As I predicted several times the so-called “double-dip” recession has now been revised away by the Office for National Statistics. At the same time the depth of Labour’s 2008/09 recession has been increased from an initially estimated decline of 6.3% to a colossal 7.2% decline. Gordon Brown promised to abolish “boom and bust” but borrowed and spent to such a degree in the good times that when the inevitable bust came it was on a scale not seen in the UK since the Great Depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Is it any wonder that the recovery is proving so hard to generate?
A lot was made by Labour’s economic team of the “double-dip” when it was first reported. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was all over the media condemning the Government’s “economic failure” and talking about a “recession made in Downing Street”. Unsurprisingly there has not been a peep out of any of them welcoming the fact that the ONS has now decided that the double-dip recession never happened. This means of course that the only recent recession was the one created by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor and presided over during his disastrous time as Prime Minister; a recession which has just been shown to be much, much deeper than was originally thought! Of course the misbehaviour of the bankers was a major contributing factor but it should not be forgotten that it was Gordon Brown’s lax regulatory regime, introduced in 1997, which allowed some bankers to act so outrageously.
Labour’s economic credibility took a significant knock from the 2008/09 recession but their block-headed refusal to support the Coalition’s efforts to tackle the deficit has been seen by the public as equally ideological and incompetent. As the economy shows signs of recovery and the performance since 2010 is revised upwards, Labour’s whole economic argument has been crumbling. Of course people don’t like seeing cut backs to planned programmes but they accept that the deficit has to be tackled. It is stretching credibility to its limits to think that the same Labour team who presided over the worst recession since the war could be the people to get us out of the economic hole we were in.
It is certainly true that times have been tough in recent years and not every decision taken by the Coalition has been right but the overall policy direction has been correct. Just as in 1980-81 when the then Conservative Government was very unpopular and derided by many so-called economic experts, but went on to win a convincing majority in 1983, now we see the economy turning the corner, and what was only ever a small Labour lead in the polls diminishing.
The fact that there was no double-dip recession is very important politically for the government, as this would undoubtedly have been a siren call of the Labour Party in the next General Election campaign. Instead the Government has been handed a get out of jail free card with the news not only that the double-dip never happened but that Labour’s recession was significantly worse than first thought. When it comes to who to trust with the British economy in 2015 Labour’s case just got a whole lot weaker!
There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times newspaper showing Labour’s lead falling to just 5%:
Conservative 33% (no change)
Labour 38% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 11% (up 1%)
UKIP 11% (down 2%)
Yesterday’s 6% lead was the lowest with YouGov for some time but today’s 5% lead is the lowest since at least November last year. Considering that George Osborne has just revealed £11.5bn cuts to future expenditure plans and Labour has recently committed to match Conservative spending plans, it is amazing that the Opposition can only garner a lead of 5% at this stage of the Parliament.
In the detail of the poll is the finding that the Conservatives lead Labour by 37% to 31% amongst the 18-24 age group. This is becoming a reasonably consistent finding in recent polls and is supported by our experience locally which has seen a considerable number of new younger members joining the party.
It is also noteworthy that the recent UKIP slide and slight Lib Dem improvement now sees them on even terms at 11% each.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 28 June.
There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sun newspaper showing the Labour lead dropping again to 6%:
Conservative 33% (up 2%)
Labour 39% (up 1%)
Lib Dem 10% (no change)
UKIP 13% (up 1%)
Labour’s lead has hovered around 8% recently +/-2% but this poll shows it at a recent low. What is interesting is that this is the first poll since the spending review and it shows the Conservative up to a level only just below that attained at the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dems are now consistently at about 10%, up from recent lows of 7-8%, and UKIP are down a few points from their post local election high. As the improved economic news begins to filter through I expect the gap between the Conservatives and Labour to narrow further.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 19 June.
Conservatives at the Reading Borough Council meeting stood alongside local residents to call for the Labour administration to scrap plans to close the Arthur Clark care home in Albert Road, Caversham. Residents protested outside the Council chamber before the meeting and packed the meeting to present a petition and ask questions of the Labour Lead Councillor.
Due to the large number of signatures on the petition a debate was generated at the start of the Council meeting. The Labour administration moved a weasel worded motion referring the concerns of the petitioners to the Council’s new Adult Social Care, Childrens’ Services and Education Committee which meets on Monday 1st July.
Thames Ward Councillors Ed Hopper and David Stevens then moved and seconded an amendment which called on the administration to “cease all attempts to close Arthur Clark care home”. This was supported by all Councillors except for the Labour administration. Even the single Caversham Labour Councillor and Labour’s Reading East Parliamentary candidate voted against the amendment!
After lengthy debate, Labour voted down the Conservative amendment and used their majority to push through their motion.
Cllr Ed Hopper said, “I wanted to give the Council as a whole an opportunity to say that the Arthur Clark home should remain open rather than see the decision pushed off to a committee of which only a few Councillors are members. I was pleased that so many Councillors supported my amendment but disappointed that Labour used their majority to override the views of others Councillors and the large number of residents in the gallery”.
Cllr David Stevens said, “This is the first time ever that the public has presented a petition with enough signatures to trigger a debate. I am amazed therefore that the Labour Group was not willing to listen to the strength of feeling locally and invest in this care home rather than just close it down. We will keep up the fight to ensure that the views of local people are heard and heeded.”
At the end of the evening after the presentation of the petition, exhaustive debate, and numerous questions Cllr Ralph (Independent) moved a motion which many had expected him to withdraw. It was rather after the fact, as the Labour administration had made their position clear in the earlier debate, but in the spirit of cooperation Conservative Councillors had decided to support Cllr Ralph’s motion and voted against Labour’s inevitable amendment. In the most bizarre moment of the night Cllr Ralph then voted in favour of Labour’s amendment and against his own motion!
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Tim Harris said, “It was a long and heated debate but what matters in this is the effect closure would have on the many elderly residents and the removal of a facility which should be retained to serve future generations north of the Thames. Conservative Councillors will be using every available opportunity to urge the Labour administration to think again and fight for a future for this much loved home.”
Sign the petition to save Arthur Clark here.
Conservative 30% (no change)
Labour 36% (up 2%)
Lib Dem 10% (no change)
UKIP 14% (down 3%)
Last month Labour dropped 4%, so they have recovered half of this fall and UKIP have now dropped back 3%, as their high level of coverage recedes.
In further findings:
A majority of people aged 65 and over believe that pensioners should not be immune from public spending cuts, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent. They are more likely than any other age group to think that pensioners should not enjoy special protection from the cuts.
Amid an intense political debate over whether pensioners’ benefits such as the winter fuel allowance should be maintained, the general public agrees by a margin of 49 per cent to 46 per cent that pensioners should “be no more immune to the impact of government spending cuts than other members of society.”
Surprisingly, 56 per cent of those aged 65 and over agree with this statement, while 36 per cent disagree. The strongest support for protecting pensioners is among younger people. Some 42 per cent of 18-24 year-olds agree that pensioners should be no more immune from cuts than others, while 52 per cent disagree. Men (53 per cent) are more likely than women (46 per cent) to think that pensioners should not be more immune to cuts than other groups.
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 1,000 GB adults by telephone 21 – 23 June 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.
Last week I enjoyed taking some time out of my usual daily work to facilitate some filming for the Royal British Legion with the X-Factor finalists Union J. They are four lads who were put together as a foursome from the original group “Triple J” (Josh Cuthbert, Jaymi Hensley, and JJ Hamblett) and soloist George Shelley. They immediately gelled and made it through to the live finals of X-Factor.
The Legion had obtained their agreement to film a short clip to promote their summer campaign of Poppy Picnics and I was approached to host them at RAF Northolt and arrange for some RAF families to be part of the film clip. While they were on the base I also arranged for them to pose with the Armed Forces Day flag in front of our Hurricane gate guardian (left). I don’t usually get into photos myself but it was short notice and we needed some people in RAF uniform!
Armed Forces Day this year is on Saturday 29 June. In Reading we will be having a fun time in the Forbury Gardens between 1200 noon and 5pm. If you live in the area do come down and enjoy a great afternoon out supporting our forces.
Later in the year I expect to be helping the Royal British Legion launch their national poppy appeal campaign. I won’t reveal any details now but it sounds like a really amazing event they are planning.
Below is the video clip we filmed (partly at RAF Northolt) last Friday:
Conservative 31% (up 1%)
Labour 38% (no change)
Lib Dem 10% (up 1%)
UKIP 12% (down 4%)
Despite recent U-turns by Labour on spending and schools, and perhaps because of their decision to target pensioners for cuts, they have failed to make any progress in the polls. Labour’s lead has consistently been in single figures but what is now evident is that UKIP is sliding back after all their exposure following their gains in the local elections.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 12 June.
Quite a few people in my ward have been asking about bus services and the changes which will come once the new northern inter-change to Reading Station opens. I have therefore organised a public meeting tomorrow (19 June) at the Milestone Centre, Northbrook Road, Caversham at 6.45pm, when the CEO of Reading Buses, James Freeman will explain the proposed changes. Once he has spoken he has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor.
I have also arranged for a senior Council Transport Officer to attend to speak on the planned new pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Thames. This bridge was something which I proposed when I was Lead Councillor and we began the work to include it in a bid to central Government for the funding. The bid was successful and will now be built in the next year or so.
All Peppard ward residents are welcome to attend the meeting but if they cannot I am happy to arrange for a summary of the briefing to be emailed to them following the meeting.
Conservative 26% (down 3%)
Labour 35% (no change)
Lib Dem 10% (up 2%)
UKIP 19% (no change)
In further findings:
I trust David Cameron and George Osborne to make the right decisions about the economy:
Agree 25% (+2 since March) Disagree 56% (0)
I trust Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to make the right decisions about the economy:
Agree 20% (no change since March) Disagree 56% (+1)
David Cameron is right to say “we are making progress at getting our country into shape”:
Agree: 31% Disagree: 51%
David Cameron has shown strong leadership in his dealings with other countries as Prime Minister:
Agree 34% Disagree 47%
The richest countries in the world have a responsibility to help the world’s poor through spending on international aid:
Agree 53% Disagree 29%
I trust the Government to protect people’s privacy on the internet from ‘snooping’ by American intelligence agencies:
Agree 20% Disagree 57%
The internet is bad for family life:
Agree 23% (+1 since December 2011) Disagree 61% (-2)
The problems with NHS Accident and Emergency services are mostly the fault of the last Labour government rather than the current Coalition Government:
Agree 32% Disagree 40% Don’t know 28%
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 2,041 GB adults online 12 – 13 June 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.
There is a new Ipsos MORI poll reported for the London Evening Standard showing Labour’s lead at just 4% with UKIP down to 12%:
Conservative 31% (no change)
Labour 35% (up 1%)
Lib Dem 10% ( no change)
UKIP 12% (down 1%)
Labour’s lead continues to be in single figures also in this morning’s YouGov poll (at 8%) a very poor showing for an opposition in mid-term. On these MORI and YouGov numbers there is everything to play for in the 2015 General Election.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,023 aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 8-10 June 2013.
The Liberal Democrat Leader of Kingston Council, Councillor Derek Osbourne has been arrested on charges of possessing indecent images of children. Cllr Osbourne was first elected in Kingston in 1986. He was Deputy Leader of Kingston Council from 1994 to 1997 and Leader of the Council from 1997-1998 and since 2003.
Kingston is one of the very few authorities left in the country with majority Lib Dem control. With London-wide local elections next May it will be interesting to see what impact this news may have on the election results. Cllr Osbourne has now resigned as Leader and from the Lib Dem Group. He has been bailed until August. Cllr Liz Green has taken over as acting Leader of the Council.
There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sun newspaper showing the Labour lead dropping slightly to 8%:
Conservative 30% (no change)
Labour 38% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 9% (down 1%)
UKIP 16% (up 1%)
Once again we see Labour’s lead in single digits with the Conservatives in the low 30’s. Unlike yesterday’s ICM poll though, UKIP are maintaining a share in the mid teens, well ahead of the Lib Dems.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 2 June.
There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow showing last month’s UKIP surge dissipating as they lose a third of the support shown in the wake of their local election gains:
Conservative 29% (up 1%)
Labour 36% (up 2%)
Lib Dem 12% (up 1%)
UKIP 12% (down 6%)
ICM does not usually show large changes month on month but this suggests that last month’s big jump in support was an immediate response to the increased positive coverage which UKIP received as a result of the County Council elections. As I predicted they have fallen back and will probably drop further until the build up to the Euro elections begins when they are expected to top the poll.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 6-9 June 2013. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
There has been a spate of defections in all directions in London in recent months with Labour losing the most. In Harrow nine Labour Councillors resigned the Whip leading to Labour losing control of the Council.
However, tonight has come the news that Brent Liberal Democrat Councillor Carol Shaw has defected to the Conservatives. Ten years ago Cllr Shaw crossed the floor from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems and was subsequently re-elected as a Lib Dem. However, tonight she said, “The Lib Dems promised a lot and I felt their promises would carry weight but they broke them. There were a lot of promises that didn’t materialise such as the tuition fees and the boundary changes the list goes on an on. They just didn’t deliver.”
The defection does not affect the control of the Council which is currently solidly Labour, with Lib Dems as the main opposition party.
There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times newspaper showing the Labour lead increasing slightly to 9%:
Conservative 30% (down 1%)
Labour 39% (up 1%)
Lib Dem 10% (no change)
UKIP 15% (up 1%)
This is a statistically unchanged poll with Labour’s lead in single figures and UKIP maintaining a reasonable lead over the Lib Dems. However, despite all the noise around UKIP’s progress they would most likely fail to gain a single MP on these numbers. Farage’s insistence that he should take part in any future pre-election TV leaders’ debates is good for publicity but has no real foundation. The Greens with their single elected MP have a far greater claim!
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 13 May.