Archive for September, 2015

Corbyn’s conference speech


A standing ovation in the hall, but the country?

Jeremy Corbyn is no Lloyd George. Orator he is not. But in the leadership contest his low key straight talking won him meeting after meeting and eventually the contest itself.

The big question yesterday was whether he could carry a televised conference with these qualities.

Despite delivering a lengthy, rambling checklist of a speech he won over the conference hall. They were delighted with his performance.

The warmth towards him was palpable and real and that was before he uttered a word. He got a standing ovation for just walking towards the lectern.

A heady mixture of ideology and personal modesty won the delegates to a repeat standing ovation at the end of the speech. It had gone down well in the hall and one guesses with the quarter a million members, many of them newly recruited that are now in the party.

Membership increase

Indeed he made a point of telling all who’d listen that 160,000 members had joined the party since the general election with 50,000 since he had become leader. A not very subtle reminder to his fellow Labour MPs that he had a mandate for change, which they’d veto at their peril.

It’s not the party or even his own MPs he has to win over but the country. Did the speech reach do this?

His tone was avuncular and non-threatening. His opponents have portrayed him as one of the most dangerous men in the country; his demeanour contradicted that viewpoint. Reassuring. He had even worn a jacket and tie and unusually for him he started by cracking a few jokes, mainly at the media’s expense. A move guaranteed to enlist a sympathetic response from Labour members.

In an hour long speech he covered a lot of ground, too much some might say. But there was little in terms of new policies that wait for another day.

Corbyn’s values

What was centre stage were Corbyn’s values.  “British values are internationalist and universal,” And Labour was “bringing real values back into politics.”

Back in, was the late Robin Cook’s ethical foreign policy.  He talked about the toxic legacy of the second Iraq war, but the expected apology was not forthcoming on this occasion. Like much else in the speech that awaits another day. But he was highly critical of the Saudis, Bahrain, the US, and the UK government in the way they conducted foreign policy. The Blairites in the audience shuffled uneasily in their seats. As many Labour MPs were complicit in many of the actions now being condemned by the leader.

Despite conference not allowing a debate on Trident he was unrepentant on the matter. He reiterated his opposition to Trident renewal.Renewing UK’s nuclear weapon system is “not the way forward.”  A policy that is likely to create a real split between himself,  his parliament party and even his chums in the trade union movement.

On safer ground with MPs were his plans to build more council houses, reversing cuts in tax credits and bringing a cheer to conference nationalizing the railways.

 What about outside the hall?

All in all his speech would have won over the party faithful and even his talk of the new way of conducting policy might placade most of his parliamentary collegues but what of the public?

They’ll certainly see him as fresh and different, but a potential prime minister? Hmmm, a work in progress.

A  more positive message  is needed to reach out to these voters.  And it needs to come sooner rather than later.

Miliband never recovered from the initial verdict of the voters that he was a loser.  That big “L” dogged him throughout his tenure . Corbyn needs to define his leadership now to avoid the same fate.

Yesterday he won over his party but the jury of Joe Public are still to deliver a verdict.


Poll boost for Labour


Corbyn gives a bounce to Welsh Labour

The latest Welsh Political Barometer poll for ITV Wales and the Welsh Governance Centre shows an increase of support for Labour at both Westminster and Assembly elections.

For the Westminster election Labour are at 42% up 5 percentage points from the June poll. Again for the Assembly election there is an increase Labour are at 39% a 4 percent increase from June.

Both would indicate that Jeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader is having a positive impact for  Labour in Wales unlike Britain as a whole where the polls have not shown a “Corbyn-bounce.”

The general election voting intention for all the parties are:

Labour: 42% (+5)

Conservative: 26% (-2)

UKIP: 16% (+1)

Plaid Cymru: 10% (-2)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (+1)

Others: 2% (-2)

The brackets show the changes since the last poll conducted in June.

In the general election Labour had 36.9% of the vote causing them to loose Cardiff North, Gower and the Vale of Clwyd, all to the Conservatives. The latest poll shows them winning all three seats back.

 UKIP predicted to gain eight seats

For the Assembly elections Labour’s support is strengthened but there’s less of a‘Corbyn effect’. Understandably as he’s not standing after all  it’s Carwyn Jones that’s Labour’s leader in Wales and its his election to win or loose.  The full results for seats are:

Labour: 39% (+4)

Conservatives: 23% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (-2)

UKIP: 13% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (+1)

Others: 2% (-1)

Again the brackets show the changes since the last poll was conducted in June. These figures show Plaid Cymru gaining Llanelli from Labour. But there is a proportional element to Assemble elections with the regional lists. Here the poll indicates the votes are as follows:

Labour: 34% (+2)

Conservatives: 24% (+2)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (-2)

UKIP: 14% (no change)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (no change)

Greens: 4% (no change)

Others: 2% (-1)

According to Professor Roger Scully of the Wales Governance Centre it would result in the following outcome.

Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 12 seats (6 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 8 seats (8 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seats (1 constituency seat)

Labour would be well satisfied to only be down one seat from the thirty they hold at the moment and after such a poor general election result they will be quietly confident heading into next May’s election on the basis of this poll.

According to Professor Scully “the poll point to Labour doing particularly well amongst some of those who voted for Plaid Cymru and the Lib-Dems in May’s general election: nearly a quarter of those in our sample who voted for Plaid Cymru, and almost a third of Lib-Dem voters, now say they would vote Labour in a general election.”

The Conservatives although going down to 12 seats from their current 14 will also be encouraged. On these figures they retain their roll of being the Official Opposition

Plaid Cymru, although only losing one seat, must be a disappointment with the poll showing them slipping by two points across the board.  Now they’ve the prospect of UKIP breathing down their necks for the popular vote.

The poll is good news for UKIP. Their strong performance in May’s general election shows no sign of waning and on this poll they arrive in the Assembly with a massive eight seats.   With this comes resources which will further help them gain a foothold in future Welsh politics. It is understandable why some of their nationally prominent members are eyeing a place on the UKIP list.

The Liberal Democrats go down to one and in Assembly terms would cease to be a recognised party.

If these were the actual results after next May its unlikely that there would be a change in governance. Labour although not having a majority would have two choices.  They could go into a coalition with Plaid Cymru or try running a minority government. But with such a fragmented Opposition the temptation to go it alone would probably win the day.


“Give us a job”


Youthful indiscretion is one thing, but mature behaviour is what matters

Forget what did or didn’t happen with a pig or even the fact that the allegations that the youthful David Cameron took drugs.  A toff’s lifestyle may keep the gossipy readers of the Daily Mail happy but they are of little concern to the rest of us.

What takes a youngster’s fancy should not be used against him or her when they are mature adults. Although perhaps politicians ought to reflect on their youth when it comes to their policies on drugs. But that’s by the by.

It wasn’t a shallow youth but a mature politician that ennobled Ashcroft. It seems an £8 million donation to a political party, in this case the Conservatives, gets you a seat in one of the chambers of parliament. No connection between the two events, hmmm, pigs may fly.

The unwritten rule is that those that don’t reside in the UK and pay tax here don’t get to sit in the House of Lords. At the time Cameron denied knowing that Ashcroft was a non-domicile.

Even a cursory reading of the press would have informed him that Ashcroft’s home and fortune were based in Belize.  When Cameron knew this fact is a subject of some disagreement between Cameron and Ashcroft with Ashcroft alleging that he told Cameron a great deal earlier than Cameron has publicly declared.

House of Lords

Patronage goes with the keys of number 10 but the last honours list has shown Cameron has used the House of Lords without restraint to reward his cronies. Noses to the trough comes to mind.

Lloyd George was denigrated for his use of the honours system to fill the coffers of his party. Despite legislation to stop this, it clearly still goes on in a more subtle way –as this latest revelation shows.

Ashcroft’s book reveals that he felt entitled not only to a peerage but also to a job in Cameron’s government. Not because of ability or election but because he had loads of money. Some credit to Cameron for not exceeding to this demand.

What a farce that laws are passed by a parliament the half of which is unelected. Where a significant number of those are there because they have deep pockets and have bought the privilege.

It’s called democracy? You’ve got to be joking.