to power, in touch with ordinary voters, understand the "issues that matter", blah, blah, blah... not that that actually means anything...

This bit is about the LibDems...

Failure to make progress - or a significant reduction in the party's number of council seats - will be seen as a major blow to Sir Menzies' authority and his claim to be a more dynamic and effective leader than Mr Kennedy.

Well, duh... although they will also doubtless claim that they have done well (no matter what the actual results are).

The Labour Party is braced for a bad night.

Are we? Oh, you mean in London? Then maybe. But please darlings, London is not the entire U.K...

Voters tend to use local elections to register a protest against the government.

Some voters do. But to be honest that sort of thing really isn't as common as the media liketh to claim... these are local elections not national elections dearies...

But many in the Labour Party fear it could be in line for an even bigger drubbing than might normally be expected at this stage of the electoral cycle.

I have yet to meet anyone who has anything to do with the Labour Party that actually thinks that. Then again I don't live in London, do I?

Labour was badly shaken by the loss, in Gordon Brown's backyard, of Dunfermline and West Fife, one of its safest seats, which no one in the party appears to have seen coming.

And here come the myths... Dunfermline was NOT repeat NOT one of Labour's safest seats. It had only been a safe seat since 1987 (the year when the Scottish middle classes declared war on the Tories, a constant threat in the seat before that year) and everyone knew that Squire had a big personal vote (and she deserved one as well). Call it a safe seat if you want, but to describe it as one of Labour's safest reeks of either ignorance or dishonesty.
And yes, plenty in the Party saw it coming. The only suprise was that it was the LibDems that took it, rather than the SNP.
And what in the name of God does a by-election in a middle class constituency in Scotland have to do with local elections in England?

And weeks of negative headlines about secret loans and the Tessa Jowell affair - coupled with continuing uncertainty about Tony Blair's likely departure date - have added to the sense of gloom, with all of these subjects reportedly coming up on the doorstep.

I feel like rolling my eyes now... ah yes... "on the doorstep"... anon. activists told Mr Hack everything Guv...

Party activists fear losing control of a string of local authorities in Labour's inner London heartland, where it controls 15 of the 32 boroughs.

Yeah, we'll lose control of some local authorities in London. Not certain how many, but some will go. London hasn't had a post-Iraq set of local elections after all... but it's far from certain how many will fall.

Tower Hamlets, where George Galloway's Respect Party is trying to take control of the town hall, is likely to be a particular flash point.

This means the media will focus on the borough where so many of it's offices are located this year? Shocking... (yes, Tower Hamlets will be an interesting borough. But it no longer seems like the most vunerable in London...)

Three Labour mayors in London, with large majorities, also face re-election on 4 May, in solid Labour areas.

The party is predicted to fare better - and might even gain a few seats - in the Metropolitan boroughs, where it currently controls 16 of the 36 councils.


Finally; some decent journalism.

But a bad result overall will almost certainly hasten Tony Blair's departure from Number 10, with some at Westminster seeing it as a potential "tipping point" in the story of his premiership.

Yet more pointless gossip... he'll go when he wants to (or when Gordon pushes him)... you all know that by now...

Mr Blair's main asset, for many in the Labour party, is his proven ability to win elections.

Well that certainly hasn't been much in evidence in any set of loca elections since 1997 so...

although ministers will, no doubt, attempt to write off poor performance as a "mid term" protest vote, as they did at Dunfermline

Because it would be true?

And all three party leaders will, no doubt, be ready to blame individual bad results on "local factors"

Now, now dear... that is because, and I understand that you will have trouble understanding this concept, local elections are, generally, fought on local issues. Are you familer with the concept of "local government"? I actually find it very interesting, and seeing the electoral effects of various local policies is fascinating... isn't it?