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Balls the Architect…

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

The nominatons to the Shadow Cabinet are closed and the voting will soon begin, with the result being announced on the 11th October, Ed Balls is vyeing for the post of Shadow Chancellor against his wife, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper.

Balls claims he is the architect of New Labour’s economic policy, an economic policy that abandoned Labour principles by embracing the free market and the deregulation of banks that led to the arrogant claim of ending boom and bust. It can also be argued that such a policy led to the economic predicament we, as a country, now find ourselves. A post-recession economy where growth is still fragile, record levels of private and public debt – a clamp down on credit – all due to the liberalisation and deregulation of the economy and running the economy on debt and credit when times where good.

Labour’s new leader, Ed Miliband, has already distanced himself from the party of Blair and Brown – how will Ed Balls, the ‘architect’ of New Labour’s economic policy, fit in with Mr. Miliband’s vision?

On paper he won’t. In reality he will have a tough fight on his hands as Yvette Cooper is a competent economist and has transformed the DWP while she was there. Balls favours a slowing of the cuts to an impossible level instead relying on the proceeds of growth to reduce the deficit. As we have already discussed in a previous post, while he is technically correct in his approach, his approach is unrealistic. Cooper, as far as we are aware, is more in line with Mr. Miliband’s own approach to reducing the deficit – reduce the deficit by half over 4 years, but slow the rate of cuts by increasing taxes.

Balls, as is Ed Miliband, is tainted by the Blair-Brown era of Labour but, as Leader, Ed Miliband has the opportunity to redefine himself and the Party. Will Balls be able to do that? Yvette Cooper was not marked as a Brownite or a Blairite in the previous administration and already has the cleansheet to start in the New Generation.

Time will eventually tell who will be Shadow Chancellor, we hope it’ll be Yvette Cooper, we know that both will be in the Shadow Cabinet, but where we have no idea. Just don’t hold out for the outside contender grabbing the top spot.

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Why Ed Balls is right on the Economy

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The Oldfield-Pike Project has not declared for any of the Labour Leadership Candidates on account of being non-aligned politically. If it was Labour aligned it would back David Miliband but that is another story. However, after much deliberation the Oldfield-Pike Project would like to make small comments on the Leadership contest between now and the 24th September. The first in the series is on Ed Balls.

 Over the past few weeks Ed Balls has shown himself to be knowledgeable on the economy, unsurprising considering a career at the FT and the Treasury before becoming an MP. His keynote speech at Bloomberg offered an interesting insight into how Ed Balls’ mind works. His analysis is spot on, if copied from various sources (the Project believes ‘plagiarised’ to be too strong a word). There is an increased risk of a double-dip recession, which could not have been said a month ago.

 His comments about using £6bn from reduced borrowing to fund the construction of houses first raised our eyebrows followed quickly by a very small nod in agreement. The Oldfield-Pike Project has always implicitly argued for fiscal frugality, however Mr Balls is correct in his assessment that if this problem is not addressed soon it will merely create worse problems in the future. Britain has reached, or soon will reach, crisis point with a shortage of housing, more specifically housing that is applicable to social and private tenants. The Project believes that a relatively small investment now will pay dividends in the future as it will reduce the strain on an already saturated housing market.

 Mr Balls’ analysis on reducing the structural deficit through growth is a possible course of action, but it is not a course of action that the Project would endorse or even recommend. It will, theoretically, create a more stable economy in the long run and growth begets stability (NOTE: it is not in the market’s interests to see Britain’s credit rating downgraded). But it will take a period of years to come to fruition, up to 20 years to eliminate by conservative estimates, and in the meanwhile another crisis could have struck with Britain in an ill prepared financial state to absorb the shocks.

 Because of the above reason, the Oldfield-Pike Project does not believe that Mr Balls would make an effective leader of any party. We might recommend him for the Shadow Chancellorship if he takes a more acceptable stance on the economy. However we would like to wish Mr Balls the best of luck in any endeavour.

Voting Patterns in Devon

May 14, 2010 3 comments

This post has been requested by @lonleywanderer , but it will be different from the original link. There is quite a bit of statistics so please bear with me.

The 2010 General Election produced, what amounted to, a hung parliament and Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. What Devon alone created was, as good as, a Conservative majority.

The size of the electorate for Devon is 871,144, the proportion of the electorate that voted was 601,300 producing a turnout of 69.02%. This is a pretty good turnout considering turnout across the County varied quite a lot. Turnout is noticeably higher in rural/semi-rural constituencies where the highest turnout, for the County, was Devon Central with 75.66%. The lowest turnout, for the County, was Plymouth Moor View with 61.74%.

The highest turnout in an urban area was Exeter with 67.72%. The lowest turnout in a rural/semi-rural area was Devon North with 68.88%.

The reasons behind the variations in turnout are many and I will list a few. Rural areas, in Devon, tend to have a higher proportion of elderly voters compared to urban areas which tend to have a higher young population. Statistically speaking the elderly are more likely to vote than the young. If you think of any more reasons feel free to add them in the comments section.

The share of the vote across Devon is as follows:

Conservative – 43.05%

Liberal Democrat – 33.08%

Labour – 14.79%

UKIP – 6.17%

Green – 1.57%

Others – 1.34%

(I chosen the above five parties because they put up candidates in all twelve constituencies.)

As one can tell the Conservatives reign superior in Devon, as Devon is a largely rural County that relies upon Agriculture, Agricultural Industry and Tourism – all of which the Conservatives are trusted in maintaining.

The Liberal Democrats are second in the race, and a fairly close second at that. Despite the current arrangements at Westminster – the Liberal Democrats, for Devon, are the tolerable choice for those that do not agree with Conservatism. The Liberal Democrats are largely good for rural Devon – mediating the differences between the interests of urban and rural areas (I exclude Exeter and Plymouth from this analysis), a joke about fence sitting springs to mind…but that would largely untrue in Devon.

Labour does not really exist in Devon and is confined to the urban areas of Plymouth and Exeter. There is an increase in the poll for Labour in constituencies that abut the Urban constituencies but the biggest polling outside of Exeter and Plymouth is 12.42% in Devon South West – which is nearly Plymouth anyway.

UKIP is a distant Fourth place across the County but occasionally becomes the third party in some constituencies such as Devon North where it overtook Labour (5.2%) with 7.25% or Devon West & Torridge.

The Greens do not poll well at all in Devon with their biggest polling being Totnes with 2.47%.

The biggest Conservative poll was Devon South West with 55.97%. The Liberal Democrats biggest poll was Devon North with 47.36%. Labour’s biggest poll was Exeter with 38.17%. UKIPs biggest poll was Devon East with 8.19%. As mentioned earlier, the Green’s biggest poll was 2.47% in Totnes.

If PR was introduced across the County the Conservatives would have gained 5 seats, instead of 8. The Liberal Democrats would have gained 4 seats, instead of 2 admittedly they did lose 1 seat. Labour would have gained 2 seats, which they did, and UKIP would have gained 1, instead of none.

(PR is an assumed distribution of seats in relation to votes cast across the county regardless of political boundaries – no actual PR system used. I am lazy in that aspect.)

Gordon Must Step Aside (and other electoral repercussions)

May 7, 2010 2 comments

This pains me somewhat to write this. I am not Gordon’s biggest fan but I do respect and admire him in a professional capacity (not having met him, I cannot say what I would think of him in a personal capacity. I would like to think I would like him). Gordon, as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister, is, unfortunately, an electoral liability. He must step aside.

Thankfully, due to the unfair and disproportionate electoral system, Labour has managed to hold on to a sizeable portion of seats at Westminster. The problem is, because there is a hung parliament, deal brokerage will take place between all the parties at Westminster. It has already been established by Clegg, whom I distrust massively, that the Lib Dems would not deal with Labour whilst Gordon is at the helm. Clegg has also alluded to a Con-Lib coalition. This does not surprise me as Clegg is a Tory in an Orange Rosette. The majority of Lib Dem grass-root members would loathe to deal with the Conservatives as, I suspect, a majority of Lib Dem MPs would as well. I fear that Clegg will destroy the Lib Dems with his appetite and quest for power.

But, party squabbling aside, it is increasingly likely that there will be another General Election within 18 months. This could be for any number of reasons such as a Labour minority government that gets a vote of no confidence. A Tory minority government that suffers the same fate, or a break-down of any coalition combination.

The reason why I bring Gordon up is that Exeter suffered a large swing from Labour to the Conservatives. Thankfully Exeter is still red but the majority is slim – 2500 down from 8500. The reason is not that the Conservative candidate is better than the Labour candidate – that would be a lie. The reason is a combination of Gordon Brown’s unpopularity and the weird quasi-presidential style of government.

On the doorstep one asks the question “What do you think of X as an MP/Candidate?” Electorate responds “Oh, they’re great!”

“So will you vote for X?”

“No”

“Why not?”

“Gordon Brown”

One explains to the electorate that they elect a local representative not the PM (though they might do indirectly but that is another concern). I do not want to lose a brilliant MP that I, and others, have fought hard to retain because of someone I haven’t met.

I do not wish, however, for Gordon to be pushed – he deserves respect. But he needs to be encouraged, or gently made to realise that stepping aside would be best for everyone and Gordon keeps his dignity.

Gordon, I suspect, is a typical male historian – very astute and canny in correctly interpreting others’ intentions towards non-personal matters (i.e. not his leadership). But either does not recognise or misinterprets others’ intentions towards personal matters (i.e. his leadership). I know/suspect this, because many male historians, myself included, are very similar in this respect.

In other matters, the national Labour Party HQ needs a shake-up. The choice of poster depicting David Cameron as Gene Hunt was as beneficial as chopping your own head off. The Elvis impersonator went down like a lead balloon and the constant grammatical errors on the posters do not look good.

Before you go through and check spelling and grammar I would like to point out that I am mildly dyslexic. In other words I get special stickers to put on essays.

I like Gordon but the future of Exeter, Labour and the Country is more important than one man.

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