Conservative 32% (up 4%)
Labour 38% (no change)
Lib Dem 9% (down 3%)
UKIP 13% (down 1%)
There is a consistent pattern at present of reduced Labour leads across the board with every recent poll showing the lead in just single figures. For a mid-term government delivering austerity measures that is nothing short of amazing and a measure of how badly Labour is doing under Ed Miliband’s leadership.
In further findings:
Some 58% feel that the Government’s economic plan has failed while 31% disagree. However, 44% feel that the government should be allowed to finish the job of restoring Britain’s economic prospects with 46% disagreeing.
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 1,001 GB adults by telephone 26 – 28 April 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comres.co.uk.
Much has been made of UKIP’s rise in the polls over the last year. Partly as a result the party is fielding a record number of candidates in the local elections next Thursday. However, it seems that in their rush to find as many candidates as possible basic checks have been neglected. As a result, candidates have been embarrassing the party in the last few weeks, some of whom have subsequently been disowned by UKIP.
Sue Bowen was selected and nominated to stand for UKIP in the Tintagel ward of Cornwall Council. However, it came to light that as well as having been a member of Cornish independence party Mebyon Kernow, she had also once been a paid up member of the British National Party. UKIP has now withdrawn its support for her candidacy but she will still be on the ballot paper as it is too late to withdraw.
Up in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, Caven Vines has been selected and nominated to stand in the Rawmarsh ward of Rotherham Council. Vines used to work closely with the BNP’s Rotherham organiser in a campaign group called Council Watch. He wrote a semi-literate blog when standing for re-election in 2009: “If are a Muslim in Britain you can almost do what you want with the good old Labour Governments blessing. Muslims go to war warring the same cloths as ordinary people who they hide behind they cover their faces, they hide behind women and children they set up rocket launches in school yards they use children to push wheel barrows into crowds and soldiers then detonate it killing innocent people SO WHO ARE THE COWARDS. Its about time the Government and the Police stopped pandering to these so called British Muslims and other foreign nationals”. To date UKIP is standing by Vines!
Another candidate in trouble is in Crowborough, East Susssex, who has been caught out making appallingly offensive remarks about the Holocaust. Anne-Marie Crampton reportedly wrote, “Holocaust means a sacrifice by fire. Only the Zionists could sacrifice their own in the gas chambers. The Second World Wide War was engineered by the Zionist Jews and financed by the banksters to make the general public all over the world feel so guilty and outraged by the Holocaust that a treaty would be signed to create the State of Israel as we know it today.” She has since claimed that her account was hacked but clearly even UKIP don’t believe her as they have suspended her.
Just today David Nixon, the candidate in Stone Rural ward in Stafforshire, has been found to be distributing a highly misleading and homophobic leaflet as part of his election campaign.
It should not be a surprise that UKIP has some oddball and unpleasant candidates. In May 2012 UKIP Stocksbridge Town Councillor and former PPC, Grant French, was exposed as having some nasty anti-semitic and homophobic views. UKIP MEP Tom Wise (elected in 2004) was jailed for two years for fiddling his expenses in the European Parliament; UKIP MEP Ashley Mote (elected in 2004) was jailed for fiddling benefits; and in 2012 UKIP MEPs Derek Clark and Graham Booth were forced to repay expenses they had wrongly claimed.
UKIP has also lost quite a few more of its elected MEPs for a variety of other reasons. In 2010 Nikki Sinclaire MEP won a sex discrimination case against the party when they expelled her for refusing to sit with a homophobic party in the European Parliament; in 2011 David Campbell-Bannerman MEP defected to the Conservatives; and earlier this year Martha Andreasen MEP also defected to the Conservatives citing Nigel Farage’s “Stalinist” leadership style.
Some of UKIP’s party officials have also been found to have close associations with extremist groups. The Chairman of UKIP in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Cliff Dixon, has been shown to have close links with the anti-Muslim English Defence League; and the UKIP Chairman in Oxford (and former Council candidate), Dr Julia Gasper, was removed from her post for comparing homosexuality to bestiality and paedophilia.
On the other side of the argument, earlier this year UKIP officials removed the party’s youth wing Chairman and one of its Parliamentary candidates because they supported Equal Marriage. Many younger members resigned in disgust at the reactionary stance of the party. It has done nothing for the image of the party and reinforced the impression that it is becoming an intolerant refuge for racists, homophobes and some who are just frankly weird.
Party leader Nigel Farage MEP has even admitted this week that other candidates with links to the BNP or criminal records could have slipped through the party’s cursory selection process. All parties have some unpleasant candidates but UKIP seems to have more than its fair share! When considering who to vote for next Thursday voters should reflect on UKIP’s recent history of dodgy candidates, expenses fiddlers and some outright racists.
UPDATE – Police have been called in to investigate alleged electoral fraud by UKIP candidates in Norfolk and the Isle of Wight. They are investigating allegations that signatures have been forged on candidate nomination papers. If this is proven then candidate and/or agent could be going to prison!
UPDATE – 27 Apr 13 – UKIP candidate for Kent County Council Geoffrey Clark has been suspended for publishing a leaflet which calls for “compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, Spina Bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family. “
There is a new Opinium poll in tomorrows Observer newspaper showing Labour down 3% to just 35%:
Conservative 29% (up 1%)
Labour 35% (down 3%)
Lib Dem 8% (no change)
UKIP 17% (no change)
All the reports suggest that UKIP is up 1% to 17% and yet the last Opinium poll I reported two weeks ago also had UKIP on 17%, so until I have resolved this, I have shown them as unchanged.
Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,969 GB adults aged 18+ from 16 to 18 April 2013. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
Readers will recall that after Gordon Brown stepped down in 2010 the Labour Party held a leadership election in which the party membership and MPs voted for David Miliband but the votes of the Trades Unions pushed David’s brother Ed over the winning line. The Labour Party was therefore saddled with a leader who had not been voted for by its members or its elected representatives. Since Ed’s election the Trades Union funding for the party has amounted to more than 80% of all donations received and this generous support does not come without strings.
Until now the strings have not been very visible. The Labour Party has become to all intents and purposes a policy vacuum but the mood music has been pretty left wing, opposing every reform and every attempt to tackle the huge deficit which they left behind. It has been an oppositionist strategy which may score some points in the short term but does nothing to enhance the party’s, or Ed Miliband’s, image as a potential government in the eyes of the electorate. This has been reflected in recent opinion polls which have shown a narrowing of Labour’s lead, two-thirds of the electorate saying Miliband is not fit to be Prime Minister, and Labour falling behind the Conservatives on a number of key questions.
More interesting recently some of the key figures behind “New Labour” have broken cover and begun to speak out against Miliband and the party’s left-wards drift. Even three-time election winner Tony Blair has spoken out. He sounded a note of caution about the party’s tendency to “tack left on tax and spending or tack right on immigration and Europe”. His intervention was supported by other senior figures such as David Blunkett who criticised Miliband’s appearance of building policy “built on grievance”.
However, the real evidence of Union influence surfaced this week with a massive internal row over the selection of Labour candidate for the European Parliament elections next year. Party members are up in arms over attempts by major Trades Unions to stitch up the top seats on each list for themselves. Popular local candidates have been discarded leading to some members to resign from the party and others to raise complaints with the leadership. It is thought that the major unions the GMB, Unison and Unite have been working together on selection panels to stitch up the selections for their own people. As major donors to the party they are entitled to be part of the process to select candidates. One of my local Labour contacts tells me that there are concerns about the process in the South East region.
We will have to wait for the final selections to be published but the early indications are that Labour is going to have to deal with some unhappy members and possibly further resignations. The Unions are flexing their muscles and seem determined to extract their pound of flesh. Not a good start to their Euro election campaign!
UPDATE 25 Apr 13 – Arch left-winger Len McLusky, leader of the Unite Trade Union, has demanded that Ed Miliband sack Blairites from his Shadow Cabinet or face the loss of millions of Pounds of his union’s donations.
There is a new Ipsos MORI poll reported today in the London Evening Standard showing the Conservatives significantly closing the gap on Labour:
Conservative 29% (up 2%)
Labour 38% (down 2%)
Lib Dem 10% ( down 1%)
UKIP 15% (up 2%)
This poll is very much in line with other recent polls showing the Conservatives up and Labour at or below 40%. 38% is Labour’s lowest rating for a year with MORI.
Most interesting however is the public opinion of the Labour leader’s fitness to be Prime Minister. A mere 24% think that Ed Miliband is fit to be Prime Minister with 66% disagreeing. Oddly, Ed Miliband has the highest net satisfaction rating of the three main party leaders, with a rating of -16% compared with David Cameron’s -28% and Nick Clegg’s rock bottom -44%. Only Nigel Farage has a positive net rating, at +8% but it is very easy to be popular when you are not in government and have not been.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,010 aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 13-16 Apr 2013.
Conservative 33% (up 3%)
Labour 40% (no change)
Lib Dem 10% (down 1%)
UKIP 11% (down 2%)
This poll is consistent with yesterday’s ICM poll showing a Labour lead of just 6%.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 7 April.
There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow showing Labour’s opinion poll lead dropping to just 6%:
Conservative 32% (up 1%)
Labour 38% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 15% (no change)
UKIP 9% (up 2%)
For the Labour Party to be a mere 6% ahead of the Conservatives at this stage of the Parliament is nothing short of dreadful for Labour. With all of the measures that the Government has implemented in the last 18 months and the still struggling economy Labour should expect to be well ahead in all of the polls. Indeed I had expected them to be polling a minimum of 10% more than the Conservatives and regularly hitting leads of 15% or so.
Even more concerning for Labour is the leadership polling figures. A mere 28% in this poll think that Ed Miliband is doing a good job as Labour leader. 51% think he is doing a bad job. Leaving him with a negative rating of -23%. In May 2012 Miliband was rated as -12%; so his position is almost twice as bad as it was then!
By contrast 39% think David Cameron is doing a good job, against 49% who disagree, giving him a negative rating of just -10%. Nick Clegg rates the worst of the three leaders at -29%. The Lib Dem’s participation in the coalition seems to be a drag on the government’s popularity with 51% saying it is doing a bad job against 31% who think it is performing well.
Clearly not all Labour voters think that Miliband is doing a good job, whereas more voters think Cameron is doing a good job than are currently prepared to vote Conservative. As the next General Election approaches this is likely to come more sharply into focus with the effect depressing Labour support and possibly boosting the Conservatives.
The politician who seems to have gone up most in the public’s estimation over the last year is Chancellor George Osborne. After last year’s budget he was at a rating of -25% but has now recovered to -14%, with 32% thinking he is doing a good job against 46% who disagree.
ICM is the most respected pollster according to a vote of readers of Political Betting.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,005 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 12-14 April 2013. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
Conservative 30% (up 2%)
Labour 38% (up 1%)
Lib Dem 8% (down 1%)
UKIP 15% (down 2%)
In further findings:
Do you agree or disagree:
Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s greatest peacetime Prime Minister:
Agree 33% Disagree 41% Don’t know 26%
Only in the 65-plus age group do more people agree (46%) than disagree (38%).
Public attitudes to her are apparently contradictory, with a majority agreeing both that she was “the most divisive prime minister this country has had” and that “Britain today needs more ‘conviction politicians’ like Margaret Thatcher”:
Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive Prime Minister this country has had that I can remember:
Agree 59% Disagree 18%
Britain today needs more ‘conviction politicians’ like Margaret Thatcher:
Agree 56% Disagree 26%
Conservative voters agree by 88% to 3%; Labour voters are more likely to disagree (47%) than agree (34%).
Margaret Thatcher’s ceremonial funeral should not be funded by taxpayers:
Agree 60% Disagree 25%
A third (32%) of Conservative voters agree, as do a majority of voters from every other party.
Margaret Thatcher was right to require trade unions to hold secret ballots before strikes:
Agree 52% Disagree 20% Don’t know 28%
We received a better level of service from gas, electricity and telephone companies after privatisation:
Agree 25% Disagree 38% Don’t know 38%
Overall, Margaret Thatcher’s policies were right for the country at the time:
Agree 45% Disagree 34%
Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies did more harm than good:
Agree 39% Disagree 35% Don’t know 26%
Which of the following, if any, will you most remember Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for?
Curbing the power of trade unions / the miners’ strike 49%
The Falklands War 47%
The Poll Tax 39%
Privatisation of nationalised industries e.g. gas, electricity, telecoms 30%
Council housing ‘right to buy’ 27%
Her role in ending the Cold War 8%
Her relationship with Europe 5%
Northern Ireland / hunger strikes 4%
None of the above 8%
(Respondents could choose up to three).
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 2,012 GB adults online 10 – 11 April 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comres.co.uk.
Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and Prime Minister in May 1979 as the first British woman to hold that office, with a majority of 44 in the House of Commons. She won re-election by a landslide in the 1983 General Election and again in 1987. She was deposed as Conservative leader in 1990 by members of her own Parliamentary Party who feared for their re-election chances following the Poll Tax riots and controversy over her approach to Britain’s membership of the European Community.
Margaret Thatcher was the reason that I first joined the Conservative Party in 1983. Her leadership in 1982 following the invasion of the Falkland Islands by the Fascist junta then ruling Argentina was inspirational. She showed true grit in ignoring the faint-hearted and taking the word of the Admirals who told her that they could muster a task force and recover the islands for their people and British pride. She did not flinch when things went wrong and was rightly able to take the credit when the islands were successfully recovered.
Despite her opposition to all forms of Socialism she was one of the first to recognise the potential of new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as someone “we can do business with”. She stood shoulder to shoulder with US President Ronald Reagan as he built up the US Armed Forces and in so doing bankrupted the Soviet Union but as a firm supporter of the “Special Relationship” she also persuaded Reagan and his successor George Bush Snr to talk to the USSR and its leadership about reform and arms control. It was the Soviet leadership which christened her “The Iron Lady”.When the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union collapsed she was a keen supporter of bringing in the newly free nations of Central and Eastern Europe. However, she was vehemently against the emerging plans for a federal European superstate. She fought many battles with the EEC/EU despite starting out as pro-EEC at a time when the Labour Party wanted to withdraw.
At home she took an economy which was on its knees and turned it around with a firm belief in classical Monetarism and the importance of sound money. She ignored the large number of those who stood against her and told her that she should accept the inevitability of British decline. She believed in helping people to help themselves and she despised the statist socialism of the Labour Party of the day. Her economic approach was the principal component of what became known as Thatcherism. It was one of liberalising the markets, reforming the Trades Unions, privatising state industries and encouraging personal aspiration.
She gave many people the means to achieve their aspirations and to hand something on to their children. Her policy of selling Council housing to those who had lived in them for decades brought home ownership to people who had never dreamed that they might own property. The same was true of the privatisation of formerly state-owned companies like British Telecom, British Gas and British Petroleum by selling shares to ordinary citizens. Whilst exciting deep opposition from some parts of the country her policies were able to garner support from sections of the country which previously had not voted Conservative.
Her speeches in the House of Commons and at Party Conferences were legendary. I was at the 1986 and 1987 Conferences listening in awe and admiration as she spoke, with the memories of the 1984 Brighton bombing still fresh in the minds of those present. She had the adoration of ordinary Party members but sadly not of all of her Parliamentary Party. I well remember the shock and anger amongst ordinary Party members at the actions of Conservative MPs who stabbed her in the back. It left a scar in the Party which was an open sore for years afterwards.
Margaret Thatcher was undefeated in a General Election and even in the 1990 leadership election she got more votes than her opponent, just not enough to win outright on the first ballot. It is no exaggeration to say that she put the “Great” back into Great Britain after decades of decline, the chaos of the 1970’s and the humiliation of having to be bailed out by the IMF.
She was a controversial figure at home, adored by many and loathed by others. I was privileged to meet her on several occasions and remember how her face lit up when I told her that I had served in the Falkland Islands. She never lost her interest in the people of the islands and I know that they worship her as a national saviour. She was also personally very kind to people working for her and took a close personal interest in their circumstances and any difficulties in their lives. The people she was hardest on were her political colleagues and opponents who she considered should be able to defend their views and argue their case convincingly. She had no time for those who wilted in the face of challenge to their arguments and thoroughly enjoyed political debate and argument.
In my view she was undoubtedly the greatest post-war British Prime Minister, winning three elections in succession, liberating the British economy, taming the Trades Unions, and restoring pride in our nation. She is a towering figure of 20th Century politics who leaves a legacy head and shoulders above her successors.
Her funeral will be at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday 17 April.
May she rest in peace. She will be greatly missed.
There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times newspaper showing UKIP moving ahead of the LDs once again:
Conservative 30% (down 2%)
Labour 40% (no change)
Lib Dem 11% (no change)
UKIP 13% (up 2%)
A clear majority of people think that the present benefit system needs reform. Overall, 70% of people think the current system works badly and needs significant (38%) or major (32%) reform. 63% think that the benefit system is not strict enough and too open to fraud.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 12 March.
There is a new Opinium poll in tomorrows Observer newspaper showing UKIP moving 9% ahead of the Lib Dems:
Conservative 28% (no change)
Labour 38% (no change)
Lib Dem 8% (down 1%)
UKIP 17% (up 1%)
The party leaders have each suffered a small fall in their net approval ratings since the last poll. David Cameron’s net rating drops to -24% from -23% while Ed Miliband’s falls to -18% from -14%. Nick Clegg’s falls to -47% compared to -45% two weeks ago.
Opinium Research carried out the online survey of 1,948 British adults aged 18+ from 2-4 April 2013
Since the end of the Korean War in 1953 there has been an uneasy truce in the peninsula between the forces of the Communist North (backed by China) and the capitalist South (backed by the USA). North Korea has a reputation for being something of a comic regime with a succession of hereditary tin pot dictators and a military with unfeasibly big hats! There have been periodic small scale clashes between the North and South, and some scares when the North has tested various missile systems. However, both sides have pulled back from resuming full scale conflict.
The Korean peninsula remains one of the most heavily militarised places on earth with both sides retaining large armed forces and with a sizeable US military presence in the South. Despite widespread poverty and a relatively tiny GDP the Communist North retains a huge military on paper, and a limited nuclear capability.
– North Korea South Korea
Population 24.5m 50m
GDP US$33bn US$1.2trn
Armed Forces 1.1m Reg (4.7m Res) 686k Reg (4.5m Res)
Main Battle Tanks 3,500 (est) 2,300
Artillery 10,000 4,500
Combat Aircraft 600 600
Surface Ships 310 130
Submarines 90 20
The South’s forces, despite being smaller in number, are significantly better quality and to them can be added United States forces in the area. The US has 18,000 troops in South Korea and over 300 combat aircraft in the vicinity. Whilst the North Koreans are generally supported by China it is debatable what assistance China would supply (if any) in the event of a North Korean attack on the South.
The North may be making a lot of noise and rattling its sabres at the moment but any serious attack on the South would be an invitation to suicide. The US is no doubt discretely reinforcing its presence in the region and alongside the forces of the South, there is no doubt that the North would lose any direct conflict. That is the rational assessment but one thing which characterises the Communist regime in the North is its irrationality! With its people starving and its equipment largely outdated it could be the end of one of the last Communist regimes in the world if it were to precipitate a conflict.
I fervently hope that war is not the eventual outcome but the silver lining could be that the peninsula is reunited under a democratic government and the people of the north can benefit from the development and wealth which would follow. A reunited and prosperous Korea would be a major player on the world stage.
UPDATE – 2 April – North Korea has announced the resumption of its nuclear programme and the USA has deployed F22 stealth fighters to South Korea.
UPDATE – 3 April – North Korea has announced that the Army has authorisation to conduct nuclear strike on the US. The Americans have deployed a missile destroyer to the region and missile defence systems to Guam in the Pacific.