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Month: February 2013

So an Eastleigh by-election is upon us. Can the Lib Dems hold on…?

They say you’ll never find a poor bookie. Well as the books open on the Eastleigh by-election one thing is clear – they have no idea who’ll win this by-election. You can get both the Lib Dems and the Tories at odds-on and also odds against. It is a straight two-horse race as it just isn’t a Labour area and the big question we’ll see for the first time in this new political climate is the effect of UKIP on a Tory/LD marginal.

I wrote last year that UKIP could actually be the saviour of the Lib Dems in 2015. It sounds mad but a strong UKIP could work very much if the Lib Dems favour. The majority of Lib Dem seats in the south are very much in Tory/LD marginals. Heck most of the marginals that the Lib Dems are in are with the Tories in the south. Now I hypothesise that a strong UKIP will pick up more votes from the Tories than they do the Lib Dems. Yes there will be Lib Dem protest votes that disappear to UKIP but the question is will these be more or less than those votes from disaffected Tories?

It should be noted that in the pathetic Police and Crime Commissioner Elections that in the borough of Eastleigh (which isn’t strictly the constituency ward but is the majority of) that the Lib Dem candidate got the most votes with the independent candidate second, Tories third and Labour fourth. The council is made up of 40 Lib Dems and Four Tories. No other party is represented. In 2012 Eastleigh actually saw two LD gains. So this is an area where the Lib Dem vote is strong and is holding up.

Chris Huhne took over the seat in 2005 and just about held on but in 2010 he increased his 600 odd majority to just short of 4,000. The seat was a three-way marginal but Labour’s portion of the vote has dissipated since their high point in the 1997 massacre where they were still a good 5,000 short of winning in Eastleigh. Labour are not winning Eastleigh so don’t throw your money away. This is now a two-way marginal with UKIP being the interesting party to watch.

I don’t think Chris Huhne’s actions will hurt too much with the electorate. It won’t help for sure but if the Lib Dems put forward a good local candidate who speaks well and campaigns hard then they it shouldn’t be a huge issue. I don’t see the Huhne personal vote as a big one. Just watching VoxPops on the local news and the general consensus is that he was an idiot and they are very disappointed in him personally – but not disappointed in the party.

This is without a shadow of a doubt the first by-election that will actually show something of this parliament. I know George Galloway won in Bradford West but that was very much a protest vote against Labour and an excellent local campaign. If The Lib Dems lose Eastleigh then they might well be in real trouble in 2015 but if David Cameron can’t take Eastleigh then there will be a large section of his party that will think they can’t win an outright majority in 2015.

Labour should sit back and watch the carnage and basically work out their 2015 strategy in large based on this. This by-election will be the largest indicator that we’ll get to how the Lib Dem vote is holding up against the Tories and in turn how UKIP will influence these vital Tory/LD marginal. After this by-election we’ll know so much more but for now all we can do is speculate and watch the drama unfold. Oh and Phone Bank, Phone Bank, Phone Bank…

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The lamentable demise of Chris Huhne

Well what can you say? You sleep in because you were up until gone 4AM watching Super Bowl XLVII and you wake up to Chris Huhne changing his plea to guilty and all hell breaking loose. Obviously due to the ongoing trial I can’t type too much about the case only that Chris Huhne is clearly a moron and thought that he could lie and bully his way out of a problem.

The sad thing about all of this is that is was so needless. If you are going to break the law in such a small way (speeding) then all lying about it does is give it a chance to come back and bite you in the bum at a later date. Yes getting a driving ban would be annoying as hell for a driver but some of us don’t drive through choice and you know what – we manage to get to places we need to get to. Just because you can’t drive doesn’t mean the world stops turning. It isn’t that great a thing in the grand scheme of things.

Chris Huhne was clearly a very gifted MP and his work as Energy & Climate Change Secretary was really quite impressive. His performance at the Cancun Climate Change Conference was one of the best things any coalition cabinet member has done so far despite the fact it was not widely reported on. He was certainly the best positioned MP to challenge Nick Clegg as leader (Tim Farron’s position as not having been in cabinet probably hurts him in reality) and I know personally of Lib Dems who were desperate for Huhne to be found not guilty and then run at Nick Clegg sooner rather than later. However this will now not be the case.

Nick Clegg’s rather terse statement today saying he was ‘shocked and saddened’ and that Huhne had done ‘absolutely the right thing’ in resigning as an MP. What Nick Clegg wanted to say was that he was extremely pissed off with Huhne for lying about speeding and not only that, he compounded the lie by reiterating his innocence time and time again. Chris Huhne has been a thorn in Nick Clegg’s side for several years now and whilst he has now removed that thorn he has been left with one giant headache.

Now all that is waiting for Huhne is time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. His career in tatters but he’s a millionaire who’ll do ok when he comes out but just not in politics. What disappoints me most about all of this is both Huhne doing it in the first place but secondly about how confident and dismissive he was when the charges were originally brought against him. He was so confident he would never be charged and then that it’d never reach trial that he has come across as a rather arrogant and nasty man. I don’t even recall him apologising for his actions today (although he may have not been able to say much because of the ongoing trial of his ex-wife) but still.

So Chris Huhne is going down but will the Lib Dems go down in Eastleigh? I’ll look into that later today…

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‘Like it or not this (equal marriage/rights for homosexuals) is this generations Civil Rights issue’

Not my words but the words of ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez on ESPN’s Around The Horn show this afternoon. However it is a really interesting point and topic of debate. They were discussing it as a player of the San Francisco 49ers who had said the following when asked about gay players on the team:

I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah – can’t be – in the locker room man. Nah.”

The team in a carefully worded statement that clearly weren’t the words of the player swiftly followed:

The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel, It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.

This has created quite a stir unsurprisingly. If there is one city in the United States which has a liberal attitude to same sex relationships then San Francisco would be it. However I found Gutierrez’s comment quite fascinating and rather insightful. I suspect they’ll create more of a stir in the blogosphere Stateside over the coming hours and days.

Over here we have the Equal Marriage Bill that was unveiled last week. There will be a second reading of the bill next Tuesday which is expected to pass with relative ease before facing a slightly more tricky fight in the House of Lords. Most people I know are pro equal marriage. My generation in general has far fewer prejudices than older generations. This is in no small part due to the multi-cultural society that we live in and the fact society as a whole is more open and tolerant.

We also have this thing I like to call the interweb. The interweb has opened up a portal where we can read about so many lives. Social media has further opened up that window to worlds we may never have known before. I can go on that Google machine and pretty much find out about any type of people that I so desire. We quickly come to realise that we are deep down the same and hence why being gay or bisexual or transgendered doesn’t have the amount of issues that it did a generation or two ago.

The thing is more still needs to be done. So much more needs to be done. This is why equal marriage is so important. It is another step not just for gay people to get equality but more importantly it takes another barrier down so people don’t see gay and straight people as having any difference. The more we breakdown these barriers then the more people will realise there is no difference.

I hear about the ‘sanctity’ of marriage and I don’t think it’ll surprise regular readers what I think about the sanctity of marriage. What is it one in every three marriages ends in divorce? Yeah there is a tonne of sanctity in that. I’m not a God guy. That is well known and the Church of England exists because Henry VIII wanted a male heir. You could argue about the Church of England tracing back to The Council of Hertford in 673 AD but that is not where I sit. The CoE essentially exists so Henry VIII could marry someone else. Not sure that is a great backbone to a religion myself.

As for whether churches should be forced to marry same-sex couples. Well churches aren’t actually compelled to marry couples of different sexes. If the vicar decides that the two people are not right for whatever reason he or she can decline to marry them in their church. Members of the clergy are not forced to marry anyone that asks to be married there as it stands anyway. Should they be compelled to marry any same-sex couple? No they shouldn’t but the big question is can they turn them down for the sole reason of being a same-sex couple?

I must admit I see both sides to this argument. It must be said that not all members of the clergy would turn down same-sex couples, in fact a good number have no issue with marrying same-sex couples. God loves everyone of his children so they say, there is never a distinction made about their creed, their colour, their race, their gender, their sexuality or anything of the sort. Therefore if he does exist then the teachings dictate that he loves every single one of his children no matter what and therefore would have no issues regarding same-sex marriages. Now some clergy will of course use other teachings – namely Leviticus 18, verse 22 – ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.‘ for a valid reason for not marrying same-sex couples.

Where I struggle is this – who am I (or anyone for that matter) to tell people how to interpret their religious beliefs? On the other hand I strongly believe that everyone should be treated equally. In this situation the two points of view are polar opposites and one has to be bent and which one should? I don’t think I have the right to answer that but as I strongly believe that equality is at the heart of everything we do I think it is clear – when pushed – which side of the fence I come down on.

I am not sure that this is this generations Civil Rights issue but it certainly isn’t the worst analogy ever. The Civil Rights movement was all about equality for one section of society and this movement is all about equality for another section of society. Yes homosexuals aren’t forced to give up their seats on the bus if a straight person wants to sit there but they don’t have access to all the things that heterosexual people do and this is not fair.

To round off (considering this was a US story) I have quote from the United States Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All men (and women) are created equal and if they do not have the same opportunities in life than the next person then we have gone badly wrong as a race.

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