Open thread

Tonight is our day off from the YouGov daily polling and I’m not expecting any other polls overnight. It’s been a while since I’ve had an open thread, and I’m having to moderate a lot of partisan arguments on the normal threads as the polls tighten. So, the comment policy is suspended here for you all to have party political arguments (the quid pro quo is that you all stick to the policy on the other threads!)


434 Responses to “Open thread”

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  1. @Christopher

    In summer of 2008 it was a huge tory lead. Voters don’t change in a crisis. Just like Major won in the bad economy in 1992 and lost in the good economy in 1997.

    Labour has scared the voters thinking the tories will make huge cuts and people remember thatcher.

    When in reality the tories have a sensible plan of waiting for cuts until spring 2011 and phase them in until 2014.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with labour’s game or the tories game. Of course labour are better at campaigns they have won the last three campaigns and it shows in this election. Tories don’t have a mandelson. But saying that I believe campaigns really are overrated it is the enviornment that matters.

    Brown and Mandelson do have to get credit though for putting the lisbon blame on cameron and pressuring ireland to move up their vote. After all it was labour that promised the referendum in their manifesto and cameron took the heat. Mandelson knew lisbon would crush cameron with his right flank.

    It also helps labour that the left seems to care more about defeating the tories than the right does about defeating labour. The right is fighting much more with cameron than labour is fighting with brown.

  2. Harry

    “If they want 5 more years of the party spent who spent the last 13 years buggering it up”.

    The fundamental problem with this message is the simple fact that it’s a tory message for tory voters.

    Labour were still ahead in the polls in 2007, let’s remember.

    This mock “outrage” over the last 13 years, is pretty modern, recent, and rather opportunistic. And hence doesn’t have much resonance with Labour support.

    That’s the entire problem with the tories. They have to win Labour support. Not their own.

    Labour, and their policies, were popular with voters right up until at least 2005.

    Howard fought an entire election on “less immigration” and it proved so unpopular, that he was actually forced to basically drop it 4 weeks before polling day, to have any chance.

    As I said, all of this mock outrage over “broken britain” is modern. It didn’t exist 5 years ago.

    The vast majority of Labours time in office, was very popular. As were the vast majority of their polices.

    A recession, of course, brings with it opportunism, and you are obviously going to get people trying to claim that it’s “always been like this”.

    The problem being, as I said, is that only resonates with tory vote.

    I quote the Sun’s own polling on Labour’s entire time in office.

    I’m sure they were expecting to get the “13 years of disaster result as well”.

    They didn’t. 70% of their poll was either:

    “Labour have been succesful in office” or “Labour have done good and bad”

    Only something like 13% was actually the negative options of “Labour have been bad” and below.

    As I said, when you have a party that was very popular for 9-10years, that tends to hang around.

    You are never going to get everyone saying they are brilliant.

    But at the same time the “13 years of disaster” message won’t, and hasn’t washed.

    “Broken Britain” is not an election winning policy. Something the tories quickly realised, and quickly dropped.

  3. The fact that George Osborne could be chancellor in three months time is terrifying. If I wasn’t already a Labour voter, I’d switch to them for that reason alone.

  4. “Labour has scared the voters thinking the tories will make huge cuts and people remember thatcher.

    When in reality the tories have a sensible plan of waiting for cuts until spring 2011 and phase them in until 2014.”

    I can’t agree with this at all. Labour’s policy has always been the sensible plan of:

    “waiting for cuts until spring 2011 and phase them in until 2014”

    It’s been that from day one. Right from the start. Osborne just got it completely wrong, and was harping on about being an “iron chancellor” and “ages of auesterity” and “swingeing cuts”, completely misreading public mood on the subject.

    The tories current policy (as in, moving as close to Labour as possible without being the same) was a simple reaction to polls.

    They did all of the scare mongering themselves. Realised their mistake, and started talking more positively.

    As I said, that’s their general problem. Their policy is seen as reactionairy.

    Kind of “these are our principles. If you don’t like them, well, we have others”

  5. As I said, their problems with economic policy is their own.

    Darling (who I quite rate) had the public mood bang on from the very start.

    He knew there needed to be a commitment to cuts, but also knew that they had to be palatable.

    I’d really suggest, that the:

    No cuts in 2010 to lock in growth, and then cuts from 2011 to 2014 to half the deficit

    Sort of policy, from an academic sense is about as close to the money as you are going to get in regards to popular policy.

    This is just demonstratable in how close the two parties actually are now on the subject.

    There really isn’t much difference, no matter what they claim.

    Osborne started off with “age of austerity” , “swingeing cuts” and “hard times”.

    The voters didn’t like this approach. So now, as far as I;m aware it’s:

    Token cuts in 2010. And then cuts following that through the rest of parliament to reduce much of the deficit.

    The problem being that he has made no commitment to telling how much “token” and “much” actually are.

    Token could be just the £2 billion in savings both parties have already committed to in 2010.

    “Much” might not even be more than 50% by 2014. I’m not saying they will cut less than Labour, but you can only cut so much in 5 years.

    As I said. Reading the public mood wrong, and then retreats towards Labour policy, are the main problems.

    It makes you look as hapless as the current incumbents.

  6. I think the Tory lead will widen again when the election is announced. Then the BBC will be forced to give the Tories equal air time. At present Labour get far more because they are the government.

    And, as to comment that the Tories left the country in a mess in 1997, if only Labour had left the country in the same mess today our children would not have to worry about how they are going to have to pay back all the debt that Labour has so irresponsibly accumulated.

    And where is new growth going to come from? Not from manufacturing, not from banking. And it won’t be the other area that has propped the economy up for years, our addiction to shopping. Because we won’t be able to afford to buy foreign goods the way the pound is plummeting.

  7. Finally!

    As I said, tories still have a lead, and should win some sort of government .I’m sure if you offered that to them in 2005/2006, they would have taken it.

    The only dissapointment is probably the fact that oppositions have to capitalise on times like this (see 1997) to get their changes in.

    If the tories even go in with a 25 majority, you know. I’d suggest that they will be in big schtuck. There are more than 25 MPS in that party that don’t like Cameron-ism, who will be prepared to stand up to him in votes before long. I’d say there are closer to 50-60.

    Small majorities tend to be disasterous terms. And in a small way, I kind of think the tories may actually be better off in the long term, if they lost this one, and Labour ended up back in.

    Going against another term of Labour in 2015, you’d have to almost guarantee a 100+majority for the tories.

    Give the tories 5 years, with a 25 majority, and a pretty divded party, and I’d suggest that this may actually be enough for voters, and may end up setting up another 10 years of Labour

  8. @Christopher

    Darling has said no cuts at all until spring 2012. The tories are the ones who would make cuts starting in spring 2011. April 2011 seems the right time for cuts to start. 14 more months is plenty of time. There would be very slight cuts of waste in 2010 but nothing major.

    You could also have Ed balls as Chancellor if Brown got a mandate. Brown tried to move Balls in and Darling to home secretary in june 2009. Brown and Balls are much closer on economic policy. A victorious Brown would have the power to move Balls in.

    Darling signed off on the PBR with projections of spending increases in 2011 to spring 2012. There were reports he was against Brown for spending more but he in the press he later backed brown up at the time.

  9. Some here last night said they are ‘worried about the nation’s finances’ as their voting motivation – astonishing. May I suggest that they are in a very tiny group. I respectfully suggest that the people who will decide the election outcome only worry about their own finances and i belong to that larger group as it happens. I shall vote Lib Dem because I live in a Tory Lib dem marginal and I want AV plus or multi member seat STV. However, GB has produced a tremendous ‘never had it so good’ for me and mine. I never hear people here mention pension credit, family credit and the rest, the vastly improved schools and hospitals and public transport. Some of you need to descend from your ivory towers if you are interested in poll movements.

  10. @Christopher

    Tories lose this election no way they get 100 seat majority in 2015.

    New demographics are working against the tories. 203,000 new immigrants every year. This up from 37,000 in 1997.

    Labour passed a law for a referendum on a new voting system in october.

    If the tories win they can cancel the referendum. If they lose polls show the referendum in poll position to win and projections are labour would get 25 more seats in a new voting system and tories would get 25 less seats.

    Labour is already starting at a 40 seat advantage the new voting system would give them a 65 seat advantage over the tories.

    I disagree with this idea that it would be great for the tories to lose this election when demographics and a new voting system would crush them in 2015.

    If tories lose I think you will see a huge loss of morale and major infighting. If they can’t defeat Labour with an unpopular leader in this voting system which is better than the next one then they have no hope of ever getting back into power.

  11. Dennis

    The tories already have the vast majority of media air time and coverage. I wouldn’t rely on more exposure to improve things. What you are seeing now maybe over exposure.

    The problems with your claims about the state of the country (broken britain) is that they are the opinions of people that are already tory voters.

    This is not an election of “preaching to the converted”. It’s an election in trying to get the centre left to vote for you.

    The issue being, that much of your claims don’t resonate with the centre left. As Labour were very popular with this group right up until about 2006. As were their polices. Labour were still winning tory seats in 2005 let’s remember.

    You know, as I said the “entire world economy is linked to labour spending policy” is a tory message, for tory voters. That carries no real resonance with the people they actually need to attract.

    Blair won by so much in 1997, as education and health care were bordering on 3rd world, crime was through the roof, and people were generally depressed with the state of “society”.

    Sound familiar?

    The only difference being, Blair had a clear mandate for all of this. And however you spin the facts (exams suddenly got easier after Labour started investing in schools it seems. Not the fact that there are just more teachers, and better facilities!)

    Schools improved dramatically.
    NHS improved dramatically in regards to waiting lists, and general service
    Crime is down on nearly all fronts.

    You know. That’s the general problem with this line of attack, and message.

    Most polls suggest that although Labour’s 13 years wasn’t universally popular, people do think they did a lot of good things.

    You know, not to be cynical, but I think 97 billion of the current debt is linked directly out of just bailing out banks.

    Opportunistic, but there would be no budget deficit problems without the world’s biggest recession. Let’s remember that.

    The only question is, do you cut spending on public services for 30 years, to prepare for events that only happen once a century?

  12. @ Christopher

    Never underestimate Mandelson. He will always throw up roadblocks to keep the tories to get back into power. That is why I disagree with you about 100 seat tory majority in 2015.

    One of the reasons why Labour is for a different voting system after doing nothing for 13 years is because of the position they are in.

    Some labour ministers in the cabinet meeting wanted the new voting system referendum on the same day as the election.

    Labour knows this change in voting system will help them win the support of the lib dems.

    Clegg could say all he wants about being neutral in a hung parliament but the only party lib dems are actively talking with behind the scenes are labour. Lib dems would rather have proportional representatition but will take the new system over this system. Rank and file lib dems would never allow Clegg to help the tories gain power. Labour will use the new electoral referendum to support brown even if labour has less seats.

    Labour also knows the new electoral system will be a firewall protecting them for a fifth term. They know it would be harder to win a fifth term but with the new system I think they can guarantee their power forever.

    Labour doesn’t want proportional system because it would take away their majority power but under this new system they can the lib dems support, hurt the tories and help themselves and they can still have the option of governing by themselves without the lib dems.

  13. Jason

    “203’000 new immigrants every year”

    You have to remember a few things about this.

    1: Immigrants can’t even vote until 5 years after arrival, and to even do that they have to become a citizen. Only 10% of new immigrants actually stay long enough to become citizens

    2; The number you are quoting is not the net figure. It’s simply the number of immigrants that arrive every year. A huge number also leave.

    The “immigrant vote” claims is a scare tactic as far as I’m concerned.

    I know, as I’m actually an immigrant myself. I’ma Brit working in Singapore.

    I get constantly called “Ang Mo” which is a rather nasty racist term for white people there, and get constantly criticised for taking “local jobs” and “corrupting the singaporean way of life” with my anglo saxon ways.

    Even though I’m primarily there to improve the singaporean economy.

    You know, fear of foreigners is a primal urge, and one that oppositions have exploited for hundreds of years.

    “Immigration” is opposition territory. I really doubt the tories will domuch differently when they get in power,other than a few token gestures.

    Most G13 countries run at about a 3-5% immigration total. For economic reasons. Americas is currently something like 12%

  14. In the long run this massive debt by the UK and U.S will not be good.

    AAA ratings will eventually be hurt. Weaker dollar isn’t good in the u.s Weaker dollar only helps countries like iran as crude oil rises with weaker dollar and countries like iran benefit. Debt could eventually get so bad UK could be in greece’s position with EU flexing their muscles.

    Debt to GDP ratio will surge above 100 percent in the u.s and no action is being taken against run away entitlement spending.

  15. You have to remember that much of immigration is actually linked to wealth and growth.

    UK had huge immigration in the 1950s and 1960s, quite obviously.

    Nobody came her in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, for the simple reason that:

    1:Nobody wanted to live here. It wasn’t a very attractive country,on the world scale

    2: There were no jobs.

    A lot of a growing economy is attracting foreign business, and work forces.

    Have to accept that probably 50% of the increased immigration numbers are little more than the fact that the UK is just a wealthier country these days, with more foreign business. And more jobs to fill.

  16. @ Christopher

    Seems like there is no control of immigration in the UK.

    EU blocked labour’s plan to get information of people before they go through customs.

    Visas have risen from 64,000 to 291,000 from 1997 to 2009.

    Over 2,000 colleges are used on visa applications while only 165 were accredited. A suspected terrorist was caught in birmingham who used a fake college on a visa application.

    Just seems like the immigration system is a mess.

    Immigration should be used for economic reasons not to help electorally to tick off the right and change the social dynamics of the countries. Civilian service had reports about the effect of massive immigration and they were blocked from release.

  17. @Jakob

    What about the fact that Ed Balls could be chancellor in three months time? Financial times was hinting that if Brown wins Darling will be moving out and Balls in. This was Brown’s plan in 2009.

    That isn’t terrifying? Brown’s aides would never debrief reporters behind ball’s back like they do to darling.

  18. Jason

    You are putting way much into “conspiracy” on voting systems.

    The new system would have benefitted Labour in 2005, but hurt them in a 1997 and 2001 as far as I’m aware. They would have had less seats.

    You can argue that the tories, in wanting to keep the status quo, are the ones trying to benefit from an unfair system. Let’s remember than the vast majority of parliaments under this system have been tory.

    Most experts state that the new system is much fairer, for all parties. It takes away the “2 party” element. Or at least softens it, and gives smaller parties a fighting chance.

    As I said, you can argue that the Libs and Labour want the new system, as they may get more seats.

    You can also argue that the tories are fighting to keep the current system, as it helps them win seats that they wouldn’t get under a fair system,

    As I said though, no statistical evidence, that Labour will consistently win more seats under new system.

    From what I can see, the tories would have actually won more seats in certain elections under it

  19. @Christopher

    Under the new system tories would have had 95 seats in 1997.

    Smaller parties want proportional representation that is the only way they will ever get seats.

    Smaller parties don’t like this new system.

    This new system is picking second worst.

    How about fixing the gerrymandered system where tories got more votes in england and labour won 286 seats in england and tories got under 200 seats.

    Under the new system tories can get more votes in england and labour could get over 300 seats and close to 150 more seats than the tories in england.

    Think of that you take the 2005 projections in england under the new system where tories got more votes in england and labour will have double the seats.

  20. Jason

    I think you are pushing the “partisan” thing a bit too far to be honest.

    I’m prepared to politcally debate subjects. You seem intent on just using this to electioneer, and promote figures. Most of which are actually quite misleading.

    As I said,previously. You need to research what a visa is, and how they work.

    A visa is permission to work in the country. And they are actually pretty hard to get in the UK. You don’t just turn up, and are given a Visa. You actually have to demonstrate academic qualifiication, experience in a field, and have a job offer to even apply for one in the UK.

    That’s how it works. Visas are applied for by the companies after they have hired you here. They are linked toemployment;

    I know as my partner recently got hers here.

    As I said, an increase in working visas is directly linked to the UK just hiring more people, as there is more industry.

    Nearly a million more jobs in the UK private sector now than there was in 1997. And I’m including the recession in that figure. There was even more in 2006.

    Visa applications are directly linked to starting jobs here.

    The only scope for cutting down on immigration is:

    1: student visas
    2:illegal immigration

    The tories can’t stop EU patrons coming here. And they won’t stop businesses applying for visas for staff unless they have to.

    As I said, a lot of immigration is linked to general growth. I know this being an (expat) immigrant myself.

    Singaporean government gets lots of complaints about the number of foreigners coming there to work.

    The problem being, it’s just linked to the mad capitalism going on over there.

    In this world you have a choice between being:

    1: Proud little Englanders, but poor
    2: Big global player, and rich.

    UKIPs plans would probably turn us into Albania

  21. @Jakob

    In fairness though the PM makes the big decisions on economic matters. Brown overruled Darling on the PBR and Cameron will have the say over Osborne. Cameron hears from other people like Clarke. Cameron will take the middle approach.

  22. @Christopher

    Fake colleges are still being discovered all the time which are used to obtain visas. System seems incredibly laxed.

  23. @Christopher

    Everything with Brown’s labour is manipulation.

    Manipulate to blame Blair and call it Blair’s war.

    Manipulate to not release the iraq war minutes first time ever a freedom of information request was denied.

    Manipulate to have a new voting system to entice the lib dems in a hung parliament.

    Mandelson and Campbell are the masters of manipulation.

    Blame Cameron on Lisbon when you promised Lisbon in your own manifesto.

    Blame tories for what happened in the 80’s a generation ago and use that against the tories now.

    I am for immigration I am just not for it being used for electoral gains.

    A new author is out saying he sat in cabinet meetings with jack straw in 2000 and the increase of immigration was because of labour’s goal to help them electorally and tick off the right. A serious policy matter shouldn’t be decided that way.

  24. Another big earthquake this time in chile. 8.3, at least the depth was 59km unlike the haiti earthquake. difference in building codes hopefully will help.

  25. Upgrading to 8.8 so it would be 64 times stronger than the haiti earthquake without factoring in the depth.

  26. @Jason – is it the same discredited journalist Rawnsley?

    Don’t believe everything you read in right-wing rags and from desperate has- been jornalists.

    Just reading some earlier comments – one particular tickled me was the comment the Con lead was shrinking due to lack of media coverage – yes 75% of tabloid and broadsheet backing and the obvious spin of Sky -they’re starved of media backing. The trouble is that they’ve had too much and rightly now being scrutinised by the public and basically not liking what they see.

  27. Alternative Vote is OK if you are electing one person – I am not a supported of elected Mayors, but . . .

    Alternative Vote for electing a body of people is barking.

    The swing in seats is even more extreme than so-called first-past-the-post – look at Canada, Australia and New Zealand (before they went PR).

  28. @Chris

    Claims were made by Andrew Neather who was an adviser to Jack Straw and helped write the immigration policy under Labour.

  29. I believe the reason behind the tightening polls is both simple and obvious – ordinary people are scared. Scared about a future they currently see going in one direction only – “Things Can Only Get Worse” might be the theme tune for 2010’s election?

    The expenses farrago has shaken trust in the basic system of Parliamentary democracy to the core. Whilst these revelations came as no surprise to politicos (who presumably populate this site) like myself for ordinary people it was a very different story.

    People know that the public sector does matter; many of them consider their services part of the fabric of society itself and the Conservatives have made a major (may prove fatal) blunder in nailing their colours to the wall early with their (perceived) slash and burn approach to reduce the alarming hole in the government’s balance sheet. Fact is people have looked into the abyss, don’t like what they see and a running scared – perhaps it’s something as simple as better the devil you know?

    Anyway that’s my take on the current electoral landscape and provided Brown & Co don’t commit any stupid mistakes between now and 6th May we will certainly see the polls remain close.

    However, the National Polls really don’t give us the picture we need – they only provide us with a broad brush outline. For example no one can predict how the insidious effects of Ashcroft money in the marginals will play out. No one can predict how big a factor tactical voting will be. When the polls tighten and the result is close, anything can happen under First Past the Post.

    My personal preference is for a balanced (hung) no overall control outcome, forcing the parties to engage with each other. It may be messy and not what the British public en-masse have been used to but it would still provide the best of all possible worlds.

    At least the mandatory post election austerity package would have much broader political endorsement than would otherwise be the case and what’s more, if sufficient pressure from a more informed public can be brought to bear we may even secure the holy grail of real electoral reform, ie. STV – if that does happen (I know it’s a long shot but I can dream can’t I?) the entire British democratic/political landscape will be turned upside down

  30. Normally it would be difficult to see how the Conservatives could not benefit in the polls from the state of the economy. Either:

    – The economy is now improving faster, supporting the Cons stance for cuts sooner rather than more debt that could snuff out any recovery, or
    – The economy worsens (double dip) – in which case the fiscal stimulus and the debt and devaluation it has/will cause has delivered little if any benefit.

    However, Labour has it’s ace card – the guaranteed votes of those living on benefit as a lifestyle choice and public sector workers who (mistakenly) believe that they are slightly less likely to loose their jobs/gold plated pensions under Labour as a result of the wrecked economy. I wonder whether future generations will look at Labour’s social engineering in the way that today we look back at rotten boroughs.

    There are so many angles that the Conservatives can attack labour on:

    – If entry into recession was not Labours fault (“it was global”), how can Labour take credit for the recovery.
    – Why was the UK first in/last out of recession when Gordon had eliminated boom and bust?
    – Why did Gordon borrow more at the peak of the economic cycle when he should have been paying some debt down?
    – Why did Gordon redefine the economic cycle to allow himself to continue borrowing?
    – Worst debt position in peacetime.
    – Massive structural deficit (75% due to overspending ad not the recession).
    – Both parties will have to make deep cuts – it is not a Lab v Con issue.
    – The economy has taken a 10 years backwards leap in output.
    – Incomes are down.
    – Full impact is yet to be felt when interest rates rise.
    – The argument of Tories cutting too soon (created by Lab) is false. The Tories can not cut before the Autumn – just 1 quarter before Labour will have to start cutting.
    – If the Labour cuts start later, they will have to be deeper than Tory cuts (more debt and interest to pay off).
    – If cuts now would threaten the recession (and the Tory policy is wrong), why is Labour already cutting (e.g. university funding)?
    – Labour policy was a 180 degree u-turn (investment not cuts) – makes the Tory wobble on the timing of cuts seem like a drop in the ocean.

    … yet the Conservatives are almost silent on them. So silent that it must be deliberate. They must be keeping their powder dry rather than giving Labour time to develop counter spin. They have talked about non issues such as Married couples tax, but it is the economy stupid!

    Polls will remain static until the Conservatives start campaigning. Even then there will be limited change as Labour has it’s guaranteed paid for votes.

  31. @Chris

    Well with the change in the polls maybe the focus will go back on Brown. Have Brown answer for his record over the last 13 years. Tories are at a disadvantage because they don’t know what are in the books.

    Maybe with the polls changing do voters want to go from 13 years as Chancellor and PM to 18 years? Brown has been PM for two years and eight months. He has only been PM for 32 months and now is asking for 60 more months and five more years. Brown for PM twice as long as he has been PM already seems like an eternity.

    Almost 100 labour mp’s have retired some of the most experienced and talented. The labour mp’s left fully were preparing to lose.

    It is healthy to have a change in government after 13 years. Power corrupts and labour needs a break. They are a tired lot and the tories have a lot of good candidates like rory stewart who will bring a fresh perspective to parliament. This surge in labour will be kicking away a lot of good tory candidates for the old labour guard who are a tired lot.

  32. Harriet Harman’s husband will be a candidate in a safe labour seat. He was rewarded for holding out for a safe seat.

    Some of these candidates for both tories and labour must be seriously ticked off that they are fighting in marginal seats while A list candidates get these safe seats.

  33. @CHRISTOPHER

    “I can’t agree with this at all. Labour’s policy has always been the sensible plan of:

    waiting for cuts until spring 2011 and phase them in until 2014?

    Where have you been for the last 12 months – completely out of touch with the media or suffering from amnesia? Seems like you have forgotten that Gordon and Labour spent most of the recession promising investment until their 180degree u-turn and copying of the Conservative policy detailing the need for cuts.

  34. I think the Tories might have it right – boring slogan but polls are polls and when it actually comes to putting an X in a box on Election Day “Vote for change” will mean a lot more than “A future fair for all”, especially with the latter coming from a party that has clearly failed to deliver that in the 13 years it has had so far.

    My prediction:
    39/33/21
    Conservatives 39 seats short

    I suspect that 38/39 is the core Tory vote now so unless Labour can get LDs and Others they are stuck. More likely that the Tories will get Others because given a close race, UKIP supporters will go back to them.

    Just my penniworth…

  35. @ Amber Star

    “The first thing these managers learn is: People are more resistant to change if the firm is perceived as doing badly.
    The second is: People are more resistant when they lack clarity about what the change will result in; & especially what the likely outcome is for them, personally.

    The top Tories are supposed to be businessmen who live in the real world, yet the most basic rules of change management appear to have gone over their heads!”

    Nonsense. Crisis – which is what this country is facing, is usually a trigger and justification for change.

    People resist change only if they think it is unnecessary. The only people who think that more of the same irresponsible socialist unfunded profiligacy in unnecessary is the economically illiterate and those living on benefits as a lifestyle choice.

  36. The Tories are essentially a free market party, yet they are proposing more state intervention as a solution for problems like bank lending and the environment. This is pissing off their far right supporters, as is Europe.

    While admitting that the free market caused these problems, they are proposing the same system as a solution for problems with education, transport etc. This is putting off Labour voters.

    None of it adds up and that is why they haven’t convinced people. When you look at the whole raft of their policies, they don’t hang together convincingly.

    My prediction, Conservatives the largest party, Lib Dems supporting them on a vote by vote basis, as in Scotland with the SNP. C38/L31/LD21

  37. If i was a Labour supporter i would obviously be encouraged by recent polling. However, i don’t believe there is any way they can stop Cameron becoming prime minister. I have always been very sceptical about swing calculators and i do believe the Conservatives argument that they are still doing what they need to do in the marginals. The 10 point lead to get a small working majority doesn’t hold any water.
    I think the Conservatives are losing their chance to secure a large majority, but i disagree with anyone who thinks Cameron wont be in charge of the largest party even with a lead of 5.
    I agree with Richard, George Osbourne is a problem.
    I have never found him very convincing and not even slightly likeable. Cameron needs to be the face of their campaign, he is more popular than his own party and Brown isn’t. This still remains an important factor.
    We all are starting, i’m sure to form our own opinions on how many seats Labour will lose, i’ve said many times before my seat Bolton West is around target number 85 for the Conservatives and i will be absolutely amazed if they don’t take it from Labour. How far they can go beyond that , for me is going to be the big question. 117 needed for a majority of 1.

  38. The Bible teaches that God appoints the government – Romans 13 verse 1.

  39. The fun thing about this kind of open thread is that it draws people’s real views out into the open. One clear trend – amongst Tory supporters there is a disconnect between their views of what is happening and what is actually happening.

    The polls have been tightening ever since Osborne made his “we’re all in this together” speech at last year’s conference. Austerity is an impossible pitch to an electorate sick of recession. You cannot persuade ordinary people that they should pay for a crisis caused by the bankers – especially not when their jobs and services have to be cut to please the markets – the very same bankers who screwed it up in the first place.

    The Tories are going to lose because fundamentally turkeys do not vote for Christmas. The election is not about Labour’s record, its about who offers hope for the future. Long ranting comments about Broken Britain and every mistake made by Brown real or fantasy simply do not wash. Punters accept that we are here and aren’t looking for retribution against the government because they don’t blame the government.

    What I don’t understand is how Brown bashers explain the international context to all this. If the crash is Brown’s fault then why did the rest of the world fall over at the same time. if Brown’s policies have been so bad why is Britain growing (at +0.3%) faster than the Eurozone at (at +0.1%) with lower unemployment. People don’t blame our government, they blame the bankers. So bashing Brown and saying “vote for us” isn’t enough. As a mid-term protest, sure, but as a platform for government?

    Labour will win because people are not willing to sacrifice their jobs, their homes and their services on the alter of high finance. They don’t care about the deficit, they care about themselves as they always have. Every time Osborne opens his gob the Tories lose ground. Sadly Cameron’s coalition doesn’t work without him so he stays in place.

  40. Cameron and Osborne are becoming to look more like the Chuckle Brothers every day! With Spring on its way to lighten the electorates mood and an improving economy to give them further cheer, I imagine the Tory hierachy are beginning to get worried.
    I think many are fed up of Cameron’s opportunism and cheap soundbites and are warming to the way that Brown is just getting on with the job. Those ‘disenchanted’ Labour voters who headed to the Tories seem to be heading back as the scary prospect of Osborne running the economy becomes a real possibility.

  41. I don’t really want to make a prediction. The picture surrounding marginal seats is too clouded to make it anything other than a guess.

    However I’m fascinated by the prospect of a hung parliament.

    If Labour hold the balance of power, pass AV and unite the progressive forces in British politics I suspect that will signal the end of centre right politics for a generation.

    However if AV is not passed the picture is less clear. I’d like to hear how other posters feel this would work out.

  42. The Conservatives might get a significant number of marginals. But is there any chance of UKIP taking any seats? Conservatives get some marginals from Labour, UKIP get an equal number of ‘safe’ Conservative seats from the Conservatives, doesn’t do the Conservatives much good, does it?

  43. @Ian Bailey

    Absolutely right to say that Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas, but to blame the bankers for everything is to fall for Labour’s spin deflecting the fact that it was also the Labour government’s failure to govern the market effectively – in particular the tri-partite arrangements that Gordon Brown put in place between the government, FSA and BoE that failed. It also ignores that fact that Labour was happy to fuel the mortgage and banking boom because they benefitted from both tax revenue for their massive spending , and votes because people mistakenly thought that credit and a bigger mortgage made them wealthier.

    If it was the bank’s fault, why are Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide ok? Lloyds only got into trouble because they fell for Brown suckering them into buying HBOS by telling them they could ride roughshod over anti-monopolistic laws (another law designed to protect us), and RBS suffered from buying ABN Amro (approved by the Labour Govt) – not the credit crunch. The only major bank that truly got into trouble was Northern Rock, but as that was in a Labour area instead of winding it up and transferring the a/c to others, Labour spent my taxes on saving it.

    It’s also a false argument to suggest that Labour cuts will be less than Conservative (although Labour is doing very well in lying to the electorate by pretending otherwise). Indeed, the longer Labour waits to cut, the deeper they will have to cut to pay off the additional debt and interest. The Conservatives are simply being more honest. Labour was still talking about investment months after the Conservatives had told us the uncomfortable truth about the need for cuts.

    People will vote for Labour thinking that it will save their skin when in fact it will cost them their jobs and homes.

    Still –who needs to study the facts when it’s so much easier to regurgitate Labour’s spin.

  44. why a generation? more like forever.

    Tories need 323 seats for a majority or else Brown will refuse to leave. AV will be passed Tories would need a majority to stop it and the best they could hope for is 300 seats.

    The best the tories can hope for is to be the largest party short of a majority but in that case Brown would still hold onto power.

    So a new voting system will even make it harder for the tories to ever get back into power.

    With the new voting system you can be looking at permanent labour rule. Lib dems can never get a majority in this gerrymandered system and neither can the tories. South africa has one party country and so can the UK.

  45. @Jock

    UKIP candidates can’t get any seats in first past the post system. I guess maybe bob spink who is running for an independent could win and then go back to UKIP.

  46. More bad tory news.

    There spring conference was looking like it would get a lot of headlines on a slow news weekend. This was being billed as cameron’s fightback and oppurtunity to reconnect with the voters.

    Now this spring conference will be off the front pages with the massive earthquake in chile.

    Brown got a slow news weekend last weekend for his speech and Cameron gets a huge story this weekend.

  47. Immigration comes up so often here particularly this rise from 97′. The main reason has been the expansion of the EU. One of the main principles is for the free movement of people. Of course these people come here for the work, if there is no work they will go elsewhere and is no doubt the cause of the numbers falling this year. I think tose that come here from outside of the eu are more liely to come here for security more than anything else.

  48. IAN BAILEY

    I think you need to take your rose (LABOUR) tinted glasses off for a moment and look at matters more objectively.

    Labour will NOT win the election in the traditional manner. ie. with an overall majority. If you believe that you really have lost touch with reality. However, I concur with your claim that the election will be more about perceptions of the future than past actions and this can only assist Labour’s cause because to be honest Brown’s leadership has been nothing short of disastrous.

    The Conservatives have already made their electoral bed (as in their perceived commitment to agressively cut back the role of the state) and now they must lie in it. No amount of repositioning between now and 6th May is going to significantly alter the public’s general take on the Conservative approach – they are perceived (rightly or wrongly) as the party who will make sure the interests of those sectors of society are already relatively well off will be safeguarded at the expense of those who are most vulnerable – no amount of PR inspired sounbite promotion on the part of Cameron will change this relatively well formed public perspective.

    All of this does not change the fact that the election will be fought under the FPTP rulebook and in a close contest anything can happen. Ashcroft derived funding in the marginal constituencies over the last three/four years is bound to have some impact so it cannot be discounted. The influence of tactical voting has grown exponentially with each successive election. This time round we have the National broadcasts to factor in and the LibDems must be delighted with the prospect of their leader projecting himself as an equal to Brown & Cameron – I’m convinced this will only improve the LD’s general poll ratings and they tend to do better in the real election than the polls suggest anyway.

    Factor in all of the above and if the Conservatives fall somewhere short of 40% threshold (say 38%), Labour manages significantly above 30% (say 32%ish), the LD’s manage 23%, we are almost certainly in Hung Parliament territory given the inbuilt Labour advantage due to successively gerrymandered boundary changes over the last 13 years or so.

    I know there’s a lot of supposition in this analysis but you can’t get away from the basic trends underpinning my rough calculations. Of course it could all still change between now and 6th May……..events my dear boy, events?

  49. @Jason

    How dare people get killed when David Cameron is about to speak, very selfish of them.

  50. @Epochery

    Falling? I read immigration was up 58 percent from 2008 to 2009.

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