Friday, 12 February 2010

Poll Latest

Nothing like some cold, hard figures to play with.

The latest Angus Reid poll came a couple of days back. It shows the Tory lead shortening to 13% percentage point with them. This is apparently Labour's best show ever with the online polling company.

The national poll is interesting but is getting predictable. More importantly, I think, is what can be read in the depths of the statistics.

The economy trumped all other issues as being the most important throughout all regions, genders and age groups. It was almost the most important throughout all social classes, but immigration pipped it by 3% in the C2 to E social class group.

This should be a clear indicator as to where the campaigns need to focus. People are genuinely shitting themselves about the economy and how it is affecting them. And rightly so.

It is particularly intriguing when you look at the "If a General Election were held tomorrow, who would you vote for?" results. In the North and in Wales, Labour is suffering. In Wales, 19% said they would vote Labour compared to 31% who said Tory. This is a worrying statistic. The campaign really needs to be effective in Wales. I think complacency is the biggest danger. People know what the Tories have done and probably will do to the economy in Wales, but I can only put this margin down to a lack of purpose on the part of Labour. The North has a slimmer 3% margin between the two parties, but this, again, is a problem. Wales and the North should not be battlegrounds. The Conservative Party is quite simply no good for these parts of the country and the Labour members and PPCs there really need to get to work on explaining what Labour is going to do.

Even the ones who didn't select a party are "leaning" towards the Tories more in the North and are only slightly "leaning" towards Labour in Wales.

The poll also indicates just how important local politics has to be in this campaign, with Gordon Brown's approval ratings at a shockingly low rate. 5% strongly approve of his leadership, 24% moderately approve; the rest disapprove moderately or strongly. In contrast, Cameron's approval levels are quite high.



LetUsFaceTheFuture.


Social Care

An interesting instalment from PoliticsHome

Continuing from the debate at PMQs this week, the polling website asked some questions about people's attitude to social care.

With regard to the quite delicate issue, people were asked whether they'd prefer to see a cross-party consensus, or a politicised battle. The results make for quite interesting reading.

81% of the people asked said they would prefer to see a cross-party consensus. Of that 81%, the majority of those with a party identification were Labour identifiers. In contrast, 16% said they would prefer to see a highly politicised battle on the issue. Yet within that 16%, the majority of those who identified with any party were indeed Conservative identifiers.

Considering that elderly people are one of the main demographics of recipients of social care, it's interesting that they are traditionally considered as Tory voters when the Tories would rather a battle on this issue than a consensus leading to solutions. Just the other day, Cameron was in the Commons praising the Prime Minister for his work in Northern Ireland and everyone agreed that the progress in Northern Ireland was largely down to a cross-party consensus. I think it is clear therefore that the Tories have actually selected the issue of social care as a battleground issue; somewhat disgracefully.

It is clear that cross-party talks were ongoing until now. Sadly, this seems to have broken down. Norman Lamb, FibDem Health Extraordinaire, said it was in part due to

"...a wholly inadequate bill from the Government"

and also in part due to,

"...some pretty shabby campaigning from the Conservatives".

Intriguing that the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Health doesn't care to mention what his party were doing to help build the consensus. Nothing, I assume. Oh, wait, no.... he did have an input. As he says,

"I was advocating the parties coming together and trying to build a consensus.... It was agreed that Andrew Lansley and Andy Burnham would submit their ideas to me"

What, no policy idea input from the Lib Dems? Well, I never.

Anyway, back to his original finger-pointing.

I'll extract some of my disdain for the Lib Dems first. Lamb was clearly working to try and aid the discussions. If not adding anything innovative, he did apparently draft a statement of "clearly shared principles". And Labour's whizz-kid Burnham seems to have played a very active role in proceedings. It also seems that his ideas didn't warrant the criticism from the other parties. The bill drawn up may have had it's faults, but the point of the consensus would have been to work hard to iron out the creases. Saying that, I personally would like Burnham as a future leader. So question the provenance on this one.

Anyway, any and all work that had been done by messrs Burnham, Lansley and Lamb ended when, as Lord Baron King Emperor of Foy, The British Empire and Business Mandelson said, David Cameron,

"drove a wrecking ball through the consensus on care"

Cameron, like 16% in the aforementioned survey, wanted to make this a politicised battle; forsaking the importance of the issue with his petty "R.I.P. Off" posters, claiming Labour was planning a £20,000 death tax. As PM Brown touched upon at PMQs, this is the same David Cameron who said he wanted an end to "Punch and Judy Politics". In that same speech, he said,

"We must...make the Conservative Party the engine room of new political ideas - engaging with academics and think tanks; the brightest and best minds producing detailed policy for the long term, not policy by headline."

Well, apparently Andrew Lansley didn't even clear the cross-party talks with Cameron before he went and joined them. I'm no expert, but you should probably engage with your own front bench before branching out to academics and think tanks.

But then, this was the famous speech when the Airbrushed Saviour of all said,

"We must have faith in the social and economic benefits of the free market. A real programme for prosperity will progressively remove the barriers to wealth creation in Britain today. We need to open ourselves to risk and treat adults like adults."

I'm not into line after line of transcript, but this stuff is priceless....

"The stock of regulations must be reduced: we should trust people to make their own mistakes and learn from them."

Bravo! Or, trust people to make mistakes and let the masses of the lower salariat learn from them?

I've digressed. The point is this: The Conservatives lead by this man cannot be trusted with those issues that affect the vast majority of normal people. In particular, those in need of social care cannot be put in the hands of a Tory government. Social care's place on the agenda has risen massively under Labour and, arguably, even more under Gordon Brown. A Tory victory would take it right the way down the agenda. The Shadow Health Minister even went behind Cameron's back to try and work towards a consensus: he clearly doesn't trust him on this either.


LetUsFaceTheFuture.


Monday, 8 February 2010

Guido is full of sh1t

Guido Fawkes says:
At the end of last week Guido learnt that next week Gordon is scheduled to meet George Papandreou, the socialist Greek prime minister who has led his country to ruin.
Now the Staines massive is a great hater of Gordon Brown, bordering on the lunancy he pins on the "Prime Mentalist". Well, more than that, I think it is bordering on the homoerotic! When you think about someone as much as he does it has got to be more than alturism!

Despite his posing as the preeminent know-it-all of the blogging world, as per usual Guido conveniently ignores the fact that the damage that Papendreou is desperately trying to repair, the deficit he is trying to slice, was accrued under the previous PM; and would you like to guess which side of the political spectrum he was from?

Of course, Papendreou is the Socialist PM who succeeded a government that was responsible for a bloated public sector (any civil unrest was solved with a tranche of new appointments) and, if I recall correctly, a £35,000 bill monthly for newspapers from one government department.

But when did the truth really matter to Guido Fawkes?

Poor old Montgomeryshire

Montgomeryshire is a lovely part of the world, even if my only experience is driving through it...

They don't really have much luck with their elected representatives though...

In the House of Commons they have everybodies favorite paraglider, bon vivant, celebrity botherer and Daily Star columnist Lembit Opik (Keir's significant other had the honour of sharing a lift with him, and he can exclusively reveal that our favourite Estonian kept his hands to himself.)


Whilst in the Senedd they are lucky enough to be represented by former Teacher and Farmer Mick Bates, who, Keir can not so exclusively reveal physically and verbally abused a paramedic after a heavy night on the probably taxpayer funded wine in Cardiff.


Obviously, the Liberal Democrats are the nice, fluffy, friendly party who have suspended him immediately...um, no, well, they are "investigating" things.

Keir was at one point a student and often did some rather silly things (although none really compare to assaulting medical staff) However, if he had tried to fob off friends in the morning by claiming he could not remember what happened then to say he would have been a laughing stock is putting it mildly.

Our representatives are meant to hold themselves to a higher level of probity. It has been made clear that they certainly don't at Westminster, (Hello Steen, Morley, Chaytor, I'm looking at you) and now it is clear that they don't in Cardiff Bay. It also seems pretty clear that these events happened (the paramedic is going to press charges) so I think that Micky's position should really be untenable. However, Montgomeryshire is going to be open warfare come election time, and do the Fibs really want to risk losing a seat in the Senedd? Keir supposes that the electoral math will overshadow the morality of things.

This case highlights how completely out of her depth Kirsty Williams is too. I mean, she is rather lovely, but "investigating"? That is the second most stupid thing I've heard a FibDem say recently, after Mark Oaten on 'Tower Block of Commons' said "...I need to investigate if the BNP is racist..."

It also shows that far from being the nice, environmentally friendly and personally unobjectionable party they pretend to be; the FibDems are just like the other two parties. Hopefully, people soon see through their nice fluffy exterior. In fact, on the ground, the yellow team are as nasty as you like.

As an upside, Keir would like to say that this furore masked coverage of the Fib's spring Conference in Swansea, but um, yeah, there wasn't much of that anyway.

It's a shame really, Keir is currently reading a history of the SDP; and if it wasn't for those pesky Liberals...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Grayling denies misleading anyone...

So how does this work.

Chrissy G says statistics say one thing, when in fact it is like comparing apples with oranges, and not only refuses to apologise but also denies misleading anyone!

From Politics Home
Mr Grayling strongly denied claims that the Conservative party had been using violent crime statistics in a misleading way in party publications.

The party claimed a "significant rise" in violent crime in its literature, but used comparisons between pre- and post-2002 data sets which could not be easily compared due to a change in the way crime statistics were recorded.

"They are the official crime figures, they are the only way," Mr Grayling said.

"I can only use figures that the Home Office publishes and what the Home Office itself uses."

Chris. It really is simple. The only cause of the "significant rise" is because of a change in the way the figures are being counted! No more, no less. There has not been a significant rise in violent crime: but Police now classify violent crime when the alleged victim says it was violent, rather than using their own discretion. You are quite right however that you can only use the figures the HO publish, but at least you can be honest about what they say and why they say it. You are being nothing but dishonest.

Funnily enough, the media don't seem to be that interested in calling you on this!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Student Culling

Top of the agenda at TimesOnline is the news that Universities will be increasing their entry requirements for applicants.

It feels to me like Student numbers is the new elephant-in-the-room, touchy-feely topic much as immigration once has been. Politicians and people in general seem scared to say that too many people are in University and that some people, quite simply, don't deserve to go. "What about our lovely liberal egalitarian system??"

I'm afraid I feel that, if the Blair Government made one mistake, it was increasing University numbers. All numbers: numbers of Universities, numbers of departments, numbers of staff and, of course, numbers of students.

However, I am encouraged that The Right Honourable Lord Mandelson has finally stuck his neck out. Funding cuts are the right path to take. It is finally time to admit we do not need so many people in University; in fact, we'd be better off without a lot of them. As the article details, Mandy is also going to slap fines on every place granted over quotas set by government. To his credit, Vince Cable MP has been arguing about this for a long time and, somewhat ironically given who the party he pays his fees to, he was always talked down by some overly-liberal Labour Party members.

Though it may seem like steps backwards, I hope that the funding cuts lead to department closures and, also, University closures. Change them back to the polytechnics, by all means. But there is no way that we should have so many "graduates". It has proven to be counter-productive. I think Blair's thinking was correct in the sense that he wanted people to have the opportunity to further their education. But I know of people who got 2 D-grades and a C-grade at A Level and they got to go to University! That is not egalitarianism or meritocracy; it's plain ridiculous!

In time, this will prove to be a good move. More people can be trained vocationally or in apprenticeships; both things that the Labour government has increased access too. I am sure that, as Business Secretary, Mandelson's aims are to stimulate the growth of a more productive business and economic environment in this country and there is no doubt that that means increasing the strength of our manufacturing sector. We have learnt the lessons from this recession. A strong manufacturing sector would have softened the blow a great deal. The government, though, is being proactive and, although they don't say as much, they have admitted error and are working to correct things.

It has also served to devalue the degrees of many hard-working students who achieved degrees in good subjects from good Universities.

It is also a good time to draw a line. The economy needs new skills and it needs a growth in the manufacturing sector. The "knowledge economy" is not sustainable.

A positive story all-round. Except for the unsuccessful applicants who will now have to work a bit harder without the bubble-wrap of University clearing day to buy them another 3-years of the "easy life". Time for University to return to being an academic breeding ground for the most gifted and industrious, not a social scene for the pampered middle-class who don't want to enter the real world just yet.


LetUsFaceTheFuture.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Homosexuals of the world; UNITE!

A very interesting piece in The Independent caught my eye today. Nicely following on from Catholicism's attitude toward homosexuality, we now have Conservativism's attitude.

It makes for fascinating reading. David Cameron pledging to stick with all Labour-implemented legislation on gay rights, whilst not putting through any of his own. "Progressive hero!", they will shout. Or not.

To quote Cameron:

"I think it's much more about culture than about law"

Riiiight.

I mean, that's what we did with women; just changed our culture and they were magically allowed to vote and have jobs. And Gandhi kicked the British Raj out of India by changing culture. Oh, and lest we forget how JFK, LBJ and MLK all worked hard to get those changes in culture through so blacks could start living equally with whites in the States.

I suppose that this change in culture that Dave is looking for will be helped along by his Communities specialist, the culture-changing Sayeeda Varsi. The same Sayeeda Varsi who thought that lowering the age of consent from 18 to 16 would see men propositioning school children for gay sex. Those pesky, promiscuous gays. Miss "I'm-young-and-Muslim-and-don't-wear-a-Hijab-so-therefore-must-be-really-liberal" is clearly unaware that when men are gay, they don't suddenly have a lusting for young children. No, no, Sayeeda; you're confusing homosexuality with paedophilia. Why would someone seemingly so liberal do such a thing?

The article also sheds a little more light on the Tories colourful EU partners. So, as well as celebrating the SS, the Tories have now, by virtue of their political alliances, decided that it is ok to describe gays as "faggots".

It's ok though, the sister party in Canada can teach Dave, Sayeeda and their buddies about the way forward on homosexuality:


Year For Change. Indeed.


LetUsFaceTheFuture.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling, Shadow Home Sec., and a perfect example of how thin the Blue teams squad really, is, and the man who brought you this:
A few weeks ago, I spent one of the most illuminating evenings that I have had since entering politics out with the specialist police team in Manchester's Moss Side that works to tackle the gang issues in the area...It's the world of the drama series 'The Wire'
and on [mis]hearing that General Sir Richard Dannatt had agreed to advise the Tories:
I hope that this isn't a political gimmick
is at it again...

The Tories, and in particular Grayling, attack "broken Britain", they claim in a press release that:


However, what they ignore is that in 2002 a new counting and reporting standard was introduced which vastly increased the numbers of violent crime. The same figures have caveats plastered all over it...yet the Tories missed it.

Either way, incompetance or pure politicking, you can be sure that if it was the Labour Party Davey C (and his media acolytes) would be having a field day. Can you imagine the eqv. Mail headline?

So, where is your righteous indignation..?

"Go Shorty, it's your bi..."

Or not.

In echoing LetUsFaceTheFuture's earlier post; I find it very interesting that despite the serious nature of Clare Short's accusations:
Mr Blair "and his mates" decided war was necessary, and "everything was done on a wing and a prayer", Ms Short said.
Despite Shorty claiming that Tony 'Bliar' Blair went to war on a lie, plain and simple (which no other witness, as far as I can recall, have) and "leaned" on his legal advisor, very little have been made of them.

In fact, the BBC ranks her evidence below Sion Simon quitting to run for a position that doesn't exist yet.*

Do you think, perhaps, because out of the whole list of witnesses, her evidence, in that deep voice of hers, was the most predictable; consisting of her repeating "Tony killed innocent kiddies for oil and lied to cabinet, you, and most importantly, me" over and over again?

*Sion Simon. OK the WebCameron video is funny for, well, all the wrong reasons (as a Labour supporter) to be honest. Can't say I'm sorry to see him go though. And to be honest, whilst giving his sis £40k is probably potentially maybe illegal (see, Keir is hedging) this, both the haircut and his foul attitude, is what he should get his collar felt for.

More Blair

Con Coughlin in The Telegraph. Short, succinct and exemplary.

Nothing to say except "Hear, hear". A fine, fine indictment of a stoic Labour lemming.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Echoes of what Keir said yesterday

I cannot help but think that if the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Party had such a murky tax status then there would be much more made of it than this. It seems that the new Conservatives are still in the middle of their honeymoon period with the media; and/or their communications staff are much more effective spinners than Labour at the moment.

From the Guardian today

They have been all over the place on the economy, repeatedly changing tack since the financial crisis exploded in late 2008. The voters are noticing. Witness the latest ComRes survey which showed the Conservative lead over Labour slipping to just seven points, with waning confidence in the Tories' economic plans a key factor: 82% of voters want Cameron to be clearer on his plans for the economy; and 69% reject the notion that, had they been in power, the Tories would have ended the recession any sooner.

The problem for Cameron is that his wobbling is not confined to the economy. There's a pattern here, in which the one thing consistent about the Tories is their inconsistency. "Vote blue, go green", the early, eco-version of Cameron urged; yet two-thirds of planning applications to build wind turbines are rejected by Tory councils. That's the policy equivalent of riding a bicycle followed by a car that carries your bags. (Further green embarrassment came yesterday, when Osborne announced that Lord Stern, an authority on the ­economics of climate change, was on board as an adviser, only for his lordship, moments later, to issue a statement denying any such thing.)

It's hug a hoodie one moment, build a floating jail the next. Cameron boasts of transparency out of one side of his mouth, only to stonewall questions about the residency of his party's ultra-generous donor, Lord Ashcroft, out of the other. Still, nearly a decade after he was ennobled, the Tory party won't say if their sugar daddy – who is helping to fund the Tories' big push in marginal seats – is resident in the UK for tax purposes. It has now emerged that Ashcroft is not only the Conservatives' deputy chairman, he is also a de facto member of the party's foreign affairs team. Last year he flew William Hague to Havana on his private jet, hosted him on his yacht, then accompanied him at meetings with Cuban government officials. Handy for Ashcroft, who has major business interests in the region. But an odd way for Hague, who could be foreign secretary in May, to conduct himself.

It goes on. Truly, the Conservatives are the gift that keeps on giving. If it isn't the revelation that would-be MP and pin-up Zac Goldsmith was until last year a non-dom, it's the clandestine Tory effort to merge with Northern Ireland's unionist parties – which would surely make a Cameron government ineligible for the vital role of peace broker between unionists and nationalists that London has played for more than a decade. (I'm told this has disquieted the Americans, who fear that if a prime minister Cameron can't do that job, they'll have to.)

...

Imagine what the British press would have done with equivalent revelations about, say, Neil Kinnock's Labour party in 1983. Just one of those stories would have been enough to shred the challenger alive. But barely a glove is laid on the Tories. The broadcasters don't insist that Cameron give them a straight answer on Ashcroft, for instance; most don't even ask the question.
Here here. Things can only get better.

More Tory Muddle

You may or may not know Gideon made a speech today on the economy.

One would expect some meaty policy today from the Tories to distract from the recent missteps and to try and dominate the news cycle in response to the steadily tightening polls. The Tories trapse journos and hangers on over to the British Museum, and again, clearly, anyone of sound mind would expect this to be some 'clear blue water', the rushed release of a policy to retake the initiative.

Anyone of sound mind?


Rather, the hungry presspack are drip fed soundbite after soundbite, "benchmarks" to judge his economic performance on (Gideon, if your not careful, your going have to be emphasising 'our' performance, because you're going to be heading straight to the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship...), without any new policy or clarification of any of the V-Turns (I heard it's a U-turn with a point; ie: to win an election)

Which makes me wonder. The ComRes poll out last night which showed Labour trailing by only 7 also showed the rather worrying (for the blue team) statistic that:
82 percent of voters have doubts about Cameron’s economic policies and say he should do more to explain his plans
The Tories have had a terrible few days, and the reds do seem to be on the front foot now. Perhaps we should bastardize Clive Tyldesley? "...can Labour win...they always win..." This is the second half of injury time and it is Labour who seem to have the legs to run until injury time. Why not release a new policy? A big idea? Demonstrate Gordons beloved dividing lines?

Like I said, I was wondering, and sat on the train this evening it came to me. Maybe...maybe they don't have any? Maybe this is all they have? Maybe they have been poaching the knock ons (to mix my sporting metaphors) and now they are on the 22 they realise they have no creativity in the backline?

But the lack of beef is not all...

Within the speech, Osborne said:

I am delighted that Lord Stern has agreed to advise us...

So, perhaps something significant. A member of the House of Lords crossing the floor? Oh, no, he's a crossbencher, and, oh no...Lord Stern issues a statement saying that whilst he would be happy to work with both parties (he already consults on climate change policy with the government):

...I am not, and have no plans to be, an advisor to any political party.
Whoops.

No problem though, because Stelios of easyjet approves. (Oh, and 6 other CEO of FTSE 100 companies)

Mmmmm... secularism


Before I continue, I must add a dislcaimer of sorts:

Don't get me wrong. I am happy for people to believe whatever they want. And I know that the majority of Muslims and Catholics are sound, law-abiding, respectful people with no desire to impose their faith on anyone.

However.....

Joseph Alois Ratzinger, who can also be found under the strange alias of "The Pope", has spoken out against our government. The guy's recent statement is utterly confused, adding to my suspicion that this man, who seems to hold a firm grip on many peoples' opinions, is demented.

Our equality legislation has now extended laws to ensure people do not get discriminated against in society just because they fancy hopping into bed with, or marrying, someone of the same sex. Yet this senior with a head full of fairy tales has the nerve to say our legislation, "...violates natural law".

Extraordinarily interesting use of the word "natural". His whole warped philosophy declines nature. At least his predecessor seemed like an ok guy.

His comments just get progressively more diabolically ridiculous; the Telegraph states:

He said staying true to the Gospel "in no way restricts the freedom of others"

I assume that is other than in the sense that it restricts gay people the freedom to enter his gang. Of course the Gospel does apparently offer some noteworthy freedoms:

  • the freedom to harm oneself with a flesh-slashing whip
  • the freedom to insist God is real, using the argument: "prove he isn't real"
  • the freedom to inappropriately touch boys who just want to sing on a Sunday morning
I also can't help but feel a degree of sympathy for Islam. Not much; but a tiny degree. Because this elderly man continued, to tell bishops that:

"...they must continue to assert the Catholic point of view in national debates".

Why doesn't this maniac get slaughtered in the press and used to scare-monger in order to get popular opinion against him? We are no more a Catholic country than an Islamic country but people persist in saying that many Muslims want to force their religion upon us. Indeed, I'm sure a few Muslims do. But here is a clear statement in the same vein from a widely-known figure saying that his followers should try and impose Catholicism on us. Surely we should be more outraged by this than by the Muslim fanatics anyway? After all, Catholic countries have, for centuries, tried to invade our lands.

Where is the public outcry?

Again, this is not a tirade against religion; but a man.

I sincerely hope that when this lunatic arrives on our enlightened island this year, he is greeted with similar sentiments to those that rightly met folk like Abu Hamza.

I also hope politicians of all colours outwardly condemn this fruitcake for meddling in our progress toward equality.


LetUsFaceTheFuture.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Recovery is coming...

...this bodes well for a firming up of the recovery, and contributing to the avoidance of a double-dip.

I wonder how much of this will be made over the next few days?
There are glimmers of a brighter year ahead for Britain's embattled factories after a survey showed the manufacturing sector grew at its fastest pace in 15 years last month.

The news of strong demand on manufacturers from both home and abroad cemented economists' view that the worst of the downturn is over, despite official data showing Britain only just crawled out of recession at the end of last year.*
From the Guardian

*They never, ever, ever, ever, ever, seem to mention that almost every time, this figure is revised as more information comes in; and 0.1% will probably become 0.2-4%
The U.K.'s manufacturing sector continued to rise sharply in January, hitting a more-than 15-year high, boosted by output and new export orders while employment rose for the first time in almost two years, data showed Monday. The PMI reading of 56.7 for the manufacturing sector was at its highest since October 1994.
From the WSJ
The recession led to many manufacturers being forced to cut jobs but this new demand means some firms are taking on staff for the first time in nearly two years. David Noble, CIPS chief executive, said the January result was "a great way to start the year" for the embattled sector
From Sky News

Recovery is coming. Don't let the Tories kill it.

Tory u-turn


Well I was going to blog on the u-turn announced by confused-Cameron at the weekend, but I found The Novocastrian's post to be a much better version than I think mine would have been.

Go and read it!

#Kerryin

For the lucky amongst you who have not been bitten by the need to read blogs and bloggers which you find repugnant maybe I should fill you in with a bit of background.

(The lovely) Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour's 'Twitter Tsar' came under sustained attack from right wing bloggers (Tory Bear and everyones favourite non-prospective parliamentary candidate Iain Dale to mention two) over her expenses amongst other things, and this led to the #Kerryout hashtag on Twitter. Her Tory opponent in the seat set up a page on MyConservatives.com and began rapidly raising money (although not that much; not quite £2k) The Tory Bloggers crowed, could this be the first constituency won through the power of internet fundraising and online politics? Would this prove how revolutionary and how so very right they all were?

Ummmmmmmmmmmmm?

The terrible twosome of the opposition parties was completed when the usual Fib Dem fictional leaflets appeared, stated that "...only the Lib Dems can beat Labour here...". Usually they show graphs of door-knockings, European Election results, or something else as equally irrelevant to the General Election. This time however, they did not take into account the boundary adjustments that considerable changed the demographic of the seat; dropping them from second to a few thousand behind the Tories in third. But since when have the Lib Dems been concerned with the truth?

Well, Kerry's opponent was Adeela Shafi. The Mirror has a scoop on her today:
A key member of David Cameron's new generation of women MPs has had three county court judgments against her since 2007 - including one for almost £325,000.

And her husband Ijaz Shafi was declared bankrupt in 2000.

Muslim lecturer Adeela Shafi was hand-picked by Cameron to open for him at the 2008 Tory Conference.

He then endorsed her as a Parliamentary candidate and campaigned in her Bristol East constituency along with his shadow cabinet team.

The excellent Political Scrapbook explains the significance clearer and simpler than I ever could:

The Insolvency Act 1986 and Enterprise Act 2002 outlaw undischarged bankrupts from standing for Westminster and provide for bankrupt MPs to be turfed out. Application for a bankruptcy petition by creditors (her husband was declared insolvent in 2000) could leave the Tories without a candidate or, should Shafi pull off a shock win in Bristol East, a Member of Parliament. Scrapbook doubts this is the kind of gamble voters will plump for on May 6.

The bombshell leaves Shafi open to allegations of recklessness from fellow Tories and recalls the recent case of the SNP’s original candidate in the Glasgow North East by-election, who was forced to stand down within five days of selection after failing to declare serious financial problems.

This is the kind of campaign development that party staffers dread and the stuff of absolute nightmares for election agents. What’s that sound?

The wheels coming off one of the Tories’ most visible campaigns.

The rather pathetic right wing campaign comes to an end. Shafi's position must be untenable now. I guess she has already spent most of the money she raised too so thats all wasted on signs and posters with her name on it. Funnily enough there is very little mention of the campaign on the right-wingnuts blogs at the moment, and what is hilarious, is that on the #Kerryout website, the live Twitter stream shows nothing but crowing texts from Labour activists. Score one for the good guys.

Never mind Tory Bear* and Daley, better luck next time. #KERRYIN

*Tory Bear smells a rat by the sound of his rather bitter Tweeting recently!

ooh clever, tip off the mirror, coordinated blog and twitter attack and phone bank on the same day. Labour machine kicks in!
Diddums. Thats right. #GameOn

Tory Sleaze

Some good coverage today and yesterday of the elephant in the Tory Party, Lord Ashcroft. I cannot help but think that if the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Party had such a murky tax status then there would be much more made of it than this. It seems that the new Conservatives are still in the middle of their honeymoon period with the media; and/or their communications staff are much more effective spinners than Labour at the moment. (A bit of both I feel)

Yesterday we saw Billy Hague and Ashcroft in the spotlight. The Guardian led with:
Calls to clarify Lord Ashcroft's position after revelation that he provided flights for William Hague's visit to Havana last year, and then accompanied him to top-level meetings
It was also noted later in the article that Hague and Ashcroft met the Cuban government, which:
...breached the spirit of European rules, which state that such visits should not take place until and unless until there is a freedom to meet opponents of the regime.
So; not only does his role in a potential future Cameron Ministry (and even in the Shadow Cabinet at the moment) need further investigation, Billy and Ashcroft also broke protocol in regards to furthering democracy in Cuba.

Then, today, more trouble for Ashcroft.
Since Lord Ashcroft's ennoblement, the question of where he lives has continued to be raised, leading to speculation that Lord Ashcroft has not satisfied the undertaking he gave. Statements by senior politicians concerning Lord Ashcroft's undertaking have been evasive and obfuscatory and have served to compound this speculation.Lord Ashcroft could have ended the speculation about his residency by making a public statement to that effect. He has chosen not to do this...
The Conservative Party has been getting away with this for far too long. Ashcroft is singlehandedly bankrolling the parties operation in marginal seats, as well as, in his position as Deputy Party Chairman, involved in strategy. His residency status must become a central part of the attack on the Tories. How can someone so murky, with such a confused and unclear background, have such an integral part in the result of the election?

Keir awaits with baited breath the Cabinet Office's release of the information...

UPDATE: Rather fantastically, most outlets are running with differing versions of this picture, depicting a rather sweaty looking Ashcroft...