Archive for August, 2010

Memories are made of this

Battle will commence in the next few days within the Labour Party. No, not the fratricide between the two Miliband brothers for the leadership of the Labour Party. Despite the Lords Kinnock and Mandelson trying their best to rubbish each others favourite son.

No, the real battle will be between the two past Labour party Prime Ministers to justify their tenure in office.

The first shot will be fired by Tony Blair when he gives his first major television interview tomorrow to drum up sales in advance of his memoirs, ‘The Journey’ being published.

It is common knowledge in the corridors of power that relations between him and his then Chancellor, Gordon Brown had declined to the point of open warfare by the end of his period in office.

We can expect Blair, after his self justification of the Iraq war, to put in the boot in very heavily into Brown.

Expect a heavy criticism of Brown’s handling of the economy and more particularly of the way he dealt with the financial crisis. Blair will likely accuse Brown of creating a regularity free zone within the financial world that lead to the financial crisis. A justification with some merit.

Brown lost the election and expect Blair to make the most of this fact. The assertion will be that it all came to grief because Brown turned his back on Blair’s New Labour reforms. Indeed he is likely to accuse Brown of lurching to the left. Although many commentators will find the word Brown and left a very strange combination indeed.

Brown himself is expected to maintain a dignified silence.

He is refusing to put pen to paper to expose the internal politics of his years in office. But his silence will not stop his many friends jumping to his defence.

We can expect a robust response to the partial accounts that are likely to stem from Blair’s book. They will not let Brown’s achievements be rubbished.

This infighting is more than just the vanity of two political dinosaurs trying to justify their place in history. It is, in the case of Blair, wishing to see the next leader of the Labour Party continue with the New Labour reforms. For him the project is far from complete.

Whether David Miliband will find the publication of Blair’s book so close the ballot papers going out for the leadership contest useful remains to be seen.

The last thing that the front runner for next leader would want is to be seen as Blair’s heir apparent. Whilst many in the country found Blair a charismatic leader and winning three general clearly demonstrated his popular support, he never really won the affection of many within his own party. If young David is seen as his political heir it may not be such a great asset in this contest.

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Assembly voting intentions

Welsh voters have judged the Liberal Democrats harshly according the latest ITVWales Yougov tracking poll. Of the Welsh voters surveyed only 10 per cent of them indicated that they would vote for them in the next Assembly elections. A fall of 5 per cent in the votes cast for them in the last Assembly elections and half of the votes the party gained in the May general election.

Labour are now at 39 per cent, a slight fall from the July poll but up 7 percentage points from the general election and the last Assembly elections, in both of which they polled 32 per cent.

Plaid Cymru are on 23 per cent and the Tories on 22 per cent.

Many Liberal Democrats will have serious concerns about next May’s elections given that their current position is before next Octobers major public expenditure cuts. It would seem that the voters are heaping all the blame on them and not on the Tories who don’t seem to have been affected in the current poll.

Labour must have some concern that they are not making more progress than they are, but it is likely that they will have a bounce in the polls when their new leader is elected next month.

Plaid Cymru need to be pushing a lot harder if they are to create a gap between themselves and the Conservatives. They have a difficult balancing act ahead of them on the one hand they need to take credit for the successes of the Cardiff Bay coalition government and on the other they need to show how different they are from Labour whom they will be challenging in the Valley seats.

The poll continues to show a positive result for the ‘yes’ vote in the referendum on more powers for the National Assembly.

Here is a full summary of the ITVWales YouGov tracking poll results

ASSEMBLY VOTING INTENTION

(compared with 2007 election and previous polls)

If there were an election to the National Assembly for Wales tomorrow, and thinking about the constituency vote, how would you vote?

2007 Result May 2010 Poll June Poll July Poll August Poll

Labour 32% 32% 42% 40% 39%

Plaid Cymru 22% 22% 20% 22% 23%

Conservative 22% 21% 19% 20% 22%

Liberal Democrat 15% 20% 12% 13% 10%

Others 8% 5% 6% 5% 6%

And thinking about the regional or party vote for the National Assembly for Wales, which party list would you vote for?

2007 Result May 2010 Poll June Poll July Poll August Poll

Labour 30% 30% 40% 37% 39%

Plaid Cymru 21% 21% 19% 20% 23%

Conservative 22% 21% 20% 20% 21%

Liberal Democrat 12% 18% 12% 14% 9%

Others 16% 9% 9% 8% 8%

REFERENDUM VOTING INTENTION

(compared with previous polls).

If there were to be a referendum tomorrow on giving the National Assembly for Wales increased law-making powers, how would you vote?

April 2010 Poll June Poll July Poll August Poll

Yes 49% 55% 48% 48%

No 33% 28% 34% 32%

Don’t Know/ 18% 17% 19% 21%

Wouldn’t Vote

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Housing slow down affects us all

There are over a million owner occupiers unable to sell their houses according to a survey by the Santander banking group. This is much more than the 725,000 who manage to sell their properties. This again underlines that the housing market is in a bad state. It is slowing down and there are no signs that it will change for a while yet.

This is a consequence of t buyers being unable to access mortgages.

The financial crisis put a stop on a 100 per cent mortgages now many banks and building societies are demanding a deposit of a quarter of the purchase price of a home. Many, especially first time buyers are unable to raise such high deposits. Even the current low interest payments is of little help if access to the market is denied to those seeking homes.

Alongside the downturn in owner occupation there is likely to be a slow down in the number of houses being built for the rented market. Social landlords are predicting a slow down in their activities. As the public expenditure cuts that are due to be announced in October hits their sector. These worries, as well as the changes to the Housing benefit regime, are creating a real concern amongst social landlords that they will find it difficult to help those looking for a roof over their heads.

All in all, a grim time ahead to those that require a home.

These factors will inevitably cause a rise in the number of homeless people.

Apart from the undesirable social effects of homelessness itself, it also adds to the headache of local councils. Councils have a statutory duty towards the homeless. An increase in the number of homeless people will inevitably mean a greater expenditure by local authorities in this area. More spent in one area means less in another. So ‘non’ essential services will suffer even greater cuts. So forget that new library or evening class or street flowers, they will be the first to go.

The wisdom of pushing so quickly and so hard to reduce the public sector deficit must be questioned in such circumstances. That double dip recession is looming and looks inevitable,

It may or may not put a strain on the coalition government, but it sure as hell will put a strain on the rest of us.

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