It's time for a rather earlier than normal Summer holiday, so there will be no posts (or at least only a few) from Sunday 29th May 'til Sunday 12th June. I am going to Italy, via France, Switzerland and possibly Germany. This is the remarkable viamichelin's suggested route
, so randomise it slightly and you might know where I am every day up to Thursday when I arrive.
In my absence you can find out my views on anything by reading John Band, at Shot by Both Sides
, except the merits of Glasgow v Edinburgh, where the poor boy has no clue.
The Virtual Stoa is Four!
Happy Birthday to the Stoa
, which is four today. It seems but a moment since it was three. A birthday I celebrated with a present of a Melanie Phillips quote
Perusing her site, a year has taken its toll, and now everything she says is bonkers, thus I can't really pick out one to match her historical ignorance of Churchill quotes. Instead Chris will have to settle for a picture of Stephen Pollard.
Will Howard survive to fight the next election?
No, it looks increasingly unlikely
that Howard will still be in charge when the South Staffs election is held on June 23rd. This is no way to treat the genius behind the Conservative's best general election performance since 1983.
Courts fall at first hurdle
The government's plans for a crackdown on youth criminality and the return of respect were dealt a blow in the courts today with ridiculously lenient sentences imposed on five men
found guilty of public order offences.
Long live the NHS
Right-wing hearts have been
a flutter over reports that productivity in the NHS has been slow growing at best, static or negative at worst. This is the situation
in the US, a 25% fall over 20 years...
Save Michael Howard
Increasingly it seems that the Tory parliamentary party is tiring of Michael Howard's prolonged exit
, as in-party fighting reaches its standard bitter level. This is nonsense. The only thing in favour of a quick leadership election is it will stop the in-fighting (or at least postpone it for two years). But in-fighting, disarray, and backbiting are hardly things unknown to the Tory party, and voters will hardly remember it come the next election.
The disadvantages of a quick leadership election are more obvious. William Hague, IDS, and even Michael Howard, were all picked in a hurry, and were all failures (in varying degrees from Hague to Howard). A longer campaign might serve the party well.
Update: Oh look Tebbit
, never a man on which to leave a bandwagon unjumped, pipes up demanding a new leader by Summer. Question for the political junkies -- has Norman Tebbit made a positive intervention in Tory affairs since 1985?
Plea to new leader of the Tory Party
Whoever you are, either sack John Redwood and return him to backbench obscurity or give him a proper title. What must it be doing for the man's confidence to be constantly referred to as, "Shadow deregulation secretary John Redwood".
The great IDS makes the rather good point
that, yes, the Conservative party membership in the country is not where you'd start in picking an electorate, but then again, have you seen Parliamentary Party?
IDS of course has more reason than most to be angry. Nevertheless the fact remains that power does lie with the MPs (at least in a party (like the Tories) where MPs face hardly any local democracy) however you design the system. Even though the previous system gave the choice (in the end) to the members, IDS was booted out by the MPs.
No to Trident replacement
Phillip Stephens says what needs to be said
, which is Britain shouldn't replace Trident.
It's remarkable how many other sensible people seem to support this ridiculously expensive vanity-trip. This is not an argument for nuclear disarmanent, as there may be a requirement for nuclear weapons in a post-Soviet Union world, it's just that this requirement could easily be met by a few planes with free-fall bombs.
Youth crime out of control?
So says Lord Stevens, arguing that it is a ""raging social cancer tearing away at Britain", and naturally he implores tougher sentences.
In unrelated news a group of youths
are on trial for causing "harrasment, alarm or distress"; one has asked for to be excused attending court so he can represent England at Polo. Which the judge granted.
In soccer I thought it was usual in this situation, whilst not forgetting that defendants are innocent 'til proven guilty, to save the national team embarassment and the risk of bringing the game into disrepute by not playing the offending player until the trial is over. Polo appears to have different rules.
I can't think of any mainstream UK publication that is as loopy as the National Review. This thread
on their 'Corner' features one staff writer who genuinely appears to believe the United States is at war with France, or was, as it is now going to surrender (search for DREAD or surrender). ANd it is not going to surrender because of the US's overwhelming military and economic power, but because a man on a website has drawn an artist's impression of a new weapon.
What can explain this?
Is it stupidity, in that the author is merely mistaken as to whether France and the US were at war?
Is it madness, in that the author is mad?
Or is it something else?
As regular readers will know there were few party members who were as fond of IDS as I was, and I am glad to see him popping up as a commentator on party affars increasing regularity.
So I am interested in knowing what others think would have been the election result if IDS had still be in charge? I suspect they might have got more votes but fewer seats.
I'm about to change ISPs (8000kbps with UK online, woo-hoo!) so I was backing up some stuff I had on Pipex's webserver, one of which was this opinion poll chart.
What I can't remember is why were the Lib Dems doing so well in September 2003? It wasn't just one rogue opinion poll either.
The election according to Ross Mckibben
Ross Mckibben makes some interesting points in the LRB. It's subscriber only, so I'll select a few.
The problem for the Conservative leadership is that at the moment there are not enough Tories. The old Tory coalition of working-class deferentials and a business and professional middle class which was Conservative by birth – if you were not in the Conservative Association you were not in the swim – has been destroyed, partly by social and demographic change, partly by the (unintended) consequences of Mrs Thatcher’s policies. The Tory working class has gone the way of the whole industrial working class, while the huge middle class is now amorphous and its political loyalties highly fractured. If you are in the Conservative Association today you are not in the swim – just an OAP. This is not to say that the old coalition cannot be reassembled: just that it is no longer the Conservatives’ by right. For the great majority in a now very democratic country the Conservative Party has no special competence or virtue, as to many it once did. Indeed, this great majority is positively anti-Conservative: in the 1950s the second preference of most Liberal voters was Conservative. Today it is Labour. It is not clear what the Tories should or can do about this: the obvious policy, and probably the best policy, is simply to wait on events and assume that Labour will sooner or later come a cropper.
The Lib Dem vote, however, is, as it has always been, unstable and volatile, and that is because it has no real class base. The Lib Dems will usually get about 20 per cent of the vote; but it is rarely the same 20 per cent. As a result they have few, if any, safe seats. What they have is safer seats. Unlike the Conservatives or Labour, they do not have a swag of constituencies which it is almost inconceivable for any other party to win; and they have no guarantee that the impressive gains they made from Labour will be long-lasting. But they are fortunate in not holding the balance in the House of Commons. That much increases their freedom of manoeuvre without putting at risk this shaky coalition, as having to support either a Conservative or Labour government would certainly do. Nor is a volatile electorate necessarily a problem. The more volatile it becomes the more an unanchored party is likely to benefit. It is just that the benefits are short-term ones.
It says much about the social composition of the parliamentary party and the attenuation of its esprit and self-confidence, that Gordon Brown should be the only plausible candidate to succeed Tony Blair
Crosby - We should have focused more on immigration
Yes, that's really what he believes
. Then again he also believed he was going to win the election, and the 2005 British election was probably the worst election defeat he has ever suffered, so you can forgive him being grouchy I suppose.
Hitchens on Galloway
In the Independent (via Oliver Kamm):
"He looks so much like what he is: a thug and a demagogue, the type of working-class-wideboy-and-proud-of-it who is too used to the expenses account, the cars and the hotels - all cigars and back-slapping. He is a very cheap character and a short-arse like a lot of them are, puffed up like a turkey. He has managed to fuse being a Baathist with being a Muslim sectarian and a carpet bagger in the East End - as well as a front for a creepy sub-Leninist sect, the Socialist Workers' Party. He's got the venomous riff-raff at one end and your one-God fanatics on the other. Wonderful. Just what we need. "
Working-class wideboy? A short-arse* like a lot of them are?
We mustn't take this too seriously. Galloway was equally rude back, and though I have no idea about Galloway's height, I imagine Hitchen's comments about that are no less accurate as Galloway's calling Hitchens "drink-soaked" and pointing out that his hands were shaking (I've seen Hitchens live, and that's basically a fair description, if a rather incomplete one).
Nevertheless it's pretty pathetic stuff.
* I am 6ft 3. I have never though considered this a political benefit. What Hitchens means by 'like a lot of them are' I don't know. Normally the historical comparision with Galloway has been with Oswald Mosley, though he was well over 6ft tall.
Sir Michael Peat drops bag off bike
and loses documents
. But do you believe him, I hear you cry?
Of course I do. Why?
Because Sir Michael Peat has said it is true
, and I believe him implicity.
Ludicrous court decision
finds PC driving at 159mph
not against the law.
Oscar Wilde eat your heart out!
In the Senate today, "Booze soaked Trotskyites,” Mr Galloway muttered as he took his seat, arms crossed. “Wide boy,” Hitchens shot back.
Update: There's more from the Guardian of the meeting between Britain's two greatest talkers of nonsense.
Before the hearing began, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens. "You're a drink-soaked former-Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead."And you're a drink-soaked..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.
No-one really knows if they can actually make it work for the right price yet, but oh lord, will you buy me a Playstation 3
Update: There are going to be all sorts of regulatory problems with consoles this good, however. Even on the last-generation the violent games, such as Grand Theft Auto, which still looked mostly like a video game, did rather push the limits of what is acceptable.
A mountain to climb
This chart shows the Tories share of the vote by constituency in 2005 compared with the last election they won, in 1992. All points to the left are where they have lost vote share, the eight to the right where they have gained it.
Mr Snuffles writes
so it seems the the bbc's political editor andrew marr is to stand down
. Though he was an engaging figure in many ways, he did rather turn into a ludicrous figure of fun towards the end, particularly in the way he pretended to be me, his children's small guinea pig
in order to write a political column for the daily telegraph.
yes it really did sound this bad, and yes part of the 'joke' was that mr snuffles couldn't use capital letters. I think he did use punctuation. anyway hopefully marr will now be able to give us some more insight into politics.
No such thing as a uniform swing
Ok last chart. Anthony Wells was keen to stress througout the campaign that there was no such thing as a uniform swing. And obviously many have commented that this election saw many unusual swings (though it appears statistically it saw no more than usual). Anyway this chart shows the swing Lab to Con in each region, compared to the average swing of 3%. Note there was no constituency that swung to Labour in London, unique among all regions.
Boys! To Putney
The election data noted below also has a lot of constituency by constituency demographic data. One interesting one is the number of women per men (as according to the 2001 census). Almost all of the constituencies with a large female/male ratio are also those with the most pensioners, as men, after a lifetime slogging away whilst their women powder their noses, die earlier. There is one glaring exception however, Putney. 15% more women than men, but a relatively young population. See chart:
Ps There are only 57/600 constituencies that have more men than woman. Aldershot, presumably because of the troops is the leader. I was going to make a snide comment to the effect that contemporaries of mine would not be surprised to learn that Oxford (West) was one of them, at 0.98, but bizarrely Oxford (East) is the opposite, at a respectable 1.06.
Using the excellent resource from Pippa Norris
who has already managed to get the full 2005 election results up, I've done some charts which may or may not be revealing.
This one shows the change in Labour vote in each constituency compared with the change in Lib vote. There's a pretty good correlation -- larger rise in Lib vote, larger fall in Lab vote.
A similar story can be seen from the relationship between the Con and Lib vote shares.
Here's the interesting one. This is the change in the Lab vote against the Con vote. Not really much of a relationship at all (if anything it is positive).
A couple of others. Labour's vote did worse where there was a large Muslim population (this could easily represent other factors).
and where there was an 'affluent' population (ditto)
The Conservative and Ukip have a very slight relationship
Nevertheless the Tories' position is not good. In terms of their share of the vote it rose by about 0.6%. The average of constituencies' change in the share of the vote was just 0.2%, with nearly as many declines as increases.
Since the election there has unsurprisingly been a lot of talk of PR. Unsurprisingly because the discrepancy between seats and votes is large. Interestingly the Conservative Party basically does ok, getting about the 'right' amount of seats for its votes. It's the Liberal Democrats who still get screwed (though nowhere nearly as badly as the less targeted Alliance vote in 1983/1987), and Labour who do best.
The explanation for this is essentially that FPTP is a winner takes all system, and Labour were the winners. There are secondary factors, which mean Labour are better winners than the Tories, such as the relative size of their constituencies and the turnout. But despite what you might read in the press these are secondary factors, and even a 100% accurate boundary review and Labour constituencies suddenly getting higher turnouts would not make the system proportional.
Advocates of it of course say that is one of its main advantages. It gives strong, majoritarian government. At this point Italy or France (at least in the 4th Republic) are usually knowingly mentioned. Historically it is argued that with PR we would never have been saved by Thatcher from the 1970s, though it is never argued that perhaps we wouldn't have had the "1970s" in the first place.
The Independent demands PR
What we at the Independent wantedWhat we got
PCRS 10: Our Great Victory
Thursday night/Friday morning will go down in the history of our Great Nation. Michael Howard, the finest Tory leader since Baroness Thatcher, led our Great party to a stunning victory. Labour seat after Labour seat fell to fantastic candidates from our party in all parts of the country. Our share of the vote, just 32% in 2001, shot up to well over a third. A glorious evening, in which I made a lot of money on bets, and mostly due to Michael Howard's firm leadership on immigration, abortion, Europe, and of course the State Pension. We're so lucky he will lead us into the next election with his experienced team of Oliver Letwin, Tim Yeo, Nicholas Soames, and the rest!
Update: Michael has now announced he will resign as soon as we have new leadership elections. Oliver Letwin, Tim Yeo, and Nicholas Soames are also quitting. This is the right decision and will allow our new Leader, who I hope is John Redwood, to really dig in and win the next election with a new team.
Howard wanted more talk of immigration
is good today.
When Michael Foot crashed to ignominious defeat in the 1983 general election, Labour's Bennite left famously complained that the party had been insufficiently radical. Nationalising the banks, pulling out of the European Union, unilateral nuclear disarmament and the rest had conceded too much to the Thatcherite ruling classes. I was reminded of this self-serving insanity when a senior Conservative mentioned to me at the weekend that Michael Howard was blaming himself for his party's latest failure. The problem, Mr Howard had confided, was that he had not returned strongly enough to the issues of asylum and immigration in the final days of the campaign.
Conservatives seem unwilling to confront the truth. So here it is: Mr Howard's campaign was as crassly ineffective as it was unpleasant. Doubters need only read the story of the electoral statistics. After eight years in power and an unpopular war in Iraq, Labour's share of the popular vote fell by more than 5 percentage points to 36 per cent. The Tories, on 33 per cent, flatlined. Mr Howard, in other words, failed to win any converts
George Osbourne new Shadow Chancellor
...nope, I have no idea who he is
either. I think he's one of the "Notting Hill Set". Anyway it's good news for the Conservative Party as although everyone agrees he is a very nice man I don't think anyone thought Oliver Letwin was a good Shadow Chancellor, nor did he seem to want the job much. It also means Gordon Brown has now seen off five* Conservative Shadow Chancellors
In other changes Malcom Rifkind
, the epitome of uselesness in the Major years, is back, as Work and Pensions shadow, though this is surely temporary before he gets a better position. It might also mean the Tories will adopt a more strident anti-Iraq war position. Liam Fox, remarkably, is made Shadow Foreign Secretary. David Cameron goes to education.
Will it be enough to stave off growing criticism of Michael Howard? Probably not
. But that isn't how this reshuffle needs to be viewed. It is essentially Michael Howard's last chance to influence who replaces him. With that in mind clearly he favours Cameron or Osborne, but also it is surely significant that John Redwood remains in the joke position of 'Deregulation Secretary'.
* no, not four, you've forgotten Francis Maude. Oh my god Maude is back as Party Chairman. Maude is most famous for being Britain's signatory to the Maastricht Treaty.
The risks in replacing Blair
Robert Harris warns Labour against replacing Tony Blair
in today's Telegraph.
Mark Steyn, I find it hard to say but it's true, actually makes some sensible points in his piece too. I can't bring myself to link to it, but you'll find it on the webpage. His main error is like many commentators assuming in the absence of Ukip candidate the Tories would have got all their votes. The polls suggest this is wide of the mark.
The BNP is the fourth largest party in Britain, screams this American blog
. This proves what he has been saying:
I have been warning of a rise on neo-nationalism as a way of defining the identity of native Europeans facing immigration and Islamism. No one listens. Bitching about Blair is so much more important.
Instapundit takes up the charge
, pronouncing it a troubling observation, about which he is 'worried'.
No-one initially appeared bothered to check the numbers. And of course it isn't true. So where did the claim come from? Ah...the BNP;s own site
When's their news service being launched? Nick Griffin must be excited.
Daily Mail madness
Sadly I haven't seen the article, but Iain Dale, defeated Tory candidate for North Norfolk at the recent election, says that
Simon Heffer is arguing that both Dale and the Tory candidate for Brighton, Nicholas Boles, lost because they were gay.
Meanwhile Melanie Phillips gazes in her crystal ball to see the consequences of George Galloway's election in Bethnal Green & Bow.
Unless this climate of irrationality and hatred, both political and religious, is firmly addressed this ugliness will spread and our already buckling democracy will splinter into warring fragments as our civilisation progressively implodes.
In fact the general election over the country has caused dear old Mel great distress. The Lib Dems' advance in particular,
the fact that people voted for them in such great numbers merely demonstrates the extent to which this country may already have reached the point of no return in the infantilism stakes.
has left her rather fatalist,
I'm afraid there's a long way down still to go before this society starts to go up again; and maybe we never will.
These are the votes received at the last seven elections. Labour appear to have lost votes to the Lib Dems. The Conservatives appear to have lost votes completely*. Very careless of them -- perhaps Nicholas Soames ate them?
* Incidentally it is more complex that this.
A good night for:Phil
, who made this prediction at A.Well's site was almost spot on
. Most of the final pollsCuthie, with his betting
A reasonable night for:
The betting firms (on the final day Mike Smithson wrote, "The projected overall Labour majority, based on what gamblers are doing, is now 88 seats." WHich is good. But see post below on BG & Bow result.
Some polling firms during the campaign (notably YouGov)
Less good for:
Martin Baxter: At first
I was amazed at the accuracy of his prediction, which was 68 seat Labour majority. Then I realised they've inputted the actual vote shares (which is fair enough, as they are testing the model not the inputs) and then they've chosen a 2% Labour to Libs "tactical unwind", which presumably was chosen to make the prediction as accurate as possible. In fact their election prediction was 132 on the polls, or over 100 (I think) with the correct vote shares, i.e. lacking the tactical element (though they did I think say it would need some tactical unwind). Dsquared's model
My £50 bet on the Tories to get more than 211 seats. My belief the Tories might get under 30% so betting some more on some marginals. Holding both views at the same time.
Gene, on Harry's Place, over George Galloway
Cuthie, on Harry's Place, “Let me make a prediction based on Tory gains/losses now: if the Conservatives take only one seat from the Lib Dems tonight, it will be in Eastleigh.” Nope.
In an article which touches on Russia's selective amnesia over World War II, the Economist seems to imply Japan and Germany were on the allied s
My post election coverage in France was courtesy of mainly the International Herald & Tribune (ie the New York Times), the Daily Telegraph (delivered to my room, but 3.8 euros...) and today's Sunday Telegraph. So it's rather biased towards coverage of the Right.
A few unconnected thoughts.
1. My, how I laughed, when I saw that Michael Howard had said he plans to resign. I am no fan of Howard, who even his supporters find it hard to argue ran a moral or decent campaign. But clearly he has more intelligence than I gave him credit, for he has realised that getting less than 200 seats is no election victory, nor even a large step on the way towards a victory.
2. There was a suggestion in today's Daily Mirror that William Hague, if he can be persuaded to do without £1mn a year, is the front runner for Conservative leader. Well yes, the Daily Mirror ought to campaign for that. I would back them. Hague, an able and decent man in private, was a terrible leader. One example that should be obvious even to the most fervent Tories is his leadership election system, which everyone is now trying to change.
3. According to the S.Telegraph, Hague introduced that system to stop Clarke. And Howard is going to change it to stop Davies. Really though, is there any need to stop Davies? Even Tory MPs, who we all know are not the most intelligent of people, know that Davies is a disaster. Don't agree? That both IDS, who sacked him, and Michael Howard, who appears is prepared to send the party into turmoil to stop him, have those views, is a clue. That no-one outside of political junkies, Tory MPs/party members, and his constituents have ever head of him, is another. And that by and large, his political views are Howard, and then some, completes the case.
The only leader who can bring victory to the Conservatives his John Redwood. His natural style, his rapport with the public, his non-controversial private life, his visibility in this campaign, he would be perfect. Redwood for leader!
4. The Telegraph's readers and writers have completely lost the plot. In the Sunday, Patrick Hennessy complains about the electoral system, and says that it is the differential size of Labour-held and Conservative-held constituencies that explain the votes/seats relationship being Labour biased. I don't think so Patrick. That might explain a bit. The main factor of course if FPTP is a winner takes all system, and really there is no reason why the party with a plurality of votes shouldn't take 100% of the seats, regardless of size. Indeed a good reform would be to recreate the seats so it does that. Reform it by making it an absurdity. If you want PR, Patrick, you should say so. The Daily was worse. Read Saturday's letters page and wince at a class who believe they were born to rule.
5. Talking of which, good old Bryan Ferry's son. Watching his attack on Tony Blair made you thankful that post general-election attacks have subsided from the IRA blowing up London to a member of an even less intelligent class of people, his face contorted with rage, raving about the electorate's decision he refuses to accept whilst trying to attack the Prime Minister and his wife. In that one instance you were reminded why you voted Labour.
Essentially the story of the night remained the story at the start of the night, ie trust the polls, so see the post below. A quick round
Labour had an ok night, though the BBC have decided otherwise. They have won a safe majority for an historic third term, they remained -- miles from many Tory fantasies - the largest party in terms of the vote, and furthermore everyone in the party knows the reason for the fall in both, which is unlikely to happen again. Nevertheless they will be back with a majority of almost 100 less, and will find it very hard to come back in some of the seats where they lost a lot of votes, e.g. London. Tony Blair obviously had a less good night, though even there it's probably better than everyone thinks tonight. 55% of the seats on 36% of the vote though. Can we have PR?Conservative -
A good night by their new standards, ie it's the worst general election night in their history since 1945 other than 1997/2000, but compared to William Hague's effort it's a landslide. Most of their gains come from a Labour collapse, as nothing exciting in the share of the vote which is less than 1% higher than little William Hague (33%), but it didn't fall below 30%, and the party remains stuck outside the South except a few minor shocks. However importantly there is evidence that the unthinking middle classes, who tend to populate the South-West of London (the more Hackett tops the better), and parts of the South-East are swinging back to the 'low tax' party. Yet if you can't add votes with Labour this weak, when can you? Thus they probably need a new leader sooner rather than later. Lib Dems -
Difficult to say. The best of times, and the worst of times Again given the competition perhaps should have done better. But each time you make gains, it's easier to hold them. Nick Barlow follows this much more closely than I do, and he's got no idea
- Wow. Oh dear. Well, whatever else you can say about George Galloway he's a survivor. It's also the (see posts below) the end of any residual belief in betting markets knowing anything. Conclusion
- Quite possibly a month's campaign did nothing to change anything. The story of the night is the collapse in the Labour vote. The Torie remain becalmed, but at least they're in a nicer part of the sea. The Lib Dems need PR, as do we all. From my own perspective, it's a perfect result. Labour home with a large but sharply reduced majority (which cannot be blamed on me!), the non-bigot vote remaining near 60%, the Tories strong in Battersea. Update:
Sorry nothing about Wales, Scotland, and N.Ireland. Have no idea about them. I don't think most N.Ireland seats have declared. Would try harder but in a rush to go to Paris to chew over the result with a croissant.
A cold sweat came across me as I realised that of my 60 or so loyal readers, there may be one who only has access to a PC, but Internet Explorer has corrupted and for some reason can only access this site, and thus they are in need of an election update.
Here is the news so far.
The exit poll suggested Labour 37%, Tories 33%, Libs 22% (or 21%, I've seen both). This would give Labour a majority of over 100, but the exit polls also say in marginal seats Labour will do badly, with a swing of around 4%, so predicted a majority of 65.
The first four results, all absurdly safe Labour seats, showed a swing of 4.8%. This would deprive Labour of its vote share plurality, and I think give a majority of less than 50 (if the marginals effect remained on top of it).
So, so far, Labour doing badly, but on course for a 3rd election victory. Clearly a lot of their voters, perhaps more than 10%, have either stayed at home, voted Lib Dem or to the Tories. The Tories will do reasonably well in terms of seats, though it will still be there worst election performance other than the two Labour landslides since before the war. The Lib Dems might do ok, or badly, it's unclear.
The BNP seem to be doing well without caveats, with a 2-3% share of the vote in a couple of the early seats, up from basically nothing.
That was all a little dull, so for that reader whose computer is bust, here's a link to the BBC
Only 1.4% of Labour voters...
...need to vote Conservative to give a Conservative majority. This is just 148,000 people.
Admittedly they'd have to all swap parties, and they'd have to be in Labour's 80 or so most marginal constituencies, and nothing else could change. But and we know one of them already
Labour 10% up in latest poll; Tories down 5% on week; Talk of Howard sacking Friday
The latest Mori opinion poll in the FT
shows Labour 10% ahead (39% to 29% to 22%) on those certain to vote, compared with a 2% lead in the last poll a week ago. The major change has been a precipitous 5% fall in the Tories' position, largely due to the over 55s, where their share fell from 43% to 36%.
The FT suggests this is due to the Tories' focus on calling Blair a liar, and quotes senior Conservatives saying that on Friday morning, if this poll is confirmed, Howard's resignation will be demanded, the "one more heave" element will be routed, and the party will have to make massive changes in direction.
Let's hope these senior Tories are right. Michael Howard has ran the most shoddy and despicable campaign I can remember, and the country will be far better off if on May 2nd he plays no more part in British politics, and instead returns to Folkestone and ends his days ranting at immigrants and foreigners with no-one listening.Update:
On 'all naming a party' the Tories are down to 26%, just 2% higher than the Liberal Democrats.
Advocates of online betting markets being better predictors of election results than opinion polls usually ignore the fact that online betters have the advantage of opinion polls (and thus it makes sense they might be better as they should utilise both the polls and some informed knowledge).
Sometimes however you don't have opinion polls. As far as I know (this could change tomorrow though) there have been no opinion polls in Bethnal Green & Bow. So it will be interesting to see how accurate the Betfair market is, which is predicting only a small chance of a Galloway victory.
Michael Howard goes mad
Tory leader Michael Howard has accused Tony Blair of lacking a positive message in the election campaign.
Whatever next? Will he accuse Blair with being obsessed with nasty foreign immigrants?
Election four days to go
The polls have moved decisively in Labour's favour. The British Election Study which is the most favourable poll to the Tories (it's by YouGov, and it's weighted for turnout) shows the gap widening
, the Tories' favourite pollsters, now have a 13% gap -- 10% on certain to votes -- which would mean Labour increasing their majority.
Why the shift? Populus argue that it is a reaction to Howard's incessant negative campaigning -- the unpleasant racist tone plus the fact that the public know him to be a liar, so find his allegations hypocritical. Also clearly Labour supporters angered about the war have drifted back to the party, and they outnumber the "Decent Left" who are now moving to the Conservatives.
The Once Decent Left
I feel a bit cheated, but basically I must admit I was wrong. Oliver Kamm is going to vote Conservative.
I hope Harry's Place [who have been strident in their criticism of this "bruschetta" tactic] will treat him as he deserves.
ps It's not like Kamm is going to abstain. He plans to vote Tory. It's also, importantly, not as if the Lib Dems, his bete noir, are going to win. It's a Tory/Lab marginal. Basically he is going to vote Tory, to elect a Tory.
Howard wrong again
Michael Howard keeps going on
about how he knows he can come back from 2-0 down because he is a Liverpool fan and remembers the Carling Cup Final. Except that's not what happened -- Chelsea were 1-0 down and came back to win. The only team who were two goals down were Liverpool, and they lost.
PCRS - Campaign Update
Not since the Battle of Britain has there been an election campaign so critical to Britan's future as an independent nation, and I'm glad to report that I am in the thick of it.
Canvassing in the marginals up and down our land I have been struck my one thing on the doorstep - how in tune our policies are with the decent people of this country. Our firm stand against immigration, gypsies, taxes, MRSA, abortions, teenage pregnancies and of course the State Pension is winning us the support of millions. The latest "poll of polls" from the Economist shows this clearly, we are now only 1% behind with four days to go.
To the polls then, and vote Conservative!
 With apologies to William Rees-Mogg in The Times, 1996.
Aaronovitch works out his notice with the Jonathan Aitken defence Part IV
returns to the theme of that one a month ago, that Blair was not a liar, in which he was forced to apologise
for completely misrepresenting David Kelly's position (as read in the Hutton Report).
Today's might require further ones. His main mistake is to start talking about the Scott Inquiry, which of course was the one held in the early 1990s into the Thatcher government's sales of arms to Iraq (finding -- they were all sold through Jordan), rather than the Hutton Inquiry (or Butler Report).
I made the case that the report of the Joint Intelligence Committee, as the Scott inquiry concluded, was consistent with the picture of Iraqi intentions and capabilities that Blair presented to parliament and the nation
Most of it is on a similar theme to the wrong col
umn, except it begins even more bizarrely. Aaranovitch tells a story about Jonathan Aitken, where someone said he was a liar, and George Carman said:
'We are all liars,' Carman, who had acted for the newspaper, reproved them gently. 'His mistake was to do it in court.'
And you can guess the rest, if we shouldn't call Aitken a liar, we should be careful calling Blair a liar too.
Aaranovitch complains that the media now calls Blair a liar at the drop of the hat, but this certainly isn't true of the TV channels, and indeed on Ch.4 News last night the general implication was that it was going too far for politicans to say that. The only people calling Blair a liar in the media last week were Conservative politicans and Conservative newspapers. Aaranovitch has had nothing to say about either all election campaign.
This is all symptomatic of the panic the "decent left" have got themselves into this election campaign. They have flit between saying that Labour are going to lose their majority because selfish middle-class people are unimpressed with the war, and if such people were as decent as themselves they would forget their reservations and vote Labour (not this doesn't apply to anyone who is going to vote Conservative because they don't like immigrants, or public spending; no, they must be courted), and looking at the opinion polls, which show Labour on course for a large majority, and thus arguing that the war was not having much effect.