The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘tories’ tag

Labour shoot themselves in the foot in Southend

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Sometimes you think it is just about getting the best candidate for the gig, however sometimes it really isn’t if you actually want to win. The more you get exposed to the inner workings of politics you come to understand that to win you have to prioritise, you have to work out where your money is, how to spend it, where to spend it, how the activist is, where the activist base is, how best to use the activist base and so on.

When the 2015 General Election comes round it is highly unlikely I’ll be voting here as it seems now all but certain I’ll be moving out of Southend in the near future. However the seat where I am living is, despite what might be seen as an extremely safe Tory seat, actually not that safe. James Duddridge is an odds on favourite to win again but if you delve into the numbers (which I like to do) then you’ll see that he’s a big favourite, but a big favourite who could lose if everything goes against him. Should Duddridge fall short then it’d be Labour who’d pick up the seat.

Over in the west of Southend David Amess will win another term at as the MP. Of that there isn’t any doubt whatsoever barring a significant scandal coming out about him and even if that happens, I’d expect him to still hold on just. If he lost he’d lose to the Liberal Democrats.

So why am I talking about Labour shooting themselves in the foot? Well they’ve decided to field their arguably two strongest candidates in both seats. Cllr. Ian Gilbert beat out Cllr. Julian Ware-Lane for the Rochford & Southend East nomination. At this point it still was a long shot they could pull off the win here but the fact the Tories failed to win a single seat here in the council elections this year, coupled with the rise of UKIP and what will be a total collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote in the east of the town then Labour are live dogs. If Cllr. James Moyies stands in the seat for Parliament next May (as far as I’ve read there hasn’t been any decision on this) then Labour are very live dogs in this seat.

Labour lost by 11,000 odd last time around and 11,000 is quite a majority to overturn, certainly if the party trying to overturn it isn’t exactly sweeping all away in the council elections (which they aren’t) but lets look at the maths again.

The Lib Dems will lose 4,000-5,000 votes in the seat at a pretty well educated guess. You would expect Labour to pick up around half of them, so that majority is now around 9,000 to win. The Tories have been in power, so Labour now aren’t the party of government. This means that the vote for change now is in the hands of Labour and for whatever David Amess’ faults on the other side of the borough, people you speak to (who aren’t staunchly political) say that he is a good constituency MP, I don’t hear the same about James Duddridge. He is kind of an anonymous MP. So his name carries very little cachet. So his personal vote will not be strong.

Then throw in the UKIP factor. I don’t want to put words in Cllr. Gilbert’s mouth but you have to think that he is out in his garden every night looking up at the sky searching for a shooting star and has his ‘Please let UKIP stand here’ wish ready to go. The Tories got just a tick over 19,500 votes last time around, if UKIP took 20% of that vote (which is entirely possible and might even be a low estimate) then that is 4,000 plus votes. Now of course UKIP would also take votes from Labour, certainly in places like Kursaal but not to the same degree.

Strangely the key ward may actually be right here in Thorpe Bay, where Labour are nowhere and will get very few votes. The Tories should sweep this seat in a General Election and this ward votes. If UKIP (or heck how about an ambitious independent?) could make serious inroads into the Tory vote here then it is really game on.

All sounds good for Labour, no?

Well, yes and no. To win they have to throw every resource they have at Rochford & Southend East. They need to run a skeleton campaign in the west and put all their eggs in the one basket. They have a straight choice whether to go for first in the east and finish third in the west, or settle for second in the east in an attempt to finish second in the west. Personally a shot at first and settling for third seems like a no brainer.

Yet they have chosen a man who will certainly go and try to win in the west in Cllr. Ware-Lane. Admirable yes, good politics, most certainly not. Good strategy wins elections often just as much as good policy. I just cannot see Cllr. Ware-Lane being a paper candidate who would spend his time in the east trying to get Cllr. Gilbert elected, which would certainly be the best decision for them strategically. Of course I could be wrong and whilst Cllr. Ware-Lane is saying all the right things publicly, he knows the best thing for Labour would be to hit the east and support Cllr. Gilbert to the fullest of his abilities.

In 2010 the Lib Dems had the most votes in Oxford yet won neither seat, they came a close second in both seats. Had they concentrated on one seat, either seat, they would have won. There are many stories similar to this. If Southend Labour want to gain an MP then they know all their eggs have to be in the east because they have a shot of winning. If they decide to fight both seats to any significant degree then it is highly likely we’ll end up with two Conservative MP’s again across the two seats.

If I was a betting man I’d back Amess and Duddridge to both be returned to parliament next May but on a very good day for the Labour party, they have a shot at dethroning Duddridge. Amess is safe as houses but Duddridge, whilst looking safe could go if the dominoes all fall the wrong way for him and the right way for Labour. So it should be full steam ahead for Labour in the east but you just get the sense that by selecting Cllr. Ware-Lane in the west that they aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket and on this occasion, that would have been the most logical strategy if their end goal was to return an MP to parliament in 2015.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 22nd, 2014 at 11:55 am

Vote Green, Get UKIP. What uninformed bull-plop from local Labour bloggers

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A month or so ago Cllr. Ware-Lane wrote the blog post entitled Vote Green get UKIP and I shook my head in despair. It was utter bollocks and he knew it but I thought I would let it pass. I have come to understand that Julian’s knowledge of basic maths and reality isn’t the best. He uses one example where had the Greens not stood a candidate in Kursaal ward then Labour may have won and therefore concludes that if you vote Green then you get UKIP. One example folks. One example.

He decided to ignore other examples of where the maths would have been different had certain other parties not won. For example the January West Leigh by-election. Did we see a plethora of ‘Vote Labour, Get Tory’ blog posts? I don’t think so, even though had Labour not stood a candidate in that by-election then the likelihood is that the Liberal Democrat candidate would have won. This happens everywhere. In every council and in every parliamentary constituency. Certain parties will win or lose not because of the strength of their support but because of how the support against them is spread. If it is focused on one party then there is trouble, if it is spread amongst several parties then there is not. That is FPTP politics folks.

So anyway Matthew Dent weighed in recently on the same topic. Splitting the vote: Vote Green, Get UKIP where he comes to pretty much the same conclusion. That being that voting for the Green Party is pointless in a ward where they have no chance of winning and if they don’t want a UKIP councillor then they should back the party in the best position to stop UKIP. All well and good but Labour don’t do that so why should other parties fall in line?

There is an argument that parties should do reciprocal deals within boroughs to help get the most hated opposition out, whoever they are. In Southend that could mean Labour agreeing to not standing candidates in places like West Leigh, Prittlewell and St. Laurence where they are not winning any soon soon and can only help split the vote in the favour of the Tories and UKIP. In return this could mean Liberal Democrats could choose not to run in places like Kursaal, St. Lukes and Victoria, places where they aren’t winning any time soon. This would help both parties gain councillors but it would also stop potential Labour and Liberal voters in those wards from voting for who they actually want to vote for but is that fair or right?

Cllr. Ware-Lane, himself a West Leigh resident chose to support the Labour candidate unsurprisingly in the West Leigh by-election even though he knew it was a wasted vote and would help ensure the Tories won. Did he deride himself for doing this or did he exercise his democratic choice for voting for the party he wanted to win instead of choosing to back the party most likely of toppling the administration party at the time? I think we know the answer to that and this Vote Green, Get UKIP bollocks is exactly the same but in this instance quoted potentially hurt his party, Labour.

It is an issue with our electoral system but it is what it is and people need to stop moaning about it. The country had the chance to move towards a system that would enable the voter to have more influence on that make-up of their parliament (and no doubt councils would have followed) but they decided that because it was a Lib Dem idea that they didn’t want it. I would bet a fair few quid that if we went to the polls in this UKIP surge era then the vote would be a hell of a lot closer but that ship has sailed for now.

So unless Labour (and other parties) want to do deals borough wide then this is going to be the norm. Parties are going to win with under 50% of the vote and when in all likelihood the majority of those who voted wouldn’t want them to win. As politicians, or activists, or just members of the electorate then we are just going to have to deal with that fact. If people want to go out and vote Green then fair do’s and they shouldn’t be blamed or have it insinuated that their vote is the reason a party like UKIP won Kursaal ward. Most people vote for who they want to vote for and some choose to vote for the party most likely to defeat the party they dislike the most.

In some places Labour voters help get in the Tories or UKIP. In some places Green voters help get in Tories or UKIP. In some places Liberal voters help get in Tories or UKIP. In some places UKIP voters help get in Labour. In some places Tories help the Green party to win. In some places the SNP help the Liberals win. This thing happens everywhere and in every direction. To claim that a vote for the Green party helps UKIP citing one or two examples and ignoring all the other examples from all parties across the nation is just pure politics and not reality and that disappoints me frankly. It is lazy and it is cheap but most importantly it is wrong to make sweeping generalisations based on such minuscule ‘evidence’ and I’d hope for better but sadly I don’t expect it.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 1st, 2014 at 9:14 am

What is Cllr. Flewitt’s end game?

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This morning (well this afternoon really…I would pretend that I was all up early and reading the blogosphere but that really isn’t my style) so anyway, this afternoon I read that Labour’s new young mouthpiece in Southend had composed a blog post entitled MARK FLEWITT, LAPDOG TO ATTACK DOG? (yes he used all caps) and if I’m actually being fair, it is a very pertinent question and one that has reared its head inside of my mind.

Because you see, I like certain things about politics and I hate others. One thing that I truly despise is people who say one thing when in power and when they get removed for whatever reason, suddenly say the complete opposite. Going the other way is something I find less deplorable as we can all be idealistic but sometimes the realisation of power and what you can and can’t do means you can’t do everything that you want to. It is bloody annoying still but going from power to opposition and moaning just rings hollow as my brain just screams, ‘well why didn’t you do that when you had the bloody power then…?

Matthew speaks about the possibility of building homes on a piece of land in St. Laurence, which is probably what Mark should be talking about as a councillor for the ward. However in yesterday’s Echo he also had another entry – a letter to the editor – entitled ‘Sort ghastly Greater Anglia line’ where upon he lambasts the line and tells Southend Council that they need to be on the side of the Greater Anglia commuter as they face frequent delays, old rolling stock and high price increases.

Now let me just double check something here, Cllr. Flewitt is a Tory councillor, right? The Tories have run Southend Council for all but what, six or so weeks of his 10+ year tenure on the council? What the fucking hell did he do for the Greater Anglia line commuters in the ten years when he had influence on the side of the majority and ruling parties? I’m guessing not a great deal considering he’s saying just how shit it is now and I’m guessing the quality of the line hasn’t suddenly plundered since May 23. The line has long been the poor cousin of the old Misery Line as c2c really has invested and will continue to do so. The Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria line certainly hasn’t seen such investment.

So whilst Cllr. Flewitt makes what is in fact a valid point, the fact he has wrapped it up in a shot at Southend Council leaves me shaking my head in despair. Why didn’t he and his fellow Tory councillors do something about it in their ten years they had with him as part of the administration if he felt so strongly about it? It is all well and good telling the council they should look at the line (fair comment) but when you’ve had ten years involved with the organisation who could help sort it and you’ve seemingly done bugger all then your words ring hollow. It galls me that politicians do this – and Cllr. Flewitt isn’t the only one, he isn’t the first and won’t be the last and lets be blunt, politicians from all parties do it and it stinks.

Most of the more vocal and well known Tory councillors have either left or been removed by the electorate. It is probably fair to say that Cllr. Flewitt is now the most vocal member they have left in terms of name recognition and media presence. It does seem as though he is setting himself up to be the voice of the opposition but I personally feel as though he should focus his critique and time on things that he didn’t have influence over for the past ten years (i.e. things the new administration are doing that the Tories didn’t and things they continue to disagree with) and not just to make political capital out of things that he could have influenced for the past ten years but for whatever reason, chose not to.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 3rd, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Politics

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It is time for Labour to step up and put Southend above politics

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Oh maths, electoral maths, it has been a while since we have met but the future of Southend is up for grabs and it is time to turn to you to work out what is feasible. The Tories went down big on Thursday night and unsurprisingly lost the majority in the Civic Centre. So the big question is now, ‘who will run Southend Council?’ and the realistic possibilities bring about a rather unlikely coalition.

The composition of the chamber is as follow with the number to yet a majority at 26:

19 Conservative
12 Independent Group
9 Labour
5 Liberal Democrat
5 UKIP
1 Independent Independent (yes that is as funny as it sounds)

So the easiest answer is the Tories do a deal with the independent group. 31 seats. Simple. End of blog. But wait there are two issues at play here, John Lamb has already stated that he won’t work with ‘some independents’ and also that loose UKIP/Independent alliance that meant they didn’t challenge each other in any seat across Southend, does that alliance go as far as becoming a package deal in coalition talks? To answer that then the leaders would need to speak but both have hilariously denied there was any form of alliance and it just happened to be coincidence that they didn’t stand against each other, yeah and its a coincidence that women run away from me when I start talking about my care bear collection that live on the headboard of my bed, get real people.

So lets for now say that a Tory/Indy deal is problematic.

Next up is the juicy one and if we are being 100% non-partisan then what would make the most sense for the people of Southend – a Tory/Labour coalition. This results in 28 seats of the 51 and would provide the stability that Southend needs at this point when budget squeezes are making budgets harder and harder to put together. Of course there is one huge problem and that is Labour would not want to go into coalition with the Tories politically nor philosophically.

I suspect the Tories would do the deal as they are rather pragmatic and know that a two party coalition is more likely to hold together than any potential three-way. Labour though would have to stop throwing rocks at the council and would have to deal with the real issues of power and taking the tough decisions is a difficult climate for local councils, are they ready for that?

The local rag on the front page yesterday said that an Independent, Labour and Lib Dem three-way was the most likely outcome. That would be tough to do. I firmly believe that the voters of Southend spectacularly rejected the Liberal Democrats last Thursday and therefore they should not be part of any ruling coalition on principle unless there really was no alternative. Also Labour have been more vitriolic towards the Lib Dems than any other party and working with them would be at best an uneasy truce and I’m not sure the Lib Dem five would back Ron Woodley as leader of any coalition considering we’ve abstained on this issue before (note to Lib Dem councillors – abstaining is weak).

I think the Lib Dems are out of this and this of course depends on whether this Indy/UKIP alliance goes forward beyond last Thursday. If it does then an Independent, Labour, UKIP coalition would achieve the same goal mathematically. We can pretty much take it as fact that the Independent group would work with UKIP and those parties could gain control of the chamber if Labour follow them.

The Tories and the Lib Dems do not have enough seats to form a deal on that front, even with Dr. Vel and would need in all likelihood the Thorpe three to go with them. It doesn’t seem practical and nor would it be right that the two parties that were rejected by the electorate form a coalition.

There are only two coalitions that make sense mathematically and would seemingly form a cohesive group of councillors who could lead Southend and both involve the Labour party. One is a straight up coalition with the Tories and the second is a coalition with the Independent Group and UKIP.

So it is time for the nine Labour councillors to decide whether they are prepared to put politics aside for the good of Southend or whether politics comes first. If they want a better Southend then it is time for them to step up and form one of these two coalitions. If they decide that they would rather sit on the side in opposition and throw rocks at whoever leads the council then it would be disappointing and disheartening, albeit not surprising that they put ideology and politics first and the betterment of the people of Southend second.

I implore Cllr. Ian Gilbert and his team of councillors to do one of the two deals above. Swallow your pride and work with either the Tories or the Indy/UKIP alliance and put Southend first. If you don’t then the door is wide open for the independent group and UKIP to gain enough to win an outright majority in 2015 and that is something that I personally would not like to see.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 27th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Mr Mark Steel – A perfect example of why Labour can never win a grown-up debate

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Ah Mr Mark Steel. A voice against Capitalism and a voice against the system. Allegedly a comedian but I support if Michael McIntyre can call himself a comedian then anyone can these days. I think it is fair to say that Mark Steel is a Labour man and it has heavily influenced his life. I have no problem with that, we are all shaped by our upbringings and our political ideologies. Some from all parties believe in everything they do and disparage anyone who disagrees wit them. This always galls me as I like to think there is something to be learned from so many views.

Why am I writing about this today?

Well the ‘funny man’ has written a piece in the Independent entitled If his 2015 manifesto is going to feature a load of pledges he can’t stick to, shouldn’t Nick Clegg at least have some fun with it? with the sub-title, If it’s grown-up to ignore what you said to get elected, why have a campaign at all?

It is exactly what you think it is, a poorly thought-out piece saying that because the Lib Dems didn’t win a majority in the House of Commons at the last General Election then they basically should have told the Tories to stuff it and allow the economy to funk for a few months whilst we had a second General Election where the Tories would have won a majority. That is what he thinks would have been the best way to deal with the issues of the summer of 2010. It is a shame that yet another person fails to understand what the basic ethos of a coalition is but there are plenty of those about, so he’s in fine company.

I remember the same ‘comic’ on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You? and Mock The Week deriding the Lib Dems in the build up to the 2010 General Election as a waste of space, because quite simply they couldn’t win and couldn’t see any of their policies implemented. David Mitchell is one that really resonates in the memory banks, going on about how considerate it was to have the Lib Dem party conferences before the Tory and Labour ones so all the political hacks could have a warm-up before the important ones. Oh my sides split.

Well a strange thing happened on the way to being irrelevant. The Lib Dems became relevant and boy did it piss off a lot of people. Not solely because they became relevant but because they sided with the Tories over Labour in terms of a coalition. Not to mention the fact that the election maths made a Labour coalition impossible, meaning only a rainbow alliance could have had the MPs to hold a majority and imagine that, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green etc… – could these guys really all sit around a table and form a stable government? I think the chances of that are similar to those of me ever getting laid – PS: if you don’t know me then I can assure you, the odds of me ever getting laid are long, very long.

Also the country had voted for more Conservative MPs than any other party, surely this meant they deserved to run the country? They didn’t win the election outright but they were closer to the winners post than any other party. The financial situation at the time of the election meant that confidence and supply for an emergency budget wasn’t really a goer and a stable coalition had to be formed. The Tories and the Lib Dems were the unlikely bed fellows. Did that sit well with me? No, of course it didn’t but I could see that stable government was needed and this was the best route forward.

I can see why many voters were unhappy about this. A significant proportion of the Lib Dem vote wasn’t really a Lib Dem vote, but an anti-Tory vote. In vast areas it is a two-horse race and Labour voters lent their vote hoping to keep the Tories out of office. The fact the Lib Dems then went into coalition with the Tories meant they felt betrayed. This is just a pitfall of our election system that we could have changed but the country decided they didn’t want it to be changed. Sod fairer votes as it might favour the Lib Dems. Now of course many people are slowly figuring out that FPTP is going to screw UKIP and they are outraged again but I digress.

Could Nick Clegg have handled certain things better? Of course he could. Sadly though we don’t have a Stargate or a Quantum Mirror to go into a parallel universe and see how things would’ve shaken out had Clegg not had taken the Lib Dems into a coalition. However to turn around and say that he could write whatever he wanted in the 2015 Lib Dem manifesto because he didn’t see through his 2010 manifesto is just a fallacy, one linked to the authors lack of grasp of basic coalition politics. Not just coalition politics, but coalition politics with a very junior partner.

If Labour had gone into a coalition with the Lib Dems and benched some of their manifesto then would they be a bunch of liars as well? Yeah I wonder what he’d say to that…

However what really gets my goat about his piece isn’t the bollocks he’s spewing about how pointless the Lib Dem manifesto is, comedians have been doing that for years in various guises believing that a third party was easy prey for laughs. The fact the irrelevant party became a party of government just meant they had to find other ways to deride the party. That is ok. That is fair game in comedy apparently. Who cares about accuracy when you can get cheap laughs, oh look my trousers have fallen down, I need stitches in my sides it is so funny.

No what really gets my goat is the final paragraph and a bit and how out of touch and lazy it is:

To have any chance at the next election, even of saving his own seat in Sheffield, he’ll need to go much much further than that.

So instead of wasting effort compiling more promises, his one chance of saving his seat in Sheffield might be a collaboration with local heroes the Arctic Monkeys, in which he sings: “Oh what a scummy man, you can see it in my eyes yeah that I’ve got a nasty plan, I’d go into coalition with the bloody Taliban for a place in the cabinet. And you’ve seen me with Osborne and Hague, there ain’t no promise on which I won’t renege, students do better to vote for the plague ‘cos I’m a scumbag don’t you know.”

First of all, does Mark Steel really think that Nick Clegg is going to lose his own seat in Sheffield Hallam? I mean really? I know it’s cool to say he’ll lose his seat but there is absolutely no evidence to say that it is on the cards. He has a stonking majority, the party still does well locally and in 2012, which is probably fair to say will be the lowest point of the Lib Dems locally in this government, the party still pulled in 39% of the vote with Labour 16% behind in second place. In the five seats in the constituency, they all stayed solidly Lib Dem in 2012 and in a key by-election in 2013, when Labour and the Tories really attacked, the Lib Dems cruised home by 1,400 votes.

Now I know Mr Mark Steel loves his rhetoric and thinks that his view is the right view but at some point he’ll have to understand that wanting something to be true isn’t going to make it true. That isn’t how it works in the grown-up world. When it comes to politics, so much is child like and it depresses me but the most child like are the Labour party. They believe in polling data unless it isn’t favourable to them. When there is positive polling data they then use it like a blanket over the whole country to predict what will happen, neglecting the nuances of local politics, region by region, county by county, city by city, constituency by constituency, ward by ward, polling district by polling district.

So Mr Mark Steel, live in your own mind and hope against all hope that what you want will one day happen and you’ll wake up in a socialist state. It may well happen, well actually it won’t because the country doesn’t want socialism and in the past half a century the only Labour General Election wins have been when the party has moved away from the extreme left to the centre-left/centre but who cares about facts. When you live in Mr Mark Steel’s world then you can believe whatever you want to believe and if facts get in the way then the best way to deal with them is to ignore them. Who wants facts anyway?

This is a prime example of why I treat the Labour party with distain at the moment. They cry about the Lib Dems not being grown-up, when in fact it is them who are playing adolescent politics. This comes from a guy whose upbringing was very much in the ‘Anyone but the Tories’ mould but as it stands they are at least acting like a grown-up party, not just the MPs and councillors but also the memberships. My politics are centrist but if I had to lean left or right of centre then it would be left, however with the way the Labour party are acting at the moment I just couldn’t see myself supporting them.

Until the Labour party stop trying to play politics and start seeing politics as a serious business then I struggle to take them seriously. We all have ideologies but sometimes real world issues have to come above ideologies. For example if a 45p tax rate rakes in the most revenue for higher band earners then so be it. Proposing a 50p tax band that will bring in less money is just ideological claptrap designed to sound good and gain support whereas the finances say it’s a bad move.

I’m 30 and I like to think I’m relatively grown-up and that is how I act and that is how I like my politics. Until Labour acts grown-up then for me I think that maybe the best thing for the country in 2015 would be another Tory/Lib Dem coalition and lets be honest, there is no way I saw myself typing that three and a half years ago but Labour have just been so poor as an opposition and so lightweight on the economy that I’m not sure I trust them as much as I do the Tories and boy that is a scary thought.

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Written by neilmonnery

January 31st, 2014 at 12:23 am

Posted in Politics

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The likelihood of a by-election in Richmond Park just keeps growing…

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My learned colleague Richard Morris has been banging on about this for as long as I’ve been reading his work (well near enough) but what would be a very interesting by-election could happen in the autumn of 2014. Richmond Park is your typical two-horse race in the South between the Tories and the Lib Dems. Both parties can win it on a good day with a strong campaign. Both therefore can of course lose it on the exact opposite. It is the type of seat that the Lib Dems must at the very least stay competitive in come 2015 if they aren’t be just become a party who defends seats.

Well after 13 years of Lib Dem occupation, the Tories came in and won it in 2010 with Zac Goldsmith being elected MP for the constituency. He has been relatively quiet in office, however he has really been a strong constituency MP, with everything you ever hear from him being about local issues. The main focus of that has been on Heathrow Airport and its possible expansion. To cut a long-story short, he’s against it, dead against it and if it becomes government policy he was reiterated that he’ll stand down and trigger a by-election.

This morning the airport commission unveiled three options regarding airport expansion and two of them are at Heathrow, the other being at Gatwick. The ‘Boris Island’ scheme that is certainly not playing well in my neck of the wood was not as option, however the aforementioned airport commission will decide next summer whether that is indeed a viable option. If it does not then essentially they are green lighting Heathrow expansion and should the government make it policy that the preferred option is to expand Heathrow then Goldsmith will resign.

The most interesting question though about all this is would Goldsmith run again as the Tory candidate, but resign on principle so his constituents knew he is against this polixcy and would be an active voice against said policy if they reelected him? Would Goldsmith run as an independent ‘Against Heathrow Airport Expansion’ candidate? Would the Tories even place Boris in that seat to give him a route back into the House of Commons?

By-elections are notoriously harder to predict than regular elections because parties can concentrate on issues more without the national narrative getting in the way. Also by-elections lead to those with a great ground game doing better than they would normally because feet on the ground really does help with these things.

A by-election in the autumn in Richmond Park would be fascinating for all the politico geeks out there as there would be so many questions going into it and arguably very few answers off the back of it. Should government policy be that Heathrow should get bigger, then I firmly predict two things, firstly that the coffers of all Richmond Park sandwich shops, coffee places and public houses will go up significantly for a four-week period as press and activists descend into the area and secondly that A View From Ham Common’s readership will go up mightily.

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Written by neilmonnery

December 17th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Politics

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Mike Hancock’s major opponent in 2015 – the Pompey Party?

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Last week came the announcement that basically the government have shafted the people of Portsmouth. The city of my birth (so I have a tonne of bias) has been the home of the Royal Navy for eons and should always have that at its heart. So when it comes to building new ships for the Royal Navy then it should be Portsmouth first and anyone else second if there is enough business to go around. I know that sounds like bias (it kinda is) but the home of the Royal Navy is the home of the Royal Navy.

I’m not the only person to think this unsurprisingly. As of just now the Save Portsmouth Dockyards Facebook page had just under 73,000 ‘likes’ – not too shabby for what four or five days? It makes the No More Page 3 Facebook page look pretty stale in comparison with 15,000 likes doesn’t it? Well this blog isn’t about me talking about the pros and cons of boobs but about how a real issue that people care passionately about can gain traction.

Tonight at the Shepherd’s Crook in Portsmouth there will be the first meeting of the ‘Pompey Party’ which is advocating putting up an alternative candidate in I suspect Portsmouth South. I do not know if they plan on this being a one-issue party of the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern ilk that saw Dr. Richard Taylor spend nine years as an MP for Wyre Forest, but I will say this, if there is a constituency in the country that is ripe for a one-issue party then Portsmouth South is most certainly it. Lets be honest here if someone went to the 2015 General Election on the sole ticket of the Portsmouth dockyard then they wouldn’t be laughed out of town.

People are proud of where they come from and proud of their identity. I live in Essex these days and many people here revel in the Essex stereotype but Pompey folk are different. I think of Pompey people as roll up your sleeves and just get it done people. Look at the fact the football club is now owned by the fans and what people went through to get that done. I thought it had no chance because the obstacles were too great but I was proved wrong and if the ‘Pompey Party’ actually gains some good leadership and knows what its goals are and the infighting is kept to a minimum then they won’t be a joke.

Nearly 73,000 have clicked on a link to Save Pompey Dockyards, which is easy enough to do but there is something underlying here. Around 200 protesters braved the rain for an impromptu rally against the loss of shipbuilding at the dockyard, imagine how that would be with some proper planning and time to get the folk of the city educated and up to speed on this issue?

The sitting MP, Mike Hancock knows of the damage done by this decision and spoke about why shipbuilding for the Royal Navy will remain in Scotland but not in the home of the Royal Navy:

“It is a big mistake on the part of the government to put all their eggs into one basket and say that shipbuilding in Portsmouth should cease to exist. It is a very, very big mistake and one that they will live to regret.

“Whatever happens Alex Salmond in a no lose situation. He can claim credit for jobs being saved in Scotland because the UK government are running scared of him, or if they close a yard in Scotland he’ll say they are punishing Scots because of the referendum. The government ought to have seen through that.”

Leader of Portsmouth City Council was just as vocal in his opposition, saying the following on BBC Radio Four:

“Portsmouth is the last place in England that has the ability to build advanced warships for the Royal Navy and I’m very concerned that with a potential independence vote in Scotland, if Portsmouth shipbuilding is shut down, what would remain of the UK would have no ability to build advanced warships.”

“It would just mean either that that would have to change and the Royal Navy would have to buy ships from France or Germany – or we’d have to spend a huge amount of public money re-employing people, re-skilling people here in Portsmouth”.

Downing Street is on record as saying that the dockyard was closed in the ‘national interest’ which is basically them saying, ‘this is a sweetener to Scots not to go independent’ and that really hacks me off. Jobs and livelihoods should not be used as a political football but it seems as though the powers that be have decided that Portsmouth is a good sacrifice to keep the United Kingdom together. I suspect that sentiment is not exactly echoed on Portsea Island.

The 2015 Portsmouth South contest looked set to be one of the most interesting in the country before last week, with the sitting MP elected as a lib Dem but having been stripped of the whip because of a civil suit against him, the Tories had hoped to make inroads here and take the seat back. UKIP also have been praying to whatever God they pray to for a by-election here as after the success of Eastleigh, where they would have won had they just been a few days quicker off the mark. So throwing in an independent one-issue party if it does gain that all important traction and leadership would just make it fascinating.

Oh and you might wonder why Labour haven’t been mentioned as a potential winner. They aren’t a relevant force in this particular fight. If Mike Hancock (or any Lib Dem) wants to win in 2015 then they have to get this decision reversed. I think the Tories will be burnt just as much as Mike by this decision in Pompey South and it really does open the door to a potential four-way contest. I just hope that by 2015 the Dockyard has been given a reprieve and nice new orders for naval vessels to be built in Portsmouth because if it hasn’t then Portsmouth South will solely be a one-issue election.

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Written by neilmonnery

November 11th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Why Brentwood Tories have disgusted me in their treatment of Lib Dem Cllr. Chilvers

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My blood rarely boils. Tonight it is pumping about my body like nobodies business. You see this evening the Tories banded together and decided that Cllr. Karen Chilvers wasn’t up for being Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee because basically she was scrutinising them and wasn’t letting them do whatever they like. Interesting decision.

So they put a motion to remove her as Chair (which from what I can gather is against the actual constitution as currently written, although this seems to have been up for much debate) which succeeded tonight. A Conservative councillor will now oversee the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I’m positive a Tory will really hold the Tory administration to account but whatever. However there were two things that really fucking hacked me off.

Firstly about how personal it got. Some of the things said about Cllr. Chilvers were vile. Look you can not like someone, we get it but why does politics get so personal? It was character assassination at its absolute worst. Whatever you think of Cllr. Chilvers, like her or not, you can’t arue that she is an effective councillor who works thoroughly hard for her constituents.

At local level I really do believe that there are plenty of terrific councillors from all parties. Yes I would naturally gravitate to saying the Lib Dems are the best but I won’t sit here an say everyone from other parties or independents aren’t standing up for the people they represent and work hard to ensure they get their voice heard in council.

Tonight though the vote went along party lines, a 20-15 vote was predicted and a 20-15 vote is exactly what we got. The whole opposition spoke glowingly about Cllr. Chilvers, whether they agree with her politics or not, they thought she was working hard and being effective in her role as chair of this committee. The Tories though all banded together because they decided they didn’t want to actually have effective scrutiny, they wanted life on easy street and that brings me the second point that really made my blood boil.

The Tories clearly do not have the best interests of the residents at the core of this motion. They would prefer to have ineffective scrutiny as long as it makes their lives easier and fulfills their personal vendetta against Cllr. Chilvers. Ensuring their personal vendetta is worth them screwing the people of Brentwood they are meant to represent. How can any politican honestly think this is a good thing? How can any councillor look a constituent in the eye and say they’ll do the best they can to get the best thing done for them, when in fact they’ll do the opposite as long as it makes them feel big.

Cllr. Chilvers is a big girl who’ll carry on working hard for the people she represents. I do hope and firmly believe the people of Brentwood West saw what life was like without her and swiftly voted her back into power. These voters had so much dislike and mistrust of the Lib Dems nationally that they lost a great hard-working councillor and they quickly realised that local and national politics are vastly different.

So what have we learned from the events tonight?

Well basically the Brentwood Tories put their own agendas above those of the residents they are supposed to represent. They don’t like Cllr. Chilvers and decided that she should be removed from her position to make their lives easier and to stroke their own egos. I didn’t see the whole debate as I was on air this evening and the webcast was paused, but from what I saw seemed pretty clear that Cllr. Roger Hirst will go home this evening, look in the mirror whilst cleaning his teeth and he’ll smirk to himself, nod and think, ‘I’m a big man, I’m awesome.’

The events of tonight put the whole council to shame. It wasn’t a debate. It was a witchhunt. Cllr. Chilvers had no chance because the Tories all decided that Cllr. Chilvers was unfit for the position. Cllr. Murphy said all the councillors should be disgusted and embarrassed at what was going on. She claimed she didn’t know what a whip was and despite being appalled by everything, she still voted to remove Cllr. Chilvers. If she was that disgusted and embarrassed surely she’d be most outraged by the person who brought the motion?

I worry about politics when things get this personal. I worry when people can stand and look at another person and say some of the things they said tonight. If this was in any line of work you’d say they were bullying. One thing though is the opposition parties can point out that the Tories now do not work for residents first, they work for their own personal gratification first and that is not what the people of Brentwood deserve.

Like Cllr. Chilvers or not, she works hard and was an effective chair of that committee. Having her in that position was the best thing for the people of Brentwood but as we now know, the best thing for the people of Brentwood is not what the Brentwood Tories want. The best thing for the Brentwood Tories is what the Brentwood Tories want first and foremost and that is now plain to see to anyone that follows the local politics scene of this particular Essex borough.

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October 23rd, 2013 at 10:29 pm

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Porn, Porn everywhere (but soon) not a link to click

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Various newspaper reports state that today David Cameron is going to make a keynote speech with regards to pornography and it will mean that people will have to actively opt-in to porn if they want to watch. The Prime Minister believes this will clean up the internet and protect children. At what point do we call David Cameron ‘Helen Lovejoy’ or ‘Maude Flanders’?

“We are taking action to help clean up the internet. One click to protect your home and keep your children safe.” the Prime Minister will state. However I have a small problem with this. What if a family has opted in to watch porn and a child still has access to it? What will the PM do then? He hasn’t protected children of those who watch porn, all he has done is make it more culturally unacceptable to watch pornography.

People equate pornography to being a pervert. That isn’t the case. Lots of different people watch porn. I know pensioners who watch porn. I know men and women who watch porn. I know young people who love porn and I know middle aged people who enjoy porn. I know single people who watch porn. I know couples who watch porn. I know straight people who watch porn. I know of gay people who watch porn. I know of bisexual people who watch porn. Basically porn is pretty mainstream and despite its social taboo a large percentage of people indulge in pornography. I would say more adults enjoy porn of a semi-regular basis than voted for the Conservative Party at the last General Election.

The issue I have is clearly what happens to those who opt-in? Is this data kept and who has access to this data? Will police use this data to profile people who live locally to a sexual crime and these people all suddenly become suspects? Will this data be public? Will angry mobs start circling the houses of those who watch porn? There are some (I feel) legitimate questions here.

The government has many important things to do. Censoring the internet is not one of them. Parents have a role in how they bring up their offspring and the government of the day should not overstep these boundaries. If a parent doesn’t actively stop their kids watching pornography then that is up to the parents. It isn’t the role of government to bring up kids.

As for online filters…this very blog is (or has been) blocked by TalkTalk for an age because of pornographic content. There is no pornographic content on this blog but TalkTalk says there is. I have heard of newspaper websites such as The Guardian being blocked over pornography. At what point does the government think enough censorship is enough? At what point do we say that kids welfare is actually the primary aim of parents and not the government?

Parents should know what their children are doing online in their own home. Parents can set up filters and block out content already. If a parent doesn’t want their child to be watching porn they can stop it. It doesn’t need wholesale changes to the internet to do this. So why is the PM desperate to push this through? Maybe because he is pandering to ‘Middle England’ and the Daily Mail in an attempt to show he can get big laws through that go against the EU. Maybe he actually thinks internet censorship is a good thing. Either way he’s wrong.

As long as what adults do isn’t against the law then why should they be censored? If this is truly about children then far more important to keep these sites and videos away by using already set up parental filters. Also educating young people about sex and violence and how to deal with feelings and urges is something that we as a nation generally fail at. Sex is a taboo and until we as a nation embrace it and teach young people frankly and openly about it all then we are fighting a losing battle.

Education is what is needed, not draconian measures that aim to record all those who choose to watch porn. There are distinct difference between all porn (which is legal) and already illegal child porn and rape porn. Lumping them all under one umbrella first of all isn’t right and secondly does nothing to actually help. Young people need better education. Education, Education, Education Tony Blair used to bang on about and in this instance that motto rings true. People, young people, will always find a way to watch porn but the more ‘dirty’ you make it then the more young people will strive to enjoy it as it’ll be ‘wrong’ and if I know one thing about young people is the more you tell them something is bad without any further education on the subject then the more they’ll attempt to do it.

The Prime Minister has got this all wrong and I hope the Lib Dems as a party step up and fight this although my faith in the leadership is at this point lacking but I still can hope. I can still have that…right?

Oh and lastly. Internet pornography bad but Page 3 is a ‘consumer choice’? That really doesn’t make any sense…

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July 22nd, 2013 at 10:34 am

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A Labour councillor wants ‘fairness’ but can’t understand what exactly is fair.

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I do love it when councillors open up blog posts talking about my love life. It is kinda sweet isn’t it? Well that is exactly what Labour Cllr. Ware-Lane did today on his blog post Giving into greed? I’d prefer fairness which was his response to my letter to the Echo regarding the tax cut for the higher rate of tax payers that occurred. I knew he would respond in kind and still miss the point. This is why I at times dislike politics and politicians because they are so stuck in their ideological ways that they won’t actually see the big picture.

I say this primarily because of the following line from Cllr. Ware-Lane’s blog:

For me it is “from each according to their ability”. If this means that some millionaires’ loyalty to the UK is bounded by their unwillingness to pay their share then to them I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Yep those people who were putting in large sums of money to the public purse. Yeah we don’t want them. I’m sure he can walk around his Milton ward speaking to residents and telling them that it doesn’t matter that Children’s Centres are closing and Libraries are under threat etc… because the money that could keep these things open would be bad money and we don’t want that.

You see my whole point was simple. Yes those with broader shoulders should bear the largest loud. We agree. However I also know that money into the public purse is kinda the point of tax. So why have a tax system that brings in less revenue when instead we could have a tax system that brings in the highest revenue possible from those paying the highest tax rate? Myself and the councillor in question have debated this before and we just don’t agree. He prefers less money for public services as long as the rich get taxed harsher. For me this is a dumb position and not what I’d expect of a Labour councillor and a man who wants to be my MP.

One further line I want to highlight:

Are Liberal Democrats now abandoning the pretence of doing what is right in favour of what generates the most income?

First of all I don’t speak for all Liberal Democrats. I’m but a mere member of the party. This though perfectly demonstrates why I think Labour are a shambles at the moment and why despite my upbringing I am a Lib Dem and not a Labour member. The ‘pretence’ of doing the right thing. The right thing is finding the right balance that generates the highest income possible. That is simple and straightforward. Whatever that number is then I’m all for it. I’d prefer more millionaires to pay in less if overall it leads to more revenue being generated. The ‘right thing’ isn’t just to flog the rich for being rich.

Until Cllr. Ware-Lane (or anyone else for that matter) can find a way to stop people from relocating from the UK to Monaco, Switzerland or any other country with a more preferable tax situation than the UK then people are free to leave the country and not pay tax here.

Personally I’m all for public services. At least we now know that Cllr. Ware-Lane is not unless the money comes from people he deems to be the right people. He prefers less money for public services as long as the richest people individually pay more even though as a group they in fact pay less.

As for ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ oh pur-lease. ‘Oh so you don’t want to pay our 50p tax rate well sod you – we didn’t want your money anyway. We’ll have to cut public services for example close a children’s centre but at least we know that ideologically we didn’t want your money anyway.’ I’m sure people on the bread line and those who rely on public services would stand up and applaud such a stance. Oh wait. No they wouldn’t.

To sum up, Cllr. Ware-Lane has showed me exactly why I at this point in time I think Labour are the least grown up of all the three main political parties in Westminster (and lets be honest – considering the way the Tories deal with issues such as Europe that is saying something). We all have our ideologies. That is what makes us but ideology doesn’t always work well in the real world and at some point we have to be realistic instead of Utopian. The 50p tax rate was not working in terms of getting the richest to share the largest load because many of them just left the country and therefore paid in nothing. This left those in the 50p tax rate sharing the load but they couldn’t share the load as well as all the people that were sharing the load when the tax rate was at 40p.

He wants fairness. He wants those who earn the most to pay the most. We all want that but the problem is these people have a choice – just like we all do – however of course it is easier for richer people to up sticks and move. I’ll end with this analogy that he might understand (or he might not – his whole concept of basic economics seems pretty out there) but 6,000 people holding up larger weights cannot hold up as much weights as 16,000 holding up smaller weights. Fairness is about seeing the amount of money these people can put into the system as a group and not seeing them as individuals. That is the mistake he (and others) make and that is why I get so disillusioned when people go on about how the tax cut from 50p to 45p is a reason why there is less money for the public purse.

That quite simply is not true.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 5th, 2013 at 6:07 pm