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New ComRes Poll – Conservatives Up 4%

There is a new ComRes telephone poll published tonight for tomorrow’s Independent which shows Labour’s lead down to just 3%, its smallest lead in a ComRes poll since October last year:

           Conservative            34% (up 4%)

                                        Labour                      37% (up 1%)

                                        Lib Dem                     10% (no change)

                                        UKIP                          12% (down 2%)

Once again we have a poll showing UKIP falling back and the Conservatives rising.

In further findings:

Three in four people (73 per cent) would now prefer one party to win an outright majority in 2015 rather than have another coalition, while 19 per cent disagree.  Surprisingly, even a majority of Lib Dem voters (53 per cent) would prefer one party to win an overall majority, while 40 per cent would not. A big majority of Labour (82 per cent)  and Conservative (79 per cent) would rather see one party win outright.

In the event of  a hung parliament after the next election, a majority of  Lib Dem voters (53 per cent) would prefer to see their party go into coalition with Labour rather the Conservatives,  while 39 per cent disagree.

The public as a whole appear  more opposed  to a second Lib-Con coalition than to a Lib-Lab one. Women (45 per cent) are more likely than men (37 per cent) to prefer the Lib Dems to enter a coalition with Labour.

Methodology: ComRes interviewed 1,001 GB adults by telephone 25 – 27 July 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

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New Populus Poll – Labour Lead Cut to 5% as UKIP Drop to Just 8%

There is a new Populus poll today which shows Labour’s lead cut back to 5% and UKIP dropping to just 8%:

      Conservative              34% (up 2%)

      Labour                        39% (no change)

                                                           Lib Dem                      11% (no change)

                                                           UKIP                             8% (down 2%)

This poll is consistent with most other recent polling showing Labour’s lead falling and UKIP losing support.

Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,049 adults online between 26th and 28th July 2013. Interviews were conducted across Great Britain and the results have been weighted to be representative of all British adults.

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Polls | Leave a comment

New YouGov Poll – Labour’s Fading Poll Lead is Now Just 3%

There is a new YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Sun newspaper showing Labour’s lead fading further to just 3% now:

                   Conservative                35% (up 2%)

                   Labour                          38% (no change)

                                                     Lib Dem                        11% (no change)

                                                     UKIP                             10% (down 1%)

As well as Labour’s shrinking lead it is also worth noting that once again UKIP is in fourth place behind the Lib Dems in this YouGov poll. This is the smallest Labour lead since before the 2012 Budget and is within the margins of error of the ICM poll which some dismissed as a “rogue”. There is no doubt now that Labour’s lead is sharply down on where it was six months ago.

Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 30 June.

July 22, 2013 Posted by | Polls | | Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: A Royal Baby Boy is Born

Royal_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_United_Kingdom_(Variant_2)_svgSo after all the waiting and speculation the Royal baby boy has been born. He weighs in at 8lbs 6oz.

The new baby is third in line to the throne, behind Prince Charles and Prince William, and pushes Prince Harry into fourth place. All other members of the Royal family who are in line therefore also move a place further down. Prince Andrew, was once second in line to the throne behind his older brother Charles, is now shunted down to fifth place.

It is sometimes forgotten that Queen Elizabeth is Sovereign of no less than 30 nations and territories around the World. As well as the UK, the Queen is head of state of the 14 UK overseas territories and the 15 other independent nations who have retained the British Monarch: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. In addition, despite its switch to a Republic, the indigenous tribes of Fiji retain HM The Queen as their “Paramount Chief”.

The new baby also jumps into third in line to the throne of each of these territories and states.

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

July 22, 2013 Posted by | International, National | 1 Comment

Labour Councillor Crosses Floor to the Conservatives

Cllr David James

Cllr David James

A Midlands Labour Councillor has turned his back on Ed Miliband’s party and crossed the floor to join the Conservatives. Councillor David James, who was elected to represent the Abbey North ward in 2012, has decided to become a member of Daventry District Council’s ruling Conservative Group.

Councillors do change party from time to time but it is often related to local squabbles. In this case Cllr James cites Europe and the economy as his principal reasons. He also took a swipe at Ed Miliband’s leadership of the party on a day when polls show that most people don’t think that Miliband has what it takes to become Prime Minister.

He said, “I haven’t been happy with the Labour Party nationally since the general election. I believe the current leadership of the party and course it has embarked upon is somewhere I don’t want to go and I don’t believe it will be good for the country.”

Cllr James continued, “I am a euro sceptic and I believe there are only two parties that offer the UK a say on Europe and it boils down to who has the most realistic chance.”

Leader of Daventry District Council’s Conservative party, Cllr Chris Millar, said he was delighted to welcome Cllr James as a new member. He said, “David is a very good councillor who has plenty of common sense. He comes across as a nice, sensible guy with a lot to give. I am very happy to welcome him as a Conservative.”

July 20, 2013 Posted by | National | 4 Comments

Royal Navy’s Newest Attack Submarines Achieve Major Milestones

HMS_AgamemnonThe UK’s submarine capability has taken a significant step forward this week with work beginning on the assembly of Agamemnon, the Royal Navy’s sixth Astute Class submarine. The keel, which is the first part of the boat to be built, was unveiled at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness by Defence Minister Philip Dunne.

It comes as the MoD announces that the first two of the seven Astute Class submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are nearing completion of their extensive sea trials and have been handed over to the Royal Navy to begin to prepare for operations.

The seven Astute Class submarines are being built for the Royal Navy to replace the Trafalgar Class submarines. The Astute Class has greater firepower, state of the art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology making them quieter than their predecessors and harder to detect.

HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are the first submarines in Class accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all of the Royal Navy’s vessels. The next three submarines in the Class: Artful, Audacious and Anson are all at varying stages of build and today’s keel laying for Agamemnon marks the next key milestone for the programme.

BAE Systems Maritime Submarines (BAES (MS)) is responsible for delivering all seven Astute Class submarines and for the design of the successor to the Vanguard class, which will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The MoD has agreed a new contract with BAES (MS) that will not only help to sustain the thousands of highly skilled defence jobs based at Barrow-in-Furness but drive down the costs of building future submarines.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne today signed a new contract which will deliver £380M of savings over the next eight years. This will ensure that the Royal Navy’s submarine capability is delivered efficiently and provides good value for money for the taxpayer.

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, the MoD’s Director of Submarines, said: “This is the sixth submarine in the Astute Class and we expect her to be built more quickly and efficiently than her predecessors, demonstrating the effectiveness of the national submarine building capability in Barrow-in-Furness.  New techniques by skilled staff in the back office and on the shop floor will deliver this key capability for the Royal Navy.”

The keel-laying for an Astute Class submarine involves the unveiling of a keel section in the BAE Systems’ shipyard where the submarines are being built.  The Agamemnon Astute boat is the seventh Royal Navy vessel to take the name – after the ancient Greek King who commanded the Greek troops in the Trojan War. The first was a 64-gun ship commissioned in 1793 by her new commanding officer, one Horatio Nelson – a captain at the time. It is said that Agamemnon was his favourite ship and she served in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


July 19, 2013 Posted by | Defence | Leave a comment

Wrong, Ed!

July 17, 2013 Posted by | National | Leave a comment

New ICM Poll – Tories Draw Level with Labour as UKIP Falls

There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow showing the Conservatives surging 7% to draw level with Labour, largely at the expense of UKIP:

         Conservative              36% (up 7%)

                                                    Labour                        36% (no change)

                                                    Lib Dem                      13% (up 1%)

                                                    UKIP                              7% (down 5%)

This is the best Conservative showing in ICM’s monthly polls since March 2012.

ICM is considered the “gold standard” amongst pollsters and I have therefore always given a lot more weight to their findings alongside YouGov.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 12-14 July 2013. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

July 15, 2013 Posted by | Polls | | 3 Comments

Crisis in the Labour Party as Civil War Erupts

labourThe papers and news reports have been filled over the last few days with details of the civil war which seems to have broken out within the Labour movement. It has already led to allegations of the fixing of Labour Parliamentary candidate selections, a Shadow Cabinet resignation, a Police investigation, and suspensions of Labour party membership.

The core of the dispute relates to the influence of the Trades Unions within the Labour Party, and the influence of one union in particular, “Unite”. Unite is the Labour Party’s biggest single donor, providing over £3m a year to the central party and giving direct support to dozens of Labour MPs and candidates. However, the union leadership, having influenced the Labour leadership election to get Ed rather than David Miliband, has decided that it wants more control over who is selected to stand for Parliament at the next General Election.

The current dispute revolves around the selection for the constituency of Falkirk where the Labour MP Eric Joyce has resigned the Whip to become independent following several confrontations with other MPs and the police. Unite is accused of packing the selection process by signing up people as constituency Labour Party members who were asked if others could vote on their behalf the ‘right’ way in the choice of candidates. Labour has refused to publish the report of its internal investigation but has now belatedly handed the report to the police.

The whole saga is complicated by the fact that the candidate which Unite is seeking to have selected in Falkirk is the office manager of Labour’s General Election co-ordinator and Deputy Chairman Tom Watson MP. On Thursday Watson resigned from his post, plunging the Labour party into crisis and its General Election strategy into further confusion. Ed Miliband has sought to sound tough, condemning Unite’s tactics, but it has been known around Westminster and in the party that this has been the practice in a number of previous candidate selections. Indeed some in the Falkirk are reported to have raised concerns over Unite’s activities several moths ago.

Some close to Miliband have also hinted that the whole relationship of the party with the unions may be reviewed but this has been undermined by denials and revelations that Miliband sought to reassure Ken Livingstone that this was not the case. Senior Labour sources have accepted that Ed Miliband’s credibility is on the line and that he needs to show some leadership but Unite’s General Secretary Len McLusky has protested that Ed Miliband is being pushed around by the Conservatives and has demanded an independent inquiry into what he calls a “disgrace” and a “smear campaign” by the Labour party. He has stated that all “trust in Labour’s HQ has gone! Some have even suggested that Unite should withhold all or part of its contributions to Labour’s coffers. If this was to happen the party would be at risk of bankruptcy, so dependent is it on McLusky’s money! A shadow Labour Minister is reported as saying about Miliband that “He’s looking like the man who turned a blind eye to something bordering on

As the internal row continues to simmer Ed Miliband has failed to get a grip on his party and given further credence to the view that the trades unions have far too much influence on the Labour Party. 41 Parliamentary candidates have been identified as backed by Unite with a 42nd selected just today. Miliband is caught between a rock and a hard place. He cannot sever the link with the union because he is dependent on their cash but the impression that they not he really run the party is extremely damaging to Labour. It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few weeks. Will there be arrests? Will there be resignations from the party and more from the front bench? Will selections other than just Falkirk be investigated? Will the internal report into the Falkirk ballot-rigging allegations be published?

Ed Miliband has been made to look weak and his party corrupt. It will not end well for the Labour Party!

July 6, 2013 Posted by | National | 11 Comments

Conservatives Condemn Labour’s Decision to Close Arthur Clark Care Home

002Conservatives turned out in force for last night’s first ever meeting of the Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, and Education Committee in support of campaigners who packed the public gallery. As well as Cllrs Isobel Ballsdon (Mapledurham), Sandra Vickers (Tilehurst) and James Anderson (Kentwood) who sit on the committee, Cllrs Tim Harris (Church), Jeanette Skeats (Thames), David Stevens (Thames), Ed Hopper (Thames) and Richard Willis (Peppard) sat in the public gallery behind them with Reading East MP Rob Wilson. Cllr Hopper and Rob Wilson addressed the meeting as members of the public after passionate speeches from campaigner Colin Trinder and Rev Marion Pyke.

It was notable that neither Cllr Richard Davies (Caversham-Labour), or Labour’s Reading East Parliamentary Candidate spoke or even bothered to attend the meeting.

After over an hour and a half of questions, speeches and debate Labour’s Lead Councillor circulated a pre-prepared amended motion which made it clear that the decision to close both the Arthur Clark home and Albert Road Day Centre had already effectively been taken. Cllr Ballsdon picked this up and pointed out that since the motion had been printed prior to the meeting the whole debate had been a waste of time as the Labour Group had already decided to close the two facilities.

Cllr Sandra Vickers spoke about how her own mother had visited Arthur Clark and told how she loved the home and the quality of care provided. Cllr James Anderson urged the Labour administration to consider this a matter for their hearts rather than their heads.

However, at the end of the debate, the Labour Councillors on the Committee voted for the motion to close Arthur Clark Home and Albert Road Day Centre. All other Councillors (apart from the Chairman who abstained) voted against the closure motion.

Cllr Ed Hopper said, “I am hugely disappointed by the decision to close the Arthur Clark Care Home which has been taken by Reading Borough Council’s Labour Administration tonight.

Over 3,600 people plus every Conservative Councillor, our MP Rob Wilson and all other opposition Councillors have all expressed their adamant opposition to this closure.

The consultation which RBC has undertaken is not worthy of the name, having ignored genuine opportunities to work with local residents and businesses to seek ways to keep this valuable Home open.”

Cllr Tim Harris said, “Once again the Labour Group has ignored the wishes of the thousands of local people who signed the petition and those who took time out to attend a second Council meeting to discuss the proposed closure. We asked the Labour administration to consider all options including discussions with possible private care providers but they chose to ignore this and the pleas from the public gallery.”

Cllr Isobel Ballsdon said, “Labour is quite prepared to spend around £60m on providing new Civic Offices but they refuse to find less than £1m to undertake the maintenance backlog which has been identified at Arthur Clark home. Tonight’s meeting was a waste of time as Labour had already made their decision before the meeting even started. The consultation was a sham, just as the promised consultation on using the site for ‘extra-care’ housing for the elderly will probably prove to be.”  

Speaking after the meeting Conservative Councillors and Rob Wilson MP pledged to help the residents in any way possible to keep up the fight for the future of Arthur Clark home and Albert Road Day Centre.

July 2, 2013 Posted by | Local | 1 Comment