Richard Willis's Blog

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New ICM Poll – Tories Maintain Lead

There was another ICM poll in the Guardian yesterday showing the Conservatives maintaining a small lead over Labour:

            Conservative              37% (down 1%)

                                                  Labour                       36% (no change)

                                                  Lib Dem                      15% (up 1%)

So ICM ends the year with the Conservatives slightly ahead of Labour. We will have to see if there are any YouGov polls or whether this is the final poll of 2011.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas. This year it seems that we are destined for a very mild Christmas unlike the previous two years. As a result the homeless and those in fuel poverty will find the season a little more bearable. If you do have an elderly neighbour please do drop them a card or find out if  they need anything. This year I have sent far fewer cards and have instead made a donation to a charity which works with those who find Christmas more of a struggle.

At this time of peace and goodwill to all men, normal hostilities are suspended and when I have collected together the Christmas cracker jokes I will post them, as I have done in some previous years.

Anyway have a great Christmas and here’s hoping for a happy and successful 2012!

December 24, 2011 Posted by | General Musings | 1 Comment

The Falklands Will Stay British

David Cameron continues to delight Conservatives with his pledge today that the Falkland Islands will remain British for as long as their inhabitants wish them to do so. This follows further threats and intimidation of the islanders by Argentina and the decision by Brazil and Uruguay to ban ships flying the Falklands flag from using their ports. This is a rather meaningless gesture as any Falklands vessels are entitled to switch to the British red ensign should they chose to do so.

As I have posted before, the Falkland Islands are sovereign British territory by the democratically expressed choice of their inhabitants. Any nation which claims to be liberal and democratic should support the right of self determination of the islanders and nothing the UK does should undermine that right. When I posted my previous article on the Falklands it sparked a discussion which last for over a year and amounted to 196 comments. I realise that this excites great passions in Argentina but the country will have to get used to the situation and behave like a mature democracy.

David Cameron is exactly right to make a forceful statement of his support for the islanders. The most dangerous practice is to send an uncertain message. It might also be prudent to discreetly beef up the British military presence in the South Atlantic. The deep cuts in the Royal Navy don’t help but the UK could easily despatch a nuclear hunter-killer submarine and some more fighter jets. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the invasion of the Falklands by Argentina the UK must stand firm behind democracy and the rule of law.  By doing so, David Cameron has earned himself more respect among many whon may have occasionally wondered what metal he was made of! 

Let Argentina be in no doubt….the Falklands WILL remain British!

December 23, 2011 Posted by | International | 3 Comments

New YouGov Poll – Tories and Labour on 40%

There is a new YouGov poll published tonight for tomorrow’s Sun newspaper showing the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck:

                   Conservative               40% (down 1%)

                   Labour                        40% (up 1%)
                                                    Lib Dem                       10% (no change)
This poll confirms the ongoing boost to David Cameron’s Conservatives following from the exercising of the veto in the EU.
Changes shown are compared to the last daily YouGov poll I covered on 13 December.

December 21, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 6 Comments

New Populus Poll – Tories Halve Labour’s Lead

There is a new Populus poll published in today’s Times which shows the Conservatives halving Labour’s lead to 4%:

              Conservative             35% (up 2%)

              Labour                      39% (down 2%)

                                                             Lib Dem                    12% (down 1%)

Changes shown are compared to the last Populus poll published last month.

December 20, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 1 Comment

Green Councillor Defects to the Conservatives

Thanks to Conservative Home, which has the following story:

Cllr Phil Hardy, leader of the seven-strong Green Party group on Norfolk County Council, has defected to the Conservatives. He represents Thorpe Hamlet Ward.

The Green Party have 130 councillors. Of course on most councils they have no representation but have clusters here and there. Their strongest areas are Brighton & Hove, which they run, followed by Norwich City Council, then Lancaster. But Norfolk County Council was their fourth largest group and so Cllr Hardy was one of their most senior councillors.

Cllr Hardy is the third defector to the Conservatives on Norfolk County Council this year. (So far…)

December 19, 2011 Posted by | National | 4 Comments

New ICM Poll – Tories Storm to a 6% Lead!!!

There is a new ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph showing the Conservatives stretching their lead over Labour to 6%:

            Conservative              40% (up 2%)

                                                  Labour                        34% (down 2%)

                                                  Lib Dem                      14% (no change)

This is the best finding for the Conservatives in an ICM  poll since just after the 2010 General Election and will send further shockwaves through the Labour leadership. I remind readers that ICM is one of the most reliable and credible pollsters.

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 2 Comments

Feltham and Heston By Election

The polls have now closed in the Feltham and Heston by election. Parliamentary by elections are relatively scarce nowadays and those in more marginal seats are even rarer. They therefore tend to be pored over by pundits to see what lessons they can draw for the major parties.

The Feltham and Heston by election was caused by the sad death of Labour MP Alan Keen last month. In May 2010 Keen held the seat with a 4,658 majority despite a 4.8% swing to the Conservatives who have reselected their General Election candidate Mark Bowen.

Labour selected Seema Malhotra-Suma who has attracted some criticism for dropping her double-barrelled surname and playing down her millionaire lifestyle and £3m house in Chelsea.

The Conservatives need to achieve another 4.8% swing tonight to overturn Labour’s majority and despite a jump in the polls since David Cameron exercised the veto in the EU, they are not expected to win the seat. The test will be whether they can further narrow Labour’s majority.

The following candidates are standing for election:

Seema Malhotra (Labour)

Mark Bowen (Conservative)

Roger Crouch (Liberal Democrat)

Daniel Goldsmith (Green)

Andrew Charalambous (UKIP)

Roger Cooper (English Democrats)

David Furness (BNP)

George Hallam (London People Before Profit)

David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party)

December 15, 2011 Posted by | National | Leave a comment

New Ipsos MORI Poll – Tories Surge Ahead

There is a new Ipsos MORI/Reuters poll reported today showing the Conservatives surging dramatically to take the lead:

            Conservative               41% (up 7%)

                                                        Labour                        39% (down 2%)

                                                        Lib Dem                      11% (down 1%)

MORI tends to show more dramatic fluctuations than other pollsters but these findings are bang in line with last night’s poll findings from YouGov. There is now no doubt that the Conservatives are enjoying a poll boost from David Cameron’s stance at the Euro summit. The question is whether it will last and how it will affect this Thursday’s Feltham and Heston by-election.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,001 adults aged 18+ between 10 and 12 December.

December 14, 2011 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New ComRes Poll – Tory Boost Puts Them Neck and Neck with Labour

There is a new ComRes telephone poll published in tomorrow’s Independent which shows the Conservatives enjoying a boost and now neck and neck with Labour:

              Conservative             38% (up 2%)

                                        Labour                      38% (down 2%)

                                        Lib Dem                    12% (up 2%)

This poll is broadly in agreement with tonight’s YouGov poll and will be a significant encouragement to David Cameron, suggesting as it does that the criticisms of the BBC, Liberal Democrats and Labour are not resonating with the public.

Asked whether the Government should not increase public borrowing any further and should pay off the nation’s deficit as soon as possible, 74 per cent agree and 18 per cent disagree. A majority of Labour voters (58 per cent) endorse this approach, as do 73 per cent of Lib Dem supporters and 87 per cent of Conservative supporters.  

ComRes also asked people whether the Government should borrow more in the short term to increase economic growth even if it means reducing the deficit more slowly – broadly in line with Labour’s approach.  Some 49 per cent agree but 40 per cent disagree and 11 per cent don’t know.

The poll found that the public are much more upbeat about their own prospects for 2012 than for the country as a whole.  Some 68 per cent describe themselves as optimistic about their own prospects, while 28 per cent disagree.   However, only 34 per cent of people are optimistic about the UK’s prospects for next year, while 60 per cent are not.

ComRes surveyed 1,002 GB adults by telephone on 9-11 December 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative and by past vote recall.

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New YouGov Poll – Tories Take 2% Lead

There is a new YouGov poll published tonight for tomorrow’s Sun newspaper showing the Conservatives leaping 2% ahead of Labour:

                   Conservative               41% (up 3%)

                                                    Labour                        39% (no change)
                                                    Lib Dem                       10% (down 1%)
This poll suggests that David Cameron’s Conservatives are enjoying a real boost from the exercising of the veto in the EU last Friday.
Changes shown are compared to the last daily YouGov poll I covered on 11 December.

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

Berkshire Recycling Rates for 2010/11

Last year I published the DEFRA statistics on local authority recycling rates and I thought it might be interesting to update them one year on.

DEFRA issued its data for 2010/11 in November and once again Reading was near the bottom of the local table for Berkshire:

West Berkshire – 42% (09/10-40.2%)
Wokingham – 41% (09/10-38.36%)
Bracknell Forest – 40% (09/10-37.83%)
Windsor & Maid – 39% (09/10-34.37%)
Reading – 35% (09/10-33.4%)
Slough – 31% (08/09-30.91%)

Over the last year Reading saw a small improvement in its performance but others in Berkshire made greater strides. So Reading was again second from the bottom in 2009/10. Compare that with our immediate neighbour to the north:

South Oxfordshire – 65% (09/10-61.41%)

Not only did South Oxfordshire manage a good rate of recycling again over the last year but they improved again on what was an amazing performance in the previous year. Reading still has a very long way to go to match that performance.

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Local | 1 Comment

New YouGov Poll – Labour Just 1% Ahead

There is a new YouGov poll published tonight for today’s Sunday Times newspaper showing Labour’s lead being slashed to just 1%:

                  Conservative 38% (up 2%)

                                                    Labour 39% (down 1%)
                                                     Lib Dem 11% (up 2%)
Changes shown are compared to the last daily YouGov poll I covered on 21 November.

December 11, 2011 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New ComRes Poll – Labour 4% Ahead

There is a new ComRes online poll published in today’s Independent on Sunday/Sunday Mirror which shows the Conservatives holding at just 4% behind Labour:

              Conservative             36% (up 1%)

                                        Labour                      40% (up 1%)

                                        Lib Dem                    10% (down 1%)

Changes shown are compared to the last ComRes telephone poll published on 2o November.

Q: Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?
David Cameron is turning out to be a good prime minister
                               Dec       Jan       Apr      May      June     July     August  September     October   December
Agree:                     38%      38%      37%      39%     37%      33%      34%           33%               34%          27%
Disagree:                 41%      43%      46%    43%      44%     45%       48%           46%               47%          52%
Don’t know:             21%      19%      17%     18%     19%      22%      18%           21%               19%          20%
Ed Miliband is turning out to be a good leader of the Opposition (Note: in previous waves this has been phrased as ‘leader of the Labour Party’)
                                 Dec      Jan       Apr      May      June     July      August  September   October  December
Agree:                       17%      22%      24%     22%     18%      27%         24%         20%                22%           20%
Disagree:                   32%      35%      38%    39%      45%     41%         44%         44%                50%           52%
Don’t know:               50%      43%      37%    39%      37%      32%         32%         36%               28%            28%
·         Fewer than half of Labour voters (44%)  think Ed Miliband is turning out to be a good leader of the opposition, compared to just 13% of Lib Dem voters and 7% of Conservative voters.
Nick Clegg is turning out to be a good Deputy Prime Minister (Note: in previous waves this has been phrased as ‘leader of the Liberal Democrats’)
                               Dec      Jan       Apr      May      June     July      August   September    October   December
Agree:                      26%      28%      24%    21%     20%      22%         22%           20%              24%            18%
Disagree:                 49%      49%      55%    56%      57%     53%         55%           53%              55%             61%
Don’t know:             25%      23%      21%     24%     23%      25%         23%           27%              21%             21%
David Cameron has shown strong leadership in his dealings with France and Germany during the Euro crisis
Agree: 31%
Disagree: 41%
Don’t know: 28%
·         Approximately two thirds of Conservative voters (64%) agree that David Cameron has shown strong leadership, compared to two in five Lib Dem voters (39%) and one in six Labour voters (16%).
If EU leaders agree a new treaty to tackle the Euro crisis Britain should hold a referendum on it
Agree: 58%
Disagree: 15%
Don’t know: 26%
·         Two thirds of Conservative voters agree (68%), compared to half of Labour (50%) and Lib Dem voters (47%).
·         There is a trend by age, with older people more likely than younger people to agree – 70% of people aged 65 and over agree, compared to 44% of people aged 18-24.

The Euro crisis provides an ideal opportunity for Britain to leave the EU altogether
Agree: 52%
Disagree: 26%
Don’t know: 22%
·         Conservative voters (58%) are more likely than Labour (45%) or Lib Dem voters (48%) to agree.
I expect that the 2012 Olympics will be worth the expense in the end
Agree: 28% (July 2009: 54%)
Disagree: 54% (42%)
Don’t know: 17%

ComRes surveyed 2,048 GB adults online on 7-8 December 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative and by past vote recall.

December 11, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 2 Comments

The UK Steps Out on a Path to Freedom and Independence

I have been following last night’s events in Europe with interest. David Cameron had a very difficult set of audiences to satisfy but as Boris Johnson rightly said, “he played a blinder”!

I have never made any secret of my Euro-scepticism. I have always been totally against the UK joining the single currency, at a time when most of the left and many in the Conservative Party were arguing that it was in Britain’s interests. How could it be in our interests to surrender control of our currency, and by extension, our economy?

The UK has far more in common with the US and many Commonwealth nations than it does with most European countries. As well as the well understood shared history with most English speaking nations, we also share similar economic approaches, common legal systems, have close military and intelligence links and in many cases a shared Head of State. Of course the other EU nations are economically powerful and on our doorstep but there is no reason why we cannot maintain good neighbourly and trading relations with Europe while looking further afield.

If 17 or more nations wish to surrender their national identities and merge themselves into a a federated Euro state then we should not stand in their way but for the first time since we joined the EU it appears that we have an opportunity to get off the train leading to “ever closer union”. I and many of my fellow citizens will have to be forgiven if we have a smile on our faces today and a determination to  take the chance that has been presented to us.

The EU costs the UK a very large fortune in direct contributions and unnecessary red tape. Some estimates are as high as £30bn per year in net cost. That is £30bn that could be spent on Education, Defence, Transport or Hospitals. The UK contribution to the aid that the EU disperses to developing nations could be more efficiently distributed by the UK directly, with Britain gaining the kudos for the support given.

The UK national interest has been fantastically well served by David Cameron and this government. The scaremongering by the remaining Europhiles and the BBC has been patently ridiculous. The BBC this morning were desperate to portray the markets as disapproving of Cameron’s veto and were trumpeting the small fall in the FTSE first thing this morning. As soon as the markets began to make gains this “news” was dropped from the bulletins (NB: the FTSE 100 finished UP 45 points today). Equally ludicrous was all the talk of the UK being “isolated”. As someone said on the radio this morning we are as isolated as a man left on the quayside as the Titanic sailed. The tragedy is that as so many European nations bind themselves more tightly to the failing single currency they make the likelihood of an uncontrolled break up of the single currency more likely.

There is no future for a currency which includes Greece, Italy and Portugal alongside nations like Germany and Holland. Either the weaker nations will be forced out or the stronger nations will have to provide huge transfers to bail them out. Nothing I have heard coming out of Brussels has suggested that the Eurozone 17 have done anything to address the fundamental problems afflicting the single currency. By refusing to be bound into an agreement that would have done untold damage to one of the few industries in which the UK leads the world, David Cameron has done a great service to this country. If some Lib Dems and a tiny number of Conservatives don’t like it – tough! What Ed Miliband says is frankly irrelevant.

Maybe one day 9 December will be celebrated as the day which the UK started down the path of regaining its independence and recovering its competitive advantage.

December 9, 2011 Posted by | International, National | 5 Comments