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New YouGov Poll – Labour’s Lead Down to 7%

There is a new YouGov poll for tomorrow’s Sun newspaper which shows Labour’s lead further narrowing to 7% with the Lib Dems once again only just ahead of UKIP:

                   Conservative               35% (up 2%)

                   Labour                         42% (up 1%)

                                                     Lib Dem                        8% (down 3%)

                                                     UKIP                              7% (down 1%)

YouGov polls seem to be jumping about a bit at the moment with one on Sunday showing the Conservatives down to 29% but that now seems to be an outlier. The post-Budget fall in Conservative support appears to have been halted and even slightly reversed with most polls in recent days. Let’s see how this week pans out but Boris is looking increasingly odds on to win in London, which would be a big blow for Labour and Ed Miliband.

Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 21 April.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | Polls | 1 Comment

The History of the Conservative Party

April 29, 2012 Posted by | National | Leave a comment

Budgen’s Precinct Update – Planning Permission Granted

Me and Jane Stanford-Beale in the Car Park

I was delighted yesterday to be informed that planning permission has been granted by the Council for the resurfacing of a large part of the car park in Budgens Precinct (also known as Emmer Green Shopping Precinct). As part of the scheme a section of the uneven paving slabs in front of the shops will also be replaced with tarmac.

This is an issue I have taken up several times on behalf of local residents and it is great to see some long overdue action. Wolfe Property Services have clearly responded to the many representations from ward Councillors regarding the dangers of the uneven surfaces and the very deep potholes which have developed.

As I blogged before, the planning application cited two letters in support of their application (12/00351/FUL), one from me in August 2011 and one from Cllr Mark Ralph in November 2011. I am sure that if any other Councillor had written prior to the application being submitted that letter would have been included in evidence by the applicants!

Curiously, when I and my Conservative colleague Jane Stanford-Beale discussed chasing the matter up once again at the beginning of this year Cllr Ralph was very opposed to the suggestion and persuaded us that such correspondence would be “superfluous”.

No timescale has been set for the works to be undertaken and I have therefore written to Wolfe Property Services to thank them for their response to the public concerns and to ask them for an update as to when work will commence. I will keep readers and ward residents updated on what response I receive.

Application Received                                 Mon 27 Feb 2012
                                Address                                 Units 1 – 14 Cavendish Road Emmer Green Reading RG4 8XU
                                Proposal                                 Uplift existing paving slabs to front pedestrian walkway and change to tarmacadam finish
                                Status                                 Application Permitted

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Local | 6 Comments

New ComRes Poll – Labour’s Lead Down to 5%

There is a new ComRes online poll published in today’s Independent which shows the Conservatives further trimming Labour’s lead to 5% from 6% in the last ComRes online poll:

           Conservative            34% (no change)

                                        Labour                      39% (down 1%)

                                        Lib Dem                    10% (down 1%)

                                        UKIP                            9% (up 3%)

According to ComRes, Mr Cameron’s popularity is in line with that of the Conservatives, while Ed Miliband trails his party badly and Nick Clegg is less popular than the Lib Dems. Some 37 per cent of people say they like the Conservatives and 38 per cent Mr Cameron. In contrast,  45 per cent like Labour but only 21 per cent like Mr Miliband. Some 37 per cent like the Lib Dems, while 30 per cent like Mr Clegg.

Some 63 per cent of people agree with the statement that Mr Hunt should resign in the light of allegations that his office was passing information to News Corporation during its bid to take over BSkyB.  Only 12 per cent disagree and 24 per cent don’t know.

Methodology note: ComRes interviewed 2,015 GB adults online on 25 and 27 April 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and by past vote recall. Full tables at ComRes.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Polls | 1 Comment

New Ipsos MORI Poll – Labour Lead at 3%

There is a new Ipsos MORI poll reported tonight for the Evening Standard showing the Labour lead at just 3% after a series of polls showing leads of around 8%:

         Conservative              35% (down 1%)

                                                        Labour                        38% (up 1%)

                                                        Lib Dem                      12% (up 1%)

I will update when more information is available.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New ICM Poll – Labour Move Into 8% Lead

There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow showing Labour taking an 8% lead over the Conservatives with UKIP down to just 3%:

         Conservative              33% (down 4%)

                                                    Labour                        41% (up 3%)

                                                    Lib Dem                      15% (up 2%)

                                                    UKIP                              3% (down 1%)

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 22-23 April 2012. 850 interviews were conducted on landlines and 150 on mobile phones.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

Reading Conservatives Launch Local Election Manifesto

Reading Conservatives have launched their Manifesto for the local Council elections on 3rd May with a pledge to freeze Council Tax again next year and hold a referendum on an elected Executive Mayor for Reading.

In further significant commitments Conservatives pledge to switch to “all out elections” every four years, to work for a direct rail link from Reading to Heathrow, to increase funding for tree planting, to implement a major bike-hire scheme, and to provide more primary and secondary school places across the borough.

The document also highlights key successes from the year when the Conservatives led the Council in coalition with the Lib Dems: these include, increasing the funding given to the voluntary and community sector; stopping the funding of Trade Union officials from Council Tax; new grants to the Gurkha community and to the African Caribbean community in order to reopen the Central Club; freezing of town centre short-term car park charges and freezing all parking charges in Caversham and Tilehurst; doubling of cycle parking in the town centre; and the doubling of apprenticeships and foster carers.

Conservative Leader Councillor Tim Harris said, “This is an exciting and radical Manifesto building on our successful year in control of Reading. We pressed for the freeze in Council Tax delivered this year but fear what Labour plans to do next year when there are no local elections. Only the Conservatives are pledged to deliver another freeze in Council Tax next year. If the people of Reading want a Council committed to quality services and best value for every Pound spent they should vote Conservative on 3rd May.”

Conservative Deputy Leader Councillor Jeanette Skeats said, “We were the first administration to deliver a Council Tax freeze and demonstrated that we could work with another party in the interests of Reading people. We began cutting out Labour’s waste and reprioritising Council support to a wider range of voluntary and community groups. I urge people to support our excellent team of candidates who are pledged to deliver a Reading which works better for its people and not for the politicians.”

Click here to download the Manifesto in full.

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Local | 2 Comments

New YouGov Poll – Labour’s Lead Narrows to 8%

Tonight’s YouGov poll for tomorrow’s Sunday Times newspaper shows Labour’s lead being trimmed back again to 8% with UKIP firmly in fourth place:

                   Conservative               33% (up 1%)

                   Labour                         41% (no change)

                                                     Lib Dem                        11% (up 3%)

                                                     UKIP                                8% (down 1%)

Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 17 April.

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New ComRes Poll – Labour Lead Cut to 6%

There is a new ComRes online poll published in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday which shows the Conservatives cutting Labour’s lead to 6% from 10% in the last ComRes telephone poll:

           Conservative            34% (up 1%)

                                        Labour                      40% (down 3%)

                                        Lib Dem                    11% (no change)

                                        UKIP                            6%

The Martin Baxter calculator shows a Labour majority of 52 seats (on new boundaries) with the Conservatives losing nearly 80 seats. The Lib Dems would be reduced to 13 seats.

Leadership trackers

David Cameron’s rating has dropped since the start of the year, when he was still enjoying a post-Brussels bounce. Ed Miliband’s rating remains lower than Nick Clegg’s.

David Cameron is turning out to be a good Prime Minister

___   ____Dec ’10  Jan ’11  Apr  May  June  July  Aug  Sept  Oct  Dec  Jan ’12  Apr

Agree:       38%    38%    37%   39%  37%  33%  34%  33%  34%  27%   34%  29%

Disagree:   41%    43%    46%   43%   44%  45%  48%  46%  47%  52%   43%  50%

Net score:   -3       -5       -9       -4       -7      -12    -14    -13    -13    -25     -9     -21

Of Conservative voters, 75% think that David Cameron is turning out to be good in his role, compared with 41% of Labour voters who say the same about Ed Miliband and 56% of Lib Dem voters of Nick Clegg.

Ed Miliband is turning out to be a good leader of the Labour Party

_________Dec ’10  Jan ’11  Apr  May  June  July  Aug  Sept  Oct  Dec  Jan ’12  Apr

Agree:       17%   22%   24%   22%   18%    27%   24%   20%  22%   20%   18%   18%

Disagree:   32%   35%   38%   39%   45%   41%    44%   44%  50%   52%    53%  49%

Net score:  -15     -13     -14    -17      -23    -14    -20     -24     -28    -32     -35      -31

Nick Clegg is turning out to be a good leader of the Liberal Democrats

_________Dec ’10  Jan ’11  Apr  May  June  July  Aug  Sept  Oct  Dec  Jan ’12  Apr

Agree:         26%    28%    24%   21%    20%    22%    22%   20%   24%   18%   22%   22%

Disagree:   49%    49%    55%   56%    57%   53%    55%   53%   55%    61%   54%   52%

Net score:  -23    -21     -31     -35     -37     -31     -33     -33     -31     -43     -32      -30

Economic trust trackers

I trust David Cameron and George Osborne to make the right decisions about the economy

_____________ Aug ’11 Mar ’12 Apr

Agree:                           31% 29% 25%

Disagree:                     48% 49% 54%

Net score:                  -9    -20   -29

I trust Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to make the right decisions about the economy

_____________Aug ’11 Mar ’12 Apr

Agree:                          18%  15%  19%

Disagree:                     54%  59% 52%

Net score:                   -36   -44   -33

The net rating for the Conservative team is almost as poor now as that of Labour’s team.


Despite recent criticisms of the Budget and of last week’s “panic at the pumps”, the coalition government scores better for competence than the Labour government.

The current coalition government is more competent than the last Labour government

Agree:              35%

Disagree:          45%

The last Labour government was more competent than the current coalition government

Agree:              30%

Disagree:          48%

(ComRes tested both statements because those who disagree include those who think there is no difference between the two governments.)

The Budget

The decisions in the Budget last month were generally fair

Agree:              27%

Disagree:          54%

Conservative voters are the most likely to agree (63%) that it was fair, while just 29% of Lib Dem voters agree. Only 12% of Labour voters agree. Most worrying for the Conservatives especially is that while many younger people said they “didn’t know” whether the Budget decisions were fair or not, it is older voters in particular who tend most to disagree with this statement.  This supports the view that the ‘granny tax’ has caused damage to the Conservatives.

Capping tax relief on large donations to charity by wealthy individuals does not seem like the actions of a Government that believes in the Big Society

Agree:              50%

Disagree:          17%

Don’t know:      32%

Capping tax relief on large donations to charity by wealthy individuals means that ordinary taxpayers end up subsidising charities chosen by rich people

Agree:              43%

Disagree:          21%

Don’t know:      36%

A Labour government under Ed Miliband would be better at protecting people’s jobs

_____________ Jan ’11 Apr

Agree:                         30% 28%

Disagree:                     38% 40%

Men (31%) are more likely than women (25%) to agree.

I believe that George Osborne, the Chancellor, is “on my side” in dealing with the country’s economic problems

______________Mar ’11 Apr

Agree:                         23% 20%

Disagree:                     50% 54%

When Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, talks about the “squeezed middle” he is talking about people like me and my family

______________Mar ’11  Apr

Agree:                         48% 50%

Disagree:                     28% 25%

Responses are similar across the age groups, social grades and regions of the country.

Political reform

No individual, company or trade union should be allowed to give a political party more than £5,000 a year

Agree:              56%

Disagree:          19%

Don’t know:      25%

Ed Miliband’s proposal has consistent support across voters for the three main parties – 59% of Conservative voters, 55% of Labour voters, and 59% of Lib Dem voters agree.

City mayors create an unnecessary and expensive layer of local government

Agree:              56%

Disagree:          18%

Don’t know:      26%

Lowest agreement for this was found in London, where 34% agree compared with 56% in Wales and the South West, 59% in the Midlands, 62% in the North England and 65% in Scotland. The high level of agreement does not bode well for the 10 mayoral referendums across the country on 3 May


The Government ought to try to increase happiness, or general well-being, rather than just national income and wealth

Agree:              59%

Disagree:          20%

Don’t know:      22%

Although David Cameron has spoken about ‘general well-being’, it is Labour voters who particularly agree (70%); 57% of Lib Dem voters, and 51% of Conservative voters agree.

Methodology note: ComRes interviewed 2,048 GB adults online on 18 and 19 April 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and by past vote recall. Full tables at ComRes.

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

Conservative Local Election Broadcast

April 21, 2012 Posted by | National | Leave a comment

Conservatives Launch Clean Campaign Pledge

Reading Conservatives are promoting a clean campaign pledge which has been signed by the Liberal Democrat and Green Groups on Reading Borough Council. Independent candidate in Whitley ward, Jamie Wake, has also added his support.

Following suggestions that Labour has used “dog whistle” tactics in its Church ward campaign all parties are being encouraged to sign up to a pledge of clean campaigning.

The Clean Campaign Pledge states:

We, the undersigned, pledge in the Reading Borough local election campaign:

· To show by our actions that politics can be a clean and positive activity, engaged in genuinely for the good of all.

· To tell the truth about what we have achieved and stand for and, and about what others have achieved and stand for.

· To refrain from making personal attacks against, or misleading statements about, other candidates in written literature or verbally.

· Not to mislead the public about who is doing well and about who is likely to win in these elections.

· To make only honest and reasonable promises.

· To fight a clean, positive and honest campaign around the issues that concern the people of Reading

· In particular, to be honest about public spending, and not to scaremonger in ways that may frighten the most vulnerable members of our society, such as children and elderly people.

· To take money only from organisations and individuals whose motives in giving us money we do not have reason to suspect.

Conservative Leader Cllr Tim Harris said, “It is important that all parties conduct a fair and honest campaign which conforms to the standards of decency expected by the people of Reading. There should be no place for racism or homophobia and parties should not scaremonger amongst the vulnerable.”

Lib Dem Leader Cllr Daisy Benson said, “I’m very happy to sign this pledge – I did the same in 2010 and I know from talking to residents in Reading they really appreciated the positive campaign we ran. Political parties should campaign on issues, ideas and their record at election time. They should not resort to making personal attacks on candidates to win votes or do things that could undermine public confidence in the political process.”

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Local | 2 Comments

Budgen’s Precinct Resurfacing Success

Me and Jane Stanford-Beale in the Car Park

As a local resident and ward Councillor in Peppard ward I have lost count of the number of local people who have raised with me the state of the car park at the Emmer Green Shopping Centre in the heart of the ward. Better known as Budgen’s Precinct, this is privately owned land and therefore not as easy to resolve as if it were the responsibility of the Council.Like many residents, my colleague Jane Stanford-Beale and I have been frustrated by the state of the paved area and the car park in front of the shops.

In August last year I wrote to the managing agents, Wolfe Property Services, to complain about the poor state of both the car park and the paved area in front of the shops and to ask that they be repaired and improved as a matter of urgency. My initiative was then followed by another ward Councillor.

I am therefore delighted to see that Wolfe has responded with a planning application submitted in February to repair the car park and replace much of the paved area in front of the shops with a new more even tarmac surface. They have even submitted my letter to them in support of their planning application.

I anticipate the application will be decided by 27 April with the works starting soon after. The potholes in the car park are huge and are due to be dealt with shortly afterwards. This is great news and I know that the many Peppard ward residents who use the car park and the shops will be delighted. It is a good example of what can be achieved by ward Councillors.

UPDATE: I have had huge interest in this article as so many people in Peppard ward have been frustrated at the poor state of the car park and area in front of the shops. However, unfortunately for many people the links I posted to the Reading Borough Council website did not work, so I have downloaded the Design and Access Statement submitted by Wolfe Property Services, which has my letter attached to it, and you should be able to read the document here.

UPDATE 2: I am delighted that planning permission has now been granted by the Council. Read more here.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Local | 6 Comments

New YouGov Poll – Labour Down but UKIP Still Third

Tonight’s YouGov poll for tomorrow’s Sun newspaper shows Labour’s lead being trimmed back to 9% but UKIP remaining ahead of the Lib Dems:

                   Conservative               32% (no change)

                   Labour                         41% (down 2%)

                                                     Lib Dem                         8% (no change)

                                                     UKIP                              9% (no change)

To have two successive polls showing the Lib Dems in fourth place (albeit from the same pollster) is interesting. Let’s see what the “gold standard” pollster ICM shows in its next findings.

Changes shown are compared to the previous YouGov poll in today’s Sun.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Polls | 1 Comment

New YouGov Poll – UKIP Overtakes Lib Dems

There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sun newspaper showing the Labour lead jumping to 11% but more sensationally UKIP have overtaken the Lib Dems:

                   Conservative               32% (down 4%)

                   Labour                         43% (up 3%)

                   Lib Dem                         8% (down 1%)

                   UKIP                              9% (up 3%)

Labour’s lead is pretty big but all the focus will be on the UKIP result. As usual with any striking result some caution should be exercised to see whether this is a one-off or a new consistent polling position.

The poll also suggests that Conservatives are losing support among the over 60’s to UKIP. However, let’s see what the polls over the next couple of days show before draawing too many conclusions as I suspect this poll to be an “outlier”!

Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I covered on 10 April.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Polls | 2 Comments

2012 Local and London Elections – An Overview

This year is not the biggest for the number of seats up for election in Councils across the UK on 3rd May but it is important nonetheless. The contest between Ken and Boris in London has been attracting considerable attention but little has been said about the elections to the London Assembly. In 11 major cities there are referenda for elected Mayor’s and in Glasgow and Birmingham there is the possibility of a change of control. I will discuss these below.

However, first of all let’s have a look at some of the numbers. There are a third of the seats in 36 English Metropolitan Districts and 16 Unitary Authorities, plus all-out elections in Swindon and Hartlepool due to boundary changes. A third of seats in 63 Shire District Councils, half the seats in 7 Shire Districts, and all-out elections in four. In Wales there are elections to 21 out of 22 Councils with just over 1,200 seats up for election. In Scotland all 32 local Councils have elections

The vibrancy of local party organisations can to some extent be judged by the number of seats they are contesting. MPs are supported by their local Councillors, leaflets are delivered and fundraising social events organised. There are 2,416 seats up for election in England this year. The Conservatives are fighting almost every seat with 2,346 candidates, Labour has 2,306 candidates, but surprisingly the Lib Dems are only fielding 1,703 candidates. There are many seats up and down the land with no Lib Dem candidate.

In the run up to the elections all major parties try to damp down expectations of gains and losses so that they can claim a great triumph whatever happens. It is therefore best to ignore the claims of the parties and look at what independent election experts predict. Professor Colin Rallings of the LGC Elections Centre at Plymouth University reckons that Labour should be looking at least 600 gains and possibly as many as 700, with 200 coming from Unitary Authorities and 120 in Wales.

The last time these seats were contested was 2008 when the Conservatives were riding high in the polls at over 40% and Labour under Gordon Brown was in the doldrums. Conservative losses to Labour are therefore expected but may be mitigated by gains from the Lib Dems in the South of England. The Lib Dems will probably do better than their current 8-10% poll rating implies but net losses to both of the larger parties are a certainty, not helped by their failure to contest so many seats.

In London the Assembly is currently Cons 11, Lab 8, LD 3, Green 2, Ind 1 (ex BNP). All parties expect some shift from Conservative to Labour this time around. There are several marginal seats which are difficult to call and the combination of constituency and top up lists makes the final results hard to call. The BNP will probably lose their one seat and UKIP may pick up one. The Mayoralty is the real prize however and Labour had high hopes of Ken Livingstone regaining the position once again. His tax avoidance revelations have damaged his chances and Boris seems to be attracting a lot of non-tribal support, particularly in the outer London Boroughs.

In Birmingham the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition may struggle to hold on and Labour sources seem confident of taking control of the UK’s second city. Labour is the largest party with 57 Councillors, the Conservatives have 39 and there are 24 Lib Dem. The seats up for election on 3rd May are 18 Cons, 13 LD and only 9 Labour, so Labour are defending few with the chances for big gains from Lib Dems particularly. Interestingly there are SDP candidates standing in some of the wards!

In Glasgow Labour has been riven by defections and splits and the SNP are very hopeful of taking control. In total 20 Labour Councillors have not been reselected to stand again for their party and seven have since resigned from the party with one facing assault charges.

The nightmare scenario for Labour would be failing to take the London Mayoralty, failing to take control of Birmingham and losing Glasgow to the SNP. These are the contests which will receive the most attention rather than numbers of gains of individual Council seats.

April 15, 2012 Posted by | National | 3 Comments